A Right to Love
By Liza O’Connor
Jacko, a gypsy with a great love for stealing, rescues a suffragette from Bedlam. Upon returning the elderly woman to safety, he meets her blue-stocking daughter. Alice has decided she prefers managing her estate farms over London society. She is resigned to never marry until the handsome and surprisingly wealthy man with a dark past and several identities, steals her heart.
A Right to Love
Litchfield, England Spring, 1894
Alice’s hands trembled as she opened Mrs. Bainsworth’s letter.
My dear Alice,
I hardly know what to write. I have been in Italy for two weeks, and have not found anyone who has seen your mother. I have inquired with all her friends and engaged them in the search. I do not believe she is in Italy, and certainly not in Sicily, as Mr. Carson claims.
My dear, I do not trust your stepfather, and I fear for your mother. If you have not heard from her since I’ve left, you must go to Scotland Yard at once. Perhaps they can force the truth from the dreadful man.
A friend always,
Alice refolded the letter and looked to her butler hovering at her elbow. “Thomas, ready my carriage. I am going to London.”
The old man’s worry-wrinkles deepened. “London, Miss? Has your mother returned then?”
“No. Nor does she appear to be in Sicily, as Mr. Carson claims.”
Her dedicated butler gripped her arm. “You are not planning to confront him alone, are you? It would not be wise. I will send Bart and Ludson to accompany you.”
She covered Thomas’ hand with her own. “Bart and Ludson have work here, plowing their fields. Neither they nor their families would appreciate me taking them away from their farms just because they are too large for my stepfather to intimidate.”
Thomas’ grip held firm. “I assure you, Miss, they would rather lose two days work, than the first decent estate manager this land has ever had.”
Alice smiled at the compliment. She had tried very hard to win over her tenant farmers in the last year. While they all had been thrilled to see the last estate manager go, they became downright horrified when she announced she would take on the responsibility herself.
“Did they really say I was the best? Or are you imbuing them with your beliefs?”
His eyes darkened in outrage. “I’ll send for them now, and they can tell you themselves.”
She placed a hand on Thomas’ rigid, boney shoulder. “I believe you, and if I were foolish enough to confront Mr. Carson, I would consider the offer. However, I hope to keep my stepfather entirely unaware of my arrival in London.”
Thomas’ brows furrowed as he crossed his arms. “Then what is your purpose?”
She did not have time for this discussion. Her mother’s life was in peril. Right now, she needed servants who did their job without question. “Thomas, I am not required to tell you such matters. Truly, you forget yourself.”
She turned and went to the library safe. From it, she extracted a small handgun and tucked it into her traveling purse. “And have May prepare a basket of food.” She looked up to find Thomas gone.
Recalling her last remark, she grimaced. She feared she had hurt the dear old man’s feelings. She knew Thomas didn’t see himself as a servant, but rather her protector, mentor, and ally in war.
Cursing herself for her insensitive response, she hurried to the hall. “Thomas,” she called.
He stepped regally from the kitchen carrying a basket of food. “I had the cook assemble you sustenance for your journey.” He then sniffed and turned his head slightly to the left so he need not look her in the eye.
Alice took the basket from his hand and set it on the shiny, waxed floor, then hugged him.
He remained stiff as a washboard during her brief expression of affection.
She stepped back, upset by his rejection. Throughout her childhood, his hugs were the best part of her days. “Thomas, forgive my thoughtless words. I am just worried about Mother. My purpose in London is to see Victor Hamilton, who works for the investigator Xavier Thorn. I am going to hire him to help us find out what has happened to her.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
First, I got tired of telling my proper blog. Now, I’m tired of telling my improper bio. So what’s left?
Liza O’Connor was born, raised badly, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast…and employment. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved normally. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
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