Amy wrapped her French manicured fingers around the long, elegant porcelain tea pot handle and poured. With the long stream of black currant tea flowed every thought currently swirling around her brain about Nicholas Benedict, although she was careful not to let them show in her bright eyes as she smiled sweetly at the family guest.
He looked back at her with intensity, as if he knew exactly what kind of conniving woman hid behind those sugary sweet eyes.
“Please, and milk.”
Tanya watched from across the room, frowning slightly, her fingers wrapped around her silver cross necklace.
After the coffee and dessert, the family split off as usual – men into the library, women into the smaller sitting room. The conversation was airy and superficial; Victoria remarked on the quality of the food, Sophia thanked her a little too profusely. Amy and Tanya were silent, each deep in thought. No one knew exactly what was afoot, and no one wanted to show any of their cards before they were absolutely sure what the game was.
Granny was the first to speak.
“So Nicholas seems very nice, does he not?” I think we’ll all enjoy and benefit from his presence here” At this she turned and smiled at Tanya. “And who knows, maybe this visit will turn out to have been arranged by Cupid. I saw the way he was looking at you over dinner, dear.” She winked, very uncharacteristically, eyes fixed on Tanya who was blushing as she looked away.
“Oh Granny, we’ll see…” She cleared her throat and smiled a little. “He was looking at me though, wasn’t he?” She looked around at the other faces, her smile quickly dropping as she met with Sophia’s partially-concealed grimace and Victoria’s questioningly raised eyebrows.
Patently untrue, Amy thought. What an unnecessary thing to say, serving no other purpose than to mark Nick for Tanya. She had thought Granny was above such desperate and obvious gimmicks. Obviously not. Well she, Amy, was not going to play this petty little game when there were much higher stakes elsewhere. Clearing her throat, Amy stood and excused herself from the room. Sophia half-rose to follow her, but quickly sat again at a look from Granny. Victoria watched Amy leave through her thick eyelashes and said nothing.
Amy tiptoed quietly through the hallway outside the library, and peered inside through the great double doors. She could see the silhouettes of Nicholas and her father sitting by the fire, could hear the low murmur of their voices as they spoke. She was in the process of gently closing the door when John James abruptly stood up, said something sharply to Nicholas, and exited the room through a smaller door at the opposite end. Nick remained in the room, staring into the fire as Amy slipped in. Nicholas looked up and smiled mischievously.
“Bored with the women already? Have a seat.”
Amy didn’t sit; instead she walked around the plush leather sofa and stood in front of the flickering fire, partially blocking the light.
“I know about your debts, Nick. I know about…the other thing too. The reason you were expelled. I have a proposition for you,” Amy said, eyes no longer sweet but coldly glittering. What does she propose? Please return to the top of this episode to vote on what happens next!