Cornwall. A haunted house. A feisty heroine. A dark secret...
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Having inherited a family estate she’d never heard of, Minerva Goodridge travels to Cornwall to take charge of her new home. But fatal memories lurk in the shadows of Trekellis Manor. As the locals keep away from the house, Minnie accepts the help of a stranger. Can she trust him?
Silent Deception is a romantic Victorian suspense novella set in Cornwall.
“Oh, there you are.”
Minnie shrieked, and turned quickly. She hadn’t heard him coming in. “You gave me a right fright, Mr. Drake. Oh…” Her gaze met the pile of linens he carried. “You found some. Wonderful.”
He nodded. “Aye, there are linen cupboards. The blankets at the top are useless, but wrapped beneath them I discovered bed linens, table covers, throws.” He grinned. “Someone was keen to preserve this stuff.”
Minnie clapped her hands in delight and took several off him. Her hands slid over the soft fabric. “These are wonderful. I hope they fit.”
“One way to find out.” He winked and strode up the stairs.
Minnie darted after him, her skirts hitched up. “Wait!” Her breath came in short bursts as she rushed after him.
But he’d already disappeared into the corridor. Oh, how unseemly. He couldn’t possibly help her make a bed.
“Mr. Drake, you can’t…” She caught up with him in her bedroom where he’d dumped the linens on the mattress. “I mean, I’ll take over from here, thank you.” Unable to look at the bed, she concentrated on shaking out the pillows.
“As you wish, Miss Goodridge. It is likely a wise idea.”
Minnie blushed at his knowing smile. “Thank you,” she said, “although of course I’m most grateful for what you’ve done.”
“My pleasure.” He raised an eyebrow. “Can you ride?”
“I’m sorry?” The heat in her cheeks deepened. With great care, she placed the pillow on the chaise longue and linked her hands, lest she betray their shaking.
Mr. Drake’s grin widened. “A horse.”
“Ahh,” she said, relieved, her voice not entirely steady. “Yes, I learnt to ride. Why?”
“Well, how would you like to travel about the countryside? Walk?”
Oh dear. She’d never given this a thought. How indeed would she make her way to Trekellis? “Erm, no. By horse. Would you know where I could purchase one?”
“Aye.” He nodded, his lips still quirking. “Why don’t I make some arrangements over night and return with a horse for you in the morning?”
Relief flooded through her. “That would be very kind, but I don’t want to trouble you too much.”
“’Tis no trouble at all. I’ll also make some enquiries about help for the house. It’s not wise to live here on your own, and you need help.”
Minnie nodded. It made perfect sense. “But did you not say earlier you aren’t local either? How would you–?”
“I’ve met folk during my stay in Trekellis.” His tone was determined, final. “Are you sure you have everything you need for tonight?” His gaze held hers, the hidden meaning behind his words clear.
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Drake. I have some provisions in my trunk. They should see me through for a few days.”
“Then I’m taking my leave.” He bowed. “I shall see you tomorrow.”
“That would be lovely. And,” she smiled and held out her hand, “thank you for all your help.”
Stepping forward, he dropped a lingering kiss on her hand, his eyes not leaving hers. “It’s a pleasure.”
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