Sari Robins - [Andersen Hall Orphanage]

Sari Robins - [Andersen Hall Orphanage] by More Than a Scandal Read Free Book Online

Book: Sari Robins - [Andersen Hall Orphanage] by More Than a Scandal Read Free Book Online
Authors: More Than a Scandal
looked in each direction. Then she saw the open window and recalled that this was one of his favorite childhood sneak-aways.
    “Better light out here, Cat. Join me.” Prescott lounged on the roof with his legs stretched out before him, regardless of the two-story drop below. Catherine envied his easy confidence. For her, going out on the ledge was a trial, one that Prescott understood better than most, since he had watched her fall from this very spot.
    It had been in her very first year at Andersen Hall. She had been trailing behind a gaggle of older boys, anxious to share in some of their mischief. Marcus had been the leader on this particular outing (no wonder she had been so keen to follow). The lads had stolen gingerbread cookies from the kitchens, hiding them inside their woolen shirts. It had been chilly that day, but the sky was brightwith autumn sun, so most of the children had been playing wage-war in the gardens below.
    She had made it out the window and just two steps past its outer casing when her bad leg had slipped, driving her over the ledge. Her desperate fingers had grasped the edge barely in time. Her arms had shaken with the strain of hanging on and her legs felt weighted as they swung wildly beneath her in the thin air.
    Her fall had knocked off some slates, alerting the children below. They’d rushed over, shrieking with terror. Catherine had been silent, her eyes tightly closed and her heart in her mouth, reliving her fall from the Caddyhorns’ second-floor window less than a year before.
    Suddenly hands had roughly gripped her wrists, yanking her up and over the ledge. She would never forget the darkly furious look on Marcus’s handsome face or the scorn in his tone. “What the bloody hell were you thinking? This is no place for a girl and a lame one at that! You’re no cat.”
    She had been labeled for life. Her mortification had only grown when Headmaster Dunn had found out. Marcus had probably come to regret his rescue, since his punishment had greatly surpassed hers (but not her humiliation). Dunn saw Marcus as a leader who had abused his position and Marcus had paid dearly for that misadventure.
    “Come on, Cat,” Prescott called, ripping her mind back to the present. “Unless you’re afraid…”
    Prescott certainly knew how to pluck her strings. Even if she was terrified, she was loath to admit it.
    “I thought you’d left me,” she chided, lifting her bad leg and pushing it through the window opening. She maneuvered carefully, using her hands as much as her legs,crawling like a monkey. Inelegant, but she did not falter. Her leg didn’t ache so much on dry days like today.
    Prescott watched her out of the corner of his eye, seemingly confident that she would not fall. The afternoon sun glistened on his thick, dark reddish mane.
    “Look,” he said, pointing to the volume. “The pages are parchment. The book’s probably religious, but it doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen in church.” He closed it. “I’m hoping it’s a collection of juicy bits of blackmail.”
    “If so, I’ll burn it.”
    “And waste golden opportunities?”
    “I will not exploit others’ distress.”
    He handed it to her. The book weighed as much as Headmaster Dunn’s Bible and overwhelmed her lap with its large, red, cloth bindings. It smelled of old leather, probably from the satchel it had been stored within.
    “Dunn always says that books have souls,” she murmured.
    “Well, let’s hope that this one has the devil’s.” At the look on her face, he cried, “I do have morals—”
    “Yes, just very flexible ones.” She studied him, trying to untangle his strange obsession with blackmail. “If other people are flawed, then you fare better by comparison?”
    He shrugged, but did not meet her eye.
    “We all have shortcomings, Pres. It’s what makes us human.”
    “I prefer to be a god,” he huffed. “Adonis, if you please.”
    Her lips lifted. “More like Pan, to

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