The Bride Sale

The Bride Sale by Candice Hern Read Free Book Online

Book: The Bride Sale by Candice Hern Read Free Book Online
Authors: Candice Hern
life—her governess, her father, her husband.
    But now she must take charge of her own fate. She was twenty-three years old, healthy, and reasonably sensible. She had never in all her life suffered an attack of nerves or indulged in a fit of the vapors. Now was not the time to give in to weakness.
    Verity took a deep breath, pushed herself off the bed, and strode across the room to the door. Had the woman in black locked it behind her? Was she a prisoner? But of course she was—she was here against her will, was she not? It was merely the degree of confinement that was in question.
    Verity grasped the doorknob and turned it. The door opened. She uttered a small sigh of relief and stepped into the hallway. It was lighted at intervals by brass wall sconces—and was perfectly empty. She was neither locked in nor guarded.
    After one last look down the empty hallway, she quietly closed the door and walked across the room to the windows along the far wall. She swept back the heavy drapery and gazed out. Dusk had settled into darkness, and rain hammered against the mullioned panes, making it difficult to see anything outside. But there were no bars. Just simple, old-fashioned casement windows with ordinary sliding locks that had no more sinister purpose than to hold fast against the wind and rain. There even appeared to be a large tree adjacent to the window, several of its limbs within easy reach.
    It was almost too easy.
    Was she perhaps overreacting, finding evil where none existed? Could it be that there was nothing truly out of the ordinary about this household, that she was in fact perfectly safe? After all, would LordHarkness have made escape so apparently effortless if he truly meant harm to her, to confine her?
    No, no, no, she thought, giving herself a mental shake. She could not allow herself to become complacent through the lack of bars on the windows and the absence of guards at her door, nor by the genial footman and sweet-faced housekeeper. She would not be lured into believing in her own safety. It could be a ruse. A trap. A trap that would be sprung once she had become comfortable, resigned, vulnerable.
    No. She would persevere. She was going to leave—this very evening, if possible.
    She peered out the window, squinting against the rain. No doubt the view was every bit as forbidding as it had been from the carriage. But Verity was willing to brave almost anything, just to be free of this place and this untenable situation.
    She started at a loud rapping on the bedchamber door. Before she could respond, it was opened by a young girl with unruly wisps of red hair peeking out from beneath a mobcap.
    â€œEvenin’, ma’am,” the girl said with a wary smile. “I brung hot water an’ such for ’ee.” She entered the room and placed the steaming brass canister on the washstand, along with a stack of white towels and a bar of soap.
    Verity stared at the girl. What was this? Another seemingly friendly face and false amenities to lull her into comfort?
    But hot water and soap sounded like heaven on earth. Verity felt not only grimy, but violated by the events of the day. Nothing would feel so good as to wash it all away.
    The girl raised questioning brows at Verity’s silence. “Thank you,” Verity murmured. Though tension still gripped the back of her throat, only the slightest tremble colored her voice. Perhaps the girl would not notice.
    â€œI’m to help ’ee unpack, too, ma’am, an’ to see that ever’thin’ be comfort’ble for ’ee.”
    So Verity was not to be a servant. But if not a servant, then what? The only answers that came to mind fueled her determination to flee.
    â€œThank you,” Verity said, her voice still more tentative than she would have liked. She drew the curtain back down over the window, realizing she could see nothing to help her in her plan. She needed information. Perhaps the girl could be useful, if

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