Home>>read Forbidden to Love the Duke free online

Forbidden to Love the Duke(11)

By:Jillian Hunter

For a moment he imagined himself in her place. It must be humiliating for the descendant of Harri Tudur to apply for service.

His moment of empathy passed. He needed a governess. She needed the position. Hostilities would have to end the instant she came before him.

He would not take advantage of her in any manner. Not as means to buy her house or as a man could do with a woman in a vulnerable situation. He hadn’t even seen her face. A Tudur governess, indeed. She could look like a gargoyle for all he cared, although her posterior view had shown promise. No matter, he would treat her with the respect she deserved.

And he would count the hours until Friday came, because she had stirred more than his curiosity.

Chapter 6

It wasn’t even daybreak when Ivy closed the door of Fenwick Manor behind her. For some peculiar reason Rue, pushing on the other side, could not get the latch to hold. Listening to her sister’s struggles, Ivy suspected she and Lilac might have damaged the frame the other day when they slammed it on that arrogant man.

So, what was the sensible thing to do? She could count on Rue to do the opposite. Rue threw herself upon the door again. This time the tarnished metal door knocker broke loose from the bolts that secured it and dropped to the steps.

Ivy stared down in trepidation at the dragon lying between her feet. The dragon was her family’s adopted heraldic beast, and his fall seemed to portend something dire. Did it mean that Ivy should not go on this interview?

Rue’s muffled voice startled her. “Was that our dragon?”

“I’m afraid so. He’s broken.”


“No. His bolts have snapped. It could be a bad sign.”

“Nonsense. He wants to protect you.”

Ivy laughed. “Do you think so?”

“I know he does,” Rosemary said in a louder voice. “Take him with you. And do go now or don’t go at all. There are women who would die to work for a duke.”

“Yes. I love you all. Stay safe until I return.”

She bent and, with some difficulty, slid her reticule up her arm and stuffed the dragon into her fur muff. She might not look fashionable. But she felt presentable in a blue-sprigged muslin dress, a warm overmantle, and Rue’s gray shoes. Ivy had ruined hers while helping their only footman clean the chimney. When he had gotten stuck, Ivy had climbed up in the soot to rescue him, shouting for help that never came. Eventually he had wriggled out and fallen into the hearth.

Every day brought another deprivation, another embarrassment. But at least Ivy was taking a step to alleviate their misery. She wasn’t leaving Fenwick Manor forever, she assured herself during the carriage ride in the dark.

However, the moment the gates of Ellsworth Park came into view, she wondered what had possessed her to apply at an elegant estate obviously built for entertaining, when she had been hidden away for years. She doubted the duke would consider hiring her.

“Be careful, my lady,” said the coachman, who often served as footman and the family butler, as he handed her down from the lopsided carriage.

“It’s almost light,” she said, her eyes widening in chagrin. “Look how many other ladies are here to apply! I’m too late. Rue was right. These women would do anything to work in the duke’s household.”

“Forgive me for speaking my mind,” the coachman said. “But they aren’t you, Lady Ivy. Not one of ’em could hold a candle to you in a crisis.”

“How kind you are,” she murmured. “I wish I shared your confidence in me.”

Before she could assess the competition that lined the driveway, a slight silver-haired man in a plum jacket and gray trousers appeared from the top of the line and marched toward her.

“Good. You are the first, I believe. Your name, please?”

“Fenwick.” She hesitated. She couldn’t bring herself to use her title. It was too degrading to admit she was of nobility. “Miss Ivy Fenwick.”

“Pardon me, sir,” a woman in a bonnet said, squeezing Ivy off the path. “I believe I was first.”

“I believe you are wrong, madam. This lady had an appointment, you see. Please wait in line. The reception room will open in a few minutes. Hold your patience until then, if you will.”

Ivy’s heart thumped. Her reticule bumped the other woman on the wrist, earning another cross look.

Appointment? There had to be a misunderstanding. Should she correct it? Or was it possible the duke’s manager had already investigated the applicants’ backgrounds before their arrival?

She had been chosen first. Why?

She walked down a winding hall, rising sunbeams dancing across the marble tiles. The study into which the steward escorted her was neither light nor dark. And it didn’t seem to matter what she had worn to the interview.