Chapter-1 (Continued part)
Edward came back from the fog of remeberance and smiled at her. She stared back shocked. Her already large hazel brown eyes widened as her now red lips parted. He flickered his amused gaze over the change of expression on her face. Lord, she was a beautiful child.
Rose gulped hard looking visibly uncomfortable.
“I…I..I thank you for the food, Sir.” She breathed out in a sweet voice.
Edward’s eyes narrowed at the stuttering again. He didn’t like hesitancy, but decided against scolding. He didn’t want her to fall unconscious again.
Just then, he heard a heavy commotion that disturbed the calm. It was coming from outside and Edward stood up frowning.
Has his father come home?
He stood there and waited. The door bursted open without announcement from the servant, he observed an elderly lady come in with George hot at her heels.
“Madam, madam! You can’t barge in like this..”
The woman ignored him.
“I’m sorry, My lord, but she wouldn’t listen.” George, his butler flustered.
“It’s alright, George.” Edward nodded his head.
George sighed heavily, bowed and left.
The woman was about fourty, maybe. Edward observed, the elderly woman was looking over his shoulder in blistering anger. She looked like a strict disciplinarian with work clothes and tight bun over her head. The blue bonnet dangled in her left hand.
“Rose, how dare you..” She tried to step forward.
But, Edward cut her advance before she could reach the little girl. He sensed her body shivering behind him. His protective instincts roared through his blood.
The woman surprised, blinked several times and stepped back in a stagger.
He stared back at her in warning as his stance got harder and he rose to his full height. His jaw ticked.
The woman gulped hard and bowed her head.
“I’m sorry, My lord, I didn’t see you there.” Her voice quivered.
“Who are you?” He asked coldly.
The woman rose her head embarrassed.
“I am, Jane Linda, the council member and the ward of the orphan girls. The institution for the abandoned children, it is just four miles from here, my lord. I hope you’re aware of it. Certainly, Lady Renaldi would know it. She had very gracefully donated some amount of money to the foundation and…” She continued on in a sugary voice.
“I’m aware of, what my mother does or does not. I don’t need you to recount her charity works.” Edward drawled annoyed
“But, I do want to know, what are you here for?” He quizzed.
The woman, Mrs. Linda, whover she was, looked over his shoulder again. Her face turned steel.
“I’m so sorry, my lord, but I hope, Rose did not inconvenience you in any way. She is such an indisciplined child in the orphanage, lack of manners and impertinence. Come here, Rose! Don’t keep standing there.” The woman looked over his shoulder.
Rose’s legs shook, they seem to be glued to the floor. She jumped when Mrs. Linda shouted at her.
The boy put his large hand out in the way.
“Wait!” He ordered.
Rose stared wide eyed at his shoulder. The broad muscles stretched and she lost the vision of Mrs. Linda’s stern visage as she stepped back a little relieved.
Edward felt the girl physically sag back. She was afraid of the woman, that was heavily palpable in the air. He smelled it. He didn’t like it.
He turned his artic gaze back to the woman.
“I don’t appreciate raised voice in my presence and I truly don’t like it more if your focus of ire is on the innocent little girl.” He growled.
Mrs. Linda fumbled with words. The teenage boy, next in line for the title of the Count, looked and behaved justly authoritative and royal, perhaps a bit more stern than his father, The Count, Jared Renaldi.
She opened her mouth to explain, but he silenced her with the jerk of his hand.
“And may I ask, why is she roaming about outside without an elder companion?” His eyes flashed.
Mrs. Linda shrinked inside.
“It’s tuesday, my lord. The little girls go to the market for to sell few things they prepare by hand. Rose maintains the little garden. She had roses to sell, and the sales end by the afternoon. She worried everyone in the orphanage by being gone too long since then. Mrs. Donalds will be more worried as the time is passing…
On hearing the name of her sweet warden, Rose came alive. She moved from behind the boy.
“Mrs. Donalds? Oh, I’m so sorry Mrs. Linda. I lost my way from the market. I promise, I thought, I took the right turn, but all around it was only woods.” Rose spoke in a hurry.
Mrs. Linda glanced down at her in fury but she tamed it. By the time Rose didn’t come back even after half past six, she started to worry herself too. The reputation of the institution would have been at stake if she didn’t come looking for her, but other than that, She didn’t care if the girl was found dead in a ditch. She was a pest, a complete wastage in the orphanage. She wasn’t a value worth of two pence.
As Mrs. Linda was simmering in her thought, she failed to observe the exchange of look between Rose and the teenage Count.
“It’s fine, my dear, Rose. You are well I see, no harm done I presume.” She assured her sweetly.
Rose blinked rapidly for several seconds at the tone of Mrs. Linda. It was gentle instead of reprimanding.
“I see.” Edward murmured to himself.
“Mrs. Linda, is it not?” He spoke out loud then.
The woman’s face lit up at the mention of her name.
“Yes, My lord?” She asked meekly.
“I have a proposition. I want Rose to work in my garden every day from tomorrow, for about fifty pounds a week.” He offered.
He saw the woman’s eyes get rounder in disbelief and then turn into a greedier shade of darkening. There, that was what he was looking for. She was one greedy, mean woman. She wasn’t concerned about the girl. She was just acting nice.
“Oh, that is wonderful. I don’t know what to say. Rose will be here sure. Your lordship is really kind. I don’t know, how to thank you, Sir.” She gushed.
Edward smiled an unseeing one, a delicate twist of lips.
“I don’t want you to be thankful. Just feed the girl enough. I can see the malnourishment pretty well. You don’t want someone to look into your institution, do you now?” He looked straight into her eyes.
Edward saw the woman’s face blanch out of colour. It seem to leech off for a long while. The pale hue and widening eyes in fear confirmed his suspicion. His gut twisted when he looked down at the girl. She was starved and so were all the children of the orphanage.
Edward wanted to hurt the woman so bad, he fisted his hands by the sides and controlled his rising anger.
There was a long moment of complete silence. At the same moment, George stepped in and whispered something in his ear. He stepped back and left after that.
“Oh, look, how long we have kept you, my lord. We are sure you have things to do. Come along, Rose. Let us take leave of his lordship. It is getting late.”Mrs. Linda gestured with her eyes to Rose, to obey her command.
“Yes, you may leave, but I want Rose to be here in the morning.” Edward declared distractedly, and was ready to leave too.
“Most certainly, my lord. Rose will be here sharp at ten in the morning.”
Rose who had been watching the superior way the teenage boy handle Mrs. Linda, gaped inside, awestruck and amazed. She took hold of the hand offered by the elder warden.
They passed by the door and out but, Rose stopped Mrs. Linda, said she forgot the flower basket in the hall.
Rose stepped back into the room and saw the boy ready to leave.
He looked down at her frowned.
“What is it, Rose?”
She looked around and found a small cushioned four legged floor chair. She slid on top of it and embraced the boy warm and tight.
His body tightened for a while but eventually he put his arms around her.
“Thank you, my lord.” Rose whispered, her voice wavering.
“No, not my lord. Call me Ed.” He said, sliding his hand on her head.
Rose moved back and stared into his warm affectionate blue eyes.
“Ed?” She asked confused.
He smiled wide at her innocent frown.
“Yes, it is short for Edward. Every one dear to me calls me Ed.” He explained softly.
Rose felt her heart flutter, the smile was slow to come, but it grew wide by each passing second.
“And am I dear to you, my lord?” She asked grinning.
Edward stared surprised by the alarcrity with which the girl asked him the question. The eyes hazel bright looked back into his eyes with such hope, his insides squirmed thinking at the lack of affection she had faced in the orphange.
“Yes, you are and you may call me Ed from now on.” He whispered back.
He embraced her tight one more time and let go. He got up, slid his hand into her hair affectionately and left in a hurry………
Next up part– The Return Of the Old Count….and the ruin of the Boy…..and then a curse….after that many many many year later…..
Credit to: kfar