Emerald's heart, already beating an adrenalin-charged tattoo as she eased
herself down the drainpipe, had gone into overtime at the sudden
appearance of her father. But the moment her gaze had collided with the
dark-eyed stranger standing with him she had known instinctively that she
had an ally. He hadn't batted an eyelid at the sight she must have made,
not given her away by so much as a twitch of an eyebrow. Instead he had
quite coolly considered his options.
He could have informed her father that he appeared to have an incompetent
cat burglar clinging to his drainpipe.
Or he could have ignored the situation, pretend he hadn't seen her and
hope she didn't fall into the roses.
Only a man without a scrap of imagination would have considered either of
them. What the dark-eyed stranger did was offer her the opportunity to
escape by creating a diversion.
That kind of swift thinking was so rare she thought. Poor Kit would have
dithered and blushed and quite given the game away. He was sweet and
wonderfully talented, but not in the least bit decisive which was why she
had to get to him before her father's henchman.
As she searched amongst the lavender and roses for her shoes she felt a
moment of regret that she wouldn't be able to stay and thank dark-eyes for
his chivalry. Were they grey, she wondered, or brown? Distance and the
dusky light had made it impossible to tell.
Unfortunately she didn't have time for politeness, but she was sure he
would understand her need to put the maximum distance between herself and
her father before he discovered her escape. If only she could find her
She spotted it at last, half buried behind the tall lavender that edged
the border, filling the air with sweet scent as she brushed against it.
The roses were not so kind, snagging at her bare arms as she reached for
her shoe, catching and tangling her hair with their thorns. She didn't
have time to worry about it, or take time to extricate herself carefully,
but tugged herself free. The rose retaliated by whipping back and
catching at her neck with its thorns. She scarcely noticed. All she knew
was that she was taking far too long to get away.
But there was no way she could make her escape bare-footed. Her feet
would be cut to ribbons on the gravel by the time she had sprinted around
to the old coach house where her car had undoubtedly been stowed after her
incarceration. She could just hear her father speaking to the chauffeur.
"Miss Emerald has decided to stay for a a few days. Put her car away will
you, Saunders?" All perfectly natural. She made a rude noise as she
tipped the dirt out of her shoes and slipped her feet into them.
'Maybe you left your keys in the car, Brodie.' Her father's impatient
voice carried through the open front door pinning her back against the
'I might have dropped them in the hall.'
Brodie. The name had a nice, solid ring to it and Brodie, bless the man,
was giving her all the time he could, delaying her father apparently quite
unconcerned at the tetchiness in his voice. Not many men were that
brave. Unfortunately his valour would be to little avail. There was no
cover within a hundred feet of her exposed position and any second now she
was going to be discovered and dragged ignominiously back to the nursery
where she would probably be put on a diet of bread and water. Not that
she cared about that. But poor Kit ...
Of course, she could always throw herself on Brodie's mercy. In fact the
thought of flinging herself into his arms had a definite appeal. She
hadn't been mistaken about the shoulders, or his height. And his
character spoke for itself.
But no. He had already done more than enough. To demand he choose
between her and her father was more than could be expected of any knight
errant. But she was hanged if she was going to give in without a fight.
She had mere seconds in which to act before the two men appeared on the
steps and she was discovered. She didn't waste it, flinging herself at
the BMW, praying that that it wasn't locked. Her guardian angel must have
been listening because the rear door opened to her touch and she dived in,
pulling it shut behind her with heartfelt thanks for the superb German
engineering that ensured it closed with scarcely a sound.
She didn't know where her knight errant was going, but at least he was
going somewhere. Away from her father, away from Lower Honeybourne. She
would throw herself on his mercy and once they reached civilisation it
would only take a telephone call to bring any number of gallants racing to
her aid. Meanwhile, she tucked herself down behind the front seats and
congratulated herself on her luck.
This might not be the most comfortable way to travel but, on reflection,
escape was far more likely than in her own car. Any attempt to retrieve
that would undoubtedly have attracted the attention of her father's
chauffeur who had a flat above the garages and by the time she reached the
electronic security gates they would have been firmly closed.
She would, of course, have climbed over them but she was well aware that
walking along a deserted country road as night fell and without a penny to
her name was not an entirely sensible course of action.
Brodie, on the other hand, would drive straight through unchallenged and
since he had already connived at her escape he could scarcely turn around
and take her back when she popped up. In fact she rather hoped he might
be persuaded to take her home. By morning she would be in France with Kit
and then Hollingworth could do his worst.
There was the added bonus that once they were clear of the park she would
be able to sit up and thank Brodie for helping her. The thought brought a
smile to her lips. She was absolutely sure that she and Brodie were going
to be friends.
There was a crunch of shoes, the driver's door was opened and through the
gap between the front seats she saw Brodie palm the keys from his pocket
before turning to her father.
'It seems they were on the seat all the time,' Emerald heard him say,
almost certainly without a trace of a blush. No one who acted with such
swift decisiveness would be fazed by such a tiny white lie. 'I must have
Like it? Buy it!
From the book ELOPING WITH EMMY by Liz Fielding
Classic Romance 2012