October 9, 2014
Regency | Length: Novella | Tempting the Governess
Never fall in love with your employer. Any respectable governess knew the cardinal rule. Christine Aubrey prided herself on her devotion to her charges, never suspecting that one day a former pupil would tempt her to break every rule in the book.
Theodore Blake was a “good boy” who grew up into a responsible man. Shouldering the burden of raising his sister’s children and managing his older brother’s affairs, Teddy has always done the right thing. But when his former governess returns to Birchwood, all he can think about is how good it would be to be bad.
*Contains the following themes: older heroine/younger hero, former student/teacher, and forbidden love.
Imposing in his jet-black jacket and matching brocade waistcoat, her employer sat quietly behind the polished walnut table, making no move. His mahogany gaze fixed upon her, robbing her of breath.
Though the study was neat and uncluttered, with large windows that brightened the room and gave the feeling of a larger space, Christine Aubrey felt hemmed in.
Theodore Blake was far too close, his sharp gaze raking over every inch of her. At any other time, she might find his interest charming and welcome. Tonight, it reminded her of her position, reminded her that their roles were reversed.
She was no longer in command. Teddy ruled the house and she must answer to him as she once did his father. In her previous six years of employ at the Blake household, she’d never once seen Teddy’s father watch her the way Teddy regarded her now.
In ten years, everything had changed. The adolescent she once knew was gone. He’d grown a foot taller, his voice had deepened, and his gaze held a sharpness that could only come from experience. She’d never thought of him as anything but a pupil, but in the weeks since she’d come back to work at Birchwood, it became harder and harder to think of him in the same way.
And she thought of him far more than she should.
“Miss Aubrey, I believe I made it clear that should you have any issues with my nephew, you were to inform me immediately.” Teddy leaned forward, and Christine fixated fixed her gaze on the swirled pattern on his waistcoat rather than look into his eyes.
“Did Charles come to your room yesterday, uninvited?”
While she’d suspected that last night’s incident was the cause of today’s meeting, she hadn’t been sure.
Any hope of sparing young Charles from the rebuke of his uncle dissipated. The boy’s mischief was no longer a secret, and she realized she’d been presumptuous to assume that her activities last night had gone unnoticed by the servants.
“Charles did enter my room, sir.”
Until she was sure of what he knew, she would not divulge the full details. She’d already reprimanded the child and saw no reason to punish him further for his actions.
“What did he leave in your bed? Or perhaps it was your shoe? Or maybe he put it in your dressing gown?”
“I found nothing in my shoe nor did I find anything in my dressing gown.” Not yesterday, anyway.
“You discovered something unpleasant in your bed.” It was not a question.
“You seek to protect the lad, which is admirable, but he has exhibited this kind of behavior in the past. We have lost four maids and three governesses in the last six months due to Charles’ misbehavior.”
Though he’d never expressly told her how many governesses had come before her, she’d discerned as much from talking with the chambermaid who cleaned her room.
Charles needed a firm hand, but he also needed to feel safe. She was not about to abandon him. Nor could she leave Teddy on his own. As much as he loved the children, he was a young man of only four-and-twenty and knew little about raising an infant and a precocious eight year old.
Christine had sixteen years of practice.