53. On Dates

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Looking down at his papers again, Mr Ambrose gestured to a pile of files and a box beside him on the desk. "Deposit these in that box over there, will you?"

I gaped at him, speechless. It was five in the morning!

When, after a few moments, he noticed that I still hadn't moved, he looked up again. Mr Ambrose would never go so far as to actually raise a questioning eyebrow, but he didn't need to.

"You are still standing, although I gave you an order. Any particular reason?"

"Do you sleep here or what?" I demanded, indignantly.

He looked down again.

"Why so interested in my sleeping arrangements, Mr Linton? Were you thinking of joining me? If so, I must disappoint you. I do have a bed here, but it would not be wide enough."

Several things ran through mind at the moment which I could throw at him, none of which were fit for polite conversation, and all of which were likely to get me sacked on the spot. I swallowed my anger and hoped it wouldn't give me indigestion.

Instead I said: "I am three hours early, Mr Ambrose."

He nodded.

"Yes, I noticed. Now stop dawdling and take care of those files. Return to me when you are done. Since you are here, I have something else for you to do."

I went and got the files, praying vehemently that the "something" he wanted me to do involved a sharp sword and the severing of his head from his body. In no time at all, I was back in front of his desk, and I still had not exploded or run to get sharp weapons. I was rather impressed with myself.

"The files are stored as ordered, Mr Ambrose, Sir," I said in as sweet a tone as I could manage.

"I see."

No "Well done" or "Thank you". He didn't even raise his head from his papers.

"Sir? What is it you wished me to do?"

"To wait until I have finished reading. Then I will give your instructions."

I closed my eyes and slowly counted to ten to calm myself. Unfortunately, it didn't work, so I continued. But when I reached fifty, I was still just as infuriated as I had been at one. Did he have to be so... cool? So distant?

51, 52, 53...

Well, he was Mr Ambrose, so he was naturally about as warm and welcoming as a freshly calved iceberg, but still. It aggravated me more now than it had before, having seen, in contrast, his infatuated behaviour towards that bloody female the other night at the ball.

64, 65, 66, 67...

And of course he had to have horrible taste in ladies! I wouldn't have minded if she had been a half-way decent creature, but this Hamilton person was a femme fatale, and would leach all the life and money he had out of him.

79, 80, 81...

I was incredulous that he couldn't see it, or that he couldn't find a better woman.

"Mr Linton?"

 He should be able to find another. After all, he was, I had to admit, abominably handsome. Very, very handsome...

97, 98, 99...

"Mr Linton? Mr Linton, I am talking to you!"

"What?" My eyes flew open and I blinked at Mr Ambrose, who was staring at me coolly over the top of his business papers.

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