Chapter 9

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Jack rode with Olson on the driver's seat on the way back to Hertfordshire, not inside the carriage cabin with Sylvia and me. I saw him only briefly when we arrived at Frakingham, and it wasn't until the next day when we were summoned to his uncle's rooms that we spoke.

"Jack, may we talk?" I said as he held the door open for me. "I don't like...this."

His jaw became a little less rigid, his eyes a little less vivid in color. "I hate it too. You and that Gladstone fellow..."

"It was just a walk, Jack, nothing more. I'm not interested in him in that way."

The muscles in his face relaxed. "Then—"

"Not now," Langley interrupted. "Both of you, come." He sat facing us, Bollard at his side like a guard dog. But it was the floor that caught my attention. Several small blackened scorch marks pockmarked the wood. They looked like they'd been put there by sparks that had been quickly doused. Jack must have done it when he and his uncle had argued over me being kept prisoner in the house a few days earlier. It was a shocking reminder that his temper was never far away, and of the damage it could cause.

 "Is there anything you want to tell me, Jack?" Langley asked.

"The hypnotist did indeed say Violet's memories were blocked, but he could do nothing to clear it," Jack said. "It was a wasted journey, I'm afraid. Sylvia, however, might say differently."

I smiled, and he winked at me. It was such a relief to be friends again.

"Nothing else?" Langley asked. At Jack's shrug, he added, "Is there something more you should be telling me?"

"No."

Langley heaved a great sigh. His face was pale and pinched, the wrinkles fanning out from the corners of his eyes deeper. "After everything I've done for you, everything I've given you, you lie to my face."

Jack's lips parted, and I heard him expel a small hiss. "What are you talking about?" His voice grew dark, ominous. He no longer looked at his uncle, but at me.

I frowned, shrugged, but a sense of dread settled in my chest. I knew what this was about. We both did.

"You saw someone while you were in London," Langley said. "An old friend of yours."

"And?"

"Don't treat me like a fool." He thumped his fist on the arm of his wheelchair. "He stole my papers, and you weren't going to tell me, or the police."

"I—"

"Were you?"

A muscle in Jack's cheek pulsed. "No."

"Why not?"

"I don't want him to get into trouble."

"It is not for you to make that decision!" Langley's shout reverberated around the room, and I jumped. I took a step back, not wanting to be anywhere near this man and his explosive temper.

Jack went very still, then slowly curled his fingers into a fist, but not before I noticed the tips glowing. "Patrick is not the one you want," he said.

"I know that."

He took a few breaths before saying, "I'm sure you do."

Langley's nostrils flared. "Dismissed. Both of you."

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