Chapter Seven

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Dorothy had barely slept a wink. One minute her heart beat so fast she couldn't breathe and she felt like she was going to be sick, and the next minute she felt warm and ticklish over what Robbie had done for her.

The sounds from the Citadel brought her out of her light sleep again, and again and her mind raced.

She finally got out of bed at around four o'clock. She made tea. Two cups later, she slipped out the blue door and headed to the south end.

The day was cold and white with fog. With its starkness came the reality of what she had been willing to do, and what it would have meant for her once the deed was done.

I was willing to go to bed with a terrible man for money.

Robbie was wrong. That wasn't bravery. That was narrowly evading her breaking point. It was dirty and it would have changed nothing. Daniel would have used her up, body and soul, and when he was done she would have been worse off than she'd started and left with a secret that would haunt her into the grave.

Now, she shared the secret of what she had almost done with Robbie. Now, there was the secret of what he had done when she'd offered her body to him.

Why had he done it? She still didn't understand it. His explanation was tainted the day after, and she was once more suspicious. He hadn't come in his brother's place to spare her: he was the bored rich boy back from a war and unsure what to do now, making a hero of himself with the wretched creature about to sell her body for food and shelter.

Dorothy slowed as she reached Coburg Road.

No, that wasn't right, and she knew it.

Maybe he had done what he did for himself, but not entirely. He had wanted to help. It was written all over him.

You're just looking for someone to be angry with. Of all the people to be hateful towards, Robbie Monroe isn't it.

Saturdays meant lazy mornings at the Monroe household. Daniel would be sleeping off his sins from the previous night and wouldn't be seen until the afternoon. Mrs. Monroe kept to her bedroom until at least eight o'clock, and then she'd have a long bath while reading her magazines.

If Robbie had ever shared this love of lazy Saturdays, he had left it in the past. He was already outside at the little dog house where Larsen had been chained countless times when Mrs. Monroe couldn't take his yipping any longer.

On his hands and knees, he swore as he pulled debris out: a ball, a spade, and some dirty looking rag. His back to her, he didn't notice as she came along the path.

She could have kept going, but she remembered his lone request from the night before and paused. He wanted her to talk to him, and so she stepped forward and called out a 'good morning.'

He jumped, then smiled big at the sight of her. "Must have been a brisk walk."

"I don't mind it," she lied. Her hands stung inside her pockets. She couldn't wait to be fluttering about the toasty rooms within, even if it was to clean them.

Robbie rolled onto his knees and looked down at himself. "One of these days I promise I'll meet you and not look like I've been living out here."

The compulsion to tell him that he looked better than she had ever seen him had to be bitten in half and swallowed. His hair was barely brushed and those muddy boots were paired with overalls that were a tad too big for him. He was actually quite adorable.

"Are you feeling better this morning?" he asked.

The heat of embarrassment took away some of the chill, but he spoke with such concern that it didn't last long.

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