"I can't thank you enough." She reached for her friend's hand. "For everything."

"Nonsense." Mrs. Cobb smiled. "I know you'd do the same for me."

"You know I would."

"Now I best make myself scarce. Don't want to ruin the surprise." Mrs. Cobb winked.

"Surprise? What are you talking about?"

Mrs. Cobb didn't have a chance to respond. Another knock sounded, ending their conversation.

"Come in, Mr. Boyle." Mrs. Cobb called with a cheeky grin.

The butler entered, a tray complete with full silver service in his hands. He was but two steps inside Mrs. Truelock' bedroom when his icy glare zeroed in on Mrs. Cobb. He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him clean off.

"Save your sermon. I'm leaving." The cook grinned, giving Mrs. Truelock's foot a playful tug as she made her way toward the door.

"Goodnight, Rosemary," Mrs. Truelock called, working hard to stifle a laugh.

"'Night all." The cook quietly closed the door behind her.

Mr. Boyle waited several seconds until he was sure that Mrs. Cobb was out of earshot. He turned and faced her, realizing how much he'd missed her that day. With preparations for a houseful of guests, he simply hadn't been able to check in on her. A fact that had pained him all day.

"How's my patient?" he asked with a smile.

"Fine, fine," she answered, sitting up a little straighter. His emphasis on the word my was not lost on her.

"Now Mrs. Truelock, it does not do to tell lies to the butler." He deposited the tray on the bedside table before sitting down gingerly on the edge of her bed. "Because the butler knows all."

"Really, Mr. Boyle, I'm fine," she repeated, both nervous and excited at his nearness.

"I have only to look into your eyes to see that you have overdone it today. And don't try to deny it. Ellen told me that you've been up to your old tricks."

"Well remind me to dismiss Ellen first thing tomorrow morning."

"I assured you that we had everything under control." He placed his hand lovingly on her forehead, feeling for signs of fever. "You should have stayed in bed again today."

"I only popped down a few times, just to make sure my girls were doing their level best."

"And now you're paying the piper." He locked sympathetically on her tired eyes.

She pulled his hand down and held it in her own. "Like the time you stayed in bed after Dr. Emerson expressly forbid you from returning to your duties? Following your bout with pneumonia?"

"That was different."

"How?" she asked, noting a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

"Because I am the king of do as I say, not as I do."

"And does your reign as king entitle you to use the master's silver service for your own personal needs?"

"This is the last of the silver to be polished before our guests arrive. I offer it to you with my apologies."

"Apologies? For what?" she asked.

"For not finding time to check in on you properly today and for leaving Mrs. Cobb and the girls to take care of your needs. I thought we might enjoy a drop of hot chocolate together." He stood and went about the task of preparing their nightcaps.

A Single Drop of Rain: A Love Story Below StairsWhere stories live. Discover now