17. One Month In Switzerland

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"How does Davis know where your rooms are?" Agatha stood gazing down the corridor for a longer while, watching James as he left. "And how does he know which staircase to take not to be seen?"

There was no point in fibbing to Agatha. Brooks might fancy himself a detective, but he was no match for Agatha's skills.

"He's been up here before."

"Before. As in during the war, before?"

I sighed. "Yes, Agatha." I sat down on my bed. I was suddenly very tired and wanted to go back to sleep. The feeling his body had engendered in me as he'd held me so closely, and the aftermath of the kiss had left me drained.

"And this time?"

"He was worried about me. Apparently, the men have been talking about the incident last night with Montgomery. I'm sure you've also heard."

"Does anyone know why Montgomery came to the house? What could he want here? Everything he needs, he gets through Carter."

I shook my head. We hadn't been able to get anything out of him except memory-gibberish. After an episode, some of the men felt the need to explain themselves, explain what had occurred, but found they could only speak in incoherent pictures and scenes.

Montgomery had tried to communicate to us what was bothering him so, but beyond fire, an exploded tank, and some details of a blue flower with wide, fuzzy leaves, we weren't able to understand much. The opium had worked, putting him into a long and dreamless slumber. I'd had the men find Carter and ask him to keep a close eye on Montgomery for a while.

"And Davis was so concerned about your safety that he came directly to your private rooms to inquire after you?"

"You make it sound sordid."

A slight grimace turned down the corners of her mouth. "Your mother used to say something quite similar. And look what it got her. "

Mother? I forgot all about being tired. "Mother" was a word never spoken at Cloud Hill.

"Your mother also had a . . . liking for certain types of men."

Agatha came in and closed the door.

"Well, I'd hardly call it a --"

"You're old enough to know about it all now, Olivia. Considering what you've just told me, perhaps I've waited far too long."

She crossed my room and settled into the padded chair across from my bed that I'd covered with a prettily-patterned throw that Charlotte no longer wanted. I didn't have a good feeling about what was coming and her first words confirmed it.

"What do you remember about your mother?"

I trusted Agatha. She had always been something like a well-meaning spinster aunt to me as I was growing up, but she'd carefully avoided involvement with family business and had largely ignored my questions about Mother until I'd stopped asking. A nervous tickling spread through my stomach.

"I remember she laughed a lot. Enjoyed the garden. And she also had ginger hair, like I do. But any more than that..." I shrugged. "I was only about five when she left."

Agatha nodded. "Yes, you were. For a month in Switzerland, wasn't it?"

I nodded.

"Yes, that's what I was told, as well. When I found out I wouldn't be accompanying her, I was suspicious, of course. What respectable lady travels without her maid? But it wasn't my place to question. If Mr. Altringham said it was so, then it was."

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