Chapter Twenty-Two

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Stepping out of the fog and mist, the dark shadow emerged. He was tall with sandy-blonde hair, piercing grey eyes and a small scar on his bottom lip. In his hand was the handkerchief that had been snatched from my basket, its previous pristine colour replaced by mud. Miss Jenkins was going to kill me. The man twisted the handkerchief over in his hand, examining the splattered mud and dirt that covered it. He didn't say anything else at first, just looked between me and the now soiled piece of cloth. There was something about him that looked weirdly familiar, but I couldn't figure out what it was, why he looked like someone I knew.

He wrapped the handkerchief around his fist and looked up, his eyes narrowing at me. Slowly, he took a step forward but still didn't speak, as though waiting for me to respond to his original comment. I watched him but didn't say anything. I didn't know who he was or what he was doing on the grounds, I certainly didn't feel the need to give him an explanation unless he told me who he was, though that didn't look as though it was going to happen any time soon. It looked as though he was going to stare me into submission.

"Who are you?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. The man chuckled to himself slightly, a glint in his eye.

"Alexander Warrington, I assume you've heard of me?" he said.

"Yes."

"Don't take that tone with me, you're lucky to have a job. What Mr Ealing sees in you is a mystery to both my father and me, but no worries, I doubt you will see yourself through to the end of the week. Not at the rate you're going."

"Can I have the handkerchief back?"

"If you ask politely, I'm sure I could hand it back. Though I'm not entirely sure why you want it back considering the state of it. But if it gets you in trouble, I'll hand it over."

"Can I have the handkerchief back, please?"

"Well, since you asked so nicely." Alexander balled the handkerchief up and threw it \t me as hard as he could. I watched it fly through the air, reaching my hand out and grabbing it just before it hit the ground.

"Thank you."

"I would say I'll be keeping an eye on you, but I don't think you'll be around long enough for it to make a difference."

With that, Alexander turned on his heel and walked in the other direction, whistling a tune to himself as he went. I watched as he walked across the grounds and towards the front door, his hands knotted together behind his back as though he didn't have a care in the world, despite the threat he had just made. When the shadow of him faded out of sight, and his distant footsteps retreated up the front steps, I grasped the handkerchief between my hands and let out a loud sigh. Standing in front of him, I hadn't realised how anxious I had become. The palms of my hand were sweaty, my fingers shook, and my heart was once again thumping against my ribcage.

He reminded me so much of the foreman. The glint in his eye, the way he raised his eyebrow when he asked a question. Everything about him reminded me of the man I had hoped I had left behind, the man who had tormented me for seven years of my life. I twisted the handkerchief over on my hand, taking several deep breaths to calm myself down from the state of mind he had put me in. If I were to walk into the kitchen in a state, Miss Jenkins was more than likely to ask a string of questions and I wasn't entirely sure I could keep my mouth shut. Even as a gentle trickle of rain started, I stood in the grounds and faced the direction Alexander had just gone in.

Taking a breath, I untwisted the handkerchief and examined it closely, noting the mud that splattered across the material. The handkerchief was going to have to be washed for a second time and Miss Jenkins wasn't going to be happy about it. I had annoyed her enough already and this was going to be the tip of the iceberg. One thing I didn't want to do was go walking into the kitchen and announcing what had happened to the handkerchief and the threat made by Alexander. Standing the rain, I decided not to tell her about the threat. The handkerchief was bad enough. She didn't believe Matilda's theory that he was the one who locked me in the cupboard, I had my doubts she would trust me this time.

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