Chapter Twenty

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Robert and I returned to our separate rooms as the sun came up so James wouldn't know we spent the night sitting in the art room. He was apprehensive enough about Robert and I getting too close to one another. He had been tense when he saw we had been holding hands, if he found out we were in the same room to each other at night then I would be in big trouble. James may have been willing to allow Robert to spend the night, but he most likely had reservation about that as well, regardless of what he said.

He didn't seem to suspect anything wrong when he woke us the next morning, though he did give me an odd look for finding me in my room rather than curled up in my usual spot in the art room. I had decided to go back to my room but spent the rest of the morning sat on the chair in my room and watching the sun come up over London. It had been one of my favourite things to do at the factory as a reminder that life went on beyond our walls. I enjoyed the ritual; it had been the only time I had to myself.

After James had poked his head around the door, I changed out of my nightdress and attempted to run a brush through my hair. When that didn't work, I simply plaited it down my back and tied it with a ribbon I had taken from James' shop. I grabbed a shawl from my dresser and wrapped it around my shoulders before leaving the room and heading downstairs.

Everyone else had already emerged from their rooms so I joined them at the dining room table. I grabbed a piece of toast from the wrack and tore into it whilst James poured some orange juice in a glass and pushed it towards me. I took a sip and returned to my toast, devouring the rest of it in almost one bite.

"Your father said he would collect you from the shop when he goes home from the office later this evening. You'll be spending the day with us and I'm sure we can find you something to do," James said.

"Or he can spend the day in the ally with me, it'll get us both out of your hair for the day and chalk drawing is a lot more fun than paperwork or putting things on shelves," I suggested. James glared at me. "What?"

"Nothing," he said.

It had to have been something, but he would never voice his thoughts with Robert so close by. Just presenting the idea of Robert and I spending time together turned James' vision red. If he had his way, I would never come into contact with Robert again. Lucky for me, he didn't get a say in whether or not I spoke to him, but I don't doubt he wished things went back to how they had been a week ago, when we had both ignored each other.

"I should go, I have a meeting with a client this morning," Christopher said.

"See you this evening."

"Or sooner, I don't know how long this meeting will go on for."

Christopher shoved a piece of toast into his mouth, grabbed his suit jack off the back of his chair. He picked his briefcase off the floor and left the room, calling a hastily goodbye as he went. James glanced up from the table to the clock on the mantel.

"If you are taking your chalk with you, you need to go and get it Rosie. We need to leave soon," he said.

"Alright." I brushed the crumbs off my hands and onto the table.

Robert looked at me from across the table, a sign of alarm crossing his face at the prospect of being left at the dining room table with James and Kitty. It would be impossible to miss any of the looks James had been giving him since the previous day and I doubt even Kitty could stop James from being confrontational towards Robert. Still, I didn't intend on being gone for too long so the likelihood of anything erupting during my absence were slim.

I pushed my chair back across the floor and left the room. The dining room remained silent as I made my way up the stairs and towards the art room. I moved as quietly as possible to catch anything that might be said in the other room, but it stayed still and quiet. Perhaps James didn't intend on saying anything after all. Still keeping my ears open, I unlocked the art room door and slipped inside, grabbing my tin of chalk from the side table. The dining room appeared to stay silent as I left the art room, locked the door and headed back downstairs with the tin under my arm.

The Apprentice Girl // Book 3 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now