𝔗𝔥𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔘𝔫𝔣𝔞𝔳𝔬𝔯𝔞𝔟𝔩𝔢 𝔄𝔫𝔰𝔴𝔢𝔯𝔰

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Mercy! The man had to be mad was the only thought running through Erin's racing thoughts.

She watched in horror as he continually stripped off articles of clothing with menacing speed.

"Now-now-now, wait just a second here!" she sputtered, fumbling back a step from him as if he were infectious. "What is wrong with you?! Are you disturbed? Do not become indecent!"

"I have not stolen anything nor did I intend to. There is nothing in my pockets, nothing in my trousers, and there is nothing between my shirt. I am not a thief, and I am not hiding anything. You may verify this information yourself."

"Verify?" Her cheeks were warming as he was already down the last button of his shirt. "Why—how---you---I will not do such a thing!"

"No?" He tilted his head, sliding one arm from his shirt sleeve, exposing more skin than she wished to see.

"Yes!" she shouted, eyes bulging. "I have no need to see you---." She paused, inhaling sharply, her eyes leaping from his chest to his face. "---bare in any way!"

"Are you certain?" He eased his other hand out of his shirt. "Because you said you will not take my word." He had a challenging look as he slowly let the fabric inch down his arm.

She looked up him and down and then put a hand over her forehead.

What was wrong with him?

"Hah." She heaved a bout of air.

She knew she had to concede.

"Fine." She regained her composure, carefully watching him. "Fine, fine. Perhaps um...uh?" She stopped to clear her throat. The words were hard to make out.

"Perhaps I was...um, mistaken." She finished with a press of her lips, refusing the words she had just spoken.

"Mistaken?" He tugged his shirt back on. "You were?" He fixed his shirt back into place, unfazed by the start of her glare.

His tone immediately struck annoyance into her.

"What is that tone?" She glowered.

"What tone?" He batted his eyes.

"You don't seem to realize that you're are in my home and you are speaking an heiress of the Sutherton house."

"Oh, I did not know." He straightened his shirt collar, eyes never leaving hers.

Was he being snarky with her?

Surely, she thought, he would be mad to do such a thing after she so clearly expressed her dislike for him. Surely.

Her glare intensified as she peered at him. "What is your name?" She had made it her mission to forget it.

"My name?" He nearly laughed. He knew her question was only asked to spite him. "It's Edward."

"That is not your name," she barked.

"And how do you know?" There was a rebellious look in his eyes again.

She gripped her fists, speaking bitter and cold. "Fine. It doesn't matter. I will call you dullard. You know what a dullard is, lowborn?"

"I do."

"Then Dullard, listen closely to what I am about to say. I think that if you don't steal tonight, who's not to say not tomorrow that you don't conveniently end up in another room? What happens then?"

"I would never steal, cheat, or lie. If you do not believe this, then I'm happy to show you at any time."

Her glare sharpened. She found everything was wrong with his tone.

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