Chapter Thirteen continued
“Do you think Elaina is falling in love with me?”
“Sir?” Nigel asked as he crouched down beside his master to pry the weed from his grasp.
Robert’s eyes strayed back to the sky as he let Nigel take possession of the cursed plant. “Elaina is so different. Even though countless women have served as my companion, she’s still, somehow, different. I like her. I just wish I knew if she liked me, too.”
“She hasn’t fled the Hall yet,” Nigel pointed out.
Robert didn’t say anything. Nigel didn’t know about his agreement with Elaina. He didn’t know she was only staying because of the promise of a library job. He tried to not let that thought cleave his heart in two.
“True,” Robert said instead. “I suppose she must have her reasons for staying, and Mother hasn’t yet run her off.”
Nigel turned his head and Robert watched him stare at the imposing building they both lived in. “She is still here despite having had tea with your mother.”
Robert frowned. “I’m sure tea couldn’t have ended so soon.”
Nigel turned back to him. “Your mother is currently on the patio. She appears to be waiting for you.”
A soft curse escaped Robert’s lips as he levered himself up and to his feet. He pulled off his gloves, his eyes casting over to the Hall. Nigel was right. Rose was standing by the low railing dividing the patio and the gardens. She looked as still as a statue, but he knew she was following his every move.
“Well, then,” Robert said as he attempted to brush as much dirt as he could off of his clothes, “let’s see how tea went.”
He purposefully did not think about the short amount of time Elaina and his mother had spent together. He hoped it didn’t bode ill for his marriage plans.
“Mother,” Robert said as he approached her, remaining on the garden side of the railing. “How was tea?”
“Cold,” Rose said, her voice, as always, clipped. “It was brewed too early.”
Robert casually leaned against the railing, slightly turned towards her. She wasn’t watching him, so didn’t see the confusion he was sure on his face. “I meant, how did it go with Elaina?”
“We had a nice chat. She knows what I expect.”
“What you expect?” Robert echoed, finally moving so he could face her. “Mother, what are you talking about?”
Rose somehow managed to look at him while also looking like she had her nose up in the air. It was an annoying trait of hers, but Robert was used to it. His mother had only ever been warm while putting him to bed as a child. He didn’t take her cold behavior to heart. At least, not anymore.
“If that woman is to become your wife, she must know what is expected of a Roderick bride.”
Robert planted his hands on his hips. “What, exactly, did you tell her, Mother?”
“Everything she needs to know to be your wife.”
“Where’s Elaina?” he asked, changing tactics.
Rose waved a hand. “Oh, probably back in that stuffy library.”
With that, Rose turned and vanished back into the Hall.
“If I may suggest,” Nigel said softly from behind him, “I think you should clean up and go find Miss Elaina.”
“Yes,” Robert murmured as he blindly handed his gloves over, trusting Nigel to take them. “That is a good idea, Nigel. Tea was far too short. I do hope Elaina is still around.”
Catch up on the story here.