πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️ Allure Of The Night Chapter 21 - 30 Full Chapters πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️πŸ–Š️


Chapter 21

Music Recommendation: Tea Later- Nathan Barr

By the time Eve was done teaching Allie for the day, if it was possible, her stomach had started to digest even the air that she breathed. She had drunk more than five glasses of water to appease her stomach, but that hadn’t stopped her stomach from growling in hunger. Instead, it did make her visit the bathroom.

“You did very well today, Miss Allie. Tomorrow let us do a little writing on what you learned today,” Eve informed the little girl, and the only way she knew the girl was happy was from the girl’s eyes that shone. Closing the book, Eve said, “I will see you tomorrow, Miss Allie. I will be taking my leave now,” she offered the little girl a bow.

Eve picked up her lunchbox and stepped out of the room. She started to walk in the corridor when she noticed the little girl following her. She stopped and turned to ask the little one,

“Are you heading towards the entrance door too, Miss Allie?” The little girl quickly shook her head and even stopped walking. “If you are, I would be happy to accompany you.”

The little girl didn’t respond and only continued to stare at her. Eve smiled before carefully turning and walking. The youngest of the Moriarty family again started to walk behind Eve, but at a good distance.

Just when Eve was about to enter the hallways, someone called the little girl,

“There you are, Allie!”

Hearing someone’s voice behind her, Eve turned and caught sight of a young woman who appeared to be around the same age as her.

The young woman wore a lilac and white coloured dress, which swept the clean floor of the corridor as she made her way toward Allie. Her black hair had been parted at the centre, and had been pinned at the back, letting the curls rest on one side of her delicate shoulder. She shared the same hazel eyes as Vincent Moriarty, but it held no luster in them and was dull compared to her beautiful face.

“I have been looking for you all over the mansion, and the maid told me you were in the piano room. But you weren’t there either,” the young woman’s voice chimed, and she placed a hand on little Allie’s shoulder with a smile.

But before the young woman could continue to speak to the little girl, sensing someone’s presence in the corridor, she turned with a sharp look in her gaze, which was quick to soften.

“You must be the new governess, Miss Barlow,” the young woman had a look of surprise on her face, and she smiled.

Eve returned the smile and bowed, “I am.”

The young woman left Allie’s side, coming to walk where Eve stood. She introduced herself, “We didn’t get a chance to meet before. I am Marceline Moriarty. Allie’s elder sister. I wasn’t in town and returned only an hour ago.”

How many children did Mr. Eduard Moriarty have? Eve questioned in her mind.

Eve nodded, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Marceline. I hope your journey back was peaceful,” she said, being polite.

“It was wonderful. Have you been to Hollow Valley?” Asked Marceline, her voice sweet to listen to. Eve shook her head. Hollow Valley was similar to the town of Skellington when it came to its appearance and wealth. A look of surprise appeared on the young woman’s face, and she remarked, “How strange that you haven’t. Well, it is never too late. I hope Allie is behaving well with you?”

“Oh, she is,” replied Eve, glancing at the little girl who didn’t move an inch from where she stood. “It has been a delight to teach and help her learn. She’s a good child.”

“That she is,” Marceline smiled, “She is after all a Moriarty. We have excellent manners.”

Though outwardly Eve continued smiling, she didn’t agree with the last sentence uttered by Lady Marceline.

Did the woman not live here to know about it?

“I should get going now, Lady Marceline, otherwise I might miss the local carriage for this hour,” Eve informed. She was glad to see that apart from the little girl and the mansion’s butler, there was another person in this mansion who appeared to be humble.

Eve looked for the umbrella that she had placed in the morning on the stand, which now was missing. Her eyes searched, to find it sitting in the corner and against the wall.

A male servant who stood at the door informed Eve, “The stand is only for the use of the family members and guests. Not for servants or any other person who works for the Moriarty family.”

It looked like she would have to carry her umbrella further inside the mansion from tomorrow, thought Eve. She picked up the umbrella and smiled, “I will remember that. Thank you.”

The servant looked slightly taken aback because of Eve’s appearance. Though there were many women he had greeted in and out of the mansion, this woman held something special with how she elegantly carried herself.

But as if his thoughts jinxed her, when Eve just stepped out of the entrance door and turned around, the tip of her umbrella jabbed the wooden door, chipping a piece of the carving.

Both Eve and the servant guard’s eyes widened by noticing the minor damage she had just caused.

Even little Allie, who stood with her sister Marceline, turned frozen, hearing the loud bump on the door. The pleasant smile that was on Marceline’s lips was soon to fall. It wasn’t just because of the expensive blackish-red wooden doors built two generations ago, even before her sibling was born. But because those doors had been carved by one of the finest craftsmen, who was now dead.

Eve nervously chuckled, “The mansion must be really old. I should get going,” her feet quickly moved before another silver coin would be deducted from her next month’s wage.

The servant guard turned to look at Lady Marceline as if not knowing what to do while she stared at the back of the new governess, who quickly dashed out from the front part of the mansion. In the meantime, the little girl ran back to her room.

Marceline turned on her heel, making her way through the corridors, while the back hem of her dress continued to sweep the floor.

The young woman’s eyes moved left and right, looking at the corridor, before taking a left, and she entered the tea room, where Lady Annalise sat on the plush chair, accompanied by her brother, while they played a game of cards.

“Good evening, mother and Uncle Charles. I have returned from Hollow Valley,” Marceline announced with a sweet smile on her lips.

“Welcome back, Marceline. How was your trip? Anything worthy to look at or hear about?” Inquired Lady Annalise, while a servant who stood next to them shuffled the cards in his hands before dividing them and placing a card each on Lady Annalise and Charles’s side.

Marceline took a seat on the spare plush chair. She said,

“More than a dozen. The place swelled my eyes. Such beautiful ornaments that I have ever been fortunate to look at, but the tales were never ending. Did you know that Mrs. Hoult’s daughter has run away with their servant?”

“I did hear a little about it. The poor misfortunes of Mrs. Hoult,” responded Lady Annalise, picking up the three cards drawn out for her to hold. “This is what happens when a family doesn’t distinguish between the upper and lower class of servants who are beneath us.”

“The only miserable part was the weather there. So hot that I felt as if my skin would burn,” stated Marceline. Her eyebrows scrunched together, and she turned to look at the man. “Uncle Charles, why do you smell like poultry?”

Chapter 22

Charles’s hand that had picked up the cards slightly crumpled them.

“It is the governess’s fault,” came Charles’s disgruntled voice.

“The new governess?” Marceline’s eyebrows raised. “I thought she was quite nice.”

Lady Annalise softly huffed and commented, “Your brother was the one who hired the woman, not me. He refuses to replace the current governess, when he clearly knows it is going to affect our reputation. He did this only to annoy me!”

“I believe brother Vincent is fully aware that doing something like that will also affect his reputation,” replied Marceline.

“Your brother doesn’t care about his reputation, and he’s ready to burn ours along with his,” Lady Annalise stated with a frustrated sigh.

“Speak to him, Marceline, and make him understand that this isn’t funny.”

Marceline licked her slightly dried lips and said, “I think you have a better chance of making him listen than I. Vincent doesn’t listen to me. It would be more right to say that he doesn’t listen to anyone but himself, which is never good company,” she stared at the deck of cards that were placed on the table.

“You do not have to worry about it, sister,” said Charles, looking up from the cards in his hand to look at Lady Annalise. “Leave it to me. I will take care of the matter.”

“Don’t act in haste, Charles,” Lady Annalise warned, “Do you think Vincent will sit quietly and let you harm the governess?”

“What did Eduard have to say about it?” Questioned Charles while Lady Annalise placed her cards on the table to show.

“Eduard is pleased that Vincent took the initiative to find a governess for Allie. Though he isn’t completely pleased with the woman’s status,” said Lady Annalise, and her eyes held annoyance. “We just have to wait for the governess to make a mistake, and it will be easier for us to kick her out.”

Vincent was the firstborn of Viscount Eduard Moriarty, who grew up on his terms and had an innate skill to annoy people and do what he pleased. And when it came to her, he enjoyed pressing her buttons. Lady Annalise still remembered what happened in the past, during the initial years she had married Eduard.

One of the years in the past, Eduard had to leave to meet one of the Baron, and she had finished her bath. When she stepped out of the room, cockroaches crawled on the bedroom floor.

‘AHHHH!’ She screamed.

Lady Annalise was horrified, not because she was scared of the little insects but because they were dirty and ugly to look at. She wore her shoes quickly and stepped on them. But they were too many to kill, and one even flew and came to settle on her chest.

‘AHHH! Why are there so many cockroaches here?!” She shouted and quickly dashed out of the bedroom. ‘Maids! Guards!’ She screamed for someone to come and clean the room.

Hearing light footsteps from the other side of the corridor, Lady Annalise turned and caught sight of the young boy with silver hair. He stood there, staring at her.

‘Looks like my mother’s ghost is not happy with you sharing her room,’ the boy spoke in a tone of indifference.

‘Is this your doing?’ Lady Annalise demanded, anger bubbling in her veins for being treated this way.

The boy stared at her, and a smile pulled up on his serious face, enough to step on her nerves. He said, ‘I heard cockroaches lay their eggs in women’s hair. You should be careful,’ saying this, he walked out from there.

Returning to the present, Lady Annalise clenched her teeth. She had tried to be as nice as possible, Vincent had always liked to irk her.

A servant stepped into the tearoom, pulling a trunk that belonged to Marceline. Marceline said, “I bought you something that will brighten your mood, mother.”

The servant opened the trunk, and Marceline stood up from the chair. Walking to where the open trunk was, she pulled a red velvety cloth in her hand and turned to the servant, who had been waiting on Lady Annalise and Charles. She ordered the servant,

“Clear the table.”

The servant immediately cleared the teapot and teacups from the table to make space for whatever Lady Marceline wanted to show. She placed the velvety cloth on the table before unwrapping it.

When the siblings’ eyes fell on the necklace, Lady Annalise asked in disbelief, “Is this…”

Marceline nodded with a gleam in her eyes. She said, “The pearls aren’t from oysters, but from mermaids.”

“You don’t say!” Lady Annalise’s eyes took in the shiny pearls that shone under the softness of the light of the many candles in the room. “Where did you get these from?”

“I had mentioned it to Mr. Ambrose on my last visit to his store. And tipped him with a large bag of coins in advance,” said Marceline, while Lady Annalise picked up the pearl necklace in her hand to observe it closely. “He said, it was the only piece he was able to get his hands on, and of course, it cost him quite a lot to bring it to Hollow Valley through the consignment, especially how in demand they are, not to mention almost extinct.”

Lady Annalise turned the necklace in her hand, noticing the silvery shine the pearls held along with its creamy texture. The necklace did elate her deflated mood.

“It is a wonderful birthday gift, Marceline. Thank you for the gift. I will be sure to wear it on the next occasion where it is worthy,” Lady Annalise praised Marceline, and the young woman beamed.

“I brought something for you too, Uncle Charles,” said Marceline, and Charles raised his eyebrows.

“How thoughtful of you. Don’t tell me it is mermaid’s blood. It has been a while since I last tasted one,” said Charles, watching Marceline pick a little box from the trunk and hand it to him. He opened the box and saw a simple looking quill with a black feather at its end.

“It has been more than a decade. These days it is very hard to find mermaids as they are hard to capture,” replied Lady Annalise, placing the necklace on the velvety cloth. “When Eduard asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told him about the incomparable blood of the mermaids. He said he would see what he could do.”

Marceline’s mouth watered, and she said to Lady Annalise, “I hope you wouldn’t mind if I take a few drops from it, mother.”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I share a few drops with my daughter,” Lady Annalise smiled. Noticing Charles’s blank expression, Marceline asked,

“Is it not to your liking, Uncle Charles?” Marceline tilted her head with a worried look on her face.

“It seems like you aren’t well versed with the quality of quills, Marceline. The merchant must have fooled you,” remarked Charles, closing the box.

Marceline held a thoughtful look, and she said sweetly, “Is that so? If I knew the governess was going to spill her food on you, I would have gotten you a scented soap.”

A nerve ticked in Charles’ jaw, but he hid it behind a smile. Lady Annalise said to Marceline, “Why don’t you go and freshen yourself? The journey back from Hollow Valley must have tired you.”

Marceline nodded, smiling back, she said, “Indeed it has been exhausting. I will see you later,” she offered a polite bow and stepped out of the tea room. The young woman continued to walk in the corridor, her chin up and her nose high with pride. When she saw Vincent instructing the butler in one of the corridors, the smile on her face turned appeasing, and she made her way there.

“Brother Vincent! I missed you,” Marceline greeted Vincent, who turned to her with a smile of his own.

“I wish I could say the same,” said Vincent. Alfie bowed at both of them before rushing to continue his work. “Don’t smile innocently, it doesn’t suit you, sister.”

The earlier deceitful smile disappeared from Marceline’s face and was replaced with her true expression, “I saw you hired a village bumpkin for a governess. It hasn’t even been a month since the last one.”

“Mm. Isn’t that precisely why one had to be hired?” hummed Vincent. He placed his hand on her head and said with a smirk, “Don’t be shy if you need some guidance from the governess.”

Marceline turned annoyed by his words, and before she could swat his hand away from her head, Vincent pulled his hand back and walked away from there.
Chapter 23

Music Recommendation: Dark Asher IQ- Nathan Barr

Eve sat in the carriage, staring outside the window, watching the trees pass by. The duration of the journey back to Meadow town was long enough to make her stomach whine in hunger.

Somewhere she was worried about the mansion’s door that had slightly chipped because of the tip of her umbrella. Her eyes glanced at her umbrella.

The carriage window was pushed open for the ventilation of the air because of the number of passengers who stepped in and out of it. The breeze gently moved the fringes on Eve’s forehead, and the piece of her hair near her ear moved.

While she sat in the carriage, holding her umbrella in one hand and the other placing it on the lunchbox that rested on her lap, the men couldn’t help but sneak a few glances at her.

Upon reaching Meadow town, the coachman pulled the horses’ reins to stop the carriage. Eve stepped down from the carriage.

“Thank you,” said Eve, taking her umbrella from the coachman, who had offered to hold it while she got down from the carriage.

“You are welcome, Miss Barlow,” the coachman held his hand at the front end of his hat.

Eve took a deep breath of the air that filled her town. As she started to walk, she heard the sound of the carriage door closing behind her.

While Eve made her way toward her home, she noticed a little commotion not too far away from where she was. Most of the folks of the Meadow town had gathered near where the commotion occurred, and unable to suppress her curiosity, Eve decided to take a peek.

“Let go of my arm, I told you I don’t know anything about it!” Shouted a man who was being dragged by two guards, who were in their uniforms.

“Silence before I cut your tongue out!” A third guard warned, who seemed to hold a higher position as he wore a darker shade of uniform.

But the head guard’s warning didn’t stop the captured man from struggling and trying to break free from the guards.

“Let me go!” Shouted the man. Putting all his strength, he freed himself and started running away from there.

But he could get only two steps away from them as soon the head guard used his metal stick to hit the back of the man’s legs. This resulted in the person falling to the ground. A couple of shocked gasps escaped from the mouths of the town’s folks who surrounded the place and watched the scene, but no one tried to stop or question the guards.

“Tie his hands and legs!” The head guard ordered his subordinates.

“NO! I didn’t do anything wrong!!” The man begged and flailed his limbs, but it was to no avail.

“What happened?” one of the women whispered to the person standing next to her in grave curiosity.

The person next to the woman shook his head, “I am not sure. But I think they found he’s one of the outcasts,” he replied in a low tone, and Eve quickly turned to look at the man, who was bound in chains and was being dragged on the ground. “I don’t know which one.”

Outcasts were creatures who didn’t fit in the existing norms of the society, creatures who were different and who were used to high society’s advantage. These creatures didn’t belong to the higher society, nor the lower society were often sold to wealthy families for amusement.

The head guard then turned to look at one of his underlings and ordered, “See if he has any family members of his own,if so bring them to the cage!”

“We are humans!” The man resisted being dragged and pushed into the cage placed on a cart. “Please spare my wif—”

The man’s jaw connected to the metal rod, and his mouth started to bleed.

“Now shut up and let us do our job,” the head guard spat on the ground, and he turned to look at the captured woman, who was being dragged out of her house. The woman begged and pleaded, screaming for help.

“Help me!” The woman screamed, who was the chained man’s wife.

When someone did try to step forward and asked the head guard, “Why are they being taken away? They have been good people—”

The head guard tapped his metal rod on the ground, which immediately got the town’s man to close his mouth. He asked, “How about you mind your work and let us guards take care of things in here? Unless you wish to join them behind the bars of the cell.”

Eve clenched her fists because this wasn’t the first time she witnessed something like this. Whenever someone tried to stop it, they were threatened, and everyone knew that the threat wasn’t empty.

“If anyone has any more words to say, you can step forward and we will see how to clear the doubts in your minds,” warned the head guard, and the other two guards, who were nearby, smirked on looking at the townsfolk.

Whispers and murmurs started amongst the people, but no one dared to express their thoughts loud enough for the guards to hear.

“They are innocent people.”

The head guard turned slightly annoyed and turned to see in the direction from where the voice had come from.

It was Eve who had spoken. Unable to stand on the sidelines and watch, she now met the head guard’s eye.

“We are only following the orders to ensure that all of you are safe, and no harm comes to fall on you people,” the head guard slowly approached her. “It seems like you show great compassion towards them.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” Eve asked the brazen head guard. “The blacksmiths have lived in Meadow for years. Keeping to themselves and causing no trouble to anyone. Pray tell me, how can they harm us?”

“Not everything that you see is what it seems, Miss,” replied the head guard while trying to memorise the impudent woman’s face who dared to question his actions. “Stop!” He ordered his men, who were dragging the poor woman towards the carriage. “Bring the woman here!”

Everyone held their breaths and looked at the woman with curious eyes, wondering what would happen now. The woman who had been captured was pulled to stand in front of the head guard, and he announced to the people while glaring at them,

“Let me show you why it is necessary that we catch these lowly, filthy creatures!”

Eve’s eyebrows had furrowed. She watched the buff guardsman catch hold of the woman’s neck from the back. The woman, who had been crying, her eyes suddenly turned into slits.

The townsfolk quickly stepped backwards with a look of weariness on their faces.

“What is that thing?!” One of the men in the crowd asked.

“Did you see those eyes?” Questioned another.

“That is right,” replied the head guard, with a smug smile on his face, and then he said, “This here is no human, and will only cause harm.” He then turned to look at Eve, glaring at her. “Is there anyone who has more questions?”

The people quickly shook their heads and collectively agreed that they take these strange creatures from here. When Eve and the head guard’s eyes met, the man pushed the woman towards his men, who quickly grabbed and dragged the woman into the cage that they had brought.

The head guard then took a couple of steps toward Eve.

“Looks like you were quite close with the creatures. Did they perhaps charm you?” Questioned the head guard, who towered Eve by a couple of good inches. Then he asked in a low voice, “Or is there any other reason?”

Chapter 24

By speaking in favour of the captured couple, Eve had brought attention to herself.

Eve wondered how the guards were able to track down the couple to be the outcasts. If they could track them, it was only time before she would be caught one day… and that meant she would have to be careful.

Eve asked the head guard, “Will they have a trial?”

“That will depend on their behaviour. People who behave and follow rules will get to live. Especially ones who will bring no harm, and the ones who don’t will be put on the gallows. What was your relation with the Blacksmiths? Answer me,” the head guard’s voice was loud and demanding.

While the little scene was taking place, where the crowd had gathered, one of Eve’s admirers stood there too.

It was none other than Patrick Humphrey.

Noticing how the head guard was trying to corner Eve, Mr. Humphrey decided to act as her knight in shining armor. By doing this, not only would he gain affection from Genevieve Barlow, but it would also warn other men who were trying to court her.

Mr. Humphrey jerked his head, pushing his blonde hair, he spoke in a loud voice, “Septimus. What do you think you are doing, by talking to Miss Barlow in such a tone?”

The head guard turned to look at Mr. Humphrey with a glare.

Mr. Humphrey stated, “Don’t you know how to respectfully speak to a woman? Miss Barlow is nothing like these repulsive creatures whom you just caught. You should be lucky th—”

Soon Mr. Humphrey’s collar was caught by the head guard, and he was raised above the ground, “You whimsical humans. Don’t forget who you are talking to.”

The people around went quiet, their breath caught in their throat, and Eve turned worried.

“Please let Mr. Humphrey go, he didn’t mean to provoke you!” requested Eve, noticing Mr. Humphrey struggle to breathe.

“Move your grubby hands from me this instant before I inform the higher authorities on you!” Mr. Humphrey demanded and threatened the head guard named Septimus.

This only enraged the head guard, and he raised the human higher than before.

“That is enough, Septimus. I believe you have finished your job here and have other things to do,” came an authoritative voice in the crowd that Eve was familiar with, and she turned her head. She found Noah Sullivan standing not too far from where she stood. “It isn’t right to harass the townsfolk, when they are only asking for answers politely.”

The head guard’s eyes met Noah’s eyes, and he finally let go of Mr. Humphrey, who fell to the ground with a light thud.

Septimus bowed, “Duke. I indeed have something to deliver.” He then addressed the crowd, “If anyone finds something, don’t forget to report it and you will be rewarded with a handsome sum of gold coins.”

The head guard bowed at Mr. Sullivan again and walked away. Soon the crowd dispersed from there.

Patrick Humphrey coughed, trying to compose himself, while shaken that the head guard had lifted him as if he weighed nothing. Once the head guard disappeared, he quickly stood up and puffed his chest. He demanded,

“Where does the guard think he is going? We have to settle this matter now!”

Mr. Humphrey’s servant, who often followed right behind him, pointed his hand in one direction and said to his master, “He went that way, Sire.” This only ended up with the servant receiving a glare from the man.

Eve internally shook her head but then asked, “Are you alright, Mr. Humphrey?” The man did intervene the head guard.

Mr. Humphrey glared in the direction where the head guard had disappeared. Noah softly chuckled, seeing the man’s flimsy attempt to regain his image.

“I would have beaten him and brought him to his knees if he stayed here for a minute longer. He should be grateful that I didn’t do anything to him,” huffed Mr. Humphrey, and he asked Eve, “Are you alright, Miss Barlow? That impolite mongrel didn’t hurt you, did he?”

Eve shook her head and politely smiled, “I am perfectly fine, Mr. Humphrey. You do not have to worry about it.” And she then turned to look at Noah, “Thank you for coming to our aid, Mr. Sullivan.”

Noah returned her smile with a much politer and kinder one, “Do not thank me, Miss Barlow. I only did what I thought was right.”

Mr. Humphrey gritted his teeth, unhappy that someone else stole his limelight when it was his to shine in front of the woman he was trying to court. He commented,

“Mr. Sullivan, you were here, yet you didn’t bother to stop the head guard from trying to insinuate that Miss Barlow was one of the vile creatures?”

Noah turned to look at Eve and said, “I believed that Miss Barlow was perfectly capable of handling herself. After all, there is no reason for her to fear when she hasn’t done anything wrong. Of course, I will always be more than willing to offer my help to her.”

Mr. Humphrey scoffed and then said to no one in particular and spoke on behalf of Eve, “I cannot believe that he dared to think that Miss Barlow was related or associated with those vile creatures. Where is she and where are the hideous creatures who are cursed.”

“The blacksmith couple never did anything to upset anyone. They have been nothing but kind, without harming anyone, Mr. Humphrey,” Eve frowned, “They are people like us, and they deserve a life like us.”

“These outcasts are poisonous, Miss Barlow. You are too kind to think that they are worthy enough to live amongst us. You never know when they will do something unforgivable. It is better to be careful than regret later,” stated Mr. Humphrey, as if Eve was a naive woman who didn’t know the ways of the world and how it worked. “There are only three kinds that are acceptable.”

And though the man didn’t elaborate, Eve already knew about it. Everyone knew about it. The lands that everyone lived on were monopolised mainly by the vampires, the werewolves. Then there were humans, who were invisibly chained down to the vampires and the werewolves.

Eve couldn’t speak more on the matter because it was only two months ago when everyone found out that one of the townsfolk, who was an outcast, had been kidnapping young women and had killed them. There were good and bad people everywhere, and it was hard to stand up for the good ones because of the deeds committed by the bad ones.

Mr. Humphrey then gallantly said, “I am glad that I was passing by this place early today. Else I would have not been able to help you.”

Eve politely bowed and thanked him, “Thank you for coming to my aid, Mr. Humphrey. It is very much appreciated.”

“You must have been scared. Allow me to walk you to your home. It will also ease my mind,” Mr. Humphrey offered Eve, not wanting to let go of the opportunity.

But as grateful as Eve was, she wasn’t comfortable, nor did she want Mr. Humphrey clinging to her. She refused, “That is very kind of you, Mr. Humphrey, but I have something to talk about with Mr. Sullivan. If you don’t mind.”

“No worries. I shall wait for you until you finish talking with him. Please take your time,” Mr. Humphrey offered a friendly smile.

Chapter 25

Eve had hoped that her words would be enough to shrug Mr. Humphrey away from her and would send him on his way, but it seemed like he was too intent on walking her back home.

“I think Miss Barlow is right, Mr. Humphrey,” stated Mr. Sullivan, the polite smile still etched on his lips, “She and I have matters to discuss, and it would take time. I don’t think it would be right to have a respectful gentleman like yourself following us. If it makes you feel better, I will make sure to see that the lady is safely seen at her house.”

Before Mr. Humphrey could say something more, Mr. Sullivan offered a slight bow, and both he and Eve started to walk away from there.

Eve didn’t turn back to look at Mr. Humphrey, and while looking ahead, she said, “Thank you for that, Mr. Sullivan.”

“You are welcome. Though I do not blame him, you are a lovely woman and anyone would enjoy your company,” Noah complimented Eve, and her cheeks turned slightly red out of bashfulness.

It was because Eve was aware that Noah Sullivan wasn’t someone who handed out compliments, especially women, as they hoped to catch his attention one day. He was a gentleman compared to most of the men she had met until now.

Eve waved her hand, which held the umbrella, “You are being generous, Mr. Sullivan.”

“I am not,” replied Noah, looking at her. The soft smile on his lips didn’t leave, and Eve cleared her throat before asking him,

“The head guard addressed you as Duke. Did your father pass down the title for you to take over the position?”

“He did,” Mr. Sullivan nodded, and Eve, who was walking, stopped and offered a deep bow.

“Congratulations on taking the position as Woodlock’s Duke, Mr. Sullivan,” Eve wished him.

“Thank you, Miss Barlow. I can only hope to uphold and do justice to the title,” replied Noah as they walked.

“Is it any different? From being a normal person to becoming a Duke?” Eve asked in curiosity.

Noah held a thoughtful expression on his face for a second before he shook his head. “I don’t think I noticed any difference apart from the duties that come from being a Duke. But I am guessing that I will be frequenting to Meadow to discuss things with the magistrate.”

That meant she would be able to see the man more, thought Eve to herself, and she smiled with that thought.

“How was your job interview today?” Noah inquired, noticing her carrying a box tied in a cloth and her umbrella.

Eve beamed at his question like an excited child. She said, “I finally got the job.”

“That is wonderful. Congratulations, Miss Barlow. It is well deserved,” Mr. Sullivan looked pleased. “It is good to know that your hard work has finally bore fruits. God bless the family who decided to hire you as a governess. It must be a kind family.”

Eve smiled, unsure if the word kind was suitable to be used for the family, but remembering the little girl, she nodded in agreement. She replied,

“Yes, the little girl to whom I am acting governess to, she is a well behaved child and doesn’t trouble me.”

“I am happy for you. This is something you have been looking forward to for more than five years, is it?” Asked Noah, and Eve nodded.

“I am too,” replied Eve, and as she said this, her stomach growled. It was loud enough for the man walking next to her to hear it, and a chuckle escaped from his lips. “My apologies,” she awkwardly smiled.

“Please, don’t be. It seems like you have been too immersed with your new job and forgot to have your meal?”

Already known to be clumsy, Eve decided only to smile and decided not to explain the mishap that was caused in the Moriarty mansion.

Noah then offered her, “How about I treat you to the inn’s food today? It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to invite you to the celebration of me becoming a Duke. As friends, we should celebrate that you are officially a governess and I am a Duke.”

“Friends?” she hadn’t meant to blurt it out.

Noah smiled at her, “I am sure that a Duke and a governess can be friends.”

“We can,” replied Eve in slight awe.

Though Eve and Noah spoke to each other, there had been no label between them until now. Hearing they were friends brought a smile to her lips.

And as delightful as Noah’s offer sounded, Eve wasn’t sure if it would be proper for her to accept it. After all, they were both unmarried. But at the same time, no woman in her right mind would refuse a meal with the handsome and kind man.

“You do not have to worry about the inn. It will be the one which is popular and not in a dark corner,” said Noah, already considering her feelings and his words made her smile.

“Forgive me, Mr. Sullivan. I would, but my aunt might worry if I don’t return home on said time,” replied Eve, hoping Mr. Sullivan wouldn’t take offense to her refusal. “But, maybe some other time?”

“How about lunch on Sunday? You can extend my invitation to Lady Aubrey. And Eugene, was it?” Noah made sure he got the man’s name right, and Eve nodded. “Let us have lunch together, this way there is no need for your aunt to worry,” he assured her.

A smile spread on Eve’s lips, and she nodded, “They would be delighted to join you for lunch. Thank you for the invitation, Mr. Sullivan.”

As they continued to walk, silence came to fall between them. The chatter of people, the sound of the carriage wheels, and the clopping of the horses’ hooves surrounded them.

As they neared her home, Mr. Sullivan said, “You are brave to have spoken to a head guard like that today. Did the scene that took place make you uncomfortable?”

Eve slightly pursed her lips and nodded, “It did. I do not understand how people can treat each other like this. Do people’s lives not matter?”

Noah’s face looked as if there was a faint smile, and at the same time, it wasn’t. He replied, “Every life matters. But the world we live in, it runs differently. There is more bad than there is good. It is why we need to preserve the little light that still exists. What we can do is watch our backs and the ones we care about, without getting into light.”

“Like getting into trouble with the head guard,” Eve murmured to herself, and her eyes met Noah’s black eyes.

It was just that she knew if one day she would be dragged into the cage, she would want someone to stand up for her and stop the guards.

“You have a kind heart, Miss Barlow,” remarked Noah, and they stopped near the front of her house gate. He looked straight into her eyes and said, “But you should know that coming under the radar of authorities’ eyes will get you into trouble.”