Home > The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(8)

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(8)
Author: Kristen Painter

“Hi.” She waved nervously. “I’m, um, Annabelle Givens. Eternamate sent me.” Out loud the words sounded so blatantly false she expected him to call her a liar-pants and shoo her from the property.

“Ah, yes, Miss Givens. We weren’t expecting you until next week.”

Okay, no liar-pants. “Next week? I’m so sorry, I’m horrible with dates. I must have misread the paperwork.” She rummaged in her bag like she was looking for it, which she wasn’t, hoping he’d stop her.

He did. “It’s not a problem, miss. We are delighted to have you.”

She raised her brows. “We?” What exactly had she gotten herself into?

“Master Ellingham and I, that is.”

“You’re not Master, I mean, Mr. Ellingham?”

He laughed. “No, miss. I’m Bartholomew Stanhill. I’m Master Ellingham’s secretary.” He held out his hand. “Call me Stanhill. Everyone does.”

“Nice to meet you.” She shook his hand, a mix of relief and disappointment coursing through her. Stanhill wasn’t her match after all, which made sense considering the age difference, but he seemed like such a nice guy. Maybe his employer would be too. “Is Master Ellingham here?”

Stanhill smiled. “Yes, but he’s a rather late sleeper, which is why I came out to meet you and help you with your bags.”

A late sleeper? Must be nice to be that independently wealthy. She felt a pang of remorse at taking this guy away from the real Annabelle. “About the bags…I brought my cat with me. I hope that’s not going to be an issue.”

Stanhill merely nodded. “Not at all, miss. You can’t be expected to leave your pet for the entire month you’re here, can you? And after all, if things work out, your cat will be living here too. Might as well see how everyone gets on, eh?”

“Absolutely.” They expected her to be here only a month? Maybe she wouldn’t have to try quite so hard then.

He raised his brows. “Shall I get your bags, then, and leave you to the wee beastie?”

“He’s not so wee, but yes, that sounds good.”

“What’s the large beastie’s name?”

“Captain Un—I mean, just Captain.” Annabelle Givens didn’t seem like the sort of woman who’d name her pet after a series of children’s books that generally encouraged bucking authority. Or celebrated underpants. But Cappy’s black and white markings clearly made him look like he was wearing a pair of tighty whities, and so, after the Princess Buttercream fiasco, the name had stuck.

Stanhill peered into her car. “Well, I see what you mean about him not being wee. Gorgeous creature, though.”

“Thanks.” She opened the passenger door and scooped Cappy into her arms, nearly throwing her back out with the effort. “He’s a Maine Coon. They can get to be twenty-five pounds.”

Stanhill studied Captain. “And this one?”

Delaney’s mouth twitched. “Twenty-six. And a half.” She sighed. “He’s a little spoiled, but we’re working on it.”

Stanhill chuckled. “Likes his kitchen scraps and such, does he?”

“Too much. Keep the bacon locked up.” She nudged the door closed with her hip. “I’ll come back for the litter box.”

Stanhill grabbed her suitcase, weekender and laptop bag. “Very good. Follow me and I’ll show you up to your room.”

The house was as gorgeous inside as it was out, but Delaney tried to keep her oohing and aahing to a minimum so she wouldn’t seem like she’d never been inside a nice house before. “Mr. Ellingham has a lovely place.”

“Feel free to make yourself at home. The only room that’s off limits is the basement.” Stanhill nodded as he led the way up a flight of stairs and down a long, gracious hall. “And I’m sure he’d want you to call him Hugh, miss.”

Knowing the basement was off limits made her want to immediately run down there and check it out, but that would have to be without Captain in her arms. Any further and she’d need a hand truck to get him the rest of the way. Fortunately, Stanhill set one of her bags down in front of a door, opened it and stood aside for her to enter.

There was no holding back a gasp this time. “Oh, this is beautiful.” It was less a room and more a suite, complete with a sitting area with a fireplace, an enormous four-poster bed and an adjoining bathroom. The place was bigger than her entire third-floor walk-up. Actually, the bed might be bigger on its own. She bent her head to whisper in Cappy’s ear, “If you destroy anything in this room, I will trade you for a dog.”

Stanhill brought her bags in and set them at the foot of the bed.

“Thank you. I’m going to keep Captain confined to this room for a few days. It’ll be easier for him to adjust to the new surroundings that way.” And it would give her a reason to keep her door shut.

“Very good, miss. Would you like a tour of the home? Can I get you something to eat?”

She smiled wistfully. “It was a long drive, so if it’s all right with you, after I get Captain set up, all I really want is a hot shower and a nap.”

“Of course. Should I wake you for dinner?”

“Yes! In fact, I’ll set my alarm. What time should I be down?”

“Six P.M. And if I can get you anything before then, just let me know.”

“I’m good. Just need Cappy’s bag of supplies and his box. Oh! Would I be able to use the Wi-Fi?”

   
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