SPRINGHILL MANOR - LIBRARY
did you get that last thing I said?" Thornton Preston asked as he stopped
in mid-pace in the middle of the room and turned to look at her.
Sara had been trying to take
dictation, but was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate. Her
mind kept returning to thoughts of Dane and exactly how close he was to
realizing that everything about their finances was not what it appeared.
"Oh, um, I'm sorry,"
she muttered, slightly embarrassed that she couldn't keep her mind focused.
"Could you start again with 'and further more...'."
"You really need to pull
your head out of the clouds and stop wasting Mr. Preston's time!" Helga
interrupted with a stern glare. "You're paid to work, not sit and
Thornton quickly shot his housekeeper a cautionary look. He'd grown quite
protective of Sara since his investigator's report into her past had
arrived. Although he understood Helga's concerns and dislike for Sara,
Thornton was quick to realize that he needed his young assistant for much more
important, spiteful things. However, Sara's intelligence and determination had
earned his respect and he'd found himself growing quite fond of her in a
fatherly sort of way.
Preston!" Helga just couldn't understand his continued coddling of
Sara. She was working as a spy for Charles
Callison, after all. Sara
wasn't in Mr. Preston's employ just to file papers and take dictation.
They were both fully aware of her true motives.
"Helga, that will be
enough!" He turned angrily toward her again. "Could you
please leave me and Sara alone so we can get some work done?"
Helga gritted her teeth and quickly rushed out of the room.
"Now, Sara," he
began as he turned back to face her, "you seem distracted from your
work. Why don't you tell me what's on your mind."
"Um...well...it is rather
"Maybe it would help if
you talked to someone about it." Thornton walked over to the desk and
sat down behind it so that he was closer to her. "Is it about your
husband and the fact that he doesn't know about your working for me?"
"Yes," she confessed
as she lowered her head in embarrassment. "He...he's starting to
figure out that we've got more money than we could possibly have from his work
alone. I'm afraid what he'll do if he finds out I've been lying to
"I'm sure you
are." He eyed her closely. "After all, you aren't a very
"W-what do you mean, Mr.
Preston?" Sara's hands shook slightly as a wave of nervousness began
to cover her body.
"What I mean is that
you've been lying to me from day one." He carefully rolled a pencil
around in his hands as he kept his eyes locked on her. "I know that
you're really here as a spy for Charles Callison. You're really here to
find out my reasons for wanting out of my contract."
"Oh, no! No, that's
not it at all!"
Sara." Thornton leaned back into this chair and chuckled
slightly. "Like I said, you've not a very good liar. I've been
trying to figure out what to do with you."
"Do with me?"
He clearly realized that he couldn't let her spying go unpunished.
However, he had his own personal plans for her and he had grown to be quite fond
of her...almost paternal. "I have to admit that you are a very sweet
girl, but I cannot ignore your duplicity."
"B-but I'm not
spying!" Sara began to wring her hands in fear. Surely, he
wasn't going to fire her. He'd said himself how fond he was of her.
But, what kind of punishment could he be talking about?
"Mr. Preston, you have a
phone call," Helga spoke up as she poked her head into the library.
"It's New York."
"Ah, yes, I've been
waiting for this call." He rose quickly from his seat and headed
toward the door. "Apparently, my lovely wife has returned from her sojourn
abroad. If you'll excuse me, Sara?"
"Oh, of course."
"I'll take this call in
my office upstairs." As he reached the doors, he turned to look at
Sara again. "We'll continue this conversation later."
Once Thornton had left the
room, Sara tried to return her concentration to the work at hand. However,
her mind again drifted to worries about Dane and their finances. Now,
though, her mind was also filled with concerns about Mr. Preston and what he
would do to her.
As she tried to wipe the
disturbing thoughts from her head, she began to read a rough manuscript for a
new novel that Thornton had been working on. Sara was supposed to take the
handwritten text and type it out, but she was having quite a bit of difficultly
making out a few of the sentences.
"I'm surprised he's not a
doctor," she laughed before leaning back into her seat to wait for Mr.
Preston to return. After a lengthy wait, Sara realized that she would
never get any work done if she couldn't read his handwriting. With the
manuscript in hand, she rose from her seat and headed upstairs to find out
exactly what the handwriting said.
Finally reaching the closed
door to Thornton's upstairs office, she hesitated slightly. She was a
little uncomfortable about interrupting him during an important phone call, but
knew that without his explanation, she'd never be able to understand what he'd
"Mr. Preston?" she
spoke up as she knocked on the door. After a short pause with no answer,
she knocked again. "Mr. Preston, I'm trying to read your handwriting
from the new novel and I'm having a bit of trouble." She eyed the
closed door cautiously before reaching for the knob and carefully turning
it. "Mr. Preston?"
She let out a sharp, horrified
gasp at what she saw. Mr. Preston was laying face down on the floor in the
middle of the room. "Oh, Mr. Preston!" Sara quickly ran to
his side and knelt down beside him. After several shakes and no response,
she knew he was unconscious.
"Oh, Helga! Helga,
help me!" Sara called out in panic.
replied as she appeared in the doorway. "Girl, what's wrong?
What have you done to Mr. Preston?"
"Oh, Helga, I found him
like this!" Sara began to cry in fear. "Helga, help
me! I-I think he's dead!"