SOMETIMES ONE DOESN’T HAVE TO SPEAK TO FALL IN LOVE
“…As soon as the Right Honorable Lady Eleanor Woods notified me of her desire to have one of the teachers from McAdam Academy for the Deaf instruct her younger brother in signing, I thought of you, my dear Anna. You’ve had so much success with youngsters, I felt you’d be the better choice for this position. Granted the twenty-seventh Baron Mayfield is very low in the peerage strata but his position notwithstanding he is nobility, and to successfully instruct a lord will truly be a feather in our collective cap. In expectation of your accepting the position, I have replied to Lady Eleanor’s letter by recommending you. I am enclosing the railway ticket which Her Ladyship sent along with her correspondence…”
Thus begins Anna Leighton’s journey to Mayfield Village, to teach the younger brother of a noblewoman how to sign. Anna is in for a shock when she meets her pupil, however.
Set down on the roadside by the coach driver, Anna has to walk through a wood to reach Mayfield Manor, a foreboding place that would be at home in a gothic novel. More surprises are in store, however, for Anna’s pupil isn’t a child as she was lead to believe, but a young man fast approaching his majority, a twenty-year-old who’s been coddled and pampered because of his disability, and given free rein to do as he wishes for the past fifteen years.
Now, a problem has arisen. David’s cousin wishes a competency hearing, to prove His Lordship shouldn’t inherit the family fortune because he’s mentally incapable.
Anna’s job is to teach David to communicate so he can prove he’s intelligent and up to the task of being a noble landholder.
She finds David a sharp-witted but undisciplined young man, begging to be educated….except that most of the things he wants to be taught aren’t found in proper school books because they involve Anna on a most intimate level…
Anna had been enjoying her walk.
The sun was getting higher overhead, and she decided she’d better start back. She hadn’t found the lake Eleanor spoke of, but by the time she arrived at the manor, luncheon would probably be ready. Afterward, she would have her first session with her pupil.
Before her on the path, sunlight struck something, making it gleam whitely. She paused, stooping to pick it up.
It was brittle and paperlike with minute wrinkles…a corn-husk?…wrapped around what appeared to be shredded bits of brown plant. It was charred and crushed as if it had been burned and then stamped on. Anna raised the thing, sniffing loudly.
Why it’s tobacco!
She was familiar with cigars. Her own father smoked them occasionally, but this was too small and narrow.
Is this what they call a cigarito? She’d heard Papa mention them. Who would be smoking one of these out here?
There was a sound…a horse’s snort…
Anna looked up. Through the trees, she saw a tall chestnut, its reins tied to a branch, bits dangling under its chin. The animal raised its head, looking at her and neighed as if in recognition.
That’s David’s horse. She looked again at the cigarito, remembering Eleanor’s statement at dinner about not allowing tobacco in the house. Oh, I see…putting one over on your sister, are you? She glanced around. Where are you, David?
Her gaze traveled down the slope. Anna frowned as she saw the scattered clothing. Her attention was caught by the lake and the ducks paddling peacefully, barely breaking the water’s smooth surface. Abruptly there was a racket as the birds fluttered into the air, quacking loudly, wings swooping.
A dark head broke the lake’s surface. Slinging his hair out of his face, David rose from the water, wading toward the lake bank.
Anna froze. If David’s in the water and his clothing is there…oh dear…
David continued toward shore.
He doesn’t see me. Still clutching the cigarette stub, she backed away a few feet, then stopped as he turned his head and looked up the slope.
Though he didn’t acknowledge her presence, he definitely saw her.
He’ll stop now. He won’t come out of the water.
David didn’t slow his progress. Splashing, he emerged from the lake and stepped onto the grassy bank.
Anna stared at him, startled eyes once again taking in that broad bare chest, gleaming wetly in the overhead sun. She could see little droplets of water falling from his fingertips where his hands hung at his sides. He took another step and that pulled her eyes toward his thigh, covered with a sheen of lake water, also golden in the sun, and from there to…
Her hand went to her mouth to stifle her gasp. Surely he’ll turn his back…or I should…
She didn’t move.
Neither did David. Instead, he bowed, straightened, and simply stood there…
…presenting his naked body for Anna’s scrutiny, a wide smile spreading across his mouth.
Anna whirled and ran.
Love is Silent is a romance set in a period of manners and artifice, when young men were well-mannered, well-spoken, and expected to engage in a series of affairs before settling into marriage. David has experienced none of that, though with Anna’s help, he’s quite willing to do the latter.
The only question is…will Anna survive the scandal if it’s discovered what she and her pupil have done?
Love is Silent is available from Class Act Books in both electronic and paperback forms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Icy Snow Blackstone was born in 1802, in northern Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone, was prominent in local politics. Two hundred and five years later, her great-great-great-great-granddaughter began using her name as a pseudonym for her romance novels.
The present Icy Snow Blackstone lives far from her Southern roots in Lancaster County, Nebraska. Love is Silent is her 12th novel.