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Excerpt from RULES OF ENGAGEMENT


His butler announced her with an air of gravity befitting a woman of her age and situation. Lord Kerrich, Miss Pamela Lockhart from The Distinguished Academy of Governesses is here.


Kerrich looked up from the accounts spread before him to stare critically at the lady making her way into his large book-lined study. Then the candlelit circle of light around his heavily carved mahogany desk embraced her, and for the first time in a fortnight his heart lifted. There was no mistaking itthis governess fit his needs. Dour, unattractive, yet not so old she would scare the child.


Rising, he bowed. Miss Lockhart.


She curtsied, then examined him quite as if he were a recalcitrant pupil and she his instructor.


Lifting his monocle, he returned the favor. She carried a black umbrella with a carved wooden handle. Her ill-fitting purple dowager gown hung about her shoulders and showed damp spots from the monotonous rain, yet she sported a generous bosom and neat waist.


She wore tinted spectacles, he noted, a sign of weak eyes and excessive learning. Her complexion was bloodless and her lips pale. Her brown hair was pulled back so tightly from her face any sagging around the chin and neck had been reducedanother feminine trick, and one that would scarcely fool a connoisseur such as himself. A tangled, spidery thin net of gray lace covered her hair and she sported an absurd decoration that looked like nothing so much as two knitting needles stuck in right angles through the knot at the base of her neck.


He dropped his monocle and seated himself. Perhaps youll do, he said.


She nodded and without waiting for an invitation, seated herself in the old-fashioned Hepplewhite chair before his desk. I was going to say the same for you.


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