Julia London

Julia London by Wicked Angel The Devil's Love

Book: Julia London by Wicked Angel The Devil's Love Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wicked Angel The Devil's Love
haven’t in a long time, but I don’t think I’ve forgotten. Do you?” she teased.
    Withers scowled. “Course I do,” he grumbled, then retrieving his shovel began to move down the graveled aisle. Abbey followed closely behind.
    “You know, Withers, I could help you here,” Abbey suggested hopefully as she stopped to examine the waxy leaves of an ivy hanging overhead.
    “Don’t let just anyone in here. Bailey and Hans been with me a long time,” the man responded quickly.
    “I shall be quite careful. I am not without experience, you know. I had quite a large garden—well, not as large as this, ofcourse, but large by Virginia standards. It was quite successful too.”
    Withers settled back onto one hip and perched his great hands on top of the shovel. “Virginia don’t have the same climate. We grow roses almost year round here. They are a hardy strain, and I won’t have any practice that will weaken them.”
    “Of course not,” she agreed cheerfully.
    “They ain’t easy to grow. Takes work.”
    “Absolutely. Hard work.”
    “Can’t do it part o’ the time, either. Got to be committed.”
    “Yes, of course. One must be
very
committed. Rain or shine, they need their care.”
    Withers scratched the thick patch of gray hair as he considered her. “Well,” he said with a growl. “I might let you visit me here. But you got to mind that you do as me or Hans says. And don’t listen to Bailey; he’s so simple no telling what he’d say.”
    “I promise.” Abbey nodded and smiled brightly.
    Withers’s gruff facade melted, and he straightened. “Got work to do. See that you don’t touch anything,” he muttered as he walked away.
    Abbey smiled at his great departing back and gleefully went about exploring the whole of the hothouse, being extremely careful not to touch anything. She was aware that Withers watched her closely, just as he had done aboard her father’s ship so many years ago, but he never said a word. When Abbey finally began to make her way back to the house, he appeared from nowhere at the entrance of the hothouse and thrust a white rose in her face.
    “Here,” he said, then stalked away.
    Abbey smiled fondly as she brought the rose to her nose. The heavenly scent had a soothing effect on her. In here, it was possible to forget her circumstances, forget that Michael apparently had despised her even as a child. She would not think of that now. She had arranged her day so that she would not have to think of him, and so far, it had gone very well. She certainly was not going to start now. Stuffing the rose behindher ear, she marched back to the house, determined to rearrange that godawful chamber they called a sitting room.
    Michael did not return as expected, which was just fine with Abbey. The next few days flew by as she delighted in exploring her surroundings. She attended the stables every morning with her maimed dog Harry always on her heels, and finally extracted a promise from a stableboy to teach her to ride one of the fabulous horses. Although she had spent a little time on the back of a mule in Virginia, she had never learned to ride, but reasoned it could not be very different. She also took a great interest in the pregnant milk cow. She made the boy who tended the dairy to promise to send word when the cow showed signs of birthing. She had, after all, helped birth other calves, and she could be counted on to assist when the time came. The color had drained from the boy’s face when she had volunteered, but he had solemnly given his word.
    In the afternoons, Abbey visited the hothouse. Withers had given her a small section of roses to work with—under his strict supervision, of course. Every day she appeared in a black skirt and simple white blouse and an outrageously decorated straw hat that looked something like a misshapen fruit basket. She patiently explained to anyone who looked particularly pained by it that her cousin Virginia had made it specially for her, and

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