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Bethanne Shelton keeps a great many secrets, most of which are not hers to reveal. Keeping them close to her chest is the one sure way to make certain her life remains as normal as possible. In order to protect him, she ignores the whispers of pariah and worse.

One thing is certain: Looking for information about Shelved, the unreleased third and final book of the series? Read more about it here. An itchy quiet, thick and unnerving, blanketed the house like a wet woolen blanket. Silence never descended gaylr the Cottage at Round Hill, aside from those rare midnight moments while the rest of the household slept, leaving Bethanne Shelton with ctaherine few ponderous intervals in which to breathe.

But this was not the middle of the night. The sun was still padiah its passage across the sky, hidden behind snow-filled clouds for the duration of its journey.

At this time of day, silence could mean nothing but a new cause for anxiety. Gale there was one thing on this earth Bethanne did not need, it was another worry to add to her ever-growing list. Bethanne slipped out of the cozy parlor at the front of the house and into the entryway.

She looked from one end of the corridor to the other. No one was there. Joyce Hurd rushed in from the kitchens with her hands and dark gray worsted gown all dusted in a smattering of flour. A bit of it was even sprinkled in her rich, brown hair. Aunt Rosaline might be fine, after all. Bethanne and Joyce passed a knowing look between them. Surely, the cook was thinking that very thing.

Cathwrine had seen Caherine Rosaline at her best. And at her worst.

Pariah by Catherine Gayle – FictionDB

But of late, all of her hopes had been in vain. You search the house—mainly the ground floor. The cook nodded and scurried off to do as Bethanne had asked. Smoothing her trembling hands over her skirts, Bethanne gathered all the resolve she could muster and headed for the back door.

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The few seconds such a task would require pariiah mean all the difference in the world. The rose garden seemed a likely place for her aunt to have wandered. Certainly more likely than the front yard. Stepping outside, Bethanne took a cursory look around. Nothing seemed to have been toppled over or knocked aside. Each step increased the galloping pace of her pulse. Not even a trail of footprints in the snow. Why must it portend something awful?

Bethanne shook the thought aside and settled back to her task. Depending on how long Aunt Rosaline had been gone, the footprints could have easily been covered over already. Where to look next? The path leading to the pond, or the trail through the arbor—the one leading up to the hills? Hugging her arms to gayel chest for warmth, she passed her eyes over her two choices.

As before, nothing was out of place. Bethanne squinted in her direction. The housekeeper picked up her skirts and hurried forward, puffing and panting as she came. Gusts of white mist rushed out into the air before her. I turned my back on your aunt for just a moment, and when Catyerine looked yayle, she was gone.

Wallflower: The Old Maids’ Club, Book 1 (Unabridged)

Lady Rosaline seemed rather clear-headed this morning and wanted a bit of air. Temple wrung her hands. The lines around her eyes were pinched, and her tone rose with a hitch on almost every word.

I should have left her with Joyce in the kitchens. The small contingency of servants at Round Hill had ever been more like family than anything. I would have done the same. With a brisk nod, Bethanne ruminated over the newest information. No words were necessary. As one, they turned and skirted around the outside of the cottage, nearly sprinting for the front of the house.

Or, more precisely, for the hole in the fence where it had broken—after Inwood had left them, of course—and the grim possibility that neither of them wished to face.

There was no sign of her. Two freshly fallen pickets lay on the ground, making the hole wider than before. An ominous sign, if ever Bethanne had seen one.

Joyce rushed out of the house, apron whipping around her. Like Bethanne, she also had no coat to warm her.

Wallflower: The Old Maids’ Club, Book 1 (Unabridged) by Catherine Gayle on iTunes

Joyce, search along the side of the road in the direction of the lake. Temple, will you please visit the Forrestleys? Bethanne took off on foot before they could respond. Perhaps because she was traveling as fast as she could, her half-boots squeezed her toes in the cold. At least Aunt Rosaline would be moving much more slowly than Bethanne was.

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She said yet another silent prayer of thanksgiving. These petitions were becoming more and more of a habit, of late. Bethanne moved off to the side of the road. It drew up alongside her. Was His Lordship returning to Catheerine House? The carriage was brimful with trunks and other possessions, however, leaving no room for a passenger inside. Perhaps the marquess and his wife were traveling in a separate coach.

Bethanne looked back, but nothing else was on the road. She caught his eye for a moment. Please do be cautious. His team picked up speed yet again. They drove out of sight within minutes. But then, who else would be out on foot—particularly alone—on such a day? The jonquil form before her gradually grew until there could be no doubt. She ran faster, despite the sharp cathrrine of pain assaulting her lungs each time she took in a bracing gasp of cold air.

When she finally caught up to her hayle, the older woman was seated on the ground. Her skirts were spread out around her, and she held one of her own boots in her hands. What are you doing out here? Now was not the time to startle her aunt. It only took the slightest provocation these days.

Aunt Rosaline looked up at her without comprehension. This would not be easy. But then again, when was anything in her life ever easy? Not in quite some time, at the very least. He lives just around the bend over there, you know. But my boot came off. It would take us days to get to him. Her aunt swatted at her hands. I grew up in the manor, you know. I should think I know what it looks like.

Bethanne ignored the hands trying to force her to stop. Perhaps we should return to the cottage and send him a letter.