Her voice, low and melodic, roused Jonavon from his stupor. “Are you lost?” he asked. Stupid, he chastised himself.
She laughed; a genuine laugh, as though she were actually amused by his word choice. “Is it not obvious? Shall I return with brambles and twigs in my hair and with the look of a rabid animal?” She was not sarcastic, merely teasing. “My carriage was traveling down this road when we stopped for the horses to drink. I have wandered off and I can’t seem to find my way back.”
Jonavon smiled and offered his hand. “Well, we’d best find that carriage, then. Come along, Miss…?” he left the sentence open for her to fill in her name.
“Izar,” she replied, placing her gentle hand in his. “Miss Iracebeth Izar.”
What an unusual name, he thought. Nevertheless, they started off together down the road. Miss Izar walked steadily beside him, her eyes wandering up and around as she eagerly drank in her surroundings. Jonavon stared in awe. Nearly all of the girls he knew would shudder at the thought of walking un-chaperoned in a forest. There was something different about Miss Izar.
“So, where’re you headed that you must take only back roads to get there?”
“I’m not sure where we’re heading,” Miss Izar replied. “He likes to travel a lot, to keep a low profile.”
“We’re?” Jonavon repeated. “He?”
“Mr. Hamilton,” Miss Izar said. “He travels with me.”
“Is he of any relation?”
Miss Izar hesitated. A blank look came upon her face and she stopped dead in her tracks. “Miss Izar?” Jonavon asked.
“Excuse me,” she said. “I think I hear the carriage now.”
Indeed, when Jonavon listened, he could hear the rattle of carriage wheels along a dirt road. He turned around and saw a pair of black horses pulling an elegant carriage. The carriage rattled and stopped a few feet behind Jonavon and Miss Izar, spraying up loose dirt and the horses snorting and breathing heavily. Before the carriage stopped completely, the door was flung open and a man stepped out.
Everything about him screamed money; from the fabric of his suit to the gold tip of his walking stick, and the leather of his shoes. He walked to Miss Izar and placed an arm protectively around her. He acted as though Jonavon were not there.
“Iracebeth,” he sighed. “Thank goodness we’ve found you. I was worried you were lost for good. You know how I disapprove of you wandering off.” There was a strong undercurrent to his voice.
“I hadn’t gone far, Mr. Hamilton,” Miss Izar said.
“Never mind,” he said. “I have you in my sight again. Into the carriage, now.” She obeyed immediately. Without a word to Jonavon, she turned on her heel and stepped lightly into the coach. Only then, did Mr. Hamilton turn to Jonavon.
“You found her?”
“You could say that,” Jonavon acknowledged. “If I might inquire –“
“You may not.” Mr. Hamilton’s tone was sharp. “Miss Izar is no longer your concern. She is in safe hands.” With the same manner as the woman, he entered the carriage, leaving Jonavon dumbfounded. The carriage raced by that Jonavon had to leap away to avoid being run over. He stared after the carriage, a thousand questions burning in his mind.
“The man,” Mr. Hamilton asked, turning to Iracebeth. “Who was he? Have you ever seen him before?”
“I don’t know who he is, Anthony,” Iracebeth replied. “I’ve never seen him before today.”
“Do you know his name?”
“No,” she said, looking out the window. “No, I don’t.” And she sincerely wished she did.