Time was passing strangely. Every day was almost the same: Thomas went to work, Elvira and I did work around the estate, and he came back. The only thing that I wasn't used to was Ewan Kinsley was coming to call more often. We mostly just walked from the harbor and back. We didn't talk much.
He was glad I had accepted the post of principal. Mr. Pink had fallen ill because of the cold so my lessons wouldn't start until after my birthday. I was okay with that. I was still nervous.
"I think you would make a lovely principal," Ewan said as we walked by.
"I certainly hope so," I sighed.
"Miss Buckley!" Silas called and I turned. "Your boots are almost ready."
"Oh! Wonderful," I said. I hesitated. Ewan was staring at Silas with an annoyed expression. "Thank you very much for making them."
He nodded and went back into the shoemaker's.
"You know Mr. McGregor?" he asked stiffly.
"Yes," I said simply. "Well, thank you again for the walk."
"When do Mr. and Mrs. Rivers return?" he asked when we got to the door.
"In one week," I said. "I am most excited to see them."
"You'll have more time on your hands, then," he said.
I frowned. "Well, I suppose. I mean, in a few weeks I'll be learning to be a principal. I don't think I'll have a lot of time then."
He smiled. "Then perhaps you'll join me for a more... intimate walk soon."
"Intimate?" I repeated.
"Well, yes," he said.
I leaned back a little. "Define 'intimate'."
He chuckled. "We would pack a lunch and go for a walk that's longer than just half an hour. Hopefully, you will open up to me more."
I toyed with my cloak. "Mr. Kinsley, you're a fine man and I appreciate your interests but that's going a bit fast for me."
He tilted his head. "We have been going on these walks together for three weeks," he pointed out. "I have held back but I very much wish you would join me for one."
I sighed. "It's not that simple, Mr. Kinsley."
"Is this because of Mr. McGregor?" he asked. "Is he courting you as well?"
"No," I said.
"Because I can be the kind of man to be a bit... well, I don't like sharing," he interrupted and I glared at him.
"I beg your pardon?"
He put his hands behind his back. "Women are not to have more than one man, Miss Buckley."
I arched a brow. "Mr. Kinsley, I do not have a man. I have enjoyed our walks but, if this is how you will act for all of them, then perhaps we should stop now. You will not control me. That includes who I spend my time with."
His face darkened. "It is scandalous to be seen with more than one man."
"I am not seeing Mr. McGregor," I snapped. "He is a friend of the family."
Ewan rolled his eyes. "I am a man. I know the look of interest when I see it."
I crossed my arms. "It's none of your business, Mr. Kinsley. As I said, he is a friend of our family."
"Forgive me, Miss Buckley, but you are not the ordinary woman."
"Then go find an ordinary woman if you desire one so badly," I spat. "Excuse me. It is quite cold."
He grabbed my elbow. "Please," he said. "I am sorry. I am not used to that, that's all. Please. Just one walk."
I narrowed my eyes at him. I really didn't want to; especially after the way he spoke to me. But he had apologized....
"Fine," I sighed. "When?"
He looked relieved. "In two days. I know the perfect path."
I just nodded and walked in, slamming the door behind me.
I glared at the floor as I put my cloak on. Thomas and Elvira were in the foyer and looked nervous.
"If he has made you so angry, why go?" Thomas asked.
"He apologized," I mumbled. "I might as well give him one chance, don't you agree?"
He glanced at Elvira who nodded with a frown. I watched as he went to a small dresser. He dug through it then brought me something.
"Do you remember how I showed you to hide things in your boots?" he asked and passed me a dagger.
I stared at him. "Is this really necessary, Thomas?"
"You never know," Elvira said and I slid the dagger into my old boots.
"Hopefully it won't be," I sighed and someone knocked on the door.
Thomas hugged me. "Try to have fun."
"I will," I smiled and hugged Elvira.
Thomas opened the door and Ewan stood there with a large smile on his face. He held a basket that I assumed had our lunch in it. I waved to Thomas and Elvira then walked beside Ewan, ignoring his offered arm.
The sun was out today, giving us a tad bit of warmth. He led me down to the harbor. As usual, we didn't speak much. We walked by the shoemaker's and suddenly he stopped.
"I'm so glad you agreed to go on this walk with me, Miss Buckley," he said in a loud voice.
I rolled my eyes and walked on. I knew what he was doing. He caught up with me and I glanced over my shoulder. Silas wasn't outside and I felt a strange feeling. I shook it off and turned back to watch where I was walking.
"So, where are we going?" I asked.
"It's a surprise," he said as he turned to the left.
I frowned. We were leaving view of the city. I stopped walking.
"No," I said.
"What?" he asked.
"We're not leaving the city," I said.
"It's okay," he said with a smile. "It's not far down. Just trust me."
"What's wrong with right here?" I asked, looking around at the stone street.
"It's uncomfortable," he said and grabbed my arm. I yanked it out of his hand. "And it's no where near romantic."
Before I could speak, he grabbed my arm again and pulled me on. I tried to get his hand off of me and remembered the dagger in my boot. He stopped walking at the base of a large oak tree. He smiled at me and put down a blanket.
"I told you it wasn't far in," he said cheerfully and sat down, motioning for me to do the same.
I sat with two feet between us. Unfortunately, he moved closer.
"You are making me uncomfortable, Mr. Kinsley," I said but he didn't respond.
He passed me a sandwich and I sighed, deciding to eat it. We watched a group of men struggle with a ship. It was fun to watch. I heard a man yell something then another fell over the edge. I giggled as I watched him splash into the water. The men on the ship laughed loudly, their voices echoing.
"That poor man," Ewan said.
"Oh, he'll be fine," I said, finishing my sandwich. "They've endured worse."
"How do you know?"
"I've watched them," I said. "I came down here in the dead of winter one year to see something similar happen only the fjord was ice. I ran out to help but he was laughing. Sailors are built to take much, Mr. Kinsley."
"Please call me Ewan," he said and I glanced at him.
He was closer and I tried to ignore it.
"My brother used to be a fisherman," I said, watching the small life boat come over to the man treading water. "That's when he taught me to swim."
"We will have to go on a swim once the weather warms up then," he said. "I love swimming."
"Then we have something in common," I said simply.
"And, once we are wed, we will-"
"Whoa," I said, turning to him. "Back up, Mr. Kinsley. Who said anything about marriage?"
He rolled his eyes and held my hand. I tried to get it out of his grip.
"It was a joke, Miss Buckley."
"Please let go of my hand," I said breathlessly. "I do not wish you to hold it."
"Because I am uncomfortable," I snapped. "Let me go!"
Then he kissed me, stopping me from pulling out of it. I pushed on his chest but he wouldn't move. Instead, he took my hair out of the bun. Daniel's smirking face filled my brain and I whimpered. I groped in my boot until I found the dagger.
I slammed the butt of the dagger into his shoulder and he yelled in pain.
"What in the world is wrong with you!?" he shouted as I scrambled to my feet.
I kicked his gut and he grunted.
"Never touch a woman without her consent!" I yelled. "And never come to my home again!"
I turned on my heel, put the dagger back in my boot, and stormed up the street back to my house.
I wasn't surprised to see Thomas pacing the foyer. When I walked in, he turned with a smile. It faded, though, as I threw myself into his arms.
"I'm done, Tommy," I cried and he sighed.
"Megan," Elvira said and I glared at her, worming myself out of Thomas's arms.
"You said they weren't all like Daniel!" I shouted and she looked sad. "You lied to me, Elly!"
Ignoring them, I ran to my room and slammed the door shut, locking it.