"Well, I guess it is just you and I, now," Jeff said rather slyly. I wondered what he was planning, but I suddenly realized it wasn't an interest of mine.
"Correction. It is just you now. Good afternoon, Mr. Cape," I replied curtly and stepped out of the carriage, stumbling. Before I could fall, however, Jeff caught me and steadied me.
"You're leaving so soon?" he asked.
"Yes. I have a meeting," I told him crossly.
"You're behaving rather rude for someone who has just been saved from embarrassment," he chided playfully.
"Fine. Thank you. Now, let go of me."
He dropped his hands to his side and jumped, landing just beside me.
"Who are you meeting?"
Anger flared inside me. "A friend. She--well, now. It is none of your concern."
"You're right. I'm sorry, Miss Milestone," Jeff bowed so low it was mocking.
"Look, Mr. Cape. I'm already late as it is. Now, will you please let me alone, or shall I call for help from a real gentleman?" I hissed.
"I'll let you alone, for now," he smiled, and it almost broke me. Almost. "Say, is that a sketch book you have there?"
I sighed and resisted the urge to slap some sense into him. "Good day, Mr. Cape. With any luck, I shan't see you any time soon." With that, I left him standing next to the carriage.
"You know, you were of much better temper yesterday," he called after me. I turned and glared at him. "Why the change of heart?" In my pause, he took the opportunity to come closer and, in two short strides, he was beside me again.
"There is no change of heart," I answered.
"Then perhaps you will be kind to me?" he insisted.
"What do you want?"
"Just a moment of your time," he smiled again. I closed my eyes so I didn't have to look.
"You've had many moments of my time already. What more could you want? I dare say you won't ask to borrow money, for I shall be greatly insulted and will call the police to you," I responded, beginning to worry myself with fear. What if he was insane and tried to murder me?
"No, no. I want nothing to do with your money. I just wish to get to know you, nothing more. I fancy we could be great friends in the near future," he replied, his voice like honey.
"You should know I'm not very friendly to strangers, especially ones as rude as you."
"Oh, I'm the one who is being rude? No, you see, dear Kasey," he paused for a moment. "If I wanted to be rude, I would do this." With that, he ripped my sketch book out of my hands and began to look through it. Obviously, what he found was not what he expected.
"How dare you?!" I cried. "Give that back. They're not even any good, and they won't interest you," I pleaded. I was so embarrassed. I realized then that I'm not as strong as I make myself out to be. I couldn't defend myself if some insane person really did try to attack me. I felt numb, and I couldn't breathe.
"Whoa, there. What do you mean they're not good? These are amazing," He said. His eyes twinkled, and for some reason I felt he really meant it. I just didn't want to believe him.
"No, Jeff. They're not. Now, give it back. Please," I begged. I was almost crying, and I felt ashamed of myself. I haven't cried since I was a child after my mother... well, now was not the time for such unhappy memories.
He handed the book back to me. "They're wonderful. Don't tell her I told you this, but they’re better than Margaret's drawings," he whispered.
I calmed down a little bit and peered up at him from under my eyelashes. "Do you really think so? Oh, please don't tell my father. He'd be so upset with me," I pleaded.
"Why would he be displeased with this? It's wonderful," he asked, concern sparkling in his blue eyes.
"He says scribbling is a waste of time, and time is money. You know how it is," I sighed.
"No, I'm afraid I don't know how it is," he corrected me.
"Then you're lucky. Now, look. I really must be going. Amanda is probably worrying herself sick," I told him, suddenly remembering my friend.
"Wait," he said as I began to leave. I turned once more, inclining for him to go on. "When will I see you again?"
I rolled my eyes, despite how very rude it was. "Good heavens, Mr. Cape. You sound like I'll be gone for days." He looked crushed at my harmless remark, and I smiled to tell him I was fooling around. "If you truly are desperate, I suppose you may walk me home in two hours time."
He smiled, and I looked away again so I wouldn't have to look at his devastating face.
"Good day, Miss Milestone," he said as an older couple passed us.
"And good day to you, Mr. Cape."
I turned and walked away from him and, thankfully, he didn't call after me again. I tried to resist myself, but I simply couldn't. I looked back, but he was gone. At least I had finally made my escape.