Hannah stepped apprehensively through the doorway. The door shut with an echoing boom and her nerves returned tenfold as she fought the desire to flee.
The hall she had entered was imposing, and it was if she were stepping back in time. It was huge, with a ceiling that seemed to stretch to heaven itself. Wood-panelled walls were hung with fabulous paintings and tapestries. A stone floor, the middle of which was covered with a crimson carpet the colour of blood, meandered its way from the door to the open-plan staircase and upwards. Hannah’s gaze followed the carpet, making a fleeting mental note of the small tables set against the walls, the massive wooden chair made for a giant, and the heavy cut crystal chandelier that swung from a high plastered ceiling. The staircase was like something out of a Hollywood film, the kind a lady in a slinky sliver dress glided down, her hand lightly caressing the imposing carved banister.
It was then her gaze was caught and held by the man descending from the gallery. His tread was firm and uncompromising as he stepped slowly down the remaining stairs. Hannah gulped and her stomach muscles tightened as those nerves came back, feeling similar to the demented fluttering of a moth’s wings to a flame.
The man was gorgeous. Around thirty-two, she guessed, tall, olive-skinned, black-haired, with a chiselled jaw and searing blue eyes. He walked, no stalked like a Panther, his lissom hips perfectly attuned to the rest of his body. Hannah could feel the heat wash up into her cheeks at his discerning look, and it was as if his eyes could see into her very soul. Dressed all in black he was a perfect specimen of manhood and to Hannah’s imaginative soul, he was the living embodiment of a vampire!
“Miss Darling, I presume?”
Hannah nodded feeling heat rush up her throat and into her face. A shiver of delight ran like icy fingers up and down her spine, and the small, barely visible hairs at the nape of her neck stood to attention. His voice was mesmerising, soft, but deep like thick, dark chocolate.
“Miss Darling,” he repeated a trifle impatiently.
Here was a man that expected instant attention. Snapping her mouth shut, her cheeks burned in embarrassment.
“Oh, oh I’m sorry, I was, err, I was…”
His eyes gleamed and his lips twisted cynically as her words trailed off into oblivion.
Quickly pulling herself together Hannah held out a shaking hand.
“Oh sorry, yes, I’m Hannah Darling, the agency sent me.”
“You’re late.” He growled, his hand enfolding hers sending her pulse rate soaring.
Well really, did he think she didn’t know that? Of course she was late, getting from Oxfordshire to Cornwall was no easy feat considering the weather.
“Yes, the trains you know.”
“No I don’t know, but no matter. Henry.” He nodded to the man who had opened the door and who was now standing patiently to one side. “Will show you to your room.” Glancing at the gold Rolex on his wrist he indicated a door opposite. “You have thirty minutes to…” His gaze racked her person. “Refresh yourself and then I expect you to join me in the study.”
“Oh, thank you, but…”
Already striding to the study he halted at her stuttered words.
“Yes.” He growled without turning.
“Umm, it’s just I need to phone the agency, just to, well, let them know I’ve arrived.”
“The telephone lines are down.” He turned to stare at her. “Thirty minutes, Miss Darling.”
“Well!” She breathed, watching as he shut the study door behind him. “Could he get any ruder?”
“This way, Miss.”
Jumping at the light touch on her arm she bit her lip in frustration, and casting one last disgruntled look at the closed door, followed Henry up the stairs. She really could have done with a cup of tea, but obviously that was out of the question.
Trailing behind Henry, Hannah’s gaze darted here and there in an attempt to see everything at once. The place was magnificent. Beautiful paintings adorned the walls, silk drapes framed the small iconic windows, thick pure, wool carpets felt soft underfoot, and the furniture was surely antique.
Opening a door off the mezzanine floor Henry stood to one side allowing her to enter the room before him.
“Your bathroom is to the right, Miss. Dinner is at eight and if there is anything you want just pull the cord.” He indicated an old-fashioned bell pull beside the bed.
Swinging around from peering out of the window she contained her excitement and gave a slight smile.
“Oh thank you, Henry.”
Waiting until the door closed behind the manservant, she turned to explore her room. Everything in this house—nay, castle—was larger than life, and elegant. The bed was king-size and a four poster, draped with white voile curtains. The bedspread was a gold and red tapestry that looked almost medieval and which matched the curtains at the stained glass window. The carpet underfoot was cream and her feet sank luxuriously into its deep pile. The furniture, she was sure, was rosewood. A magnificent double wardrobe with matching dressing table and bedside cabinets graced the room, and by the window a couple of Hepplewhite chairs and small lamp table added that touch of elegance. The room was amazing and her whole bedsit could have fit into it with space to spare.
Throwing herself down on the bed, she smiled in sublime contentment. This is what it felt like to be rich she supposed. Comfort at every turn and every whim just a wish away. She gazed up at the floaty curtains above the bed, Christmas at Pendragon, it sounded positively decadent. Quickly returning to reality she glanced at her watch and scrambled rather inelegantly off the bed. Rummaging in her bag she pulled out her mobile phone. Moving around the room she attempted to get a signal but it was no use, so throwing it down off the bed in disgust she made haste to the bathroom. It wouldn’t do to be late again. Her employer was obviously not a patient man.
Twenty-five minutes later Hannah was making her way down the stairs, her hand running lightly over the highly polished wood of the curving banister. Tension tightened her nerves and quickened her pulse, and butterflies fluttered wildly in her stomach. The brooding, smouldering Goron Pendragon wasn’t anything like she’d imagined.