Somewhere Between — Chapter 1
They call it Queens Court Acres. A prestigious name considering its ill-repair.
Phebe Whiteside stared at the imposing architecture, craned her neck to inspect the twin turrets above—and blinked. A face peered through a lace curtain from the sky-parlor above. She blinked again.
It was gone.
Not one to fall prey to illusions, she shook off the odd sensation and focused on the task at hand.
A lion’s head brass knocker adorned the mammoth door, which she lifted and let drop. The reverberation echoed through the old house.
A week ago, a letter of acceptance for the position of governess to the Powell’s three children arrived by post. “A day for new beginnings,” she sighed.
Most women her age were already married. Phebe’s dreams, loftier than most, carried her in a different direction much to her parent’s chagrin.
Mr. Whiteside, a printer by trade, found it difficult to say no to his golden-haired precocious daughter and gave permission sans his wife’s approval.
At nineteen, she took employment with a prosperous family in the city and taught there until the children became adults.
Now thirty-seven, she was forced to start anew.
The door opened. A tall, very erect gentleman in a white linen coat, black tie, and gray trousers greeted her, his tone crisp, “Ms. Whiteside? My name is Winston. Come in. Mr. and Mrs. Powell await you in the study.”
His voice suited the pinched, disapproving look on his face.
Her wide eyes took in the butler from the top of his white hair to the tip of his shiny black shoes. He is a proper one.
A quick wave and confident smile was all she gave her father as she stepped inside.
“Is that your father?” Winston asked.
“You don’t want him to accompany you for the interview?”
“No, I can manage on my own.”
The opulent foyer took her breath away. Elegance abounded with high ceilings, dark intricate woodwork, a sweeping staircase, and the focal point—a gleaming glass chandelier.
Like stepping into a storybook.
“No time to dawdle. This way.” Winston pursed his lips, knit his eyebrows, and tapped an impatient foot on the black and white tile floor.
Air re-entered her lungs with a gasp. “Yes, pardon me. It’s only…”
He swept across the room to another imposing door. “In here.”
Her footsteps sounded like the rat-a-tat of a woodpecker as she hastened to catch up. She smoothed her rumpled gray skirt, removed her dark blue travel bonnet, and announced, “I’m ready.”
His churlish demeanor softened, “Are you sure you don’t want your father to accompany you?”
She squared her shoulders. “No need.”
The perfunctory statement produced a tiny quiver at the corner of his mouth.
A sign of his approval?
His face returned to its former pugnacious mask. “As you wish.” He opened the door. “May I present Ms. Phebe Whiteside.”
Soft murmurs inside the room subsided.
The butler stepped aside and gestured she enter the room.
Large paned windows filtered the outside light and made it hard to see the faces of her employers.
She fluttered her eyelids until vision returned.
A stout, middle-aged man sat in a wingback chair behind a Cherrywood desk. His hair was dark brown, but thinning. A cigar rested between his fingers, unlit.
A slim woman perched on a chaise lounge next to a stone fireplace. “Welcome, Ms. Whiteside,” she said.
Phebe curtseyed. “Thank you.”
Emma Powell spoke again, “Please come closer so we can see you better.”
She complied. “Yes, ma’am.”
Phebe saw a hint of a smile on the pleasant, round face of Mrs. Powell, who sat straight with both hands in her lap. Faded blonde hair, tamed by a French twist, complimented the muted blue of her long dress with its high collar.
Charles Powell projected a more severe look. Black suit, no smile.
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