Chapter 5… In which Mary would rather travel without a proper companion in Marshall Hunt’s company than be in the same parlor with Pythagorus a moment longer.
Marshall Hunt took over the entire chamber. Mary couldn’t take her eyes from him. He not only physically filled the space, but his presence also sucked the oxygen out of the room. Mary found it difficult to breathe.
Charles and Pythagorus kept taunting him with stupid questions. They were all stupid questions.
Mary worried her hands together.
How could her grandfather have sent such a man to escort her back to San Francisco? Didn’t that old man understand just how inappropriate all of this was?
“Mr. Hunt,” she finally brought herself to ask the one question that she could not fathom.
“How exactly did my grandfather come to have you in his employment?”
He turned and leveled his gaze on her. She sucked in her breath as those blue eyes looked over her. Her entire body thrummed with the power he emitted. And she was to be in his company for a full week.
This was unconscionable, how dare her grandfather not hire a proper escort like a matronly widow?
“Miss, Mr. Dryer hired me while I stood in his parlor. Our fairs are paid for, and we have separate staterooms. My job is to make sure you get from place A to place B. You will be safe.”
“I think we must object to this,” Janey finally contributed something to Mary’s situation. Unfortunately, she wasn’t effectively helping Mary.
“I could go with. Another person to ensure of Miss Mary’s security.”
Mary cut a hard glare across the room at Pythagorus. Marshall Hunt made her nervous, but Pythagorus now turned her stomach. And to think that even before lunch this afternoon she was considering him as a potential suitor.
“That’s a brilliant idea. Charles, you go,” Janey said. “Mr. Hunt, your services won’t be required as my husband will escort my sister back to San Francisco.”
Charles coughed uncomfortably. “Janey dearest, I would have to rearrange my appointments.”
“Janey,” Mary said in a scolding tone.
None of this was appropriate: her grandfather contracting with a rough man such as this one that stood before her, Charles choking on his own breath trying to get out of traveling as a guardian, and Pythagorus twirling his mustaches in the corner like some melodrama villain.
“Mr. Hunt, would you object if I found a respectable traveling companion to accompany me on the journey? I doubt you will find my conversation to be passing of interest.”
The tall man nodded, and his eyes flashed an unreasonable blue. “Miss if that would serve your needs to ensure the safety of your person, by all means, secure yourself a traveling companion. But mind you, she needs to be responsible for her own actions. I am not some babysitter of the weaker sex. I am a transporter, and you are a package I have been paid quite well to ensure the safe delivery of.”
Mary grasped her hand on her throat in shock. The crassness of this man discussing payment in company such as this.
“Mary,” Mr. Peterson artfully slid his hand into her free one, and lifted it to his lips.
His heavily waxed mustache tickled the back of her hand, and she unexpectedly let out a giggle. She flushed, not in delight of his touch, but in shame that she displayed such a lack of control.
“Allow me to be the one to deliver you back to San Francisco, and safely to the bosom of your grandfather. Together we can experience this vast country.”
Her gut instinct was to snatch her hand away. Pythagorus was not interested in experiencing anything but what was under her skirts. There was no way she wanted that man anywhere near her while confined on a train.
Slowly, and with a coy smile, she removed her hand from his.
“While I do appreciate your offer, Mr. Peterson, I will decline. Just as it is inappropriate for a young lady of my status to travel unaccompanied with a complete stranger as my escort, I believe it would be beyond scandalous for my escort to be a friend such as yourself. You have business here to attend to. No, I will secure myself a proper lady’s companion, and trust that Mr. Hunt is only concerned with my well being, as a package he is to deliver.”
Pythagorus began huffing and making objecting sounds.
Marshall Hunt cleared his throat.
Mary felt trapped between a snake and a hard place.
“How soon do we leave?”
©2019 Lulu M. Sylvian
need to catch up? Read Chapter Four here!
Ready for more? Read Chapter 6!