Walls of Ainsley
by S.J. Lynn Walls of Ainsley #1
Publication Date: November 10, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Psychological Thriller
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Scarlet, a fresh out of college journalist, knows there’s an untold story here and sets off to England to hopefully guarantee her career working for the top magazine company located in San Francisco. It isn’t long before the locals tell her to turn around. They say Brigham could still be alive—or he’s dead and haunts the place. It isn’t long before Scarlet finds out which story is true.
After putting the last of the groceries away, she grabbed the coveted package of peanut butter crackers to tide her over. She’d eaten dinner in her room every night, the same room Todd had warned her about. She was prepared to listen, but he’d said his nephew would pick the one he wanted her to have whenever he arrived. Maybe tonight’s the night.
She sat in the small lunchroom, in what had become her chair since that first night’s stolen snack, and munched away, demolishing the rest of the package she’d started eating in the taxi ride back—much to the cabbie’s dismay—and attacking the next. “Oh, come on! Can nothing just be simple in my life?” she said, struggling to open the wrapper with her now slippery fingers.
“Maybe I can help.”
“Shit!” Scarlet screamed and held a shaking hand to her pounding heart as she sought out the source of the deep, very male voice and found herself staring into a pair of deep gray eyes. Holy. Shit. The eyes were only part of the gorgeous package consisting of full lips, chiseled jaw, and perfectly straight nose, and surrounded by a head full of wavy, dark hair. He was tall and seemed even more so standing over her. But I’m sitting. No. That doesn’t matter. Even if she were standing, she knew he’d tower over her. His wide shoulders completed the ominous, yet powerful picture. The nephew? Physically, he didn’t disappoint. Is he wearing a frock coat? That retired centuries ago...didn’t it? It looked out of style, although classy with his dark pants and white shirt. He’s here. Finally. Scarlet was vaguely aware of a dog at his side—a black retriever and shepherd mix if she were to guess.
He remained silent, and their eyes never strayed from the other’s gaze as he took measured steps toward her, one after another, until her neck was kinked almost straight up.
He reached out.
Scarlet opened her hand, ready to be led away on some grand adventure, and the forgotten sleeve of crackers rolled across her palm.
With one swift pull, he ripped the package open and handed it back. “Here.”
Scarlet blinked. “Are you a mirage?”
“No,” he said. “Not a mirage.”
Close your mouth! “Oh.” Why can’t I close my mouth?! Scarlet watched as he backed away.
“Might I ask what it is that brings you to Ainsley Manor? This is private property.”
“Of course.” Didn’t Todd tell him about me? He said he had. God, this guy is striking. “Um, I was, uh, just looking...originally, I was looking for the owner of the—”
“You’ve found him.”
Todd isn’t the owner? “Wonderful. You just arrived? I mean, um, I’ve been here the whole week and . . .”
The nephew said nothing.
Unsure how to proceed, she fidgeted with the crackers and shifted in her seat then faced him again. “Listen this is—”
“Illegal,” he said.
“Yes.” She chuckled and tried to cover for the spreading blush she felt creeping across her cheeks. “I’m sorry, but I did try to call first, as I’ve explained to your uncle. I really did. But there doesn’t seem to be a number. So, I guess...basically, I thought I would figure it out when I got here. Then, my car broke down, and this couple would only bring me as far as the bridge, and it was raining, and…” Oh for—just stop talking, Scarlet! When the hell did I start blabbering?
“You were merely looking for a place to stay at that point? All the way out here?”
He looked her up and down.
Yeah, I didn’t think you’d buy that one. She crossed her arms and rubbed her hands briskly up and down to stop the chill. Why is it suddenly so cold in here? “Well, as I said, my car broke down…”
He gave her another once over.
She felt her nipples harden, and not from the near-freezing temperatures in the room, but if he noticed, he didn’t show it.
“Why were you abandoned at the bridge?” he asked, sounding upset. “It was storming that night, from what you’ve said. The couple couldn’t bring you the rest of the way?”
It seemed strange to Scarlet that he didn’t suspect the reason. “Well, with everything that happened...you know people and their silly beliefs.”
He only stared.
Scarlet sat straighter. “You must know the stories,” she said. “You can’t possibly buy a place like this and not know.”
Glancing away for the first time since she’d spotted him in the doorway, he cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable as he shifted from one foot to the other. To Scarlet, he seemed suddenly offended. “I’m ever so sorry, but I cannot allow this any longer. I shall request you a taxi.”
He turned on his heel, and she jumped out of her chair, grabbing his arm as he started to leave.
He jolted, as if burned, and yanked his arm out of her grasp. “Don’t.”
The sound of his strangled voice as he said that one word sparked something in her, and she slowly raised her hands in the air. “I’m sorry. I was just…”
“Please.” He righted his coat. “Don’t handle me like that again.”
***Note from Author: Contains cliffhanger. Book 2 “Heart of Ainsley” is out now!***