Mimi McCarthy’s POV
His eyes widened and his chin sunk toward his chest in exaggeration humility. “Damn, Miss McCarthy I bet you’re a Schoolteacher Ain’t nothing can slice a joke out of the air like the tongue of a teacher.” His words rang in my ears as he neared where i stood his Large and well formed hands grasped the bars between them with hands that looked powerful enough to pull the heavy iron asunder. “Here’s what I don’t understand though, I don’t understand why you and your fancy man are treating me like an idiot even though you came to me, remember? Why don’t you try acting like you’ll be be able to do something for you?”
I clamped my teeth together and stepped back at the sudden change of mood. His pale blue eyes held mine with none of the uncertainty they’d held before Matthew had been right, it was foolish to be toying with someone of Mr Summer’s ilk. I was conscious of Matthew’s shift to attention.
“Of course you’re not an idiot,” I said , attempting to keep my voice steady, But you must admit that now is not the time for levity, You are in a prison cell and you are likely to stay here.”
he conceded not taking his eyes off of me but relaxing once more. “What have you got for me?”
“An opportunity.” I kept my eyes on his, unwilling to let them drift to the board, alabaster hand that gripped the bar of the cell or the small Vee of chest visible at the neck of his homespun shirt. “I have a sister in need of a husband. You have a life in need of rescue.” Angell studied me so that I felt the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands grow damp.
“You’ve got a good reason,” he asked finally “for thinking I need a life other on the fact that I’m sitting here in this jail cell?” I resisted the urge to wipe my palms on my skirt. “Isn’t that enough?” A second passed and then two then three then the smile crept back onto his face as sweet and natural as a child’s “I reckon so. You know Miss McCarthy, I’d like to help you But if you’re thinking of marrying me to your sister i should let you know that you’re making a big bad mistake.”
“Why is that?” I asked. Of course he would not jump at the chance I thought. It’s too unexpected, He needs to be sure I’m serious, He needs to know what else he’d be getting besides his freedom.
Well, he began “I never did have plans on getting married, I ain’t the marrying type you know and anybody’s a sister to you well now, I can tell she wouldn’t be wanting to marry someone like me.” The admission came enough but though she might have imagined it, I thought I saw an instant of defeat.
“My sister is pregnant Mr. Summer and she is not married, She needs a husband who with accept that fact and keep it to himself. If you were that man, you would claim the child as your own and proclaim it’s a product of your matrimonial union In return we would see that you where released from this cell,We would also confer upon you a large sum of money in advance as well as endow you with a monthly stipend for the rest of your life.”
Angell stared at me then he backed up and sat on the cot. “How much money?” I considered a moment. “More than you’ve got,” I said finally. More than you’ll ever be able to make in jail or out. And I’ll be living in New York city with you all In a house With a family.” I glanced down at the floor a second, then over at Matthew He shook his head with the slightest of motions.
“For a time,” I said, looking back into Angell’s shrewd eyes. We would of course have to present you as someone of - some wealth and social standing, you would have to study rules of etiquette and diction along with basic poise and carriage and also, I took a steadying breath, methods of personal hygiene and grooming. Matthew would help you with that on our return trip. Angell laughed shortly without humor and looked away from me towards the wall. “Sounds to me like you want a completely different person.” I felt something pull taut deep inside as i clenched my fists in my skirts.
“We want someone we can trust, Someone with integrity--- a sense of personal honor.” I watched Angell’s eye drop, noted the length of the dark lashes against his cheekbones. “Those things can’t be-taught Mr Summer, We needed to find those first.” I saw his lips curve up before he gave me a look from the corner of his eye. “That’s some real nice words,” he said, I don’t even care if you don’t mean them So go on, tell me the rest, What’s the bad news? Tell me what ‘for a time’ means.”
“Once you convinced everyone of your respectability and you’ve married my sister, you would have the choice of leaving with her for Ireland, Rome or Europe, or returning to your home here.”
“This ain’t my home,” Angell said. Wherever your home might be, then in any case once the child is born and my sister has recovered to return home, then you have to leave New York and never return. I released the death grip I had on my skirt and folded my arms at my waist.
Angell repeated, in other words, I wouldn’t never be no proper husband to her, I’d be a - What do ya call it - a figure head of sorts like Keep the child from being a bastard. He smiled again but this time the boy was not in it. It was a sad smile. . . . a cheated smile.
I swallowed. “That’s correct.” I nodded once. He sighed. “Good”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said, good. I ain’t looking to be a husband I ain’t looking to be a father This’d be temporary, am I right.?” I could believe their good fortune. “That’s right.”
Matthew couldn’t believe it either. “Let me get this straight,” he said emerging from the shadows. “You don’t want children, ever?”
“No,” Angell said. is Something wrong with that?”
“You don’t ever plan to marry?” Matthew persisted.
“You heard me right.” Angell looked suspicious once again. Matthew broke into first sincere smile of the trip. “That’s good. That’s perfect.” He could contain his glee which I found a sober face on the prisoner.
“Tell me something Mr Summer and please try to be honest. Isn’t there anything you want out of life?” Angell’s graze seemed to bore holes in the man, I thought with a trickle of dread. For a long moment the two men’s eyes locked and I could tell Matthew was more than a little intimidated. Finally, Angell spoke In a voice low and sure, he said “I wanna be like you Mr Flynn, I wanna walk like you and talk like you and dress like you. He rose and moved towards Matthew who despite the bars between them backed up a couple of steps. “I wanna live like the way you do. No - better than you, I even wanna wear them prissy cockle-bur ankle boots you got on.”
I stifled a nervous laugh as Matthew glanced down at his shoes.
“And then,” Angell continued his eyes skewered Matthew where he stood, I wanna get the hell away from you and everyone like you. There’s other ways to live besides you , you high-highfalutin’ boot kicker.” He punctuated this by grabbing the bars with both hands and pulling himself straight against them causing Matthew to stumble back in surprise.
Then he beamed that angelic smile at the two of them and said, “Deal?”
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