His eyes crinkled at the corners. “You are not in trouble. I only wish to know your circumstances and how you happened by the dreadful hole I pulled you from.”
Her circumstances? A deep longing for her older brother burdened her heart and held the anger at arm’s length. Anger about Samuel. His lies. His broken promises… Even with all of her hurt feelings toward him, her world had ended when he'd been killed. He was far too young. Though her situation was dire, indeed, she didn’t want to appear weak in front of the duke. She was on her own and needed to take care of herself. I must not let him see my fear of being here. Helpless. At his mercy. She tilted her chin towards the duke. “I recently lost my brother, your grace. So I have no family to repay your kindness.”
“There is no need for repayment. It is I who am responsible that you had the mishap of injuring your leg on my property.”
Sasha shook her head. “You have been most kind to me, your grace, putting yourself at risk to save me when I was in the wrong. If it would be possible…”
He leaned closer. “Yes?”
“Is there room for me here—”
“Of course.” He tilted his head.
“—to work as a maid perhaps?”
He frowned and sat back. “You owe me nothing, Miss Douglas. Believe me, my heart aches at the thought of what you have been through. Your injury will take time to heal. Until then, I insist you stay here, in my home, where you can be properly looked after.”
“No.” He stood and pushed the chair back to its original place. His eyes flashed anger, the pupils enlarging. Had it been her offer to work for him which had caused this response? Perhaps the gentry handled such matters differently than the working class. Why hadn’t she asked the kind maid? No. Instead she’d blurted out the question. To him! If only she could take back the words. Her eyes widened as he left the room, as stormy as a black cloud, the maid following in his wake. Sasha scooted down in the bed and drew the covers over her head as tears threatened to fall. Would he now demand she leave, even though she couldn’t walk on her own? If that happened, what would she do?