Dr. Augustine Lawrence's cuffs were stained with blood and his mackintosh had failed against the persistent drizzle. He looked damp, miserable, and scared.

Of her.

Jane Schoringfield couldn't take her eyes off him, even though her attention was clearly overwhelming. This was the man she intended to marry, if he'd have her. If she could convince him. H was frozen in the doorway to her guardian's study, and she was similarly still just behind the desk. Even from here, she could see that she had several inches on him in height, that his dark hair was full, slightly waved, and going silver already at his left temple, and that his wide eyes were a murky green, and gentle, but almost sad in the wrong light.

She hadn't expected him to be handsome.


Her guardian's voice boomed down the hallway, and the man startled, turning to face it. "Mr. Cunningham," he greeted in turn. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I lost track of your maid, and--"

"No matter, no matter. How good of you to join us! I was afraid you might change your mind."

Jane couldn't see Mr. Cunningham, but she could picture him perfectly: white hair carefully combed back, a fine but comfortable suit, bright brown eyes. Short and narrow, almost too narrow for his orator's voice and charisma.

"I'm afraid I may not be the best or most decorous company," the doctor said, hazarding a furtive glance back at her that lasted only one appraising second. "One too many house calls. I wasn't able to stop back at the surgery."

That explained the state of his cuffs, at least; but that meant he wasn't early. Jane looked at the clock and winced. An hour had passed while she wasn't looking. She wasn't ready. She was still wearing her reading glasses, and she could feel a smudge of ink on her temple. Mr. Cunningham's account books lay spread out before her.

She was not making the best first impression to aid her suit.

The Death of Jane Lawrence, Caitlin Starling