Chapter 4

AFTER CHECKING IN at the porter’s lodge, the pair rolled Annabelle’s luggage through the grounds of the college. As they walked, Annabelle pointed out various landmarks. “Over there, Dad, is King’s College Chapel. That’s what Noah was talking about when he called it ‘one of the most iconic buildings in the world.’” 

“Yeah, I recognize it. I must’ve seen it on TV or something.” Annabelle’s father stopped to look at the magnificent Gothic building on the far side of a bright green lawn mown into perfect stripes. It was similar to the gatehouse in style—there were more turrets, spires, carvings, and coats of arms—but the chapel was enormous. Raymond counted twelve immense glass windows that depicted biblical scenes made from tiny panes of stained glass. “They call them the ‘great windows,’ don’t they? And they are, aren’t they? Great, I mean. Will you go to services there?”

“Yup. I’m looking forward to that.” Annabelle waved at another vast lawn also mown into perfect stripes. It led down to the River Cam. “They call this ‘The Backs.’ It’s a stretch of land that runs behind the colleges whose grounds border the banks of the river.”

“Blimey, look at that grass. Not a daisy or dandelion in sight.”

“And this is my accommodation, Bodley’s Court. It was built in 1893.”

“Wow, would you look at that?” Raymond Dixon said again. He looked up at the four-story building dotted with small-paned windows. “Looks like something from Henry VIII’s time. What’s the betting he’ll be in the room next door, eh?”

Annabelle smirked. “Highly unlikely. But I’ll be sure to mind my manners if I meet him in the corridor.”

“Yeah, you wouldn’t want to lose your head or anything.”

After talking to a young woman who sat in reception wearing a red scarf with white polka dots tied around her head like a modern-day Rosie the Riveter, Annabelle and her father walked up two flights of stairs and along a hallway to Annabelle’s room at the end of the landing.

The room was small, around the same size as her bedroom back home, but still larger than Annabelle had expected. There was a single bed, a desk, a boxy, free-standing wardrobe with a key in the door, a small sink, and not much else. A window was set in the wall between the door and the bed. Annabelle’s father immediately walked up to it and peered through the glass. It looked out upon a green where young people sat on benches chatting. More gathered on the grass eating their lunch. 

“Lovely view you’ve got here,” he said. “Beats the fish and chip shop you had to look at from your bedroom at home, eh?” Annabelle didn’t answer. He turned around to find her frowning. “What’s wrong?” 

Annabelle pointed at the desk where books were stacked in a pile. “I don’t think this is my room,” she said. “Somebody’s things are here.”

“You’re right, there are some boxes under the bed too,” her father replied. He nodded at them. “Maybe somebody forgot them? Left them behind?”

Annabelle unlocked the wardrobe and opened the doors. There were items of clothing hanging from wire coat hangers. “Hmm.”

They heard the sound of gentle knocking. A slim, pretty, blond woman in a pink cardigan over a white t-shirt and blue jeans stood in the doorway, her fingertips in her front jean pockets, her shoulders hunched. Like Noah, she too had a backpack. She grimaced comically.

“Oops, so sorry!” she said, in a high, flighty voice. Her accent was clipped, her enunciation perfect. “I was hoping I’d get here before you.”

Annabelle looked confused for a moment, then said, “Um, perhaps we’re not in the right place.”

“You’re not Annabelle Dixon?”

“I am.”

The blonde woman smiled—a broad grin that lit up her blue eyes. “Then you should be here.” She stuck out her hand to greet them. “I’m Clara—this used to be my room.”

Before she could reach Annabelle’s outstretched hand, Clara hit her foot against a suitcase. She fell face-first toward the floor and would have taken an awful battering if not for Annabelle, who leaped forward and caught her by the shoulders.

“Thank you.” Clara laughed, seemingly unfazed as she straightened up and brushed herself down. “I should have introduced myself as Clumsy Clara—that’s what everyone calls me. You must be Annabelle’s dad,” she said, turning to face Raymond Dixon who was staring at her, his mouth open. Annabelle gave his foot a little kick, and he closed it.

“That I am. Pleased to meet you,” he said, shaking her hand.

Clara slid off her backpack and opened it. “I left some things here. I hope you don’t mind if I grab them. I meant to take them this morning, but I ended up chatting away to this person and that person—you know how it is. Lots of people to say goodbye to. Plus, I have so many things.” Clara paused between each of the last three words and finished with a roll of her eyes. 

“I understand,” Annabelle said, watching Clara go to the wardrobe and stuff the clothes she had left there into her pack. “Here, let me help you with that.”

“Oh, thank you. You’re too kind.”

Soon Clara had filled her backpack to overflowing and shrugged it back on, clothes trailing from the top of it. In front of her, she clutched a box of yet more belongings. On top of that, she balanced a pile of books. Annabelle shared a look with her father—if Clara was as clumsy as her nickname suggested, this would only end one way.

“You like romance, then?” Annabelle’s father remarked, nodding at the stack of books that almost entirely obscured Clara’s face.

“Romance? Oh, yes. You should have seen how many I had before I had a clear-out. Heaps and heaps.” Clara laughed. “I’m going to donate most of them.”

“Shame they don’t do degrees in romantic literature,” Annabelle’s father quipped.

“If they did, I’d probably be teaching it!” Clara laughed happily again, before turning to Annabelle, “I did my degree in theology. I heard that’s what you’re studying, too.”

“Yes,” Annabelle said. “I’m a little nervous about it, to be honest.”

“Oh, don’t be! Professor Baskerville—he’s the head of department—is absolutely lovely. But I’m sure you already knew that.”

“Actually, I’ve not met him.”

“No?” Clara said, sounding shocked. “Well, he’s in his office now. I’ve just finished my final tutorial with him. I’ll take you there. Introduce you.”

“Thank you, but I should unpack,” Annabelle replied, pointing to her bags. “I’ve got so much stuff and—”

“Nonsense. Go with the girl,” Annabelle’s father interrupted. “Clara, perhaps you could show my angel something of the city. Or at least the parts she’ll need to know.”

“Absolutely I could. Any chance to hang about a bit longer.”

Annabelle’s father put his arm around his daughter and kissed her on the forehead. “There, you have a friend already. Clara can show you around, and I can stop cramping your style. Go and explore your new home.” Annabelle looked down at the tough, hard-wearing carpet designed to withstand a heap of injurious insults borne upon it by careless students. She took a deep breath. “Okay, Dad.” 

“We’ll speak tomorrow as we arranged. You call us, okay? Don’t forget now.” Raymond Dixon spoke in a voice altogether too bright and cheerful for the occasion. Annabelle frowned then wordlessly fell into his arms.

“There, there.” Her father’s voice was gravelly as Annabelle buried her face into his shoulder. “We’ll…” He cleared his throat. “Your mum ‘n’ me, we’ll see you next weekend.”

Annabelle lifted her head and wiped her face. Her eyes glittered again with tears. “Yes, Dad. I’ll speak to you soon. Tomorrow.” Annabelle took another deep breath.

“Annabelle, I…”

“Go, go, Dad. You’re right, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. And I’ll see you and Mum next week.”

“Yes, yes, of course.” He turned to Clara, “It was lovely to meet you, Clara.”

“You too, Annabelle’s dad.”

Raymond Dixon jangled his keys in his trouser pocket and with a smile that could have been mistaken for a grimace and a wave that was merely a flap of his hand, he left the two women standing statue-like in the room. When he had gone, the pair looked at each other in silence, before Clara cried, “Let’s go!” She was still carrying all her belongings. As Clara made to leave the room, she hit her foot on another suitcase. The books on top of her box would have gone flying had Annabelle not rushed once again to save her. “Oops!”

Annabelle took the pile of books from Clara and nestled them under her arm. “Let me carry those?” she said, giving Clara a wink. “You lead the way.”

Chapter 5

“YOU WILL LOVE it here,” Clara said as she led Annabelle across the green Mr. Dixon had spied earlier. “You’ve certainly arrived at a very interesting time for the Theology department.”

“Really? Why’s that?” Annabelle asked.

“It is hosting a large conference. It starts tomorrow. Last year, several artifacts and manuscripts were delivered to the department scholars for inspection and study. They’ve spent the entire year working on them. Now they will announce their findings.”

“Sounds rather exciting,” Annabelle said, as they left the green behind and moved toward a battered, faded-blue Westfalia van parked at the side of the road.

“It is. I had the chance to work on some of the studies myself. Now professors, clerics, theologians, all sorts of important people are coming to hear the findings.”

“You’re not staying for the conference?”

“No,” Clara said, stopping in front of the van to put her belongings on the ground. “I’m meeting some friends for lunch and then dropping off some of these at my favorite secondhand bookshop.” Clara nodded at the books Annabelle was carrying. “I’m setting off for Sussex this evening. My family lives there. I can’t wait. I miss the countryside, the green fields, the birds singing, and the cows. It is so peaceful.” Annabelle smiled at the scene Clara painted. It did sound lovely. She pictured herself strolling through fields, smelling the fresh-cut grass, and picking wildflowers while black and white cows gazed lazily at her—from a distance, of course. 

Clara swung open the back doors of the van. Annabelle’s eyes grew wide. Piled high and higgledy-piggledy in the back of the van was an assortment of small furniture items, stuffed animals, cushions, and cardboard boxes. But most of all, there were books, books, and more books. They sat on seats, they lay on the floor, many tumbled out of boxes. Others were crammed into any corner or spot that would take them.

“Gosh,” Annabelle said. “You really do like to read, don’t you?”

Clara laughed. 

“It’s an addiction! I can’t help myself. The professors were always telling me off for reading in lectures.” Clara stopped herself with a mischievous smile. She leaned toward Annabelle. “I developed some pretty creative methods for getting away with that, let me tell you! What do you like to do in your free time?”

“Oh, well… All sorts, really,” Annabelle said. “I like sports. I was hoping to play hockey while I’m here.”

“How lovely!” Clara cried as she closed the van doors. “I’ll introduce you to Jean Watkins then. She runs the Physical Education department. She also coaches the hockey team. She’s probably in the park now. She’s always out and about, running, or exercising when she’s not teaching.”

Clara grabbed Annabelle’s hand and led her away from the van. “Where are we going?” Annabelle asked.

“Parker’s Piece. That’s where Watters, that’s what we call her, likes to run. It’s not far. The walk will help you find your way about. Look, over there.” Annabelle followed the direction of Clara’s pointed finger. She saw a small shop nestled in among a row of houses. The frontage consisted almost entirely of a window that curved outward and in which twenty panes of glass were framed in black. In front of the black-painted door, there was a stone step. On the step sat a cat—also black. It was like something out of a Dickens novel.

“That will become your third Cambridge home, after your college and the faculty library.”

“What is it?”

“It’s the secondhand bookshop I was telling you about. Great for novels, textbooks, maps, anything printed. That’s Lavender, she runs the bookshop.” Clara pointed to a tiny slip of a woman polishing the windows. “She’s a bit scary so watch yourself. And that’s Custard sitting on the step.”

“Custard? But it’s black.”

“She’s named after a pub,” Clara said as if that explained everything. 

They carried on and after another good ten-minute walk, Clara and Annabelle reached a large, flat, grassy area bisected diagonally by two walking paths and bounded by trees. At the corners were enclosures full of bikes. As Annabelle scanned the space she noticed a slim woman in a red tracksuit jogging along a path. 

Clara hailed her, and when she drew close, Annabelle could make out the woman’s pointed, serious face, her thin lips that formed an “O” as she puffed, her short, closely cropped gray-brown hair. Her red, weathered skin suggested she’d spent many an afternoon on the side of a pitch as she braved the inclement climate that England is famous for. Jean Watkins had probably learned during those harsh winter afternoons to keep moving for when she stopped in front of the two young women, the PE instructor didn’t pause, twisting and leaning and bending as if she couldn’t possibly stand still. 

“Ms. Watkins,” Clara said, “this is Annabelle Dixon. She’s a fresher, King’s.”

“Very good,” Jean “Watters” Watkins said. She bent over to touch her toes, three times.

“Um, nice to meet you,” Annabelle ventured, her eyes following the woman’s movements as she bobbed up and down. “I was interested in joining the hockey team.”

Watters stood up straight, her hands on her hips as she twisted this way and that, huffing forcefully at the end of each turn before she finally stood still and scanned Annabelle as if she were a racehorse at nearby Newmarket. She tilted her head as she appraised Annabelle with a frown.

“Hmm,” she groaned, skeptically. “Tall—good. A little on the soft side. Barely any muscles. Stamina’s doubtful.”

Annabelle looked hesitantly at Clara as if for an explanation, but the young woman seemed unsurprised and merely shrugged in response.

Jean Watkins finally shook her head. “No, sorry. You’ve not got what it takes to make the hockey team. Try the croquet club. They’re always looking for females with an elevated center of gravity. Good day.” And with that, Jean Watkins left to continue her run around the park.

Clara looked at Annabelle sympathetically and shrugged again. “She’s always like that. You have to take it on the chin.”

“You don’t say,” Annabelle remarked. She was disappointed and slightly stunned by the woman’s dismissal but shook herself as Clara said, “Come on, let’s go find Professor Baskerville.”

Clara led Annabelle to the Faculty of Divinity building, the strange, circular modern structure of concrete and glass that she’d met Noah coming from earlier. They went inside. Annabelle stared upward. A huge, multi-storied library was built into the rounded walls. It had an airy, spacious feel, and the midday sunlight poured through the mirrored windows.

“This library holds 59,000 books. Heaven!” Clara said with a grin, but she didn’t dally and took Annabelle’s wrist, drawing her attention away from the magnificent space. “This way.”

They walked up curved flights of stairs and down rounded corridors. Eventually, Clara rapped gently on a plain wooden door. Without waiting for a reply, she pushed it open, inviting Annabelle to follow her.

The inside of Professor Baskerville’s office resembled the chaos of Clara’s van. Books dominated the room. Bookshelves lined the walls while more books littered the floor. Behind Professor Baskerville’s desk, there was a small window that provided the only natural light. Even this was half-obscured by stacks of books and papers piled on the sill. Incongruously, in between the bookshelves, there stood several display cabinets filled with curios, including what looked like shrunken heads. On several shelves, they sat next to each other, four across, grotesquely wizened and distorted. 

When the young women entered the room, the professor was on his feet. He was poring over one of his bookcases. 

“Professor Baskerville!” Clara cooed as if she hadn’t seen him in a long time. 

“One minute,” he said, irritated. He held up a finger. He didn’t turn around to face them. “Where is the blasted thing?” Baskerville hissed to himself as he pulled yet another book from the shelf before tossing it with a flick of his wrist onto the floor behind him.

Moving through the room was like wading across a landfill. Open boxes in various states of unpacking sat on the small office floor, their contents haphazardly strewn across it. Books, papers, and folders had been tossed aside. 

“Is there something wrong, Professor?” Clara said. 

He turned to her, his expression red and flustered. He noticed Annabelle and straightened a little. He seemed a rather unremarkable man. His head was bald, the sides shaved down to stubble. His face was round, his features large. He looked to be in his mid-forties. His brown, rather bulbous eyes returned to flicker around the room, still searching, his full lips pursed in disapproval or concentration. He wore brown corduroys and a button-down blue shirt; the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His top button was undone and the knot of his royal blue tie was loose. Annabelle could see there was a stain on it. Behind his ear was a 2HB pencil sharpened to a fine point.

“Sorry. It’s nothing. How can I help you, Clara? I thought you had left already.”

Clara laughed gently. “I came back to introduce you to one of your new students—Annabelle Dixon.”

Annabelle stepped forward shyly and offered her hand. “Nice to meet you,” she said.

“And you,” Baskerville replied, shaking her hand briefly, before gesturing about him at the messy office. “Sorry about all this, you’ve caught me at a bit of a hectic time. I…”

 “Oh, no!” Clara exclaimed. She was looking at her watch. “I was supposed to meet some friends twenty minutes ago! I completely forgot. I must go. Bye Professor. Bye Annabelle. Have fun!”

Clara spun around quickly, reached forward to open the door, and almost twisted herself into a knot when she over-balanced and nearly clattered right into the door frame. Luckily, Annabelle grabbed one arm while the professor clutched the other. Together they prevented Clara from sustaining a serious injury.

“Oops,” Clara said meekly, extricating herself and laughing over her shoulder before bounding out through the door. “Silly me.”

Professor Baskerville shook his head. “Clumsy Clara, we call her.”

Chapter 6

ANNABELLE SMILED AWKWARDLY. She wasn’t sure what to say or even whether to stay now that Clara had left.

“Are you looking for something?” she asked, casting her eyes across the room. 

Baskerville’s shoulders dropped, as did his expression, a sorry look coming over him.

“Yes.” He sighed. “Yes, I am. And not just any old thing. I’m looking for the last surviving copy of the writings of a Byzantine monk. Fifth century.”

“Gosh.”

“Gosh, indeed.” Baskerville sighed again. He pulled the 2HB from behind his ear and scratched the top of his bald head with the eraser end of it. Short, soft, fine, fair hairs covered his head. “I was due to announce my translation of it tomorrow at the conference and give the damned thing back to a museum in Greece but now…”

Baskerville slumped into a battered leather chair in the corner. He winced, then pulled a sharp-cornered hardback book from behind him. He checked the spine briefly, then tossed it onto the floor with the others and dropped his head into his hands.

“I’m doomed…” he groaned. “They’ll never allow me access to such reputable texts again. I’ll be lucky if they even let me into the next conference!”

Annabelle stood and watched the man hunched over in his chair, glaring at the ground in distress. She pondered how to respond. This was not a situation she had imagined she would find herself in on her first day in Cambridge. She hadn’t even unpacked yet.

She considered her options. The logical thing to do would be to say goodbye and leave the professor to his problems. The polite thing to do would be to offer her sincere condolences, tell him she hoped he would find his book, and return to her room. But there was no way she could see the professor suffering without feeling sympathy for him. She felt duty-bound to help in any way she could. Annabelle was not short on logic or politeness, but more than anything, she was enterprising, helpful, and kind.

“When did you last see this text?” she asked.

The professor shot her a glance. Annabelle’s eyes shone steadily back at him.

“Why, just this morning,” Baskerville responded. “I was working on it in my private library next door, but I’ve already turned that over entirely. It isn’t there.”

“What does it look like?” 

Baskerville sighed. “That’s the thing—it looks like any other leather-bound tome. The pages were found in relatively good condition several years ago and were rebound before arriving here.” Baskerville got out of his chair and picked up a book. Markings similar to those down the center of a road were punched around the edges of the leather cover. On the spine, the book’s title was printed in gold leaf. “It looks just like this, only without any sort of embellishment or label. Silly, I know, but then I suppose they didn’t suspect anyone would misplace such a priceless book. It was a reasonable assumption.” As he said this, Baskerville grimaced. “Oh, but it was handwritten in Ancient Greek. Handwritten! Fifth century! God help me! I don’t know what will be worse, the archbishop’s forgiveness, the faculty’s censure, or that snake Styles’ smug chops!”

“Styles?” Annabelle asked. “Who’s that?”

Baskerville began to pace the room. “Professor Styles of the Classics department. He’s always competing with me. Thinks he’s Caesar, but really he’s Brutus! He distorts every theological question into one of antiquity. Always looking to one-up me, to outshine the Theology department. Now he’ll do so by default. Without me at the conference, his seminar, ‘The Power of the Catholic Church: Its Influence and Impact on Norman Battle Strategies,’ will be the headlining event.”

Baskerville continued to pace while Annabelle considered this for a moment. She said, “Do you think, perhaps, Professor Styles might have taken the book?”

Baskerville froze mid-step, his eyes widening with horror. He turned to Annabelle. “‘Taken it?’ You mean, sabotaged my presentation?”

Annabelle shrugged, then shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t mean to cast aspersions. I don’t even know who he is. It was just a thought that came to me.”

“No, no,” Baskerville said, wagging his finger at her, “you might be onto something. I would never have thought of it, but it makes perfect sense! It’s precisely the type of thing he would do. He was here this morning. Yes! Clara came by, then a few visiting students, and after they’d left, Styles dropped in on the way to his office. Come to think of it, he seemed even smarmier than usual.”

Baskerville continued to pace as this idea gained momentum in his mind. Annabelle watched him, still unsure what to do but eager to help.

“Where is Professor Styles now?” Annabelle asked.

Baskerville broke from his pacing to look at her, surprised at this new student’s interest in his problem. “Well…” he said, after thinking for a moment, “I suppose he’s eating his lunch about now. He always has it at the Cat and Custard—a little pub close to here. Good pub grub.”

“Maybe I could talk to him.”

Talk to him? Why would you do that? No… Wait, I see what you’re getting at. You think you might get him to reveal something.”

“Yes,” Annabelle said. “Since he doesn’t know me, he might let his guard down a little.”

“Yes… Yes…” Baskerville said, wagging his finger again. “An excellent idea. Styles is a pompous man, proud of himself, precisely the type to let something slip so he can gloat. Would you speak to him, young lady? I would be enormously grateful.”

“I’ll go see what I can find out,” Annabelle said, needing no further encouragement. She did so love to be helpful.

She moved toward the door. Baskerville called out from behind her. “What was your name again?”

“Annabelle Dixon, Professor.”

“Annabelle Dixon… You know, you’re rather enterprising for a first-year.”

Annabelle smiled. “Thank you, Professor, just trying to help.”

Chapter 7

ON THE OUTSIDE, the Cat and Custard was a beautiful cream-colored pub topped with a weathered roof spotted with lichen. Like poorly poured pints, baskets that hung in a row across the front of the building frothed over with brightly colored flowers—pink and purple fuchsias, blue lobelia, and white petunias. Out back, a terrace overlooked the River Cam. Pub patrons, hearts in mouths, watched as brave beginner punters took their first unsteady steps onto a punting deck and pushed away from the punting post. The pub-goers sipped their drinks and sighed with relief as the punts rounded the corner and drifted away.

The Cat and Custard dated from 1525, and for visiting tourists it was like going on a journey to a distant, charming past. To locals, it felt comforting and familiar. Inside, it was dark, thanks to the oak wood paneling that lined the walls, the beams that crisscrossed the ceiling, and the small leaded windows that pointed to the significant age of the building. To counteract the lack of natural light, there were reproduction oil lamps on the walls, and on chilly nights, the roaring fire provided just enough light to see by. All these elements combined to make the pub hugely popular. It was standing room only on most days.

Annabelle had only been in a pub a few times. When the door swung closed behind her, she was engulfed by the noise of a busy, popular hostelry. She allowed herself a moment to take in the scene and grow accustomed to the sounds of the bustle and hum of chatter and laughter, the clattering of glasses on old wood tables, and the clinking of forks wielded by the famished. Then she weaved between the tables filled with chattering students and tourists and made her way toward the bar where she eventually drew the bartender’s attention.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Professor Styles,” she shouted over the din.

The bartender smiled. “You must be a fresher—he’s in the same spot he’s always in at this time of day,” he said, nodding toward a small table in a corner that had a view over the river. 

Annabelle turned to see a tall, thin man with slick black hair combed back over his head. He was wearing an inky purple three-piece suit with a blue tie neatly tied in an Oxford knot. The chain of a pocket watch hung across his chest, and on the chair beside him was a vintage leather satchel, the straps hanging loose, unbuckled. Annabelle watched as Styles put down his knife and fork and leaned over his plate of food, stroking his wispy goatee fashioned to a groovy point. 

“Thank you,” Annabelle said to the barman. She pushed away from the polished wooden bar top with both hands and turned to approach the seated professor. He was eating a pie, carefully and deliberately cutting small bites and placing them in his mouth. He twisted his head to the side to read from a stack of papers next to his plate.

“Professor Styles?” Annabelle said once she’d reached his table.

The man looked up, raising a neat, quizzical eyebrow. “Yes?”

“I’m Annabelle Dixon,” she said, offering her hand before pulling it back when she saw that he had no inclination to put his cutlery down. “I’m a…” she stopped herself, “I’m a fresher.” 

Styles nodded, his face blank. “Nice to meet you,” he said, automatically.

Annabelle opened her mouth but found herself lost for words. Styles seemed indifferent to her—possibly because she was interrupting his meal, possibly because he regarded himself too highly to indulge in the company of a first-year student. Annabelle searched for some way of coaxing Styles into a conversation.

“I’m so excited to see your presentation at the conference, Professor!” she announced with enthusiasm, nonchalantly seating herself on the edge of the chair where Styles’ satchel lay.

Styles pulled the satchel from behind her and placed it on the floor next to his feet. He allowed himself a slight smile. Annabelle could see her interest pleased him.

“Are you?” he asked.

“Oh, yes!” Annabelle said, leaning forward. “I just know your presentation will be simply fascinating.” She put a lot of emphasis on her words, hoping her passion would make up for a lack of specifics.

Professor Styles sat up straighter, his pride obvious. He set his cutlery down to straighten his lapels. He gave Annabelle his full attention. “Oh, I promise it very much will be. I daresay it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done.”

Annabelle giggled. “I knew it! It’s such a shame though,” she said, watching him closely, “that what everyone is talking about is Professor Baskerville and his translation.”

Annabelle noticed pink spots appear on Styles’ cheeks. The tiny red spider veins on his nose became more prominent. His pupils constricted. Uh-oh. Perhaps he had a temper.

But then, Styles laughed derisively. “Baskerville? Oh, my dear, after tomorrow they’ll be talking about him for all the wrong reasons!” Styles chuckled again and picked up his cutlery to resume eating.

At his words, a wave of electricity swept through Annabelle. It traveled from her head, across her shoulders, and down her arms. It left her fingertips tingling. Perhaps it was the emotion of the day making itself known—a mixture of loss, fear, excitement, and anxiety—but she jumped with lightning speed to a conclusion, a big conclusion.

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