Excerpt – Deceit & Devotion

“You have no intention of hiring me as a station hand, do you, Emily?”

She stood on the other side of the desk, her fingers gripping the edge of the desktop tightly, her features so very serious.

“At least I got to see you one last time,” he said, smiling as he went to turn away from her, certain this would be the last time he saw her.

“Jarrah, wait,” she spoke up, stopping him. “I have a proposition for you.”

Turning back to face her, Jarrah eyed her carefully. “I don’t need your pity.”

“There is no pity,” she explained. “That evening I followed you from the fighting hall, I intended to give you this same proposition.”

“I’m listening,” he replied hesitantly.

She let out a shaky breath, and he realized this was the first time he’d seen her nervous. “My husband is a floundering snake who’ll crawl into the beds of any and all women who allow him between their thighs. I know this, but I have no proof, at least not enough to give to my lawyer to justify a divorce.”

“You can’t request a divorce otherwise?” Jarrah asked her.

“I can, but, as I’m a woman, few will take notice. However, if I can prove Thomas’s infidelities, or maybe some other secret he’s hiding, then maybe the courts will consider my position. Without enough proof though, I’ll lose everything my father left to me in his will. I can’t let that happen.”

“You’re asking me to spy on your husband to get your proof?” he asked. “Is this the reason you followed me the other night?”

She nodded. “I realise this is a very uncouth request, and you have my apologies, but I can see no other way open to me. I’ll hire you as a station hand so Thomas doesn’t suspect anything amiss, but I’ll need so much more from you than just station work.”

“How much proof do you need?”

“As much as you can acquire,” Emily said. “Photographs and letters would be ideal.”

Jarrah stood, silently studying this woman, thinking over the proposition she’d just given him. It was one so unlike any other he’d received before.

“Will you do this for me?” she asked. “Please?”

“Don’t you think your request is a tad hypocritical, Emily, I mean, given how well we’re acquainted with each other?”

“Will you do it or not? The man who runs the fighting hall told me you would do near anything for money. I’m offering you that, plus I’ll give you a dry place to sleep and plenty of food.”

Thinking on her request for just a moment, he nodded. “Just one thing,” he said. “Why did Thomas marry you in the first place if all he wanted was your money? Who exactly are you, Emily?” She smiled at his question. “If you’re any good at your job, then you’ll find out soon enough.”

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