Under The Streets Of London – Episode 33

“Has my father been in touch?” Eliza asked when they’d reached the other side.

Henry’s face lit up.

“He has, yes. Dinner on Sunday – lovely.”

“You can make it?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss dinner with you for the world, Eliza.”

“And Father and Mother,” she reminded him hastily. “And my sister. And Mr and Mrs Jones. We’ll be quite a little party.”

“Lovely. I like your family very much.”

This time Eliza’s smile was stiffer. She didn’t want Henry liking her family, not in the way she was sure he was suggesting.

“They’re almost your family, too,” she said quickly. “You’re like a brother to me, Henry.”

“Not a brother, surely?”

“And I’m so glad you’re here for me. Now, I’d better get back to the office.”

He looked flustered but rallied, taking her hand and dropping a light kiss upon it.

“Until dinner. Shall I call for you?”

“No, thank you. I’ll be at the hotel already – I haven’t seen them all for so long. I’ll meet you there.”

He bowed again, ever the gentleman, but she could see his disappointment and hated herself. It would be so easy if she could just like Henry, but it didn’t seem to work that way.

She’d thought, at first, that her horrible encounter in that library had put her off husbands all together, but recently . . .

Memories of the way her heart had picked up near the handsome Niall McMenamy blushed across her cheeks and she glanced hopefully up the trench.

The navvies were all hard at work now, more of them here than ever as they battled to get the roof laid over the now secured rail tracks, but she couldn’t see Niall’s rich red hair anywhere amongst them.

She shook her treacherous thoughts away. She didn’t need any men at the moment, handsome or otherwise – she had a job to do with the Metropolitan and she was determined to do it well.

Checking that she had Mary Farndale’s form safe in her bag, Eliza cast a last hopeful look around the bustling works, then hailed a cab to return to the office.

*  *  *  *

“To our beautiful girl – our little Londoner!”

James Rutherford raised his glass and around the table the others joined him. Eliza looked at them all, touched by the heartfelt warmth in the group.

She hadn’t realised how much she’d missed her family until she’d arrived at their hotel this afternoon to hugs and laughter and chatter – such familiar chatter.

Her little sister, Millicent, was quite the lady now and was agog with the joys of the capital.

“And you really live here, Liza?” she kept saying. “Really here? You are so lucky. There’s so much going on, especially compared to dull old Sevenoaks.”

Eliza supposed that was true, though she barely noticed any more. It was amazing how quickly she’d become accustomed to jumping into cabs or jostling easily with other pedestrians as she made her way across the city.

She’d grown used, too, to the glorious views down the vast Thames, and the long streets of tall, thin, elegant houses, a tiny square of shared garden their only green space.

“Don’t you get exhausted, darling?” her mother asked her now, leaning over to kiss her cheek.

“Exhausted? Not at all, Mother. I love it.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.