In the third installment of Whispers from the Past, Isabelle Rhodes finds herself constantly at odds with her father, Bailiff Garrett Rhodes. Determined to pave her own destiny, Isabelle abandons her family in her pursuit of knowledge. The trials she faces during her studies, however, will change her life forever.
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
I held a cool cloth to my blackened eye. Bruises and scrapes decorated my pale arms and legs. Thankfully I wasn’t bleeding too much—and most of it wasn’t mine. The other kid would miss a few days of tutelage.
“Where is she?” I heard my father’s booming voice from down the hall. I hadn’t expected him to be happy, but his tone was unnerving.
I sucked on a split knuckle in an attempt to ease the sting. When he rounded the corner he assessed the situation and shook his head.
“Come on, Isabelle,” he commanded, and I stood without hesitation.
“You have to admit, sir, she has your fire,” the man watching over me commented.
“Aye, too much for a girl. Let’s go,” with that he turned heel and I trailed behind him.
I concentrated on the ground as he led me outside of my language tutor’s estate. His strides were long and sure and I had to skip steps to keep up with him.
“Why this time?” he asked with the authority I associated with his work.
“Stephan said I was just a stupid girl. When I told him to shut up he called me a bitch…” I explained under my breath.
“Surely, beating him to submission proved him wrong.” Father glowered down at me from the corner of his eye.
“Lord Radcliff says that’s the worst thing you can call a lady!” I retorted.
“I would agree with Lord Radcliff, however my daughter is no lady.”
I felt tears of anger well up in my eyes, and I hid them with the cloth.
“Do you prefer Sir Garrett Rhodes’ brat?”
“I’ve heard it from your instructors, Isabelle. You are ten years old now, and if a boy calls you a name you ignore him. If you so badly want to be a lady, then act like it.”
My empty fingers balled into a fist, but I couldn’t hold it long- pain seared across my knuckles. My joints ached and the cuts burned. I said nothing and held back my complaints. In Father’s eyes, I should have been on the worse end of the fight.
When we arrived home, my mother took one look at me and rushed me into the washroom, ordering a servant to fetch hot water. She carefully moved the hand that held the towel and looked over my black eye.
“Oh sweet, haven’t you learned?” she admonished.
“I couldn’t help it…Stephan called me awful names…” I touched the cloth back to my throbbing eye.
“Get yourself out of those filthy clothes. I’ll be right back.” She kissed my forehead and returned to the front room. I hadn’t had the chance to undress completely before the bickering drifted through the door.
“Elaine, how else am I supposed to teach her that what she’s doing is wrong?” Father bellowed.
“Not by ignoring her!”
“You remember the last time she boxed a peer? This is nothing compared to that!”
I sighed as I slipped off my skirts. He wasn’t wrong—Lady Millie had threatened to never teach me again if I ever lay a hand on another one of her students. But Patrick had said the most vile things about my mother…
“Garrett, you need to be her father, not her bailiff.” Mother said as the servant filled the tub to completion.
I carefully stepped into the scalding water. Air hissed through my teeth when every open cut was exposed to the bath, and it took me longer than usual to settle myself. Mother returned just as I settled, the water sitting comfortably at my neckline.
“I’m sorry, love. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last fight I’d find myself in.