A slight miscalculation.., p.1
A Slight Miscalculation: A Half Moon House Short Story, p.1Deb Marlowe
A Slight Miscalculation
By Deb Marlowe
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Slight Miscalculation
Copyright © 2014 by Deb Marlowe
Cover design by Lily Smith
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsover.
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The Half Moon House Series:
Table of Contents
About the Author
The Half Moon House Series
William Hampton, Viscount Worthe, glared at the nervous footman blocking the doorway. “Say. That. Again,” he ordered.
The footman swallowed, his eyes darting from Worthe’s frown to his clenched fists. “The young miss is not at home, sir.” He bit his lip and leaned forward, his manner confiding. “I don’t mean in the sense of not receiving visitors, sir. She’s not here at all.”
The paper that had blighted his life crackled in his pocket as Worthe stiffened. “I believe I asked for J. M. Tillney.” He spoke slowly and clearly this time.
“Yes, sir.” Now the footman looked at him as if he were the one with attics to let. “But as I said, she’s not here. She’s rarely home, lately.”
“Do you mean to say that J. M. Tillney is a girl?”
The footman began to look alarmed.
“Wait.” Worthe pulled the letter from his pocket. “Lord Tillney franked this. This is his home, is it not?”
“And is there no one else in the house who might have signed a letter with that signature? Not the baron himself, but his heir? A ward?” He fought to keep the sudden desperation from his tone. “A nephew?”
The footman drew himself straight. “I may be new to my post, sir, but I know the family. The young miss is the master’s only child, and the only one with those initials.” He glanced behind him, then motioned Worthe back, stepped outside and closed the door behind him. “I’m risking my place saying so, sir, but if that letter is indeed from Miss Jane, then I beg you will not mention it to anyone else. Her mother will have kittens, should she hear she’s written a gentleman she’s no acquaintance with. It’s not seemly.”
Worthe frowned. “She did not write me directly. She sent the letter via the Astronomical Gazette. They passed it on to me.”
“Begging your pardon, but Lady Tillney won’t hold with that, either. She don’t approve of Miss Jane’s scholarly interests, any more than she likes her spending so much time at Half Moon House. Says she’s ruining her chances at a husband.”
A husband? Worthe’s humiliation doubled. All of his plans had been put in jeopardy by a debutante?
A call sounded from inside. “That’s Wheats. I must get back to my post.”
“Hold, please. Half Moon House, you said? Is it an astronomy society?” That would make sense.
Already closing the door, footman merely shook his head.
“But that’s where I’ll find her?” At the man’s quick nod, Worthe thrust out a hand to keep the door from closing. “Where is it located?”
“Craven Street. Just ask—everyone in London knows the place.”
Worthe turned on his heel, his mind spinning. An amateur enthusiast. Surely that explained it. But did it? He stopped at the end of the walk and glanced down at the damned note that had plagued him.
Many congratulations on your discovery of the new asteroid. How thrilling for you. I read over your mathematics and ideas on the variations in Uranus’s orbit with interest. There is a slight miscalculation on the second page, however. I thought you would like to know.
He’d scoffed when it had first arrived. But uncertainty had haunted him. He’d checked all of his calculations again. It had taken him two days to find the mistake.
Worthe had been furious. Humiliated. Despondent. How had he missed it? How had everyone else, at the Gazette and beyond? Truthfully, it didn’t destroy his plans, he just had to make adjustments. But the correction smarted. The casual ease with which his mistake had been pointed out set his teeth on edge. He’d become obsessed with meeting the man who’d sent the letter. He wasn’t sure if he wished to thank him or pop his cork for him, but he most definitely wanted to meet him.
He’d left off his exhaustive work on his telescope, gathered his papers and come straight to London, purposefully not informing his mother of his arrival, so as to avoid the inevitable dragging forth of every unmarried chit of her acquaintance. And now he found that it was one of them he searched for.
He crumpled the letter and threw it aside, stomping onto the pavement, vowing to put the incident behind him.
But a few minutes later he was back, retrieving the damned thing, smoothing it out and tucking it away again.
Half Moon House, indeed.
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