“Don’t trouble yourself, Bennett.” The girl who had followed him into the room took off her black silk bonnet, running fingers through curls the color of autumn leaves as she surveyed the room. It was very plain and very small, furnished simply with bed, dresser, and washstand. The ceiling sloped nearly to the floor and the window was tiny, but to the girl it was a haven. “This will do admirably, and I shall only require it for the one night.”
“Yes, miss,” Bennett said, placing her portmanteau on the floor and frowning. “But if I may say so, miss, ye could do worse than to stay here. Lunnin’s a powerful wicked place, all I hear.”
The girl permitted herself a small smile. “Quite possibly it is, but I am sure I shall manage, Bennett. There must be plenty of positions available for a girl willing to work.”
“Aye.” The innkeeper eyed her doubtfully. Such a little thing as she was, and so pretty, there was little doubt in his mind what kind of position she would end up in. Couldn’t tell her that, though. Miss, young though she was, had a mind of her own. Came of having carroty hair, Bennett supposed. “But if things don’t work out, Miss Melissa—”
“Hush, don’t use my name!” The girl looked around as if they were in the inn’s crowded, noisy taproom, surrounded by the carousing gentlemen who had traveled from all over England to see the prize fight held near Taunton that day.
Bennett smiled. “Now don’t ye worry about a thing, miss,” he said, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Old Bennett’ll see to it ye’re taken care of.”
“Thank you, Bennett,” Melissa said, giving him the smile that had always made his heart turn over. “I know I can rely on you.”