"What's your relationship with Captain Withers?" He asked hoping his voice didn't reflect the anxiety he felt creeping into his chest. She wouldn't, would she? He'd heard he was quite charming whilst also being entirely untrustworthy... but Troy, sensible headed, independent Troy... his Troy... only she wasn't his, he felt his heart drop, not really.
"I beg your pardon?" Pretending he couldn't hear the indignation in her voice he continued, if he didn't ask now he knew he wouldn't be able to think of anything else for the remainer of the day.
"There's nothing between you is there?" He could feel his heart pounding and it suddenly became hard to breathe, he had to explain himself, "I mean... you would...tell me everything..." As he said the words he watched her expression change from shock and confusion to controlled anger and rage. Damn it! He knew he shouldn't have asked! But his heart wouldn't let it rest.
He swallowed, "I'm sorry, I have to ask" he once again hid behind his position, trying to convince himself he was only asking her as part of the case, only his heart knew that was far from true.
She stood up her eyes daggers, "No chief inspector, nothing between us" Her voice was cold and cutting, calling him chief inspector in this moment hurt more than it should, especially when he was the one that tried to make it look like he was only asking for professional reasons, but it stung all the same. "I've been commissioned to paint his portrait and that is precisely what I'm doing" He'd really done it now, her voice was dripping with anger as she turned on her heel and stormed out of the room.
Rory turned his head and covered his face with his hand. Foolish, he thought, how foolish to have asked. Of course it would only make her angry, how could he have questioned her integrity like that, what was he thinking! This was Troy not some naïve damsel in distress. It was stupid of him to even think there was anything between her and the Captain. But the day that he came to tell her he couldn't come to her exhibition he remembered how surprised he was to see the Captain there. There was nothing to suggest it was anything other than what it looked like, Troy painting his portrait. But she had recognised his number when Mildred had mentioned where Donald could be reached. He supposed she might know his number if she was working for him but not memorised; it placed fear in his heart that ought not be there.
Damn his jealous heart. Damn her beautiful eyes. Damn her beautiful smile. He had upset her and he felt awful about it; he sighed attempting to let his heart slow its racing pace. He walked out of the study to try and make things right but as he did so he bumped into Mildred.
"She's gone out Roderick, she said something about forgetting about an appointment" He looked towards the front door his heart falling with the knowledge that he would have to spend most of today at odds with her before he could make it right this evening.
Troy made her excuses to Mildred and slammed the door to the cab she had flagged with a little too much force. She saw the cabbie raise an eyebrow in the mirror but she ignored him.
How dare he?! How dare he suggest she was some how romantically involved with Captain Morris Withers of all people. The man was hardly tolerable. In fact he made her skin crawl but she would never admit it, not when she had a portrait to paint. He was clearly having an affair with Mrs Hawket-Hacket, which she had confirmed when he asked, and what kind of woman did he think she was to also be involved with him.
Oh Rory, she thought. His face was so full of anxiety with just a touch of genuine fear that she couldn't really be angry at him for long. The silly man thought that despite what had occurred between them that she would really be involved with someone else. Her heart ached to see him in anyway distressed. She knew he was extremely cut up by Bunchy's death and she could see the guilt of not being able to save his friend settling on his shoulders. He had looked so tired... she had even told him so after she pleaded with him to drink the tea she'd made. He looked like he hadn't slept a wink last night; he probably hadn't.
She hoped he would call on her this evening and she could explain to him that the very idea of her being involved with Withers was preposterous; that although she was hurt that he seemingly didn't trust her she was also... disappointed that he didn't know her well enough to know she would never and could never; that he was all she ever thought about.