Over the next few weeks Catherine learned her role as Lady of the manor. The mornings were filled as she worked alongside her new mother-in-law, Charlotte, and Cook planning the weekly menus for the household, the separate menus for the upcoming ball, then advising Janet and Charles on the setup of the ballroom and the cleaning of the household. Mallory occupied her afternoons with their frequent trips to the seamstress where Catherine was fitted for dozens of dresses of varying styles and colors, chemises, petticoats, cloaks, and riding habits. She couldn’t understand the reasoning for so many outfits, but Mallory was insistent that it was necessary to have a full wardrobe to choose from for any event they attended. Sometimes they were invited to have tea with some of Mallory’s friends and she would sit there listening to them prattle on for hours about their lives wondering if she would be required to do this very often. She wanted to appear friendly towards the ladies to help keep up appearances, but she’d rather be anywhere else during these times. During all of this she’d barely seen Devlin as he was staying just as busy. When she inquired as to his whereabouts, Charles informed her that her husband had taken to the stables to help break in a newly acquired mare. When he wasn’t doing that, he was in the study going over the books with his adviser Mr. Wallace or out with Eddie having a few drinks and playing cards.
After the first week of their marriage she began to notice that he never joined her for meals unless the whole family was dining together. The servants let her know that he either woke before the dawn’s first light and grabbed a quick bite before he headed out or at night he had a tray brought to him in the study as he labored over the books, had meetings with his attorney, or handled any problems with the tenants. In the beginning she paid no mind to his absence since her days were just as full with learning her new role and spending what time she could with her father before he took his leave to return back home. However, as the days turned into weeks with no chance to speak with him, she began to worry that he’d changed his mind about their original agreement. Over time her worry turned into anger as she was made to wait and wonder what he was up to. In the end she realized he was purposefully avoiding her and that just wouldn’t do.
She could tell that something about him had changed, though she couldn’t explain it. The way he was acting around her lately, the way he looked at her with his smokey grey eyes, even the way he spoke to her seemed different from before. Had something changed since the ceremony? Could she have done something that caused him to no longer want her? Was he still going to make her hold to the bargain or had he changed his mind and no longer desired to use her as a pawn in his game? If so then why did he keep her here instead of letting her leave the day her father had?
She began to believe she was just over thinking her situation until the night before when she accidentally came upon a couple of the maids in the kitchen that were discussing the changes in her husband’s behavior towards them and his overall attitude. She knew it was wrong to eavesdrop when the ladies believed they were alone and free to talk among themselves, but it was the only way she might be able to figure out what was happening with Devlin. Even if she were bold enough to directly ask the servants, she was certain they would never speak harshly against their employer for fear of being tossed out onto the streets penniless and left to beg. With Devlin’s influence surely he could make it near impossible for them to find work in any other household. She knew the right thing to do at that moment would be to walk away when she heard their hushed tone, but curiosity got the best of her when she heard her name mentioned. That was when she plastered herself against the outer wall of the kitchen, hoping not to be discovered as she listened to what they had to say.