Winter Makepeace

Winter Makepeace is the second to the last of the Makepeace family siblings. A schoolteacher and manager of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children, he seems austere, but does his severity disguise a passionate heart?

Hero of Thief of Shadows.

Also appears in Lord of Darkness, Duke of Midnight, and Sweetest Scoundrel.

Read order for Winter’s story arc: Wicked Intentions » Notorious Pleasures » Scandalous Desires » Thief of Shadows

* * *

Temperance removed her cloak and was just hanging it on a peg when a tall male form appeared at the far doorway.

“Temperance.”

She swallowed and turned. “Oh! Oh, Winter, I did not know you’d returned.”

“Obviously,” her younger brother said drily. He nodded to the maidservant. “A good eventide to you, Nell.”

“Sir.” Nell curtsied and looked nervously between brother and sister. “I’ll just see to the, ah, children, shall I?”

And she fled upstairs, leaving Temperance to face Winter’s disapproval alone.

Temperance squared her shoulders and moved past her brother. The foundling home was long and narrow, squeezed by the neighboring houses. There was one room off the small entryway. It was used for dining and, on occasion, receiving the home’s infrequent important visitors. At the back of the house were the kitchens, which Temperance entered now. The children had all had their dinner promptly at five o’clock, but neither she nor her brother had eaten.

“I was just about to make some tea,” she said as she went to stir the fire. Soot, the home’s black cat, got up from his place before the hearth and stretched before padding off in search of mice. “There’s a bit of beef left from yesterday and some new radishes I bought at market this morning.”

Behind her Winter sighed. “Temperance.”

She hurried to find the kettle. “The bread’s a bit stale, but I can toast it if you like.”

He was silent and she finally turned and faced the inevitable.

It was worse than she feared. Winter’s long thin face merely looked sad, which always made her feel terrible. She hated to disappoint him.

“It was still light when we set out,” she said in a small voice.

He sighed again, taking off his round black hat and sitting at the kitchen table. “Could you not wait for my return, sister?”

Temperance looked at her brother. Winter was only five and twenty, but he bore himself with the air of a man twice his age. His countenance was lined with weariness, his wide shoulders slumped beneath his ill-fitting black coat, and his long limbs were much too thin. For the last five years he had taught at the tiny daily school attached to the home. 

On Papa’s death last year, Winter’s work had increased tremendously. Concord, their eldest brother, had taken over the family brewery. Asa, their next eldest brother, had always been rather dismissive of the foundling home, and had mysterious business of his own. Both their sisters, Verity, the eldest of the family, and Silence the youngest, were married. That had left Winter to manage the foundling home. Even with her help—she’d worked at the home since the death of her husband nine years before—the task was overwhelming for one man. Temperance feared for her brother’s well being, but both the foundling home and the tiny day school had been founded by Papa. Winter felt it was his filial duty to keep the two charities alive.

If only his health did not give out first.

She filled the teakettle from the water jar by the back door. “Had we waited it would have been full dark with no assurance that the babe would still be there.” She glanced at him as she placed the kettle over the fire. “Besides, have you not enough work to do?”

“If I lose my sister think you that I’d be more free of work?”

Temperance looked away guiltily.

Her brother’s voice softened. “And that discounts the life-long sorrow I would feel had anything happened to you this night.”

–from Wicked Intentions