Wishing him away was not going to work for Sarah Mcmay. The only thing this man wanted was to hurt her in ways she could never fathom. He had spent the last six months thinking of nothing else other than that. His mind was twisted and his desires for it to become reality were strong.
She heard the sounds as his shoes smashed the fine gravel underneath them. He was drawing closer to her with slow deliberate heavy steps.
The wind struck against her exposed skin sending a ghastly chill down to her bones. The rain hitting her skin, felt like someone was poking her with tiny needles all over her body.
The man notices her entire body shivering. He can see her clothes were soaked straight through as it clings against her body. She is pale and her lips are blue. She looks positively miserable. How the hell does a woman set out on a fall chili morning, without a walking coat and alone at that? Where was her chaperon, a maid, an old aunt, even a dog would suffice? She was much too beautiful and young too be unaccompanied.
He finally broke the silence. “Are you alright Miss?”
Sarah attempted to respond by shaking her head again but she is unsure if she was successful. She feels tired and weak. Her muscles ache from vibrating to generate heat, which apparently was not working. Her hands were cramping up into fists.
“Miss, my name is Devon Price. We are taking you home as quickly as we can. May I ask you what your name is?” Devon bends forward with his movements being deliberately slow and minute, not wanting to frighten her, any further than he already may have done. He pauses to listen, hoping to her an answer.
Sarah shifts her body forward, reaching her hand out towards the seat beside him. She grazes his knee with the back of her hand. Lifting the book off the seat, she collapses back into her own. She turns the book over and opens the back cover. Her hands were trembling with debilitating numbness. Sarah finds the area were the librarian had written her name. The writing is smudged and running but still legible. Sarah holds out her book, facing her name towards the man.
Devon places his hand on the book and reads the name. He moves his gaze from the book to her. For a moment, he studies her face and then said, “Sarah, I knew your father. You are Sarah Mcmay his daughter. Do you know who I am? Do you remember me Sarah?”
Devon feels stunned by the sight of her. This is not the young girl he remembered so many years ago. He realizes she does not remember him. The young Sarah who used to follow him around hanging on his every word has no memory of him. He recalled the way she used to sit and watch him work for hours.
Sarah's eyes lifted to meet his. She saw how warm his smile was he befell on her. “M-m-my.” Her lips are deadened, unmoving as if they have become petrified not allowing her to curl them to form words. This frustrated her.
“Yes Sarah your father. I was saddened when I read in the paper of his passing. Your father was a magnificent and humble man. I consider myself a better man for having known him. The world is now a lesser place without, Benjamin Mcmay. I was quite close with him he was a good friend to me.”
Devon feels now is not the time to inform her that sense his return from India, three days ago, he has been trying to reach her concerning her father.
Sarah drew the book to her chest and closed her eyes. She did not hear much of what he said outside of he knew her father. She yearns for her father to exist with her, in this life, in this world. His voice that she once knew so well has now begun to fade. The picture of him she memorized daily in her mind grows fuzzy. Sarah is losing him. In life, in memory, and soon in her heart.
Why did he have to be taken away from her? Why would someone be so determined to take the life from his body? To kill, slay, to execute death upon him. For what? When these men murdered him, they also destroyed her. All her hopes, every dream, each plan, died with his last breath. Sarah on that day was left utterly alone.
The carriage slowed to a halt. Devon opened the door letting the wind in uninvited. He leaves to speak with the driver and returns a moment later. “Up ahead, there is a large tree down blocking the road. A man passing by informed us the bridge is flooded as well. I will take you back to my home Sarah. Will that be alright with you?”
Sarah motioned in agreement. At this point, she did not care much where he was taking her, as long as it was warm and dry. All she wanted was some heat, a fire or a blanket, she would even settle for a dirty one. The carriage began to rock. Sarah was thrown to the seat across from her where Devon had been sitting. The carriage jolted again. She could hear the horse's struggling sounds as they were being directed to move. Sarah sat on the floor of the carriage to brace herself between the two benches.
The door opened again and Devon peered inside. He saw here on the floor and said, “The carriage has become stuck in the mud. We are working to free it. I fear this may take a while. Will you be alright in here?”
Sarah shook her head yes. Devon removed his coat and leaned in towards her. He wrapped the coat around her. “It is not quite dry but it will help somewhat.” Devon then shut the door and continued to work on getting the carriage out of the mud.
Sarah sat there for what felt like hours to her. Every time the carriage would stop rocking, she would begin to drift off to sleep. Laying her head on the cushion of the seat, she closed her eyes. Devon glanced threw the window and saw her curled up on the floor with her head on the seat. He hated to do this to her by opening the door again, but he had no choice.
“Sarah I have to go back for another carriage. I am leaving you with my driver and I am confident you will be perfectly sound,” he said to her.
“H…how long?” Sarah managed to ask.
“I will be gone for possible two hours.” Devon saw Sarah's expression fall. “I have to walk to my estate. It is a thirty-minute ride by carriage. I will not take the time to explain why I am not able to take a horse from the carriage, which can wait for a later time. For now, I must be on my way. We have but four hours daylight left.”
Sarah said, “Alright.” Then Devon left walking away.
By the time, Devon reached the estate it had been over an hour. Devon spoke with Richards the butler briefly about the day’s events. Without delay, Devon quickly changed his close and left in the other carriage.
As he raced back to fetch Sarah and the driver, Devon began to experience a disquiet feeling. It made him uncomfortable. He was understandably worried for Sarah but this was something more. The closer they drew to where he had left her, the stronger this feeling of elevated anxiety grew.
When his carriage began to round the bend, he saw that the carriage was still there. Devon felt relieved. He jumped out and made his way to her. He peered in to see Sarah still sitting on the floor. He lightly tapped on the window. Sarah did not move so Devon opened the door. He leaned in and placed his hand on her arm softly. Devon shook her slightly. He watched Sarah's head bobble and Devon grew concerned. “Sarah wake up,” he said. She still had not moved. Devon climbed into the carriage and knelled down in the cramped space on the floor. He shook her a little harder. “Sarah opens your eyes.”
Her eyes fluttered as she gazed up to him and said, “You have come back?”
Devon smiled at her with relief and said, “Put your arm about me and I will move you to the other carriage.” He placed her on the seat and wrapped her with a wool blanket. Devon tells the driver to proceed and they began to make the trip to his estate.
Devon gazed at her. He cannot stomach watching her shiver the way she was. To Devon, she looks as if she is having a seizure, repeatedly. Devon repositions himself on the seat next to her. He gently places his arm around her shoulder and brings her chilled body against his. He senses no resistance from her, so he wraps his other arm about her other shoulder and drew her closer against him.
“Sarah you have lost all the color in your face. Can you take your arms and put them under my coat, enclosing them around my back?
She pulled her arms away from her frigid body. Devon took her arms and wrapped them for her around him. He then wrapped the coat he was wearing around her after removing the soaked one he had gave her earlier. Devon tucked the wool blanket tightly around her and across him as well. Sarah's teeth were chattering loudly.
“Sarah you feel like a glacier in the north pole.” Devon began to rub Sarah's back attempting to bring about some heat. He situated his chin on top of her wet head as he peered out the window.
Devon remembered his last conversation with Benjamin, Sarah's father. The man he had known his entire life, had nearly pleaded with him to watch after Sarah if anything had suddenly happened to him. Devon at the time, thought Benjamin's behavior to be very odd. The two of them put their lives in danger together all the time. Traveling across oceans, being taken captive by natives in foreign far away countries, Benjamin had even been buried inside a tomb when the supports collapsed, so why now the concern for his life. Upon finding out about Benjamin's death, Devon had suspected his partner might have known of his ill fate. The way Benjamin was murdered was horrifying to him. It left Devon asking why.
Sarah, the little girl he once knew, so precious to Benjamin, he now held in his arms. The little girl was not so little anymore and not a girl by any means. The Sarah he held was not his Sarah he remembered from so long ago.
“We are drawing close. It will not be long now Sarah.” Devon lifted his chin from atop her head, fearing he may bite off his tongue from all her trembling. She was difficult to hold onto. “You simply need a hot bath to warm your blood is all.
The carriage steered up to the front entrance of his estate. Devon steps out and asks the driver to inform Fredrick Richards, the butler, of their arrival and to arrange for some assistance. He had altered Richards of the situation before he had left earlier when he had come back to fetch the other carriage. Devon then turned his attention back to the door of the carriage. He opened the door to discover Sarah curled up on the seat. She had given in to her need for warmth and threw the proper lady rules out the window.
Without speaking a word, he removed the damp blanket Sarah is bundled in and picked her stiff body up off the seat and carried her quickly through the stone and iron entrance of his estate.
Richards greeted Devon at the door with a new dry blanket in hand. “Sir,” he said as he approached Devon. Richards wraps Sarah and a small portion of Devon as well in the blanket. “A hot bath and tea is nearly ready for her Sir.”
As Devon makes his way towards the large sitting room off to the right of the entry, his Grandmother, Darleen Wilsbee bombards him. She is quit a jolly woman with her short round figure.
Flaring her arms up in the air, she moves towards him. “Oh my dear, the poor poor thing. Devon my boy, bring her over to the sofa and set her down. Oh, she looks a wreck, sweet thing. Where did you find her?”
Devon raised his right eyebrows at her. “Grams, she is not a lost kitten I stumbled upon on the side of the road.”
Darleen thumped him in the chest. “Well, of course she isn't. You had to have unearthed her somewhere, my dear boy.”
“She was in the park reading when it began to pour down buckets. I of course being the gentleman I am, offered to assist her with her belongings and bid her an escort home. She is Benjamin Mcmay's daughter, Sarah.”
“Well, I dare say sweet little Sarah. We must get her into the bath without haste my dear boy.” Darleen proceed up the stairs yelling for the maids, dramatically of course. She is a loving older woman, who is a loud speaking woman. Darleen is always candid, says whatever is on her mind. Direct and to the point, one would say, and I am sure many have. Her hair was gray and white and always fashioned up in a lose bun. The woman had more jewelry than all the shops put together in London. She was not very tall standing at five feet one inch and as round as a carriage wheel. Darleen was always well meaning but not above gossip, she loved a good scandal every once in a while.
Devon situated Sarah on the sofa. When he attempted to stand back up right again, she was clinging to his shirt as her fingers were clasping it tight. He stood over her gazing at her long blond hair against her very pale white skin. The previous times he had encountered her she did not look like this. She was just a young girl then, maybe fifteen in age. The woman on the sofa under him now, seven years later, was all grown up.
“The bath is nearly ready Sir.”
“Alright then Richards, thank you.” As Devon was still holding Sarah, he made his way up the stairs. He reached the top of the staircase and heard his grandmother’s yapping from the room she was in. Devon rolled his eyes. He loved the woman dearly but her mouth never stopped. Grams seemed happiest when giving directions and orders to others. She always walked around with a list in her hand. Things to do, places to go, items to buy, people to invite, and not to invite, as well as ideas in general about almost anything. Moreover, Devon loved her hopelessly for it. She was his Grams.
Darleen started shouting before she had even crossed the thresh hold of the doorway. “Devon my dear boy.” Darleen pops her chubby plump face out of the doorway. ”Oh dear, there you are. What took you so long?
Devon entered the room and strides towards the bed. “Possibly because she is wet, I am wet and she is dead weight.”
Darleen motions with her hands for him to set her down. “Do stop fussing Devon my boy, now is not the time.”
He set Sarah on the bed. Her fingers are still clutching his wet shirt and tugging on his chest hair. He worked to release his shirt from her grip. He could feel every one's eyes in the room on him as he struggled to free himself.
Darleen assists him in his efforts. “I dear say it is as if she is mummified, mummified I say,” as she shouts louder at the end. “There you are free my boy.”
Devon stood off to the side unsure of what is required of him to do from this point on. He knew he could use a drink of brandy right about now or thirty minutes ago honestly.
Darleen turns him around towards the door. “Off with you now. Go on. Get changed and pour yourself a drink.” She slapped him on the bottom.
Devon left to his bedchamber to clean up and change. As he finishes the last few buttons on his shirt, he glanced at the clock on his mantel. Two hours had past and he felt thirsty for a brandy, a strong one. He could not shake from his memory the expression on Sarah's face when he said he knew her father, it touched him. It appeared as if she was happy and saddened at the same time, if that was at all possible. He remembered how often Benjamin would talk of Sarah. He was constantly writing to her.
Turning away from his mirror, Devon picked up his coat and walked out the door making his way down to the sitting room. It had been a very long day. Hours passed being spent stuck in the mud. It was now nearly time for dinner.
Grabbing a glass of brandy, he sat in a chair looking out over the long drive as it was continuing to flood from the rain. The sun was setting and it appeared much darker out with another storm approaching. The wind was picking up momentum again, blowing wet leaves at the pane of the windows. The trees were almost naked without their leaves and swayed side to side in the wind gusts. It reminded him of a scene he had read recently from a dark novel.
He lurks waiting in the dark shadows of the old oak tree, along the path. He can smell her in the chill of howling blackness. She is drawing near. Thinking only of sinking his long sharp fangs in to her neck, he waited. Anticipating the terror washing over her face, down her neck and swooshing into her veins. He licks his lips repeatedly with excitement. It truly was the taste of the fear in her blood that he desired.
Devon shook his head from the thought. He had only made it to chapter four before he arrived home from overseas. As the ship pulled a port, he considered leaving it behind on the ship. The author was new and he figured at the last minute he would read it through before making his decision about the book. It was definitely not for the squeamish or faint of heart.
Richards entered the room. “Sir, this was found in the carriage.” He held out Sarah's book and waited for Devon to take it from him.
Devon glanced up at him. “Thank you Richards. Do you know if Miss Mcmay is feeling better yet?”
“I have not received word but, I will be more than happy to inquire for you Sir.” Richards turned without waiting for any reply and left the room. He remembered Sarah as a little girl. He knew Benjamin well. Richards thought him to be an honorable man. He was eager to hear of Sarah's condition as well. Roy Price Devon's father, was partners with Benjamin his entire life. Benjamin and Sarah had spent much time at the Price estate years ago. Richards knew Benjamin well and had known Sarah even better. Upon hearing the news of Benjamin's murder, Richards felt a great loss that he still carried with him as he did for Roy Price Devon's father.
The book Devon held in his hand was saturated. He got up and took a seat next to the fire. Setting his drink on the table, he read the front cover. “Unearthing the World's Most Mysterious Treasures.”
Devon carefully opened the book and began to read. He found the book fascinating. Someone had taken Benjamin's journals and turned them into a collection of different adventure stories of sorts. All the stories were true. Benjamin had many adventures to write about. Most were good bases for novels in themselves. This author created them into a collection of short tales of danger and mystery.
Before Devon had realized it, an hour had passed. His glass had been empty for quite some time. He had picked it up numerous times for a sip, only to see the bottom of his glass dry. He rose from his comfortable chair to pour another glass of brandy.
“Is that my book?”
Devon turned to see Sarah standing in the doorway. She is wearing one of Gram's old robes. It was a thin silk and pale blue in color. The robe was short on Sarah, seeing that Grams was six to seven inches shorter than Sarah was. Therefore, that didn't surprise him. Her hair was down in a lose braid falling over her right shoulder. Devon felt taken aback by how much she looks like a woman now. He realized he was staring at her and moved his gaze down to his glass.
“Yes and I'm sorry to say it seems it has been drenched by the rain.” Devon walked over to Sarah and hands her the sodden book.
Sarah feels the sting of tears welling up in her eyes. She begins to blink fighting them back. She had saved for six months to purchase the book skipping breakfasts and dinners. After her father's passing, Sarah obtained employment at the local library. She was working long hours for very little pay for the last couple of months.
“May I sit down?”
“Of course, please.” Devon watched as Sarah moved to the couch near the fireplace and took a seat.
“Did you read my father's book?”
“Yes I was right before you entered the room. Whoever wrote the book has done a wonderful job. To be able to take his journals and tell stories from them is difficult. Who is the author?
Sarah smiles slowly. “I am. When my father was home in between his adventures, we both worked on them together. How did you know it had come from his journals?” Sarah looked up at Devon standing before her holding out a glass of brandy for her.
“You do not remember me do you Sarah?” Devon smiled at her.
“I am sorry. I cannot recall having met your acquaintance.” She bit up her bottom lip as she studied his face to spark her memory. His voice and smile was definitely familiar to her, but she could not quite place his face. Sarah tilted her head slightly to the right as she always did when something baffled her in some way.
Devon watched her and chuckled. She was trying very hard he could see. He chuckled, “Don't hurt yourself Sarah, I'll tell you how we know each other.”
Devon pulled up a chair and sat down across from her. “I had worked with your father many times. I first met you when I was fourteen. You were then maybe eight years old at the time here at my estate. Our fathers worked together all over the world. As I grew older I traveled with your father.”
“Dev?” Sarah was shocked. How could this be?
Devon smiled as she said the nickname she used to call him.
“My goodness, how could I have not recognized you? I feel so foolish.” Sarah felt her cheeks starting to blush as she remembered the crush she had on him so many years ago. He did not at all look the same. Devon looked like a man now. His eyes are more beautiful than I remember them to be.
“Well maybe I'm not that memorable.” Devon said.
Sarah laughed aloud. “I remember you. My father at many times wrote to me about his partner, I assumed he was writing of you?”
“Yes. I think your father always had his journal in one hand and a shovel in the other. I know he wrote to you often. He quite adored you Sarah.” He noticed her starting to frown slightly. “I apologize. I didn't mean to upset you. You must miss him terribly.
Sarah drew her gaze up to meet his. She had been staring down at her book lying in her lap. Seeing the concern on his face, she put forth her best smile for him.
“The estate looks so different then how I had remembered it to be from my youth. I believe it has been eight years since I was last here. Does Richards still have employment with you?”
“Yes. He is lurking around here somewhere close by, I'm sure of it.”
Devon watched as Sarah opened the book to review the damage it had sustained from the rain. He was wondering if he should inform her of the last conversation he had with her father. As he saw her painful realization of the condition of her book, he decided it could wait until the morning.
“Dev”. He heard Sarah's soft voice say. He moved his gaze to hers.
“You knew my father as well as I did. Do you think his behavior the last couple of months he was alive, to be out of character for him?”
Devon did not know what to tell her. Did she want to hear that I believed Benjamin knew of his impending death? That I believed possibly, Benjamin may have also feared for her safety as well or the way her father was murdered, left the authorities struggling to identify him and worse off, we may both might know the killers.
He looked at her and said, “I believe that your father cared for you very much Sarah. To be honest with you, I think possible his death may have not been so random.”
He had expected her to gasp, swoon, or possibly ask why, but she simply told him she agreed.
Over the next two hours Devon and Sarah spent the time reminiscing of their travels together and apart. Sharing tails of their most adventurist finds, losses, and a few of Devon’s near deaths, both of them trying to top each other’s stories from all over the world. Most of Sarah’s stories were of her father’s and not hers personally. She honestly had very few to tell and lacked the excitement Devon’s did.
Sarah’s face saddened. “I think we can both agree my father has us both defeated with the best stories. Ad least now, I know his stories will live on.”
“Is that why you wrote the book?” His voice was soft.
“Partly I suppose. I knew he was advancing in age. I merely wanted some way for others to remember all the good works he had done with his life.”
They both fell silent for a moment. Devon was studying her as she was staring into the fire, lost in her own thoughts. He was in awe of how beautiful she had become. Looking almost nothing like the young girl, he last saw seven years past. She had luscious hips now and breasts. Round full breasts, a woman’s breasts with lips to match. Seven years ago, she was skinny and straight up and down. He in that moment had wondered how much he might have changed since they last saw one another, for she had not recognized him at all. Never the less, he could not have, imagined her growing up to become this thing of beauty now sitting before him. She was still Sarah though, sweet lovely Sarah. He smiled at that.
Devon rose to his feet and stood in front of her. Holding out his hand offering it to her, he said, “I want to show you something.”
Sarah felt comforted by the way he was smiling at her. He is so handsome, tall, and strong. His eyes were the darkest shade of blue she had ever seen. The light from the fire danced and played with the color of them. They had so many different shades and tones of deep cobalt blue. They were stunning to look into. Sarah realized she was staring at them with her mouth slightly open. Unsure of how long she had been gazing into them, she blinked a couple of times to snap herself out of the trance she had been pulled into by them. She had forgotten what he had just said to her.
She felt herself blush and she recognized he was also aware of it too. How did he always manage to do this to me? Ever since I was a young girl, he would have me blushing just by looking at me and he always did it on purpose. She said to herself.
Sarah placed her hand in his. The instant they touched, she felt her heart skip. All the feelings of her childhood crush she had had for him, returned. Sarah felt herself start to smile.
“It is nice to see the color come back to your cheeks. I thought possibly, I had lost my touch with you after all these years. Although sad, I was hoping I may have to try harder.” Devon could not resist teasing her. Just to make sure he deepened her blush, he held her hand and his gaze into her eyes, lingering for a moment longer than he should have. As she ascended, standing but inches from him, he stroked his thumb gently over the top of her hand. He saw the curiosity she used to look at him with glowing in her eyes. He moved his eyes to her lips, as she was licking them. She cannot possible be aware what that was doing to me. All grown up now, I see, he thought to himself as he gave her a wicked smile. Devon suddenly realized the way Sarah was looking at him and released her hand from his. He should not have flirted with her, it was wrong.
Sarah was dizzy from the rush of heat flushing over her body and the fact he was flirting with her. The way he was staring at her, intended to be more than a tease. She felt herself completely taken in by it. To her, he was still so mysterious, enchanting, and charming. If he chose to kiss me right now, it would be perfect, I am sure of it. How could it not be, this is Dev?
Devon turned from her and motioned towards the door. Sarah felt confused by his sudden change in behavior towards her. Did I see something I only wanted to see? Had he not just moments before, been flirting with me? Sarah followed him down the hall, quiet in her own thoughts.
She was walking barefoot down the hall next to him. This somehow amused him. It was so like Sarah not to give much thought to proper behavior or rules. She had always been one to live in the moment without giving much consideration, to the after affects of her actions. He was well aware of the fact she had long ago removed herself from most society. Sarah was not one to judge, so therefore, she did not care to be judged.
Approaching the door to where he was taking her, he turned and said, “Close your eyes.”
“What is it?” She was excited. She loved surprises.
“I don’t want to tell you. Where is the surprise in that? Close your eyes and trust me.”
Sarah listened and closed her eyes. She heard the door hinges creek as the door slowly opened. Sarah jumped slightly when he laid his hands on top of her shoulders, as he turned her body toward the doorway. She instinctively placed her hands on top of his.
Devon instructed her to walk forward. She felt him gently guide her inside the room. She was counting the steps they took. Sixteen steps and then they stopped. He moved close against the back of her body, leaning down. She felt him over her right shoulder. As she slowly moved her head in his direction, she suddenly felt her lips on his skin.
Devon stopped moving, he froze. Her lips were soft and full. He wished he had been facing her. He could see himself kissing her. Taking her into his arms and curing her curiosity she had for him.
He immediately scolds himself. What are you thinking, are you mad? You have never thought of Sarah that way, and you are not going to start now. She is Benjamin’s daughter for bloody sake.
“Why thank you, but you haven’t even seen your surprise yet.” Devon smiles at her teasing her to ease his own tension.
Sarah opened her eyes and realized she had run her lips into his cheek. The evidence was the slight wet mark on it. She pulled back and glanced up at into his eyes. She felt so foolish.
“Now that is a new shade of pink I haven’t yet seen on you.” He loved making her blush.
“Oh my, I’m sorry Dev.”
Devon smiled widely. He then looked down to her fingers. They were fighting to fidget with one another. She is the only one who has ever called me Dev. He then turned and gazed at her. “Say it again.”
Sarah turned and faced him. She slowly said. “Say what again?” She fixed her eyes on his lips wondering what they would feel like on hers.
“Dev,” he said as he watched her staring at him. God I want to kiss you. Your lips look so soft. Would they taste sweet or salty? This is not good. I am taking this too far. I promised her father I would look after her, not seduce her.
“Oh Dev!” she shouted with excitement, grabbing his biceps with her hands.
Devon raised his eyebrows with amazement. “That was a bit louder than I expected but said with lots of enthusiasm, I suppose.” He then smiled.
Sarah’s gaze had move from his lips to past his shoulder behind him. She took her hands off him and put them up to her mouth. Her eyes were wide with delight. She darted past him and stood in front of one of her father’s artifacts he had excavated. Devon had it out on display.
Devon took a deep breath and walked up almost beside her. The look on her face was indescribable. He had no idea it was going to affect him so much, to be able to bring this emotion out of her. She looked ecstatic. He felt something inside him he did not recognize. He could not help but to be moved by her, she was lovely. Devon realized he had been holding his breath. He did not approach her any further; he was beginning to doubt his self-control around her.
Sarah turned around to take in the whole room. It looked like a museum and library all in one. Beautiful rich dark woods incased the room. Half the walls had been lined with bookshelves that went up two stories. The other half of the walls had glass display cases on shelves scattered on the walls. There were several over stuffed club chairs, two couches, and one chaise all upholstered in dark maroon leather. The room was beyond huge. “Is all of this the work of you and my father?”
“Yes all of it. Only a few of them are my own finds. I have to admit, I don’t work very well alone now that your father is gone.”
He gazed down at her. “I was hoping this might cheer you up.” Devon saw a tear roll down her cheek. He almost reached his hand up to wipe her tear, but didn’t. “Was this too much too soon?”
“No. I am taken back by it. This is truly the best surprise I have ever received Dev. Thank you for thinking of it.” She wiped another tear away that was surfacing out of the corner of her eye.
“Sarah you have to know how much your father meant to me. When he passed away I lost my partner, my friend, my mentor.”
Sarah had not really given any thought as to how others were feeling about her father’s death. She had not connected with anyone who had come close to caring for him, as she does, especially not her uncle. All her uncle cared about was her father’s journals. The man made her stomach turn.
Sarah didn’t know what to say. She walked forward and hugged him. “I know he loved you Dev. Other than me, you were his favorite person to talk about. She heard him chuckle but he did not embrace her back.
“Would you mind if I look around?”
“Look, touch, whatever your heart desires. The way I see it, all these things are as much yours as they are mine.”
Sarah released him from her embrace and started to walk around the room. Devon made his way to bell to ring for tea. He then took a seat in the middle on the room on the chaise. It would not have been his first choice of seating but he could observe Sarah, as she wandered the room from better from this spot.
Good God she looked tempting in that robe. He was only for the moment only able to gazing at the back of her. He loved her legs they were eye-catching. The back of the robe lay down at her mid thigh. He felt himself growing aroused. Devon shifted as he became uncomfortable from the way he was sitting.
Richards arrived with the tea. He was wearing his suit with Devon’s robe over it. He looked utterly ridiculous. Standing in front of them looking so proper and pompous in his suit with a big soft flannel red robe on top. His nose pointing up in the air.
“What on earth?” Devon said half in shock and half amused.
Sarah turned to look and started laughing loudly, not lady like at all nor did she care.
Richards looked at both of them curiously with one of his eyebrows raised, which he was always so good at doing. He looked like a true butler. The tall thin serous men everyone always envisions. With a large hooked nose and overly bushy eyebrows, a long thin face with small lips, gray hair and his nose was always turned up.
“Did you take a detour through my closet Richards?” Devon at this point was also laughing. “I know I had bought you one for Christmas,” Devon added.
Richards had forgotten he was wearing it. In a dry monotone voice he said, “Actually Sir, I did all your Christmas shopping for you last year and I bought it for myself, from you of course, Sir.”
“I put this on so I would not forget to fetch it before I made the tea.” He glared at Devon with a warning glare, eyeing him not say anything further. Richards knew Devon had a hundred comments running through his brain and would soon spill out his mouth, as always.
He removed the long thick robe and walked over to Sarah. “We do not want to have to defrost you again, Lady Sarah and that robe does not suit you.” He stated as he helped her into Devon’s robe while looking at Devon and giving him “the eyebrow, the look”. He could tell Devon was not pleased. All the more reason she should be covered up. Richards thought to himself.
Richards approached Devon. “Shall I pour the tea for you Sir?”
“I believe you have helped enough Richards, Thank you. It was very… thoughtful for you to bring a robe.” Devon slapped him on the shoulder and then began to pour the tea.
“I will return later, Sir.”
Devon stood up straight and met Richards’s eye. “For what?” Sounding confused and possibly a little offended.
“Perhaps, more thoughtful clothing choices for Lady Sarah. Preferably something with more material that buttons up, from head to toe. Possibly with several little tiny ties over the buttons Sir but, it’s just a mere thought Sir.”
Devon received yet again, another eyebrow from Richards. Devon chuckled and shook his head. Sarah was out of earshot on the other side of the study. She had turned back to inspecting the room. He felt safe to speak freely with Richards. “She is perfectly safe Richards.” He loved the fact Richards was becoming all worked up and protective. He was going to have fun with this. Riling up Richards was not easily achieved. Devon knew Richards had always carried a soft spot for her.
In a sarcastic tone Richards replied, “Yes, I have always admired your will for restraint, Sir. Especially with the ladies.”
Devon started laughing. “Very well Richards, if it makes you feel better you may return to check on her.” Devon then sat down and sipped his tea. “Excellent tea by the way.” He said while raising his cup up toward Richards.
Ignoring the tea comment, Richards said, “I wasn’t aware I was asking permission, Sir.” Richards turned and left the room not waiting for one of Devon’s sly remark. He heard Devon snicker.
Devon was honestly relieved that Richards was planning on returning and knowing Richards it would be every ten minutes.
I should not be alone with her. She needs to put some damn clothes on her curvy, soft, silky…Damn it! Stop that. She is Benjamin’s daughter and you cannot see her in this manner. Turn away and stop looking at her, stop starring. I do not want to stop. She wants me to kiss her.
Devon without realizing it, moved towards her.
“Do you think I over did it? Was that too much?
“Grams, you were perfect,” he said smiling at her. “I think theater should have been your calling.”
“Oh, the nerve of that man! Did you see those nails? Good gracious. He looks like a creature of the night. Repulsive!”
“I want to know what he was so upset about, I mean he has always been an unpleasant man, but is he out of his mind. What do you make of it Grams?”
Darleen walked forward towards the door. She did not stop to check if Devon was following her, although he was.
“I intend to find out my dear boy, right now.” Darleen then mumbled, well her tone of mumbling which is still quite loud. “Coming into my house and speaking to my boy in that manner, how dare he.”
Devon walked behind his grandmother listening to her still mumble to herself. Something to the affect of, Mcmay acting as if someone had stole an apple off a tree on his property and Sarah being the apple. Devon being the one who stole the apple and Sarah is not property. Then it ended with Grams beating Lester up side his head, with the tree. In addition, of course, then asking him how he likes it. He admired her display of arms flaring and fists pounding into the air. He loves every dramatic gesture of her.
He absolutely adored his Grams. Devon spent quite a bit of time with her, when he was home from his travels. She was his favorite person. The commotion that she caused wherever she went was comical. Not caring what anyone’s opinion was of her and so openly offering hers, to whomever she felt deserved it.
Grams and Devon approached closer to the doorway where they thought Sarah was awaiting.
“Let me handle this my boy.” She said while tapping him on the forearm.
“Would it be any other way? You do like to control things, persons, exedra, and exedra.” Devon remarked just as they were turning the corner through the doorway.
The room was empty. Devon turned, going back through the doorway. He looked up and down the hallway. Sarah’s robe tie she was wearing caught his eye on the wood floors. Devon walked over and picked it up. Grams came up beside him.
“What is that my boy?”
Devon held it out for Grams to look at. He peered further down the hallway and spotted the robe coming out from around the corn of the hall, lying on the floor. Grams looked in the direction Devon was starring and saw it as well.
He started to walk towards the robe lying in a pile at the end of the very long hallway. As he drew closer, he felt himself pick up his pace. The sudden surge of his heart racing quickened his steps further.
Devon came up to the robe and out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man coming at him. Devon immediately raised his fist in defense, ready to strike the man.
“Sir, she has run off!” It was still pouring rain outside and Richards was soaked. Breathing heavy Richards continued. “She was headed for the stables but then she took off down the trail. I tried to catch her Devon.”
Grams came up beside them. “Dear God Richards you are soaked! Where is Sarah?”
Devon moved quickly past Richards and through the side door. He ran towards the stable. Billy the stable boy was waiting with Devon’s horse for him. As Devon approached, Billy explained he had saw Richards chasing a lady and he figured Devon would need his horse.
Devon ran up and mounted the horse. He shouted, “Smart boy Billy.” Devon tightens his grip on the reins as he thrashes his boots into the horse’s sides. Rear lunged forward and took off with immediate speed as only a young stallion could have.
He headed down the trail in the direction Sarah was last seen running. She could not be that hard to see, she was wearing a short white bed dress. The gown should stand out against the black forest that surrounds her.
Sarah ran down the trail. She had no shoes on and her nightgown was wet through. She had never been so scared in all her life. The only thing that was going through her mind was that her uncle had probably sent Collins out to chase her down and return her to his estate.
Every sound echoed in her ears. The tall towering trees around her that lined the trail seemed to be alive. They moved and swayed against the blowing wind, looking as if their branches were fighting each other. As the branches clashed together, it was as if they are roaring in anger, scrapping and peeling off one another bark. The rain was heavy and thick. A misty fog crept low to the ground wrapping everything within it.
She could feel the tiny twigs digging into the bottom of her feet. Sarah didn’t care she kept running. She had no idea where she was going, where the trail led to, she just kept moving.
Within the dark backdrop of shadows, a man appeared standing on the path in front of her. Sarah slipped as she tried to stop in the slimy wet mud. Her body slammed against his. He reached out grabbing her arms.
“Where are you going?” he said in a deep voice.
Sarah screamed. He pulled her to him trying to grasp her tighter. Sarah’s body was wet and slick enabling her to brake free. She ran back in the other direction.
“No!” Sarah screamed with pleading fear in her voice. Sarah ran for her life. She had no idea if the man was in pursuit of her, she did not want to look back. Sarah’s foot caught on a branch and she went tumbling into the mud. She struggle to get to her feet. Sarah turned and saw the man running with a limp towards her.
From the ground, she could hear hooves, beating the earth hard, sloshing in the mud-covered trail. The horse was drawing closer. Sarah turned her head to see a man on a horse galloping on the trail towards her as she lies there in his path.
It was too late. Devon had not seen her in time to stop. He kicked the horse’s sides hard, hammering his stirrups into him.
Sarah watches, as the horse is charging at her merely six strides away. She screams and wraps her arms around her head, curling up into a ball as she accepts her fate. Feeling the wet mud spray her body from the horse and smelling the wet beast coming over her, Sarah braces herself. She felt a hove graze her arm. Sarah laid there motionless.
Devon jumped from the horse sliding in the wet mud on his knees as he reached her side.
Is she hurt? Why isn’t she moving?
“Dev, is that you? Oh Dev.” Sarah shouted with relief and wrapped her arms around him.
Devon embraced her squeezing her tight. Then he pulled her away from his body grabbing her arms. Anger now filled his voice. “What were you thinking? He shook her slightly out of frustration.
He wants answers. He wants to know she would never do anything so foolish again. As he gazed into her eyes, watching the rain run down her beautiful face his grip softened.
“I can’t go back Dev. Please don’t send me back.”
“Can you stand?”Devon asked.
“I think so.” Sarah took Devon’s hand he was holding out to her. The man standing next to Devon instantly startled her. She let out a gasp.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Devon helped Sarah onto the large horse and mounted in the saddle behind her. Sarah pulled Devon’s coat she was wearing, together covering her chest. They galloped off heading for home.
Sarah has spent the next day in bed. Richards brought her diner and left her alone. She managed to awake enough to eat her meal. Avoiding what she knew she was going to have to do she lingered in her room for another hour or so.
After Sarah had bathed she realized her belongings had not yet arrived from Lady Wilcox's. Thumbing through the wardrobe chest in the room, she found a soft pale blue night dress and a matching robe with slippers.
She headed down to Devon’s study. She knew she was going to have to explain her behavior, as well as her actions for last evening. Sarah entered the room; every one’s eyes were on her. She quietly with slow movements moved to the sofa and took a seat. Sarah felt her cheeks growing hot. She began to fidget with her robe tie. There was a long pause of dead silence.
In a loud blowing voice Darleen said, “My dear Sarah, we need to talk.”
Sarah felt a lump forming in her throat. She was winding the tie from the robe tighter around her index finger. She started to bite her bottom lip. In a soft voice, she said. “Yes Lady Wilsbee.” Sarah rose to her feet. “I do apologize to everyone. I am truly sorry for my behavior the evening.” Sarah made sure she looked all of them straight in the eyes; it was the least she felt she owed all of them.
Darleen stood directly in front of her. “I have only one thing to say to you child. Where do I send for your things because you are most certainly not going back to that vile creature’s dwelling? Not while I am breathing anyway.”
Sarah’s mouth dropped open with surprise. “I-I have most of my belongings at Lady Wilcox’s residence.”
“Charlotte! I know her very well. She is one of my dearest friends.”
Devon snickered to Richards who was standing between him and Sarah. “She would be her only friend. Her mouth has scared off the rest of the ton.”
Richards gave him “the eyebrow”.
“Seriously how do you do that so well? It looks as though you have strings pulling on your eyebrows.” Devon reached up above Richards head waving it back and forth, as if to catch his hand on some invisible strings.
“It appears to be one of my many talents, Sir. It is too bad you or, one could say us, you do not posses one for your mouth. Like shutting it presently, Sir” Richards said all this without looking toward Devon.
“Well, ones that you will never know of.” Devon shot back being careful not to say it too loud.
“Really? Rumor has it quite the opposite way, Sir” Richards turned and tweaked a small smile at Devon. He knew he had got under Devon’s skin with that comment. “The staff does like to gossip you know.”
“It is settled then. Sarah is to remain here until we figure out what Lester’s malfunction is. Richards! Sarah will stay in the red guest room down the hall from Devon." Grams said.
Richards peered over at Devon. Devon gave him a shrug back with a devilish smile.
Devon saw the expression on Sarah’s face as his grandmother had shouted in her usual loud voice, at Richards next to Sarah’s ear.
He walked toward Sarah placing himself between her and Grams. “You will get use to her after a while. I know she can be earsplitting most of the time.
“What did you say?”
Devon laughed and turned to his Grams. “Grams she now has lost her hearing in her left ear, good work.”
Darleen reached out and placed her hands on Sarah’s cheeks. Still speaking in a loud voice. “Oh my dear.” While turning Sarah’s head side to side. “I become a little boisterous when I get worked up.”
Sarah looked at Devon as she was in Darleen’s grasp. Giving him a look as if to say, “help”.
Darleen released her and started to make her way toward the small bar for a drink. She stopped half way and said. “Devon I need a drink my dear boy.” She then redirected her path back to the sofa. Being comfortable in her own home, she plopped herself down and kicked off her shoes. Normally, not the behavior one would demonstrate, but this was Darleen after all. She threw her feet up and requested a snack to munch on from Richards.
“You were just half way to the bar.” Devon said as he started to pour her Brandy.
“That is what I have you for my dear boy. Besides you make it better than I do.” Darleen said with a wave of her hand in the air.
“It is a glass and brandy Grams.” He said it as if he had told her it a hundred times previously.
Darleen let out a snort and rolled her eyes then giggled.
“So Sarah, what is going on with your uncle and you?” Darleen asked and then sipped her brandy. “Why did you leave the protection of his home?”
“I was not comfortable there.” Sarah said looking at her.
“Yes, well, we all deal with unpleasantness at times throughout are lives. What was so unbearable about yours?”
“My uncle does not care for me much. His assistant is horrible to me. He follows me and watches me and, I-I.”
Darleen watched as Sarah wrapped her arms around herself and lowered her gaze to the floor. Darleen was surprisingly soft speaking. “In what way Sarah?”
Without raising her head, she said. “It is over now. There is no sense in talking on the matter.”
“Sarah, if I am to help you I must know your reasons for leaving. No matter what your reason is, I will listen.”
“Devon! Leave us now,” she barked at him.
Devon was leaning up against the bar. He stood up straight startled by the tone and strength of her voice. He had not often seen his grandmother so deadly serious. At first he did not move. Did I miss something? He hadn’t thought he did.
“Devon please, now.” Her voice sounding sharp as glass.
Devon moved his gaze to Sarah and could see her fidgeting with the tie on the robe, starring down at the table in front of her. He waited only a moment longer then proceeded towards the door and left them.
Grams turned back to Sarah and asked, "Who is it that has defiled you my dear?"
He can hear Benjamin’s voice inside his head asking him to watch after her. “Sarah I cannot do-”
Oh God, I wondered if she is able to hear my heart begin to pound. I am nothing more than a fool to think she cares anymore than friendship for me. What had taken place earlier at the estate was her curiosity for me, nothing more. Perhaps it is better this way.
No one had ever risked their life for me before. She could have died. Did she think I was worth dying for? She said she did it without thinking.
Devon steered Runner to the large shed to the back of the estate. He gently leans Sarah foreword on Runner’s neck. “Do not move Runner.” Devon dismounts and pulls Sarah down into his arms.
Runner did as he was told and had not moved. “You really can understand people.” Devon chuckled as he realized he was talking to a horse and waiting for a response. Runner nudged Devon’s arm as he held Sarah. Runner then snorted in Devon’s face softly. “Well, good night to you too.” Devon said as he turned and shut the door behind him with his foot.
He made his way to the entrance of the estate and through the front door. He had no idea which room she was residing in and Richards would have his head on a platter, if he awoke to find Sarah in his own bedchamber. Devon would take the sofa in the study and not sleep with her in his room, but somehow he did not think Richards would agree with that either.
“Oh, the hell with this.” Devon said aloud. “I am far too tired to worry about Richards’s opinion.” He carried Sarah to his study and placed her on the chaise in the middle of the room. Devon withdrew a thick blanket from the chest and covered her up.
He is not quite ready to lie down yet. “Another brandy should help with that.” Devon did not bother with ice chips, as he pours himself a large glass. He decides to start a fire to warm the room. As he got the fire going, he heard Sarah mumble in her sleep. Devon was unable to make out what she said. He walks over to check on her. He stood still for a moment. Sarah stopped talking as he approaches the chaise. Devon turns to walk away when Sarah shouts, “Please let me out.” She began to move her head back and forth in distress.
“Uncle please do not let him do this to me.”
Tears start to peak at the outer corners of her eyes. Devon can see them glistening from the light of the fire. He takes a seat next to her. Devon wants to wake her up, until she began to plead to some man.
“Please don’t do this. I do not want you to touch me. I do not want you, stop!” Sarah’s voice was shaking as it did when she had come down from the horse at his side. He heard fear in it.
“Who is it Sarah?” Devon whispered softly to her. Sarah begins to quiet down and says nothing more about the mysterious man.
Devon decided first thing later that day after he arose, he was going to find out what Sarah had told Grams. In his opinion, women do not dream of these things unless they have been a victim of them. God help the man, if there is one, who had touched her. Devon will to kill him.
He sat in a chair next to the fire as he finished off his drink. Devon slowly started to drift off to sleep watching the fire dance. He quickly begins to start dreaming.
He is riding on top of a horse through the trails in the forest. It is a night much like tonight. The tall black trees set in the shadows raced by him. The rain seems to pelt him everywhere other than his face. He thought to himself that this is odd. The forest was whispering to him, calling his name. The further he rides into the woods the louder the voices became. Abrupt images of Mcmay’s menacing face appear in the silhouettes of the trees. Devon kicks the horse to run faster as he glimpses the open field ahead of him. Whispers of the voices grow braying as Devon is drawing closer to the field. The sounds are deafening, feeling as if they were inside his head. Mcmay’s body stands in the center of the path, blocking the opening to the field. Devon pulls the reins of the horse to a halt. Mcmay disappeared into the fog. Devon sits in his saddle looking every which direction for Mcmay, but he is gone.
He awakes to the smell of bacon cooking five hours later. He is stiff from falling asleep in the club chair. He glances over to see if Sarah is awake yet. She is gone, she must have woken up and left to her bedchamber to freshen up or sleep some more.
Devon stands up and stretches out raising his arms above his head. He began walking in the direction of the door when he notices a bare foot peeking out from under the chaise. Devon strolls over and peered under there. Sarah was sleeping under it, rolled up in her blanket. Devon chuckled to himself and said, “You are about to get yourself into so much trouble Price.”
Devon reached down and tickles her foot. Sarah jumps and kicks her foot on the leg of the chaise. She maneuvers her head out from under the chaise, with half of the blanket still wrapped around her head.
“What is wrong with you Devon?” She was infuriated. “I was sleeping.”
“Yes I know, under my chaise.” Had ads while laughing.
Sarah started to raise her voice. “I do not care where I am sleeping. I am asleep, so why would I care, where I sleep.”