Surrendering Chapters 1 thru 10




    Edwards entered the room and cleared his throat with an odd sound of sorts. Sarah did not draw her attention away from the book she was writing. Edwards observed her ink stained fingers and took in a deep breath.

    "Hum," Sarah mindlessly answered.

    "Lady Sarah there is an officer her to speak with you," Edward said.

    "Very well Edward. I will only need but another few minutes to-"

    "Lady Sarah this cannot wait. It concerns...your father." He took a few steps towards Sarah sitting behind her writing desk. Her gaze flew to him. "I will escort him in." Edward then turned slowly and left the room.

    Sarah rose from her desk and began wiping her fingers feverishly, stained with ink. She noticed her hands had begun to tremble. Sarah bit up her bottom lip as the realization of Edward's tone was setting in now.

    Edward emerged through the doorway followed by a young officer who was removing his hat. Mary, Sarah's maid slipped in behind him, doing her best to disappear into the background of the wood paneled wall.

    "You are Lady Sarah Mcmay I presume?" The young officer asked.

    "I am sir." Sarah heard the fear in her own quivering voice.

    "Lady Mcmay, I have some unfortunate news to discuss with you concerning your father Benjamin Mcmay."

    Sarah does not recall much from that point forward. The next six months were but a blur in time for her. The life that she once found comfort and loving security in...Is gone forever, only to be replaced with the company of her father's brother Lester Mcmay and his unfortunate looking assistant Sylvester Collins.

    Her days are long and spent doing her best to avoid Collins and his grabby hands. The night of November 03, 1798 was the result of Sarah's unsuccessful attempts at avoiding Collins and his demanding grasps on her body. He had cornered her in the kitchen late that night. The estate was quit and still. She knew better than to leave her room after a certain hour at night for this very reason alone.

    As Sarah stood with her back to the entrance of the kitchen, she heard a clicking on the floor behind her. She froze and hoped that he might over look her in the dark that engulfed the room. The scent of his cologne waffled in the room around her. It was a foul smell of wax and misty musk from the cellar. The potent odor lingered in every room long after his departure from it. She wondered sometimes what his time was occupied with below her feet.
    "Click, click, click," his cane marked the floor with an echo as he purposely struck it with force against the tile.

    Sarah immediately turned to face him. "What do you want Collins?"

    "Ha ha ha. Now is that any way to address your future husband Sarah?" Collins said as he drew closer to her. He stopped about four feet from her and gawked at her body as he licked his lips repeatedly.

    Sarah's stomach began to curdle at the thought of him touching her in any way. She watched his beady black eyes scan over her breasts and down to her hips. His thin small frame of a body began to hunch forward slightly.

    "I would rather be locked in the cellar and die chained to the wall than marry you."

    Collins smiled at her with an excited evil grin. Almost as if, she had given him an idea. "Your avoidance of me is growing tiresome Sarah. The game of cat and mouse is over. You see Sarah; I grow impatient when I don't get what I want." Collins slammed the bottom of his cane to the tile floor breaking it into large pieces at his feet.

    Sarah jumped at his roaring sudden rage. Collins then lunged towards her took a hold of the upper arms. He bit her on the neck as he pushed himself on to her body, causing Sarah to fall to the ground.

    Collins placed his cane against Sarah's throat and said, "You are only making this painful for yourself. Although I do not mind watching, you suffer. I actually find myself growing pleasured by it.
   The pressure from his cane was making it almost impossible to draw in air. Sarah heard a loud ding and Collins fell off to the side of her body on the floor.

   Sarah looked up to see Edward standing over her with a large heavy fry pan in his hands.

   "Lady Sarah are you injured?" He held out his hand to help her up.

   "No," she said. As she stood, her tears began to run down her cheeks. She had not even been aware she was crying.

     "I have arranged for a driver to take you to Lady Wilcox home, but you must hurry."

     Sarah heard Collins begin to stir on the floor at her feet.
"What will become of you Edward? I cannot possible leave you."

    "You can and you will." Edward took Sarah by the hand and guided her to the front doors. He placed her in the carriage and told the driver to ride hard.

    As the carriage pulled away from Edward, Sarah placed her hand to the chilled glass pane of the small square window. Sarah watched him until his image grew too small to see. She closed her eyes and shouted, "Stop!" to the driver. "I have changed my mind and need to be taken somewhere else."


Chapter 1

   Sarah crept down the dark back streets of London. The sun had not risen over the quiet eerie town yet. It allowed the streets to remain filled with gloomy shadows that played games with her mind. Her heightened sense of awareness to every little sound was causing her to jump, as she thought she heard footsteps behind her.

   The sky had opened up earlier that night and let out an assault of rain so heavy, one would believe that the heavens were angry and this was a punishment. Smelling the moist odor that the streets were giving off, only added to her fear. She could see her breathe in the damp air.

   Before Sarah turned the corner, she grew scared of what may be waiting for her on the other side. She wondered if he followed her. Was she alone on the bleak streets of London in the fog? She stopped as she heard footsteps behind her. Sarah could feel her pulse race through her veins in her neck and hear the thumping of it in her ears.

   He has found me.

   She whipped her head in every direction to find somewhere to hide. Down the alley she stood in front of, she spotted a carriage. Running to it quickly she hid inside. There was no time to shut the door to the carriage completely, so she held it closed with her trembling hand.
   Sarah squeezed her eyes closed when she heard footsteps growing closer. As each one echoed on the wet avenue right outside the alley, she felt herself jump slightly. She wanted to look to see if it was he, but she was afraid to.

   Take a deep breath and breathe normally. How did he discover where I was going? Oh, what am I to do? Please keep walking.

   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.  

   The man’s footsteps stopped when he reached the entrance to the alley. She suspected he was standing and waiting for a sign of where she might be. Sarah scanned the dark carriage for a weapon of some kind. The carriage was dark. She felt around for anything to use to defend herself with against him. Reaching across the seat next to her, she found a gentleman’s coat. Sarah could smell the strong odor of cigar smoke on it.

   She heard the sounds as his shoes smashed the fine gravel underneath them. He was drawing closer to her with slow deliberate heavy steps.

   Sarah slowly pulled the coat over her body while trying not to rock the carriage. Her breathing was heavy and her entire body was shaking. Sarah heard a clicking noise on the back of the carriage. She almost screamed.

   That is his cane. Oh God he has found me.

 The man was taunting her, as he played on her fears. Click, click, she heard again. Sarah did not dare pull the coat back; she knew he was waiting to see if she would.

   She was huddled on the floor of the carriage in the dark alone. How had this become her life? The man outside the carriage wanted nothing more than to hurt her. He had been after her for six long months and now he had finally cornered her alone. Sarah had no way to escape, nowhere to run to, and no one to call out to for help.
   The footsteps stopped on the side of the carriage next to the old tall stone structure. The man clicked the metal handle of his cane against the carriage again. “Sarah,” he called out to her in a slow drawn out tone. His voice was a low raspy sounding. He laughed, “Ha-ha-ha. I know you are in there…Sarah.”

   Sarah heard a woman’s voice sounding as if it were coming from down the alleyway. The woman was talking with someone else.

   “I’m not walking clear cross town for his favorite croissants, not in this weather anyway,” the woman shouted. “His royal emperor, can gets him own croissants from the baker, see in mine are not good enough for him.”
   Sarah felt the carriage rock slightly. Pulling the coat back away from her eyes, she saw the man on the other side from her leaning against it, trying to disguise himself with the shadows.
   “Hey! What are ya doin hanging about here for?” the woman yelled at him.
   Sarah heard him run off down the alley. She popped her head up to see a maid standing on the outside of a doorway holding a broom in her hand. Sarah took a deep breath and remained still for another few minutes.
   As she exited the carriage, her legs felt shaky. She made her way quickly towards the opposite side of the alley, from where the man had run off. Sarah went in the direction of the library. The streets were beginning to fill with an array of household staff gathering supplies for the morning. Hearing the loud clip-clop of the horse’s hooves brought comfort to Sarah, feeling not so alone now. The smell of freshly baked breads and sweets lingered in the morning air from the baker around the corner. It reminded her how hungry she felt.
   Outside the doorway to the old library, was a wire basket attached to the brick

   When she reached the park, she noticed how quiet it was. Above her head, she heard the chirps of baby birds calling out for their breakfast. She glanced around her and saw no one else in the park with her. Sarah sat down on a park bench beneath the tree. She held in her hands her new book she has been waiting six months to purchase. Dawn had just broken and it was a crisp Sunday morning. To Sarah, it felt as though the rest of the world was now still. A Morning like this in the park, leads her to imagine she was the only person on earth.

   She ran her ungloved hand over the top of the book as she experienced, the sensation of the leather under her fingers. Sarah brings it up to her nose. As she closes her eyes, she takes in the pungent fragrance of the leather. The aroma of it, reminds her so much of her father. She was flooded with memories of a better life, a different life. A life that to her, felt like it had only been a dream.

   I wish you could see the book father. I think you would be proud. I miss you so much.

   When she opens her eyes she is brought back in the presence of the moment. Letting her past fall away, Sarah gazes down at her new book. She senses the corners of her mouth begin to curl up with anticipated delight.

   Sarah opened the cover of the book and began to read. She was thankful for the over cast, otherwise the sun would shine too brightly against the new stark white pages making it difficult for her to read.

   As she approaches the second chapter, a giant raindrop strikes the page. Sarah glanced up towards the sky. Another raindrop lands on her check and descends silently down her face. A gusty wind chills her harshly as it blows against her. She quickly closes her book and rises to her feet. Looking all around her, Sarah searches for shelter. The rain was beginning pummel her now. Each raindrop burns her skin like ashy ambers from a fire whipping in the wind. I cannot see anything through this icy rain.

   Sarah began to run through the park. Losing her footing on the slippery brick, she tumbled to the ground. My book. Sarah cries as she watches it glide away, out of her grasp skimming across the surface of the path. She lays in the puddle that has now formed around her in disbelief. No.

   A deafening clash of thunder rings out over the sky. Sarah thinks she hears a man’s voice and skims over the landscape in front of her but spots no one.

   Pushing herself to her knees, she feels her body begin to lift off the ground and not by her own doing. She is startled when she feels a man’s hands gripping her around the waist. Sarah hears the voice again from behind her, but she is unable to make out anything he is saying to her. His voice is echoing against the thunder, sounding just as deep and muffled.

   The man holds her about the waist, as he is trying to guide her down the walkway. He paused to pick something up. Sarah gazed down to his hand. He is holding her book. She begins reaching out for it, but the man with one of his arms still about her waist, continues leading her through the park.

   Who is he? She did not see anyone in the park nearby. Although, she emitted to herself she was reading, therefore maybe she had not taken notice of him. Had he been watching me? Who is this man, perhaps I know of him? Maybe he is dangerous. Is he attempting to help me?

   Sarah felt his grip around her waist tighten as he drew her closer to him. Run, she tells herself. She places her hands against his chest attempting to push away from him. In an instance, she is over come by his strength. For a brief moment through the heavy rain, she is able to catch a glimpse of his face. Sarah realizes he is lifting her over a large puddle, as he stands in it. The man sets her back down to the ground. She feels him fasten his hand around hers as they proceed forward up the path. The hill is beginning to steepen. The icy rain is not melting away. Sarah feels the strength of his hand as it engulfs hers and tightens.

   She can see he is tall with broad shoulders. From what she is able to discern, his hair is black as night and the color of his eyes are blue. Perhaps he knew my father or I have seen him at the library. Could Aunt Wilcox have sent him to look for me? Oh, she is going to be furious when I arrive.

   She felt her feet slush in her cold wet shoes. She now realizes it was a mistake only to wear a thin shawl when she had left this morning. Although to her defence she was is a bit of a rush.

  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 lightning was stunning as it spidered out across the dark sky, brilliant in fact. Sarah lifts her head upwards to watch. It sparks rapidly all around them. The thunder roars, booms and rumbles, with the occasional loud crack, which frightens her every time, as it bellows through the morning sky. If she had been inside, she would have loved to watch this display play out all morning long. “A dual of the Gods,” her father would always say, as the first loud thunderous sounds emerged out of every new storm.

   Sarah began to realize she is unable to keep her footing and is slipping out of this man’s grasp, falling back down the hill. Although she does not know the man, Sarah clings to his hand desperately. Just as she was falling farther out of his grip, she felt herself drawn up into his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck feeling safe and protected.

   Turning the corner the wind howls with force as it slaps her in the face. Sarah buried her head in the crook of his neck. She felt shielded from the assault of the wicked weather. She rests her nose and mouth against his bare neck. His skin is soft, moist, and warm feeling on her lips. He smells of spicy smoked oak. She likes the smell of his skin.

   The way he is holding me tells me he means me no harm. I feel so safe he can’t mean me any harm…I think. Whoever he is, I am grateful he found me in the park.

   “Thank you,” Sarah whispered against his skin.

   “You’re welcome,” he said back just as softly.

   She felt them stop moving. Lifting her head away from the protection of his body, she saw a carriage just beyond the gardens. She observed a man standing outside the carriage. It appears as though he was waiting for them. The man at the carriage had one hand on the handle of the door and clutched his hat atop his head with the other, preventing it from blowing away in the wind.

   As they approach the man waiting he opend the door. The mysterious man holding her places her on the seat inside the carriage and then shuts the door.

   Wait come back. I wonder what his name is. He does not look familiar to me. Whoever he is he has a dry carriage. The smell of his skin reminds me of…who. Oh, I cannot think right now. I am too cold.

   The carriage was dry, but now that she is away from the warmth of the man’s body, she recognizes how bitter cold she really was. Sarah felt her body start shuttering. She cannot stop it from doing so. Gazing down at her fingertips, she takes note that they are white and pruning. She was nearly positive her lips were blue. As frigged as she felt how could they not be? The more her body trembled and quivers the further away she felt from the hope of any warmth soon. Sarah enfolded herself in her own arms wanting so desperately to pull her legs to her chest as well, as if wrapped like a parcel. Proper women do not display such inappropriate behavior though. She could hear her Aunt Wilcox’s words ringing in her head.

   Sarah felt the wind whisk through her as the door opened. The man has returned. He leans into the carriage and holds up the book with the front cover open.

   “Is this where you reside?”

   Sarah nodes confirming as she glances at his brilliant blue eyes. She is so very cold and barely able to node yes to the man. She wonders how much more of this she will be able to endure. She is unable to feel her feet, hands, and nose. It feels as if I have jumped into in icy pond, although I can only imagine, since I never had plunged into one before.

   The mysterious man enters the carriage and takes a seat across from her. He stares into her jade green eyes. She should look away, but she cannot. Who is he?

 copyright 2010                                                 

 Chapter 2

    Sarah can feel his gaze upon her. If her teeth were not chattering together so hard, she would insist he tell her whom he was. She had no sense of fear of him. Although at this point, she had no sense of any thought other than numbness.
    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?”


Chapter 3

   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.

copyright 2010


Chapter 4

   Devon could see Sarah up on her tiptoes reaching for a large atlas. Unfortunately, for her, it was just out of reach. He knew he was going to have to assist her, which meant standing next to her.
   Sarah gave up her good effort of trying to retrieve the atlas and turned around to ask for help. She was stunned that Devon had come up behind her, without her even being aware of it. He was standing not more than twelve inches from her. Her uncle’s assistant was always doing that to her, among other things. It scared her, she felt stalked like pray when Collins would drool at her.

   Smiling at her, he said, “Let me fetch that for you Sarah.”

   Sarah’s lips parted slightly. Devon moved towards her, brushing up against her as he was reaching above her head with both arms, for the book two shelves above her.

   The book was very large and heavy. Devon maneuvered it off the shelf, letting out a little grunt as it came free into his hands.

   Sarah had not moved. His body was literally up against hers. As he made a grunt, she instinctively places her hands on the sides of his waist, tucking her head down. Her heart was racing. She felt his hand move over the back of her neck. Sarah flinched from his touch.

   Is he going to kiss me? I cannot feel my lips. She licked them slowly making sure…she did not know what she was sure of in this moment. He was pressing against her and she could not think nor take in a breath.

   “I wasn’t going to drop it on you Sarah.” Devon then started to chuckle lightly. He thought of only her hands on his sides. The desire for her to slide them up around his neck was causing him to linger over her.

   Sarah lift your head and look to me. Let me see it within your eyes you want it as well and I will produce for you a soft kiss about your sweet lips.

   Sarah lifted her head slightly and gazed at his chest. He was still touching her and she realized she had, his shirt crumpled up into her fists. She quickly released his shirt. She pulled her hands, still clenched into her palms, feeling her nails digging into them, up to the top of her chest. Sarah’s stare did not divert from his chest, she looked almost as if she was frightened to look up at him.

   Devon could see he had made her uncomfortable and moved back away from her a few steps. He had not intended to make her feel that way.

   I feel as if an ass now. She is an innocent, and I must remind myself of this. She has possibly never even flirted with anyone thus far.
   He was used to flirting with experienced women, none of which was under the age of twenty-five, he guessed. How could he have made her feel this way? He felt like a rake.

   Both of them stood in silence for a few moments.

   “I apologize. You startled me.” Sarah’s voice was soft, almost not audible.

   “You should not be apologizing Sarah. For my behavior was inappropriate. Please accept my apology?” His voice was soft and soothing as he meant it to be.

   “No, I over reacted. I know you were attempting to assist me.” Sarah then peered up into his eyes. “It would seem I am a little jittery and I know I shouldn’t be…with you. I am sorry Dev.”

   For the love of God, now I truly felt like a louse. If I began to grow donkey ears and a tail, I would not be surprised in the least bit. She is standing in front of me thinking she has done something wrong. You are truly an ass, he thought to himself.

   “Sarah, it is entirely my fault. I should not have-”

   Sarah cut him off, shaking her head in protest. “No you only intended to offer me aid Dev. I know I am safe with you. I know you would never bring about harm to me. This house is safe and I need to just relax a bit.” With that said, she tilted her head and smiled at him trustingly.

   “I see Richards brought in some tea. Shall I pour us some?” Sarah walked toward the chaise where the tea was on a table set in front of the sofa.

   “I took the liberty of already pouring us some.” Devon had not turned around yet. He was busy starting to name all the names he would feel fit, to be labeled with right now. As he began to say them to himself, as he brought the large book up to his forehead and thumped it as he went along.

   Parasite, scoundrel, rogue, jerk, big jerk, wicked, vile, loathsome, appalling, despicable, that was a good one, I like despicable, revolting.

   “Dev, would you care for sugar in your tea?”

   He heard her voice and turned with a smile. “Yes please.” He made his way back across the large spans of the fifty by sixty foot room.

   Looking puzzled, Sarah said pinching her eyebrows together as she drew them down. “Why is your forehead grown red?”

   Before he had, had a chance to respond, Richards entered the room.

   Clearing his throat he announced, “Sir you have a visitor.”

   “At this hour?” Devon looked at the clock on the mantel just to confirm his estimate of the time. Just as he figured, a quarter past eight.

   “Yes, if that is what you could call him Sir.”
   Devon could tell whoever it was Richards did not like the man. These meant odds were, Devon did not either. He squinted his eyes while asking, “Who is it Richards?”

   Richards glanced at Sarah then back at Devon. “Lester Mcmay.”

   Devon turned to Sarah and saw she looked petrified. The color began to drain from her face.

   Richards stepped forward. With a stern cold voice said, “I will send him away immediately.” Richards did not like Sarah’s reaction to the news of her uncle’s arrival.

   “No Richards…I will receive him in the drawing room. I will handle it. You stay here with Sarah. Devon turned to Sarah.

   “Sarah, are you suppose to be staying with your uncle?”

   Sarah blinked a couple of times as she looked from Devon to Richards and back. “Yes but I left to stay with Mrs. Wilcox a relative of my mother’s.”

   Devon’s voice was low. “Did you have good reason for leaving your uncle’s home?”

   Sarah just shook her head yes.

   Devon shot a look to Richards and said in an even lower tone. “I will handle this.” He stood and marched out the door.

   “But wait!” Sarah shouted.

   “Not to worry Sarah, he will take care of him.” Richards remained standing next to her, as if guarding her. He never liked her uncle. He was a dishonest man with an evil streak. He noticed that she began to fidget with the robe tie in her lap.

   “Lord Mcmay, shall we talk in the drawing room?” Devon gestured with his arm in the direction of the room, off to his left. Lord Mcmay nodded in agreement, his expression set upon his face like stone.

   “Can I offer you a drink?”

   “Let me get straight to the point.” Mcmay said sharply. “I know she is here and I demand she be returned this instance.”

   Devon turned his back to him and started to pour himself a scotch. “By her, I take it you are referring to Sarah, your niece, well than yes she is in residence. She has taken my grandmother up on an offer for a visit.” Devon was being overly calm and polite. He turned back to Mcmay as he sipped his drink.

   “I am well aware you encountered her in the park and carried her to your carriage, then brought her here. You have no rights to her. She is my charge, not yours.”

   He was pointing at Devon with his long skinny finger. His nails were long and yellow, which disgusted Devon. He was not only thin but somewhat tall as well.

   I wonder if he speaks to Sarah in this manner. Is that why she left? Did he point that repulsive long yellow fingernail at her as well? It is honestly unsettling to me. He shuttered for a moment as he thought of having to look at those things every day.

   “Bring her to me this instance!” Lord Mcmay was clearly angry almost furious.

   Devon raised his eyebrows and pinched his lips together for a moment. “You are aware she is a person and not a belonging of yours?

   “Look Price, I don’t know what game you think you are going to play with me but, I assure you, you will live to regret it, boy.”

   “Regret what Lester and why are you addressing my grandson in that tone?” Darleen came up and stood next to Devon.

   “I am here for the girl,” he spat out. He again pointed at Devon and said, “He took her.”

   Darleen had the most nauseated expression on her face as she was looking at his nails. She turned her gaze to Devon who was already looking at her.

   Devon pressed his lips together trying not to smile at his grandmother’s candid obvious revulsion. “Nauseating, I know,” he said agreeing with that look she shot him.

   “Lester I would produce Lady Sarah but, at the moment the poor sweet dear is in bed with a fever and the chills. She will not be traveling anywhere any time soon. Doctor’s strict orders I’m afraid.”

   “I don’t much care what your doctor has said. I want her now!” Mcmay then folded his arms over his chest resting them on his thin belly. He proceeded to tap his fingers on his forearm.

   Darleen gasped. First at the gull of him speaking to her in that manner and second, the sight of the full glory of all his nails together. She put her hand over her mouth. After a moment, she placed both hands on her round hips and started treading heavily at Mcmay.

   Mcmay lowered his arms and leaned back slightly as Darleen’s finger was coming at his face.

   What a sight this is, considering she was probably a foot and a good five inches shorter than he is, Devon thought to himself.

   “How dare you speak to anyone in this home in that demeanor, you pig! You remove your revolting, mass of a body, from my presence this instant before I really become angry.” Darleen eyed him up and down. “I will send for the authorities immediately and have you removed, Lester.”

   She turned and rejoined her place next to Devon, who was now sitting on the arm of the sofa, watching her do what she is know so well for. He was, sporting of course, a large grin across his face.

   “Devon’s stance stiffened and he added, “Do not expect lady Sarah back until after she has recovered.”

   Sarah wondered what was taking so long. She was now pacing the floor in straight lines back and forth. She was circling half the room but, Richards announced she was making him dizzy.

   Occasionally she glanced up at the open door. A few times, she had heard voices becoming louder but she was clueless as to what the conversation was. Well not entirely true, she knew what her uncle’s assessment of the situation to be and he is with certain, shouting provided with a fit of rage.

   Sarah’s mind was rushing. How had he found me here? The sheer thought of herself having to be locked away, once he did bring her home…was dreadful. More than anything, it was his assistant, Sylvester Collins. He was always grabbing at her, watching her, following her. Her uncle she was able to handle, but Sylvester, he scared her. The look in his eyes was just evil.

   I cannot go back to that house. Sarah began to feel panic start to well up in her chest. I could leave, run from the estate. Maybe Richards will help me escape. Tears started to sting the corner of her eyes. Was it from fear, panic, or from the fact she could not catch her breath? Sarah did not know what the cause was, she just wanted out.

   Richards observed Sarah’s body language. She was losing all the color in her face again before his eyes. He could see the tears she continued to blink back. He wanted to go to her, comfort her and tell her Devon would not allow any harm to come to her. He watched as Sarah’s forehead began to moisten with sweat. The look on her face was sheer terror. Richards stood off to side of her opposite of the sofa. He could see she was now just starring at the doorway.

   The voices have now stopped and she heard nothing. Waiting to see if her uncle was going to come around the corner to fetch her was more than she could endure. Sarah ran for the door. She gave no thought that she was only in a robe. Richards took chase after her. Sarah made it into the hallway. She paused to think which direction to go in. Sarah thought back to all the times playing hide and seek with Richards. Off to right she could recall a back hallway that led to the kitchen. There was a side door going outside.

   Sarah took off running, not looking back as she heard Richards pleas for her to stop.


Chapter 5

   Mcmay had just left in a huff. Darleen looked over at Devon standing beside 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.
She felt no pain. Am I dead? I do not want to look. What if I see my body?

   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?
Devon could see blood thinned out by the rain, running down her arm. “Sarah! Sarah are you alright?” Devon’s voice sounded frantic. He saw Sarah lift her head to look at him.

   “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.”
Sarah sat in a muddy puddle begging for his help. He wrapped his coat around her. Her nightgown was white and revealed everything. He was trying very hard not to look.

   “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.
Sarah looked to Devon, with a mix of fear and questioning in her eyes. The man repeated the question to Devon. He explained to Sarah who the man was and way he was out on the trails in this weather. She had learned he is in charge of the trail and was clearing the large branches and logs.

   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.
Sarah admired her frank boldness. She believed everyone should be able to, just be themselves in front of others. In her opinion, people held themselves a little too stiff. She felt comfortable here.

   “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?”
Sarah was silent for a few moments.

   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.”
Sarah looked into Darleen’s eyes. Her gaze was of shame and pain. Darleen knew by the look in Sarah’s painful eyes what she was about to say or maybe could not bring herself, to say aloud.

   “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?"

Chapter 6

   Devon stood outside the door for a moment. He ran through his mind what Grams and Sarah could be talking about? He looked, starring off into nowhere. Could she had left without permission for a short time or she quite possibly could have run away. Grams behavior was odd. Maybe she just wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on between Lord Mcmay and Sarah.
   As Devon stood talking with himself, he realized he was not standing in the large dim empty hallway alone.
   “You were not expecting an answer, were you Sir?” Richards was positioned behind him slightly off to the side with a tray of biscuits and tea in his hands.
   “They are byzantine. I assure you Sir, all of them are.” Richards stated, and then just remained there quiet waiting for a response.
   Devon look confused with his lips in a straight line and his eyebrows pinched together as he starred at Richards. He was clearly irritated.
   “Highly complicated, women I mean. That is what it means.” Richards moved his eyes from Devon to the tray he was holding. He could tell Devon was not amused.
   Richards and Devon often like to dual with words. All kinds of uncommon, simple, long, difficult, and even foreign words. One is always attempting to stump the other. Well, by the look on Devon’s face, he obviously did not care to joust right now.
   “Must you always sneak around like that? Every time I turn around you’re within ten paces of me glaring at the back of my head.”
   Richards set his jaw firm and this time raised his left eyebrow at Devon. He remained silent for a second then said, “Someone needs to keep a watchful eye on you, Sir”.
Richards enjoyed the thought that Devon felt he had little privacy. Ad least while he is in close to proximity of Sarah, in Richards’s opinion. He sees the way Devon looks at her and knows what the little devil is thinking too, after all, he was young once himself. Sarah is very beautiful. Young and old can clearly see that and Devon being in his prime would be blind not to notice her.

   “Do you need assistance?” Devon said as he smiled widely. He placed his hands on the tray to take it from Richards.

   “I have it quite under control Sir.” Richards said looking Devon in the eyes. “I believe you are standing on this side of the door because Lady Wilsbee has sent you out of the room. Therefore if you bring the tray back into the room, you would be defeating her purpose of sending you out of the room to begin with, Sir.” Richards slid the tray away from Devon’s hands causing the china to chime together.

   “That was surely not my intention Richards. I was just offering my hand in aid. Grandmother always says I should offer aid to the elderly.” Devon stood up straight with his arms folded over his chest, looking smug of course.

   Richards smiled. “Yes of course Sir, how kind of you. A fine gentleman you have turned out to be or as Lady Wilsbee thinks, a demigod, I believe she has said.”

   “Well yes. She does seem to adore me in a loving way, I would agree.” Devon paused for a moment then said, “Really, she said demigod…not a god?” His voice played with a hint of disbelief and mystification, trying of course to get under Richards’s skin. “Well I dear say Richards, I am felt feeling flummox by that.”

   Richards rolled his eyes at his choice of the word. “I assure you, it was some sort of godlike entity, Sir.”

   Devon put his hand up to his chin and pondered over it intentionally. “Honestly who wouldn’t think it? I mean really, I charming and funny.” Devon turned his gaze from the wall to Richards. “I have been known to generate quite a few giggles from the ladies at the social events.” Devon turned his gaze back to the spot on the wood paneled wall, a few feet above his eye level, posing as if he was fixing his gaze up upon the vast and wondrous star light night sky and debating his own part in the world.

   Devon continued talking about himself and how wonderful he thought himself to be. Devon compares himself to Greek gods and saints of all kinds. Richards knew he was not being serious, just obnoxious. Devon’s usual attempts to get on Richards’s nerves most often were unsuccessful, as far as Devon was aware of, but this was unbearable to listen to.

   Richards could not take it anymore and Lady Wilsbee’s tea was tempering down. “My God, what is that?” Richards shouted looking down the hallway.

   Devon quickly whipped his head in the direction Richards was looking. “What did you see?” Devon heard the click from the door latch behind him, close and then it locks. Devon started to chuckle. “That sneaky old man duped me.”

   Mean while behind closed doors, Darleen and Sarah continued to chat.

   “I am truly grateful for allowing me to stay at the Price estate Lady Wilsbee.” Sarah said to Darleen.

   Darleen could tell she was grateful and freighted at the same time, it shown in her eyes. She gently reached for Sarah’s hand and placed hers on top. “My dear Sarah, you may stay as long as you wish, on one condition.”

   “Name your price Lady Wilsbee.” Sarah said eagerly.

   Darleen looked at her and laughed loudly. “A Price?” she said through her laughter. “Devon is the only Price I have to offer you.” She laughed even louder.

   “Oh, I see.” Sarah began to blush as she realized what she had said. “What I intended to say was, I will do anything for that price…I mean I-”

   Darleen stopped for a moment and then let out a very loud, “Oh,” with a snort as she slapped her own leg. Tears began streaming down her face, as her laughing grew deeper.  Darleen could not control herself any longer. Chuckle, cackle, nor giggle does not come close to describing what was coming out of this woman. At this point, she was nearly rolling her round body off the sofa.

   “You want my Price that badly Sarah?” Darleen said, teasing Sarah further.

   Sarah began to laugh with her. As foolish as she felt, the sight of Darleen’s hysterical laughing was contagious. Sarah commented to Darleen, “Is he your best Price?”

   Richards entered the room to see the two women rolling about the sofa holding their sides in laughter. “Lady Wilsbee, the tea is ready.” He placed the tray on the table not paying attention to the two wiggling to and fro in front of him. He did not bother to offer to pour the tea either. He knew neither of them would hear him anyway. Richards left the room.

   Devon started to shake his head back and forth with a smile on his face. He proceeded down the hall to the drawing room. He stopped for a moment. “Is that laughter?” He waited and then it faded. “Grams,” he said.

    Still talking to himself, he switches back to his thoughts of Richards. That had to have been one of his better tricks thus far. He moves rather quickly for a man his age.

   Devon reached the drawing room. He went over to the brandy and poured a glass. He could still hear the wind blowing through the bare branches of trees outside behind him. He thought to himself.

   The drive will soon be completely underwater, if it does not let up shortly. We may have to move the horses out of the stable to higher ground. The last thing Devon wanted to do was organize and move all seventeen horses to the other stable. It would take hours to complete.

   He took a seat next to the fire, facing the windows. Devon started to smile to himself as he thought. With the wind howling and the snapping crackles of the fire next to me, it is a perfect eerie night. The fire produces such odd and misshaped figures on the walls, as it casts shadows. If Lord Mcmay was standing here, with his long yellow fingernails, it would be an ideal cover for the book I had been reading. Much better than the one the publisher had chosen for it. He could be outside the window tapping on the pane of glass, taunting his next victim. He most certainly could fit the roll of evil vampire.

   He shook his head freeing his mind of the thought. Sitting quietly he began to gaze into the fire, as he often did at night. Listening to the fire roar and snap helped him ease his thoughts at times. It was calming to him. In some ways, he thought it was easy to surrender to. The warm soothing colors of the fire drew him in almost every time. It felt peaceful, serene. No, he decided, it was hypnotic. The peek on every flame waving him on to come closer, pulling him into its dance of rhythmic tranquility, it always subdued him.

   Devon felt his eyes growing heavy. He began to feel sleepy. Listing to the fire hiss and softly whistle was not helping him stay awake. He let himself slip away into the calling of gentle restfulness.

   As he slipped deeper into his peaceful state, images of Lord Mcmay started to emerge from his mind. Flashes of Mcmay’s figure one after another all different. After a few moments, a single image remained in his mind.

   Mcmay is lurking in the corner of the room in the dimly light shadows. He holds to him a woman. He cannot make out the face of who she is. Her back is against Mcmay’s body and he holds her to his front side. Devon can hear the low raspy mumbling of his voice speaking to her. He listens as the woman whimpers back to Mcmay. Her head is tilted to the left side of her body. Devon can clearly see Lord Mcmay’s face but not hers as it is masked within the shadows. It is as if neither one of them can see him.

   Devon stands up and remains in front of his chair. Mcmay places his large long skinny hand round the woman’s neck, skimming her skin repeatedly, with his ghastly nails that have somehow grown longer. The woman begins to shift against him while standing up on her toes. She moves her head slightly out of the shadows. Devon’s heart was racing. He knows her.

   Mcmay takes the woman’s head and pulls in back with his hand under her chin. Lord Mcmay’s face appears on the right side of her head resting against the length of her long bare neck. “Hey!” Devon shouts. Mcmay’s eyes are on the woman as he again begins to speak at her. “Mcmay!” Devon shouts louder over the wind wailing outside the windows. Mcmay jerks his head up away from her neck and looks directly at Devon. He pauses and begins to grin revealing long fangs. His eyes are black as night with an under lining of deep bright red.

   In that moment, Devon feels as if some how he has instantly, traveled across the room and is standing face to face with this creature Mcmay has become. “She is mine Devon.”

    Devon watches in horror, as Mcmay throws his head back and comes down on her neck, digging his fangs into her.

   Devon leaps foreword and screams, “Sarah!”

   He awoke jumping out the chair.


Chapter 7

Devon stood scanning the room for Mcmay or Sarah. Neither of them was there. He stood alone and shaken. His heart was thundering inside his chest. Just to be sure, Devon left the room into the hallway and entry checking them both.

“No one,” he said aloud.

“I need a good stiff drink.” He reentered the drawing room scanning it once more and made his way to the liquor canters. As he poured the brandy into his glass, he saw his hand shaking slightly. Devon slamed the bottle back down on the bar causing the liquor to jump out of the top of the bottle spilling all over his hand and sleeve, not to mention the bar top.

“Get a hold of yourself. It was just a dream,” he said, sounding angry with himself. He could not get the sight of Sarah’s face out of his mind. Begging and pleading for him to save her. Why had he not gone to her? He could have saved her. He remembered the fear in her eyes.

“God bless it! It was all in your head.” Devon looked down at the mess he had made. He grabbed a rag and started to wipe it up.

After topping off his drink, he took a seat next to the fire again. He noticed Sarah’s book on the chair across from him out of the corner of his eye. As he, leans forward grabbing the book, he thought back to Sarah doing the same movements in the carriage. He remembered how his heart skipped as she brushed up against knee. She is just as beautiful soaking wet as she is dry. Not many people would be, with their hair matted down against their heads, but she was.

Devon took a large swig of his drink. This is madness. He thought to himself. You cannot think of her that way, she is Benjamin’s daughter. What kind of a friend does that to a best friend? She is off limits and that is that. Devon threw back the rest of his brandy.

He sat back in his chair and started to thumb through from the back of the book, to find the place where he had left off earlier. The pages jumped when he came across a gap between them. Scrolling back, he found the gap. Devon opened the book wide to reveal an old folded piece paper.

“This looks like a map.” Devon carefully took the map from between the pages of the book, opening it gently. A key slid out from the creases of the map hitting the floor with a cling. He could not believe what he was looking at. The lost map of the Indian Gods.

Where on earth did she find this? He bent down to pick up the key. The key was large and barely fit in the palm of his hand. A faded red ribbon looped through the end of it. The key was old and worn down. Not worn away from use, but almost as if it was polished or rubbed too often.

Devon turned his attention to the old map. It was half of a map “India,” he whispered. He recognized all the places marked on the map. He had been to nearly all of them. Every marking had a number next to it. The last number was possible a seven or a number nine. The map had been torn right on the edge of the number. Devon read it out loud,

“Sittanavsal caves.” This has to be Benjamin’s map. I don’t remember ever seeing it though. Why does Sarah have this map? Moreover, what is this key for?

“Ha-ha,” he said as he arose out of his chair and made his way through the doorway and down the hall. As he quickly walked, he placed the half map and the key in his coat pocket.

Devon opened the door to his study where the two women were still sitting and laughing, although it had now become small chuckles here and there.

Devon pauses to look at Sarah’s neck. He made his way to the left side of the room. With his arm extended out, he began to scan with his finger over the books, pointing mid way up the self in front of him.

“No, other side,” he said aloud. Devon crossed the room unaware of Sarah and Grams watching him. Both of the women were trying to control their giggles at the sight of Mr. Price. Darleen nudges Sarah, but Sarah did not dare look at her. She knew it would cause her to burst out in laughter. Sarah swatted her arm away, which made Darleen giggles increase.

“Quite possibly its over here…no. Maybe in this one…damn it. Where did I put it?” Devon paid them no attention. He focused on finding a book with part of a map inside. His father had given a half map to him when he was a young boy. He just needed to remember where he stuck it.

Sarah looked at Grams and asked, “Does he need help?”
She patted Sarah’s hand and laughed. “I’m not sure. Name your Price?”

Devon paused and turned to face them. Sarah covered her mouth with her hand to contain her silly smirk. She could not look at him. Grams on the other hand, looked him dead on and let it out. Devon was use to Grams insane laughter. He did notice that it seemed to be, directed at him although. Devon did not dare ask, he did not want to know. He was not going to let her suck him in, as she did often. The two women to his back finally quieted down. He carried on with his hunt for the book.

Sarah turned her gaze back to Devon. I love the fact he is talking loudly to himself. I seem to do it as well all the time. Although, I more or less mumbles to myself.

Devon turned back towards the door and saw them starring at him. He held the book up in his hand and announced, “Found it.” He then left the room. He was not certain how much time he would have before Grams and Sarah would retire for the night. Given the hour, he figured it would not be long. Sarah would come looking for her book, which meant the key and the map as well.

Sarah smiled slightly at Grams. “My father often acted in the same manner as Dev, when he was looking for something or was on the verge of discovering something important.” Sarah let out a soft sigh.

“Benjamin and Devon are quite a bit alike in many ways. All their values, ideals, determination in solving thing. Roy was the same way, Devon’s father was.” Grams said softly giving Sarah’s hand a little squeeze.

Roy was Gram’s only child. She loved him as she does Devon. Although many years had passed since his death, some things will remain in the heart forever. Grams hides the pain well with all her joking and laughing stuffing her pain blow the surface, but the loss of a child never leaves you. Within three months time she had lost first, her husband, and then her beloved son whom she just adored. Devon was only eleven when this had happened.

Grams drew her gaze down to her lap, remaining silent for a moment. “As hard as it is to lose a parent.” She paused again trying to keep herself composed. “It is much more painful to lose a child, no matter what age they are.”

Sarah clearly could see Gram’s grief. She knew up until now of only her own pain. She did an unexpected thing. Squeezing Gram’s hand back she said, “Tell me about him.”

Sarah in that moment, did not know why, but felt the urge to ask Darleen. As if somehow, she knew Darleen needed her to. A subject most people would want to avoid. Listening and watching people suffer in this particular way is quite uncomfortable.

Darleen’s lower lip began to quiver.

“What color were his eyes?” Sarah asked softly.

“Blue, Devon’s color. He has his father’s eyes. In fact if you ever saw Roy, you would have thought they were twins.” One single tear ran down Gram’s check at first. “Now that Devon has grown into a man, I see now more than ever how much he looks like his father. When he walks through the door after being away on his trips, it ceases my heart from beating every time. I catch myself thinking it is Roy at first glance when it happens. Sometimes it can be as if, I am reliving the realization my son is gone and never coming back to me when I gaze at Devon.” She let out a short breath. “I watched my baby boy die in my arms and the image has never left me. He uses to call me mama love. As a child, he went from him saying, mama I love you to, mama love.

“Did you have a nick name you called him?” Sarah asked as she took both of Gram’s hands in her hands.

Grams let out a snicker. And a moment later said, “Bug.”

Sarah smiled at that. “How did you come up with bug?”

Gram's voice cracked and she barely got the words out. “He was my love bug” Grams turned to Sarah, her tears were flowing freely now. She smiled at Sarah. “He was my baby. Oh, how I miss him.”

Sarah felt her own tears rolling down her cheeks. “Did he have your sense of humor like Devon does?”


Chapter 8

    Darleen placed her other hand on top of Sarah’s and shook her head yes. “I cannot remember the last time I have spoken of Roy. Devon and I do not speak of him. I fear we are both worried we may hurt the other. I am glad you cared enough to ask me. You truly are quite lovely Sarah, inside and out.”

    Devon made it back to the drawing room. Pulling the map out of his pocket, he quickly compares it to the map in his book. “It matches.” Devon exclaimed. The map was missing one other small piece from the middle of it. Devon began to read it. The place on the map with the finial number marked is still missing. “Damn it.” Devon said.

    He began writing down notes and quick sketches, trying to copying Sarah’s half of the map. Devon thought back to his travels in India and all the landmarks, rivers, paths and towns where what he had remembered them to be. He really needed to know the age of the map.

    “Uh-um.” Sarah cleared her throat to make her presence know to him. She did not want to startle him. She knew how focused her father would be when he was in this kind of state of mind.

    Devon quickly looks at his pocket watch. He had forgotten to keep track of the time. Nearly mid night. He folded the map with the key inside and closed the book.

    Turning to face her, he smiled and said, “Hello giggles.” He attempted to charm her to distract her from the thought of her book.

    “Giggles? Pleases tell me this will not be my new nickname you intend to label me with?

    “I believe it suits you well. You and Grams were giggling so loud, I could hear you from this wing of the estate. With the door shut I might add.” Devon stood at the bar. He watched Sarah’s expressions as she bit her lower lip between her teeth, looking at him with admitted guilt.

    Does she do that on purpose with her lip? She has to know how fetching she looks when she does it. Or maybe she does not know. I want to nibble on your lip Sarah.

    “Well, in my defense, Darleen can be very witty and comical. To be honest, I think I was laughing more from watching her amuse herself, than I was from her jokes.”

    “That is a valid defense, I will give you that. Grams can be quite a character. I will then have to think up another nickname for you. Perhaps Miss fidget.”

    “Oh yes that is much better, but I do not think you have not considered ridiculous or even…wacky.” Sarah then placed both hands on her hips obviously ready to defend herself further.

    Devon started laughing. “Alright, point taken Sarah. I shall then have to think on it some more and I promise it will suit you, respectfully, somewhat.”

    Sarah smiled at that. She was surprised how comfortable she had become with him so quickly. After all, they had not seen one another in quite a few years. She felt as if they had always remained friends and saw each other often. It made her wonder if Devon was feeling the same way.

    As Sarah remained standing in the doorway, Devon eyed her up and down. Grams must have found one of her older nightgowns for Sarah to wear. Devon had notice it was form fitting, so it had to be old. Grams is no thin woman now. The color was a pale purple and looks nice against the tone of her light skin.

    Sarah suddenly felt uncomfortable as she realized Devon was looking at every inch of her. His expression looks as if he can see right through her clothing. It made her feel bare and naked. Devon’s gaze was intense, as though he was caressing her skin with his eyes. Sarah became flushed with heat. She shifted her weight to her other leg.

    Devon wanted to peel off every stitch of clothing from her body. He felt an over whelming sense of need come up, from deep inside him. Not a want or a desire, but a need, a strong need. He momentarily gave into it. Allowing himself to be guided by it without thought, as to why this need was so strong.

    His trance was broke when he noticed her shifting uncomfortable. Devon looked to her eyes and smiled.

    “Sarah, how long do you plan on standing in the doorway? You do not have to wait for an invitation to enter the room. I would like you to feel as comfortable here as you do at your own home.

    Sarah stood still for a few moments then walked towards the bar. “Thank you Dev. You are very kind.” She came up and stood next to Devon at the bar. “I really do not know what home feels like any more. My uncle has invaded what use to be my home. No one smiles anymore there. Half the staff has left and my uncle cannot find any other interested people fill in the open positions.”

    “Well, word of mouth travels fast. If he has acted in an ill manner towards any of the staff, well then, he will have a hard time filling the vacant positions for sure.”

    “Wine would be wonderful thank you.” Sarah was watching his hands. They were not soft looking, as most other gentleman’s hands would be. His skin was tan from the long hours he spent in the sun.

    “I cannot fathom why the rest remain employed with him. He is just dreadful to everyone. He struck Mary one of the maids across the face and within an hour, people started leaving.”

    “He struck a woman?” Devon was shocked.

    “Yes! Poor Mary had a black eye. Timothy her husband took her away immediately. I thought the authorities were going to question him, but they did not. Honestly, I was hoping they would. Mary has been with me since I was a little girl.”

    “How old is Mary?”

    “Fifty seven I believe. Shelly one of the other maids tried to pull my uncle off of Mary and he pushed her down the stairs.”

    Devon felt his stomach do a flip-flop. “Did he ever hurt you?” His voice was serious and low. He noticed Sarah begin to fidget with the ribbon on the front of her bed dress.

    She gazed down at her ribbon. “No. He never struck me. My uncle always tries to keep me confined to my bedchamber most days or in the library when I am there.”

    “Is that why you left?”

    Sarah moved her eyes to meet his. “I just wanted some time alone. To be able to relax and feel like I could breathe. I left the estate to pick up my father’s book at the library. The owner was gracious enough to order me a copy of my own. I file books for him from time to time.”

    “I see…wait a minute. Why did you have to pay for a copy if you wrote the book? Who is your agent?” Devon was agitated with the thought that someone had taken advantage of her.

    “It is a long story Dev.” Sarah turned and looked down into her glass of wine.

    Devon said slowly and in a low tone, “If someone is manipulating you Sarah, I want to know of it.”

    Sarah turned her body back to face him. “I was not able to attain someone to publish my book. I am a woman and no man would even give thought of read it because of that fact. So I asked my uncle to publish it for me.”

    “That still does not explain why you had to purchase a book you wrote.”

    “The agreement was, he would publish the book for me and it would be in his name only. I have no rights to it, or any of the earnings he receives from the sales. The only thing that mattered to me was that my father’s work was brought forth to the world so others may now admire his work as I do. He had done so many wonderful things in his life, I just wanted everyone else to see him the way I had. No one knew how much he had contributed to mankind, and now they will.”

    Devon remained quiet. Everything she had just said about Benjamin is true. The man should be nominated as a saint for all he had done for so many countries throughout his life. He shot back the rest of his drink and poured another.

    I cannot believe her uncle would be so cruel. He must have known how much this book meant to her. Only an immoral man would treat his niece in that manner. If I knew all this when Mcmay was here earlier, I would have knocked him out. That man needs a taste of what he dishes out to everyone else around him.

    “It is hard to imagine your uncle and father had been brothers.”

    “My father was nothing like him you know that Dev. He lived his life with kindness and honesty. My uncle is a vile man who only gives thought to himself and money. Family, friendship, and kindness for others never enters his mind when money is involved.”

    “I agree with that Sarah.” Devon’s voice was soft and compassionate.

    She turned her head towards him. Her eyes locked with his. Devon moved his gaze down to her neck, looking at where the mark would have been on her from his dream of Mcmay. He lifted his hand and traced the area with his finger.

    Sarah shivered from the sensation of his touch. She had never wanted something so much…his touch.

    He looked back into her eyes. He took his other arm and pulled her to him. He starred at her, holding the gaze between them. Their lips were merely an inch away from one another.

    Devon whispered to her. “I want to kiss you?”

    Sarah did not move, did not respond. She merely looked at him with curiosity and desire. Devon had not waited for her to answer. He gently laid his lips on hers. His kiss was soft and slow. Devon ran his tongue against the line where her lips met. Sarah parted them slightly. Devon pushed a little further and slid his tongue inside her mouth. She tasted sweet, like a mouth full of honey.

    Sarah was surprised. She froze not knowing what to do with her mouth and body. Devon placed his hands on her cheeks and tilted her head to one side. He then depend their kiss. Sarah pushed her tongue against his.

    Devon smiled with his mouth still to hers and said, “Move with me Sarah, not against me.”

    Sarah moved as he did. He pulled her body closer against him as he wraps his arms around her.

    Her head was spinning. Her heat grew under her bed dress with a flash of moist warmth washing over her entire body. She ran her fingers through the back of his thick black hair. Devon let out a moan and tilted her back further, allowing him more access to her body. He suspends Sarah in his arms with his body bent over her. She grabs onto his shoulders tightly. Without breaking the kiss, Devon picked her up and walks over to a chair. He sat down placing her on his lap letting her legs hang over the side of the chair.

    He ran his hands up and down her back, stroking his hand softly over the sides of her breasts. Sarah squeezed at his shirt as he caressed her body.

    How is he making me feel this way? What is he doing to me? I feel so hot.

    Devon breaks from their kiss and trails his lips down her neck, not neglecting any area along the way to her shoulder. He pulled the left side of her dress off her shoulder and kisses her passionately with a demanding need.

    Her skin is so soft and tastes just as sweet as her mouth had. You cannot take this any farther. This is Sarah and…I have to stop.

    Sarah tilts her head back and whispers, “Oh Dev.”

    Oh, say it again like that Sarah. Say my name that way just one more time. You have such a soft sweet sounding voice. You are driving me to madness with every word you say.

    Devon was trying very hard to move slow and gentle. He cannot seem to control himself. With every little murmur or sound she makes it is feeding his need to have her. It is a need to make her moan deeper and longer. To utter his name from her lips.

   He can hear Benjamin’s voice inside his head asking him to watch after her. “Sarah I cannot do-”

     Sarah pushes her lips up against his. She deepened the kiss this time. Devon lost what little control he had and grabbed her breast. She let out a deeper moan. Devon could not believe what the sound of her desire for him was doing to him. His grip on her breast tightened as he started kneading her.

    No. Do not make another sound Sarah. I do not know how much of your tortures moans I will be able to endure before your silky purple covering is on the floor.

    “Dev please.” She clawed at his back and then pulled his hair.

    I am a man, you are defiantly a woman, and this is completely natural. I am not a bad person for wanting you. God I wish your father would get out of my head.

    Devon slid her gown off her shoulder revealing her breast. He heard Sarah gasp. His gaze locked with her gaze and he kissed her passionately. Devon took her breast in his hand and rubbed his thumb over her nipple causing it to grow taut. He could feel a pinch on his shoulders from her fingers.

    Devon heard a noise coming from the doorway. He knew Sarah had shut the door earlier.

    “Devon,” A man’s voice said.

    Sarah and Devon’s heads whipped towards the door. Devon jumped up with Sarah in his arms. Richards was standing in the doorway looking very angry, with an icy cold stare directed right at Devon.

    Devon slowly let go of Sarah’s legs until they found the floor. Her body slid down the side of his.

    Without looking at Sarah, who is standing beside him, he put his hand on her dress and pulled it back up onto her shoulder. He knew she had not regained her balance because he was holding her still about the waist, helping to steady her. Devon could feel Sarah's body trembling slightly.

    Sarah felt mortified. She has been caught kissing a man she is not married or engaged to. Still feeling the electricity from where Devon’s hands and lips were all over her slightly exposed skin, she was still breathing a little heavy. Sarah was so humiliated she was not even fidgeting.

    “The stables are beginning to flood,” Richards said.

    “Alright. Thank you Richards.”

    Richards turned his eyes to Sarah. “Are you alright Lady Sarah?” Richards asked with a warmer tone than he had given to Devon.

    “Of course she is alright.”Devon took offense to Richards’s questioning.

    “Devon! I am not speaking with you. I am addressing Lady Sarah.” Richards had only once before taken that tone with Devon and that, at the time, was for good reason as well.

    Sarah was startled by Richards’s reaction with Devon. She shook her head yes at Richards, not trusting her voice to be steady yet.

    Richards turned his gaze to Devon. “I have instructed the staff to ready the horses so we can move them to higher ground, Sir.”

    “How many men do we have to assist us?”

    “I believe four. Two of the staff were out all day in this weather and are now sick in bed, Sir.”

    “Let them remain in bed. This is not worth anyone dieing over. Have you sent someone ahead to prepare for our arrival?”

    “No I had not thought that far yet, Sir. I shall do that straight away.”

    “Where will you take the horses?” Sarah asked.

    “We have another stable five miles north of here. It is set on much higher ground,” Devon answered. “The problem is we have seventeen horses to move.”

    “How will you get back once you have moved them all?” Sarah asked.

    “Good question.” Richards replied and then looks to Devon for an answer.

    “I suppose I can ride Rear, back with the carriage for the men. We could put him in the big shed for the night.” Devon then thought that through again. “We will not be able to ride in this weather on the trail with a carriage.”

    “Rear?” Sarah said with confusion.

    “Rear is my stallion. He would rear up and buck everyone off with every attempt to ride him, so I named him Rear.” Sarah giggled slightly.

    “We better start transferring the horses. It will take us all night and as it is, we only four men,” Devon said.

    “Well I can help you since you are short of hands,” Sarah said.

    “Oh no Sarah. I do not want you out in this weather.” Devon said to her.

    “I will be fine Dev.”

    “Out of the question Sarah. You need to be an experienced rider to move the horses in this weather. I am sorry. I can’t chance you getting hurt.” His gaze on her was full of concern.

    “What makes you think I am not an experienced enough rider? Because I’m woman?” Sarah stated to him and waited for an answer, with her arms crossed while taping her foot on the floor.

    “She can ride quite well, Sir. We should consider it,” Richards said.

    “Are you out of your mind?” Devon raised his voice slightly at the two of them. “It is far too dangerous. And how the bloody hell do you know she can ride so well?”

    “My brother is her butler, Sir. He brags about Sarah’s riding abilities often. My understanding is Sarah can ride better than most men, Sir.” Richards looked at Sarah and gave her a quick wink.

    Devon pointed at Richards and said, “Are you going to tell me, that you are more comfortable with her out there in this weather riding a horse, then you are with her in a room alone with me.”

    “The horse isn’t going to kiss her, is he Sir?” Richards said with a smirk on his face.

    Devon’s mouth dropped open slightly and Sarah began to laugh. Devon reached up, running his hands through his hair. “I am really not comfortable with this.” Devon said as he gave in to the two of them. He could clearly see he was not going to be able to convince them otherwise.

    “Lady Sarah, shall we find you some more appropriate entire?” Richards held out his arm to escort her. He turns to Devon and says, “We shall be ready to depart in twenty minutes, Sir.”

    “What do you mean we, Richards?”


Chapter 9

I will also be assisting, Sir,” Richards answered.

   “Wonderful,” Devon said. Now I have two that will I need to watch after. As if, having Sarah out there is this weather is not enough. Hey, let Richards add himself into the mix. Foolish old man.

   Sarah came down twenty-five minutes later. Devon noticed, she has on someone’s riding pants. He could see the shape of her legs and her backside. Sarah looks strong and lean. Her bottom was full and perfectly round. Devon could not stop glaring at it.

   Richards came up behind Devon and said, “I bet you the horse would not be gawking at her back side either, Sir.”

   Devon chuckled. “Alright you caught me Richards. I am only human.” Devon whispers to him. “Richards she is beautiful, I mean look at her.”

   “With all due respect Sir, you look like a wolf stalking his pray. She has enough men gawking, watching, and staring at her among other things. She needs a friend, not another pursuer.” With that said, Richards walked away with his noise in the air.

   Devon noticed how odd Richards’s behavior was becoming concerning Sarah. First, earlier in the study and then in the drawing room thirty minutes ago. Well, that situation Devon could understand. Richards did catch him with his lips and hands all over her. The comments he repeatedly makes are odd though. Devon had wanted to assure Richards he was not going to allow anything further to happen between Sarah and him, but he knew he would not have believed him.

   “Are you ready Dev?” Sarah asks him with excitement.

   He smiles at her. “Richards are we ready to move out?”

   “Yes Sir.”

   They made their way out the door and into the chilly wet weather. The wind is still whipping the trees around as well as, loses debris lying around. As they walked closer to the stable, the water came up past their ankles. Devon took Sarah’s hand in his. He wanted to be sure that she is not going to fall. Sarah looked up at him and smiles with a sweat soft gaze in her eyes.

   She has the most beautiful smile. If anything happens to her tonight, I will never forgive myself. Then I will kill Richards for talking me into letting her go with. He is a crazy old man for encouraging her to do this. What was Richards thinking?

   They reached the stable, which is now knee deep in water. All the men who are waiting in the stable are staring at Sarah. She put on her most stern serious face and looks all of them in the eye. All but one of them did not question her with their eyes. Sarah locked glares with a rough looking man with no front teeth. He was shorter than average height with a stocky build. She assumed he was Irish. The man starred her up and down with a sneer.

   “What does she think she is doing in here?” The man said. More of a statement than a question directed at Sarah.

   “This is Lady Mcmay. She will be helping us tonight.” Devon said firmly, daring anyone of them to challenge his authority, as he steps forward almost standing in front of Sarah.

   The man glared at Sarah and let out a snicker. He walks towards her with the reins of Prance, the wild stallion. “Here you go me Lady, you can ride Prance.”

  Sarah took the reins and nodded in acceptance to the man. “That is unless you would feel safer riding a top a pony?” The man said making all the other stable staff, start to laugh at her.

   Sarah took a step towards the man and said, “Perhaps we shall reserve the pony for you, given that it would look to be a better fit for you.” Sarah turns around and before any of the men has time to blink, she jumps up and kicks her leg up and over, mounting the stallion in one simple motion. Ad least Sarah made it look as if would be simple. Every man standing in that stable knew it was not simple. It takes a great deal of strength and skill to be able to do that, even more so for Sarah considering the size of the stallion.

   Devon is shocked at what he just saw. She had not even used the stirrup. She is mounted on the second largest one in the stable. Devon looks up at Sarah with a great deal of respect.

   Richards nudges Devon as he smiles at him. “I believe my brother was correct in telling me Sarah can ride.”

   Devon turned to Richards and said, “Did I just see that?” Devon is not only surprised but also, turned on by what she had just done. She looks so sexy mounted on the stallion. I wonder how she would look naked on top of that horse, or on top of me.

   Richards laughed at him. “Yes. I am pretty sure we are all asking ourselves that same question, Sir.”

   Devon whipped his head towards Richards. “What?” What did I say? He gave Richards a look over again.

   “You had asked if you had just seen what you thought you did. I answered you Sir.” Richards could see Devon’s serious expression had eased up with his answer to him. “Apparently your thoughts had wondered to other things, concerning Lady Sarah.” Devon could not look Richards in the eyes again. He makes him feel so guilty. He kept his eyes on the men mounting their horses and did not respond.

   Richards walks away to mount his own horse, shaking his head along the way.

   Devon announced, “Let us go men. Move out!”

   All seven of them head out towards the other stable. It would be at least a two-hour journey one-way. The trails were flooded with tree limbs down everywhere. Oil lit lanterns assisted in lighting the path allowing them to be able to see a few feet in front and around them.

   Franklin led the group holding the first lantern. He has the most experience with the trails. It is Franklin’s job to maintain all the trails, so he knows them like the back of his hand. Behind Franklin is Richards. After Richards is Sarah.

   Both Devon and Richards agreed it was best she is watched from the front as well as the back. Of course, you may have figured out that Devon has placed himself behind Sarah. Besides, Devon likes the view from where he sits.

   Devon holds the second lantern. After Devon, rides the toothless man, Joseph. His job is to maintain the properties of all the buildings and what not. Following him is Billy. Billy is the youngest of the group. He is seventeen and works wherever he is needed, although he tends to spend most of his time with Franklin. The last one of them, holding the final lantern is Martin. Martin takes care of the horses.

   The group remains mostly quiet. With all the thunder echoing through the trees, it is difficult for them to communicate with one another. Devon watches Sarah as she repeatedly looks up to the sky. He had warned her to watch for falling tree branches, so he assumes she took that literally. Without the lanterns, none of them would be able to see their hands in front of their faces. He cannot imagine Sarah can see anything other than a black hole. Devon chuckled to himself remembering, Sarah had promised him she would follow his every instruction he gave to her.

   Devon watches the motion of her body, as she moves in sync with the stallion she is mounted on. He could hear her softly talking with the stallion. The stallion seemed to let out a nay every so often to Sarah’s words to him, which made Sarah giggle. Devon was amused by this.

   He thought back to earlier that evening in the drawing room with her. How offended she had become by his nickname for her. He loved the way she had placed her hands on her hips and was scolding him for it. She is sexy when she becomes cross. She is sexy when she smiles and laughs. She is sexy when she fidgets and-

   Devon stopped and realized he was going to say, when she breathes.

   What is she doing to you? He mumbled to himself. The image of her with her head thrown back while she was on top of him, as she moaned his name flashed up in his mind. He remembered how she felt in his arms, in his hands, on his lap.

   It is nothing more than a desire to have her. You want to bed her is all this is.

   Devon heard Sarah laugh loudly and his heart skipped as it did when she touched him.

   “Sarah, is he answering you?” Devon asked referring to the stallion.

   She turned to Devon and said, “He is very intelligent. Do not for a moment think he cannot understand what we ask him.”

   “He is one of my best stallions.” Devon replied.

   After about an hour of riding the trails, Franklin saw the clearing up ahead. It is an open field that is approximately a half-mile long. The remainder of the journey after this was up hill though the dark woods again.

   Franklin shouts word back to Richards that they were coming up on the field. It would be a good idea to dismount the horses and check their shoes for branches and other things that may have been lodged. Richards passes the word back. Sarah tells Devon and he turned to tell Joseph.

   Devon turns around in his saddle to tell Joseph, when an extremely loud crack of thunder snaps though the black night. Everyone looks to the sky. It sounds as if the sky was con caving in on them.

   The horses jolted back in forth spooked by the sudden sound. They push into each other bunching up together on the narrow path. Devon’s stallion rears back throwing Devon off of him. His foot caught in the stirrup. The horse rears back again. Devon is yelling for someone to grab the reins. Joseph reaches to grab them. He cannot move close enough to the stallion to obtain them. The stallion takes off running foreword, towards the open field.

   Richards and the rest of them watch in horror as the stallion raced past them. “Richards help!” Devon yelled as he passed by him. Before Richards could react, another horse rushed past him. Richards could not believe who it was.

   Sarah shouted and kicked the sides of her horse charging past everyone in front of her on the trail. She knew she had to reach Devon before the stallion is able to make it into the woods on the other side of the field. Devon would be killed if the stallion were able to reach the woods. He would never survive being slammed against all the debris covering the trails.

   She pleaded and prayed for her father’s help in heaven. I cannot lose him. Help me. Her heart was racing. Sarah rides faster than she ever had before. She drew closer to him as she is gaining speed.

   She saw the tree line up ahead, drawing close. “Y ha-yha!” Sarah shouted with command and desperation as she kicks the sides of her stallion. She could hear her heart beat in her ears. Her body is vibrating from adrenalin, desperation and most of all, fear. She can see her own life flash in front of her eyes. A life without him and the friendship he gave to her. “Grams” She whispered out loud. She could not allow Grams to lose another man in her life, the last man in her life.

   Sarah is leaning low on the stallion to gain as much speed as she can. She came up the side of the spooked stallion, opposite of where Devon is hanging. Sarah knew she is risking her own life for him but in that moment, she realizes it would not be much of a life without him sharing it with her. She slides her feet out of the stirrups and jumps onto Devon’s stallion. Sarah quickly grabs the reins and carefully pulls the scared stallion to a halt a few yards from the tree line. The horse Sarah was riding kept going and disappeared into the forest.

   Sarah immediately dismounts and grabs Devon. She tries to push him up to free his foot.

   “Devon. Devon talk to me.” Her voice was shaking and tears began to steam down her face, as he was not responding to her. “Devon please, do not leave me. Open up your eyes Dev.” Sarah did not recognize her own voice.

   “Sarah, you are chocking me.” Devon finally replies.

   “Oh. My god, you are alright.” She shouts. Sarah grabs him under his arms and hugs him from behind. “I will hold you until the others arrive. Are you hurt?”

   “Just my ego.” Devon said as he chuckled. “Did you just save my life?” he asked her.

   “I did not give it any thought, I just reacted. If the stallion had reached the woods, you would have been killed. I-I” She was fumbling for the right words, trying to describe what she wasn’t even sure, she was feeling.

   Richards ran up beside her. He takes Devon out of her arms. “Is he hurt?”

   Sarah did not even have time to answer him before he raises his voice and again says, “Sarah is he hurt?”

   “I can hear you Richards and I’m fine.” Devon replies.

   Richards pulls Devon free and they both fall to the ground. Devon is lying between Richards’s legs and his arms were wrapping around him. Devon attempts to get up and Richards shouts at him. “Sit still boy. I need to check if anything is broken.” Richards’s tone was harsh and loud. He squeezes and grabs Devon repeatedly everywhere.

   “Richards, I am not a six year old boy who just fell out of a tree. Let me up, I assure you my bones are sound.”

   Richards pays him no attention as he continues to examine him. He releases Devon just as the others are approaching.

   Devon stood up next to Sarah. He takes both her hands in his. “Thank you Sarah for saving my life. I do not know how I will ever repay my debit to you.”

   “Is Lord Price alright?” Billy asks as he came running up to them.

   “I am fine Billy.”

   Richards has made it to his feet and starts to walk off away from the group. Devon releases Sarah’s hands and says, “Pardon me for a moment.” He walks toward Richards.

   “Lady Sarah that was amazing. I had no idea a woman could ride like that,” Billy said.

   “I did not really give it much consideration.” She is glad it is so dark because she knew she was blushing from all the attention.

   Joseph stood in front of her. “Please accept my apologies for misjudging you, me Lady Sarah.”

   Sarah smiles and puts her hand on his arm. “I thank you Joseph for that. I harbor no harsh feelings Sir.”

   Joseph smiled at her. “That truly was remarkable what you did. You saved his life.”

   A few minutes later, the men began to check the horses. Devon and Richards had rejoined the group. Sarah notices Richards was very quiet, keeping to himself. She sees he is shaken from the nights events.

   Devon came to Sarah’s side and said, “It seems as though your stallion has taken off, you can ride with me.”

   Sarah smiled as she says, “He is here somewhere.”

   “He will most likely turn up in the morning. For now, it appears as though you are stuck with me.” Devon moves closer to her.

   Sarah said, “I can get him back.” Devon started to laugh. Sarah turned back towards him. “Do you care to wager on what you so obviously hesitate to believe Lord Price?”

   “Lady Sarah is that mockery I hear escaping your lips?” Devon asks. “Alright then, what shall we wager?”

   Sarah replied, “If I prevail, you have to escort me to the Gavin’s Ball.”

   “I beg your pardon?” Devon leaned in and whispered to her, “Fair enough then. If I become the victor, you have to let me kiss you again and then again after that.”

   Sarah twitches back away from him slightly and smiles.

   “Did I forget to mention, it is my preference as to the location, position, and approach at which I do it.” Devon moves even closer to her making certain she can feel his warm breath on her neck, “I do not care for balls. In fact, I loathe them. I have no intention of losing this wager, Lady Sarah.”

 Without another word, she strolls away from the group and placed her two fingers in her mouth. She let out a loud whistle.

   Everyone turned to see what was going on. All heads revolve in the direction Sarah is looking. She let out another loud whistle. The mens voices fell silent as the stallion appears out of the tree line. The large white beauty lights up against the black backdrop of the forest. He stands in the tree line kicking his front hove.

   Sarah raises her arm in the air and shouts swiftly, “Hey hey hey!” The stallion begins to run towards her. Sarah waits his approach.

   Devon began to feel alarm build in his chest. “Sarah move out of the way.” He warns her.

   Sarah yelled back to him, “Stay where you are Devon.”

   The stallion commences more speed. He is heading right for her. Devon dashes towards Sarah. The stallion flashes in front of Devon before he can reach her.

   All the men watch as Sarah grabs the reins and throws herself on his back as he is running past her.

   “Who is this woman?” Franklin asked.

   “Billy walks closer to Devon and asked, “Is she married?” Everyone starts to laugh, pushing and teasing Billy. “I want to marry her.” Billy states.

   Sarah rides back around, rejoining the others.

   Devon just stares at her in shock. Sarah gazes down at him from her stallion. He could see how proud she was showing him up. Devon finally broke their silence.

   “How did you know he was not going to run you over?”

   Sarah laughs, and then says, “This is Runner. He was my horse before my uncle sold him. I was the one who broke him and trained him. He was with me every day for three years.

   Devon did not know what to say. “You tricked me.” He finally said.

   “I did no such thing Dev. You did not ask.” Sarah was smiling wide.

   “Do I have any other of your horses?”

   Sarah looks around. “Yes. Rear was also mine, as well as Billy.”

   The men begin to roar with laughter. Devon looks back at them and then up to Sarah. “Well, Billy would like to be yours.” One of the other men from the group shouts, “Yes, please train him as well, would you not.” Even Devon chuckles at that.

   Sarah pinches her eyebrows together. She is sure she has missed something. Why are they laughing?

   “Billy would like your hand Lady Sarah.” Joseph said as he pushes Billy towards Sarah’s Stallion.

   Sarah looks down at Billy and says, “Oh my. How old are your Sir Billy?”

   Billy bows to Sarah and said, “Seventeen Lady Sarah, but I assure you, I do mens work. I can provide an income and a good home.

   “I am very honored Billy. You are quite handsome. I would not have thought you to be so young. I do have to be honest and tell you I have no interest in marrying any time soon. If you were a little older, I may have considered it for the future, but you are not. I think you are the most handsome of the group and you will find yourself a beautiful young amiable woman soon. She will be most proud to run your home. I regard you to be a fine young man Sir Billy. I am flattered by your offer.”

   Billy was grinning from ear to ear at Sarah and her kind words. As he walked back to the other men, all of them patted him on the back for his efforts.

   Devon is quite impressed by the way, Sarah let him down with honor and grace. She did not let him feel foolish for asking her hand in marriage. She is much like her father.

   “Shall we ride?” Martin shouts to the group.

   They headed for the tree line and reforming their line on the trail. As each one enters the forest, it looks as though they were riding into nowhere and disappearing into blackness.

   Martin, Billy and Franklin remain at the stable to set up and watch the horses. With the stable being so far from the estate, Devon wants to make sure they are not stolen during the night. Devon, Richards, Sarah and Joseph return to retrieve the remaining horses. Devon is not comfortable with Richards making a second run with them. He was still distressed from Devon’s near death encounter. Richards had not uttered a word to any of them since it happened. There is only four horses remaining and one will be ridden back by Devon.

   “Sarah, would you care to make the last run with me? We will be unescorted, if that is OK with you.” Devon asked her.

   “I would love to Dev.” Sarah then looks to Richards who nodded in acceptance. Sarah surely did not want to cause him anymore stress this night.

   “We will have to ride one horse back to the estate. Are you comfortable with the idea?”

   “I do not mind at all.”

   Devon and Sarah talk the entire way to the other stable. Neither one felt any uncomfortable. There were no moments of silence or awkward pauses, their conversations were open and free flowing with one another.

   As Sarah and Devon deliverer the last two stallions, the rain begins to let up. They both stand next to Runner. Sarah is talking to Runner and pets him. Devon was talking with Franklin and Martin about the flood at the estate.

   Runner nudges Devon in the back of the head with his nose. He continually snorted into Devon’s hair. He finally turns to Runner and asked, “What are you doing?”

   Runner licks his cheek. Sarah begins to laugh, as Devon does also. “He wants your attention, Dev.” Sarah tells him.

   “Well, he has it now.” Devon pats Runner’s neck. “Don’t you boy.” Devon looks to Sarah. He can see the love she has for Runner. “Why did your uncle sell him?”

   Sarah did not move her gaze from Runner. “I do not know. Most likely because my father bought him for me. My uncle rid the estate of all animals, flowerbeds, and all happiness. I hate him for doing it.”

   “The flower beds?”

   “Yes. He had them all removed on the estate. It took Mary and me years to get them to look the way we had envisioned. We even created a heart shaped flower garden for my father and me when I was a little girl.” Sarah let out a sigh. Runner nudges her cheek. “Runner, I am so proud of you. We have never run so fast, have we boy.”

   Devon watches her interact with the stallion. Devon was surprised how the horse listened to Sarah and responded to her. “I want you to have him.” Devon told her.

   Sarah looked quickly at him stunned by his offer. “I could not possible take him. He is yours now Dev. Besides, I would have nowhere to keep him, nor money to care of him. My uncle would be furious if he knew I have him again.

   “He will remain at my home. Your uncle will not know any different. Funds are no issue. You know I have abundance, more than I could ever need. Please Sarah, accept my offer. It is the least I can do after you rescued me.

   Sarah did not know what to say. “I will accept your offer, if you promise to halt talk about what I did for you.”

   “Agreed then.” Devon said. “Are you ready to depart to the estate?”

   Sarah shakes her head yes with a smile.

   “You sit in the front.” Devon said.

   Sarah again pulled herself up with no effort. Devon mounted behind her.

   “Slid your feet into the stirrups Dev.” Sarah then kicked off her boots, which allowed her to let her legs rest on top of Devon’s legs without the heavy weight. Her boots had become weighed down from the buildup of mud.

   “Smart thinking.” Devon said to her as he nudged Runner to move forward.

   “So when is this grand ball I am to escort you to?”

   Sarah giggles. “I was not being serious Dev. I will not hold you to your wager.”

   “A bet is a bet, Sarah. I am a man of my word. So…when is it?”

   “I am already going with Darleen. She insists I go to meet someone, so you see, you are off the hook.”

   “Alright then. I will escort both of you.” Devon said to her. He really would not mind going with Sarah at all. He emitted to himself that honestly, he wanted to. This felt strange to him. He had never had a desire to see a woman outside the bedroom before. He attended plenty of social events when he was in town. Devon charmed them to the bedroom and that was always as far as it ever went with a woman for him. All the women had a clear understanding of what he wanted, mostly because they had only wanted the same thing from him. He has never been moved or tempted by any of them to see them otherwise. The feelings he was having for Sarah were different and foreign to him.

   After thinking to himself for a while, he realized that Sarah had said Grams wanted her to meet someone.

   “Who is it that Grams would like you to meet?”

   “James Davits I think his name is, if I am recalling that correctly.”

   Devon knew Davits and he did not care for him much. He is a rake and cheats at cards.

   “Do you know of him?” Sarah asked.

   “Yes, I know him. I think you should stay away from him.” Devon’s tone is low. He suddenly realized he was becoming angry at the thought of Davits pursuing Sarah. “He is not the kind of man you want to be associating with Sarah.”

   “Darleen has come up with a plan to get me away from my uncle.”

   “What kind of plan?” Devon could not wait to hear this one. Knowing Grams, it was going to be outrageously ridiculous.

   “She was thinking that if I become engaged, my uncle will have to release my trust to me early. Although I am not comfortable deceiving anyone. Darleen thinks if she can introduce me to Davits, then he may agree to do it for a fee. Once I receive the trust, we will break the engagement and I can pay Davits.”

   “That is crazy Sarah. You cannot do that. My grandmother is illogical at times.”

   “I think it could very well work. It is not so absurd. You may stow any reasoning you wish Dev, but you possess your freedom, I do not. I fear it to be my only hope.” I want out of my uncle’s control and out of the grasp of his assistant. Why does he not understand this? If this secures my freedom, then I will do it.

   Devon shifts his arms forward around her and draws her closer to him. He leans his head down to her neck and softly kisses her. “Sarah, I did not want to lose our wager tonight.”


Chapter 10

    Sarah and Devon remain silent the rest of the journey home. Devon could feel Sarah’s weight become heavier against him. Her body was beginning to soften as she began to fall asleep in his arms. Her back lay nestled against Devon’s strong chest. His arms cradled her body as he held the reins. Sarah turned and tucked her head into the top of his chest with his neck as her headrest.

    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.”

    “Devon still laughing at her, said “So, I take it you are not a morning person. Is that a correct assumption?”

    “Get out of my room Devon!” Sarah is becoming more irate by the minute.

    “You are in my room. Well, actually my study. Honestly they are all my rooms if you think about it.”

    Sarah pops her head out from under the chaise again and simply says, “Oh…OK.” She disappears under the chaise and shouts. “Get out!”

    Richards knocks on the door. He does not want to walk in on any more compromising positions again or worse this time. Devon walks over to the door and opens it.

    “Lunch is ready, Sir. Is Lady Sarah in here with you?”

    Devon points to the chaise. Richards notices a foot peering out from under the chaise. He glances at Devon to see him smiling. Devon turns to Richards and says, “Don’t ask me.”

    Richards starts to walk towards the chaise. Devon warns Richards. “I would remain alert if I were you Richards. She is dangerous.”

    Richards ignores him and gets down on one knee. “Lady Sarah, the hour has drawn near for lunch. Are you at all hungry?”

    Sarah dips her head back out at Richards.

    Devon said, “Uh-oh, cautious Richards, she is not at all jovial in the morning.”

    Sarah glares at Devon with irritation. She than gazes up towards Richards and said, “I am famished Richards. What are we having?” She began crawling out from under the chaise and onto her feet.

    “What is that? You are sweet as can be to Richards, but I get the morning beast.” Devon shakes his head.

    “Richards was not tickling my foot, Devon.” Sarah said his name with obvious annoyance.

    Richards offers her his arm, escorts her past Devon, and down the hall. “Would you care to freshen up first?” He asks Sarah as he eyeballs her hair sticking out in every direction possible.

    “No I would like to eat first. I do not care what I look like.”

    Richards chuckled to himself for a moment at her carefree attitude.

    Devon followed the two of them to the dining room. He walks up next to Sarah and seizes a plate off the rack. Richards leaves the room.

    The buffet was huge, a spread of food like Sarah has never seen before. There were two different types of eggs, ham, soup, rolls, sweets, steak, and it went on forever.

    Devon clears his throat. “I am sorry for awaking you the way I did.” Sarah did not reply. Devon continued, “That was very childish of me.”

    Sarah did not look at him. She could hear the laughter hidden behind his sorry excuse of an apology. She finally said, “Perhaps I was being childish.”

    “No, I was and I am sorry.” He gazed at her with a smirk spread across his handsome face.

    Well I can act childish myself at times,” she said simply.

    Devon begins to say he did not believe her when he felt a wet slimy substance on top of his head. He tilted his head down and strawberry jam came running of it.

    Sarah places her hand on top of his head and begins to rub the remaining jam into his hair. “There we go Dev,” she states as she worked it in. “Now we are even.” She looks at him, bates her long eyelashes and flashes a sweet devilish smile at him.

    Sarah then takes her plate and sits down.

    He can hear her muffled giggle. Devon strols over to her and pours gravy down the back of her shirt.

    Sarah leaps out of her chair. “You little weasel.” She picks up her pancakes covered in syrup, and forces it into his mouth. “Devon is this not yummy?”

    He grabs her arms and stares at her while he chews the pancakes. “Alright then Sarah, we can play.”

    Devon takes her around the waist and drags her over to the buffet table. “Sarah, that was kind of you to offer me your pancakes, here let me get you something else to eat”. Devon leans forward over to the platter with over easy eggs on it.

    Sarah shakes her head. “Don’t you dare Dev.”

    “Give me a reason not to. Perhaps you would like to say something to change my mind,” He said daring her to apologize to him.

    Sarah was quiet for a moment than says, “Dev, I do not like eggs.”

    Devon seizes a hand full and smears it all over Sarah’s face, neck, and head. “What do you think of these, Lady Sarah?” He releases his grip from her.

    “The eggs are delightful Dev. Here you must try some, I insist.” Sarah takes some off her neck and smashes it in his face.

    Devon pulls back and said, “Mmm…you are right, but I think you have over looked the clam chowder soup, it is a much better choice.”

    Sarah started to do a mix of a laugh scream. “No. Please Dev, I beg you.”

    “Your sweet pleas coming out of those lovely lips will not help you Sarah.” Devon dumps the bowl of soup over her head.

    Sarah manages to get a hold of it and pushes the bowl back on him. She is pushing so hard on him, he loses his footing in the slimy mess they have created and he falls, taking Sarah down on top of him.

    As she lay on him, he wraps his arms around her waist. She is slipping and sliding on top of his body from all the food they are covered in, as her body bounces from her laughter.

    He can feel her large full breast against his chest. He wants so much to rip off her close and take her right here, in all the mess they lay in. Sarah was still laughing as she placed her forehead on his shoulder. She was lying between his legs.

    Devon has his knees drawn up with his feet resting on the floor. The weight of her body is pressing on him between his legs. Devon’s arousal for her is growing. He takes her in his arms and flips her underneath him. He now lay between her legs resting himself gently there. Sarah is still giggling.

    “You are quite a site Sarah Mcmay.”

    “You should see yourself, Lord Price.”

    Devon let out a chuckle. He gazes down at her.

    Even covered in food, you are still breath taking Sarah. He wanted so despritely to whisper those words to her. The way the color of her eyes made him want to gaze deeper into them. The way her smile made is heart leap. But, he didn't. He couldn't and he had no idea why.

    Sarah reached up and scopes up some soup with her finger off his nose. She places it in her mouth. “This really is good soup Dev. You should try some.” Sarah then starts to giggle again.

    “Perhaps I should,” he replied. Devon leans down and licks some off her neck. “That is good. Although maybe it would taste better from here.” He licks more soup off her cheek.

    Sarah fell still under his body. She had not expected him to do that. His breath on her, his tongue running up her neck, it feels so good. Sarah began to think about last night when his hand had found her breast. The feeling of her skin burning against his touch was nearly explosive.

    Would his tongue feel the same way on the rest of me as it does on my neck? I want to know what he feels like all over me. I wish he would kiss me again.

    Sarah softly said, “Dev can I ask you a question?

    Devon pulls away from her neck smiling at her. “Anything you wish.”

    “Did you mean what you said? When you said my lips are lovely?”

    Devon gazed into her big beautiful hazel eyes. “I think they are the loveliest lips I have ever beheld.” He leans forward and kisses them, and then kisses them again. After a moment he pulls back from Sarah slightly and said, “I think your lips are the loveliest lips any man will ever lay eyes on across this earth.

    He was gazeing at her with such intensity, her heart lept suddenly. Sarah knew in that moment she was beginning to fall in love with him.

    Oh, you are perfect Devon Price.

    She leans up and runs her tongue up the line of his neck to his chin. Devon let out a moan. “Sarah.” He said her name not realizing he had said it aloud. He pushes his weight harder between her legs. Devon reaches down and draws her leg up higher around his waist to allow him to get closer.

    Sarah draws her other leg up as he had done to her, inviting him to draw as close as he can. She had no idea what she was doing only that it feels good, he feels good to her and she hopes he will show her more of this feeling.

    “Sarah,” he whispers.

    “Yes.” Sarah answered as she continues to run her lips along his neck.

    “You have to stop,” Devon said in a low tone. God he didn't want her to but she had to other wise he was going to lose control. 

    She hovered over the spot where his neck meets his shoulder and she softly kissed him, sucking gently on his skin. Sarah slowly releases him and said, “I cannot stop Dev. You taste too delightful and I want more of you.”

    His breathing deepened rapidly. Devon grips at her shoulders that his fingertips were resting on, under her body. He began to tremble. Devon is taken in by her caressing.

    Sarah did it again higher up on his neck with more need this time. She hears and feels his breathing become deeper and slower. Sarah whispers to him in between her caresses on his neck as she moved up towards his ear. “Dev.”

    Devon answered with a, “Mmm.” It was all he was able to manage.

    Sarah made her way back down his neck. She put her hands on the sides of his rib cage. Her touch made his body jolt. She hears him let out a long sigh. She reaches the bottom of his neck and makes her way across his collarbone with the tip of her tongue.

    “Dev, can I kiss you here?” She slides her tongue along his collarbone, until it met the top of his chest. Sarah could feel his breathing labor. His body pushes further up on to her body and she reaches up and rips open his shirt. His chest is strong and feels hard against her soft hand. Sarah can smell his scent of spicy oak. “You are beautiful,” Sarah whispered.

    Devon threw his head back as Sarah wiggled her body down slightly. She began kissing his chest, running her tongue between the lines where it met down the middle. Sarah traces over the line she had made with her tongue, now with her finger.

    “Dev,” she whispered to him again. “I want to taste more of you.” She moves up and began on the other side of his neck with force.

    “Sarah, my god. What are you doing to me?” His voice was husky sounding and his body was so tense wit

    “I don’t know Dev. I just need to touch you.” Her voice was soft and sounding unsure.

    He reaches for her shirt and pulls it down, popping off a few buttons at the top as he did it. He exposes her breast right there on the breakfast room floor. Devon covered her nipple with his mouth with force.

    Sarah arches up towards him. “Oh Dev,” she said quietly with need. Sarah did not know if it was a desire for more or a wanting for him to stop. The intense sensations running to the area where she had been taken up into his mouth were overwhelming to her. She claws at his back and ran her fingers into the back of his hair.

    Devon took more of her into his mouth. He sucked hard on her breast drawing out of her a louder moan.

    “Dev please. I feel…I feel. Help me, I-”

    Devon released her breast and kissed her hard with a need he has never felt for a woman before. A need to be in her, with her, a part of her.

    “Sarah, I need you. Let me have you Sarah.” He continued to kiss her. Devon reaches down and places his hand between her legs as he shifts his weight off to the side of her body and onto the floor. Devon wrapped his right leg over her leg and pulled Sarah's legs apart. He begins rubbing his fingers at the side of her waist and trails his way down between her spread legs. Devon presses his hand onto her through her riding pants.

    “Dev!” Sarah shouts with surprise.

    He pulls his head away from her just far enough that he could focus in on her face. He stops rubbing her, but did not pull his hand back. Her eyes are wide and wild. Her breathing was heavy with longing. Devon slowly starts to rub her again. This time slowly and with a gentler touch.

    Sarah bit her bottom lip between her teeth as she stares into Devon’s eyes. Neither one uttered a word. Devon watches her expressions as he caresses her, knowing he was filling her bodies pleading desire for fulfillment.

    Sarah looks deep into Devon’s eyes with trust. She did not know what was happening to her, but she trusted he did.

    She let out a little whimper, as he rubbed with more force. “I want to hear what you feel Sarah.”

    Sarah closed her eyes as she moaned. She opened her eyes and gazes into his again. She moaned again, but louder this time.

    He feels her body begin to tremble and jerk. Her eyes are growing glazed. Devon knew she was almost there. He also knew she had no idea what was about to happen to her body.

    Sarah bit her lip harder. “Dev I think you need to stop.” She let out a louder moan. “Dev, please. Something is happening. Oh. Oh…Dev.”

    Devon whispered to her, “Let it happen Sarah.” He places his lips softly to hers, but did not kiss her.

     Sarah’s body began to quiver and she grabs his arms. She was peaking and Devon kisses her hard, muffling her cries of pleasure. Her release is long and he savored every second of it. He broke from their kiss and gazed at her. Sarah's head was arched back and she turned her head towards him. Devon knew this was the first time she had ever been touched in this way or really any way.

    Sarah’s body began to relax under his hand. He pulled his hand away and places it on her cheek and neck. He leaned in kissing her softly at the corner of her lips.

    “Dev?” Sarah asked.

    Devon answered, “Yes.”

    “Am I ruined now?”

    Devon started laughing. “No” He could not help himself. Sarah started to giggle with him and feeling foolish about it.

    “This is a part of it, but not the whole part of it. Has no one has ever told you what to expect?”

    “My father never spoke of it and my mother died at my birth as you know.” Sarah pauses and looks away for a moment. “I suppose I sound foolish don’t I?”

    Devon turns her chin so she was facing him. “If you have never been told, then how would your question be foolish?” Sarah smiled at that.

    He kisses her again.

    The moment was cut off when Devon and Sarah heard voices outside the door. Devon glances to Sarah and said, “Come on we have to get up.” Devon helps Sarah to her feet from the floor as he was kneeling.

    The door to the dining room flung open revealing Richards and Grams standing in the doorway.

    “What happened in here?” Richards burst out as he was trying to take in the sight of the whole room.

    “Sarah spilled her plate Richards. I told her she had piled to much food on it, but you know you can't tell her anything,” Devon said from the floor.

    Grams starts laughing. Sarah begins to giggle at Grams.

    “This is not amusing.” Richards said. He was angry.

    “Lighten up Richards.” Grams says to him.

    Sarah began laughing so hard she lost her footing and lands on Devon. Grams starts slapping Richards’s arm as her laughter increased.

    Richards began to chuckle with them. Then he began to bellow with enjoyment.

    Devon looked up at Richards with gladness at his deep laugh. “It is very good to see you laugh and find some cheer in life with us again Richards.”

    “Oh yes this is very funny, but I am not laughing about this, Sir.”

    Devon gazes at him with confusion wondering what it is he was laughing at then. “What is so funny?”

    Richards looks around at the room and stops his line of sight on Devon. “You know what is funnier than the sight of you two and this room? The fact that you two will be cleaning it up. That will have me laughing all day Sir, I assure you.” Richards then started slapping Darleen’s arm as he relishes in the thought of it. “The two of you will have this room cleaner then I had it before you decided to cover my floors, walls, and furniture with food. I will stand here all day to watch you. This is wonderful. I finally can put my feet up and relax for a change.” Richards left the room still laughing all the way down the hallway.

    Grams began giggling again. “I declare, the old hoot has lost his mind.”

    “Only you would take thrill from another’s insanity Grams.” Devon rises to his feet and steadies himself on a chair to help Sarah to her feet.

    Sarah is looking at Grams with glee. She loves Grams laugh. It sounds true and honest. Sarah hates nothing more than a fake laugh. Everyone can always tell when it is not a true genuine, deep down inside laugh. In Sarah’s mind, those people sound foolish.

    “We will have to get you to devils cleaned up. I will fetch Molly to arrange baths.” Grams left to look for Molly in the kitchen.

    Sarah turns to Devon and said, “You and I covered from head to toe in food and I am still starving.”

    Devon threw his head back at the thought of it all. He walks over to the side of the table closer to Sarah and pulls out a chair for her. “Lady Mcmay.” Devon motions with his hand in offering her a seat.

    Sarah sits down making something under her bottom make a squashing noise. Devon strolls back to the buffet table and begins to pile some globs of mixed up food onto a plate. He then rests on the chair next to Sarah and says, “My I offer you one of our finest delicacies.”

    “Well thank you Lord Price. What is this appealing creation called, just in case I may request it again?” Sarah spoons a fork full of mashed eggs into her mouth.

    “We call this Childish Delight.”

    Sarah chocked on her mix of eggs and clam chowder soup. Devon poured her a glass of juice. Sarah still coughing nods with acceptance when he hands it to her.

    After she composed herself she turns to him and says, “I do not think I have ever had this much fun and excitement in less than a day before Dev.”

    Devon smiles at her and replies, “Nor have I Sarah.”

    The two of them remain at the table sitting in food-covered chairs joking, laughing, and talking for another hour or so. At one, point Richards passed by the room and peeked in. He observed them for a moment and saw how engaged Devon was with Sarah. Sarah had turned to her plate as Devon was gazing at her. The way he looked at her, Richards knew he was falling for her.

     With all the pain and loss Devon has had throughout his life, Richards hoped he would not deny himself love out of fear. Richards thought to himself, the two of them did look quite humorous. They were both covered in food, eating at a table covered in food. Richards left and chuckles to himself softly.

    A few hours later after everyone and the dining room was tidied up, Devon made his way downstairs to find Grams. Devon came across Martha one of the cooks.

    “Have you seen Grams Martha?”

    “I saw her going to her sitting room Sir.”

    “Thank you.” Devon heads in the direction of Grams sitting room. He knocks on her door and hears Grams grant permission to enter. “May I speak with you Grams?”

    “Of course my boy.” Grams pats the sofa next to her.

    “Did Sarah confide in you about her reasons for leaving Lord Mcmay?”

    She could see the concern in his eyes. “We never got around to discussing it.”

    “You were in that room for three hours. What the devil were you two talking about then?” Devon sounded a little disappointed; he hoped Grams would be able to offer him answers.

    Grams smiles and pats his hand. “We were talking about your father Devon.”

    Devon began to shift, feeling uncomfortable and was surprised at her mention of his father. That is a painful subject, neither one of them ever mentioned to anyone. Devon withdrew his hand away from Grams and clasps his hands together.

    “I will be sure to discuss her reasons this afternoon. What has you so upset boy?”

    Devon rises to his feet and crosses the room. “I suspect Sarah is being treated in an ill manner by someone in that house, and not necessarily Lord Mcmay.”

    “It what way Devon?”

    “A way that no man should.” Devon put his hand against the wall, leaning his weight on it.

    “I honestly had suspected as much also.” Grams said with disgust in her voice. “When I went to touch her hand she flinched and more than on one occasion. Grams began to huff aloud with anger. “I will not send her back to that, that vile creatures dwelling Devon.”

    Devon turns to see Grams tearing up. This is not usual behavior for his Grandmother. He cannot remember the last time she permitted herself to become emotional. Devon rushed to her side. He wraps her in his arms.

    “We will get to the bottom of this, I promise you Grams. Did she mention anything?”

    “No my boy.” Grams takes a handkerchief and blows her nose.

    “She was having nightmares last night in the study. I am nearly positive someone is pursuing her. From what she was shouting, the advances of this man are not wanted.”

    Grams removes her head from Devon’s chest and says, “Sarah was staying with Lady Wilcox. I can call on her tomorrow to ask her what she may know.”

    “Good thinking Grams.” Devon said to her. “Now that we have settled that issue, I want to know why you have put it in Sarah’s head, for her to engage to leave her uncle’s home. Davits Grams?”

    “Well she needs help Devon my boy.”

    “That is the most dim-witted plan I have heard you come up with to date. You need your melon assessed. I won’t allow it Grams.”

    “What would you have the poor girl do Devon? She has no family, no safe home, and not a cent to her name. You are blessed you are a man my boy. What do you think would have happen to me if I had not had a grandson to take the title after your father’s death? If you had been a grandchild with pigtails, I would have been in the same situation.”

    Devon put his head back and his hands on his hips in frustration. He knew everything Grams had just said was true. He let out a long sigh. “Grams, I promised Benjamin I would look after her. How do I do that without any legal rights?”

    Grams raised her eyebrows at Devon, as if to say he had just answered his own question.

    There was a knock on the door. “Yes.” Grams said.

    Richards opened the door and entered. “Lord Mcmay is here, Sir.”

Every Monday is a new chapter. So mark your calenders.

copyright 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments Always Welcomed and So Desired