Post by sweetrosie29 on Aug 13, 2014 0:34:29 GMT -5
Stalker in the house loved loved the last chapter and hopefully now my stupid computer will stop playing up and let me post more early, your doing such a fantastic job and the story is making my heart go can't wait to see what happens when Rebecca catches up with Alistair and was so glad to read that there will be no red heads two in our beloved show is more than enough for me . Hoping to that it's not long before they share another kiss if their first one is anything to go by then I'll be on the floor.
Tell your husband that your not going to lose any readers and I'm loving the slow build up of their story and their attraction to one another it's just like the pull that our Catherine and Vincent have in the show and I've that pull with your stories just can't get enough so I eagerly await the next chapter
Hands on hips, Rebecca watched Alistair’s retreating back in silence. Then she followed him to the house. By the time she entered, only a few lamps were lit. The door to the study was open but it was dark inside. Somewhere in the distance she heard a door slam. She hadn’t thought the other wing of the house was used, but obviously she was wrong. She stood at the bottom of the staircase wondering if she dared . . . .
Mrs. Millhouse crossed the foyer on the way to the kitchen. Seeing the direction of her gaze, she stopped. “That wing’s off limits, Miss,” she stated.
“Why? What’s up there?”
The housekeeper crossed her arms. “Not my business. Nor yorn. The master said to stay out; that’s all I know.”
Rebecca studied the upper level once more. No light shown from the floor above, but she was certain he’d gone in that direction. Just to spite her. The coward.
She shrugged. If he thought avoiding her would solve everything, he had another think coming. Pretending to saunter slowly in the direction of her and Izzy’s room, she waited until the housekeeper was long gone before quietly returning to the landing. Then she began to climb the stairs.
Alistair watched her from an alcove above and to the right of the foyer. Brazen woman! Had he not made himself perfectly clear? He may not have spent much time in the company of females in the last few years, but from what he remembered, none were like Rebecca. Oh, some knew how to use their womanly wiles to charm a man into getting their way, but she simply demanded it. She spurned tradition, flaunted her short-comings, and disregarded his wishes!
A stair creaked beneath her feet and she froze. He picked up the rise in her heart rate. Yes, be afraid, little dove. Be very afraid. By the time she reached the second story, darkness enveloped her. If only she knew he could see in the dark. He hid a smile. What would Miss Brazen Beauty do with that knowledge, huh?
As amusing as it was to watch and wonder, there were restrictions for a reason. The upstairs laboratory was littered with bones and other skeletal remains, the likes of which he hadn’t yet had time to examine and didn’t want discovered, except by him. It would cause too many questions—questions he had no answer for, nor perhaps would he ever. As soon as she started to enter the first room—a long, empty chamber—he moved in.
“What is it about ‘off limits’ do you not understand?”
He clamped a hand over her mouth before she could scream. Not that she tried. He might have succeeded in startling her, but she quickly recovered. And stomped on his boot.
The entire scene was much too reminiscent of their first meeting on the beach and he immediately released her.
“At least you didn’t throw me to the ground this time,” she said. “I suppose that’s progress.”
Why on earth had he thought she would scream? Little spitfire! “You should be thankful I don’t throw you out of the house! Do you have no respect for the wishes of others?”
“Of course I do! Except when they’re trying to avoid me.”
“Rules are made for a reason, madam. It’s dangerous up here.”
“And yet here you are.” Angry, she spun around, facing the room, and peered inside. The last rays of daylight filtered through the windows lining the back walls and turned the covered furniture—what there was of it—into ghostly apparitions. “Is this a ballroom?”
“What does it matter?” he groused.
She turned and looked up at him. Then grabbed him by the hand and literally pulled him inside. “I never got that dance.”
Alistair froze, jerking her to a halt. “Dance?”
“That’s right.” She drew him further into the center. “Any gentleman of quality knows he has an obligation to dance with all the single ladies at least once. But you disappeared before doing so.”
There may not have been music, sweetheart, but we danced . . . “An oversight, to be sure. Or perhaps I’m not the ‘gentleman of quality’ you think I am. Besides, I—”
“—needed air. Yes, I know. Most people wait at least an hour before attempting to escape. It’s only proper.”
But he wasn’t proper, and he wasn’t ‘most’ people. “I’m . . . claustrophobic.” That sounded plausible, didn’t it? But why he should have to explain, he didn’t know!
Her look of surprise seemed genuine and made him feel guilty for the lie. Just a teense. Then she stepped into his arms and he forgot why he was angry.
“And what else are you afraid of? The dark?”
Oh, he was afraid, all right. But not of the dark. Her eyes sparkled in the twilight. Was she laughing at him? Two could play that dangerous game. Alistair slid an arm around her back, pulling her in tight, and murmured, “I prefer the dark.”
He waited a moment, judging the effect of that statement. She just stared right back. “You really want to do this?” he asked. “Because you should be careful what you wish for. You’re in my territory now.”
“I’m not afraid of you. And . . . I just want to talk.”
Alistair breathed in her scent. It brought their bodies even closer. Not that there was much room to fill. “Oh, honey. I think the time for talking is long past.”
He felt her pulse spike and his did the same. Alistair pushed her hair back and began with her neck, just as he had that first night. Surprise had caught her off guard then. This time, there was no fear, only a dramatic shiver followed by the tiniest moan. The sound made his own body sing.
His mouth found hers, his tongue delving deep inside. Yes. He would learn every part. She responded hesitantly at first, but she learned fast. It didn’t take long before she was engaging his in the same manner. And she didn’t push him away. That emboldened him. He reached down and lifted her closer. She gasped, then returned to his mouth. Oh, sweet heaven. Literally.
He slowly moved them through the room until her back was against the window pane. By then his hands were roaming freely and he knew things needed to stop before he shocked her entirely. Setting her upon the deep window ledge, he leaned away. Just slightly. And tried to breathe. Then he risked a look into her eyes. They were wide upon his.
“What? Not the kind of dance you expected? Oh, you meant with music.”
Rebecca pushed him away, unimpressed. “If you’re trying to scare me off, it won’t work.”
Not what he was expecting to hear. “Oh, that’s right. You’ve had many such experiences.”
He heard a tiny gasp at her words used against her and felt a small measure of regret. But, blast, he was running out of options!
Resilient Rebecca merely slid her feet to the floor and stood--all five foot three of her. “I’ll respect your wishes,” she said, looking up into his face, “and we’ll leave on the morrow. But I’m not staying away. So don’t count on it.”
With that, she pushed past him and strode out the door.
Rebecca crawled in beside Izzy that night and gave herself over to dreams filled with the sounds of tinkling fairies; the smell of sweet, summer blooms; and the feel of dark, luscious kisses. When she awakened the next morning, it was to find Isabella not only up, but rummaging around the room.
“Isabella! What are you doing?”
“Finally! It was as if you were sleeping the sleep of the dead. I can’t find anything to wear! I was afraid to venture out on my own, but seeing as I have no idea where we are . . . I heard a disturbance outside and went to the window. Some horrible man actually looked up at me and waved!” Arms akimbo, she punctuated that statement with a decidedly un-ladylike sneeze.
Rebecca smiled to herself. The ‘horrible man’ must have been Charlie. Her gentle sister was not a snob in the least, but she’d had so little experience with men other than her father and the servants, she wouldn’t know what to make of a poor but friendly male trying to charm her in the only way he knew how.
“Goodness! Look at you. Your head must still hurt from the way you’re frowning, and now you’ve caught a cold. Get back into bed at once!”
Rebecca swung her legs out of the bed and started putting on her blue dress.
“Are you wearing that again?”
“I haven’t a choice, remember? Do you recall nothing of the other night?”
Isabella sagged back down onto the bed. “We were traveling to Aunt Helen’s . . .” she said with a frown.
Rebecca tucked her sister’s feet into the coverlet and listened to Izzy puzzle it out amidst more snuffles and sneezes. No doubt it was the dust mites in the room that were irritating her lungs, a frequent ailment. She smiled. Her sister was obviously hale and recovered from her head injury, but Rebecca wasn’t ready to leave—not just yet. It would be a shame to depart so soon when she was just getting to know the man she found infinitely fascinating. She didn’t intend to leave until he forced them out.
She walked over to the curtains and pulled them closed with more enthusiasm than was called for—all in the hopes of rustling up a few more mites. Her sister would get over it quickly enough . . .
She had just started trying to work her hair into some semblance of order when there was a loud racket at the front of the house. And Alistair’s deep, resonating voice.
On the front door landing, Charlie turned, disgusted. “These ‘genl’men come a’ridin’ in here like marauding bandits demanding we turn over our pris’ners to ‘em—” He spat on the ground.
The lead rider jumped off his horse and strode forward, a gun trained on them. “Caleb Darrington. Bring the women out at once or you won’t like what will happen.”
Charlie sent a sharp look at Alistair and immediately stepped in between the men to diffuse the situation. “I think he be meanin’ the young ladies, milord. Now, now, gents, come on,” he said to the troupe of riders. “We’re no’ holdin’ any prisoners! Lawd sakes. The Missus Reynolds just be recoverin’ after them thievin’—”
“Who are you?” Alistair demanded, addressing the more important question as to what gave this man authority to demand anything, much less the women turned over to him.
It was a woman in back who came forward to answer his question. “My lord, we’re friends of the Reynoldses. I’m Jessica Breckenridge. We learned from their aunt of a terrible accident on the road, and that they’d been taken here.”
“It twarnt no axeedent,” Alistair heard Charlie mutter under his breath, too low for the woman to hear, thankfully, as she was obviously another young lady of good breeding.
“Jess!” Rebecca called from behind him.
“Oh, thank God, Rebecca! You’re well! How fares Isabella?”
“She’s fine, just fine.” Rebecca embraced the young woman who climbed off her horse to greet her. “She just needed rest after hitting her head when the coach overturned.”
“I was so worried!”
“But how did you know?”
“I was traveling back from my cousin’s when we passed the overturned coach on the road. I recognized it immediately and started for your aunt’s house. Caleb met us there and told us the story. I had to see that you were well.”
“We’re fine. Better than fine, actually. Mr. MacGregor is a doctor, of all things,” she said, smiling up at him. “We’ve been in the best of hands.”
Caleb Darrington swung his eyes toward Alistair. “I’ll be taking the ladies off your hands now, sir. Immediately.” He turned to Rebecca and ordered, “Bring Isabella out. Now!”
Rebecca frowned and Alistair caught the look. She didn’t like the man, of that he was certain. “Who is this man to you?” he asked her.
“No one, my lord.” She looked up at Darrington, challenging him to argue. “Merely the son of my father’s acquaintance. But Jessica is a dear friend.”
“As your father’s not returned yet, I’ll escort you back to your aunt’s, Rebecca.”
Rebecca? Alistair fumed. While he himself had pleaded with her to use his given name, to do so publicly would be extremely inappropriate, something he was sure this man understood and did on purpose to claim his place and rile him. It worked.
Once again, Charlie stepped in. “Ah, now ain’t that great? I see Mr. Darrington, here, done found all the missin’ luggage, too,” he said, nodding toward the rider-less horse weighed down with bags on either side. “I’ll just help with the rearrangin’ if you want to assist the gen’l ladies out.”
Meaning, leave the scene, peacefully, you oaf, before you cause big trouble. Alistair did as he was told and marched straight back into the house. Rebecca followed close on his heels.
“My lord! My lord, wait!”
At the bottom of the stairs, she caught up with him. Alistair swung around.
“Please forgive them. I'm sure they don't mean to accuse you of anything. Their concern comes out of worry for our well-being.”
He wasn't so sure about that, but rather than continue to frown, he shrugged. “All the better for me. I’ll be relieved of your . . . burden, and you can be on your way, safe and sound.”
He ignored her. “Mrs. Millhouse!” he shouted. The housekeeper ran forward. “Prepare Miss Reynolds for travel and gather extra blankets. The day is not terribly warm and Isabella has developed a cough.”
When he sensed Rebecca following him back out of the rear of the house, he stopped. “You needn’t worry. There is no fever. My guess is the ill humors in the house are affecting her. All the more reason—”
“Miss Reynolds, please attend your sister. This adventure is officially over.”
He snapped around. “No ‘buts’ this time. And warn your ‘friend,’ Mr. Darrington, that I don’t like threats. To me or anyone I care about. He’d better watch himself.”
“Fine. I don’t like them, either. And he’s no friend. Not—not like that.”
“Good.” When she continued to stand there, he met her eyes.
Damn. “I heal quickly.”
“More like miraculously. Or is it by some experimental medication?”
His eyebrows rose.
“I only ask because you said you were interested in Doctor Bridgewood’s research, and it would appear you have done some of your own.”
“I have no magic cure, if that’s what you mean.”
“Then how do you explain—”
“I don’t, all right? I don’t! And maybe you should mind your own business.”
“Fine. But . . . you and I could be friends, could we not?”
“I may not know a lot about medicine—yet, but I could learn. I would enjoy learning, actually. You could teach me. We are much the same, I believe.”
“You and I are nothing alike and we could never be friends.”
She frowned. “Whyever not? As you must realize, I’m hardly in the spring of my youth. I’m an independent woman with an un-ladylike preference for study and adventure. I-I detest the insipid rituals of my class, and especially the men—you being the exception.” She sighed. “Alistair, I have an interest! Must I say it so plainly?”
Alistair swallowed, hard. Just to hear his name on her lips was sweet as honey, but stung like the venom of a wasp. “Is that why you let me kiss you the way I did? Because you were interested?”
She refused to be cowed by his ominous tone. “You act like a bully to push me away, but I know better. You’re a good man trying to do the right thing. And I—”
“Madam, you hardly know me.”
“But I can see who you are! You’re the first man to come along who’s made me feel anything, and I won’t easily give that up.”
She could see who he was?
“Believe me, I can be just as stubborn as any man.”
Alistair stared. Oh, he believed that. And she was magnificent.
“I just need . . . employment.”
“Employment? You’re in need of money?”
She rung her hands. “No. A task. Give me occupation, utilize my skills. Let me help you with your research. I could clean, organize. Oh, and I’m very thrifty. Once my father returns home, I’ll talk with him. I’m sure he won’t mind. He’s as anxious to be rid of me as—”
“Didn’t you hear me? No. It’s too dangerous.”
“Dangerous, how? My sister and I—and Jason as well—could have died had you not come along when you did. We owe you our lives.” Emboldened by his disbelieving gaze, she stepped closer and laid a hand upon his cheek. “I don’t care what those men out there say or think. You are the hero of this story, my lord, not the villain.”
He laughed bitterly and pushed her hand away. Hero? He thought not. “You were in grave danger last night; you’re just too innocent to know it.”
Instead of being intimidated, she looked up at him with her heart in her eyes. “Just think about it. Please. Until then, I’ll return to my aunt’s, forever grateful for your help.” Before he knew what she was about, she pushed to her tip-toes and pressed a kiss to his cheek.
“Rebecca . . .”
She was already gone.
Alistair watched the group depart from the second story window, Charlie at his side. Before the group set off, there was some arguing going on. Rebecca appeared to rebuff Caleb Darrington’s order for her to ride with him. Alistair smiled in satisfaction. “She doesn’t like him.”
“Aye. He don’t seem like the friendliest sort. Will they be all right?”
Meaning, the girls. Alistair saw Rebecca look back at the house one last time. “Probably,” he said. He grabbed his jacket off the bed and headed for the door. “But I’m sure as hell going to make certain of it.”
Last Edit: Aug 16, 2014 0:12:51 GMT -5 by Windflwr
Post by hopefulromantic on Aug 16, 2014 2:00:42 GMT -5
I just love how things are heating up between Rebecca and Alistair, Windflwr ! Thrilling chapter as always!
Oooo! I love their "dance"! The passion is building and sparks are flying! My pulse was racing too and it's brilliant! When he breathed in her scent, it was such a primal, carnal, animalistic thing! The way that his control is barely leashed and Rebecca only wants more is incredible! More please!
The next chapter should be awesome because you just know that Caleb is going to cause trouble and Alistair will be right there. But I'm thinking that Rebecca may be able to handle things fairly well...
I'm so glad I checked for new goodies tonight! Stalking is such fun!!
OH MY GOD! That dance... Rebecca's behavior is really daring for that time! And Alistar likes it! I fell big things are comming next chapter! I just can't wait. I hope we're gonna have like 100 chapters.... :thumbup:rsrsrsrsrs...
Post by sweetrosie29 on Aug 16, 2014 9:37:19 GMT -5
With a dance like that I too could definetly see a big thing coming that was one hooooottttttt dance and that's the kind of dance I wouldn't mind having with Allistair, Vincent or Jay this kiss was even more hootter than their first and the way he backed her up against the wall and she gave into it in the end I serioulsy need to take a cold shower this story just get's better and better this is the kind of passion we need in the show or back in the show I should say so for now this brilliant, romantic, sexy, hot fan fic will keep me going until the show returns I'm one proud stalker so feed me feed me more.
Ok I'm off for a lie down and cool down and who know's maybe some sweet dreams of my own dance
Windflwr, this is SOOO GOOOD!! (And just because I'm not able to comment as much doesn't mean I'm not devouring each and every chapter!!)
Charlie has become one of my favorite characters with his sarcastic personality. Love to see more of him, perhaps interacting with Isabella as she recovers from whatever ails her. Mr. and Mrs. Millhouse are still rather mysterious and I'm not sure what direction you're going to go with them, friend or foe. Are they going to discover Alistair's secret too? sheeperz, the thought of Georgie possibly being a redhead hadn't crossed my mind...Yes, that would be interesting. Then again, I'm one who was never bothered too much by the redhead roadblocks we've experienced in our beloved show, so I would thoroughly enjoy a scene where Alistair shoots her down and pushes her away.
You know, for someone who says she doesn't have a game plan, you're doing brilliantly! Go right ahead and keep flying by the seat of your pants! You remain a bright shining light in the darkness of this hiatus. THANK YOU!!!
I'm still stalking...
My husband is worried and wants me to assure everyone that I DO have a game plan now!! This story will not ramble (guess he thought I would lose readers by telling you that, lol). I just didn't have EVERYTHING in place before I started writing. But since the one thing we know is the ENDING (or DO we???), that leaves LOTS of room (for adventures and romance!) and plenty of time to develop intrguing characters and plots. Woo-hoo! This is fun. Yeah, and don't ya'll be worrying about redheads, lol. I'm a VinCat (er, Ralistair?) fan all the way! It's all good....
I feel so reassured. Its not like I'm stalking this thread religiously or anything. lol I'll just be over here waiting...
A/N - Thanks so much for hanging in there with me! I think there might be a reveal coming... xx
“You’re going to work for him?”
Jessica pitched her voice low so as not to be overheard by the other riders, but it didn’t disguise her surprise.
“Why not? He needs the help, and I have the time. Besides,” Rebecca spoke even softer. “He had a close encounter on the beach with the . . . creature.” At least one, maybe more. “Now that I’ve had an up-close and personal experience myself, I simply must know more.”
“The animal? The one you believe is responsible for the maulings?” Jess visibly shivered. “Caleb told me your manservant said the thieves who stopped your coach were killed. But I assumed Jason had done it. Was that not the case?”
“No. Jason was already down when they were killed.”
“My heavens. Did you see it?”
“Isabella and I were still in the overturned coach. It was all over so quickly. But I heard their screams.”
Jessica covered her mouth with a shaking hand. “You must have been terrified.”
“I was. I shan’t lie. Had Mr. MacGregor not come by just then—” She took a deep breath. “He must have frightened it away.”
“Becca, don’t tell your aunt that part. She’s no doubt been in a tizzy worrying over you. I’m just thankful Caleb came along when he did.”
Rebecca frowned at the back of the lead rider’s head. “What was Caleb doing at Aunt Helen’s, by the way? Did he say?”
“I’m not sure. We haven’t had time for conversation. He must have heard your father was not at home and assumed you’d be there.” She looked over at Rebecca. “Maybe he wanted to apologize for his behavior the other night?”
Rebecca pressed her lips together. He had a lot more to apologize for than that. “If he thinks barging into Bridgewood and demanding I leave at once with him is his idea of an apology, he’s dead wrong. That kind of autocratic behavior is exactly what I don’t like about him.”
“Rebecca Reynolds, you’re twenty-six. You could do worse, you know. Unless you think Mr. MacGregor is an option?” She looked over at her friend. “You do! Oh, my lord! I didn’t realize. That’s why you want to work for him!”
“Shhh!” Rebecca glanced toward the front, but Caleb was laughing with one of her aunt’s men and ignoring them completely. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a movement in the woods beyond the road. Was someone there? Surely not, for a person on foot could not follow such a group on horseback. Could they? She shook herself and looked back at Jessica. It was broad daylight and not the time or place for calamity. “I just want to get to know him, that’s all. I certainly prefer his temperament to that of Mr. High and Mighty here. Speaking of whom . . . I think I need to have a talk with his Royal Lowness.” She kneed her horse and trotted up alongside Caleb.
Jessica fell back to chat with a frazzled looking Isabella.
“My aunt’s house is a little out of the way for you, isn’t it? Why were you there?”
Caleb looked over at her. “Direct, as always. Why are you so surprised? I heard your father was out of town. Should a man not visit his fiancée to check on her well being?”
“I’m no longer your fiancée, remember?”
Caleb reached down and rubbed a spot on his shin. “Ah, that. Did you assume your little fit of temper at the dance the other night spelled the end of us? I guess I never told you—I love a woman with spirit.” He smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Rebecca frowned. There was a time when she’d thought him handsome and that cocky grin attractive. No more.
“Lucky for you I came along when I did.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re serious? You and your sister were obviously wallowing in that dirty old mansion with God knows what kind of host. You’d have been better off waiting in the coach by the side of the road.”
“That ‘dirty old mansion,’ as you put it, is a lovely old home just in need of some care. And Mr. MacGregor had just moved in. He’d hardly had a chance to begin repairs when he kindly opened it to strangers!”
He laughed. “Yes, poor, dear Mr. MacGregor. You certainly made fast friends.”
She didn’t like the insinuation in his voice. Rebecca squared her shoulders. “He was the epitome of graciousness and did us a great service. Why, had he not come along when he did, Jason could have died.” Once again he made her feel small. She didn’t like having to defend herself, and had no intention of discussing Alistair with him. She moved the conversation back to safer ground. “And it was certainly less dangerous than the side of the road!” She looked away to the lush green of the woods. In sunlight, it was beautiful.
“Yes. Jason told me about the thieves.”
She turned. “He did?”
“You saw nothing?”
She shook her head. “It was dark and we were in the overturned coach.”
An hour later, Aunt Helen, five-foot two and a bundle of skirts and flounces, literally ran down the drive to greet them.
“Oh, my darlings! Are you well? Oh, dear Isabella, you look absolutely peeked!”
Rebecca heard Izzy gasp behind her. Even though the men with them, with the exception of Caleb, were not of their station, she knew her sister was dying inside. She’d done her best with her hair, but the way Caleb had rushed them out of Bridgewood, there’d been no time.
“Dear Auntie, we’re fine, truly. But Isabella would no doubt kiss the ground you walk on if you would lead her to a long, hot bath.”
“Rebecca Anne, you no doubt could use the same. I’ll have two baths drawn up right away. Oh, sweet heaven! I was so worried when you didn’t arrive.”
“I’m sorry to have worried you so.” She let a groom help her down before Caleb thought to.
“Nonsense. What could you have done? To think such people still stalk the roads in these parts, preying on young women and weary travelers. It’s horrifying! Your uncle would roll over in his grave! I sent word to your father, by the way. I’m sure he’ll cut short whatever nonsensical business he has at court and hurry right back.”
What Helen considered nonsensical her father lived for. And dropping everything would not bode well for their poor neighbor, Mr. Finnegan, whom he’d gone to help. “Oh, Aunt, you shouldn’t have worried him. Other than Jason, we weren’t harmed, and had a nice time visiting with our newest neighbor.”
“Goodness! Bridgewood, of all places! It’s thankful, I am, that young Mr. Darrington was here to rescue you girls or I don’t know what we would have done.”
Rebecca saw Caleb’s wizened grin out of the corner of her eye and wanted to puke. “Aunt, we hardly needed rescuing. It was Mr. MacGregor who’d already done that.”
“Well.” Helen fanned herself. “I don’t know what to think! I’m just so happy you’re here safe and sound. Quickly! Come inside, all of you. Why, we must start planning right away. A party, I think, is just what we need to calm ourselves and wipe the troubles from our minds . . . .”
As she rattled on, Rebecca grimaced and turned to gaze longingly back down the road from which they’d come. A party was the last thing she wanted. Now, another dance with a tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed doctor—that would certainly take one’s mind off one’s troubles . . . .
As usual, the music was too loud for good conversation, not that Rebecca was feeling in a particularly chatty mood. Once again, her aunt had amazed her with the speed at which she put together a gathering. Her staff seemed ready at a moment’s notice to put on a gala occasion. If only she were in the mood.
At least Jonathan Marley had shown up, at long last. That lifted Isabella’s spirits entirely. He’d already spun her around the dance floor several times more than was proper, but no one was taking notice. At least he was a pleasant fellow. The shy, mamma’s boy was of a temperament similar to Izzy’s and not one to take advantage. With her blonde hair and porcelain complexion, her sister could probably do better, but Jonathan made her happy, and that’s all that really mattered.
Jessica Breckenridge came alongside her with cups of iced lemon tea for them both.
“In the overcoat at the door. He’s talking to your aunt right now.”
Rebecca turned and frowned. “I can’t say I’ve ever seen him before.”
“Not exactly dressed for a party.”
She studied the man. Not in formal clothes, but neat and tidy. Perhaps a poor relation? “One of my uncle’s former business partners, perhaps? I think I’ll go find out.” She crossed the room to where her aunt had stationed herself in order to greet all the guests as they arrived.
“Oh, Rebecca, dear. Just the person we wanted to see.”
“What is it, Aunt Helen?”
“This is Detective Billings.”
The man in the overcoat gave her a perfunctory bow and handed her a card.
“Jack Billings, of the London Magistrate’s Office?” she read. “You’re rather far from the city, are you not, sir? What on earth brings you to our fair neck of the woods? Or have you business with Mr. Darrington?”
“Entirely different division, ma’am.”
“Bow Street runner. He’s investigating the murders,” her aunt said, sotto voice, and fanned herself. “Mr. Billings seems to think they may be tied to incidents in the city some time ago.”
“Yes, ma’am. They have a similar M.O. That stands for—”
“Modus operandi. Yes, I’m familiar with the term. But what do you suspect would bring a killer here?”
“Rebecca! Perhaps you could offer Mr. Billings some tea. In the study. I’m sure he’s weary from his travels.”
Meaning, out of earshot of her other guests. Of course.
“I apologize for arriving on such a night, madam.”
“Oh, not a’tall, sir.”
“This way, please, Mr. Billings.”
Safely stowed in the study, Rebecca rounded on the detective. “I’m afraid my aunt knows little of these things, sir. Since my uncle died, the only portion of the paper she reads is the society section.”
“I hope I didn’t discomfort her, then. I’m actually here to visit you, Miss Reynolds. And your sister and groom. I had just arrived in the area when I heard you may have had a run-in with the beast, yourself.”
Word travels fast. “B-beast? Is that what you think it is?”
“No ma’am. I’m of the mind it’s a man, but the moniker seems fittin’.”
Meaning, he’d examined the bodies and they were as gruesome as she imagined. “I see.” She glanced at him through lowered lashes. He reminded her of Charlie when he spoke. “I’m not sure I can be of much help.”
“Other than you, your sister and your driver, were there any other witnesses to the killing on the road that night?”
“Witnesses? I’d hardly call us that, sir. My sister, Isabella, received a knock on the head when the coach overturned and was out cold. I was trapped inside, as well, unable to see what was happening.” A small, white lie, perhaps, but mostly true. “And our driver had been wounded by gunfire. I’d hardly call us witnesses.”
“You didn’t see anything? Did you hear . . ?”
“Well, goodness me, there was a terrible racket, gun fire, and then . . . and then . . .”
She looked up. “And then Mr. MacGregor came riding up the road. He rescued us all!”
“Mr. MacGregor. Would that be Alistair MacGregor?”
She watched as he wrote the name down in his little notebook. “You know him?”
“No ma’am. It’s just my duty to learn who’s come and gone in recent weeks. I’ve been on the trial of this killer for some time.”
“And you believe he is the same one from London?”
“It’s looking more and more likely.”
“Goodness. Mr. MacGregor is a doctor, and the new owner of Bridgewood manor,” she felt obliged to add.
Mr. Billings seemed less than impressed.
“It’s some hours ride from here, back near my home. We’re just staying with my aunt temporarily.”
“I see. I guess I’ll have to have a talk with this Mr. MacGregor. And you say he just showed up that night? Out of nowhere?”
“What do you imply, sir?”
“I’m not implying anythin’, ma’am. Just trying to get the facts.”
“Well, the fact is, had Mr. MacGregor not arrived on the scene so fortuitously, my driver would no doubt have bled to death on the road, and my sister would not have been so gently cared for!”
“Do you happen to know from where Mr. MacGregor hailed before coming to Hillshire?”
“I don’t presume to know, but I doubt anywhere near London.”
Rebecca blinked. “Actually, I don’t know. It’s just a guess.”
Billings wrote again in his little book. “I’ll be validatin’ that.”
She put her hands on her hips. “You go right on validatin’, then, sir. I’m sure you’ll find your man—and it certainly won’t be Mr. MacGregor. If you don’t mind, I have a party to attend.”
“I understand. Appreciate your time, ma’am.”
“If that’s all then, I’ll say good-night.”
“That’s all for now, Miss. Thank you. I’ll be in the area another day or two, then I’ll head toward the coast. If you think of anything, do let me know.”
“Indeed I will, sir.”
He tipped his hat to her. “Perhaps we’ll meet again.”
“Oh, the nerve!”
“What is it?”
Rebecca rejoined Jessica near the punch bowl. “That awful Detective Billings. He talks of Mr. MacGregor as if he were a suspect in the murders! Just because a man is new to the area, he shouldn’t be treated like a criminal.”
“I’m sure Mr. Billings is just doing his due diligence. I think he’s quite handsome, don’t you?”
“Why Jessica Mary Breckenridge, I can’t believe you just said that.”
“Said what? It’s the truth.” She giggled.
Rebecca grinned, despite herself. Yes, Detective Billings was quite well put together for a working man, but awfully serious. She couldn’t see past his suspicious mind. She looked across the room and another set of eyes caught hers.
She frowned. “When did Caleb’s father arrive? It’s as if all of Hillshire has descended on the party.” All but one notable exception. She sighed.
“Perhaps he came with Mr. Billings?” She shrugged. “I heard there was a hunt nearby. Caleb mentioned something of the sort.”
Rebecca smoothed a curl back in place and sniffed. The son was bad enough. Father and son together were intolerable. She looked away and thought of Alistair again. How she wished he was there instead. Just the thought of Mr. Billings showing up on his doorstep with questions—. She sucked in a breath. She should warn him! It was half a day’s ride by coach, but on horseback one could travel much faster . . . .
Before she could put voice to her idea, someone nudged her from behind. She spun around. Caleb Darrington held out a glass only to realize she already had one. He grimaced and put it down on the side table. “I hear a waltz is coming up in the next set. Shall we?”
“My aunt would have a fit of the vapors.”
“Your aunt is smarter than that. And she knows our situation. I’m sure she’d look the other way.”
“Just what ‘situation’ would that be? And you don’t know her as you think you do.”
His smile died. “Very well, how about a walk on the terrace? I hear there’s a full moon out and the lightest of breezes.”
But no wind chimes. Rebecca sighed.
Jessica elbowed her. “Go on, you two. I’ll cover for you with your aunt.”
Rebecca shook her head but Caleb grabbed her by the elbow and walked her straight to the side door. As soon as they were out of sight of the other guests, she shook him off. He laughed and leaned back against the porch railing.
“Much better, don’t you think? All the unwashed masses fighting for a place in the pecking order. It’s kind of disgusting.”
She stepped farther away from him and peered out onto the darkened grounds. It did feel better to be outside, present company excepted. “Those are my friends and family, thank you very much.”
“Ooh. I didn’t mean to offend.”
“Why would I? When they’re soon to become my family, too.”
She swung around. “Are you truly that obtuse, or are you playing some kind of game? You and I will never be family.”
He pushed away from the wall and leveled a dangerous glare at her. “We'll see about that. And this is no game. You and I have circled each other for years. I’ve been patient long enough. Your fits of temper worked for a while, but I’m no longer amused. Let’s do ourselves both a favor and give in to what we really want.”
In one step he was there, a hand on her arm, tugging her into the shadows. He leaned in close. “I’d make it good for you, Becky. You know I would.” His hot breath made her shiver with revulsion, but they were in too public a place to make a scene. Someone would surely hear her scream. She steeled herself for the kiss that never came. Just as he was about to press his mouth to her hair, she heard Isabella calling for her.
“My sister. I’m here! Out here!”
Caleb immediately stepped a proper distance away—at least he had that much good sense—before Izzy’s head popped around the corner.
“Oh! There you are. I thought you might have gone to bed.”
Thankfully Izzy couldn’t see the smirk on Caleb’s face from where she stood. He remained hidden in the in the shadows.
“I-I was just getting some air. But I’m better now.”
“Good. Aunt Helen’s calling us all to dinner. Hurry!”
“We’ll be right there.”
As soon as her sister turned, Rebecca started to follow, but a heavy hand on her arm stopped her. “You got your temporary reprieve, darlin', but it won’t last long. My father plans to make an announcement at dinner. Be sure to put on your prettiest smile.”
With that, he released her and passed through the doorway without a look back.
An announcement? Oh no, he wouldn’t! She fought to control her breathing.
She thought of the detective and his plans to go to Bridgewood tomorrow. Someone should warn Alistair. She glanced at the clock on the mantle. Caleb wouldn’t make an announcement without her, would he? He wouldn’t dare. If she left now, she could be there in a few hours . . . .
Course set, she crossed the room to where Jessica still stood. “Please tell my aunt I have a headache and am going to bed. I would prefer not to be disturbed.”
“Oh. But what about dinner?”
Rebecca shook her head. “I’m fine, really. I’ll have the maid bring something up later.”
“Okay. It’s not Caleb again, is it? Did he bother you?”
‘Bother’ didn’t begin to describe it. But Jessica wouldn't understand. “No, nothing like that. Really. I just think the events of the last few days must have caught up with me. And you know I’m not that fond of parties.”
Jessica smiled sympathetically. “I know. I’ll tell your aunt.”
Rebecca circled around the room then passed through the entryway door that led to the staircase and the upper floor bedroom she routinely used on her visits. But she bypassed the stairs and headed out the side entrance instead and ran straight for the stable. Cerus would recognize her and welcome a midnight ride . . . .
“Where is she, boy?”
Caleb glanced around the dining hall and frowned.
“She escaped you again?” His father tsked. “I told you to make your move. We must announce your engagement tonight.”
“Perhaps she went to freshen up. I’m certain she’ll be here.”
“Miss Reynolds? I saw her headin’ toward the stables some time ago, milords. She seemed in an awful hurry.”
The Darringtons’ similar blond heads turned as one toward the houseboy.
“Thought someone should know. It ain’t safe for a lady to be ridin’ this late at night unaccompanied.”
The elder Darrington placed a hand on the boy’s arm. “You did well, son. But for the lady’s reputation, best keep that to yourself, huh? We’ll see to her safety. Thank you.”
“Aye, milord,” the boy said, relieved, and continued into the dining hall with his tray.
“Why are you still standing here?” he said to Caleb. “Go after her!”
Caleb gritted his teeth. “Rebecca rejected me, father. What am I supposed to do?”
Royce Darrington swore under his breath. Then he moved in closer until father and son were nearly nose to nose. Caleb knew better than to flinch. “Are you so weak, you let a woman rule you by her tongue?”
“No woman rules me.”
“Then prove it. Take her in hand. I want that land. I can persuade the others, but Reynolds will use the law against me. He always does. The only ace we have is his daughter.”
“I want her.”
The senior Darrington smiled. “Of course you do. Then take her. In fact, that might be the easiest way. Young people, these days; they’re so impetuous. Put a babe in her. She’ll come to heel.”
Caleb Darrington looked up at his father, then toward the main entrance, and nodded. He flipped up his collar and ran for the door.
Alistair had waited in the woods just beyond the country estate for hours after the troupe had arrived. The home seemed wealthy and well-groomed, complete with a plethora of staff to greet the small band of riders. One well-dressed woman, whom he supposed was Rebecca’s aunt, had even come out in person to greet them. They were safe. He needn’t have worried. Nevertheless, he was reluctant to leave even though there would be no further glimpses of his lady or her sister anytime soon. They were no doubt exhausted from their travels and would spend the remainder of their visit resting and enjoying the comfort and company of family and friends.
That Caleb Darrington was among those still present irked, but they’d had an uneventful journey to the estate. He hadn’t sensed any great anxiety from Rebecca along the way.
That said, there was really no purpose in him remaining nearby. He had work to do. And a killer to catch. When evening came and the music started, he knew he wasn’t needed. He turned Chameleon back toward the road and nudged him home.
Caleb spotted the dappled gray in the moonlight just turning the curve ahead of him, and smiled. He knew if he pushed his mount he’d eventually catch up to her. Rebecca rode well, but she wasn’t a daring horsewoman. He easily outpaced her. Nor was she aware she had a tail.
For the first hour he’d convinced himself she just needed some time alone and had taken a ride on a lark. But when she didn’t turn back, he realized she had no intention of returning. He ground his teeth. Not only was it foolhardy beyond measure to cross the county on horseback after dark, he knew it was in an effort to escape him. Well, she sadly miscalculated. He kicked his steed into a faster gallop. It was long past time to pay for such foolishness.
Rebecca was so focused on the woods on either side of her, she wasn’t paying attention to her mount. She knew the horse could sense her agitation, but she couldn’t help it. Every curve in the road looked like the one where the thieves had accosted their coach. Why had she not thought this through? She should have at least camouflaged herself as a boy—or armed herself. As it was, the light color of her skirts shone like a beacon in the moonlight. She took a deep breath. She’d come too far to turn back now. She should be within an hour of her destination. Hopefully Alistair was at home. If not, she’d head to her father’s house.
She shook off her anxiety and had just run a soothing hand down the horse’s mane when she heard it—a rider approaching!
She gasped. Without looking back, she leaned low over Cerus’ neck and spurred him into a gallop. A scream rose up in her throat as she heard the other horse bearing down on her. But before she could let it out, she was grabbed from behind and literally yanked from her saddle.
A gloved hand covered her mouth and strong arms held her immobile as she was hoisted in front of the rider. She started to struggle and was about to throw the fit of her life when she heard it—another rider approaching from further down around the bend. He wasn’t in sight yet, but it was only a matter of time.
The man who held her made a sharp, guttural command to Cerus, and the poor animal was so spooked, he tore off down the road in a mad rush. Her captor took them quickly into the shadow of the trees. His hand still over her mouth, she couldn’t warn whoever was coming, but from her vantage point she clearly saw the lone rider coming down the road: Caleb Darrington! She tried to cry out, but was nearly suffocated by the glove on her face.
Caleb rode past, intent on chasing down Cerus, unaware he no longer had a rider.
Just as well. No sense in endangering another life. She quit trying to make noise and looked down at the huge black horse in front of her, accepting her fate. It was a very familiar looking horse. She turned.
Angry eyes met hers—Alistair’s eyes!
“Are you crazy?!” he whispered furiously. “Do you have a death wish?”
Her mouth had gone dry with fright, but she managed to find her voice. “Alistair!”
“Hush! Soon as he sees your horse is riderless, he’ll be back.”
She pushed away from him. “You nearly frightened me to death!”
Alistair wondered just who’d been more frightened. “What in God’s name are you doing out here?”
“I could ask the same thing of you!”
He could think of a few other things he’d like to do to her for scaring him that way, but now was not the time. “I told you – I like the night. I get restless.”
“Well . . . so do I!”
“Night walks on a smuggler’s beach. Yes, I guess you do. But you’re a long ways from there and your aunt’s home. Did you learn nothing from your perilous trip in the coach?”
She had the grace to wince. “It wasn’t my intention, truly. I—I just wanted to get away for a little while. Then I kept riding, and . . . I wanted to find refuge—a place of . . . peace.” She shrugged.
Respite was the unspoken word he heard. It warmed his heart but made no difference. “I told you to stay away.”
The look she gave him said his scolding was pointless.
“Wait.” He held up a hand. “He’s returning.”
Rebecca frowned. “I don’t hear anything.”
“Quickly, get out to the road.” Before she knew what he was about, he jumped to the ground and lifted her down.
“He’ll have found your riderless horse by now.”
“Fine. Let him worry,” she said, hands on hips.
“He’s worried already. Rebecca,” he pleaded and the deep rumble of his voice melted her heart. “You must return with him. If you don’t, he’ll go to the authorities, tell your aunt, who’ll tell your father. They’ll begin a search. It would only be trouble for me if they discovered you at Bridgewood.”
That seemed to change her mind. “They’ll think the worst.”
“Yes. But I’ll make sure he gets you to your family home safe and sound.”
“But what about you?”
“It’s better if he doesn’t know I’m here. I’ll follow at a distance.”
He could tell she didn’t like the idea, but her options were swiftly running out. Finally, she pressed her lips together and stepped up to the edge of hi-way just as Caleb rounded the bend, a nervous Cerus in tow.
“What will I tell him?” she whispered to the shadows.
“Whatever you have to.”
Caleb saw her and kicked the horses into a gallop.
He jerked the horse to a stop in front of her and she grimaced at his treatment of the animal. “What the hell? Did you fall off your horse?” Caleb quickly dismounted and ran to where she stood.
“No. I'm fine.”
He walked around her, assessing. “Were you hiding from me?”
“I didn't know it was you. You-you frightened me!”
He laughed. “Well, perhaps you shouldn't ride off into the night without an escort! Dammit, woman. That was reckless!”
“It wasn’t. I’m an excellent rider.”
“You know,” he slapped his gloves together in a hand, “A woman who goes off alone like that—seems she’s just asking for trouble. Or is just a thrill seeker.”
“I am not.”
“It begs the question—what kind of thrill were you after?”
She sucked in a breath.
“Just where were you headed?”
“Home, of course.”
He stepped in close. “Really? You missed the turnoff some ways back. This road only leads to Bridgewood. But I suppose you knew that. Were you going to see your lover?”
Her quickly indrawn breath didn’t cover the low growl from the woods. They both turned their heads.
It was Rebecca who recovered first. “Certainly not! Please, let’s just get out of here.” She started for her horse.
“Uh-uh. You’ll be riding with me.”
She shrunk back. “I don’t think so.”
“You’d be wrong.” With that, he grabbed her around the waist and threw her up to the saddle before leaping up behind her with the ease of a seasoned rider. Rebecca leaned as far forward as she could to get away from him, but he yanked her back against him. For Alistair’s sake, she didn’t fight, knowing it would spell great trouble for him if his presence became known. Instead she tried to engage Caleb in conversation.
“Who else knows I’m gone?”
He laughed and she felt his breath in her hair. “No one. Which means we’re completely alone. At night. Just the two of us.”
He slowly walked the horses forward but seemed in no hurry.
“You know, I’ve been wanting to get you alone like this for a long time.”
“Now’s not the time, Caleb.”
“Oh, I think it is. In fact,” as he spoke, the hand around her middle slowly slid upward until it covered her breast, “I think it’s long past time.” The fingers slowly contracted over her tender flesh.
“Wh-what are you doing?”
“What I should have done long ago. Made you mine. Go ahead and fight it. This time there’s no one to hear you scream.” With that, he made a sudden jerk with his hand and the front of her gown ripped open. His hand, no longer gentle, probed painfully.
They both heard the roar just seconds before Caleb was literally flung off of her and thrown to the ground like a rag doll. That time she did scream.
“Oh my God! Is he dead?” Rebecca dropped off the horse and ran to where Alistair stood bent over the still body.
Alistair frowned at the concern she showed for a man who’d just assaulted her, but he was still fighting the effects of the adrenalin and struggling to calm himself down. Her anxious cries did nothing to help. “He’s not dead,” he managed, his voice still in transition.
She swung her head to look at him. “Your eyes!”
He closed them and turned away, still panting. “Don’t be afraid of me. I’d never hurt you.”
He waited. Silence. Finally, he felt calm enough to turn around. She stood clutching her bodice, staring at him with wide eyes. “You killed those men—the thieves.”
It wasn’t a question. He nodded. “I did it to protect you.”
“And the young girl? The farmer?”
The quaver in her voice showed her fear, not that he didn’t already know how wildly her heart was beating. “No.”
“Then-then there’s another?”
He met her eyes. “I don’t know. I know of only one other, but Bridgewood’s files would suggest others, at least in the past.”
Those eyes widened ever further.
Caleb groaned at their feet. Her eyes shifted to him.
“We need to get him to the house. Do you–do you trust me?”
She looked down at Caleb then back up to him. She was still shivering with fear, but she nodded.
“Can you ride?”
She clutched her dress tighter. “H-he ripped my dress.”
Alistair swore. Then he tore off his overcoat and wrapped it around her. “Give me a minute to secure him to his horse, then we’ll go home.”
Post by VinCat❤Destined on Aug 22, 2014 22:24:34 GMT -5
Okay now..I was on twitter when I saw this posted. As always so well written and very detailed. ..Thank you seems that your story has kept me busy as I sit in the dark in my house cause of a power outage. Thank heavens for you Windflwr lol
Oh 8 hours without electricity I was told by the company should be restored within a half hour!
Okay now..I was on twitter when I saw this posted. As always so well written and very detailed. ..Thank you seems that your story has kept me busy as I sit in the dark in my house cause of a power outage. Thank heavens for you Windflwr lol
Oh 8 hours without electricity I was told by the company should be restored within a half hour!
Oh, dear! Poor you. I hope it's fixed by now! Thank you for your kind words, hun. xx
wait. LOL I haven't read yet. I have to get my body ready for this new chapter.. Like literally this is making my morning. As always its not like I'm religiously stalking this thread waiting with baited breath. Okay I'll go read now with my large up of green tea. #chickensoup4thesoul
Windflwr, you have no idea... let me go read now.. dang it. haha
If before I've been waiting for a new episode of BATB, now I'm waiting every weekend to read a new chapter of your fan fiction!!! Really, it's amazing! And I can't believe the chapter has finished... I want to know what's gonna happen right now!! Thank you, again, Windflwr!!
alwayscrazedbatbfan: Food for Beastie Thought and Consumption---At what moment did you KNOW that VINCAT were meant to be? Was it a particular line or scene? Did they fall for one another at the same time? WAS it fate or choice?
Jan 19, 2017 17:33:28 GMT -5
BeastieBoy: As soon as Cat said "You're him" in the Pilot.
Jan 22, 2017 2:38:47 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: Oh, but that MOMENT on Vincent's bed when he tends to her wounds. And then when he tells his story, and she touches his face JUST so sad and feeling his pain. The Pilot was just MADE for those special VinCat Moments!
Jan 25, 2017 19:19:46 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: FELLOW BEASTIES, check SERIES REWATCH thread to confirm date and time to start the BATB REWATCH with the beloved "Pilot" episode!!! Whohoo! Sharing romantic VinCat journey with fellow Beasties again!! COME WATCH WITH US!!
Jan 26, 2017 10:10:10 GMT -5
DayaBEASTS4: Catherine Chandler Happy New year dear! many blessing and happy moments to you and all forum lil late but intention is what counts
Feb 1, 2017 18:57:29 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: I agree, Daya. It was Love at First Sight, even if neither of them realized it at the time. (And he was secretly following her and checking in on her all those years later. . . .AND saved that newspaper article that let him know who she was!
Feb 8, 2017 18:02:33 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: Beasties, don't forget WEDNESDAY NIGHT BATB EPISODE REWATCHES!!! Experience the joy of revisiting VINCAT MOMENTS with fellow Beasties! Come watch with us!
Feb 8, 2017 19:56:55 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: HEY DAYABEASTS4!! Was wondering where you were at! We are doing the episode rewatches under the "Series Rewatch" thread. Just so it is easy to find. However, if others want, we could open a New Thread each week under the episode title. LET ME KNOW!
Feb 22, 2017 21:05:11 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: Would LOVE to have more Beasties involved in the rewatches. You really DO get so much more out of the episodes when knowing where the series is going to go. There is SO MUCH I MISSED in 2012 when it first came on!
Feb 22, 2017 21:06:26 GMT -5
alwayscrazedbatbfan: Hey, DVD box set of the series being released!! Anyone know what is specifically contained in the box set as far as extras???
May 3, 2017 16:44:31 GMT -5
AlisongladaboutSeason4: I'm sorry to say that the complete lack of info about the special features on the Complete Series Box set leads me to believe that there will be NO new content, just a repeat of the special features on the individual series box sets. Hope I'm wrong though!
May 25, 2017 15:09:33 GMT -5
Mei: Millions of thanks, you are fantastic !! If I have seen and read things from her, it was in case you had interviews that I had not read like Rolling Stone.Videos yes I saw hundreds, but I like to read them . Thanks, thanks!! Happy Thrusday!!! Mwahss!!
Aug 24, 2017 8:15:34 GMT -5