Here’s the next installment of my story.
I sat in the shadows of the alley near my parents house just looking at it. I had never been more relieved to see the old brownstone. A chill ran down my spine as a strange howling started up from somewhere across the river. I shuddered and nudged Lewis toward the stable. My bed was looking more and more appealing as the seconds ticked by.
“Are you alright?” Thom asked, as he slid off the chestnut horse.
“I’m fine. I just want to go to bed,” I muttered, taking the saddle off Lewis.
He brushed down his horse and nudged me to the door, “Go to bed. I’ll take care of the horses.”
I nodded and went in through the kitchen. It was dark. Everything was silent. Even the fire in the fireplace was quiet. Not a crackle from any of the embers. I snuck up the back staircase and peered around the corner. The hallway was dark and faint sounds of snoring came from the random rooms down the hallway. I took off my boots and tip toed down the creaky, wooden floor boards to my room. Once in the safety of my sanctuary I stripped out of the pants and let my hair down. The tears started flowing once again and I climbed under my blankets. I hugged one of the many pillows that adorned my large bed and let the sobs come. I didn’t want to admit that I was terrified. I didn’t want to admit that whatever that creature was scared the shit out of me and I didn’t want to go out of the house.
The way that woman died was horrendous. He face was frozen in fear. She was alive while that beast started to eat her. She felt its teeth sink into her throat than tear at her stomach and start eating her.
What kind of way is that to die?
I laid under the blankets, as if they were a barrier able to keep out anything bad. The curtains that hung over my windows fluttered in the breeze that came in. I wanted to get up and shut them. I didn’t want there to be any way anything could get in, but fear kept me stuck in the bed. I wasn’t getting up. I wasn’t abandoning my fortress.
I must have fallen asleep at some point because a light knocking brought me back to the room. My eyes shot open and I looked around the room. Everything was how I remembered from the night before. The curtains still fluttered and the clothes from the night before made a trail from the door to my bed.
“Anne? Are you awake?” my mothers light and feathery voice called from beyond the closed-door.
“Yeah, I’m awake,” I called out, rubbing the sleepies from my eyes.
“Breakfast is ready. Please come downstairs.”
“Okay,” I called, falling out of bed and scrambling for the clothes before anyone saw them.
While I shoved them into the back of my closet the door knob clicked and a tall, blonde wearing a long black dress with a white apron walked in with a pitcher of hot water.
“Morning, ma’am,” she smiled, pouring the water into a white basin on my dressing table.
“Morning,” I croaked.
“Are you alright, ma’am?” she asked, concern in her voice.
“I’m fine. Just a bad dream.”
“An Inspector is downstairs for you,” she mumbled.
I quickly washed up and put on a dark green day dress. As I descended the stairs I could hear muffled voices coming from the parlor. I peaked around the door and saw my parents sitting on the stiff backed, flower covered couch while John was sitting in a wing backed, purple chair.
He saw me and stood, “Anne.”
“John, what a pleasant surprise. What brings you here?” I asked.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Why wouldn’t I be okay?” my heart was pounding.
Did he tell my parents about last night?
“There has been a bit of a disturbance in the city involving young women, I was worried about you.” his piercing eyes never moving from my face.
“Yes, I read about that in the paper yesterday. So tragic,” I shook my head in sympathy.
“It is. Since I know you’re okay, please be careful. Be sure not to go out without escort at night.”
“I’ll walk you out, sir.”
Once we were out of earshot and sight of my parents he pushed me up against a wall, “Don’t do that again. Do you understand?”
“You’re hurting me, John.”
“Anne, do not go after that thing,” he reiterated.
“You have no right telling me what I can and cannot do.”
“And you have no idea what is out there. Whatever issue you have with your parents deal with it here, not out there.”
“Fine,” I muttered, my eyes flickered up to meet his gaze.
His intense stare softening, “I don’t want to see you hurt.”
He brushed a few stray hairs out of my face, caressing my cheek in the process.
“Don’t,” my voice was so shaky.
“Anne, I’ve never stopped caring for you,” he whispered, his lips brushing my cheek.
My heart skipped a beat, and I could feel a shudder run up my back.
“You lost the right to be this intimate with me.”
“I never meant to hurt you.”
“Well, John, you did. So how is dear ol’ Jane?” I narrowed my eyes at him, remembering the pain of catching him with my friend.
“I’ve told you that was not what you think.”
“I saw her in your arms. You were kissing her!” I whispered loudly.
“Again, she kissed me. You are such a hot-headed woman,” he grumbled.
“Is everything okay, Lady Anne?” Thom asked stepping out of a side room.
I ducked under John’s arms, “Everything is fine, thank you Thom.”
I brusquely walked down the hall toward the stairs, but heard Thom somewhat threaten John.
“I know you and Lady Anne were courting at one point, but you aren’t anymore. It would be wise for you to stay away from her.”
“Watch your mouth, boy,” John growled.
“Good day, sir,” Thom said as the front door creaked open.
I peeked out the window going up the stairs and saw John walking down the alley. I quickly ran up the rest of the stairs and down the servant stairs to the kitchen.
I threw open the door and ran past the stables.
“John!” I shouted, running into his arms.
“I didn’t tell your parents. I just don’t want to see you hurt.”
“Give me another chance?” he asked, holding me against his body tightly.
“I don’t know. Things are complicated now.”
“Thomas?” he asked solemnly.
I said nothing.