Connor gazed up from across the ball room to see Missy standing at the top of the stairs. She looked radiant in her soft pink gown. Even more so than she had a few nights ago. Perhaps she is looking for me. Maybe she is waiting for someone. A man? No, a friend most likely. He glanced quickly around to see if anyone was watching for her as well. Connor adjusted his collar and straightened his coat. By the time he looked to the balcony again, she was gone. Where did she go?
He spotted Missy heading for the entrance. Connor walked swiftly to catch her before he could no longer see her, but failed. After a few moments he stood in the crowded entry to the grand ball room surrounded by bodies flooding in at him.
Missy made her way down the stairs to the entrance.
"Where are you going Missy?" Theresa asked.
She turned to face her. "I am leaving for home."
"Oh no you are not Miss. You know very well there are a band of robbers that have been holding up carriages the last two weeks," Theresa stated.
"We have an armed guard and the driver. I'm positive I will be perfectly safe." With that said, Missy turned and disappeared into the crowd.
He turned to see Theresa walking in his direction. "Have you just arrived?"
"No I was looking for someone," he answered without eye contact.
Theresa gazed in the direction Connor was. "I think it to be impossible to find anyone in this herd Connor."
He glanced down to her. "Perhaps you are right Terry."
"Terry?" She stared up at him and watched him squirm for a second. "Theresa...Connor."
"I know your name...I just-"
She began laughing at him. Connor did not know what to make of her behavior. Theresa looped her arm through his and said, "Come on Collin."
Connor paused and smiled widely at her. "As you wish Terry."
She led him towards the others in the group. standing in the middle of the room. as he approached his gaze locks with Heath's. Murmurs of voices trailed silent as he joined the circle. Connor refused to be the first to break eye contact with Heath. Go ahead say something. Give me a reason to deck you.
"Good evening Connor...Pardon me," Elly quickly cleared her throat. "Mr. Welling."
"Good evening mam." Connor replied and as he did he noted a flash of anger or maybe frustration spark in Heath's glare at him.
"I suppose you do not recall who I am after all these years," Elly said. Heaths eyes darted to Elly with the way she said it to him and Connor noticed.
Connor looked down at her bright smile. "Little Eli?"
"Yes!" Her smile grew. "You do remember me."
"My apologies, of course I do." out of the corner of his eye he saw Heath's fist tighten slowly. "How could I possible forget such a dazzling smile such as yours, Eli?" Connor knew he may be pushing Heath but did it anyway and leaned in closer to her while gazing at Heath and said, "Honestly your smile is far more striking then I had remembered it to be Eli." She let out a small giggle as Heath's jaw set firm, clenching his teeth.
The conversation within the circle fell back into it's own normal rhythm. Connor waiting and watched for any sign of Missy. Finally he could not stand it any longer, he had to know. Leaning down to Elly, he asked, "Do you happen to know where Missy has gone to?"
"She has returned home for the evening Connor," Theresa said rather loudly.
Connor hoped the disappointment of Theresa's words were not displayed across his face. "I see," he said simply.
"Alone," Elly added.
"Connor whipped his head to Elly. His eyebrows pinched down. "Pardon?"
"She left alone," she repeated.
His expression took on a serious state. "Why is she alone?" his words were short and louder then he intended them to be.
"I did attempt to stop her but Missy would not listen to reason Connor," Theresa said.
"I am certain she will be quite fine," Garret added.
Theresa turned to him." A band of thieves is running a muck in this area most likely as we speak and are thugs. Last week Lady Nell was held up and thrown from the carriage as they were moving."
"Yes I was informed she broke her hip," Elly added.
A million things ran through Conner's mind as he listened to the women. How could Heath have allowed this? She is alone. He took a few steps towards Heath landing face to face with him.
Missy gazed out the carriage window into the dark night. Clip clopping of hooves soothed her thoughts from running away. I hate this stretch of rode. She slowly closed her eyes. Perhaps this was not such a clever idea riding without more company. Oh you are being silly. I will be home in less then twenty minutes sitting in a wonderful hot bubble bath. The corners of her lips curled up. She could feel the warm blanket of water engulfing her naked body. Missy opened her eyes and realized the carriage was slowing down.
The group looked to Heath. "Are you going to tell me you gave her permission to leave without-"
Heath chuckled aloud. "No one gives Missy permission for anything...the woman does not ask for it." Connor's glare grew hard at him. "It would seem you do not remember her strongest qualities Mr. Welling."
"Oh, I remember enough to know her feelings still hold firm in her opinion of you, her own brother." Conner turned and walked away.
Missy's body jolted off the seat as she heard a warning shot fire by the driver or maybe the guard. Rumblings of mens' voices flooded around the carriage. She did not dare draw back the curtains fearing to see their faces staring back through the window at her. Missy's hands and legs began to tremble sending a surge of emotion up the rest of her.
More gun fire rang out in the night and a large thud on top of the roof followed. Missy saw the shadow of a man's body fall to the ground outside the window. "Ah," she shrieked. Quickly covering her quivering lips, Missy knew they had heard her.
A soft gentle sound tapped at the window. It was terrible odd soft sound given the violence taking place around it. She felt her body slither up and back against the seat. It would be a matter of moments before the door swung open.
Connor rode hard along the dry dirt rode. Every once in a while he would hit silver patches of moon light peaking through the trees lining the rode. The country was dark very dark which was one of the reasons he loved it so much. The blackest of nights never bothered him. He welcomed them to be honest. "Wait...I'm scared of the dark Connor." Her voice rang out in his head. She had always had a fear of it. The memory of her slidding into his hand to hold it tight sent a chill through him. "Missy," he wispered to himself.
The knocking on the carriage window stopped. Missy paused holding her breath. She couldn't bring herself to close her eyes ignoring her fear that was begging her to do so. Suddenly a crashing shatter blew glass all over her body. Missy let out a curdling scream.
"Hey boys, we have a lively one in here." One of the men said. He grabbed Missy by the ankle and pulled her towards the door. "Come on now stop squirming. It won't take long." The others laughed at that.
Missy kicked him hard in the face and he fell back into another man behind him. An arm reached inside the carriage grabbing a handful of her hair. "Little bitch!"
"No!" she screamed louder then before.
Connor heard a faint scream ahead of him somewhere. His heart began race with fear. He kicked the horse hard. "Come boy!" He knew it was Missy. His heart told him it was her.
Missy's body hit the ground. She barely felt it. The man lifted her up slamming her back with force against the carriage not once but twice. Everything started to go out of focus and she felt heavy all of the sudden.
"Oh no. This one is all mine tonight," The man holding his nose came up from behind the other holding her. He was shoved back with the free arm that wasn't holding her up. The man behind him took a swift hard swing and landed his fist right on Missy's cheek.
© copyright 2012
by Pages of Romance Publishing