Grams and Sarah gasped and the men chuckled. Landon then walked away.
Brook sat on the ground for a moment in disbelief. “That was utterly childish Landon,” she shouted at him.
Landon made his way to the bar. “We are all children Brook. Is that not what the good book states?”
Brook rose from the floor and brushed out the silky purple material of her skirts. “I think you read from the bad book. The book called, “An idiot’s guide on how to live without manners”. In fact I think you wrote it.”
Landon laughed hard. “Well don’t pout Brook. You lost and I won. If you didn’t want-
“Stuff a map in it already Landon,” Brook snapped.
Devon nudged Quentin and they both walked over to Landon at the bar. “Perhaps it will be safer in my study for a while. Besides I have to discuss something of importance with you,” Devon said.
As the men left the room, Brook took a seat in a chair that faced Sarah and Grams. The two women were chit chatting away. Brook found herself lost in her own thoughts.
What kind of a man does that to a woman? I was not the one to encourage the exchange between us. God he was so close. I wonder if he would have kissed me again if we were alone. His lips were so soft and warm that night. Firm but yet gentle. What would they feel like on my neck? I wanted him to-
“Brook!” Grams shouted.
Brook shook her head slightly. She then gazed at the two with a blank stare.
Quentin started a fire in Devon’s study. Landon took a seat in a club chair next to the fireplace. Devon had excused himself for a moment to retrieve a document.
“Is it now customary for you to drop beautiful woman on the floor?”
Landon looked at Quentin. “She’ll be fine once she is done being cross with me.”
Quentin sat down across from Landon. “I think she is going to hang you on one. That is not a woman I care to mess with.” Quentin paused then said, “She has interest in you. Clearly you can see that can you not.”
“What gives you that impression?” Landon asked.
“I see you both sharing an equal awareness with each other shall we say,” Quentin said.
Devon just then entered the room. “I have a disquiet feeling concerning Lester McMay.” He handed Landon the letter McMay had addressed to Sarah before he escaped prison. “He was seen around town yesterday.”
Two months ago, Devon never finished reading the letter from McMay.
Landon began to read the letter aloud.
To my brother's child,
You have stolen what is rightfully mine by birthright. You should have died that night. Your last breath should have been done and gone like your father's and Devon's father was. They both paid for their mistakes with their lives and so will you Sarah.
I want what is mine. All of you will suffer. I will make you watch me kill everyone whom you dragged into this. And in the end, when you are alone surrounded by your dead friends, I will kill you slowly as I did your father.
He died by my hands and so will you Sarah. I will hunt you, follow you, and seek you until I find you. You will forever as long as breath moves through your body, look over your shoulder.
Upon the birth of your first child, I will take it. You may never close your eyes at night and not see me there Sarah. You, your child, Devon and everyone else are all going to die.
Landon looked towards Devon. “What are we to do with the women while the authorities search for him?”
Devon ran his hand threw his hair. “It concerns me to be honest with you and I do not know what we are to do. The letter targets everyone. None of the women are safe with McMay at large.”
“If I may offer a solution,” Quentin said. “I had invited the women earlier this night to visit my country estate. McMay, I assume, has no knowledge of me.”
Devon and Landon looked to one another and smiled. Landon said, “We accept.”
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Grams and Sarah stared at Brook waiting for her answer.
“My dear child are you alright?” Grams asked.
Brook’s expression was blank. “I am fine.” She stood quickly and crossed the room to the bar and poured herself a glass of wine.
Sarah cleared her throat. “We were wondering if you care to have a picnic with us tomorrow in the orchards. We could have some games and contests for the men.”
“Yes that sounds lovely,” Brook said. A picnic with Landon. I will find an excuse tomorrow not to go. Maybe I could plant the seed I am beginning not to feel well before I leave tonight.
Richards entered the room and walked over to Sarah. He held out a silver try in front of her with a pill and a small glass of water. “Lady Sarah it is time for your medicine.”
Sarah gazed up at him with confusion in her eyes. “I feel fine Richards.”
Richards gazed at her for a brief moment than said, “Very well Lady Sarah.” As he left his gaze locked with Gram’s gaze.
Devon grabbed a road map and laid it out across his desk. Landon and Quentin planed out the route to his country estate. Devon walked over to the painting of a ship at sea hanging on the wall behind them. He pulled the painting open like a door. Behind it was a safe set inside the wall. Devon pulled out four guns and set them on top of the map in front of the men.
Quentin glanced at Devon. “Are these truly necessary?”
Landon picked up one of the smaller guns. “You did not see Sarah when Devon found her in the cellar of McMay’s estate. I have never seen such-
Landon immediately shut his mouth when he saw Devon’s painful expression in his eyes as he was telling Quentin the story.
Quentin looked back and forth to Landon and Devon. “Why do we not just hunt him down ourselves? From what you have said he is broke and wanted. It shouldn’t be that hard to find him. We have enough resources between the three of us.”
Landon said, “It is not that simple Quentin. I wish it were. He has many bad friends and contacts. The women are not safe with anyone but us. This man will stop at nothing to fulfill his goal.”
A knock at the door drew their attention. Landon pulled the map over the pile of guns.
“Enter,” Devon shouted.
Richards opened the door holding a silver tray.
Devon looked relieved at the sight of him. “I was about to fetch you. We are planning to go for a trip in the country and needed to get organized concerning McMay.”
“Ah I see Sir.” Richards looked serious. In a low hushed tone he said, “I need a moment alone with you.”
Devon walked with Richards into the hallway. He glanced down at the tray. “Again?” He looked at Richards after he asked.
“I’m afraid so Sir.”
Devon took the tray from Richards’s hands and walked down the hallway to where Sarah was sitting. He left the tray on a side table outside the room.
“Sarah,” Devon said softly in the doorway to the sitting room.
She turned and smiled at him. “Yes.”
“May I have a private minute with you?”
Sarah stood and walked toward Devon at the doorway. “What is it Lord Price?”
Devon pinched his lips together at her use of his proper name. Since the attack by her uncle’s assistant, Sarah’s memory was missing large gaps of time, including the fact they fell in love and were now engaged.
He gently took her hand in his and walked a few steps back into the hallway. He gazed at her with kind sweet eyes and in a soft voice said, “Sarah you have to take your medicine every day.”
“I-I do not need medicine Lord-
“Sarah we are engaged and you had an accident. Because you were hurt you now have to take this medicine,” Devon said.
She stared at him trying to figure out what was going on. And then it sparked. Tears began to whelm up in her eyes. “How could I not remember this Dev? You, us, the accident?”
Devon took her in his arms and whispered, “You will sweetheart. It is just going to take some time.” He pulled her away from him and smiled. “Now take this before you forget again.”
“That is not funny Dev,” Sarah said as she rolled her eyes.
He handed her the pill and water with a smile. “Yes it was and so are you.” He kissed her head.
Brook took a seat across from Grams in a chair. She sipped her wine and then downed the rest in her glass. Grams chuckled at her.
“What seems to be troubling you Brook?”
“I am fine really,” Brook said with a smile.
Grams smiled back. “So you have said but your face tells a different story my child.” She leaned forward and continued, “It has been my experience that when a boy is unkind to a girl it is for no other reason than he likes her. And from the way he stares at you my love…I would say very much so at that.”
Brook looked away from her. “We are merely friends Grams and neither of us care to be anything more.” Brook wished Grams words did not bother her as much as they did. She had no idea what he felt for her. He kissed her and both of them acted like it had never happened. If she was to be truly honest with herself, she wished that kiss had lasted longer. Even worse, she wished he would kiss her again.
Brook stood up and poured another glass of wine from the bar. Sarah came back into the room. Brook was relieved hearing Grams quickly engage in conversation with Sarah.
Quentin handed Landon back the gun. “I have no need for this Landon.”
“I’m aware you are not fond of guns but it may come to the point where it is necessary to use one. Just hold onto it. No one is saying you should use it,” Landon said.
Quentin smirked at Landon. “Then I have no need to carry one to begin with my friend.” He slid the gun across the map to Landon. “A simple stick can be just as deadly as a gun…and much quieter.”
Landon laughed. “This is true Quent. I believe you could make a weapon out of a mushroom.”
Quentin patted Landon’s back. “Only if it were poisonous.”
Devon entered the room and walked over to his desk. He pulled out a book and jotted down something in it and put it away quickly. “I was thinking we should pare up into three groups when we go to Quent’s estate. That way if we are followed it may be easier to lose them.”
Quentin shook his head. “It has been my experience that there is safety in numbers Devon.”
“I agree,” Landon said. “If we split up there is a danger of only one of the carriages being pursued. Our strength is in our numbers. We must stay together Devon.”
“I would have to agree as well Sir,” Richards said.
Devon turned away and walked to the fire place resting his palms on the ledge. After a moment he said, “I want to make it clear to everyone in this room that if I get the chance to kill McMay I will.”
Landon walked over to Devon and placed his hand on Devon’s shoulder and said, “Do not think for a moment that I will not do the same Devon. We…you nearly lost Sarah at the hands of that man and his assistant.”
Devon gazed at Landon and the look in his eyes was unsettling to him. He saw pain. A deep pain coming from somewhere in his friend and in that moment he understood that he did not know of the love Devon carried for Sarah. He did respect it though and for that reason alone he would do whatever needed to be done for him.
Still standing at the bar top with her back to the women Brook was now on her fourth glass of wine. She had decided she was not going to turn around until it was requested of her to do so. She quietly slid on top of a bar stool.
Brook closed her eyes tight and drank another full glass without hesitation. An image of Landon’s smile flashed in her mind. The low devilish sound of his words of promised wickedness rang in her head. So vivid and real she shuttered from the sound. Brook squeezed her eyes shut tighter. “Get out of my head,” she mumbled.
“You. Now go away already,” Brook answered softly out loud.
“What is it exactly am I doing in there and I want details Red,” Landon said in a low hushed tone in her ear.
Brook’s eyes flew open. Oh dear god. Panic began to wash over her.
Quentin walked over to Landon. “I was wondering where you had run off to. I thought I might find you here.” He glanced over at Brook.
Landon did not move his gaze from Brook and she remained staring straight forward at the shelves full of bottles lining the wall behind the bar. “Quent I seem to be here there and everywhere at the moment. Would you not agree Brook?”
“Quentin my boy. Come tell us of your estate. It has been years since my last visit,” Grams asked.
Quentin walked away leaving Brook and Landon to their acquired moment.
She took the bottle of wine and emptied the remainder of it into her glass and drank half of it.
“Thirsty are we Red? Perhaps I shall join you and you can fill me in on what I’m doing inside your pretty little Irish head.” Landon poured himself a splash of scotch. He lifted the glass over to Brook’s and clanged them together.
She refused to make eye contact with him. Could someone die of embarrassment? She wanted to slither away in a corner and disappear. The room was growing warm and she needed fresh air. Brook picked up her glass of wine. She slid herself off the bar stool but when her feet hit the floor her legs felt like wet noodles. Her body spun around and landed in the arms of Landon.
He could see she was flush. Brook grabbed his shoulders and her glass went tumbling to the floor.
“Are you alright?” he asked. His hands were around her waist holding her with a tight grip.
Brook shook her head as she gazed up into his deep green eyes. She found herself leaning in a little closer to him. The warmth of his breath drew her closer and then closer.
Landon closed the gap between their lips and kissed her. He did it without thinking. The way she was looking at him captivated his every thought. It was his only thought. Her lips were so close.
Brook felt the room begin to spin. She squeezed Landon’s shoulders harder. The kiss was brief as Brook pulled away from him. “I don’t feel very well Landon.
He opened his eyes and she looked of a greenish color. “Brook are you going to be-
Brook shook her head yes and Landon grabbed the ice bucket and dumped it on the floor with force. As soon as he handed it to Brook she used it right there.
The loud noise from Brook’s activity caused everyone in the room to turn.
Brook knelt to the floor and Landon stood by next to her. “Do we have another bucket? This one seems to be filling up quickly,” he asked. He bent down and took up Brook’s hair for her.
Grams sent Sarah for some water and a few rags. “Oh the poor dear. It sounds painful. Do you think her to be sick with a bug?”
“I think she was enjoying her wine tonight is all,” Quentin said.
“Perhaps all of you would like to regather in a different location for the evening,” Landon said over Brook’s vocal activity.
Grams stood up. “Yes I would agree that is best. If you need us we will not be far my boy.”
As the group was leaving Richards entered the room with a few supplies and placed them next to Landon. “When you are able to move her Sir I will have a room ready for her in the east wing of the house. It will be the chamber at the end of the hall on the second floor. No one is in that wing so she may have her privacy. Shall I call for a maid Sir?”
“Yes that will be good Richards,” Landon said.
“I will have two waiting in her chamber Sir,” Richards said.
After another minute Brook lifted her head out of the bucket. Landon gently wiped her face with the cool water. She had no color in her face at all.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered to him.
“Do not think anything of it. I myself have had many nights like this very one,” he said.
Brook closed her eyes and fell backward to the floor. Landon picked her up and carried her to the chamber on the second floor at the end of the hall. He laid her on the bed and the two maids began to remove her shoes.
“I will be outside the door when you are finished,” Landon said.
One of them said, “It will be a bit Sir. We have to clean her up.”
Landon gave the woman a quick nod and shut the door behind him as he left.
He strolled up and down the long hallway. It was dim with only a single candle on the table next to Brook’s room.
Landon started to replay the moment in his mind before Brook had kissed him. The way she had gazed into his eyes was no way any other woman had before. He wanted to somehow feel the way she was looking at him. But what was it exactly? Desire to be kissed? A feeling of fascination? No it was something else entirely. He did not understand it; he only knew he had felt it.
Perhaps it was the wine? She did have a lot. Although she was not laughing as most women do when they were in their drink. She was staring. She was waiting. She was speaking to me with her eyes. Those gray blue beautiful eyes. She didn’t blink. She had parted her lips slightly as she had leaned in closer.
“Sir,” the maid said.
The sudden sound of her voice startled Landon and he whipped around. He walked to the doorway of her room.
“Will you need us further tonight Sir?”
Landon said to them both. “No I will handle it from here.” He entered the room and shut the door behind him. She was laid out in the bed with the covers up to her neck.
© copyright 2012