When Cameron returned, Annie was standing by her wardrobe, pulling out clothes. “What are you doing? I thought we agreed you were going to stay in bed today.”
“We did.” She looked angry.
“What caused you to change your mind?”
“Look at the note.”
Cameron did as she commanded. He picked up the note from the desk and read it aloud:
My dearest Annie,
I am sorry for you illness, but as I am leaving on a trip tomorrow, I cannot abide not seeing you before I go. Since you are unable to come to the coffeehouse I will call on you. I will be at your boardinghouse promptly at ten.
Cameron crumpled the note and threw it to the ground. “Bastard.”
“I know. But he’s going to be here any minute. Would you ask Mary to help me get dressed. I cannot manage this myself.”
“There’s no need. I’ll help.”
“Cameron, now is not the time to...” Annie did not finish her sentence, she had no idea how. He had seen virtually every inch of her already and had not taken advantage of her. She could trust him. “Fine.”
Cameron walked over to her and assisted her into layers of clothing, starting with a chemise, topped by layers of petticoats, and finally a dark blue day dress. He tied her hair back with a matching blue ribbon then helped her into her shoes. “I’m sorry. I forgot your stockings.”
“Don’t worry about it. He’s not going to see anything.” A knock sounded on the door, followed by Mary’s voice. “Come in,” Annie said.
“Annie, Major Andre is here to see you. I will help you downstairs if you are ready.”
“Thank you Mary. I am ready.” She walked slowly towards the door.
“I can take her Mary.” Cameron walked over to Annie, wrapping his arm around her waist.
“No, you stay here Cameron,” Annie replied vehemently. “I cannot risk him seeing me on the arm of another man. Mary is more than capable of helping me.” She did not wait for a reply. She walked out the door and down the hall, doing her best not to lean too much on Mary.
It took them some time to make it down the stairs. By the time they reached the sitting room, Annie was pale and out of breath. Somehow she managed to put a smile on her face. “John, it is wonderful to see you.”
“My goodness Annie, what happened to you,” he replied, then crossed the room in two strides and assisted her to the setee.
“Something from dinner did not sit well with me. At least, that is my hope.”
“You look absolutely dreadful. Now I feel like a complete cad. If I had known you were this ill I would have stayed away and let you rest.”
“There is no reason for you to feel bad. Seeing you always brings me pleasure. Why, I’m feeling better already.” She gave him a weak smile. “Your note said you would be leaving tomorrow. Do you know how long you will be gone?”
“Only a few days.” He took her hands in his. “Your hands are like ice.”
“Honestly, I am fine.” It was a bald faced lie. The room was spinning around her again.
“You are a horrible liar my dear.” He gave her a soft peck on the cheek. “I should take my leave so that you can get some rest. Hopefully you will have recovered by the time I return.”
“I’m sure I will. Thank you for stopping by and seeing me before you left. It is always wonderful seeing you.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” he replied, kissing her hand. “Would you like some assistance to your room?” The question was innocent, there was no hint of seduction.
“That is very kind of you, but I can manage myself. I will eagerly await your return,” she replied then started to stand.
“No, please stay seated.” He kissed her cheek...again. “I will see you in a few days,” he said then turned and left the room.
Annie stayed seated on the settee, willing the room to stop spinning. The house had fallen quiet around her. Rain fell steadily outside, making a tapping sound on the window. The rain had always made her sleepy. She felt her eyes droop shut. I’ll rest my eyes, just for a minute. Then I’ll be able to make it up the stairs. She was fast asleep a moment later.
She was awoken by the sound of boots on wooden stairs and the jostling of her body. She looked up and saw Cameron’s handsome face as he carried her up the stairs. “I’m sorry. I fell asleep. I just wanted to rest my eyes for a minute,” she whispered.
“Hush now. You have nothing to be sorry for,” he soothed her then carried her into her room. Once again he helped her change clothes then laid her down on her bed. “Get some rest Annie. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“Come lay with me.” The request was a whisper. He could tell that she was well on her way to sleep. Still, she fought to keep them open. “Please.”
Cameron nodded then pulled off his shoes. He went over to the queen sized bed and tucked the covers around her then laid himself on top the blankets. She cuddled up close to him and they both fell asleep.