Forging Forever

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Chapter 26

“Annie, are you all right?” John’s voice interrupted her recollections of last night, well, technically this morning. Try as she might, she had been unable to focus on anything but that all morning. Reluctantly, she pushed the thoughts out of her mind, storing them away for later, and turned her attention to Major Andre.

“Yes, sorry. I’m just a little tired. What were you saying?”

John looked deep into Annie’s eyes. There were dark circles under her eyes, but a warm glow spread across her skin. He had never seen her like this before. It was obvious she was tired, but she was also happy about something, something that she had not yet mentioned. “You look different today.”

“Different? How so?” Apprehension rose within her. Had he noticed? She had done her best to act and appear normal today. Except for her absentmindedness she thought she had been successful. Apparently she was wrong.

“You look happy,” he stated.

“Well I am happy,” she smiled at him. “How can I be anything but happy when I’m with you?”

“I appreciate the compliment, but today is different. You’re glowing. What brought that around?”

Annie quickly thought of an explanation. She couldn’t very well say she was in love with another man. That would destroy all her hard work and could lead to her being discovered. “You did,” she replied.

“I did,” he questioned. “And how exactly did I accomplish that?”

“Honestly John, you should know the answer to that. Remember what you said to me yesterday before you left?” Annie lowered her eyelashes, giving a slow smile.

John thought back to their final moments from the previous day. A slow smile of realization spread across his face. “Would it possibly have anything to do with the promise I made you after our kiss,” he whispered to her. His only answer was a warm blush that spread across her cheeks. It was enchanting and enticing. “Well, I’m glad to know that I have that effect on you.”

“You affect me in many ways John, more than you can possibly know.” Annie smiled at him again then changed the subject. “Now, back to my original question. What were you talking about while I was lost in my daydreams?”

“I was merely informing you that I will be gone for the next week on business.”

“Oh, that is too bad. I do hate it when you leave.” Annie hid the excitement that she felt.

“I know. I feel the same. But I promise that once I return we will explore these strong feelings between us in every way imaginable.” His tone and eyes were seductive.

“I look forward to it,” Annie swallowed.

“As do I,” he smiled at her again. “Unfortunately, our time together is at an end. I have many things I need to do before I leave today.” John rose from his chair and assisted Annie from hers. They walked back to his waiting carriage. The ride back to the boardinghouse was short. John walked her to her door and gave her a long, deep kiss. Annie forced herself to kiss him back. Then they bid their goodbyes.

Annie walked in the door and immediately went to the kitchen. Mary was in there cleaning up the breakfast dishes. Annie stalked over to a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of wine, opened it, and took a long chug. “Annie, what are you doing,” Mary asked, her face shocked.

“Don’t worry, I’ll buy you another one,” she replied then took another swig.

“Annie, if you want to get foxed at least let me get you a glass.”

“I don’t want to get foxed,” Annie replied as she walked over towards Mary. The next statement was said in a whisper. “I just need to get the taste of that man out of my mouth.”

Mary chuckled. “That bad today?”

“You have no idea.” Annie shook in disgust. Kissing John had been hard enough before, but now, well, now it was intolerable.

“You’ve been ‘courting’ this man for weeks. Today is the first day that you’ve come home and chugged down half a bottle of wine. What inspired this change in you? Or should I be asking who?” Annie blushed, it was all the answer Mary needed. “This man wouldn’t happen to be a close neighbor of yours?” Annie’s blushed deepened. Mary gave a radiant smile. “I knew it!” She let out a small whoop of joy. “It’s about time.”

“Shh...No one can know.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” Mary gave her a conspiratorial smile. She grabbed the bottle from Annie and gave her a salute, then took a long sip herself. “It appears we need more wine,” Mary chuckled. “Would you care to go to town with me and get some?”

“I’d be delighted.”

“Good. I’ll grab my things.” A few minutes later the two women were walking towards the heart of the city. Mary looked over at Annie, who was grinning from ear to ear. She looked like she was on another planet. Mary’s heart leapt with joy. It was about time Cameron and Annie realized how perfect they were for each other. They certainly spent enough time together. They were halfway to the wine shop when Annie stopped.

“Oh dear,” she said, throwing up her hands in exasperation

“What?”

“I forgot to ask Cameron for money this morning,” she chided herself. They had certainly spent enough time together. Although, that time had been spent doing other things.

“Don’t worry about it Annie. I can afford the wine,” Mary assured her.

“No, I insist. I was the one who chugged down a bottle myself,” she whispered then raised her voice to a more normal volume. “If only I knew where he worked. I’m sure if I asked him he would give me some.”

“Well that’s easy. His office is just a few blocks from here,” Mary replied. There was no point in arguing with Annie. She had seen that look of determination on her face before. Besides, she thought to herself, it would be amusing to see Cameron’s reaction to Annie showing up at his office.

“Oh wonderful,” Annie exclaimed. “Now, if you’ll just lead the way.”

“My pleasure.” Mary hooked her arm through Annie’s and led her towards Cameron’s office.

Cameron was having a hard time concentrating. A stack of unfinished paperwork sat on his desk. He had gone over the document sitting in front of him twice and he still had no idea what it said. Try as he might he could not force himself to focus. All he could think about was Annie. He had never been so besotted by someone, not even Chloe.

“Is everything all right this morning Cameron?” James Locke stood in the doorway to his office, a confused and amused look on his face.

“Of course, why?”

“You seem distracted today. Is there anything in particular bothering you?”

“No. I just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”

“Oh, I see. Well if you need anything you know where to find me,” James said then walked away.

Cameron pushed Annie from his mind. The sooner he completed his work, the sooner he could go home to her. He was halfway through the stack of paperwork when a knock sounded on his door. “Come in.”

“Pardon me sir, but there are some people here to see you,” James said.

“Very well, let them in.”

“Of course.” James scurried away. Seconds later Annie and Mary walked into his office.

“Cameron,” Annie said, “I’m sorry to bother you at work like this, but I need some money. I forgot to ask you for some this morning.”

“You’re not bothering me at all, love,” he said then walked over to Annie. “How much do you need?”

“I have no idea. Mary and I are going to buy some wine since I depleted her supply this morning.”

“You should have seen her Cameron,” Mary interceded. “It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Annie came back from her breakfast date and chugged down my last bottle of wine.” Laughter danced in Mary’s eyes.

Annie blushed, “Well, I had to get the taste out of my mouth.” Her face twisted into a look of disgust.

Despite his jealousy, Cameron could not help but laugh. The image of Annie standing in the kitchen, chugging wine from a bottle was more than enough to eclipse the image of Annie in Major Andre’s arms. Plus, the fact that she was disgusted by the Major’s actions brought great joy to his life. “Well if this is going to be her reaction after every encounter then you’ll need to have a large supply.” He pulled some money from his pocket and gave it to Annie.

“Thank you Cameron,” Annie smiled.

“You are more than welcome Annie,” he smiled back.

Annie stood up on tip-toe then whispered in his ear, “Major Andre is going to be leaving town for an extended period of time. At least a week he told me.” She gave him a quick kiss on his cheek then turned and left.

Cameron had to stop himself from jumping with joy. A whole week with Annie. With renewed determination he sat down at his desk and dove into the work in front of him. With any luck he could finish them today then have the rest of the week to spend with Annie.

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