Forging Forever

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Chapter 31

New York City

September 6, 1780

Annie closed the journal. She hoped that her accounting and plea reached her family. This entry was by far the most important one she had written during her month here in the past. The sun was shining brightly now. The clock in her room read eight in the morning. She still had a few hours left before lunch with Madison. Annie wondered what state of mind she would be in when she found out Catherine was missing. Unfortunately, she and Cameron had not had time to forge a goodbye note. Knowing Madison’s kind nature, she would no doubt be fraught with worry. Whatever the case, Annie would be there to comfort her as best she could.

John had not mentioned anything about breakfast this morning. She thought about going over to the coffee shop then decided against it. She needed some sleep. Besides, she was not beholden to the man. She was her own person and could do what she wanted. Skipping breakfast was what would be best for all involved. Between the events at the ball last night and then the things she heard him say during the meeting, the thought of seeing him, much less flirting with him or kissing him made her feel physically ill.

Annie glanced over at her bed where Cameron was still sleeping deeply. She knew he was exhausted, just as exhausted as she was. He had fallen asleep the minute they got back. Guilt ripped through Annie. He had been so kind to her. He worked so hard and under normal circumstances she would have left him be, but she had truly needed his help last night. She knew he held nothing but hate and contempt for her sister. Viewing things from his point of view, Annie could not blame him. Still, he had respected her wishes and not harmed Catherine. Her heart swelled with respect and love. Finally, she got up out of the desk chair, changed into her nightgown, and climbed into bed, curling up in the warmth of Cameron’s arms.

“I was wondering when you would be coming to bed.” Cameron’s voice was sleepy.

“I meant to come sooner, but I needed to write down the events of last night so that my parents would understand,” Annie whispered back.

“I’m sure they’ll understand,” he said then kissed her cheek. “Now get some sleep.”

“Are you going into work today?”

“No. I sent a note to James. He can handle things.”

“Okay.” Comforted by the fact that Cameron would be here when she woke up, she closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

They were awakened by a knock on the door. Annie rubbed the sleep from her eyes and stumbled across the room. “Hide,” she mouthed to Cameron as she walked towards the door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Mary. May I come in?” Annie looked around the room, relieved to see that Cameron had found a hiding spot.

“Yes,” Annie replied then opened the door. She closed it once Mary entered the room.

“Late night.” It was a statement not a question. Despite it being almost noon, Annie was still in her nightgown. She looked like she had just gotten out of bed.

“You have no idea,” Annie mumbled. “Do you need help with something?”

“No. A note was just delivered. I wanted to give it to you.” Mary produced a folded piece of parchment.

“Thank you.” Annie took the note but did not open it.

“You’re welcome,” she smiled. “Oh, and Cameron, you don’t have to hide. I know you’re in here.” Annie’s horrified gaze met hers. “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me,” she winked.

Cameron crawled out from underneath the bed. “How did you know?”

“Honestly, I know everything that goes on around here. It’s my job. I’m just glad you two finally got your act together.” Mary smiled and gave Annie a tight hug.

“Thanks Mary,” Annie replied.

“Now, I’ll leave you two be. If you need anything just let me know,” she said then left the room.

“There is no keeping a secret from that woman,” Cameron chuckled.

“Well, at least she wasn’t angry,” Annie replied and walked over to the desk. She opened the note and frowned.

“What does it say?”

“Look for yourself,” Annie said then handed Cameron the note.

Annie,

Something horrible has happened. Catherine has gone missing! I am beside myself with grief and worry. I would be forever in your debt if you could come over here and help me through this trying time. Please respond with your decision as soon as you receive this. I eagerly look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Madison Carter

“Well, it looks like our time together has been cut short for today,” Cameron said once he finished the note.

“I knew something like this would happen,” Annie said then grabbed some paper and a quill. She jotted down a quick note then handed it to Cameron. “Could you give this to Mary while I get dressed?′

“Of course. I’ll get dressed as well and take you over to her house.”

“That’s not necessary Cameron. Catherine is gone, I’m no longer in danger. Besides, you need your rest. I shouldn’t be gone long.”

“I know you’re not in danger, but I still want to take you. I might as well use these hours that you’ll be gone to get some work done. Their house is on the way to my office.”

“Okay, in that case I’d appreciate the ride.”

“Good,” Cameron nodded then left the room. Annie washed and dressed as quickly as she could. She was ready to leave when Cameron knocked on her door twenty-minutes later. She left her room and locked the door. They walked out of the front door and Cameron hailed a carriage.

“Thanks again for the ride.”

“It’s my pleasure,” Cameron said then closed the curtains.

“What did you do that for?”

“I want to enjoy some time alone with you,” he smiled and came to sit next to Annie. “You never did tell me what happened last night at the ball.”

“I know. There wasn’t time.”

“Well we have time now.”

“Okay,” Annie said then proceeded to tell him all about John’s behavior in the anteroom then the conversation she spied on. “I really wanted to speak to you before we left the ball, but there was no time. I barely had time to change clothes once I got home. After that I dashed off to the meeting. I hope you’re not angry with me.”

“I’m not. I was worried, but I figured you had a good reason for not waiting around. Besides, it sounds like this was your final encounter with the Major.”

“I wish. He’s leaving in five days. I only have to put him off for that long, then my future is my own.”

“Are you planning on leaving once he goes,” Cameron asked. “Or are you going to stay?”

“I need to go home, Cameron. Especially after the way I treated my sister. I have so much to explain. Plus I have my life to get back to.”

“I understand,” he said. He had much to accomplish in the next week to prepare for his journey with Annie.

“But I’m not going to leave as soon as Major Andre does. I need to make sure that General Arnold’s betrayal and Major Andre’s capture happen. Once that is done then I can leave. So we still have a few weeks together.”

“Well that makes my task much easier.”

“What do you mean?”

“It gives me more time to settle my affairs before we leave.”

“You mean you’re coming with me?”

“I’ve already told you that wherever you go, I’ll go.”

“You meant it?”

“I always mean what I say, Annie.”

Annie smiled and threw her arms around his neck. “I’m so happy!” She gave Cameron a soft kiss. “But Cameron, is this really what you want? This is your life we’re talking about. I want you to be happy.”

“Annie, as long as you’re there, I’ll be happy. I know it’ll be a hard adjustment for me, but I can handle it. This is what I want. I want a life with you,” he said earnestly. “I have nothing to tie me here.”

Annie smiled and was about to kiss him again when the carriage stopped. Reluctantly she eased herself away from him. Cameron opened the door and helped Annie out of the carriage. “Just send me a message when you’re ready to leave,” Cameron said.

“I will.”

“I’ll see you soon,” he said then walked away.

Annie knocked on the door which was immediately opened by the Carter’s butler. “I’m here to see Mrs. Carter,” Annie said.

“She has been expecting you Miss Johnson. Right this way,” the elderly man said. He showed Annie into the sitting room where Madison sat across from a local constable.

“Is that all you need constable,” Madison asked.

“Yes. If I think of anything else I’ll be sure to let you know,” the constable said then walked out of the room.

“Oh Annie, I’m so glad you’re here,” Madison said as she rose from the settee.

Annie wrapped her in a tight hug. “I came as soon as I could. What happened?”

“Noah and I didn’t get back from the ball until three in the morning. I was exhausted so I went right up to bed. When I walked by Catherine’s door there was no light on and the room was quiet so I just assumed she was asleep. I woke up around ten this morning and came down to eat breakfast. When I knocked on her door to invite her down to eat with me there was no answer. So I opened the door. Her bed was empty and she had tied the sheets together to make a rope. She must have climbed out of the window last night. At least that’s what the constable thinks. There was no sign of a struggle. Still, she left all of her clothes here. Why would she leave without her things?”

“I have no idea,” Annie lied.

“I just couldn’t bear the thought of being alone today. I’m so glad that you could come.”

“I’ll be here for as long as you need me.”

“Thank you. I’m just so worried about her. She was such a sweet person. She could be a little moody sometimes, but then again, who isn’t? I’m going to miss her so much.”

“I know you will.”

“I only wish you two had gotten to know each other better,” Madison lamented.

“Me too.” Annie’s heart ached for her friend. Madison was such a kind and loving person. Still, she was glad Catherine was gone. It was far safer for all involved. Of course Annie couldn’t tell her that because then Madison would ask questions; questions that she could not answer. “But I’m sure all will be well Madison,” Annie comforted her. In the end it was true. Catherine was safe, back in her home, in her own time.

“I know,” she said, tears flooding her eyes. The dam broke and harsh sobs shook her body. Annie held her close while she cried, which lasted for a long time. Finally, Madison’s sobs subsided until all was quiet.

“Feel better,” Annie whispered.

“Yes. I’m sorry about that,” Madison sniffed.

“There’s no reason to apologize. We all have our moments. I’ll be here whenever you need me.”

“Thank you,” she mumbled then looked at the clock. “It’s nearly three, would you mind eating lunch with me? That is of course if you do not have any plans.”

“I would love to stay Madison.” The two women left the sitting room and went out into the garden where a late lunch was served to them. The spent several hours out there. Annie listened as Madison spoke of Catherine and how much she had enjoyed having her here; she held her as sobs tore through her body. The sun had already begun its descent when Madison finally stopped speaking and sobbing.

“It’s getting dark,” Madison stated around seven o’clock. “You should get home.”

“Will you be all right by yourself?”

“Of course. I have a houseful of servants and Noah should be back soon. Besides, I’m feeling quite exhausted. I’m sure you must be tired too,” Madison said. “Thank you for coming over today. Your presence has made this ordeal much more bearable.”

“You’re welcome. Would you like to lie down?”

“Yes. That sounds wonderful.”

“Good. In that case I’ll leave you to rest. If you need anything do not hesitate to contact me.”

“Thank you Annie. You are a true friend.”

Annie hugged her tight then left. She did not send a note to Cameron, she needed the time to herself, to clear her thoughts. She walked home slowly, the whole time thinking about her friend and what she had been through. Despite her relief that she was now safe, all she could bring herself to feel was enormous guilt at the lie she had told Madison. She had been a great friend to her in the time that she had been here. Leaving Madison behind, especially now when someone she evidently cared about had been ripped from her life, would undoubtedly do major damage. She felt dually guilty because she had been the person who had ripped Catherine from her life. Annie wondered if she should stay here, just for a little while longer. After all, history books did claim that Agent 355 did not disappear until December. Well, technically she didn’t disappear, she was captured. But Annie knew the story of Agent 355. Certainly she would be able to leave before she got caught. Waiting would be the kindest thing she could do. She would just be extra careful. Besides, she was good friends with a well-known loyalist family, no one would ever suspect her of being a spy.

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