The sky was dark when Annie reached the boardinghouse. She felt a pang of guilt at her long absence. She had no doubt that Cameron would be furious that she had not contacted him when she was ready to leave. She could only hope that he would understand her need to be alone.
Annie opened the front door and walked into the boardinghouse. The entryway was empty. She looked at the clock, it read eight o’clock. Dinner had long since been served. That was fine. She was still full from the late lunch she had eaten with Madison. She was about to make her way towards her room when the sitting room door opened.
“Good evening Annie,” Major Andre said. He was leaning against the door frame.
“John. It is good to see you,” she lied. All she wanted was make her amends to Cameron. She had no desire to deal with John tonight.
“You have been gone for quite a while. Everyone here has been worried about you. You should know that walking around alone at night is not safe,” he scolded.
“I assure you John, I was perfectly safe.”
“Why were you at the Carter’s today?”
“How did you know I’d been at the Carter’s?”
“I saw you leave today. I was coming by to ask you to dinner when I saw you get in a coach with Mr. Evans. I followed you.”
“Oh,” Annie said. It’s not like John had seen anything. The curtains had been drawn and Cameron behaved like a perfect gentleman when he escorted her to the door.
“What were you doing with him Annie?” John stepped towards her. He had a menacing look in his eye.
“Mr. Evans was kind enough to share a carriage with me. Certainly you cannot chastise me for accepting a ride from a friend.”
“There’s more to it than that. You had quite a lot of alone time in that carriage Annie. What were you doing?” He stepped closer.
“We were just talking John.” Annie stepped back.
“Just talking? Then tell me, why were the curtains shut?”
“I had a headache this morning. The sun was bright. I asked Mr. Evans to close the curtains so my headache wouldn’t worsen,” it was not a great explanation but it was the only one she could think of.
“I’m not. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve had a long day and I would like to get some rest. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Annie turned and walked towards the stairway. She let out a yelp of surprise when John grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him.
“You’re not going anywhere until I get some answers!” Frantically Annie looked around, hoping that someone would come to her rescue. No one came.
“No one’s coming to rescue you Annie. They’re all out looking for you. We are totally alone.”
Panic tore through Annie. “Please John, we can talk tomorrow.”
“Oh I agree, we can talk tomorrow. What I have planned for tonight does not involve talking,” he sneered.
“John, please,” she pleaded.
“Tell me, have you given yourself to him yet? Wait, don’t answer that question. I’ll be finding out for myself soon enough.” John dragged her towards the sitting room.
“John stop. You don’t want to do this.”
“You’ve given me no choice Annie,” he snapped. “I’ve waited for this for far too long.” He slammed the sitting room doors and threw the lock then dragged Annie across the room towards the settee. “I didn’t want it to be like this. But you’ve teased me for far too long.”
“John stop,” Annie struggled against him. In her frenzy she knocked over an end table, “Please John, now’s not the right time.” Tears poured from her eyes as she repeated her lie from last night. She tried pushing him away. He shoved her down on the settee then grabbed her hands and pinned them above her with one of his.
“I will have you Annie. I gave you the opportunity to give yourself to me, but you denied me. Now I will just have to take you.”
He unbuttoned his pants then climbed on top of Annie. She cried even harder. Not again, please God, not again. Her prayer went unanswered. Savagely, John ripped open the front of her dress. Annie pleaded with him to stop but he would not listen. He pulled the top of her dress wide open. Annie felt the cool air on her bare torso. Then his mouth was on her. Annie’s chest heaved with her sobs. He moved down her body to her waist. Eagerly he ripped her skirt, pulling her petticoats off. He forced her legs open. Annie screamed.
“You keep quiet or I’ll do more than take you,” he hissed. He wrapped his hand around Annie’s neck, squeezing. “Do you understand?” Annie nodded. “Good.” He released her neck. He shoved two fingers inside her. His rage increased tenfold when they came out clean. “You lied to me! Bitch!” He hit her hard across her face then shoved himself inside of her, beginning a horrifying rhythm of plunge and retreat. His intrusion was savage, tearing her both inside and out. Annie closed her eyes, willing it to be over. She nearly wretched when she felt his shudder of completion. Then, as quickly as he had entered her he was gone. “You will not speak a word of this to anyone,” he commanded. Annie nodded, her eyes still closed. She heard him adjust his clothes then leave.
Shame flooded her body. How could she have allowed this to happen again? Quickly she pushed herself off the settee and re-adjusted her clothes to the best of her ability. Then she made her way towards the staircase and up to her room, locking the door behind her. She tore her ruined clothes from her body then scrubbed her body from head to toe, taking special care of the tender spot between her legs. Finally she pulled on a nightgown then curled up into a ball and cried.
Cameron walked towards the boardinghouse. He, as well as the rest of the occupants of the house, had been searching for Annie for hours. They had agreed to regroup at the house at ten o’clock to determine their next course of action. It was ten ’til right now. Cameron hoped that the others had better luck than he had. He had had a knot in his stomach ever since he had dropped Annie off this afternoon. Foolishly he had dismissed it. Now that knot had grown and was consuming him. Something was definitely wrong.
He rounded the corner of the street and walked towards the house. He broke into a sprint when he noticed the front door slightly ajar. It had not been like that when they left. He burst through the door. Immediately a sense of dread pummeled him. Something bad had happened. “Annie!” He called out her name several times. No one answered. Frantically he tore through the house. He started his search downstairs. He checked the kitchen, gardens, and dining room. All of them were empty. He went into the sitting room. His heart stopped when he saw the condition of the room. A table had been knocked over and the cushions of the settee were all askew. When he looked closer he noticed a small puddle of now dry blood on one of the cushions. Something had happened in here.
He stormed up the stairs and went to Annie’s door, pounding on it. He received no response. “Annie, please, it’s Cameron. Just let me know if you’re in there. I just need to know you’re okay.” He waited but received no response. “Annie, please love,” he pleaded. Finally, he received a response.
A small sob broke through the thick door. “Annie?” Cameron tried the doorknob. It was locked. He was tempted to break down the door, just to see that she was all right. At that moment the front door opened and a wide variety of footsteps walked along the wooden floor. “I’ll be right back Annie,” he said then went downstairs.
“Did you find her,” Mary asked the moment she saw Cameron.
“She’s in her room,” Cameron replied. “At least I think she is. Mary, may I speak to you for a moment?”
Cameron walked into the sitting room and closed the door behind them. Mary gasped when she saw the room. “What happened in here?”
“I don’t know, but it was bad. There’s blood on the settee.”
“Have you spoken to Annie? What makes you think she is in her room?”
Cameron explained everything that had happened when he arrived home. He told her about the open door, his search of the house, his discovery of the sitting room, then finally about the sobbing he heard coming from Annie’s room. “I was about to break down the door when I heard you all come in. You wouldn’t happen to have a key to her room would you?”
“Yes. I have a master key. I’ll get it and meet you upstairs.” Mary and Cameron left the sitting room, closing the doors behind them. She gave instructions to her husband, Amos that no one was to enter the room. If they asked any questions, he was to tell them there was a spill that needed to be cleaned up. She rushed up to her room, grabbed the master key, then went down to Annie’s room. Cameron was waiting at the door.
He knocked on the door but received no response. “Annie, Mary and I are here. We’re going to come in,” he said then turned to Mary, “I don’t want her to be scared when we come in.” Mary nodded then unlocked the door and walked into the room. What he saw made his stomach turn. The dress Annie had worn earlier in the day was torn and discarded on the floor. A bloody rag laid on the floor by the wash bowl. Annie was curled up in the center of her bed, sobbing. Cameron rushed to her side and kneeled beside her bed. He leaned close to her. That’s when he saw the red marks around her neck and the bruises on her face. Rage boiled inside him. He pushed it down for the moment. Annie did not need his anger right now. She needed his strength. “Annie, honey, what happened?” Annie did not answer. Her gaze was someplace far away, it was as if she was staring straight through him. Mary came and kneeled next to him. She had turned up the lamp in the room.
“Cameron, look,” Mary said then pointed at Annie’s legs. A small pool of blood stained the pristine white of her nightgown. “I think its best you leave now.”
“I need to make sure the damage is not too severe,” she whispered.
A tidal wave of emotions crashed down on him. Anger, regret, and guilt swirled inside him. “Mary, you don’t think she was...” but he could not finish his sentence.
“Yes Cameron. I think Annie was raped.”