Forging Forever

By kmccabe08 All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Thriller

Chapter 35

Annie rolled to her side, slid out of bed, and rushed to the now oft-used chamber pot in the room where she proceeded to hurl out whatever remnants of food remained in her stomach. At least this new affliction was staying true to its name: morning sickness. She had been experiencing it for the past two weeks. She had discreetly paid a visit to a local doctor two days ago. He merely confirmed what she already knew: she was approximately six to eight weeks pregnant. This was an unanticipated and, quite honestly, unwelcome piece of information. She made a mental note to send a nice long letter to the inventors of the IUD if and when she returned home. Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do about it, at least not now. The only silver lining in this disaster was that she was too far along for it to belong to Major Andre.

Cameron was no doubt getting ready for work and was thankfully not there to see her wretched state. Not that it mattered, they hadn’t slept in the same room in nearly a month. Frankly she didn’t know how to act around him. His demeanor towards her had been different ever since her rape, that was to be expected. But instead of giving her his help and counsel he had pushed her away. His rejection had hurt her at first, but now all she felt was anger and resentment.

He did not know about her late night wanderings or her current condition. The only person she had confided in was Mary, and that was only because she had noticed the change in Annie. Mary had promised to keep her secret and help her in any way she could. Thanks to that promise, Cameron remained blissfully unaware of her pregnancy. She knew she should probably tell him. He did have a right to know; but she feared his reaction. She knew he would probably be angry, and quite honestly she had no idea what she was going to do. Should she keep the baby? Or should she go back home and end the pregnancy? It was a near impossible choice for her to make. For now though, she needed to stay, especially after the things she had heard last night. She needed to stay here to ensure General Washington’s safety. Besides, the thought of facing her family was unbearable right now. How could she look them in the eyes and explain her failure? She had never failed before, at least not that they knew. The first time she had kept her failure and pain hidden, but now. Well, now there had been too much damage done for her to hide.

Eventually Annie was able to stop the retching. It was always worse when she hadn’t eaten anything. Quickly she dressed and walked downstairs to the kitchen. Mary was preparing breakfast for the boarders. “Good morning. Would you like some help,” Annie asked.

“No, I can manage,” Mary replied and walked towards Annie. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“I’ve been better,” she said dryly.

“I can imagine. Here, I’ll get you some tea and biscuits. You just sit at the table.”

“Thank you Mary.” Annie went over to the table. Mary poured her a cup of tea and slid her a plate of biscuits then went back to cooking. Annie nibbled at the biscuits and sipped at her tea. The bland food did wonders to relieve her stomach. She finished the pot of tea and plate of biscuits then took the dishes to the sink. “That was wonderful. You wouldn’t happen to have any strawberries would you?”

“I’m afraid I’m all out.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

“I think I have some oranges if you’d like one of those.”

Annie made a face. The thought of an orange made her stomach turn, which was odd, because usually she loved oranges. “No thank you.”

“You look tired. Did you have a late night last night,” Mary asked, changing to subject.

“You have no idea. We’ll have to talk later. Right now I have some work I need to do. That is unless you need me.”

“No, do what you need to do. Just let me know if you need anything.”

“I will. Thanks Mary.” Annie left the kitchen and went back upstairs. Cameron was leaving his room.

“Good morning Annie,” Cameron said stiffly.

“Good morning Cameron,” she replied.

“What got you out of bed so early this morning?”

“I was just hungry so I went down to get some breakfast.”

“I take it your hunger has been remedied then?”

“Yes.”

“Good,” he replied then locked his door. Cameron turned and walked away. Annie watched him until he was out of sight. After that she went into her room, locked the door, then sat down on the floor and cried.

Cameron walked downstairs and went straight into the kitchen. Annie was upset with him, he knew it. He had given her space ever since the night they had watched movies together nearly a month ago. At the time it had seemed like a good idea, but now he wondered if his decision had come across as rejection. If so, had he just caused more damage?

“Are you hungry Cameron?” Mary’s question interrupted his thought process.

“Yes, but that’s not why I came in here.”

“I take it you need some advice.”

“Yes.”

“I’ll fix you a plate. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

Cameron watched as she left, pondering the fact that Mary always had the ability to read his thoughts. Rarely did he have to explain his emotional quandaries to her; she just knew. That was especially true when it came to matters involving Annie. Mary returned a few minutes later with a plate of eggs and potatoes. “No bacon this morning,” he joked.

“Sorry, I’m all out.”

“Annie must have eaten it all,” he laughed.

Mary responded with a nervous chuckle. “Well, you know how she is with her bacon.”

“Yes. It’s a wonder she can still fit into her clothes.”

Not for long Mary thought to herself. “Yes. So, you have some questions that need answering. Ask away, I’ll help in any way I can.”

“Thank you. I’m afraid that I’ve taken a wrong turn with Annie. I know she’s in pain, she has reason to be. After what Major Andre did to her I thought it best to give her some space, to let her dictate the terms of our relationship. I don’t want her to feel forced about anything in anyway whatsoever. But lately we’ve barely spoken and when we do the conversation is short and strained. Now I’m wondering if maybe she has interpreted my actions as rejection.”

“Cameron, your intentions are admirable. I cannot begin to explain what Annie is feeling namely because I’ve never been through what she has been through. What I can tell you, based on my observations of her over the past few weeks, is that she appears to be burying the event instead of confronting it, or at least she’s trying to. Her inability to cope is causing her to distance herself from those close to her. I assume it is some sort of defense mechanism.”

“But you seem to be getting along with her just fine.”

“You would be surprised,” she stated, thinking of their sparse conversations over the past few weeks. While Annie spoke with her daily, the conversations felt forced and lacked the easy and affectionate tone they used to have. “She and I have our moments as well. But our relationship is different than yours. Annie is like a sister to me. She knows that physically I am incapable of hurting her the way Major Andre did. She feels safe around me. But you’re a man. You can hurt her.”

“I would never do anything to hurt her. She should know that.”

“And I’m sure she does, deep down.” Mary sighed. There were so many things that he should know, that she should tell him, but she promised Annie she would keep her secret. She had been betrayed enough in these last few weeks. Mary would not add to that. “Look, Cameron, my advice to you is you two need to talk. Annie’s confused and hurting right now. She needs someone to help her through this maze that she’s in. I’ve tried, but she won’t listen to me. Besides, I’m not the one who’s been drastically affected by her actions. You are. So, take some time today while you’re at work and think. Then when you come back you need to sit down with Annie and have a heart to heart talk. It may not be pleasant, but it needs to be done,” Mary finished emphatically.

“I will. Thank you for the advice.” Cameron stood up from the table and left the kitchen. He arrived at work on time, as usual. He looked down at the stack of paperwork on his desk. Reluctantly he began to address them.

It was half past eleven when Annie heard a knock on the door. Quickly she hid her phone and maps that she had been working on in the desk drawer, then walked over to the door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Mary.”

Annie opened the door and allowed Mary in. “I’m going to the market to get some things. Would you care to come? Maybe we can find some strawberries,” Mary said.

Annie glanced at her desk. She still had a lot of work to do. Still, it would be nice to leave the house without having to sneak out. She made up her mind, the work could wait for a couple of hours. “Sure, I’d love to go. Let me just grab my things.”

Annie grabbed her purse, hat, and shawl since it was chilly outside. Ten minutes later she and Mary were walking towards the bustling market. “It feels good to get out.”

“Yes it does.”

“I do love autumn in New York. The trees are so pretty and the weather is perfect,” Annie said.

“Yes, it is lovely,” Mary replied.

“So, where do you want to go first?”

“Let’s stop at the butcher’s first,” Mary answered.

“Sounds good.” They stopped at the butcher’s where Mary purchased a variety of meats. After that they made their way through the bustling vendors buying an assortment of vegetables, breads, and fruit, including a dozen strawberries for Annie. Two hours later, their baskets laden with their purchases, they stopped at a sidewalk cafe for some lunch.

“How are you feeling,” Mary asked.

“Fine, just hungry.”

“You look tired.”

“I always look tired.”

“Mmm,” was the only response Mary gave. Truthfully Annie looked exhausted. She had dark circles under her eyes and her skin was pale. Despite being pregnant, she had lost weight. “I’m worried about you Annie,” Mary declared, concern written all over her face.

“I know, and I appreciate your concern. But I’m fine, I promise.” Annie was spared from any further comments because their food arrived. Annie ate her bowl of soup and several pieces of bread, as well as drank a whole pot of tea. By the time they were done she was incredibly full and just as tired. “That was delicious,” she declared.

“I’m glad to see you have an appetite this afternoon,” Mary observed.

“I’m sure I’ll be regretting it later,” Annie smiled.

This was the first time Annie had smiled in nearly a month. Mary was glad to see her smile again, even if it was forced. The fact that she was making herself smile indicated to Mary that she was at least trying to get herself back to normal. “I certainly hope not. Now, let’s get home.”

“All right.” Annie put some money on the table. They gathered their things and left the cafe. By the time they reached the boardinghouse Annie’s arms were aching. She sighed in relief when she was finally able to set her basket down in the kitchen. “Would you like some help putting this up Mary?”

“No, I can manage. But I would enjoy your company for a bit longer if you don’t mind?” Truthfully she was ready to be alone, but she needed to speak to Annie, to try to get through to her.

“Of course not,” Annie said then sat down in one of the chairs.

Mary put up the groceries quickly then joined Annie at the table. “Annie, we need to talk.”

“About what?”

“About you.”

“What about me?”

“Annie, don’t pretend everything is all right. Cameron is concerned about you.”

“I highly doubt that” Annie remarked dryly.

“What makes you say that?”

“You’ve seen the way he acts around me. He avoids me like the plague. The only time we speak is when we happen to come across each other in the hall or at meals; and event then our conversation is sparse. We never spend time together. Frankly it’s breaking my heart.”

“Annie, I think you may have misinterpreted his actions towards you. Did you ever think that his were actions designed to help you?”

“How exactly does pushing me away help me?”

“He’s not pushing you away. He’s giving you the power to make the decisions.”

“And how would you know that?”

“Because I’ve talked to him, something that you should be doing,” Mary did her best to hide her anger. For such a smart woman, Annie was making some stupid choices.

Annie saw the flash of anger in Mary’s eyes; it scorched her soul. “Why would he do that?”

“It’s because he loves you. I thought you loved him too.”

“It’s not that simple Mary.”

“Do you love him?”

“You know I do.”

“Then let him in; let him help you. And before you tell me any nonsense about not wanting to be hurt again let me give you something to consider: have you ever thought that maybe your actions right now are hurting you? Tell me Annie, do you feel any better, any happier now than you did a month ago?” Annie did not answer. “That’s what I thought. Look, I know things have been tough on you since you arrived here. I cannot even pretend to understand what you’re going through right now, but I know that going through it alone will not help you heal,” Mary advised. “Besides Annie, it’s not only you that you have to worry about anymore,” Mary whispered, placing her hand on Annie’s abdomen. “Can you really do all this by yourself?”

A tear escaped Annie’s eye. She shook her head. “What if he bolts?”

“He won’t run Annie. Have faith. Cameron is a good man,” Mary assured her.

“So was Major Andre. At least, that’s what I thought,” Annie whispered.

Finally Mary understood the crux of the problem. “You trusted him, didn’t you?”

“Yes. At least when it came to his intentions towards me. It turned out I was epically wrong on that account. Look at what happened? How can I trust my own judgment after that?”

“Annie, Cameron is nothing like Major Andre.”

“Try telling that to my head.”

“Talk to him Annie then let him help you with whatever it is you’re going through.”

“It’s not that simple Mary. I have no idea how he’ll react when I tell him about the baby. Besides, I don’t have time for a relationship right now, especially after what I heard last night while I was out,” Annie said.

“What did you hear?” Mary was honestly afraid to hear the answer.

“I heard some people planning the assassination of General Washington. And they’re planning on using me to do it,” Annie admitted.

“You’d better explain Annie.”

Without hesitation Annie told Mary about her trip to one of the homes the soldiers were occupying, the note she found, and finally the meeting on the docks. “It was Madison I heard speaking. I thought she was my friend. Now she’s planning on using me in an assassination attempt, which, let’s face it, would in all probability not end well for me. Apparently she doesn’t care.”

“Maybe you should leave. If you’re not here she can’t recruit you.”

“That won’t stop her. She’ll just find another way. You should have heard the determination and anger in her voice. No, the best thing I can do is stay and expose those involved. Besides, if she finds a way to get me into that camp then I can protect General Washington and ferret out any other agents.”

Mary sighed. Her reasoning made sense. Ordinarily she would support her, but after the events of this last month, Mary honestly wondered if Annie could take it. Annie was at a breaking point, anybody could see that. Soon she would start showing, especially since she was so thin to begin with. She couldn’t very well keep up her spying activities once the world saw her stomach start to grow. Besides, she would have to find a husband soon or face the chastisement of society. That would destroy Annie’s ability to glean information at parties, but, more importantly, it would destroy Annie. “Annie, be realistic. You’re pregnant.”

“I know that. That doesn’t make me an invalid.”

“I never said it did. But think about this practically. You’re going to start showing soon which means you will be much easier to recognize should someone see you, no matter what disguise you wear. Secondly, the world will find out soon. You need to have a husband otherwise you’ll be ridiculed and shunned.”

“I don’t care about that.”

“You should. Tell me, how will you be able to get information from people like the Carter’s if they will no longer associate with you?” Mary did her best to appeal to Annie’s way of thinking. Personally she thought Annie’s spying activities should end. She’d done enough, given enough. It was time that she found some peace and happiness. But she knew Annie would not listen to that line of reasoning.

“I could always tell them the baby is Major Andre’s. They all admired him so much, certainly they would understand.”

“I don’t care how much they admired or respected Major Andre, if you admit to having relations out of wedlock you will be ruined,” Mary stated emphatically.

Annie stared at the floor. What was she supposed to do? She had to make sure this plot was not successful. At the same time she needed to ensure that she would still be welcomed in the homes of those who provided her with the information. “What should I do,” she whispered.

“Talk to Cameron. Tell him what you’ve told me then ask him for his help. He’ll give it to you.”

Annie nodded. “Fine. I’ll do it tonight.”

“Good.”

“I’m going to go lie down for a bit. Will you tell me when Cameron gets home?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you.” Annie left the kitchen and walked up to her room. She locked the door behind her then sat down on the bed and weighed her options. She couldn’t leave. Madison had said she would be calling on her in a couple of days. She could run to Madison. She knew she would take her in. But Annie would be faced with the same dilemma there. She could only hide her pregnancy for so long. She could put off telling Cameron. Hopefully she would complete this last task before anyone began to notice. Then she could go home and deal with it there. It was a sound idea, except for the fact that Annie had no idea how long it would take to ferret out the traitors within the ranks of the Continental Army. In the end she was left with only one option. She had to confide in Cameron and just pray that he would aid her in her quest.

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