Forging Forever

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Chapter 36

The sun had already set by the time Cameron came got home from work. He had actually left his office hours ago, but he had not been ready to go home. He pushed himself all day, and, as a result he finished his work in record time. As much as he needed to speak with Annie, he was not anxious to have the conversation they were about to have. So he had left the office on time then wandered aimlessly through the streets for hours. It was nine o’clock before he got home. Hopefully the outcome would be positive, but he doubted that. He could only hope that she would agree to at least try to allow him back in her life. Everything else could wait. Right now he would be happy to just work on their friendship. His musings on the way home did nothing to prepare him for the discussion they were about to have.

“I’m pregnant Cameron,” Annie stated matter-of-factually. They were sitting outside in the garden. Despite the darkness, the moon provided enough light for him to see the expression on her face.

“Pregnant?” His mind was reeling. How was this possible? Well, he knew how it was possible, but still, they had only been intimate a couple times. Surely it took more than that?

“Yes.”

“How long?”

“Six to eight weeks, which means it’s yours.”

“I see.” He was still in shock. Of all the things he had expected her to say, this was not it.

“Please know that I expect nothing from you. In all honesty I didn’t think this was possible since I have an IUD. But it happened.”

“What’s an IUD?”

“It’s a type of birth control. It’s supposed to stop pregnancy, among other things” she whispered.

Rage exploded inside him. “So you’re telling me you’re in the habit of just sleeping around with other men? So much so that you need a device to prevent you from getting pregnant!”

Annie jumped up off the bench and slapped him. “Absolutely not! How could you say that?! Not that it’s really any of your business who and what I’ve done with my life. You’re not my keeper. I got the IUD because of my first rape. I wanted to protect myself in case it happened again.” Tears streamed from Annie’s eyes. How could he think that? After all that she’d told him, all the scars she’d revealed to him.

Cameron watched as Annie cried, feeling like the lowest form of scum in the universe. She was right, he had no right to judge her. They came from different worlds. “I’m sorry,” he said as he got up off the bench and wrapped his arms around her.

Annie pushed away. “Honestly Cameron, after all that I’ve told you, how could you think that? You are the only man I’ve been with willingly, the only man that I’ve ever really trusted, and you’re accusing me of being a whore. I knew this was a mistake,” she shook her head in disappointment. “Hell, maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll lose it. There’s always the possibility that I’ll get shot again, or that I’ll fall down the stairs.”

“Don’t say that Annie. Please, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did.”

“No, stop trying to placate me. I was going to ask for your help but it appears I’m on my own. I was foolish to think you were different from other men. Thanks for the support Cameron,” she hissed then turned to leave the garden.

“Annie! Stop,” he called out for her but it was too late. She was gone. He wanted to go after her, to shake some sense into her. Her announcement had been a shock to him, and, like a fool and a cad, instead of giving her the words of support that she needed he had gone and accused her of sleeping around. What was he supposed to think though? Why would anyone have a need for birth control unless they were frequently engaged in activities that could lead to pregnancy? But no, he was wrong on that account to. She had gotten it to protect herself.

He paced the garden, bringing his emotions under control. This talk was not over. But him storming into her room while he was still angry would not help matters. He had been pacing for over an hour before he finally brought his emotions under control. Finally he left the garden and went upstairs to fix the damage he had done.

Annie slammed the door behind her. How dare he! And how dare she think that he was any different from any of the other men she had met! They were all the same, they got what they wanted then left. She was an idiot of the highest class. She was half-tempted to leave. She could alert the rest of the group to the assassination attempt then just go back home and...do what? How would she tell her parents that she was pregnant with the child of a man that lived over two-hundred years in the past? She could always tell them it was a result of the rape. She had written about it in her journal so they knew about it. But then they would wonder why she chose to keep the baby. It’s not like it was a pleasant reminder of a union with someone she loved. Besides, as much as an inconvenience this was, and as much as an advocate she was for the pro-choice movement, she wondered if she could personally bring herself to have an abortion. It was a monumental, life changing decision. But in the future, at least she had the choice. She did not have one here. She sat down at her desk and began to write a note to pass on to the rest of the group. She would tell them of the plot then run home and try to put this all behind her. She was halfway done with the note when she stopped. No, she had to stay. Running was the coward’s way out. She was many things, but a coward was not one of them.

Annie stood up from the desk and resumed her pacing. She needed to do something that would take her mind off of things. She needed to be active. She looked out the window. The sky was dark. The clock read ten thirty. She could make a drop. The streets would be fairly deserted by now, especially with the increased troop presence. She changed into her dark breeches, shirt, and boots then grabbed the maps and notes she had so had so painstakingly completed that day and shoved them in her bag. Lastly she stuffed her gun and phone in her pocket, then pulled on her hat and left her room. The house was quiet. Most of the boarders had gone to bed since they had to work in the morning. She walked down the back staircase and snuck out the back door. She could see Cameron pacing in the garden. She ducked down low to avoid detection. She wove her way through the alleyways, making her trip twice as long as it usually would. But the streets were crawling with soldiers. It was far too dangerous to use them, even in a limited capacity. Finally she reached the location for the drop. Now all she had to do was cross the street without being noticed.

She hid behind some bushes and ever so carefully peaked her head out to survey the street. The street was dark. Part of the appeal of this location was the fact that the road was not well lit. She saw a solitary soldier down the street. He held a lantern. At the moment his back was turned to her. If she moved quickly and quietly she could make it across without him noticing. She took a deep breath then emerged from the bushes. Giving one final look in his direction, she dashed across the street into the safety of the trees. The soldier turned and began to walk down the street towards her. Annie held her breath. Fortunately there were still leaves on the trees so they would shield her. Still, if he had seen her she was royally screwed. She pulled her gun from her pocket, but did not release the safety. Shooting him would be too loud. If he got close enough she could hit him with the butt of the gun and, at the very least, knock him unconscious.

The soldier stopped about halfway down the street. He looked around then turned and walked back down to his original location. Annie let out the breath she had been holding. She was safe, for now. She turned her attention back to her mission and ever so cautiously made her way to the drop point. Once there she pulled the papers out of her bag and stuffed them in the hiding place. Then she turned and walked back towards the street. She was alarmed to see that the soldier was now standing directly in the path of her escape route. Even more distressing was the fact that another soldier had joined him. Annie weighed her options. She could climb up a tree and hope that the leaves would conceal her. Unfortunately that would make her a sitting duck if she were discovered. Her only other option was to go back deeper into the woods then navigate her way back to the boardinghouse and hope that the soldiers stationed there would turn their backs long enough for her to get to the house. Annie estimated the time. She had left the house at 10:45. It had taken her about an hour to get to the destination and complete the drop. That meant it was nearly midnight. The soldiers did their shift change at 1:00 A.M. If she hurried, she could get back by the shift change and hopefully she would have just enough time to cross the street to the boardinghouse. Yes, that’s what she would do. She was about to turn when she heard footsteps walk past her. She turned her head and saw both of the soldiers make their way towards the end of the street. This was a lucky break. Slowly, she made her way out of her hiding spot. They made it to the end of the street then turned their backs’ towards her. Annie dashed across the street and into the darkness of the alleyway. She felt strong arms clasp her from behind. Without hesitation she elbowed her captor in the stomach then brought her fist down to his groin. His armed loosened around her. She grasped the man’s arm and flipped him over her back and onto the ground, just as she had done to her sister a month ago. Then she pulled out her gun and pointed it at Cameron’s bewildered face.

Cameron started at the murderous look in Annie’s eyes. Clearly she was stronger than he had anticipated. Eventually she lowered the gun and helped him to his feet. “What the hell are you doing here,” she rasped. “Never mind that, you can explain when we get home. Now be quiet and follow me.”

Annie grabbed his hand and pulled him through the street. She was amazingly fast and light on her feet. Cameron struggled to keep up with her. They weaved through the alleyways in the darkness. She did not pull out any sort of light. It was obvious that she had used this route many times. After a long while they reached the backdoor to the boardinghouse. Cameron was out of breath. Annie appeared to be just fine. She dragged him up to her room. Annie lit a single candle then turned to glare at Cameron.

“What is wrong with you? You could have been caught.” Her voice was an angry whisper.

“That answer should be obvious. I was following you,” he hissed back.

“You didn’t need to follow me. I can take care of myself. I was perfectly safe.” Her glare intensified.

Cameron took deep breaths, once again attempting to bring his anger under control. As much as he wanted to, yelling and screaming was not the solution. He needed to convince her that he cared, that he would help her in any way he could, that he would be there for her through everything. “I didn’t mean to imply that you were incapable of taking care of yourself. We never finished our talk. I was coming up here to talk to you when I saw you sneak away. I followed you just to make sure you were all right. I was worried about you. I tend to do that with people I care about.”

Annie relaxed just a little bit. “I appreciate that Cameron, but you needn’t worry. I’m good at what I do. I’ve been going out every night for the last two weeks spying on soldiers and making drops. Why last night I even overheard a conversation on the docks and I’ve still remained undetected. So please, don’t worry. Taking care of myself is one thing, watching out for you as well is completely different. Frankly I just don’t have the energy for it.” She sat down on the bed, the adrenaline that had been driving her finally gave out.

Cameron came and sat down next to her, then pulled her close to him. “I’m sorry for the way I acted earlier. I had no right to question you the way I did. I was just shocked and I lashed out at you. I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I understand your reaction. What you guessed was the only logical conclusion you could come to.”

“No. I was wrong. After all that you’ve shared with me I should have known better. Besides, I had no right to question your life before you met me. Anything you did was your own business. It was wrong of me to judge you.”

“You’re quite an enlightened man for your age.”

“Well, that might be because I’m in love with someone from a different age. You make me see things differently Annie. Meeting you was like a breath of fresh air. You’re an amazing woman, the perfect combination of strength, intelligence, and kindness.”

Annie gave a half smile. “Thank you. I needed to hear that.”

“Now, let me say the words that I should have said in the first place.” Cameron turned her face until he was looking in his eyes. “Your announcement shocked me, but did not hurt me. I only wish this joyous news could have come under happier circumstances. I know you’re confused and hurting right now. I can understand that you see this as just another situation that you have to deal with. But I want you to know that I will do whatever I can do to support you and help you. I will support your decisions and do whatever I can to help. I need, no, I want to take responsibility for both the baby and, more importantly, you. If that means we stay here and make a life for ourselves then so be it. If you want to go home I will go with you and stand by your side no matter what your family says. I can’t promise that your life won’t change, it already has. What I can promise you is that you will still be able to achieve every hope and every dream you have ever had. Finally, I need you to know that I love you and I will always love you.”

Tears shimmered in Annie’s eyes. “Thank you Cameron. I appreciate that. What I’m about to tell you will no doubt test your feelings for me.” Annie proceeded to tell him about the meeting that she had heard the night before on the docks. “My first instinct was to run, to just get away from all this, and go back to the comfort of my life at home. But if this plan is successful then my home, my life, may not be the same. There is no way for us to know what the future would be like if Madison and her friends should succeed. If I stay and go undercover as I’m sure she will ask me to then I can ensure that General Washington stays safe. I can also ferret out whatever traitors are in the General’s midst. It should not take me long. In fact it can’t take me long given that I’m supposed to be captured in two months. But I have to do it Cameron, if only to ensure that the future remains the same.”

“I understand Annie, and I applaud your courage. Please don’t take this wrong way, I, better than most, know how strong you are, both physically and emotionally. Having said that, tell me honestly, do you have the strength to deal with all this right now.”

Annie lowered her head. It was a fair question, one that she truthfully did not know the answer to. “I don’t know. But I have to try.”

“Very well. I’ll go with you then. We can do this together.”

“Cameron, you can’t come. If you come you’ll have to fight. Tell me, what am I supposed to do if you fall in battle? I have no idea what is supposed to happen to you. I didn’t have the time to look up your fate before we left. No, you should stay here where it’s safe.”

“Annie, it’s not safe here. They’re looking for spies. Robert Townsend left which buys us some time, but eventually they’ll find the rest of us.”

“What if something happens to me? What if I do get captured? I’ll need your help. If the information about Agent 355 is true, then I’ll be captured sometime in the beginning of December. I have no intention of dying on that ship. I’ll need your help to make my escape.”

“If that happens then I’ll desert. We’ll make our escape then go back to your time. They can’t hurt me if I’m not here.”

“Cameron, I could never ask you to abandon your country. You care for it far too much.”

“Once again, you’re not asking. I’m offering. Besides, you are far more important to me than this war.” He gazed down at Annie. She looked unsure. “Please Annie, don’t push me away. Let me do this.”

Annie leaned into him and nodded. “Very well.”

“Thank you,” he replied, then kissed her head. “You just focus on your mission. I’ll protect you.”

“Okay.”

“You should get some rest. These next few weeks are going to be long and tiring.”

“Okay. We have one thing left to do before we go to bed.”

“What is that?”

“There’s a letter dated today. It’s the first one in over a month. Let’s decode it, see what it says.”

“Okay.”

They walked over to the desk and pulled out the letter and cipher. As she had done with all the previous letters, Annie placed the cipher on the letter, then transcribed the message:

I know you want to return home Annie.

Unfortunately your return will have to wait.

You have a monumental task ahead of you.

Be comforted in the fact that this is your final task.

Trust in your instincts and in those who care for you.

If you heed this advice then all will end well for you.

The note gave both Annie and Cameron hope. “Maybe I can escape this,” Annie whispered.

“You will. I will not let anything happen to you. I promise.”

“I know. There’s only one letter left. Should we read it?”

“As tempting as it is, no, we should follow the directions in the first note. When is the note dated?”

“November 10th.”

“Okay. We’ll wait until then.”

“Okay.”

“Well, goodnight Annie. I’ll be in my room if you need me,” Cameron said then turned towards the door.

“No,” Annie said, clasping her hand around his wrist. “Stay, please.”

“Okay.” The rest of the night went by peacefully. For the first time in weeks they both slept soundly through the night. Cameron’s last conscious thought was: nothing could possibly go wrong, as long as they stayed together.

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