New York City
October 30, 1780
The past few weeks had gone by in a frenzy. Between her ever demanding social schedule and equally demanding spying activities, Annie found herself constantly exhausted. The morning sickness had eased a bit, thankfully. She and Cameron were making more and more public appearances and the town was generally accepting them as a couple. Tonight they were at Madison’s townhouse for a dinner party she had thrown in honor of Annie’s birthday. Despite the fact that it was a Monday, the turnout for the party was quite large. As expected, Annie found herself to be the center of attention. By the time that dinner was done all she craved was some fresh air and a bit of solitude. When the group finally left the dining room she excused herself for just a bit then walked out into the garden.
The bright stars lit the sky. One of the things that Annie loved about the past was the lack of light pollution. Being able to see the millions of stars in the sky brought great joy to her, it was one thing she would miss about the past. Annie was still admiring the stars when she heard someone step beside her.
“Beautiful aren’t they,” Madison stated.
“Yes they are. I do love looking at the stars,” Annie replied.
“So do I,” Madison replied then faced her. “Are you having a good time?”
“Oh yes. This is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. Thank you.”
“It has been quite an eventful night, and just think, the evening is not over yet,” Madison smiled.
Annie gave her a quizzical look. “Why do I get the feeling that you know something that I don’t?”
Madison smiled back at her. “I can see that you care very much about Mr. Evans.”
“Good. I can tell he cares deeply for you as well.”
“I hope that our courtship hasn’t shocked the rest of society.”
“Nonsense my dear,” Madison assured her. “In all honesty most of them have forgotten about your relationship with Major Andre. I hate to say it but most of the people I know are not highly gifted in the intelligence department, not like you. However, they do amuse me so I put up with them.”
Annie laughed. “Madison, I’m shocked. I’ve never heard you speak ill of others.”
“Well, I’m not going to call someone a dolt to their face,” she chuckled.
“I would hope not,” Annie laughed. “I do shudder to think what you say about me in my absence.”
“I have only to sing your praises. You are an exception to the rule in this case my dear Annie.”
“Well thank you,” she laughed. “I suppose you have come out here to summon me inside.”
“Quite the opposite. I come on behalf of a mutual friend to request that you remain out here for just a few minutes more.”
“Who would this mutual friend be?”
“You’ll just have to wait and see my dear.” With that Madison turned and hurried out of the garden. Several minutes went by before she heard another set of footsteps come towards her.
“Stargazing again my love,” Cameron whispered.
“You know me so well,” she replied.
“Very well,” he whispered huskily. “However, such conversations are not appropriate in public.”
Annie blushed then changed the subject. “I take it you are the mutual friend that Madison told me about.”
“Beautiful and smart. What a combination,” he smiled.
“Is there something you wish to discuss?”
“There is,” he whispered. “I believe it is time for you to be able to wear your ring in public, don’t you think?” Annie did not respond. “Just try to act surprised when I get down on one knee. I’m sure that we have a few people watching from the windows.” Cameron stepped around to face Annie then, as promised, knelt down on one knee. The proposal he gave this time was far more poetic yet still as intimate as the last. He began with one of her favorite passages from Jane Eyre, a book that would not be written for another sixty-seven years:
“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you- especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land came broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly,” he continued, then in his own words, “I pray each night before I go to sleep and each morning that I wake up that your heart feels equally tied to mine. If so, would you, Annie Elizabeth Johnson, do me the honor of answering my prayers and marry me?”
Tears glimmered in Annie’s eyes. She was too moved to speak for a moment so she just nodded. Cameron slipped the ring on her hand then gave her a soft kiss followed by a tight embrace. “How did you know,” she asked.
“Know about what,” he whispered in her ear.
“The words from Jane Eyre,” she whispered back.
“I found it on your tablet. I take it you enjoy that book,” he replied.
“It’s my favorite,” she smiled.
“Well I’m glad I chose correctly. Now, let’s go inside and you can show off that ring as it should be shown.” Cameron guided Annie inside where they were surrounded by a group of well-wishers. The women gaped at the large sapphire and the men gave congratulatory pats to Cameron on a job well done. It was past midnight when they finally left.
“I’m glad that we no longer have to keep our feelings private,” Annie sighed once they entered the carriage.
“Me too. When do you want to get married,” he asked. The question was far more profound than anyone else could ever know.
“I don’t know. If we don’t do it soon we’ll have to wait until after the baby comes,” she replied.
“I know. That’s not exactly what I was talking about.”
“Oh,” Annie realized. “Well, that all depends.”
“Do you want to see me in a strapless gown made of lace or a silk gown with a mountain of petticoats?”
“Strapless, as in your shoulders would be bare,” he chuckled.
“Yes,” she chuckled back.
“That is an intriguing thought,” his face went from a smile to a more serious facade. “We have something that we need to accomplish first though.”
“Yes,” Annie replied, reluctant to face reality, “We do.”
“It’ll be over soon,” he pulled her towards him. “Then we can go home.”
“Home,” she whispered. “It seems like a completely different place to me now. I’m not sure how I’ll readjust.”
“I know,” he murmured. “We could stay here if you want.”
Annie thought for a moment. The idea did have some appeal to it. She did have friends here, but then again she had friends back home. She missed Katelyn deeply and it would be nice to see her parents’ again. She could only hope that by the time she returned her mom and dad had been able to get through to her sister. Still, things were so complicated back home. The world was so complex and divided. Despite the war going on here, life was simple.
“Annie?” Cameron’s voice intruded on her thoughts.
“It’s a difficult decision to make. Far more difficult than I thought it would be.”
“Why is that?”
“Well when I first came here I thought I’d only be here for a couple of months. I never planned on becoming so attached to you.”
“I’ve already assured you that wherever you go I will go.”
“I know. I just, well, my life before all this was not bad. I was actually very happy. But the world is not perfect. I’m just afraid you’ll see my world and decide it is not for you. I want you to be happy, not just present. Does that make sense?”
“It makes perfect sense. And I understand the world isn’t perfect. It never has been and it never will be. It will be an odd adjustment for me. I know I’ll have to learn new things, to find my place in the world. But I cannot imagine a life without you by my side. Together we can achieve anything,” he assured her.
Annie nodded. “What about your life here? Your friends and family?”
“I have only one true friend here, James. As for family, well, my parents’ are gone. The only other relative I had was a cousin but she died years ago. You are my family now Annie,” he stated vehemently, then placed his hand on her abdomen, “both of you.”
“Okay,” she said. “Speaking of James.”
“He’s my great-great-great-great grandfather,” Annie smiled.
Cameron looked bewildered. “Really?”
“Yes. My mom’s maiden name is Locke. Besides, can you tell me that you don’t see the family resemblance,” she laughed.
Cameron gazed down at her and examined her hazel eyes, brown hair, round face, and those little but incredibly cute ears. He thought of James then smiled incredulously, “Well I’ll be.”
“So I guess he’ll be the one buying our house once all this is over,” she stated.
“Well now I’m even more convinced,” Cameron declared.
“Convinced of what?”
“That I belong with you in your time,” he smiled.
Annie smiled back then gave Cameron a heated kiss. The carriage stopped before they could go any further. Hastily, Cameron assisted her from the carriage and they rushed up to her room where they were finally able to celebrate their public engagement.