Days turned into weeks as Dodger recovered quickly under Kathryn's loving care and every free moment she had was spent with him. When he was strong enough, she took him outdoors, with Lord Christopher's permission of course and they would go down to the stables to visit Starr. Kathryn felt an inner peace with their daily routine for even Lord Christopher would sometimes join them on their walks out in the meadows that surrounded Crestwood Hall.
"Why don't we go for a ride today, Katie?" Christopher asked, just before she and Dodger were about to leave for their morning romp.
"I would like that very much, your lordship," Kathryn exclaimed. "I think Dodger is ready for a good long run. His ribs have healed up nicely and he could use some vigorous exercise.
Christopher masked his disappointment that Kathryn only wanted to go riding with him for the good of the dog. "I thought it would be nice if we packed a lunch basket and have a picnic next to the waterfalls," Christopher suggested softly, recovering some of his enthusiasm.
"Oh your lordship, that would be most delightful!" Kathryn exclaimed. "I'll go change right away!" She said, before darting back up the stairs.
When she returned, Christopher already had the picnic basket and blanket in hand so they proceeded down to the stables where Starr and Thor were saddled and waiting for them.
"Oh Starr, it's been a while since we last rode," she said excitedly and rubbed the mare's muzzle before she mounted her.
They started out at a slow canter to let Dodger set his own pace as they made their way across the countryside. Once they reached the edge of the forest, they dismounted and walked the rest of the way to the lake with Starr and Thor in tow. Dodger ran a little ways ahead of them along the path but would stop and glance back at them every few minutes, making sure they were still following him.
"He's become quite attached to you, Katie." Christopher observed, watching Dodger scamper through the underbrush, chasing the small forest creatures that lived there.
"Yes, I think he is. He gets very upset when I make him stay in my room and not let him come with me. He just lays on his pallet by my bed with his head resting on his fore paws and stares at me with those big brown eyes of his, until I return for him."
As they reached the clearing, Kathryn let her breath out for she had forgotten just how beautiful it was here. A slight mist hovered over the waterfall as it gracefully flowed into the lake, with rays of sunlight dancing across it and brilliant rays filtering through the large oak trees that encompassed the entire area.
"I could stay her forever," she sighed, watching Christopher lay out the blanket for them to sit on. Dodger stopped suddenly by the branch where he had been pinned and kept his nose buried in the leaves, trying to sniff out a scent to follow.
Letting out a small giggle, Kathryn made herself comfortable on the blanket, joyously watching Dodger's confused state for he had found more scents then he had bargained for.
Christopher laid down on his side next to Kathryn, propping his head up with his hand. He gazed up at her with the sun glistening through her long fiery tresses as they dangled down her back. She was the most fascinating woman he had ever met, he thought while he watched her open up the picnic basket and began laying out the various entries that Emma had packed for them.
Dodger perked up his head instantly when he caught the aroma of their lunch and came trotting back to where they were eating, to beg for a few tiny morsels that they might throw his way.
"You're spoiling him you know," Christopher chuckled, watching Dodger try everything he could to get their attention. "Here, catch boy," he said finally and threw him a large chunk of meat high in the air. Dodger jumped up doing a half twist before coming down with it in his mouth, quickly taking it a few yards away to eat it.
"Me spoiling him?" Kathryn scowled, looking over at Christopher.
"Well, I didn't want him to keep pestering us," he said, in his own defense.
Christopher reached up and toyed with a lock of her hair and ran his fingers slowly through it, his eyes suddenly clouding over with passion. Quickly he pulled her against his chest, his mouth pressed against hers in a long, tender kiss. Her eyes were closed when he rolled her over on the blanket and continued kissing her deeply while his hands began unbuttoning her bodice. Soon he had her supple breasts exposed and lowered his mouth over their rigid peaks. Kathryn moaned with pleasure as he went from one to the other. Suddenly, Christopher came up with a start when he felt a wet, slimy tongue cross his ear. "Damn it to hell!" He swore and came face to face with Dodger, who was innocently drooling over them.
Kathryn roared with laughter when the humor of the situation became apparent to her. Quickly she re-buttoned her bodice and tried desperately to control herself, but she couldn't. Her laughter rang loudly in his ears.
"I don't think this is at all funny, madam!" Christopher yelled, wiping the slobber off his ear. "Go on you stupid mutt!" He bellowed at Dodger who was standing there with his tail wagging wanting to play. "This is the thanks I get for giving you a treat," he grumbled at him.
Kathryn put her hand over her mouth and finally got herself somewhat under control while she watched Christopher chastise the dog.
"He didn't know any better, your lordship," she cooed.
"Then you better teach him some manners, madam!" Christopher said angrily, before he got up and walked over to the edge of the lake with his frustration level at its peak. Closing his eyes he took in a deep breath and tried hard to ease his pent-up desire.
Kathryn eyed him curiously while she gathered up the remains of their lunch and packed it away in the picnic basket.
Finally Christopher turned her way and told her gruffly that they had to get back to the manor and they had better leave at once, then stormed off to fetch Thor and Starr, who were grazing on the other side of the lake.
"He has the quickest temper of anyone I know," she thought to herself after he had handed her Starr's reins. Their ride back to Crestwood Hall was at a very fast pace when Kathryn finally had to pull Starr back for poor Dodger was falling way behind.
Christopher continued at a full gallop though, pushing Thor to his limit and raced across the meadowlands until he reached the stable yard where he finally pulled him to a halt. He barked out orders to Erin and then stormed up to the manor house, leaving the head groomsman gawking in his wake.
"That girl is going to be the death of him yet," Erin mumbled to himself when he walked Thor into the stables.
Kathryn rode into the stable yard long after Lord Christopher had returned, dismounted Starr and leisurely strolled up to the manor house with Dodger at her side. Changing out of her riding habit, she watched Dodger make several circles before he laid down on his pallet for a much needed nap. Quietly not to disturb him, Kathryn went downstairs and assisted Emma with her chores before she returned to her bed chamber after her evening meal. She hadn't seen Lord Christopher since he had galloped off earlier in the day, leaving her and Dodger far behind on the meadows, but she could hear him now in the adjoining room as he slammed a drawer shut in a belligerent manner. Charlie, his valet, had brought him up a tray with a bottle of brandy and a glass on it in lieu of his dinner, but she couldn't figure out what had upset him so much this evening. Shaking her head in dismay, Kathryn decided to quit trying to figure out his moods and planned to retire early for the night. Opening up the dresser drawer she pulled out a clean muslin night dress and donned it quickly. She climbed into bed and pulled the coverlet up under her breasts and opened up the book she had been reading on poetry.
Suddenly she heard Lord Christopher bellow her name from the adjacent room for he pounded roughly on her door before opening it. Staring at her with glassy eyes, he curled up his lip in a savage snarl. "Why if it isn't my little bandit sitting there looking so sweet and innocent as always," Christopher slurred, eyeing her modest muslin night dress that reached up to the base of her long, slender neck. "I'm sick and tired of seeing you dressed in this manner," he said as he stumbled across the room to her coffer. Fumbling through the nightwear he came across the one he was looking for and tossed it on the bed. "I expect you to put this on and join me in my room at once! There's an important matter I wish to discuss with you, madam!" Christopher spat at her before he stormed back into his own room, slamming the door behind him.
Kathryn stared after him in astonishment feeling very uneasy. "What could I have possibly done to cause him this much rage," she thought horribly so she quickly scrambled out of the bed and changed into the night dress he had chosen for her. Looking in the mirror, she couldn't believe her eyes for the night dress was a tight fitting, deep cranberry red satin, with black lace and thick black satin straps that went over each shoulder. A thin black satin tie was intertwined through the lace to hold the low cut bodice together between her breasts. I can't wear this in front of him, she thought wildly and quickly donned the red satin robe that matched it. Tying the belt around her waist, she paused for a moment with her hand on the doorknob, trying to gather up enough courage before entering his bed chamber.
His lordship was sitting in the green plaid, high back chair that was in one corner of the room, holding a half empty glass of brandy in one hand and an unlit cheroot in the other.
Unsure of what to do, Kathryn slowly entered his room and closed the door. "What is this all about, your lordship? Have I done something to displease you?" Kathryn asked in a very distressful tone.
His eyes were fixed on her intensely, he was surprised at how she could look so innocent and demure wearing such seductive nightwear. He could feel his manhood growing hard with desire as he continued to stare at her. "Madam, the one kind of person that I despise the most, is a thief!" He said with contempt. I was searching through my dresser drawer this evening, looking for a small pouch of money I always keep there, and lo and behold, the pouch was missing, and this note was there in its place," he sneered, throwing the note at her. "You do remember stealing the money, don't you, my dear?" He said, with a black scowl on his face.
Kathryn's face froze for she had forgotten about the money she had borrowed from him. She had put it in her nightstand until she had an opportunity to replace it, but it has slipped her mind. Her eyes opened wide now for she saw the full impact that her actions had on him. "Sir, Lord Christopher, I didn't steal the money..." she started to say in her own defense before he cut her off.
"I don't want to hear your excuses, madam. Stealing is stealing!" He thundered at her.
His words gave her a start and he wouldn't let her explain she had planned to return the money as soon as possible.
"Come here my dear and light my cheroot," he said, rolling it around in his hand.
Carefully Kathryn picked up the match and lit the cheroot he now had in his mouth.
Taking a few puffs to get it lit, he glared back at her. "Now, I want to collect your debt, my dear. Turn down the covers on the bed!"
Panic spread through her body for his intentions became very clear to her. "No, I won't! You have to let me explain!" She shouted at him, stomping her foot in rage.
Christopher came out of his chair instantly. "You'll do exactly what I say, madam. I am Lord and Master here, and you're my prisoner! I can do whatever I want with you, it's my right! I can even turn you over to the authorities if I choose to," he stated bluntly before sitting back down in his chair, watching her very closely. He felt a strong urge to degrade her for what she had done. She stole from him at every turn. On the highway, out in the meadows she tried to take Thor, and now this. He couldn't trust her, no matter what.
Kathryn felt numb when she stared at Christopher, his words sinking in. Would he really turn her over to the authorities she wondered sickly, knowing that he probably would in the state of mind he was in right now. Grudgingly, she reached over and turned down the bed, having no other choice in the matter but to do his bidding.
Christopher watched with interest for her temperament quickly changed from defiant to one of submission and pulled her over to stand between his legs. Slowly, he untied her belt from her robe and let it drop to the floor watching her reaction intensely. Her eyes were closed shut and her mouth was set in a tight line. Cursing under his breath, he downed the remaining brandy that was in his glass. "Take the robe off, Katie," he said in a thick voice.
Kathryn's eyes flew open at this last request and she looked pleadingly at him to stop this humiliation. But when she realized he was determined to have his way, she reluctantly let the robe gently slide down her shoulders, landing in a pile around her feet.
Christopher drew in his breath for he was astounded by her beauty. The tight fit of the gown caused it to cling against her every curve and the low cut bodice of black lace barely covered her over abundant breasts, which threatened to spill out at any time. Reaching up, he ran his fingers slowly down the base of her throat until they lingered over the thin, black satin tie that was intertwined in the lace.
Kathryn gasped when she felt his fingers touch her skin but she stood perfectly still, allowing him to do as he wished with her.
"You're a vision of loveliness, my dear," Christopher murmured in a husky voice as he traced the line where the black lace covered her breasts up to the thin, black satin straps that laid over her shoulders. With deliberate slowness, he slid both the straps off her shoulders and let them dangle over her upper arms.
Kathryn let out a trembling sigh as Christopher's hands moved down over her breasts and began fondling them gently. Her nipples became hard when his thumbs brushed over them and he reached the black tie that held her bodice together.
"Please Lord Christopher, not like this," she whispered, a tear trickling down her face.
But Christopher didn't hear her for he had loosened the satin ties allowing the black lace bodice to come apart. Within seconds, the satin gown fell to the floor leaving Kathryn standing there completely naked before him. Never had she ever been as conscious of her body before as his eyes lingered over her. Christopher scooped her up in his arms and staggered over to the bed with her. She could smell the brandy heavy on his breath when his mouth came down hard on hers, bruising her lips. After throwing her across the bed, Kathryn crossed her arms trying to cover her nakedness as Christopher began weaving back and forth before he landed sprawled atop her in a drunken slumber.
Anger flooded Kathryn's mind and it took all of her strength to finally push him off of her and jump out of the bed. She grabbed the satin robe and slipped it on before she flew through the adjoining door, slamming it shut, seeking the safe haven of her own bed chamber.
"How could I have forgotten to replace the money I borrowed from him," she said aloud looking over at Dodger, who had opened his eyes when he saw her enter. Angrily she stomped over to her nightstand and pulled out the small pouch of money that was hiding there. "Well, he can have his old money back!" She told Dodger and emptied the pouch of money into her hand before storming back into Christopher's room. Standing next to his bed, she threw the money at him, yelling to the sleeping lord that his debt was paid in full!
Once back in her own room, she donned her plain white muslin night dress and climbed into bed thinking about the incident that had just taken place.
Within a few minutes Dodger, sensing her distress jumped up beside her and licked the tears that were streaming down her face. "Oh Dodger, what am I to do," she cried and wrapped her arms around his neck. Sometime later, Kathryn fell into an exhausted sleep with Dodger curled up next to her for the remainder of the night.
Christopher opened his eyes as a massive pain shot through his head, cursing himself for drinking so much, he rolled over on his back and brought his hand to his brow. Suddenly he realized he was laying on something. He glanced around and saw gold coins spread out across his entire bed. "What the hell is this?" He said irritability, sitting up. Last night came flooding back to him with visions of Katie standing there naked between his legs came to mind. She had to have thrown these at me, but I don't remember that part at all. Why did I want to humiliate and degrade her so much? He wondered. I went out of my way to hurt her. Seeing the note on the floor, Christopher climbed out of bed, still holding his head and re-read it. Actually, I can see no fault with her actions, he thought. She did leave a note stating she would re-pay the debt as soon as possible, so why did I get so enraged? I'll make it up to her, he decided just before he entered her bed chamber. Seeing the bed empty, he swore under his breath and proceeded downstairs to look for her there.
As he entered the kitchen, he asked Emma if she had seen Katie this morning.
"Why yes sir, I sure did. She was down here quite some time ago. Seemed real upset about something. Said she and Dodger were going to take Starr out for a ride so she could think. Do you know what's ailing the child?" Emma asked, eyeing him suspiciously, knowing he was probably the cause of her distress.
Christopher ignored her last remark. "Riding! Why would she be out riding this early in the morning?" He asked, gruffly.
"Early? Your lordship, it's almost noon!" Emma chuckled, taking in his disheveled appearance.
Mumbling something about waiting until she returned from her ride to speak with her, he left the kitchen heading for his bed chamber to change his clothes. Maybe it was best she had some time alone, he thought reasonably.
Kathryn kept Starr's pace even with Dodger's as they dashed across the meadowlands heading for the forest where their favorite spot by the lake was located.
She had gotten up early that morning, feeling restless and confused. Everything had been going fine lately with Lord Christopher until last night. Part of it could have been her fault for borrowing the money in the first place but she did leave him a note explaining everything. It's not like that was his only supply of money. He was a very wealthy man. But even if she was wrong, that didn't give him the right to treat her the way he did last night, she thought angrily.
Glancing behind her she could see Erin following her at a safe distance. Shaking her head, she remembered his shocked expression when she walked Starr out of the stables and told him she intended to go riding with Dodger. He had then told her about the murders that had happened recently and that it wasn't safe for any young lady, of any position, to be out alone. She had assured him that she wouldn't leave Lord Christopher's property and could take care of herself but he wouldn't hear of it. He insisted he would go with her, or at least follow her from afar or she couldn't go riding at all. Kathryn finally gave into his demands since he was so determined but she preferred he followed her at a distance because she needed some time alone to think.
The forest was just over the next hill Kathryn thought, when she was suddenly startled by a lone rider who came out of nowhere it seemed and pulled up beside her.
"Good morning, madam. Nice day for a ride don't you think?" Steven Hawk sneered.
"What are you doing here?" Kathryn said with fear in her voice. "Lord Christopher said you've no right to come onto his property without his permission."
"Well, what he doesn't know, won't hurt him." Steven slurred. "Keep the same pace you were riding at before, madam. I don't want your groomsman back there to catch up to us too quickly."
Kathryn obeyed the assistant constable's orders for she remembered very distinctly Lord Christopher saying last night he could turn her over to him at any time, if he chose to. "What do you want with me, Mr. Hawk?" Kathryn asked, hesitantly.
"Just a few answers, that's all. Have you decided to remember anything yet or are we still playing the amnesia game?" He said, disdainfully.
Kathryn eyed him while he rode next to her. "No, I haven't remembered anything of significance as yet but there's always the possibility that I'll never remember!" She stated bluntly, just to aggravate him.
Steven's eyes narrowed into slits as he glared at her. This was the last thing he remembered before he lost consciousness and slumped over his saddle.
Kathryn could see the blood oozing down the back of his head when he slid off his horse and landed face down on the ground. She let out a scream but it was muffled by a hand closing tightly over her mouth while she was being dragged off her mount.
"Look what we have here, Tommy. I've waited oh, so long for this la-dy." Billy drooled, throwing her down roughly and sitting astride her, pinning her arms over her head.
Without warning, Dodger came flying over the hill where he had run ahead of Kathryn and leaped onto Billy, digging his teeth into his arm.
"Shootum, Tommy, hurry!" He screamed while Dodger shook his head with Billy's arm still in his mouth ripping open a gaping hole in his forearm with blood squirting out of it.
"I can't, he's moving too much, I might hit you," Tommy shouted, panicking with the situation.
"God damn it, get him off me, now! He shrieked in agony.
Tommy looked around for a moment, grabbed a rock off the ground and jumped on top of Dodger, hitting him on the side of the head as a painful yelp escaped from his mouth. Instantly, he let loose of Billy's arm and fell over, lying motionless next to Kathryn.
"Oh my god! You've killed him. You bastard, you've killed my dog!" Kathryn screamed in anguish.
"Shut up, bitch!" Billy sneered, slapping her hard across the face, leaving her stunned. He ripped open the bodice of her riding habit, exposing her breasts.
Tommy saw Erin riding fast toward them in response to the commotion and tried to pull Billy off Kathryn. "We've got to get out of here, now Billy! The groomsman's coming!"
"I ain't leaving her again, you go but I got a job to do first!" Billy shouted back at him. He placed his hands around Kathryn's throat, slowly squeezing tighter as she began to choke. Thrashing her arms around Kathryn finally grabbed hold of his wounded arm, causing him to screech out in pain and was able to finally break his hold on her badly, bruised neck.
"I know you!" She exclaimed, her mind was in a whirlwind. Images were flashing before her eyes. "I remember you..." she whispered before a blackness came over her.
Tommy made one last effort and seized a hold of Billy, dragging him off Kathryn. "The groomsman's going to be here any second now, we've got to go now!" He blurted out, half dragging Billy over to their horses.
Just as Erin reached them, Billy and Tommy were well on their way into the forest. Dismounting quickly, he crouched down by Kathryn's unconscious body, checking to see if she was still alive. He saw the ugly bruising marks on her throat and knew if he hadn't followed her, she would have surely been strangled. Reaching over, he tied her bodice the best way he could and sat back trying to think of what to do. The assistant constable also was lying unconscious a few yards away with a bad bump rising on his head. He couldn't leave them here all alone to go for help and he wouldn't be able to get them both back without help. So what was he to do, he pondered dejectedly.
Erin was taken completely by surprise when he felt a wet nose nestle under his arm and he saw Dodger, trying to get his attention. "Well, I'll be damned! You are alive after all," he said, examining the blood stain on the side of the dog's head. "You're going to have to go get help. Do you think you could manage to go get Lord Christopher?" Erin asked, before he raised his eyes up in the air. "What am I doing? He doesn't understand what I'm talking about! He's just a stupid, old dog."
"Dodger's head had shot up when he'd heard Lord Christopher's name.
"You know his name don't you old boy?" He said, watching Dodger trot over to where Katie was laying, nudging her unmoving body. He then turned around and started barking at Erin.
"I know she's hurt," he murmured and tried to remember how Miss Katie spoke to the dog. "Go home Dodger, go home and get Lord Christopher. Bring him back here to Miss Katie."
Dodger's ears perked up alertly and stared at Erin. "Go home, Dodger. Get help!"
Taking one more look at Kathryn, Dodger took off in the direction of the manor house, running as fast as his old legs would carry him.
Dodger reached the back door to the kitchen where he stood on his hind legs furiously scratching and whinnying at the closed door, trying to get it open.
Finally Emma, who was working in the kitchen heard the noise and opened the door, to her surprise Dodger rushed in, almost knocking her over. He flew past her and made his way through the manor house searching everywhere for Lord Christopher.
Entering the study, he found him sitting at his desk so he started barking at him. Christopher looked up at the disruption, a look of deep concern crossed his face when he saw the condition of the dog. "Whatever happened to you old boy," he murmured, quickly getting up from his desk and making his way over to the dog. "Where is Katie?" He asked as an uneasiness came over him, knowing the dog never left her side, willingly. Dodger continued to bark at him and ran over to the door, stopping to see if Christopher would follow him. "You want me to come with you, is that it?" Christopher assumed and grabbed his riding crop off his desk, remembering Emma had told him that Katie and Dodger had gone off riding earlier in the day.
They made their way down to the stables where Michael, the stable boy had explained that Erin went out riding with Katie for her protection and neither one of them had returned yet. Christopher quickly saddled Thor himself and kicked him into a gallop as he followed Dodger, who had already taken off ahead of him in the direction of the waterfall. Wild thoughts went through Christopher's mind as they made their across the meadowlands. What could have happened to her, he wondered sickly? Erin was with her. Maybe she fell from her horse and was injured. No, she was an expert horsewoman, she wouldn't allow anything like that to happen. Dodger's blood-stained head came to mind causing him to wonder seriously how the dog could have been hurt, yet he was the only one of them to return from their ride.
Suddenly, a horrifying thought struck him. "Oh my God! What if the person who had murdered the three local towns' women found Katie out riding and made her his fourth victim. That would explain why only Dodger returned to the manor house, injured and in such a frenzy for him to follow him. Katie had to be badly hurt, or worse. Off in the distance he could see three horses grazing without any riders so he quickly pushed Thor into a full gallop passing Dodger to reach them.
Erin heard the lone rider approach and saw that it was indeed, Lord Christopher with Dodger close behind. He couldn't believe his eyes that old Dodger was really able to convince Lord Christopher to follow him here.
Christopher surveyed the scene and his heart sank when he saw Katie, lying motionless, all covered in blood. His worst fears had come true he thought, dismounting Thor and walking slowly over to her, not hearing anything Erin, who was following behind him, was saying.
"My God. Why it had to be her, of all people" he murmured dejectedly when he viewed the bloody riding habit and the ugly bruises on her neck. His heart skipped a beat when he suddenly realized she was still breathing! "She's not dead!" He exclaimed, taking her hand in his.
"No sir! Thanks to Dodger here," Erin said proudly, patting him atop the head. He kept those two ruffians at bay long enough for me to get close enough to scare them off. He chewed one of them up pretty good before they knocked him out, as you can see, the amount of blood all over Miss Katie here."
Christopher was relieved when he found out it wasn't Katie's blood that covered her, but her attackers.
A moan escaped from her lips and her eyes slowly flickered open, staring into the concerned face of Christopher, who was leaning over her.
"Katie," he said, worriedly. "Are you alright?"
She stared at him for a few moments in puzzlement. "Katie? Why are you calling me, Katie?" She said, a frown crossing her brow. "My name is Kathryn."
Christopher couldn't believe what he had just heard. "You know your name?" He asked, incredibly.
Kathryn closed her eyes as different faces flashed through her mind. Billy's face was staring at her when she flashed back to the night he had attacked her on the highway and the humiliation she had felt at his hands. Fortunately, a coach was coming down the road that night which prevented him from accosting her any further. She felt herself being lifted up as Erin and the now conscious and very embarrassed Steven Hawk handed her up to Christopher, who was already mounted on the back of Thor. He put his arm around her waist and leaned her head up against his broad chest before he spurred Thor into a full gallop toward Crestwood Hall.
In less than an hour later, Kathryn was tucked snugly in her own bed with Christopher gazing down at her sleeping form. He could see the black and blue bruises around her slender neck for they marred the rest of her soft, delicate features. How close he had come to losing her today, he thought sickly, feeling a tightness wrench his heart.
Christopher looked over at Dodger, who was resting comfortably on his pallet and he felt he owed the old dog a great deal of thanks for saving Katie's life. Katie, that wasn't her name, he scowled. She had said her name was Kathryn just before she had lapsed back into unconsciousness. The sudden impact of her words hit him with full force. She's regained her memory! I wonder who she really is. Kathryn who? What's made her memory come back? Christopher sat down in the chair by her bed and pondered this new revelation. Maybe the shock of the attack could have triggered something, he thought. His anger began to rise when Steven Hawk's face came to mind. What the hell was he doing out there with Katie, or Kathryn, he corrected himself. Well, I'll get to the bottom of this, he thought infuriatedly and rose from the chair and stomped downstairs.
Steven Hawk and Erin were waiting in the study when Lord Christopher walked in.
"I want to know exactly what happened out there!" He bellowed, glaring at Steven with a black scowl on his face. "And I want to know what you were doing there, especially!"
Steven felt extremely embarrassed for being caught off guard as he and Erin related the sordid details of the incident to Lord Christopher, who listened intently to every detail.
"How could they come up and hit you over the head without you ever hearing them coming?" Lord Christopher asked, incredibly.
Steven glared back at him. "It just happened that way," he said, gruffly. "They wouldn't have hit me if I would have herd them coming!"
"So, neither one of you got a look at either one of these two ruffians then," Christopher stated factually.
"No sir, by the time I had gotten there, they were already riding away, so I never got a good look at them," Erin said, apologetically. "Maybe Miss Katie could identify them, your lordship. She had to have gotten a good look at them seeing that they had tried to strangle her and all." He didn't mention the fact that they had also tried to rape her because he didn't want to upset the Marquis any more than he already was.
"You still haven't answered my other question, Mr. Hawk! What were you doing on my property in the first place?" Christopher said with his hands clenched, wishing he could put them around this haughty young man's neck.
"I was on my way to see you, your lordship, when I saw the young lady out riding alone. I was only concerned about her safety, that's all. At the time, I didn't see your groomsman here, trailing her." Steven said, as convincingly as possible while he stood next to Erin.
"Why do I find that so hard to believe, Mr. Hawk? Christopher sneered, eyeing Steven very closely.
"Well, that's your prerogative sir, but it's all the truth." Steven stated bluntly.
"Damn it to hell! You're the most insufferable young man I've ever met! If it wasn't for the respect I have for your father, the constable, I would have you dismissed from your position as assistant constable and ban from Dartmoor altogether!" He sneered, despising every inch of his being.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, your lordship. I haven't done anything wrong to warrant this kind of abuse. And in actuality, I think you owe me an apology." Steven said, boldly.
"What!" Christopher roared, his eyes bulging out of his head. "Get the hell out of my house and don't you ever step foot on my property again or I'll have you shot on sight!"
Steven held his head up high, "that would be breaking the law, your lordship," he replied and strolled nonchalantly out of the room.
Christopher stood frozen in shock, he had never felt so angry with anyone before in his entire life. He picked up the brandy glass that was sitting on his desk and threw it with all his might against the fireplace, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
Erin who stood quietly listening to the conversation that had just taken place, decided this would be a very good time to leave his lordship alone for a while.
Emma entered Kathryn's bed chamber quietly where she saw her sitting up in bed looking very frail. "You sure had quite an adventure this afternoon. You surely did, scared us plenty, too. You covered in all that blood. How were we supposed to know it wasn't yours?" Emma said, coming over to the bed and sitting down next to Kathryn.
"Oh Emma, I was so scared," she cried, wrapping her arms tightly around the older woman. "If Dodger hadn't been there ...."
"Shh child, it's all over now. No one's going to hurt you again."
Kathryn leaned back against the pillows and wiped the last few tears from her eyes. Her throat ached as she put her hand up around it to rub where the bruises were.
"Yes, I do say you are one very lucky young lady." Emma said, when she examined the ugly marks on Kathryn's throat.
"Why me, Emma? I never did them any harm. Why did they follow me and try to kill me?"
"I don't know, child. Some men are just plain bad, I guess," Emma reasoned while she stared at Kathryn. "Lord Christopher said you remembered your name. Is that true, honey?"
"Yes, I know my name is Kathryn, but I can't remember my last name," she said, disappointedly. "And I remember other things too, but I can't quite piece it all together. Names, faces, and even places I've been to."
Emma took both of Kathryn's hands in hers. "Miss Kathryn, I know who you are," she said, quietly.
A look of surprise came over Kathryn's face as she stared back at Emma. "But how did you find out?" She asked in astonishment.
"I never believed you could be a highwayman. You just didn't fit that occupation at all. Plus, there were other things about you, like the special potions you used on Dodger when he was hurt. So when I received a letter from my sister Mary, telling me her charge turned up missing at the same time you arrived here, I wrote her for a complete description of her."
"And ...?" Kathryn urged the housekeeper to finish her story.
"Well, I received an answer from her this morning, and there's no question about it. You're the Honorable Miss Kathryn Grey of Glastonbury."
"Kathryn Grey," Kathryn said aloud. "Yes, I am! I am Kathryn Grey. I remember. Oh Emma!" She exclaimed with tears flowing again as the two women hugged each other tightly. "Oh my! I bet my father must be worried sick about me," she said when her memory came flooding back to her. "How am I ever going to explain my being here at Crestwood Hall for three whole months," she stammered before glancing over embarrassingly at the adjoining door to Christopher's room, her eyes growing wide.
Emma, seeing where she was staring understood exactly what the younger woman was thinking and patted her hand gently. "Miss Kathryn, none of this was your fault. You were brought here against your will. No one knew who you were, not even you and so don't go blaming yourself for any of this."
"But Emma, how can I ..." Kathryn started to say before Emma abruptly cut her off.
"What transpired in this house doesn't have to become public knowledge! As far as anyone else needs to know, you were Lord Christopher's house guest all this time." Emma explained reasonably.
Kathryn calmed down a bit when she thought about Emma's sensible solution. "Yes, that's true. Why would anyone suspect anything else?"
A nagged question was bothering Emma as she chewed on her finger.
"What is it Emma? What's wrong?" Kathryn asked, worriedly.
"There's something I'd been meaning to ask you Miss Kathryn ... but it's kind of personal."
"Go ahead, ask me Emma," she said, curiously.
"Well ... I've been changing your sheets every day and I haven't seen any traces of you're, uh, time of the month ...." Emma said, hesitantly.
Kathryn's eyes widened in surprise. "I haven't had one since I first came here. Not since ... Oh!" Kathryn gasped and covered her mouth with her hands.
"I was afraid that this might be the case," Emma spoke softly.
"I can't be. Oh Emma, I just can't!" Kathryn screamed in horror.
"You're going to have to face the face honey, you're with child. There's nothing either one of us can do about it."
"What will Lord Christopher say when he finds out about it? She uttered. "He'll probably throw me out and deny the whole thing ever happened. How can he accept it? I'm a daughter of a peer of the realm. He would be severely dishonored for seducing me and getting me pregnant, and he's too proud to let that happen," she cried.
"Calm yourself Miss Kathryn," Emma said, worriedly. "If not for yourself, think of the child. You're not doing either one of you any good going on like this."
Kathryn quieted down and leaned back against the pillows again, stunned by this latest development in her life.
"I think you're wrong about his lordship," Emma replied, remembering how he felt about his brother Jeffrey, who was born out of wedlock.
"Emma, promise me you won't breathe a word about this to anyone, especially to his lordship. Not until I have a chance to figure out what I'm going to do about this." Kathryn stated firmly.
"If that's what you want, honey I won't tell him but don't wait too long," she said sadly.
"Another thing, Emma. Don't tell Lord Christopher that my memory has returned either," Kathryn said, staring at the housekeeper.
Emma stood up shaking her head. "Well, I don't know if I agree with you on all of this, she said.
"Please Emma, you know how angry he gets if things don't go exactly his way." Kathryn reminded her.
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of. What is he going to say if he finds out we knew about all of this and didn't tell him?" She replied back to her. "But, I'll keep your secret, for a little while that is." Emma said, giving Kathryn a knowing look before she left the room quietly.
Poor child, what she's had to endure at his lordship's hands and now this, with her being a proper lady and all. Lordy, she thought and threw her hands up in the air and sped down the hall almost colliding with Lord Christopher, who had just come up the staircase.
"Damn it to hell! Emma, where are you going in such an all fire hurry?" He asked, when he stood face to face with his housekeeper.
"Nowhere sir, I mean I was just going to my room for the evening, your lordship," she stammered, flustered by this encounter with him.
"How's Katie, I mean Kathryn? That's going to be hard to get used to," he said.
"She's resting peacefully right now and she really doesn't want to be disturbed the rest of the evening, sir."
"Well, has she remembered anything else other than her name? He asked, anxiously.
"Uh, I don't know, your lordship. She had quite a scare this afternoon," Emma stammered, trying to respect Kathryn's wishes that he not be told anything.
"If I didn't know any better Emma, I would think you were trying to hide something from me," he said, peering at her closely. "But, maybe you're right. It would probably be best if I wait until morning to speak with her." Lord Christopher decided when he'd bade Emma good night and retired to his own bed chamber for the remainder of the evening.
Kathryn closed her eyes for a few minutes while she let everything sink in. How am I ever going to get out of this mess? She thought, dejectedly. Every way she thought of came out disastrously. At least one good thing has come out of all of this, my memory has returned. But is that really a blessing? I must think of my immediate problems at hand, she thought. How is Lord Christopher going to react when he finds out who I really am and that I'm not a highwayman? How will he explain holding me prisoner here in his home for three months? Visions of the humiliation from the night before came flooding into her mind for she could still feel his hands sliding down her shoulders and fondling her breasts. How he so easily let her night dress fall to the floor, leaving her standing there completely naked before him. The shame of it all. She hadn't been able to face him after that incident, let alone adding in any of these other problems. He can't ever find out I'm with child! But how can I hide it from him? Unless, when he finds out who I really am, he'll take me home right away and I'll never have to see him again. But how will he explain to my father why he didn't try harder to find out who I really was. And when my pregnancy begins to show, he'll probably deny he ever laid a hand on me! A horrible thought crossed her mind then. "What if after he finds out who I am and he decides he doesn't want anyone to know how badly he's treated me and keeps me here against my will. As his permanent prisoner, or locks me away somewhere where no one could find me!
Kathryn mentally shook herself, I have to get a hold of myself. I'm letting my imagination run away with me. Her neck was hurting again and as she rubbed it images of this afternoon's attack passed before her eyes. Leaning over the bed, she called Dodger up beside her. "Oh Dodger, I thought for sure you were dead when those bad men hit you today," she said, before hugging the big golden retriever tightly. "You know Dodger, it's quite a coincidence that those were the same two men who attacked me on the highway several months ago. If they are just highwaymen then why did they try to kill me this afternoon? What made them attack me out in the meadowlands, they had to know I wouldn't be carrying any valuables just going out for a ride. What was their purpose then?" Kathryn wondered. "Maybe Emma is right. Some men are just plain bad!"
Dodger looked up at Kathryn with his big brown eyes and nuzzled his nose under her chin. "I know you probably think I was really stupid to be out on that road alone at night but I had my reasons," she said, to him as if he understood what she was talking about. The night of the ball came to mind and she thought about the reason she had left London in the first place. "Lord Chatsworth," she murmured. "I guess I don't have to worry about him anymore. He wouldn't want a soiled bride and especially one with a child on the way!" A wryly smile crossed her face when she thought about what his reaction to her predicament would be.
What is my father going to say when he learns that I'm to have a child out of wedlock? The disgrace we'll have to face. Maybe if I stay at Grey Manor and raise the child there then no one would find out about it. Glastonbury is deep in the country. As long as I don't ever go to London with the child, maybe my father won't be affected too much by it. I've spent most of my life there already so I really wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life there. "What do you say old boy, would you like to go to Glastonbury with me?"
A whimper escaped from Dodger as he responded to her question. "Now the big question is what do we do right now?" Thoughts of Lord Christopher came back to her as she thought of the humiliation she would feel when he heard the news. Suddenly an idea came to her. What if we go to Grey Manor on our own? We wouldn't have to tell my father where I've been for the last three months, I'll just explain to him about the amnesia and that I didn't know where I was and as soon as my memory returned, I came straight home! That's it! Then no one would have to know anything. Lord Christopher doesn't know who I really am, so he wouldn't have any idea where I went to when he finds me gone. As long as Emma keeps her promise, then he'll never know!
Kathryn got very excited after coming to this decision and began making her plans to escape. Jumping out of bed, she reached into her coffer and pulled out her meager clothes she had there and stuffed them in her old traveling bag and scooped up her toiletries off her dressing table and added them in also.
Now that she was ready to go, she quietly peered out her door to see if anyone was in the hallway and quietly made her way downstairs with Dodger at her side. Once she made it down to the stables, she grabbed her old saddle and threw it over Ginger's back, who she had rode from London several months ago and mounted her. Once again they made their way out the front gates of Crestwood Hall, destination, Glastonbury.