Authors: Jerri Hines
Hannah jerked back out of one of their hands. Holding her head high, she attempted once more to leave.
“Miss Corbett, we must beg you to stop. We have orders to detain you.”
Trying desperately to contain her composure, she asked the soldier, “For what reason?”
“It isn't for us to know. Only to obey our orders if you attempted to leave your house in which you did. Obviously you have an intention to leave the city. We need to wait only for transportation for you now. It will be here shortly.”
“It's cold and snow covered. Why not let her wait in our house or gardens instead of the streets?” Philip offered.
“No,” Hannah answered. “I appreciate your offer, but I had no right to ask for help from a stranger. I thought only it was a house of worship. I don't want to get your family involved in my affairs. I will go with them.”
“You may wait in the gardens,” the soldier said. “I see no harm. It won't be for long.”
* * * *
Hopelessness encompassed Hannah’s being. She sat upon the bench in the back of the garden, sheltered from all inquiring eyes at least for the moment. A cool breeze swept through her. Yet she did not feel the cold. Confused, she didn’t know what was happening. Was she being arrested? Then she thought, of course she was. Could they detain her otherwise? Her grandfather tried to corner her. It was easy to decipher he leaned with Gannon.
They had no proof of any of her dealings. Did they need it? Could they have figured out all she had done? How did Gannon know it was her? Did they need proof?
From her view the sun was preparing to set illuminating a reddish glow reflecting off the bountiful strands of white. Was heaven there in the clouds, Hannah wondered? Could her father see her? Her mother? Would she be with them soon? Would she go to heaven after all she had done?
She heard a noise. Someone was walking up the stone path. She glanced around. Marcus walked up slowly beside her. She said nothing.
“Do you mind if I sit beside you for a moment?”
She moved slightly down a tad. He eased in. His arm went around her shoulder, pulling her into him. “You don’t make anything easy. Do you, Hannah?”
“I don’t know what you mean? I want only to go home. Is that so wrong?”
He turned her to him. “
With all that has happened, Hannah, it isn’t possible. I have only just come from your grandfather’s. You passed the test they set for you with ease. Except Hannah, I wonder how you knew so easily it was a trap unless.…”
He didn't say the words which she knew were upon his lips. “Is that what you are doing? Arresting me?”
“No,” he said simply. “Let us just say we are detaining you for your protection and ours.”
She bit her lips fighting back her tears. “I want only to leave, Marcus. I can't take any more. I want to go home.”
He reached over and ran his hand through her hair pushing back her cloak’s hood. “Can’t you see, Hannah? I see you have gone well above your head. I will protect you now. Take you away from everything. I told you how I feel.”
She turned from him. The sun was setting over the horizon. “I can’t, Marcus,” she whispered.
He stood, taking her with him. He secured her in his embrace. “I love you, Hannah. You tell me I have no right. I tell you I shouldn’t. I know all and still with everything in me, I love you.”
His head leaned down and placed his lips upon hers, gently, warmly. “Tell me you don’t feel the same. Tell me you don’t want me as I want you…that this whole of the war and sides we stand mean little here and now with you in my arms. If you don't want me, if you don't want to be with me.…”
She couldn't think straight with him holding her. God forgive her—she did want him. Her resistance faded. She was tired…oh, ever so tired. She surrendered to the weakness within her. “For tonight, only, Marcus. I don't know what the morrow holds. I can make no promises.”
Marcus wasted little time ushering Hannah into the waiting carriage. He held her tight giving her no opportunity to change her mind. The carriage stopped shortly after, and Marcus helped her down in front of a large mansion where he quartered. The house rivaled her grandfather’s in grandeur, but she
gave it little notice. Marcus’s arm sat around her waist as they entered. She didn’t move while he spoke to an elderly gentleman. The butler no doubt.
Her legs trembled beneath her as Marcus led her up the stairs. A sudden fear developed within her…a sudden urge to run, but Marcus held her hand firmly. He opened the door to a room on the far end of the corridor.
Hannah took no note of her surroundings, only on the bed in front of her. Marcus released her long enough to draw the curtains and remove his boots. She made no movements but watched his every move. He threw his waistcoat upon a chair and loosened his shirt. Her breathing quickened when he returned to her side.
When he placed his hands on her, she was assaulted with a consciousness of her raging need for his man. He overwhelmed her with his masculinity. Raw power emanated in his touch and overpowered her reason.
She had no awareness of when her gown fell from her body nor how she found herself naked on his bed. She knew only an intense desire burning within her. She wanted him desperately.
He taunted her with kisses and caresses until she begged him to end the torture. He would not be rushed as if he savored every moment. She felt his mouth latch on to her breast and sucking it deep into his mouth. She was undone at the sensation rippling through her. His attention turned from her breast to the core of her. Parting her legs, his fingers slid into her and shattered what was left of her control.
She arched upward toward him, crying out his name as a fervor wave of pleasurable spasms cascaded through her. He entered her then, thrusting into her depths until her longing burst into flames as the gushing warmth of his release filled her. After a long moment, Marcus rolled off of her, taking her with him.
His arms wrapped tightly around her, refusing her any other option except laying against him. After a time, she realized he was sleeping soundly, but she could not withdraw back. He had her firmly within his control
…and that gnawed at her conscience.
With this night, she would have to face the consequences of her actions.
She had done immeasurable harm to the cause and in the process ignited her grandfather’s fury against her. Though, the greatest threat was the man she lay with and the realization he was her weakness.
Hannah lay back on the bed she had shared with Marcus. The passion of the night faded into the morning sun. The stillness of the dawn of another day encompassed her. She lay alone with her thoughts. Marcus had eased out of the room only moments earlier. She hadn’t asked where for foreboding filled her. He may have assumed she played the game, but he didn’t know how deep she was within. Nor would she ever betray her cause. Her fervor belief in her country hadn’t waned, in that Tepper had read her correctly.
Not that Marcus had intended for her to turn on her counterparts
or had asked. From his words she assumed his solution had been to remove her from the scene. She breathed in deeply. She fought off the urge to cry. How she long for Virginia! When she closed her eyes, faces appeared and haunted her—her father and brother hanging until neither breathed another breathe; her mother lying on the cold, cold floor in a puddle of her own blood; Gabriel declaring vehemently his love and then deserting her.
Her mind raced. Where would she go from here? Her own
actions had to be held accountable. Marcus had to be dealt with. He talked last night as if everything had been set. She understood well that it would be quite impossible. His point of view on the subject differed greatly from her own. Her moral fiber rebelled against it if not her body.
She rubbed her eyes and sat up in bed, holding the covers
against her bare skin. Glancing around the room, she looked for her clothes. She longed to bathe, but time wouldn’t allow the luxury. She needed to dress quickly and depart. Her clothing was nowhere to be seen. She wrapped the cover around her and set her bare foot against the wood floor.
She walked over to the window. She pulled back the curtain
and surveyed the scene below. The day’s bustling had begun. She let go of the curtain and turned back to the room. She began to search for clothing, any clothing. She had to leave. Disappointed, she discovered the chest held only men’s clothing. She had no choice. She reached inside and pulled forth what she needed.
Taking a large white shirt, she pulled it over her body. The
whole of the shirt swallowed her. She tried desperately to hold up the pants which continually fell down to her feet no matter how she tried to tie it off. Then suddenly she heard the handle of the door rattle.
Marcus walked in nonchalantly with a small tray of food. He set
it upon his night stand and smiled at the scene in front of him. Shutting the door with the back of his foot, he raised his eyebrows in obvious amusement. Grimacing, Hannah kicked the pants hanging on her feet at him.
“Where are my clothes?” she demanded as she reached back
for the covers on the floor.
He chuckled. His disheveled hair and open shirt hung loose about his pants
suggested he wasn’t planning on leaving this morning. “You would find little use in a ripped gown. You will have to forgive my impatience in removing it from your person. Give me until the morrow and I will have you appropriate attire. Should I ask if you are planning on going somewhere?”
“Don’t play with me, Marcus. I’m not in the mood,” she said. Her chest heaved heavily; her temper flared. “I need to leave. I have to.”
He leaned against the door and watched her which only infuriated her all the more. She reached down and slung the shirts out of the drawers. Ranting and raving, her temper exploded, “What, pray tell, will I wear? I have nothing…nothing!”
and stared at him. He looked as though his only concern was that she didn’t have anything hard to throw at him. He shrugged.
“Are you done?” he asked. “I brought you some breakfast.”
She gave him a harsh look and turned away, her anger giving way to frustration. He sauntered up behind her. Turning her to him, he gazed into her eyes and caressed her cheek.
“Let’s go over this one more time,” he said softly. “You’re
not going back. General Howe has agreed this to be a viable option. Listen to me, Hannah, whether we have solid evidence, we can’t take a chance. Can we? I don’t believe hanging a woman would be an option one would choose, but Hannah, they wouldn’t hesitate to throw you in the
The mention of the dreaded prisoner ship sent a shiver
through Hannah. She tried to break free of his hold. “Then throw me in.”
He laughed. “And here I thought I was a better option than
the alternative.” His manner altered to a serious tone. “Hannah, there are worse punishments than death. I don’t want you to have to ever endure such. Listen to me, my love, I have been patient. I understand you feel a passion for your cause, misguided as I feel it is. I’m not asking you to quench those feelings. What I’m telling you is that you need to stop acting upon them.”
She reached up placing her hand over his. “Then send me
back home. I promise you…”
He shook his head. “Hannah, Gannon wants
you arrested or worse. Your grandfather has become aware of the situation. We told him we were handling the issue and didn’t give him another option. If you appear back in Williamsburg, I don’t think you would survive long. Your grandfather is a revengeful man. You realize that, don't you?”
“I can’t accept this, Marcus. Please,” she begged. “I
“Then take it for what it is. You have
no choice. Believe me, Hannah. You won’t be in a position to do anything now. Don’t mistake my feelings for my duty.”
She looked away. He had none of that. He reached over and with his hand lifted her chin up to look into her eyes. “I told you to trust me. Didn't I tell you I had everything planned out? Just think about today. Do you know what I have planned?”
Dejected, she shook her head. “Something about England, but Marcus, I’m not….”
He smiled broadly. “Ah, what did I say? Think about today. I thought that I would take you out of the city at the end of the week to a town along the Sound, Setauket. I have some work I can accomplish from there. It’s a nice country side. I thought we might ride.”
Her spirits rose. “Out of New York? You promise?”
He nodded. Impulsively, she reached up and flung her arms around him. She kissed him. He swept her back toward the bed…at least for the moment, making her forget all around her.
* * * *
“No! God damn it! No!” Marcus defiantly refused. “This has been dealt with. Alexander Clay can go to hell and stay there. Who is he to dictate to us?”
General William Howe, an affable, tall, standing over six-feet, man, leaned against the window sill. The Commander-in-Chief of the British forces grimaced as he watched Colonel Marcus Durham. From his demeanor, Marcus could see General Howe sympathized with the situation, but stood firm behind his decision.