Authors: Jerri Hines
“Oh, the wee one. He’s a special one. He is, Dr. Corbett. Such a good little thing. Laughs! Susie has been looking after the poor mite. After what happened to Mr. Gannon, Miss Catherine….”
Jonathan didn’t pause a moment but headed straight toward their bedroom on the upper floor, bounding up the stairs, three at a time. At the hall’s end their door on the right was shut. His hand eased open the door handle.
“Catherine,” he gentled his voice. The room seemed as night. The curtains hadn’t been pulled back to let the morning sun in. His eyes adjusted to the darkness to focus on a woman lying within the bed. He could hear muffled crying. He sat on the bed with all the delicacy he could muster so not to disturb her. He reached with his hand and touched her hair.
“Catherine, look here. I’ve returned. It is Jonathan,” he leaned down and whispered in her ear.
She slowly opened her eyes…her beautiful, lustrous eyes. Recognition came slowly as she sat up. Her hair flowing down disheveled. She blinked, “Jonathan?”
She flung her arms around him. “Jonathan? I’m not dreaming?”
“No, my love. I’m home for a short time,” he said and pulled her tightly into his arms. Rocking her as an infant, she clung tightly to him.
“Don’t leave me, Jonathan. They’re going to get me. Jonathan, I have needed you for so long. I’ve been so alone,” she cried hysterically.
He had never seen her so disturbed. He talked to her, smoothed her. Calming her, he looked down upon her face. What the hell had happened to his wife?
* * * *
“Jonathan, she hasn’t been right since the birth, especially after you left. Her father had been deeply concerned, for she hadn’t seemed interested in the welfare of William. Thomas brought in an excellent nurse, of course,” Dr. Jenkins said. He had come when he heard of Jonathan’s arrival. “She had been doing better. Joseph seemed to think almost back to her normal self, but when the arrest warrant for Joseph was executed she collapsed back into her own world. Stephen had helped, but he has had to handle all the problems his father left behind.”
“Are we sure he had no involvement with his father’s actions?” Jonathan asked sitting behind Gannon’s old desk. “I, for one, wouldn’t trust him. How could he not have known? Suspected? He was close to his father. I might not have known everything, but I knew my father’s intentions.”
“Jonathan, I, too, question, but we can’t react because of association. I can assure you we did extensive research before we made a move. The damage Gannon inflicted will take time to repair and as you know, some can’t be repaired,” Dr. Jenkins agreed. “It’s extremely unfortunate he caught wind of the trap and escaped. I hear now he’s in New York. I have never wanted to hang someone so badly.”
“Oh, my God. New York! No!” Jonathan’s face dropped in dismay. “I need to see Lanson, immediately!”
* * * *
The silver service gleamed and then suddenly distorted, reflecting a face entering the sitting room. Jonathan glanced from the reflection in the bulge of the pot to the man; Peter Lanson stood before him. He had expected it to have been Catherine, who had promised to leave the bedroom this morning and to join him with William.
“Dr. Jenkins informed me you requested my presence,” Lanson said solemnly. He looked tired, but they both did, but not particularly happy to be here either. “And I’m here.”
“You don’t look as though you care to be,” Jonathan said. “You have nothing to add to what I’ve learned? Much has happened since last we met.”
“I’m not going to be able to tell you anything you want to hear,” Lanson shrugged. “I realize, Jonathan, much has happened, but to us all. At least you have your wife and child. Besides, the network has every intention of taking care of you for all your family has done. I have done everything within my power, but it won’t be enough for you.”
“Don’t play me for a fool!” Jonathan exploded upon the response. “I ask for nothing. I, too, am doing all I can for the cause. I feel I have no control over my life or my family’s lives and I need to regain that control. Starting with Hannah.”
Lanson stared at him without flinching. “Jonathan, she understood before she left what lay ahead of her. In her mind she searched for an answer, which she found, but along the way, Jonathan, with the foundation she laid out, I’m afraid she won’t be removed at the moment.”
“Why the hell not?” Jonathan colored.
“You have no idea what we’re up against. In reality there is no indication she is in immediate danger. She walks freely among them, Jonathan, within their own social group,” Lanson said straight forth. “From her contact she has become a vital link. I don’t think she would want it broken. If there is ever an indication of suspicion, I give you my word I will remove her personally.”
“Your word be damned! We both know if she is discovered you won’t have the time to rescue her. Punishment is swift for a spy. By God, Lanson. Get her out! I don’t need an additional worry. I don’t want to lose another,” Jonathan covered his face with two hands. Calming, he clasped his hands together in front of his lips in thought.
“Do you not know I know my sister well? She would be more than willing, I’m sure, to lay down her life for the cause. She believes so fervently and passionate, but I’m not willing to allow her to do so, Lanson. I don’t know what else I need to say. Do you not yourself feel it’s improper to leave her such?”
Lanson shook his head. “I told you before, Jonathan, I wouldn’t be able to make you happy today.”
“Tell me this much. Have you told her about Gabriel? He didn’t waste any time being reassigned to Philadelphia. I hear he is to marry Deborah Reynolds. Did you tell her this was her payment for her services?” Jonathan glared at Lanson. “I don’t think so. It is evident that you bribed Gabriel. If she was so willing, you wouldn’t have resorted to bribery. Is she still loyal to him, believing he’s waiting for her?”
Lanson remained silent. Jonathan stood. “I know that your job isn’t easy, Lanson. It’s not a life I could live, but by God, is it your mission to destroy my entire family?”
Lanson shook his head again. “I didn’t say I felt good about the situation. But know this, Jonathan, she is an essential part. We can’t afford to lose her at the moment.”
“What about Hannah?” Jonathan shot back.
“We can’t consider our personal cost at this time, Jonathan.”
“What is your personal cost, Lanson? What are you going to lose?” Jonathan asked coolly. “Now Gannon’s in New York. Do you not believe he poses a threat to Hannah? Enough is enough?”
Jonathan had gained no ground when Catherine appeared in the doorway holding William. He hadn’t long with his family. He had not the patience. His last words he spoke laid his intentions.
“I have to return to my unit by the end of March. When I return again, my sister better be safe within my house for your sake also.”
* * * *
Jonathan tried to reason with his wife, but she seemed confused on the issue of her father’s betrayal. Catherine cried lost in a world of her own. Befuddled, she wanted her father back. She seemed confident that Jonathan could arrange it.
Jonathan shook his head. Catherine had no concept that if he could get hold of the man, he would strangle the life out of him himself.
The days of his leave dwindled down and Catherine was becoming more of an issue. He couldn’t leave her alone, but he didn’t fully trust Stephen and saw only one choice.
Little William supplied Jonathan with determination. Watching his son, he had regained his passion for the fight. He fought for the future of his son. The small one crawled along the floor, laughing hysterically when he tickled him. He wrapped his tiny arms so readily around the father he loved. His small eyes brightened upon his father’s entrance into the room with his hands waving to be picked up.
Jonathan saw within his son the look of his mother, although little William had his eyes. William had his mother’s laugh. Jonathan wished desperately to hear that laugh once more.
Jonathan debated and finally decided to invite Lydia. He couldn’t leave William without someone he trusted fully. He had been in correspondence with her and understood she had much to deal with herself. He wrote he would understand her reluctance to do so. He waited for her reply, but none came by letter. Instead, a knock came upon his door a couple of weeks later. Lydia herself appeared on his doorstep, prepared to care for his family.
Hannah was disturbed beyond measure. Since the British occupation, Marcus Durham had become a frequent visitor to the Clay’s mansion. Without question, his attention was directed on her. Having been left alone in New York without a contact hadn’t been easy. She knew well she walked on dangerous ground and Marcus only added to the pressure upon her.
She had been cut off from Tepper. He remained in a
holding prison where the British continued their questioning of him. In that she knew, but not much more. The British had held several suspected of being loyal to the Patriot cause.
She had chosen to take one day at a time. She had no
choice. In an odd way, she looked forward to Marcus’s visits. He was attentive to her in a way no one else could be, for he had known her before the raid…when she was a different person.
Hannah sensed his desire to find out why she stayed within New York and she enjoyed the challenge. In a sense, she liked the thrill of the
game…a game where she made the rules. Yet disturbing in the way she felt at times he could read her mind and seemed to know her every thought.
Marcus socialized within her grandfather’s circle in which Alexander Clay as of late had included Hannah. With ease Hannah smiled and
danced with the British and Loyalists. To her dismay on her every turn she found Marcus by her side, which left her little opportunity to obtain the information she so desired.
Susanna had questioned Marcus’ attentions, but Hannah
understood he suspected she was here for more than a visit with her sick grandmother. She had made up her mind she wouldn’t be intimidated by his presence. Though she would wager his attention toward her had been an attempt to do so. She would never allow him to come between her and her objective.
Marcus seemed to take great pleasure in taunting her. She
would never confess even to herself the flutter in her heart when he danced with her or held her hand in his. Nor would she ever acknowledge the way he looked upon her in a manner which took her back to their first meeting when his arms wrapped around her or his lips upon hers… No, she reprimanded herself harshly. How could she feel so with poor Gabriel out fighting for their cause?
She had a mission. She would take solace in the fact her
grandfather’s manner toward her had eased greatly. His excitement with the appearance of the British within New York set his mood high. And at the moment, he gave little thought to her for her grandmother seemed content.
An unseasonably warm early November morning found Hannah in her grandmother’s garden. Having risen early, she
had in mind to plant tulip bulbs outside her grandmother’s window. She wanted it to be a surprise for her grandmother in the spring. With the emergence of flowers that had bloomed beautifully, Hannah was confident her grandmother’s spirits would lift as it would her own.
A memory of her home
in Williamsburg surged within her. Briefly, she wondered how her home looked now. Her heart pained. With her manner in dealing with that pain, she pushed it all back within her. She refused herself the remembrance. She had a mission. She had no time to grieve or her heart would rip apart.
She looked up from the ground she sat. Marcus stood in front of her. He wasn’t dressed as a British officer. Instead, he was dressed as she had first seen him.
Was he going out again to deceive others into betraying their cause?
Marcus smiled at her, a charming, disarming smile. Giving her no time to contemplate his visit, he extended his hand to her. She pulled her gloves off and accepted accepting his assistance more than a little suspicious of his intent. With ease, he pulled her up to him…much too close. She wanted to back away, but he held firm. His eyes fixed upon hers.
“I was looking for you. I didn’t mean to catch you off guard, but wanted a minute of your time. I felt certain you would be up and about.”
She dusted her skirt off and pushed back her unruly hair. “You are up early, Marcus. You will have to excuse my appearance. I wasn’t expecting anyone to call at this time of the morning. I do hope you will forgive me, but I’m in the midst of planting bulbs. Grandmother loves flowers. I was hoping for blooms in the spring for her. I know she will so enjoy them.”
He didn’t say a word to her ramblings, but wiped her face where a streak of dirt lay. His hand lingered longer than it should. She glanced up at him only to find him staring deep into her eyes. She wanted desperately to turn from his gaze, but she dare not show a sign of weakness. Yet she could not contain her heart beating rapidly.
“You’ve a purpose to this visit, Marcus?” she asked, finding her voice. “Or do you want to see Grandfather? I’m sure he’s within his study.”
“No, it’s you I wanted to see,” he answered under his breath. Suddenly, his hands went securely around her waist.