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Return to Rhonan: Chapters 27 & 28

Every Monday and Thursday brings two more free chapters of my exciting historical paranormal romance novel, Return to Rhonan (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands, the reader will find much to enjoy on this mysterious well researched journey.

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!


Return to Rhonan: Chapters 27 & 28

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters
All rights reserved

Chapter 27

Looking at her hated persecutor, Murial hissed, ‘What the hell do you think you are doing?  Get out now.’

Maximillian’s rejoinder was a fierce grin as he held her down in the chair. ‘I think we have some serious talking to—‘

‘I think not – either you leave now or I shall—‘

‘Shall what – tell your precious Duncan?  Forget not that your father died in a duel – it can be so arranged for your lover. So hear me out.’

Murial’s hand slid to the small drawer in the escritoire.  ‘I have nothing to say to you – you swine.  If uncle even thought you—‘

‘So how would you explain my presence, my sweet?  How would you explain your secret trysts with my brother?  One word from me, and you would be banished to stay with a distant Aunt.  But in return for your favors, I am willing to remain silent.’

‘My favors? Begone.  Begone before I —’ She whipped around the dagger now in her hand.

Startled, he stepped back.  ‘Now, what a pretty sight.  Put it down Murial – let us discuss this amicably – I do not wish to use force.’

‘Just try it.’ She now rose to her feet facing him, the dagger before her, her body tensed to spring.

Putting his hands up, he said, ‘Then I shall repair to the Earl and to my mother.  You leave me no choice. I will —‘

A voice said from the shadows, ‘You will what?’

Max whipped round to see Duncan emerge from a door beside the bed. ‘If you so much as say a word to the Earl or our mother, I will tear your head off..’

Max paled, seeing his brother draw his saber from its scabbard, the steel glittering in the candlelight.  As he backed away, Duncan said, ‘You do realize that I manage the affairs of the estate.  I decide what is paid. Any funding is under my jurisdiction.  Father is frail – in his dotage. Besides that, he is failing fast.  So think carefully now, last week alone I met your billets for over four thousand pounds.  On that note, I should warn you that I shall not meet such exorbitant amounts in future.  So be very wary of what you threaten brother. ‘

Max sneered. ‘So you think father will allow this chit to become your mistress – that he will allow you to ravage her under his roof?’

‘Be careful of your words, for you speak of my future wife.’

‘Wife?  How ton is that? You will be ostracized, marrying  a penniless bastard?’

Duncan flew at Max, his saber tip now prodding his chest. ‘Take care I do not run you through.’

Murial whispered, ‘Take care – he is a viper – God knows he could arrange with his fellow rakes to waylay you.’

‘Then, I shall kill him now. Come, brother, what shall it be sword or pistol?’

Max, now pale, almost shivered, the sneer replaced with a quiver of fear.  ‘You wouldn’t dare.’

‘You are unworthy of a duel. It would be against my honor to call you out—you miserable piece of chicken shit. I have a better idea.   As the second son, you should by now be thinking of a commission –  although Wellington has no use for a coward, tis time you took up your sword against the little Corporal.’

 Murial’s eyes widened; the fight against France invading Portugal was on the turn. The Anglo Spanish, Portuguese front was slowly pushing France back.  The Peninsular Wars were in favor of Wellington.

Retreating, almost bowing, Maximillian stuttered. ‘I concede defeat brother.  My lips are sealed.’

Duncan gave a merciless smile. ‘I hear your words but cannot rely on them; for that, I shall immediately purchase a commission for you – the Infantry– junior class. Cornet or Ensign, I think.’

 Max slumped on the chair, his hands trembling.  ‘You wouldn’t do that – surely – that is a junior position. 

‘To carry the flag is an honor brother – imagine a reformed rakehell carrying the colors.’

‘Surely you would not do this.  I am too old for an ensign.  ‘

‘Maybe so, but it is what our funds can afford.’

‘Such a lowly rank would be a slur on the family – surely the rank of lieutenant—‘

‘You do not deserve such consideration. But, as the status of cornet would demean our family, I am willing to strike a deal. Lieutenant, it is, but I will make immediate arrangements for your departure.’

Cowed, Maximillian rose stiffly from the chair, walking with bowed shoulders to the door. 

Once the door closed, Duncan walked over to Murial, taking her in his arms. ‘My darling – I hope he did not hurt you.’

Murial stroked his face, ‘I had my dagger ready, but I must admit to feeling relieved when you appeared.  How did you know?’

‘I have him under watch since the incident at the lake.  I have also taken John into my confidence. He is a loyal and courageous servant and one on whom I can depend. He too has been watching your door in the night hours.’

‘Why did you tell him we were to marry?  Surely it is much too early to think of such things, and besides, you have not formally asked me.’

Towering above her, he cupped her face in his hands.  His heart glowed as he gazed into those glittering green eyes, at the small smattering of freckles across the bridge of her delicate nose.  ‘I have said we shall marry – but if you want me to go on bended knee, I will.’

She frowned, ‘But what will the Earl say and aunt Flavia?’

  We shall keep it from them until I feel it is right to make it public.  Meanwhile, we have our secret passages, tunnels, and the shack on the island.  See it as a romantic interlude before we lead our lives proper.’

Murial giggled, ‘Then yes, I would like you to go on bended knee. ‘

Smiling, Duncan sheathed his sword and laying it on the bed, walked over to her.  Kneeling on one knee, he took her delicate hand, seeming so small in his.  ‘Murial, will you consent to be my wife. Please say yes and make my world complete.’

Laughing, she bent to him, kissing him on the lips, her passion smoldering. 

Taking her in his arms, he said, ‘We shall marry and then leave for Jamaica.’

‘No darling I cannot – I cannot bear to leave the tenants now. More and more landlords are evicting the farmers and the laborers.  Without help, so many more families will starve – so many more will suffer death. I could not live with  myself to leave the children.’ Bowing her head, she sobbed.

Clutching her to him, Duncan held her to his chest, stroking the wild curls. ‘Hush sweetheart – hush.  We shall marry, and as soon as we can, we will make our home in Jamaica.  But for now, if needs must, I will go alone. Both our general manager and overseer on the main plantation have been killed, others on the neighboring plantations are sore beset. Our slaves must be emancipated, There is a group of us owners who now strive for that. Many of the younger slaves flee for safety to the hills. The maroons are better to live with than those scoundrels that have seized power.’

‘Then we must wait to marry.’

‘No, my darling. I shall arrange for Father MacDonald to marry us this very week. I will make it more than worth his while to keep our secret.  Besides, he has cared for us both since childhood. We could not have a better protector.’ 


Chapter 28

Although her stomach begged for food, Jess didn’t really want to eat; nothing appealed to her. It had been over a week since they last met. Douglas had called, left messages, but she refused to have any contact with him. But for Dinah, she saw no-one, using room service for meals, spending most of her days out touring the area by cab. If it wasn’t for Daisy, she would have left the hotel already. The Merton Hotel would not accept any dogs, and there was no way she would put Daisy in strange kennels. She’d heard from Dinah that Douglas was distraught.  Even though her cousin urged her to at least contact him and talk it out, she was adamant. Besides, it was so embarrassing. How could she possibly face him?

Her stomach rumbled. Biting her lip, anger rose up through the anguish. Was she going to suffer for him? Although the thought seemed rather belated after all the tears shed during nights of tossing and turning. She’d phone for room service, but tomorrow she would brave the dining room with Dinah. Wandering into her lounge, she wondered if she was losing her sanity. Had all that happened? Were the dreams, psychic trances, or nightmares?  Lifting her head, she became aware of an odor of sea-weed. It was familiar.  The sea was a couple of miles away, but there was a strong breeze today.

As she turned to her laptop, she stood transfixed, her heart leaping, blood rushing to her head.  A young woman sat writing at the desk, rust-red curls cascading down a slender back, the skirt of water silk brocade sparkling in the late afternoon sun.  God – was it, Murial – would she turn around – would she try to … whimpering, paralyzed with terror, thoughts scattered through her mind. This was a ghost – a nemesis – a ghost.  Trembling, she felt adrenaline coursing through her veins, unlocking the paralysis. Almost screaming, she ran to the door.  Dammit – dammit she’d locked the bloody thing.  Her fingers shook as she fumbled with the lock, half-screams mounting in her throat. Hearing the key turning, she tugged the open and flew into the passageway, her legs now pumping towards the lift.  But, she couldn’t wait; besides Murial might follow her to the elevator, she might be stuck in the lift with her.  She ran to the fire exit door and pulling it open, clattered down the stone stairs.  Swearing under her breath, God, God, don’t let her follow me – please.  No way was she ever, ever going back into that room.

A startled Aileen watched her rushing through reception.  Turning to Margaret, she said, ‘The ween’s terrified, looks like she’s seen a ghost. I’d better go after her.’ As she moved her wide girth from the chair, she walked surprisingly swiftly to the main doors looking down the balustrade and then the paths. A few people were out walking, but Jessie was not in sight.  She turned back, panting slightly as she reached the desk. ‘No sign of her.  Maybe we should call his Lordship?’

Margaret shook her head, ‘He might be a wee bit miffed at that Aileen, after all, it could be just a wee quarrel, and maybe with himself. They did go off for a picnic together last week. No Hen, best we stay out of it.’

Shaking her head, Aileen sank into the chair, reaching for her Kindle. ‘Aye, best we dinna interfere, I suppose.’

Rushing past the Orangery to the studios, Jess was relieved to see small electric light bulbs sprouting from the grass verges lighting the darkening paths. Each pine logged cabin came complete with daylight lamps, a selection of easels, shelves for paints, and a table for sketching,  an artist’s delight.   There was even a projector for digital graphic artists along with a computer with the latest software.  Security cameras discreetly placed amongst trees and flowering shrubs ensured the safety of the hotel guests.

Feeling more secure now, Jessie found her studio. Unlocking the door, she peeped in.  She sighed with relief; it was empty. Thank God – no terrifying figure in any of the corners. Picking up her mobile, she clicked on Dinah’s number only to receive her answering message. 

‘Hi there, glad you contacted – obviously I am not here at present. Please leave a message – I love them.  I will get back to you as soon as I can. Have a good day – evening – night.’

Damn, she was most probably with George, wrapped in his arms, while here she was shivering and petrified.  Taking a deep breath, she put the mobile on the table and began exploring the room. Already deposited in the corner of the room, was her chest of paints, oil pastels, soft pastels brushes, palette knives, mahls, oil thinners, and textures.    A cardboard container holding her boxed canvasses lay just inside the door.  Yet, even this painter’s paradise did not relieve her fear.  Dinah and Lucy warned Murial might appear, but Jessie was not ready for it. Perhaps she should give up psychic art altogether.  But, the thought niggled that she should see a professional medium. Maybe he or she could cast light on what was happening to her; hopefully, show her how to avoid manifestations.

Right now, she needed to lose herself in the paints, feel the tubes as she squeezed the soft oils onto the palette board, spread her fingers through the mess.  Besides using brushes to paint, Jessie used her own fingers, knuckles, and heel of her hand to spread the oils on the canvas. She needed the smell of oil and turps, the touch and color of the paint on the canvas,

 She was impressed with discovering the disc player with a selection of classic and pop.  Maybe some R & B or Tchaikovsky would alleviate the terror simmering through her muscles.  Hours passed, as she concentrated on the canvas, the juddering in her heart now stilled.  Already, the first stage of the painting was finished; the lake with the island shrouded in trees, quartz stone glittering in a splash of moonlight. Stained-glass windows cast a rainbow of shifting patterns on the water.   As she drifted deeper into the creative zone, she did not see the face at the window peering in, or seconds later, hear the footfall behind her.


Copyright.

No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2012 Katy Walters

All rights reserved


Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

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