No Choice But Seduction Page 11

“I’m not from the inn.”

Katey didn’t point out who she was, though. She needed to detain the woman until the constable arrived, and engaging her in a conversation seemed to be the best way to do that.

Mrs. Cameron squinted her eyes at Katey. “Then where do I know ye from? Ye seem familiar tae me—never mind. If ye can tell me which way tae the nearest docks, I’ll be thanking ye. Otherwise I’ll be finding someone who can.”

Common sense would suggest heading to the nearest coast, but Katey merely said, “I’m afraid I can’t help you there. I’m not all that familiar with this part of the country.”

The Scotswoman snorted with impatience. “Then I dinna hae time tae waste chatting at ye. Good day.”

Interesting how she’d put that, as if her words were the only ones that mattered. And she was already glancing around for someone else to accost with her demand for directions. But Katey needed to keep her talking. She’d rather wait to accuse her until the constable was there to arrest her.

“What’s your hurry?”

“None of—”

Katey cut her off, “Did I actually hear you tell the fruit merchant you were running away from a husband determined to kill you? That was quite an exaggeration.”

“That was the bluidy truth, womon. He took a beating that’s made him dafty in the head. I barely recognized him. And now he wants tae take it oout on me.”

“Take what out?”

“That he got blamed for what I did. Chased me down the road, he did, swearing he was going tae kill me afore the Mal—er, afore they got their hands on me like they did him. But here now, this isna any of yer business and I’m oout of time. Geordie will be riding intae town any minute.”

She started to walk away. Katey glanced anxiously behind her, but there was no sign of the constable yet, or the boy that she’d sent for him.

“Wait, Mrs. Cameron. I look familiar to you because you stopped me on the road earlier today. You were looking for your daughter, which we both know was a lie. You don’t have a daughter any more than I do.”

Mrs. Cameron swung back around. Her expression was momentarily surprised, but quickly turned angry as she poked a finger at Katey’s shoulder. “Sae ye did steal her from me? I’d hae my fortune now if no’ for ye. Where is she?”

“She’s back with her family, where you won’t be getting your greedy hands on her again. The constable is on his way to apprehend you. Did you really think you’d get away with this?”

Katey braced herself to stop the woman from taking flight, but Mrs. Cameron actually looked thoughtful, then amazed Katey by saying, “Aye, that’s no’ a bad idea. Gaol will be a safe place tae hide from Geordie, I’m thinking.”

Katey was thinking that Geordie Cameron might be daft for marrying this woman, but if anyone was really crazy, it was her.

“Come on then,” Mrs. Cameron continued, and she even grabbed Katey’s arm to take her with her. “Let’s find yer constable, eh? I’ll be needing ye tae say I’m guilty. They’re no’ likely tae believe me if I’m the only one saying it.”

That was doubtful, but Katey had expected to have to make the charges. She hadn’t expected the woman to insist on it and be the one to lead them eagerly to the constable’s office. And a good thing she did, since Katey spotted the boy she’d sent off for the constable playing at the end of the square with a dog. A coin might have got him to do as she’d asked, but without one, he’d simply ignored her request!

She was still suspicious of the Scotswoman’s motives. Could she really prefer a jail cell to facing her husband’s anger? Apparently so. But what she should have been suspicious of instead was why Mrs. Cameron insisted that she go along with her.

Chapter Fourteen

KATEY SAT ON THE COT with her legs scrunched up, her chin resting on her knees, her lips twisted sourly. She was creating one of her tales in her mind, of Boyd Anderson being walked up to a gallows. His hands weren’t tied, but his mouth was gagged. He was being asked if he had any last words to say, but he couldn’t answer because of the gag. But he could remove it easily enough, couldn’t he? Very well, she was going to have to tie his hands, since she had no interest in hearing what he might have to say.

She delayed opening the trapdoor under him. She was savoring the moment. He didn’t look frightened, though. Looked damned stubborn, actually, just as he did when she’d last seen him. Maybe because he was confident that he wouldn’t be hung for stupidity, which was what he’d been convicted of. So if she put herself in the scene, let him see her, then he’d know he had something to worry about…

“Ah, so here you are,” Grace said drily. “I should have known. I looked everywhere else. Why didn’t I think to look in—jail?”

Katey glanced up as the cell door was closed behind her maid. Grace had a highly developed sarcastic sense of humor.

“I’m glad you’re seeing some humor in this,” Katey said with a sigh.

“Did I sound amused? Really? I assure you I’m not. I assure you I’m quite angry. Good deeds are not supposed to end this way.”

And that was exactly how Katey had felt, until she’d started hanging Boyd Anderson in her mind. Dispensing a just punishment to him, even if it was only in her imagination, had got rid of, or at least calmed down, some of her anger. She knew very well that she and Grace would have been in London by now if not for his stubbornness. She certainly wouldn’t still have been in Northampton and run into Maisie Cameron again and ended up in jail herself because of it.

But Grace was here now, and surely her identical version of events had convinced the constable that she was innocent. “Now that you’ve arrived, we can be on our way, so let’s just put this—”

“Whatever made you think that?” Grace cut in curtly. “No, I’m joining you. Apparently, I’m a member of your gang of abductors.”

That certainly wasn’t what Katey had been hoping to hear. “This is so silly. You’d think with us both telling them exactly the same thing—”

“Did we?” Grace cut in suspiciously. “Or did you get creative?”

“I did not!” Katey said indignantly.

“Well, the constable didn’t ask me much, but why haven’t you talked your way out of here yet?”

“I did,” Katey replied with a small degree of triumph. “Mr. Calderson, our jailor, even believed me.”

“I should have guessed,” Grace said, and rattled the door that prevented them from leaving.

Katey glowered. It was an impressive glower for a change. Grace even looked contrite over that last bit of sarcasm—but only briefly.

While the maid was momentarily silenced, Katey explained, “I haven’t been released yet because of who Judith’s family is. They’re apparently very well known in this country. Mr. Calderson recognized their name immediately and said he doesn’t dare let me go until he hears from a representative of the family.”

“So you’ve been in here all afternoon?” Grace asked incredulously as she sat on the cot next to Katey. “I looked everywhere for you—twice! I was sure I had to just be missing you by moments, that—”

“Didn’t you question the innkeeper?”

“Of course I did.”

“Then you should have thought to look here sooner. He saw me being dragged outside. He didn’t tell you?”

“He probably would have, but he wasn’t there by the time I discovered you weren’t in the room. His wife had taken over at the desk and she claimed she hadn’t seen you.”

“Well, I wasn’t even in Northampton. That blasted American who came to rescue Judith was determined to take me back to London to answer to the Malorys, and he carted me off to do just that! If I hadn’t climbed out a window to escape him—”

Grace shot off the bed and said stiffly, “Now I know you’re spinning one of your tales. All things considered, the truth would be appreciated—right now!”

Katey didn’t take offense. Grace was understandably upset. They’d done nothing wrong, yet they were both sitting in jail right now. And Katey had spun one too many tales in her life, giving Grace good reason to doubt her.

Katey sighed. “That was the truth. The man got it set in his mind that I was guilty, so it didn’t matter what I told him to the contrary. But at least I got away from him. And Mr. Calderson assured me that I won’t have to wait it out here. He’s checking with his sister to see if she’ll put me up. He sounded confident that she would.”

“Behind lock and key, I suppose?”

“Well—probably. But at least we’ll be in a more comfortable room than a jail cell.”

It wasn’t a horrible jail cell, actually. With fresh air coming in through a barred window, it didn’t stink. It even had a boarded floor. Vermin moved in the cracks, which was why Katey was keeping her feet up on the cot, but still, it was better than a dirt floor.

“What American was involved?” Grace asked as she moved to sit next to Katey again. “I was told the child was on her way back to London with a member of her family and her family’s English.”

“No, I think you were sleeping in the coach when Judith mentioned she has American relatives, too, and this was one of them. You even know him. You’re the one who warned me on The Oceanus to be cautious around him when you sensed that he was overly taken with me.”

“Anderson?” Grace said incredulously. “The owner of that ship? But he was taken with you. I’ve never seen a man so interested in a woman that it was obvious he was having carnal thoughts about her. He’s the very last man who would doubt you, so why did he?”

“I suppose it’s how it looked, me keeping the girl in a locked room in the same town where her abductors had been holding her.”

“But surely she would have pointed out that she’d already been rescued—by us.”

“I’m sure she would have, but another relative quickly took her away without asking her what had happened. Boyd was left behind with me and jumped to the wrong conclusion.”

“Didn’t you explain?”

“Of course I did, but he had it set in his mind that I was a criminal, so he refused to listen to anything I said.”

“But he liked you!”

“That might have been part of the problem.”

“That his rationalities are reversed?” Grace shot back. “Of course! Hug your enemies, toss your friends in jail. Makes perfect sense!”

Grace’s sarcasm was back. Katey tsked and said, “No, I think it was just that he felt he was too biased in my favor. He mumbled something about letting the authorities figure it out, implying that he couldn’t trust his own instincts where I was concerned.”

He’d said something else, but she wasn’t going to repeat that to her maid, when it caused a pleasant fluttering inside her just remembering it. I can’t think straight when you’re within touching distance, when the only thing on my mind is carrying you to the nearest bed, so I don’t dare just take you at your word, Katey Tyler. I’m sorry.

“How nice for him,” Grace said, “but I don’t see him sitting here in jail keeping you company while we wait on clearance from some English lords, who, by the way, don’t look favorably upon Americans and will probably not rush to clear up this injustice.”

Grace had had a run-in with a nobleman on one of their first few days in London. The man had pushed her aside when she’d been getting into a hack that she’d hailed, had stolen it out from under her, more or less, then said something condescending about her waiting on her betters. Grace had disdained the gentry ever since, despite that being the only bad incident she’d encountered with the upper classes—until now.

Katey felt compelled to point out, “We’ve met some very friendly people on this trip so far, both in England and in Scotland.”

“None of which were lords.”

“True, but you can’t toss them all in one basket just because one was rude to you, especially when most everyone else has been kind and helpful. Even Mr. Calderson, our jailor, apologized to me three times for not being able to let me go.”

“You made your point,” Grace grumbled, then sighed. “I hope they’re at least out looking for that crazy Scotswoman. I’d hate to think that the rescuers are in jail while she’s still running around free.”

“Oh, she’s here with us. No one told you? Or maybe I should say, she made sure we were here with her!”

Katey explained what had happened when she got back to town and ran into Maisie Cameron, ending with “I’d no sooner told Mr. Calderson about the whole adventure when Mrs. Cameron pointed a finger at me, called me a liar, and said it was all my idea. She wanted to be in jail to escape her husband, but she was still angry enough at me for ruining her plans to want a little revenge, too.”

Grace lifted a tawny brow. “Why am I not surprised? I knew that woman wasn’t right in the head.”

Katey nodded. “A candidate for Bedlam was how Mr. Calderson put it. But I don’t blame her for the predicament we’re in. It’s Boyd Anderson’s fault that we’re not going to be sleeping in a lovely hotel in London tonight. He might as well have put me here himself. He ruined a perfectly nice adventure with his ridiculous assumptions.”

“I hate to mention it, but this isn’t an adventure anymore. This is a tragedy.”

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