No Choice But Seduction Page 12

“It’s nothing of the sort. It’s just turned into an inconvenience and a small delay, is all.”

“A gross miscarriage of justice,” Grace insisted.

That was harder to disagree with, but Katey replied, “It’s quite annoying, and I’m as angry as you are—”

“You could have fooled me.”

“—but Mr. Calderson assured me it doesn’t take that long to reach London on horseback, and he immediately sent a man off to the Malory household to get this cleared up. We might even be released later tonight.”

They both knew that wasn’t going to happen. It was already dark. Even if the man reached London tonight, it was highly unlikely that he’d turn right around to return to Northampton. It was nothing to him, after all, if a couple of Americans rotted in jail overnight.

Mr. Calderson did move them to his sister’s house, but that didn’t stop Grace from complaining, especially when their room turned out to be even smaller than the jail cell! One of them grumbling and fussing was more than enough, so Katey tried to control her own anger. She wasn’t used to feeling angry. She was much more used to cheering up other people and entertaining them, so she shared a greatly embellished version of her “hanging Boyd Anderson” story with Grace that evening to pass the time. And listening to it definitely cheered Grace up. She was even laughing before Katey was finished.

But when they finally gave up waiting to be released that night and extinguished the lamp to get some sleep, all those strange emotions that had disturbed Katey earlier in the day caught up to her and kept her eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling.

Anger, hurt…how could Boyd Anderson treat her like a common criminal? He knew her! They weren’t strangers. She’d crossed an ocean with him. He thought she was a married woman with two children—well, no, he’d decided now that she must have stolen those children, too. But that had been a guess on his part, based on his contention that she had abducted Judith!

She imagined how awful he was going to feel when he learned the truth, but that didn’t help to soothe her hurt feelings. The trouble was, she hated him for the high-handed way he’d treated her today, but she didn’t want to hate him, and the contrary emotions were causing a pain in her chest and tears to come to her eyes. And she hated him for making her feel so confused.

She got back to hanging him in her mind and opened the trapdoor this time…then cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Fifteen

KATEY DISCOVERED that buying a comfortable English coach—at least a new one—as Judith Malory had suggested, wasn’t something that could be accomplished in a day. The man at the first coach yard she’d visited had said three weeks. The second coach builder had said he could have one made for her in a month. He had a waiting list!

It was bad enough that all the passenger ships departing for the Continent in the next few days had filled their lists already. The best Katey could do was to buy passage for two on a ship that sailed next week. She was still smarting over that, so she wasn’t about to delay leaving London even longer for a coach. This was all Boyd Anderson’s fault. Mr. Calderson hadn’t released them until yesterday afternoon, apologizing profusely when the man he’d sent to London returned and said the Malorys had indeed corroborated Katey’s version of events.

On the way back to their London hotel, Katey told Grace, “I think we’ll just revert to our original idea and buy a coach after we get to France.”

“You don’t think we’ll run into the same problem there?” Grace asked.

“Yes, but at least we can begin touring the country while we wait.”

Grace nodded. “Then what’s next on the agenda here before we leave? A new wardrobe? Hiring a coachman for a coach you don’t own yet?”

Katey raised a brow at her maid’s sarcastic tone. Her own mood was taking a downward swing. She hated being dependent on other people’s schedules. She wanted to leave England now, not next week. She’d wanted to buy a coach today, too, not next month. She’d even briefly thought of buying her own ship so she wouldn’t have to deal with someone else’s schedule anymore and could just stick to her own. But she could just imagine how long it would take to build a ship!

She’d only been half-serious yesterday when she’d told Grace they wouldn’t be leaving for six more days and had ended with “I should just buy a ship so we don’t run into delays like this again.”

Grace had rolled her eyes at her and replied, “Buying a coach is a good idea, buying a ship isn’t. We aren’t sailing around the world. We only need a ship to get to the next continent.”

“And then the one after that.”

“Yes, but how many months later will that be?” Grace had asked. “You said it yourself, that crossing Europe by land is going to take a long time. Besides, there aren’t that many continents for us to visit—are there?”

Whatever schooling Grace had received in Danbury hadn’t included geography. She readily admitted she’d only stayed in school long enough to learn to read and write. Katey’s education had been much more extensive, and while her tutor had been diligent in teaching her about the world, she hadn’t had picture books that showed her what he was talking about, so it had been hard for her to imagine how different Europe and Africa were from America. Her tutor had only given her a taste of what was beyond the horizon, leaving her wanting to see it for herself. She knew from her tutor’s lectures that it would be more convenient to sail from country to country rather than traveling over land.

“It’s too bad we can’t rent a ship,” Katey had ended with a sigh.

Grace had chuckled. “That’s funny. Waiting for the next ship to leave for the port you want to go to is only a small inconvenience, a small price to pay for seeing the world.”

But Katey was definitely learning that patience wasn’t one of her strong points. “Well, what about a new wardrobe?” Grace prodded.

“Why do I need a new wardrobe? I’m already carrying around trunks of clothes I’m making no use of, so why on earth would I buy even more?”

“Because you have nothing but serviceable, everyday clothes that you used to wear at home in Gardener. You don’t have a single fancy dress or wrap. What if you’re invited to a nice dinner or—”

“Invited by who?” Katey chuckled. “We’re not exactly meeting people who give fancy dinners.”

“You could. You should at least be prepared. Or will you be declining invitations just because you don’t have anything appropriate to wear?”

Katey conceded that point. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have at least one special dress, would it? And I did want to get another comfortable traveling ensemble. There might be time for that if we find a seamstress today. Very well, tell the driver to turn around. I think I noticed some shops a few streets back.”

Grace spoke to the hack driver, but after resuming her seat she said, “Now that we’ve got that off our list of immediate business, are you going to visit the child, to make sure she got home all right?”

“I don’t know—actually, I think not. I wasn’t pleased with the end of that little adventure, so I’d just as soon forget it. She was a delightful girl, though. I’ll at least jot off a note to—”

“Coward.”

Katey stiffened. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me right. You’re afraid that if you go anywhere near a Malory house you’ll end up running into him again.”

“You’re quite wrong there. I would love to run into Boyd Anderson again so I can put that pistol I bought the other day to good use.”

Grace snorted. “You wouldn’t shoot him.”

“I hung him, didn’t I?”

Grace burst out laughing, but when she wound down, she said with a fond smile, “What you do in those little tales you create is just daydreaming out loud, Katey. Pure fantasy like that has no bearing on what you’d really do if given the chance. But that was funny, the way you hung him. It’s too bad that was only your imagination getting angry.”

“I don’t know why you keep thinking I’m incapable of anger, that you’re the only one who gets to experience that emotion. I was furious over that whole incident.”

“Maybe, but you’re avoiding the point.”

“Maybe because I don’t want to discuss him?” Katey was quick to reply.

“I meant about the child. Jotting off a note without expecting a reply isn’t going to tell you that she got safely home. What if it wasn’t really a relative who ran off with her that day? What if Anderson was one of the kidnappers and he took off with you just to get you out of the way so you wouldn’t suspect what was really going on? What if Judith never got home?”

Katey laughed now. “You’ve listened to too many of my tales!”

“I’m being serious.”

“Then pick a subject that isn’t so absurd. The Oceanus belonged to him. And during the crossing we heard it mentioned that it was just one of many ships that belong to the shipping company his family owns. That man is no pauper, Grace.”

“Neither are you, but that didn’t stop him from pointing a finger, did it?”

That statement had some validity. “Very well, I’ll make sure I get a confirmation when my note is delivered. I have been assuming that everything is fine in regard to Judith. But I don’t have to go by the Malory residence myself to do that.”

“Fair enough,” Grace said. “I just didn’t want to see you leaving any loose ends here—speaking of which, we’ve got time before we sail for another jaunt to Gloucestershire.”

“No,” Katey said immediately. “Actually, I was thinking about a nice drive along the southern coast, perhaps as far as Dover, or maybe all the way to Cornwall if we don’t dally. We didn’t get a chance to visit the southern shires before we left for Scotland.”

Grace crossed her arms, looking stubborn, before she said, “I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t mention that you may never get back to England once we leave here. You might get to Italy and decide that’s the country where you want to put down roots. You already said Scotland would be a nice place to live, so I know you’re going to be looking at all of these countries we visit with an eye toward where you plan to roost when you finish seeing the world.

“So think about it,” Grace continued. “You know you’ll end up regretting that you didn’t make a greater effort to meet your mother’s family, when we’re on the other side of the world.”

Chapter Sixteen

KATEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that sending a note to Judith’s house would elicit more than a simple reply. When the hotel maid came to her door to tell her she had a visitor waiting for her in the lobby, she almost sent the maid back with the response that she was indisposed.

She was afraid it was Boyd. He could have been at the Malory house when her messenger arrived and followed the man back to her hotel. She didn’t want to see him again. Ever. Not even to witness his groveling on his knees now that he’d discovered just how wrong he’d been. But she followed the maid downstairs anyway, refusing to believe that the anticipation she was experiencing had anything to do with excitement at the thought of seeing him again.

She didn’t have a chance to feel either relief or disappointment when she saw that her visitor wasn’t Boyd Anderson. She was too surprised by the man standing there waiting for her. He was incredibly handsome, and it had nothing to do with the warm smile he was giving her. Extremely tall with a lean, strapping physique that went perfectly with his height, he was the kind of man a tailor would love. He was elegantly clad in a dark brown frock coat with buff breeches, his cravat neatly tied, not too extravagant. His clothes were the height of fashion, yet understated. No dandy here. His coal black hair fell in waves to just below his ears, his eyes had a slight exotic slant to them and were the most beautiful cobalt blue…Judith Malory’s eyes, she realized!

He had to be a relative, and while she hadn’t gotten a good look at Jeremy Malory before he’d hied off with Judith that day, she realized this could be him. The resemblance was too close from what she remembered, though she could have sworn he was younger. Not that this man was old. Late thirties or early forties would be her guess.

“Miss Tyler? I’m Anthony Malory, Judith’s father.” He took her extended hand and squeezed it warmly.

Well, she hadn’t expected that! This was the man Boyd had tried to frighten her with? How absurd!

She returned his smile. “Call me Katey. I hope Judith has recovered from that nasty business?”

“Thanks to you, yes. You cannot begin to understand how grateful my wife and I are for your assistance. You’re a remarkable young woman, Katey.”

She couldn’t help but blush. “I just did what anyone else would have done.”

“You’re wrong there. Most people would have minded their own business. You saw a little girl in need and rescued her. You quite charmed my daughter, you know. She’s done nothing but talk about you since she got home.”

Katey grinned. “I was rather taken with her myself. She’s so smart for her age, I found myself treating her like an adult!”

He chuckled. “She has that effect on all of us! And she’s looking forward to seeing you again. My wife, Roslynn, is having a small family dinner tonight and we’d like you to join us.”

Katey almost laughed, remembering her conversation with Grace that morning. She would never have dreamed that she would be forced to say, “But I don’t have anything to wear!” that very day. But she had to say it. The Malorys were English nobility. They probably went to bed looking elegant!

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