I’ll confess there are certain points in a book I can’t wait to write especially writing romantic suspense. The scene I’m sharing with you is a turning point in the book RUSE OF LOVE. Ruse of Love is the second book in the Winds of Betrayal series. When I wrote the first book, Patriot Secrets, I broke it into two because it was too long. Winds of Betrayal is the second part of Patriot Secrets. I was in the middle of revising the second chapter in Winds of Betrayal when it hit me—I was missing a key piece. Ruse of Love evolved from that thought. I think of Ruse of Love as my bridge book between Patriot Secrets and Winds of Betrayal. Winds of Betrayal series is a true family saga inspired by writers such as John Jake. I’m a huge fan of family sagas.
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Jonathan ran his hand through his hair, looking disgusted with the view before him, a torrential downpour. His mood was no better than the storm that raged. His orders had finally come through. He was to report to General Howe in less than two days’ time. His aggravation built. No, he thought, his anger, especially when his thoughts turned to Rebekah.
Beyond angry—the stubborn woman! He had called on her three times, three times! And what! The last time he had known she was home and she left him standing uncomfortably in the middle of the foyer. He would take no more! How long could he make a fool of himself! The look on the butler’s face said all that needed to be said.
Awkwardly standing with his hat in hand, his chest heaved heavily. What possessed him? Had he not done what was proper? Dr. Jenkins should be satisfied. He had done what would be expected. She was alive, well, and it seemed, wealthy. If she was in danger, Cutler seemed the sort to well take care of her problem.
The home she lived in sat along King Street, one of the grandest along a main stay of magnificent houses. As he had seen on his first visit, the whole of the house encompassed elegance; moreover, according to Rebekah’s chatty friend he met at a dinner, Katy Landor, all this was Rebekah’s. Cutler had not exaggerated Rebekah’s inheritance.
He supposed he had done all he could to rectify the situation. Cutler learned he wasn’t the answer to Rebekah’s situation, that Daniel was wrong. Rebekah made her position perfectly clear. She did not hold to the past and clearly not to him. Why the thought bothered him so was beyond reason, but it did. It bothered him greatly.
Bother! He wished he could leave this minute. He needed a diversion. He didn’t need time to think. Over the last few days, thoughts ran rampant in him. Disappointment. He laughed to himself. What a pitiful fool he was! Good God! He wanted Rebekah to turn to him. He wanted to remember the man he was before this godforsaken war! He wanted to cling to the thread that there was a semblance of the life he had known…
Suddenly, there was a pounding on his door. Before he had time to open it, it opened abruptly. Daniel pressed his way in. “Dr. Corbett, you have to come. Quickly. Rebekah has left,” he cried, holding a note in his hand. “You have to find her and stop her.”
* * * *
The rain began again. The storm brewing on the horizon burst forth on the streets of Charles Town. Rebekah was getting soaked standing outside the Meeting Street Inn. The choice seemed so simple a short while ago. She made it without a second thought: a very practical solution to a number of issues.
Nervousness swept over her, a sense that there would be no coming back from this step across the threshold. Try as she might, she couldn’t get Katy’s pleas out of her head.
“You can’t seriously be considering this. Rebekah, he’s a madman. He kidnapped you and…and…” Katy’s hand waved toward her stomach. “I don’t mean to be so brutal, but Rebekah, my dearest friend, he’s a murderer! He…he will kill you this time.”
“You don’t understand, Katy. He’ll do me no harm. I’m not sure he will go. I’m not sure of anything except I have to leave. I have to protect everyone. Over in France, I will have a chance to live a life without fear. If he gives up his life here…if Rory wants a hope of a life again with his child away from the killing and loss…then I will consider it once I get to my destination. I have to get away.”
“We have only just met this Mademoiselle Fontaine, Rebekah. I beg you…Go to this friend of yours. Dr. Corbett, please. He will help you. I know, Ernie says…”
Rebekah took her friend’s hand in hers. “I can’t do this to him or anyone. I wish everything was different, but it’s not.”
She cast one last troubled glance at her dearest friend and turned back toward the door. She couldn’t explain to Katy what she herself couldn’t understand. One note from Rory called her away from the people who loved her, but it was for that reason she had to leave. She put all in danger. She felt it.
If she could only leave and go away from anyone who knew her, she could raise her child safe away from this madness. Rebekah thought back to the casual meeting with Mademoiselle Fontaine at Katy’s home, a friend of Randa. Rebekah found Mademoiselle Fontaine the most interesting of women, elegant and refined. The woman talked of the court of King Louis and the world allowed in France. To Rebekah it seemed she was heaven sent.
Had she not begged Rory to go away with her and start anew? Was not France the perfect place for this? She decided well before the arrival of this woman to leave. She had no choice, especially with Jonathan’s appearance. Oh, why had they seemed fit to play on Jonathan’s sense of honor? Jonathan of all people! She could not face him.
Rebekah didn’t remember how the subject arose, but in honesty when Mademoiselle Fontaine talked of a new life, Rebekah wasn’t surprised to hear her say that Rory sent her to deliver a message, a message only Rory would have known to send.
The hurt of his betrayal stung deep, but in her mind, she had little choice. She needed to leave, immediately…without delay…for everyone’s sake. She reasoned she would start her new life away from all the danger, betrayal, and lies. She would have her child. If Rory chose to follow, she would forgive him. For no matter his actions, no matter the words uttered about him, she refused to believe he meant her or his own child harm. She loved him. Didn’t she? She had given herself to him so freely and now they had a child set to come into this world.
She shook her head. She needed to ignore the doubts swelling in her. It was too late to do anything other than to meet with Mademoiselle Fontaine as planned. Soon she would be on board ship to France. With any luck, she would be settled into the chateau well before the birth of her child in September. She sighed heavily and pulled her hood over her head.
By the harbor, the inn itself was respectable. Many passengers on board ships arriving and departing stayed in these walls. Ignoring the stares from the patrons for entering unattended, she lowered her gaze and entered. She walked straightaway for the stairs, following the instructions she memorized.
She needed only to reach Mademoiselle. She stood at the top of the stairs and hesitated. Looking back over her shoulder, she walked toward her destination. Suddenly, she heard voices before she turned the corner. The voices rose louder. She felt a faint trickling of uneasiness, but she pushed it aside. Easing ever so quietly, she pressed against the wall, glancing around the bend before turning down the hall.
Halting in her tracks, Rebekah stiffened. Tobias was there and had gripped Mademoiselle Fontaine by her arm, pushing the woman back against the wall.
“Where is the girl?” The force of his words made Rebekah shudder. “Rory ain’t gonna be happy!”
She needed not hear anymore. She spun on her heels, castigating herself as an absolute idiot. Rory was after her! Oh, what a fool she had been! She backed up, knocking into the table in the hall. The vase came crashing down. Trembling uncontrollably, she edged down the wall. Hearing hurried footsteps, fear encompassed her when she saw two men running up the staircase.Rory’s men! She panicked.
Bolting in the opposite direction, she headed for the back stairs. Her hope of slipping down the stairs undetected dissipated hearing the rumblings behind her. Rebekah quickened her pace, rapidly taking each step until she hit the first floor. She hit the back door running, struck by an impelling urge to get as far from the inn as possible.
Fleeing through the rainstormed night, she tried to peer through the pouring rain. She had gone some distance when she gasped for breath. Leaning against a brick building, she hadn’t a clue where she had run. Clasping her side against the pain, she blinked away the water streaming down her face, not knowing whether it was the rain or tears.
Suddenly a hand grasped her shoulder…
“Rebekah!” Jonathan fought the wind. Doubting she could hear him, he ignored the pelleting rain and rushed forward, grabbing her arm. In one swift motion, he swirled her around to face him.
Instantly, a look of sheer terror swept across her face. Slowly, recognition flooded her. She gripped tightly to his arm. “Oh, Jonathan!”
The next moment she collapsed into his arms. He wasted no time, but carried her down the street into the waiting carriage. A large black man quickly opened the carriage door for Jonathan. “Is she…?”
“She’s fine. She has only just fainted…”
“Jasper, Dr. Corbett, Jasper,” the old man said and closed the carriage’s door, but not before Jonathan heard the servant utter, “Thank the good Lord.”
Jonathan wrapped a blanket around Rebekah while he felt the wheels of the carriage move beneath him. He drew her into his arms and instinctually, she nestled into him. He stroked her head. As much as she claimed she had changed, she still inspired love and loyalty into those around her.
The wind picked up, shaking the carriage; the rain pounded harder. He was drenched and soaked. Strange—warmth spread through him he hadn’t felt in years.
“Jasper.” Jonathan set Rebekah down in the middle of her bedroom. A young blackie girl followed, frantically crying that her mistress was dead. No, Rebekah wasn’t dead, he thought. She had wakened and she wasn’t happy. “Jasper, shut the door and keep everyone else out.”
“Oh, Mistress Esther won’t like that none,” Rebekah’s maid uttered. “No sir.”
Jonathan shot her a look that silenced the girl. Rebekah pushed back from Jonathan, stumbling. Reaching out, he caught her arm. “Be careful,” he said in a harsh voice, his patience lost.
“Leave,” she answered his behavior. “You have done your duty.”
“Duty?” Jonathan’s voice rose. “Duty? You call looking for you in the midst of a torrential storm duty? Where was your head, Rebekah?”
“You would not understand,” she said. Her eyes flamed at him, but her hand reached down for her midriff; her hand trembled.
Immediately, he swept her back into his arms and carried her to the side of her bed. He motioned for the maid to step forward. “Get her dry clothes! She is to be put to bed.”
“Sully,” Rebekah said. “It is fine. I need only to get out of these wet clothes.”
Sully nodded, but fear shone in her eyes at Jonathan. She skirted to the wardrobe and withdrew a nightgown. Turning, she waited for Jonathan to leave, but he made no movement.
“If you don’t get her out of these wet clothes, I will.”
The young maid looked at Rebekah inquiringly, reluctant to begin undressing her mistress in front of a man.
“It is fine, Sully,” Rebekah said as she slung off her cloak. “Obviously, Dr. Corbett feels it is his duty.”
“I do.” Jonathan walked to the door. “I will be right outside. This is not over, Rebekah.”
He slammed the door behind him, shaking the wall. He found Jasper in the hall with a set of dry clothes for him. “Mistress Esther left these for you. You can change in the room down the corridor. I’ll take your boots to dry. It was some of Mistress Esther’s husband’s. Master Ian’s would be too small. She sent word to the others that Rebekah’s been found. I’ll stay here and make sure no one enters.”
“And Mistress Esther?” Jonathan asked.
“Said you can deal with Miss Rebekah.”