"We have arrived, Sir."
Benjamin stretched his tired and aching muscles. It was just a dream. She was just a dream. A dream so wonderful, so beautiful, he couldn't resist. He should have stayed away.
His servant settled the horses and Benjamin gave him a purse with coins to settle up accounts for the boarding, their rooms and meals, plus a little something more for his troubles.
"Thank you, Sir."
"There should be enough to get fed and back home tomorrow. I'll be heading back to London at first light."
"Very well, sir. I'll be sure the stableman knows to have your horse ready and saddled."
Benjamin nodded and went to his room. He loosened his cravat and lay on the bed. He pulled the letter from his breast pocket. He didn't want to open it. He didn't want to read her words, her excuses for leaving him. He didn't want her to say good-bye.
He rested his hand and the letter on his chest, and stared up at the ceiling.
He knew his chances of finding her were dwindling with each passing minute. If she were in London, she'd most likely made it to the docks. She'd need employment. Or perhaps her thought was just to board a ship and get off at the next closest port but that could leave her anywhere along the coast.
Benjamin rubbed his temples his head ached from thinking. He put the letter back in his pocket. Another time perhaps... right now he did not have the strength to read what lies within.
Clara was having difficulty keeping up with Sturgess, but through sheer will and determination she had done so. When they finally made it to their room that night, Clara collapsed and fell into a deep sleep; too exhausted to keep her eyes open for a moment longer.
A face came to her in the darkness. "You think you have won, but I will destroy you, your family everything you hold dear. Starting with him..."
Clara had seen Mrs. Chase pull Benjamin into the only sliver of light in the room. "No!" she screamed as she'd seen the woman hold her pistol to his temple and pull the trigger. Benjamin collapsed like a rag doll to the floor.
Clara screamed again and off loaded the pistol that appeared in her hand, only to have the woman vanish in a smoky haze, her cackle echoing in the darkness.
There was not a shred of light to be found. Clara searched on hands and knees. Calling Benjamin's name. She had to find him, she must save him, but try as she might she was lost and so was he, to her, in the vast eternal darkness.
Clara awoke as the ship tossed and turned dumping her from her bed. Sturgess was already dressed and putting on his shoes. He gave her an odd look she couldn't place and said, "A storm is brewing. I'm going top deck, to lend a hand. Stay here. It won't be safe for you up there."
YOU ARE READING
Forever RuinedHistorical Fiction
Benjamin McAllister's past was riddled with intrigue, war and death. It was no place for a woman, such comforts as marriage, family and love were not meant to be his but one woman changed all of that for him. Clara Bentley had won Benjamin McAllist...