The sound of someone screaming in distress was enough to pull Henry out of his alcohol induced sleep, and leave him with a mounting headache. He pushed himself to a sitting position on the bed and placed a hand on his head in a failed attempt to ease his headache.
Wincing from the pain in his head, he pulled his eyelids shut briefly, completely certain that he had imagined the sound.
He laid back down and pulled his eyelids shut, knowing full well that he most likely wasn't going to be able to fall back asleep, for his headache seemed to be getting worse with every second that ticked by.
He had completely given up on the idea of finding rest, when he heard it again; a loud cry. He opened his eyes and scanned the dark room, seeing nothing. Another cry followed closely and this time, he pushed himself to his feet.
Half stumbling out of his room to investigate, he pushed his bedroom door wide open, and his vision was immediately assaulted by the lights in the empty hall way. He rubbed his eyes with his sleeves, feeling even worse. Why did he allow himself get drunk?! He hissed. He shouldn't have agreed to a trip to London, only to arrive and be shamed by his father.
The cry, which was a lot more frantic, reached him. For a second, he imagined Jeanne was in trouble. Perhaps the servants had —acting on Annabelle's instruction— gone into Jeanne's room to try to kill her? Perhaps they planned to have him killed when they were done with Jeanne...
He began making his way down the hall in a more urgent fashion than he had done before. When he reached Jeanne's bed chamber, he tried to push the door open but found it locked. He would have broken the locks, but he heard the cry again, and it wasn't coming from Jeanne's room.
He peeked to the far end of the hall, toward the direction of the cry. Was someone else in danger? He wasn't even sure he cared. If Jeanne was fine and so was he, he didn't care. He turned to go back to his bed chamber when he heard it again. Frustrated and knowing he needed to get to the root of the problem if he was going to get any sleep tonight, he turned toward the sound of the cry, and began making his way to it.
Coming to a halt before a door, he reached forward and turned the knob; the door gave way easily. Henry was surprised to find that the lights were on as he stepped into the large room. His eyes briefly ran over the room; the furnishing done to suit a woman —from the light red curtains, to the vanity, to the Queen sized bed. His gaze settled on the bed and it's occupant and for a brief second, he stood watching her, glued to his position by the door.
Her hands clutched her pillow, and while he was a few feet away, he could see the veins in her hand bulging to indicate just how tightly she held on. Her white flannel night dress clung to her body, held bound by sweat.
Henry forced one foot after another forward, until he was standing beside her bed.
“Annabelle.” He said, deciding he needed to awaken her. If she was having a nightmare, she was most likely not going to stop screaming until she was awake, and he needed for her to stop, because he needed to sleep.
Annabelle's grip tightened on the pillow.
“Annabelle!” He hissed, having very little patience for his father's heiress. He leaned down and made to tap her, when his eyes settled on her face; stained with tears, she had her eyes wide open. “Annabelle,” He released a sigh, and straightened. “You were having a nightmare and keeping the rest of us from a good night's sleep.” He grumbled.
“Will you be so kind as to keep your nightmares to yourself?” He asked sarcastically, before turning to leave.
“No...” Her horrified whisper caused a cold shiver to race down his spine, pulling him to a halt.
He turned around slowly.
She continued to ramble. They were words he couldn't understand but they held the horror of the last word. It was almost as if she had reverted to speaking a foreign language. As he stared at her, he realized that while her eyes were wide open, she was still sleeping and having the nightmare.
He watched. Standing just beside her bed, he watched her... Suffer.
Henry didn't know what to feel. A part of him thought she deserved it, for she had practically taken his inheritance, and his father away from him. Yet, there was a part —a very small part— that felt pity. Annabelle had been a slave. Perhaps she had suffered things that were unspeakable during her time of slavery? Perhaps those things haunted her every night?
Reaching forward, he placed a hand on her cold forearm. “Annabelle.”
Her eyelids pulled shut and immediately snapped open again. She turned to him. “Lord Henry?” Her confused eyes beheld him.
Henry felt relief flood his body, and while he hated to admit it, he thought that perhaps Annabelle didn't deserve it. Perhaps she deserved a good night's rest.
With a nod of his head, he said, “goodnight, Annabelle.” Turning around, he made his way back to his room where he stayed up all night, just in case Annabelle needed him yet again.
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Annabelle's WillHistorical Fiction
Born a slave, made an heiress, Annabelle must battle a society unwilling to accept her and a love that threatens to ruin her in order to keep her freedom. ***** Born a slave, Anna...