Chapter 20

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Christmas day was not snowy as Kat had hoped. When she woke up there was sunlight streaming in as the maid opened the curtains after she had placed a steaming bowl of porridge on the small table and chairs by the fireplace. Kat pulled back the covers and tiptoed over to her wardrobe, grabbing a dressing gown which she wrapped around herself tightly and a pair of thick stockings which she pulled up over her knees quickly. She shivered as she hurried over to the fireplace which roared as the maid stoked the fire. She rubbed her hands in front of it hoping it would heat her whole body. Once the maid had left she began to hovel down the porridge and it burnt her throat as she did so. A door creaked open and Kat turned to see Eric come through the door with his own bowl of porridge which he placed down on the table.

"Merry Christmas!"

He was definitely cheerful this morning and Kat smiled brightly back.

"Merry Christmas to you too!"

They both ate their breakfast and had pleasant conversation. Kat liked his company a lot and knew she would miss it when she inevitably have to leave She was worried she would get too attached and once she was back she would never be the same. She couldn't even call the future home anymore and she knew that if she had the chance to stay she would but something in her was telling her that she did not have much time left here. Well, she mused, it wouldn't hurt to have some fun. But that thought was wrong, it would hurt because she knew for a fact that she was truly in love with Eric.

"Katherine!"

He snapped, though his tone was not stern but amused, Kat realized she had not been listening but rather gazing out the window onto the frozen lake at the park across the road as she drifted off into thought.

"Oh sorry excuse me, but what were you saying?"

Eric rolled his eyes and laughed.

"We are to leave for the Christmas service in an hour so I must take my leave."

Kat nodded.

"Oh."

Eric stood up and left leaving the room rather empty.

~~~

"Oh that service was far too long, it feels like we hear the sermon every year!"

Lady Abigail sat in the drawing room of the Hartford townhouse sipping Lady Hartford's finest tea. The lady was watching as her sons mother in law left no space for conversation and she looked over to Kat as if pleading for help.

"Mother how about we play a game or perhaps-"

"Oh how about a dance!" 

Lady Abigail's eyes sparkled with glee.

"Adelaide, play a quadrille!"

Her daughter nodded obediently and set up the sheet music as the small group coupled up and took their places. Kat grimaced as the music played and the dancers moved in time to the music.

"I'm afraid I do not know this one."

She whispered to Eric who threw back his head and laughed.

"Finally a chance to humiliate you! If only we were in front of a bigger audience."

Kat narrowed her eyes and grinned with a mischievous glint in her eyes and went to stick out her foot to trip her meddling husband but she was interrupted by a shout.

"Oh my! Adelaide dear its for you!"

The music stopped and everyone turned to see Lady Abigail receiving a package from a maid, Adelaide scurried forward her face was lit up as if she was expecting it. Her face, however, dropped when she read the note that accompanied the gift.

Lady Abigail looked as if something surprising only she knew about was about to happen and her lips were pursed into a small expectant smile.

"Well, are you going to read it?"

Adelaide looked to her mother with concern, she was obviously uncomfortable but when Lady Abigail nodded as if to urge her she took a deep breath and began to read.

To darling Adelaide,

I hope your Christmas is merry and that my absence is not felt to strongly as yours is here at my country estate. In your package you shall find a gift that I hope you will like. I look forward to seeing you wear it at every event.

Yours truly, 

Lord Richmond

Kat was glad that it was short otherwise she would have zoned out. She knew that if Lord Richmond had been given enough paper and time he would have listed every single one of his virtues, she had no doubt that he would try to convince everyone that humble was one of them.

"Adelaide are you going to open it?"

Kat asked impatiently, she wanted to know what self indulgent gift Lord Richmond had gotten her sister, maybe a miniature painting of him, she laughed at her musings causing Eric to give her a funny look. Adelaide began to tear at the brown paper and it fell away, revealing a large velvet box. When the box was opened, a pearl necklace was nestled among the cushion.

"Here, I shall put it on for you."

Lady Abigail grabbed the necklace and stood behind Adelaide. Just as she was about to put it around her daughters neck, she noticed a small gold chain and she frowned.

"Adelaide dear would you be able to take this necklace off first?"

At the suggestion, Adelaide clutched the pendant that hung off the chain in defense. 

"No I'm afraid not"

Her mother frowned.

"What is this necklace anyway."

Adelaide gulped.

"Just a simple pendant mother."

"So it is of no importance?"

Adelaide shook her head.

"Then you can take it off."

Lady Abigail seemed proud in this declaration and Adelaide had no choice but surrender.

Kat thought this was odd, she hadn't seen the necklace before now, where had she gotten it? It couldn't be old as Lady Abigail would have recognized it. As the necklace in question was discarded carelessly on the table Kat noticed that it was a small sapphire ring that hung off the chain and  not a pendant.

Something was not right


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