Read Angel in Black Online

Authors: Fela Dawson Scott

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #Historical Romance, #Romance/Historical

Angel in Black

BOOK: Angel in Black
12.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Angel in Black

 

by

 

 

Fela Dawson Scott

 

Copyright © 2012 Fela Dawson Scott

Kindle Revised Edition

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

About the Author

 

Prologue

 

England 1782

 

T
HE DAY BEGAN AS
any other, but this day was special, her eleventh birthday. Edward and Mary Campbell, friends of the family, gave Katrina the best party a little girl could ask for. All her friends were there to help celebrate. They played games, laughed and danced until they were flushed and breathless from exuberance.

Katrina received the perfect present from her mother and father — a delicate sapphire pendant surrounded by diamonds and a pair of matching earbobs. Wide-eyed from surprise at the beautiful gift, she ran to her father’s open arms, unable to find words to express her feelings as tears slipped down her cheeks. William Easton hugged away his daughter’s tears and claimed the jewels reminded him of his little girl’s sapphire-blue eyes, always sparkling gaily with laughter.

They were all to spend the night at the Campbell’s estate, but Lord Easton received word he must return to Camray. Happy and tired, Katrina was content as her father carried her to their coach and they started for home. The hour late, she fell asleep instantly on her mother’s lap.

Suddenly awakened when the coach made a wild lurch, Katrina was afraid. Shots echoed in the still night, and she heard the driver’s anguished scream as he fell to the ground. The horses came to an abrupt halt. Her father grabbed his pistol and sprang from the coach ready to defend them, but his attempt to do so quickly ended when a lead ball ripped through his chest.

Virginia Easton screamed and her husband slowly crumpled to the ground, his life flowing from him in a scarlet torrent. Their guards bravely fought the highwaymen, but they were outnumbered. Lady Easton grabbed Katrina and crawled from the conveyance. She spoke to the frightened child; her voice trembling from fear and horror.

“You must run into the woods and hide. No matter what happens, do not stop. Do you understand me, Katrina?”

“I … I understand,” whispered Katrina, her mind numb with fear.

Tears streamed down pale cheeks and Lady Easton whispered in desperation, “Promise me — you must promise you will not stop, no matter what you see or hear. Promise!”

Katrina sensed her mother’s urgency and nodded. Teary-eyed and terror-filled, she ran. Her mother followed right behind, but one of the highwaymen spotted her. He galloped after her and easily overtook the fleeing woman. Without hesitation, he thrust his sword into her retreating back. She fell to the ground in a pile of satin and silk, Lady Easton’s last vision was of Katrina disappearing into the dense foliage; her last breath, a sigh of relief.

Panic and her promise pushed her blindly into the blackness ahead; Katrina did not look back. Branches reached out like a hundred clawing fingers, grabbed, scratched, and tore at her clothes and face. Deeper and deeper she fled, her feet stumbling over the rough, untamed ground. She tripped and fell to her knees, the rocky ground scraping the flesh from her. Her lungs burned and she gasped for air, a sharp pain in her side unbearable. Unable to get up and go any further, she crawled, weak and trembling, into the brush to hide. And wait.

The last man slain, the leader of the group paused to examine the bloody carnage strewn about him. He removed the hood hiding his face and an evil, triumphant smile curled back his lips, and a cruel, sinister delight filled his dark eyes. His satisfaction soon turned into a scowl and he barked at his men.

“Where is the little girl?”

“She must have run into the trees,” the man nearest him replied.

“Then get her,” he ordered through clenched teeth. “That brat must not live, you fool. Do not come back until she is found and killed. Do you understand me?”

A cold chill passed through the man as he stared into his master’s crazed eyes. A strange foreboding descended on him, but fear outweighed his doubt and greed added fuel to his courage. Murder had always come easily to him and he quickly shook off his qualms. Without hesitation he crashed into the forest to hunt down the child. By the light of his torch, he easily spotted and followed the frantic girl’s trail, covering the distance she had put between them in a short time. He stopped when the trail abruptly ended, his senses alert, his nerves strung tight by the night’s hunting. Like an animal, he instinctively knew she was close. Excitement, fear, and greed churned inside him.

Methodically, he began his search, knowing she could not escape him — knowing she had nowhere to go. When he came upon the little girl, he grabbed her by the hair to cruelly drag her from her hiding place. He found himself staring into the most startling blue eyes he had ever seen, as bright as a summer sky.

The child watched him in horror and fear, tears streaming down her scratched and bruised face. He raised his sword; the words
kill her — kill her
clouding his fevered mind. Her eyes never left his and in them he saw the birth of a new emotion. Her lower lip trembled from dread of what he was about to do, but she did not turn away. The man’s hand quivered as he stood, unable to move, unexpected indecision pulsing through him. A tremendous pounding rang in his ears and he broke into a heated, nervous sweat, perspiration dampening his palms. Could it be his own heart he heard? Or perhaps it was hers.

Fear clung in the air, like a foul odor. He could smell it around him, taste its bitterness, and hear its eerie sounds in his foggy mind. It fed on his confusion, gnawed at his innards and drew the breath from his lungs.

With an angry growl, he let the blade’s deadly edge fall. The girl’s scream of terror rent the night, its sound reaching the other men to touch a strange chord in all. A shiver passed through them all and their blood ran cold. They looked about nervous, suddenly aware of the presence of death.

Katrina never knew why the man did not kill her. He instead, slashed the ground beside her, and, without a word, returned to the others. No longer afraid, Katrina followed the puzzling man back to the road and remained hidden, watching the men prepare to leave.

“Is the brat dead?” the leader asked, snarling harshly.

“Yes,” the man lied, reining his mount to a halt beside him. “You need not worry about her. She is dead.”

“Excellent. Everything has gone perfectly,” exulted his sinister master. “Be sure to remove all the valuables so it will look like highwaymen killed them.” He rode over to where William Easton had fallen and muttered, “Well — dear brother, it looks like Camray will finally be mine — all mine. The bastard son has triumphed.”

He turned to ride off with his men and his chilling laughter drifted back to Katrina. As he turned, she recognized his face. It was her uncle — Lawrence Langsford. A cold dread descended upon her like a heavy weight. She stumbled from the cover of the dense foliage and went to her mother’s side. Virginia Easton lay face down on the hard ground, dark red blood staining her beautiful gown. Tears of sorrow choked her, Katrina unable to comprehend fully the pain inside her. She knelt and reached out to touch her mother’s silken hair.

“Mother …” she pleaded. “P-please don’t leave me. I need you.”

Katrina’s petite shoulders shook as sobs wracked her. With blurry, red-rimmed eyes, she looked for her father and crawled on her hands and knees to the bloodied figure not far away. When she touched her father, a low moan escaped him and his eyes fluttered open.

“Papa?” cried Katrina, uncertain her mind wasn’t playing tricks.

“Kat … I … I heard them say they killed you,” he whispered as tears of joy slid down his cheek.

“No, Papa — I’m fine. B-but you’re hurt,” Katrina exclaimed, trying to stand. “I will go for help.”

“No, Kat, stay with me,” he muttered and held her arm tight. “Where is your mother?”

She burst out, “S-she’s dead. They killed her, Papa. Uncle Lawrence — I saw him! I don’t understand. Why would he do this? Why does he want us dead?”

Katrina started to cry uncontrollably, her pretty face distorted by fear and grief. William Easton cupped his child’s quivering chin, gently but firmly, the movement causing him tremendous agony.

“Kat, you
must
listen to me. It’s too late for your mother and me, but you must save yourself. So … please stop your crying and listen carefully to what I say.”

Trembling from exhaustion, Katrina did as her father asked.

“That’s my girl,” he smiled weakly. “Lawrence — he has always wanted Camray and would do anything to get it — he has proven how far he would go tonight. You must do exactly what I say, Katrina. He believes you are dead and must not find out otherwise. Remember, for your own protection, you must stay that way. Do you understand?” He waited until she nodded, then a spasm of coughing overtook him.

“Please … I must go for help. I won’t let you die, Papa.” Katrina pleaded, but her father continued to hold her tightly, refusing to let her go.

“You must listen … I haven’t much time.”

Katrina hesitated. Part of her demanded she go for help, yet years of obedience to her father made her stay and a deep, undeniable instinct telling her he was near death. She settled onto the cold ground and cradled her father’s head in her lap, listening intently to his strained words.

“You must not return to Camray, Katrina. Go only to Father Murray in Tattershall … he will help you. The good Father will take care of you and protect you, so do as he says. Do not tell anyone else about this night — it is your very life you are protecting. Tell no one, but always remember Lawrence’s treachery. Remember everything he has taken from you —
never
forget.”

Her father’s chest rattled, each breath a struggle, but he continued. “Learn all you can in the years to come, until you are old enough to take over the estate. You must always be strong and learn to fight for what is yours. You are my heir, an Easton by blood, so I must place this responsibility upon your shoulders; there is no one else. Take this ring, Kat, our family crest. Keep it always. Now, you must promise me you will do as I say. Then, when the time is right, you will take back what is yours. Promise me.”

Her father’s hand was covered with blood, and the ring went unnoticed by the highwaymen. Katrina pulled it from his finger and answered; her voice determined and strong. “I will, Papa, I promise I will.” She placed the bloodied ring on her own smaller finger and wiped the tears from her eyes. Lovingly, she kissed her father’s cheek and looked sadly into his faded blue eyes. “I love you, Papa.”

He shuddered in pain and gazed weakly upon her. “That’s my girl … Kat … always remember your mother and I … love you. You … must be … brave.”

Her father went limp as death finally took him from her, leaving her alone in the world. Dry-eyed, Katrina loosened his hand from hers and carefully placed it on his chest. At that moment, a dark fury ignited within her, giving her reason to go on, to seek revenge for all she suffered at the hand of one man.

BOOK: Angel in Black
12.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Be My Valentine by Debbie Macomber
Return To Sky Raven (Book 2) by T. Michael Ford
Except the Queen by Jane Yolen, Midori Snyder
Assorted Prose by John Updike
Don't Explain by Audrey Dacey
Arkansas by David Leavitt