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Authors: Sheila M. Rogers

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Historical, #Victorian, #Historical Romance

The Critchfield Locket

BOOK: The Critchfield Locket
12.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The Critchfield Locket

By Sheila M. Rogers

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the writer’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 201
4 by Sheila M. Rogers


All rights reserved.

Self published in the United States of America.


Cover photo © by Sheila M. Rogers

Editing by Cheryl Frank

In memory of Nick {1990-2012}

Gone, but not forgotten you will always be in our hearts and minds.

Kate tried to put the grueling work week behind her as she walked downtown. Determined to relax over the weekend, she let out a large sigh as she made her way to the
Main Street Antiquities Shoppe.
Upon entering
she was immediately assailed by the dusty smell that often clung to old things. She slowly wound her way through the clothing racks and furniture pieces until she came across a glass display case full of jewelry.

An elderly woman with a warm smile greeted her from the other side of the case. “Is there something I can help you find?”

Kate pushed an errant strand of hair behind her ear while absent mindedly chewing her lower lip. “I’m not sure. I’m looking for a wedding gift for my cousin. She’s somewhat traditional and I thought it would be neat to get her the ‘something old’ for her to wear.”

The shopkeeper patiently pulled items from the case as Kate pointed them out to her. She found herself quickly getting discouraged as none of them really grabbed her attention. She thanked the woman for her time and turned to leave the shop. She had taken only a few steps when the shopkeeper asked her to wait. “I have one more piece I would like for you to see. I recently acquired it from an estate sale and I think it would do nicely. I’ll just be a moment.”

Kate nodded as the woman headed through a set of curtains to what she assumed was the store’s backroom. She began to look at a few of the dresses on the rack closest to her when she heard the shopkeeper politely clear her throat. She turned to see the woman gently lay something down on the glass counter. Intrigued, she quickly moved to see what it was and found herself gazing upon a lovely gold locket. She picked it up, studying the details of the piece. It was round with flowers on the outside. The locket itself was affixed to the center of the chain which was interspersed with pearls.

Kate could hardly contain her excitement.
“This is just what I had in mind!”
She gently pushed her thumbnail into the crevice and opened the locket.



Kate’s mind seemed to be one step behind. She could hear someone speaking, yet she did not see where the voice was coming from. She realized she could not see because her eyes were closed and immediately opened them. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she glimpsed a young woman with her right hand outstretched.

“Miss, are you alright? Do you need help up?”

That’s when it occurred to her that she was sitting on the ground. She reached out and grasped the young woman’s hand. It was then that she noticed the girl’s attire, a black long sleeve shirt, black long skirt and a full white apron. With her free hand, Kate absent-mindedly wiped off whatever dirt may have been on her backside. The feel of the material under her hand quickly caught her attention. She looked down at her clothing and saw what would be best described as a blue, formal gown. There was dirt along the bottom hem as well as a small tear.

wave of heat and nausea washed over her. Her head began to throb and her knees suddenly became weak. The hand that had been holding on to hers gave a firm squeeze, bringing her back around.

“You should come inside and rest for a moment.”

Kate gazed in the direction of the girl’s hand and found that they were standing in front of a very large house. She followed the young woman through a set of large curve shaped doors that formed an arch when closed together. As they passed through the vestibule and into the formal entry way, her breath caught in her throat. Although she did not know why, she immediately felt out of place.

“Please wait here while I alert the housekeeper.”

Kate nodded in response. Her mind was racing.

Where am I? What am I doing here? What is happening to me?

The footsteps and whispers of the approaching women broke through the silence, interrupting Kate’s thoughts. The older woman spoke first.

“Good evening, I am Mrs. Thompson, the housekeeper. Margaret h
as told me she found you outside.” Her eyes travelled up and down Kate’s form. “Who might you be? Are you injured?”

“Good evening, my name is
Katherine… Katherine Dornacher… I, I am not sure… Where am I?”

Mrs. Thompson furrowed her graying brows and titled her head in such a way as to be looking down her nose at

“You have arrived at the Critchfield-Bennett House. Where had you intended to be?” The older woman
spoke with a slight accent and in clipped tones. She wore a white shirt with a high collar, paired with a long, dark brown skirt.

“I, I do not know… I do not know how I even got here… I do not understand what is going on!”
Kate could feel the heat rush to her face and her eyes began to well up with tears.

“Margaret, please ask Ms. Rusch to bring some tea for Ms. Dornacher. We will be in the library. Also, have Mr. Baxter apprise Mr. Bennett of the situation.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Ms. Dornacher, if you would please follow me.”

Kate obediently followed Mrs. Thompson as they walked down a hallway lined with tapestries to one side and a bank of windows on the other. At the end of the hallway stood a large, heavy, wooden door laced with intricate carvings. Mrs. Thompson opened the door to reveal an expansive, two-story library filled with books as far as the eye could see. A fire was burning in the massive fireplace and comfortable seating was positioned thoughtfully in front of it. On the far end of the room stood an ornate desk covered with books and papers. Mrs. Thompson walked to the seating area and motioned to Kate.

“Please, do have a seat.”

Kate briefly worried that her dress may dirty the chair, but once again, she quietly obeyed the older woman. She was after all, at the mercy of these people. After she had sat down, another woman entered the library carrying a silver serving tray. She set it down on a table and began to pour a cup of tea.

“Thank you, Ms. Rusch. You are excused.” The woman nodded to Mrs. Thompson and left the room. “Here you go Ms. Dornacher.”

Kate took a sip from the cup and the hot liquid singed the tip of her tongue.
That felt real enough.
A clock that she had not previously noticed, chimed a total of six times. Soon after, a man entered the room. He had dark brown hair and appeared to be in his thirties. He was dressed rather fancily in a black tailored suit with a white wing-tip collared shirt, a vest and a black tie.

“Good evening, Mrs. Thompson. Mr. Baxter informs me we have an un-expected visitor.”

“Good evening, Mr. Bennett. This is Ms. Kate Dornacher. Ms. Dornacher, this is Mr. Bennett.”

“Well Ms. Dornacher, what brings you to Critchfield Manor?” His voice was strong, yet nearly emotionless.
Kate was usually good at reading facial expressions and body postures, but this man was not openly conveying anything.

“I do not know why or how I arrived here at Critchfield. I am not familiar with the name.”

He looked hard at her for a moment – enough to make her want to squirm in her seat but she resisted. “How could you travel through the village of Greenwood and not know of Critchfield Manor?”

could feel her heart race as panic began to build inside of her. “Mr. Bennett, I am sorry to say that I am also not familiar with Greenwood. Where is it located?” Despite her best efforts, even Kate could hear the desperation in her voice.

Mr. Bennett
could sense that something was off. He simply replied “Greenwood is located in the northern region of Pineville.”

The pounding in
Kate’s head could no longer be ignored. She placed her hand along her temples and closed her eyes. “Pineville…” The word passed her lips, almost in a whisper. Something must be terribly wrong. Pineville was hundreds of miles away from her home.
Maybe this is all just a dream or maybe I am losing my mind.

“Ms. Dornacher,” Mr. Bennett’s voice broke through her train of thought “I am sending my man to fetch the doctor at once. If it is acceptable to you, Mrs. Thompson will escort you to a guest room where you may rest.”

Kate nodded in agreement as gently as she could, trying not to make her headache worse. As if by summons, Margaret reappeared and assisted Mrs. Thompson in helping Kate along the way. They ascended the grand staircase, slowly making their way to an oval shaped room. It was furnished with antique styled furniture including a four-poster bed that looked comfortable and inviting. Kate barely noticed Margaret helping her change out of her gown and into a garment more suitable for sleep.

could hear whispered conversations and the gentle touch of someone’s hand on her wrist. The intense pain she had earlier felt in her head had become a dull ache. She opened her eyes slowly, almost fearful of what she would see. Thankfully the lights were dim which helped her eyes adjust easily.


“Ah, she is coming around now.”

turned towards the voice and saw a gentleman, most likely in his fifties, patting her hand.

“I am Doctor Preston Granville and this” he said motioning towards a woman “is my wife and assis
tant, Mrs. Alice Granville. You have been asleep nearly four hours now. Mr. Bennett has informed me that when you first arrived, you were unaware of your surroundings or how you came to be here. Is that correct Ms. Dornacher?”

“Yes, yes it is. I still have no clarity about any of it.”
Kate tried to remain calm. Sleeping had not been helpful in clearing her mind.
Why can I not remember?

“What can you tell me about yourself? Do you know what day it is? Do you remember where you are from, how old you are?”

“I, I am twenty-eight years old and… I am from Loganville. Beyond that, my memories are jumbled. The only clear memories are of when I found myself sitting on the ground in front of this house.”

watched the doctor turn his head and followed his gaze to the dark corner across the room. She had not noticed Mr. Bennett lurking there before. He stood with his arms folded across his chest and nodded at the doctor. The two men proceeded to exit the room, waiting until they were in the hallway to discuss the doctor’s findings.

Bennett had become unnerved as he watched the doctor care for a woman in his house. As much as he cared for the Granville’s he was glad that their visit was soon to end.

“Well Preston, do you know what is wrong with her?”

“The best I can tell, she is suffering from a case of amnesia. Usually the cause is trauma to the head and although I did not readily ascertain an injury, she may have sustained one. It is also believed by some in the medical community that a traumatic experience can bring on amnesia as well. Perhaps she witnessed something terrible and does not wish to recall it.”

“How long before she might remember?”

“That often varies from person to person. Sometimes a patient will remember everything all at once, sometimes it comes back to them slowly, and sometimes never. The triggers that help spur on the memories vary as well. Only time will tell if Ms. Dornacher will remember her situation.”

“I see.” his voice seemed distant “Thank you for all of your help.”

“Nicholas,” the older man turned and faced him straight on “this woman is a long way from home and even though she ended up on your doorstep, you are not responsible for her. Perhaps the Dickson’s could take her in until she is back on her feet and ready to travel.”

“I will certainly take that under advisement. Now, if you will excuse me.”

“Of course, of course. We will show ourselves out.”

Mrs. Granville joined the men, having allowed them to confer privately.
Nicholas shook his friend’s hand and made his way to the library. He was feeling out of sorts and knew sleep would not come easy tonight. He hoped that busying himself with some work would help quiet his thoughts. However, once he sat down at his desk and looked through his financial papers, he was well aware he would not be able to properly concentrate on them. Instead he picked up a book and took a seat by the fireplace. The hour was late, the fire was soothing and the words were calming. Soon he began to drift in and out of sleep. A hand gently touched his shoulder followed by the sound of a man clearing his throat. Nicholas instantly recognized that it was Mr. Baxter, his assistant.

“Yes Thomas, what is it?”

“Sir, the time is nearing half past six. Perhaps you should retire to your room.”

“I had trouble sleeping.”

“So I have gathered.”

“I have much to think about concerning Ms. Dornacher, how to help her, where to send her. What are your thoughts on the matter?”

“Well sir, I believe more information is needed before a firm solution can be found.”

“Good man Thomas, you always know the right thing to say.”

“Thank you sir, you are very kind. Would you like for me to draw your bath now?”

“I think perhaps I will go to the kitchen first and see what Ms. Husk has baked for us today.”

“Very well then, where would you like young Mr. Adams to deliver your newspaper?”

“Tell Robert to leave it on my desk, please.”

BOOK: The Critchfield Locket
12.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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