|The End of the Line
Author: Sahara5 PM
Rebecca and her Uncle are two of the most beloved figures in Victorian high society but they have a secret: they are from the future. When their guardian is attacked and a blackmail letter arrives, they must hurry to preserve the line of Heirs.Rated: Fiction K - English - Mystery/Fantasy - Chapters: 6 - Words: 16,930 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 05-18-12 - Published: 04-25-12 - id: 3016676
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Uncle Cunningham left before dawn the next morning with 600 in a nondescript bag, headed for the alley where Mr. Tanner was attacked. Six hundred pounds doesn't look like a lot when it is bound in bunches and neatly stacked, but I knew we were giving the blackmailer a small fortune. After a few years of steady blackmail our family would be bled dry. Right now we had no choice but to pay him every penny he asked for, but that didn't mean we weren't going to do everything in our power to find out who this guy was and stop him. We had to stop him.
I sat up in my window seat wearing my bathrobe, watching the street for Uncle Cunningham's return. Henry was still asleep. He had asked me to wake him before Uncle left, but he looked so peaceful that I couldn't bring myself to do it. There was nothing he could do. I couldn't do anything either, so there was no point in me being awake either. I wished that I could go back to sleep because my stomach was upset again. The queasiness had been sporadic for days now. I needed to kick this bug quickly because it would get in the way of discovering the identity of our blackmailer. The mission needed to be at the forefront of my mind, no whether or not I was going to lose my lunch.
There was a soft knock at my door.
"Come on in, Mary," I called quietly, not wanting to wake Henry in the next room.
In she came, wheeling her faithful cart of treats and tea. She looked around for Henry, and when she didn't see him she asked where he was.
"I didn't want to wake him," I replied casually, thinking she'd agree with my decision.
Instead she scowled at me disapprovingly. "You're doing it to him again, ma'am."
Now I knew I was in trouble. For years now, Mary had called me 'Rebecca' in private. When we were alone the only time she called me 'ma'am' was if I had done something wrong.
"What did I do this time?" I asked trying not to sound defensive.
She put her hands on her hips. I was in even worse trouble than I thought. "Were you not there yesterday when he got angry because you kept things from him to try and spare him? What do you think this is? He is going to be mad again, ma'am."
I pursed my lips. Damn, she was right. I hate it when she does that. It's not easy being married, you know. You want to spare your spouse all the pain and anguish that you can, but they don't like secrets. It's an uncomfortable institution sometimes. I sighed. "I can't help it. I love him too much."
"Try harder," she said sternly. "Mr. Hamm loves you too, ma'am, but you don't see him trying to spare you from ugly truths even though men are supposed to do that for their wives in this time. How long do you really expect him to walk in your shadow like a lady in waiting?"
My stomach was really going now. I closed my eyes in an attempt to force back the wave of nausea washing over me, but didn't have much luck. The thought that I had done something, once again, to make Henry feel excluded and unappreciated cut like a knife.
"Rebecca, are you alright?" I heard Mary say. "Do you want some tea or a biscuit?"
Upon hearing about food the wave slammed into me at full speed. I launched out of the window seat and ran for the bathroom through my bedroom. For everyone's sake, I'll simply say that I was sick for a few minutes. Mary rushed in behind me, but there wasn't much she could do since my hair was already braided behind my head. Once I had finished, she handed me a towel for me to wipe the sweat from my brow.
"I'll take that as a no than, shall I?"
I gave a feeble laugh. "God, I don't know what's wrong with me."
A look of utter exasperation spread across her face. She had flashed me that look repeatedly over the past few days. It was an oddly frustrated yet knowing look. She and Uncle Cunningham kept acting like they knew something I didn't.
"Why do you keep looking at me like that?"
"You really don't know?" Mary asked with slumped shoulders. She rubbed her belly like she always did recently when she got nervous. "How have you not put the pieces together?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Mary!" I said as I got awkwardly off the floor to rinse out my mouth. "What pieces?"
Mary gaped at me dumbfounded for a moment, but she finally found her ability to speak again. "As you would say, let me spell it out for you, for over a week now you have been nauseous every morning, crying spontaneously, and you should have started your cycle four days ago. With those symptoms, what would be your diagnosis?"
For a moment, I had no idea what she was on about, but then I thought about it. What cycle was she talking about? Oh God! I quickly did that math in my head. She was right I was supposed to start that cycle four days ago. I was never late. I looked at her with wide eyes.
She smiled sweetly. "You're with child, Mrs. Hamm."
I stared at her still not believing this. "How is this possible?"
Mary raised a quizzical brow at me.
"I don't need a biology lesson, Mary. Your dad told me this would never happen! Heirs don't have kids."
"Well evidently you can," she snickered.
I leaned against the sink. My mind raced at a mile a minute. I was going to me a mom? Shocked doesn't begin to describe how I felt. I had trained my mind as best I could not to think about kids so, not once had I considered that I could actually have a child.
The smile faded from Mary's face. "Rebecca, aren't you happy? I thought you wanted a child."
"I don't know what to think, Mary," I said with a lone tear running down my cheek. "I never thought this could happen. It's too much to process all at once."
Mary smiled sympathetically. "Ever since you got married I know you've wished you could have one with Henry. Now, you've been given a gift. Accept it. Don't question it."
Easy for her to say. Some mystical force didn't keep messing with her head. Fate is a fickle friend sometimes. One minute you can be one hundred percent sure of something, and then fate or destiny or karma or whatever you want to call it comes along and turns your world upside down. You would think I'd be use to it by then. After all, I had been mysteriously transported back in time and forced to adapt to a world that wasn't mine. There was no doubt in my mind that I was destined to be here. I had found a family, love, friends. In a weird way I belonged here. I wouldn't trade what I had here for anything, even going back to my time. The four years with Henry were the best of my life. Yes, I had always been sad that I couldn't give him children, but I had accepted it. Heirs having kids was a bad idea for the same reason Heirs getting married was a bad idea. You would either have to weigh the little beings down with the immense weight of your secret or live with never telling them. There was also the issue of inheritance. My fortune would pass to my Heir not my child. How is that fair? How do you explain that to the little bundle of joy? Oh sorry, I know you are my flesh and blood but when I kick it this other person gets it all. That will be a fun conversation.
As if she knew exactly what I was thinking, Mary said, "Everything will work out. You'll see. Focus on the happy things, Becca. You are going to be a mother. No matter what issues may arise in the future, your child will love you."
"I'm going to be a mom," I said with a smile. It didn't matter what issues I'd have to deal with later, all that mattered was that I was having a baby. A few tears of joy rolled down my face and I couldn't help but laugh.
"Congratulations!" Mary exclaimed. I leaned in and hugged her. Her baby kicked me a few times like it was trying to get my attention. After releasing Mary, I put my hand over where the kicks had come from on her stomach.
"Yes, little one, I can't wait to meet you either."
We laughed and walked back to the main room arm and arm. There we discussed who we should tell what and when. I didn't want to tell Henry until I was positive, so we decided to wait until I was at least a week late. A few days could be chalked up to stress from the blackmailing fiasco. Before anyone decides to lecture me on keeping yet another secret from my husband, listen to my reasoning. If I was pregnant I would tell him in a few days and we would be happy. If my cycle started and I only had a stomach virus, there was no reason to tell him. Like me, he assumed we could never have children, so getting his hopes up just to puncture them was cruel. Waiting a few days was in everyone's best interest. However, I was going to tell Uncle Cunningham. He would know what to think of an Heir falling pregnant. He always knew what to say to calm my nerves. Also, the happy news may raise his dismal spirits a bit.
Just as the sun's light began to creep above the buildings, I rang for Malcolm to come get Henry's clothes ready for the day. I went in to our room and Henry's eyes were already open. I suddenly got goose bumps. Had he heard Mary and I talking earlier? He got out of bed and stretched a bit.
"You didn't wake me up," he yawned.
"No, I didn't." I walked over to him casually and brush some stray hairs out of his face. "You looked so peaceful that I couldn't bring myself to. You're not mad at me, are you?"
Henry just smiled.
"Good," I said playfully as I hugged him. He held me tight in his arms. It was killing me not to tell him that I might be pregnant. I didn't want to keep it a secret, but I knew that if it was a false alarm it would kill him. "Let's get dressed and go down to breakfast, huh?"
Halfway through my first cup of tea, Uncle Cunningham came trudging into the breakfast room looking very put out. He explained that he dropped off the money before the sun came up and lurked in a dark corner for an hour waiting to see if someone would pick it up, but no one came.
"They must have been watching me," he continued in a dejected tone. "When I stayed behind, they knew not to move in. I gave up and came home."
I reached over and patted his shoulder. "It's okay, Uncle. We'll find out who they are another way."
Henry cleared his throat. "And how are we to do that?"
"Circle the wagons and have a pow wow," I said seriously.
"What?" said Uncle and Henry in unison.
I'd done it again. When I reflected back on what I had said, I realized that the phrase was contradictory because the pioneers who circled the wagon were not the native americans holding a pow wow, but I doubted that that was what Uncle and Henry were confused by. My words were about as American west as you could get. It was no wonder they were confused.
"Sorry, I mean we need to gather all the interested parties because there is safety in numbers and talk about what is going on, so we can make a plan."
Uncle nodded apprehensively, still trying to wrap his head around my previous statement. "We'll invite Mr. Tanner and Alexander for tea this afternoon."
When breakfast was over, Henry went off with Malcolm to discuss weekly business, leaving Uncle and me in the breakfast room. Uncle got up to leave.
"Uncle, can I talk to you about something?" I said quickly before I lost my nerve to stop him.
He nodded. "Of course, my dear."
"Let's go talk somewhere else. I don't want..." I tilted my head towards the kitchen door.
Uncle offered my his arm and we went into the sitting room at the front of the house. Since it was summer, the fire wasn't going, and a small breeze made it's way in through the open windows. I thought about closing them, but it was doubtful anyone could overhear us from the street. I did, however, close the door to the room, making Uncle Cunningham look at me with concern.
"Does this have something to do with the blackmailer?"
My gut fluttered nervously as I lead him over to the sofa and sat him down. "No, nothing like that. It's good news...kind of anyway. It may be good news. It really depends on how you look at it. I'm happy, but nervous, and scared-"
Uncle raised a hand to cut off my ramble. I puttered to a finished as a big smile spread across his face. "Oh, you finally figured it out! I was so worried you wouldn't and I would have to tell you. I may be more liberal in my thinking than my peers, but I still didn't want to tell my niece she was in a family way."
I sat there with my mouth open. How the hell had everyone known but me? He chuckled softly at me.
"I'm so happy for you, my dear sweet Becca." He leaned in and hugged me.
I pulled back after only a few seconds. "You knew?"
His smile wavered momentarily, but he recovered. "Yes. Mary and I thought you would come to the conclusion yourself, in time."
"Isn't this bad?" I asked finally coming to what I wanted to talk to him about.
Uncle took my hands and said seriously, "Not at all."
"No," he said with a squeeze of my hands. "This is a very good thing. You're going to be a mother. This development is unprecedented, but welcome."
"But the money, the secret..."
Uncle sighed. "I'm surprised at you, Rebecca. I thought I had trained you to be a better thinker than this.'
"Give me a break, I only figured this out a few hours ago," I said defensively.
"Why are you so worried about the money?"
"Um, because my fortune goes to my heir not my kids!"
Uncle laughed. "My dear, do you not realize who you married?"
I stared at him at a loss for what he meant.
"After his father was institutionalized, Henry Hamm became the master of the family fortune."
"Oh, " I said dumbly. I felt like a complete idiot. I hadn't married peasant.
He went on. "Other than his mother's allowance, Henry doesn't spend a dime of that money. With my help he has actually increased his fortune considerably over the past few years."
I smiled at my clever Uncle. "My child will inherit that fortune."
"Which by then may be larger than ours," he added soothingly.
I felt relieved, but something else still weighed on my mind. "Uncle, what about our secret."
"That you will have to figure out when the time comes. Chances are with you two as parent, the little one will be too smart for its own good and figure it out by the time it can walk, but if it doesn't you'll have to decided when and if to tell them the truth. Trust your judgment."
A tear began to form in my eye, but I wiped it away before it could fall. "I never thought this could happen. Mr. Tanner said no Heir could have a child."
"Oh, my dear," he leaned in and hugged me again. "Maybe fate allowed it because the previous obstacles weren't as insurmountable, like the issue of fortune."
"I don't really care," I said. I pulled back from Uncle with big smile on my face. "I'm going to be a mom."
"Have you told Henry yet?"
My smile wavered a bit. "I don't want to until I'm positive. I'll tell him in a few days."
Uncle nodded. "Good plan. A false alarm would devastate him."
We sat in silence for a moment. Then, Uncle chuckled softly. "I'm going to be a great uncle, fancy that."
I smiled again. "Try Grandpa, Uncle. You are like a father to me, and Uncle Cunningham is a big enough mouth full already."
Now it was his turn to get misty eyed. Holding back tears, he choked out, "That would be wonderful, my dear."
Relief doesn't begin to describe how I felt in that moment. As usual, Uncle Cunningham had managed to put my fears to rest, or at least make them smaller. If I was having a baby, there would be challenges beyond those of typical child rearing, but I could face them. Henry's fortune and properties would go to my child and mine to my heir. I still didn't know how to explain my secret to them, but I would cross that bridge when I came to it. Mary was right; I needed to focus on the positives. I wanted this child so much that dealing with a few bumps in the road would be worth the chance to be a mother. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as we set about the rest of our day. I was going to be a mother.