Author's Note: I know it's been awhile. Thanks for the prompting and lovely, lovely reviews.
I also have a competition for you guys:
-ready for it?-
I want readers to come up with a summary for Heaving Bosoms. It can be dramatic, humorous, cheesy, or whatever you want. Use your imaginations! Leave it in your review or email it to me.
I'll put up all the choices in the next installment and have you guys vote on one. The winning summary will be used as the official summary for this story! The winner will receive a virtual kiss from me!
Katherine looked longingly at the door. On one hand, running away was her most appealing answer because that would spare her a life of chains, dog collars, and Billiam. On the other hand were the 'what if's. What if she was caught? What if…well, actually, that was about it.
She opened the door, and her eyes quickly darted the halls, searching for signs of life. None. Retreating back into her room, she shut the door and began to take off her wedding dress. If she was to run away, she very well couldn't do it in a wedding gown.
Tristan Mclean was Billiam Mclean's twin brother.
He had cream for breakfast.
"How'd you like it, baby?" he asked, making his way back up for a kiss.
The girl welcomed him into her arms. "Let's get married, James," she giggled. "Then, we could do this every morning."
Tristan's smile died on his face like the withering of leaves in August. "Darling, I'm not a marrying man."
She tsked, pressing her delicate finger against his luscious lips. "Don't quote Gone with the Wind."
"I'm not, because I didn't fart." He laughed, wrenching his salty, sweat drenched body away from her grasping arms. "Get it? Gone with the Wind? God, I hated that poem."
"It's a novel," she told him distractedly, sitting up. "Baby, where are you going?"
"Well, it certainly is new," he nodded, putting on his shirt and pulling on his pants with five small hops (leather was hard to get on when sweaty). "Lot's of revolutionary ideas I don't like."
"You mean praising the period of slavery in America?" she asked, grasping his arm. "For God's sake, James, where are you going?"
"I don't understand why the Americas need slaves anyways," he said, tugging his arm away. "But I guess someone needs to harvest the coffee fields." He fixed his hair in front of the mirror, moving the glistening black strands carefully in place. Then, he looked out the window. His carriage was waiting in front of the door. "I need to go, Sweetie. I'll send you a letter when I can."
"But where are you going?" she wailed, following after him with the sheet wrapped around her body.
He stopped before he reached the door, and slowly turned around. "Baby, I should have told you earlier, I know. But…"
"But what?" she whispered, taking his hands.
"I'm not really a merchant from Venice."
"You're not?" she asked, eyes growing wide. "God, I'm so stupid! I knew James wasn't a Venetian name."
He shook his head heavily. "It's not even Polish. But that's not your fault, Darling. I couldn't tell you before because I was protecting you…I shouldn't have gotten involved with you."
She didn't bother to correct him, but eagerly shook his hands. "What? What is it?"
"I-I'm a private detective on the trail of a very dangerous case," he whispered. "You've heard of Jack the Ripper, haven't you?"
She nodded so fast that her brown ringlets bobbed. "Of course."
"Well, he's ripping people elsewhere now, and I have to follow him," Tristan confided in her, lowering his tone. "I hear he's going to India now. The glaciers are easier to hide his footprints."
She squinted at him, confused. "What?"
"Goodbye," he said, giving her a brief farewell kiss. "You may never see me again, but just know, whenever you're looking up at the stars, that I'm in India, hunting down this Jack fellow." Then, like the vanishing wisps of smoke, Tristan was out the door and into his fashionable black carriage. He didn't have time to even settle down in the comfortable seats. She was already out the door, trying to catch him.
"Leave, now, quickly!" he whispered to the coachman. "It's back to London for us. We're done with this place."
With a smart snap of his whip, the coachman sent the carriage flying down the driveway. It was a breakneck speed that waited for no man, and allowed no time for even the fastest woman to catch up.
They were back in London by the afternoon—back to the crowded streets, the bustling crowds, the splendid shop fronts. The carriage continued along its merry way, but the passenger inside, Tristan, was shifting uncomfortably.
"Are we there yet?"
"In a few more minutes, sir," the coachman responded patiently.
Tristan sighed and slumped against his seat. "Have you heard of Gone with the Wind?" he asked after a moment.
The coachman paused and glanced at him. "It's not from this time period, sir."
"I think we're well beyond correct time periods," Tristan shrugged. "I want to know what it is. It's all everyone's been talking about."
"It's a novel."
"That's what I've been hearing," he nodded understandingly. "Can you get me a copy? I want to know what it's about."
"But it's a book, sir," the coachman informed him incredulously. "Are you really going to read it?"
"It's just poetry," he said, waving his gloved hand frivolously. "How difficult can it-?"
Suddenly—a scream, then the sickening jolt of the wheels ass they drove over something.
"What was that?" Tristan asked, sitting up and alert. "A deer?"
"A girl, sir." The coachman hopped off his seat and went to examine the crumpled figure beneath the wheels.
The accident didn't go unsighted on the busy London street. Before he could wiggle his leather-clad behind out of the coach, a crowd had gathered. The whispers grew fiercer as the people saw Tristan step out—he had gained quite a reputation on the city's gossip columns.
Tristan crouched down and scrutinized the body under the wheel. It was a woman and she didn't seem to be moving.
"Is anyone in this crowd a doctor?" the coachman asked urgently, facing the people.
"Why don't you just call an ambulance?" a woman from the mass asked.
He sent her a death glare. "Because that would be anachronistic!"
"Dear God," Tristan exclaimed, his startled green eyes fixed on the unmoving girl. "Is she…? She is…she is hot."
The coachman, who had been nodding grimly along, froze. "Sir!" He looked indignant. "She is dead!"
"We have to save her!" Tristan sprang to action and moved under the coach, not caring if his expensive clothes were scratched and caked with unidentifiable, grimy things on the street. Carefully and gently, he pulled her bruised and bleeding body out. "Quick, help me move her into the carriage! When we get back home, call the doctor immediately, understand?"
They left in a flash and drove away double speed. Throughout the ride, Tristan watched the mysterious woman, ignorant of the fact that, once again, he was taking away something from his twin brother. And this time, it was Billiam's run-away bride.
She was not dead. Far from it, she had never felt more alive, more aware of her body and where she was hurting. Slowly, she opened her eyes. She was greeted with darkness. Disbelievingly, she blinked, trying desperately to see. A panic set into her breast.
The last thing she remembered was crossing the street. She remembered nothing before that. The memories in her mind were fuzzy, but she could recall perfectly the bustling London street she was crossing moments before a rushing black carriage ran full speed into her path. She had heard screaming—her own.
She had just left someplace…someone. She racked her mind impatiently for details. Nothing came.
Who was she? Where had she come from? And why couldn't she see?
Bemused, she tried one more to blink. Nothing. It was as if she had lost her vision. The world appeared to her a perfect pitch black without even the glimmer of stars. What was happening?
Her heart began to beat erratically, and she groped into the darkness. What her fingers touched were sheets—heavenly, silky sheets, more luxurious than she could ever remember using. But then that was not saying a lot for she could not remember a thing.
"Is the hot girl waking up?" It was a male voice—deep and smooth, yet anxious.
"I don't know." It was another voice. This time, it was a woman speaking in a soft, melodic tone that calmed her somewhat. "Let me take the sleeping mask off her eyes to see."
A second later, something was removed and she blinked rapidly in the blinding sunlight. When her glittering hazel eyes finally adjusted to the light, she looked around. The room she found herself in was large and comfortable, with tasteful decorations and ornate furniture. She herself was lying in a four-poster bed. At the side stood a man and a woman. The man stood further back, staring at her curiously as if he knew less of what was going on than she was.
The woman moved towards her. She was sure that she had never seen the woman before in her life. However, the woman did incur her trust. She had a maternal look about her plump body. Her heart-shaped face had gentle, fluid lines and a loving mouth. "My name is Marissa Tiffany Laurence, but everyone calls me Big Momma. How are you feeling, child?"
"Where am I?" she asked weakly.
"The Mclean Mansion," Big Momma replied. She gestured to the dark man standing behind her. "The master of the house took you in."
"You may call me Tristan."
She looked to the impossibly handsome man and nodded graciously. "Thank you. But-"
"Is there anyone we can contact?" Big Momma asked, peering at her worriedly. "Who are your folks?"
She bit down at her lip, thinking hard. "I…my father…"
"Where can we reach him?"
She shut her eyes, trying to salvage one scrap of information from her mind. Her brain stubbornly refused to cooperate. "I don't know. That is, I cannot remember."
"What is your name, then?" The man spoke, stepping forward. She tried to meet his dark, emerald eyes, but found that she had to look away.
"Pussy Cat," she answered on instinct.
Big Momma raised her eyebrows. So did the man. "Pussy Cat?"
She realized how bad that had sounded and tried to remedy it. "I just remember someone addressing me as such. I'm sure…I'm sure it is not my true name. I just have trouble recalling things."
"Aw, there, child." Big Momma hovered above her, brows wrinkling with concern. "It'll come to you."
"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I must be a lot of trouble."
"Hardly." It was the man who answered this time. "Ambrosia is-"
"-amnesia is understandable."
"I should go," she said, sitting up in the bed. Her head swam. "I can't stay here. I have no money."
"No, don't go," the man said hurriedly, deathly afraid that the hot girl would leave his mansion untouched.
Big Momma nodded along. "You have no money or connections. Where would you stay?"
"I don't know," she whispered.
The man frowned, wrinkling his brows. He looked thoughtful. The intensity in his green eyes was scorching. She fathomed that he must be thinking of something very deep—and looked damn good doing it.
"You can work here," the man finally said, his face clearing. "I can pay you. You can live here, too."
"Here?" She looked stunned at his generosity.
"Of course." He turned to Big Momma. "See to it that she has a comfortable place here. Meanwhile, I must go. There's an opera tonight and I promised to pick Miss Lenore up at seven. Good evening, Pussy Cat." He nodded politely towards her, and then left.
She watched him leave, eyes shining with gratitude. Yet something nagged at the back of her mind. He looked very familiar, reminding her of someone very frightening? But how? The master of the Mclean Mansion was such a kind man. Yet…yet something was not right. The clarity of his green eyes and perfection of his ass set off warning bells in her head.
She let these thoughts go. After all, there were more pressing matters to attend to. She needed to get her memory back.