Heyyy, so I know its been like forever since I've updated and I really wish that weren't the case. I had writers block for this entire chapter and whenever I tried to write the chapter I always got pissed cuz I never got anywhere. But finally, heres something for you guys to read while I work up the next chapter! So this chapter has two basic scenes, one right after the scene from the last chapter and the other is a week after that. Im going to try to start doing a little more of the time jumps because its a little ridiculous that this is 20 chapters covering a two week time period. Anywho, please R&R! Love ya guys :)

Stolen

Chapter 19

"Are you sure this is where you left Mary?" Edward asked dubiously looking around him at his surroundings. Thoughts of the memory that had invaded his subconscious were now similarly invading his mind. All those men from his dream...gone. And it was all his fault...

"Well, considering the bickering I hear in the background, yes I am quite sure." She snapped back at him in hushed fashion. Her jarring response dragged him out of his dreadful musing. Wishing to avoid any sort of further argument, he focused on the task at hand.

"How Do you plan to explain our presence in the gardens to her Grace?"

"Oh, we'll think of something I'm sure. It wouldn't be altogether unthought of if we told her we were lovers. And I assume that would require a public display of what we just-" she cleared her throat.

"Katherine, I'm not qualified to comment on you, but I consider our trysts to be strictly related to our work. What happened mere moments ago was... Practice for a time like this." Forcing himself to look away from her was the only way Edward could speak this lie with any degree of believability.

"Mhm. And when I'm searching for suitors I suppose our story as lovers will continue? How could I possibly find a husband if they believe I am a ruined woman for whose affections they'll have to compete for against you?"

"Believe me Katherine, no man in heir right mind wouldn't find you well worth the competition. And besides, men like a good chase. Its a sure way to keep your million and one suitors in check. Threaten them that if they don't accept our relationship, then you won't accept them."

"But no man alive would want a wife who would speak to them like that. I don't exactly have a princess's dowry, and I'm sure my beauty must be easily matched or bettered amongst the other ladies of the court. No one would choose a penniless, of-average-beauty, disrespectful wife with a lover over a simpering, pathetic virgin who lets them do as they please. They would think me a trollop and my honor would be lost forever!"

"Hush, is that not Mary just over there?" Edward pointed over to a feminine silhouette shoeing beneath a large, overgrown tree.

"Well even if it is her Grace, we're not going to- well, you know what I speak of."

"Then what do you bloody well expect to tell her?"

There was a pause as she contemplated the multitude of possible excuses for their presence. Just as a viable excuse presented itself, Kay jumped into action, rather literally. Practically falling to the soft grass and dirt of the ground, Katherine pretended to cry out in pain. Edward quickly knelt down beside her to try and help his friend in any possible way.

"Katherine, whatever is the matter? Did you hit your leg on something?"

It took until she shot him another of her infamous "looks" for him to realize what she was doing. The came one of his infamous eye rolls before going along with her little fasaud. Thankfully, there was a rustling in bushes around them and soon two figures emerged, both their faces flushed from anger. They'd been arguing.

Upon recognizing the source of the screams that had brought Her Grace there, Princess Mary immediately badgered Edward with questions as to why Katherine was in so much pain.

"I- I know not, Your Grace. I was... strolling through the gardens as I couldn't seem to get any rest, and stumbled upon her moaning and clutching her leg. I believe she was searching for something she may have dropped and tripped over a stone bench or something of the sort."

"Well, don't just stand there Edward, help her up so we may see what ails her!"

Somehow, he knew not how, but somehow Edward merely knew that Kay was grinning at how Edward would have to treat her royally in the presence of her mistress. The thought was enough to bring a smile to his own lips, but he was wise enough to quickly suppress it.

Kay's hair was showered over her pale face, but it levitated in the air as he picked her up from the ground, one of his arms securing her neck and another holding her knees to his chest. Her head lolled back as another moan escaped her.

As good of an actress as she was on the outside, Edward could feel her body tense as his strong arms carried her over to a secure bench and laid her down to "recover" from her "mishap". He felt the nearly irresistible urge to fix her dark brown tendrils by pulling them away from her face so it could shine brilliantly in the moonlight. The aforementioned light was already illuminating her slightly parted lips, lips he just moments ago had been seduced by and- he cleared his throat, trying to resist the irresistible.

The Princess didn't notice his discomfort, and proceeded to stare at Katherine worriedly. Her male companion, who Edward regrettably recognized to be Charles Brandon. stood back dispassionately as Mary fussed over her lady-in-waiting.

"Katherine? Katherine are you alright? Shall I call a doctor." The princess turned to demand Brandon to summon her own personal physician when Katherine lifted her head slightly and began mumbling incoherent words.

"What was that, Katherine?"

"No...Doc-Doctor. I just tripped over something, and I... I hit my head on something!" She drew a hand up and rubbed the edge of her hairline and pretended to wince in pain."

"Well, Edward, don't just stand there, help her sit up!"

He rolled his eyes in response to the Princess's commanding nature, yet did as she told him to. Where had he and Kay left off on the lovers topic? Should he merely go along with it or pretend this was completely a coincidence? Well, he knew what he wanted to do, and was rather certain Katherine felt the same way considering how she was in fact the one to start their tryst back in his room...

A darting look up to the Princess and Charles, the large gap between them telling all Edward needed to know about their conversation before being interrupted, was all Edward needed to show them that he cared deeply for Katherine. Kneeling before her, and he took her smooth hands in his own all the while staring meaningfully into her confused eyes. Those eyes were no longer playing the part Katherine meant them to... she was no longer playing the part. And for a brief moment, the thought rampaged through his mind...neither was he.

Damn. He would really have to improve his deception skills if he planned on lying to Kay about his intentions ever again.

xXx
Princess Mary, having only recently departed on the weekly hunt with her royal brother and closest friends, had developed a sort of mistrust and loathing for Katherine Manson. After a mishap in the dressing chamber where one of the Princess's favorite gowns went missing and was mysteriously found in Katherine's trunk, Kay had been the brunt of many unfortunate events undoubtedly staged by the Princess herself. Katherine of course didn't actually steal the dress, but no one believed her, or cared even if they did. So she was, solely, left behind on the day of the hunt. It was truly a glorious day, much unlike a regular September morning in England. Seeing this solitude as a chance to finally do some damage control in her other social problems, Katherine chose to seek out Edward-and with him, Richard, and Matthew. Edward, though a valued asset to Wolsey unofficially, held a very low position officially, so he too was left behind on that shining September morning. Knowing exactly where he would be at this time, Kay set out to join him in the chapel.

Perhaps, she hoped fervently, Matthew would be there once again! Matthew Hewes, another spy under Wolsey's control, happened to be a dear friend of Edward's from their days in Wolsey's...well, whatever one wished to call it, but Katherine chose "horrific experiment". Matthew was in the same troop or group or whatever as Edward. He was also devilishly handsome and took a great interest in her whenever Kay spoke with him. She had to admit that the whole idea of finding a suitor with which her parents would approve and she could live with was a much more daunting task than she had anticipated, yet as she was still only a fifteen year old girl, it proved to be an absolutely thrilling experience. The same went for court life as a whole.

It had taken a few days to finally get accustomed to this new bustling environment and strange layout of Hampton Court Palace, yet after only seven days who knew the basic floor plan by heart. Getting lost in the labyrinth of hallways and rooms that all looked the same was no longer an issue, and Katherine reached the chapel, located on the opposite side of the palace from her rooms, in very good time. The Mass service had not begun yet, as the priest was likely waiting for many more people to arrive. Kay wondered if the aging priest recalled that more than half the court had either gone with the hunt, or taken their mass early when the king had. As there was no one to scold her for arriving at the later service, Katherine saw no reason to go to the dawn service when she could go to the service halfway between sunrise and noon.
Edward, as she now knew to expect, had attended both the early service and was about to sit through this one as well. How he could do so, Katherine couldn't even fathom. True she was a Christian woman, but she'd never been swept into the zealous tide of religion. She went to mass, endured it, and went on with her merry life. However, Edward on the other hand spent half his day in the chapel. As much time as Wolsey could possibly spare him was spent praying. It made her wonder just what he might be praying for...or who?

The walls were a light gray color and had stained glass windows high into the sky. Such a drab and dull aura surrounded this room...its why Kay couldn't stand it.
Edward was sitting in the middle of audience, one man on either side of him. While she wasn't so happy that Richard had apparently chosen to come, Matt was obviously the other person beside him and Katherine was greatly looking forward to that! Things between Edward and her had been... tense since that whole scene in the garden. He had been trying to push their cover as lovers, but Katherine still wasn't comfortable with the idea. They hadn't spoken much about the subject, though they spent much of their free time together. That is, when Edward didn't chain himself to a priest all day. As much as she was loathe to admit it, now that the Princess seemed to despise her, Edward was her only friend at court.

"What a lovely morning, is it not?" She asked the three men as she took the empty seat beside Matthew.

Edward mumbled something in response; Richard didn't even bother looking at her, let alone greet her in return; only Matthew turned to her with a smile.
"Yes, quite! In fact I believe this may be the first sunny September day in all the history of this country! Though, I'm sure you know of some battle or other that was recorded to have a similar heat. Come now Katherine, rack your brain and prove me wrong!"

She looked down in pretended shame. "Well there was this one time..." They both laughed delightedly at that. Matthew's endless remarks to her intelligence never went unappreciated.

"So why are you not with the hunt today, Katherine? Surely Her Grace has forgiven you for that whole stolen dress incident?"

"Oh no, I'm afraid not. These courtier women really do care a great deal for their dresses... if only I could prove to her that I didn't take it!"

"Good bloody luck with that, they found it in your trunk! While we all believe you were not the culprit, these women don't know you well enough to correctly judge your character. "

"Kay, are you sure that you didn't give Mary any other reason to be upset with you? Yes she is very much ruled by her fickle emotions, yet even she wouldn't be so strange as to practically love you one moment then despise you the next." Edward finally piped up.

"Well, if she would allow me to, I would try to speak with her about this whole matter, but whenever I try to approach her she walks the other way!"

"If you all aren't careful, you could be accused of treason for speaking thus! And considering that I alone of everyone here have the Princess's ear, I could very well tell her of how you gossip about your mistress the first moment you have the opportunity! She'll loathe you all the more, so be careful what you say." Richard's voice was unusually curt, but he had a valid point. Anyone could have overheard their conversation. At that point, the priest began the mass, and Katherine shut all her senses out so she could focus on why else the Princess might hate her so.

After the service, Edward quickly disappeared into the crowd of people trying to escape from the wretched place, and Kay didn't give a fig about what Richard did because of how rude he'd been to her earlier. But at least Matt stayed behind with her so they could exit together. The company gone out for the hunt would no doubt be gone for at least another two or three hours, so Katherine considered it as a well needed break from her relentless work. Because she was the newest lady in waiting, Kay was saddled with all the mundane tasks no one else wanted to do. All those girls she had to speak with day in and day out were so obnoxious as well... it took all her resolve not to scream at them for their idiocy.

"So, perhaps a horse ride through the woods before the company returns and starts looking for you?" Matthew snapped her back to the present. Looking at him, Katherine realized that she was examining his strangely attractive features. Dark hair, eyes, and tanned skin. He maintained a sort of shaggy appearance.

"Yes, I think I'd love that, yet I don't think it would be appropriate to just go riding through the woods!"

"And?" Katherine had learned quickly that Matt was the kind of person who enjoyed being a troublemaker of sorts. Shall we invite Edward?" She turned to search for their departed friend in the crowd. Matt startled her by placing a hard palm on her shoulder, so much so that she practically jumped in response.

"I think I'd prefer an unchaperoned trip. Wouldn't you?" There was a daring look in his eye. As much as she wanted to say yes to this flirtatious man, a warning sign lit off inside her mind. Something about the way he said that reminded her hauntingly of that man who attacked her...damn. She'd gone a week without thinking about him. On the earlier note, he was Edward's friend, right? And she trusted Edward, didn't she? Well, she hadn't really been able to speak with Edward on any topic of real import since beginning to work for the Princess. Perhaps she should just tell Matthew that she didn't truly feel like going out and search out Edward instead. He was her friend first...

"Actually, I'm not feeling that well. I believe I'll just stay in my chambers today, after I talk to Edward about, well, I'm sure you can guess."

His jaw tensed.

"What is it?"

"I can't believe Edward let you be swept up into this wretched business. He's usually much more gallant."

"Well, even so, I'm afraid I have to be on my way then. I'll be seeing you tomorrow I assume?"

"But of course!" He bowed deeply as she scurried away.