The End of the Line
Note: This story is a sequel to my first one The Heir. I should warn my more devoted readers that there are some significant changes that you can already see in this chapter. The main character's name is changed because I never like what I had originally. Give yourself a change to warm up to the new name before I get hate mail. I am reposting these chapters for a second time. I stalled out writing this story. It took me months to figure out what was wrong, but now I have rewritten some of it. Please review!
My husband and I lay on the beach gazing up at the moon. Our country home near Bristol a little ways back from the beach, but the lights from the windows didn't dampen the brilliance of the stars.
"You can't see the stars like this when I'm from," I said as I gazed contentedly upwards. Stargazing is one of my favorite pass times when we take a break from the confines of London. "At least not in the city."
Henry, my husband, looked at me and laughed. "I supposed you are next going to talk about men walking on the moon in your day."
"No," I snorted.
Henry gave a satisfied huff. No one could possibly walk on the moon!
"The last moon walk was before I was born," I added, suppressing a smirk.
He gasped and I sat up to look at him better. I had once again opened up worlds of new possibilities before him. In the almost four years we had been married I never ceased to surprise him.
Perhaps I should explain. My name is Mrs. Hamm, formerly Rebecca Ann Walton of San Antonio, TX. Though I was born in 1988 I was currently sitting on a beach in the summer of 1878. On September 23, 2010 I was minding my own business when I suddenly ended up on a busy market street by the Thames. Don't bother asking me about how I ended up over a hundred years and two thousand miles away from where I started. None of the Heirs have ever been able to figure out how and why it happens.
You see, I'm not the first Heir, though I am the first non Brit. Our line goes back at least to the 1500's when Leopold Fitzpatrick was thrown back from the 1700's. One a generation has been arriving ever since. When I arrived, I was taken in by the Heir before me, Andrew Cunningham who is from 1973. We hide in plain sight as one of the super star upper class families. Yes, most of our peers think we're a bit odd, but everyone is willing to over look our eccentricities because we are so popular. Well, not everyone. Aberforth Hamm, my husband's father, was already suspicious of Uncle Cunningham and my arrival sent him over the edge. Hell bent on exposing us, he ordered his son to get close to me, but when Henry started to develop real feelings for me, Aberforth decided on more drastic steps. The day of my best friend Regina's wedding, a man he had hired, Cory Jacobs, attempted to gun my uncle down in an alley. Luckily, I was able to knock the gun away and knock Jacobs to the ground, so Uncle Cunningham was only wounded.
Aberforth was furious at us, and ended up barging into our house, with gun wielding henchmen, and Henry in tow to force me to marry his son and confirm our secret. Regina, his niece, had run over to warn me and was stuck at the mercy of her uncle like the rest of us. Aberforth proceeded to lay out proof that we were from the future and when I refused to help him he tried to shoot me with a shotgun. Henry dove on top of me to save me from his now insane father. Cory Jacobs, who was still in his employment, had grown rather fond of my unconventional ways and decided to pistol whip his boss before he could finish me off. Aberforth is now a permanent resident of a private mental hospital, still ranting and raving about how our family ruined his life.
For the first time in the history of the Heirs, people outside of us and our guardians knew who we were. Uncle Cunningham and I made Henry and Regina swear that they would never speak of our secret again. You must be wondering why then I married Henry. Heirs never married because lets face it secrets are toxic things that ruin relationships, but Aberforth took care of that for me when he had his psychotic break. Since Henry already knew who I was, I could marry him if I wanted to and after a six month courtship I did just that.
Henry and I were spending the month of June at our, or rather Uncle Cunningham's, country home on the Bristol Channel. I fell in love with the spot immediately when he brought me here for the first time years ago. In Bristol I didn't have to pretend to be someone I wasn't every second of every day. As you can imagine, the pressures of being a proper Victorian lady when you are a 21st century Texas girl is difficult. I had an easier time of it now that I had a few years under my belt, but I still needed a few weeks a year to be myself. For example, instead of wearing my usual floor length, high necked, bustled dress with my hair pinned and curled, I lounged in a tweed suit with my auburn waves falling naturally down my back.
"Men have walked on the moon?" Henry asked dreamily, gazing up at the stars with wonder. His blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight.
I smiled down at him and wiped a few grains of sand from his face. "More than once."
"How?" he asked with his mouth hanging open in disbelief. He couldn't figure how men had reached the moon when in his lifetime no one had even managed earthly flight.
I laughed. "I'll tell you all about it later."
I leaned in and gave him a long kiss. Then, I curled up in his arms and we were lulled to sleep by the gentle crashing of the waves.
We woke up on the beach after the sun had already risen over the water. My skin and hair were damp with morning dew. Henry tried to sit up, but I squeezed him tight so he wouldn't. I was so content that I never wanted to wake up and go back to the real world.
"Becca, we need to go back," he said stroking my hair. "Mrs. Adams is likely to kill us as it is."
"Mary!" I bolted upright and looked around as if I expected her to be standing over us.
Henry nodded sleepily. "Is going to murder us."
Mary Adams, formerly Mary Tanner, was the housekeeper in my uncle's household and a close friend of mine. You will never find a more capable head servant. I can ask Mary for anything and even if it seems impossible she will come through. We didn't have the usual servant, mistress relationship. Mary is a Tanner. Meaning, that she is a member of the family that is mystically linked with the line of Heirs and helps protect our secret. The head of the Tanner family always find us and his son runs to fetch the current Heir. The system had been in place for 300 years. Mary was not a son so she was given another task in the Heir household. When I arrived, she became my personal confidant and taught me how to be a lady. From time to time, she still had to chew me out for doing something wrong and I let her even though I was supposed to be her boss.
Mary's likelihood to lose her temper at me was not helped by her current condition. She had married our London coachman, Mr. Ian Adams, two years ago and was expecting her first child in three months. The doctors in London had told her that, if possible, she should take in the therapeutic sea air during her pregnancy, so Henry and I insisted she come with us to Bristol instead of staying behind with her husband and Mr. Cunningham. Mary hated being pregnant because she couldn't do everything she wanted. One day she had dropped something and was struggling to reach down to get it, so I went over and did it for her. I thought she was going to kill me right then and there. She is the kind of person who was born to take care of others, but hates when they try to help her. Her husband is a brave and lucky man.
We gathered up our blanket and rushed back up the beach. I could hear Mary's voice ringing through my ears. 'Respectable young people do not fall asleep on beaches!' I'd laugh at her, say something snarky, and everything would blow over unless Mary was in one of her moods. Then, we were all in trouble. Henry held my hand as we walked up the path and I couldn't help but smile as our country home came into view. I gazed up at the massive three story white Victorian house, complete with tower, and was reminded of all the perks that came with being an Heir. I spent many an afternoon in the tower sitting room watching the sea birds float in the coastal air currents.
Malcolm Brant, a former errand boy turned Henry's valet, stood on the porch waiting. His face was strained and he tapped his foot as he waited for us to reach him. I instantly knew that something was wrong. He didn't even balk at me in my trousers. Henry and I hurried up the steps.
My husband was the first to speak. "What's wrong, Brant?"
Malcolm hesitated, unsure of how to express the issue.
"Speak up, man!" Henry said with a hint of panic in his voice. Like me, his imagination was taking him to dark places. If Malcolm didn't speak up soon, I would believe the apocalypse was nigh.
"A telegram arrived this morning just after dawn, sir," Malcolm muttered quietly. The contents of the telegram must have been grave indeed because he was clearly shaken. "The operator brought it out to the house himself."
I held my breath waiting for the bomb to drop. The telegraph operator did not bring telegrams out personally at this time of day unless they contained bad news. "What does it say?"
He shook his head. "I think you should read it for yourself, ma'am. Mary's barely able to contain herself."
Without saying a word, I rushed past him to find Mary with Henry close behind. She couldn't be under this kind of strain in her current condition. Stress could induce labor and her baby wasn't viable yet. We found her sitting in the kitchen surrounded by other members of the staff. They parted to allow me to kneel down in front of her. Mary's face was streaked with tears that ran from her red puffy eyes. She limply held a telegram in her hands resting on her lap. Words escaped her, so she just stared at me, her eyes asking me why this had happened. I wiped a tear off her face as Henry took the telegram from her lap.
I looked up at him, waiting to hear what was going on. Henry's face went slack. This was bad.
"We're departing today," he said firmly to no one in particular.
I reached out my hand for the telegram, and he handed it to me. I saw that it was from Uncle Cunningham. On the tear stained piece of paper were three sentences. 'Come home now. Mr. Tanner was attacked. May not survive. Mr. C.'
All the color drained from my face and my stomach contracted with dread. Not Mr. Tanner! I looked up at Mary and she started to sob again. For the first time in all the years we had been together, she threw herself into my arms and cried uncontrollably. I did my best to sooth her, but there wasn't much I could do. We needed to get her home to her husband and father now! I turned my head towards Malcolm and Pricilla, my lady's maid, and said seriously, "Get us on the next train."
The staff scattered to begin packing our belongings and get the carriages ready for departure. We wouldn't have time to pack everything, so some of the help would stay behind to finish and return to London after us. I didn't care if I would have to do without my stationary for a few days. All that mattered was that I got Mary on a train today.