She hadn't been thinking about anything when she wrote that note to James -- only that she didn't want to spend her time at a thousand parties with men like Thomas Pembroke who only cared about American independence if it affected their family's land holdings. Not when there was real news going on somewhere else, especially somewhere so close.
But that didn't make it acceptable to run off on a moment's impulse, did it? Wasn't it selfish to give in to her own desires instead of staying with her family?
Sarah shook her head firmly. No, she decided: the selfish thing would be to waste her time doing nothing of consequence in England instead of reporting on the revolution in France. France was where the news was; France was where she knew she had to go.
The carriage pulled up at the Phillips house, startling Sarah out of her meditation. She'd barely noticed the thirty-minute ride home, but she thanked the coachman as he handed her down, and gathered her skirts to climb the steps to the front door.
She had quite a bit of preparation to do, and little time in which to do it.
Sarah's note was carefully refolded, and it along with her bouquet was now tucked into James' waistband.
He could get to her house in ten minutes, if he cut across the lawn and pressed the horse -- the young Mr. Pembroke's horse, actually, who James had thoughtfully liberated from the oppression of the stables and was now attempting to corral into something of a gallop. The horse was having none of it. When he wasn't whinnying loudly and shaking his head, he was walking carefully back to the stables and nudging the door with his nose.
"All right, have it your way!" James muttered. With an exasperated huff, he dismounted and led the horse back to his stall. There was nothing for it: James crossed the stable to the stall of Lady Pembroke's dewy-eyed white riding mare. "If Sarah sees me on a horse this girly, I'll never hear the end of it," he said through clenched teeth as he unhooked the reins and slipped the bit into the mare's mouth. "Let's go, Fairy Snowflake or whatever your name is." He led the mare out of the stable and closed the door carefully before mounting her quickly and pressing her into a quick trot.
Unheeded by either of them, Sarah's bouquet lay in the mud and straw where it had fallen from James' clothes.
He arrived at the Phillips house in time to see the carriage pull away from the front, and the last of Sarah's blue skirts disappear as the door closed.
"Plan B," James said, and guided the horse around to the back of the house. Maybe there was a window or another door he could open to catch Sarah, and let her know that he'd gotten her note and was here to--
A window did open, on the top floor of the house. Sarah appeared, her hair and gown fluttering in the soft evening breeze. James sat stock-still and tried to sink into the saddle. She took several deep breaths and turned as if to move away when she caught sight of him. He hoped she couldn't see his face burning-- he hadn't meant to be caught spying on her (not that he was spying on her, but he was sure that was what it looked like, and dammit, what had he been thinking? She would change her mind and stay here with her parents and it was all his fault for taking the stupid girly white horse around to the back of the house).
"--Hey," Sarah said.
"Er, hey," he said.
"I take it you got my note?" she said. Was it his imagination, or did the moonlight reveal a little blush in her cheeks, too?
"Yeah," he said. "And, I--"
"Well," she said.
They lapsed into uncomfortable silence.
"I have to pack things," she said.
"Good," he said. "Good...things."
"Yes," she said.
"Well, I'll be...here," he said.
"Right," she said. She left the window and disappeared inside the house.
James smacked his forehead and slumped forward onto the horse's neck.
"Two trunks?" he said. "You brought two trunks?"
"Yes," Sarah said mildly. She'd changed out of her ballgown, and was wearing a dark green travelling dress with sensible boots. "I wear clothes, James, in case you hadn't noticed."
"Well-- what, are you going to carry it? Dover's over three hours away on horseback--"
Sarah pushed a strand of blazing hair out of her face and raised her eyebrows at James. "And four hours if we take a carriage, which I intend to do. You may do what you like."
"Fine!" James said loudly. "I'll take your stupid carriage and not spend three hours tiring myself out. But I do it under duress!"
Sarah, who had lifted and tied her trunk to the back of the cab while he spoke, only smirked.
"I'm blaming you when my parents write," she said.
A/N: This fic is so much fun to write. :) I really hope you all are enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it! And I can't wait to get to France next chapter...
Thanks again to my awesome reviewers, who really, REALLY keep me going (and like I said last time, motivated me to start writing again!): Elizabeth-Argent, prettyinpinkgal, Godsgirl16, lovefood-t, DaggerQuill, SimplyShelby, Abster1, orange-InuYasha, lklvr14, hallo, shock, P.I.D., Rose-Wisteria, Angharad, SpelCastrMax, Among the Roses, Hydrangea777, dragonmaster88, ThunderStorm-8, Aura, NalanaSpinderOfSouls, JDP, neosun7, Divagurl277, Mystified Providence, SilverRainbow223, Kikyoni, EreshkigalGirl, Emma, aaaand jerseygirl13! HOLLA!