Chapter 1

Kate stood in front of the building that she had once called home. It was a marble montrosity, with the requisite columns and scroll work. It looked cold and unfeeling and it was. It was nothing compared to the cabin where she had Grace had lived for 2 years. The best years of her life despite the poverty. And yet, here she was, about to return to her childhood house and all it's memories. It hadn't changed a bit, but she wasn't the same girl she had been when she left. She was stronger, more confident. She would be all that Danny had seen in her. She would be strong for Danny and Grace.

Taking Grace's hand she walked up the marble stairs, ignoring the 3 Chinese men who escorted her. She hadn't spoken to them since they had refused to bring Danny with them. She had offered them payment from her trust fund that she would recieve when she turned 25, but they did not want to disappoint her father by bringing back her lover. So be it. She had no more use for them, so she did not speak with them.

The tall front door opened just as she reached it.

"Welcome home, Miss," a familiar voice welcomed her.

Kate tried to smile. "Hello James. How are you? And Matilda?" she asked politely. James had been the family butler for as long as she could remember and Matilda, his wife, was the cook.

James smiled and bowed to her. "We're fine, Miss, thank you for asking. And may I say it's good to see you again."

"Thank you James." Nodding towards Grace, she introduced her daughter to James.

"Hello, Miss Grace," he said kindly to the shy toddler. "She's the spitting image of you at the same age, if I may say so," he told Kate smilingly. "Matilda will be tickled to see her."

Kate nodded, trying to muster up a smile in return. "Is my father here?"

"No, Miss," James frowned. "He had some business to attend to downtown. He should be back by dinner."

"My mother?"

He shook his head. "I believe she is at a meeting with the Red Cross."

"Then I suppose Julianna isn't home, either," Kate guessed. James shook his head again. Kate had been gone for over 5 years. Everyone knew when she was going to arrive, yet no one could take time out of their busy lives to welcome her home. Typical. It was just as well, she didn't particularly want to see them. "Is my room ready?"

"Yes, Miss," he said eagarly. "Everything is ready for you. Also the nursery has been refurbished for Miss Grace. Your mother has hired a nanny to take care of her for you."

Kate frowned. "I won't be needing the nanny," she informed him. "Grace stays with me."

"As you wish, Miss," James replied. "Dinner is at seven, if you would like a chance to refresh..."

"I won't be dining with my parents, this evening," Kate informed him. "Grace and I will be in my room. If you would be so kind as to ask Matilda to send up a plate of food - nothing fancy, I would appreciate it. We're rather tired."

"Of course, Miss," James smiled at her. "Matty has been preparing your favorite - beef and noodles."

Kate smiled wanly. "That sounds wonderful." Picking up Grace she continued into the house - through the foyer, up the sweeping staircase and down the right hall. She opened the fifth door on the right, holding her breath, unsure of what her mother might have done. Fortunately, her mother's touch had seemingly passed this room by. It still looked the same as when she had last lived here. No flowers, no chintzes, no odd half naked statuary. Just plain and simple. Their cabin would have fit into this one room four times over.

Kate looked down at her sleepy daughter. "How about taking a nap, Grace?"

"No bath?"

"No, no bath tonight," Kate smiled. "Mama's too tired."