Hey hey! Here's the sequel to 'Where You Heart Truly Lies' I hope you guys enjoy reading it~!
Annabelle rode swiftly alongside Groves as they headed for the fort. Only minutes before, Groves had arrived at her front door with a spare horse saying that she was needed in Clayton's office.
Annabelle had been in Port Royal for several weeks. She had returned to her home, where to her surprise Sophie and the other servants still resided. Sophie, however, had told her Governor Swann ordered them to remain there until he returned. Word was shortly sent for them to return to England, where they were told they would be reunited with him. Annabelle had to deliver the tragic news of his death, and she was able to get the arrangements cancelled. With Governor Swann and Elizabeth absent, she became lady of the house, helping put their lives back in order as she continued to make plans on finding Elizabeth and Will.
Groves was promoted to Commodore shortly after their return, and found more duties piled into his workload. He visited the Swann home several times a week to help and to check on Annabelle and the servants, still determined to keep his personal promise of seeing that Annabelle was cared for.
Since Beckett was dead, word was sent to the King so a replacement could be sent. The replacement was another Lord. Lord Charles Clayton. Annabelle hadn't met the man yet, but from the little Groves told her, he wasn't pleasant.
She and Groves stopped their horses just outside the office, where guards held the reigns for them. Groves dismounted and quickly rushed to Annabelle's aid before escorting her inside. Her stomach knotted, remembering the last time she had set foot near this office wasn't a pleasant experience: it was when Beckett had intruded on Elizabeth and Will's wedding and had imprisoned her cousin. That day was the first link in a chain of events that had altered Annabelle's life forever.
They entered the small foyer, where another young officer stood guard near Clayton's closed door. He straightened upon their entrance.
"Lord Clayton is detained at the moment."
"I understand," Groves said, "but we were sent for."
The officer glanced at them again before opening the door and addressing yet another guard who stood inside.
The door opened wider, and the guard bid them inside. They slowly approached the desk as the door was closed behind them. Clayton stood behind his desk with his back to them.
He presently turned. "Commodore Groves. Miss Bennington. Forgive me for sending for you on such short notice."
Annabelle inwardly cringed. This man reminded her too much of Beckett, if not worse. "Lord Clayton."
"I sent for you because I have come across a matter that concerns you." She remained quiet. Groves tried to control his annoyance at the man. It occurred to him Clayton had not yet even asked them to sit.
"Is there news about my uncle?" Annabelle tried. She knew Clayton didn't see the mysterious circumstances surrounding Governor Swann's death as a priority, but she thought perhaps the more she brought it up, she'd eventually have success. She'd done some searching on her own upon her return, but had found nothing.
"In a way," was all Clayton said before finally bidding them to sit. Once they were situated, he continued. "I'm afraid I have come across a legal matter. You returned to Port Royal a short time ago, did you not?"
"Almost a month, sir," she replied.
"And when you went through your uncle's possessions, you found his will."
"Yes, sir, you know that. I had to turn it over to you when you arrived." Her suspicions rose. "Why? Was there something found?"
Clayton drew out a piece of paper lying on his desk. "This is the last page of your uncle's will. In the remainder of it, he commands that his possessions are to be bequeathed to you and his daughter, Elizabeth, as well as a sum for each of the servants. The predicament lies here, where he explains that both of you must be present to claim what is yours."
"I would like to see it, please," she said firmly but quietly.
He reluctantly handed it to Groves, who gave it to her. Her heart fell with each sentence, reminded of her uncle's passing. It was a strange request, but somewhat sounded like him. He wouldn't have trusted anyone to deliver or handle this affair other than her and Elizabeth. He'd believed there was good in everyone, but that didn't mean he trusted everyone.
Maintaining her composure, she asked, "Where does this leave me?"
"Unfortunately, Miss Bennington, this leaves you with nothing for now. Legally, you do not own anything in your current possession because Miss Swann has not been present in Port Royal." He presented another slip of paper. "This was found with the will. It was to be signed by you and her when you both make your claims so his solicitor would have legal proof. When was the last time you saw your cousin?"
"It has been at least a couple of weeks before my return."
"With the pirates, no doubt," he added coolly. Annabelle remained still, refusing to give in. "As far as I am concerned, until you find her and she signs the document, you do not own the house or anything else in your possession."
Annabelle's blood ran cold. *Is he going to throw me out of my house? What will happen to the servants-*
Groves jumped in. "It says here," he indicated a paragraph on the will's last page, "Until they both make their claims and sign the document. Not anywhere does it give a time period. Legally, Annabelle is not pressured to find her cousin, nor can she be expelled from her home. The new governor has to attest to that as well, does he not?"
Though annoyed, Clayton kept his cool demeanor. "Impressive, Commodore. I am aware of that, but the governor has not yet arrived, and until then I am to oversee these decisions until he does."
"With all due respect, Lord Clayton, my men and I were notified we all would hold on major legal decisions until he arrived. I have no wish to report anyone disobeying his Majesty's orders," Groves replied just as calmly.
Clayton slowly stood, as did Groves. "And I have no wish to report subordination. It would be wise for you not to forget your place, Commodore. The decision I was going to enforce is that Miss Bennington continue to reside at the estate, although it is not in her possession until Miss Swann is found and signs her part of the claims. The Governor will do as he sees fit when he arrives. It is another month before he is expected to." He sat back down. "You may go."
"How dare he try to abuse his power!" Groves said some time later, when they weren't far from Governor Swann's mansion.
"We have dealt with men like him before, but at least I have heard this new governor is not hotheaded," Annabelle replied calmly.
Groves sighed as he helped her dismount the horse. "Yes, I have, too. Perhaps he will be like your uncle."
Annabelle weakly smiled at the thought. "Perhaps. It is a pleasant thought."
He escorted her to her front door, where she thanked him for his services. "You're welcome, Miss Bennington. We will find Miss Swann, do not worry. I wouldn't forfeit hope for Mr. Turner, either."
"I am not worried about finding her, only the difficult process of it." Annabelle quickly changed the subject. "Would you care to have supper here tonight, as a token of my gratitude? Mason or Kingsley may join you, too, if they like."
Groves thought about how different the offer would feel if he had been invited to supper with her and Norrington. Sadly this was not the reality. "Unfortunately I cannot tonight. Would tomorrow night be all right?"
"Yes," she replied before stepping inside. "Good day, Commodore Groves, and thank you."
"Good day, Miss Bennington."
Back at the fort, Groves concentrated his efforts on his most personal priority.
"No, no, no, it was west when it sailed off," he directed one of his men. They were trying to plot possible courses the Pearl could have taken after the Endeavour was destroyed. He had helped Annabelle from day one to find Elizabeth's whereabouts, but now the stakes were higher-and so was the tediousness of the search.
"That still leaves three other possible ports where it could have safely made berth," Captain Kinglsey observed. He and Lieutenant Mason had watched over Annabelle when she was brought onboard the Valiant shortly after being taken into custody by Lord Beckett. They were just as adamant about this search as Groves, and he was indebted to them. So much that he'd personally appointed them as his men after his promotion.
"So it does," Groves admitted. "We shall send correspondence to those three then."
"Actually, Commodore," Mason humbly joined in. "When you first had us send the correspondence to the other ports, I had mistaken and thought you meant those, too. They probably already have received it, or it should reach them shortly."
Groves fought back a smile. "Well done, Lieutenant."
"Commodore," Gilette, an old comrade of his and Norrington's, walked in and held up a letter. "We have received news from several of the ports."
Groves took the letters and opened them one by one, the other men standing by in anticipation. He sighed in defeat as he folded up the last one. "None of these ports have reported seeing the Black Pearl or a ship that even resembles it. How many other ports do we still have yet to hear from?"
"I believe only one other, Sir," Gilette replied. "One of my men told me the Intrepid should be returning from one of our posts within a couple of days, and they may have word."
Groves sighed, trying to muster his patience. "Very well." *I shall wait yet again for news...*
"Supper was splendid, Sophie," Annabelle said, already worn out from the day.
"Thank you kindly, Miss. We are glad you enjoyed it. Would you like your evening tea here?"
Annabelle's voice became quiet. "No, thank you, I will take it in the parlor."
She walked into the parlor after Sophie returned to the kitchen, pausing in the doorway and scanning the room. The house was so empty without her family. It was in this room where she had joined Uncle Weatherby and Elizabeth on many occasions for tea, dessert, and afternoons and evenings when they would just sit and visit for hours on end.
Her eyes stopped when she spotted the piano. It had been so long since she had played, and her mother had taught her at a young age. She suddenly felt an urge to play now. Well, she could try. Perhaps it would lighten her mood a bit.
She gently situated herself on the bench and lightly touched several keys. She played a few familiar notes and chords, and was soon playing familiar tunes. She glided from one tune to another, fixing mistakes as she went. She felt her heart lighten a bit, and she allowed her fingers to play freely.
She soon caught herself playing a familiar tune, but kept playing to see if she could place it. She soon recognized it, but somehow couldn't bring herself to stop.
The tune was to the waltz her mother had taught her to dance to as well as play on the piano. It was the waltz she had taught Uncle Weatherby that one afternoon when Norrington and Groves had walked in on them dancing. What she didn't know, however, was that marked the day Norrington first noticed her as a young woman.
Annabelle snapped herself from her trance and jerked her fingers away. She fingered the necklace Tia Dalma had given her, which she still wore hidden under her dresses. Memories continued to flood her mind as she tried to shoo the painful ones away. Tears flowed down her face, and silent sobs escaped her lips.
"Miss Annabelle?" Sophie had walked in just in time to find out what had upset her, and she sat with her to comfort her until her pain had eased.