A/N: Welcome, darlings! How are you? I am right on time for the update, right? Only one week since my last post!
A huge thank you to: Jandra1969, LovingEden, MissMisc3, nuckythompson, dionne dance, TinkerbellxO, CharlieCats, Makrciana, guest, TinaG646, AngeliqueBouchard1972, XantheXV, Jay D. Moore, Jess20706, IgnitingFireworks, carmleissle5cullen, Sagacious Rouge, Insert Silly Pen Name Here, Leyshla Gisel, ForeverACharmedOne, SweetMusicDreamer, Frenzy In Delirium, hannahhobnob, BlooperLover, pinky, samanthatm, LadyAmazon, smilin steph and LabyFan23.
You are all amazing!
Disclaimer: I do not own Dark Shadows.
But then I was young and un-afraid,
And dreams were made and used and wasted,
There was no ransom to be paid,
No song unsung, no wine un-tasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hopes apart
And they turn your dream to shame…
~ I Dreamed A Dream, Les Miserables
The silence was pulsing around them as Josette stared between the two of them with wide blue eyes.
Master Barnabas swallowed hard and stepped forward, plastering a smile on his face as he approached his fiancée.
Samantha watched him going with a cold feeling in her chest and a lump in her throat.
"Darling, what are you doing here?" he murmured in the usual gentle tone he used when he was in the presence of his betrothed. Samantha felt like an interloper as she watched him place his hands on Josette's shoulders. She lowered her gaze and bit her lip hard enough to bleed. For the first time she could actually recognize and name the feeling that had been eating her up for months; jealousy.
She cringed as soon as she put the label on it. She was not that sort of person. Envy was never in her list of faults.
"I saw you leaving from the balcony. I wondered why." Lady Josette spoke up and Samantha had to stop her dreadful train of thought.
"So, you followed me?" Master Barnabas' voice sounded unsettled and slightly rougher than before, almost accusing.
Lady Josette pushed out of his hold and locked her eyes on Samantha, "You locked the door. Why was the door locked?" she asked in what she believed was a strong voice.
Even Samantha heard how it quivered.
"I had private matters to discuss." Master Barnabas stated with slightly narrowed eyes as he took a step back, bringing his body closer to Samantha's.
"Private matters? With the maid?" Lady Josette asked and Samantha could hear the reprimand in her voice, the confusion.
"Josette." Master Barnabas warned in a quiet tone.
"No, I want to know what you had to say that you felt the need to lock the door!" Ms. Du Pres' voice was bordering on hysterical and Samantha looked up, trying to fight any kind of emotion from appearing on her face.
"Josette, you're being ridiculous." Master Barnabas reasoned in a soft voice.
"Am I? I heard moving around in there." Josette looked at Samantha then and took a deep breath, "Do you have feelings for her?" she whispered and Master Barnabas inhaled sharply, "Since her fiancé came along you've been distant." She continued but she was cut off.
"He is not her fiancé! For God's sake none of you can see that she is unwilling!? Are you all blind because you think she is a threat? I am marrying you! What else do you want me to do?" Master Barnabas exploded and Samantha gasped.
No, please stop talking like that. They will realize-…
"Barnabas, don't shout at me-…" Josette's voice quivered.
"Then don't accuse me, Josette!" he snapped angrily with wild eyes, "For the love of God stop smothering me! I can't stand it! Not from you too!" he whispered the last sentence before he passed by her and disappeared down the corridor.
Samantha stared after him with wide eyes but she quickly neutralized her expression. She had to.
Lady Josette sniffed and gazed at her feet before she looked up at Samantha.
"My Lady, please calm yourself. Shall I make you something?" Samantha asked quietly.
"Do you love my fiancé?" Josette asked and Samantha froze.
"Pardon, my Lady?" she whispered as Josette approached her and looked deeply into her eyes; blue against green.
"Do you love your master? Do you love him?" Josette repeated with watery eyes, "Do you love Barnabas?" she whispered brokenly and Samantha resisted the automatic response that babbled in the depths of her mouth like foam that threatened to spill over the edge.
"Tell me the truth. I am not as stupid as everybody thinks me to be." Josette continued and Samantha swallowed the instinctive answer as she listened.
"I am not blind." Josette whispered, "So, do you love him?"
Samantha took a deep breath and spoke the biggest lie she had ever spoken in her life, "No." she shook her head. The lie burned her mouth and filled it with acid and as she swallowed she could feel it sliding deeper into the depths of her soul, scorching her insides like molten lava.
Josette oblivious of her inner turmoil released a big breath and nodded her head, "And does he love you? Or is all this hovering around meant to mean something else?"
Samantha frowned, the burning in her veins momentarily forgotten, "I don't understand."
"Is he sleeping with you?" Josette rushed out, "He has rejected me. More times than I dare to count. I know how he was before he met me. I know the rumors."
"My Lady, Master Barnabas has never done such a thing. He's only been kind to me. Nothing more." Samantha said softly and Josette's lower lip trembled.
"But there is something special about you. I know it. I can see it. I see how his eyes light up every time you walk into a room. Please, don't lie to me." She pleaded and Samantha blinked back her tears.
Samantha dared to put a hand on the other woman's arm, "I am telling the truth. My Master loves you. Please, calm yourself." She said softly and Josette closed her eyes and covered her face with her hand.
"I made such a fool out of myself. He won't forgive me for speaking to him in such a manner." She sobbed as she looked at Samantha with shame, "I just don't know what more to do anymore." She whispered before a sob caught up with her and she covered her mouth with her hand to stifle it.
Samantha rubbed her arm comfortingly and before she knew it the other woman had collapsed in her arms.
Samantha tightened her arms around Josette and held her up while her heartbeat thundered in her ribcage. The woman sagged against her and Samantha bit her tongue hard enough to bleed. Everyone had someone, or at least found someone, to vent on, to release their wrath, their pain, their confusion. And what about her? She was bound to keep it all to herself. To wrap her pain up in the shards that was her life and hide it in the deepest circles of her being.
She looked at the blonde hair of the woman that resembled her own and pressed her lips tightly together in order to remain quiet. That was her destiny. To give and never receive. Only one had given her something that she treasured but he too took back the happiness he gave. Not because he wanted to but because he had to. Because some things had to remain fantasies, dreams and nothing more.
Taking a deep calming breath she looked up and froze. At the end of the corridor was him. She tensed as he approached and it was no wonder he had come back. He'd always come back because he knew what his duty was.
With soft hands he reached for Josette and the tips of his fingers touched Samantha's arms. She shivered but immediately let go of Josette and stepped back.
Master Barnabas' eyes were wide and mournful as his fiancée turned to cling to him like a lifeline and his expression spoke of contrition.
Josette buried her face into his vest and grasped fistfuls of his coat in her hands as she shook with quiet sobs and he wrapped his arms around her frail frame, bringing her closer.
Samantha looked away and hugged her abdomen as he took a step back with Josette.
"There, there." He murmured and Samantha looked up.
Sure enough his eyes were on her face and when she locked eyes with him his expression softened even more and his lips parted. He cradled Josette's head in his palm but his attention was not directed to her.
Samantha gazed at him and just as she was about to avert her gaze and walk into her room he mouthed two words that left her breathless.
"I'm sorry." His eyes were wide and sad and they rooted her on the spot.
She swallowed hard as he bit his lip and reflexively tightened his hold on the woman in his arms; not for her but for himself before he took a deep breath and continued stepping backwards.
Just before his face was obscured by shadows she saw his lips move again.
"I love you."
Samantha inhaled sharply but a moment later he was gone and only the sniffing sounds of Ms. Du Pres proved that he had been standing there.
With wide eyes and a strong conviction that she had read his lips wrong, she turned on her heel and disappeared into her room. She bolted the door firmly on her way inside.
The needle pierced her skin and she winced before she put it away and slipped her finger into her mouth to sooth the sting. She looked glumly at her needlework and closed her eyes in defeat.
"Little Samantha." Angelique called and Samantha looked up, surprised that the woman was actually speaking to her.
The dark haired maid approached with an artificial smile plastered on her face. Samantha tensed at the severe look in her icy blue eyes.
"Lucky you. Mr. Bosworth is here." Angelique said sweetly as she briefly eyed the needle on top of the intricate design Samantha had been working on.
"What?" Samantha asked with wide eyes.
Angelique took her eyes away from her bloodstained needle and smirked, "He's at the stables. He says he has a gift for you. You will go to him, won't you? I already told him that it's your day off." She said and Samantha stood from her seat.
"Of course you did." She replied tersely and Angelique only shrugged and smirked again.
"Fine then." Samantha murmured as she headed for the door, leaving the embroidery behind her.
"Don't be too hasty to discard him. You never know who is going to stop being there for you once they're married." Angelique called as she slyly reached for the bloodied needle and placed it in her apron pocket before Samantha turned to look at her.
"What are you insinuating?" she whispered and Angelique approached her.
"Don't be gullible, little girl. Men are not to be trusted. Don't be quick to choose." The woman whispered back before she turned and left the kitchen with slow measured footsteps.
Samantha stared after her with confusion before she turned and continued walking.
Samantha watched with wide eyes as Philip walked out of the stables with Cesar trailing behind him. The white and constantly growing foal whined at the sight of her and she blinked in confusion.
"Cesar?" she frowned and Bosworth smiled.
"I heard or rather, a little bird told me you're close friends." He smiled and she had to admit that he was rather sweet when looking at her with such hopeful eyes.
"Yes…Um, I am very fond of him. But I do not understand." She whispered as he approached and took hold of her hand. He placed the reins in her hand and curled her fingers around them.
"He is yours."
"What?" she breathed,
"Take it as an engagement present. Mr. Collins was kind enough to give him to me." Philip smiled and she gulped.
"Master Joshua. He seems to like you." Philip said and she looked away.
Or he was just eager to get rid of her.
"Um, I am sorry, Mr. Bosworth-…"
"Please, call me Philip." He murmured as Cesar walked around him so he could nuzzle his nose against Samantha's hand.
She gave in and started petting him.
"I cannot do that I am afraid, Mr. Bosworth." She whispered sadly, "I am sorry if my behavior has told you otherwise but I cannot marry you." She told him as looked up into his blue eyes.
He frowned and took a step back, "But your father…He…"
"My father is my father, sir. And I love him but I cannot live my life to please others." She shook her head and with great effort handed Cesar's reins back to him. He refused to take them.
"Is there someone else then?" he asked her and she swallowed hard.
"Then… don't you want to get out of this life?" he asked her with great confusion and maybe a little frustration.
No, because I'd never see him again.
"I am happy with my position, Mr. Bosworth."
"But you're a maid." He hissed, "Surely you want more than that." He ran a hand through his hair.
"Not yet." She whispered.
Philip gazed at her with uncertainty before he shook his head and took hold of her free hand, "Please won't you reconsider?" he murmured and she took a step back.
"I am sorry."
She pulled her hand from his and took a step backwards.
Bosworth lowered his eyes and when he raised them again they were stormy, "This is so inappropriate. I have already paid my due to Mr. Hawkins. I will not be played for a fool." He said in a low voice and Samantha's eyes widened.
"What did you say? You have given my father money already?" she asked with shock and he nodded.
"Of course. I wasn't aware that this would happen. You are aware of your position, aren't you?" he asked as he grabbed the reins from her hand and tugged the horse forward. Cesar whined in protest and kicked his front legs in complaint.
"Mr. Bosworth, release the horse." Master Barnabas' voice was loud and clear as he hopped down from Abraxas and walked towards them in long strides.
Bosworth turned to him and frowned, "The horse is mine-…"
"Have you paid for him? Because I do not think that is the case. The horse is mine and my father should have asked me before handing it over to a stranger for no price." Barnabas said angrily as he came to stand next to Samantha and grabbed the reins from Philip's hand, "Not that I could not buy him from you if you had acquired him. I imagine that a man of your…" his eyes traveled the other man's form with obvious disdain, "status could only afford that much." He finished and Samantha gasped.
"Silence, Samantha." Master Barnabas snapped at her and she closed her mouth with a start, "I will not stand for this. Threatening a member of my household on my grounds? I thought you were a real gentleman, Mr. Bosworth. Also," he approached the blue eyed man and glared at him with scorching chocolate eyes, "Gifts are not taken back from ladies. Isn't that so, sir?" he asked with a tilt of his head.
Samantha could literally feel Bosworth shake with rage.
"Are you calling me uncouth, Mr. Collins?" Philip asked and Barnabas smirked.
"Indeed, I am." He announced loudly and Samantha gulped.
"May I ask the reason behind this assault to my person?" Bosworth asked.
"Only your persistence. I have nothing against you, sir, but I cannot stand men who cannot take no for an answer. They set my teeth on edge." Master Barnabas said in a low voice and Samantha bit the inside of her cheek to stifle her gasp.
"Is that so? Is only my persistence that sets your teeth on edge, sir?" Bosworth asked with furious eyes and Barnabas narrowed his eyes.
"Let us not hide behind words, Mr. Bosworth. Say what you have to say with no qualms." Young Mr. Collins said calmly and Bosworth's eyes darted towards Samantha who was standing rigidly just a few steps behind her master.
"She has caught your eye." Bosworth stated and Samantha gasped, "I'd say she has caught more than just your eye. She has enslaved your heart." He looked at Barnabas who curled his fists by his sides, the material of his gloves tight over his hands.
"You want her. I can see it every time I come here for her. Quite the scandal, Mr. Collins. A betrothed man of your standard, lusting after his chambermaid. What would society say?" Philip hissed and to Samantha's eyes he had never looked more evil.
Her master took a step forward, "Another sign of uncouthness, Mr. Bosworth. How obvious it is that your parents were nothing but collaborators with pirates. Oh, yes," he breathed at Bosworth's wide eyed expression, "I know all about you. I have done well since you seem to know everything about me and my affairs."
"These are lies-…"
"Are they? Very well, how about your rudeness towards the woman you claim to love? Are these the words of a gentleman, sir?"
"I will be rude when it comes to my best interests!"
"Well, I am sorry to inform you, Mr. Bosworth, that your supposed betrothal with Ms. Hawkins is void." Master Barnabas said.
"Because you say so?" Bosworth said with a cocked eyebrow.
"Because her father says so, sir." Master Barnabas slipped his hand into the inner pocket of his thick frockcoat and pulled out a letter.
Samantha's eyes widened as he handed it over to Philip.
He took it from Barnabas' hand jerkily and opened it. His eyes read the written lines before he looked up.
"This is preposterous." Bosworth murmured.
"But very true." Barnabas murmured back.
Samantha took a deep breath, "May I read the letter?" she questioned but Bosworth did not take his eyes from her master.
"Why did he change his mind? He was set on his purpose. This makes no sense."
"My good sir, I do not have the answers. I simply gave you the letter Mr. Hawkins sent to my father since he could not reach you. I know no more." Master Barnabas said casually.
It was shocking that he could lie so easily.
"Absurd." Bosworth hissed as he looked between the two of them.
Barnabas stared back at him steadily until the man laughed bitterly and stepped back.
"Not worth bothering anyway." He muttered as his eyes fell on Samantha.
Master Barnabas snarled and Samantha reached out to grasp the back of his coat in order to stop him from lunging forward.
"My father has requested for you to stay the night before you travel back home. His words, not mine. The maids will lead you to your chamber, Mr. Bosworth. Perhaps we could work on your manners during a play of chess." Master Barnabas said behind gritted teeth but the man only scoffed and turned to walk away.
When he was no longer visible Barnabas turned to her and grabbed hold of her hand. He led her and Cesar towards the stables and pushed her in before he placed the horse in his resting place.
"What if he says something to someone?" Samantha asked and he turned towards her, his eyes wide and furious.
"You think I care? Everybody knows about my feelings. Josette does too now. They just turn their faces and ignore it because they know I cannot do anything more." He ran a hand through his short hair and then tugged off his gloves with jerky movements.
Samantha watched him with shock and dread.
"I am so sorry." She whispered and her words made him freeze, "This is all my fault." She shook her head.
In a flash he was next to her and he had her arms in his hands, "Don't say that. No one asked me to do this. I did it for my own selfish reasons but I don't regret it. This is what I wanted and when it comes to you for once I succeeded." He laughed bitterly, "This is the only thing I can do for you." He murmured as he pushed her hair back from her face and leaned his forehead against hers.
He closed his eyes and she did too. His breathing was rapid and labored and she hesitantly placed her hand on top of his chest, just above his heart. She could feel his heartbeat pounding against his chest and she released a shaky breath which he mirrored with one of his own.
He nuzzled his nose against hers and she smiled at the childish gesture. He chuckled and it brought goose bumps to appear on her skin because she hadn't heard him laughing in quite a while. She unconsciously stepped closer to him until he had one arm wrapped around her back. His lips pressed a kiss on the tip of her nose and she swallowed thickly as his lips captured her top lip. She exhaled shakily as he sucked it in his mouth but when his tongue licked her trapped lip she shook her head.
"Barnabas? Are you in there?" Josette's voice caused them to break apart like a lightning had struck them.
She watched as he placed a hand on his mouth and wiped the wetness their almost kiss had left on his lips and she lowered her eyes. Her lip was burning from his kiss but she quickly stepped away and headed for Cesar as Josette walked into the stables, looking ruffled.
"You're here. What took you so long?" she asked sweetly but when she noticed Samantha she frowned.
"I'm sorry. I was delayed with the horses." Master Barnabas cleared his throat as he walked over to his fiancée and placed his hand on her lower back.
"You left me standing at the gates." She murmured and the accusation was evident in her quiet tone.
"I apologize, sweetheart. Let's go and get you out of the cold." He murmured and without another glance behind him he pulled her out of the stables.
Samantha closed her eyes and collapsed next to Cesar. The foal gazed at her with glimmering sad eyes as she nestled close to him and placed her face in her hands.
The thud that resonated in the air around her woke her up. She placed a hand against her chest and looked around in the darkness, searching for the culprit.
She groped around for a match and she lighted a candle before she stood up from the bed. The cold hit her exposed skin as she tiptoed to the door. With hesitant hands she unlocked it and looked outside. She saw nothing but as she made to shut the door again something heavy bumped against it and she jumped.
She brought forth the candle and looked down. Her eyes widened and she stumbled back before she released a loud scream that resonated around Collinwood like an echo. She could have sworn that even the brick walls shook from the volume of her cry.
There, just outside her chamber door Philip Bosworth lay in a pool of blood. His wide open blue eyes stared back at her with horror.
She covered her mouth with her hand but as she kept staring at the lifeless man another scream escaped her throat, this time more powerful. Only then did she hear the pounding footsteps that thundered down the stairs from the upper floors.
End of chapter 14
Author's note: Eh, still here? Great! Thank you so much for reading! Now, please review before you go. Your comments feed the muse and put a smile on my face.
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Xxx Lina :o)