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The Sisterhood - Cathy's Kin  (Annette Siketa)


The Sisterhood - Cathy

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Sequel to The Sisterhood – Curse of Abbot Hewitt, Sybil Ashmore and Stella Redfern are the great-granddaughters of rival witches, and both girls have inherited traits of their satanic ancestors. Raised to believe she is destined for greatness, when Sybil falls under the protection of Frederick Faulkner – the Duke of Leeds, she sets her sights on one of his grandsons. A simple spell makes Ernest fall passionately in love with her, but not everyone is captivated by Sybil’s beauty and charm, especially Ernest’s overly pious mother. Stella inadvertently becomes enmeshed in Sybil’s plan to obtain a coronet, and the old family feud is reignited.

But the licentious Duke has his own plans for Sybil, and when he places her in his brothel, she is compelled to become a high priced whore.

Sybil then falls under the auspices of the degenerate, defrocked priest, Canon Roseham, who completes her evil ‘education’, which she uses to exact revenge on the Faulkner family.

Later, Sybil persuades her former lover, Ernest Faulkner – now the duke, to grant her a living in a convent. But there is nothing ‘holy’ about her intentions, and the only person who can stop her is her arch-enemy, Stella Redfern, who just happens to be married to Ernest’s surviving brother.

Product type: EBook    Published by:     Published: 4 / 2018

No. words: 97878

Style: Adult Horror Stories, Supernatural Erotica

Available Formats: MobiPocket (MOBI)  EPUB  PDF  MS Reader  This book has a format which can be downloaded to Kindle


Excerpt

Extract from The Sisterhood – Cathy’s Kin, by Annette Siketa.


Chapter Five. The Dinner Guest.



The following morning, Mrs Bryce made her usual manic appearance, and at lunchtime, a note arrived inviting Harvey to dine with Dobson that evening. The mysterious Gibson and the ever-present Norton would also be in attendance. Indeed, the latter was in the kitchen when Harvey arrived at the shop.
Norton looked quite at home with his sleeves rolled up and an apron around his waist. "Come and smell this," he invited, raising the lid of a pot. “I thought I’d give Mrs Dobson the night off.”
Through a cloud of fragrant vapour, Harvey saw a parcel of neatly wrapped muslin. “What is it?”
"A leg of mutton. I have also added garlic, carrots, onions, nutmeg and thyme. You’ve never tasted my cooking, and this is the only dish I can cook really well, though if Gibson doesn’t arrive soon, it’ll be so tough that Dobson could use it to sole a pair of boots.”
“I’m sure it will be delicious,” said Harvey encouragingly, and went to join Dobson in the cosy parlour. The old man was reading what appeared to be a new book. “Bells?” queried Harvey, sitting at the table.
“Yes. It is a history of bells from a liturgical point of view.”
"For example?”
"According to Guillaume Durand, the hardness of the metal should reflect the force or strength of character of the priest. The clapper as it hits the sides expresses the idea that the cleric must first scourge himself of his own vices before reproaching those of the congregation. The wooden frame represents the Cross, and the rope that sets the bell swinging, allegorizes a direct link between heaven and earth.
"Jean Beleth, who lived in 1200, also declared that the bell was a representation of the priest. Hugo of Saint Victor added another interpretation, namely, that the clapper, as it strikes the two sides of the bell, announces the truth of the two Testaments. Fortunatus Amalarius said that the inside of the bell denotes the priest’s mouth and the clapper his tongue."
"On that basis," said Harvey, "you could affix any interpretation to the parts of a bell, even sexual ones.”
“True, but then it all depends…”
Dobson was interrupted by a knock at the door. He went into the shop and returned with the most extraordinary man Harvey had ever seen. Gibson was rather short with a distinct, egg-shaped head. His shoulder length hair was as straight as a poker, and his grey eyes, hooked nose, and almost bloodless lips, gave him the appearance of a human hawk.
He removed his cloak, which seemed at least two sizes too big, revealing a black frock coat and a starched white cravat. But it was his hands that caught Harvey’s attention, for not only were they out of proportion to his body, but they were adorned with hefty rings.
“Ah, I see you have discovered one of my secrets already.”
Harvey tried not to stare. “They are certainly…erm…unusual.”
Gibson laughed. “I would not wear them if they were not. This one bears a scorpion, the sign under which I was born. This one, with its two triangles, one pointing downward and the other upward, represents the seal of Solomon, and the third is a protective pentacle.”
“And the fourth?”
It was a single sapphire and undoubtedly a lady's ring. "It was a present from a person whose horoscope I cast."
There was a curiously twisted ring on his thumb. However, before Harvey could enquire, Mrs Dobson and Norton entered with dinner. His cheeks were red and his brow was glistening, and yet he looked the epitome of happiness.
“You will note,” he said, cutting open the muslin, “that I used surgical stitches.”
Afterwards, everyone praised the mutton, to which Norton bowed with exaggerated gratitude. Dobson produced a bottle of good wine, and the conversation soon turned to matters supernatural.
"Unfortunately,” said Gibson, lighting his pipe, “people nowadays are more sceptical of astrology, and yet there are signs everywhere if you know where to look. Take Notre Dame Cathedral for example. There are three main doors commonly known as ‘the door of Judgment’, ‘the door of the Virgin’, and ‘the door of Saint Marcel or Saint Anne’, and yet they really represent Mysticism, Astrology, and Alchemy.
“People often ask me if the stars can predict or even influence a destiny. For answer, I highlight the power of the moon. It has been proven that at every phase the number of sick people increases. The term lunatic is not applied for nothing. Most people don't know the first thing about astrology, and those who claim they do are usually tricksters.
"It is galling that these charlatans, whilst peddling their ignorance of astrology, disregard other aspects of mysticism. I will use apparitions as an example. How do they appear? Are they conjured by the medium during a trance? Are there immaterial beings in the air who can only appear under the right conditions? Or, and this is the basis of occult spiritualism, are they the souls of the dead?"
"Either method would horrify me," said Harvey. "I think it's quite enough to have lived once. I'd prefer a hole in the ground to being metamorphosised.”
"Occult spiritualism," said Dobson, "is only another name for ancient necromancy, which most civilised religions have condemned and rejected."
“You think so?” asked Gibson. He drained his glass and then held it up. “This glass, as well as water and vinegar, are teaming with life. The microscope has proved it. Why then should air not swarm with beings that are corporeal? That is to say, corporeal as we understand it."
"Perhaps that’s why cats suddenly look up or arch their backs unexpectedly,” posed Mrs Dobson. “They have seen something the human eye cannot.”
Norton thought it time to contribute to the conversation. “History is crammed with examples of saints having to dispel spirits, and yet the Church attributes all inexplicable phenomena to Satan. Catholicism has known about it for centuries, and whether they like it or not, spiritualism has bolstered belief in the unknown, thereby exposing the so-called incorruptibility of sanctuary. The sad part about it is that at a séance, most people never see anything of value.”
"That is not surprising," said the astrologer. "The first law of a seance is to eject the non-believers. Their ‘lack of faith’, if I may use such a term, is antagonistic to the clairvoyant or medium."
There was a few moments of silence in which Gibson played with his rings. Harvey rolled a pellet of bread between his fingers, and Norton, extracting a case from his pocket, inspected his cigars. Deciding that they had all eaten their fill, Mrs Dobson took the dishes into the kitchen.
Harvey shouted after her, "Would you like me to dry?"
“No, thank you. My dishes might not be much but I value them all the same.”
Harvey’s expression became one of sadness, not because of the cheeky rebuke, but because he knew the attic at Foxbury Chase was crammed with unused, good quality china. Seeing the dour expression, the kind Mr Gibson said, “Mr Faulkner, did you know that bells drive phantoms away?”
“No, I didn’t. And please call me Harvey.”
"Thank you. And I am Wallace, but everyone just calls me Gibson. I understand you’re writing about Gilles De Rais.”
Harvey smiled appreciatively. They had now reached the crux of the evening. "Yes, and I was hoping to enlist your help. I am interested, in relation to my work, in all aspects of Satanism.”
Gibson puffed on his pipe before saying, "It is an extremely broad subject. You do not object to discussing its more lurid aspects?”
“Not at all.”
“Then perhaps we should begin with the basics. Incubi are masculine demons and succubi are the female equivalent. In both instances, they collect the semen of men, usually during dreams, and there are a number of uses to which it is applied, including the procreation of children.
“According to the Church, these children are much heavier than normal and can drain three whet nurses in a day. Now, who is the father of the child? The demon who copulated with the mother or the man whose semen was stolen?”
Harvey thought for a moment and then said, “I should say the human man.”
“Ah, yes, but paganism asserts that incubi are endowed with genitals and therefore capable of independent procreation. Not surprisingly, the Church is rather silent on this particular subject.”
"I cannot agree with you there," said Dobson. "The existence of succubi and incubi has been certified by Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas, Pope Innocent VIII, and many others. The question is resolutely settled for Catholics.”
Gibson snorted. ”Ha! The Catholic Church would like to think it is, but by constantly denouncing Satan from the pulpit, the Church only succeed in highlighting demonic existence. Rome might choose to sweep the devil under the carpet, but it doesn’t follow that everyone else has to. You only have to look at the increasing incidents of incubacy in convents, and not just Catholic ones either."
“Convents?” queried Harvey in surprise.
“My dear fellow,” replied Gibson laconically, “if a priest can be seduced then why not a nun?”
Harvey shuddered. “I hope the poor creatures were asleep at the time.”
Gibson waved a hand dismissively. “It wouldn’t make any difference if they were or not. Generally speaking, if a woman voluntarily consorts with an incubi, she is always lucid during the act. But if she is the victim of sorcery, the carnality is committed no matter whether she is asleep or awake, though in the latter case, she is usually in a cataleptic state that prevents her from defending herself.” He paused and looked at Norton and Harvey. “Have either of you heard of Doctor Defoe?”
“No,” replied Harvey.
“Yes,” responded Norton. “He is a sort of exorcist.”
“Correct. He is a good friend of mine. He lives in Kent, and he has been saving demonically impregnated nuns for years. The act is consummated in the same manner as the human act. I know this because I have experienced it myself.”
“What?” exclaimed the other three men together.
Even though Mrs Dobson was still in the kitchen, Gibson lowered his voice. “The details are very personal. I was once unfortunate to sleep in the home of Canon Roseham. The succubus he sent me was very convincing. Fortunately, I remembered a protective incantation that kept me safe, and was on Defoe’s doorstep before the sun had risen. The first question he asked me was if I had…erm…spilt my seed. I told him that to the best of my knowledge I had not. Nevertheless, he performed a rite that ensured liberation from her spell."
"What did she look like?” asked Harvey.
Gibson grunted. “Voluptuous, lithe as a cat, and completely human.”
"Do you know where Roseham is now?"
"No. In fact, he’s been unusually quiet of late, though I’ve no doubt he still worships his Satanic Master. The last I heard, he had the image of Christ tattooed on his feet so that he could always walk on him.” Gibson sighed heavily. “Unfortunately, he is always…pardon the pun…one step ahead of the law.
“He has been accused of influencing people to make wills in his favour, and then of causing their death. But how can you prosecute a man who can send an unknown or unexplained malady from a distance?”
"A modern-day Gilles De Rais," quipped Harvey.
"Yes, but not as barbaric,” responded Gibson. “Roseham’s power lies in his subtlety of manipulation. It also helps that he is a master hypnotist. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that he can probably get anyone to do anything he liked, even murder."
Harvey shook his head. "How did he fall so low?"
"I don’t know, but perhaps Lord Chandler might. He’s…”
"Chandler!" cried Harvey and Norton together, the latter adding, “But we know him. He is a friend of ours.”
"He and his pretty second wife were once on intimate terms with him, but his lordship, for some undisclosed reason, sent him packing.”
Harvey could hardly breathe. So, Helen knew Roseham. Had she been under his influence when she’d visited the apartment? Indeed, what of her visit tomorrow night? Her mocking yet tender face came into his mind. Was this a propitious moment to reveal their depth of intimacy?
However, before Harvey could make a comment, Norton gave him a nudge. "Come on, old chap. Time we were going.”


They all shook hands and said ‘good night’. Norton waited until he and Harvey were in the street before asking, “Well, what did you think of him?”
"Gibson? I can’t decide whether he’s slightly mad or a genius. His stories and explanations were certainly incredible, and he astounded me when he said he’d been visited by a succubus."
A light drizzle was falling, and Norton turned up the collar of his coat. "Dobson holds him in high regard. Of course, there is a medical explanation for the succubus.”
“I thought there might be,” said Harvey dryly. “What is it?”
“It’s called hystero-epilepsy. A woman imagines that a man is very attracted to her and wants to bed her. The deluded woman will do anything to satisfy her lust, and when in bed, her body reacts as if a penis had been inserted, and yet there’s nothing there. Of course, the fact that the woman is hysterical, does not mean that another woman with a similar malady is not possessed.”
“So how do you tell the difference?”
“Ah, that is the question. Is a woman possessed because she is hysterical, or is she hysterical because she’s possessed? The Church claims to always know the answer, but I’ll put my faith in science any day.”


Chapter Six. Uncertainty.



Harvey had never been so restless in his life. Helen was not due to arrive for at least twelve hours, and yet he could neither work nor sit still. He kept inventing excuses to go out, eventually purchasing confectionary and two bottles of a fine liqueur. If an evening of lovemaking was on the cards, then he wanted to be ready.
Returning home, he fitted new candles into their holders, straightened the rugs, dusted the mantelpiece, and re-arranged the papers on his desk. In the bedroom, he tidied the dresser, put his clothes away, and put clean sheets on the bed. Seized with a mania for cleaning, he polished, scrubbed, scraped, moistened, and dried. Nor was his personal appearance neglected. He trimmed his moustache, cleaned his teeth, and applied pomade to his hair. A blue velvet coat and starched lace cravat completed his toilette.
He made a last inspection of the apartment. It had never looked so tidy since the day he’d moved in. Perhaps he should go into the cleaning business for himself. He poked the fires and fed the cat, which had been running around in confusion, sniffing the polished furniture as if checking to see if it was new.
It was half-past eight when Harvey placed the confectionary and a bottle of liqueur on a small round table by the fire. He smiled as he thought of those romantic novelists who had a virgin freed from her corsets and deflowered within minutes. Would he be that lucky?
His buoyant mood soured a little when more pertinent questions came into his mind. What reason would Helen use to explain her absence to her husband? Indeed, in the light of Gibson’s revelation about the Chandlers and Roseham, would Helen need an excuse? Was he, Harvey, some sort of sacrificial lamb?
Lost in thought, he jumped when there was a tap on the door. He glanced at the clock. It was ten minutes to nine. And then he froze. Surely it wasn’t Norton? If it was, then his timing couldn’t have been worse. Harvey straightened his cravat, pulled down his sleeves, and opened the door.
Her red cloak seemed to fill the doorway. Harvey took her gloved hand and squeezed it. “You’re early,” he said, leading her inside.
"Yes, but only because I didn't want you to waste the evening. I have a fearful headache and can’t stay.”
Harvey was more angry than disappointed. “Then why not send a note?” he demanded. “What was the point of coming here only to tell me you’re not staying?”
“Because I…I…oh, alright, I’ll stay for a moment.”
Sitting in the armchair by the fire, she removed her gloves and pulled back her hood. Her face seemed to radiate beauty, and Harvey could not resist taking her hand. "I have been thinking about you a great deal.”
Helen sighed. "Please do not speak of such things. I see you have a cat. What is his name?"
"Well, I found him in the vestibule, so I name him Vesty."
Helen held out a hand to the cat, which promptly disappeared into the bedroom. "I think he’s bashful.”
“Except for my landlady, you’re the first woman to come into my apartment.”
"I find that very hard to believe.”
He chuckled and placed a hand over his heart. “Upon my honour, you wound me.”
“I assure you that was not my intention.”
"You can believe everything I tell you. After all, you have a claim on me.”
"No! I have no claim on you and nor do I want one."
Harvey looked at her appraisingly. “Why the objection?” he asked. Her ‘modesty’ was beginning to irritate him. They both knew why she was there, so why not just get on with it?
"Because the more I reflect upon it, the more I do not want to end my dream. The short time we have known each other has given me great happiness and I do not want to destroy it. Oh, I’m putting this very badly, but you see, when I’m reading one of your books, especially when I’m alone and miserable, it’s as if you’re speaking to me through the pages. I can possess you when and how I please. And before I go to sleep, I only have to desire you and…well…let’s just say that my sleep is restless.”
Ignorance was a vulnerability in the high stakes game of illicit seduction, and he was resolved to learn her motive before plunging between her legs. “Restless? How so?”
She turned and looked at him directly, her eyes filled with excitement. “The truth? Your imaginary caresses make me delirious.”
Harvey could no longer control his passion, and in one swift movement, he pulled her to her feet and flung back her cloak, his hands groping for her breasts. “You have made your point and I don’t give a damn about it,” he breathed, kissing her hard. “This is not fantasy, this is reality, and…ARGH!”
Harvey gasped in pain. She had kneed him between the legs. He caught her again, this time by her hair. “You don’t want a friend or even a lover,” he growled, “you want a toy, a plaything that you can take out and tease whenever you please. Well, my lady, you have picked the wrong man for your amusement.”
"No, Harvey! I implore you. Let me go!"
Her voice was so imploring that he pushed her away. It occurred to him that he should just throw her on the floor and get it over with, but then he saw that a strange, almost triumphant look had come into her eyes. "What kind of a woman are you?" he yelled. "You have no feelings for anyone except yourself. There are several words to describe a woman like you, and none of them complimentary.”
“There is no need to be cruel and insulting,” she said, a sob catching in her throat.
“I’m being cruel?” he shouted. “You play with a man’s affections and you have the audacity to call it love? Do you even know what love is? But, enough. It would be better for both of us if we didn’t meet again.”
Helen tried to take his hand. “No, Harvey, please. You don’t understand.”
“On the contrary, Lady Chandler, I understand perfectly.”
His use of her title seemed to put a barrier between them. Helen stood up and said with dignity, “I will wish you ‘good night’, Mr Faulkner. I regret any discomfort I may have caused you. Please be assured that you will always be welcome in my husband’s home,” and without another word she ran out of the apartment.


Contrary to his expectations, Harvey awoke the following morning remarkably refreshed. Rather than exacerbating his senses, the outcome of the night before had cleared his head. If Helen had thought to enslave him by flirting and coquettishness, then she had grossly miscalculated her influence.
After a hearty breakfast, he returned to his apartment, removed his coat and cravat, and exchanged his shoes for slippers. He sat at his desk and wrote several letters, including one to Ernest, and then set to work on the last and arguably the hardest chapter to write.
The many evocations having proved fruitless, Prelati, Blanchet, and other sycophant sorcerers, advised Gilles that in order to attract the devil’s attention, he must commit heinous crimes.
‘Gilles now faced an ethical dilemma. He still believed in God, but in order to follow in the footsteps of Jeanne d'Arc, that is to say, to establish direct communication with the Almighty, he had to ‘dance with the devil’. It is impossible to state his emotions, which surely must have been in turmoil. However, he was a man driven and accustomed to excess, and it can only be supposed that his new deadly course engendered no qualms.
‘His first act was one of sheer hypocrisy. He made cohorts such as his cousins Roger de Bricqueville and Gilles de Sillé, swear on the bible to keep silent about anything that happened, or might happen in the future, at the chateau. He could be sure that none would violate their oath, for in the middle-ages, very few dared commit the sin of deceiving God. Surely a prima facie case of double standards?
‘Gilles began a course of unrelenting gluttony. Curiously, there were very few women at the chateau. Indeed, he appears to have despised the sex ever since leaving Court. Perhaps inspired by the cherubic and innocent choirboys under his authority, who were chosen more for their beauty than singing ability, Gilles turned his attention to children. Ironically, these choirboys are the only children in his immediate orbit who, in the months ahead, escaped his murderous spree.
‘The first victim was a small boy aged about seven, name unknown. Gilles disembowelled him, cut off the hands and genitals, and tearing out the eyes and heart, took the parts to Prelati's chamber, where an alter to the Devil had been erected. But when the diabolical master failed to appear, Prelati wrapped the parts in linen and buried them in the grounds of a chapel dedicated to Saint Vincent. It should be noted that Gilles preserved the blood of the child to write entreaties to the Devil.
Fear soon stalked the vicinity, and at first, the frantic parents of missing children were convinced that evil fairies and malicious genii are responsible. Gilles encouraged this belief, pretending sympathy whilst at the same time, waiting for Prelati, de Bricqueville, and de Sillé, to snatch a little boy.
‘Gradually, the peasantry became suspicious of an old woman, Perrine Martin, who wandered around in a shabby grey dress and veil. Her speech is so convincing that children willingly follow her to a pre-determined area, where de Bricqueville & Co carry them away in sacks. Later, the people called this purveyor of flesh 'La Mefrraye’, from the name of a bird of prey.
‘These emissaries of evil began to spread out, covering all the villages and hamlets, tracking the children under the orders of the ‘chief huntsman’, de Bricqueville. Though he preferred juvenile quarry, Gilles was not adverse to ‘older flesh’. When a young and handsome mendicant, attracted by the bountiful reputation, came to ask for alms, he was invited into the chateau and thrown into the dungeon, where he was kept until Gilles fancied a carnal supper.
‘Between 1432 and 1440, (the period between his retreat to his chateau and his death), the inhabitants of Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany, lived in fear. Compelled by the public outcry and an avalanche of complaints, the Duke of Brittany ordered his scribe or secretary, Jean Touscheronde, to make a list of the missing children.
‘It is not known how many children were murdered after Gilles deflowered them. Even he did not know. Estimates at the time put the number between 700-800, though this seem a little far-fetched. What is known however, is that entire areas were decimated, with many bloodlines ‘dying out’.
‘Fuelled by wine, heavily spiced food, and presumably drugs, Gilles and his cohorts would retire to a secluded chamber. A captured little boy - sometimes more than one, was brought from the dungeon where he was stripped, fondled, and forced to perform fellatio. No doubt still crying for his mother, the poor lad was then hacked to pieces.
‘Gilles took great pleasure in slowly dismembering his victim. He would open the chest and breathe in the air from the lungs. Sometimes he would enlarge the stomach and sit in it. He said at his trial, “I was happier in the enjoyment of tortures, tears, fright, and blood, than in any other pleasure.”
‘An eyewitness stated, “The sire heated himself with little boys, sometimes also with little girls, with whom he had congress in the belly. After which he slowly sawed their throats, cut them to pieces, and the corpses, the linen and the clothing were put in the fireplace…the ashes were thrown into the latrine, or scattered in the moat, or buried in mounds.”
‘But soon the degradation was not enough. Gilles became tired of warm flesh and turned to the dead. He would hold grotesque beauty contests, and whichever severed head was judged the fairest, he passionately kissed the cold, innocent lips.
‘Vampirism satisfied him for a while. However, he distinguished himself from the most ardent sadist by an act that was unquestionably subhuman. One day when his supply of children was exhausted, he disembowelled a pregnant woman and sported with the foetus, allegedly feeding its brains to his dog. Afterwards, both master and animal fell into a heavy but untroubled sleep.
‘He once said to his parasites, "There is no man on earth who dare do as I have done.” But Gilles had reached the point where the atrocities no longer satisfied him. An insatiable anger coursed through his veins, and deciding that he couldn’t fall any further, a curious metamorphosis then took place, albeit temporarily.
‘Remorse overtook him. He went without sleep and ran through the chateau as if being chased by phantoms. He knelt and swore to God that he would do penance. He promised to establish a pious institution, which he did at Mâchecoul. Ironically, it was a boys' academy. He spoke of retiring to a monastery, of travelling to Jerusalem, begging bread and shelter along the way.
‘But faith can be fickle even to the pious, and raving with delirium, somebody brought him a child. Gilles gouged out the eyes, kissed the innocent mouth, then seizing a spiked club, crushed the skull. Smeared with blood and brains, he ran into the nearby wood laughing like a lunatic, leaving his henchmen to clean up the mess.
‘He wandered in the forest, sobbing and attempting to elude the phantoms that were pursuing him. Even the trees, with their thick trunks, multiple ‘v’ shaped boughs, yawning holes and puckered orifices, had a sexual connotation. Obscenity seemed to be everywhere, and he returned to the chateau a nervous wreck.
‘He went to bed but even in sleep he was plagued. In a dream, the corpses of his victims, now reduced to ashes, re-materialised and attacked his private parts, many of the children still crying for their mothers and pleading for mercy’.
Harvey stopped writing. "Pathetic,” he murmured. “A guilty conscience, nothing more.”
He yawned and stretched just as a knock sounded on the door. Still in slippers and loose shirt, he contemplated donning his jacket, but then decided that whoever it was could take him as is.
“I came to apologise,” said Helen, her now familiar red cloak slightly damp.
Harvey was thrown by her visit. “Is it raining?” he asked stupidly.
“A little. May I come in?”
“Of course.”
He stoked the fire and put the kettle to boil. Helen sat in the armchair beside the fire, her eyes watching his every move. They talked about the weather. She complained that she hated winter, declaring that although the fires were always lit in her home, she was always cold. She invited him to feel her hands, which indeed were chilly.
“Would you like a liqueur?” he asked.
"No, thank you, but I would ask a question.”
“Go on.”
“Do you ride?”
“Yes.”
“So do I. I’m usually in Hyde Park about seven in the morning.”
The hint was not lost on him. She was as sensual as sin, and he had never experienced such an intense reaction to a woman, no matter how fashionable or beautiful. If she was just a bedmate, he doubted he would have treated her with excessive gallantry. But she was a potential link to the elusive Canon Roseham, and as such, must be courted and encouraged.
His eyes gleamed mischievously as he asked, “So, you like to gallop, to ride hard & fast, to take risks?”
The implication made her eyes sparkle. “Yes,” she replied simply.
“If you wish, I’ll call for you in my carriage at six in the morning. Bring your horse and a groom. We can have breakfast afterwards.”
“Thank you,” she replied with unexpected demureness. “I would like that very much.”



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