The Dream of Love: Episode 1


Wellesford, England
June 1818
    The first thing to catch the attention of Vicar Adam Carstairs was the sound of the vicarage back door banging open, and the second was the patter of footsteps running down the hall toward his private entrance to the church altar. “Hold there! You! What do you–” “Look out!” The culprit slammed into him, bounced off his chest, and had barely recovered her balance before avoiding his grasp and running headlong into the church. Yes, it was a she. A young and slender she if the feel of her body as she’d bounced off him, and the glimpse of her shapely legs as she’d raced into the apse, were any indication.   
He hadn’t gotten a good look at her, for she’d caught him off guard. But it did not take a great intellect to know the whirlwind in white muslin could only be Lady Remington Hartfield giving her father fits again.
“What the...?” He chased after the auburn-haired interloper, spotting her as she dove into the confessional with a bundle in her arms and hastily closed the confessional door behind her.
“Please don’t let them know we’re in here,” she said with a trace of fear in her voice.
We? Ah, the bundle. A rather noisy bundle. He heard thuds, grunts, and bumps as he tried to open the door, but she held it firmly, clinging to it as though her life depended on it. “Please, Vicar!”
The back door banged open once more.
He sighed and moved away. “Very well. Be quiet and keep that thing, whatever it is, quiet.”
This time Lord Hartfield and his gamekeeper rushed in, rifles drawn, both men looking as angry as a winter storm off the North Sea. “Where is she? I know she’s in here!”
Adam strode forward and blocked their path as they attempted to enter the church. “To whom are you referring?”
The gravel-voiced Earl of Hartfield scowled at him. “Remi, of course. Blasted girl! We’ll see how obstinate she remains after I drag her to the woodshed and give her the thrashing she deserves.”
“She sprang another of my traps,” his gamekeeper explained, shoving Adam aside to enter the church and begin searching behind the altar. “She ain’t back here, m’lord.”
Adam followed him. “I could have told you that. Get out. You have no business ransacking the Lord’s house. That goes for you as well, Lord Hartfield.”
The men ignored him and proceeded to peer down each pew.
“I said, get out. Or must I bodily throw the both of you out?” He had the muscle to do it, too. However, as vicar of Wellesford, he supposed he ought to try persuasion rather than brute physical force. Besides, he did not like the apoplectic tinge to Lord Hartfield’s face, a sign of his unbridled anger. “You won’t find your daughter hiding under the pews.”
Which might have convinced the pair had Remi managed to stay quiet. But no, all eyes turned to the confessional as it began to rumble and shake. “A rat infestation, Vicar?” Lord Hartfield muttered, starting toward it.
Adam blocked his path again. “Yes, very large rats,” he said, raising his voice to be heard above the noise Remi and her bundle were now making.
The blasted girl.
What was she doing?

Read the entire first episode in the July/August 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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