The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google.

Image From Google. All Right’s Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Eleven

Suddenly Amalee was exhausted. The turmoil, fear, and abuse of the past months bore down on her all at once and she sunk leadenly into the plush cobalt armchair, closing her heavy, dark eyes.

“We had heard about Maddie,” Joona admitted hesitantly after a few silent minutes. The shock of the evening left her voice thready and strained and even with the light of a cheery fire haloing her, there were dark circles beneath St. Clare’s eyes that had not there a few hours before. “Months ago. You and I knew, after the horror of that sickness, that her chances of bearing children were slim, and it has long been my fear that it indeed left her barren. But I so hoped…she’s so healthy now, I thought maybe in time, her body would continue to heal. No one deserves a child more than she, and she’s always wanted a babe so desperately…” Joona stopped, unable to say more until the clenching sob in her constricting throat subsided. “I knew she would take the news badly so I wrote to her, inviting her to stay awhile here with us. I thought the sight and smell of the sea might restore her. Maddie so loves the sea.”

“Eric and I even called on their home in London when the letters went unanswered but Robert dismissed us at the door without so much as inviting us in to speak of her. He said Maddie was indisposed, desolate, and wished to be left to herself for a time. He looked so wretched, I felt so poorly for them. I wanted to see her, but how could I know he was keeping her from us? What if, in her grief, she truly did not wish to see me? To intrude at such a time, I feared losing her, especially after you… I thought…”

“You thought I abandoned you,” Amalee breathed, her voice barely a whisper. There was so much pain, and she was so weary, but she mustn’t sleep, not yet. It was not safe.

“I’m so sorry, please forgive me! Joona cried, unable to hold back her tears any longer. After fearing for her friends for months and now seeing her fears confirmed she was close to breaking. “I should have known that you would…that you would never…But I missed you and you never wrote me and I did not know what to think! I worried of course, but also feared you no longer desired my friendship now that we were here on English soil, where you have risen so high. But this,” she said, touching the blackish bruise on Amalee’s cheek with soft, careful fingers. “I could never have imagined this.”

“Of course not you foolish thing, there was no way for you to know,” Amalee reminded her weeping friend affectionately, but sternly. “This is not your fault Joona. Nor is it Eric’s. I saw the blame in his eyes before and I see it in yours now and I forbid it. You found your happiness together as man and wife and I refuse to let anyone cause you to regret it.”

“We were going to find you,” Joona confessed, dropping her face into her slender hands and taking a shuddering breath. “After a few months with no word, we knew something must be done. Eric was gong to leave right away but I…” she laid a land on her swollen stomach as a new wave of silent tears slipped down her cheeks. “I discovered I was with child. For months I was horridly sick and I was so frightened, for the baby, for myself. I wanted Eric with me and he stayed. But now, I wish I had left him go. He would have found you. He would have never given up.”

Amalee took her friend’s hand, feeling the chill of the pale skin, and squeezed it tightly. “You needed him here Joona. Eric’s place is here.”

“But if I had been as brave as you,” Joona whispered, her sharp green eyes taking in every bruise, both faded and fresh, on her friend’s beautiful face. “Perhaps he’d have found you before…”

Amalee shook her heavy head minutely, bringing Joona’s words to a halt. “He hit me the first day we stepped off the ship,” she said quietly, her voice touched with sadness, regret, and anger at the madness of it all, at being delivered into the hands of a monster. “Before the carriage left the dock. You couldn’t have stopped him Joona. No one could have.”

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Ten

*St. Clare Manor* Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artists.

*St. Clare Manor*
Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artists.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Ten

It was then that Eric St. Clare entered the little sitting room bearing a tray laden with hot tea and little sandwiches. Neither his countenance or movement betrayed any modicum of distress as he made his way into the room and sat the tray on a low table before his womenfolk, but Amalee saw the aching pain in his carefully schooled gaze as he took in her wasted form. He said nothing, but handed her a cup of steaming tea with a hand that shook only slightly. She thanked him with a wordless nod, which he returned solemnly. She did not know how to begin again, how to say what must be said and neither did he, but the love in his eyes was enough for now. But his stoicism shattered completely upon seeing the tears still shimmering in Madeline’s wide corn-flower eyes.

Without a moment’s hesitation Eric strode to where Maddie sat, pulled her to her feet, and wrapped her in his strong arms. He whispered to her softly, cradling her to his chest as he ran a hand through her hair soothingly, and she allowed herself to finally give way to the barrage of tears that had been choking her for so long. She convulsed with the force of her grief as the terror, disgust, and disbelief flooded over her anew. In that moment, she would have surely broken were it not for Eric’s arms around her, lending her his strength.

With his back to his wife, only Amalee was witness to the anguish tearing across his handsome features. He bore the look of a brother broken by grief, but determined to be strong for his sisters. His eyes found hers and she knew he longed to pull her into the embrace as well, to wrest away her sadness and wrap her in the love they all bore one another, but understood somehow that this was not what Amalee wanted or needed just yet. But still, there was an intensity in Eric’s eyes that left Amalee certain that he would blame himself always for the hurt and damage done to his wife’s friends, to the women he considered his sisters. She shook her head almost imperceptibly. No, she thought, willing him to hear her. You protected Joona. She was yours to protect.

He closed his glassy sea-blue eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. His hand still stroked Maddie’s golden hair soothingly, and when he again opened his eyes, he appeared calmer, more in charge of his turbulent emotions. Amalee hoped he somehow understood her. She would not have his soul scarred by this tragic turn of events.

“I just,” Maddie sniffled, feeling truly safe for the first time in so many months. “I could not…”

“Ah Love, I know. I know,” Eric murmured, shifting so that he could see his wife’s face. He motioned towards the floor above them and Joona nodded with a loving smile. “You are exhausted Madeline, you should rest awhile. I’ve a room with a delightful view of the ships,” he said, leading her from the sitting room towards a long, elegant staircase. Amalee watched them depart, Maddie’s soft form supported by Eric’s resilient one, and wished her friend a restful, undreaming sleep.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Five

*Warning* As I said earlier this week, the next few segments of this story get very dark but after that the fun of the story will pick back up and the adventure will really begin.

This one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

This one reminds me of Maddie! Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James Part Five

And so they were three Irish brides for three English lords. Each prayed for the joy that only a good marriage could bring: love, respectability, family, and children. But sadly, for two of them it was not to be.

For Maddie the illusion lasted mere months. She was happy enough, though somewhat anxious with her new husband who seemed to speak over her head at every turn, spinning conversations into things she did not intend them to be. Robert was a hard-worker and the Gamsley’s were known to never need fear a shortage of money for the tea industry was booming and it seemed things could only go up. As lady of the house, Maddie threw elegant dinners that people spoke of for weeks after, entertaining his business partners and friends with her natural grace and happy nature. It was said the young Lady Gamsley did her husband a great service and it was obvious that the two were deeply in love, why the Lady was always in new gowns and bearing some of the finest crafted, exquisite jewelry that London had ever seen. Surely such a fine man visited his blushing bride’s bedchamber every night; it would not be long until there was a little Gamsley heir to fawn over. Lady Gamsley was young, in good health and Robert seemed such a vigorous, thorough man; it was only a matter of time before Madeline would do her duty and fulfill her part of the marriage contact.

But no child came.

They had long feared that the illness Madeline had contracted as a child would prevent her from bearing children. The wasting sickness had nearly claimed her life but not unkind, fate let her live, though in place of her life it claimed those of her future children that could have been born. Madeline was distraught to discover that her body would never quicken with the life of a child, she so wanted a baby to hold to her breast, to love and protect. Maddie was beside herself, but her husband too felt the loss of something he was promised and Robert did not like to be duped or played a fool. The wife he had bought and provided for but it was the children he wanted, a son to create in the image of himself.

Cheated of an heir to strengthen his family, Lord Robert quickly found other ways to recoup his losses on a barren wife. More dinners were demanded, but instead of the new friends that Maddie had grown accustomed to, a new crowd – all unfamiliar men – descended upon the Gamsley house. A depressed Maddie soon found her presence required whenever her husband met with these new potential business associates, and instead of her beautiful wardrobe, she was restricted to only two or three dresses that left her scandalously indecent. It was not long before Robert began trading his wife for business favors. Maddie found that she had no defense against her husband when he came for her with gentlemen in the dark of night. Though she fought, she was helpless as they ravished her, sometimes brutally, while Robert slept peacefully in another room or sometimes stayed to help hold her. Since there was no threat of a false child taking his name, Robert took his money’s worth from his wife in the only logical way he could think of: by selling his wife’s body.