Lavender Lass Books - Thursday Newsletter 10
Happy Thursday! I hope everyone is having a lovely week, and a reminder that we have a Facebook group specifically for our Historical Fiction stories. If you enjoy the tea cups and vintage dresses at our party, please join the group!
And a reminder that all ebooks at our Lavender Lass BookShop are available for 25% less than retailers…and a few stories are FREE.
Finally, here is the next two chapters in a book that is Exclusive to our Lavender Lass BookShop, which we are serializing today!
Katherine has everything a young woman could hope for in 1849 Scotland, except the freedom to make her own choices. The last thing she wants to do is to get married…and then she meets James Spenser.
Can there be any future together for the outspoken daughter of a railway owner and the charming young man working on the project?
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, you can find them here.
During tea, Katherine told her father about the men. She left out the part, where she and James walked over to the beach, and just said they were approached at the edge of town as they made plans for the promenade.
“I don’t want you going back without more security,” Kenneth Rogers stated. He realized he should have been more careful from the start. One man could hardly stand up to three or more criminals and he was just lucky nothing had happened to his daughter. “I’ll send men over there first thing tomorrow. They’ll find those three.”
Katherine nodded, then told him about Michael. Her father listened and agreed the idea made sense. “But I still want you to have more guards. From now on, there will be two armed men with you, wherever you go.” As Katherine started to say something, Kenneth held up one hand. “It’s either this or you don’t go back. I won’t risk your safety.”
“Aye, Da. I was only going to say that I think it’s a good idea. In fact, we might consider having some permanent security over there for the shops. They would benefit from it.”
“What about the town? Don’t they have any law over there?” Kenneth knew they did, but his frustration was making him irritable. “I’ll work it out this weekend. We’ll make sure it’s all decided before you go back on Monday.”
“Thank you, Da,” Katherine replied. Changing the subject, she asked, “Are we still having dinner with Edward and Julia?” They had gone back to Perth after the completion of the first promenade project but were supposed to be returning that evening.
“Your mother says they’re expected by six. She’s been looking forward to their visit all week.”
Katherine smiled. “It will be nice to see Julia and little Rory even if it means we have to see Edward, too.”
Kenneth Rogers nodded. “Truer words were never spoken,” he said, more to himself than Katherine.
A few hours later, Katherine was getting dressed for dinner. She wanted to wear something festive and thought her green dress might be a good choice. She wondered if Julia would let her borrow the emerald necklace she often wore, when she came to visit. Slipping on her dressing gown, she walked down the hall towards the guest bedroom. As she approached, she heard raised voices.
“Don’t tell me to be quiet!” Katherine recognized Edward’s voice. “You are my wife, not my keeper. If I choose to gamble with MY money, it is none of your concern.”
“But Edward,” Julia replied, “it is Rory’s money, too. And the baby’s.”
“Babies! Is that all you’re good for?” Edward asked. “My father said I had to provide an heir. Well, we have one! Why couldn’t you find a way to keep from getting fat again?”
Katherine lost her temper and pushed the door open. “How dare you talk to my sister that way!” She walked in and glared at Edward. “You have no right to ever speak to her that way, let alone in our father’s house.”
Julia ran past Katherine, pulling her out into the hall. Julia looked like she was about to cry. “I know you care about me, but you’re only going to make things worse. Edward lost a large sum of money last weekend.”
“Julia, why do you put up with that?” Katherine asked, shocked that her sister would stand for his behavior.
“Because he’s my husband,” Julia responded, wearily, “and I really have no other choice.”
“Of course, you do,” Katherine replied, naively. “You could leave him. Mum and Da would love to have you and Rory stay with us.”
“Katherine,” Julia shook her head, “Rory is Edward’s son and heir. Do you really think he’d let me take him away from his home and his heritage?”
Katherine grew quiet. “I’m sorry, Julia. But I still think we should tell Da what happened.”
“No!” Julia’s replied. “I will not lose my son. Or my baby. Let me deal with my husband my own way.”
“But…” Katherine began.
“Please, Katie,” Julia implored. “Can you just do this for me? Please?”
“Aye,” Katherine replied, softly. “I’ll do as you wish.”
As she walked back to her room, she looked over her shoulder to make sure Julia was all right. Another reason not to get married, she thought to herself. Her sister had never backed down to anyone like that as long as Katherine had known her. She shook her head and walked into her bedroom. She finished getting dressed, wondering how she would ever make it through an entire dinner with Edward.
Katherine avoided everyone for the rest of the weekend by staying in her room and working on her sketches. When Edward, Julia, and Rory left on Sunday afternoon, she hugged her sister goodbye. “Be careful,” she whispered in Julia’s ear.
Julia looked at her and smiled. “Take care, little sister.” The way she said it, made Katherine wish her sister was not going back to Perth.
Katherine turned to her mother. “Maybe, Julia and Edward could come back to visit in a few weeks.” She looked directly at Edward, who glared at her. “I believe the sketches will be finished by then. I know you’ll want to see them right away.” Then, she gave him a little curtsy and walked back into the house.
“Seems you little sister is finally learning some manners,” Edward said under his breath.
Julia smiled. He really had no idea how to read a woman, she thought to herself. Except perhaps the obvious ones, who draped themselves around the gambling houses. She knew what went on there but had hoped it would pass. The sad truth was that her husband was a huge disappointment to her, but she loved her son and this baby. She was determined to work things out with Edward even if that meant overlooking some of his less desirable qualities.
The next morning, Katherine and James walked down to the ferry, escorted by two of her father’s men. “I’ll be right back,” Katherine said as they were about to board. She took off along the promenade with the two guards not far behind. “Excuse me, sir,” she said to a handsome young man, who was walking along the promenade. “I believe you’ve forgotten your hat.”
He turned around. “Katie! I can’t believe it. You’ve gotten so big.” He almost picked her up and hugged her, then caught himself and bowed instead. “I mean, Miss Rogers, it is very good to see you again.”
She took his arm and they walked back over to James as the guards following a few yards behind. “Mr. James Spenser, this is Mr. Jack Callahan, one of my oldest and dearest friends.” She smiled at Jack. “You just missed Julia. She left last night.”
“Left for where?” Jack asked.
“Home.” Katherine added, more quietly, “Julia got married three years ago, Jack.”
“Of course, she did,” Jack replied, shrugging. “Silly to think she wouldn’t be married. But you! Look at you. I hardly recognized you without your braids and your magnifying glass.”
Katherine turned to James and smiled. “I was very interested in botany and insects at one time.” She looked at Jack. “Julia accused me of making it up just to follow her around. I think it was a bit of both.”
“I have to go see your father,” Jack said, shaking James’ hand. “Nice to meet you, Spenser. And you,” he said to Katherine, “I believe I’ll be seeing you at dinner tonight.”
“Aye, that sounds grand. I’ll see you then, Jack.” She was still smiling as she boarded the ferry.
James walked up to Katherine. “It must be nice to see your friend.”
She nodded and smiled. “He was always so much fun. He was our neighbor, when Julia and I were growing up. His father died five years ago, so Jack and his mother took his two little brothers back to Ayr to stay with her family.”
James looked out at the water. “That would be difficult. Losing your Da and having to be like one for two little brothers.”
Katherine nodded. “The day Jack left, I found Julia crying in her room. She was secretly in love with him and told me her heart would never recover.” She looked at James. “She married Edward two years later, but I don’t think she ever loved him.” She decided not to tell James what had happened over the weekend.
James could see there was something else that Katherine wanted to say but didn’t press her. Instead, he looked across the water, saying, “Have you finished your designs, then?”
“The rough sketches, but I wanted to ask you about the gazebo dimensions.” She looked back at the two men. “Would you two like to be involved in the discussion as well?”
“No, Miss,” answered the first man. “Your father told us to focus solely on your safety.”
She smiled. “Very well. Mr. Spenser and I will be walking down to the location for the gazebo, when we get to the North Shore.”
He nodded. “We’ll be right behind you, Miss.”
Katherine looked at James. “We don’t have the final dimensions yet for the gazebo. How large do you think it should be?”
“I couldn’t say, Miss.” James paused, then added, “Although, it does seem a decent brass band would have at least twenty musicians.”
Katherine nodded, trying to hide a smile. “And how large do you think our gazebo would need to be to accommodate them? Should we ask twenty people to stand around, while we get our measurements?”
“Aye, that I’d like to see,” James replied, smiling.
“It would probably be easier to ask my father what the budget will allow,” Katherine acknowledged. “Let’s measure a few possibilities. If the gazebo has to be smaller, maybe we can add some benches for additional seating.”
“A fine idea,” James agreed. “There’s Michael now, right on time.”
The guards followed them as Katherine and James walked over to meet Michael. They passed the shops and were soon in front of the café, where the gazebo would have a wonderful view of the water.
After they measured the gazebo area, Michael told them he’d had an idea that weekend. “You two were talking about ways to encourage the tourists to come further down along the water, rather than staying by the train station. I want to show you something.”
He walked past Sarah’s shop and on towards the beach area, then turned left and took a path up the hill. Katherine and James looked at each other, then followed him with the guards trailing behind.
As they got to the top of the hill, Michael stopped to catch his breath. “I do this a few times each week. It takes me a bit to get up here, but the view is worth it. Wouldn’t you say so, Miss?”
Katherine walked past him and looked out over the water. It was a clear day and she could see across the Firth of Forth. On the other side, high on the hill, stood Edinburgh Castle. “It’s beautiful,” Katherine said, smiling. “Just beautiful.”
James walked up and stood next to her. “Aye, it is a lovely site. But what would bring the tourists up here?”
“Golf, my lad,” Michael replied. “It would make a grand golf course, don’t you think?”
James smiled at Katherine. Turning to look at Michael, she asked, “Who owns the property?”
“The widow MacPherson,” he replied. “And she told me the other day that she was hoping to sell it. She’d like to move back to Glasgow with her cousin.”
Katherine looked at James and shrugged. “What do you think?” she asked.
James looked around. “It’s a bonny place for a course.” He walked around the open space and took in the views. “What do you think your father will say?”
Michael watched the two of them, wondering if they realized how much they acted like a couple. He looked back at the guards, who were watching the path more closely than their boss’s daughter.
Katherine walked closer to James and asked, “Do you play golf?”
“Aye, but not often. A few times with my Da, when I was a boy. He and his friends enjoyed it.” James smiled. “When he took me and my brothers…what times we had.”
“I thought Andrew was your only brother,” Katherine replied.
“I have another brother, Ethan. He decided to go to America, when we lost our farm.” James was caught up in the idea of a golf course and talked more freely than he usually did. “When my Mum passed, then Da not long after, Andrew and I decided to stay here and work. Now, that Andrew is getting married, I still plan to stay here…but Ethan wrote to let me know there’s good work to be had in America, should I ever change my mind.”
Katherine’s eyes widened in surprise, but she simply nodded. “A lot of opportunity there, so I understand.” She looked back at Michael. “Would you please arrange for us to meet with Mrs. MacPherson? If she wants to sell, I’d like to know the price and relay the information to my father.”
Michael smiled. “Aye, Miss. I’d be happy to do that.” He walked over to James. “Can you not see a sand trap right over there? And taking a long shot along those trees?” The men moved off to the right as Katherine made some notes.
A few minutes later, James walked over, saying, “It’s a grand spot. If we could convince your father, it seems like a fine way to bring in the tourists. And there’s all of our plans for the promenade as well.”
Katherine nodded. “Aye, it’s a lovely view.” She looked over the water. “The castle looks so imposing from up here. It gives you a sense of what it must have been like back then.” More to herself than James, she added, “Too bad not everything can be taken care of with a cannon.”
“What is it?” James asked, looking over to see Michael still walking along the trees, while the guards took a quick smoke by the path. “You haven’t seemed yourself all day. Is something wrong?”
“It’s my sister Julia,” Katherine replied, needing to tell someone. “She’s very unhappy in her marriage and her husband is a brute.” She looked at James and shrugged. “She doesn’t want me to say anything, but I know my Mum and Da would be furious at Edward’s behavior.” She lowered her voice, adding, “She’s afraid he will take their son and with a baby on the way, she needs his understanding not his scorn.”
James could see how much this troubled her. “Miss, I’m that sorry for her…and for you. It’s difficult to watch a loved one in pain.” He stopped for a moment and looked into those blue eyes. “I’m sure it helps that she can confide in you.”
Katherine held his gaze for a moment, the nodded. As Michael walked over, James said, “We should probably get back to the ferry.”
They made arrangements to meet Michael the next morning and as they traveled back across the water, James remembered the dinner Jack had mentioned that morning. “So, it seems your friend will be dining with you this evening.”
Katherine smiled and James felt his chest tighten. “Aye, catching up with Jack will be fun for all of us.”
What did he expect, he asked himself? He knew she was not meant for the likes of him. And at least Callahan seemed like a good man from what she’d told him.
As they reached the other shore, he said, “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow, Miss.” James looked at the guards. “I think they’ll be escorting you to your father. I’ll meet you at the ferry in the morning.”
“All right,” Katherine replied. “I will see you then, Mr. Spenser.” She wondered if he had plans with his brother. Or perhaps a girl. No reason to guess, she thought to herself. His life was his own.
Read the next part of the story on Thursday!
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