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Authors: Killian McRae

In the Lord's Embrace

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In the Lord's Embrace
A Love by Any Measure [1.20]
Killian McRae
Tulipe Noire Press (2012)

A missing moment from "A Love by Any Measure." Lord August Grayson and Maeve O'Connor have escaped the dictates of British and Irish society that kept their love regulated for far too long. On their journey through postbellum America, heading ever further west and to a life unknown, the final triumph of the reunion -a return to each other's embraces- eludes them. That is, until August finally understands what will set Maeve's mind, and body, at ease.

In the Lord’s Embrace
:

A missing moment from

A  Love by Any Measure

 

Killian McRae

 

Copyright ©2012
by Killian McRae

All Rights Reserved. Except as specified by U.S. Copyright Law, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or media or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system without prior written permission of the author.

 

This work represents a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments, organizations or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity, and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.

 

The following short story is a missing moment from Killian McRae’s historical romance,
A Love by Any Measure,
and represents a transition of plot that would occur between the last chapter and the epilogue.
A Love by Any Measure
is available
from
Tulipe
Noire Press, via
Amazon
,
BN.com
,
AllRomanceEbooks.com
, and
Smashwords
.

This story and the book upon which it is based are intended only for mature audiences and include scenes inappropriate for young readers.

 

Four hundred dollars.
Three hundred pounds.
A diamond-pendent necklace
that had once been his
mother’s.
A broach inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
A silk sachet with a trinket contained of conflicted recollections
,
and a
pair of gold cufflinks.

 

The last item surprised August a little, and he eyed Jefferson curiously as he
rolled the
st
emmed, auric stubs around in his
hand.

 

“Every bit helps, I suppose,” Jefferson
said with a shrug
. “I only wish we ha
d more, but it was all we could—

 

“It’s more than enough,” August interrupted, realizing his
voice was a bit gruff.

 

It was more than he, Maeve
and Augusta
needed to make an escape, and by no measure a small amount of money
and wealth
by common standards

b
ut how long c
ould it last? If they were humble with
acquisitions, perh
aps a year or two? But again, they
would be
starting from scratch,
leaving Boston
and heading west
for a fate unknown wit
h nothing
but the clothes on their backs,
Maeve’
s stil
l the ones given to her by Owen
b
efore the fire had consumed him,
and t
he love in their
hearts.

 

The love August
hoped
was in their
hearts. The events of the last few days had flown by in a dizzying array of recollected intention
s and unfulfilled obligati
ons. August loved Maeve still—h
e
knew this with all his heart

but since they
had made way through the haze hove
ring over a flame-gripped Boston
and to the countryside,
he
couldn’
t help but notice her fluctuating
physiognomy
. Her eyes had always been the
lo
oking glass to her soul; the
years apart had not
changed that fact.
But her soul…
Therein
lie
the change. She carried with her now a shame, the origins of which she would not belay herself but in the quickest of moments. One instant
, they
would catch each other’s
gazes,
and a love nearly tangible
from
it
s strength would flow between them
.
The next, August
beheld
her grimace, o
vercome with guilt or reprieve, he
guessed, as Maeve
glance
d
ba
ck to the slumbering form of their
daughter with a
worrisome observation.

 

Maeve
was still uncertain; she had carried over her habit of keeping bound the confusion of he
r own soul rather than burden him
with
frailty of her commitment to their uncertain future. August firmly resolved him
self in dedication to relieving her an
xieties and assuring her of his
commitment to perfecting whatever measure of harmony and
bliss this world would allow
them
.
They had sacrificed too much and gotten in return from life too little to accept anything less.

 

“August
, are you certain there is no other way?”

 

Caroline
Schand
’s
fr
etful expression
nearly broke her brother. August
could not help his concern, though
had no
doubt that Jefferson
, being an honorabl
e
and upright
man, would never let Caroline
suffer or
bear unnecessary hardship, but he
worried nonetheless.  
W
ould he never see his darling baby sister
again? Was Caroline
strong enough to play the role now required of
her?
Could she be the head of the Grayson family
, estate and holdings,
and still be t
he sweet, compassionate sibling for
whom he had sacrificed so much
?

 

August
steadied him
self to reas
sure her and
, in the process, Maeve
of the necessity of their escape
. “We are too well k
nown in England and
in
Ireland. Maeve
and I will find no refuge in any land under the crown
. Perhaps, if we are fortunate, they will presume we were both lost in
the
fire.
But a
re you certain, Caroline
, that you can commit this falsehood?”

 

S
he nodded solemnly. “How can I do less
, when the alternative is Maeve’s execution, and perhaps my brother’s as well
?

 

Jefferson
added, “We shall use the scandal to
our advantage. They believe Maeve mistreated
Goosie
;
we will si
mply present it as long-lingering
illness
brought on by neglect and abuse, and say
that in the sea journey
, she was overtaken by fever
. Time will forget, August. People are
fickle with scandal, and the end of one only begets the beginnings of another.
Now, best
be
off with
you two. Sun is getting high. T
hey’ll be people about the roads soon.”

 

Maeve
came from the wagon
after
settling
Augusta
into her place and fashioning a
palette for herself from what they
had been able
to collect from the house in the
rush to leave Boston.

 

“Thank you, for everything,” she told
Caroline and Jefferson.

 

N
o more time
could be
wasted. Dawn dissolved into day, and they
had
to put much more land behind by sunset. With tearful embraces, all said
their
goodbye
s
, leaving Jefferson, Caroline
and
little
Charles behind, perhaps never to be seen again.

 

Crowded roads and muddled
thoughts turned to lonely paths and empty silence.
So long had August hungered for his
beloved, and
now that he had her, he was at a loss. The fire of their reunion was dimming as
they pressed westward, though
there was
much between them that
still
needed to be said. Maeve, when not tending to
Augusta
, passed the
days in languid reserve,
her head leaned against his
shoulder
mocking the relative ease of the connection they once had shared
.
N
ights
were passed in
clutching each other
, but only
to keep warm while
und
er the stack of blankets
purchased en route,
huddled
i
n the back of the cart. Though August
held her closely, and thou
gh she professed her love for him
with words
, Maeve’s
embrace and countenance had grown
sullen
.

 

He
wanted nothing
more than to cheer her. Still, August reminde
d himself that she mourned Owen
.
Owen Murphy
, who
had la
id down his life to allow her
a
chance at hap
piness.
August c
ould not dismiss the depth of her kinship and extent of her sadness over the unfortunate fate
that brave Irishman
met.

 

Finally, two weeks into their aimless sojourn west, August
spoke
.

 

“Maeve
-dear
, we have
to decide where we’re going,” he said off-handedly as he
slapped the reins gently, coa
xing the horses
. “We’
re almost to Illinois
now. The way I see it, we have
three
options: west, south or
north. Given the current state of the south, I’m reluctant to hea
d that way, but if you want
…”

 

“We go west,” she declared without delay. Her certainty in th
e decision was so fervent that he cocked his eyebrow at her in surprise. “From what Patty
wrote me, it sounds
like a different country, August. The life sounds tough,
but the benefits are great. Every man is a master of his own fate, she says.”

BOOK: In the Lord's Embrace
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