Six months earlier
“You will be safe here. I will come back later with help.”
“He needs help now. This cave is not a safe place for us to hide. Shears will discover us here.”
“I will handle Shears. You look after Charles and this will soon be over.”
“Over for whom. You? Me? This is far from over and you know it. We need to get him medical treatment now. I have done everything I can for him.”
“Only a few hours more, do you think I care to see him suffer? But it is for his safety and yours that I keep you hidden.”
“If you do not return by midnight, I will seek help on my own.”
“Agreed, now do you have the jewels in safe keeping?”
“They are concealed where no one will find them.”
“Keep those and him protected. I will return for you both soon.”
“See that you do, or I will make it known to everybody where your loyalties lie, then you will be the one that will have to stay hidden.”
“Do not threaten me,” he snarled.
“It is not a threat but a promise.”
With that he left the cave, Raina watched as he vanished along the beach. His dark black clothes blending into the night. The arrogance of that man exhausted her. He was too sure of himself and the games he played. But she knew he played the most dangerous of all games. A game that held too many lives in his hands. Raina only prayed that tonight the deception would end. She was tired of living on the edge.
Hearing the moan coming from the back of the cave, she hurried over to the sound. She gazed at the man that lay in agony and fever on the blanket that covered the ground. She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked the tears away that hovered in her eyes. It tore her up to see him in pain. She had tried to nurse him back to health, but his wounds were too severe. There was nothing she could do. He needed a doctor.
Lowering herself next to him, she brushed the hair away from his eyes and whispered soothing words. When he opened his eyes at the sound of her voice, she waited as he attempted to focus on her.
She stared as he drew the necklace off from around his neck. It was a dark ruby nestled in diamonds. He pressed it into her hands.
“Wear this,” his voice scratched out.
Raina tried giving it back, “No, I couldn’t.”
“Yes, you must. Go to the ball and find my sister Ivy.”
Raina dropped the necklace and backed away from him. What he wanted from her was impossible. He was not aware of her past with Thornhill. Even though she cared for him and wanted to help him, she could not risk getting caught.
He struggled to rise off the blanket, Raina knelt and helped him to a sitting position, resting him on the wall of the cave. Until Charles had his say, he would not rest.
“Go to the ball and find Ivy. If you wear that necklace she will realize you have information about me. She will help you. It is our only hope. You can trust her.”
“But Maxwell will be returning.”
“You and I both know Maxwell has his own agenda. I have no knowledge of what my friend has involved himself in, but he will only look out for himself at this point.”
Raina was aware of what Maxwell was involved in, for she was involved with him. She knew he spoke the truth though. Maxwell wouldn’t be returning tonight or any other night. It was up to her to get him the help he needed.
“I will go to the ball and return with Ivy.”
He smiled at her as his eyes drifted shut and whispered, “Thank you.”
Raina watched as he went back to sleep. She lowered his body back on the floor of the cave and covered his body with the blanket. Peeling the necklace from his fingers she slipped the ruby off the chain. As she dug into her bag, she found a black ribbon and slipped the ruby through the necklace. Tying the ribbon around her neck she made a choker of the jewel. It was not the only thing she drew out of the bag, she also took out a long red ball gown. She did not fathom why she still carried the dress. Hope she guessed. Hope for one day to wear to a ball and dance with her prince charming. But those days were never meant to be.
As she changed into the dress, she laughed to herself at the irony of the situation. She had found her prince charming, but he would not be at the ball with her. Nevertheless, she would attend the ball for him.
Leaning down she brushed a kiss across his lips, “Goodbye, my sweet Charles.”
Gathering up her bag, she left the cave in search of help. She wouldn’t be returning to him. He was never destined to be hers. Still there was that small part of her that would disagree.
As he awoke at the touch of her lips on his, he heard her whisper goodbye. He watched the ravishing creature she turned herself into, disappear from the cave. She was a dream in the red silk. A dream that had kept him alive these last couple of months. A dream that as soon as he was well; would make a reality. He closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep. His last thought was of her, her and him sharing more than a mere kiss.