Grace burst into the rented room in Port Royal, roughly grabbing Hanson's shoulders and shaking the far too relaxed and naked form that was spreadeagled across the rumpled bed.
"Joshua, wake up! They've got the Captain!"
"What?" he slurred, barely managing to open his eyes or focus, let alone form a lucid thought. He had fallen asleep just two hours previously and he really was not ready to welcome the day. Grace lightly slapped his cheeks and when that did not work she straddled him, gripped his chin, stared him straight in the eyes and said very slowly, "They have captured Tom. I have just seen him taken to Fort Charles in chains. They are going to hang him."
This time he opened his eyes fully and they flashed with comprehension. "Bastards!" he cried and leapt from the bed, dragging his breeches and boots on and searching everywhere for his blunderbuss.
Grace watched him for a moment, her heart heaving with love and admiration for the foolish man. "Joshua," she eventually said in a low, calm voice. "You can't go anywhere near Fort Charles. If anyone should recognise you…"
"Shit!" he said, sitting down heavily on the bed and holding his throbbing head in his hands. He looked imploringly up at Grace, his face irresistibly lovely. "You'll have to go Gracie. You must get in and see him. We have to do something!"
"Of course I'll go!" she said. She had every intention of going to Fort Charles. She was going even before Hanson had asked her to. She had been horrified by the sight of The Black Orchid being led from the port bound in chains, his face bruised and battered and his clothes ripped. But another person she had seen had prompted an altogether different emotion. A visit to Fort Charles was suddenly very necessary for more reasons than one.
It was easy enough to get in to the Fort to see Lady Howard. Grace just told them that a doctor had been called for and taking one look at Letitia's pale drawn face she wondered if a doctor was needed after all. Letitia's hands felt cold and clammy as she gripped Grace's much warmer ones.
"Are you sick Letitia?" Grace asked. "You do not look well at all."
"I am fine. It was just the stress of the journey here."
"Why are you here?"
"I accompanied my fiancée," she said and added much more quietly, "for the trial."
"Henry Lucas. We are to be married."
"Henry Lucas," Grace repeated. "You are marrying Henry Lucas?"
"Yes," Letitia said letting go of her hands and sweeping across the room, returning to the chair she had been sitting in originally.
"But Letitia, you said that you would use your wiles rather than be at the mercy of men."
"I am tired, Grace. So tired. The plantation takes so much work and there is still no money, and I am tired."
"And what of Tom?" Grace asked quietly.
"What of him?" Letitia snapped. "He is about to reap the consequences of his actions! Theft, arson, kidnap...rape. He will no doubt rot in hell for his crimes."
Grace stared at Letitia. The Back Orchid was no angel, that was for sure, but the picture Letitia painted of him was not an accurate or a fair one. Letitia had spent days with them on the Innocent and not once had she witnessed behaviour worthy of hanging, and rape? Tom was no rapist. Grace would rather label him a gentleman than a rapist. Letitia had never been Tom's greatest fan, but what had made her suddenly so irrational? Then Grace cursed herself for her slowness, it was suddenly perfectly obvious.
"Letitia," she said. "I have many things to tell you. You may find some of them rather upsetting."
But just then a man swept into the room and Grace's usual cool composure completely deserted her as she was faced with the tall, elegant figure of Henry Lucas himself. He was making straight for Letitia with a predatory gleam in his eyes when he noticed she had company and stopped, only perfunctorily taking in the young man's scruffy attire and battered tricorn hat.
"Letitia," he snapped. "Make yourself presentable. The Governor has invited us to tea."
It was then that Grace turned round and now that she had gathered herself together once again, she took off her hat and fixed him with her cool grey eyes.
He visibly started, and Grace smiled slightly at his discomposure.
"Henry," Letitia said. "This is Dr. Ferris. He is an old friend of mine."
Henry Lucas's voice seemed to have failed him. He coughed and managed to say, "Delighted," then turned to Letitia and said, "You need to get ready now."
To Grace's surprise, Letitia dutifully nodded goodbye to her and left the room.
Henry Lucas immediately turned to Grace and in an overly oily way said, "Little Grace Ferris, it's been too long. " He looked her up and down. "And I can see even in those ugly clothes that you may not be that little any more. 'Tis a shame to cover it all up."
Grace glared at him, her hands squeezing into fists by her side.
"How I remember your lithe little body," he continued, "twisting under me while you fought. What happy memories!"
She summoned every ounce of her will to stay still and not attack him like she wanted, pummel his smug face until it was black and blue, kick him and scratch him and bite him until he bled. She bit her bottom lip and stayed standing, rigid with the tension.
His voice suddenly became threateningly quiet. "Stay away from Lady Howard," he said. "Cause trouble for me Grace, and there will be consequences."