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The Lexington House Murder

~ Chapter Fifteen


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Ichabod and Katrina sat alone in their parlor in front of the fire. A lamb roast dinner had been eaten and a half bottle of wine consumed. Jonathan was in bed. Only Cook rattled around in the kitchen, clearing up.

Katrina rose from her chair and knelt down next to Ichabod. For a moment, she leaned her head against his thigh and hugged his knee. He continued to stare into the fire; absentmindedly caressing a lock of her hair. She looked up at him; the shadows gave his beautiful face a somber look. She replaced her cheek against his thigh and said, “Ichabod, it is time we go to bed. You are exhausted.”

He stood up and gave Katrina his hand to help her up. She linked her arm though his as they went up the stairs. In their bedroom they both undressed quickly and quietly. Katrina was not sure if she needed to send some signal to Ichabod, that she did not expect a repeat of the night before.

She decided she would not presume anything. However, she did try to peek around to see if Ichabod was getting into bed with his nightshirt on or not.

Very suddenly she felt overwhelmed. Everything had actually seemed less bewildering before last night happened. Katrina sighed and wondered if this feeling of unease would forever repeat itself night after night. Would this sort of decision have to be made every night? Who would make it? He could hardly be in a very passionate mood, and she wanted him to feel comfortable and know that she would be happy just to hold him. But then after what happened last night…

“Katrina” Ichabod whispered. “Whatever are you staring at? Come into bed.” Katrina turned and saw the Ichabod was sitting up in bed and had indeed folded the covers back on her side. He was not wearing his night shirt.

She finished undressing very quickly and slipped between the covers.

Ichabod whispered. “Your combs.” She removed them and shook out her hair. Ichabod immediately began to move his fingers through her hair. “It is the first thought I can remember thinking when I met you. You kissed me and then removed your blindfold. And I thought how beautiful you were. All your golden hair."

They both slid down under the covers. Katrina responded. “From the first moment I saw your face I knew I had crossed my fate. I guess it is safe to tell you, that in spite of Brom, I loved you from the moment I looked into your eyes.”

Ichabod reach his arm around her and she leaned into him. “Ichabod, I understand that you are very tired. And that you might wish to sleep immediately.”

Ichabod buried his lips in her hair. “Love, I thought about you every moment today. It’s a miracle I heard half of what Mailer was saying. I kept thinking of how you felt next to me. How completely you gave yourself to me. Not just your body, but your trust and your hopes.”

“But Ichabod, all of this is something I am still so unsure of. I do not want to do the wrong thing or at the wrong time.”

“Katrina, this is our bed, our sanctuary. The one place where there is nothing held back between us. No question that cannot be asked or answered. No loving touch that cannot be given or received. This is where we made our child. This is where we truly became one with the other.”

He smiled at her and stroked her cheek. “So there is nothing else to say, except to ask, do you love me at this moment, Katrina?

“Of course.”

It was all so simple. She locked her arms around his neck and drew him to her. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Janelle and John Mailer were finishing a fine meal at the upscale Lowell Hotel dining room. The tables were set comfortable apart and the lighting warm. Mailer ordered coffee and a light brandy for both Janelle and himself.

“Really, John, I am not used to spirits and I have already had wine with my dinner.”

She could not quite believe what was happening to her. All of the difficulties around her, and in the middle of it, John. His dark hair and clear eyes. He was a much more handsome man than she had ever known. Even though she was herself considered a beautiful girl, because of her class, her best hope was to marry a tradesman or some man of the upper household staff. But never a professional man. And never for love. If there was love. Perhaps he only wanted friendship?

John smiled at her. “You do not have to drink the brandy. I thought perhaps it would help you to sleep. I know you are under a great deal of strain. I thought some dinner out would allow us time to get to talk. Rather better than hiding behind carriages from Ichabod’s son.”

Janelle laughed. “Yes, he is a very perceptive boy. Very well mannered. Someone so honest, he seems almost able to read one’s thoughts.”

They had managed to steer clear of any discussion of the murder during dinner.

Janelle sipped at her coffee looked over at John Mailer. He took her small fingers within his own long and slender ones. “Janelle, I believe it is only fair to confess I have developed a deep feeling for you.”

“I can only hope that your thoughts are for me, John. And not for a woman from whom you need information or for whom you pity.”

Mailer face was total incredulity. “How can you believe that of me, Janelle? I have indicated for some time what my true feelings are.”

“No, John you have been kind. Sweet and seductive as well. I am in a place where it is difficult for me to trust. But I have no reason to believe that you are more than just fond of me.”

Mailer shook his head, “You are wrong, Janelle. You have this. I love you. I would like to make a life with you, but to do that I need to help you survive this moment in your life. Please trust me. And know that I would not allow anyone to be hurt. Anyone. Yes, I am torn because of my duty to my position and my love for you. I want us to be happy, and that will never happen until this is behind us.”

As much as she had prayed to hear him say these words, Janelle was sure she could see her whole future dissolve before her eyes. “John, I want more than anything to cause no difficulty in the carrying out of your duties.” A tear fell down on her cheek. Janelle looked off into the distance and said, “How difficult it must be for you to be in love with a woman who may be involved in a murder. I feel for you, John. I do. And yet I feel for myself, as well. Regardless of the tragedies I have suffered or what imprudent steps I may have taken to protect my beloved sister, I am no different from any other woman. I have a heart full of love with no one to give it to.” She looked into his eyes, and grasped his hands with hers. “John, more than anything I would like a home to make comfortable, a husband and babies to love and care for. But as for the truth I can only swear to you, John, I have never deliberately committed an evil deed in my life.”

Mailer paid the bill and they walked outside. He motioned for their carriage to pull up. He silently helped Janelle into the compartment. “Driver takes us to Constable Crane’s home, but go by the river. No need to hurry.”

For a few minutes Mailer did not speak. Janelle looked out the window and said softly, “You are suddenly very quiet. I will not be disappointed if you have changed your mind and decide to have nothing to do with me.”

“Apparently you have not noticed that I am a most stubborn man. I do not make declarations lightly. And once I decided to invite you into my life, it is not a decision I am likely to change.” The woman beside him began to shake. It seemed to her she was raw and weary to the point of collapse.

“John, could you hold me, please.”

Mailer immediately enveloped her completely in his arms. They felt wonderfully strong, and Janelle let herself go limp. Very unexpectedly, a tiny spark of desire came into her heart. She smiled and wiped her tears away. “You are capable of bringing out feelings I have not felt for a long time. I had almost forgotten all my girlish dreams of meeting a man and having a great love affair.”

Mailer gave her a gentle squeeze. “In your dreams what does this man do, once he has fallen in love with you?” His lips just grazed the side of her face.

Her face hidden in the dark carriage, Janelle answered softly. “Well you must remember that young girls are apt to be fanciful in their ideas of romance. It sounds so silly, but I always hoped for a man who would ravish me with impassioned kisses and take unspeakable advantages of me. Of course, I was never quite sure what that meant when I read about it in novels.”

Before another moment passed, she felt him pull her over to his corner of the carriage. He leaned her gently back onto the seat. He started by kissing her softly and then more deeply. He seemed as if he would consume her. He moved his hand up under her skirt until he could just caress the skin above her stocking. She felt deliciously helpless to stop him in any way. But suddenly he sat her up and looked at her with a grin.

“Now, Miss Janelle, you may consider yourself properly ravished. And I shall take you home to Ichabod and Katrina.”

He paused and lifted her chin so they were looking at each other. “You know what this means, the fact that I have been such a cad and indeed taken advantage of you?”

Janelle shook her head.

“It means, Miss Washington, that no other man can touch you. You belong to me only. And, as a gentleman, I have no choice but to consider your “surrender” to my advances to mean that you have accepted a proposal of marriage from me.”

Janelle was so confused. She longed to be alone to think about what was happening to her. She continued to hold his hand until the carriage pulled up in front of the Crane’s house. Mailer took the key from her hand and walked her to the entrance. He kissed her softly on the cheek and unlocked the door. “Goodnight, Janelle. Have only happy dreams tonight. An adoring husband, a home of your own and a half-dozen children under foot.” 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Katrina stirred in her sleep. She glanced over at Ichabod but he did not move. She got up from the bed and put on her night clothes. As she approached their door, she was sure she could hear footsteps. Was Jonathan sleep walking? Cautiously she opened the door, and gasped slightly.

It was only Cook holding a candle in her hand. “Mrs., what are you doing up? I did not mean to rouse you.”

Katrina shut the bedroom door behind her and said. “I could not sleep and thought I would check on Jonathan.” Together they started down the steps, when suddenly Jonathan voice could be heard behind them.

“Miss Janelle is gone.” He whispered.

Katrina felt her heart sink.

“Where would she be going, alone, at this hour? It must be close to midnight” Cook asked.

“I heard someone leaving by the front door. I looked and it was Miss Janelle. Mother, we should waken Ichabod and tell him.”

“Alright, I will get him up.” Katrina agreed. “Jonathan I want you to stay here with Cook. If Ichabod is going out, I am going with him” She was firm in her voice.

“But surely father would want me to come; to look out for you should you encounter some danger.”

But Katrina was firm. “No Jonathan. This is different. I will not allow you to come. You must obey me in this. And no sneaking out to follow us. Promise me.”

Jonathan nodded. Katrina went back to the bedroom and woke Ichabod. He opened his eyes slowly and immediately reached for her. “What is it love, a bad dream?” He was already pulling her down into the bed.

“Ichabod, listen to me. Janelle is gone.”

Ichabod was on his feet in a second. He began to pull on this trousers and shirt. “Do we know how long she had been gone. And why didn’t the patrolmen stop her.”

“Only a few minutes. Jonathan saw her leave and was coming to tell you. And I am the one who told they could take the night off. I thought with you home….”

“Jonathan cannot come with me. You will have to explain to him.”

“I have already told him that. But I am coming with you.” Ichabod suddenly looked up to see his wife also dressing herself.

He prepared himself to argue. But the look on Katrina’s face was resolute.

“Where to you plan to look for her? Katrina asked.

“I am hopeful that we will find her where all of this began. And hopefully where it will all end.”

 



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