Title: Entangled Destinies
Author: J. L. Addicoat
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
Can a message found in a century old bottle bring a government to its knees?
Ever found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? Sarah glances out of a window in time to see her employer, Edmund Starke, emerge from the shadows covered in blood. When he attacks her, only her mistress’s brave actions allow Sarah to escape with her life. With only a small bag and her diaries, she needs to leave England, but can she gain passage on a ship bound for America without Edmund’s henchmen catching and dragging her back?
Screams sounded from within the house. Sarah's fear grew. As cold as it was, she wasn't going back into the house until she knew he was in bed.
She curled herself into a ball, pulling soiled washing on top of her for warmth. She shivered, not so much from the cold but from what she could imagine was going on in the house. The screams stopped. She didn't want to think of what she may find in the morning.
Then it came. He called out the window. "Sarah, your mistress needs your attention. Get back in here, you worthless girl."
Worthless indeed, she thought to herself. She waited until she saw the light in his room go out. Sarah steeled herself for what she may find. She crept back into the house through the kitchen and made her way upstairs to her mistress's room. She could hear groans and crying coming from within and without knocking she opened the door and entered.
She lit the candle that was on a table beside the door. Her mistress lay across the bed, blood coming from her mouth and nose. Her nightdress had been pulled up and nearly ripped off. Blood ran from between her legs. Sarah hurried over to the bed and pulled the nightdress down. Leaning over, she tried to pull the woman into a sitting position.
As Sarah grasped her hands Mrs. Stark groaned out some words, but Sarah didn't understand what she'd said. Finally getting her into a sitting position, Sarah tried to turn her, attempting to lay her head onto a pillow. Mrs. Stark grabbed her hands with a strength she'd rarely shown before.
"Sarah, he's a monster. His eyes changed and his teeth grew long. He bit me." She turned her head. Sarah could see the marks he had left.
Twin puncture marks scored her neck. Sarah shushed her, laying her head on the pillow. "Ma'am, something needs to be done. You can't stay here. The next time he will kill you. We can escape tonight. He has gone to bed—" Sarah tried to continue but her mistress put a finger to her lips.
"No Sarah, I cannot leave. I have nothing. He has everything. I would become like those poor women on the street. I cannot end up like that. I have to stay." Mrs. Stark gripped her hands again. "You must be careful. He told me what he wanted to do to you. You must pack and go." Her mistress's voice shook when she spoke, and tears ran down her blood-spattered cheeks.
Sarah clasped Mrs. Stark's hands. "I will wash you clean, take care of your cuts and bruises and stay here for the rest of the night with you." She watched as her mistress nodded, then set to work with the cloth and water. Gently dabbing the cuts, she washed the blood from her mistress's face and body. Mrs. Stark was incapable of washing her lady parts so Sarah did her best. She cringed when she touched the private bits, the flesh was torn in a bad way, like someone had bitten the lips off—or tried to.
Sarah raised her eyes to look at Mrs. Stark. The woman's face was a mask of pain. "Ma'am, you need to see a doctor. I cannot fix what has happened here, only a doctor can."
Mrs. Stark opened her eyes and shook her head. "No, no-one can know what has happened here tonight. You must keep this secret and never tell anyone." She sobbed as she spoke. "This is why you must get away as soon as you can."
Sarah had done the best she could, so for the rest of the night she sat on a chair next to her mistress, holding her hand while the woman tried to sleep. Plans ran through Sarah's mind of how she could slip away. Then she remembered the bloody shirt and pants in the washing room.
When her mistress finally slept, she sneaked downstairs through the kitchen and outside. She picked up the now bloody pillowcase and retraced her steps, her stomach roiling in fear at the chance of being caught. Making her way to her room, she closed the door quietly. She noticed a loose board next to her bed and knelt down next to it. Working the board with her fingers, she managed to pry it up. By flattening the bloody pillowcase, Sarah was able to get it into the void. Quickly covering it with the board again, she placed the worn rug over the top, hiding it from sight.
Sarah packed her belongings quickly, not that she had much to pack. Just one other dress and a set of underclothes, which folded neatly inside the cotton bag, as well as every one of her diaries and the extra small book holding all the dates and times. She placed it next to the door where she could reach in to grab it and run if she needed to. Opening the door quietly, she snuck back to her mistress's room, hoping Mr. Stark hadn't heard her.
When dawn broke she slipped out and grabbed her bag, placing it in the washroom. Gathering an armful of wood and kindling, she re-entered the house and walked to the reception room. Mr. Stark never rose at this time, so she was safe for the moment. She’d laid the paper and kindling, ready to set the flint to it, when the door opened behind her. Mr. Stark stood in the door way, his face marked with scratches and his eyes blood red.
Sarah screamed and stood, edging her way around the room, trying to get to the window. I may be able to escape through it. Casting her eyes toward it, she heard Mr. Stark laugh evilly.
"Silly girl, you won't make it through the window before I get to you." He took a step toward her. Sarah felt behind her, grabbing a candle stick from the table that she stood in front of. She hefted it to shoulder height, ready to use it if she had to.
He laughed at her again and took another step. She stepped sideways, back toward the fire. There were a couple of good heavy lumps of wood. Maybe I could knock him unconscious with one of them.
He lunged toward her and she tried to step out of his reach, but he grabbed her.
"Now girl, you're mine. I'm tired of the fat thing upstairs. I want you!" His eyes glowed red. Mrs. Stark was right. His teeth had grown into horrible pointy things, and they were moving toward her.
"No never. I won't let you." Sarah struggled in his grasp but he was much stronger than her.
The door slammed open, hitting the wall behind. Mrs. Stark staggered in, her face filled with pain, carrying a heavy candle stick of her own. She hit him hard on the back of the head and he swore, letting go of Sarah and grabbing his wife.
She screamed at Sarah. "Run girl, run. I know he'll kill me this time but I don't care. Don't just stand there…run!"
Sarah was torn. She wanted to help her mistress, but her instinct and Mrs. Stark told her to get out of there. She ran from the room but turned her head as she reached the doorway, just in time to see Mr. Stark rip his wife's throat out with his teeth.