Life Without Life

Chapter 15:

"Katherine, what did my father say about this betrothal?" Matthew asks, looking out the window of his bed chamber.

"Well, not exactly."

"What do you mean, not exactly? I thought I could count on you to- - -!"

The Baron abruptly barges into his bed chamber shouting, "Aha, so you are the culprit, Katherine! You thought you could deceive me, did you not?! How long have you been plotting with my son, you despicable wench?! You are no more than a disgrace to this family than my own son!"

"Father, how can you say such a thing about Katherine? She is family!"

"Not any more she is! From this point forward, Katherine of Sleaford is no longer part of this family! As for you, Matthew, be prepared to be married to Josette of Cannock within the next two days! You will be married and will not disgrace this family as your cousin has chosen to do! Do I make myself clear?!"

"Aye, milord. . ."

"Good. Now, Katherine, kindly remove yourself and your belongings from this manor before I have my Sheriff arrest you for trespassing!"

"Aye, milord." She gets up, takes one more look at Matthew sulking on his bed, and walks out.

* * * * * *

"Why are you back here again? Do you want me to get in trouble?" inquires Timothy, looking at Katherine with sinister eyes.

"I have come to help you," she says, taking a step closer to him and reaching out to caress his cheek with her fingers. "And to tell you that I am truly sorry for what happened this afternoon."

"Help me?! Earlier you came here claiming I was in love with Josette! Now you wish to help me?!"

"I am sorry for the outburst earlier but I do believe we can help each other. Just tell me if you have any feelings towards her and I will do the rest."

"I have no feelings for Josette of Cannock," he says flatly. "As a matter of fact, my wife is expecting a child within the next two weeks."

"Your wife?! But I thought that- - -."

"You thought wrong! If you must delve into my life story, I am a happily married man of two years. I work at this shop for my day's rations so I can buy food for my wife and expected child. So, nay, I have no feelings for Josette."

Katherine gulps before replying. Being the older of the two she has one advantage; being the smaller of the two she is at a disadvantage. "So," she begins, trying to test his strength, "if I brought Josette here to look at you face to face, you could honestly say that I will not see one ounce of lust in your eyes?"

A pause then. Timothy realizes he has gotten himself into a bit of a bind. If he admits his love for Josette, he could be banished or even killed. But if he denies any recollection of her, he could lose her forever. By breaking the silence, he only speaks one solemn word, "Aye."

"Good. That is what I thought you would say. Wait here." Katherine walks out the front door of the shop, looks around the side, and guides someone into the room where Timothy is standing.

"Timothy, I would like to introduce you to- - -."

"Josette!!" he gasps as she comes away from the shadows and into the light.

"So you do know each other! Timothy, kindly tell Josette the story you told me."

"Timothy, what is she talking about?"

"Go on, Timothy. If you could stand there and tell me that you do not know her or have had any feelings for her, you can tell her the story you told me a moment ago."

"Is that true, Timothy? Do you not love me even when you say you do?" Josette looks deep into Timothy's blue eyes, as tears begin to form in hers.

"Nay, stop this! Katherine, what I told you was a lie, a total lie! Josette, I do care for you. There, I have said it! Is that what you wanted, Katherine?!"

"Timothy, listen to me carefully. I have been cast out of this manor by order of the Baron. I was caught trying to save my cousin from this marriage. But I can still help you out of this and you will be free and happy."

"Well, Katherine, what do you have planned up your sleeve?" Timothy places one arm around Katherine's shoulder and one around Josette's waist and leads them to the back of the shop.

As they walk back, Katherine begins, "I will visit you both tonight, separately of course, in order to give you instructions on how to stay away from the Baron's guards and still escape the manor."


chapter 16