Katrina, a bright young child was sent to be raised by her Aunt, who owns the local pub where she sprouts into a beautiful young woman that learned the ropes of life as a poor serving girl with nothing to bring to a marriage. With the catch of the city banging down her door, Katrina desired a much different life. Every woman for miles dreamed of having Harold Bailey, a rich, powerful man born with a silver spoon in his mouth and used to getting exactly what he wanted on their arm. But Harold's eyes were for a poor serving girl. He was a controlling brute, he wanted the women he couldn't and tossed the ones he could, and his women new their place. But Katrina was quite the opposite, desiring the world and her in the middle of it.
She wants life with no rules, no obligations, and to be free like the wind. After a near fatal tragedy the opportunity opens.
Does she take the leap a leap of faith or have a heart and stay for the man who loves her? Stay for Harold?
The Crow’s Nest was a good place to be, with abundant food, drink, and brisk gossip. Katrina always enjoyed the gossip; she didn’t dislike the Crow’s Nest, but it irked and frustrated her to be continually on hand to serve and help to speed the travelers on through while constantly watching their departures to places she had never been.
The rich rode in their own carriages, some of them velvet lined and silk curtained, the ladies wearing large hats and clutching miniature dogs on their laps, the gentleman with waistcoats of wonderful colors, and hands that flushed with rings. Tina’s eyes were on the dining area constantly as she moved about her tasks, her mind storing up information about worlds she knew only by words dropped carelessly as she poured the wine.
Unable to fall asleep Katrina lay thinking there was something more for her than to live, marry, bear one child after another until she was no longer able to bear children, and then die without even stirring outside this one horse town. There was more than Harold Bailey. But Tina had no idea what it must be, or how it would come to her. She was living her worst fears.
The loft was as still as church in mid-week, but she guessed she wouldn’t be left long enough to enjoy its stillness. She settled back in the hay, and loosened a shawl she had wrapped around her shoulders.
Harold Bailey, her fiancé and the mayor’s one and only son, was close on her heels. How dare Tina run and make a fool of him? He vowed to return with her when he caught sight of her entering a rick-shackled barn on old McGee’s place out in the middle of nowhere, and still quite a bit out to be hoofing it. He kept his eyes on the door. His broad, heavy shoulders rested against the huge oak tree just a few yards away. His attitude suggested it would have been an effort of will to straighten him and move, but his mind was far too busy, as it seldom was, flooding with images that brought a flush to his fair skin, making him swallow slowly.
He had glimpsed over as Tina entered. Without thinking, he had to follow her, but suddenly retreated, cursing his own hesitancy. He wiped his clammy hands against his breeches, and swallowed hard. Every instinct urged him to go to her, to take advantage of her being alone to press the claims he had been making for these nine months. He told himself if he went now he might be permitted to touch her, hold her body close to him and maybe even kiss her, or wrings from her a promise to marry him. He thought of all this and still he stood rooted to his spot. He felt himself tremble, and wondered what had happened to the strength that made him feared and respected by all. His determination and strength seemed to have turned to water before this woman, whose glance held only contempt for him.
Harold clinched his fists, and his need for her was a slow pain that burned through him deeply. His mind never encompassed tenderness or love; he knew nothing of this feeling toward Tina except that he wanted to possess her. He had no knowledge of her as a person, for they had never talked together with intimacy. All he knew was evidence of his own senses. He knew of the sensuousness, provocative lines of her tiny frame, and the faint fragrance of her skin.
In times past, for hours he would sit in the kitchen of The Crow’s Nest, his eyes following Tina’s every move—before coming to a rest on her shining, red hair, soft, young curves.
There were times when he hated Tina. She made a fool of him, he was Harold Bailey, the only son of a man who could buy what he wanted, including the town if he preferred. He was strong, women called him handsome, and came easily to him.
There were women who could have brought a dowry to the marriage, women that were fitting matches. There were many possibilities, but like a fool he must settle his eyes on a serving girl who had no possessions, nor a penny to her name but her lips were red and sweet, and she walked like a queen regardless. He knew she was conscious of the fact there was no honor in having his offer of marriage made to her. Her rebuffs filled him with rage, and still she attracted him beyond his power to understand.
Voices in the stable close by reached him, and he jerked his head around. He didn’t want the two young stable hands to find him. They would know why he was there, and laugh at him behind his back for letting a mere serving girl play him as if she were a queen. They both knew of his long hours of silent waiting. They also knew Tina wouldn’t walk on the wild side with him. It was almost as bad as the taints his own father gave him.
Finally all was quiet. He straightened up, and walked down to the door of the barn. Inside, the evening light was soft, and there was no movement to tell him of Tina’s presence or thereabouts. He quietly shut the door with what was for him, unusual gentleness.
“Tina. Tina?” His voice was hoarse as he called out for her.
He hadn’t expected an answer from her. His eyes flickered over the accumulation of junk littering the floor, and then he went quickly to the ladder that reached to the loft. When he was halfway up, her head appeared suddenly over the edge. She was lying close to the opening, her brown eyes starred at him hostilely.
“What are you doing here?” Tina demanded harshly.