COMING OUT ON GENERAL RELEASE SOON!
Catherine stood at the window and stared out into the darkness. Her head ached from crying but she was warmer now and the faint that had claimed her outside had passed. She’d walked all day without any food and the relief at arriving at the Duggan homestead had welled up in a swirl of emotion that had made her dizzy. She could see her hazy reflection in the glass and she looked into her own eyes. Her pupils were so dilated that the green was barely visible and she felt that their ebony centres reflected the blackened hollow of her heart. She had done wrong and her soul was tarnished.
Fear climbed up her spine like a dead man’s fingers. What if the darkness kept on growing until it swallowed her whole? She had loved Kenan and been devoted to him, but circumstances had taken her away from the path she had chosen. If she had felt that she’d had a choice then she would have followed that path unerringly, but she’d been torn apart and had made the only decision that she could have made at that time, as a young woman with people relying on her. She had owed her aunt and uncle her loyalty—they’d taken her in when she’d had no one else. It would have been wrong of her to abandon them when they had faced their own private troubles, but she wished that there had been another way.
Her lips trembled as she recalled of Kenan’s words. He’d called her a harlot. The term churned in her gut and forced a sour taste into her mouth. She was no harlot, not really. She hadn’t wanted to do what she’d done but sometimes life was unkind and it led her in directions she’d rather not have gone. Women didn’t have as many choices as men in this world. Sure, things were improving and some women had even set up their own homesteads and businesses but it took courage, a strong will and self-belief. Catherine hadn’t needed to worry because she’d come fresh from college and the teaching examination to her uncle’s farm where she’d met Kenan. Prior to college, which she’d been late attending because her Mama had needed her at home, she’d only wondered what it would be like to become a teacher. She had wanted to work with the children of the west before settling and having her own. Meeting Kenan had only confirmed to her that being a wife and mother was all she wanted in life. They would have carved out their path in the American landscape. It had been their mutual aim. How cruel it had been then when that simple dream had been stolen away.
A movement outside the window caught her eye and she leaned her forehead against the cold glass. He was out there. He’d come back. She hurried over to the door and flung it open, ignoring Rosie’s shouts and the fierce wind that whipped at her skirts as she ran out into the rain.