~"If Althea got caught, Sir Walter would whip her to death. It was why her heart hammered in her chest and her breath seized in her throat. It was why she stood at the top of the stairway unable to move. Darkness coated the main corridors of the house like molasses, so thick it nearly forced her backward down the long hall to her chamber. Where she belonged. Where she was usually locked behind a bolted door. But not tonight.