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Ex-Rebel Reed Strong is accused of murdering a U.S. Army fort commander when the man’s widow offers him a chance for escape if he agrees to help her get pregnant.
In order to collect on her husband’s estate, Callie McCallister must be carrying his child. She badly needs the money to return to Kansas and rescue her young sister from their cruel stepfather.
After being taken into the back room of the building that served as the fort’s infirmary and being placed in a bed, Reed’s arms and legs were shackled with thick, iron manacles to the cot’s frame.
"Is it necessary to chain him like that?" Mrs. McCallister fixed her gaze on the man in the next room.
"It’s the Lieutenant Colonel’s orders, Ma’am." A thickly built, middle-aged Irish officer explained.
"An extra precaution," Timmons said, a half grin on his face as he approached Reed. "Wouldn’t want you tryin’ anything with the Colonel’s widow."
Reed closed his eyes, hoping to shut out the world around him. Unfortunately his injuries and the thick, iron bands on his wrists and ankles prevented him from even the smallest comfort.
Timmons leaned over him and spoke softly into his ear. "That’s right. You just rest up there, Strong. Six days before the judge gets here. A quick trial and you’ll be swingin’ at the end of a rope. All your troubles will be over." He laughed again.
Reed heard the gentle swish of the woman’s skirts as she approached. "Get out!"
Timmons rose from the side of the bed. "Yes, Ma’am. I was just tucking him in." He turned back to Reed. "Sweet dreams, Mr. Strong."
The commander’s widow said nothing while she worked. With an expert’s touch, she gently pulled the fabric back from Reed’s shoulder. The dried blood made a crackling sound that set his teeth on edge. Once the area was clear, she used a small knife and cut into the skin, her movements so quick that he barely felt any pain, until she used a small metal probe to locate the bullet. Suddenly lightheaded, Reed concentrated on the boards that were nailed unevenly into place overhead and fought the wave of nausea that threatened to overtake him.
With deft fingers, the nurse removed the piece of lead lodged between muscle and bone. Cleansing the wound with a stinging liquid, she hastily bandaged it. Finished with that chore, Mrs. McCallister tended the cut on his head where the stone had struck him, then the cuts on his arms and hands.
Reed held his breath as she removed his boots and examined the blisters caused by the long walk from his camp. Pulling out a small, glass jar from her apron pocket, she applied a thick coat of salve to his feet. The noxious smell from her poultices filled the room, making Reed sick to his stomach.
The sound of her movements brought his attention back. He opened his eyes.
The angel who’d been so determined to keep him alive now stood over him with a large pair of trimming shears.
Reed tensed as she reached for his belt buckle. "Mrs. McCallister!"
"Relax, Mr. Strong. I said I wanted you healthy for the trial. Remember?"
"Healthy, maybe, but you didn’t say anything about gelded," he said, trying to shake off the fear that would overcome any man while a woman held so sharp a weapon near his private parts.
"If I meant to harm you, Mr. Strong, I would have done so before now." Without saying another word, she set to work cutting the fabric of his trousers and shirt, then slowly began the process of removing his bloodstained clothing.
In the fading light of the afternoon, he watched her slender form as she worked. God, she was beautiful, he thought. Long, thick, golden blond hair curled defiantly despite the ribbons that held it back. Her face was a pleasing oval shape with ripe, full lips and emerald green eyes combined with a complexion so smooth and flawless, she needed no rouge or powder to make her attractive. Old man McCallister had been very lucky to get this woman to marry him. Thirty years her senior, he’d been a career officer when he’d swept the young nurse off the battlefield. At least that’s how the rumor went. And now, thanks to Reed, she was a widow.
Since the age of 13, when she asked her parents for only one Christmas present—a typewriter, Pam has dreamed of being a writer. Past President and Treasurer of the Central Florida Romance Writers, she has spent the last ten years working at becoming a published author. An Intensive Care nurse, wife, and mother of two, she spends her time writing historical romantic fiction when she’s not working full time, running kids to dance and school, taking care of four dogs and two cockatiels, and just being a mom.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 306
Paper Weight (lb): 12.9
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