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Shirley K Wolford
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Lucy Russell seems the perfect Southern belle, but she rode for the Rebel Irregulars after the fall of Vicksburg. Adam Reynolds is a much decorated Naval Officer, whose job it is to assist Maximilian return to Europe. Fiercely attracted to each other, but bitterly divided by memories of the war, Lucy and Adam each tug at Maximilian. Only one can succeed! Only one can win!
Time: August, 1865
(Four months after the end of the War Between the States)
Lucy Russell almost hit the roof of the stagecoach for the thousandth or maybe the millionth time. Her body, tossed about like a cockleshell in a raging ocean, ached from riding in the dirty, crowded stagecoach. She should have ridden a horse alongside it, as the accompanying group of horsemen did, but the War Between the States ended last April and she had to learn to behave like a lady again. Especially now that she was on her way to the most glamorous place in North America, the royal court in Mexico City. Still, she didn’t have to like being confined to the “ladylike” role again, did she?
Gazing out the mud-streaked window she was jammed against, she saw a jumble of buildings up ahead. She turned her head, leaning close to the ear of the man next to her. She hoped he’d hear her above the noise of the rocking, swaying coach, “This has to be Galveston, Major.” Then added, in a prayer-like whisper to herself, “I surely do hope so!”
Her escort, ex-Major Rudd Kirby, Confederate States Army, scrunched between her and an itinerant drummer, stretched toward the window. He looked out and nodded. “You’re right. We’ll be there in no time now.”
“I’d still rather have ridden a horse.” Lucy pointed to their mounted escorts, six men in a mishmash of different clothing. To her eye, practiced from four years of war, they all rode like cavalry. But on which side? And did she really want to know?
The coach hit another deep pothole, and she almost used a word which she knew would shock the major. “At least you can guide a horse around the potholes.”
“Not always,” Rudd said ruefully. “Especially if you’re in a hurry. The Yanks were holed up behind a pretty good barricade once and we were trying to move ’em out. When the order came to charge, we took off like the Devil himself was pushing us. My horse missteped into a pothole, and we both somersaulted right into the Yankee lines.”
“Good heavens! You did? What happened?”
Rudd shrugged. “The Yanks were so surprised they didn’t even shoot. One of my friends galloped in and picked me up. Horse was a goner, though. The bluebellies kindly put her out of her misery.” His voice trailed off in a sigh and he stared ahead.
Above her the reins were tightened, and the coach slowed, then stopped in front of a two-story hotel. Lucy felt the vibrations in her body relax, but it took a while before the irritating rumble and creak of the coach died down, replaced by the snorting and blowing of the team.
Then it was strangely quiet. Lucy swallowed to clear her ears. The very last battle of the war had been fought here in Galveston and the Yankees, victorious everywhere else, had lost badly. They’d evacuated Galveston, and her information was that they hadn’t yet come back in force. If they had, and if they knew who she was and what her mission was, she’d be stopped. Not only stopped, but quite possibly, hanged. The Yankees weren’t above hanging a woman. Lucy shuddered, recalling the woman who was hanged as one of the conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination.
The driver and his point man clambered down. More slowly, Sally Buckingham, Lucy’s former slave and very good friend, climbed off the roof of the coach. Sally wore a simple black dress and a close-fitting turban, both of which were thick with dust. Her café au lait complexion was streaked with dirt, and parallel mud streaks ran down her cheeks where the wind had caused her eyes to tear.
Lucy leaned from the coach window. “Are you okay, Sally?”
Things were as they were, and free or slave, her place was with the driver. Lucy didn’t like it, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it; she couldn’t change Southron customs.
The driver took off his hat, opened the coach door and bowed to Lucy. “Here we are, ma’am. I hope you enjoyed the trip.
I used to be a big city girl--after all, I lived in Los Angeles and graduated from New York University. In case you don’t know, NYU is slap-dab in the middle of New York City. So, of course, I met a tall, blond, good-looking Texan on a blind date and got engaged to him four days later. We had a Christmas wedding and lived happily ever after.
And for a wedding present be gave me a revolver. Never was even close to one in my whole life before. But he taught me to shoot and do all the other things that befitted the wife of a Texan. It was fun.
Cross off big cities. One of the things we found we had in common was writing. Of course, we expected to write the GREAT American novel. Didn’t work out that way, but we had some successes.
The Southern Blade sold to Columbia Pictures and became a “B” movie called A Time for Killing. We sold westerns steadily--one every two years, while working.
He made industrial motion pictures, and I taught English and American history.
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 344
Paper Weight (lb): 14.2
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