When Confederate soldier, Lt. Daniel McCoy makes his escape from a Union prison toward the end of the Civil War, his only thought is to get as far away from enemy territory as possible. But he doesn’t count on saving young widow Rosemarie Wilson’s life from an infected leg wound.
Rosemarie has no use for Rebels soldiers, having lost everything, including her husband, the last time they came to her home. However, Daniel has not only saved her life, but is sticking around to help with the farm and her three children until she recovers.
With Union soldiers searching for him, every day Daniel remains puts him in danger. Or is the beautiful widow who has captured his heart the greater risk?
Camp Morton, Indianapolis
Not a sliver of moonlight, no campfires burning. Darkness covered Confederate soldier, Lieutenant Daniel McCoy, like a shroud. His heart pounded, blocking any sound to warn him of danger, of rapid footsteps in pursuit, or the click of metal before a bullet entered his body. A befitting end for a prison escapee.
He stood like a statue to calm his racing heart and allow his eyes time to adjust. Not that it had been bright in the dingy hellhole he’d just left. The one where he’d spent the last month digging his way to freedom. A place where smallpox, cholera, and dysentery ran rampant, and men died screaming, or crying the name of a wife or sweetheart.READ MORE
Deep voices carried over the night air from where two guards met. One sentry struck a flint to light his cigar, revealing their dirty war-battled faces, as they spoke in low tones. As always, the twang of their accent grated on his nerves. He moved deeper into the shadows until the soldiers separated, each going a different direction.
He took a deep breath and eyed the stables.
Too risky to steal a horse.
After the enemies’ footsteps died away, Daniel’s long strides covered the open area to the safety of the trees. Lack of exercise over the past months had taken a toll on his body, and his lungs burned from the short sprint. He eased behind a large oak, watching, waiting for an alarm to sound.
His index finger and thumb rubbed the cool metal of the heavy ring tucked in his pocket. He’d stolen it back from the drunken Union soldier while he’d slept. Once again, the heirloom rested where it belonged. With him—a McCoy.
Sweat beaded his forehead, and he took gulps of the damp night air before bending to empty his stomach of the last putrid meal they’d fed him. Truth be told, if it hadn’t been for the local citizens of Indianapolis, the Confederates would probably all be dead. The residents showed immense compassion toward the prisoners, providing the necessary food, clothing, and nursing to keep most of the inmates alive.
The guards made another pass, and still no shouts came from within the prison walls. Despite the cold, Lieutenant McCoy wiped sweat from his forehead, then picked his way through the forest surrounding the Union camp. The sound of his panting echoed off the trees as he picked up the pace and stumbled over small roots and animal holes in the dark. He raced to the bank of the White River, waded into the mud and silt, and dove into the icy water. The shock of the cold took his breath away, but with strong strokes, he swam from the cursed prison.
After nine long months in hell, he breathed free air.
Johnson County, Indiana
“Mama, can I get you some tea?”
Rosemarie Wilson eased heavy eyelids open and attempted to smile with dry, cracked lips at her eight-year-old son, Chandler. The frown on his pale face tore at her heart.
“No thank you. Just look after your sister and brother.” She shifted on the bed, struggling to relieve the throbbing pain in her leg. Black dots danced before her eyes at the movement, and her stiff fingers grabbed the worn patchwork quilt to control the dizziness and nausea. She raised her head from the pillow and moved the blanket from her leg. The smell from the festering cut on her right calf, where the axe had sliced almost to the bone, scared her. She’d cleaned it after the accident as best she could. However, the awkward position of the wound made the stitches she put in jerky and uneven.
Tears slid down her cheeks as life ebbed from her weary body. She’d used so much of her strength trying to keep the farm going after a band of Confederate soldiers had swooped in a few months ago and taken just about everything they’d owned. Shortly after, she’d laid her husband of nine years to rest in the little plot under the elm tree behind the house. Dead from a bullet wound after one of the soldiers had shot him.
Damn this war, and everything it’s taken from my family!
Another tear slipped from her eye and landed on the thin nightgown covering her shoulder. Chandler’s voice drifted in through the bedroom door, as he spoke to his younger brother and sister in the kitchen. Five-year-old Amelia balked at having leftover oatmeal for lunch. Several more tears joined the first one, and Rosemarie’s heart throbbed so hard it hurt. She closed her eyes against the pain and drifted into the welcoming oblivion of sleep.
Rays from bright sunshine seeped beneath the wooden shutters on the bedroom window, bathing her face in light, forcing her to turn aside. Her body burned with heat.
If I could just have a drink of water.
She listened for a minute, terrified at the silence that greeted her. Where were her children? “Chandler?” Her voice rasped.
No answer. She raised herself up on one elbow and called louder. Still no answer. Tears of pain and frustration gathered in her eyes.
Dear God, please help me.
Did God even listen to her anymore? She’d prayed all her life, always had faith. Even when her father had sold her into marriage not much older than a child, she knelt and prayed for Hans to be a good man. Cold and stern, and not the man she would have chosen for herself, her husband had nevertheless provided well for her and their children. The three beautiful children the good Lord had blessed her with.
Now the only parent they had left lay dying.COLLAPSE
Patricia H., Amazon wrote:
The characters in this story are fully-developed and come to life on the page. Daniel McCoy is a desperate man, but too honorable to desert those in need. Widowed Rosemary Wilson has injured her leg and lies in bed with infection set in when Daniel arrives on her farm looking for a place to spend the night. He can't turn his back on her or her three children. Ms Hutton's writing is vivid and well constructed to deliver an emotional impact that keeps the reader engaged. I fell in love with Daniel, Rosemary, and the children.
3labmom, Amazon wrote:
This is my all time favorite book. I have read it 3 times. Every time I read it, even though I know how it ends, it brings tears to my eyes. If you are looking for a great love story this is it.
This is a wonderful story that really depicts the hardship during the war and how love can conquer all. Reading it you find yourself transported in time and lose yourself in the kindness of Daniel and the tenacity of Rosemarie. Pick this up, and you will want to go ahead and get book #2 Stephen's Bride. Guaranteed for a great weekend.