By Love's Honor Bound
by Patricia Bond
Categories: Action/Adventure, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date: July 17, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 98,000
Someone is killing Conductors on the Underground Railroad one by one. With a cellar full of runaway slaves, Olivia June Mathieson must decide - is the handsome Fenton PierceSmythe savior or traitor?
Both Fenton Pierce-Smythe’s fiancee and grandfather were killed when runaway slaves spooked their horses. Determined no one else will face that pain, he hunts runaways to return them safely to their owners. But can he remain unmoved by their plight? And unaffected by the beautiful woman who risks her life to lead them to freedom?
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
God, it was awful.
The whiskey was bad enough, and the stench of sour ale, unwashed bodies, and horse hung in the air like a sail in a calm, but this caterwauling could bring a strong man to his knees.
The girl was pretty, Fenton acknowledged. Remarkably so. She had blond ringlets, brown eyes, and a pair of delicate rosy lips pursed in an invitingly kissable shape. But, the noise coming from them was enough to make one wish for a fence full of toms serenading their lady love.
He closed his eyes and raked his fingers through his hair, praying for the singing to stop. Fenton Pierce-Smythe considered himself a patient man, unflappable and usually tolerant of his fellow man. Truly, though, this was testing even his limits.
Temperance songs were far from popular fare. Especially in taverns. Reactions ranged from drunken jeers and catcalls to being ignored. Fenton admired her courage though, both for her attempt to redeem the souls of his fellow patrons, and for her actually singing with that voice. He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, wishing he had the guts to put his fingers in his ears instead.
The singing came to an end, praise God. He opened his eyes to see the object of his fantasies heading his way with a coffeepot. As she approached, the color of her eyes became clearer, a deep, rich brown capable of drowning a man as surely as sable invited one’s touch. Many souls had been lost for less. He watched her serve coffee at the next table. Then she was right there, standing by his table.
“Save your soul, sir, and give up the devil’s libation.”
He raised a brow and looked from his glass to her face, then slowly smiled. “Only if you’ll stay with me and keep me from temptation.”
Her blush charmed him. “I-I c-can’t. I must try to save all of you.” Her gaze flitted around the room, unable to land on any one place before returning to his face.
“Most of these poor sods could care less about saving their souls,” he said. “As soon as you leave, the whiskey will flow freely again. Wouldn’t you rather know you’ve saved one soul, than try to redeem many and fail?”
She stood there, speechless, which was a pity, for however horrendous her singing was, she spoke with a voice smooth and deep as velvet.
“Join me?” he asked, rising halfway and pulling a chair out from the table.
“I can’t,” she repeated. “Please, take some coffee instead.” She reached behind her for a chipped cup from a tray her companion held, and then took a step forward. Her foot hooked on the leg of the chair he had been bringing out for her, and she lurched forward. As she tried to catch herself on the back of the chair, the hand holding the coffeepot drooped down, pouring the hot liquid directly onto his lap and thigh.
Fenton yelped and jumped up as the coffee ran over him. His eyes cleared from the mist of pain in time for him to see the horror on her face. She looked as if she were about to cry. “I’m sorry,” he heard himself say, and wondered why he was apologizing. It was his manhood and parental possibilities that were at risk here.
From habit, his hand moved to his pocket for a handkerchief instead of reaching for the kerchief tied around his neck. He was immediately grateful he remembered to leave his monogrammed handkerchief at home. Plucking at the cloth of his rough trousers, he tried to get the warm fabric away from his skin. She was still staring at him, and despite his discomfort, he found himself thinking about the feel of her soft lips on his. Her chin trembled, ending his reverie.
“I’m all right,” he assured her, even though his thigh still hurt like hell, and the rest of him . . . Her eyes sparkled though her smile was watery. “Are you sure?” she asked.
Well . . . “Truly.” He nodded. What the hell? He didn’t want to make her feel too guilty. He doubted he was permanently impaired.
“I’m so glad,” she said in a rush. “I really thought I had hurt you. Would you like some coffee?”
She brandished the pot in his general direction. He quickly side-stepped away from her.
“I think I’ve had all I care for, tonight. Thank you just the same.” He restrained himself from grabbing the pot from her hand before she could come close again.
“You’re not from around here,” she stated, studying him. “Not many sailors come this far away from the Potomac. What are you doing here?”
Ah, well. Yes, what was he doing here? Looking for someone who was running slaves to the north, that’s what, but it was decidedly unhealthy to make that kind of information available.
Still, perhaps the girl might know someone. “I was told there was a captain here, looking for crewmen. I hoped I could find him, and sign on.”
Not bad as lies went. In truth, he was looking for a captain, and had been told that one of the “conductors” codenames was Captain. He watched her face intently. Her tears threatened to fall and he handed her the kerchief he’d used to wipe his leg.
Olivia June Mathieson, Livvy to her friends, took the proffered cloth, acutely aware of the paper in her pocket. The note from Dragonslayer was very specific. Was this man the Marauder? He’d given Jedidiah’s codename, but not the password she’d expected.
About the Author:
Ever since her first encounter with a long hooped skirt gown at age 5, Ms. Bond fell in love with the style. Her love of historical romance began a bit later, when she discovered Gladys Malvern’s books and scoured the public library for every one she could find. Reading Gone With the Wind as a teenager cemented her suspicion that she was born about 100 years too late. She daydreamed about writing novels but knew it was beyond her ability at that time. Instead, she tried her hand at poetry and really bad iambic pentameter flowed from her fingers. Thankfully, for the world at large, it was a short-lived obsession.
After attending an all-girl high school run by Felician nuns, she enrolled in a local men’s college that had just opened its doors to women. (A Libra, she understands the need for balance.) She earned her B.A. in English, and met her future husband there. Many years, four children and a grandchild later, the man who made her see fireworks with the first kiss is still her go-to research assistant for all things romantic.
The desire to write books never left, even as she worked selling property and casualty insurance, Avon, and craft kits. She sold luggage at a local department store to earn the money to attend her first RWA national conference and finally feels safe enough to admit to hiding a legal pad under her counter where she wrote scenes in between customers. She still does much of her writing longhand. (100 years too late, remember?)
RWA is the best thing to happen to her writing career, teaching the art as well as the craft of writing. It also brought her together with four of the most amazing women she’s ever known - critique partners and friends. Special thanks and much love to Helen, Karen, Carol and Jan. An amateur photographer, Reiki master and Guild knitter, Ms. Bonds lives in Western New York one mile from the home she grew up in.
You can often find her at the lakeside, camera and notebook in hand.
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