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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sky Tinted Water - Chapter One #romance #historical



Note: This is a ‘sweet’ historical romance (mystery/suspense).


Familial bonds, malevolent schemes and passion collide in this sweet historical novel. Set in Minnesota during the Civil War and the Sioux uprising, this is the story of Rory Hudson, the exquisite Irish lass with an unbreakable spirit and the enigmatic Dawson Finch, a man bound by honor, duty and loyalty.


When Dawson enlists in the army to bring peace to nation divided, Rory’s world plummets into a tailspin. War, distance and time separate them, but nothing can dispel the haunting memories of their love. Not even death can destroy their fierce passion or a love so strong it beats the odds of the impossible.

CHAPTER ONE

Midwest plains

A dissonant shout jolted Rory Hudson awake. "Indians! Indians!"

She scrambled from her bedroll in the back of the wagon and peered out the open flap. The eldest of her nephews, Clark and James, stood beside their parents' wagon pointing to the sky. Rory's gaze followed their outstretched arms to a stream of smoke rising above the treetops. Her sister, Isabelle, and husband, Jon Caldwell, ran in the direction the wagon train covered yesterday.

The wagon master, Ezekiel Harmon, had warned his little flock against Indian attacks before they left Boston. He'd insisted they study his simple drawings and practice circling the wagons to form a line of defense.

Rory dressed in haste, rushed from the wagon and glanced at the sky as she ran. Dense gray puffs wound toward the clouds and the smell of burnt wood tainted the air. Ezekiel's worst nightmare had come true—hostiles had struck.

A smoldering canvas and charred arrows brought Rory to a stiff–legged halt. The wooden frame of the McCall wagon stood stark and bleak against the verdant landscape. And the enemy had slipped away like thieves in the night after striking their death blow. When Amelia McCall went into labor yesterday, her husband had halted their wagon near a groove of pines, promising to rejoin the train once the babe arrived. They didn't have to worry about falling too far behind now.

Her hands buffeting the heat, Isabelle screamed and rushed toward the flaming Conestoga.

Ezekiel lunged for her wrist. "You can't go in there, Mrs. Caldwell. Nothing left but bones now."

With an anguished groan, her sister fell to her knees. "They didn't get out?"

Ezekiel shook his head.

"It can't be true!" Isabelle turned a tear–stained face to her husband. "Another baby dead, and I just brought that child into the world last night."

Aware of her sister's misery over the death of her own boy, Rory whispered his name. "Jon Henry." Whenever a child passed now, Isabelle relived the death of the infant who died in her arms. She wondered how long her sister would continue to practice midwifery after this nightmare.

Jon clutched his wife's elbow and tugged her to her feet. "Come along, girl. No telling when the hostiles will return."

Struggling upward, her voice cracked. "Let them come. I don't care." Her face ravaged by angst, she lifted her chin. "Where is God's mercy now, Jon?"

Leading her back to their wagon, his hushed voice reached Rory's ears. "It's not for us to question His reasoning."

Rory took in the devastation. Hissing shafts of arrows protruded from the blackened ruins, the acrid smoke turning her stomach. Blankets, trunks and clothing riddled the landscape, and beyond, empty vats of flour and dry goods littered the ground. Amid the horror, a magnificent ribbon of sunlight broke through the clouds. How could such terror visit on this glorious day?

Ezekiel broke through her thoughts with a nudge. "Although you're a grown–up young lady, I'm about to pull rank. Your brother–in–law is right; no telling if the Indians will return. That means I have to move the wagon train out right away."

Shoulders sagging, she nodded and followed him back to safety.

After shooing her twin toddlers, Sophia and Eliza, to the wagon packed with their household furnishings, Isabelle took to her wagon for the remainder of the day. Rory had faith her sister would emerge before long, her invisible armor still penetrable but stronger in intent and purpose. Isabelle might retreat for a time but she'd never surrender.

The following morning, Ezekiel pulled his horse to a halt near their wagons and plucked a map from his vest pocket. "We're here, Jon," He pointed to an area on the map. "The border of southern Minnesota. We'll say goodbye now, be on our way to Dakota Territory and hope we make Wyoming before the snow falls."

"Godspeed, Ezekiel. We wish you the best in the coming weeks."

Ezekiel tipped his wide–brimmed hat, turned his mount around and directed the wagon train west. Rory sighed with relief. Always ready for a grand adventure, she'd never choose the life of a wanderlust fool as long as she lived.



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