***Banner and images by my talented daughter Elise!
1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost.
Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.
Captain Vaughan escorted Meriwether back over the path she and Jeremiah had walked not long ago. Yet everything changed. Apart from the staggering disclosures Jeremiah had made and their impassioned encounter, dragoons and Loyalists now accompanied their return. She and Vaughan led the way. Jeremiah followed slightly behind them in the middle of the pack. The clink of swords and tread of boots betrayed her silent companions, as if she could forget they were there for an instant.
Meriwether hadn’t any idea what Jeremiah had in mind by way of escape, only that a way must be found. Wild to reach the kitchen and the Daws family, especially Keith, she half-trotted at Vaughan’s side, her satin slippers wet and ruffled hem dipping in puddles along the path.
“Why the hurry, Miss Steele?” Vaughan asked as he slid his fingers up her bare arm.
She shrank from his touch and reined herself in. “No reason,” she said and shivered.
“You’re covered in goosebumps. We can’t have you taking a chill.” He stopped and the assembly halted as he removed his coat to drape the resplendent garment around her shoulders.
The wool was still warm from him and the tight weave had kept the rain from soaking through, but she had no wish to be so familiarly outfitted by the bold captain. “Thank you, sir,” she made herself reply.
Jeremiah said nothing. He didn’t need to. His anger radiated from behind her like a scorching hearth. “This way, Captain, please. I must speak with the cook,” she said.
“If you like. I’ve no objection to instructing cooks.”
She knew Vaughan wasn’t easily fooled, however. She must tread with care and refrained from tugging at his sleeve as he walked with her over the brick path between the herb and vegetable beds in the kitchen garden. Ordinary things like beans and squash seemed out of place at such a dire time. It would be more fitting if the earth opened up and swallowed their most unwelcome visitors.
A gust of wind blew hair into her eyes, and she battled her flapping skirts down with her hands.’
Vaughan chuckled. “Would that it were not so dark and I could better see you, Miss Steele.”
“Would that I had a sword to better slay you,” Jeremiah growled.
“What makes you so certain you would triumph if you did?” Vaughan flung over his shoulder.
“Try me and see,” Jeremiah challenged in turn.
“Why bother? You’ll soon have Cornwallis to deal with.”
And you have me to battle before you take him, Captain, Meriwether vowed.
Tumultuous passion, pounding fear, and the urge to break free from Vaughan all seethed inside her. Like a hunted fox, her senses were heightened. The stars seemed brighter, the wind crisper, and the tang of smoke from the chimney sharper. Pungent aroma rose from the feathery dill as the wet foliage spattered raindrops against her. Forever after, whenever she smelled dill, she would remember this night.~
***Intriguing ‘bad boy’ Captain Vaughan is the hero in the sequel to Enemy of the King I’m at work on entitled A Traitor’s Legacy.