Authors: Loves Spirit
This edition published by
an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.
10151 Carver Road, Suite 200
Blue Ash, Ohio 45242
Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Meyette
ISBN 10: 1-4405-6703-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6703-2
eISBN 10: 1-4405-6704-2
eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6704-9
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.
Cover art © 123rf.com; istockphoto.com/Simon Podgorsek
To my beloved husband, Richard, who has shown me the truth of love’s spirit.
Sincere thanks to Kate Bode, Janet Martyn and H.J. Smith for reading
as a work in process and giving constructive feedback. A special thanks to H.J. for incredible editing. Thanks to Jennifer Lawler for believing in me again. Thanks for the love and support of my family and friends who encouraged me and listened to me “plot out loud.” A very special thanks to my beloved husband Rich who endured burnt broccoli and overdone chicken when I was focused on writing instead of the stove, and who told me to listen to the waves.
Virginia, March 1776
Emily Brentwood slowly rose to consciousness steeling herself against the assault of anguish and sorrow that accosted her at every dawn. For the last four months the memory of her beloved husband Jonathon, shot and dragged into a British skiff, had been the image that lifted her from her sleep and carried her to waking. The terror she had felt as that scene had unfolded before her, leaving her to believe that he was dead, seeped through her as if it were all happening again.
But something was different this morning. What was it? She battled waking to delay the pain, but there was a whisper of awareness that eased her reluctance. The sun was not rising; it was slanting in the western sky, and the pungent aroma of cedar surrounded her. Slowly coming awake, she started at the sensation of strong arms holding her and warm breath tickling the back of her neck. Jonathon was beside her. She gasped as her eyes flew open.
“Jonathon,” she breathed.
“Love,” he answered sleepily.
She rolled toward him and buried her face in his chest. His scent was intoxicating and the thick mat of hair tickled her nose; she burrowed into him and he kissed the top of her head. Her arms encircled him and pulled him closer, but his gasp reminded her that his injuries were still fresh. She released him.
“No, do not let me go,” he whispered.
“I fear I will hurt you. You are badly beaten, Jonathon.”
Emily recalled the shock of first seeing her husband so bruised and battered when she had arrived at the cabin. His left eye was swollen almost shut, and his cheeks, chest and back bore the marks of a cat-o’-nine-tails. She had been reluctant to touch him at all for fear of inflicting more pain, but he had reached out his arms to her and she had melted into them. Gently, slowly, she had eased against his body tentatively testing each move until they lay together, lost in the bliss of the other’s touch.
She saw him grimace and knew he was he remembering his treatment at the hands of the British. Then his warm brown eyes turned tender as he gazed at his wife. He brushed back a tawny tendril that had fallen in her eyes and leaned down to brush her lips. The fire within him burned, but they had discovered earlier that his injuries had sapped his strength too much for lovemaking yet, though his response to her touch indicated his desire.
Emily returned his kiss, lightly so as not to cause him more pain. Reaching up she ran her fingers through his thick brown hair and then traced his jawline, across his lips and down his throat. Her hands traveled across his broad shoulders, rubbing them, trying to heal them with her touch. Then her eyes held an impish gleam as she reached down to tease him, and she smiled as she felt his response.
“Love, if you continue to tantalize me thus, I shall have you arrested for torture,” he laughed. But even the effort of laughing made him wince, and Emily removed her hand.
“Oh, Jonathon, forgive me. For so long I thought you were … ,” she stopped. “I cannot help myself, I want you so,” she apologized.
“Em, I long to press you to me and take you now. Soon my love, for your presence has been the best elixir I could receive. Holding you in my arms, feeling your desire, hearing your voice has made me stronger.” He smiled into her violet-blue eyes. “Soon, my love,” he repeated.
Emily kissed him softly again and started to pull away. Jonathon held her closer.
“Stay, Love,” he murmured against her throat.
Emily felt her passion inflaming, and for a moment considered yielding to his request, but common sense prevailed.
“Jonathon, Andrew will be returning soon, and my younger brother would be shocked to find us so,” she glanced down at their nakedness.
“Ah, this is true, Love,” he laughed and released her.
Emily slipped from under the quilt and walked to the chair that held her hastily shed clothing. The late afternoon sun streamed in through the west window and illuminated her skin to a golden glow. She smiled seeing that Jonathon’s eyes never left her form.
“Come here, Love,” he whispered.
Emily stepped back to the bed. Jonathon lifted his hand and traced the slight swelling of her abdomen. He leaned forward and whispered to it, “How are you, my child? Is all well in there?”
Emily laughed and pulled his head closer. He kissed her midsection and nuzzled his nose against her.
“Are you well, Em? Is our baby well?” he asked lying back on the pillow.
“Our baby is active and making his presence known more each day,” she laughed.
Jonathon’s eyes held hers and she could feel the love and passion they shared as if it were tangible. He closed his eyes and Emily saw his weariness in his drawn face. Dressing quickly, she then helped Jonathon back into his breeches and linen shirt.
“As I recall, sir, you were helping
clothing the last time we occupied this cabin,” she said.
“Yes, that would be the night you seduced me as I recall,” Jonathon said feigning distress. “I believe it was the result of over-imbibing strong brandy.”
“Which you induced me to drink … ” she countered lightly slapping his uninjured shoulder.
“ … to ease the pain of your injured leg,” he laughed. “I am glad you seduced me, Em, for I was on the verge of ravishing you, and that would not have been proper behavior for a guardian toward his ward. We both tried to honor your father’s dying wish and maintain a respectable relationship. But, Em, the stories he told about you and Andrew led me to believe you were children! You can imagine my surprise when I first saw you at your home in London. Here was this beautiful young lady descending the stairs with fire in her eyes, I might add. I was captivated by you in that instant. I remember you were still wearing black, and your blue eyes were blazing at me. How could I resist your charm?”
“Andrew and I assumed that you would be Father’s age or older,” she smiled. “Instead I found a handsome man, tall and virile, standing at the foot of the stairs. I was so surprised I almost descended in a decidedly unladylike fashion, but I maintained my footing and my pride. You stole my heart in your first glance,” she whispered kissing him softly.
Hearing the sound of a rider outside, Emily quickly tied the top of Jonathon’s linen shirt and pulled the quilt to his chest. At the sound of a knock on the door, Emily bade him enter. Expecting Andrew to walk in, they were both surprised to see Randy O’Connor come through the door swinging two bulging saddlebags as if they were filled with feathers. Tall and red-headed, Jonathon’s best friend grinned broadly he strode to the bed and pulled Emily into a bear hug, spinning her around. His green eyes gleamed contrasting sharply with his ruddy complexion.
“Well, I am glad to see you both decent this time! The last time I walked through the door to find you in here, I was scandalized,” he boomed. Jonathon laughed at his lifelong friend and Emily blushed furiously.
“We were just discussing that day, Randy. I was reminding my wife of how she seduced me under the influence of strong brandy.”
“Jonathon, please,” Emily said.
“Just so, just so,” Randy replied. “And I am sure you fought off her advances as any man of principle would, Jonathon. But she was too powerful for you and, unable to fend off her attack, you yielded and were overpowered,” Randy laughed.
“Stop this, both of you. The truth is, I was influenced by Jonathon who led me astray and caused me to adopt evil ways,” Emily laughed, joining the fun.
“But though Emily was injured that time, Jonathon, your injuries look far worse,” Randy said as he approached the bed and took a long look at his friend. He scrutinized the welts and bruises that covered Jonathon’s face. “Why, Jonathon, this is far more serious than I had expected.”
“The British were bent on teaching me a lesson, Randy. They did not spare the rod,” Jonathon grimaced.
“Well, you have been known to interfere with their plans of late, Jonathon,” said Randy, winking. “You have been instrumental in supporting the Sons of Liberty and providing a means of communication for the Committees of Correspondence, and your ship the
is famous along the Atlantic coast. Your involvement in the patriot cause is known far and wide, making you a prime target for the British.”
Emily reflected on how Jonathon’s patriot fervor also had caused a rift between them. Having grown up in London, she had little knowledge of the economic havoc being wrecked upon the colonies by the British Parliament. Eventually she began to understand the outcry of the colonists and their demand for fair representation, but prior to this understanding, she had demanded that Jonathon take her back to England. It was during that trip that Jonathon was shot and captured by the British as they attacked Norfolk. Believing Jonathon to be dead, Emily had insisted upon returning to Brentwood Manor so that their child could be born in Jonathon’s home.
Emily felt her face afire with shame as the two men bandied about their jests, for she still felt guilty about Jonathon’s injuries. If she had not demanded to be taken back to England, he would not have been captured. She stared at her hands, sadness clouding her eyes. Looking up, she saw Jonathon hold up a finger to his lips signaling Randy to be quiet. Confused, Randy looked at Emily and then understood.
“Harrumph … well, then … I shall go get the supplies I brought to take care of this errant sailor,” Randy said, quickly exiting.
“Emily, my love, come here,” Jonathon said softly.
She rose and moved toward the bed, her heart heavy. Sitting beside him, she took his hand.
“Jonathon, I will never forgive myself for what you have endured due to my selfishness,” she said.
“I would have been there, in Norfolk, whether or not you were with me. It is not your fault, Emily.” He placed his finger beneath her chin and gently moved her face toward him. “I had business to attend to for the committees, Em. I would have been there.”
She nodded her assent. He pulled her down to lie beside him and cradled her in his arms.