Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Towne under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.
Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.
Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.
“My darling, you look beautiful this evening.” Samantha’s father stopped before her and glanced at her mother. “Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, of course.” Cynthia sipped her wine, cutting off any further comment she may have made.
“Thank you. I’m so pleased that the weather cooperated so we could enjoy the garden tonight.” Samantha let her gaze roam the mingling crowd. “Another week and it will be too chilly to entertain out of doors.”
“Indeed, indeed.” Aaron’s smile faded as he scanned the area, finally focusing on the two-story home. “This house has served us well for many years. It would be hard to find another as fine.”
Samantha darted a look at her father, then noted her mother’s harsh glance and quick squeeze of his arm. “It is a good thing, then, that won’t be necessary. The British will pull out ere long and the town can return to normal.”
“How is Evelyn?” Cynthia asked, abruptly changing the subject. “Pray tell me she is not still crying over that man.”
“It is to be expected she’d grieve the death of the father of her child,” Samantha said, shaking her head, “even if he did treat her abysmally in the end. At one time, she must have felt something for him.”
“Ah, you’re being sought out.” Aaron motioned for her to precede him down the path. “Time for your annual salute. Are you ready?”
She nodded, aware of a sense of relief emanating from her parents, and made her way down the path, her shoes crunching the shells with each step.
Benjamin handed her a flute of sparkling wine when she reached the group of people gathered by the banquet table. She frowned, worry blooming inside. His mouth was pinched as though he fought pain. Not surprising after receiving a gunshot wound to the shoulder that morning when he fought off the last of the renegades with a little help from Amy. She peered closer.
“Benjamin, are you feeling well?” Samantha studied his expression.
“I’m fine, a touch tired after the day’s exertions.” He wiped his hand down his dove gray evening coat then raised his gaze to look over Samantha’s head. “You made it!”
She turned to see who Benjamin greeted and froze, her flute trembling in her fingers, the liquid sloshing within the fragile crystal. Dr. Trenton Cunningham. His sandy blond hair waved back from his open expression, his crystal blue eyes echoing the wide smile revealing even white teeth. Broad shoulders filled the dark blue evening coat he wore, a canary yellow cravat neatly tied at his throat and tucked into an elaborately embroidered waistcoat. Creamy breeches and black leather boots completed his attire. Despite the formality of his clothes, Dr. Trent appeared as though he’d recently arrived on board a ship from some distant port. Fresh and windblown and ready for adventure.
Trent was a gorgeous man, strong and clever, and extraordinarily dangerous to her sense of wellbeing. Her breath hitched and she forced herself to remain still, appear calm, even as her heart raced. This feeling of imbalance and rushing emotions had never happened to her before.
She turned back to face the remaining guests, and raised her glass.
“My friends, we gather this evening as in years past to rejoice in the bounty we’ve realized this year. As our country begins to define our government and create a new society, consider the wise words from the lauded Anna Bradstreet, some called the Tenth Muse back in her day, in her wonderful Meditations, Divine and Moral.”
Trent locked eyes with her, disconcerting her already roiling thoughts. She took a breath and smiled at the gathering.
“She reminded us that, ‘Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish.’ Pray keep this thought in mind as the year draws to a close and we face new challenges. Our governor and other state leaders will need our support and God’s guidance.”
Glasses clinked all around her to the accompaniment of “Huzza! Huzza!”
She sipped her wine, the cheer of the moment echoing inside her heart. Scanning the crowd, she watched as others mimicked her actions. All but two of her guests anyway. A chill froze her smile into place.
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at http://www.bettybolte.com.