In SHADOW OF AN ANGEL, the Harris family saga continues. The result of a strange attack creates turmoil at Castle Crest. Who would have resentment toward Tiffany and Nathan?
Building continues at Sunny Horizon. Jo’s brother, Hunter, is smitten with Abigail Hayden. Sadness surrounds the lady. What is torturing her? How can Hunter soothe her torment?
A secret past is tearing Abigail apart. She cares for Hunter, but how can she permit their relationship to grow when she’s gripped by agony? How can she surmount her misery and get on with life?
Rachel Cortney, a darling little waif, is brought to the hospital with an injured finger. When Abigail discovers the four-year-old lives in the house of the town drunk, she vows to do something about it. Then her heart becomes more involved than she’d planned.
Her romance with Hunter blossoms. Still her secret torment agonizes her. Could he understand what she’d done? How did he feel about the way she was drawn to Rachel?
Granny Hayden holds the key to unlock Abigail’s emotional prison. How can she get the selfish and controlling old woman to reveal the truth? But if Granny talks, what trickery may be brought to light. Will the revelation help or hinder Abigail’s hopes and dreams to come true?
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SHADOW OF AN ANGEL
Rebel Series book 4
Virginia, April 1867
A faint glow from street lamps glimmered in the puddles that remained after the evening’s deluge. Droplets from spring leaves drummed a monotonous rhythm on a rusty bucket. The stench of rot hung in the air as rats scurried through dark alleys to raid the contents of overflowing garbage cans.
The two-legged form that crouched in a hollow under a discarded mattress, cursed the foul ooze that dripped into his greasy hair. It made the infestation of lice race over his scalp in crazed zigzag patterns. He dug through his straggly, knotted mane with broken fingernails.
A shiver raked his spine as he envisioned the cold metal bars that had kept him incarcerated since last summer. As he waited for a chance to sneak across the street and into another alley, he thought about his friends, still behind bars. He felt sorry for them, but trying to aid their escape could get him captured. “I hain’t never gittin’ caught again!”
His stomach growled as the aroma of baking bread wafted to him. Sniffing, he peered through windows that glowed with light. Spying the source of the scent, he crept closer. A woman set four loaves of bread on a stand, then left the kitchen.
Cautiously, he shoved the window farther open. The bread was just out of reach. Climbing to the top of a broken box gave him an extra ten inches. His foot slipped. He knocked one loaf to the floor. Had someone heard the dull thud? A breathy curse escaped through his taut lips.
When no one came to investigate, he stretched farther through the opening and seized the plumpest loaf. It was still warm. His mouth watered.
Dashing across the street, he ducked into another dark alley. The handle of a discarded shovel tripped him. His oath hurled spit through his buck teeth. Regaining his balance, he fled through several back yards and into a small thicket. His heart pounded. Had his presence been detected? Would someone sound an alarm?
His pulse drummed. A cat squalled. A dog barked. He grappled under his soiled collar to catch a vermin that crawled on his neck. It evaded his fingers. He growled, then ripping off a hunk of the bread, he shoved it into his mouth.
He endeavored to swallow the fist sized gob, but it stuck in his throat. Hacking it into his hand, he bit off a smaller chunk.
While he gorged, he thought about the Harris family. Hatred roiled within him. The dampness made his old injury ache. He gritted his teeth. “I hate the entire Harris clan!”
Still munching his stolen supper and struggling to keep the remainder of the loaf from becoming wet, he slithered through the thicket. Rain dripped from leaves and wet the back of his shirt. Branches swiped at his face. Water leaked through holes in his old boots and soaked his odoriferous socks. He clenched his fists. “Soon.”
His vow gave him strength. Revenge is gonna be my reward! He cackled at the thought, then belched.
Free of the thicket, he searched the darkened landscape for movement. Had the guard discovered his escape? When would the jailer realize one of the birds had fluttered away?
“Didn’t fly.” Tightening his jaw, he scraped his tongue against a broken tooth and swore. “I had to slink away like a weasel!”
Coast clear, he stumbled around the edge of a plowed field. Hunger no longer twisted his stomach, but fatigue stoked the anger he harbored. Where could he find a safe place to spend the night? The wind increased. If only he had dry clothing. Malice riled deep within his gut.
“The Harris clan is gonna git a big surprise.” He sneered. Snatchin’ one of their chicks would serve ‘em right.
The thought made him smirk. He sucked his teeth as the idea took shape. Which child should he snatch?
“Don’t matter. Nabbin’ a little one will be easy.”
He ran a hand into his empty pocket. It would be a way to get money in a hurry. If he was going to make good his escape, having gold coins would help a great deal.
He seethed. “I hain’t never had no gold.” His pointed nose aimed northward. “Ma luck’s gonna change.”
The morning sun mocked his misery. He’d slept in a ball to try to get warm, but he remained tired, chilled and wet.
At least I protected ma bread.
He reached under the rock where he’d stored the remainder of the loaf and clutched the doughy lump. A hundred ants crawled over the sodden mass. He hurled it against a tree. It smacked, stuck a few seconds, then plopped to the ground. He glared at the small gobs that clung to crevices in the rough bark. His oath startled a chipmunk. Leaping from a log, it skittered among the leaves and hid.
Hunger made the escapee furious. “Can’t go back to town. Gonna have to scrounge fer grub.”
As he stumbled over rocks and roots, his fury mounted. His only comfort was in planning the strategy for an attack. At the edge of a small clearing, he stopped to spy through the leaves. Two lines of clothing flapped in the breeze. His focus zeroed in on a pair of trousers and a shirt that whipped as though they were dry. Looks like they’d fit. A line of sheets gave him cover. Sneaking across the yard, he swiped the articles, then scuttled back among the trees to change.
Ravenous, he prowled the circumference of the dwelling. A pie set cooling on a windowsill. His tongue quivered with anticipation. When the woman left to check her wash, he seized the pie and fled into the forest. Perched on a rotting log, he gobbled the pastry. Sweetened thick apple juice dribbled into his grimy beard and stuck to his fingers. Dry clothes and a full stomach. Who could ask for more?
“Me.” He chortled. “I’m gonna git me a Harris!”