SHENANDOAH DESTINY, Book 2 in Rebel Series

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SHENANDOAH DESTINY, Book 2 in Rebel Series

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SHENANDOAH DESTINY (PAGE COUNT: 328)

REBEL SERIES BOOK 2
by
Barbara Michel

A Harris couple decide to return to the Shenandoah Valley to rebuild Sunny Horizon, but a devastating buggy accident dramatically alters their plans.

Jo, suffering from injuries she sustained in the accident, struggles to cope, but can’t seem to discover her previous resilient self. She finally agrees to accompany her husband to the Valley, but her stipulation to live as his sister, not as his wife, anguishes him.

At best, life following the War Between the States is difficult. Mysterious accidents and strange attacks plague them. Who could be trying to hamper their rebuilding Sunny Horizon? And why?

Alaina, Jo’s sister arrives. Then David, a good-looking stranger rides in and offers to aid them with the building project. Can he be trusted? Is he really a genuine friend–or is he a member of the band that seems bent on destroying the Harris family?

Alaina falls in love with him, then discovers he’s harboring a deep secret. Will the revelation bring understanding–or obliterate all hope for their love to flourish?

 

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Excerpt

SHENANDOAH DESTINY

Rebel Series Book II

by

Barbara Michel

Prologue

West of Richmond, 1866.

A gust of March wind tore at Jo Ellen’s hood and flapped the end of her scarf in her face. She smiled at Bret, then twisted on the buggy seat in order to see Tiffany and Trisha. They stood waving on the front porch of Castle Crest, their blue capes flapping in the breeze. Jo smiled until their buggy rounded a curve and the house was out of sight, then she faced forward.

Leaning toward her, Bret kissed her cheek.

Reveling in his adoration, she tugged on the front of her woolen cape. It was becoming a challenge to cover her expanding abdomen. Her discomfort was increasing, but giving Breton Harris a son or daughter was worth it. She adjusted her bulk, then the lap robe and sighed.

Worry lines appeared on Bret’s forehead. “You all right?”

“I feel like a walrus!” Her sigh was partly from misery, partly from joy. “One more month to go. I’ll be thankful when wee Harris gets here.”

He grinned. “So will I. I’d planned to get part of our house built in the Valley before we started our family, but we won’t even get to the homestead.”

“Are you sorry?”

“Of course not.” His chuckle vibrated cords deep within her. “The expectation of your becoming a mother has turned your eyes to silver, darling, and put roses in your cheeks.”

She giggled. She wasn’t going to tell him that it was the chilly wind that added extra color to her face. The adoration in his brown eyes sent her heart racing. His expression told her that he yearned to hug her, but he needed his only hand to gripped the reins. She often thought of the arm Bret had left on a battlefield during the War Between the States, even though he’d adapted well and rarely complained.

A thundering noise drew her attention. She peered ahead. “What’s that?” She pointed to a rapidly moving conveyance that was mostly obscured by the trees.

Breton shook his head, making his dark wavy hair move over his ears. The muscle of his squared chin tightened. “Some brute must be whipping his horses.”

Jo heard the rattle of a wagon and wheels crashing against the stones on the road. “Give him more room, Bret!”

“I can’t get over any farther!” His brows knit with concern as he halted Flame, the buggy dangerously close to the edge of a downward rocky slope.

A lathered team galloped around the bend, the attached wagon on two of its wheels. The horse’s nostrils were flaring and their manes flying. Eight large hooves thundered closer, splashing clumps of melting ice and red mud as high as the wagon seat.

“Whoa! Whoa!” The young driver futilely struggled to slow the runaways. The blood had drained from his face, and terror flashed in his widened eyes.

The team avoided the buggy, but before Jo could draw a relieved breath, the wagon slid sideways, and one of the back wheels locked with their buggy wheel. Metal scraped and wood shattered. Jo Ellen screamed. The impact hurled her body into the air. She landed with a thud and tumbled down the hillside, Flame’s wild whinnying echoing in her ears. Small trees tore at her skirt. The jagged edge of a clump of ice ripped across her cheek. Her left arm twisted under her and she heard a bone snap. She screamed again, but the sound died as her head struck a rock and she was sucked into nothingness.

Dazed, Breton groaned. His head throbbed. Blood trickled down his face, stung his eyes and blurred his vision. Excruciating pain ripped through his right leg. He expected to hear another cannon blast and the sound of artillery fire. Instead, silence reigned. The vision of battle slowly vanished as his mind cleared.

“No,” he rasped as the recollection of the accident shocked him into clarity of thought. “Jo?”

He sliced his arm on a piece of sharp metal as he struggled to disentangle himself from the wreckage. More pain seared through the leg that had been wounded in the war. Clawing with his gloved hand, he pushed with his good leg and strained to crawl forward on his belly. Muddy slush clung to his jacket, and blood was smeared on his sleeve. “Jo!”

Small drifts remained from the last snow and ice particles clung to rocks. He shivered as a blast of wind funneled up the legs of his pants and snatched the knit cap from his head. At the edge of the embankment, he peered down.

Jo lay so still. Her body was twisted at an odd angle, her arm under her back. Anguish racked his heart. Is she breathing? Her cape was open. She’ll freeze!

Disregarding his pain, he grasped a rotting log and tried to maneuver around it. Loose bark peeled off. He lost his grip. Dislodging, the log rolled down the rocky hillside. Breton tumbled after it. God, help me!

Bruised and bleeding, he clambered to his wife’s side. “Jo!” He jerked his hand free of his muddy glove and reached out to touch her arm. She didn’t move.

“Sweetheart?” There was no response. A knife of agony twisted in his gut. How long would it be until someone at Castle Crest realized their predicament and came to help? He tried to call out, but only a garbled sound issued from his throat. If he yelled, who would hear him?

He fought panic. “Jo, darling. Please answer me.” He tugged on her cape, trying to cover her. “Jo!”

Her eyes remained closed. Her complexion was pale. Blood trickled from a gash on her temple and soaked into her black ringlets. Another horror slammed him when he noticed the growing bloodstain that darkened her skirt. The baby! It was too early!

He tugged his own coat off and draped it over her. “Jo!” His voice sounded curdled. “Jo!”

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