Impending Love and Capture
When Jessica Beecher stops to help a wounded soldier on the Gettysburg battlefield, Confederate Major Morgan Mackinnon enlists her skills to nurse his sister. Unable to escape, she waits for Union forces to attack the retreating Confederate Army. But the delay forces Jess to look beyond the gray uniform to the man who has captured her heart.
Morgan can’t let Jess leave when she overhears Lee’s army is retreating during the night. She’s a dangerous woman and not because of the knife she pressed against his throat or the revolver hidden beneath her skirt. The battlefield angel has a face no man can forget, especially when facing death.
“Did you hear me?” Jess snapped her fingers in front of his face. “If you give me back my gun and knife, I can take care of myself.”
Her petal-shaped lips were likely coated with poison. He put the gun and knife in his haversack. “Even fully armed, you’re no match against the entire Confederate army, Mrs. Mackinnon.”
Jess looked around at the deserted town of Gettysburg. “Who’s Mackinnon?”
He pointed to his chest. “I’m Major Morgan Mackinnon. Your husband.”
She put her hands on her hips. “I’m not marrying you.”
“It’s in name only.” He didn’t want to calm her fears too much. “Would you prefer I tell everyone you’re a Beecher abolitionist? All the men in camp lost brothers and friends the past three days. They don’t need much of an excuse to take it out on someone. I’d hate for them to use your hide to vent their anger.”
A gasp escaped her trembling lips. His words had frightened her. “I’ll borrow it.”
Morgan swung her onto the wagon seat and joined her. He moved his haversack as far from her reach as possible.
She sat with her back straight, her hands in her lap. “Is Mackinnon Irish?”
Morgan slapped the reins on the back of the black draft horses and imitated his father’s Scottish brogue. “Dornt insult me, lass. Mah faither was a fierce highlander.”
She tilted her head with a teasing smile on her face. “Hah, if you’re a Scotsman, where’s your kilt?”
“It’s nae th’ kilt that’s important.” He clucked at the horses and winked in her direction. “It’s what’s underneath.”
She slid to the far edge of the bench seat. “You said this marriage was in name only. No kilt lifting.”
Morgan laughed. A dainty lass would have fainted at his remark. She might enjoy a few wifely duties. He had never seduced a woman into sharing his bed, but it couldn’t be difficult. Men bragged about it all the time.
Jess turned to look at Tootie. Even with the bed of straw, the girl grimaced with every jolt and bump. “Maybe I should look at her now.”
“We’re almost at my tent. It’ll give her some privacy. No one knows she’s a girl.”
“How long has she been in camp?”
“About a month.”
His square jaw clenched and his dark brown brows knit in a frown. “That’s none of your business.”
Morgan’s tenderness only extended to his sister. He’d show her no mercy. He had one foot on his haversack. He wasn’t taking any chances of her recovering her arsenal. But he’d have to lower his guard at some point, and when he did, she’d snatch her weapons and take her wagon to freedom.
They passed the breastworks of the Confederate camp. They were preparing for another fight. Rocks and brush were piled high in front of trenches. The men stared in her direction. If they wondered why a woman was in the camp, they didn’t ask. Was it common for Morgan to be seen with a strange woman? She pulled her hat lower to hide her face. What was worst, being a prisoner or being considered an officer’s play thing?
He stopped in front of a walled tent. He jumped and pulled her down from the bench seat. “You can help carry Tootie inside.”
She glanced around for an escape route.
He must have read her mind. “Remember you’re surrounded by Confederate troops. You won’t get far no matter how fast you run.”
Morgan’s hand encircled her wrist, and he dragged her to the back of the wagon. He lowered the back and pulled the stretcher part way. Tootie groaned. “Can you manage this end?”
She should have refused, but Tootie was in pain. She also was a woman. Life was difficult enough for the female gender in a world dominated by men. She wouldn’t make it harder. She grabbed the ends of the stretcher and pulled.
Morgan grabbed the opposite ends, and they carried her into his tent. He directed her to place the stretcher on the nearest cot.
She turned toward the opening. “I’m going to need my bag.”
He followed her and tossed her into the wagon. She fell forward from the force. “I’m not a bag of flour.”
He jumped onto the bed. For a big man, he was light on his feet.
While he searched, she gathered her haversack and canteen.
He retrieved his haversack and grabbed Jem’s basket. “What’s in here?”