Here’s an excerpt from Erin’s Rebel.
As he moved closer, her knees turned to jelly. Strong, hard-muscled arms embraced her, offering support. Her head spun. She lifted a hand to stop the motion and encountered wool, a double row of metal buttons and a rock-hard chest. The enticing aroma of sandalwood mixed with a musky, masculine scent, plus a tinge of wood smoke invaded her senses. Had she hit her head harder than she’d thought?
She gazed at his lightly tanned face. Firm lips tilted upward slightly at the corners surrounded by a thin chocolate-colored mustache curving into a neatly-trimmed beard covering only his chin. Thick, dark hair brushed his collar and curled from beneath a broad-brimmed black hat. Her pulse raced as she leaned against his long, solid frame. Night after night in her dreams she’d run her hands through those curls.
“How can you be here?” she murmured.
“Pardon me, ma’am?”
“I don’t understand.” She tried to wrench from his grasp, but he gathered her close, lifting her into his arms. “What are you doing?”
“Taking you back where you belong.” He carried her to the tent entrance where Doc peered out.
“Will, what the devil is going on?”
“I assume you didn’t give Mrs. O’Connell permission to leave.”
“I did not.” He scowled. “I told you to rest.”
The dark-haired man carried her inside and laid her on the cot. She propped herself on an elbow to get a better view of the man Doc called Will. Broad shoulders tapered into a narrow waist accentuated by the cut of his gray frock coat trimmed in gold braid.
“Who the hell are you?” she asked.
“Pardon me, ma’am?”
His gaze chilled her blood. He looked exactly like the man in the antique photo she’d found between the pages of her grandmother’s Bible. If he were the man in the photo, where was she? Maybe the crash had killed her, and she was now in the afterlife. And like the man who called himself Doc, this man had also called her Mrs. O’Connell. Grandma Rose’s great-aunt. Something wasn’t right.
Unable to voice her fears, she stared open-mouthed at the man.
“Will,” Doc said. “I think Mrs. O’Connell’s having trouble with her memory.”
“The fall from the horse,” Doc explained, “seems to have affected her memory — even her speech. Her nose was bleeding a bit, and she has a fair-sized lump on the back of her head.”
Erin’s mind reeled. This couldn’t be the same man she’d researched.
The men looked at her, waiting for a response.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” she said. “I was never on a horse.” She squeezed her eyes shut as the pain increased, then blinked furiously so she could focus.
Doc glanced at Will as if to confirm his diagnosis, then pressed a cool, damp towel against her forehead.
“Ma’am.” Will removed his hat. “I would advise you to stay put until Doc says you can go back to your tent.”
“I don’t have a tent,” she grated between clenched teeth.
The men exchanged glances.
“It’s worse than I thought,” Doc said.
“You say the fall affected her speech?” Will scowled.
“There’s no other way to explain it.”
“What’s wrong with the way I talk?” she asked.
“You’ve lost your lilting brogue, for one thing,” Will said, “unless that was an act.”
She stretched out on the cot, as her stomach lurched again. “Look. All I want to do is go home.”
“This is your home,” Will said, “since you signed on as camp laundress two weeks ago. Or have you forgotten that, too?”
“No, you don’t understand —”
“Are you having second thoughts, Mrs. O’Connell?”
“I told you, I’m not—” She froze in mid-sentence. They would never believe she wasn’t Erin O’Connell.
Despite the pain slicing through her head, she slowly sat up. “I need a mirror.”
Doc glanced at Will.
“A mirror!” she repeated. Her heart hammered in overdrive, and her head felt ready to explode. Doc rummaged among the contents on the table, producing a small, wood-framed hand mirror.
Blinking back the blinding pain, she stared at her reflection. Her own eyes stared back, wide and bright blue. The face was hers, yet it wasn’t. The cheeks were a bit rounder. Her skin was pale. No make-up. Red-gold hair tumbled over her shoulders.
Touching her neck, she noted the maroon-checked dress she wore was topped with a starched, white collar stained with blood. She fingered a small, ivory-stoned brooch at her throat.
In the photo, her Civil War relative had worn her hair parted in the center and pulled back off her face, but otherwise, she was looking at a live portrait of her great-great-great-aunt. Erin O’Connell – Federal spy.
For more info about Erin’s Rebel, visit my website, http://susanmacatee.com
Available in e-book and print at The Wild Rose Press http://thewildrosepress.com/erins-rebel-p-3554.html