Welcome to “Excerpt Saturday.” I’m Caroline Clemmons and I have an excerpt from LONG WAY HOME, my novella in the 2011 EPIC Award Finalist Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES. This anthology is availabe in print and e-book from The Wild Rose Press at www.thewildrosepress.com, and also from the usual online sources. My story is set in Northwestern Georgia in a fictionalized version of the community in which some of my father’s ancestors lived during the Civil War. This era in America’s history was painful, and feeling still runs deep in many areas–especially the Deep South. In the event you think the heroine’s first name is odd, you’re correct, but please remember that this name is from my family’s history of the time and before. Perhaps it wasn’t unusual then.
Parmelia Bailey is determined to protect those in her home—including her brother’s fiancée–until their men come home from the War. She could manage, but now evil Jeff Lawson and his gang are headed her way. She knows Jeff won’t stop until he repays her for refusing his proposal. Where can she turn? Darrick McDonald deserted her once—can she rely on him now?
Captain Darrick McDonald’s current assignment: Capture Jeff Lawson and his raiders. But four years ago family obligations forced Darrick away from Georgia and the woman he still loves. He’s returned to his hometown wearing Union blue, wondering if he has a future here after the War.
Parmelia, her mother, and ten-year-old brother have moved into town with Parmelia’s Grammy Bailey while their men are off at war. The whole town is under Union seige, although the Colonel in charge has been kind–for war time–to the town’s residents. This excerp from LONG WAY HOME is taken when Parmelia has just returned from a daring rescue of Sarah Hardeman, Sarah’s, and Mrs. Hardeman only minutes before the battle reached the Hardeman home. To effect the rescue, Parmelia and her youngest sibling, Rob, had to…um, recover…maybe borrow is a better word…all right, they stole back two of their horses from the Union corral. Riding the two horses to the Hardemans, they hitched them to the family’s two-seated, covered buggy and piled in and on everything the horses could handle, with the cow tethered with a rope and trailing the rear. Parmelia intends to return the horses to the corral before they’re missed, or so she hopes.
Here’s the excerpt:
She walked Sarah and her family to the back door where Grammy and Mama took over. Parmelia returned to the carriage house. “Rob, help me unhitch the horses so I can take them back.”
“Why don’t I do that?” Darrick McDonald stepped from the shadows. He appeared calm, until she ooked at his face.
Parmelia was surprised sparks didn’t shoot from his dark eyes and ignite the entire carriage house. She clutched her throat, hoping a way out of this predicament would come to her. How had he known to come here?
“Darrick, you–you gave me a fright.”
“Did I? Perhaps you have a guilty conscience.” He freed one of the horses.
“When did you come back?” She fought for an idea, but none came to her.
“Late yesterday.” He walked back and forth beside Lady. “Funny thing, you have two horses after the Army confiscated all the livestock in town. Another coincidence, two Army horses went missing tonight.”
He stopped and gave her a piercing look.
She gave up with a sigh. “I can explain.”
“I’m listening.” His eyes were still dark with anger.
“My brother’s fiancée. You remember Sarah Hardeman? I had to bring her and her family to town. I–I had no way to do that without a team.”
Rob added, “These are our horses anyway. You low down yellow-bellied Yankees stole them from us.”
He pouted and handed over the tack. “Oh, all right. I never get to hear anything good.” Rob untied the cow and stomped toward the barn.
“So, you’re a Yankee officer now.”
“Captain.” Darrick crossed his arms. “I’m waiting for an explanation, Parmelia.”
Her temper conquered her good sense, and she stepped toward him. “You’ve got your nerve, coming here wearing that uniform, you…you traitor.”
He stepped forward until they were almost touching. “Call me what you will, but you’re the one who stole two horses in a time of war.”
She refused to retreat. “How can you accuse me of stealing, when you Yankees have taken over our town?”
“Because you did steal them, and you weren’t even clever about it. I followed their tracks to your grandparents’ home. You do realize that with a less sympathetic Colonel, they could lose their home?”
Tell me, do you think her grandparents lost their home? Come on, this is a romance, remember? Romance authors don’t throw grandmothers out into the snow on a cold winter night. Lots and lots of bad things occur, but that’s definitely not one of them. You’ll have to read the book to learn what really happens. Teaser, see? Hope it works and you buy the book and recommend it to your friends! No, don’t loan it–tell them to buy their own copy. (Caroline rubs hands gleefully together in maniacal manner.)