Fort Dent, Indian Territories, United States, 1872
You asked if there’s anything interesting going on in our little mining town of Mineral. Well, I’ll tell you…the army had to move folks into the nearby fort for protection. It seems a rogue band of Indians left the reservation and began raiding and burning homesteads. Dreadful heathens. The commander of Fort Dent doesn’t believe the renegades will attack our town, but says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If being evacuated isn’t bad enough, the military offered shelter to those strange creatures at Seaton House, a home for orphaned children. I’m wondering if we just might need protection from them instead. There are rumors that the children are peculiar, possibly even witches. They can do things no ordinary person is able to. Mind you, I don’t normally gossip…Edeline Wentworth is a respectable woman. But I don’t feel I can keep something so shocking to myself.
It’s about the caretaker of those orphans, Miss Meredith Talbot. She left a luxurious estate in Pennsylvania to come out here and help her aunt run the orphanage. Rumor has it her father sent her away. Something about her using magic and causing her step-brother’s death. It makes a body shudder to think what she might be capable of.
At least the army has the good sense to assign someone to oversee her and the orphans during their stay at the fort. Lieutenant Preston Booth is a fine, upstanding officer. A stickler for the rules, many say. I pray he has the fortitude to keep those creatures in line and to resist any spells they may cast upon him. He’ll need it.
I’ve seen the two of them together at community events, the handsome, strapping officer and the flaxen haired vixen with her strange, violet colored eyes. Magical, my Stanley calls them. Dangerous, I say. She could tempt a saint to sin. While Lieutenant Booth has previously resisted all attempts at match-making, he may not be able to resist her charms. Hopefully the army will soon catch the rampaging renegades, and the Seaton House evacuees can go back to their den and stay there. I’ve exhausted nearly all my supply of salt, spreading it around my quarters to ward off their evil.
About the Book
Meredith Talbot has a secret. In fact, she has nine secrets – her own and those of the eight orphans at Seaton House, a home for children. Each of them has a special talent that if exposed would get them labeled as witches. It is her responsibility to protect the children and their secrets and keep them safe from persecution. Marauding Indians force them into a nearby fort where their safety is threatened by fanatical townspeople and a captivating army officer who try to unmask the children’s extraordinary abilities.
Lieutenant Preston Booth has one goal – to serve and protect his country. The military is the only life he has ever known. It’s the only life he wants. When a child is abducted and Preston goes after the culprit, Meredith has a vision of what will happen to him.
Does she risk everything by exposing her gift? Or keep her secret and risk losing him forever?
“Do you also have an aversion to being touched?”
Meredith looked up and met his taunting gaze. It was a challenge she couldn’t ignore. She hefted her chin. “Not if I have given permission to be touched.”
One corner of his mouth twitched. Surely that wasn’t a smile. From what she’d seen, the most his lips could manage were frowns.
He held out his hand. “May I help you into the wagon, Miss Talbot? In the name of expediency?”
Straw rustled behind her. One child hummed. Another thrummed on the wagon boards. The children were getting restless. She could contain herself long enough to be lifted onto the wagon.
“Very well. I give my permission.”
His hands curled around her waist. Heat seeped through her blouse and branded her skin. Her stomach started doing odd little summersaults like the ones she’d seen Chinese acrobats perform at a local fair. So much for containing herself.
His grip tightened, and he lifted her up and onto the wagon bed as if she weighed no more than a rag doll. His hands lingered a moment before he released her. Gray-brown eyes fused with hers. A strange connection churned between them like the rush crowding the air before a storm.
About the Author
Donna Dalton lives in central Virginia with her husband, two sons, and a grandson. An avid reader of historical romances, Donna uses the rich history of the “Old Dominion” State for many of her story settings. You can visit her at www.donndalton.net or on Facebook at DonnaDaltonbooks.