Set in Northern Virginia in the 1860’s, this epic tale weaves the lives and times of a spirited, Southern Spy who believes she is just in aiding the "cause", despite her attraction to a Union major that suspects her of espionage.
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Light Sword Publishing
Discover how Elise Hamilton, a feisty, headstrong Southern Spy, and the town of Fairfax, only twenty-six miles from the Union capital of Washington must come to terms with being occupied by the enemy. Pressure mounts with war inevitable, and Virginia is on the verge of seceding. Elise, while entertaining Union officers at her mother's boarding house, Doves Landing overhears pertinent information that must be passed on to aid her beloved 'cause`. Careful to avoid Federal encampment guards, Elise foolhardily rushes to pass on the vital intelligence to her rebel comrade in Manassas Junction, where the Confederate army is positioned. Knowing the back roads to the junction like the back of her hand, Elise risks her own life for the preservation of the 'Old South', aware that if she were caught, she could be brought up on espionage charges, which could mean imprisonment or worse, death. After successfully passing on the information and feeling exceptionally smug, Elise is suddenly stopped only miles from her home, and questioned by Major Joshua Carmidy. Much to her dismay, the fast talking and keen-witted Elise has difficulties with this particular Yank. He's equal to her craftiness and unwavering determination, and if that wasn’t unnerving enough, he obviously doesn't believe her flimsy alibi. Cleverly, Elise tries to distract him, employing her most alluring charms, and becomes insulted when she discovers he's immune to her beauty. Adding further insult, she is infuriated to find that the 'good major` has taken up residency at Doves Landing. As maddening as Elise finds the Yank, viewing him as a pesky rash that won't leave, she can't deny her attraction to him. Soon after the first major battle, fought only miles away at Manassas Junction, Elise learns first hand that the hardships of war are far more devastating than she had ever imagined possible. Even those who were once beloved friends turn against one another when they must choose sides in the rapidly dividing nation. As the lines of loyalty are drawn, threats from Bushwhackers, Northern Sympathizers, and raids from both, siege this small community. After enduring the hardships, suppression, and anger of this explosive time, Elise painfully comes to understand that-- there is no glory in war, as she had once thought. A path of death and destruction lies before her as the Civil War rages on, changing her life and those she loves forever. In the end, she comes to understand that the love that is shared between a man and a woman is all that truly matters.
An excerpt from . . .
Halfway up the stairs she stopped and held her breath as Joshua left his room, locking the door behind him and placing the key in his right trouser pocket. Her heart took on a life of its own, jumping frantically as she watched him fold sheets of paper and tuck them into the sash of his uniform.
Well damn it all to hell, men use women all the time to get what they want and find pleasure in it. Why can’t women do the same? I wonder how you would like to surrender to my will for a change, Major Joshua Carmidy. Two can play your game! I’ll make you want me, just as you have made me want you. And when you do, I’ll take great pleasure in casting you aside like yesterday’s news.
Coming down the stairs, Joshua tried to walk past Elise where she stood, trance-like, on the staircase. With one step to the right, Elise blocked his path and coyly looked up at him, her heart pounding so rapidly she was sure he must be able to hear it. Try to ignore me now, Major Carmidy, she mused. And just what did you hide in that sash of yours?
Stopping abruptly, Joshua smiled at Elise before taking her gently by the shoulders and moving around her to place himself on the step below so their eyes were level. “Elise, taken any more midnight jaunts lately?”
It was obvious to Elise that he enjoyed this sort of merriment, judging by the twinkle in his eyes, so she smiled enticingly at him. She wanted his attention focused on her and only her, as an appealing woman. “Major, you do me an injustice. Why, I’ve been cooped up in this old house for days, it seems. You know I only went out to the encampment to take pity on those poor boys. And then, of course, there was the other night, when I went out with someone I thought to be a gentleman. That is, until he accused me of stealing important papers.”
She leaned closer to him and felt her bosom strain against the cut of her bodice. He must have noticed, as she felt his grip tighten on her shoulders, and she moved her hands to his waist, sliding them sensually inside his jacket. His body stiffened. Yes, this is quite to my liking, and I see you’re enjoying it too, Elise thought, batting her eyes at him delicately and wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue.
“Always the best way to disarm a suspect,” Joshua goaded, his eyes showing a glimmer of humor, which gave her heart a lift.
“Absolutely. Take them by surprise, right?” she whispered to him seductively. “So tell me Major, do you disarm all your suspects with threats of searching them? I’ve heard Mr. George Hornsby is quite a suspect. I trust you haven’t been inclined to search him, too?”
The glimmer of humor became a full flame as Joshua’s face lit with laughter. “You are too quick for your own good, Miss Elise Hamilton. But take heed, I’m on to you, so watch your step!”
“On to me, Joshua? Whatever do you mean? Surely you must have realized by now that I’m just a sweet little southern girl…” Elise leaned nearer to him, bringing her mouth close to his. Her pulse quickened as she felt his breath on her lips. Gazing longingly into his eyes, she finished her sentence, whispering seductively, “…just keeping to myself!”
Needing no more coaxing, Joshua lifted his hand to the back of her head, drawing her closer still, then–stopping in mid-air–he looked down at the woman in his arms. Elise almost swooned, but she kept her head as she slid her fingers gently beneath his sash, securing the papers she had been after. With short gasps of air that pushed her bosom up against his stiff body, she slowly began to inch the papers clear of the sash. When Joshua drove her lips apart with his tongue in a deep, moving kiss, Elise nearly dropped the papers, but somehow managed to grasp them tightly in her hand as she slowly moved it to her side. All the while, Joshua tantalized her with the tip of his tongue, sweeping it across her lips, sending a tingling shiver through to the very depth of her soul. The sensation of their kiss and the adrenaline rush of her thievery made it a doubly bewitching experience that Elise never wanted to end. The intensity eased, only to be replaced with shorter kisses as if he were nibbling away at her lips, making her gasp with longing.
As they pulled slowly apart, she eased the papers she had stolen from him behind her, sliding it under her jacket and into the belt at her waist. His lids lowered and his smile was utterly sensual. Hmm–that was quite enjoyable, definitely more to my liking and I got what I came for–the papers, and him!
“Do you have to go on duty, Joshua?” she asked reluctantly, her voice a sensual coo. “We could take a walk down by the creek, if you like.” His hand slid around her back, pulling her close again for one brief kiss on her upturned lips.
“As tempting as the offer is, Elise, I regretfully have to decline. Duty calls, you know, darling.”
As heartwarming as it was, hearing him refer to her with such endearment, she skillfully pouted to show her disappointment, cleverly disguising how keen she was to escape to her room to read the stolen document.
“Yes, of course. Will I see you later, then?”
“Much sooner than you’d expect, so no frettin’ now, y’hear?” Joshua was clearly mocking the southern phrases he had picked up around town.
Ignoring his snide remark, Elise smoothed her fingers on his chin and leaned forward to place one last kiss on his wide, sensuous mouth. “I’ll be waitin’ in anticipation for that splendid moment.”
With that, she pretended to adjust herself, making certain that she secured the papers in her hand and swiftly turned, being careful not to let him see what she held. Smiling proudly at pulling off the ultimate piece of espionage, Elise started to climb the stairs. As she reached the second stair she found herself unable to continue, as Joshua’s hand was holding firmly onto her belt.
“Whoa there, sugar!” Joshua commanded.
Elise knew she had been caught, and thinking quickly, she turned herself around, waving the papers in front of her, smiling coyly down at him. “Missing me already, Joshua, or something else perhaps, like these papers?”
“I told you Elise, I’m on to you!”
“If that were the case, surely you knew that I had to prove to you just how wrong you’ve been about me. If I couldn’t even distract you long enough with my feminine charms, to swipe some silly old papers from you without your knowing, just how could you possibly think me capable of other dastardly deeds? This is proof that I’m not capable of the treachery you’ve accused me of in the past. So you see, I’m innocent.”
“Innocent is not an adjective I would use to describe you, Elise. Anything but, is more like it.”