Roslyn Holcomb’s and my latest novella, Stolen, will be released on Tuesday, November 23rd from Loose Id. Here’s an excerpt. Enjoy!
“So, Healer,” Grace said, her words slow and arrogant, “You have come to tell me why you have locked me in your cage, have you not?” Grace knew she should temper her words, watch her tone of voice. Her father was always telling her to be careful of what she said and how she said it around the whites, but she could not. She had always found it difficult to pretend to be anyone other than herself, a freedom that everyone except Negroes seemed to have. And with the healer, she would not even try to restrain her temper. He had always irritated her.
She had no trouble admitting to herself, and to whoever would listen, that she did not like him. He was one of those who believed that women should not be involved in the effort. He thought them weak and fragile. Fragile? For that insult alone, Grace could have drawn and quartered him. She was no frail miss to be consigned to serving tea in drawing rooms and taking care of children. She’d spent the last twelve years since the death of her mother proving just that to her father and brothers, and this man had come along and with a few words had almost tossed away everything she’d worked for.
He’d refused to work with women conductors, and their group needed him, so her father had been prepared to keep her from what she saw as her mission and duty to her people. She’d finally been able to convince her father that with the proper trousers, coat, and hat, she would pass for, if not a grown man, at least a young man. And no thanks to the man standing before her, she had taken several trips south. The altogether bothersome, confusing way he made her feel whenever he was near only added to her dislike. She sometimes felt feverish and anxious when she saw him, with the fever starting low in her belly and thoroughly befuddling her mind.
He does not even recognize me. She gloated to herself now. He had only ever seen her dressed as a boy and knew her as Joseph Adams. Just as suddenly, the gloating turned to confused irritation when she remembered her brother’s teasing in the woods. Why had Dr. Quinn never recognized that she was female? Was she not pretty enough for the likes of him?
She scowled at him. “Did you not hear me, Healer? Why have you locked me in a cage? I demand that you release me.”
It troubled her that he did not answer and only continued to stare at her mouth and then her eyes in turn. As his gaze went to her mouth again, she felt that curious quickening in her belly and without her bidding, her thighs squeezed together as that little piece of flesh at the top of her woman’s place pulsed in time with the sudden, swift beats of her heart. She nervously licked her lips, eyes widening when she saw his eyes narrow with intent at the slight movement.
The fingers of her left hand tightened around the bars she was gripping when he took a step closer, and pulling her legs beneath her, she prepared to run. She was still weak and did not know what his intentions were, but she somehow recognized that if she let him touch her, she would be lost — to what, she had no idea, but the simple thought of his hands on her intensified the already frightening heat burning hot and quick in the pit of her stomach.