The Gentle Highwayman
Click on image to enlarge.
by Wendy Stone
Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: The troubled early days of the Hunters in America. Lady Heather Coulter is a young woman on a mission. She longs for enough money to retain her family home and to feed and protect those that depend upon her. Gentleman Jack is a man so desperate for money that he takes to the roads, robbing the rich of their trinkets and purses. But when he runs into Aidan Hunter, will Jack be able to remember why he is pursuing his nighttime trade of highwayman? Aidan Hunter is a second son. His brother Matthew holds the title and most of the estates. But Aidan isn't threatened by Matthew, and when he meets Lady Heather, he finds out what kind of man his brother actually is. Will Heather and Aidan be able to find their happily ever after?
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [241 KB]
Reading time: 163-229 min.
* * * *
"God's teeth, I've never felt it so cold," the burly man said, shivering as he helped his short colleague don his garb. "Don't forget your hat. You come home with a cold and Harriet will have my hide."
"It's not your hide you're worried about; it's your stomach." The short man slammed the tricorn hat with its jaunty white piping and huge feather down on his head. It was a tight fit; too tight. He frowned, but didn't say anything. Throwing on his cape, he stepped up on the mounting box perfectly situated in the stables and threw his leg over the big black stallion that moved under him with nervous energy.
"Shh, you devil. We'll be about our business soon enough. But for now, settle, or I'll trade you in on a nag." His words were harsh, but the hand that reached out and scratched the big brute behind his sensitive ears was caring and gentle. "Come; we must be off or I'll lose what little nerve I have left. Hand me my pistol."
The short man cradled the weapon in his lap, shivering as the cold of the winter season settled over him. His ears turned red and his feet grew numb in their boots, and he hadn't even left the stables yet.
The third member of their party arrived and pushed open the doors of the stables. Kicking his horse, the short man set off, hearing his compatriots fall in behind him as they traveled cross-country and stayed shy of the roads. The deep ruts of the fields were rough, and he slowed his horse, allowing the other two to catch up.
"Lord Warringer is having a ball tonight," the short man said to Simon, the taller of the two lads with him. The other lad, Simon's brother Felix, allowed himself a brief smile.
"Did you get the invite?" Simon asked, sending his brother a wink.
"What would I do at one of those balls?" the short man said, disgust in his voice.
"You could be looking for a mate, you know?" Simon said. "Someone to help warm the sheets on a night like tonight."
"No one will look twice at me; with the failed crops and the damn English and their constant call for more taxes, I barely have two pennies to pinch," growled the young master, the smallest man of the three and self-appointed leader. "Why the hell else do you think I conned you two into this?"
"We know, Jack," Simon said. "We wouldn't have let you go without us, no matter what Harriet did to us."
They were upon the road almost before they knew it. Sliding down from his horse, Jack stood in the center of the road holding his reins. "I will wait here for the coach to come. You two will hide yourselves in the woods and come up behind the coach when it stops. Keep your faces covered and don't speak. I'll do all the talking. Understood?"
They both nodded, slipping off their own mounts and hiding them in the woods.
Jack stood in the road, the cold biting deep until he thought he'd never be warm. When he finally heard the sound of the coach coming around the bend in the road, he was so cold he didn't know if he could open his mouth. Stamping his feet, he held his hand up in the light of the lanterns that swung on either side of the front of the coach.