This Time Forever
Click on image to enlarge.
by Linda Swift
Description: Against his family's wishes Philip Burke, volunteers to defend the Union and instead becomes a prisoner of war, bartering his medical expertise to remain out of prison. When the Union Army invades Tennessee, Clarissa Wakefield's antebellum mansion becomes a Confederate hospital. Philip is placed in charge and against propriety she stays on and helps nurse the wounded. Clarissa's husband is a Confederate soldier and Philip's fiancée waits for him in Oswego but the fire between them soon rages out of control. As the opposing armies fight for possession of Chattanooga, Clarissa and Philip face their own battle. Caught in the passions of war and love, with hurt inevitable either way, will they be faithful to their vows or listen to their hearts?
eBook Publisher: Champagne Books, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [434 KB]
Reading time: 275-385 min.
Tip-toeing past the snoring guard, Clarissa stepped onto the moonlit veranda and made her way toward a wicker chair facing the river. It was only as she sat down that she saw the glow of Philip Burke's pipe.
"Oh, excuse me, I thought--"
"That you would be alone? I was just finishing my pipe." He made a move to stand but she said quickly, "Please don't go. It is I who have intruded."
"I scarcely think so. This is your home after all, Mrs. Wakefield." He settled back in his chair and took another puff.
"Let's not belabor such a trivial matter, Captain Burke. I'm glad of someone to talk to."
"Then I'll stay for a while longer with your permission."
"Yes, do. The quiet seems eerie. As if we're suspended in motion, waiting for something to happen."
"Waiting for all hell to break loose." He didn't appear to notice his offensive language and she forgot it with his next words. "I've experienced this before. It's the lull before the battle."
"Do you really think so?"
"It's inevitable, with the Army of the Tennessee on the march and the Army of the Cumberland right on their heels."
"Perhaps General Bragg will just go on to Atlanta."
"With thousands of battle-ready troops at his command?" Philip asked drily. "Not likely."
"When do you think it will begin?" Clarissa asked with dread.
"Perhaps tomorrow. If not tomorrow, soon."
Clarissa shivered. "I wish my son was back at Fleur-de-Lis. What if the Union...?"
"Have you forgotten I am a Union officer? You and yours will be safe as long as I'm here."
"Thank you, Captain."
Clarissa silently regarded the man who sat near her, his features highlighted each time he drew on the coals of his pipe. It was difficult for her to remember that he was a prisoner but that must have been the thought uppermost in his mind all these months. And as he had reminded her, he was a Union officer. If the city was captured by the enemy, he would become her captor. It was not a pleasant thought.
The night sounds of early autumn filled the silence--dry flies and tree frogs and raucous insects too numerous to be identified. Clarissa became aware of Philip's eyes on her and a warm sensation began in the pit of her stomach and spread to her breasts and thighs. She watched his slender hand as he knocked the ashes from his pipe and imagined the hand touching her. She felt her heart flutter and said with a catch in her voice, "I should go in now. It's getting quite late."
He stood at the same time she did and they were only inches apart. Clarissa felt his warm breath on her face and dared not look up.
Her hair was luminescent silver flowing about her shoulders in the moon glow. Philip reached out to touch it and willed himself to stop. But his hands with a will of their own moved to her shoulders and she raised her head and met his eyes.
In a dream-like motion they closed the space between them as their mouths slowly met and with a long-repressed hunger they sated themselves. END EXCERPTTheir bodies melded, soft against hard, silk against wool, and a fire blazed between them that blotted out all else except their awareness of each other. He brought his hand to the back of her head and wove his slender fingers into her silken tresses; the kiss deepened as his tongue became a licking flame in her mouth. When the kiss finally ended, the flame licked the hollow of her throat and the rise of her breast as he pushed aside the fabric of her gown. Fire burned against her flesh in every place his tongue touched and she arched against him, eager to be consumed by it.