Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Valentine's Day

And as a part of the * Romance blogfest here, I'm posting a scene from my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, where Carl Owen gets his first look at Ellen Bates since he returned from service in the Civil War. I've edited it slightly to make it a bit more accessible to first-time readers:

Carl Owen turned his horse off the main road toward his brother Rulon’s house. The sun had come out bright and strong, and it felt good and warm on his back. He grinned as he recalled his conversation with his father. “Hush, we’re going west.”

As he reached the corner, Carl saw a group of mounted men dashing up the cross street in front of him. Panic rose in his throat and sqeezed it shut as he recognized the Yankee patrol that had jumped him and beat him when he'd been on his way home from the war. He wheeled his horse to find a place of concealment. Then he realized where he was, turned the horse again, and tried to calm his pounding heart. The soldiers were probably racing through the streets of Mount Jackson to make a ruckus, and he felt foolish to be caught in their trap.

“Easy, boy,” he told his horse. “It ain’t likely they’ll take after me in town.”

The Yankees drew up at the far end of the street, then turned and started back to town. As they thundered toward him, Carl noticed a young girl opposite him, evidently trying to decide whether to cross. She hesitated a moment, then bolted out into the street. In the middle, she looked around at the approaching soldiers, tripped, and fell into the road.

Without thinking, Carl spurred his horse into the street, leaned out from his saddle, and plucked the arising girl from the muck. The horse carried them across the road while the Yankees whooped and whistled as they rushed by, venting their disappointment. Carl got down the street, turned a corner, then pulled up, set the girl on her feet and slid from the saddle.

“Hush my mouth! That was the foolest thing I ever seen a body do!” Carl made no attempt to stop the hot words from tumbling out of his mouth. He glared at the girl, standing in the street with her chin up and her eyes flashing, auburn hair disheveled, the front of her clothes mud-caked and dripping. “You surely could have been killed, and that’s a fact! You keep clear away from that gang of Yankees, you hear? Darn fool girl, anyhow.” He remounted and left her standing there, pridefully biting back tears of relief. Then he rode away, shaking mud and slime off his arm, and muttering to himself.

Love at first sight . . . or not so much?

*Since I'm not exactly sure my existing published novel qualifies under the rules, I'm not making a whole lot about this post. However, I hope you enjoy it.