Published by Holly Bush Books on May 14, 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
1869 - Matthew Gentry joined the Confederate Army at eighteen years of age after an argument with his father, leaving Paradise, his Virginia home and famed horse breeding stables, for the fields of Gettysburg. Having survived the War Between the States, Gentry is haunted by the violence and inhumanity of the war. He continues to roam the country long after the conflict is over, finding solace in the arms of soiled doves and at the bottom of whiskey bottles. Finally traveling home after learning of a family tragedy, he nearly loses his life in a spring-flooded riverbed. Annie Campbell, lone survivor of her family, lives at a remote farm near the North River, raising pigs and trying to grow enough to feed herself, and to stay out of the cross hairs of the Thurmans, violent men who run the town of Bridgewater. Annie's secrets threaten her safety, even as she rescues and nurses Matthew Gentry. Matthew knows he must return to Paradise, to grieve with his family. Will his heart lead him back to Bridgewater and Annie Campbell?
He watched as she sharpened his blade on a worn leather strop and ran a brush around a tin cup, making lather with the soap on the bottom. She walked up to him, close enough that he could feel her body heat up and down his right side, and he smelled hay and horse, and some faint note of wintergreen or peppermint. Her shirt gapped when she leaned around him to scrape his other cheek and he was pleased to note that he was interested in seeing the top of her breast, as at some point in the last few days he’d convinced himself that there were parts of him that might never recover.
“Almost done,” she said. “Tilt your head back and let me get your neck.”
He did as he was told and let the sun beat down on his face. Her fingers were strong, moving his chin one way or another or dabbing soap from around his ears and wiping his face clean with a piece of towel she’d dunked in a pan of water. The warm towel wiping his face felt better than anything he’d felt for a long while, and he relaxed his shoulders and let her wipe away two weeks’ worth of sweat and grit. His eyes closed and he let run her comb through his long, filthy hair.
“I need to bathe. I can smell my own stink.”
“I’m going to cut your hair while we’re out here. The weather’s temperate, so we could wash it without heating water.”
“I don’t care if the water’s cold. I’m tired of pulling it back with a string. Cut it. Cut it all off.”
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