Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from The Professor’s Lady by Holly Bush.
The long ride through New Jersey toward Philadelphia was done quietly as Miss Thompson looked out the window, her hands folded in her lap, humming a tune he heard from her occasionally. He was soon engrossed in a medical article written by Joseph Lister on the subject of cleaning surgical instruments and the dramatic decrease of deaths after surgery.
He lifted his head when that lovely young lady beside him pinched his hand enough to leave a bruise. “Ouch!”
“I have been trying to get your attention, Mr. Watson,” she said in a breathy voice, her eyes darting the length of the train car. “I think the man who was drunk in the hallway of the hotel just walked past us.”
“Are you certain?”
“Not completely, but I’m fairly sure. He is wearing a minister’s collar today.”
“We are not far from Philadelphia. We will depart the station as quickly as possible and hire a carriage to take you home.”
She looked at him then, her face wreathed in worry. “We will be no match for them, I’m afraid.”
“I intend to guard you, Miss Thompson. I will not let anyone harm you. I promise.”
She shuddered a breath and laid her head on his shoulder. “I’ve been imagining what would have happened if you hadn’t found me on the Maybelle.”
“Do not make yourself uneasy. And there is no use dreaming of tragic endings. We are closer to your family with every turn of the train’s wheels, and then you will be safe. In the interim, I will have to do as your protector. Mr. Clawson and I.”
“I feel so much better when you talk sensibly to me,” she whispered and clutched his arm. “You will come into the house with me? Explain what has happened?”
“Your family will be so glad to have you back in their arms, any anger will be short-lived. And I wouldn’t want to impose on a family reunion.”
She harrumphed. “Short-lived? You do not know my family.”
The train was on time, a near miracle in Albert’s estimation, when they rolled into the Philadelphia station. They had not been delayed by broken tracks or a herd of pigs or any other obstacle that so often made train travel less than timely. Miss Thompson was still leaning against his arm, although she was not sleeping, and had long ago slipped her hand into his. He’d spent much of the last hour looking at one of the marvels of the human body, the hand, and observing the differences between his and hers. Those twenty-seven individual bones, allowing humans to grip and fist and caress, were dainty and dwarfed by his. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckle as its tendons and muscles tightened, bending her finger against his with soft pressure.
As the train slowed into the station, Clawson took his bag, as they had discussed, intending to go directly to the home Albert shared with his mother to deposit his belongings and check to see if his trunks had been delivered. He would have both hands and the gun in his pocket to protect Miss Thompson until he could hand her over to the safekeeping of her relatives. The train chugged to a stop and he stood, offering his hand to her to rise, guiding her to step in front of him. He kept his hand on her shoulder as they slowly walked down the aisle, waiting to depart the train onto the crowded platform. He bent down and looked out a window and saw Clawson, who nodded and turned into the crowd.
Albert took her hand as she stepped down and slipped his arm around her shoulders, keeping her tight against him as they moved toward the street, away from the house that served as the train station, now a tavern and inn. There were carriages for hire, and he quickly hailed one and gave the address to the driver. He glanced over his shoulder as he helped her climb in and saw two men heading their way that could have been the hotel drunk and the man behind the planter, one wearing the collar of the church.
“Make haste, please,” he said to the driver. “There’ll be extra for you if you get us moving immediately.”
Albert was not quite in his seat when the carriage driver maneuvered out of the line of carriages and into the street, weaving in and out of slower vehicles, and causing him to drop hastily down next to Miss Thompson. He risked a glance back and saw no one following.
“They were there, weren’t they?” she whispered, tightening her grip on his hand.
“They were, but we are on our way now. Everything will be fine.”
“But you don’t know that.”
“Your family will keep you safe,” he said and squeezed her hand.
She was silent for a long moment, staring out at the passing businesses, turning back to him with wide eyes and a trembling lip.
“What is it, Miss Thompson?”
“I prefer you, Mr. Watson. I prefer you to keep me safe.”
He stared at her, willing himself not to gather her in his arms and kiss her. And then she turned away from him and pointed as the carriage slowed down. He stepped down quickly, helped her alight, and reached to pay the driver and ask him to wait to see him home as well. As he turned, a fist connected with his chin.
Here’s the blurb:
Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
1870 Kirsty Thompson is determined to begin her own business bringing beloved Scottish fabrics and yarns to Philadelphia but first she must meet the men and women who weave the plaids and spin the wool. How will she ever escape her protective older siblings and sail to Scotland?
Albert Watson is a medical doctor focusing on research, especially that of Joseph Lister and his sterilization techniques. He speaks at universities in America and in England while visiting his London relatives. As he prepares to sail for just such an engagement, Kirsty Thompson boards his ship to beg him to take her with him. What’s a gentleman to do? Albert cancels his trip across the ocean to escort Miss Thompson back to Philadelphia and finds there is danger afoot for her and her family.
Soon he comes to realize there is also danger for his heart, even for a man who rarely pulls his nose from a medical journal. He finds himself unable to put Miss Kirsty Thompson out of his thoughts, where they belonged, because certainly a beautiful, ambitious, and charming young woman could have no interest in him. Or could she?
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Meet the author
Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800’s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush
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