Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Holly Bush’s new book, The Captain’s Woman.
The Captain’s Woman – Excerpt
“I promise, Mrs. Phillips. I will not forget to stop and see you,” Anthony said to his landlady as the last of his things were loaded into a closed wagon sent by his stableman, Mr. Reynolds, to Devlin Street. His stableman! It was still hard to believe that the changes in his life were real. That they’d actually happened.
“I’m so happy for you and that dear child of yours,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.
“And do not hesitate to call on John Pennyknoll. He’s a good all-around carpenter and won’t gouge you. And the veterans, especially the wounded ones, need work.”
“Mr. Pennyknoll seems to know his way around a hammer, but it won’t be you.”
“You are too kind. Now please get out of this wind. I carried down all the extra coal I had in my rooms for you to use.”
He looked over her shoulder and saw Ann trudging through the snow holding the hand of Sister Ann Marie. She was not chattering or smiling. In fact, her head was hanging. Strange to see his girl less than happy, especially as of late, after he’d told her about having her own room and a school nearby her new home for her to attend. She looked up, saw him, and ran straight to him. Her face was tear streaked.
“Papa,” she said softly against his neck as he held her. “I will miss the sisters and all the children. I want to take them all with us to our new home so they will have a home too, but I know I can’t.”
He kissed her forehead. “I’ve promised Mrs. Phillips we will visit occasionally. We’ll make time to visit the orphanage too.”
“Maybe Miss Thompson will bring me with her when she comes.”
“We will see.”
“I’m excited about all the changes and scared too, Papa.”
“I know exactly what you mean. It is a bit overwhelming.”
She shimmied down from his arms and hurried over to hug Mrs. Phillips, who was drying her tears with the corner of her white apron. Anthony glanced up at the windows of his room, his former room, and felt a little melancholy too. Not for the worry that he wouldn’t be able to pay Mrs. Phillips what was owed or if he would be able to replace Ann’s clothes as she grew out of them, but for the community that he’d found in the orphanage, at the grocer and other businesses, and with his landlady.
He would not be sad long, however, and he did not think Ann would be either. Not once they’d settled into their new home on Spruce and 33rd Street. The street bordered the wealthiest section of the city and was only a few blocks from the Vermeal mansion and their headquarters nearby. He’d been to see it already, accompanied by Mr. Critchfeld and the housekeeper, Mrs. Smithy, who was to see to the redecorating or updating that would need to be done. He’d been overwhelmed at the time and said very little. The house held fifteen rooms, not counting staff quarters. There was a small ballroom, a large library, a formal dining room, and a casual parlor on the second floor where he imagined he and Ann would spend much of their time. There was indoor plumbing, including hot water and a bathing room near his suite and one on the top floor for the staff. The kitchen, which the cook informed him she would prefer he stay out of, had every modern appliance available recently installed.
He took Ann’s hand as she waved with the other to Mrs. Phillips and led her to the small carriage, where Reynolds was holding open the door for he and Ann to climb in. He turned to her when they were settled and she’d shouted her last good-bye to Mrs. Phillips. Reynolds climbed in his seat in front of them, flicking the reins for the horse to begin moving.
“We are on our way, Papa,” she said. “There are so many things to think about!”
“We are on our way, but we are not going to hurry any of our decisions. We are going to take our time and allow ourselves to be accustomed to our new home. Other than new clothes I’ve ordered and the new clothes to be made for you, we need not worry about anything.”
Twenty minutes later, she was latched on to his arm as they pulled up to the brick house, the snow swept from the stone walkway and steps. They both sat still, looking at the bright red front door and peering up at the three stories of windows, even after Reynolds had opened the door of the carriage.
“Come along now, dear,” he said. “Let us see our new lodgings.”
She glanced at him. “It seems every bit as nice as Mrs. Phillips’s house.”
It took him a moment to realize she was teasing him, trying to lighten their mood. “I will miss the steps that creaked so loudly I worried I was about to fall through them.”
“I will miss running to the water closet in the middle of a cold night,” she said with a smile.
“Perhaps we will tell the housekeeper to light no fires in our sleeping rooms so we will be comfortably cold.”
She laughed then and looked back at the house through the open carriage door. “Oh, Papa! It is so beautiful! And we are keeping poor Mr. Reynolds out in the cold.”
She held his hand as they went up the brick walk. The door was opened by Mrs. Smithy. “Come in out of this weather, young lady,” the woman said.
“It is very cold out,” Ann said and held out her hand. “Good morning. I am Ann Marcus.”
The housekeeper smiled and took her hand. “And I am Mrs. Smithy. I am so glad to be managing a household with such a lovely young lady in residence.” She looked up at him. “Welcome home, sir.”
Here’s the blurb
Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
1870 ~ Muireall Thompson has taken her duties seriously since her parents died on the family’s crossing from Scotland to America in 1854. As the eldest sibling, their death made her responsible for her family and left little time for a life of her own. But now her brothers and sisters are adults; even the youngest is nearly ready to face the world on his own. What will she do when she is alone, other than care for an elderly aunt and volunteer at the Sisters of Charity orphanage? Has the chance for a husband and children of her own passed her by?
Widower Anthony Marcus, formerly a captain in the Union Army, is a man scraping the bottom of his dignity and hanging on to his honor by the barest thread. Reduced to doing odd jobs to keep a roof over his dear daughter Ann’s head, he often leaves her with the Sisters of Charity while he is out seeking steady work with a decent salary that will allow him to move from their single-room living quarters.
After an initial meeting that finds Muireall and Anthony at odds, a tentative friendship forms as they bond over their mutual affection for Ann. As friendship leads to passion, can a wealthy spinster and a poor soldier overcome their differences in station to forge a future together? Just as Muireall finds the courage to reach for her own happiness, Anthony’s past rises up between them and an old enemy reemerges to bring the Thompson family down once and for all. Will the divide between them be insurmountable, or can they put aside pride and doubt for a love worth fighting for?
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.
Connect with Holly