“You owe me a lot of money, Miss Trent.”
Liza cast a quick glance at the man speaking. He had introduced himself as Mr. Reynolds, her travel benefactor, when the stagecoach had finally come to a halt in
. He had the swarthy undertones of someone mean, the lifelessness in his dark eyes hinting at a streak of cruelty. He was tall, thin, dressed impeccably in silk brocade pinstripe complete with a top hat and cane. He spoke in a southern twang laced with barely concealed sarcasm as he stared down his long nose at her. Diablo Hills, Arizona
She felt her face flush and she quickly looked back down at her hands.
“Now I know it’s a terrible shame,” he went on, “having your intended die before the wedding, but business is business, Miss Trent, and now you have business with me.”
Liza felt sweat gather between her breasts. She shifted in her seat, trying to find some comfort in the stifling room from the oppressive heat but finding little success. With no windows, the room was nothing short of a tinderbox from Hell. She felt like she could pass out any minute.
Perhaps that might be best, considering.
The new life she had envisioned for herself wasn’t turning out like she hoped.
“How much?” she whispered, barely able to speak at all past the lump in her throat.
“Well, let’s see, there’s the cost of your coach ticket, the chaperone services of Mrs. Nambaker, your hotel fees, your food fees, and of course, my fee of bringing you and your intended together. So total, Miss Trent, your balance is five hundred dollars.”
Something heavy landed on her chest and for a moment, she thought she had stopped breathing.
“Five hundred dollars?” she gasped. “I don’t have that much money!”
“Well, then, I guess you’re in a pickle,” said Mr. Reynolds.
She clasped her hands together tightly and focused on a particularly large freckle near her left thumb, one of the thousand she must have, and let her mind wander for a moment. She wondered how her freckle could seem so perfectly innocent to the problem she was facing. When she had left
Boston to become the bride of a man she had never met, it had seemed all her money problems had been solved. Upon her arrival, however, she had been informed her fiancé had succumbed to heart trouble, bringing the nightmare of the past year to a blistering head.
She blinked and jerked her gaze back to Mr. Reynolds. “I can work,” she said. “I can…clean. Wash clothes. Sew. I know how to crochet.”
She saw mocking amusement in Mr. Reynolds fathomless eyes. “Miss Trent, you could sew and wash and crochet for a hundred years and you’d still not be able to repay all that you owe me. In fact, there is only one profession that I can think of that would repay the revenue I’ve invested in you. A job where your services are best rendered on your back. Do you understand what I’m saying, Miss Trent?”
***COVER COMING SOON***
Release Date April 25th! Blog Party with a free PDF version to one lucky winner!