- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
All right reserved.
Suddenly a feeling of unease crept over her, and she
discovered four men standing across the street watching
her-she could tell by the way they nodded in her direction
that she was the subject of their conversation-one of them was
actually gawking at her. She descended the wooden steps,
deciding she'd just walk a little way down the street, maybe
around the corner to get away from their unwanted attention.
Jena Leigh soon became absorbed in the quaintness of a house
built high off the ground; she supposed to keep it from
flooding when a storm came ashore. As she stepped over a
crack in the sidewalk, she caught a whiff of bread baking and
followed her nose to a delightful little bakeshop with wide
windows and blue shutters. Glancing though the window, she
watched a woman remove a pan of muffins from a brick oven, and
the scent of cinnamon and raisins permeated the air. Her
stomach rumbled with hunger, and she had just decided to go
insidethe shop when she noticed a man in a Yankee uniform
strolling toward her. His face was half-hidden by his wide
brimmed hat, but as he drew close enough for her to see his
eyes, they seemed to burn with a lascivious expression. She
quickly crossed the street, wondering what was the matter with
the men in this town. Hadn't they ever seen a woman before?
To Jena Leigh's dismay the man also crossed the street and
stalked in her direction. Instinct warned her that she was
about to have an unpleasant encounter with that Yankee. She
glanced at his hands-they were large and hairy, and he was
missing a finger on his right hand. Now that he stood in
front of her, she could see a deep scar that ran down the
right side of his face as if he'd been slashed by something
When Jena Leigh tried to step around him, he took a step
sideways, blocking her path.
Snapping her sunshade shut, she aimed the pointed tip at him.
"Get out of my way, Yankee." Her words were brave but she
cringed inside as his gaze swept her from head-to-toe in the
most insulting manner. There was lust in his brown eyes and
something more-pure hatred radiated from him. Jena Leigh took
another step backwards.
"What makes you think you're so high-an-mighty?" he asked, his
voice deep and raspy. "Underneath all them petticoats, you're
all the same. You think you're too good for the likes of me."
Something deep and horrible crept into her heart and mind, and
she took another quick step backwards-but that was a mistake
because he countered her with a move of his own, which brought
him within inches of her. She attempted to move in the other
direction but once more he stepped in front of her.
Fury burned inside as she cast him a heated glance. "Get out
of my way!" Brave words, but she was beginning to be
Before she could react, the man bumped against her with such
force that it sent her careening backward, her body slamming
painfully against the brick building.
"Maybe you'd like to go in that alley with me, and let me show
you a few things."
She glanced around her, hoping someone would come to help her.
"Are you out of your mind?" "If you walk the streets alone,
lady, you'll find yourself in trouble." His threat was so
malevolent that it turned her fury to fear. But Jena Leigh
was always at her best when cornered. She straightened away
from the wall rubbing her arm, knowing it would be bruised.
"I told you to get out of my way and allow me to pass!"
"Now why would I do that?"
She could feel her heart beating in her throat. This man
wanted to hurt her and she didn't understand why.
* * *
Clay paused at Sgt. Walker's desk and placed a file in front
of him. "Review this list to make sure everything is in
order before you dispatch it to the quartermaster's office."
Walker's gaze was already tracking down the list of armaments
the Col. had requested. "Yes, sir."
Clay moved to the front window and stared at the weed
infested vacant lot across the street. He'd have someone out
there tomorrow to clean it up so tents could be erected as
temporary housing for the reinforcements that arrived daily.
Clay frowned, and his mouth compressed in displeasure as he
witnessed a young woman being harassed by a soldier. With
anger boiling inside him, Clay nodded toward the window and
spoke to the sergeant, "Did you see that?"
Walker followed his colonel's gaze, but saw nothing. "Begging
your pardon, sir, but what was I supposed to see?"
Col. Madison stalked to the door and flung it open while
Sergeant Walker jerked to his feet and lumbered after him. By
the time they reached the walkway, the young woman was running
down the street, and the soldier who had been with her was
watching, as if deciding whether or not to follow.
"Sergeant," Clay said, his anger deepening, "take that soldier
into custody and have him wait for me in my office. I'm going
after that young woman. Incidents like this only add to the
unrest in Galveston. I will not tolerate this insult to a
woman from any of our soldiers."
"Yes, sir," Walker said, still not clear about what had
When Clay turned the corner the young woman was still running
and he crossed the street in pursuit of her.
His actions only made her run faster.
Jena Leigh heard the bootsteps hurrying behind her and assumed
it was the man who had given her such a fright. She was
relieved when she finally reached the depot where there were
people around. Pausing to catch her breath she leaned against
the building. But she jerked her head up when a shadow fell
across her face.
The sun was blinding her and she couldn't make out the man's
features, but she did see his blue uniform. "I told you to
leave me alone. If you don't go away I'll call for help."
"Madame, I'm not the man you were running from. I saw what
happened, and I just wanted to make sure you're all right.
With the greatest courtesy, I ask your pardon, and apologize
for what happened."
Arching her hand to shade her eyes, Jena Leigh could see him
more clearly. No, this was certainly not the man who had
accosted her. This was a high-ranking officer with eagle
epaulets on each shoulder-he was an officer. The other Yankee
had been base and crude, this man's manners were polite, and
probably forced. His frock-coat was buttoned to regulations.
His jaw was square, and his hair as black as midnight. There
was a troubled expression in those blue eyes. She turned away
from him-he was a Yankee, and deserved none of her time or her
"I don't want anything from you, except your absence," she
stated positioning her sunshade between the two of them.
Clay circled her so he could see her face. "Please allow me
to introduce myself."
She twirled her sunshade in obvious irritation. "I don't care
who you are. I don't want to know you."
He was exasperated, but not enough to overlook that this woman
was probably the most beautiful female he'd ever seen. Her
skin was unblemished, her bone structure was delicate and
fine. Those marvelous gold-flecked eyes were framed by long
silken lashes. His gaze flickered to her hair and he saw that
it was almost the same color as her eyes. With considerable
effort, Clay pulled his thoughts back to the problem at hand.
"I can't tell you how sorry I am about what happened."
She was still shaken. "You have apologized prettily, so be
satisfied that your obligation. Just go away."
Clay watched her glance down the street as if she were
expecting someone. "You know you really shouldn't be out
alone without an escort. A lone woman is only asking for
trouble." There was a mild reprimand in his tone, and he saw
her eyes widen.
Jena Leigh swirled around to face him. "Let me see if I have
this right: You are blaming me for what that man did?"
"That isn't what I meant, and you know it."
Jena Leigh shook her head. "I just arrived by train and I had
a companion with me. I'm now waiting for someone to come for
me. Does that satisfy your sense of propriety?"
"I-" He saw the anger in her eyes. "Yes, I see." He hadn't
meant to ask, the words just slipped out. "Are you are
waiting for your husband?"
"Not that it's any of your concern, but, no, I'm not. I see
where you are going with this. You think an unmarried woman
should stay locked in her home while your soldiers are
afforded the freedom of our city. You blame me for what your
man did." She drew in her breath. "That's exactly what I
would expect from a Yankee."
Clay was becoming more frustrated by the minute. "That's not
what I mean at all. You completely misunderstood me."
"Shouldn't you be questioning your own man-he is the criminal
here isn't he? You're wasting your time with me."
He noticed how pale she looked-the incident had upset her more
than a little. "What he did was wrong, but I if you don't
accompany me to my office and lodge a complaint against him,
there is very little I can do about it."
"You are a stranger to me. I'm not going anywhere with you.
But I'll leave you with this warning-you're in Texas now,
officer. Here we don't suffer insults lightly, and we don't
ask anyone in a blue uniform for help. You'd better know that
about us if you are going to stay around for long."
Clay bowed slightly to her. He'd done all he could to make
amends, but she wasn't listening. "Good day to you, Madame."
She turned away from him, and he paused a moment staring at
her rigid back. He didn't blame her for not trusting him
after what had happened to her.
She snapped her sunshade backwards and almost hit him the
face. With measured steps, and trying to bury his anger at
her, Clay started back to his office.
If that woman didn't come with him to face the man who
harassed her, there wasn't much he could do about the
He wondered if all Texas women were as stubborn as that one,
or even half as beautiful.
Excerpted from Hawk's Pursuit
by Constance O'Banyon
Copyright © 2006 by Constance O'Banyon.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted December 9, 2008
In 1865 reporter Jena Leigh Hawk believes in telling the truth to her readers yet hides her gender behind the male sounding name of J. L. Rebel. She does that because she knows men have a better chance of getting the story while she hopes this job enables her to complete her quest, finding her siblings. She also hides her beauty behind thick glasses and shabby oversized clothing as she does not want anyone to hit on her.------------------------- Her current assignment is personal as she has found some clues that lead her to Galveston, Texas in search of her two brothers Whit and Drew. However, her efforts are made complicated by Colonel Clay Madison who rescues her from a union soldier and somehow seems to see past her drab garb to her beauty and her cynical exterior to the heart of the matter. While she investigates a prostitute¿s homicide and continues her search for her family, he insists on protecting the woman he loves who is now the target of a killer.--------------- The third Hawk tale (see HAWK and HAWK¿S PASSION) is a terrific western romance due to the fearless fiery female who rejects male intervention and protection, which leads to stormy battles with, in her mind, overly protective Clay. The story line is action-packed as J.L. seeks clues to finding her brother, but the not so civil gender war makes the tale fun to read.-------------- Harriet Klausner
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.