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She hesitated. Perhaps if she told him who she was he'd let her go. Weren't Southern men supposed to be exceptionally chivalrous where ladies were concerned?
"Not that Snow Bird isn't a lovely name for a lovely young woman." His voice had softened, and she noticed a drawl she hadn't heard before.
Shamed color rose to her face as she realized she was glad he found her attractive. What did it matter coming from a despised Reb?
"When are you going to let me go?" she demanded. "I'll be missed in a few hours if I'm not already. Those men from town know me. As soon as they hear I'm missing they'll realize what must have happened and they'll telegraph ahead to Cincinnati."
"I doubt anyone will put two and two together so quickly. By the time those gentlemen collect whatever wits they possess, I'll be far from Ohio. I doubt they know how to do much other than burn and loot and kill defenseless Indians. Besides, will you really be missed soon? A young woman who spends her nights at Indian encampments or walking the streets?"
She fumed. How dare he criticize her.
"Aren't you a mite confused, Snow Bird? Why did you try to give me away to those self-appointed vigilantes? They're your enemy, not me. They burned your village, I didn't."
"The village burned because of you," she accused, her voice rising. "Because you were hiding there. Like the other two escaped Rebs would've been if they hadn't been caught. You set fire to those lodges just as surely as though you'd lit and held the torch."
"I've heard some befuddled reasoning in my time," he said angrily, "but you top it all. Reading those abolitionist tracts has addled your wits. What you say is madness.It's all madness."
"I'm not mad."
"Yes, you are. You, me, this country, the world. Burning, looting, killing, the war pitting brother against brother, fathers fighting sons, thousands dead, bodies left maimed, lives ruined. And what for? To punish a few Southern states that want nothing but the right to go their way in peace. Is that sanity? Is that freedom?"
Momentarily taken aback by his vehemence, Barbara pulled herself together. "You're the one who twists the truth, Captain Sandoe. You're the one who--"
She stopped abruptly when she heard him move, saw his dark outline come closer, closer until his lips touched her cheek, moving on to her mouth. He kissed her, his hands firm on her waist. Startled, she stood frozen while his tongue parted her lips. She felt strange, light-headed, giddy. An excitement rose in her, a strange expectancy coupled with outrage at him because he dared to touch her, and at herself for not ending the uninvited embrace.
Posted July 8, 2011
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