Reese Armstrong recently married Alexis, but he must leave her after a short honeymoon to continue fighting the Civil War with Sherman in Georgia.
Lexie’s heart breaks when he decides she’d be safer at his uncle’s plantation near New Orleans, and she must leave her beloved home. Trouble strikes in New Orleans and leaves her to wonder if she’s made the right decision. Will she ever see little Reese, her husband, or her beloved home again? http://www.amazon.com/Azalea-Plantation-Siege-Book-ebook/dp/B01CSOTHQS/
Reese took Lexie’s hand in his, and his heart skipped a beat. She melted his heart as he remembered the first day he met her in front of the Warren County Courthouse in downtown Vicksburg. She’d fallen into the dusty street weeping when she read of Luke’s death. He’d helped her up, and she’d captured his attention with the first glance from her vivid blue eyes. Though he was wary of women since he’d been jilted, he couldn’t stop his heart from falling for this one.
She smiled that ray-of-sunshine smile that’d make the sun envy her as she adjusted her skirts around her. “This is going to be such a delightful adventure. It’s been so long since I’ve been for a pleasure ride. I can’t even remember the last time. Thanks for suggesting it, darling.”
He glanced at Bill and Betty in the back and replied, “It’s going to be a nice day to spend with friends. We can pretend the war does not exist for just one day and enjoy the countryside. Thank God no cannons will be booming today.”
He slowly drove down the lane of live oaks. Azaleas between the trees bloomed glorious colors in the spring sunshine. The ladies chatted. Reese was content to just drive the buggy and listen to their happy voices as they took in the sights.
Homes and businesses damaged by shells were a sad sight, but they enjoyed the natural beauty of March in the South. He came to a beautifully wooded spot and pulled beneath a shady oak dripping in Spanish moss.
The men helped the two ladies climb down. Lexie grabbed the picnic basket. Reese and Bill wandered off through the woods a bit as she and Betty arranged a blanket on the ground and prepared the picnic offerings. Molly had packed sandwiches and fruit, but Reese had no leftover drumsticks to feast on today. She’d included sweet potato pone.
“Wow, look at this spread.” Bill grabbed a piece of the pone.”
Betty slapped his hand. “You’re supposed to save that for after lunch.”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Mom used to make this stuff for me when I was a kid. I can’t resist it.”
Reese grabbed a piece, too. “Me neither. Bill and I grew up together and enjoyed our mother’s potato pone more times than I can remember, and Molly makes it just as good if not better. Brings back memories.”
Lexie smiled and said, “I knew you’d enjoy that.”
“Yep, I could make lunch of this.” He grinned.
Reese finished his lunch and pulled Lexie up by her hand. “Let’s go explore and leave these two love birds some privacy.”
He pulled her along holding her hand in his. “Looked like Betty was still hungry.” He watched a slow flush rise across Lexie’s cheeks. “We’re old married folks, but I can still make you blush. I hope you’re still hungry, too.” He grinned and turned her into his arms.
Her lips met his, and Lexie showed him she was as she whispered in his ear, “Always for you, my love.”
Reese finally let her go, but kept her hand clutched tightly in his as he trailed a path through the woods. Suddenly, it came out upon the Mississippi River glorious in the shining sun.
“Oh Reese, it’s such a lovely spot.”
“Any place is beautiful as long as you’re in it with me.” He squeezed her hand in his as they stood for a moment taking in the muddy water. “You wouldn’t think anything so muddy could look so good, but if that old river could talk, oh what tales it’d tell.”
Lexie laughed. “It is so pretty with the sun smiling on it. Brings out the natural beauty God created.”
“Like you.” Reese pulled her to him and wrapped an arm around her shoulders before he turned her into his arms and let his forehead rest on hers. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
“I’m going to miss you just as much. Oh Reese, it’s going to be so hard waiting and worrying about you after what happened to Luke.”
“Darling, don’t worry about me. Pray and trust in God to bring me home where I belong. Remember, no doubts. He will give you what you pray for if you know in your heart your prayer will be answered.”
“That makes me feel like I didn’t do something right for Luke.”
“Oh honey, it wasn’t your fault. It was Luke’s time, but it’s not mine. To everything there is a season, just as the Good Book says. This is our season together, the spring of our lives.” He kissed her tenderly and just held her against him. If she only knew how hard this was going to be on him as well, but he had to be strong for her. “It’s going to be okay, Lexie. I will come home to you. That’s a promise, and I always keep my promises.”
She tried to smile, but her lips wouldn’t quite turn up as she whispered, “Luke promised, and he always kept his, too.”
Reese wrapped her tightly in his arms and held her against his body so closely that he could feel her heart beating. “He couldn’t help not keeping that one. It was God’s will, his time.”
“His season of life was so short. We were only married long enough for him to father little Reese, and he was gone. I couldn’t stand it if the same thing happened with you.”
He held her back and gazed deeply into her beautiful blue eyes. “It won’t. I won’t let it. This gator will crawl back home if he has to, but when those azaleas are blooming in the spring, watch for me. If I’m not home before, I’ll be coming home.”
“When the azaleas bloom?”
“Yes, darling. This old war should be well over by then, if not before. After all, the Union has the keys they said would end it, the Mississippi River and Vicksburg.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Of course I am. Have a little faith in me.” He grinned and twirled a finger through her hair.
Lexie slapped his hand away. “You’re making it fall. I’ll look like a loose woman.”
He laughed. “One of those fancy girls or women? Oh honey, you could never. You’re too much of a belle.”
“I’m sorry I slapped your hand away. I love it when we’re behind closed doors, but do you know how long it takes me to fix it this way? Molly’s deft fingers work much quicker than mine, but I had to learn to do it for myself. She is not my slave, and I won’t bother her. She does enough cooking for us.”
“I understand, sweetheart. I apologize for making my lady look less of a lady, but if you look at Betty’s hair when we get back, I think you’ll find that Bill has had his hands in it as well. It’ll probably be straying from the bun too.” He took her hand. “I guess we’d best be going. We’ve got a drive ahead of us to get back to the plantation before dark. Even though there is no longer fighting going on around here, I don’t want us to be on the road at night. It’s still not safe.”
He led the love of his life back through the woods. Reese was so content being enclosed in a world of green leaves and tree limbs. He felt free being with Lexie in the great outdoors. If only a war didn’t loom in his future, but it did.
They came out from the trail and found an empty blanket. Lexie laughed. “Looks like Betty and Bill took a walk of their own.”
“I hope they haven’t gone too far,” Reese muttered as he glanced around. We really do need to get going.”
A scream pierced the air, and Reese gently shoved Lexie to the blanket on the ground. “Stay put. Something has happened.”
He pulled a double action Starr Army revolver from his boot and ran toward the scream, leaving Lexie huddled on the blanket on the ground and hoping she’d stay there. The voice sounded like Betty’s, and he was afraid Lexie would follow him and run straight into whatever the problem was.
As he ran through the trees another scream pierced the stillness, and his heart pounded. He had to get there in time to save Betty, or Lexie would never forgive him. He’d never forgive himself. This outing had been his idea.
The screams continued piercing his heart as well as the peace of the quiet woods as he ran as fast as he could through the forest, and brambles scratched and clung to his clothes.
About the Author:
B. J. Robinson pens historical romance from her home in Florida as three dogs keep her company. She has five children and thirteen grandchildren. Visit her Amazon Author Page for a selection of books in various genres and to discover more historical romance. http://www.amazon.com/B.-J.-Robinson/e/B007DNJIKU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1458650137&sr=8-2-ent