July 17, 2008

Christmas in July

Sometimes the magic works as in the cover posted at the right. Sometimes, it doesn't, as in the back cover to the left. In reality the back cover is the same tan color as the front cover. The rope is the color of a normal rope, and the flames look as they do on the front cover. However, not all computers cooperate, even when my granddaughter is working her wizardry!


After being falsely convicted of murder, young Bostonian Ethan Adams is freed by his brother's daring rescue. The brothers pause their flight in St. Jo, MO, where, homesick and saddle sore, they plan their future. Changing their names, they barely knock the dust from their clothes before they become involved with a beautiful pair of sisters -- who have their own hidden danger. Living with their aunt, due to their father's impending insanity, the girls aid their conductor uncle on the Underground Railroad.

Will ETHAN'S FLIGHT garner them all a future, or will the danger drawing nigh and pre-Civil War strife tear their lives, and hearts, apart forever?


Boston 1853


“We’ll figure something out, Ethan. This isn’t over yet. Don’t give up hope.”

Smirking, the deputy took Ethan by the arm. “Back to jail, boy.” Swaggering, he led Ethan away.

Eric braced Joshua, afraid Father would collapse. “It’s not over yet, Father. There has to be some kind of appeal process, something. Father?”

Joshua looked at his oldest son as the verdict echoed in his mind. Eric’s resemblance to Ethan was uncanny. Except for the age difference, they could be twins. Joshua tried to focus on what Eric was saying to Elijah, Patricia, Peyton, and Edward.

“Elijah, get the surrey; Peyton, do you have your smelling salts? I think we might need them.” Eric organized the family, as he usually handled the seating at the rare times they could all be home.

“Pat, watch Edward—he looks too pale.” Turning his attention back to their father, he guided Joshua towards the door, since the older man couldn’t take his eyes off Ethan.

Patricia reached out her hand and touched her brother’s arm. “Edward?”

Edward closed his eyes and gasped for breath. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. Guilty! He endured a moment of such intense fear he almost fell to his knees. His baby brother was going to hang for something he hadn’t done.

Sightless eyes turned to his sister, and Edward pulled away from Pat. He stumbled a few steps towards the door, then felt her hand on his arm again. Unbidden, a full-blown plan thrust into his conscious mind. They won’t hang Ethan. Not if I can help it.

He staggered from the courtroom, not hearing any of the street sounds flowing about him. As he trudged down the Court House steps to the street, he was astounded to see life going on around him as if nothing momentous had occurred. One more time, Pat tried to drag his attention to her and the family boarding the surrey. But Edward jerked his arm free and ran down the street, frozen in mind and heart.

Pat gazed at Eric, tears trickling down her cheeks. “I lost Edward,” she whimpered.

Jaws clenched, Eric nodded, glancing at Joshua in concern. “I saw,” was his only comment. He helped his sister into the surrey, climbed in after her, and the family departed for home.

Edward’s intellect scrambled as the grief took over, leading him to his heart’s focus. As this wave of anguish receded, he found himself on the block where his brother was jailed.

Guilty! The verdict reverberated in his mind, drowning out all other sounds. The law-abiding citizen he had been bowed to the dark place in his soul, realizing his plan was Ethan’s only chance.

He stood still for a moment, dropped his head back, and stared up into the sky. He closed his eyes in torment, hands fisted at his sides; then his grief exploded in a despairing cry. “No-o-o-o-o-o-o.” Bit by bit, Edward’s senses returned to the world teaming around him. Bent double at his waist, he clutched his head in his hands. Wiping the tears from his face, he decided to act. Enough time had been wasted on the circus act they called a trial. Lumbering down the alley, he examined the jail from the rear, and pivoted on his heels, observing all the buildings in the vicinity. Spying one that appeared empty, he stepped over to it and peered through the spaces between the boards covering the broken windows. Other than refuse, the building was vacant. Edward unflinchingly made his plans and vowed to implement them.

Edward made his inflexible way home, watching for anything that could cause failure in his march toward his goal. He refused to dwell on the consequences should anything go wrong. He would leave nothing to chance. Trusting in the newly installed fire alarm system for the City of Boston, he hoped it really worked the way the newspaper had said it would.

Hours later, Edward went into Ethan’s room and gathered an extra pair of pants, two shirts, clean underwear and socks, hair brush and comb, and rain gear, wrapping it all up in the blanket from Ethan’s bed. He remade the bed so no one would notice what he’d done. He peeked into the hallway and noted absolute absence of activity. Then he sneaked down the back stairs and out to the stable behind the house, where he took down some saddlebags and stuffed all but the blanket and rain gear into one of the bags. The rain gear he rolled up in the blanket, and hid it and the bag behind the bin containing the animals’ oats. He went to his horse, and put his arms around Blaze’s neck. He leaned against it, praying for the strength to do what he had to do. After a long while, he re-turned to the kitchen.

The cook took one look at him, threw her apron over her head, and ran sobbing out of the room. Her two helpers turned, looked at Edward, and followed on her heels, wailing. Edward entered the pantry, gathered as much food as he could carry, two pewter plates and cups, two sets of knife, fork, and spoon, and a small pan. Wrapping everything in some towels, he returned to the stable, packed it into another saddlebag, and hid that one with the other. He next found a couple of canteens, filled them with water, and put them with the saddlebags.

He trudged back into the house and up to his room. Sitting on his bed, he contemplated what he was about to do. In the eyes of the law, it was wrong. But Ethan had been wrongly convicted of a crime. It was wrong for him to be executed for something he hadn’t done. The old adage “two wrongs don’t make a right” flitted through his mind. It didn’t matter; he could not stand aside while Ethan was hanged and the real killer went free. Edward took a deep breath, and at last gathered as much as he dared: his clothes, the daguerreotype of the family taken the year before at Eric’s wedding, his brush and comb, a bar of soap, and two towels. Wrapping them in his blanket, he remade the bed. Wanting desperately to take his books with him, he looked around his room, silently saying good-bye to everything he knew. He could tell no one, not even his father. At that thought, Edward sank to his knees and dropped his head into his hands. Once again, he gave way to his grief, only this time because he was losing his beloved father. He didn’t want to alert anyone to his plans as he garnered strength to do what only he could do. After hours of preparations, he was as ready as he would ever be.

Edward crept down the stairs, taking his last load to the stables. Once everything was secure, he ambled around to the front of the house, memorizing everything, saying a silent good-bye. Entering the house, he crossed to Joshua’s library door and faced his most difficult challenge. After saying good-bye to his father, the rest would be a piece of cake. As he knocked, the dinner bell rang.

“I won’t be eating tonight, Father,” Edward said quietly to the man staring out the window. Edward drank in the sight of his father, knowing it was the last time he would see him in person. Joshua was a very big man, standing six-and-a-half feet tall, with wide shoulders and a barrel chest. His long, well-muscled legs were braced slightly apart; one shirt-sleeved arm leaned against the window sill, straining the material across his bunched muscles, his hand fisted in anger, while his other long-fingered hand tightly gripped a whiskey glass. His dark hair, so like Ethan’s, hung in disarray on his forehead as if he had run his hands through it several times. His mouth was wide, lips thinned by the tight control he exercised over his emotions, strong jaw clenched, and a frown formed between his blue eyes. His straight nose pinched; then, taking a swig of the whiskey, Joshua acknowledged Edward wordlessly.

Grief and shock had aged him fifty years. Resentfully, he watched his wife march to the buggy. She had disowned Ethan, never stepping foot in the courtroom. She had made her plans for the evening. His plans for the evening didn’t include her. Or the party she was attending, alone. She will be doing a lot more alone, Joshua thought as he finished the whiskey. His broad shoulders sagged as if he carried the weight of the world on them. Gazing at his reflection in the window, he sighed, feeling as if he were a thousand years old.

Taking his first close look at Edward, he suddenly realized his son was sending him a silent message. He took a deep breath, his heart breaking. After pouring two glasses of whiskey, he walked to the wall safe. His shaking fingers were barely able to dial the combination—he knew his worst fears were about to be confirmed. As much as Joshua loved each one of his children, and as difficult as this whole mess was, to now be faced with losing not only his youngest son, but this, his favorite child, was a blow almost more than he could bear. But he had to be strong, for Ethan, for Pauline, for the rest of the family, and most of all, for Edward.

“Before you start working in the bank, you should see more of our expanding country. After all that has gone on, you should get away for a while. You have been a rock for your brother during this whole fiasco, and you haven’t had much time to prepare for the transition to adulthood.

“I don’t know if I ever told you, but my younger brother went exploring when we were young. Never regretted it, sent back a map of the areas he traveled.” Joshua gave Edward a hard look, sending a message of his own. “Moses loved it so much he never came back. You are a lot like him.”

Edward gaped at his father. Snapping his mouth shut and blinking, he realized the import of the information as it washed over him.

“In your travels, you are going to need money. I wish I could give you paper money, for it would make your journey easier. But the banking situation in this country is such that paper money is not easily exchanged when one gets too far from the bank that issues it. And I am sure you will eventually get outside the range of our bank.” Joshua flicked a glance at Edward.

“No doubt in time, Father,” Edward answered grimly. In a short time, he thought.

“That means you will need to use gold and silver coins, because letters of credit will simply not work for a variety of reasons.” Joshua paused to clear his throat and took a deep breath.

Yeah, safety and our lives being two of them, Edward thought with a fissure of fear running up his back. He only nodded to show his father that he followed the conversation.

“When I travel, I use this belt I had made to hold the coins. I wear it under my shirt, which keeps the money close, hidden, and silent.” Joshua handed Edward a belt with many little slots sewn all around it, just big enough to hold a coin. With a shadow of a smile, Joshua gave the age-old sign of a finger on his nose. “Traveling money, an investment in your future and my piece of mind. Put on the belt with the coin side against your skin.”

Edward took it, noting it was heavy, and looked at it curiously. One side of the belt was leather and smooth, almost flesh-colored. The other side was of a heavy denim, slotted, and filled with coins, but it would not be uncomfortable Edward remembered the family discussion on finding a way for customers to travel in safety. Pat had taken a great deal of pride in surprising Joshua with her original design for the belt. Edward remembered his “private” luncheon with Father being interrupted by her hunting them down to show Father confidentially, so Mother wouldn’t know and scorn such a “common” activity.

“Your shirt is loose enough so that no one will know you are wearing the belt. If the shirt gets wet, the belt won’t be noticeable. Here is a pouch with a few coins in it you can use as needed to buy immediate purchases. Then, when you are in a safe place, remove coins from the belt and put them in the pouch. It makes a journey much safer, and should a thief grab the pouch, you still have the majority of your money safe. Comes in handy when traveling with your moth…Paula for other reasons as well.” Joshua attempted a smile at his joke, but it went awry.

“One more thing. I don’t know how much time it will take you to get where you are going or to get settled into a new job, and a new life.” Joshua paused, despair almost undoing him. “I am giving you another belt for your traveling companion to wear. That way if something happens and you get separated, he’ll have some funds to get him started, or to a rendezvous point. I suggest you establish that plan of action as a backup, just in case.” Joshua handed Edward another belt, a little pouch that jingled with coins, and a folded bit of parchment, then closed the safe and spun the lock. “I have learned from my customers and personal experience, that you won’t seem so...interesting, if it doesn’t look like you are carrying very much money. If you understand what I mean.”

After strapping on the money belt and tucking his shirt back into his pants, Edward stuffed the pouches in his pocket without a word, for none came to his mind. Edward then looked at the paper in his hand and noted with surprise that it was a map of the State of New York and a large portion of the Province of Upper Canada, from Syracuse, across Lakes Erie and Ontario, Niagara Falls, Toronto, and over to Lake Huron and farther north. There was also a letter dated a year previously with an address in Toronto.

“I don’t know if Moses is still at that address or not, but it is a place for you to start.” Joshua could barely breathe against the pain of his next words. “Know this, Edward. I love you and Ethan from the tips of your toes to the hair on your head. As much as I hate to tell you this, it is very important that you listen to me and obey me implicitly in this regard. Absolutely, do not contact me at all. I will be aching to know that you both are all right, but you must not contact me. The law will never let this rest, and will be forever after me to find out where you are. If I do not know and if you never contact me, they cannot track you down. Know this as long as you live: I love you, Edward. I am proud you are my son. Tell Ethan I love him, and am proud he is also my son. Take good care of each other. Whatever you do and wherever you go, be very careful for the rest of your lives.”

Edward made a choking sound in his throat, but was incapable of forming any words.

Joshua coughed, then took a deep breath. He continued his instructions. “Whatever your plan, the instant you have him out of that jail, you boys get on your horses and ride! You don’t stop until those horses drop. Then you use this money to buy new ones, and you ride until they drop. When you get far enough away from here, you can begin to look for a place to settle and build your lives anew. It is wrong of me to encourage you to commit any crime, let alone what I think you have planned.” Joshua’s eyes misted over. Swallowing convulsively, he continued. “Ethan is innocent, God damn it! By the time those clowns in law enforcement figure it out, it will be too late. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but neither will three wrongs.”

Edward thrust his hands in his pockets as his heart fairly squeezed out of his chest. He looked at the floor, blinking rapidly to keep from wailing like the child he wanted to be. Joshua put both hands on Edward’s shoulders.

“Never believe I would reject you or Ethan the way Paula has. After risking your lives escaping, risking your lives again to contact me after you are safe would be disastrous. I don’t trust your moth—Paula’s sense of right or wrong. I will believe you are safe for my piece of mind. Just do me a favor and be safe.”

“I understand, Father.” Edward looked back at the floor. He noted that Joshua kept changing “your mother” to “Paula.” Edward knew she would disown him after this night’s work. He and Ethan would no longer exist in her eyes. Never would that happen in Joshua’s heart. Edward knew it without a shadow of a doubt. Well, disowning works both ways, Edward thought. I have no mother.

Forcing the words past the lump in his throat, Edward croaked, “Ethan feels you set the sun and moon. He will be crushed over this. He fears he has lost your respect and love.”

Joshua pulled his son into his arms as if he could hold the man-child in his library while at the same time reaching for the wrongly convicted child sitting alone in jail.

Tell him”—Joshua’s throat closed. When he could speak again, he continued, saying, “tell him I never believed he was guilty, and no one will ever change that. If I felt there was no hope, I wouldn’t allow you to place your life in danger. I would break Ethan out of jail myself and never look back.” Joshua’s arms closed convulsively as he fought with his con-science, choosing between his children.

He didn’t tell Edward of the problems he faced with his youngest child and the strange medical condition she was experiencing. Joshua had to help Pauline; there was no one else. He didn’t want to burden his two sons with another worry—he didn’t want them distracted on their flight for life. Edward could help Ethan. Joshua trusted Edward with his whole being. If Edward failed, three souls would be lost. Sighing deeply, Joshua gave Edward a final squeeze and forced his arms to release his sons. In his mind, he was holding both of them.

Handing Edward a glass of whiskey, Joshua quickly took a swig of his own. “In our partnership, if you can keep him alive, I can find a way to clear his name. As a parent, my heart cries out for justice for that poor little girl. Paying with Ethan’s life would not be justice; it would only make a bigger wrong.”

Joshua returned to his vigil at the window. “You should eat. The cook made her best dish, and you will need your strength.” Pretending he would see his son again in the morning was the only way Joshua could let Edward walk out of the room.

Nodding, Edward reached for the door. He was relieved that he wouldn’t have to fight his father over these plans. If Joshua had tried to stop him, he wouldn’t have succeeded. Edward couldn’t stand aside while Ethan was hanged and the real killer went free. Edward looked around, silently saying good-bye to his favorite room in the house.

He could hear murmuring as he walked towards the kitchen. Realizing the servants were saying a prayer, he silently added one of his own. Passing the formal dining room, he found what his father recommended on the stove. While Cook’s succulent lamb looked and smelled the same, it tasted like ashes as he choked down as much as he could.

Taking his father’s contribution, Edward quietly went out to the stables. Grabbing Ethan’s horse, Master, by the halter, Edward brought him eye to eye. “We don’t like each other, I accept that. But tonight we rescue Ethan, and a lot depends on you. So are you going to help, or am I picking another horse?” Edward released his hold on the halter and waited for a response.

After considering the other horses in the stable and giving a mighty sigh, Master nodded once and stamped his hoof, impatient to begin.

Grimacing, Edward nodded back. “That’s what I thought.”

Taking small comfort in the routine of saddling the horses, Edward went over his plan once more in his mind, searching for anything that might get them caught. Carefully checking all the straps one last time, Edward replaced the halter with the bridle in one smooth motion. Disdainfully, Master cooperated with Edward, taking a half-hearted nip at his hand when Edward positioned the bit. “I know that was difficult for you, Master, but I appreciate starting this adventure all fingers whole. I may have need of them later.”

Turning to his own horse, Blaze, Edward quickly finished with the switch from halter to bridle. He tied the saddlebags and rolled blankets containing the rain gear securely, and wrapped the leather strip of each canteen tightly around the saddle pommels. Grabbing a couple of feedbags for the horses and a currycomb and brush, he stuffed them into one of the bedrolls. Edward led the horses out of the stable, mounted Blaze, and rode sedately to the block near the jail. Once there, he secured both horses in a little shed, then proceeded to the empty building near the jailhouse.

Edward had planned with care, but now that the moment was here, he wished he hadn’t eaten so much. Listening intently, he realized from the lack of movement on the street that now was the time. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt or killed. Wiping his sweaty palms on his pants, he lifted the small keg of gunpowder and dribbled a trail to the door, returned the keg, and as he stepped out the door, bent and lit the fuse. The abandoned building would make the perfect distraction.

Grateful that he had already established a routine with the jailers, Edward strolled into the jailhouse, nodding to the jailer. Not quite able to look Edward in the eye, the guard grabbed the keys and shuffled down the long dark hall towards Ethan’s jail cell. On pins and needles waiting for the event, Edward walked next to the wall, his hand braced to keep him from falling. Suddenly, a huge explosion knocked the jailer to the floor. With a single blow to the jaw, Edward eliminated the final obstacle to his brother’s physical freedom.

Grabbing the keys, he ran over to the locked cell. Ethan’s pale face looked back at him. “I don’t suppose that building just decided to explode without any help from, oh let’s just guess here, YOU!”

Edward grabbed the jailer’s feet. “A little help here would be nice.”

Ethan rushed to assist. After locking the cell, Ethan turned to his brother and hugged him tight. “I love what you've done with the place.” Ethan tried a cheeky grin, but all that would work was the dimple.

“I don’t plan to wait for the reviews. Let’s get the hell outta here.” Running for the door, they cautiously looked outside. It was total chaos. The building burned furiously, and people ran in every direction. A bucket brigade was started, not to save the burning building, but to save the buildings around it. The boys ducked outside, Edward stopping only long enough to toss the keys in the rain barrel beside the door.

“I don’t plan to wait for the reviews. Let’s get the hell outta here.” Running for the door, they cautiously looked outside. It was total chaos. The building burned furiously, and people ran in every direction. A bucket brigade was started, not to save the burning building, but to save the buildings around it. The boys ducked outside, Edward stopping only long enough to toss the keys in the rain barrel beside the door.

“I know you want to give him his head and ride, but we need to be more circumspect. Make our way to the edge of town, and then we ride.” Edward looked at Ethan. Nodding his understanding, they made their way to the edge of town. Then, urging their horses to a canter and finally a gallop, they rode.

Edward pushed them hard for hours. He knew they were not being followed or chased. He didn’t want to make it easy for Hunnicutt to pick up their trail, so he avoided every town and grouping of buildings. When the horses could go no farther, they stopped near a stream to rest.

Ethan looked sheepishly at Edward. “You have done so much for me already, I hate to ask, but can you help me down? I kinda can’t feel my feet, or legs, or, er, anything else.”

Edward gave Ethan his first real smile in what seemed like years. After helping him dismount, they both collapsed to the ground. “Same graceful swan you have ever been, I see.” Edward took out the cheese and bread and gave some to Ethan.

Finally able to muster a cheeky grin, Ethan replied, “Honk, honk.”

“How about waddling over and helping with the horses?” Edward smiled back, unable to help the snicker when Ethan really did waddle over to help loosen the girth straps and water the horses. Edward kept a close eye on the horses and Ethan, making sure they stayed out of sight. It was such a peaceful setting. Trees to the edge of the stream. Leaves rustling in the breeze. Master looked at him disdainfully. Smirking back, Edward stretched. It was nice to walk around in the bright moonlight.

Ethan walked up to Edward. “I thought I would never see this kind of view again.” He looked at Edward from the corner of his eyes. “When you didn’t come to see me after the verdict was read, I thought…” He choked on his words and turned his face away.

“I would never leave you in that situation, Ethan. I could not. So I spent the day setting this all up.” Edward put his arm around his brother. “I didn’t think sending you an invitation to your escape would be proper, so I just dropped by. I took the chance that you wouldn’t be busy.”

“I would have sent for tea. You didn’t give me the chance to be a proper host.” Ethan fought to keep his tears under control. “Far be it for one of Paula Adams’ sons to do anything not proper.”

Edward winced at the harsh tone, but squeezed Ethan’s shoulder. “After all you have been through, I was afraid you would lose your sense of humor. Of course, you would have had to borrow mine, as you have in the past.” Edward smiled at Ethan. “However, we need to take a few minutes here and figure out what we are going to do.”

Ethan’s smile died as he realized just what his brother sacrificed for him. “You know you are now a wanted man, too.”

“Yes. I knew that before I even saddled Master.” Edward looked miserably at his brother. “There is more. Did you know that Father has a brother up north somewhere? Maybe around Toronto? I didn’t until tonight. I have a message from Father that is not going to be easy for you to hear. You better sit down.”

As the moon drifted above them, Edward told Ethan of their father’s words and feelings. As Edward expected, Ethan was crushed as the full impact of their situation fell in on him.

“Ethan, you are not alone. We have each other.” Edward forced himself to his feet. “We need to get back on the trail.”

Numbly, Ethan rose and moved in a daze. He began to sob. Edward pulled Ethan into his arms and held him until he stopped. Neither brother spoke as they worked together to pack up their supplies and get the horses ready to go again.

As they rode, it became apparent to Edward that Ethan wanted to tell him something that was very painful for him. Edward eased up on the pace and motioned for his brother to keep level with him. “I know this will be hard to understand, but you look like a man with a lot on his mind. I saw you try to speak a couple of times. Don’t hold back; I probably need to hear what you have to say.”

Ethan swallowed hard and blinked to keep the tears at bay. “I don’t really want to be a baby about this, but how can you handle giving up the horses we trained together? I have had Master since he knocked me over in the stables. I know in my head that we need to have fresh horses, but my heart…” Ethan couldn’t finish the thought out loud.

Ethan’s thoughts hit Edward like a kick in the chest. I shoulda left our two horses at home with Father. At least we would know they were well cared for. “I’m sorry, Ethan. I never thought about trading these horses for new ones. I was only considering how our horses would behave for us, under the circumstances. When we decide to stop, we will look around and see what we can find. I wish we could keep these horses, but we can’t risk it. Not only is speed of the essence right now, they are too easily identified, especially with us. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I didn’t think of everything, Ethan. I never thought about this part. You are thinking ahead of me, Brother Mine. I didn’t mean to make it harder for you or me.” Edward leaned forward to pat Blaze’s neck, tilting his head to place his face in a shadow so Ethan couldn’t see his distress.

Ethan stopped in the middle of the road. “Edward, I am not in a jail cell, and I am breathing fresh air without the prospect of returning to a confined area, if we are smart and alert. I am sorry to complain after all you have done and given up. We will do what is best and decide the rest when the situation arises.”

Edward halted when Ethan did. “You aren’t complaining, Ethan. You are explaining what you have on your heart and soul. You are entitled to your opinion, especially since I asked. I hope that we can find what we need in the next town. I really don’t want to run these fine animals into the ground. I want them to be able to recover.”

Nodding, Ethan sighed and said, “Lead on, 'mon Capitan'.” Urging the horses on, they knew what needed to be done next was almost as difficult as leaving the rest of their family behind.

Shortly after dawn, they came across a small town. They rode slowly until they located the stables. They tied the horses to the rail and entered, seeing a man tending to the horses. He looked up in surprise when they stepped inside.

“Hello, there. You boys are out and about early. Can I help you with something?”

Edward answered, “Yes, sir. We have two horses that are too tired to travel further. We have a family emergency, and we have to get there as fast as we can. Can we trade our horses for two of yours? I can pay some extra, if you want.”

“Well now, let’s take a look at the horses you have. Then we can talk business.”

Edward nodded, too worn out to worry about behaving normally. The man liked the horses and opined that after a few days’ care, they would be in fine condition. After finalizing the arrangements and transferring their trappings and saddlebags to the new horses, Edward asked, “Is there a place open this early where we could get some breakfast before we head out?”

“The hotel is open and serving breakfast now.” He pointed to the tallest building in town.

The brothers thanked him and walked to the hotel. Tying the reins of their new horses to the railing, they entered the hotel. After sitting at a table, they ordered a hearty breakfast and leaned back in their chairs. Very aware that their conversation not only could be overheard, but would be, since they were strangers in town, the brothers spoke of only commonplace subjects. They were exhausted, and found any conversation to be difficult. The food was placed before them, and they ate ravenously. It was delicious, and the first meal either of them had enjoyed since Ethan’s arrest. As they paid for their meals, Edward asked the man at the desk, “Where are we, and how far is it to Syracuse?”

"Well, young fella, you are in Scotland, Connecticut, and Syracuse is about, oh, I’d say, about three hundred miles, give or take a few.”

Edward closed his eyes and slumped, then straightened and thanked the man for the information. The boys went out, mounted their horses, and left town.


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great excerpt!!

Penelope West said...

Thanks, Stacey. We are very glad you liked it!

DawnM said...

Great excerpt. I love a man who can keep his sense of humour. Shame about having to leave the horses, it makes the excerpt more emotional, but it's that level of detail that lifts a book from the ordinary.

Victoria Trout said...

Thanks, Dawn. We tried to let people feel the full extent of emotion from dispair to hope, how everyone can't think of everything all the time.

As for humor, we try to find the humor in the worst situations, because we are not real big on crying. Not that you can prove it from our writing. LOL

Glad you liked it,

Ashley Kath-Bilsky said...

What a wonderful excerpt! Congratulations to a Romance dynamic duo writing team!
~ Ashley Kath-Bilsky

Penelope West said...

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment! It means a lot to hear such nice words from an accomplished writer such as yourself! Have a super day!

Penelope West said...

I appreciate the wonderful comments on our excerpt. This is chapter five in the book. By this time, Ethan and Edward are well established characters. So are Stephanie and Debora, although you didn't get a chance to meet them in this chapter. There is one other character that is exceedingly important to this story, as well as the sequel. He only has two chapters in this book, and Ethan and company do not know him at all.
And then there are a bunch of what are called secondary characters, but they are essential to the whole concept. I hope you are intrigued enough to find out about all of them, and the many trials that face our four young people in this first volume of the series.

blessedheart said...

Wonderful excerpt! I'd love to read this!

Rhonda :-)

Penelope West said...


Thank you. We're glad you enjoyed it. I'm not sure if we told you how to locate our book. You can go to Whiskey Creek Press and get either a print book or an e-book. Or you can go to our website and get a print book. We will sign it and mail it to you. We accept PayPal. www.troutandwestauthors.com
Go to the Buy Ethan's Flight page. I understand the book is also on Amazon in the Kindle format. I believe it is also on Fictionwise. So you have several options. We are in the process of getting it through corporate headquarters of Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books-A-Million.
Thanks for your comments.

Penelope West said...


Thank you. We're glad you enjoyed it. I'm not sure if we told you how to locate our book. You can go to Whiskey Creek Press and get either a print book or an e-book. Or you can go to our website and get a print book. We will sign it and mail it to you. We accept PayPal. www.troutandwestauthors.com
Go to the Buy Ethan's Flight page. I understand the book is also on Amazon in the Kindle format. I believe it is also on Fictionwise. So you have several options. We are in the process of getting it through corporate headquarters of Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books-A-Million.
Thanks for your comments.

Drea said...

Wow, that was great! Quite a taste we got there!!!

Zulmara said...

Great excerpt...love Eduard as a character...



Victoria Trout said...

Thanks for all the positive comments. I still get a little nervous when putting my "firstborn" or "first-published" out for feedback. Today has been a wonderful experience!

With deep gratitude,