Loving a man damaged by war is a challenge, but Rowena was captivated from the first time she laid eyes on the man her sister was supposed to marry. Something about his haunted eyes captured her nurturing heart. When her sister runs off with an outlaw, Rowena finds herself building a life with this difficult man as she struggles to bring him peace while at the same time adjusting from an English convent to the ways of the U.S. West.
Blair Prescott fights his demons in whatever ways he can—the liquor bottle, wild rides through the night on his favorite horse, anger at anyone and everyone near him. Yet visions of his dead and dying comrades on the battlefield continue to terrorize him, and unexpected loud noises only increase his fears. No wonder he tries to warn Rowena to stay away from him, despite his certain attraction to her.
It took her a moment to reply. “I thought we were friends. Perhaps I misunderstood.”
For a full instant he almost capitulated, let down the barriers. Her natural beauty mesmerized him, mostly because she was not aware of it. She was right, they had become friends while her sister was busy betraying him. He closed his eyes and shuddered. “Yes, I am afraid you did misunderstand.”
Again the hurt expression, but she shook it off and replied in a firm voice. “Well, then, perhaps we could get past that misunderstanding. I am not asking you to bed me, sir, just accompany me so I can do something other than wander these empty halls. Besides, I don’t believe you like being alone. If you did you wouldn’t have to drink yourself into a stupor every night.”
The foxy minx. Bed her, indeed. That she would say such a thing shocked him. “It’s none of your business what I do.” He attempted to lunge out of the chair in her direction, stumbled, and fell to his hands and knees, his half-empty glass spraying whiskey as it rolled away.
“Goddamn it,” he said and tried to rise.
Uttering a small sound, she approached him, but he swatted her away. “Leave me be, woman. I do not need your help, or anyone else’s, for that matter.”
Through blurred vision he stared up at her, then rolled over on his back and let the welcome darkness blot out her worried features and the bloody soldier in the corner of the room.
Rowena gazed down at him for a long while, feeling the pity she had warned Marguerite against. “I’m sorry I bothered you. Have a nice night, there on the floor.”
He was out and didn’t hear, his face relaxed and peaceful. So beautiful in repose. She fought the urge to go to her knees and caress his cheeks, push the tousled hair from his brow, kiss him on those lush lips. She hurried out before she could burst into tears, found Simmons, and told him that his lordship needed him, then went to her room.