Politician Logan Pierce visits Darrow Falls, Ohio, to enlist support for the Union cause. There, he meets the beautiful and strong-willed Jem Collins and insists she remain at home for news of her husband, Ben, after the Battle of Bull Run, but she ignores his advice. Jem knows something is wrong when Ben doesn’t send word he has survived the first major battle of the Civil War. Jem travels to Washington City with Logan to search for news of Ben and uses her nursing skills to care for the wounded. When Logan kisses her, she resolves to remain faithful to her vows of marriage, but can she? Hearing news Ben may be a prisoner, she leaves the federal capital for Richmond but doesn’t return. Can Logan wait, fearing for her fate, or does he risk capture and hanging as a spy by following into enemy territory?
The woman shouldn’t be allowed behind the reins of a horse. The backside of her crinoline skirt wiggled, and the long ties dangling from a large blue satin bow tied around her waist echoed the motion as she searched for the metal step on the side of the buggy. She stumbled and screamed.
Logan dropped his satchel and caught her around the waist. His hands nearly encircled the tightly drawn corset beneath the sheer cotton dress. Small blue flowers were scattered on the field of yellow fabric. He eased her to the ground.
Her oversized bonnet tied with a matching blue satin ribbon had fallen forward and covered her face, but her exposed hair was a subtle blending of bronze and copper in the sunlight. The colorful strands reminded Logan of fire, both beautiful and dangerous. Her hair was worn in an intricate knot of braids with yellow and blue ribbons woven among them, matching the colors in her dress.
Logan’s hands remained on her small waist. She trembled beneath his touch. Her crinoline was caught on the step she had missed before her tumble, and her skirt was hiked in the air. She struggled to free the bottom wire that formed a bell-shaped support for her skirt.
“Allow me.” Logan extended his arm around her. He glanced at the shapely legs in white stockings before plucking the hoop from the step.
She raised her bonnet and stared. “I don’t know you.” She had cool blue eyes with long dark lashes. A sharp contrast for a fiery redhead. Her pale skin blushed beneath his gaze.
“Logan Pierce. Rescuer of damsels in distress.” He removed his stove top hat and bowed before retrieving the satchel he had dropped in order to catch her.
She smoothed her skirt. “I meant you’re not from Darrow Falls. I know nearly everyone in town, and you’re a stranger.”
“I arrived on the train,” Logan said.
She stared at his dirty clothes. “In the livestock car?”
The woman was oblivious to her role in his dishevelment, but he was a diplomat. He changed his tone to astonishment. “Can you believe someone nearly ran me over in the middle of the street? A reckless driver behind a black gelding with three white stockings.” His hand brushed the dust from his clothes, allowing her time to comprehend his implication.
She looked at her horse, a perfect match for his description. “I didn’t see anyone in the street.”
“I was the fellow hugging the ground.” Logan put his hat on. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have business to take care of before someone else makes an attempt on my life.”
She followed him across the street. “I’m surprised you’re still alive with such a disagreeable nature.”
“People love me,” Logan defended. “You are the first person to try to kill me.”
“I’ve never harmed anyone. I simply didn’t see you in the street.”
He waved his hand in front of her eyes. “Are you blind?”