This latest battle had taken a toll on him. He felt drained and needed to recoup and get some rest. Leaning back against a rock, he looked at the stars dotting the blackness. Moonlight brightened the landscape, producing an eerie glow.
His thoughts drifted to Annabelle. Was she back in Richmond waiting for word of her new fiancé? Their brief encounter assured him he no longer had feelings for her, but he worried that she'd revealed his identity to her husband-to-be. Since the captain hadn’t confronted him, though, he doubted she had.
Smoke from the fire drifted to him, stinging his eyes. He wiped his sleeve across his face. When he opened them, a soldier approached. He focused his vision and realized Katie strode toward him. She'd acquired a new slouch hat from her brother-in-law. The large, black hat concealed her red curls.
When she settled down cross-legged beside him, her mood seemed pensive. She watched him a moment before speaking.
"I found something that belongs to you."
His mouth went dry. Something was wrong. "What have you got?"
"I'm hating to have to say it, since I'd accused you of being a thief, but I stole something from you." She looked away.
"What could you...?" He racked his mind trying to figure out what she could have taken.
"I went through yer pack."
"In Patrick's tent?"
"No, weeks ago back at the cabin. I went through it to try to learn more about you when you were in the stable. I found a letter and took it but didn't have time to read it until now."
"It was a Federal dispatch. Yer a Yankee."
His chest tightened. No wonder he'd been unable to find the dispatch. She'd had it all along. "What do you intend to do?" He hoped she wouldn't discover his real motive. He could never harm her.
"You lied to me the whole time," she said, disbelief marring her delicate features.
He exhaled the breath he'd held. "I had no choice."
"If I'd known you to be a Yankee, I'd have shot you the first chance I got." Her eyes glittered in the light of the fire. "You touched me...pretended to care fer me. And all the while, you lied to me."
The raw hurt on her face broke his heart. He'd deceived her. He couldn't deny it. "What do you intend to do?" he asked again.
She shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry, Alex, but 'tis me duty to turn you in."
Confederate Rose available at The Wild Rose Press http://thewildrosepress.com/confederate-rose-p-3672.html?zenid=c2780c782c9e4f03b6975f07778c04
1st place historical category of First Coast Romance Writers 2010 Beacon Contest
for Published Authors!
2nd place historical category of 2010 New England Reader's Choice Bean Pot Award!
Read opening chapters and get links to reviews at my website www.susanmacatee.com