- Author: Lisa G. Riley & Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
- Genre:Historical, Multicultural
- Cover Artist: Christine M. Griffin
Despite the forces allied against her Grace Adams is determined to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad and also a doctor. She is Eshu, able to shift into any animal form at will, and she knows this ability will help her in her difficult missions. Then one tragic mistake alters the trajectory of her ambition. Grace has not only to demonstrate her ability as a conductor, but also to resist the sensual allure of her passion for Dr. Parker Quinn.
Parker is a stationmaster on the Railroad and resistant to the notion of a woman, especially his woman, engaging in such a dangerous undertaking. But her passion only makes him more determined to have Grace for his own, despite the scandal and the laws against miscegenation.
Although Grace loves him, she doesn’t want to marry. She knows the domineering Dr. Quinn will be even more restrictive than her father, but he won't be deterred. It will take all of their passion and determination to survive social scorn and legal challenges while they make both their goals come true.
- Note:This book contains explicit sexual content and graphic language.
Dr. Parker Quinn stared into the still darkness that surrounded his home. As always when he anticipated receiving cargo, he’d stayed up later than usual. Still, had he not known someone would be approaching his house at approximately this hour, he never would have seen the slim figure stealthily making his way from the trees that stood like sentinels in a row from the edge of his property to his barn. The huge harvest moon that lay low in the sky had been concealed by cloud cover for most of the evening. His visitor had been silhouetted against the barn by a brief break in the clouds. Parker knew he never would have seen him otherwise. He frowned. In the years he’d worked the Ripley line, he’d only had a few conductors, and he’d never worked with this particular conductor before.
Ordinarily he wouldn’t be all that bothered by the change. In fact he would’ve welcomed it. It was never a good idea to become too familiar with other members of their network, but right now both the Ripley and Gist lines were more than a bit unsettled. Two conductors and a stationmaster had been caught -- with cargo -- making it clear there was a traitor in their midst. Not the best time to have a new conductor show up. He shook his head. There was nothing for it now; he’d simply have to deal with the situation as it played out.
He continued to peer into the darkness, trying to discern how many passengers he’d have tonight. Eventually he saw them -- two men -- similar in height to the first one, but significantly larger in build. They weren’t nearly as good as blending into the shadows as their leader. Fortunately, Parker was fairly certain slave catchers weren’t watching him tonight. He’d deliberately let it be known that he was going up to Fayette County to tend to some cows with hoof-and-mouth disease. The disease outbreak was factual enough, and the farmer with the unfortunate cattle was a friend who would be happy to cover for him. Of course, if this was a trap, it was clear that his little deception hadn’t worked. Parker waited until all three of his visitors had slipped into his barn; then he picked up his specially shuttered lantern and stepped out into the darkness to meet his fate.
* * * * *
As Parker raised the shutters on his lantern, he looked around for the three men he’d seen slip into his barn. He had several horses in the barn, so there was no need to meet in darkness, but he was still grateful they were wily enough to conceal themselves. Then, almost like an apparition, their leader was there, reappearing from the shadows as though he’d been there the whole time. Parker was well over six feet tall, and the young man was only a few inches shorter. He stood ramrod straight though the oversized coat and loose-fitting trousers dwarfed both his height and scant weight. Parker sucked in a sharp breath. For a moment he’d thought...but no, it had to be a trick of the light. He looked again. It was hardly more than a boy.
A very pretty boy... Jesus, it was the young man he’d met at the Adams’s -- Joseph Adams, he believed. Parker scowled. He’d only met the youngest Adams son twice, and very briefly each time, but he hadn’t liked him. The boy had made him uncomfortable.
Parker pushed his fingers through his hair. It was a bad habit that only showed itself when he was nervous or frustrated. Realizing what he’d done, he brought his hand back down to his side. The other man’s skin was dark, a dusky pecan tone. The dim light washed out most colors but could not conceal the deep rose flush of his lips.
He squinted when Joseph shot him an impatient, fiercely angry look. Parker focused on his large brown eyes. Quickly, Parker looked away, only to feel embarrassment creep up his throat a second later as even he heard the loud gulp he’d involuntarily made. Embarrassment didn’t keep him from wondering what the hell the boy was angry about. The anger appeared to be directed solely at him.
“If you’re ready,” the boy said in a gruff voice that also expressed anger and impatience, “the cargo is in the last stall. They’re young and healthy, so other than a meal or two, I suspect they’ll be ready to move on to the next station.”
“Thank you...Joseph. Is that right?”
There was a long pause before the boy answered. “Yes, Joseph will do.”
Parker paused a few seconds, sure the boy had muttered something. It sounded like he’d said, “It will do as well as any other.”
“Sorry?” Parker queried.
The tone was bland. Evidently, I’ll get no more information, Parker thought. Exasperated, he shook his head. “Never mind. Is this your first job on the line? I haven’t worked with you before.”
Parker watched as Joseph stiffened, and then he noticed Joseph’s hands balling into fists. What did I do? he wondered. He continued to watch as Joseph clearly made an effort to calm down. The fists unfurled, balled again, unfurled, and then Parker heard more muttering. “Why are you counting to yourself?” he asked in surprise.
Joseph didn’t look at him. “I don’t know what you mean, sir,” he said to the floor, and Parker could tell that each word was said through clenched teeth. “As to your other question, I’ve been conducting for a while, but this is the first time I’ve been here. Another conductor got sick, so I took his place.”
Parker scowled again. He knew he’d heard numbers falling like weighted stones from the boy’s mouth. The counting had been slow and deliberate. He pushed his hand through his hair again but decided to let the issue go. Joseph’s answer about conducting had solved one mystery; now for the other. “Have I done something to offend you? Why do you resent me? I’m not imagining it,” he said before Joseph could deny it.
However, in the next few seconds, he learned that Joseph had no intention of entertaining any more of his questions. The young man took his leave, melting into the darkness in a way that left Parker perplexed. Parker turned to walk to the last stall, still feeling the effects of their odd encounter and finally admitting to himself why Joseph had always made him uncomfortable. There always seemed to be a strange tension in the air whenever they met.
Parker had never focused on that tension before because deep down he’d known what was causing it but hadn’t wanted to face it. But now he forced himself to do so. For some god-awful reason, he was sexually attracted to the younger man. A horrid despondence settled over him. He’d never felt that way about a man or boy before, no matter how pretty. He’d indulged in many perversions when he lived in London, but he’d never had any urgings to fuck another man. Still, that mouth...with its upper lip protruding ever so slightly over the lower one...well, it simply lent itself to visions of a particularly favorite act for which he usually paid. Parker shuddered as an instant wave of lust, followed quickly by self-disgust, surged through his body. “He’s no more than a boy, for Christ’s sake,” he muttered despairingly.
Just what in the hell is going on? “Must be all the work I’ve been doing. I just need a break.” He’d been very busy lately, and there’d been no time to pay a visit to the whorehouse over in Fayette County. Well now he’d be sure to make time. He needed to get his ashes hauled, and in a goddamned hurry. Clearly celibacy was having an odd effect on him. His newly discovered lust justified and his burden lifted, he continued on to the stall to meet his new passengers.
* * * * *
Grace Samura Adams moved stealthily through the forest toward town and her family’s home. “I can’t believe that man!” she muttered under her breath to a passing raccoon. “He just makes me so damned angry!”
The muttering continued unabated as she hopped agilely over a narrow stream and landed softly on the other side. “Stupid, damned jackass doctor.” She took advantage of the rare freedom that both her trousers and solitude allowed her. She swore, she jumped, she ran, and to her mind, just acted male.
“‘I’ve never worked with you before. Is this your first job on the line?’” She mimicked the deep tones of Quinn’s voice as she remembered their meeting in his barn. “Oooh! As if he didn’t know! It’s entirely his fault any damn way!” Just thinking about him made her see red, and she fought not to scream out her anger and frustration.
“How dare he! The pompous, self-righteous, know-it-all, blasted...blasted...ooh!” She stopped and kicked angrily at a small stone in her path as she realized how limited her vocabulary was when it came to swear words.
“How about ‘blasted insufferable, son-of-a-bitchin’, good-for-nothin’ animal doctor?’”
The amused voice was familiar, and Grace looked up to scowl at her brother. “Matthew Adams! What are you doing here? Are you checking up on me?” She sighed when he grinned sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders. When the only response she got from what her brothers teasingly called her death stare was “Guilty” and another shameless smile, she marched furiously toward him.
“Ooh, I could smack you!” she said with folded arms and an angry glare.
“Of course you couldn’t,” Matthew said with full confidence as he threw an arm around her shoulders. “You wouldn’t get any satisfaction from it, as I look nothing like your real target, good ole Dr. Quinn.”
Sighing again, Grace rested her head on his shoulder. “Oh Matthew.” She admitted to herself that she was glad he was there. She’d been in danger of falling into a vale of self-pity. That happened more than she’d liked lately, and it worried her. Recently, she’d been feeling such a huge sense of dissatisfaction with her life -- more so than usual. But Matthew never let her feel sorry for herself for long. Tall and lanky with a perpetual grin and lighthearted attitude, he was the one person she’d been comfortable talking to after their mother had died. That had been twelve years ago, and as the lone female in a house full of overprotective, domineering men, she still only really felt comfortable talking to Matthew about most everything.
“What did that mean Dr. Quinn do to our little Gracie this time?” Matthew asked as they began walking. “Let your big brother help you.”
She felt a reluctant smile spread across her face, and she punched him lightly before wrapping an arm around his waist and taking the hand hanging from her shoulder in hers. “You might think it’s amusing, Matt, but I don’t. The man irritates me so.”
“I already know that, little sister, but what exactly did he do?”
Grace sulked before answering. “You already know what he did. Does there need to be more?”
Matthew stopped and looked at her. “That old saw? Oh, Gracie, not that again! It’s over and done with. So Dr. Quinn refused to work with women on the line. He’s not the only one to do so.”
“Yes, but he’s the one who had Papa thinking I shouldn’t be allowed to work on the line.”
“But you are working on the line, Gracie.”
“I know I am, but only after weeks and weeks of persuading Papa that I would be fine. And he still looks askance at me when I ask to take a trip. It’s all that damned doctor’s fault.”
Matthew chuckled and started walking again, pulling Grace along with him. “Make that your last swear, all right? We’re almost out of the woods, and I don’t want you getting too comfortable using that kind of language. Papa would skin me alive if he knew I let you talk like that.”
“All right!” Grace said impatiently, knowing though he joked, he was perfectly serious, and that she had to listen to him. It was one of the many things she hated about being a woman in a world run by men: being treated like a child. “Can we stay on the topic please?”
“If you insist,” Matthew said with a reluctant shake of his head. “You and I both know that Papa would have his doubts about you working on the line even without Dr. Quinn. He had them before he even met the man! You’re lucky Papa consented to your wearing those trousers and hat and letting you do what you want. Not many fathers would. Did the doctor recognize you as a woman? Is that the problem?”
Grace sniffed, insulted. “Of course not.”
“Or is the real problem the fact that he did not realize you are a female?”
Grace heard the teasing note in his voice and ignored both it and his question. But privately, the question gave her pause. Was her vanity bruised because the handsome Dr. Quinn with his piercing gray eyes had not seen the female beneath the male clothing? She pushed the thought to the back of her mind. What was really bothering her was the way Dr. Quinn made her feel. Every time she was around him, something came over her. A tension invaded her body, only to manifest itself as a steady burn low in her stomach. This last time, she’d felt a certain heaviness in her woman’s parts. The longer she was around Parker Quinn and he’d looked at her with that intense gaze of his, as if he were studying every inch of her body, the more intense the heat had become.
Her instinct had been to crawl all over him, press herself against him and...and...bite him. She’d suddenly wanted to feel every inch of his body against hers. She hadn’t known what to do with that shocking thought, so she’d done the next best thing: she’d chosen to get angry at the unfair blow he’d unknowingly dealt her. Grace remembered Dr. Quinn’s steady, penetrating gaze on her and shivered both from excitement and shame, but even the shame couldn’t keep her from wondering when she’d see him again.
Copyright © Lisa G. Riley & Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
We Also Recommend...
Christmas at The Tin Star Ranch brings means a lot of things to Jamie and Ethan. It's a time of togetherness to celebrate the adversity they've overcome to be together. It's also a time of playful ...
A blacksmith has never seemed so sexy to the vampire Henri until he meets Nathan, the son of a dying friend. Nathan’s everything he isn’t. Impulsive and carefree, poetry in motion, and ...
Laurie’s best friend, Mike, is getting married. She should be happy for him. But she hates the bride.
She didn’t want to go the wedding at all. Now, with the rehearsal just ho...
Jewel. Ara. Maryam.
In a world where too few women exist and too many men want them, three women are about to receive the surprise of their lives because...every good boy deserves favor.<...