Samantha’s Secret by Betty Bolté
Series: A More Perfect Union
Book #: 3
Bio for Betty
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories that feature strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.
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In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal in the port city Charles Town, South Carolina.
Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Towne under British siege and the town's new doctor at war with its citizens.
Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn't need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.
Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear... including Trenton.
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1782
“I must say, I am glad this day is behind us and we can relax and enjoy the festivities.” Samantha McAlester sighed, trying but failing to release the tension building between her shoulders. As night descended upon the garden, she cringed as barks of laughter interspersed the hum of the party guests’ conversation, increasing in volume along with the flow of wine and ales. Before long, Trent would arrive, and then what would she do? How could she tolerate his presence after his disdain the last time?
“I find it hard to fathom the danger you and Amy faced.” Emily Sullivan tugged her shawl around her shoulders to ward off the late November chill and slowly shook her head. She swiveled to look at Samantha, her long skirts rustling with the movement. “If Benjamin hadn’t caught up with you, and then Walter hadn’t stepped in to sacrifice his own life to save all of us, I don’t know what we’d have done.”
“That’s all in the past, Em. Do not dwell on the matter.” The horrifying sound of gun shots around the manor house surely would echo in her mind in a similar manner as to other shots and shouts she’d experienced over the past several years. Walter had vowed to die defending his home, and he kept his word. Emily’s cousin, Evelyn, had lost her husband but gained her freedom from his overbearing nature. “No good can come from reliving this morning’s adventure. Let us close the book on those events.”
Emily shrugged and let her gaze drift over the garden before focusing on the dark-haired couple strolling away. “You’re probably right, but it’s hard to ignore the sobs from poor Evelyn up in your spare room. Besides, planning a double wedding with such sadness hanging in the air might be considered disrespectful. What do you think?”
“I think you and Amy have the right to marry your betrotheds. And moreover, this town needs the happy event after the terror and uncertainty we’ve endured under the British occupation.” Standing beneath the peaked roof of the white-washed gazebo, which was draped in dormant climbing rose vines, Samantha hesitated to follow two of her closest friends as they made their way toward the cluster of guests.
Emily’s white teeth flashed as she chuckled. “I never thought I could be as happy as I am in preparing to marry Frank.”
“The idea of holding the wedding at the end of the holidays is brilliant.” Samantha glanced at Emily, and couldn’t prevent a smile from easing onto her lips. “Everyone will already be in a festive mood and gathered in town to be with family and friends.”
Emily bobbed her head and then indicated the pair moving away from them. “They appear to be as besotted with each other as Frank and I.”
Amy Abernathy and Benjamin Hanson ambled away from her, arm in arm down the crushed seashell and pea gravel path toward tables laden with a variety of meats and sweets. So much had happened over the past year, month, even day, she couldn’t imagine what more awaited in the near future as the fight for America’s independence from British rule ended in victory. One thing remained certain: all the dueling and fighting, the anxiety and terror, her friends had endured since the beginning of October had been relegated to the past. As the Britons prepared to evacuate, she and her compatriots could all look to the future and plan for a better world. Mostly, in the event. Her heart sunk at the thought of Trent’s imminent arrival.
From where Samantha stood at the very back corner of the property, she could see over the heads of her guests as they wandered through the unusually large and diverse garden. Winding paths crisscrossed the area, providing easy access to the variety of flowers, vegetable and herbal plants, and bushes. Several tall oaks and cypress lent shade in the summer heat as well as ingredients for her simples and poultices. She drew in a deep breath of crisp fall air along with the sense of peace only this space evoked. As long as her parents owned the sizeable property, she’d be content with life.
They’d spent years designing and creating the perfect medicinal garden, containing every kind of beneficial plant that would grow in the hot and humid southern climate. Surely they’d never move. Not after all their hard work and expense. But with the tensions in town targeted at those who sympathized with the British, the future for her family remained unclear, like the harbor on a foggy morning. What if they were forced out by the British? Or someone else? The South Carolina government had initiated a list of known loyalists whose property was subject to confiscation as the British withdrew. Had her father’s loyalties become too flagrant in recent months? Unease fluttered in her stomach, and she pressed a hand to her waist, trying to quell the turmoil within. What would she do without her lovely garden and charming home? Indeed, without her loving yet stubborn parents?
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Thanks Betty for sharing,
Thanks Betty for sharing,