Dark Chaos (# 4 in the Bregdan Chronicles Historical Fiction Romance Series)

BOOK: Dark Chaos (# 4 in the Bregdan Chronicles Historical Fiction Romance Series)
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Dark

Chaos

 

 

Book # 4 in The
Bregdan Chronicles

 

Sequel to Spring Will Come

 

 

 

Ginny Dye

 

 

A Voice
in the World Publishing
Bellingham, WA
www.AVoiceInTheWorld.com

 

 

 

 

Dark Chaos

 

Copyright
2010 by Ginny Dye
Published by A Voice In The World Publishing
Bellingham, WA  98229

 

www.BregdanChronicles.com
 

www.GinnyDye.com

www.AVoiceInTheWorld.com

 

 

All rights reserved.  No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the Publisher.

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Jean

 

My  friend, my partner in Together We Can Change The World, and my greatest

cheerleader.  I couldn’t do what I do without you!  Thank you!

 

A Note from the Author
 

There are times in the writing of history when we must use words we personally abhor.  The use of the word “nigger” in
Dark Chaos
is one of those times.  Though I hate the word, its use is necessary to reveal and to challenge the prejudices of the time in order to bring change and healing.  Stay with me until the end – I think you will agree. 

My great hope is that
Dark Chaos
will both entertain and challenge you.  I hope you will learn as much as I did during the months of research it took to write this book.  Though I now live in the Pacific Northwest, I grew up in the South and lived for eleven years in Richmond, VA.  I spent countless hours exploring the plantations that still line the banks of the James River and became fascinated by the history. 

But you know, it’s not the events that fascinate me so much – it’s the people.  That’s all history is, you know.  History is the story of people’s lives.  History reflects the consequences of their choice and actions – both good and bad.  History is what has given you the world you live in today – both good and bad. 

This truth is why I named this series The Bregdan Chronicles.  Bregdan is a Gaelic term for weaving:  Braiding.  Every life that has been lived until today is a part of the woven braid of life.  It takes every person’s story to create history.  Your life will help determine the course of history.  You may think you don’t have much of an impact.  You do.  Every action you take will reflect in someone else’s life.  Someone else’s decisions.  Someone else’s future.  Both good and bad.  That is the
Bregdan Principle
… 

Every life that has been lived until today is a part of the woven braid of life.  It takes every person’s story to create history.  Your life will help determine the course of history.  You may think you don’t have much of an impact.  You do.  Every action you take will reflect in someone else’s life.  Someone else’s decisions.  Someone els
e’s future.  Both good and bad.

My great hope as you read this book, and all that will follow, is that you will acknowledge the power you have, every day, to change the world around you by your decisions and actions.  Then I will know the research and writing were all worthwhile.

Oh, and I hope you enjoy every moment of it and learn to love the characters as much as I do!

I’m already being asked how many books will be in this series.  I guess that depends on how long I live!  My intention is to release two books a year, each covering one year of history – continuing to weave the lives of my characters into the times they lived.  I hate to end a good book as much as anyone – always feeling so sad that I have to leave the characters.  You shouldn’t have to be sad for a long time!

Five books are already written, but many more are on the way.  If you like what you read, you’ll want to make sure you’re on our mailing list at
www.AVoiceInTheWorld.com
.  I’ll let you know each time a new one comes out!

 

Sincerely,

Ginny Dye

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

             
The loud call of a mockingbird jolted Carrie Cromwell from a deep sleep.   Frowning, she struggled to push aside the thick gray fog swirling in her head.   A long breath helped to dissipate the lingering fear. The dream had held her tightly in its grasp.  
Robert... dead and mangled on the battlefield...
  She shuddered as the grim image threatened to pull her back in.   

             
Another shrill cry from the mockingbird made her heavy eyelids flutter open.  She sighed with relief when she saw the bright sunlight filtering through her tall windows.  It was a dream - just a dream.   She forced her eyes open wide and threw back the covers.  The terror of her nightmare loosened its grip as the glow of morning chased away the darkness.  She reached for her thick robe, wrapped it tightly around her slender form, and stepped to the window. 

             
April had glided into the South, setting Richmond, Virginia free from the harsh grasp of 1863’s brutal winter.  Finally the rivers flowed freely, and the trees were budding and beginning to bloom.  Apple and crab apple trees spread their glimmering pink and white blossoms over the hills of the city.  The morning air was chill and crisp, but the brilliant sun suspended above the soft green trees promised a warm day.

             
Carrie smiled softly, her green eyes shimmering with excitement, as the last remnant of her dream dissolved with the light and she remembered what day it was.  She had envisioned this day for so long - so often caught between a hope that wouldn’t die and a despair that wouldn’t diminish.  But it was here.  It was really here!  She and Robert Borden were to be married today.

             
A surge of wonder and delight coursed through her.  She held her arms wide and twirled around the room while she laughed at the wonder of it all.  Finally, out of breath, she collapsed on the window seat and rested her head against the sill.  Impulsively she pushed back and flung open the window.  The cool air rushing into the room invigorated her.  She knew she should shut the window to conserve all the heat possible in the war impoverished capital city, but today she wanted nothing between her and the world she loved so much.   Carrie pulled her robe tighter and turned her face toward the east, letting the sun wash her with its brilliance. 

             
Married!  She would be married...

             
The shriek of the mockingbird was so close this time it startled her.  Pulling back from the sill, she watched as its shadowy form hopped onto a branch then flew into a surrounding bush, only to give another sharp call.  Carrie frowned suddenly.  Was the bird trying to tell her something?  Were its persistent cries this morning a mocking of her happiness?  A warning it would be short-lived?   A reminder there was still a war going on and the return of spring was merely the signal for renewed fighting between the North and the South?

             
Carrie leaned against the sill once more and tried to push away the sudden heaviness threatening to invade her heart.  She scowled at the idea a silly bird could rob her of her earlier happiness.  Against all odds, after being missing for eight months, Robert had come home to her.  He had been seriously wounded in the Battle of Antietam but had miraculously survived.  Someday she would be able to thank the black family who had saved his life and helped to change his heart. 

             
“Good morning, Carrie.”

             
Carrie started as a cheerful voice rose to greet her.  She leaned farther out the window to grin at her best friend.  “What in the world are you doing back home, Janie?  I thought you had to work at the hospital today?”

             
“Dr. Wild took pity on me.  He knew it was driving me mad not to be here helping you get ready for the big event.”  Janie pushed aside her soft brown hair, her blue eyes sparkling in the sun.  “The truth is I just don’t want to miss out on one particle of happy doings in this town.  Heaven knows, there are few enough of them.  I like to get near happiness any time I can.”  She disappeared under the overhang of the porch.  “I’ll be right up.”

             
Carrie took one last breath of fresh air and reached up to shut the window.  Then she stopped.  The sun exploded onto the row of daffodils bordering the walk to her father’s house, and for just a moment, the beauty transported her back to the plantation.  Her eyes glistened with tears as she gazed east, suddenly able, in her heart, to see beyond the treetops and far down the river. 

             
“Cromwell Plantation would be a beautiful place for your wedding.”  Janie’s voice broke into her thoughts as she entered the room.

             
Carrie smiled, not turning from the window.  Her heart overflowed with gratefulness.  She could remember with startling clarity the day she had saved Janie from an attack by a drunken soldier.  They had been inseparable since then.  “How did you know what I was thinking?” 

             
Janie put a hand on her shoulder and shrugged.  “I’ve only been to your family’s plantation once, but its beauty, even in the winter, took my breath away.  I can only imagine how glorious it must be in the spring.  I know how much you love and miss it.  It would only make sense your heart would long for it now.”

             
“It almost feels like a physical ache,” Carrie admitted with a catch in her voice. “I have so much to be thankful for...”

             
“And yet there is so much to wish for,” Janie finished.

             
“I feel horribly selfish,” Carrie cried.  “I have Robert home safely.  I have you for my best friend.  My father is alive and well, thanks to his job with the government.  I have wonderful, fulfilling work at the hospital.  So many people are suffering so many horrible things.  I am nothing but an ingrate.”

             
“Nonsense,” Janie stated firmly.  “Yes, you have much to be thankful for.  You’ve also been through a trying eight months.  Robert has been home less than a week.”  She smoothed Carrie’s long, wavy black hair away from her face.  “You have a zest for life and a capacity for caring that not many people have.  This is one of the most special days of your life.  You are wishing you could share it with Rose, Moses, and Aunt Abby.  You must be thinking about your mother - wishing she had lived long enough to see it.”

             
Carrie whirled away from the window and grabbed Janie in a fierce hug.  “Only you would understand all the contradictory feelings raging inside me.  Thank you for making them seem all right.”

             
Janie returned her hug then pulled away.  “I’m going downstairs to take care of a few things.  Take as much time as you need.  Life has been a complete whirlwind since Robert returned.  You’ve had hardly any time to even feel the wonder of the last week.”

             
“Sometimes l long for my special place down by the river on the plantation,” Carrie mused.   “That’s where I would go when I needed time to think and process all that was going on.  You’re right.  I’ve had hardly any time to feel what has been happening.  I just seem to roll from one thing to the next.”

             
“Well, this is one thing you’re not going to roll through,” Janie replied firmly.  Everything at the hospital is running smoothly.   I don’t want you to come downstairs until you’ve had all the time you need alone.  Do you understand me?” she demanded.

             
“Yes, ma’am,” Carrie replied meekly, lowering her eyes.

             
Janie laughed loudly.  “And that may be the only show of submission any of us ever see!” 

             
Carrie laughed along with her then sobered.  “Getting married is a little scary,” she said then hesitated.

             
Janie waited quietly for a long moment.  “You’re scared of losing your dreams,” she said finally.

             
Carrie saw no reason to deny it.  As usual, her friend knew what she was thinking.  She simply nodded.  

             
“You love Robert.  He loves you.  By the time this war is over, all of our dreams will have been battered and thrown around.  All any of us will be able to do is work to put life back into them.  We can either do it alone, or, by the grace of God, with someone else.  You will have someone who loves and respects you.  You’re not giving up your dreams, Carrie.  You’re adding a husband who can help you make them come true.”

             
“You’re right,” Carrie said gratefully.

             
“But...,” Janie prompted.

             
“I didn’t say
but
,” Carrie protested.   Janie’s only reply was silence.  She turned to stare out the window.  “I love him so much,” she murmured.  “I know he supports my dream to be a doctor.  And I support his dream to be a farmer.  I guess I just don’t see how both those dreams can come true at the same time.”

             
Janie eased up beside her.  “You don’t always have to see the whole picture.”  She paused.  “Isn’t that what you always tell me?  That you wouldn’t have any reason to trust God if you could see the whole picture?”

             
Carrie nodded as the tightness in her heart began to ease.  “You’re right,” she admitted ruefully.  “It’s easy to say something.  It’s harder to live it.  You’d think after waiting eight months - wondering whether Robert was dead or alive - would have taught me something.”

             
“Or just made you so tired you’re looking for a reprieve,” Janie said dryly.

             
Carrie laughed loudly and spun away from the window, suddenly full of her earlier wonder.  “Thank you for giving me so much space to be human,” she cried. 

             
Janie watched her for a moment then evidently satisfied with what she saw, headed for the door.  “I’ll send May up with your breakfast.”

             
“No,” Carrie responded.  “I’ll be down in a few minutes.  Is my father still here?  I’d like to have some time with him this morning.”

             
“He was in the parlor when I came up.  He told me he was hoping the governor could do without him today.  Something about it not being every day his daughter gets married.”   Janie grinned impishly and closed the door.

             
It took Carrie only a few minutes to dress.  She gazed at the simple white gown hanging on the door of her wardrobe then reached for one of the few dresses not yet sacrificed to the cause of the Confederacy.  She didn’t miss her once huge wardrobe - it had always seemed an extravagant burden - but she wished she had more than her hospital garb today.  Pushing useless wishing aside, she slipped into a dark blue dress, quickly braided her rebellious hair, and pinned it firmly into a bun.  For just a moment, she allowed herself to imagine Robert unpinning it - smiling as he watched it tumble down her back. 

             
“Behave,” she scolded her image in the mirror.  “That is hardly proper thinking for a respectable Southern lady.”  Then she grinned.  She had never made any pretense of being a respectable Southern lady.  Why should she start now? 

             
Suddenly her mind flew back to the day she had met Robert.   Much to her mother’s dismay, she had almost been late for dinner, caught in a violent rainstorm while riding her gray Thoroughbred, Granite.  It had been Rose who had worked miracles and made sure she was dressed and ready for their guest.  The smile faded from her face, and her lips quivered as the ache for her closest friend filled her heart.  How long would they be separated by the war?   The days when Rose had been her slave seemed that they belonged to another life.   Now Rose, along with her husband Moses, was free.  The last Carrie knew, Rose was in Philadelphia, and Moses was serving as a Union spy.  The aching in her heart was accentuated by the agony of so much unknown.   Nothing but unanswerable questions. 

             
And memories.
  Carrie managed a smile as the gentle reminder resonated in her heart.   There were so many wonderful memories.  Memories she would hold and cherish for the rest of her life.  Memories of times and experiences that had created much of who she was as a person.  

             
“I hear I have a daughter who wants to have breakfast with me,” a strong voice boomed from the hallway.

             
Carrie leaped up, ran to the door, and flung the door open.  “I’m so glad you’re still home,” she said warmly.

             
“I told Governor Letcher he would just have to handle any crisis without me today,” Thomas Cromwell said sternly.  “Except when I was sick with smallpox this past winter, I haven’t missed a single day at the Capitol since this war started.”  His voice softened.  “I think my daughter getting married is ample reason.”  He wrapped his arm around her.  “In fact, I can’t think of a better reason.”

             
Carrie leaned against his strong body.   “I love you,” she said simply as she gazed into his handsome face framed by shining silver hair, a result of the last three years of stress.   The loss of his wife and the reality of war had aged him, yet it had also deepened him.  Their relationship, close from the time she had been just a child, had become even more cemented as they met life’s pressures together.

BOOK: Dark Chaos (# 4 in the Bregdan Chronicles Historical Fiction Romance Series)
13.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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