Tags: #romance, #love, #drama, #mystery, #historical, #doctor, #mother, #story, #heroine, #historical romance, #boston, #texas ranger, #hero, #heaven, #scent, #1800s, #physician, #womens rights, #midwifery
Rafe shook his head and laughed at his
brother. Patrick knew his logic made no sense. He believed it
because society dictated it, because his male pride did not want to
allow women their own place.
“Don’t go telling Worthington you think
its fine,” Patrick added. “He’s against his blue-blooded daughter
working for a living, but he tolerates it because he denies her
Dropping into one of the guest chairs,
Rafe stuck the cigar back in his mouth. “So, I take it you’ve tried
to get under her skirts?”
Frowning, Patrick shook his head. “You
can take the man out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the
man, can you?”
Rafe smiled and raised his
“If you mean, did I ask to court her,
yes -- me and every other man in the city. She won’t marry until
this college is established and she falls in love with a man who
will allow her a career.”
“Well, that’s obviously a lost cause
considering the Brahmin are a bunch of narrow-minded s.o.b.’s,”
Rafe said, eliciting a deep scowl from his brother.
Patrick pointed at Rafe, glass in hand.
“You talk big now, Tex, but wait until you see her. You’ll
understand what I’m talking about.”
Rafe could appreciate great beauty, but
to allow himself the luxury of a woman’s company for any length of
time would be just short of self-torture. And he’d had enough
torture to last him a lifetime.
No, tonight was strictly business.
That’s the way it had to be. God may have given him a
much-appreciated second chance, but He had taken the opportunity of
marriage out of the picture. Rafe didn’t want a wife that was
repelled by him, or children that would be frightened of his
Rafe would dedicate his life to helping
his family get this business back on its feet. He wanted to go
fishing, play cards at the club and take a walk in the park. He
planned to sleep the entire night through without worry of attack.
No more killing, no more blood, no more brutality.
And maybe, if he was really lucky, he’d
find a blind whore that would bed him now and then.
“Worthington is honorable?” Rafe asked,
trying to stretch the stiffness from his body.
“Yes,” Patrick replied, watching Rafe
move. “Are you well?”
“Dammit, Patrick,” Rafe cried, pulling
the cigar out of his mouth. “If you ask me that one more time, I'll
make your body look like mine.”
“Well hell, Rafe,
skinned alive by Indians.”
Although true, the words hurt his ears.
Rafe looked away. He would live with that reminder the rest of his
“The salve Dr. Kent gave me helps with
the tightness, but I still have a long way to go before I’m moving
around like I used to.” He shoved the cigar back into his mouth.
“Now, about Worthington…”
“He’s a tough businessman,” Patrick
continued. “We’ll have to impress the hell out of him.”
“And his daughter,” Rafe added with a
“You laugh,” Patrick declared, standing
to get himself another drink. “But you’ll act the blubbering fool.
Mark my words.”
The Sutherland home stood tall and
stately behind wrought-iron gates along Mount Vernon Street. The
Bulfinch Federal architecture was striking with its recessed brick
arches and Chinese fretwork balconies. The entrance, framed with a
small, square portico anchored with Greek ionic, fluted columns,
completed a statement of elegance.
Tarin smoothed the front of her emerald
satin dress as she waited for her father to exit the chaise. The
Sutherland home was one of the most beautiful in all of Boston. The
gas-lit lamps along the walk added an elegant, romantic air to its
“I’m glad you wore an evening dress,
even if it isn’t the one I asked you to wear,” her father said on a
sigh, as he extended his elbow and escorted Tarin to the door. “You
look stunning, daughter.”
Tarin smiled at the butler as they
crossed the threshold. “Spoken as an unbiased father.”
“Spoken as a father who knows what will
attract my future son-in-law.”
Tarin sighed inside. Her father had
promised, yet she knew deep down he just could not help himself. He
had but one goal in life and that was to see her married, and
But Tarin was not fool enough to think
her father only wanted her happiness. He presumed a husband was the
only chance he had of persuading her to give up the dream of
becoming a physician.
I swear child, you get
more beautiful every time I see you.”
Tarin smiled as she accepted a hug from
Isabel Sutherland. The woman was a gem herself, emanating class
from the crown of her fashionably styled mahogany hair, to the
scalloped hem of her rose, taffeta gown. She was a woman of prim
gentility, one that held the Brahmin within the palm of her
“Isabel, you are too kind,” Tarin said,
pulling away to hold Isabel’s hands in hers. “It’s been ages since
I have seen you.”
“Yes, I have spent the last several
weeks caring for Rafe,” she said, releasing her hands. “I have
missed all of the social events and have yet to attend one of your
seminars. I feel totally detached from the circle.” She leaned
close and whispered, “You will have to fill me in on all of the
Tarin smiled. Isabel always made her
feel so at ease. “Your son, he is doing well?” Henry asked, as he
removed his hat and handed it to the butler.
“Yes,” she replied, as she led Tarin
and Henry into the parlor amongst the other guests. An intimate
group of Brahmin elite were in attendance. “My son is nothing if
not a survivor.”
“I would presume that is what has
brought him home after ten years, Isabel,” Henry said, as he shook
“That and the luxury of hot baths,”
Patrick said with a grin. “He is enjoying them entirely too much –
we can’t get him out of the tub until the water is bitterly
“Obviously, I've arrived just in time
to defend my masculine pride.”
Tarin glanced over her shoulder to the
open doorway. She felt her mouth drop open and remain there. While
the rest of the room erupted in quiet applause, Tarin could do
nothing but struggle to breathe.
Rafe Sutherland was a big man, his well
over six-foot height easily making him the tallest in the room. His
strength announced him without a single word, his obvious arrogance
creating an immediate respect from those in attendance. Incredibly
handsome, his dark eyes competed with the black of his elegant
He had a commanding presence, one that
demanded her complete and utter attention. One that prevented Tarin
from taking her gaze from him as he moved to greet his
Isabel’s palm under her chin woke Tarin
from her reverie. The woman gracefully closed Tarin’s mouth and
pulled her into a brief embrace.
“Ladies do not stare, Tarin, and
although he denies it, he is self-conscious of his
Feeling the heat in her cheeks, Tarin
pulled away enough to meet their hostess's gaze. “Isabel, it was
not his scars that captured my attention.”
Isabel’s own gaping mouth and raised
eyebrows made Tarin laugh aloud.
She turned towards Rafe Sutherland now
standing no more than two feet away. Tarin suddenly felt
tongue-tied, her lungs heavy and desperate for air. She had not
felt so awkward since she was a child in her first etiquette
“I apologize for my tardiness,” he
said, as he joined their small circle. “I’m afraid my brother is
right, I can’t seem to get my fill of hot baths.”
His voice was deep and smooth. It
flowed over her skin like the warm, clear water of a babbling
brook. She shivered.
“Henry,” Isabel said, as she moved
between the two men, “May I present my son, Rafe. Rafe, Lord Henry
Worthington and his daughter, Tarin.”
Henry pumped Rafe’s outstretched hand
as though he expected water to spring forth. Her father knew how to
conduct himself with the highest of royalty, and tonight he acted
as though he were meeting Queen Victoria herself.
The next thing Tarin knew, Rafe’s dark,
mesmerizing eyes bored into hers. His gaze raked over her, ever so
slowly, taking his time as he blatantly perused her from the top of
her free-flowing hair to her green, satin slippers. She held her
breath, utterly helpless but to stand where she was and stare at
him mutely. The urge to check her clothing was overwhelming, her
dress suddenly too snug.
“I believe you missed a spot, sir,” she
said with an arched brow.
“Did I?” he asked with his own arched
brow, as he bowed to take her hand in his. “I’m usually very
thorough, Lady Worthington – especially in all things
His lips were soft against her fingers,
lingering a touch longer than propriety dictated.
“A part of your Ranger instruction, Mr.
Sutherland?” she asked, pulling her hand from his grasp. A tingle
remained where his lips had touched her skin.
His grin grew devilish. “Nothing so
official – merely an old habit I’ve had no desire to
Tarin bit her cheek. The man was an
“Yes, well…” Patrick said, clearing his
throat as Isabel took Tarin by the elbow.
“Come, Tarin,” she said, guiding her
away. “Lillian and Margaret were just about to fill me in on the
With reluctant steps, Tarin allowed
herself to be led away from the men and what was sure to be the
only excitement of the evening. Once she moved away from Rafe’s
presence, she felt more herself. Like she had been splashed in the
face and woke from the shock. Tarin took a seat beside Isabel on
the blue velvet settee.
“Isabel,” Lillian Evans said, “Rafe is
adjusting to civilized society well. He acts as though he never
Isabel glanced over at Rafe standing
amongst the men across the parlor. “He has recovered remarkably
well,” she commented with a frown.
“He always was so popular with the
young ladies,” Olivia Alexander added with a sly glance at Tarin.
“Why every girl in Boston was attracted to him. They were all just
heartbroken when he left.”
And here sat Tarin, just one of many.
The idea rankled.
“I don’t believe that changed down in
Texas either,” Isabel announced with a chuckle. “I found a perfumed
sash amongst his belongings.”
Lillian sat up in her chair, her
notorious penchant for gossip clearly piqued. She leaned forward
and placed her hand beside her mouth. “Oh, does he have a special
lady back in Texas?”
To Tarin’s dismay, she was suddenly
interested in the petty gossip, too.
“Not that he has mentioned,” Isabel
replied. “But you never know with Rafe. He has never been one to
talk of his personal life.”
Probably because he knew his mother’s
ears would burn. His ability to maneuver innocent young girls in
and out of dark gardens without notice undoubtedly aided his
nocturnal war strategy, Tarin mused.
“I am sure he will soon find a nice
young girl who will overlook his scars,” Olivia declared over the
top of her wineglass, “after all, he is from a good Brahmin
What a narrow-minded wretch. Tarin knew
Isabel would not upset her soiree by standing up for her son. All
Brahmin women had been taught to bite their tongues, then vent
after all of the guests were gone.
Lucky for Tarin, she was not a Brahmin
first - she was British nobility.
“I think his scars lend a mysterious…
dangerous air,” she said, leaning forward as if in confidence. “How
many men in Boston can boast of surviving Indians? It’s most
exciting, don’t you agree?”
Tarin sat back on the settee, her back
ridged in irritation. Isabel placed her hand over Tarin’s and
squeezed, as Lillian and Olivia studied Rafe across the
“Yes, it is rather exciting,” Lillian
said distractedly before turning her attention back to Isabel and
Tarin. “He will find himself even more popular than before, I
A part of Tarin wondered if she had
just done herself a disservice while standing up for Isabel and her
son. Then again, now was not the time to finally admit interest in
a man – especially one in which her father approved. She would find
no peace from him then, and fight an unwanted distraction on her
path to becoming a physician. Besides, who’s to say Rafe would feel
any differently about her career than all of the other men in
As the butler announced the evening
meal, the ladies rose. A sudden anticipation swirled in her
stomach. Tarin wondered if Rafe would offer to escort her to dinner
as the only available woman in the room?
Was his arm as hard and strong as it
appeared? Did he carry the scent of pine, or was his soap tinged
As if she were not even in the room,
Rafe walked right past Tarin and offered his arm to Isabel. Tarin
felt as though a cannonball had landed in her stomach. While she
respected a man who respected his mother, his total lack of regard
touched a green facet in Tarin she never knew existed.