Read Heaven Scent Online

Authors: SpursFanatic

Tags: #romance, #love, #drama, #mystery, #historical, #doctor, #mother, #story, #heroine, #historical romance, #boston, #texas ranger, #hero, #heaven, #scent, #1800s, #physician, #womens rights, #midwifery

Heaven Scent (9 page)

BOOK: Heaven Scent
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“Fair enough,” Henry finally said. “But
I trust this conversation will remain between us…”

Rafe gave him a curt nod.

“I am not a patient man, Sutherland. I
expect to hear from you soon.”

“Neither am I, Worthington. I expect to
do that trial run on your next shipment.”

 

######

 

“I told the crew to start
those repairs for
S2
.”

Stepping inside the study, Rafe stopped
short when Patrick’s troubled eyes met his from behind the desk.
Patrick blew out a breath.

“We have to do them…” Rafe said, hands
on hips.

“I know, I know.” Patrick ran his hands
down his face.

Something wasn’t right. They had
already discussed the repairs. Patrick had just wanted Rafe’s
confirmation on what had to be done.

Since he first returned home, Rafe’s
gut had told him something troubled Patrick. He had given his
brother space, thinking Patrick would come to him when he was
ready. Whatever bothered him caused Patrick to look more haggard
than Rafe had ever seen him.

“Worthington’s next shipment is ours,
by the way.” Rafe strode across the room and dropped into a guest
chair.

“Dare I hope it’s more than that trial
run you asked for?”

No, I‘ve only got to
convince his rich, perfect daughter to marry a grotesque, nearly
penniless shipper first
. “No, but we’ve got
him now. It’s just a matter of time.”

Patrick jumped up and strode to the
sidebar. He poured himself a shot of whiskey and downed it in one
gulp.

“A little early for that, isn’t
it?”

Patrick turned around and glared at
Rafe while he poured himself a double.

Hell. This couldn’t be good. “What’s
bothering you?”

Hesitating a moment, Patrick made his
way back to the desk and reached under it, to the secret
compartment. Popping open the drawer, he pulled out a sheet of
paper and handed it to Rafe. He held a post dated two weeks prior,
from a woman in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Who is this Emily and why is she
asking you for money?” Rafe knew better than to think Patrick would
go against his honor and get an unwed woman with child.

Patrick eyed him a moment before he
took a deep breath. “Father had another family.”

Stiffening, Rafe pulled his head back.
He had to have heard wrong. “What the hell are you talking
about?”

Patrick rubbed the creases
in his forehead. “Father had another family down in Atlanta - a
young wife and a three-year-old daughter. That’s what he did with
all of the money, Rafe. He sent it to his…
other
family.”

Rafe felt disoriented, as though a
cinder block had dropped on his head. Anger warred with disbelief,
the idea too incomprehensible to digest. Then again, he shouldn’t
be surprised. Rafe’s knowledge of his father’s womanizing had kept
them constantly at odds growing up.

“How do you know this?”

“When I was going through father’s
things after he died, I found a deed to a house in Atlanta.
Thinking I could sell it and use the money for working capital, I
traveled down there only to find our stepmother and stepsister
living there. Father had been dead for weeks and they’d had no
idea.”

Rafe turned away, dragging a hand down
his face. What was this madness? His father had another family? The
notion was inconceivable.

However, if anyone could believe it, it
was Rafe. But to marry someone else when he already had a
wife?...

Now, he could add bigamy to his
father’s long list of sins. Rafe gritted his teeth.

Patrick leaned back in his chair. “I
couldn’t toss them out, Rafe. They had nowhere to go. I gave them
what money I had, but hell, we’re in dire straits ourselves. I send
her what I can, but how can I let Mother do without?” Patrick shook
his head, his eyes downcast.

Rafe sighed aloud. Yes, their mother.
She had been through so much. How could Rafe risk the humiliation
she would surely face if she had to leave her home and life in the
Brahmin? How could he make Patrick suffer the same fate when he had
been carrying the load for so long?

“I assume Mother doesn’t know…” Rafe
said softly.

“Hell no,” Patrick replied. “And his
wife down in Atlanta doesn’t know about Mother, either. She thinks
our mother is dead.”

Rafe dropped his head back against his
shoulders and laughed bitterly. His gut ached like he’d eaten some
of Rosa’s chili.

He had an opportunity to solve all of
their problems. All he had to do was marry Tarin Worthington. But
to even contemplate marrying her without revealing his scars was
unthinkable. And to try to bed her knowing she would be sickened by
him was more than his pride could take.

In another place, another time, the
bargain would have been just as Worthington said – an offer no sane
man would refuse. However, sane was not something Rafe felt at the
moment. And he was no longer an ordinary man.

Cursing to himself, Rafe
stared at the ceiling. He had no choice. Regardless of what his
conscience told him, he had to do the impossible. For his family -
no
families
.

He had to marry Tarin.

 

Chapter 5

 

“You would not believe what my mother
told me this morning,” Kitty said, as she sat down at the petition
table outside of Templar Hall. “She said that midwifery school was
no place to meet a man.”

Tarin laughed as she scooted her chair
to make room for her friend. They sat awaiting the start of the
women’s seminar. Hopefully, they would gain more signatures
today.

“She told me that the only men I would
meet would be married men – and new fathers, to boot. She said if
any man was in love, it was a man with a child on the
way.”

“She does have a point,” Tarin said,
placing an anatomy journal on the petition to keep it from blowing
away.

The breezy sunshine was refreshing
after the abundance of rain they’d had in recent days. Tarin
wondered where the clear skies were yesterday, before she had
ruined another skirt sneaking into the seminar with
Rafe.

“I told her this school was not about
meeting men,” Kitty continued, as she adjusted the ribbon on her
bonnet. “It’s about taking a stand, self-fulfillment, helping
others.” She patted at the hair brushing her forehead. “Of course,
meeting a good man would be nice…”

Leaning an elbow on the table, Tarin
propped her head in her hand. “But unlikely.”

Kitty sighed as she squirmed in her
seat. “Too true. Why, I don’t think the good Lord above even makes
good men anymore.”

She stilled before elbowing Tarin.
“Perhaps, I spoke too soon…”

Glancing up, Tarin straightened as she
watched the Sutherland coach stop in front of the hall. Climbing
down from the seat, Rafe went around to the door of the polished,
mahogany cab. Isabel emerged from the interior, looking fresh and
beautiful in a periwinkle day dress and straw bonnet. Rafe grinned
down at her, his smile wide and endearing.

Tarin’s heart sped up, her nerves
jumping despite her will. Why did such a pompous, arrogant man
affect her so?

“Have you ever seen a man like that?”
Kitty quizzed. “His manner of dress is most improper.”

Tarin smiled to herself. It was not
that Rafe dressed improperly, really, for he wore clothing like any
other man. The absence of a cravat seemed a bit uncouth, but on
Rafe it suited him.

Tarin assumed what Kitty
found improper was Rafe’s physique. The wide shoulders and slim
hips were completely distracting in clothing that fit to
perfection. A lady could not walk past without at least one
very
un
ladylike
glance.

Once again, Tarin found herself staring
at his fine backside, despite her good manners. She cursed
herself.

“Why, it’s downright indecent,” Kitty
stated, as she tilted her head to the side.

“And his hair,” she continued, as Rafe
spoke with his mother. “Why it’s unfashionably long - and
unkempt.”

Kitty sighed. “Do you think he will
stop by the table?”

Tarin started in her
seat.
Heavens, no
.
She had spent the last several hours trying to forget that divine
kiss of his, and had made good progress. To subject herself to his
arrogant grin and fiendishly good looks would take her back to
square one.

“You’re terrible, Kitty,” Tarin
admonished. “What will you do – toss out your bonnet and say the
wind carried it?”

Kitty sat up in her seat. “Good idea.”
She patted Tarin on the arm.

“That is Rafe Sutherland and his
mother, Isabel.” Kitty’s social status did not allow her to be a
member of the Brahmin so Tarin filled her in on news of the high
society circle.

“The man Zachary Taylor deemed a
hero?”

Tarin nodded. “One and the
same.”

“How splendid,” Kitty added, clapping
her hands together. “I do hope he comes this way.” Squinting in his
direction, she added, “I’ve heard he has terrible
scars.”

“They are not so bad. He is handsome
despite them.” Squeezing her eyes shut, Tarin mentally kicked
herself as soon as the words left her mouth.

Kitty‘s head whipped around as though
her neck had been snapped. “Oh, really?” She stared at Tarin with
raised brows. “I had all but given up hope you even knew another
sex existed in our species.”

“Tease me if you must, but that man,”
Tarin lowered her voice to a whisper, “sneaked me into the men’s
seminar last night.”

Kitty nearly broke Tarin’s arm, she
gripped it so tight. “He did not!”

Tarin smiled. “He did.” All
that,
and
she got
a heavenly kiss in the bargain.

“You asked him to help you?”

Shaking her head, Tarin looked down at
her lap. “No, Kit, he followed me without my knowledge. He feared
for my safety.”

“And I can’t blame him,” she huffed. “I
have warned you about roaming the streets at night.”

Tarin glanced up from her lap when
Kitty loosened the grip on her arm.

“A man who cares enough for your safety
to follow you, then indulges your desire for access to the seminar,
must be a gem indeed.”

Tarin refused to acknowledge that
comment. It was easier to think Rafe Sutherland a cad.

“Look,” Kitty said under her breath,
“he sees you.”

Tarin glanced up to see Rafe staring at
them from across the way. His eyes searched her face as though he
gauged whether to approach.

Please, Lord, no.

“Don’t look, but here comes Mr.
Pensworthy,” Kitty whined.

Thank heavens for that
cantankerous, old chauvinist
.
Maybe now Rafe will go away
.

Kitty groaned. “Heavens above, I wish
that man would find something to do with his time besides aggravate
us every single day we are out here. Why I think he finds pleasure
in harassing us.”

“Good day, Mr. Pensworthy,” Tarin said,
with a bright smile.

The elderly gentleman leaned heavily on
his cane. “Good day, ladies.”

“How are you this fine day?” Tarin
asked politely, though she knew what came.

Pensworthy pointed his cane at the
petitions on the table. “Could be better if women remembered their
place.”

Tarin gritted her teeth. Kitty turned
away.

“Remembered their place?” Tarin feigned
confusion. The man was no different than most others in Boston. He
was just more vocal about it.

“Yes, this nonsense about man-midwifery
has gotten this city in an uproar,” he said, waving his arm. “A man
delivered me and my father before me. It’s the way things are
done.”

Tarin had heard the words numerous
times before, but they were no less frustrating than the
first.

“You do not feel it is inappropriate
for a man to be intimately involved with a woman in that
capacity?”

Frowning, Pensworthy leaned on the
table to stare down at her. “Little lady, there is nothing intimate
about child birth. It’s an ugly business.”

Tarin bit the inside of her cheek. “A
business that women must go through alone,” she responded calmly.
“Don’t you think it would make the difficult process more
comfortable for the mother to have a woman beside her?”

The man straightened to shuffle his
feet. He hesitated before saying, “Everyone knows women do not have
the strength and stamina to perform the duties of a
physician.”

“If strength is the issue, old man, it
sounds to me like you’re the one taking the beating.”

With a collective gasp, the three of
them turned to find Rafe and Isabel standing behind Mr. Pensworthy.
Though his grin was smug, Rafe’s eyes were black, fierce. He stood
with arms crossed over his chest, his legs apart. A deep breath
filled Tarin’s lungs before she exhaled, as though a great weight
had been lifted from her. She could not contain her
smile.

BOOK: Heaven Scent
5.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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