Violet Fire

Violet Fire by Brenda Joyce

Book: Violet Fire by Brenda Joyce Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brenda Joyce
referring to night riders and such?”
    She wiped her eyes. “If you hurt Allen…” she warned.
    Rathe was so furious at the slur that he momentarily couldn’t speak. Then his tongue loosened. “What happened, Grace?” he commanded.
    â€œThey threatened him. They told him to go home—back North. They cut him with a crop.”
    Rathe was grim. “Kennedy should know better than to be encouraging the Negroes to vote this fall.”
    â€œThey have every right to vote,” she said, her eyes blazing. “Oh, I’m too tired to fight anymore!” She turned and ran out.
    Rathe wasn’t sure whom he felt like strangling—her or Kennedy. The latter, he decided, for jeopardizing her. Kennedy was a fool. If he was preaching to the Negroes about their rights and encouraging them to vote Republican, he should at least be discreet about it. As for Grace-she thought he was one of the night riders.
    He decided strangling was too good for her.

Chapter 7
    On the following Wednesday, Grace spent the whole day excited over the prospect of the meeting planned for that night. Lessons seemed endless, and Grace had trouble concentrating on her pupils; instead, she was planning the best approach for winning as many ladies as she could to the cause of women’s suffrage. As soon as Mary Louise and Margaret Anne were sent to their rooms to wash and change for supper, Grace went flying down the stairs and out the door, clutching her reticule and a sheath of pamphlets. On the veranda she ran smack into a very familiar wall of male muscle—Rathe.
    â€œAre you all right?” he drawled, chuckling, his hands on her arms, holding her so close their bodies touched.
    Grace wrenched backward. He reluctantly let her go. The pamphlets were scattered all over the porch, and she dropped to her knees to begin gathering them. Her face flamed. Worse, her traitorous heart was slamming madly around in her chest.
    â€œHere, let me help,” Rathe said, kneeling beside her. “Where are you off to in such a rush? Or did you see me coming up the drive?” he teased.
    â€œHmph,” Grace said. She made the mistake of looking up at him.
    His bright blue eyes were trained steadily upon her, and when she met his gaze, everything seemed to stop. For a long moment, she was unable to tear her glance away. He squatted inches from her. There were flecks of gold in hisirises. His lashes were short but thick and the darkest of browns. Laugh lines fanned from the corners of his eyes. As she stared, she watched the amusement in his eyes fade, while something else flared. The blue visibly brightened, growing hotter, darker. The look was so unmistakable that Grace was shaken right out of her trance; she reached wildly for the papers nearest her hand, looking down, anywhere but at him.
    His hand clamped over hers, stilling it.
    She froze again. She could hear her own breathing, feel her own careening heart. Damn, she thought, damn. She was aware of his hand, large and hard and calloused, of his knees, inches from her breast. The breeches clinging obscenely to powerful thighs, strained from squatting. Grace’s glance wandered upward, settling unavoidably on the soft, conspicuous bulge of his crotch. The instant she was aware of where she was looking, she jerked away, standing. Immediately, he was on his feet too.
    â€œCalm down,” he murmured. “Relax, Gracie.”
    She would not, absolutely would not, meet his gaze again. “I’m late,” she said, feeling utter confusion. With new resolve she began gathering the pamphlets. What was wrong with her?
    â€œAnd where are you off to?” Rathe asked, helping her. Then he glanced at the title of the paper in his hand, Elizabeth Cady Stanton Speaks on Divorce , and laughed. She snatched the pamphlet back, glaring. He reached out and chucked her chin.
    She drew back, shoving everything under her arm and huffed past him.
    â€œYou

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