The Blacksmith’s Son
by Rebecca Thomas
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats Available In: Digital
Publication Date: November 25th 2013
Captain Quentin Drake returns home after his naval commission ends to find a groom being beaten in the village stables. He refuses to turn a blind eye to the lad's mistreatment and intervenes, taking the lad to his room. Only to discover the boy...is a woman.
After Ally Lockwood witnesses an earl committing murder, she fears for her life. She flees his estate and masquerades as a blacksmith’s male apprentice. Her ruse is up when a handsome stranger tending to her wounds disrobes her. Captain Drake lures Ally into believing she can return to life as a woman, but it may draw the killer back on her trail.
1835, Liverpool, England
Ally’s steps slowed and she glanced between buildings. Lightning flashed in the distance, temporarily rendering her blind against the black of night. She peered down the street, seeking any signs of movement. Carefully, she set the rifle down to tighten the belt holding up her trousers. She double-checked her cap, making sure no strands of hair fell loose.
After she was positive no one followed her, she picked up her rifle and crept along the stable’s back entrance. An ominous boom of thunder rumbled and a drizzle of rain spit across her cheeks. She paused, lingering in the shadows of the stable, waiting for any sign of people.
She leaned her shoulder against the door, gripping her rifle in one hand and a lantern in the other, and stepped inside. Wariness grazed her spine as she studied each hinged gate along the dirt walkway. Licking the rainwater from her lips, she gazed into the last stall on the right at the colt.
The young sorrel lay on his side, his body thrashing. Terror blazed in his dark brown eyes. He struggled to stand. His back leg was splinted and wrapped and unable to support his weight. Ally set the lantern down beside the colt with trembling hands. A wave of nausea overcame her. She clutched her stomach and willed her nerves to settle.
A spattering of rain sounded on the roof in a low steady hum. She pressed the cool base of the rifle stock against her cheek and hardened her resolve to do what must be done. The metal from the trigger burned into her finger. Gently, she placed the tip of the barrel against the colt’s temple. The colt’s dark eyes widened.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered in a raspy puff of breath.
She steadied her hold on the rifle.
The colt looked at her as though he understood, as though he’d already forgiven her.
“I can’t do it.” The rifle slipped from her hands. She fell to her knees and retched.
Defeated, she dropped her chin to her chest and cried. How could anyone let an animal suffer so? She had to take him out of his misery. She had to.
A loud crash at the front stable door jolted Ally from her despair. Footsteps followed the screech of gate hinges.
“You there, boy—” The man pointed a slim finger at her. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Her blood turned cold in a jolt of recognition. She knew that face: Harrison Cross, the Earl of Linford. “M—Milord, I was just attending to this colt.”
“You.” A murderous rage flashed in the depths of his ice blue eyes.
She knew those eyes and she prayed he didn’t recognize her.
About Rebecca Thomas:
Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska. She lives there with her husband and two teen-aged sons where she appreciates all the unique things the last frontier has to offer. When she isn’t reading, writing, or playing board games, she is cheering for her sons at their hockey games and tennis matches.