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Love on the Run


by Barbara Donlon Bradley

A Portrait in Time by Barbara Donlon Bradley Everyone believes that Beth Boudreaux needs to get away. Her kidnapping by Beau Manning has her jumping at shadows and friends and family hope a change of scenery will help her move on. So when a telegram arrives from a sick aunt they urge her to visit.

Andrew Leroux can’t believe that Beau Manning has escaped. Now he has to warn everyone involved in his capture, which includes the lovely Miss Elizabeth Boudreaux. When he learns she has headed to her sick aunt he knows he has to go save her. Catching up to her is easy. Convincing her to go home isn’t. The headstrong Miss Boudreaux refuses and only leaves him one option. Kidnap her.

It doesn’t take him long to realize that the safest place for Beth is with Andrew. Now he has to keep her from escaping, protect her from Beau, and maybe make her fall in love with him.

 


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Release Date: November 13, 2018
Genre: Historical | Time Travel Romance


Excerpt

Chapter One

 

Southern Louisiana, 1878

 

Beth Boudreaux wandered around her parents’ home. Her father had headed to the general store, but she had begged off. She was tired of the questions and sad looks from their customers at what she had been through. Alexandra was the only one who didn’t do that to her, but she had been beside her when Beau Manning kidnapped them. That was a frightening experience. One she had trouble putting behind her. Perhaps it was time to go visit her friend.

She spoke to her mother, then headed to the Dalton plantation.

Alex met her on the front steps. “Beth! I wasn’t expecting you.”

“I know and I’m sorry, but everyone keeps asking me if I’m okay and giving me those big sad eyes.”

“Cow eyes,” said Alex. She gestured for Beth to come into the house. “I’ve been getting them too.”

“How do you stand it?”

“I have Trey to give them dirty looks when they step over the line.”

“I wish I had that.”

“What about Andrew? I thought you two were a bit of an item.” Alex brought her into the sitting room. She knew Fleurette would be in with something for them in a few moments.

“He did call on me a few times, but he’s been out of town recently.” She shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe there’s nothing there.”

“Now that doesn’t sound like you. You’ve never been one to give up like this.” She gave Fleurette a slight nod as she came in with a tray. “You can’t let what happened get to you.”

Fleurette set a small plate of cookies and some tea for the ladies to drink, then headed back to the kitchen.

“I’m trying not to.” She picked up her tea. “Mama has been giving me something to help me sleep.”

“Is it helping with the nightmares?”

“Yes. I haven’t had one in over two weeks.”

“Yet, you don’t feel like doing anything, do you?”

Beth shook her head. “What is wrong with me?”

“Nothing.” She looked up as Trey entered the room.

“Afternoon, ladies.” He bent down to give his wife a quick kiss. “Perhaps Beth should spend some time with us? Maybe a change of scenery will help.”

“Oh.” Beth shook her head. “I don’t want to intrude.”

“You don’t mind?” asked Alex, ignoring her comment. “You know I would love to have a little company. I’ve had my own demons to battle since Beau kidnapped us.”

“You have?” asked Beth. Alex’s comment surprised her.

“She jumps at every sound she doesn’t expect. It’s no fun to be hit in the face when all I want is a hug.” Trey leaned against the fireplace. “You might be good for each other.”

“I’ll need to make my parents aware.”

“I’ll send Jacob.”

* * *

Andrew stomped up to the door to his ancestral home. He wanted to spend more time with Beth, but his work the last few weeks had him running back and forth from New Orleans. He finally found someone who made him see that there was more to life than work and it was getting in the way. The door opened easily and he shook his head when he found it unlocked. Even though he practically begged his mother to lock her doors at night, she refused.

He found an envelope propped against his bottle of bourbon. The one place his mother was sure he would see it. He snorted. His mother knew him better than he thought.

 

You received a telegram while you were out.

Love you,

Momma

 

Andrew poured three fingers of bourbon into a glass and downed it.

He had just left the office this morning. What could be so important? He walked over to his desk and sat in his chair. Andrew poured more bourbon into his glass and opened the telegram, consuming the fiery liquid while he read.

 

Beaureguard Manning has escaped Stop Return immediately Stop

 

His gasp caused the alcohol to slip down the wrong pipe. Coughing and choking, he tried to clear his throat. Gulping in air, he fought to regain control of his breathing. Coughs still escaped after he finally could breathe again.

Quickly he scribbled a note for his mother, explaining he had to go back to New Orleans unexpectedly and would be back as soon as possible. Grabbing his coat, he dashed down the front porch steps into the humid night.

* * *

Beth wandered around the study at the Dalton plantation. She did feel better being with Alex and Trey, but she still didn’t feel like her old self. She feared this was the way she was going to feel the rest of her life.

The study door squeaking open brought her a reprieve from her tangled thoughts.

“Looks like we’re going to get company,” said Alex as she walked into the room. “Trey says it’s your mom. Jacob is escorting her in.”

Her heart jumped. Why was her mother coming? Had something happened to her father? “My mom?”

“I know, I was worried too, but Trey said she wasn’t racing here so he doesn’t think anything is wrong. Perhaps she just missed you.”

“Mama?” Beth had to grin. “She is far too busy to admit something like that.”

Fleurette came in and set down a large tray filled with fruit, cheeses, and small pastries that were Beth’s favorites. By the time she came back with drinks for everyone and had set the small table that Alex used when she worked on the ledgers Trey walked in with her mother.

“Elizabeth.” Her mother hugged her and kissed her cheek. “You got a telegram.”

“I did?” She looked at the envelope her mother pulled out of her reticule. “Who would send me a telegram?”

“Aunt Martha.”

That got her moving. She took the envelope and opened it. “You have already read this, haven’t you?”

“I’m sorry.” She pulled her bonnet from her head. “It came to the store and your father opened it before he read who it was to. She’s not feeling well and would like you to visit. We think you should go. It would give you a change of pace.”

“I don’t think I should leave right now.”

“Beth.” Alex took her hands and gave them a gentle squeeze so she could have her attention. “I think it would be good for you.”

“I—I don’t know.”

“Everything here reminds you of what happened. You need a break,” added Trey.

She sighed. They were right. Beth looked at Alex. “Will you be my chaperone?”

“I would love to, but I can’t.” She looked at Trey. “My students need me, so does Trey.”

Beth’s brow crinkled. How was she supposed to get to her aunt without a proper chaperone?

“How about we ask Aunt Rose? She has been worried about all of us and this will give her a chance to get away for a little while.”

“I think that will work,” said Beth’s mom.

* * *

Hoofbeats pounded along the dirt road. Birds screeched as they fluttered out of the way of the racing horse.

Andrew ignored the land as it flew by. How could he have been so stupid?

He knew Beau Manning better than anyone else did, and he should have been the one to escort him to trial. If he had, Beau wouldn’t have escaped, and now seven days later they lost any trail they had on him.

His horse skidded to a stop in front of the Dalton plantation. Andrew threw himself onto the porch, through the carved oak doors, into the house, and down the main hallway, shouting for Trey in the process.

“Trey! Where are you?” he bellowed.

“Andrew Leroux, stop your hollering! We’re in the study.” The soft, feminine voice caught his ears, and he spun around and headed in that direction.

He gripped the doorframe, fighting for breath as Alexandra and Trey Dalton stared at him.

“Not quite ready for the Olympics are you, Andrew?” Alexandra asked. She sat behind a small mahogany table, covered with several ledgers of different sizes.

Although he knew the ancient Greeks had held games called Olympics, he assumed she meant it as a joke when her lively green eyes filled with humor. Alexandra used some of the oddest phrases, but he actually thought they suited her.

Trey shot his wife a quick glare.

Alexandra smiled at Trey before shrugging her shoulders, causing her light green day dress to lift up and down.

Ignoring Andrew, Trey watched as the taut material molded against her.

She shot Trey a gleam of her own before nodding toward Andrew. Picking up her steel-nibbed pen, she proceeded to work on the numbers in the ledgers.

“What’s the matter, Andrew?” asked Trey.

Andrew still couldn’t speak, and dragging large gulps of air into his lungs caused him to choke instead.

“Perhaps a drink will help.” Trey crossed to the mahogany cabinet in one corner, pulled out some brandy and a crystal snifter, and poured two fingers full.

Andrew downed it in one swallow and hoped he wouldn’t start choking again. The fiery brew worked its way down, allowing him to catch his breath and calm his hammering heart. “Beau Manning has escaped,” he wheezed.

“Good God, how?” Trey set the decanter down a little too hard on Alexandra’s desk.

Andrew had never seen Trey’s face so white.

“Shit!”

Andrew stared at Alexandra, who was trying frantically to wipe up the ink she’d just spilled all over the blotter and the ledgers.

Her expletive went unnoticed as Trey knelt by his wife, gently rubbing his hand on her bare arm.

She placed her hand on top of his and tried to give him a smile. “I’m sorry, Trey. I didn’t mean to spill it. It’s just...”

“It’s all right, Alex.”

“No it’s not. Everything is such a mess now.”

“Alex.”

She looked up at her husband, love shining in her eyes, and something else, too—a touch of fear.

Andrew found his voice again. “Beau was being escorted to court in New Orleans seven days ago when the four guards surrounding him were attacked. Three were killed instantly, but the fourth lived long enough to tell us what happened.”

“Do you know where he’s run to?” Trey led his wife to the couch next to the unlit fireplace.

“We’re trying to pick up his trail, but right now, no. That’s why I came to warn you. He’s threatened to kill everyone involved with his capture.”

“You honestly think he’d try to come after us again, after what we did to him the last time?” asked Alexandra.

“Not right away. First, he’ll lick his wounds and hide out, but the longer he’s free, the greater the danger to you.”

“And you?”

“It comes with the job, Miss Alexandra.”

The frown on Alex’s face told him she didn’t like his answer.

“Will you stay for lunch, Andrew?” Trey eased himself away from his wife’s side and stood.

“Thank you, but no. I must warn Mr. Boudreaux and make sure Miss Elizabeth is safe.”

“Oh dear.”

“What?” Andrew looked at Alexandra, who had turned a pasty white.

“Well, Beth isn’t here right now.” She glanced up at her husband. “She’s gone to visit a sick aunt.”

Andrew stilled for a second. The thought of her being in danger sent a chill of cold dread down his spine. “When did she leave?”

“Yesterday.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll catch up with her in no time.”

“There is something you don’t know. Her aunt lives in Wichita, Kansas.”

 

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