Jack Canon's American Destiny

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

LOCK READY #Excerpt by @JimRada #AmReading #Historical #Fiction

This excerpt introduces a romantic rival for David to Lock Ready. However, Ruth has her own secrets just as David does.

Ruth bent down to pick up her baskets. She was still having trouble holding both of them as overbalanced as they were. David picked up the baskets and held them.
“Well, thank you for your kindness, but that man is right. If you want to stay around Cumberland, you probably don’t want to be seen with me,” she said.
“Why are you so certain about that? You don’t seem like a desperado to me. Maybe it’s you who shouldn’t be seen with me.”
David could guarantee that if the truth about him ever came out. If she knew he was a former Confederate soldier, she would probably run away screaming for help from a Union soldier. Then Ruth said something that surprised him.
“I support the South.”
She stared at David waiting for a reaction from him.
David paused, probably for too long, but her comment had surprised him. Finally, he said, “Is that all?”
Her eyebrows lifted. “It’s enough in a town occupied by the Union Army. I’m watched all of the time because people know where my sympathies lie. The only reason the army or townspeople haven’t run me off is because I’m a woman and my family has lived in Cumberland since soon after it was founded.”
“Is your entire family in support of the South?”
Ruth shook her head and her blond curls bounced around. “Just me. They’re ashamed of me, but not enough to turn me out.”
David knew that feeling and worse because his father had been willing to turn his back on David when he decided he could no longer fight in this war.  David had been proud to serve Virginia at first. He had seen it as a way to prove himself to his father and perhaps find his place in the world.
But battle hadn’t been like David had imagined it would be. Even winning at Manassas hadn’t been without its costs. Men had died on both sides of the battle and they always would. David’s best friend, Ben Kyle, had been ripped apart by an artillery shell that nearly landed on top of him. All David had found of his friend afterwards had been Ben’s right arm, shoulder, and head. The rest of him had been unidentifiable.
Then David had been asked to spy on the North along with two other miserable representatives of Southern life. One had been killed trying to sabotage the canal and David had killed the other when he had tried to rape Elizabeth Fitzgerald. That was the final straw that had led to him abandoning the army.
His father hadn’t understood that. How could he? His father had never fought a battle. He had only grown up on the exploits of his father and grandfather, two men who had served with honor unlike David.
“I married a soldier who was killed at Gettysburg last summer. I had a brother who was killed there, too. Sometimes, I feel like my parents think I killed my brother. They don’t seem to remember that the same battle that cost them a son cost me my husband,” she said with a bit too much anger in her voice.
David was struck by a sense of guilt. He had given up everything to stay with the Fitzgeralds. His country and his family. True, he didn’t have much of a choice at first because he had been wounded at the time, but that had been two years ago. Since then, he had had plenty of opportunities to return. He hadn’t, though; because he had believed that the Fitzgeralds needed his help and that he might have a future with Alice.
He wasn’t with the Fitzgeralds now, though. He could return to Virginia if he wanted to, but the truth was he didn’t want to. He had abandoned his duty while men with Ruth Abercrombie’s husband and brother had fought and died to do theirs.
“I’m sorry,” David replied.
Ruth took a deep breath and gave David a small smile. “I am, too. We had only been married a few years. My family doesn’t like my decision to support the South, but they already lost one child and they don’t want to lose another one. So they tolerate their Southern daughter,” Ruth explained.
“You can’t be too horrible then if they still love you,” David suggested.
“Well, they’re the only ones who do love me.”
David didn’t know how to respond to that so he said, “Can I carry these baskets for you to wherever you’re going?”
Ruth stared at him for a few moments. “You don’t have to prove that you’re a gentleman to me.”
“I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m just trying to be of assistance.”
“Well then, thank you, as you can see I need the help.”

The Civil War split the United States and now it has split the Fitzgerald Family. Although George Fitzgerald has returned from the war, his sister Elizabeth Fitzgerald has chosen to remain in Washington to volunteer as a nurse. The ex-Confederate spy, David Windover, has given up on his dream of being with Alice Fitzgerald and is trying to move on with his life in Cumberland, Md. Alice and her sons continue to haul coal along the 184.5-mile-long C&O Canal. 

It is dangerous work, though, during war time because the canal runs along the Potomac River and between the North and South. Having had to endured death and loss already, Alice wonders whether remaining on the canal is worth the cost. She wants her family reunited and safe, but she can’t reconcile her feelings between David and her dead husband. 

Her adopted son, Tony, has his own questions that he is trying to answer. He wants to know who he is and if his birth mother ever loved him. As he tries to find out more about his birth mother and father, he stumbles onto a plan by Confederate sympathizers to sabotage the canal and burn dozens of canal boats. He enlists David’s help to try and disrupt the plot before it endangers his new family, but first they will have find out who is behind the plot.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with James Rada Jr. on Facebook & Twitter
Website jamesrada.com


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