A Warrior For Christmas ~
I really enjoyed writing A Warrior For Christmas and hope you will equally enjoy reading it, amongst others, in this collection of American Historical holiday romances to warm your Christmas. An American Rose Christmas is available in print and digital download from The Wild Rose Press and other online booksellers.
Reclaimed by his wealthy uncle, former Shawnee captive Corwin Whitfield finds life with his adopted people at an end and reluctantly enters the social world of 1764. His one aim is to run back to the colonial frontier at his first opportunity––until he meets Uncle Randolph’s ward, Dimity Scott.
An estate outside Philadelphia
Blinking against wind-driven sleet, Corwin Whitfield followed the stout man through the front door of the massive stone house, far larger than he’d imagined. A dozen cabins or Indian lodges put together could fit inside and still leave ample room. With winter lashing at their heels, Uncle Randolph had pressed both man and beast hard to reach Whitfield Place before nightfall.
Icy pellets hit the door as his uncle shut the solid wooden barrier. Better than a skin flap, Corwin supposed. He was well accustomed to the wet and cold, but a fire would feel good. His gloved fingers were numb from riding over snowy roads all day, not to mention all the previous days. Puddles spread at his boots on the flagstone floor in the entryway.
By the light of the small glass lamp on the stand inside the door, he saw a woman in an apron, severe skirts and gray shawl. The cap engulfed her pinched face. Inclining her head and curtsying, she said, “How was your journey, sir?”
“Wretched, Mistress Stokes.” Uncle Randolph waved a gloved hand at Corwin. “My nephew.” He swiped a paw at her. “My housekeeper,” he added by way of introduction. “Fifth cousin of my late wife’s, or some such connection.”
“Indeed.” Mistress Stokes curtsied to Corwin. “Welcome to Whitfield Place.”
He considered the etiquette drilled into him by his uncle and offered a brief nod. A bow didn’t seem required. Uncle Randolph scowled. “Foul weather.”
She seemed unperturbed by his gruff manner. “Yes sir.”
“Bound to worsen. See to it the fires are built up.” Unbuttoning his brown caped coat, Uncle Randolph flung it onto the high-backed bench along one wall. He peeled off his gloves, tossing them and his tricorn onto the sodden heap.
Corwin did the same with his newly acquired garments. He couldn’t fault his uncle’s generosity, but the man had the temperament of an old he-bear.
Uncle Randolph ran thickened fingers over gray hair pulled back at his neck and tied with a black ribbon. “Where’s Miss Dimity keeping herself? Is she well?” Corwin detected a trace of anxiety in his tone.
The dour woman gave a nod. “Quite well, sir. She’s in the drawing room just after having her tea.”
“Good,” his uncle grunted. “Tell cook we’ll have our supper in there. Stew, pastries, and ale will serve. Don’t neglect the Madeira.”
Another curtsy and the housekeeper turned away to pad down a hall partly lit by sconces wrought of iron. His uncle frowned after her. “She’s a good body and keeps this place tidy but tends to be lax on the fires. We mustn’t risk Dimity taking ill. Delicate girl. Cold as a tomb in here.”
Corwin found Whitfield Place equally as welcoming as a grave. The chill was pervasive. A furlined wican would be warmer. He followed his uncle across the frigid entryway and through a wide double door. His relation paused just inside the spacious room and Corwin halted beside him.
“There she is,” Uncle Randolph said with the hint of a smile in his normally reluctant features. “My ward, Miss Dimity Scott. The little Quaker as I call her.”
Corwin thought it highly doubtful this staunch Anglican had taken in an actual Quaker. Looking past assorted tables, gilt-covered chairs and a gold couch, he spotted the feminine figure seated before the glowing hearth. A padded armchair the color of ripe berries hid much of her slender form. His first impression was of fair curls, like corn silk, piled on her head beneath a circle of lace; his second, that the young woman bent over her embroidery seemed oblivious of all else. One this unaware would never survive in the frontier. He’d been taught to move with the silence of a winged owl while observing all around him. “Why does she not look up at our coming?”
“Ah, well, that’s a matter I’ve been meaning to discuss with you.” The hesitancy in his uncle’s tone was unlike this man who knew his own mind and was swift to instruct others. He squinted at Corwin with his good eye; the other perpetually squinted from an injury he’d received in a duel. “I trust you’ll not hold it against the poor girl as a sign of weakness, my boy. Warriors sometimes do and you’ve kept company with those savages far too long.”
It wasn’t like his uncle to ramble, and Corwin shifted impatiently upon hearing his adopted people disparaged again. “What are you saying, Uncle?”
He rubbed his fingers over a chin grizzled with whiskers. “Dimity cannot hear us.”