Liberty Hill (Western Tide Series)

Liberty Hill (Western Tide Series) by Sonja Heisinger Read Free Book Online

Book: Liberty Hill (Western Tide Series) by Sonja Heisinger Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sonja Heisinger
crackled loudly. Evelyn had not looked at Lucius once since the ceremony that afternoon, and although her malice was almost tangible, he could hardly take his eyes off of her.
    “Indeed, Miss Brennan, you are very pretty when you’re angry.”
    “Then it’s fortunate I am always angry.”
    “With me, yes? Yet you barely know me. What have I done to merit such constant scorn?”
    “We have known each other all our lives, Lucius.”
    “You know nothing about me, Evelyn.”
    “I know enough to know that to know more would be to know too much.”
    “You think me so low and worthless?”
    “I think you are the last human being on earth I should like to befriend.”
    “I never asked you to enjoy my company.”
    “No, yet I am bound to you nonetheless.”
    “And I to you.” He raised his left hand, his ring catching the light of the fire. “These shackles are equally distributed.”
    “Your complacency had me fooled. I thought you pleased to acquire a new slave.”
    “On the contrary, it would please me to be free.”
    “Then alas, we have one thing in common.”
    “Alas.”
    They were silent a moment. Evelyn’s eyes closed and she appeared to be drifting into sleep when Lucius roused her.
    “We needn’t be married,” he said. “We can come to some other agreement, I’m sure.”
    Evelyn’s eyes snapped open.
    “What are you talking about?”
    He slipped the ring from his finger.
    “No one need know. Tomorrow marks the beginning of our new lives. Perhaps you are my servant.”
    Evelyn looked displeased.
    “Perhaps you are my guardian ,” she countered.
    “I shall not fan you on hot days,” Lucius replied.
    “And I shall not launder your clothes.”
    Now Lucius looked unhappy.
    “Look here, Miss Brennan” he said. “Let us help one another. As your dowry is paying for this expedition-”
    “A fact of which I am most displeased!”
    “You are helping me fulfill my wildest dreams! I am entirely indebted to you. If you will assist me on the gold fields by washing my clothes and making my meals and-”
    “Proceed, Lucius.”
    “I will pay you back entirely! In addition, I shall purchase your passage back to Ireland and send a living allowance periodically.”
    He had planned on this all along, but Evelyn need not know that.
    “You are awfully confident in your scheme to become wealthy,” she said, eyeing him suspiciously. “Where will you be when I am restored to Brennan House?”
    Lucius adopted a dream-like countenance that reminded Evelyn of when he was a boy.
    “I think I shall like California,” he mused. “In a year’s time I shall be satisfied with my store of gold and move to San Francisco, where I shall commodore my own ship and build a nautical empire to put my father’s to shame. If you can wait that long, I shall escort you to Ireland myself and name the first ship I purchase after you, in gratitude for all you have done for me.”
    A grin tugged at the corners of Evelyn’s mouth.
    “I suppose it sounds grand,” she said, “but you needn’t name your ship after me.”
    Lucius jumped from his seat, his excitement apparent.
    “Then we have an accord?”
    Evelyn held up her hand as if to stop him. Then she caught sight of her own ring and removed it.
    “I am not your wife,” she told him. “From this day forward, I am your equal. Not your slave, not your servant, not your inferior. I am not your sister, nor your friend. I am simply your charge and you are my guardian. I am going to the gold fields by sea to meet my cousin and his wife, who are traveling by wagon on the Oregon Trail. Do you understand? This is the story and we are not to veer from it. That is my condition.”
    Lucius stared at her a moment, his eyes lingering on the exquisite fabrics which enclosed her body.
    “Meeting a cousin, hm?” he asked. “Dressed like that?”
    Evelyn followed his gaze. Her wardrobe had been altered to reflect her status as a married woman. The girlish pastels had been replaced

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