He’s a Marshall, sworn to protect and uphold the law. She’s the daughter of a violent and dangerous thief. Paige longs for freedom and a life with no pain or fear. U.S. Marshall Nash Houston tempts her with a promising future, but first she has to agree to help him stop her father. Will she steal his heart and run for freedom or choose to trust in the promises he whispers?
Targeted Age Group:: 14-100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I thought it would be interesting to base a story around a family of thieves. The main character is Paige, the daughter of a thief. She is abused most of her life. All she wants is to be free. She plots and saves and when the moment is right, she runs. Straight into the arms of a Marshall!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I had the opening scene in my mind and it wouldn't let go. I built my characters around Paige. I wanted to show her evolution in her faith, and her understanding that God was always with her, even though she couldn't see him.
“I’ll stay behind with the skiffs and make sure they are ready when you return,” Paige holds her breath, praying that her father agrees this time.
“No. I need every hand, even a broken one.” He grabs her arm, pulling her from the boat while her brother laughs at her shout of pain. “Quiet girl,” he snarls, “you’ll have us caught before the train even arrives.” He shoves her away from him, and Paige is reminded once again of her circumstances.
“The skiffs will be fine, she’s just afraid…, again,” her brother John grumbles and shoves her causing her to trip. Paige quickly regains her footing and turns on him, tripping him and sending him careening into the muddy bank. He lands with a splash, sputtering with rage, while Evan laughs at him. “I’ll break your other hand for that!”
“There’s no time for this!” Her father hisses. “The train is due soon. We need to get started.” Her father drags John to his feet and shoves him away from her. “Go on before I take the whip to both of you! Those tracks need to be busted up for this to work.”
“I’m going!” John’s glare promises retribution.
“Paige, this one job will set us up for the remainder of the year. I don’t need you complicating things. Do you understand me? I want you at my side at all times. Do I need to remind you of the consequences if you disobey me?”
“No, Sir,” she whispers and stares at her feet. The bruises on her face, ribs, collar bone, and just barely healed broken hand serve as a reminder of what happens when you fight back. Glancing at the skiffs waiting on the riverbanks, she is tempted to try running, but she tamps it down. Soon, she promises herself.
“Good,” he turns to watch the four other skiffs reach land. They followed them down the Ohio River from Kentucky for this job. Each boat carries five men. All are here for one purpose, to rob the train. Her stomach drops when she realizes who leads the large group.
“Cap, is everything ready?” Skinny, lean, and muscular for a man of fifty, she avoids him as much as possible. Lieutenant Allen Abernathy is known for his love of inflicting pain, and he’s made it clear he has an interest in her.
“Not quite, Lieutenant, but it’s a simple matter of moving one of the rails on the track. Let’s move.” He walks off, and the men follow, leaving Paige to walk behind her father.
Lieutenant grins at Paige and falls in beside her. “Do you like fire, little rabbit?” he teases. His body odor wraps around her and causes her to gag.
“Don’t call me that,” she snaps. Paige pulls her brother’s jacket tightly around her body, thankful for the dark-colored breaches covering her shape. His eyes are always trailing over her body as if he has a right to her.
Lieutenant Allen Abernathy stares at the pretty young woman beside him and licks his lips, glancing at her father and brothers as they work on the tracks.
“Soon, Paige, you and I will come to an understanding. I can call you whatever I want,” he spins on her and steps in front, speaking low and terrifying to her. “I can do whatever I want,” he grips her chin and lifts her head, knocking the hat from her head, causing long autumn-colored waves to spill around her shoulders. Large, round, golden eyes filled with fear and a little bit of hatred cause him to smile, revealing blackened teeth. “You, Paige Elliott, are mine, and I look forward to breaking that spirit.”
“Lieutenant! Hands off! She’s not yours yet! You’ve yet to meet the terms of our agreement.”
Her father laughs at her look of horror. Allen shoves her away from him and stomps over to help on the tracks.
“After this job, we will discuss our terms further. I’m through waiting, Cap.” He spits his chew on the ground and swipes a hand across his mouth, smearing black juice across his face.
“Whatever you say, if you wanna play, you got to pay,” her father laughs and slaps him on the back as they walk off.
Paige stands shaking in horrified understand as her brother John laughs behind her. Tears threaten, but she’ll never let them see her cry again. Not when they belittle her, tease her, beat her, break her bones, none of it caused her to cry, but this final betrayal runs deep, and she knows it’s time to fly.
Hope is a curse that she carried in her heart. Not any longer. Tonight, she runs.
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