They say she's a Rebel spy...
Rosalie O'Kelley is not above using her feminine wiles to secure much-needed supplies for her fellow townspeople. But when Union Colonel Eric Skaarsberg is put in charge, Rose's usual tactics fail miserably. In exchange for supplies, she comes to a scandalous arrangement with him. She agrees to become his willing plaything--to fulfill his every physical need, eagerly and without hesitation.
Eric is duty-bound to ferret out the spy who has been leaking information to the Confederates. All evidence points to the passionate belle who readily responds to every touch and taste he metes out. One by one, he strips away Rose's secrets, but Eric is not satisfied with owning the she-Rebel's luscious body. He must uncover the truth of her past at any cost--even if it means the destruction of them both.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
November 13, 2009
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Rebel Rose by Debra Glass
Rosalie O'Kelley inhaled the crisp fall air. Dread settled in her tightly corseted stomach as she gazed up at the castle-like fa?ade of the college building the Yankees had established as their headquarters.
"You ain't goin' in there by yourself."
Rose glanced at the freedman servant who'd borne her husband's corpse all the way back from Shiloh battlefield. Rueben was as dedicated to the cause of getting much-needed salt, sugar, medicine and fabric to war-torn north Alabama as she was but he did not approve of her methods. "I shall be just fine," she said.
Rueben shook his cane in her direction. "You don't know this Yankee. He might not be as...generous...as the last one." Rueben was only thirty-two years old but he had the demeanor--and the gait--of a man twice his age.
"I haven't come across one yet who wasn't...generous," Rose said as she deftly unfastened the top two buttons of her black mourning gown.
"I don't like it." Rueben shook his head. "I don't like it at all."
Rose remained silent. She didn't like it either but her only other choice was conceding defeat and that was not in her nature.
"Neither would Mister Billy," Rueben muttered.
Rose drew in a sharp breath. "Mister Billy's dead and I am only doing what I have to do."
Rueben's head dropped and he continued to murmur unintelligible words about Rose's deceased husband. Rose missed Billy too but her heart went out to Rueben. After all, he and Billy had been half brothers. Although on paper, one had owned a brickyard and the other had been his slave, the two had always acted as brothers. And when Billy's father had died, leaving Billy everything he owned, Billy's first act as heir was to free Rueben.
Billy had signed the papers before his father's body had been interred in the Florence Cemetery. Rueben had been the only family Billy had left besides Rose.
The two men had grown up a year apart in age. Since Billy had donned a gray uniform and was killed fighting for the Sixteenth Alabama Infantry, Rueben was the only family Rose had left. Then, the soldiers had been confident of an early victory, of chasing the Yankees out of the Confederacy.
Rose's heart twisted when she thought that her own brother might have fired the bullet that had made her a widow at nineteen. Or perhaps, Billy had fired the bullet that had killed the brother. Either possibility was the stuff of her nightmares.
Darkly, she wondered if the stress of both deaths had been the reason her baby girl had died in her womb.
It had been two years since she'd become barren and widowed. Now, at only twenty-one, she felt as if her life was over--as if her life had ended instead of her husband's. The war had toughened her as it had most of the soldiers and civilians who'd shared dreams of glory. Rose sighed. There was no use in looking back. What had been done was done and all she could do now was make the best of her youthful good looks to make the lives of Florence citizens easier.
Now that the entire Confederate Army of Tennessee was headed this way, she, and others like her, were stockpiling all they could get from the Yankees in order to replenish the Confederates' supplies.
If it meant brandishing her bosom to get laudanum for a suffering soldier, Rose was ready to do it. What did her reputation matter any longer? She never intended to marry again anyway. But bleakly, she recalled how wonderful it had felt to lose herself in Billy's arms, to come utterly undone at his touch, his kiss.
She inhaled. What man would want to marry her now? The doctor had told her when she lost the baby that she'd never be able to get pregnant again. It was just as well that she was barren. This was no kind of world to bring a child into.
A shudder ripped through her as she climbed the stairs into what had once been--and hopefully would be again--Wesleyan College. Now it served as the headquarters for the Yankees.
Well. Despite what she thought about sex, Rose understood the mere innuendo of the act was a vehicle through which she could obtain most anything she wanted from women-starved soldiers.
"Wait here," she whispered to Rueben as one of the Yankee guards nearly tripped over his own boots to be the first to open the door for her.
"Miss Rose," he greeted, blushing profusely. "How nice to see you."
"You too, Sergeant Poole. My, my, have you done something different with your whiskers?" Rose asked as she gave the youth a pat on the cheek.
"Well, something about you looks different. I swear, you look at least five years older."
Out of the corner of her eye, Rose saw a scowl cross Rueben's features. She ignored him and instead, dazzled Poole with a smile as she swayed through the door. "I'm here to see the new officer in charge. I believe I was told his name is Skaarsberg."
Rose hoped he was less portly and ancient as the last staff officer in charge of issuing permits for goods.
As Poole directed Rose up the stairs, he walked as closely as he could despite the wide sweep of Rose's hoop skirt. She was grateful for the two feet of space the skirt kept between them. Poole stank of soured wool and that tangy stench that clung to unwashed bodies. Still, she smiled and flirted as if he were the most handsome, clean-smelling man on the face of the earth.
"Colonel Skaarsberg," Poole said, standing in the doorway of what had once been a classroom.
The voice that came from the other side of Poole did not sound like that of a decrepit old man. Instead, Rose intuited the speaker was educated and bearing little evidence of the harsh, nasal accent she associated with the Federals who'd been here before.
"Mrs. O'Kelley is here to see you, Sir," Poole said.
"Send her in," a whisper-quiet voice replied.
Poole stepped out of the way as he turned to Rose. That broad jack-o-lantern grin spread across Poole's face once more and Rose gave him a gracious nod as she passed into Skaarsberg's office.
The colonel did not shoot to his feet as the Federals--even the notorious Sherman--had done. Instead, he kept his head down so that the only thing visible about him was the wealth of golden waves covering his head.
Rose dampened her lips with the tip of her tongue. She toyed with the drawstring on her reticule. Waiting. Waiting.
Anger welled at the audacity of this man. Did he not have proper breeding or gentlemanly manners?
Finally, he raised his head and when he did, Rose suppressed a gasp. He possessed the face of a sculpted angel. His skin was nearly as golden as his sun-kissed hair. He was as fair as Rose was dark. Where the sun brought out her Cherokee heritage by turning her skin a burnished brown, the outdoors made this man glow.
He slipped off his spectacles and as he came to his feet, it seemed as if he would go on forever. Rose swallowed as he towered and when he stepped out from behind his desk, she resisted the urge to take a step backward.
A giant of man, he looked like one of the Norse invaders she'd read about in history books. His very presence caused her knees to quiver. He was handsome. Far too handsome. She reminded herself that she was here to work her wiles on him, not to behave like some shrinking ninny just because he had a handsome face...and a comely physique.
Rose cleared her throat, waiting for his gaze to travel downward, to linger on her open bodice and then her narrow waist before lifting once more to her eyes. No man had ever resisted her. Instead, his gaze briefly met hers and almost immediately, he turned his attention to some lint on the sleeve of his frock coat.
"How may I be of service to you, madam?" His voice was cool.
"I...I need a permit for six barrels of salt," she blurted. With the others, she had flirted, been coy, swished her skirts and batted her eyelashes. Their reaction to her beauty had made it easy for her. Skaarsberg's reaction was...nonexistent.
His gaze grazed hers again. "May I ask for what reason you need six barrels of salt?"
None of them had ever asked why! Rose stared, trying to think. A breeze blew through the open window, bringing the colonel's scent with it. Rose breathed the clean, spicy fragrance in. There was no lingering odor of cigar or pipe tobacco. No stench of damp wool or horse sweat. Instead, he smelled as heavenly as he looked. Rose realized she was trembling. What must he smell like up close?
"Ma'am?" he asked, shaking her out of her reverie.
"I...I have several servants. It's coming upon the time of year when I will need to salt down a good deal of meat and--"
"Six barrels is more than one woman and a handful of servants need."
Anger roiled. Rose clenched her fists. "Sir, would you have us starve this winter? Would you have what we have worked hard for this past year go to waste because we have not enough salt?"
"I'll write you a permit for three barrels."
Rose took two steps toward him, forcing him to look her in the eye. Green. His eyes were the palest spring green. Rose stared for a steep second before she remembered what she was there to do. "Your own Colonel Cornyn carted off my livestock and produce but a year ago. I have struggled to restock my spare larder." She took one more calculated step closer. "I have faith a good Christian man such as you would not deny me." She took a deep breath, knowing her breasts rose and fell seductively with it.
His gaze never wavered from her eyes. "Three."
Rose shook. She resisted the petulant urge to stamp her foot. "I need six." Her voice rose in pitch and she realized she was about to lose control of her temper.
"I am authorized to write you a permit for three," he said.
"Very well," Rose said, daring to take another step closer to this giant of an angel. Her black skirt swept over the toes of his polished boots. "Then write me two permits. Each for three barrels of salt."
"Madam, rhetoric and pretty persuasion are regrettably lost on me. I could not write you more than one permit--for three barrels of salt--if I wanted to. Surely you realize how tight the reins are on rations in these trying times."
"There would be no trying times if you Yankees would just go back where you belong." Rose wanted to kick herself. Hard. What the devil was she doing? She should be smiling, batting her eyelashes, even working up tears. Instead, his denial and blatant rejection of her had transformed her into a snappish shrew.
She breathed as deeply as she could, wishing she had not asked Queenie to lace her stays so tightly. Obviously, a slender waist--or any of her others wiles--had no effect on this man.
"You wouldn't want my servants and me to starve with winter coming on, would you, Colonel Skaarsberg?" she asked, looking up at him with what she knew was the perfect pout on her rouged lips.
His gaze flicked to her mouth and then he averted it again. A small triumph welled in her breast. Rose did not miss a trick. She moved so that she was once more in the line of his sight. "Please, Colonel. It's only three more than you have agreed to give me."
He merely stared.
Rose inhaled, summoning courage. She'd never stooped this low before but with the Confederates nearby and the threat of losing her hard-earned provisions again, she felt she had little choice. She leveled her gaze on his. "I...I would be willing to...offer you a trade."
"A trade?" he asked. His eyes were so cold, like green ice.
She cleared her throat. "My...services for your supplies."
"Services? What type services? Are you a seamstress?"
He was making this very difficult.
Rose forced herself to hold his gaze. "No."
"Then what?" he asked impatiently.
Her chest rose and fell with her deep breaths. What if he agreed? She didn't want to think about what she'd do if he didn't agree. Her mouth was so dry she could hardly form the words. "I...I realize you are far from home. Far from female...companionship. I could offer you that."
Rose wanted to scream. "Sex, Colonel Skaarsberg. Sex with me for your supplies."
A muscle in his jaw twitched before he promptly spun on his heel and went back to his desk.
Victory was close. Rose watched him dip his pen in the bottle of ink on his desk and scrawl something on a piece of paper. Her heart pounded but she made sure he saw the dimples in her cheeks as he handed her the permit.
"Good day, Mrs. O'Kelley."
Rose's gaze fell to the paper. Her spirits plummeted. Three? "Three? But--" she began but he quickly cut her off.
"Good day, Mrs. O'Kelley," he said tersely.
Rose stammered, trying to think of words that would not come. She could not believe he had refused her so coldly. She stared as he returned to his seat, donned his spectacles and went back to the task he had been performing before she had entered his office.
Heat flooded her cheeks. She wanted to rail at him, to throw the permit back in face. She did neither. Instead, she spat out an insincere "thank you," spun and stalked from the room.
Her skirt swept the floor as she descended the staircase. Poole caught up with her as she fled the building. "Always good to see you, ma'am," he fawned.
Rose was in no mood to charm the sergeant. "Tell me, Sergeant Poole--is the colonel always so disagreeable?"
"Disagreeable? To you?" Incredulous, he glanced back toward the stairs.
Rose burst through the open doorway. "Let's go, Rueben," she said as she continued moving to the street. She could not get away from this place fast enough.
"Did he give you the permit?" Rueben hobbled to keep up with Rose.
She clutched the permit in her hand so tightly it crumpled. "He gave me a permit for three barrels," she said practically spitting the words out.
Rueben glanced back at the gothic brick building. "That him?"
Rose stopped in mid-stride and whirled so quickly her heavy hoop swung her slightly off balance. She sidestepped to right herself before she trained her gaze on the window where Colonel Skaarsberg stood, staring down at them with his expressionless face.
"Yes," Rose said, jerking her chin at him as she turned her back on him once more. "That's the blue devil." The irony was not lost on her that only moments ago, she had pictured him as an angel.
How could he have been so unresponsive to her entreaties? She'd offered him her body and he'd dismissed her as if she had been an old crone instead of an Alabama belle in her prime. And a widow at that. Didn't widows have the reputation as being a bit more amorous than their maiden counterparts?
She slowed her pace to match Rueben's. He'd been wounded in the fighting where her husband was killed. Rueben did not talk about it but Rose had read letters that detailed how Rueben had been so grief-stricken at the loss of his brother, he'd taken up one of the new Enfield rifles and single-handedly put five Federals in Tennessee graves that stormy April day.
"I guess Hood's army will just have to make do with what we have," Rueben said, resigned.
Rose sighed. "Not if I have any say so in the matter. I'll get that salt. Just you wait and see."
The colonel was just harder to persuade. That was all. And he did not have any idea just how persuasive Rose could be when she wanted something.