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Abby is a beautiful biracial slave living on a plantation in Mason, Georgia. She pretends to be a slow-witted mute, a ruse suggested by her owner as a means of protection from her white grandfather, who seeks to kill her. She dreams of two things: safety and freedom. A further scheme to keep her safe brings her in contact with wealthy, handsome Lawrence Mallory, who has impulsively married a beautiful woman only to find she suffers from a violent mental illness.
Lawrence soon learns Abby is more than she appears to be, and an attraction grows between the two. When Lawrence’s wife dies, he goes away for several years, leaving Abby bereft. Returning home at last, he is prepared to ask the woman he loves to marry him despite the odds against them as an interracial couple, but a terrible misunderstanding separates them.
Will their love remain in the shadows forever?
Silently they walked the worn grassy path that led them by the fields, the click-clank-clink of metal striking rocks and hard dirt breaking the quietness of the morning as the field slaves worked. A plume of red dirt rose and fell in the field just like Abby’s hopes of being free and having a normal life.
“The bearberry bushes are beyond the grove of trees.” Hattie pointed with her chin. “Just on the other side of the meadow. Mr. Jack doesn’t allow us to go this far on the plantation by ourselves, so Abby-girl, you stay close. No wandering off.”
Hattie’s body stiffened, and pain clouded her dull dark-brown eyes. Abby remembered the time when she did wander off. She never wanted to forget it. Correction: she never wanted to forget him. He had become a part of her dreams the past two years or more. She remembered how the tall stranger’s eyebrows shot up to the top of his hat when he stumbled upon her by the creek. He was just a boy, not much older than she was.
“You frightened me! Are you alone out here?” He slowly moved toward her.
She backed up from the creek, her heart skipping beats as she struggled to keep her shaking legs on the ground. He stopped in his tracks, and she could see the curly black hair hanging from under his hat, covering his ears and neck. His kind black eyes sparkled with gentleness as he spoke.
“Please, don’t be afraid,” he said slowly as he took another step toward her. “I will not hurt you.” The warmth of his voice and his wide smile froze her in place. She knew she had nothing to fear. Her heartbeat returned to normal, and she was able keep her legs from shaking. “My name is Lawrence. What’s yours?”
She looked up into his handsome face and tried to speak, but only a grunt formed in her throat. Her eyes fell back to the ground.
“Surely you have a name, little one.”
She looked up at him one last time, trying to memorize his kind face before she dashed back into the woods, running as fast as she could.
She never told anyone about the incident.
“Abby, are you listening, child?” Hattie placed her slender black finger under Abby’s chin and lifted her face.
“Are you listening?” Abby could only nod her head.
“I know you’re still nervous about our noonday meeting. I have laid my heart out before the Lord. He has assured me that everything will be all right. Have faith, child. Have faith and don’t worry.” Abby rocked on her heels and smiled up at her momma.
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