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Impending Love Series
Cass Beecher hopes Sergeant Zach Ravenswood will fall in love with her on an outing to Ford's Theater, only to have their world turned upside down with President Lincoln's assassination. Her romantic plans continue to be thwarted by family, friends, and a mysterious stranger. Can she save the man she loves from the enemies plotting to ruin him?
Zach thought with the war over, he could turn his attention to wooing the lovely Cassandra, but a fortune teller's dire predictions begin to come true when a fire disfigures him, a nun poisons him, his uncle steals his inheritance, and he's shot. Is he going mad, or is everything not as it appears?
Page Count: 352
Word Count: 81926
Cassandra Beecher snatched the silky fabric of her gown and rushed through the bedroom door and into the hall, peering over the banister to the foyer below. “Is Zach here?”
Her sister, Jem, ascended the staircase at a snail’s pace. “Logan is taking the children to the Mermaid’s Mirth and bringing Sergeant Ravenswood back to Pierce House. Promise you won’t gallop down the stairs when they arrive.”
Cass gasped for air. “I doubt I could run without fainting in this corset.” She must have been insane to torture her body with the stiff undergarment emphasizing an hour-glass figure beneath the evening gown, but she wanted Sergeant Zachary Ravenswood to realize she was more than a nurse. “Are we going to see Aladdin?”
“I’m sorry. Logan couldn’t obtain tickets to Grover’s Theater,” Jem said. “Aladdin was sold out, but Ford’s Theater is having a special showing of the British comedy, Our American Cousin.”
A stuffy British play. She would have preferred a tale about magic and adventure. Zach would be disappointed.
“Don’t pout,” Jem said. “Laura Keene is starring in it.”
Who was Laura Keene? She didn’t want to appear ungracious. “I’m sure it will be lovely.”
“I read in the afternoon paper the President and Mrs. Lincoln along with General Grant and his wife, Julia, will be attending Ford’s Theater to see it.”
“The president!” Cass twirled the four yards of fabric in a dizzy spin. “Zach and I would love to see Lincoln. We’ve memorized some of his speeches.”
“Did Zach meet Grant before he was made general-in-chief of the Union armies?”
“I don’t think their paths crossed,” Cass said. “He served under Hooker at Chancellorsville and Meade at Gettysburg before he was shipped west to serve under Sherman.”
“I hope he wrote about more than the battles he fought in.”
Cass had met Zach at her home in Darrow Falls, Ohio, while he was on furlough in January of 1864. They had exchanged letters during the past year, and she had arrived in Washington City a few weeks before Zach broke his leg and was sent to Mermaid’s Mirth to recover.
A member of the Twenty-ninth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, Zach had been crossing a bridge in North Carolina in March when a sharpshooter’s bullet hit the man marching beside him. Zach had grabbed his comrade, but the dead man’s weight had pulled both of them over the side and into a rocky gulch. A broken leg was better than a bullet in a limb. Usually amputation was the only option when a lead ball smashed bone and left a splintered mess no doctor could set.
Their reunion had confirmed her belief that Zach was the man she wanted to marry, but her parents and four older married sisters considered her too young. The chaperoned visit to the theater was the first social event they had been allowed to attend together. Cass was determined to make the most of it.
“You look beautiful.” Jem returned with her to the guest bedroom.
Cass examined her appearance in the full-length mirror in the corner. The elegant silk was a sharp contrast to the work dresses she wore to care for the wounded or help with the chores at her sister’s home. The green material shimmered in the gaslight, and the off-the-shoulder bodice displayed a wide-expanse of creamy smooth skin. The bone-ribbing pressed her breasts upward, and the low-cut gown proved she was no longer a child but a woman of seventeen.
Cass smoothed the green silk over the bell-shaped crinoline. The gown and matching satin slippers were perfect for a ball. “Too bad we’re viewing a play instead of attending a dance.”
“I doubt Zach would enjoy sitting along the wall while you dance with other men,” Jem said.
“Zach has nothing to be jealous about.” Cass searched for her long gloves.
“You’ve set your heart on Zach, but don’t let it muddle your thoughts,” Jem said. “I’ve seen too many women marry the wrong man because they didn’t take time to look beyond a uniform or flattering words. You choose your husband, but you don’t want to regret it.”
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