Charlie is a crack sharpshooter for the Twenty-Fifth Virginia infantry. But Charlie has secrets…big secrets that could lead to heartbreak or even death. The slowly starving South, lack of medical supplies, and desperate runaway slaves motivate Charlie and Daniel to take risks beyond their wildest imaginations.

How could they possibly know that their paths would cross during the worst time in their lives and where that path would lead?


Screened behind a thicket of holly and rhododendrons, Charlie removed the ragged shirt she had worn since leaving home so long ago. The corset had long ago fallen apart. Some nearby crickets chirped loudly, and a flock of bats burst out of a pine tree. She gritted her teeth against the sudden prick of fear and kept quiet.

Taking a scrap of cloth, she poured some water onto it and wiped her face first. With no soap she had to scrub hard to remove the dirt. Grime smudged the whole upper part of her chest, and she was sure her neck was in the same condition.

Wetting the cloth again, she began to wipe the back of her neck then ran the cloth down the front to her breasts. The feeling was incredibly wonderful and sensuous. Closing her eyes, she marveled that such a simple thing could awaken the woman in her.

“Hey!” a masculine voice had her scrambling for cover. Crouching down, she reached out for her shirt in a panic. “Hey! You’re not a man!” the voice said.

A hand reached out and roughly yanked her erect. A soldier she had never seen before loomed over her. The foul smell of whiskey and tobacco assaulted her nostrils as he spoke.

“I’ve seen you before. You’re that sharpshooter wonder boy…’cept you ain’t no boy.” Reaching out a grimy hand, he grabbed her breast and squeezed her nipple hard. Charlie went crazy. She bit his hand, she scratched any thing she could reach, and fought back as hard as she could. Where was her rifle? This beast deserved a bullet between the eyes!

But the unknown man was strong, stronger than she could handle. He quickly tied her hands with her own shirt, leaving her naked from the waist up. Opening her mouth, she let out the most ear-splitting scream she could manage. A slap, hard across the mouth, sent her tumbling into the dirt. When he reached for her, she bought her leg up and kicked out, aiming between his legs…and missed.

“You bitch! You’ll pay for that!”

Lifting his foot then bringing it down on top of her, he ground his boot heel into her ribs. Pain seared through Charlie's chest as bones gave way with a crack. She screamed again. Through a haze of agony and fear, her panic increased when she saw her attacker unbuckling his belt, as he stood over her with a foot still planted in the middle of her body. Oh, Dear God!!

“What’s going on over there?” a new male voice boomed out.

0-9785368-5-1-Secrets and Sacrifices
Published by Vintage Romance Publishing
Copyright 2006 Diane Wylie

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Debbie Wallace said...

Great excerpt!

Estella said...

I agree!