I love strong women in novels. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we don’t all have faults and vulnerabilities. I love this scene from Love From the Ashes when the heroine shows us that she has strength.
From the Ashes of Hell itself…
During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire privileged Grace Wyne and Irish immigrant Nathaniel Dempsey desperately try to rescue LOVE FROM THE ASHES.
Grace and Nate seek freedom and a new life in San Francisco but society, her family and forces of Nature, wage war against them.
Nate is torn by the death of his family in Ireland. Yet he finds Grace’s spirit and strength a balm for his soul. She joins a suffragette organization, but when she encounters scorn and violence, Nate vows to protect her.
She is determined to marry for love, and now is stunned by her feelings for a man far beneath her social status. There is more than one danger to face–for the earth is unstable and their forbidden love is a sure formula for disaster.
When the earth trembles and breaks apart, only Nature knows who will live to love again… and who will die.
Thursday, February 22
Grace stepped out the back door of the kitchen and headed toward the gazebo, drawing in a deep breath of cool sea-scented air. A soothing few minutes in the mild sunshine might revive her. Last night she’d had a horrendous dream where the walls of the mansion tumbled all around her, and the earth bolted and shook.
“Too many tall tales from Mary,” she said out loud.
Mary had explained that California tossed and turned with earthquakes on a regular basis. Although intrigued by quakes, Grace’s dream disturbed her deeply.
Absorbed by her thoughts, she stepped from behind a hedge and onto a dirt path. She almost didn’t hear the honking of the automobile horn until too late.
Startled, she saw the Studebaker kicking up dirt as it roared down the narrow path like a silver bullet bent on destruction. She didn’t have time to think.
With a cry Grace thrust herself backward, tripped over her hem and landed on her back with a thump and a grunt.
At the last moment the driver swerved around her, twisting the steering wheel in a desperate attempt to avoid running over her.
Dozens of tiny rocks dug into her palms, and she took in a gasping breath. She muttered a word no well brought up young lady was supposed to know.
As the driver brought the automobile to an abrupt halt, only inches from her, a fresh onslaught of rocks flew up from the tires and pelted her.
“You little fool,” the man muttered loud enough for her to hear. Standing up in his seat and tearing off his cap and goggles, Nathaniel Dempsey opened the driver’s side door and jumped out.
She pushed herself to her feet, brushing at the back of her dress with angry strokes. As he strode toward her, eating up the ground with his long strides, he looked incensed enough to chew her into tiny pieces and swallow her. Indignation rose in her throat and stiffened her back. Grace placed her hands on her hips and stared at the oncoming man with disdain.
“Fool?” she asked. “I assume you’re talking about yourself, Mr. Dempsey?”
His expression didn’t change, and when he grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a tiny shake, she gasped. His eyes sparked with anger, his fingers pressing into her arms and the line of his mouth grim.
“Are you daft? I could’ve killed you. Didn’t your father and mother ever tell you to look both ways before you cross the road?” he asked, his tone low with anger.
Trying to keep her voice steady, Grace stared into his eyes. “Of course. But I’d hardly call this a road, Mr. Dempsey. My father asked you to practice in the circular drive, if I am not mistaken. What are you doing driving the Studebaker back here?”
Nate’s fingers tightened on her arms and his lips curled. “Returning the automobile to the carriage house, Miss Wyne.”
Silence expanded between them, and the moment stretched before she regained her equilibrium. She took a deep breath. As she surveyed him in his chauffeur togs, she noted his black hair stuck up in small tufts. She had the urge to arrange each strand back into proper position.
Instead she said, “I suggest you take your hands off me before someone sees us.”
He released her, clenching his hands at his sides.
“Are you hurt?” he asked, his voice a harsh rasp.
Grace touched the hair escaping her pompadour and looked down at the hem of her white lingerie dress. When the automobile had come to a halt it had thrown dirt onto the material. A small strip of delicate lace had torn from the skirt. She thought she could feel a split in her cotton stockings. Substantial damage for such a small fall.
“This is going to take considerable work to launder,” she said matter-of-factly.
His nose twitched. “I wasn’t asking about your dress.”
The sarcasm in his voice told her she’d hit a nerve. She’d never wanted to see a man out of control before, but she liked the tension that rolled off him in waves. To her surprise, seeing him agitated intrigued her. Somewhere between animosity and attraction, she felt his vigor like a flame, ready to explode at any moment.
Before she could answer, he reached out and touched her shoulder. The soft, gentle heat tingled straight through her arm and into the rest of her body.
“Are you hurt?” he asked again.
“I am perfectly fine. Though I may have torn my inexpressibles.”
His expression relaxed, and he let out a bark of laughter and dropped his hand away from her shoulder. “Sure, and has anyone ever told you you’re a corker?”
Raising one eyebrow, she asked, “A what?”
“Is than an insult, Mr. Dempsey?”
“No. It means you’re one of a kind. A humdinger.”
“Oh.” She still didn’t know whether to be offended or not. “Well, I suggest you keep your insults and your praise to yourself.”
Nate’s lips twitched, as if he held back a strong retort. He didn’t hold back long. “I’d take your own advice.”
She knew she was being horrid, but something about this man made her speak without thinking of consequences.. “I could tell my father what happened and have the expense of cleaning the dress taken out of your pay.”
His eyes narrowed and he took a step closer. Much closer. “You wouldn’t.”
“I would.” She smiled. “If I were a nasty bitch.”
His mouth dropped open. “Bitch, Miss Wyne? Did you learn such language at finishing school, then?”
“Of course. Young ladies are rarely as proper as everyone imagines.”
“Most of the ladies I know are very proper.”
“Well, this is America. American ladies are different.”
“Humph. So I’ve seen.” Nate punctuated his statement with a sweeping look over her entire body. He stepped closer again, until only a couple of inches separated them. “You really shouldn’t talk like this with a man, Miss Wyne. They might think you were offering something.”
The husky inflection in his voice and the light in his eyes told Grace she’d hit danger hard and fast. His proximity sent a hot, unexpected, and unfamiliar shock through her body. Heat knotted deep in her belly, and a flush filled her cheeks. Heaven help her. The way he looked at her … she couldn’t describe it. No words for the way he made her feel would come to mind.
What was happening to her?
When they’d first met Grace thought he might be indifferent to her, but his intent perusal shook that theory to the ground. She’d seen similar, less powerful looks in other men’s eyes before. A deep and ignited lust that filled their expressions when they thought no one would notice. Nate’s attention was more powerful. Incandescence simmered like a blue flame in his eyes, expressing something stronger and more promising than anything she’d known. Mesmerized by his interest and the new sensations snaking through her, she didn’t move, didn’t speak.
“Have you ever been kissed, Miss Wyne?” he asked, his voice thick with a throaty nuance she’d never heard a man use.
That’s all for this week! I’ll be on some R&R next week, so I’ll see ya on the flip side!