Title Graham: Pirates of Britannia Connected World (Sons of Sagamore Book 2)
Author Ruth A. Casie
Genre Historical Fantasy, Scottish, Highlander, Medieval Romance
Publisher Dragonblade Publishing
He was a man to be reckoned with, and she was every bit up to the challenge.
Isabella Girard keeps careful watch over Charlotte Eden, the Countess of Sagamore’s chateau in Châlons, France. Loyal, trustworthy, and inseparable childhood friends, Isabella would do anything Charlotte. While she and her grandmother see to the chateau, Nolan LaBarge takes care of the winery. She has learned a lot in the three years Charlotte and her husband have moved to England, men are not to be trusted, especially English men.
Graham Eden, Charlotte’s widowed brother-in-law, has isolated himself in the Northumberland hills in England. Unlike his wealthy high-stakes deal-making brother who excels at sitting through negotiations at court or in dreary salons, Graham prefers seclusion and the challenges and accomplishments of physical work. His brother was his rock when his wife died. He would do anything for him.
When Isabella sends a letter to Charlotte telling her the winery is close to financial ruin and there is little money to run the chateau, the countess sends Graham to take control and straighten things out. Graham quickly finds that the person sabotaging the winery is close to Isabella.
He must prove to her that the man she trusts most has deceived and betrayed her and the man she trusts least, an Englishman loves her with all his heart.
“Join me. I need to meet with Monsieur Olivier.” He nodded to Jacques, looped her arm in his and steered her toward the guild hall. “Do you know the guild master?”
“Everyone in Châlons knows Monsieur Olivier. Do you know him?” She tucked the red leather behind her belt.
“I met him in passing when I arrived.” They turned the corner and entered the hall.
“Isabella. I’m glad you’re here.” Monsieur Olivier was average height. An older man with more gray hair than black, his eyes were clear with a sheen of intelligence.
“Monsieur Olivier.” She said nothing else.
He faced Graham. “I’m sorry; I had some urgent business.”
Graham waved off the apology. “I’ve come to introduce myself and arrange to review the Eden accounts.” He took the letter out of his belt and handed it to Olivier.
Olivier scanned the document. “This appears to all be in good order. Would you like to review the accounts now?”
“Not today, I’m with Mademoiselle Girard. I’d like to come back.”
“That’s fine. Let me introduce you to my assistant in case I’m not here when you return. I’ll have him make arrangements for you to meet Monsieur Gershon.”
“You have my thanks.” Graham turned to her. “I won’t be long.”
Olivier opened a cask and poured her a goblet of deep red wine. “Isabella, here is the recent delivery from Labatrelle.” Olivier stopped and stretched to look behind her. “The color of raspberries. It suits you.”
Her hand went to her hair. “That’s kind of you.”
“We’ll be back shortly.” The two men went off in deep conversation. Graham glided across the room with an ease that interested her. “Warrior” came to mind, broad but not brutish, lethal but controlled, and sensual in a quiet way. She looked away.
First thinking about Eldon, and now, Graham. Englishman. He could continue to be as nice as he wanted. She learned that lesson and would never be vulnerable again. Not ever. No Englishman. No man.
She glanced where the two were going as they disappeared through the doorway.
Isabella took the goblet. In truth, she needed the wine and took a large sip.
She spat out the wine in a fine spray some even reaching the cup. Nearly choking, she couldn’t get the vile liquid out of her mouth fast enough. This could not be a Labatrelle wine. Isabella looked at the cask. Branded on the head of the barrel she found the Labatrelle insignia. Her heart stopped when she saw the date. August 1288. This barrel must not have been topped-off, a process Maurice brought back from the Crusades as a way to keep the wine from turning to vinegar.
One taste and no one would buy this. A broad smile spread across her face. A small voice echoed in her head. Who would want to buy a winery that made this wine? The vineyard wouldn’t command a high price.
Perhaps she could buy the property. She had some funds. And the workers. If they all worked collaboratively, they could raise the money. The idea died before it ripened. It would take time to raise the amount she needed.
Isabella looked at the doorway. Graham. This is Charlotte’s winery. She might have been angry at her, but she was still loyal and would never betray her. If the earl’s brother was going to sell it, she was going to make sure it sold for a high price.
At the moment, she needed to get rid of this wine. How much more could there be? With any luck it had evaporated. She tried to shake the cask. Merde. Full. The small barrel was too heavy for her to lift and if she did, what would she do with it?
The muttering of voices from the door where the men had retreated reached her ears. Her heart started to pound. She swallowed and forced herself to breathe. She didn’t have much time.
A movement. A dark shadow streaked across the floor. Startled she turned away and bumped into the table. The cask wobbled. Her first reaction was to protect the wine.
That was close. She turned toward the table and shook the table hard. Again, the cask moved. That’s when she observed the piece of wood tucked against its side holding it in place.
Dare she? She heard the voices getting closer.
She closed her eyes, screamed, and threw herself against the table making sure to dislodge the block of wood. With all her might she pushed the small barrel and sent it flying off the table.
The cask bounced on the floor. For a moment she thought all was lost when it didn’t break open. It bounced and hit the floor again. This time it smashed into pieces spattering red wine everywhere as Graham rushed into the room. Olivier followed close behind and stepped lively to avoid a mouse as it skittered away under the table.
Graham lifted her into his arms.
“Are you hurt?” The gentle concern in his eyes caught her off guard.
“Please, put me down. I feel foolish. I don’t know what came over me. I only saw the fleeting shadow and—”
“M’lord, take care of Isabella. I’ll have this cleaned up,” Olivier, his left eyebrow raised in amusement, left the room.
“Graham,” he interrupted her, his voice calm, his gaze steady.
“Please, put me down. I caused this mess. I should clean it up.”
He didn’t move. Her arms were around his neck. She thought to scold him, but when she looked into his eyes, she forgot what she wanted to say. Flustered, she took her arm away and placed her hand on his chest to gently push him, thinking he would set her on her feet. Her fingers felt his heart beat faster. She made the mistake of gazing into his eyes again.
Finally, she found her words. “Please, Graham. I’m over my fright.” Her voice was low, her tone soft and warm.
“As you wish.” His voice was a whisper that, god help her, went straight to her heart.
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RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, Instagram RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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