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Authors: Juliet Waldron

Angel's Flight

BOOK: Angel's Flight
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Angel’s Flight




Juliet Waldron



(Being the account of Angelica TenBroeck’s flight from New York City

during the late War of Independence, her would-be lovers, and a bluebird quilt)


ISBN: 978-1-927476-76-5


Published By:


Books We Love Ltd.

Chestermere, Alberta



Copyright 2012 by Juliet Waldron


Cover art by Michelle Lee Copyright 2012


All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author, and have no relation whatever to anyone bearing the same name or names. These characters are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.



All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book







Chapter One


The tall windows of the governor’s mansion shone with candles, and the polished wide board floor reflected the glow. It was a splendid New York City ball carried off in high style, as if a war weren’t crouched somewhere close by like a filthy, murderous maniac. Officers paraded in red uniforms and crisp white wigs, while the ladies exhibited low-cut dresses, tightly laced waistlines and towering hairstyles. The glossy, spilling curls were sometimes their own—but, more likely, purchased.

Into this scene-as sophisticated as any in London strode Jack Carter. He was neither tall nor red-coated, being of medium height and wearing a black suit. Not only his attire, but the way he moved and stood separated him at once from the crowd. The other men beside the governor were fawning—or, at least, deferential.

Not this stranger. Even as he was ushered onto the dais to be introduced to the governor, he paused, allowing his eyes to sweep the room with all the serene and abstracted confidence of a prince.

“Who is that lordly fellow? The one dressed like a rich Quaker?” Angelica whispered the questions while hiding behind her fan. Her companion, Minerva Livingston, had recently married a British officer.

“Quaker?” The new Mrs. Colonel Bradford couldn’t quite smother the giggle. “Not by a long chalk, my dear. ‘Tis said Jack Carter was an officer and in all sorts of wars. My William heard that he’s a gentleman of good breeding who has come to our colony to escape the consequences of a duel. ‘Tis also said his family holds land up the Hudson, by Kingston. But, I must say, his timing’s marvelously bad.”

Angelica nodded. All the time her companion was speaking, her eyes had never left the strangely compelling Mr. Carter.

Suddenly, there was a shock, as tangible as a slap. The stranger’s restless search of the room had abruptly ended—at the instant his gaze collided with Angelica’s.

Tingling all over, she watched his expression change to one of pure, masculine delight. And, unaccountably—recognition!

It must be a trick of the light, she thought. Then, casually looking away, she permitted herself a thought. Perhaps, he likes what he sees as much as I do.

Minerva had missed the whole episode. “I met Mr. Carter yesterday,” she went on, “at Lady Tryon’s tea. When you get closer, you will see he’s had his handsome face spoiled.”

She leaned ever closer as she talked. When she was quite close to Angelica’s ear, she whispered, “Carter isn’t his real name, either, my William says.”

“And what does your William say his real name is?”

“No one is entirely sure,” Minerva answered, a flash of annoyance brightening her plump cheeks. “Although the governor must know. Some say he’s Mr. Church of Oxfordshire, others that he’s a Villiers from Somerset or one of the Devonshire Clarkes. He was charming at
table, but what a way he has about him. Quite the cock of the walk.”

“Not at all. Poise isn’t the same as pride.” For some reason she didn’t understand, Angelica felt obliged to object.

“Well, Lord! Just look at him! You’d think he was the most important man on the dais.” Her friend boldly poked her fan in the direction of the subject of her gossip. “And you should see how polite the men are around him,” she continued. “He is supposed to be quite a dangerous have killed
his man. Over a woman, William says. Why,” she ended breathlessly, “he’s practically in exile.”


Even without Minerva’s stories, Angelica was intrigued. The man’s easy manner, his absolute self-confidence, made a sharp contrast with the obvious peacocking of the young officers. As for the rest, she knew Minerva embroidered every tale she heard.

And the look he’d sent! So admiring, so—so—possessive... “Killed someone over a woman?” she asked. “Are you certain? That would be a terrible scandal, impossible to keep quiet.”

Although she could neither approve of dueling, (nor, these days, of British officers), Angelica found herself unable to keep her gaze from the mysterious Mr. Carter. When he passed close, dancing with one of the ladies of the governor’s circle, she saw he was older than she’d first thought—perhaps as old as thirty.

His only bow to fashion was a single row of white silk crossstitchery along the lapels of the jacket. With a proud, athletic bearing that spoke of far more than adequate muscle beneath his coat, his fair, unpowdered head held high, this Jack Carter was in manhood’s full noontide glory.

Is this not the best-looking man I’ve seen in ages? Does he not carry himself like a lordly stag—out of place here, among these complacent—sheep?

“Here. Before I forget.” Minerva broke into her thoughts. Slipping a long, fair hand into a pocket, her friend removed a single, neatly pressed rectangle of printed calico.

“Oh! Just look!” Angelica exclaimed. The print—destined to be the center of a quilt she and her friends had planned to sew round robin—was a distraction. On an ivory background, a brilliant pair of bluebirds flew on either side of a brown nest containing a clutch of eggs. It was a triumph of the most modern method of textile printing, executed by a craftsman who had used a Dutch nature print for his inspiration.

“This is from a Philadelphia shop,” Minerva replied. “Even my William allows it is as handsomely done as any English piece he’s seen.”

“What a wonderful choice for our center! Such a sweet scene— and so many nice colors to work with!”

“Yes, I thought so, too. Will you have any difficulty matching the material?”

“Not a bit.” Carefully, Angelica refolded the square and tucked it into her own deep pocket. “In a few days, I shall carry what I’ve done to Caroline Beekman. The Livingston boys and I go there to dinner on Wednesday.”

“Will you sail to her?” Minerva asked. “In that awful little sailboat?”

“Yes, of course. There’s nothing to be afraid of. My cousins are wonderful sailors. As you can imagine, Aunt Laetitia must have her carriage at all times.”

Minerva shuddered. “I’m sure they’re very good, but I don’t see how you can trust yourself to boys—or to that tiny boat! The Hudson is as broad and deep as the ocean. Just the idea scares me to death.”




Mr. Carter, accompanied by no less of a person than the governor’s wife, was introduced to Angelica. He had a scar, just as Minerva had said, but his face wasn’t “spoiled.” There was simply a long, straight line that began on his right cheekbone and made a diagonal passage toward his mouth.

Angelica recognized the wound. It was the kind left by a close encounter with an expert, and very sharp, rapier. Mr. Carter was lucky, she mused, not to have lost one of his sparkling gray eyes.

“I thought—” Jack Carter smiled as he lifted his head from bowing over her hand. “—that I certainly must make the acquaintance of a lady who has sufficient courage to flout not only fashion, but the frenzied urgings of a hairdresser.”

Quite an opening, she thought. The reference was to Angelica’s unpowdered golden curls piled into a shining, tumbling corona. A few renegade locks had been allowed to trail negligently over one creamy shoulder.

The gentleman’s own wavy hair was queued, but like hers was untouched by powder. The color was light, but the exact color was difficult to pin down. In another light, it might prove to be chestnut, blonde or ash.

“It may be presumptuous, Miss TenBroeck, but I have come to ask if there is a dance you might have free to take with me.”

His words were deferential, but his eyes were not. She was visited by a feeling that if all her dances had been filled, she would throw over someone—anyone—simply to please him.

“You may have the very next dance, sir,” Angelica replied. She found Jack Carter’s good looks amplified by closeness. “That is,” she continued with a nervous toss of her head, “if you are bold enough to tread a measure with a partisan of General Washington.”

One sandy brow lifted, but his beautiful eyes sparkled as if he loved nothing so much as a challenge. Those eyes were truly gray, so pale and clear that looking into them took her breath away. They were like gazing at the frozen face of the Hudson on a sunny January day.

“I am bold enough for anything, Miss TenBroeck,” he replied.

There was something about him, manner more than appearance, which brought ‘Bram powerfully to mind.

Beloved ‘Bram, whose yellow hair had, no doubt, made a glorious trophy for some Iroquois war chief.

The sensation, as he took her hand, was phenomenal, as the familiar mingled with something exciting—and dangerous.

“You mean to tell me that mere politics has kept you disengaged?” Mr. Carter chuckled. A white smile came with the wintry flash of his eyes. “I do not mean to be impertinent, miss. Either to you or your cause, but these gentlemen must either be blind, timid—or both.”

“I believe their eyes are good enough, sir.”

Some applications for her hand Angelica had refused because she knew the man scorned her cause. Others, full of deference for what was generally felt to be Major Armistead’s stated claim, did not ask. Her guardian, Uncle TenBroeck, would not approve of any of these Tories under any circumstances—although her aunt, at a distance in New York, might have thumbed her nose at his wishes if Angelica had
chosen one of them. If a young woman took wedding vows before witnesses, she was married, whatever her guardian thought or wanted— which was why elopement was such a popular “sport.”

“The deficiency, sir,” Angelica continued, “is in their backs. The yellow part, you know.”

She wondered if he’d think her rough, but Jack chuckled again. “Ah, but I have heard, there is a prominent gentleman, an officer not yet among us, who asserts a claim upon all of your dances.”

“He may assert, sir, but the plain fact is, that having made no promises, I am quite free to dance with whomever I choose.”

“And are there no others with whom you wish to dance?” He was flirting now, lightly.

“I am of a mind to refuse all except the charitable offers of my kinsmen,” she retorted.

“I do not wish to contradict you, miss, but it seems that outright pleasure, not charity, must be the sole motive for any gentleman who seeks the honor of taking you out.”

It was almost as if she could see herself mirrored in his silver eyes—an old-fashioned, Dutch beauty with arching blonde brows, merry blue eyes, rosy cheeks and a pure profile.

“King of Denmark’s favorite!” cried the master of ceremonies, as he announced the next dance. The orchestra, musicians from the military bands, was best at country dances, so this choice was ambitious. Fifes and drums, tonight helped along by a couple of fiddlers, kept the sound shrill and the rhythm strong.

“Shall we go out?” It was posed as a question, but that strong hand of his maintained firm possession. His look was an arrow— aimed, with perfect frankness—at her heart.

On every side, fans fluttered. Angelica knew they were whispering about her.

To dance was impulsive. Belatedly, Angelica hoped Mr. Carter would not condescendingly call General Washington “Mr.,” or sneer at “the ragtag, runaway army.”

They went hand to hand through the long line of the set they’d joined. The tune was gay and striding, adapted, like much of the music that night, from a well-known march—Royal Deux Points. Jack proved a wonderful partner, graceful and strong, and Angelica found herself looking to the moments when they would hold hands again.

At last, the dance was done. Everyone, laughing and chattering, left the floor. Jack, his hand beneath her arm, guided her to a seat. It pleased Angelica unduly that her Aunt Laetitia was standing some
yards away, engaged in a fan-fluttering gossip with Lady Phillipse. It also pleased her that Jack Carter seemed in no hurry to leave her side.

When he asked if he might sit with her for a while, she accepted, with an awkward rush of pleasure. He opened a conversation, but this, with distressing inevitability, drifted to the war. Mr. Carter, as she’d anticipated, was strongly on the British side.

“With respect, miss, you Colonials don’t seem to realize there is a cost to defense,” he said. “Those taxes on tea and stamps were not high, and only enacted to pay debts incurred by Britain on your behalf.”

“Then your help was purchased too dear,” Angelica countered crisply. “For how did you defend us? Not particularly well, my uncle says. One of our cousins, who had gone to live north of Albany with her husband, was carried off by Indians. There were massacres and our frontiers towns were burnt.”

Jack began to reply, but Angelica wasn’t finished. “Mrs. De Keys, our housekeeper, says the officers quartered upon our family were insolent and rude.”
he went on. “They were more for wasting her larder, strutting in their fine red coats and making mischief among the girls than for fighting Indians and French in the woods. They also made admirable targets.”

“You have small respect for our fighting men, I see.” Instead of taking offense, Jack rewarded her with a big, easy grin. “But, as a retired military man,” he continued, “I advise caution. There is such a thing as too much boldness when you are surrounded by the enemy—as you are now, Miss TenBroeck.”

BOOK: Angel's Flight
10.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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