By Honour BoundJenna has followed the drum with her father, a British Army colonel, most of her life. Since the death of her mother, Jenna has been her father’s chief companion. She has grown to love the adventure of traveling with the regiment, despite the lack of comforts and the constant threat of danger. She has also grown to love her father’s second-in-command, Major Garrett Fairchild.
by Julia Justiss
Since Garrett Fairchild’s fiancée left him for another man, he has gone into battle prepared to die a glorious death that would at least erase the pain of his heartbreak. But the friendship of his colonel’s daughter, a woman who is dearer to him than any sister, has lately renewed his interest in life. Can he forget the past and learn to love again?
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From the outraged look on the face of Colonel Anderson’s wife, it was quite clear what that lady thought was transpiring in the bedchamber where she discovered Jenna Montague sitting on the lap of Major Garrett Fairchild. Still lightheaded from the storm of grief from which that officer had been trying to comfort her, Jenna struggled for words to refute Mrs. Anderson’s mistaken assumptions.
Before she could speak, the woman continued, “Never would I have thought you capable of such…wanton behavior, missy!” Her accusing voice echoing through the small stone chamber, she stalked toward the bed. “And you, sirrah! I would have expected better of Colonel Montague’s second-in-command than to discover him seducing his former commander’s daughter on the very afternoon of the colonel’s funeral!“
“Enough, madam,” Garrett’s low voice, soft but menacing as the whistle of shrapnel, sliced through the woman’s shrill tones. With unhurried precision, Garrett set Jenna back on the bed and rose to his full height. Emanating an unmistakable aura of command, he walked toward Mrs. Anderson - who took an instinctive step back.
“I’m sure you are much too wise, ma’am, to misconstrue what you’ve just seen - or to disparage my honor or that of the lady who has just agreed to become my wife.”
Mrs. Anderson looked as shocked as Jenna felt. “Y-Your wife?”
“Yes. You may wish us happy, and once my betrothed has finished here, I’m sure she will wish your assistance in planning the details of our wedding. Madam.” Garrett bowed, his arm continuing in a sweeping movement that indicated the open doorway.
After a moment’s hesitation, Mrs. Anderson once again heeded the voice of authority. “My…my congratulations, Jenna, Major. Well, I suppose I shall return to the common room.” With obvious reluctance, she turned toward the door. As she took a step, though, she added in an aggrieved tone, “Persephone is going to be quite annoyed. And you, young lady - meaning no disparagement, Major, for I’ve heard you are a fine officer - I hope you know what you’re doing, settling for a titleless younger son when, with your fortune, you could have had the pick of the marriage mart!”
“I shall have to endeavor to see she never regrets her decision,” Garrett said smoothly. Before Jenna figured out how to frame a response that acknowledged Mrs. Anderson’s well-meaning if unwanted interference without further insulting her supposed intended, the colonel’s wife had reached the door. “General Wellington will not be pleased!” she pronounced before exiting the room.
Disjointed thoughts along with a kaleidoscope of emotions swirled in Jenna’s head like dry leaves driven by a fierce Peninsular wind. Finally she seized upon the most pressing concern.
“Garrett, I’m so sorry about Mrs. Anderson! But you mustn’t think I mean to hold you to this fictitious engagement.”
Having apparently assured himself of Mrs. Anderson’s retreat, the major walked back to Jenna.
“If apologies are required, it should be me apologizing to you, for subjecting you to such a scene. And though I’m not happy to be the subject of Mrs. Anderson’s scurrilous innuendo, otherwise I’m quite content with the situation. This just accelerates what I’d intended all along.”
He gave her a moment to fully comprehend his meaning. “You intended all along to marry me?” she said at last.