Monday, August 5, 2013

Where My Love Lies Dreaming excerpt by Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Where My Love Lies Dreaming by Christopher Hawthorn Moss is a love story that takes place just before and during the American Civil War.  The main characters are a wealthy Creole riverboat gambler and a rather repressed German immigrant who works for the US government.

Elegant and sexy New Orleans gambler Fran├žois "Frankie" Deramus, discovers that his beloved riverboat "Le Beau Soleil" is not, as he always claimed, his "only love" when repressed German immigrant Johnny Stanley books passage on the long trip from Illinois to the Crescent City and into his heart and bed. As you can guess, the two men wind up on opposite sides of the war.  Can this Southerner and Northerner survive when they are separated by the War Between the States?

 "If you don't fall head over heels in lust with Frankie Deramus, I'm sorry, but you just ain't alive.!"

Where My Love Lies Dreaming
Dreamspinner Press (July 31, 2013)
ISBN: 978-1-62380-638-5 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-62380-637-8 (paperback)


Chapter 26

(Frankie, a Confederate intelligence officer, is part of a band investigating gunshots.  They have come across a party of Yankee sharpshooters who had fired the shots at a riverboat on the Mississippi River.  It is April 1865.)

The light was failing, but it was too early for the campfire to make silhouettes of the forms seated around it. One of the men was squatting by it stirring something in a pot. Another played a harmonica, a tune Frankie recognized as “Lorena.”

The picket, a man whose shoes were tied together with muddy string, lay behind them now, his throat cut, having never heard the soldier Barnet sent to silence him.

Back in the darkness a good way from the little campfire, Frankie tried to catch Barnet’s eye, to communicate the importance of preserving the officers for information. But Barnet had moved out of Frankie’s sight. He sighed, waiting for the signal. He thought, Les pauvres, they must be dead on their feet to be so easily taken.

He did not hear the signal when Barnet gave it, but obviously, the rest of the Rebel soldiers did, for with a bloodcurdling scream, they came at the men in the camp from all sides. The Yankees didn’t have a chance to snatch their guns and defend themselves. They were shot as they jerked up to stand.

Frankie screamed, “The officers!” knowing full well he could not be heard over the explosion of gunfire. He dashed forward, a second after the rest of the band converged on the campsite. He finally spotted Barnet, who had a colonel on the ground, holding his gun on him. The man lay on his back, his hands up and empty, a developing bruise under his chin from Barnet’s rifle butt.

The other Rebel soldiers milled about the bodies, prodding them with boot toes and their rifle barrels. None of the Yankees stirred. They were all dead. Frankie exchanged cold looks with the Yankee colonel, then went over to where a lieutenant lay on his back. “God damn it,” he muttered. Dead. He went over to the body to strip it of its pistol and look for any papers before the man’s blood soaked them. He knelt and reached for the sidearm, then for the collar buttons of the man’s uniform tunic.

He froze. It couldn’t be. The moment he recognized Johnny’s face, he saw movement so slight only he could have seen it. “Johnny!” he allowed to slip out under his breath. He fell on his knees by Johnny’s side and reached to his throat to feel for a pulse. It was there and strong. He was alive. He frantically started loosening buttons and straps to give him air and noticed as Johnny’s head fell sideways there was blood on the back of it and on a gnarled tree root where he must have struck it. He was only alive because he had been knocked out so the soldiers did not bother to shoot him. Officer or not, wounded men were shot. There was no way to deal with them, no way to take them back to camp as prisoners. Frankie put his hands palms down on Johnny’s chest and said an Ave as quickly as he could.

“What’s the problem?” Barnet was behind Frankie, peering through the gloom. “He not dead?”

Frankie thought fast. “No, but I thought he was reaching for his pistol, so I grabbed it. I think he’s unconscious.”

Barnet turned his head and spat on the ground. “Wittkamp, get over here. We got a wounded man.”

The muscularly built private stepped over to the wounded lieutenant and started to raise his rifle to shoot him. 

“Stop. It’s an officer. I can interrogate him when he comes to.”

Wittkamp looked at Barnet, who shrugged. “All right, Zeke. Maybe later.”

Barnet directed his men in the disposal of the bodies. Bender guarded the colonel, who had been trussed like a pig and now sat watching their every move from under bushy red eyebrows.  Frankie was aware of the man’s glare as Frankie examined Johnny’s body.

Frankie lifted Johnny to inspect his wound. The gash was bad enough to knock him out and was bleeding like mad as scalp wounds do. Frankie retrieved his handkerchief and held it folded into a compress against the wound, his palm cradling the back of Johnny’s head. With his other hand, Frankie searched for gunshot wounds. He found none, at least none fresh. He noticed how well-developed Johnny still was, perhaps more so, as if he had resumed his boxing.

“Johnny, mon ange, what has become of you all these years?”

At the sound of his name, Johnny’s eyelids fluttered. Ice-blue eyes tried to focus on the face of the man who held him. “Frankie,” he breathed. He smiled contentedly, then lost consciousness again.

Shield-wall Productions,
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Victor J. Banis said...

Oh, yes, romantic as all git-out. I can almost feel that heavy Louisiana air wafting about me.

Very nice excerpt.

Lloyd Meeker said...

And some very interesting story questions, too!

The excerpt is too short for me to actually fall in love with Frankie, but I'm happily tilting in his direction...

Christopher Moss said...

Romance yes, but this is also a story about how experiences can challenge one's beliefs about himself and his world, how people often are forced to compromise their very principles, and how forgiveness cannot come cheaply. Oh, and there's lots of sex and humor too.

Kit Moss