She’s his last chance to find peace…
Cade, Captain of the Night Riders, is determined to lead his men home to Texas to recover from a long and brutal war. But when a fellow Rider betrays the team, Cade sets aside his hopes for peace and swears he will hunt down the traitor no matter what it takes…
He has a foolproof plan to use the feisty Pilar diViere to lure her traitorous brother out of hiding. And yet when he takes the dark-eyed beauty into his arms, Cade can’t help but remember the passionate past they shared. He would do anything for a chance to rekindle that flame…even spare her brother’s life.
The war has changed them all, and each of the Night Riders must decide what is more important: love or revenge?
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Shenandoah, Virginia, 1864
The men formed a tight circle around a fire that was little more than glowing embers. One tossed dry moss onto the coals, and flames briefly illuminated their faces. They looked like haunted specters of the men they’d been—expressions harsh, gazes hard and unwavering, faces filmed with sweat. Ragged Confederate uniforms, the gray filthy with blood and dirt, gave no indication of the pride with which they had mounted up four days earlier. They’d spent three years protecting each other, being the family they’d left behind, but this night something less noble had drawn them together.
“Then it’s agreed?” The man spoke with a heavy Texas drawl. As he knelt on the ground, it was impossible to tell much about his height, but he had the aura and broad shoulders of a man born to command. His intense blue-eyed gaze moved from one man to the next around the circle. It was important that each one feel an unshakable commitment.
The men nodded their agreement.
“When do we start?” one asked.
“Where?” another wanted to know.
“They say he’s dead,” a third reminded them.
“He’s alive,” the leader said. “I can feel it.”
Nobody argued with him. His feelings had saved their lives more than once.
“A traitor like Laveau doesn’t die,” their leader said. “He has to be sought out and brought to justice. Not for ourselves, but for those who aren’t with us tonight.”
Their troop had been betrayed by one of their own. The magnitude of the treachery, the horror of so many needless deaths, had turned the survivors into vengeful men.
“What if we don’t survive the war?” one man asked. “There’s only eleven of us left.”
“Those who survive will carry on for the rest,” their leader said.
The troop had been thirty-six strong, all young, bright, eager men, proud of their abilities and reputations, impatient to add to the growing legends surrounding the Night Riders. Then they were betrayed. They had died like defenseless animals, pinned down under lethal fire on a small farm. It was a miracle any of them had survived.
But they had, and now they had a new goal, a new reason to go on living. They would finish the war—their commitment to that came first—but afterward they would seek out the man who’d robbed them of far more than the fruits of a successful raid.
“Does anybody have a Bible?” their leader asked.
A young man got up, walked a short distance away, and came back with a sword. “Use this,” he said, his voice quavering. “It was my brother’s.”
The men averted their eyes. They’d all lost something that night, but nothing so impossible to replace as a brother. The leader gripped the sword in the middle. “I swear that as long as I live I will never rest until the traitor is brought to justice.”
One after another the men stood, gripped the sword, repeated the oath.
“For my brother,” the boy from Arkansas said.
They continued until they named all the lost members of their troop.
“Remember,” their leader said. “No matter what happens, always remember.”