Set in 1861 Virginia, friends start a perilous journey to rescue their kidnapped comrade.

Brayden Wakefield is quickly losing faith that hostilities between the states will end peaceably. He and his neighbors, Fletcher Stedman and Royce Carlyle, seems to be in the minority in their belief that a war would not end in a few months. They know any clash would be long and brutal. But their loyalty to one another supplants their reluctance, and they are drawn into the politics and atrocities of war to save their kidnapped comrade, Caleb Jenkins.

Nothing is as it seems, however. The gentlemen, turned raiders, squirrel behind enemy lines. Brayden uncovers lies and intrigue on both sides but as he and his fellow raiders execute their audacious plan, as they torch the layers of the conspiracy, Brayden finds love hidden among the ashes.

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Excerpt from Inside the Grey © Copyright 2024 Bobbi Groover

CHAPTER ONE

BRAYDEN WAKEFIELD SAT ON THE HILL WATCHING THE HORSES GRAZE. HE FELT RATHER RIDICULOUS GLUED TO THAT STUMP, the remnant of the tree he’d chopped to pieces the day after her death. His mouth pulled back into a mirthless grin, and he shook his head. The very spot was right in front of him, the dark depression staring up at him like an accusatory eye. He didn’t want to return yet everyday here he sat with his toe digging in the dirt, flicking small pebbles out of the hole. He blew out a deep breath. He’d had his dreams once. Now he could state the exact day, the exact hour when he had gone from being cocky to confused.

An altercation in the pasture caused one of the mares to toss her head with a high-pitched squeal that sounded almost human. The sound ruthlessly took him back to that day, that hour. The muscles in his chest hardened to stone, encasing him in a breathless prison. The mare’s screeching reminded him of Lavinia’s screams when she had been bitten.

A thump on his back forced the muscles to relax, and Brayden gasped.

“So here you are, Bry. I should have known.”

Brayden didn’t have to turn to know the speaker behind him. The gravelly voice belonged to his good friend and neighbor, Fletcher Stedman. Fletcher had been savagely knifed years ago. The attack had taken his voice and nearly his life. “It’s been two years, Bry. It’s time to let go. We’ve all had our tragedies.”

“No censure, Fletcher. Please, not today.”

Fletcher walked around to face him and slowly pulled off his gloves finger by finger. Brayden averted his gaze as he studied the legs of the two geldings whose reins were slung across Fletcher’s arm. Fletcher’s tall, black boots were clearly in view but the man casting the huge shadow remained silent.

Brayden finally raised his eyes. “Two years today, Fletcher.” Brayden clucked his tongue, yanked off his hat and ran a distracted hand back and forth through his hair.

“I know.” Fletcher took two giant steps to his saddle, returned with his crystal flask and handed it to Brayden. When Brayden refused, he flipped the silver top and shoved it back toward him. “Yes, Bry. You’ve probably been sitting on that stump long enough to blister your backside.”

Brayden drew in a quick breath to retort, but Fletcher grabbed his hand and slammed the flask into his palm.

“No, Bry, swill first, then mount. I’ll listen to anything you have to say along the way. I’m starving. Perhaps you’ve forgotten you did invite my family to supper. I could only entertain everyone with my fiddle for so long. I began hunting when your chair remained empty, and I was dispatched to find you.”

Brayden nearly choked on his mouthful. “Fletcher, my humblest apologies. I don’t know where my mind is these days.”

Fletcher smacked his shoulder as they mounted. “These days?”

Brayden dragged another long swig of the flask before handing it to Fletcher who slid it neatly into its cylindrical leather case along the saddle. “Touché.” He chirruped to his mount and the two galloped with purpose.

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