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Authors: Janeen O'Kerry

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Anjele was well aware that lots of other people looked down their noses at the Acadians due to the mixed heritage of some, but it didn’t matter one bit to her. She felt sorry for the way their ancestors, French Canadians, had been driven from their colony of Acadia by the British, forcing them to find new homes in unfamiliar territories. Many, like the families of Emalee and Simona, had chosen to settle in the fertile bayou lands of southern Louisiana. They lived in small, compact, self-contained communities deep in the swamps. When they sought work, it was in the cane or cotton fields. But, unlike the Negro slaves, the Cajuns were paid wages and free to leave at quitting time to return to their bayou homes.

Anjele envied them their happy, carefree lives as she listened to Emalee and Simona and the other girls describe the merriment that went on in their compounds as they cooked their supper. Cauldrons of turtle soup or crawfish gumbo bubbled deliciously while fiddlers played rousing Cajun tunes in an effort to ease their weary spirits after a hard day. They would sing, and sometimes, on the banks of the shadow-silent waters of the mysterious bayou, and even though she wasn’t allowed, Anjele longed to be a part of it all.

Two years ago, Simona had married, when she was only fourteen. But that hadn’t stopped her from spending time with Anjele whenever possible. Anjele would slip down to the edge of the cane fields and wait till the overseer wasn’t looking, so both Simona and Emalee could dart away. The trio would then disappear into the moss-shrouded forest for a few stolen hours at their secret pool, treasured memories that now filled Anjele with longing on the hot and humid afternoon.

Suddenly she was torn from reverie by the sound of the door from the outside hall opening. She watched as Claudia crept stealthily into the room. Seeing Anjele’s empty bed, she glanced about wildly, spotting her at the open French doors. “You’re supposed to rest until two o’clock, and it’s only half past one,” she said sharply.

“So are you,” Anjele reminded her. Dear Lord, she couldn’t remember a time in her life when they weren’t sparring. She honestly felt she had tried through the years to get along, but it was a hopeless situation. Claudia despised her and always would.

Claudia’s ice blue eyes flashed with defiance as she lifted her chin and smiled gloatingly. “Mother said I could go with her to take tea at Miss Ida’s. We’re going to be leaving soon.” She was also wearing a chemise but several ruffled petticoats covered her pantalets. She crossed the room to a large mahogany armoire and jerked open the mirrored doors.

Anjele, stunned by her nerve, demanded, “What do you think you’re doing?”

Claudia ignored her as she pawed impatiently through the gowns hanging inside till she found what she was looking for and yanked it out in triumph.

“I’m wearing this. It’s cooler than anything I have, and it will look better on me than you, anyway.”

Anjele shook her head in firm denial. “I’m wearing that to Rebecca Saunders’s birthday ball tonight.”

“So? Wear it. We’ll be home around five.” Draping the garment over her arm, she started out.

Anjele ran to block her path. She hated to have an argument, but every time Claudia borrowed her clothes, they were brought back mussed. And the dress was a favorite for the sweltering weather—a cool, pale green color, fashioned of light lace and chiffon and draped off the shoulder with a scooped bodice.

She knew Claudia was only using the heat as an excuse. The real reason was her larger bosom, which would be more revealing in Anjele’s smaller bodice—and all for Raymond’s benefit. Claudia had never made a secret of the way she felt about him. Not that Anjele was jealous. Actually, it concerned her that she wasn’t.

Anjele repeated her objection, adding, in an effort to pacify, “I’ll be glad to let you wear it another time.”

Claudia’s eyes narrowed. “You’ll be sorry.”

“You have other dresses.” She bit back the impulse to point out that Claudia actually had a much nicer wardrobe than she did. It was merely another way her mother made sure she could not be accused of favoring her natural daughter over the adopted one.

“It’s because of Raymond, isn’t it?” Claudia challenged. “You’re afraid he’ll think I’m prettier than you, so you don’t want me to look nice.”

Quietly, Anjele yielded, “You are prettier than me, Claudia.” And she believed that to be so. Anjele envied her cousin’s naturally curly golden-blond hair and limpid blue eyes, while thinking her own appearance to be a bit on the plain side.

Her mother said it was because she didn’t try to be glamorous, which was true. Anjele much preferred her long hair blowing in the breeze when she went riding, and it was too much trouble to sponge her skin with rosewater and lemon juice. She saw nothing wrong with tanned flesh and sunburned cheeks.

Claudia was getting angrier by the minute. “If I’m so pretty, then how come it’s you Raymond is going to marry?”

Anjele sighed and shook her head, wondering once more why it had to be this way between them. Claudia knew as well as she how it all came to be but pushed back impatience as she reminded, “Ida and Vinson have been friends with Momma and Poppa forever. It was always understood.”

“But you don’t love him…” Her words trailed off as Jobie, the little servant girl, appeared in the doorway.

Looking fearfully from one to the other, Jobie finally held out the tray she was carrying and said to Anjele, “I got yo’ lemonade, missy.”

Anjele stepped back long enough to allow her to place it on the table by the window but made sure Claudia did not rush by with the dress.

When they were once more alone, Anjele saw no need to continue the subject of Raymond and tried to end the conversation. She held out her hands to take the garment. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you borrow it, Claudia. Not this time.”

Claudia was silent for a moment, then whirled around as she cried, “Very well. But if I can’t wear it, neither will you. Not tonight, anyway.”

Before Anjele could make a move to stop her, she ran to where Jobie had left the pitcher of lemonade and quickly snatched it up to pour the liquid on the dress.

Keeper of the Light

 

 

 

Janeen O’Kerry

 

 

 

 

When an enchantress finds her life and all the secrets she guards threatened, only a Champion of Men can save her.

 

In ancient Ireland, the woman known as Rioghan keeps a fragile peace with the nearby settlement of Men by serving as a midwife and healer. She has met the King’s Champion, the handsome Donaill, more than once, and finds him to be one of the few to deal fairly with the Sidhe—or Little People, as the Men derisively call them.

But when some of the Men learn that Rioghan guards more than just secrets, and indeed knows the whereabouts of the Sidhe’s golden treasure, she will have to place her trust in Donaill in order to save her own people and, perhaps, find a future for herself beyond the loneliness of the forest.

 

This Retro Romance reprint was originally published in January 2003 by Leisure Books.

eBooks are
not
transferable.

They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

11821 Mason Montgomery Road Suite 4B

Cincinnati OH 45249

 

Keeper of the Light

Copyright © 2013 by Janeen O’Kerry

ISBN: 978-1-61921-201-5

Edited by Heather Osborn

Cover by Kim Killion

 

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

Original Publication by Leisure Books: January 2003

First
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: April 2013

www.samhainpublishing.com

Table of Contents

Pronunciation Guide

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

About the Author

Look for these titles by Janeen O’Kerry

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