Heath Calhoun and Morgan Boudreaux have been friends since childhood
and both are in love with Briony Tinsdale. When the War Between the
States breaks out, they both rush to enlist, only to find out that war is hell.
During the four long years of death and hardship, they turn to each other
When the war ends, and they return home, Briony is stunned, but aroused,
to find out about their past relationship. Can the three of them heal the
wounds of the past together?
WARNING! This is by far my most erotic title!
July 13, 1865
“Miz Briony, there’s some boys down in the kitchen sayin’ they know you.”
Briony Tinsdale tucked a limp strand of hair behind her ear and gave her housekeeper, Becky, a frown. She’d been
sorting through trunks in the attic all morning, broiling in the summer heat, and was unfit to receive visitors of any sort,
even the stream of weary soldiers who took shelter for the night at Belle Mère on their way home from the war.
“Tell them I’ll visit with them at supper,” she muttered as she lifted a pile of musty old blankets from a trunk. These
would come in handy. With all the soldiers passing through, they were always low on bedding. Cloth of any kind was in
short supply. She’d hoped the attic would yield some treasures, and so far she hadn’t been disappointed.
“I think you’ll be wantin’ to speak with these ones,” Becky insisted. “Cook says it be young Master Calhoun and that no-
account overseer’s son what was always taggin’ along after him.”
Briony’s heart gave a fearful lurch. She dropped the blankets, raising a cloud of dust which left her coughing and
choking. Heath...and Morgan. She’d never thought to see either of them again and had mourned their loss every day
since she’d heard their unit had been decimated at Gettysburg. Could they possibly be standing in her kitchen after all
Her hand strayed to her auburn hair. As she’d feared, her foray into the attic had left a rat’s nest of tangles. Filth and
grime covered her worn dress, and she probably reeked to high heaven. Dear God. If Heath and Morgan had truly
returned, she couldn’t greet them like this.
“Tell Cook to prepare the finest meal she can scrounge up,” Briony ordered breathlessly. “Make sure the boys have
everything they need; a hot bath, some whiskey, some of Bryant’s old clothes... Make them comfortable, Becky. These
are our boys, back at last.”
“What are you gonna do?” Becky shook her head in disapproval as Briony raced to an old mirror leaning against the
wall. “Ain’t you gonna come see them?”
Briony groaned as she surveyed the damage. Four years of hardship and heartache had taken their toll. The harried-
looking woman in the mirror bore little resemblance to the spoiled belle she’d once been. “Look at me. I fear they won’t
even recognize me as the girl they once knew.”
“I’ll have Sam bring a hipbath to your room, and I’ll freshen up your green dress.” Becky came up behind her, her dark
face gentling as she saw Briony’s expression. “You still lovely, Miz Briony. Them boys is gonna be fightin’ over you just
like they always done.”
Briony gave her friend a quick hug. “Tell them I’ll be down for dinner. I just need a while to make myself presentable.”
Becky nodded and headed for the stairs, leaving Briony lost in her memories of that summer before her two best
friends had left for war. Sometime that spring they’d finally started looking at her as a woman and vying for her
attention, trying to force her to make an impossible decision.
She’d loved them both. Heath had the aristocratic blond good looks of an angel and the sweet temperament of one
too. In his arms she’d always felt safe and cherished. Morgan, on the other hand, with his dark, dangerous beauty, had
always been the one who made her act like a fool.
In the end, she’d let both of them take far too many liberties. She’d let Morgan take her virginity in a passion-filled night
down by the river. To her utter shame, she’d allowed Heath to seduce her a few days later. His sweet tenderness had
been so different, but equally fulfilling.
Now they’d had four long years to compare notes. Much as she’d missed them, she didn’t know how she’d look either
of them in the face or how she’d make that decision now, if either of them still wanted her.
* * * * *
Morgan Boudreaux had never before eaten in the dining room at Belle Mère. He shifted uncomfortably in Bryant
Tinsdale’s borrowed clothes, feeling like an imposter. The war had evened things up a bit, making paupers out of some
of the South’s richest families, yet for all their years of friendship, he’d still never expected to sit down to dinner with
Briony and Heath at Belle Mère’s massive teak table.
Briony’s people had downright spoiled them since they’d arrived, but they’d yet to see the lady herself, and Morgan
wasn’t quite sure what to expect. He’d once loved her with all the passionate glory of youth, but a lot had happened in
the past few years. He didn’t imagine Belle Mère’s pampered princess was any more in his grasp now than she’d ever
She’d loved him. He didn’t doubt it. And he’d once coaxed her into giving him far more than she should have. But they’
d always known there was no future for them. In the end, she’d marry Heath and join Belle Mère and River View, as
their fathers had always planned.
He stole a glance at Heath, who looked relaxed and every inch the aristocrat he’d always been. Morgan knew it was an
act. Heath had come home to find River View razed to ashes, his people all run off, and everything he’d once taken for
granted gone as though it had never been. If not for Briony’s charity, they’d be sleeping in the woods again tonight.
A few sips of French brandy had gone straight to Morgan’s head, and he couldn’t help but smile a bit at the irony. Of all
of them, his circumstances had changed the least. If you had nothing, then you had nothing to lose.
A sound in the hallway behind him had him turning in his chair, half rising before he even knew for certain it was her.
Sure enough, Briony stood in the doorway, one slim hand resting on the frame as though for support, her green eyes
sparkling with tears of happiness. Her dark auburn hair framed her face in a riot of curls, and she wore an emerald
gown which had obviously seen better days, but was clean and fit her well. She hadn’t escaped the wear of time
unscathed—the girlish softness of her features had sharpened to those of a woman—but she was still the most
beautiful creature he’d ever seen.
“Morgan,” she whispered brokenly. “Heath. I can’t believe you’re really here. I thought I’d lost you both.”
He took an unseemly amount of satisfaction in the fact that she’d said his name first. “Come here, darlin’,” he
whispered, opening his arms.
With a glad cry she rushed toward him, flinging herself against him, all sweet curves and smelling of lavender. Christ,
she felt good. He’d worried his years at war, the things he’d done with Heath out of loneliness and need, had ruined
him for this.
He met Heath’s gaze over the top of Briony’s head, afraid of what he’d see. They hadn’t spoken at all of what would
happen once they made it home, but surely Heath knew the tenderness and passion they’d shared during the last few
years had to end. But the flash of pain and betrayal in Heath’s eyes stunned him, and he realized Heath had never had
any intention of letting him go.
* * * * *
Heath turned away from the sight of Morgan and Briony’s embrace, taking a deep swig of brandy and trying to
compose himself. In a moment she’d realize she’d left him out, and she’d wrench herself out of Morgan’s arms and hug
Heath just as enthusiastically.
He’d hug her back, and then they’d both do their best to pretend they wouldn’t rather be in Morgan’s arms. The only
difference was that Briony had the comfort of knowing she was the one Morgan loved.
She’d always had Morgan’s heart, no matter how Heath had lied to himself or tried to pretend differently. He hadn’t
missed the expression on Morgan’s face when she’d first tumbled into his arms, as though he’d died and gone to
Pasting on a smile, he put down his drink and wrapped his arms around them both, willing to take whatever he could.
Briony laughed through her tears and pressed her lips to his cheek. “Welcome home, Heath. Welcome home.”
He pushed away thoughts of the blackened ruin that had once been his home. Belle Mère was the next best thing. At
least they were back in Louisiana, and they were all together again, which was enough for tonight. He’d worry about
what the hell he was going to do with the rest of his life tomorrow. “Thanks, honey. Sometimes it seemed like we’d
never get back.”
She drew away, wiping her damp cheeks with a trembling hand. “I missed you both so much.”
Morgan took her arm and led her to the foot of the table, pressing a glass of brandy into her hand. “Sit down, darlin’.
Have a drink.”
Heath took his own seat, trying to forget the last time he’d been in this room. His parents had been in attendance, as
had Briony’s mother, father, and two older brothers. Brandy had flowed, and they’d all laughed and joked about how
quickly they’d kick the Yankee’s asses. But everyone else was gone now, buried along with untold thousands more, all
victims of their own arrogance.
Not long after they took their seats, two smiling black women appeared, bearing trays heaped with food, which they
deposited upon the table with a flourish. Glazed ham, yams, tossed greens, and soft, fresh bread.
“Oh, Christ, I think I might cry,” Morgan murmured, voicing Heath’s thoughts exactly.
“We don’t eat like this all the time,” Briony warned. “But we have so little reason to celebrate I told Cook to be
“We’ve been living on hardtack and whatever we could scrounge along the trail for longer than I care to remember,”
Heath reminded her. “Any one of these things would have been more than we could imagine.”
She blushed, obviously happy that her generous bounty had been appreciated. As she passed the dishes, his mouth
watered, and it was all he could do to remember his manners and not tear into the food like a wild animal. Briony
seemed to sense speech was beyond them, for she kept conversation to a minimum for the rest of the meal.
After they’d eaten, she led them through the large, echoing house to the second floor, where two guest bedrooms had
been prepared. Soft beds, clean sheets, a soft breeze ruffling lace curtains… Heath found himself overwhelmed by the
“I hope you’ll both be very comfortable,” she told them, careful not to let her gaze linger on either one of them for very
long. He found her determination to treat them as equals unexpectedly sweet. “I have so many questions, so many
things to tell you…but that can all wait until you’ve had a good night’s sleep. We have all the time in the world now, don’
“All the time in the world,” Morgan echoed, staring at Briony with unmistakable love and hunger.
Heath felt as though he’d been kicked in the gut. Morgan and Briony might have all the time in the world, but Heath
knew he only had tonight. Somehow, he had to make Morgan see that the love between them did not have to end, just
because the war had.
As soon as the house was quiet, Heath knew he had to go to Morgan and plead his case—profess his love—one last
* * * * *