Book 3: Tortured Souls Series

Deleted Prologue: River Road

Deleted Prologue: River Road

When I received the distribution rights back to River Road, I decided to omit the prologue because – quite frankly – it’s brutal and uncomfortable and not for every reader. The story doesn’t suffer in any way by taking out the prologue. But if you enjoy the grittier side of a storyline, please read on! This is a dream sequence that shows Hatchet’s past life in the Civil War and how his first fiancee was killed by the Butcher.


April 4, 1861

Prince William County, Virginia


“We aren’t fucking animals!” Charles Moore hissed.

He hauled his comrade to his feet by the collar of his shirt, where deep scratches marred his skin. Lying on a pile of hay was a weeping woman, her bodice gaping and skirts hiked to her waist. Charles could not hold her gaze, with those wide and frantic eyes, or he would retch. She scrambled to the corner of the barn stall, peering through her tangled mass of hair.

“You’d best leave,” Charles said gently, holding her attacker at bay. “Go on, hurry.”

“Stay out of this!” his comrade growled.

Frederick threw a punch, but Charles leaned back, evading the jab. So this was the way the scene would play out? Fine. Because this shit will not happen on my watch. He nailed his opponent with an upper cut to the gut. Frederick heaved in a sickening gasp, his mouth flapping like a guppy.

More men around them roused from their sleep, and the woman finally came to her senses. She held her bodice together while running for the exit. Her hiccups fueled Charles’s rage, and he slammed his knee into Frederick’s groin. The disgusting pig fell to the ground, groaning.

Soldiers were honor-bound to fight and protect.

“Where do you think you’re going?” another soldier asked, snatching hold of the woman’s long tresses. He yanked her back, wrapping his arms around her from behind. “You’re a pretty one. But you started the fun without me? That wasn’t very nice.”

She shrieked and struggled in his grasp, but Warren only chuckled.

Charles stormed toward them, heat blazing through his veins like wildfire. “Let her go. You’re feeling frisky? Then milk your cow yourself.”

“Don’t think so,” Warren said, grinding his hips into her buttocks. “Not when I’ve got a soft pokehole to enjoy. Settle down. No need to fight. We can all enjoy her company.”

Warren had a twisted mind. The woman’s tears were not an invitation to rut between her thighs.

“Would you like to leave?” Charles asked the woman, his voice soft.

“Ye…yes..,” she choked out.

Pulling out his knife, Charles held the weapon steady. “You heard the lady. She isn’t interested in playing with you or anyone else. Release her. We’re soldiers, not a band of mangy mutts.”

Warren snorted but shook his head. “What say you, Jacob? I know you’re aching to taste her hot cunny. Three against one. I’ll take those odds against a seventeen-year-old puppy.”

Another man stepped out of the shadows, wielding a five-inch Bowie. “Count me in. Take her in the stall. We’ll deal with him,” Jacob said, eyeing Charles as Frederick closed in from the other side.

Oh, hell! Things were about to get ugly. But the woman couldn’t defend herself, and she didn’t deserve to be brutalized. Charles gripped the handle of his knife tighter while assessing the two men. Jacob was the greater threat, experienced and built like a bear. He had to go down first while Charles still had his full strength.

He advanced on the bigger man but was distracted by a feral growl from behind. What the hell? As he turned toward the threat, Frederick’s head plowed into Charles’s stomach like a battering ram. They fell to the ground in a pile of body parts. All of the wind rushed out of his lungs, and his head smacked against the wood floor.

He saw stars and shook his head to clear his vision. Searing pain burned a path across his chest, and he glanced down. The motherfucker had sliced through his shirt, grazing his skin. A cut meant to warn, not harm. Blood seeped from the gash, the coppery scent flooding his nostrils.

Adrenaline coursed through Charles’s veins, and he got to his hands and knees, willing himself to stand. A booted foot smashed his wrist, and he cried out, falling to the ground once again. His weapon clattered beside him, and Jacob kicked it away with a mean grin. He kneeled on Charles’s back, pressing his chest to the ground. With the man’s full weight crushing him, Charles could scarce draw breath.

The woman lay only feet away in the barn stall, her tear-streaked face visible through the doorway. Raw terror flashed in her wide, brown eyes, pleading.

“You’re going to watch, little pup,” Jacob growled in his ear. “Don’t close your eyes, or it’ll go worse for her. Let’s see if your cow moos to be milked when we’re through.”

“Help me,” the woman whimpered.

Charles couldn’t fight off three men. His focus turned to the bits of hay clinging to her raven hair. The golden strands lengthened and morphed into a halo of blond tresses. He blinked rapidly as his gaze flashed to her eyes. What the devil? They were no longer brown, rather as blue as the fathomless sea. The deck of his father’s clipper ship emerged from the barn floor as wind whistled in his ears. He shot to his feet, no longer a weak, teenaged boy, but a strong, muscular man. The ship rolled upon the waves, and he lost his bearings, wobbling to the side.

A woman screamed, terrifying cries for mercy, her voice hoarse, almost unrecognizable. Nicolette. With her body tied to the mast of the ship and flames consuming her gown, his fiancée was helpless.

She howled and thrashed. “Charles, save me!”

Heat blasted him square in the face, and he instinctively held his forearm out, protecting himself against the blazing fire. He sprang forward, dodging a rolling barrel. But no matter how fast he ran, or how many obstacles he traversed, he couldn’t get closer. Her screams morphed into the deafening blare of a horn, and Charles gaped as a steamer ship crashed into the hull of the ship, splintering the wood.