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Authors: Bonnie Leon

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Longings of the Heart

BOOK: Longings of the Heart
3.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

of the            

Other books by Bonnie Leon

The Queensland Chronicles

The Heart of Thornton Creek
For the Love of the Land
When the Storm Breaks

Sydney Cove

To Love Anew


of the                


© 2008 by Bonnie Leon

Published by Revell
a division of Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

Printed in the United States of America

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Leon, Bonnie.
Longings of the heart : a novel / Bonnie Leon.
p. cm. — (Sydney Cove ; 2)
ISBN 978-0-8007-3177-9 (pbk.)
1. British—Australia—Fiction. 2. Young women—Fiction. 3. Australia— Fiction. I. Title.
PS3562.E533L66 2008
813 .54—dc22


Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.




























Hands grabbed for her, strong arms pinned her down. She could smell the vile scent of sweet lozenges. She tried to wrench herself free, but the faceless man held her firmly. She tried to cry out, but terror paralyzed her.

Somehow she managed to scramble free, running toward escape, but darkness pervaded the room, and she couldn’t find the door. And then the hands found her again and dragged her back to the bed, pinning her down.
Please don’t hurt me
Help! Please
someone help!
Her sobs brought no mercy from her assailant.

Suddenly Hannah was awake. She sat upright in bed. The room was dark. Where was she? Shivering with emotion, she wiped damp hair off her face and pulled her blanket up about her neck.

There was movement in the bed. Someone was with her! Panic bolted through Hannah, and she jumped out of bed and moved through the dark room like someone blind. The only light was that of dying embers in the hearth. She stumbled over something, and it clattered to the floor. Feeling her way, she sought escape. Where was the door?

“Who’s there?” came a familiar voice out of the darkness.

More asleep than awake, Hannah kept trying to find the door. Instead, she bumped against a table and nearly toppled it.

“Hannah? Is that you?”

Still trapped within the nightmare, Hannah was confused. She recognized the voice. Did she dare answer?

“Hannah. What is it? Is something wrong?”

John! It’s John
. She let out a breath of relief. It wasn’t Mr. Walker. It was her husband. “Thank you, Lord.” Hannah couldn’t hold back tears.

She heard him move from the bed, and then the room was illuminated as a candle was lit in the hearth. John held it aloft, and his eyes found her. “What is it? You’re white as a ghost.”

Hannah fumbled for an explanation. She’d hidden her past from her husband. How could she explain her nightmare? “It was just a dream. I’m sorry I awakened you.”

John moved toward her. “Oh, luv.” He pulled her tightly against him. “You’re quaking. What were you dreaming about that frightened you so?”

“It was nothing. I . . . I’m fine now.” In truth, she was far from it. He was still close—Judge Walker and his attack still too real. Hannah melded into John.

“Come back to bed, then.” He draped an arm about her shoulders and walked her back to their bed. She climbed in, and he gently covered her with the light blanket and then moved around to his side, set the candle on the night table, and lay beside her.

Hannah closed her eyes. Why would she dream about Judge Walker on her wedding night?

Her thoughts returned to the previous evening. As they’d prepared for bed, she’d been anxious. But there’d been no need.

John had been tender, very unlike Judge Walker who had forced himself upon her. And her new husband seemed to have no notion that she’d come to their marriage bed tarnished.

Remorse jabbed at her. Mrs. Atherton had beseeched her to tell John the truth, but she’d not done so. Had her mistress been right? Should she have confessed her sin?

Hannah had gone to John, but he’d shushed her. He hadn’t wanted to know the truth.

Even while justifying her decision, she knew her choice had been deceitful. But if she had told him, she might have lost him. She glanced at John in the glow of the candle and her heart fluttered. He was exceedingly handsome and a fine man. How was it that she had been so blessed?

He has a right to know
He’s my husband
Until I tell him he
doesn’t truly know who I am
. She closed her eyes, and an image of his shock and revulsion erupted in her mind. Trepidation wrapped itself about her, and she pulled the blanket up more tightly under her chin.
I can never tell him

John pulled Hannah close. “Are you better now?”

“I’m fine. Truly.”

“Good.” He kissed her. “I love you.”

“And I love you.”

John kissed her forehead and then pressed his lips to one cheek and then the other. He gazed at her in the flickering light. “How is it that I’m the lucky one who wedded you?”

“It is I who am fortunate,” Hannah whispered, barely able to find her voice.

“Mmm, to wake up beside you every day for the rest of my life . . .” John let the sentence hang in the air. “God has shown me great favor, though I am undeserving.”

“It is you who are a gift to me.” Hannah cradled his face in her hands and kissed him and then held him as tightly as she could, and still it wasn’t enough.

John’s embrace became more powerful, and his lips sought hers.

Love drove away the nightmare. Passion flamed inside Hannah, and all she knew was her husband.

Reaching her arms over her head, Hannah stretched and then opened her eyes. John lay beside her, still sleeping. The previous day’s events rushed at her—the wedding, dancing, and revelry. And then she remembered her first night as Mrs. John Bradshaw. Hannah could barely catch her breath. It was too wonderful to comprehend. She rested a hand on her chest, the joy nearly more than she could withstand.

Then she closed her eyes, and unexpectedly the nightmare rushed back at her. Taking a slow deep breath, she refused to allow its ugly tentacles to remain with her. That was the past; now she had a future with a wonderful man.

Rolling onto her side, she rested her cheek in the crook of her arm and studied John’s muscled back.
Why have you blessed
me so, Lord? I don’t deserve him

John’s breathing was quiet and steady. Hannah gently pressed her hand against his warm skin. He stirred slightly and then rolled onto his other side, facing her. His eyes remained closed.

She gazed at her husband. He was most certainly handsome. Dark hair cascaded onto his forehead and down a cheek, framing his strong, angled face. Although he still slept, Hannah could feel the love she saw in his vibrant hazel eyes whenever he looked at her.

She remembered their nuptial kiss. It had been gentle and respectful, and yet she’d felt his restrained passion.
Why me?
Why does he love me?
She rested an index finger on his arm and gently caressed his skin. His breathing became less steady and his eyelids flickered open. His gaze settled on Hannah and he smiled.

“Good morning, wife.” He draped his arm across her side and nuzzled her neck. “My love.”

Hannah snuggled against him, resting a hand on his broad chest. She relished the security she felt at his strength and his familiarity.

“Mrs. John Bradshaw. The name has a lovely sound.” Hannah smiled. “When I was a girl, my mum bought a bell for our door. We couldn’t afford it, but I wanted one, and she did it because she loved me. Each time the door opened or closed, the bell would chime, and I thought there was nothing in the world more grand. It wasn’t much, really, but I knew Mum had purchased it out of love.” Hannah closed her eyes for a moment and then looked at John. “The sound of Mrs. John Bradshaw is even lovelier than the ringing of that bell.”

John chuckled. “I never thought much about my name, but it sounds quite agreeable when spoken by my wife.”

“Perhaps we can buy a bell and hang it from our door.”

“It can be a reminder of your mother.”

“And a reminder of love and devotion.”

John kissed her and then fluffed his pillow and leaned against it. Cradling Hannah in one arm, he closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

“It was a grand wedding, don’t you think?” Hannah nestled in close.

“Indeed it was.” He looked at her. “When I saw you step into the sanctuary, you took my breath away. I daresay you were stunning.” He smoothed her brown hair. “I was stricken when I saw you, so much so that I could barely keep my legs under me.”

“You’re teasing.”

“I’m not. I was absolutely beset by your beauty and with the knowledge that you were mine . . . for all time.”

Hannah raised up on one arm. “Beset? Really?”

“Absolutely. I was.” He grinned at her. “You don’t believe me?”

“I do.” Hannah settled back into the crook of his arm. “Mrs. Atherton provided the fabric for my dress. She’s the most generous person I know.”

“I must thank her. I was completely bewitched by you.”

Suddenly, the stink of sweet lozenges and the feel of Judge Walker’s hands engulfed Hannah.
was the word the judge had used when he’d assaulted her. He’d accused her of bewitching him, meaning that she’d caused his uncontrollable desires.

Her thoughts overwhelmed by Mr. Walker and his awful assault, Hannah pushed away from John and rested her back against the headboard beside him. Hoping to regain her composure, she folded her arms behind her head and made an effort to relax.
Think only of today
Forget about the past
. She tried to come up with something mundane to say. “I’m hungry. Are you?”

“Yes. But only for you,” John said, a twinkle of devilment in his eyes.

Hannah turned a slab of pork that was roasting in an iron pot. Juices drizzled out. She pushed the pan closer to the fire and returned to the resting dough she’d left on the sideboard countertop. After shaping it into biscuits, she placed them in a skillet and set it in hot coals in the hearth. It felt good to be cooking for her husband. This would be the first meal she’d prepared for him as his wife, and she wanted it to be just right.

Wiping her hands on her apron, she straightened and walked to a cabinet, taking out a bowl of fresh eggs. She cracked them into a pan and whisked them with a fork.

John stepped through the doorway, his arms loaded with firewood. After setting the wood in a box beside the hearth, he crossed to Hannah and circled his arms about her waist, kissing the back of her neck. Hannah shivered with pleasure.

He pulled her closer.

BOOK: Longings of the Heart
3.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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