Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four (9 page)

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
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Savannah met Jeremy in the hallway, as he peeked in to see Melinda already asleep. “Settled for the night,” she whispered to him.

He watched her with an ardent tenderness as he raised her hand and kissed her palm before leaning forward and kissing her mouth.

She sighed into him for a moment, before abruptly pushing him away. She reached down, grabbed his hand and led him along the hall toward their bedroom. “Show me how much you’ve missed me,” she whispered as she quietly shut the door behind them.

Butte, Montana, May 1913

,” Samuel Sanders called out. “Let’s call it a day.” He nodded toward the door as he pulled on his gray coat. He ran a manicured hand over his immaculate smoky-blue tie, his pale-blue eyes lit with impatience as Patrick rose and grabbed his jacket off the hook by his desk.

“Why the rush?” Patrick asked as he followed Samuel out and down the stairs of the Hennessy Building.

Their office was on the sixth floor, and they clattered down a hallway lit by windows. They exited by a side entrance onto Granite Avenue, through an ornately carved brick door, and Patrick took a deep breath.

“I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me that your cousin was Lucas Russell,” Samuel groused as they walked the short distance to the Amalgamated Copper Company’s club in the Thornton Hotel.

They nodded to the doorman, smiled at the man guarding the reception and walked into the private club. The parquet floor gleamed, while the soothing mahogany-paneled walls gave the room the feel of an Old World study. A finely carved black-walnut bar along one wall was attended by two men, one behind the bar, the other running drinks to members scattered throughout the room seated in leather chairs. A haze of cigarette and cigar smoke hung in the air.

Patrick rolled his shoulders, sidling up to the bar. He nodded to the barman, who pulled two pints. “I wasn’t sure he’d recognize me. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him.” Patrick’s gaze became distant for a moment. “Or anyone from Boston.”

“I know how that is. I’ve not seen my family since the Panic.”

Patrick watched as his friend paused upon mentioning the Panic of 1907. He recalled the run on the banks, the fear that Wall Street—and the entire financial system—would collapse. He shook his head at the irony of realizing the Panic had begun due to a failed attempt to corner the market of a Butte copper company, United Copper Company, owned by F. Augustus Heinze. “You landed on your feet,” Patrick murmured around a sip of beer, licking at the foam along his upper lip.

“Well, we Ma … Sanders always do. My mother would hardly recognize me if she saw me now.” He shook his head. “I was a weak, pampered ass when I left Boston.”

Patrick twitched his head to the side as he took in his friend’s fine clothes, styled dull-brown hair and manicured hands. “They couldn’t call you weak.” Although lanky, his friend exuded a sense of lethal strength, akin to a rapier.

“Oh, I toughened up. Hard to believe I’m saying this, but the Panic was the best thing to happen to me. Made me much stronger. I realize now that a little adversity is good for the soul.”

Patrick grunted as he followed Samuel to a pair of chairs. “You say that now because you’ve found success again. If you were still begging for notice, eking out a survival, you’d feel much differently.”

Samuel lowered his voice to barely above a whisper. “I’ve warned you, none of that which could be misconstrued as Socialist nonsense.”

Patrick raised an eyebrow. “In all your time with the Company, have you ever actually spoken to a miner? Listened to any of their concerns?”

“Why should I?” Samuel lit a cigarette and blew a puff of smoke above their heads, then spit out a piece of tar.

“I think you’d find it illuminating. They don’t like this new rustling card system you’ve come up with at the Company. And it can only bring trouble if enough of them become agitated.”

Started the previous year, the rustling card system required each man desiring to work in a mine to keep a card listing all the mines he had worked in. In theory, when he approached a new mine boss, the boss could easily determine that he was a good worker by what was written on the card by previous foremen. The miners didn’t like it because they thought it unfairly favored the Irish and the members of the miners’ union. Without being a paid member of the union, a miner couldn’t obtain a card.

Samuel leaned forward, wagging his cigarette at Patrick. “Listen, I took you under my wing because I thought I saw a bit of me in you. Ambition. An understanding that sometimes ruthless measures must be taken for success. An unwillingness to accept defeat.” He raised his eyebrows in a challenging manner. “Tell me if I’m wrong.”

“Of course I want to succeed. I’m merely saying that your methods may end up hurting the Company, and that would end up hurting you.”

“Ah, well.” Samuel leaned back, relaxing against his chair and crossing his legs. The aged leather creaked with his movement. “I appreciate your loyalty. However, all it will do is cause the miners to fight among themselves. And discord among the miners is a good thing for the Company.” He took another puff from his cigarette and spoke as he exhaled. “The worst thing is a unified group, speaking as one. When they’re fractious, they’re powerless.” Samuel sighed and took another draw of his pint, nearly draining the entire glass in one gulp. He nodded to the nearby attendant for another pint. “How do you like your work?”

“It’s mindless. It’s fine.” Patrick brushed at his slacks. “I’m thankful for the good work.”

Samuel grunted. “As you should be. You never know what could come of it.”

“Tallying numbers doesn’t take a genius,” Patrick grumbled.

“No, but honesty, integrity and loyalty are harder to find than you’d think.”

Patrick nodded.

“I have the ear of those up above. Don’t mess things up, and you could find yourself doing much more than tallying rows of figures.”

Patrick nodded again, taking a deep sip from his glass of beer.

“Don’t become enamored with any of the miners’ twaddle you hear. The Company has all the power in this town and in this state. Don’t worry about those who will always remain powerless.”

* * *

atrick slipped
from the room he rented in an upscale boarding house in Uptown Butte on Quartz Street and wandered toward Main Street. He entered the Mile High Saloon on Granite Street, pushing his way to the bar. When he had the barman’s attention, he ordered a pint, slapped down his coin and then moved toward the back wall. He leaned against it, ostensibly lost in his own thoughts, while he listened to his neighbors’ conversations.

He hid his grin or grimace by taking sips of his pint, but an alert miner noticed him and propped a shoulder on the wall, facing him.

He was at least six-and-a-half-feet tall, with pale blond hair and striking blue eyes. “You find our talk humorous?” He spoke with a slight accent, although Patrick couldn’t immediately place it.

“Not at all. Although I find your conversations illuminating.”

“You aren’t a miner,” the man said in an accusatory manner.

“No. I’m the one who works on the payroll so you get paid,” Patrick said with a droll smile.

“You work for the Company?” the man hissed.

Patrick glanced around, thankful the man’s voice hadn’t carried too far as Patrick didn’t look forward to miners, angry with stagnant wages, inflation and ever-increasing mine profits, venting their anger on him. “Yeah.” He took a sip of his beer.

“Did you implement that card system?”

“Hell, no,” Patrick said with an emphatic shake of his head. “I didn’t arrive until a few months ago, and I believe that started in December of ’12. You believe I have more clout than I do. I have none with the Company. I’m a hired laborer, in many ways like a miner.”

“No, you’re not. You don’t have to go down there and risk your life every day. You don’t have to worry if your mine will be open or if the Company has decided to close it for some reason, leaving you no way to pay rent or buy food.”

“Very true. I meant no offense.” He held out his free hand. “I’m Patrick Sullivan.”

“I’m Elias Laine, from Finntown.”

“Ah, Finnish,” he said. “I couldn’t determine your accent.”

“I’ve been in America for many years, and I’ve tried to become American.” He shrugged. “Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail.” He waved his hand in a cutting manner.

“Have you always been a miner?”

“No, I was a farmer back home, but there’s never enough land for a big family. So I left.”

“So Butte’s your home.”

“For now. I come and go. When there’s work, I work. When not, I move on.”

Patrick nodded as he glanced around the crowded bar, everyone standing shoulder to shoulder, gripping at least one pint. He didn’t relish pushing his way forward for another drink, so he relaxed against the wall, continuing his conversation with the talkative Elias. “Would seem a hard way to raise a family.”

“If you had one. Life as a transient, indigent miner makes it hard to rear a family.” He shook his head with chagrin. “Besides, women are smarter these days. They don’t want a man going down the mine. Not when there’s such a great risk of maiming and death.” He stared at Patrick with a touch of envy. “They’d be looking for the likes of you.”

Patrick laughed and shook his head. “No, I’m not the marrying kind.”

“No family then.”

Patrick’s gaze became shadowed before he forced a smile. “Not really.”

Elias was called away by his friends. Patrick stood among the crowd for a few more minutes before venturing forth to enjoy an evening in Butte.

* * *

atrick reached out a hand
, grabbing the woman by her arm an instant before she would have plummeted into the lake at the Columbia Gardens. “I wouldn’t advise swimming, ma’am.”

She stuttered out a laugh, her alarm-filled gaze shifting to one of recognition. “Mr. Sullivan?” At his curious stare, she nodded as she repeated, “It is Mr. Sullivan, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” he said, his confusion evident in his gaze. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know you.”

“There’s no reason you would. I’m Mr. Sanders’s secretary, Miss O’Leary.”

Patrick’s memory cleared as he looked at her. Her red-gold hair was tied back in a loose bun, and she wore a light-blue linen walking-dress that enhanced rather than hid her curves.

Her cognac-colored eyes met his with appreciation for saving her from falling in the lake.

“Of course. Forgive me.”

She shrugged. “It’s nothing. When you are with Mr. Sanders, I’m certain you have more pressing things to note than his secretary.”

Patrick flushed with chagrin, refusing to agree with her. “Do you come to the gardens often?”

“On every possible free day.” She looked toward the mountains looming in the distance, for once not obscured by a thick haze of coal smoke. Saplings lined a few walkways, and green grass covered the area surrounding the lake. Nearby, a group played a game of baseball, and the players could be heard arguing about the rules. “It’s the only place here that reminds me of home.”

“You’re from Ireland?” At her nod, he smiled. “So was my father.” He leaned down and picked up the wicker basket at her feet, its lid firmly latched even after she had dropped it. He frowned as he hefted it. “Might I escort you to your destination? This seems too heavy for you to carry.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to impose.” A soft blush highlighted her rosy complexion. When he waited patiently for her to take his elbow, she grinned at him and looped her arm through his. “I’m meeting my sister and a cousin at the far end of the lake.”

“Why there?”

“We like to imagine, on days like today, with the mountains shining in the sun and the lake before us, that we are home again. ’Tis silly, I know.”

“No, believe me. I understand. After the desire to forget home wears off, all you want to do is remember it.”

She nodded her understanding. “Why don’t you join us today, Mr. Sullivan? We always bring far too much, as you can tell by the weight of that hamper. It would be a nice change for us to have someone new to speak with.” When he stuttered out an excuse, she interrupted him. “It will be no imposition, and I insist, especially as you almost pushed me into the lake. This is what I request as my boon for nearly drowning me.”

Patrick laughed and agreed. “Then I don’t know how I could refuse.”

She led him toward a small hill near the far end of the lake and waved at two women sitting on a large blanket. They looked as though they were sisters, thin blond tendrils of hair artfully curling toward their napes as fine hats protected their fair skin from the sun. They waved as Miss O’Leary approached. She, in turn, had to tug at a reluctant Patrick, his steps slowing as he neared them.

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
2.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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