“’Did you think I was trying to buy your services?’
She told the truth. ‘Yes.’
‘You’re not a whore, Eddy.’
‘I know that but I wasn’t sure you did.’
He sat back. ‘Damn woman.’
She shrugged. ‘Like you said: hard nut to crack. I’ve no experience with a man like you, Rhine, or truthfully, any man.’ She looked away. She was a novice at this and he needed to know that.
‘Will you at least give me a chance to prove myself?’
‘To what end? A few days ago you were engaged to marry, and now you want me to believe you’re genuinely interested in me as something other than a dalliance.’
A smile played around his lips. ‘You don’t plan to make this easy, do you?’
‘Why should I?’
‘As long as you don’t take a bottle to my head, I think I can handle the challenge.’”
Eddy is making her way towards California when she is robbed of everything. She had been traveling with a minister and his son thru the Nevada desert when he took all her money and left her without food, water, or transportation. She walks until she collapses.
That is how Rhine Fontaine finds her, nearly dead. He and his business partner take her to their town, a small place in Nevada where they run a saloon, and restore her back to health again. A boarding room lady takes her in in exchange for her cooking and all is wonderful as she starts saving once more.
These are the days after the Civil War and tensions are high between the whites and the coloreds. Eddy is a beautiful black woman enormously talented for her cooking (her ultimate goal is to open her own restaurant in California). Rhine has passed for white and is really a former slave, but holds a high position in this small town. He is engaged to a white woman.
Marvelous story. Loved every word. This is excellent reading. Betcha fall in love with the charismatic Rhine, as well as the talented Eddy.