My fourth Oregon historical romance involves a conspiracy, some spying and a volatile time in the history of the United States, being only a short time after the Civil War has ended. In Love Waits, high level government officials and the military try to stop a rebellion before it gets started. The hero has been called to The Dalles to request he become involved in ferreting out the traitors.
“We can tell you this-- there is a Pinkerton on the job. And although we do not have an official spy agency, we have sent in a man who has proven competent in spying during the Civil War.”
“Am I to know who either of these men are, and will I be expected to contact them?” Rand had already decided he would take the assignment, short of spying on Hardman. If he had a traitor in his unit, he needed to know it. He didn’t want another rebellion to lead to another war.
With Belle working for Forester, he had a personal reason to do what he could to assure her safety. She presented a personal complication in stopping at the Hardman ranch. He didn’t want to have to hide his knowledge of her marriage and current abode. Maybe they already knew though. It’d been six months since he’d stopped by. He walked to the window staring out at the Columbia.
“Yes, you will need to know who they are. And one more thing, Rand.”
He turned back. “Your brother was befriended by Forester before he left San Francisco. I don’t know how involved he is with the cause. He had not been working for him that we knew, but Jason left The Dalles this morning on the stage for Canyon City.”
Hellfire. He hadn’t seen his younger brother in years. Their father had found Rand to be a disappointment for reasons Rand never quite understood. Jason had continued to live with him. It didn’t make sense though that he would befriend someone like William Forester. For what purpose?
“How loyal do you consider your father to be?” Williams asked watching his face.
He turned to stare back at the Secretary. “He was a well decorated general before he retired. As far as I know has always served with honor. Why would you ask such a thing?”
“Since his retirement, General Phillips has had some... friendships that have been regarded as questionable—one of which had been with Forester. I realize that alone doesn’t mean much. Often powerful men are attracted to each other.”
Rand tried to think what he knew. He’d never heard the name William Forester before the man arrived in Canyon City. “Perhaps you know that I am not close to my family, but last I knew, my father was in Maryland.”
“They were both in San Francisco up until last week. Our sources there lost connection with your father. It’s uncertain where he is now.”
“He and Jason were together?” At one time, his father had been estranged from both his sons. Had that changed?
“Yes, in San Francisco,” Williams said. “How they left there is a bit of a mystery. Jason left a clear trail north. Your father signed out of his hotel, and disappeared.”
“No train or ship tickets?”
“Nor renting a driver.”
“Could he have died?” He should have cared more than he realized he did.
“Although we don’t believe that to be the case, we don’t know. We need more information than we have and you seem to have the best chance to get that.”
“Will you take the assignment, Captain?” Schaeffer added.
Reluctantly, Rand nodded. “I don’t know how effective I can be though.”
“We know the caliber of man you are, Captain. I am confident you will do your best,” Schaeffer said. “I have a dossier for you to study on Forester to learn what you can. Burn it when you finish. Take a few days here in town before you head out. You look exhausted.”
“If any names stand out for you,” Williams added, “please file a report before you go. But from this time on, be careful how you contact us. Leave no clues that you are looking into this as it could be very dangerous for you-- at least until you know who not to trust at your back.”