Too Late For Tomorrow

by

Diana Lee Johnson


1st Printing 1999 ~ 2nd Printing 2004


       

Book Review

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"Determined from boyhood to buy back his dead mother's plantation in S.C., Jeremy Hamilton works to make Albemarle a showcase of free labor in a hot bed of slavery and rebellion.  Driven into a marriage of convenience and confrontations with neighbors, he asserts his belief that slavery should die.  War takes Jeremy away to fight for his homeland, leaving his property in the able hands of his ex-slave partner.

Gabby Hamilton, too, is obsessed to prove Jeremy is not her half-brother, and make him admit his love for her.  Nothing deters her, not his wife, public opinion, deaths of loved ones, or war itself.  Enlisting the help of a Union invader, she is smuggled north to petition President Lincoln for her beloved's release from Elmira Prison.

      1st Printing 1999                                                             2nd Printing 2004

 

A purchasing professional in Virginia with the nation's history at my doorstep, my passions are history and fiction writing.   I take pride in my American roots that date back to the early 17th century.  My profound love for Southern history, particularly the Civil War, weaves tales in my mind of chivalry, plantations, hardships, and courage.  I always strive for historical accuracy in my fiction, enjoying the research.  I sincerely hope my characters live in your hearts as they live in mine, and that this is but the first of many novels for me.   

Let TOO LATE FOR TOMORROW transport you to the Old South to meet the Hamilton family of North and South Carolina, intelligent enough to know slavery should end, resourceful enough to try to prove it is possible. 

Prologue
"Blackmail"

New Kensington Plantation, North Carolina
April, 1848

As he opened the door to the drawing room, Nathaniel was unnerved to see the visitor had made himself at home.  Sitting in a wing-back chair, feet propped on a table, he smoked one of Nathaniel's cheroots.  He removed his hat, revealing his blonde hair as he released a puff of smoke.

"Aren't you going to say 'hello', dear cousin?"  The voice was patronizing as always.  

"Edmond, what-the-hell are you doing here?  I'll be glad to finish what I should have in Paris, if you don't leave this very minute!  Wasn't ruining you in business enough to teach you a lesson?"  The veins in Nathaniel's neck stood out as his face turned red with rage.

"Come, come, cousin.  Surely after all these years we can let bygones be bygones."

"Edmond, I'm warning you!  Get out of my house and off my land, and if you ever bother me or any member of my family again, I'll see to it you're shot.  Better yet, I'll shoot you myself."

Edmond dropped his feet from the table to the floor and leaned forward in the chair.  "My, my, such a violent attitude, dear cousin.  Where ever did you acquire it?  Perhaps living with your little French tart?"

He lazily rose from the chair, eyeing the cheroot as he rolled it between his thumb and index finger.

Nathaniel grabbed his cane and struck one good blow to Edmond's face.  The gold knob on the handle connected with his cheek bone forcing the skin to split, immediately drawing blood.

"You'll pay for that, Nathaniel!"  Edmond shouted as he blotted the blood from his cheek with his fingertips, staring at it in disbelief.  Once he composed himself, Edmond continued. 

"You see, I know something of your family, and I don't believe your children would understand the revelation that one of them is not so closely related to the others, if you get my meaning."

"I don't know what you're talking about Edmond."  Nathaniel tried to be convincing.

"Don't you?  Well, there are two servants near Paris who can swear you never slept with Yvette during the three months you were there, prior to your September marriage.  And I have, in the safe at my hotel, a statement from the priest who married you, in September, and a statement from the 'craftsman' who produced the forged documents to indicate the marriage took place in June.  The very papers you used in order to leave France and enter the United States.  Would you like Jeremy, or perhaps little Gabriella to have them for keepsakes?"

"You are a black soul, Edmond.  What do you want?"  Nathaniel knew he must destroy the papers before anyone, especially poor Yvette, could see them.  It was obvious Edmond didn't suspect she had no memory of his assault.  It would destroy her if she learned Gabby was not Nathaniel's child.

"Well, cousin, you have caused me a great many lean years.  But, I shan't belabor the matter.  You can have all the documents I mentioned for, shall we say twenty-five thousand dollars."

"Twenty-five thousand dollars, you bastard!  What's to prevent you from having other statements, copies, whatever, and coming here again?"

"I knew you were a shrewd businessman.  I've had a contract drawn up and witnessed, in which I swear these are the only such documents."  He withdrew a folded paper from his inside pocket and flipped it open.

"Upon payment, you may do with them what you will, and I shall never approach you again on the matter.  If I do, you can turn this over to the authorities.  Fair enough?" 

"Fair?  That's a strange word to be coming from your mouth!"  Nathaniel sat down in his favorite chair.  "I want an additional clause, that you will never set foot in North Carolina again."

"Done!  Come to my hotel in Raleigh, in two days time," Edmond gloated unmercifully.  Turning to leave, he looked back at Nathaniel, and seeing little Gabby peaking through the rails at the top of the stairs he added in a loud voice, "Do you think I might get a glimpse of my daughter before I go?  Gabby, I believe you call her.  I hear she's a bright little one with my coloring.  How do you explain that, Nathaniel?"

Nathaniel was beside himself.  He bounded from the chair making a tight fist as he hurled himself at Edmond striking him soundly on the jaw.

Gathering himself up off the floor, Edmond remarked, "The look on your face was well worth the blow.  You haven't lost any strength with the years."  He rubbed his aching jaw, wincing as he flexed it.

"Oh, cash only, please, cousin," Edmond added.  His eyes met those of the frightened child cowering at the head of the stairs, and he nodded slightly, a simpering smile on his lips.

Nathaniel's attention remained on Edmond's retreating back.

Want to see excerpts from the Sequel?  Click below!

Tomorrow Came Early

A Historical Novel
[Sequel to Too Late for Tomorrow]
by
Diana Lee Johnson

 

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