Excerpt from Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love
You’re certain you have everything?” Nicholas smiled down at Charlotte and placed a hand in the small of her back to guide her along the crowded platform. The train, belching cinders and smoke, waited on the siding. Passengers and draymen came and went from the station house, dodging Creole boys selling cigars, newspapers, and candies.
“I think so. I couldn’t sleep last night. I had plenty of time to pack.”
In the days since their kiss in the garden, they had seen little of each other. Nicholas’s work at the infirmary and meetings with the doctor who had arrived to replace him had kept him too busy for socializing. But he had insisted on escorting her to the station.
He bought two bonbons from a skinny boy in bright yellow pants and handed her one. “You won’t forget to give the girls their presents?”
He took a bite of candy. “I hope it won’t be much longer before I can see them.”
“When will you be home?” She nibbled on the sweet and tucked the rest away for later. This morning Mr. Dubois had sent up a breakfast of eggs, sausages, biscuits, and coffee along with a box lunch for the train. As eager as she was to return home, she would miss the dapper hotelier’s excellent meals.
“A month or so, I think. Sister Luke told me yesterday that Sister Beatrice is recovering and plans to return to the infirmary. As soon as my replacement settles in, I’ll be on my way.” He popped the rest of the bonbon into his mouth and took out his handkerchief to wipe a bit of sugar off his fingers. “I just wish I could go with you right now. There’s so much I need to do at home.”
The joy she’d felt at spending these few moments with him dissipated, replaced by a familiar mix of disappointment and worry. Yet beneath it all a faint, rekindled flame of hope burned. Was it possible that Fairhaven might yet be saved?
She watched the sunlight playing on his face. She should resent him for the threat he posed to her future. But as she waited with the others preparing to board the train, she couldn’t deny the undercurrent of attraction running between them, made stronger by everything they had shared, everything they had endured.
The train whistle shrieked. Passengers surged toward the cars carrying their satchels, whiny children, hatboxes, and birdcages.
“Good-bye, Charlotte. Safe journeys.” Nicholas looked into her eyes and squeezed her hands.
“Good-bye.” She boarded the train and chose a seat by the window.
Nicholas stood on the platform, a piercing sweetness in his haggard face. He lifted one hand in a little salute as the train rumbled to life and slid out of the station.
“Your husband, dear?” The woman seated opposite her straightened her straw hat and, with a rustling of skirts, settled in for the long journey.
“My . . . oh. No. My employer.” But not for much longer. Somehow she must find a way to provide for herself when even the small salaries Nicholas and Mr. Peabody paid her were withdrawn.
“Humph.” A gleam lit the woman’s pale eyes. “Maybe for now, but I saw the way he looked at you. He let you go, but he didn’t want to.” She opened a box and took out an apple. “Want one?”
“No thank you.” Charlotte took a book from her satchel and made a show of finding her place. The novel was not all that compelling, but she wasn’t in the mood to discuss Nicholas Betancourt—or the myriad emotions warring inside her.
Dorothy Love is the award-winning author of numerous books for adults, preteens and young adults. Her popular Hickory Ridge series, set in her native Tennessee marked her return to her writing roots in historical fiction and introduced readers to her trademark blend of history, mystery and romance. Love’s latest release, out this month, is Carolina Gold. Her next book, a romantic mystery set in antebellum Savannah, will be published in 2014. She lives in Texas with her husband and their golden retriever and welcomes readers at www.DorothyLovebooks.com and at www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks.
Be sure to leave a comment! I’m giving away two copies of Carolina Gold!