Sapphire and Gold

Available at The Wild Rose Press as an eBook or paperback

Blurb

In 1752 Philadelphia, Alexandra Whittaker overhears the man who has raised her–and intends to marry her–admit to kidnapping her. She then uncovers a locket containing a portrait of herself as a child. Confused and frightened, she flees, heading for Williamsburg, Virginia, the place inscribed on the back of the locket. On her way out of Philadelphia, she stumbles across a bear and ends up in the river.

Sea Captain Derek Tremaine is guilt-ridden over the disappearance of a small girl left in his care as a youth. Always searching for her, he hears she may be alive and travels to Philadelphia where he discovers an unconscious young woman in the river. She bears a strong resemblance to the mother of the missing girl who has haunted his dreams. He is drawn to assist and protect her as she sails with him to Williamsburg in her hunt for answers about her life. But will the truth give them peace and allow their growing love for one another to blossom? Or will it drive them apart?

Excerpt

The last vestiges of pain ebbed. She opened her eyes and thought she caught a fleeting glimpse of concern cross his handsome features. Her fingers felt along the bandage on her brow. “What happend to me?”

“You fell into the river and hit your head. Max and I pulled you out.”

“Max?”

“My dog. Come, Max.”

The Newfoundland eased his large frame between his master and Alexandra. She gasped in surprise–he outweighed her by at least three stone! She tried to sit up.

The man assisted her. “Easy now, lest you cause yourself further injury. Mayhap you should lie still.” Impatience crept into his voice again.

She winced at his mild rebuke and lowered her gaze, only to realize she was clad in her bed gown. “Sir, has a woman been caring for me?”

“Nay.” Amusement glittered in his eyes. “Women are not allowed on vessels. They bring bad luck.”

Heat flooded her cheeks, but she forced herself to continue. “I’m–” She cleared her throat and tried again. “I’m not wearing my pink dress.”

“Aye, that is true.” He nodded, his expression unfathomable.

Christmas Excerpt

While the entire story of Sapphire and Gold isn’t centered around Christmas, there are several scenes that take place during the Christmas season in Colonial Williamsburg. Here’s a peek at one of them:

Alexandra stood at the staircase landing’s large multi-paned window, bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun. She waited and worried. Waited for Derek’s schooner to appear at the plantation’s wharf. Worried about his reaction to her confession.

She placed her hand on her abdomen and wondered if she would look different to him. Within weeks her condition would be apparent to all. Would he turn away from her in disgust? She wouldn’t be able to bear it.

“Alexandra?”

She leaned over the balustrade looped with spruce garlands. “Yes, Mother?”

Laurel stood at the foot of the stairs. “Our guests are arriving.”

“I’ll join you in the ballroom in a few minutes.” With a heavy sigh, she cast one more longing glance out the window then gathered the folds of her burgundy velvet skirt and descended the stairs in slow, unhurried steps. Her brow knitted in concern. Derek had said he would be there. Something terrible must have happened.

“Why, wherever could your husband be, sister dear?”

Alexandra turned to see Jillian emerge from the shadows of the hall. The jubilant expression in the younger woman’s dark gaze put her on guard.

“Do you suppose he has tired of you already?” Jillian shook her head and clucked her tongue. “I can see why. You look a bit dreadful. I fear that color doesn’t suit you. Did you do your own hair? Your secret’s safe with me. I shan’t tell anyone.”

Alexandra resisted the urge to smooth her hair. The slight movement would only serve to reward her sister’s desire for revenge. Instead, she stood confident. Derek had often remarked he liked her hair unbound and he had chosen her dress himself. “I won’t fight with you. Nothing you can say will spoil this day for me.” With quiet dignity, she walked past the younger woman.

“I do believe the purpose of this ball is to celebrate your marriage. Won’t that be a trifle difficult without your roving husband?”

Alexandra’s footsteps faltered for but a moment at the venom in her sister’s voice. Then she squared her shoulders and continued on her way, struggling to shut out the echo of Jillian’s mocking laughter.

“Derek has not left me,” she whispered. “He will come back. He must.” She lifted her chin a notch and entered the ballroom.

Festive splendor greeted her. Christmas finery decked the large room and brought a hint of a smile to her troubled heart. The fragrance of pine and bayberry mingled in the air. Garlands of box and bay added touches of gaiety. Sprigs of holly had been tucked behind the mirrors. In one corner, fiddlers played a romantic ballad that tugged at her already fragile emotions.

She forced back the sudden onslaught of weepiness and moved forward to greet her guests. Many of the prominent planters of the area accompanied their wives in wishing Alexandra well with her marriage and asking after Derek. After each congratulatory offer, the scorching heat of Jillian’s triumphant gaze bored through her back.

Where are you, Derek? Behind her she heard the doors open. The curtains fluttered, then a hush fell over the room.

She turned.

There stood Derek. Dizzying joy swept through her

Her husband caught her up against his lean, muscled form. “I claim the right of kissing the fair maiden standing beneath the kissing ball.” He lowered his mouth to hers and stole her breath.
Alexandra entwined her arms around his neck and reveled in the sweet sensations. “I thought you’d never arrive.”

He pressed a final kiss to the tip of her nose. “I always keep my promises. Don’t you know that by now?”

A lump in her throat thickened her speech. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” A frown gathered on her forehead and she gave his chest a sharp poke. “Where have you been?”

His eyes alight with a merry twinkle, Derek turned and signaled to a house servant. Within seconds, Polly Taylor and the children swarmed around her, talking and hugging all at once.

The children had come. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she pulled them close, touching each and every one of them to assure herself they were really there.

She looked up. Derek stood outside the circle of children, his grin wide. “Is this the pressing matter you had to attend to?”

He nodded. “You are pleased with your Christmas gift?”

“Pleased? I’m more than pleased. It was more than I dared to dream for.” No wonder she loved him so.

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