Red Sky At Dawn (Star Frost Lovers book 4)
Red Sky At Dawn (Star Frost Lovers book 4)
Red sky at dawn, sailors take warn…
Miss Tessa George is the epitome of a failed debutant. At
twenty six, and as the oldest of her three sisters, she’s on the shelf and
officially off the market. When everything about her is wrong, the only right
thing to do is exactly what is demanded. Move to a remote island with her newly
wedded sister and live out her life as a companion. Tessa left the only life
she knew, but what she found on the ocean was more than she could ever dream.
Captain Cristian is a bastard, in no uncertain terms. Raised
in a convent, he escaped as a boy entering a life of perpetual poverty and
crime. That is until Marco de Alejandro took him under his wing, raising him to
be a skilled captain and take over Marco’s thriving merchant fleet. But Marco
wasn’t always a wealthy merchant and Cristian didn’t earn his reputation as a
fierce captain for hauling silk and tea across the oceans.
Red sky at night, sailors delight…
On an island as mysterious as Star Frost, nothing is as it
seems. Tessa’s life as a companion has turned into unfettered freedom to
explore who she is and the adventures Star Frost has to offer. Cristian offers
to help her, as a friend, but friends don’t kiss…or keep secrets. As they
surrender to the desire between them, Cristian tries to keep his distance to
protect her from his dark past, but unlike treasure, some enemies won’t stay
Read A Sample
Read A Sample
“How could you ask this of me?”
“Tessa, please…” Priscilla begged, clasping Tessa’s hand,
her eyes pleading.
Tessa looked to their mother, though she would be of no
help. “Am I to spend my life as her companion? What about…”
Her mother drew herself up, lips pinched, her cherry red curls
tightly tamed into a difficult knot on the top of her head. Not a strand out of
place. That was her mother’s pride, her mantra. The reason Tessa would never
succeed on the marriage mart. Because Tessa was nothing if not out of place in
their perfect world.
Tessa swallowed. “Am I to have no future of my own, then?”
“This is the best option for you,” her mother said. “I have
two other girls with debuts. You’re six and twenty. Too old to continue to
waste effort on, not when there are so many other obstacles to conquer with
It stung. It always did. The constant critiques about her
body, her speech, her hair, the fit of her dresses.
Priscilla touched her cheek and turned Tessa’s focus back to
Priscilla was perfect in every way. Slender, her hair closer
to blonde than red like their father’s, her eyes a lovely crystalline blue, her
nose small, her lips soft pink, and not a single freckle. She could dance and
sing like an angel. She had timely regular courses foretelling a bountiful
future as a mother.
“You wouldn’t be my companion. You are my sister, and you’ve
taught me everything I know,” Priscilla pleaded. “This is your chance to get
away and live your own life.” She cut a quick glance toward their mother. “Be
free of her,” she whispered.
Tessa swallowed. “But…”
“Please. I need you more now than ever. Star Frost is so far
away. I will miss you too much.”
“You’ll be married with your own husband.”
“But I won’t have you. You’re my sister. You’re my best
Tears pricked her eyes. Tessa didn’t want them to fall, not when
her cheeks, nose, and eyes would turn red. Over Priscilla’s shoulder, their
father stood looking out the window, his back to them. He never intervened. He
never took Tessa’s side. She was alone if not for Priscilla.
Did she really want to stay? She would never have to face a
season again. She’d never have to face her mother again, but nor did she want
to be a spinster, destined to watch Priscilla claim all her dreams for herself.
“It will be an adventure,” Priscilla pushed. “We’ll leave
directly after the wedding. We’ll finally get to go on a ship!”
Tessa closed her eyes. Her sister’s excitement about her
upcoming nuptials was a nauseating tune that never ceased. Her dewy-faced
fiancé was as sweet as sherry and richer than Croesus, which made up for his
lack of title. Mother had derided her daughter marrying a merchant’s son up
until the plentiful gifts began to arrive. Gold, silver, diamond-encrusted combs.
Only then was he good enough for the gem of their family.
Never mind they’d yet to meet any of his, and he was going to remove Priscilla
to a remote island off the coast of Cornwall.
Tessa didn’t want to let her only ally go, but was she
willing to give up everything she knew to join her?
It appeared so.
Tessa nodded. One tight dip of her chin. Priscilla enveloped
her in a perfumed hug. The delicate scent of jasmine filling her nose. Through Tessa’s
blurred vision, Priscilla smiled at her, gripping Tessa’s shoulders, though her
voice seemed so far away.
“We’ll have so much fun. If you’re not happy, I’m not happy.
I promise we shall both be happy.”
Tessa pinched her eyes closed. She wanted her own happiness,
her own adventure, her own life. But she was made wrong. A girl, for starters,
and not an heir. A woman whose courses were untimely and too light. The family
doctor deemed her not likely to conceive. She was not the ideal shape or the
perfect coloring. Her red hair was too bright—garish, her mother said—, her
eyes too pale, grayer than the vibrant blue like Priscilla and their father. An
utter failure of a child.
At least on Star Frost, she’d never disappoint her mother
again. She may as well be dead.
One month later…
It was already mid-day, and the wedding feast was hardly
complete, but already their trunks were being loaded onto the carriage.
Tessa clenched her fists, her heart pounding, her palms
sweaty. She was leaving, too, not that anyone around her knew or cared. They
showered Priscilla with rice and flowers as she was led by her gallant new
husband down the front steps. Everyone cheered. Tessa tried to push to the
front in her heavy brocade dress. She was crushed against a side table, tipping
a vase of flowers and water spilling down the back of her gown. She stopped
fighting the mob of people and fought tears. Priscilla’s wedding day had been a
glorious success. At least there was that, but for Tessa, it had been a day of
utter madness. Fetch this, get that, stay out of the way. Don’t look so solemn,
She couldn’t help it. Her joy for her sister’s nuptials had
turned to ash in her stomach when Priscilla had begged her to go with her. While
she may have been a mite jealous to see her younger sister marry, she’d never
begrudge sweet Priscilla her joy, but today felt more like an execution for Tessa.
Leaving her whole world behind to watch Priscilla live a life Tessa never
A whip cracked, the cheers rising. Tessa hopped to see over
the guests’ heads as the open carriage, beribboned and draped in flowers,
rolled away with young Mr. De Alejandro tossing coins into the air.
All her breath left her. The vice around her heart eased and
her head grew light.
They were leaving without her?
She should be miffed. She was once again forgotten. A cast-off
But all Tessa felt was relief. Though half her clothing was stored
on the following carriage.
Tessa smiled as she leaned back against the table, the crowd
easing as they meandered back to the food tables.
Her lady’s maid stepped before her. “Miss? You’ve not yet
“Was I supposed to?”
“You can’t go in that gown.”
Tessa pushed away from the table. The vase rolled off the
ledge and shattered on the floor, bringing everyone’s attention to her. Her mother
Tessa shrugged and turned away from the onlookers. The maid
hastily followed, gasping at the drenched back of Tessa’s dress.
“It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.”
“Miss, we must hurry. You have to follow your sister.”
“Do I? She didn’t appear to miss me. After all, she forgot
“No, no, you’re to go separately. Your mother didn’t want
Tessa stopped on the landing. Familiar anger filling her
chest. “Let me guess, ruin Priscilla’s departure?”
“Well, she thought it odd if you joined the bridal couple on
Tessa trudged on to her room, her soaked gown dragging on
the carpet. “So, I’m still going?”
“Of course, did you change your mind?”
Tessa rolled her eyes. “I wasn’t aware my feelings mattered.
Why should my choice?”
Clair struggled for a reply, making odd noises. “But we must
Her throat tightened, but Tessa bit her cheek and carried
on. Honestly, she didn’t know what to do or say. She’d gone unheard most of her
life. Why bother? She was adrift in the current of her sister’s life.
Clair tugged at the back of her dress, sliding the dress
down her body and motioning for Tessa to step into a plain brown traveling
gown. Tessa clenched her fists as Clair buttoned the back and then bent to help
her out of her slippers and into traveling boots.
“Aren’t you afraid?” Tessa asked. “To leave everything you
know? Your home?”
Clair stood and sighed. “This is the way life is. A lady’s
maid follows her mistress.”
Tessa swallowed, guilt turning her stomach. “You don’t have
to come. Your whole life shouldn’t have to change because of me…”
Clair jerked in response. “But… I’ll lose my position.”
“There are more positions, aren’t there? Right here in
“It isn’t that easy.”
“I’ll write you a reference. You’re lovely with hair, sweet,
and so smart. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”
“But you don’t want me?”
“I don’t want you to have to come with me to a strange place
just because I am. I don’t even want to go.”
Clair took her hand, buttoning the two buttons at her wrist.
“It is rather terrifying, isn’t it? I’ve heard so many things.”
“You don’t have to go. I’ll write a letter for you right
Clair shook her head. “Who will take care of you? Who will
make sure you find a measure of happiness if not me?”
Tears pooled in Tessa’s eyes. “Think of yourself, not me.”
Clair met her gaze and held it. “Someone has to think of
you. You don’t speak for yourself. You don’t challenge them.”
Tessa let out a sob. “Please, Clair. If you come, I’ll never
Clair stiffened. “If I don’t go, you’ll be completely alone,
and I will never forgive myself.”
“I’ll have my sister.”
“Pfft, she’s sweet but entirely selfish. She will be
too busy with her new husband. Smitten they are. They will have a baby in no
time at all. We’ll be two wicked spinsters and we’ll make that island our own
kingdom. I’ve heard it’s different there. The rules are different, the class
“What does that mean?”
“It means we’ll be able to have a bit of fun. I promise.
Things are going to be different for you and I.”
Tessa was still chilled to the bone, frightened of leaving
the only life she knew, but Clair marched her out to the waiting coach and soon
they were away from the house. No goodbyes. Her parents hadn’t even noticed.
But something odd did occur. The weight in her chest eased, as if every turn of
the wheel peeled away the dark cloud that had followed her all day.
Tessa had never been to the docks. The smell hit her square
in the face as the groom opened the door.
“Come, my lady.” Clair tugged her by the hand. “Don’t make
eye contact with anyone.” With her dark-brown hair coiled tightly in a bun and
her fierce, brown-eyed glare, Clair was more like a strict school mistress than
a lady’s maid at the moment.
But Tessa couldn’t look away. The smell of rotting fish swam
in the air. The calls of gulls filled her ears, along with shouts, swearing,
and the bustle of people working. A dog barked in the distance, and atop a post,
a large bird sat with a fish tail hanging out of its large beak. Tessa had
never seen anything like it. With a pull of its throat, it swallowed the fish,
a large pouch under its beak stretching.
“My word,” Tessa whispered.
A small blur ran out from between two crates and Tessa, and
the bird saw it at the same time. Tessa blinked, focusing on the small
creature, stunned to see a cat so tiny and fluffy, as dark as a shadow, confidently
stalking toward the massive bird.
“What?” Clair asked.
“Do birds eat kittens?”
“I… I beg your pardon?”
Tessa rushed toward the kitten at the same time the bird
spread its wings, then swooped down.
Tessa closed her eyes, her hand scooping up weightless
fluff. There was a loud snap and a rush of air near her hand. She was afraid to
look. Did she still have a hand? Clair screamed behind her.
Tessa opened one eye. In her hand, the kitten glared at her.
The bird squawked in indignation, hopping toward her. The kitten turned its
attention to the bird and hissed.
“Enough of that,” Tessa scolded. “That thing will swallow
you whole. You’re not more than fur and bone as it is!” Tessa tucked the kitten
close to her chest.
“Put it down, Miss. These dock cats have vermin, surely.”
Tessa and the kitten locked eyes. Her throat tightened. He
was hungry, so hungry he’d take on a beast many times his size. He must be
alone, without a mother who cared.
“I’ll feed you. Come with me.”
“What are you doing?” Clair said in alarm as Tessa tucked
the kitten inside her jacket. The little creature began to purr. “You can’t
take it on the ship. They will never let you.”
“They won’t know. We won’t tell them, won’t we?”
Clair blinked and chewed her lip. “Very well.”
Somehow, the little body against her breast, helpless and in
need of care, made Tessa feel better about this journey, about the unknown she
was about to face.
- Puchase E-book Instantly
- Receive Download via Email
- Send to preferred E-reader and enjoy!