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Storm on the Horizon (Fated For Love Series Book 3)

Storm on the Horizon (Fated For Love Series Book 3)

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Heart-strong: When one blindly follows the urgings of their heart, without using logic and reason from their head.

Olivia suffers greatly from this malady...

Lady Olivia is ruined. She has been banished to the country in the wake of a scandal and to make matters worse, her brother has disappeared from England. Her family turns to his boyhood friend, Captain Colton, to search for him. Olivia is desperate to help and devises a plan to tag along with the man she has loved since she was a young girl. But her plan fails miserably.

Captain Colton is furious to find Lady Olivia on his ship, stowed away in a trunk of all places. Colton has secretly wanted Olivia for some time but knows the difference of their stations makes him unworthy of her hand. Colton tries to resist all temptation and keep her at arms length.

Colton and Olivia must work together to rescue Devon, forcing them to confront their feelings. When they return to England, Olivia will have to marry to salvage her reputation, and Colton is convinced her family will not see her wed to a lowly ship Captain. Can Olivia convince Colton that their differences can be overcome by love?

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My Dear Family,

It is with regret that I must leave England. I will send word when my wretched wandering soul finds an anchor, until then… I am sorry.


One month later.

Dear Devon,

It was a blessing to receive your letter and learn of your stay in Amsterdam. How exciting! As you know, I am imprisoned here in Ramsgate. Lesley Manor has never felt so small as when one cannot leave it. The weather is mild, and the salty sea breeze refreshing, but mother monitors all my activities, including my strolls on the beach. Mother and father are both worried about you. They don’t understand why you’ve gone, and I dare not tell them my own hypothesis. We would like you to come home. We miss you and need you here, and that is all there is to it. I don’t know what happened, I don’t need to know, although I would like to. Nothing will be rectified if you are in Amsterdam. Please come home.



* * *

Another two months passed and not another word was heard from her despicable brother. A dark cloud had descended over their home and Olivia, the resident inmate, was forgotten. Her parents worried endlessly over her brother. Father’s solicitor came and went frequently, as did Colton’s parents and his two younger sisters, but it was always somber and awkward. Sometimes Colton would come alone, and Olivia would hide out in the shadows of an alcove, waiting to catch a glimpse of him leaving her father’s study. She wanted to speak to him but couldn’t find the courage. His countenance was always stern and forbidding now, his eyes creased with the same strain as her parents. 

Devon’s disappearance was like a sickness spreading through everyone and slowly draining their happiness. Olivia couldn’t take it anymore. She needed to do something, needed to act. The floral Aubusson rug in her bedroom took the brunt of her anxiety. She paced back and forth manically, trying to think of ways to help, but whenever she approached her mother and father, she was always shushed and waved away. All she wanted to do was help, but as always, she was pushed aside.  She was tired of it, tired of being perceived as useless and weak, tired of being an afterthought.

Devon was her only brother. He was eleven years her senior, but they were very close. They shared their fathers jet black hair and emerald green eyes, but while Devon had a touch of sun to his skin tone like their father, Olivia shared her mother’s peaches and cream complexion, heart- shaped face, rioting curls, and softer emotions. The last was the bane of Olivia’s existence. As much as Olivia hated it, she was a crier, and therefore perceived as weak. Whenever she was angry, frustrated, or in a modicum of pain, her eyes welled up like a thawed spring. Devon always teased her and called her a watering pot. He would tell her she might as well be useful and cry over the flowers in the garden.

Devon was a dolt, as all brothers were, but he was also kind and funny. He had always saved her from imaginary monsters growing up, comforted her when she skinned her knee, or took the blame for frogs in the nanny’s bed. As he grew older he became more debonair and aloof, but he always watched out for his little sister. Always gave her the advice she needed or a shoulder to cry on. He, like their father, was roguishly handsome, and when the time came for him to explore town life, he learned to use his smile like a weapon, and women fell to his feet. That’s how his reputation began. While he was no innocent, he was certainly not the rakehell the papers claimed, but what young man wouldn’t reap the benefits of that? 

Whatever had happened involved Lydia, but even she was withdrawing from everyone and letters were scarce. Olivia felt alone. She didn’t want to bother Lilly with her woes when she was a happy new bride. It seemed wrong to invade her bliss. 

Olivia, tired of pacing, collapsed on her bed. She buried her head in her arms and closed her eyes tightly. The reality was that Devon may not return.  The world is large and easy to escape when home is no longer where your heart is. The idea brought a little spark of hate for Lydia, but it wasn’t her fault completely. Devon was a man full grown. He was the one bringing this pain on all of them, and he should face it. He was a coward for running away from love; he was a coward for abandoning his family. If he wanted to sulk, he could sulk here while doing his duty. Father was not young, and the strain of Devon’s absence had aged him considerably in the last three months. He needed help with the estate—Devon’s inheritance—and here Devon was bemoaning his broken heart somewhere in Amsterdam, most likely with a drink in his hand, the weasel.

Olivia must do something. She had survived kidnapping and aiding a friend’s return to society after scandal. Why couldn’t she help find Devon? It wasn’t as if she had anything else to do, cast aside as she was. They would thank her and finally stop treating her like a little girl. She was no namby pamby miss; after all, she had attacked a man who was strangling Lilly! With a surge of excitement, Olivia sat up, tossing her curls out of her face. She would help find Devon no matter what she had to do.

A maid came in carrying clean laundry and jumped when she saw Olivia on the bed. “Oh excuse me, Lady Olivia. I thought you’d be downstairs visiting with the captain.”

“Captain Colton is here?” Olivia’s mind whirled frantically with ideas. He was going to search for Devon too. She just knew it. Olivia jumped from the bed and ran past the maid. She needed to catch him away from her parents, or she would never find out what he was up to. Hopefully, she could corner him in the hall before he left.

“But wait, your dress!” The maid called after her. 

Olivia crept down the main stairs until she could peek over the railing into the drawing room. From her angle, she could see her mother sitting on the settee and hear the mumbled baritones of Colton and her father. She was too far away to hear what they were saying. She watched her mother’s face for clues to whatever it was they were discussing.  Her mother nodded emphatically and stood, moving from Olivia’s view. She could hear her mother’s voice giving thanks to Colton, and then suddenly he came through the entryway.

Olivia squeaked in surprise and covered her mouth. Colton turned and saw her. His lean lips quirked up on one side. He held her gaze as, without making a single noise, he crept up to her position on the stairs until their faces were level and smiled.  

“Who are you spying on?” he whispered.

“You, if you must know.” Olivia sat down on the step and adjusted her skirts. He leaned closer, conspiratorially, and her pulse kicked into a gallop.

“Why are you spying on me, and why must we whisper?” He looked side to side, as if checking for hidden enemies.

Olivia smiled her first real smile in months. Oh, how she loved him. “Come with me and we can talk. I am on strict confinement since that debacle in London, and Mother will have a fit if I am seen talking, let alone enjoying myself with you.” Olivia stood and took his hand, turning as if to pull him up the stairs, but he planted his foot on the step and would not budge.

“You wouldn’t be going in the direction of your bedroom, would you?” he asked. He pulled his hand away from hers. “Come, we can walk in the garden and talk privately.” He turned down the stairs and she followed.

Olivia pulled her hand into a fist, holding onto the heat from his like a desperate woman. They silently tread past the drawing room, and Olivia caught a flash of her parents sitting together, hands clasped, foreheads pressed together intimately. She took a deep breath. Something has or is about to happen.

They reached the outside and cut around the side of the manor opposite the drawing room, so they would not be seen from the windows. There was a small orchard pregnant with young apples. A decorative path led to a circular courtyard, where benches angled around a fountain with a statue of a small boy holding a fishing rod over his shoulder. He was playful and innocent with a hint of mischief around his bronze smile. Olivia sat in the shade of an apple tree and began to flick fallen leaves from the bench. Colton remained standing, reaching up to grab a branch.

“I’m going to find your brother. I’ll leave tomorrow with the tide,” he said without preamble.

“Do you know where he is?” Olivia looked up at his handsome face. His hazel eyes picked up the green from the surrounding abundantly leafed trees and were relaxed but purposeful. A small leaf had landed in his hair, catching in the strands of brown and gold streaked by the sun. He hadn’t shaven today or yesterday by the looks of it. He looked rugged and wild, like the sea captain he was, and less like the boy who captured her heart long ago.

“Amsterdam is where we will go, and through inquiry, hope to find him languishing in some br-”—he coughed—“hotel or the like.” 

“I wish there were something I could do to help.” Olivia looked away. He looked everywhere but directly at her, as if he had something far more important to do than talk to her.

“You are helping enough by being safe at home. Your parents have enough to worry about as it is.”

Olivia scoffed, catching his gaze aimed at her bodice. He promptly looked away again. Hope flared inside her. Perhaps he wasn’t completely immune to her? “They ignore me most of the time. I am locked away here and forgotten. I am worthless here,” she said.

“Let us do the searching, Livie, and do your best to make your mama and papa smile. You are good at bringing happiness to others.” 

She smiled at him brilliantly, with all the fire she felt inside for him. She stood and reached up, plucking a leaf from his hair. Feeling bold, she dragged the leaf down the side of his cheek across the course stubble on his jaw.

“Olivia …” 

Her name came out as a warning. She’d never heard his voice so low and dark.

“Yes…” The word crossed her lips like a breath. Olivia looked deep into his eyes, inviting, imploring him to do something—anything—that would let her know she was not alone in her want. They stood like that as time seemed to slow to a snail’s pace, his hand came up and Olivia looked down, watching it rise toward her bodice. Her body screamed with anticipation—closer—closer...  And then he flicked the top button of her bodice and stepped back.

“Your dress is undone, I thought you should know.” He turned away and put his hands in his pockets, idly looking over the fountain.

Olivia deflated like an undercooked soufflé. She hastily buttoned her dress, and her cheeks flushed with embarrassment and frustration. Bloody buttons, damn dress, damn and blast! That was the extent of the curse words she knew, and she cycled them through her mind as she fumed. “Thank you,” she replied tersely. “If there is anything I can do to help, Colton…please. I need to do something,” she said emphatically.

He looked back at her, once again cool and under control. “Let me take care of Devon, and you take care of your parents. I will be picking up a trunk of Devon’s things first thing in the morning and then be under way.”

Olivia nodded. Her heart thudded painfully with disappointment. “I wish you a safe journey. If anyone can find him, I know you can.”

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