Ten years since the tragic loss of his young wife and infant son, Dawson Randolph is convinced love and marriage is a fool’s game and resents being pardon to his brother’s hidden engagement. Damned by his instant attraction and his own growing desire, Dawson vows to befriend her against his better judgment. Determined to bring her happiness in a time of fear and uncertainty, Dawson puts aside his animosity to become her confidant, only to realize Catherine holds the key to his heart. When tragedy strikes at sea, Catherine’s guilt pushes Dawson to the fringes of her life as madness consumes her.
Can his love save her before she drowns in her own grief? Or is he doomed to love her from a distance, always in the shadow of her love for his dead brother?
****Catherine tossed and turned. She could not sleep. Dawson’s words and the way he looked at her when she asked about Nathaniel preoccupied her thoughts. His eyes made her feel defiant and wild…and weak in the knees.
Unable to stay still, she threw off the quilt and sheet and slapped her bare feet on the cool hardwood floor.
A warm summer breeze blew past the curtains and it almost seemed light out. Catherine tiptoed to the doorway leading to the balcony and eased it open for fear the hinges would squeal under the strain. She stepped out past the screen door on silent feet, uncertain if it would squeak as well and placed her hands on the banister. A thin cool layer of dew moistened her fingertips. She shook the drops loose and wiped her hand dry on the side of her gown with a shiver.
The moon rose up, almost full, lighting the outdoors as though it were daylight. The sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore called to her.
She discovered a set of stairs at one end of the balcony. Pausing at the top with a moment’s hesitation, Catherine snuck out and ran down the hillside and around the cliffs. She held her nightgown up off the ground and let the sand slide between her toes, reminded of all the blissful summer days she and Grandmother Emily spent on the shore in search of shells on one of their many picnics.
Cooler than she anticipated, it didn’t deter her from meandering along the shoreline, close enough to feel the frosty bite of the seawater as it sluiced over her feet.
Now she felt free.
Now she felt at home.
The shoreline and the roar of the ocean waves soothed her soul and drowned out all her other worries.