Keeper of My Dreams (St. John Series Book 4)

BOOK: Keeper of My Dreams (St. John Series Book 4)
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Keeper of My Dreams

 

By Lora Thomas

 

Copyright 2016 Lora Perkins

Kindle Edition

This ebook is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please go to an online retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

* * * *

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

* * * *

 

This is a word of
fiction
. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and
are not to be construed as real
. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

* * * *

 

Cover Design: SelfPubBookCovers.com/Tigerlily

 

 

Chapter One

 

March 1795

 

Reanna Hollingsworth gave an exasperated sigh as she looked out her window. It was raining . . . again. That’s all it ever seemed to do here of late in London. This was the fourth day of the misty rain and overcast skies. It felt like a giant cloud had landed over the city and refused to leave. This dreary, foggy weather was killing her! How she craved sunshine! How she dreamed of going to the Caribbean with her fiancé, David Snowdon. He’d left almost two years ago to seek employment in order to acquire enough funds to purchase a home for them. He used to write her monthly but soon his letters spaced farther apart. The last letter she received was six months ago. She realized that shipping schedules would delay any messages from the Caribbean but this long of a delay made her worry.

She turned as the door to her room opened and smiled upon seeing her maid. “Good morning, Clara.”

“Good morning, Miss,” the young black-haired maid said as she curtsied. “Do you need assistance dressing this morning?”

“Yes, please,” Reanna answered. “I think my new gown will suffice for today.”

Clara headed towards the wardrobe. She pulled out the lovely beige day gown and laid the garment on the bed as her mistress approached. Clara assisted Reanna in dressing and then helped her with her hair.

Reanna turned to view her reflection in the oval dressing mirror and let out a sorrowful sigh. She captured a stray brown lock and pulled it behind her ear. Oh, how she longed to have been blessed with some type of curl to her hair. Instead, she was cursed with straight hair. She had tried everything to get some type of curl but to no avail. Her hair was just . . . well, it was just straight and plain and dull and brown. She looked down at her cleavage and sighed again at the smallness of her breasts. As she gazed into the mirror again, she realized that the only pretty thing about her were her eyes. Sky blue would be the color she would describe them.

Reanna stood and walked out the door. She descended the steps to her father’s London townhome. It was small and not nearly as grand as her father would have liked. But Reanna loved it. In her opinion it was quaint and homey.

“Your father awaits for you in the carriage out front, Miss,” the butler informed her as he opened the front door and held out an umbrella.

“Thank you, William,” Reanna replied as she took the parasol he presented to her. She stepped out the front door, raised the umbrella, and ran to the carriage. Once drily inside, she turned and smiled at the occupant. “Morning, Poppa.”

“Good morning, Reanna,” Phillip Hollingsworth said, watching his daughter rearrange her dress as she sat down.

“Is this blasted rain ever going to stop?” Reanna whined as she shook her parasol.

“Now, dear, the rain is good. It supplies the soil with needed moisture.”

Reanna shot her father an exasperated look. “Oh, Poppa, you know what I mean.”

“No, I don’t. Please elaborate.”

“Really?” she huffed as she slanted her eyes in his direction.

He gave her a teasing smile and patted her hands. “So what is the real reason you are complaining, Daughter?” She smiled weakly at her father. “You still haven’t received word from David?”

“No,” she replied as she furrowed her brow with concern. “And I am beginning to worry. What if something horrid has happened to him?”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know,” she replied with frustration. “What if he has been kidnapped by pirates?”

Her father gave a chuckle. “Pirates?”

“Yes, pirates.”

“Well, my dear, Lord St. John has assured me that there are not the number of pirates in the Caribbean as there used to be.”

“Oh, Poppa, what does he know? He allows his children to run his business an—”

“He still oversees his business. He is teaching his sons the workings. Anyway, as the owner of Emerald Shipping he would know firsthand the pirate activity in his shipping lanes.”

Reanna took a deep breath. “I suppose you are correct. It’s just been so long since I have received word from David.”

“I know you worry about him, my dear, but shipments get delayed all the time. For all we know the message could be sitting on one of the ships in the Thames. You know it can take weeks, even months, to be granted access to a quay.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she replied with optimism as she sat upright, her expression brightening. “That must be what has happened. His letter must be on one of the vessels that hasn’t been granted permission to dock yet. Why, I bet it has been sitting on the Thames for almost a month now—you know, since there have been so many shipments coming in and out of the docks here recently.”

“See,” Phillip replied as he smiled at his daughter. “You had your pretty little head all worried for nothing.”

“But still—”

“No ‘buts,’ Reanna. David’s letter has just been detained, nothing more.”

Reanna smiled weakly at her father and nodded. As they rode in silence to his office, her worry returned. Something must have happened to David; otherwise she would have heard from him. She looked out the window as she thought of the horrendous things that could have happened to him. As her imagination ran wild, a thought hit her—if she had not received a letter from David by the end of the week, then she would book passage to the Caribbean and go look for him herself. It’s not like she didn’t have any connections in the Caribbean. Her father was a close business associate of the St. Johns and they did run a business in the West Indies. Granted, she could send a correspondence to them requesting their assistance, but that would take too long. No, it would be best if she traveled to the West Indies herself.

She looked back to her father. She knew he would worry while she was away, but he had his business to help occupy his mind along with the misadventures of her older brother, Zachary. She would have to pen him a note before she left. She also knew she would have to make arrangements on a ship departing at night in order to leave unnoticed. As the plan began to formulate in her mind, she realized that she was going from thinking of going to actually going.

The carriage stopped near the docks in front of her father’s business. As she exited the carriage, she couldn’t help but be proud of her father. He had started with almost nothing and had managed to turn a small, rundown textile mill into one of the largest and most successful in all of England. Once his first factory began producing a tidy profit, he purchased another building beside it, then another. After several years he owned three buildings and five lots. He tore down the rundown mills and built new ones. He was now one of the largest employers in all of England. Turning her gaze to the large manufacturing buildings in front of her, she watched the smoke billow out of one of the many smokestacks. The white smoke slowly floated skyward, blending in with the smog.

Her father gently grabbed her elbow and ushered her inside. The factory area was not a place for respectable young ladies to visit. The workers were a rough and rowdy group of men who lived in even rougher neighborhoods. She could feel the tension leave her father’s body as they walked inside his office.

“I wish you would attend to my ledgers from home,” Phillip complained as he closed the door behind them.

“I know, but I just can’t think there.”

“And you can here?” he questioned as a loud bang echoed throughout his office. The noise was followed by several men yelling and then a gushing sound as steam escaped from a vent.

“Yes. It helps me focus.”

“Focus?” A loud clanging noise erupted and carried throughout the office. “Are you serious?”

“Yes,” Reanna answered. At her father’s confused look, she elaborated. “You know. This is where your business prospers. Where all things are made. The noise allows my mind to not wander and drowns out my thoughts so I focus only on what needs to be done instead of my mind wandering off into an entirely different direction.”

Her father simply stared at her. “I have no idea what you just said.”

She gave her father a beaming smile. “Good.”

He shook his head. “You are just like your mother.”

She took off her cloak and hung it on a hook by the door. “Is that such a bad thing?”

“Yes. She refused to listen to me, as well,” he whispered as his smile faded.

Reanna placed her hand on her father’s arm. “I miss her, too, Poppa.”

He gave her a weak smile. “She is in heaven now.” He blinked rapidly several times, fighting the tears that wanted to come, and looked around his office. “I have placed the ledgers on my desk along with the most current receipts.”

Reanna patted her father’s arm and walked to the desk. She sat down behind it and picked up the pieces of paper. “Are you certain there are not any more receipts?”

“Yes, dear. I have several more shipments coming in this afternoon. Just as soon as I have the billing sheets I will have them sent up to you. Now, I will let you work. Should you need anything you know where to find me.” With that he left the office.

Reanna began her work. Since her mother’s death four years ago, she had helped her father with bookkeeping. It was the job her mother normally performed until she became ill five years earlier, and then Reanna took on the responsibility. Numbers came naturally to her. She loved working with them. The ledgers could get quite complicated and tedious, but the challenge was what Reanna was best at. She could locate any discrepancy easily. The
ton
frowned upon her occupation. Women were not meant to work but especially not in a man’s world. Reanna figured her passion for working was why she was shunned by the
ton
. She was never invited to any of their functions even though she possessed the wealth to qualify for an invite.

In fact, her family had more money than most of the aristocratic elite. But still, they were not of “blood.” What difference did having a title make? People were people, whether they were from royalty or the rookeries. But in society, money and titles meant everything, especially to marriageable debutantes. Parents would go to great lengths to make certain their daughters were in the right circles to acquire a suitor and land a husband. Reanna was glad she didn’t have to worry about that. She was engaged.

The thought of marriage brought her thoughts back to David. If this were only a month earlier then she would have sent word with Michael St. John to see what he could have found out. Michael St. John was Lord Robert St. John’s fourth child and a natural born salesman. He had departed London with his brother, Matthew, just a month ago to travel to his parents’ Governor’s Harbour estate for a family matter. He was also a close family friend to her brother, Zachary. So close that Zach considered him more of a brother than a friend. As for the other brother, Matthew, he and Zach were sparring partners at Ace Holland’s gym. Although she supposed Matthew qualified as a family friend as well, despite the fact that she had only met him a time or two. However, the last time she had laid eyes upon him was over a year ago. No, it would have been best to have sent the message with Michael. He had visited her family’s home numerous times and she knew him personally, unlike Matthew.

A loud bang from the mill floor brought Reanna’s thoughts back to the work at hand. She looked back down at the ledger and began to work. She would complete her task first, and once finished, she would work on acquiring passage to the Caribbean. She smiled as her plan of being reunited with David came to life in her mind.

BOOK: Keeper of My Dreams (St. John Series Book 4)
3.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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