Dark Gothic Series
Along the barren, rocky coast of Pentreath in Cornwall, a woman’s battered body washes ashore, and the whispers begin: Nowhere is safe. For evil has come to Pentreath…and to the uneasy shadows of Trevisham House…
Fate has brought Jane Heatherington to work at Trevisham House. She knows what they say about the estate’s brooding new master, Aidan Warrick: a man of mystery, a pirate, a smuggler, and worse. He may look like a fallen angel, but everything about him suggests he is in league with the devil himself…and Jane has seen nothing to suggest otherwise…
Cut off from family and friends, Jane’s only companion is a man she dare not trust, who disappears into the night, whose secrets are many, and who looks at her with a hunger she both fears and desires. Now, as danger haunts the coast and a terrible retribution is unleashed, Jane wonders if she is falling for the dark prince of her dreams…or a heartless madman who preys on the innocent…
…an outstanding tale about two wounded souls with so much feeling and emotion that there were times my eyes became a little misty…Eve Silver deserves praise for this complicated and moving story.
—Kate Garrabrant, Fresh Fiction
With her ability to create the perfect chilling atmosphere, a dark, tormented hero and an intrepid heroine, Silver rises to the ranks of Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier…
—Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BOOKreviews, Top Pick
RT Reviewers Choice Award winner
Romantic Times 4-1/2 star Top Pick
Desperation made for a poor walking companion.
Jane Heatherington studied the horizon, dread gnawing at her with small, sharp bites. The sky was a leaden mass of churning gray clouds that hung low on the water, and the ocean pummeled the shore with a strength that heralded the furor of the coming storm. Breathing in the tangy salt scent of the sea, Jane clenched her fists. The edges of the delicate pink shell in her hand dug into the skin of her palm, grounding her as she struggled to hold her misery at bay.
Life was burdened by tragedy. Naive girl, to have believed that fate had dealt out all her cruel jests years ago. Jane shook her head. No, not fate. She could blame no one but the true perpetrator of this terrible thing that had come to pass. Her own father had consigned them both to uncertainty and despair.
How much money?
Five hundred pounds.
Yet fate was there too, lurking, laughing, playing her horrible game. Was not Jane’s presence here this morning some act of chance?
Ill chance, to be sure.
Less than an hour past, as the cold, gray dawn had crawled into the heavens, Jane had left her father’s hostelry, needing a few moments to understand, to accept the terrible choices he had made, the dreadful consequence he had brought down upon them. She had walked along the beach, mindless of any destination, seeking only to calm her concerns and fears.
She shuddered now, studying the two men who stood in the churning surf. They waited as the waves carried forth a grim offering, a single dark speck that dipped and swayed with each turbulent surge, growing ever larger, taking on defined shape and macabre form.
Indeed, desperation made a poor walking companion, but death even more so.
Wrapping her arms about herself, Jane watched the dark outline float closer, closer, discernible now as human, facedown in the water with arms outstretched, long tendrils of tangled hair fanning like a copper halo.
A woman, bobbing and sodden.
Heart pounding in her breast, Jane took a single step forward as the men sought to drag their gruesome catch from the ocean’s chill embrace. She was held in thrall by the terrible tableau unfolding before her, and she swallowed back the greasy sickness that welled inside her. ‘Twas not morbid curiosity, but heart-wrenching empathy that froze her in place.
Most days, she could look at the ocean as a thing of great beauty.
But not today.
Today there were disquieting clouds and churning surf and the icy kiss of the mist that blew from the water’s surface to touch land. Too, deep in her heart, there was the awful knowledge of her father’s actions and the terrible feeling of foreboding, of change, unwelcome and unwanted.
It seemed all too similar to a day long past, a day best buried in a dusty corner of her mind. The sea. The storm. And there, just beyond a great outcropping of rock, the brooding shadow of Trevisham House, looming silent and frightful against the backdrop of gray water and grayer sky.
Separated from the sweeping curve of sandy beach by swirling waves, the massive house was a lonely, empty shell balanced atop a great granite crag that rose out of the sea like the horny back of a mythical beast, a fearsome pile of stone and mortar that offered no warmth. Trevisham was linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway that was passable at low tide or high. Unless there was a storm, and then it was not passable at all.
Chill fingers of unease crawled along Jane’s spine, and she tore her gaze away, glancing to her right, to her left, feeling inexplicably wary. She was given to neither fanciful notions nor wild imaginings, yet today it appeared she was subject to both. Her heart tripped too fast, and her nerves felt raw as she scanned the beach, searching for the source of her unease. She could swear there was someone watching the beach. Watching her.
This was not the first time she had suspected such. Twice yesterday she had spun quickly, peering into darkened corners and shadowed niches, finding nothing but her own unease. She sighed. Perhaps it had been a portent rather than a human threat, a chill warning of the news her father had been about to share.
“She’s been in the water less than a week, I’m thinking,” Jem Basset called grimly, drawing Jane’s attention to where he stood thigh deep in the water, the corpse bobbing just beyond his reach.
“Where’s she from?” Robert Dawe asked, wading a step farther into the waves. “A ship, do you think?”
“There’s been only fine weather for more than three weeks. No ship’s gone down here. If she’s from a ship, then it was wrecked on the rocks to the north, I’m thinking.”
The two men exchanged a telling look.
Jem grunted and reached as far as he could, but the waves carried the body just beyond his grasp. He glanced up, saw Jane, and shook his head. “Go on now, Janie. No need for you to see this.”
He was right, of course. There was no need for her to watch them drag this poor, unfortunate woman from her watery grave, but Jane could not will her feet to move. The talk of wrecks and rocks haunted her.
There had been whispers of late that the coast to the north was safe for no ship, that in the dark of the night wreckers set their false lights where no light should be. They were vile murderers bent on luring the unsuspecting to their doom, tricking a ship into thinking it was guided by a lighthouse’s warning beacon, only to see it torn asunder on jagged rocks.
Torn asunder like the fabric of her life.
But at least she had life, Jane thought fiercely as she watched the corpse bob down, then up; long, copper hair swaying in the current like snaking tendrils of dark blood.
Pulling her shawl tight about her shoulders, Jane blew out a slow breath, steadying her nerves, battling both her fears for her future and the ugly memories of her past. Dark thoughts. Terrible recollections of storm and sea and Trevisham House.