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A Silent Ocean Away: Colette's Dominion
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You heard me, he responded with a growing grin, the infant idea taking root. No, there are other options. And what money might that be, Mother? And how did you manage to keep all this money a secret up until now? Your money? That money belongs to me. All of it! Stop it!
Charmaine shouted. And then, fearing how the ensuing row would ultimately end, she reined in her anger. Please, just stop it!
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You hear? Charmaine raised her chin. I would love to work for the Harringtons. What life? Charmaine countered. Ire and pain sparked in her brown eyes, daggers of hatred she shot at her father. As her towboats released their lines, the cargo ship lost all momentum, and she sat indecisive for a moment. Then her canvas sails bellied out, harnessing the wind. She groaned as she cut across the current of the James River; her destination: three islands nestled in the northeastern waters of the West Indies.
The islands, called Les Charmantes, were often considered the foundation of the Duvoisin fortune. To John, Les Charmantes meant much more. He tracked the vessel as she sailed off, and his mind meandered with the James. She was now but a toy on the wide river, and still, he stared after her as if, by mere eye contact, he could transport himself to her decks.
A raging frustration had kept him from boarding the vessel this morning, his reward: bitter reflection, which chastised him for doing nothing. He mounted his horse and turned it into the crowds, leaving thoughts of the Raven and Les Charmantes behind. Charmaine exclaimed as she peered through the porthole of her small cabin. Turning, she smiled triumphantly at Loretta Harrington, who sat complacently on the only anchored chair. No, thank you, my dear, Loretta replied, returning the radiant smile.
It was the one reservation the middle-aged woman had about this entire trip: seasickness. But Charmaine Ryan was well worth any discomfort she might endure in the next four or five days, so she bent her mind to the task at hand. It will take my mind off the rocking of the ship. Charmaine had been welcomed into the Harrington house nearly three years ago. Marie Ryan had contacted the couple when she realized her daughter would not be talked out of her decision to leave home, and Joshua Harrington had taken an immediate liking to the sensitive yet talkative fifteen-year-old.
In her large brown eyes, he saw a determination rarely found in one so young, and in her words, noted a firm conviction for what was right and good. After that first meeting, he was certain Charmaine Ryan would make an excellent companion for his wife, who sorely missed her five grown sons. He hoped the girl would become the daughter Loretta never had.
Within a fortnight, all the arrangements had been made, and Charmaine left one life behind to begin another. She moved into a pretty, whitewashed house in a residential section of Richmond, taking her meager belongings with her. She would live with the Harringtons during the week and spend the weekends with her parents.
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But Marie began spending more and more time at the St. Jude Refuge, drawing solace from the work there, content to shoulder the woes of others rather than dwell on her own, happy in fact. Thus, Charmaine found it strange when she grew unusually distant one weekend, surmising some misfortunate troubled her.
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