Title: Sardinian Sunset
Author: C. L. Kraemer
Book Heat Level: 1
BLURB: Sardinian Sunset
EXCERPT: Sardinian Sunset
Lightning slashed across the sky and thunder drummed in Destiny’s ears. The strange vessel began to turn on its axis, swirling faster with each passing second. Destiny lost her balance. Her head hit the floor hard. She heard the crack then nothing more except roaring in her ears.
When she opened her eyes, sunshine filled the tiny cabin. She pressed her hands to her temples trying to ease the pain throbbing through her head. Slowly, she found her way to the deck.
The sky was a vivid blue with a few clouds lying close to the horizon, Reid’s ship was nowhere to be seen, although the sailboat sat in the same cove. She didn’t know how to sail a boat; didn’t have any idea how to get to land. Would Reid sail without her? Good Lord, she hoped not. She’d have to find another job, and she’d have to find another man she could trust.
A boat passed by, and she waved at it, hoping someone would rescue her. It came about and headed back her direction. Watching the craft come closer, she held her breath, praying for her safety.
“Can we help?” someone from the vessel asked as it pulled up close. “You look stranded.”
“I’m lost. Yes, stranded,” Destiny admitted, shrugging her shoulders as she tried to assess this man who seemed to be offering aid. “Can you take me somewhere close by?” While she’d made several trips with Captain Stewart, she’d never been on the land, never left the boat. She had no idea what this island had to offer.
“Where are we?”
“Sardinia. I’ll take you to Ollolai. That’s where I’m staying. You know anybody there?”
“No,” she was shaking her head and wondering what she would do to survive. “I can cook. Does anyone need a cook?”
The man chuckled. “I’ve heard another guest at the hotel mentioning her need. Climb aboard.”
~ * ~
Destiny Rose groaned. “Where the hell am I?” Her head pounded and, she surmised, she must have hit it on one of the many rocks covering the interior of this—what the hell was this anyway? She must be in a newer century than the last. Her head throbbed and she placed a hand on the back of her head, flinching at the pain. Oh, right. Boat, water, storm, floor. And a rescuer, not a pirate, assisting her to the shore. How the heck did she get from the coast to this, thing?
She could only bide her time, of which she had plenty, to discover her final destination. A jet keened overhead giving her the hope this was the 20thcentury. Well, of course it must be, you ninny. You were brought to the center of town in a motorized vehicle.I must have walked here. But why?She tested her limbs by stretching; waiting for the inevitable pain of something broken and was pleased to find her parts in good working order. She sat up and observed the three-sided structure. “Hmmm. Manger? Could have been much worse. I’ve a covered refuge, for now. This will give me time to explore where the fates have landed me.”
Cloaking herself in a cover of wariness, she peeked around the corner of the stone shed. The small out-building was placed at the back of a home two-stories in size and encompassing some area. She noted a path leading around the side. If the shed where she currently stood was a home for animals, they’d been gone for a long time. No fresh hay or presentslittered the rocky ground. She listened carefully but detected little movement in the surrounding hills. The area is not heavily peopled.
A movement caught her attention. She noted a face appear in one of the windows on the ground floor. Destiny pulled back into the shed. She stilled her pounding heartbeat, afraid the soul inside the building would hear and chase her away. Don’t be such a ninny. Subterfuge was not her strong point. Doesn’t need to be.Standing against the back wall, she was sweating profusely. Her 19thcentury clothing was hot, scratchy and, with the help of a gentle breeze, alerted her to the smell of brine and oily cooking clinging to her person. Fates be cursed, I need a bath.An abode with four walls and water close by would be deeply welcomed. There may not be creatures seeking her for a midnight dinner, but she wasn’t about to tempt the fates any more than necessary.
A motorized sound reached her ears followed by crunching fading into the distance. Hope she might explore the bigger structure blossomed. A familiar tickle spread across her scalp. This had to be her new assignment. Destiny scratched her head then stepped into the open. No sounds assaulted her ears. The person inside the structure must have left. Marks about the size of a supply wagon showed a vehicle moving toward a faint line down the hill, which must be a road.
She inched her way across the back of the house checking each point of entry. Window—no, unable to open. Second window—same result. Bloody hell, was she going to have to stay in that little…place tonight? Not the optimal choice. She sighed and pulled up tall. One more window. Pulling on the bottom of the frame resulted in movement. The squeal of swollen wood on swollen wood caused her ears to ache. In one quick movement, she pulled up, swung over the frame and landed on smooth stones.
Sliding down the sturdy wall, she blew out a breath. Allowing the span of a few minutes to pass in which she steadied her pounding heart, Destiny stood and closed the window. Pullinginthe frame didn’t seem to have the same effect. No screeching. Now to do a quick surveillance of the property. She poked her head into an area she presumed to be the sitting room. Down a long hallway to a sleeping room on the first floor complete with a bathing room. Thank goodness.
She peered around for a bucket to fill the white horse trough she thought must be for said purpose. There were some fancy knobs on one side. Her curiosity pushed her to twist them. Nothing. Well, what are they for then?There must be a well close by. Opposite the horse trough was a funny looking chair. Destiny was puzzled by this bit of furniture. It didn’t face a mirror but the trough. Why would people wish to place a chair in that spot? Bugger. There was so much catching up she needed to do before the end of the week. The sands of time were slipping through her fingers. She had the sensation this task wasn’t meant to be but a brief interlude into the life of the assigned.
She poked around some of the other rooms on the first floor. A quick jaunt up the stairs and a brief inventory of the remaining rooms, including another bathing room with the same weird set up of funny chair facing a horse trough. Why would people bring their horses up to the second floor and watch them drink? Were they that valuable?All the exploration in a house covered in decades of dust and dirt was taking its toll on Destiny. Trudging down the stairs to the first floor, she decided if she was going to stay here for the night, it might prove to her advantage to stay near the ground. Recovery would be easier with bumps and bruises as opposed to broken bones should she need to leave in a hurry. Traveling back to the kitchen, she spotted a narrow door at one end of the room. Opening the closure proved to expose storage for cleaning equipment. Thank goodness the broom appeared to be the same, whatever time this was. She grabbed the tool and determined she’d pick one of the rooms and give it a dust up.
The chamber, second opening off the hallway, was her choice for tonight’s slumber. She couldn’t recall peering inside this door. The window beckoned. She jimmied it open to allow fresh, cool air to enter and escort some of the dust motes to the exterior of the house. Using skills she’d been called upon to employ at her last location, Destiny dry-swabbed the floor with the broom. The center of the room was covered with a patterned carpet. Once she shuttled the dirt into the hall, she turned to view her chosen sleeping chamber. The sun shone on a carpet of such quality Destiny gasped. She dropped to her knees, ignoring the fine dust marking her dark britches. Gently, reverently, she reached out her hand and caressed the quality fabric. The weaving was the finest she could recall seeing—ever. Much as she hated to admit it, the finished product rivaled her own. This night she would experience the pride of Sardinia. Maybe a good night’s rest might help her come up with a plan to help this assignment—person. She really was going to have to speak to the boss about a vacation. Too many assignments in too short of a time were dulling her ability to relate to them as people.
Twinges slicing through her forehead drew a moan from the traveler. “Not now. I don’t have time for this.” The warning was a precursor to a raging headache rivaling a drunk’s hangover. It was her recompense for time travel. Bed. Sleep will chase away the demon.Destiny lay on the magnificent carpet and easily slid into a deep slumber.