AJ Moore strives for meaning in her life following the unexpected death of her beloved father. Her reporting career stalled, her love-life non-existent, and a family frilled with more conflict than love, she relies on her dear friend Stella to make it through cheerless days in small-town Bayside.
While rock-climbing the seaside cliffs, AJ discovers a mysterious two-hundred year old sailing ship appearing through the fog. The mystery deepens when she can’t learn any more about the ship than its single passenger, Captain Finn Murphy. So begins a fiery relationship that simultaneously warms her heart and angers her blood. And she hasn’t even met the second mysterious stranger to enter Bayside, Ethan Hughes.
While AJ attempts to get to the bottom of the ship’s strange existence, Finn and Ethan seek an ancient stone necklace, lost in time. No one is less prepared than AJ to realize that she alone holds the key that unlocks everything.
A small excerpt…
“Did something awful happen to the new owner?” AJ almost whispered it.
“A broken family, and a man lost to the sea, never finding home again.” Finn’s sharp laugh unsettled her. “I guess the story isn’t much different than the ones you’ve found with your old buildings. Perhaps the ship has something in common with them after all.”
AJ wondered why an old story, as sad as it must have been, would be of such interest to Finn after hundreds of years. While he laughed about it, he seemed to find no humor in it. She wanted to ask why it seemed to affect him, but for some reason she felt uncomfortable prying. She touched his arm, and realizing what she had done, pulled it back.
Finn looked at where she had touched him and his smile returned. “Your innocent questions have gotten me recalling long ago days and the harshness of life at sea. I think you’ll find that the history of old ships carry many a sad tale for the captains, as well as the sailors that worked them.”
Finn turned the tiller, and the boat shifted to starboard, leaning toward the water, forcing AJ to shift to the left to keep her body from leaning against him. “The Daphne Marie was built for a particular family, to provide transport to the continent, although it was also used for small cargo runs. The hold doesn’t carry much but it seemed to get the job done.”
“Do you remember the name of the second owner?”
AJ waited for him to continue but he didn’t. “And how did you come about owning it?”
Finn’s look became guarded. It should have been a simple answer. He ran his hand through his hair, kicked his foot against the hull. Then his grin returned. “You might say it was handed down through the family, an inheritance if you will.”
His simple answer made her more curious as to what he wasn’t saying, and why he was so careful about answering. Perhaps Finn thought that whatever bad luck had happened to the second owner was connected to his own story, haunting him through the years. Melodramatic, maybe, but something had him less than willing to discuss the Daphne Marie. AJ wanted to explore that avenue in more detail without putting him on the defensive. She rose, needing to pace, then remembered she was on a boat. She tried to sit when a gust of wind hit the boat.
Suddenly, the sailboat pitched to port, and AJ cursed at Finn’s untimely change of direction. She stumbled. Her arms reached out to grab something, anything, to catch her fall. All she saw was water, and the cold ocean waves reached up to engulf her.