Marrying Christopher

Marrying Christopher by Michele Paige Holmes

Book: Marrying Christopher by Michele Paige Holmes Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michele Paige Holmes
Tags: clean romance
He found it preferable to look out at the water and imagine what was waiting beyond it than to look to shore and continually recall those he had left behind.
    He was not the only one who’d had the idea of escaping either the heat or the past or both, as Miss Abbott already stood at the rail, close to one of the lanterns hanging overhead and at nearly the same spot where she’d joined him this morning. He felt pleasantly surprised to see her— rather the opposite of how he felt whenever Miss Cosgrove approached. For half a second he wondered if Miss Abbott had been waiting for him, then immediately chided himself for the thought.
    She could not have known he would come up on deck, and even if she had, it wasn’t as if she had sought out his company, other than once this morning, to thank him for his earlier kindness. She’d spent the afternoon in her cabin, seeming to prefer to be alone. But Christopher supposed it might be all right to ask her how she had enjoyed the book he’d lent her earlier.
    He approached her from behind, then stopped suddenly as he noticed one of the crew sitting a short distance away, knife in hand, as he cleaned his fingernails and stared intently at Miss Abbott.
    Feeling a lurch of alarm, Christopher resumed walking, lengthening his stride until he came up beside her. “Miss Abbott,” he began.
    “Good evening, Mr. Thatcher.” She smiled, not seeming the least bothered by his intrusion.
    “Pardon me,” he continued. “But I do not believe it is safe for you to be out here alone like this at night.”
    “But I’m not alone.” She smiled, then looked over her shoulder at the man Christopher had just spied watching her. He no longer sat a short distance away but had moved closer and was standing now, his eyes on Christopher.
    “Mr. Murphy has had the misfortune to be assigned my chaperone by Captain Gower.”
    Murphy scowled as if recalling that particular conversation. “State your business with the lady, an’ be off,” he mumbled.
    “No business,” Christopher said. “I was just out to enjoy the cool air and thought to make sure she was safe.”
    “Would that I’d had the two of you to watch over me previously.” Miss Abbott sighed, and her lips turned down. “But I do thank you for your concern, Mr. Thatcher.” To Murphy she said, “I assure you he is perfectly harmless. Please allow him to stay so I might enjoy his company.”
    Murphy grunted his assent, then moved back into the shadows near an enormous coil of rope.
    “Pleasant sort of fellow, isn’t he?” Christopher remarked under his breath.
    “I cannot blame him,” Miss Abbott said. “Being saddled with the task of looking after me cannot have been in his job description.”
    Christopher chuckled. “I suppose not. Good of the captain to think of it, though.”
    “It is only because he is concerned that I arrive in good health for Mr. Thomas. I gather they are business colleagues of some sort.”
    “I believe so.” The previous evening Christopher had tucked this piece of information away to be considered later. Perhaps if he made a good impression, the captain would put in a word for him with his associates in America. Christopher knew he would need to find employment within a week or two of arriving. He hadn’t allowed either of his sisters or their husbands to give him any money for the voyage or for starting over on the new continent. Accepting the clothing Grace and Helen had presented him with had been difficult enough.
    “Listen,” Miss Abbott said as if he’d been speaking loudly instead of standing in silence beside her. “Do you hear that?”
    “A violin, you mean?” Its strains seemed to be coming from the tall ship beside them, the one overloaded with Irish immigrants. It, too, had been detained today.
    Miss Abbott turned toward the sound, her profile silhouetted in the moonlight. “It’s pretty, isn’t it?”
    Much like you. The thought came unbidden, as it had the previous night when

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