Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance)

Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance) by Haley Whitehall

Book: Midnight Caller (Moonlight Romance) by Haley Whitehall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Haley Whitehall
not to aggravate his wound. Hawthorne wasn’t going to leave the ship without him knowing. He could only reach shore the same way he boarded or he’d jump into the water.
    Not hearing a splash, Frederick boarded the Blue Wing. The colored crew grew paler by the minute. They seemed nailed in place—their faces a mixture of fear and surprise. One of the roustabout’s eyes darted to a stack of crates and then back to Frederick.
    Frederick gave a slight nod and headed in that direction. He kicked one of the crates and Hawthorne stood from his hiding place, swinging a cotton hook.
    Frederick ducked, the hook brushing his hair.
    He rose, aimed the derringer and pulled the trigger. The click and pop elicited a loud moan from Hawthorne.
    Frederick gazed at the wisp of smoke coming from the derringer and then the pool of blood growing on Hawthorne’s chest. The man turned gray and slid down as if his muscles were melting.
    “She deserves you,” he mumbled. “Emma’s no better than you, you black pig.”
    Hawthorne’s head drooped and lolled to the side.
    Frederick cautiously approached him and touched his neck. The flesh was warm, but there was no pulse.
    He looked around at the crew, expecting a white sailor to attack him or slap him in irons. None approached. Only black faces watched him. The white sailors had left the ship unattended.
    “Hurry,” a wiry, well-dressed colored man said. “Toss him into the water.”
    Frederick grabbed both of Hawthorne’s hands and dragged him over to the side of the boat. He hoisted him over the railing and pushed him over. The loud splash made his heart flip, but then seeing the derringer tucked in his trousers squeezed out his joy. He had just killed a man. He threw the small gun into the water.
    He shot a nervous glance at the steward. The man exuded controlled calm, helping to steady Frederick’s pulse. He drilled an icy stare at every one on deck. “Not a word,” he said. “Not a word.”
    “Yes, sir,” they mumbled.
    Frederick didn’t know the man personally, but he was the steward aboard the Blue Wing . He was in charge of the servants. They would follow his lead.
    The steward pointed to the roustabout who had tipped Frederick off. “Clean the blood off the deck. Quick now.”
    Frederick walked off the steamboat in a daze. His rush of relief was dampened by the fact Emma was nowhere to be found. Only God knew where she was hiding. Carriages and wagons traveled to and from the docks constantly. Maybe she had found a way back home.
    He returned to the Comet .
    George’s eye’s bulged at the sight of his bloody thigh. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
    Frederick offered a lopsided grin. “I still might.” He sat on a crate and tore the cotton around his wound.
    “Is the bullet still in there?” George asked with a mixture of concern and disbelief.
    “No. Just got to get this bleeding to stop.”
    George cleaned his wound with alcohol and Frederick hissed. “It’s only going to get worse,” George warned.
    Frederick bit his lip until he tasted blood. George had to state the obvious. His little brother heated a small knife and pressed it to his thigh.
    Frederick’s throat felt clogged. He wanted to scream, but no sound came out. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he didn’t even wipe them away. The burn of the knife was intense but nothing compared to the burning pain he felt knowing Emma was lost to him. He sat up and wouldn’t meet George’s eyes. A man didn’t want another man, even his brother, to see him cry. But damned if he could find it in himself to care.
    George swallowed, his eyes shifting away from him. He seemed equally uncomfortable. “What are you going to do now? They’ll be after you.”
    “Maybe.” Frederick changed his bloody trousers, putting on his city pair. He wadded up the bloody trousers in his hand. He shouldn’t keep them. People would at the very least ask questions. Questions he didn’t have answers for. He offered

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