What chance did she have of following her heart? Sneak peek.

SNEAK PEEK EXCERPT FROM ON DIFFERENT SHORES – Book One of FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD. It’s England, 1841, Jem has been transported to Van Diemen’s Land and Ella, pregnant and penniless, is desperate to follow him…cornfield with Jem and Ella ghosted, faded outer 

Back at her lodgings, she gathered together what wealth she had: the silver-backed mirror her mother had given her, a second-hand silver card-case she’d bought having once naively thought to use it for her calling cards, the cameo Harry had given her that had belonged to his grandmother. She stared at them hopelessly. Her landlord would be wanting his rent today, and this was all she had to offer him.

She descended the stairs and knocked at his door. It opened, and a tall gentleman stared down at her. She took a deep breath. ‘Mr Jessop. I wonder if I might have a word with you?’

He smiled. ‘Mrs Weston, come in. How can I help you?’

She refused the seat he offered and held out her mirror, cameo and card case. ‘I was robbed today. My money was stolen. I can’t pay for my room. This is all I have.’

He frowned. ‘You want me to sell them for you?’

‘If you could take them as rent…’

‘They’re not worth much. Maybe a week’s rent.’ He stared pointedly at her bulge. ‘How will you pay after that with a baby at your breast? And how will you eat?’

She shook her head. ‘I don’t know. Maybe you could find it in your heart…’

‘I can’t afford to keep you and a baby, even if I wanted to. Don’t you have family? What about your husband?’

‘My family are in Bath. My husband… I came here looking for him.’

Mr Jessop’s eyebrows rose in question. ‘He left you, alone and pregnant?’

‘He…’ There was nothing to gain by lying. ‘He’s on Stirling Castle.’

‘He’s a sailor?’ Her landlord’s eyes opened wider. ‘Stirling Castle… isn’t that the prison hulk? He’s a convict?’

She clutched at the back of a chair. Her head hurt where she’d hit it when she’d fallen, and a twinge in her stomach made her gasp. ‘He was sentenced to be transported. I tried to find out about an assisted passage, so I can follow him, but convict’s wives don’t qualify for help. And because I’m only his common-law wife, still married to someone else, I can’t go with him on the convict ship like legal wives.’

‘From what I’ve heard, you wouldn’t want to, and certainly not with a young baby. If you want my advice, go home to your family.’

‘I don’t have the fare.’ Another twinge cramped her stomach. ‘Anyway, I don’t think I’m fit to travel.’

Mr Jessop handed her back her mirror and card case. ‘You can stay tonight, but you’ll need care while you birth… I can’t afford to pay a midwife, either.’ He pursed his lips. ‘Your best course of action is to throw yourself onto the mercy of the parish.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘There’s a poorhouse in Stoke Damerel, not far from here. Duke Street. I suggest you approach them first thing in the morning. They’ll look after you and your baby.’

‘But the poorhouse…’ Her mother had told her of her grandmother’s last years. A shudder ran down her spine. ‘My grandmother died in the poorhouse.’

‘It’s your best option, Mrs Weston, if you don’t have a husband who will provide for you.’

She nodded. Much as she hated the idea of charity, she had a baby to consider, and she had a feeling she would birth early. ‘It will only be for a while. I’ll find work, eventually and be independent again.’ She flopped into the chair she’d refused and held her head in her hands. ‘Am I ever going to be able to follow Jem? Am I stupid to even try?’

Mr Jessop patted her shoulder. ‘Love is a powerful support, but your child will need you more than your man does.’

She palmed aside a tear. What chance was there of following her heart, now?

Want to read from the beginning? Click here.


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