I just ordered my first proof copy of my second novel “The Richest Heart”! Woohoo! I’m so excited. This is the second book in my “Hero at Heart” series, if you haven’t seen the first book, check it out here! I am so close to having this novel published. All I have to do is look over my proof copy when it comes and then I will be sharing it with all of you! But, because waiting that long is far too hard, I thought I’d give you a peek at the first chapter!
Chapter 1: The Message
Emiline gasped as her head rose above the water. Sputtering and coughing, she clung to a floating barrel and looked all around. Salt water was gushing in through a gash in the ship’s side. What had happened? Had the ship been thrown against a rock? Or had it been attacked?
It was dark in the bottom of the ship. The only light was a thin shaft that was falling around the hatch. With desperate haste, the girl left her barrel and swam toward that light. She grabbed onto the wooden ladder and put a hand against the door above her. But, before she could push it open, a noise made her stop. Clunk, clunk, clunk… It was the sound of wood thundering against wood. A frightening image flashed across Emiline’s mind. She could just picture a rogue captain staggering across the deck with his wooden leg.
“Pirates!” she thought fearfully. The water was up to her neck. Soon, it would rise over her head. What would she do? If she went on deck, the pirates would capture her. But if she stayed below, there was no hope of survival.
Clunk, Clunk, Clunk…
Suddenly, the sound shattered Emiline’s dreams. It was a loud noise, but what was it? Sleepily the girl opened her eyes. She was curled up in her own, cozy bed, snuggled under a warm blanket. For a moment, she lay still, listening carefully. Once again, the rattling noise of someone knocking on the front door came to her ears.
“A visitor?” she thought to herself. “This early in the morning? Who could it be?” She heard Mother’s footsteps hurry down stairs. The door opened quietly and two polite voices began to speak.
“Good morning, Mr. Thompson,” Mother said pleasantly. “What have you got for us today?” Emiline smiled. Mr. Thompson was the postman. Someone must have sent them a letter. A feeling of curiosity made the girl impatient to get out of bed, but she was trapped. Her little sister was still fast asleep, and the girl was clinging to her tightly.
“Ugh!” Emiline rolled her eyes in frustration. She didn’t understand why her sister had to snuggle so close to her.
“If only our house was a little bit bigger!” she yearned, “Then I wouldn’t have to share my bed.”
“Lizzy, let go of me,” she said aloud, wriggling away from the child’s arms. Elizabeth yawned and gave a mighty stretch.
“Good morning!” she exclaimed cheerfully. She threw her arms around Emma again and gave her a tight squeeze. Emiline grumbled inside.
“Good morning,” she replied, hiding her irritation. She patted the little girl on the head and then nudged her out of bed.
The floor was cold on Emma’s bare feet. She rushed to her closet and flung the door open. Lizzy bounded after her.
“Emma, I wanna wear my pretty, blue dress!” Elizabeth cried excitedly. She reached out a hand and fingered the soft, cotton skirt.
“You can’t wear that one, Silly,” Emiline laughed. “That’s your Sunday dress. If you wear it now, you’ll get it dirty.”
“Ahh,” Lizzy pouted “But I’ll be really careful!”
Emiline ignored her sister’s endless excuses and slipped on a simple plaid dress. She sighed as she watched herself in the mirror. She didn’t think her dress looked very becoming on her. But, as she unraveled her braids and watched her dark curls bounce around her shoulders, she felt better about herself. Down in the living room, Emma heard the front door shut again.
“Who would be sending us a letter?” the girl wondered. Her family didn’t get many things in the mail. Most of their friends lived close by and they visited them often. She grabbed the doorknob with an eager hand.
“Emma, what about me?” her sister whined.
“Oh, Lizzy, can’t you dress yourself this time?” Emiline begged. She was dying to go down and see what the postman had brought. The little girl shook her head sulkily.
“Oh, alright,” Emma growled. She hurried back to the closet and unbuttoned her sister’s nightgown with hasty fingers. Then she threw a dress over the girl’s head.
“Come on, Lizzy, stop being difficult,” she demanded, trying to fit the girl’s arm through the sleeve. As soon as she had fastened Elizabeth’s dress, she dashed out of the door before the girl could say another word.
Down the squeaky stairs, she found her mother sitting at her writing desk in the living room…