The Storm and the Darkness (The House of Crimson and Clover Book #2)
Author: Sarah M. Cradit
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Synopsis: Ana Deschanel has made a terrible mistake. The only chance of protecting the other people involved is to flee New Orleans, the only home she has ever known, for the quiet solitude of Summer Island.
Summer Island, Maine (population 202) is not the tranquil escape Ana imagined. The locals are distant and cold, especially her neighbor, the reclusive veterinarian Jonathan St. Andrews. Her only lifeline is the kind but odd caretaker Alex Whitman. Showing up at all the right moments, he warns her she is completely unprepared for a Maine winter. As the first winter storm approaches to whispers of an island shutdown- Ana realizes that she may soon be cut off from the rest of the world.
After a surprising encounter with Jonathan’s brother, Finn, Ana finds herself braving the storm to return something to him. Unprepared for the Maine storm, she slips and falls onto the jagged rocks along the shore. The St. Andrews brothers find her in the nick of time, but she remains unconscious. As the storm worsens, the St. Andrews brothers learn there are other, more sinister forces at work closer than they ever imagined.
Walking up to the window, Ana counted ten people in front of her. She sighed. Do I really have anything better to do? She slid in line behind a tall, dark-haired gentleman.
He turned around and she recognized him immediately. It was Jonathan St. Andrews. Doctor St. Andrews, as the islanders called him, otherwise known as the town veterinarian, and the unpleasant neighbor she had been avoiding.
He looked at Ana, without any expression or indication of his thoughts, for what was an awkward ten seconds or so. He then turned back around without saying a word. She blinked and stared at his back, trying to process what had happened.
Ana’s instinct was to withdraw back into herself and go on as if nothing happened. She avoided conflict and awkwardness at all costs, and she didn’t want it here, in public, especially. But Ana was raised to be kind and hospitable, and the two weeks she had been on Summer Island had been anything but kind and hospitable. Jon’s childish behavior was at the pinnacle of this inexcusable lack of hospitality, and it could not be borne. Emboldened, she tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hi,” she said, her voice unsteady, “I believe we are neighbors.”
Giving a response that sounded more like a grunt than actual words, he continued to face forward.
The blood rushed to her face, and her toes curled up in silent anger. Not even in New Orleans had she met someone who was so openly rude without cause.
Ana took a deep breath and stepped in front of him. He couldn’t hide his shock at her boldness, but he quickly recovered himself, and tried to push past her again. “Ana Deschanel,” she said. She thrust her hand toward him, daring him to respond.
His eyes darted to the left and the right for a moment. Realizing there was no avoiding it, he reluctantly took her hand and mumbled, “Jon St. Andrews.” He dropped her hand like it carried the plague.
This was the first time Ana had seen his face in clear view, and she was surprised that he was not much older than she was. He didn’t look anything like his younger brother, or what she had seen of Finn from a distance. Finn was stockier of build with a raw, rugged earthy strength that went well with his strong features and ruddy blonde hair. In contrast, Jonathan was tall–much taller than she had realized before he turned to face her–with hair the color of midnight that looked soft and delicate to the touch. His face had the same softness, with only a few lines just around his mouth, reminding her of the wings of an eagle set to flight. He had the appearance of a man who has never seen hard days, but his eyes betrayed a much different truth. They were the color of emeralds, but had the depth of an entire forest. If not for the look of pure animosity on his face, she thought he would be handsome, in a dark sort of way.
Handsome, though, was the last description she had on her mind now that she was face to face with the reclusive island vet.
“So you’re a veterinarian?” Ana probed. She was enjoying his disquiet.
“Yes,” Jon said, shifting uncomfortably. He continued to look past her as if he was waiting for someone, but no one came. His face lit up with relief as the line moved forward.
“What do you do all day, sit in the back and play video games?”
“I mean, I can’t imagine the veterinary business is exactly booming on an island of 200 people,” Ana clarified with a laugh.
Jon stared at her and blinked with a slow deliberateness, as if trying to decide if he should bother with a response. “It keeps me busy,” he finally replied.
“What, the video games or animal care?”
He lips formed a thin line and he gave a short sigh of disgust. He was once again looking past her, at the line, willing it to move faster. The conversation was obviously causing him great discomfort.
“Aye! Ana!” A voice called out behind her, and she turned to see Alex waving and heading toward her.
“I see you’ve met our beloved veterinarian,” Alex said enthusiastically as he joined them in the line, clapping Jonathan on the back. Jonathan flinched and grunted, but Alex didn’t seem to notice.
“Ya know, he is the first veterinarian this island has had in over 200 years?” She gave a polite acknowledgement and he added, “Aye, and his father was our only physician as’well. Family of medical geniuses, the St. Andrews men are!”
Jon’s lips twitched again at the mention of his father. “‘Course,” Alex continued, “E’ryone was hoping Jon would be a doctor as’well. Ya know, Andrew St. Andrews was the best doctor in the whole state of Maine, you best believe, and he did a lot o’things he weren’t supposed to, like surgeries and whatnot, and right out of his own house! He did it out of love, ya know, love for this island and the people, and oh, Jon, you were his assistant back in those days, ya?” The question seemed rhetorical as Alex continued to go on and on about Andrew St. Andrews and his wonderful, but unorthodox, medical practice.
Ana watched Jon as Alex talked. His eyes took on a darker gaze the more his father was mentioned. She still couldn’t read him, but could sense his unease. Ana found herself actually feeling sorry for this unpleasant man, as she watched his expression evolve from annoyance to pain.
“Alex, I’ve been meaning to ask you, should I be keeping the cupboard doors under the sink open at all times, or just at night?” She was bailing Jon out, even though he had given her no reason to. Jon’s lips twitched into what might have been a smile, and he turned back to face the line.
As it turned out, Alex was also dining alone, and offered to join her. She wasn’t opposed to some lighter company after that unpleasant interaction with her neighbor, so she accepted and they took the burgers back to her place.
She didn’t know if they were the best burgers in Maine or not, but they were better than anything she had eaten since she arrived.
Anasofiya Deschanel (30)- Ana is aloof, withdrawn, and considered by some even to be cold. In reality, she lacks the ability to connect with others in any meaningful way, with the exception of her cousin and lifelong confidante Nicolas. After she makes a terrible mistake in New Orleans, she flees for Maine in an attempt to protect everyone involved. For the first time in her life, she has kept something from Nicolas, who suspects that she is not being completely forthright about her reasons for leaving.
Nicolas Deschanel (30)- The cocky, brash, f-bomb loving cousin of Ana. He is single, with no intentions of changing that, instead enjoying the company of a different woman every night. Being the son of the late and venerable Charles Deschanel, his incomparable wealth allows him to live any lifestyle he wants. The truth, though, is that Nicolas has never found anything interesting enough to occupy his time. Nothing that gives his life meaning.
Jonathan St. Andrews (32)- Jon is the oldest St. Andrews brother. He is the reclusive, and sometimes rude, veterinarian of the small community of Summer Island. Showing an aptitude for medicine, like his father, in his youth, he instead abandoned it for veterinary medicine. He is very wary of Ana’s arrival on the island, afraid he might have to interact with her as her neighbor. Truthfully, though, Jon senses a similar darkness in Ana that scares him.
Finnegan St. Andrews (27)- The younger St. Andrews brother, Finn is easy and carefree, the opposite of his brother Jon. He spends his days on his boat, supplying lobster to many of the local Maine communities. Unlike Jon, he is immediately intrigued by Ana, whom he sees is not like the other girls he’s been with. Where Jon seeks to push her away, Finn is eager to get to know her.
Colin “Oz” Sullivan (30)- Kind, sensitive, thoughtful. Oz is connected through the Deschanels both through his lifelong friendship with Nicolas, but also his marriage to Nicolas’ younger sister, Adrienne.
Alex Whitman (50s)- The odd, middle-aged caretaker of Ana’s home. Very little is known about Alex’s personal life, except for the fact that his parents were brutally murdered when he was a child. Theirs are one of several unsolved murders on this small island.
Augustus Deschanel (60s)- The sharp, clever businessman father of Ana. He built his media empire out of nearly nothing, despite having the Deschanel resources at his disposal. His wife, and Ana’s mother, Catherine, died giving birth to Ana. Catherine was the only woman he ever felt a passion for, and his second marriage, to a woman named Barbara, was sought for more practical reasons. Augustus is not comfortable in expression, and so his relationship with Ana is often strained.
Ana Deschanel- Barbara Meier
Nicolas Deschanel- Max Irons
Jonathan St. Andrews- Colin O’Donaghue
Oz Sullivan- Dan Jongebloed
Finn St. Andrews- Chace Crawford
About the Author: Sarah is the author of the Southern Fiction series, The House of Crimson and Clover. The series was born of her combined loves of New Orleans, family dramas, and the mysterious nature of love and desire. Her books combine elements of mystery, suspense, intrigue, romance, and even paranormal. She is always working on the next book in the series, and absolutely loves connecting with her fans.