Authors: Kaira Rouda
Her Forbidden Love
An Indigo Island Romance
Her Forbidden Love
Copyright © 2014 Kaira Rouda
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
To the people of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, for sharing your island and inspiring my stories. And to my puppy love, Oreo, for always being at my feet and sharing my love for the beach.
Note to Readers
Thank you for choosing an Indigo Island Romance!
I’m thrilled to be writing a series of books that share a setting on a beautiful South Carolina Sea Island.
Her Forbidden Love
is the story of Dorsey and Jack, two young people trying to figure out their futures, individually and perhaps, together. I attempted to weave some Gullah culture into the story, because it’s an important part of our shared history and in my opinion, needs to be preserved and treasured. I hope you enjoy your glimpses of Gullah via Barbara in the story. Happy reading!
orsey’s strawberry blonde hair had expanded from curly to frizz in the short forty-five minutes it took the ferry to cross the Calibogue Sound, the body of water separating Hilton Head Island from Indigo Island. Before the ferry, her hair had reached the middle of her back, but was now circling her head in a clown-like poof. She searched in her duffle bag to find a hair tie, attempting to tame her life-long nemesis.
At twenty-five, she had tried every product known to Sephora to straighten or even simply manage her mane. After a couple Brazilian straightening treatments gone wrong, during which time she discovered that the chemicals used were the same as embalming fluid – she’d decided to just set her hair free. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror. It was time to start a new life, let the past, and her hair, go.
As the ferry continued to chug through the warm, still water at the backside of the island, Dorsey imagined how great it would feel to jump into the water to cool off. Sure, she could just go inside the main cabin and freeze in the air conditioning. But she wanted to stay out on deck. She was excited to experience everything about her new home and workplace, to see it for the first time. She couldn’t wait to swim in the warm waters of the sound even though she knew it contained horseshoe crabs and other creatures. There were even sand sharks, she’d read, so maybe she’d swim close to shore. But after living in Ohio most of her life, she was excited to get to know all about what was in the ocean and everything else about the Sea Islands. She’d focus on her future, build a new life and hopefully replace her bad dreams with new memories.
Dorsey had felt the healing beginning the moment she had stepped on the ferry, even as she was running away from everything she had ever known. She stretched, contemplating a Kate Winslet Titanic pose at the bow when –
“Miss, we’re pulling into the dock, please take your seat,” the captain said over the loudspeaker.
Dorsey hurried inside the empty, brightly lit and frigid cabin, goose bumps immediately covering her body with the dramatic change in temperature. Dorsey’s white blouse was drenched in sweat and sticking to her everywhere, becoming translucent. She covered her chest with her arms, and hoped to dry soon. Before she knew it, the clanking sound of a metal ramp being attached to the boat announced she’d arrived.
“Watch youself, little landlubber, it’s slippery,” said a tall, skinny, blond man with oversized Ray Ban sunglasses. He walked toward Dorsey down the gangway. “Let me give you a hand.”
“Ah, sure,” she said, as the man grabbed her under her right arm and hauled her up the ramp.
Well, I guess I’ve arrived.
“Okay, well, here we are,” the man said, dropping her arm once they had reached the top. “That’s how I like to see us greet any guest who may be a little sea-sick. Don’t want them falling in here, it’s really shallow and murky. Not a quality experience,” he said. “You’re Dorsey, right?”
“Yes, right, but I’m not sea-sick, just hot,” Dorsey said, noticing his gleaming Top Club name badge said Steve.
“Just noticing from your size that you’ll need to eat some of our good ol Low Country cooking. Fatten you up a bit. I do like the freckles though, and your greenish-blue eyes. The kids will love you, I suspect,” Steve said. They stood staring at each other at the top of the ramp, sweating in the late afternoon heat.
“Thanks, and what do you do here besides greet the ferry?” Dorsey said.
And manhandle employees?
She was getting irritated that he was sizing her up and seemed to know all about her when all she knew about him was what was written on his shirt badge. He reminded her of a turtle, his long neck poking out of his preppy polo shirt.
“Steve Fordham. I am Club Manager. I oversee everything on this plantation. All of the recreational activities for the club, the golf, tennis, swimming complex, and all forty guest cottages and the inn. And, of course, the staff. And that’s what you are, so I oversee you. You’re mine, for the duration of your contract,” he said. His laugh was too high-pitched for such a tall man. “I’ve been with Top Club for four years now, and I’ve been here on Indigo Island for two. Been in the hospitality business all my career. So far, this is my favorite spot. I like the isolation, the peace. I call it home now, like it’s my island. I’m the driver of all this success,” Steve added, with a grand sweeping gesture.
she wondered, following the arc of his arm and seeing only a dirt road and an old, beat-up pink school bus behind him.
—that was the word that suddenly popped into Dorsey’s head. There must be more to this place than this, she realized, standing in the middle of the sand/dirt parking lot/ferry landing. She’d checked it out online, and it looked beautiful.
“Well, are you my boss then?” she asked, hoping that he was her boss’s boss or something more removed.
“Yes I am. I take pride in directly managing most of the staff. I like to know what everybody is up to, at all times,” Steve answered, his round, mirrored sunglasses glinting in the orange-pink sunset light. “To become the best club in the Top Club chain we’re going to have to step it up a notch. You’re part of my master plan. Come along. Employees ride in the old bus. The air-conditioned shuttle is for our club guests. Suppose this will be your first taste of roughing it, huh, city girl? Come this way.”
“Right,” she answered, realizing he probably knew everything about her – well everything she put on her application. Hometown: Grandville, Ohio. College degree: Early childhood education with a minor in hospitality from the Ohio State University. Work experience: Live-in nanny for the Rogers family for the last four years.
What Dorsey wanted to know was how a six-foot-tall man sporting Popeye-like biceps ended up with a squeaky-high voice? Genetic freak of nature, she decided. She couldn’t tell if he was looking at her or past her from behind his 1980’s sunglasses. Oh well, she didn’t care. She was excited to get to work, and as long as the Kids Cottage looked like the photos she’d seen online, everything would work out fine.
She followed him through the dusty, sand-covered parking area to the bubble-gum pink school bus.
She climbed up the stairs to the bus ahead of Steve and nodded to the hat-clad driver who looked seventy years old but could be fifty, she simply couldn’t tell. She took a seat three rows back in the empty bus, behind the driver who made eye contact through the large mirror suspended above his head. The driver shook his head back and forth, slowly, almost imperceptibly, as his dark brown eyes darted toward Steve who was climbing onto the bus. Dorsey could taste the driver’s dislike of Steve in her mouth, as if she’d just taken a big gulp from a spoiled carton of milk. A chill ran down her spine and she nodded at him.
The bumpy drive to her new job and new life wasn’t any more reassuring than the ferry arrival area had been. Through the open window she saw desolate, shadowy forests of hanging-moss-covered trees and dirt roads peeling off from the main road in many directions. The huge, bent trees hoisted tangles of moss, looking like witches. Thick groves of pines obscured the light in several places as they bumped along. Every pond they drove past was covered with green ooze, pollen, and swarms of insects as large as her hand. Dorsey shifted in her seat, leaving a slick trail of sweat where her legs had just been. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand, praying the employee housing had air conditioning.
“Under that water are some huge gators,” Steve said. “This is the backside of the island. You don’t want to find yourself out here, especially not alone, and especially not at night. It’s primitive, you know what I mean? Ol’ Jim lives out there, don’t you, son?”
“Yes, sir,” the driver answered quickly, eyes fixed on the road.
Steve lowered his voice. “If it wasn’t for the club, I don’t know how Jim there would make it. There’s a one-room schoolhouse down that way. Some of ’em don’t even have plumbing. Primitive, that’s all I’ll say. It’s different inside the plantation. Night and day. You’ll like it better there. Girls like you shouldn’t venture out to where you don’t understand things.” Steve had taken the seat across the aisle from Dorsey, but he moved closer to her with each sentence. He leaned over her seat now, resting one arm on the back of Dorsey’s seat and one on the seat in front of her, caging her in.
“You should say women. I’m not a girl. I’m a woman, and could you stop crowding me?” Dorsey said.
“Right. Spoiled. College-educated. Skinny,” Steve said, not changing his position. “You think you know everything, don’t cha?”
“No, not at all. Just that men like Jim are men, not boys, and women like me are women, not girls. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, just saying,” Dorsey said; it was fun having her spunk back. She wasn’t sure Steve was enjoying it quite as much, though.
Steve dropped his voice lower, his jaw clenched and she could see a small river of sweat working its way down the side of his face. “It really doesn’t matter what we call each other. I expect Excellence, Team Work and Quality. ETQ, at all times. That’s how we treat the guests and each other at Top Club. You’ll have orientation tomorrow, eight a.m. sharp. You have a lot to learn.”
“I’m sure I do, sir,” Dorsey said, sliding over to the window, pretending to peer outside. Probably, the first lesson was to keep her mouth shut, she realized.
“Do you know how many people applied for your position? Just want to make sure you know how lucky you are to be here. Oh, look, we’re home. Welcome to Melrose Plantation,” Steve said.