Gone by Nightfall
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 21st 2020
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
A young woman is torn between her home and her dreams during the Russian Revolution.
It’s 1916, and Charlotte Mason is determined to make a life for herself in czarist Russia. When her mother dies, Charlotte is forced to put her plans to go to medical school aside to care for her unruly siblings. Then a handsome new tutor arrives. Charlotte has high hopes that he’ll stay, freeing her up to follow her dreams of becoming a doctor. But there’s more to Dmitri that meets the eye.
Just when she thinks she can get her life back, Russia descends into revolution and chaos. Now, not only does Charlotte need to leave Russia, she needs to get her siblings out too–and fast.
Can Charlotte flee Russia, keep her siblings safe, and uncover Dmitri’s many secrets before she runs out of time?
I folded up the paper as small as I could and tried to put it into the top of my glove but my hand was trembling so much I dropped it instead and it fell to the floor.
Before I could reach for it, another hand appeared and picked it up. I looked up to see a young man in the dazzling white dress uniform of the Imperial Horse Guards standing in front of me. His image wavered and the room grew hotter. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, I realized I was not seeing a ghost. Pavel would never come back, not even as a spirit, since he was buried a long way away in an unknown grave on a battle field.
This young man was not quite as tall as Pavel had been, though he had the same blondish hair and dark eyes. The line of his jaw wasn’t quite as square and there was something about him that made him look out of place in the uniform, though I couldn’t pinpoint what that was.
He held out the paper. I snatched it out of his hand and squeezed my own tight around it as if it was going to somehow jump out and open up by itself.
I saw a shudder pass through him and I noticed he had a cane gripped in his other hand. His fingers were very long and white against the ebony black of cane and he wore a gold ring with some sort of bird on it. It was only then I noticed what could only be a bulky bandage around one knee that showed where he was injured.
“Where did you come from?” I blurted out. I wanted to know if he’d heard the conversation.
“I’ve been sitting over there.” He pointed to behind me and I twisted around to see a small table nearly hidden by some of the potted plants. He motioned to his leg. “Dancing does not agree with me at the moment.”
The table wasn’t close enough so that he could have overheard the baron and I, which was a relief. Nevertheless, I wished this young man would go away.
“You managed to get a chocolate mouse,” he said, motioning to my plate. “Lucky you. Those were my sister’s favorites.” His stared down at the plate of chocolates, as if transfixed by them.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just snap my fingers to get his attention or get up and leave. “Would you like one?”
He gave a start and turned his gaze back to me, then his eyes flicked to the paper. So he’d seen the baron give it to me.
I felt the dampness in my palms again.
He shifted his weight, another shudder passing through him. When he spoke, I could tell it was taking some effort for him to get the words out. “I see you are acquainted with Baron Eristov. Have you heard the old saying Be friends with the wolf but keep one hand on the axe? In the baron’s case, I’d make that two hands and I’d also make sure the axe was very sharp.”
In another circumstance I might have been interested to see what he knew about the baron. With a piece of treason in my hand, I didn’t want to say anything that would encourage him to continue talking.
I stood up and picked up the plate with my other hand. “I have to be going now.”
“Wait, if you could give me just a moment,” he said. “I wanted to meet you earlier but I couldn’t find anyone to do a proper introduction and I couldn’t ask you to dance. I’d like to talk to you.”
As I walked away, I called back over my shoulder. “I’m sorry, I really have to be going. Perhaps next time.” I knew I was being very rude but I didn’t need to know any more handsome young soldiers who would disappear within weeks. I couldn’t play the game of pretending everything was fine and I’d write them cheerful letters waiting for them to return in triumph and then my heart would be ripped out and crushed when news came of their death. No more. One had been enough. And I didn’t need any distractions. Keeping the hospital open while staying out of the hands of the secret police was more than enough to occupy me.
Dee Garretson spent her childhood helping her father build his offbeat inventions and playing adventure games in the woods. After working as a landscape designer and teaching landscape horticulture classes for several years, Dee returned to writing. Her debut novel, Wildfire Run, has been praised for its suspense and its hero, Luke, who “with his companions, displays generous measures of courage and ingenuity in rising to the occasion” (ALA Booklist). She lives with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio.