Title: The Star We Sail By
Series: Knights of Blackrabbit #2
Author: Glenn Quiglay
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 02/20/2024
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Genre: Historical, Cornish Coast, clockpunk, spec fiction, panic disorder, bears, ex-sailors, playhouse, theft, family issues, law enforcement, petty theft, historical, non-explicit, redemption, revenge, tattoos, daddybear
When young sailor Felix Diamond receives a letter from his estranged uncle begging for help, he returns home to Blackrabbit Island for the first time in ten years. There he discovers his uncle missing and his aunt positioning herself as the new head of the notorious Diamond family. With nowhere else to turn, Felix must enlist the help of former crime lord and current Watch Commander, Vince Knight—a man he trusts less than anyone alive. He’ll also have to contend with his opium-addicted cousin and a handsome apprentice horologist with secrets of his own.
With time running out, Felix must race to uncover the truth behind his uncle’s disappearance while keeping his delinquent family’s claws off his childhood home—the run-down playhouse named The Star We Sail By.
The Star We Sail By
Glenn Quigley © 2024
All Rights Reserved
“It is the waves which break—not I.” Felix Diamond repeated this refrain to himself over and over again as he picked his way through the hustle and bustle of the Port Knot docklands. His personal maxim acted as a lifeline, leading him through any given storm and safely back to shore.
The ship on which he served had arrived at dawn to an already cluttered harbour. Without a word to his crewmates, Felix had stepped off and made straight for town. On that early December morning in 1781, the air was soft and wet, and the light thin. With his breath clouding about him, he pushed through the market, ignoring the stench of fish guts. Bundles of fresh flowers hung next to rows of empty birdcages. Furs from several kinds of animals sat in high piles on salt-rotten tables. Books and pamphlets on all manner of topics—from rumours about revolution in France to condemnations of the town’s new street lamps—cluttered several stalls. Cranes creaked as they unloaded goods from all four corners of the world. At the roofless court house nearby, hammers struck nails and men shouted obscenities and instructions in equal measure.
Felix had not long turned twenty-four and had the pinkish skin of a man who worked at sea in all weathers. He wore a short beard the colour of strong coffee, and a single curl dropped from beneath his woollen cap, coming to rest on his brow. The small gap between his front teeth whistled as he shouted away a mangy dog sniffing about his legs.
On the corner of Bibbler’s Brook, a man in a white frock coat embellished with seafoam-green oak leaves stood under a five-sided street lamp, working a long, knobbly, metal pole into its head. The light within the lamp dimmed first, then disappeared entirely. Two more dogs chased one other along the narrow, cobbled road and ran straight past the lamplighter. He jumped away and shouted at the young boys who, hooting and chattering, chased at full pelt after the dogs. Farther along, someone flapped a sheet out of a high window to give it an airing while a woman with a bony horse and slender cart collected odds and sods she found on the road.
The Star We Sail By stood on a bend in Bibbler’s Brook, not far from the harbour, on the north-eastern side of town. Its slim front doors nestled neatly between two jutting bay windows. Felix lingered at the locked front doors and tilted his head. Above the entrance, the prow of a sailing boat jutted out as a balcony for the first floor. Its masthead, called Atlas by the townsfolk, had seen better days. Shaped like a rotund and entirely naked gentleman whose modesty was halfheartedly covered with only a single, sheer ribbon, its paintwork curled like pages from an old book. Atlas held a murky stained glass star in its outstretched hands as if catching it or perhaps offering it to the weary traveller who stopped by.
Felix hesitated before taking two keys from his pocket. He found the first too small for the lock. The second fitted snugly. He turned it. Several bolts clicked and clanked. He readied himself and pushed the doors open. Inside, cracks of light pierced the rickety shutters. A shiny beetle scurried across the dusty bar. The tables held sticky pools of dried beer and gin. Tankards and glasses lay on their sides, some smashed on the wooden floor. Ashes sat undisturbed in the fireplace, and at the rear of the room, a little stage with tatty purple curtains stood primed but empty, like a broken promise.
“About time you opened.” A scruffy, unshaven man with a grog blossom nose had slipped in through the door unnoticed. He threw open the rest of the shutters in the windows, flooding the room with light, then coughed at the cloud of dust they released.
“I’m not open,” Felix said. “Please get out.”
“I’ve been here every morning for days. Days, I tell you!” the man said. “I’ve been practically homeless without this place.”
“I said get out.” His duffel bag slumped to the floor, and he readied himself to kick the man out if he had to. He hoped the man wouldn’t notice his rapid breathing.
“Don’t get all worked up,” the man said. He held his hands up and sat on a stool by the bar. “I don’t mean any harm. It’s nice to be home again.” He squinted at the sailor. “You’re the nephew, aren’t you? The one that ran away? The seaman. Fenton?”
“Felix.” He relaxed his hands and opened the other shutters. Clearly, this man wasn’t going anywhere.
“I’m Tassiter, since you didn’t ask,” the man said. “Dick Tassiter.” He had beady eyes and straggly hair, and a face like a crumpled shirt abandoned at the bottom of the wardrobe. He eyed the bottles of gin lining a shelf behind the bar. “I’m your uncle’s best customer. Or I was.”
Felix peeked around a corner to the stairs. “He hasn’t been open for a while?”
“It’s been three days since those doors last opened. Three long, dry, thirsty days,” Tassiter said. “I thought I was cursed to wander the world forevermore without a drop to drink.” He pointed to one of the bottles. “Do you mind if I…?”
“Help yourself,” Felix said. He climbed the stairs.
Meet the Author
Glenn Quigley is a graphic designer originally from Dublin and now living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. He creates bear designs for www.themoodybear.com. He has been interested in writing since he was a child, as essay writing was the one and only thing he was ever any good at in school. When not writing or designing, he enjoys photography and has recently taken up watercolour painting.
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