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Table of Contents
Other Books from Ylva Publishing
Other Books from Jae
The Hollywood Series:
Departure from the Script
Portland Police Bureau Series:
Conflict of Interest
Next of Kin
The Moonstone Series:
Something in the Wine
The Vampire Diet Series:
Good Enough to Eat
The Oregon Series:
Backwards to Oregon
Beyond the Trail
The Shape-Shifter Series:
Natural Family Disasters
Under a Falling Star
Shaken to the Core
As always, I would like to thank my wonderful team of beta readers, who helped make this book what it is: Alison Grey, Anne-France, Christiane Z., Concepta, Erin Saluta, G Benson, Katharina, and Tricia.
A special thank-you goes to my critique partner RJ Nolan, who kept an eye on Giuliana’s dialogue for me, making sure she doesn’t sound like a native speaker.
Thanks also to Michelle Aguilar, my editor; to Glendon, who created the wonderful cover for
Shaken to the Core
; and to all the people at Ylva Publishing for making publishing a “pack” experience.
San Francisco, California
March 18, 1906
Giuliana squinted against the brisk sea breeze and looked out across the bay. The fog was lifting, revealing glimpses of Alcatraz Island, but still there was no sign of the
’s brown, triangular sail. Most of the other
were already back in. Water lapped against the small boats, bumping them against the pier in a gentle rhythm that contrasted with Giuliana’s growing anxiety.
Where was Turi?
Usually, her brother went out with the tide in the middle of the night and hurried back in the morning so his would be one of the first boats back and he could get a good price for his catch.
Today, the other
had beaten him to it. A group of Genoese fishermen sat on the pier, mending their nets and singing arias, while several of Giuliana’s fellow Sicilians unloaded boxes of fish and crabs from their boats.
Next to Giuliana’s crab stand, black-clad women had already set huge pots of water to boil. Clouds of steam billowed up, and the women huddled closer to ward off the chill. The aroma of cooking seafood and fresh-baked sourdough bread drifted over, mixing with the smell of fish and salty air.
Without any crabs to cook, Giuliana hadn’t lit her fire yet. She shuffled her feet to keep warm and tried not to think about their father, who hadn’t returned to the village when his boat had gone out for sardines. On the one hand, the pain of losing him was still fresh, even after six years, but on the other hand, it seemed like a lifetime ago. Sometimes she could hardly remember his weather-beaten features.
What if Turi didn’t come back either? Then she’d be all alone in Merica.
The bellow of a foghorn interrupted her thoughts. Again she looked out at the bay.
Crying seagulls circled above a lone boat. This felucca was painted white with green trimmings, the same colors her father’s and all other boats of their village had been.
The Bon Viaggiu!
Her heart skipped a beat
. See? There he is. You worried for nothing.
But Turi’s boat wasn’t sailing in front of the wind. It was being towed by a steam-powered fishing tug.
At first, Giuliana thought that Turi had caught a ride back to the harbor, as he and the other fishermen sometimes did. But the boat wasn’t traveling low in the water. No catch was weighing it down. Something was wrong.
She rushed toward the edge of the pier and hopped up and down to see over the masts of the other boats.
pulled in alongside the pier, she took just enough time to tie down the boat and then gathered her skirt higher and jumped on board.
Turi sat in the stern of the
His broad shoulders, their muscles honed from lifting heavy nets, were slumped forward.
Giuliana scrambled over, spreading her arms for balance as the boat rocked. She fell to her knees in front of him and clutched his legs, which were encased in rubber boots up to the hips.
His body shivered beneath her hands.
“Turi? What’s wrong?” she asked in Sicilian. “Did you get hurt?”
He coughed and looked up slowly, as if even that movement required a lot of strength. His skin, normally even darker than her own olive complexion, was pale; just his cheeks were blotched with red. He was shaking all over and clutched his chest as another cough rattled through him. “It’s just a cough,” he answered in their language.
He’d said that for the last week. So far, she had believed him. Now she reached up and touched his forehead. Heat seared her cool fingers. “You’re burning up!”
He didn’t answer. As he stood, he swayed a bit, clutched his head, and muttered a string of Sicilian curse words.
Strangely, hearing them made Giuliana feel a little better. She pushed forward, under his arm, so he could wrap it around her shoulders. His linen shirt was damp. It smelled like sweat, not spray from the sea.
He leaned on her as they climbed onto the pier.
he was heavy! For a moment, they both swayed. Giuliana stiffened her spine to take more of his weight.
Another cough shook him. This close, Giuliana could hear a wheezing sound as he gasped for breath.
Two steps down the pier, he stopped. He shook like a loose sail in the wind.
Giuliana peered at him with concern. “Do you want to sit for—?”
Without warning, he collapsed.
She tried to hold him upright, but he was too heavy. They both went down onto the worn planks of the pier. Pain lanced through her hand as she caught herself, but she ignored it. Only Turi was important right now. She shook him frantically. “Turi! Wake up! You have to wake up. Please!”
His eyes remained closed, but his chest was moving up and down with each labored breath.
On her knees next to him, she looked around for help. “Ajutu!” she cried, then repeated it in English. “Somebody help, please!”
Two fishermen jumped over their nets, which they had spread out to dry. Others climbed out of the boats they’d been cleaning. Within seconds, they were carrying Turi along the pier.
“Wait!” Giuliana called in Sicilian. She hastened after them. “Where are you taking him?”
One of the men shouted something back, but the wind made it hard to understand. She caught the word
For a moment, she wanted to protest. They didn’t have the money to pay for treatment in a hospital. But she bit her tongue because she sensed that the hospital was Turi’s only chance.
* * *
Giuliana barely spared a glance at the majestic granite columns or the magnificent dome of City Hall as she rushed into the Central Emergency Hospital in the building’s basement, where a horse-drawn ambulance had taken Turi.
Her leather lace-up shoes, which Turi had saved up for last Christmas, beat a rapid staccato against the marble floor.
A nurse walked past her, pushing a wheeled metal cart with medical supplies.
“Scusa…excuse me, miss,” Giuliana said. “I search my brother, Salvatore Russo. He is sick, so they brought him here.”
“Unless they took him to the operating theater, he’s likely in the men’s ward.” The nurse pointed to the other end of the corridor.
After a quick thank-you, Giuliana hurried in the indicated direction and squeezed past two orderlies carrying a moaning patient on a stretcher.
The men’s ward consisted of a large room. Metal-frame beds lined two walls, while a nurse sat at a desk in the center of the room, writing down notes in the light from the gas chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.
Giuliana started to walk up to her but then caught a glimpse of the patient in the bed to her left.
He was sitting up in bed, propped up against several pillows. His eyes were closed.
She nearly collided with a metal cart as she rushed over and perched on the edge of the bed. “Turi?” she whispered.
His eyes fluttered open.
“Oh Turi, it’s so good to see you awake,” she said in Sicilian.
He tried to speak, but a cough shook him, cutting him off.
She tugged his white blanket a little higher. “Don’t try to talk.”
Not that he could, even if he wanted. He continued to cough, and his shaking refused to cease. Exhausted, he slumped back against the pillows.
Giuliana held his hand, feeling the familiar calluses. She chafed his cold fingers between both of her hands and looked around for one of the doctors in their vests and bowler hats.
Her desperate gaze caught the attention of a nurse who had just entered the ward and was striding across the room toward them. One step before reaching them, she tripped over something and careened into a cart. Medical supplies went flying in all directions.