Manhattan, New York
"I don't believe it. You can't actually mean to go through
with this." Jeremy paced over to the dresser in the bedroom
where Charity stood studying each piece of clothing she
intended to take on her trip. "You can't possibly mean to
quit your job, give up your apartment, and go off to some
godforsaken town in the wilderness."
Charity flicked him only the briefest of glances and continued
to fold her sweatshirt, a red one with a little red-and-white-checked
collar she thought was particularly warm.
"It isn't as if you didn't know this was going to happen,"
she said. "I've been planning this for weeks. I told you the
day I made the decision to leave. As you do with anything
that doesn't fit into your plans, you simply chose not to
He crossed the room and reached for her, turned her to
face him. "Think about what you're doing, Charity. Think
what you're giving up. You've got a good job at Glenbrook
Publishing. You just got promoted to senior editor, for God's
"I gave them notice weeks ago, Jeremy. They've already
replaced the position."
"They'd take you back in a heartbeat and you know it.
You're destroying your career, but if that isn't enough-what
At five-foot-ten, with his perfectly styled, jet-black hair
and deep green eyes, Jeremy Hauser was undeniably attractive.
When Charity had met him at a literacy fund-raiser
two years ago, she had fallen like a rock for his debonair good
looks, Wall Street polish and charm. After chafing him-practically
living with him in his swanky East Side apartment-she
knew how self-centered, how totally self-absorbed
he could be.
She caught the hand he raised to her cheek and drew it
away. "We've had two years, Jeremy. We've shared good
times and bad, but you know as well as I do, things haven't
been great with us for the last six months. Maybe putting
some space between us will help decide where our relationship
Or if, as Charity suspected, it was headed nowhere at all.
"There's nothing wrong with our relationship. I'll admit
I've been a little stressed-out lately. I'm up for that promotion
and you know how much I want it." He gave her one of
his most charming smiles. "I realize I haven't been very
good company, but give up this crazy scheme of yours and
I'll make it up to you-I promise."
"I'm sorry, Jeremy. I think this goes way beyond being
good company. We haven't even made love in nearly a
He paled a little at hearing her come right out and say it.
Jeremy had always been reserved in the bedroom, which in
the beginning she'd found rather sweet. The truth was, sex
just wasn't a driving factor in Jeremy's life. He was always
too tired, too busy, too rushed. Mostly, he was just too
preoccupied with his own needs to care all that much about
She turned away from him, reached for a pair of Liz
Claiborne jeans and started to roll them up. Jeremy leaned
over and gently blew against her ear.
"Don't go," he said softly, kissing the side of her neck.
"We'll work things out, I swear it."
Charity eased away from him. "Don't, Jeremy, please.
"All right, what do you want me to do? What do I have
to say to make you give up this crazy idea and stay in
Manhattan? You want to move in with me? Okay, that's
what we'll do. Finish packing your things and I'll have a
moving truck here to pick them up tomorrow afternoon."
There was a time that was exactly what she had wanted.
She had believed Jeremy Hauser was the man of her dreams.
It hadn't taken long to discover he wasn't. She still didn't
know how she'd convinced herself for more than a year that
he would change and things would work out between them.
"I don't want to move in with you, Jeremy. I want to do
exactly what I've got planned. I want to fly out of JFK on
Canada Airlines tomorrow morning at 7:29 A.M. I want to
land in Vancouver, change planes, and fly to Whitehorse,
where, after nearly eleven hours in the air and a two-hour
layover, I'll be so exhausted I'll crawl into my bed at the
River View Motel without even turning on the TV. The
following day, I want to pick up the Ford Explorer I've
leased from National Rent-A-Car and be on my way to
He looked so stunned that Charity reached out and caught
hold of his hand. "I know this is hard for you to understand,
but I'm twenty-eight years old and I've never done a single
thing that's really exciting. Just once, I want to have an
adventure. Haven't you ever wanted to do something a little
bit crazy? Something you've secretly wanted to do but never
had the nerve?"
She sighed. "Both my sisters are doing things that are
interesting and exciting. Patience is getting ready to go on
the rodeo circuit and Hope is traveling around the country,
writing freelance magazine articles. They're living their
dreams and I want to live mine, too."
"Patience is doing research for her Ph.D.," Jeremy
argued, "and Hope is trying to salvage her flagging writing
career. You have a very successful career. You're a fiction
editor at a well-respected publishing house. You should be
happy with that."
"Well, I'm not, and I'm tired of arguing with you about
it." She turned and ushered him out of the bedroom, tugged
him across her small living room to the front door. "Go
home, Jeremy." She removed the chain lock and pulled the
door open. "I have a feeling that as soon as I'm gone, you're
going to realize our relationship wasn't going anywhere
anyway. You might even be grateful to have your freedom
Jeremy's mouth thinned but he didn't argue. He wasn't
in love with her and deep down he knew it-she was simply
a convenience. That kind of relationship was enough for
Jeremy but not for her.
"You're going to be sorry, Charity," he said, stepping
out into the hallway. "Unfortunately, by the time you figure
that out, it's going to be too late."
Charity cringed as he slammed the front door. Poor Jeremy.
Maybe someday he would find a woman who would be
content to simply live her life through his. In the meantime, it
wouldn't take him long to get over her. His feelings just
didn't run that deep.
Charity sighed as she returned to her packing, including
a pair of long underwear she had purchased on-line from
Cabellas, an outdoor sporting equipment and clothing store.
Unlike Jeremy's superficial idea of caring, Charity knew if
she ever really fell in love it would be deep and abiding,
the forever, can't-live-without-you kind of love. It was the
sort of love her mother and father had shared, the sort she
hoped she would be lucky enough to find for herself
In the meantime, she wanted a little excitement in her
Though her deteriorating relationship with Jeremy had
been the catalyst for her decision to leave New York, living
an adventure like this was something she had dreamed of
since she was a little girl. Her father, Edward Sinclair, had
been a professor of history at Boston University in the city
where Charity was born. As a child, she and her sisters,
Hope and Patience, had grown up with tales of medieval
knights and damsels in distress, Robin Hood, and Red Beard
the Pirate. For all three sisters, the need for adventure burned
like a fire in their blood.
At Glenbrook Publishing, Charity had edited action/
adventure novels by authors like Cussler, Higgins, and
Clancy. Though the stories were purely fiction, each one
fueled the hidden passion that burned inside her. Charity
loved them and secretly read even the ones that were published
by her competitors.
Then one day it happened-the chance for an adventure
of her own. In The Wall Street Journal, she spotted an article
titled "Twenty-First-Century Gold Rush," a story about
inexpensive mining claims for sale in the Canadian Yukon.
It described the rugged outdoor life and the financial opportunities
offered by some of the claims. Charity felt as if her
destiny had finally arrived.
Two weeks later, after hours spent searching the Web for
mining information and poring over stacks of library books,
she contacted a real estate broker in Dawson City where the
newspaper article had been set. A dozen long-distance phone
calls later, she used half of the money she had inherited
when her grandfather died last year to make an offer on a
twenty-acre gold claim.
A photo of the property the owner called the Lily Rose,
arriving via the Internet, showed A cozy one-bedroom cabin
on a wild, rushing stream. The cabin, the advertisement
read, has modern, indoor plumbing, a convenient kitchen,
and a rustic rock fireplace. Existing furniture and mining
equipment are included.
It sounded perfect to Charity, who closed the all-cash sale
ten days later.
Smiling at the memory, she stuffed a last heavy sweater
into her soft-sided bag, then struggled to buzz the zipper
closed. She was only taking two suitcases: one with her
can't-do-without personal items like shampoo, makeup, and
hair spray, the other with jeans, sweaters, tennis shoes, and
hiking boots. She wasn't sure exactly what else she would
need so she had decided to buy the rest once she got there.
The good news was she was keeping her apartment. Hope,
the oldest of the three Sinclair sisters, had agreed to move
in next week and pay the rent for the next six months. Hope
had an idea for a string of magazine articles that revolved
around happenings in New York, London, and Paris. Charity's
small apartment worked perfectly as an affordable base
And six months was perfect. She didn't plan to move
away for good. An adventure was simply that. Once it was
over, she would return to New York and decide what to do
with the rest of her life.
Charity grinned as she thought of the exciting journey
she was about to undertake, and set the second suitcase
beside the front door.
There's a land where the mountains are nameless
And the rivers all run God knows where.
There are lives that are erring and aimless
And deaths that just hang by a hair.
There are hardships that nobody reckons
There are valleys unpeopled and still.
There's a land-how it beckons and beckons
And I want to go back, and I will.
-Robert W. Service
By the time the plane taxied to the gate and the passengers
dispersed at the Whitehorse Airport-Canadian time 3:09
P.M.-Charity had been in the air eleven grueling hours.
Her neck had a kink the size of a hen egg, her back ached,
and her mouth was so dry she couldn't spit if she had to.
God, she hated flying.
She consoled herself with the fact that she had arrived
safe and sound. "Cheated death again," she whispered when
the wheels hit the ground and she was still in one piece.
The airport just north of town was small but appeared to be
well run, or so she thought as she collected the first of her
bags off the conveyor belt.
Unfortunately, the second bag-the one with her makeup,
toothbrush, vitamins, nail file, and facial cleansers-failed
to arrive. Realizing she was the last person left in the baggage
claim and the conveyor belt had stopped moving, she wearily
trudged over to the counter and began to fill out the necessary
"Be sure to put down where you'll be staying," said
the clerk behind the counter, a middle-aged woman with
thinning, mouse-brown hair and a bored expression. "We'll
get the bag to you as soon as it comes in, eh?"
It was the Canadian "eh?" that made her grin. She was
there. She had made it to Whitehorse, first stop in her wilderness
adventure. That was all that mattered.
She signed the form, thanked the woman, and made her
way out to the front of the building to look for the taxi
stand. As she stood at the curb, staring out at the vast expanse
of open space around the airport, Charity's heart slowly
sank. If there were any regular taxis-maybe not in a town
of less than twenty thousand-they had left with the rest of
the passengers. Instead, parked at the curb was a battered
Buick at least ten years old with a rusted-out tailpipe and
oxidized blue paint.
"Need a ride, lady?" The driver spoke to her through
the rolled-down window on the passenger side of the car.
He had a large, slightly hooked nose, dark skin, and straight
black hair. In Manhattan he could have been Puerto Rican
Pakistani, Jamaican, or any of a dozen myriad nationalities.
Here it was clear the man was an Indian. First Nation, they
called them up here.
My first real Indian. She barely stopped herself from
grinning. "I'm staying at the River View Motel. Can you
take me there?"
"Sure. Get in." No offer to help with her luggage, no
opening the door for her.
Charity jerked the handle, hoisted in her black canvas
bag, and climbed into the backseat, wincing as one of the
springs poked through the cracked blue leather and jabbed
into her behind. She shifted, hoped she hadn't torn her good
black slacks. She hadn't brought that many street clothes
along. "The motel's on the corner of First and-"
"Believe me, lady, I know where it is." The car roared
away from the airport, windows down, the icy, mid-May
wind blowing her straight blond hair back over her shoulders.
She had started off this morning with the long, blunt-cut
strands pulled up in a neat little twist, a few wispy tendrils
stylishly cut to float around her face. But the pins poked
into the back of her head as she tried to get comfortable in
the narrow airline seat and she finally gave up and pulled
them out, letting her hair fall free.
By the time the dilapidated car reached downtown
Whitehorse, she looked as if she had been through a Chinook,
northern slang for windstorm only not nearly so warm. The
driver, a thick-shouldered man wearing a frayed, red-flannel
shirt and a worn pair of jeans, took pity and carried her bag
into the motel lobby while she dug some of the money she'd
exchanged in Vancouver for Canadian currency out of her
little Kate Spade purse. The bag was too small for the sort
of travel she had undertaken, she had already discovered.
She wished she had brought something bigger along.
Something that would have held her now-lost makeup kit
Charity paid the driver and watched the battered old Buick
pull away, then turned to survey her surroundings. As small
as it was-a pin dot compared to Manhattan-Whitehorse
was the capital of the Yukon Territory. According to the
books she had read, the city had been founded during the
Klondike Gold Rush when tens of thousands of prospectors
journeyed by ship to Skagway, Alaska, then climbed the
mountain passes to the headwaters of the Yukon River.
In the downtown area, a lot of the old, original, false-fronted
buildings from the late 1800s still lined the street,
making it look like something out of a John Wayne movie.
Excerpted from "Midnight Sun" by Kat Martin. Copyright © 2003 by Kat Martin. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.