cool night air brushed over her skin, chilling her slightly.
Jocelyn poked around in the dark since the moon was covered
by thick clouds. “Nickolas,” she called softly.
“Aye,” came from
behind her. She shook slightly from surprise, she hadn’t
seen or heard him move. Lifting her skirts, she turned around.
“There you are. Come along, your supper should be ready soon.”
don’t think I could eat now,” the sound of the boy gagging
drew her closer.
“Oh Nick,” she
held his hair away from his face. He tried to push her away
but she wouldn’t let him. Jocelyn was well aware of Nick’s
behavior, not because she knew Nickolas well but because she
knew Kevin. Kevin had raised the boy as his own. “Don’t
fear me now Nick. I won’t do any harm.”
Nick could hear
the motherly tone in her voice. Jocelyn was maybe just a
year younger than the Captain. Nick picked his head up.
“I’m tired and I’m hungry. I just wanted to sleep in a bed
that didn’t move.”
“You will boy,
you will.” Jocelyn waited patiently for Nick to gather himself
about. Then she pulled him closer to the kitchen door. There
was light there and she could see his face.
Nick felt foolish
as she played mother hen over him in the doorway. She cooed
to him like he was a young child. A sharp voice made them
both turn. Then some swearing and the sound of metal being
driven into wood. Nick was going to speak but Jocelyn put
one finger to his mouth to keep him quiet.
“Of all the things
to make this late at night… Mutton. Who in the world eats
mutton this late? The man had better be worthwhile to Edmund
and Jocelyn or so help me God, they will pay.” The harsh
bang was heard again.
her frame up on her toes and whispered in Nick’s ear. “That’s
“Are you two going
to chatter out there all night or would you like to give me
hand?” The small person looked at Nick.
over the kitchen drew him indoors. Jocelyn winked at the
cook and slipped away. “I’m a cook,” Nick drew himself towards
The person backed
up with crossed arms. “Well then, why don’t you cook and
I can go back to bed. This way the monster Edmund and the
whore Jocelyn can get what they need and I can get what I
need… Sleep.” The person complained bitterly as she heated
the mutton in a pan over the fire.
Nick gauged the
contents of the kitchen. The room was clean and nothing out
of place. The small person intrigued him and he didn’t know
why, maybe because he was a cook too. When the cook turned
and ran into him the cap the cook was wearing fell off. Reaching
down, Nick plucked the cap from the floor just as the cook
had done the same. Their heads met in one huge clunk.
the cook yelled and stood up.
Nick did the same.
They stood staring at each other, rubbing their heads.
a girl,” Nick smiled.
she pulled her cap back and placed it back on her head.
Nick couldn’t help
but stare at the young girl that he had mistaken for a male.
“Are you the Innkeeper’s daughter or niece?”
the girl slammed the pan down on the wooden block table.
Nick inhaled the
scent of the meat and thought he was going to wither away
before he could taste it. “Jocelyn’s daughter?”
The girl ignored
the interloper in her kitchen; she wasn’t going to answer
any questions. She had a meal to prepare and she would get
it done before Edmund could punish her.
Nick had become quickly enchanted with her as she moved around
the kitchen effortlessly. She would grab things without looking
and put them in the food. This kitchen was her place. “Are
you going to answer me or just insult me?”
The crash of a
pot made Nick somber for a second. “Are you?”
“You are a nosey
boy. The answer is no to all of your questions.” She pulled
plates from the shelves and piled them with enough food for
not a boy,” Nick countered with a little attitude in his voice.
am I. Now go back out the way you came and get Jocelyn and
tell her the supper is ready.”
The girl stood
with her legs planted, but she was dressed as a boy. Nick
judged her no more than seventeen or eighteen years of age.
Very young, a little stubborn, but he could see a small inkling
of gullibility in her too. His eyes wandered to the raven
colored hair that was not tucked underneath a boys’ hat.
She wore pants like a man, along with a shirt, and vest.
Yet, she was barefoot. A woman dressed as man, no proper
woman would do that. It must make her men-folk angry.
Her arms crossed
over her chest, she felt like the blonde boy was undressing
her with his eyes.
focused on her chest; she didn’t have one that he could see.
“Please?” she dropped
her face. “I just need to get back to the stables. Now that
you and your Captain are here, I’ve been told that I need
to sleep outside. I’ve lost my room.”
“You can’t sleep
outside,” Nick swallowed slowly. “Those men out there… They
like boys. You shouldn’t be dressed like a boy.”
“I know, that is
why I want to get out of here before they know I’m here.
Edmund has threatened before to sell me to the highest bidder.”
“But he likes men?”
Nick’s face puffed up as he thought for a moment. His confusion
“He likes coins
better. Most of Edmund’s men friends know that I dress as
a boy; it’s to keep the real rakes away from me. Men like
you and your Captain.” She countered him.
what is keeping you so long?” Jocelyn poked her head in the
door and frowned at the two as they stood facing each other.
“It’s ready Jocelyn,
just take it. I’m going to my hiding spot.” The slip of
girl ran out the back door.
Nick stood for
a moment and looked at the bare spot where the girl had been
standing. Jocelyn had called her Ray, yet she was a girl.
The girl/boy Ray was a walking contradiction. Pausing for
a moment and then heading out the back door and into the front
of the inn, his mind spun about Ray. Nick was intrigued and
wanted to learn more.
“Where have you
been boy?” Kevin sipped his ale. Nick had been gone a little
Jocelyn was finishing
up with her customers and then stood beside Kevin. “Nick
is fine, he was with me.”
“That is a frightening thought Jocelyn… Very frightening
his cheek for good measure. “You’ll be getting yours later.”
A sly look crossed
the Kevin’s face. “Indeed I will.”
Both men devoured
the meal, not having tasted something so tantalizing in ages.
Kevin scraped the plate clean, as Nick seemed lost in thoughts.
The tavern seemed
to be emptying out and Nick was taking in the goings on of
the people around him. Some men were pairing off with men
and some with women.
Jocelyn could tell
that the boy was curious about Ray but she was bidding her
time. Soon she would be in the arms of the only man that
she let her true feelings show. They would make love over
and over again and in between they would talk about the sea
and their loved ones.
Jocelyn felt confident
that Nickolas would be a person that would not force himself
on the innocent. More than once Jocelyn had gone toe to toe
with Edmund over Ray. He had threatened to turn her out to
the men for a few coins. Jocelyn garnered favor with Edmund
so he would listen to her. “She is just a girl. She is your
cook, not a whore like me. Look at the patrons that come
here just to eat. You are making more coin than I am.”
As always Edmund
would mull it over and sulk for a time. His standard retorts
that she is nothing more than a street urchin and no better
than us were always made.
Jocelyn could always
tell that someplace deep in the old man’s heart, he had a
soft spot for Ray. Jocelyn would smile and kiss his baldhead
when he would just dismiss the subject completely. “Don’t
kiss me woman, I don’t like woman.”
back would be, “Only because you never had me.”
As Nick glanced
around, he had thought of something. The cook had mentioned
her hiding spot. Nick wanted to find that hiding spot and
see her again. Quietly, he called to Jocelyn.
“Aye boy,” she
smiled. “What can I do for you?”
Jocelyn,” Kevin leaned back in the chair.
at Nick. “You’d think he was my only customer.”
Both of them turned
to look at Kevin, who was now frowning.
Nick laughed, as
his hand slid to the bench. Pulling the bolt of fabric upright,
he handed it to her. “The only one who brings you finest
flew to her mouth to cover the scream that might escape.
Carefully she pulled the knot on the tiny string and unwrapped
the brown paper covering. “Oh Lordy, Cap’n,” Jocelyn squealed
as her fingers ran over the Azure colored silk. “A new dress
smiled, “Only for you, because you are honest and you know
Most women would
be offended by his remark. Nick was offended by Kevin’s remark.
Nothing like adding an insult to a gift.
“Aye, I know my
place Cap’n, on my knees and between your legs.” She laughed
as her and Kevin watched Nick’s face glow like red raspberries.
“You’re a fine
woman Jocelyn.” Kevin patted her behind as she leaned even
closer. A kiss was exchanged that was a little more heated
than it should have been in public.
“Go upstairs Jocelyn,
I won’t have that down here.” Edmund bellowed as he wiped
his dirty rag down the slab of a bar.
in Kevin’s ear. “I drew you a hot bath. Go upstairs, last
room on the right. I’ll see Nick on his way.”
Kevin stood up.
Without a word, he went to the stairs and climbed them.
A bath he would welcome as long as Jocelyn would bath him.
Jocelyn and Nick
watched him go. “What you want is out in the stable.” Jocelyn
giggled to Nick and watched the boy take off like his pants
were on fire.