A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 4

The 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.”

“I 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.

Jocelyn pushed her frame up on her toes and whispered in Nick’s ear.  “That’s our cook.”

“Are you two going to chatter out there all night or would you like to give me hand?”  The small person looked at Nick.

Nick’s curiosity over the kitchen drew him indoors.  Jocelyn winked at the cook and slipped away.  “I’m a cook,” Nick drew himself towards the being. 

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.

“Ouch,” the cook yelled and stood up.

Nick did the same.  They stood staring at each other, rubbing their heads.

“You’re a girl,” Nick smiled.

“So?” 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?”

“No,” 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.

“Jocelyn’s niece?”  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 four people. 

“I’m not a boy,” Nick countered with a little attitude in his voice.

“Settled, neither 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. 

Nick 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 was evident.

“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.

“Ray, 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 too long.

Jocelyn was finishing up with her customers and then stood beside Kevin.  “Nick is fine, he was with me.”

Kevin scoffed, “That is a frightening thought Jocelyn…  Very frightening indeed.”

Jocelyn pinched 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.”

Jocelyn’s banter 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?”

“Stop Jocelyn,” Kevin leaned back in the chair.

Jocelyn winked 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 silk.”

Jocelyn’s hand 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 for me.”

Kevin smiled, “Only for you, because you are honest and you know your place.”

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.

Jocelyn whispered 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. 

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