taken dumbfounded that he can walk, Jocelyn is the randy kind.”
Ray shimmied down the ladder and faced her captor, or
was it her savior, from the night before.
Nick rubbed his
weary eyes. “Ray, I am very tired and very hungry. Now that
Kevin knows that I am here, he is going to want a meal.”
Nick’s eyes focused on Ray she was still dressed as a man.
“Why do you dress like that? No decent woman would dress
like that, it’s improper.”
“Why do you cook?
I think you would be an Officer at least?” Ray pulled her
hair to the top of her head. The boy had no right to question
what she did or why.
Nick saw that she
was leaving, running up to her he grabbed her arm and spun
her around. “Where are you going? You could have been hurt
last night? Do you understand what those men were going to
do to you?”
“They didn’t, did
they?” Ray pulled her arm away from him. “I’m leaving, I’m
“Where is home
Ray?” Nick held her forearms tightly in his grasp. This
young girl he had formed a bond with was not going to just
walk away without further explanations. It wasn’t like he
had any romantic notions about her. Who could have romantic
notions about a woman who dressed like a man? Her face was
that of an Angel, violet eyes and raven black hair. Ray reminded
him of someone, someone he hadn’t seen in a long time, his
very own sister.
“Where do you come
from Ray? Where is your family? Why are you here and not
with them? Why do they let you be a cook when you should
be married and having babies?” Nick was bellowing her face.
Ray saw Nick change
that instant, his face turned red in a rage and his eyes glistened
but it wasn’t from anger or rage, it was sorrow. Ray’s lips
felt dry, she licked them slightly, it didn’t serve her any
good. She felt her throat tightened and dry out like parchment.
Biting her bottom lip slightly, she held back, but only for
an instant. “My family is in France, I think. My mother
is a gypsy whore and I don’t know who my father is. My mother
taught me how to steal for my supper and get away, then she
left me one night.”
Nick could see
that her body was still stiff with emotions but her head was
held high. “So she didn’t love you?”
A slight nod from
Ray solidified his words. Nick let go of her arm and she
didn’t run from him. “How old are you Ray and what is your
name? It is certainly not Ray or Raymond.”
“My name is Raina
and I just reached my seventeenth year.” Ray took in Nick’s
reaction, and then her face frowned, he must not like her
name. “I was conceived in the rain and birthed in the rain.
My mother said the rain would always follow me. She told
me my father was from America and was serving as a diplomat,
but I don’t believe her, I think she lied to me.”
A quiet pause lingered
in the air as they looked at each other. Nick had found someone
he could talk to besides Kevin. “I understand; my parents
were the same way but the Captain spared me that life.”
Ray grabbed Nick’s
hand, she felt sorry for him, she was familiar with all the
feelings that were rushing over Nick at the moment. “You
are very luck. He doesn’t seem very kind but it’s better
than being on your own. I’ve been on my own for a long time.
Jocelyn found me one day and brought me here.”
up to his full height. “Ray, you know nothing about Kevin
so you shouldn’t judge him, he is a very kind man. He may
be pretty to the eye of women, he may sound harsh sometimes
but nay, he is not unkind. The Captain is one of the kindest
people I know, he raised me to be what I am today.”
Ray stared at Nick
as he stared back. “I didn’t mean to offend you, I am sorry.
You love the Captain, like I love Jocelyn. I just don’t see
how someone who treats you so poorly and speaks to you in
such a manner… That you could care about him like you do.”
Nick’s eyes sparked
with life again. “Because Ray that is how the Captain is.
He is gruff and short tempered but when we have our quiet
evenings he talks to me about all kinds of things.”
mouth dropped open over what Nick had said, “He likes men
Nick burst out
in laughter, “Oh hells bells don’t let him hear you say that,
he’ll thrash your backside. No, Kevin only likes women…
I think he may have been with men at a time or two but I’m
not sure and I’m not going to ask.”
Ray began to smile
as she pictured Nick asking his Captain that particular question.
She watched Nick unpack a saddlebag and remove a piece of
paper. Trying to catch a glimpse of the scrap of paper Nick
handed it to her.
“Can you read?”
“Yes I can read,
write, and do mathematics,” Ray looked at the list. It was
a list of quantity. A shopping list. “Is this for your voyage
“Yes but I’m not
sure what it is all for. I’m not really a cook, Kevin just
made me the cook because Old George died. Of course, if Old
George was alive, he would have murdered us with his cooking
Ray licked her
lips and an idea began to unfold in her head. Nick didn’t
like to cook and really wasn’t a cook by his own admission.
She wanted to leave England for any place but here. Not knowing
where her family was for so long she wasn’t sure if they were
without a doubt still in France. Ray’s hand began to shake,
if she could do this, if Nickolas would help her, she would
have a place in a new country. She could do new things and
see new sights. Picking her eyes up she stared at Nickolas,
it was too early to ask, he may say no.
Nick saw the determined
look on the girl; her violet eyes twinkled and danced. He
saw her begin to smile as she looked from him to the note.
“What are you thinking Ray?”
Sir Nickolas, nothing at all.”
“Sir?” Nick laughed
at the title. “Please just call me Nick, and tell me what
is going on in that pretty head of yours.”
Should she tell
him or not? No, not yet? Ray needed to win Nick over completely
before she could. Now Ray was dancing to a different tune,
the tune that would set her heart free and her body from what
she felt was enslavement. Her mother had given her little
in life except the ability to cook, and steal. She also had
bestowed upon her the ability for Ray to not look like she
A smile graced
Ray’s face. Nick could see that it was tender and true.
Something that Ray was thinking about had made her delightedly
Ray cocked her
head to the side as she studied Nick, who was scrutinizing
her. She hadn’t been acting kind to the young man that had
saved her last night. At the time, she truly was scared that
the men would catch her. “I need to go inside and make breakfast
for the guests.” Ray turned and began to walk; she then halted
in her steps. “If you would like, I could make you something
to eat and you could rest out here? He didn’t see me and
so he doesn’t know who I am. Or you could join me? Edmund
won’t be up for hours and Jocelyn can keep a secret. I must
quirked strangely, something was up with this girl. Ray went
up the ladder as he thought about the conversation they had.
He heard her clothes rustle and the ladder creak as she came
back down. Now she looked like a proper young girl. Her
dress was old and worn, but it was clean. “I’ll join you.
Maybe you could teach me something.” For the first time Nick
could see the curves that were hidden under the clothes that
she used to masquerade as a boy.
Ray’s head dropped
and then raised again, her embarrassment at Nick staring at
her. “Most likely not as much as Jocelyn, but I will make
Nick’s eyes closed
and his face scrunched up and turned red. The comment about
Jocelyn being on her knees between Kevin’s legs haunted him.
Together Nick and Raina walked and talked about Nick’s list
as they went in the back door of the inn.
The two of them
spent the next hour cooking. Nick watched as Raina showed
him a few things that were new to him. They had been just
about ready to serve the meal when Edmund burst in on them.
Ray stood frozen
in her steps. Nick didn’t utter a word as he watched the
young girl who had been so feisty last night turn into a scared
rabbit before his eyes.
“Ray, the Captain
is hungry, he wants his meal now!” Edmund was barely dressed.
“I have warned you many times of the consequences of your
Edmund took two
steps towards Ray before Nick stepped between them. “I am
to fault for her tardiness sir. Please understand that she
was teaching me a few things. I am the Captain’s cook and
he requested that I learn from her.”
eyes bulged, “He did?”
Nick nodded slightly,
“I’m sure if you tell the Captain that I am the cause for
the delay in his meal that he will understand.” Nick began
to grin to the old greedy man. “He might reward you for the
Both Raina and
Nick watched the large man exit the kitchen post-haste. Nick
snickered, “You need to stand strong Ray just like you did
would I need to do that…”
yelled as he came into the kitchen.
Raina almost dropped
the tray of scones she had been taking to the butcher block.
Her hands were shaking twice as much as they had when Edmund
Kevin,” Nick rolled his eyes.
“I’m hungry,” Kevin’s
eyes wandered over to the petite creature standing next to
Nick. “Very hungry.”
Ray began to shake
and then she heard Nick’s words again, ‘Stand strong.’ “Your
meal shall be delivered immediately. Do you wish to dine
in your room or at a table?”
Kevin stood shirtless
and shoeless. “Are you daft girl? Do I look like I am dressed
to eat with Edmund’s friends if they are at hand.”
might enjoy it,” the words tumbled out of Raina’s mouth before
she could close it.
Kevin crossed his
arms and looked from one child to the other. “You have a
saucy mouth and Edmund should correct it. A daughter shouldn’t
speak her mind to the guests.”
Nick’s eyes rolled
into the back of his head, “Let’s get this upstairs before
it gets cold.” Nick grabbed the tray and Raina followed his
Kevin had been
left standing in the kitchen. Edmund joined him and cast
more than a cursory glance at the bare-chested man. Kevin
snorted in disgust and headed to his room. The chit was
just that a child.
Upon arrival, Kevin
found Jocelyn appropriately dressed for the first time since
last night. Nick was fidgeting as he waited for Kevin’s return.
Raina stood with her head lowered not wanting to look at any
Picking up a fork,
Kevin tasted the eggs. They were savory, not flat. He gave
Jocelyn a smile and fed her a fork full of the same. Raina
was uncomfortable and wanted to leave.
“Delicious as always.
You could learn something from her Nick. It might save the
Cap’n from eating hardtack.”
Kevin pulled Jocelyn onto his lap after sitting on the bed.
Raina ran from
the room, “That is just a horrid sight. Did you see the state
of that room? Do you know what they were doing in there all
night? Rutting like common animals.”
Nick’s lilted laughter
echoed off the wooden walls and old plaster. “I think you
are jealous Ray.”
“Ha!” Raina went
directly to clean the kitchen and start cold platters for
the noon meal.
followed his new-found friend. He wasn’t sure but he thought
he heard her say thank you for helping her with Edmund.