A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 6

“I’m 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 going home.”

“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.”

Nick straightened 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.”

Ray’s mouth dropped open over what Nick had said, “He likes men and women?”

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?”  Nick asked.

“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 home?”

“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 anyway.”

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?”

“Nothing, 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 should. 

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 happy.

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 change first.”

Nick’s eyebrows 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 an attempt.”

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 lateness. “ 

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.”

Edmund’s 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 information.”

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 last night.”

“Why would I need to do that…”

“CARTER!”  Kevin 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 had yelled.

“Yes 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.”

“They 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 lead. 

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 of them. 

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.” 

“You’re dismissed,” 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.

Nick dutifully followed his new-found friend.  He wasn’t sure but he thought he heard her say thank you for helping her with Edmund.

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