A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 7

After seeing to the kitchen duties and cold platters of food for lunch, Raina grabbed a basket and handed it to Nick.  “Come, we must go to the market for supper.  Bring your list and maybe we can purchase some of the smaller things.  Possibly, you could purchase the other things and have them sent to your vessel.  I know a few reputable shopkeepers.” 

Nick followed Ray out to the barn, “This should be interesting.  We are leaving in two days.  My list is very long and I’m not sure what most of it is for.  This is actually Old George’s list.”

Ray headed up to the loft.  Once again, Ray appeared before him dressed as a boy when she dropped down out of the loft.

Standing with her hands on her hips and a basket handle tightly in her grasp.  “Nickolas Carter, do you always complain so much?”

Nick’s face glowed red again today.  “Not always,” as he attached the horse to the carriage.

“We don’t need a carriage Nick.  They will deliver the items for you.  Do you not think before taking action?”

Nick’s head snapped up as he dropped the bridle.  “If you knew how much you sounded like the Captain right now, you would cease talking.”

“You say boy?” she grinned at him.

“I say,” Nick nodded as he saddled the horses.

“Well the Captain could be a little bit more responsible.  He could crawl from between Jocelyn’s thighs, and help you.”

Nick laughed as he shook his head from side to side.  “That will never happen Ray.  All of us understood that when we docked that he was going to look for Jocelyn.  If he found her and he did, he would be spending all his time with her.”

They mounted and spent the time taking in the pasturelands outside of town.  Ray rode quietly and out of the blue she felt like a hand had gripped her heart.  The hand was squeezing her heart very tightly.  She had a plan and wouldn’t unveil it until she had properly thought out every angle.  One thing would muck up her plans.  “Nick, is the Captain going to marry Jocelyn or take her away with him?”

Nick snorted and followed his snort with a very loud and over pronounced, “NOOO.”

“Are you sure?”  Ray turned those violet eyes on him.

“Very sure.  We talked about that very same question.  He told me Jocelyn is a whore and nothing more.”

“How strange, he seems to care about her.”  Ray sat tall in the saddle as they plodded along.  Dressed as a boy, she never seemed to have a hard time getting what she needed in town.  Not being restrained by a corset and petticoat appeared to make her life much easier.  Dressed as a woman, she was subjected to being called filthy names and being cheated out of her purchases. 

As they came in town, they continued their discussion, heading to the stable from the night before.  Nick couldn’t understand why Raina wasn’t as tired as he was.  “He does care but he told me something that I couldn’t share with a lady.  I think it must be some kind of code or something for him, but it’s inappropriate for a female.”

Both of them dismounted, then handed the reins off to a stable-boy, who was different from the one last night.

Raina’s hands were firmly planted on her hips, she bowed deeply.  When she came up, she smiled,  “Do I look like a lady?”

“Honestly Ray, it isn’t proper for me to repeat my conversations with Kevin.  What he said would offend you.  The way you are dressed isn’t proper either.”

Ray began to walk away.  “So it’s not fit for my ears.”  The comment about the way she had been dressed she chose to ignore.

Nick nodded as his tongue pressed to the top of his mouth.  If he had told Ray about the Captain’s little speech, she would think even less of him then she did now.

Ray began to mumble as they walked up the street to the market.  What could be so horrible that Nick wouldn’t repeat the words to her.  Walking into the second doorway she encountered without telling Nick.  He just seemed to follow her.  She motioned for the list that Nick was carrying and read down the lines.  Ray had requested, Nutmeg, Cinnamon sticks, Pepper, and Cloves.  “We’ll get the flour and sugar down the street.  Mr. Hawkins is cheaper.”

A woman clucked from behind the counter as she bundled up the spices the two had just purchased.  “Mr. Hawkins’s flour has weevils and you know that Ray.”

Ray winked at Nick.  “I know, but he is a shilling cheaper per pound.  This is a friend of mine Mrs. Wilson.  He is getting ready to take a long voyage to America.  Nickolas needs large quantities of goods and so the expense will be different.” 

Ray waited a moment for Mrs. Wilson’s reaction.  Ray knew the old woman well.  She could sniff out a large sale if she had too.  She also knew that Mrs. Wilson had three fine young sons to deliver the provisions that Nick needed.  However, Mrs. Wilson needed to strike a deal. 

Turning her back for a moment, Ray spoke to Nick.  “Don’t say a word.  We could have all this done right here.”

“The entire list?”  Nick’s eyes bulged.

“Yes, and it would be delivered but she needs to negotiate her price down, just a little.”

“I see,” Nick nodded as he pointed to the list.  “I could have time to myself if this works.”

“Do you have a list boys?”  Mrs. Wilson looked at them suspiciously.  She had outfitted more than one ship for a journey.  If they truly were setting sail then the quantities on the list would reflect that.

“Yes Ma’am,” Ray handed the list to the woman.  If she had come into Mrs. Wilson’s shop dressed as herself she would have charged her double.

Ray looked around the mercantile.  As nonchalantly as possible she made her way to a display of fabric.  Her eyes landed on a bolt of fabric.  Gingerly she fingered the fine silk, the color a shade of light lilac.  It felt like heaven, it had been so long since she herself had a new dress.  Memories of her mother sewing beautiful dresses from fabric by a campfire; flickered in her mind.  The fabric had been for payment of her mother’s services.  Raina wasn’t a fool hearty young woman, she knew exactly what her mother was.

“For your girl Ray?”  Mrs. Wilson appeared behind Ray.  The note in her hand with numbers scrawled on the list.  Mrs. Wilson held the list out for her to take.

“Nothing I could ever be able to purchase for … her,” Ray gulped; she had almost ruined her disguise.  Mrs. Wilson had only seen her one time as a girl.  At that time, Mrs. Wilson had been dealing with a group of men.  When Mrs. Wilson charged her double for the same purchases she swore on her very own soul that she would never purchase from the woman as a woman again.

Hastily Ray turned to Nick to see the shine in his eyes.  “Is something amusing you Nick?”

“No,” he smiled as he stuffed his hands in his pockets.  Ray may dress like a boy but she acted like a woman when it came to the frilly things.  “It’s very pretty, maybe I’ll get some for my… sister.  How much do you think I would need?”

Ray’s eyes lit up and then danced.  Nick couldn’t tell if it was anger or happiness. 

Ray ignored Nick and his comments, he was either teasing her or he was serious, she couldn’t tell.  “This will do.”  Ray handed the note to Nick. 

Nick studied the figures, they looked right to him, actually he would have a few coins left over.  He wondered how angry Kevin would be if he spent the coin on something that wasn’t for the crew, but for his friend.

Ray went about the shop placing a few items in the basket that she would need over the next few days.  If her plan worked, after that, she wouldn’t have a worry in the world.  Her days would be her own and she wouldn’t be subjected to Edmund’s wrath any longer.

Lingering around Nick, she listened to the instructions he had given Mrs. Wilson of where the ship was docked.  He wanted the goods delivered a day earlier so that he could account for his purchase.  If there were any problems with the purchase then he would be back.  Ray put a few more items on Nick’s list.  The amount was small but enough that he couldn’t buy the fabric that he wanted.

“Are those necessary?”  Nick shook his head. 

“If you want to keep the Captain happy, then yes they are.”  Ray smirked at Nick, knowing the Captain grumpy was not his idea of fun.

The balance of the shopping trip was spent idly going in and out of shops and talking to each other.  Nick told her of all the beautiful places that they had sailed to.  Ray told him a little more about her family, not all of it, but most of it.  They seemed very comfortable in each other’s company. 

Ray gulped when the bell tower rang and she began to run.

“What is the matter with you?”  Nick chased after her.

“I’m late, Edmund is going to be furious.”  Ray ran into the barn and rushed the stable hand to hurry tacking the horses.  “I can’t bear another one….”

“Another what?”  Nick had time to ask before Ray mounted her horse and galloped out of the barn at a break neck speed.

Nick closed his eyes and tried to quell that uneasiness in his stomach.  Something inside him told him that Ray had a fear of Edmund and it must be justified because she didn’t frighten easily. 

Ray practically ran her horse into the ground to get back.  Nick lagged behind the entire time.  When he did catch up, Ray was up in the loft changing clothes.

“Take care of the horses for me please?” she begged as she lifted her skirts and ran out the door.

“I need to hurry,” he mumbled to himself as he dashed around the barn.  Removing the horses’ tack, he placed them in their stalls.  Placing water and grain for them. 

Nick ran to the backdoor of the Inn.  He heard Ray pleading with Edmund and apologizing to him for her tardiness.  “It won’t happen again.  I promise.”

“I took you in when nobody would.  I could have sold you to the highest bidder.  This is how you treat me girl?”  Edmund’s voice was louder and heated.

Nick ran in the door only to see how truly frightened Raina was.  He froze in his footsteps.  She cowered in a corner of the small kitchen shaking like a leaf on an autumn tree.

“The next offer I get for you, I’m taking it.  You are useless and disrespectful.  I should offer you to the Captain.  I bet he would pay well for a virgin in his bed.  That is, if you still are a virgin?”

“Please Edmund, I’m sorry.  I was trying to assist the Captain’s cook.  I thought that if we kept the Captain happy then maybe he would give you more coin.”  Ray babbled but backed away from the old man.

“He will,” Nick blurted out, causing Edmund to turn to him.

“What are you to the Captain?  He is constantly fussing about your whereabouts.”  Edmund turned to step closer to Nick.  The attraction of this boy to him was undeniable.  How he would love to kiss the man.  His hands seemed to take a liking to the young man as he touched him.

Ray could see the lust in Edmund’s eyes and the fear in Nick’s.  Nick was no match for Edmund who haplessly stood with a large club in his hand.  Now she had a dilemma.  She didn’t want anything to happen to Nick but she didn’t want to go to the Captain directly for help.

Slipping out the door, she found Jocelyn on the other side of the bar.  “Jocelyn, go find the Captain, Edmund is after Nickolas.”  After the words were spoken, Ray ran out the front door.  Sneaking to the back of the Inn, she waited for what she thought might happen and it did. 

Ray gasped as the Captain ran into the room and punched Edmund square in the jaw.  The sound was similar to wood splintering when it was hit with a hammer.  The man that had thrown the punch was not completely dressed and had shaving soap on half of his face and a towel around his neck.  Lacking his shirt and his breeches were barely clinging to his hips. 

Jocelyn stood at the door and watched as Kevin lifted Edmund to his feet.  “I told you to not molest the boy and leave him be.”

“I… I…,”  Edmund couldn’t speak as he rubbed his jaw, he thought it might be broken, he could barely speak.

“Nickolas, go up to my room.  I’ll meet with you there shortly.  Edmund, you have been warned.  Tonight, my men will be here.  I leave in two days.  If you go near any of them, your coin will be cut in half.”

Jocelyn stepped out of Nick’s way but whispered to him as Kevin’s eyes focused on Nick’s back, “Show gratitude to Raina for the help.”

“Do not touch that boy again.  I do not want you within a seaman’s mile of him.”  Kevin’s eyes bounced around the room.  The only thing that caught his attention was the wisp of a girl who hovered outside the door.  Fear evident on her face.

Nick hadn’t heard Kevin’s words, since he was given an order and must follow it.

Nick’s head bowed as he shuffled up the stairs.  Sitting in a chair, he waited for Kevin’s return.  It was announced when the door was slammed almost knocking it off the hinges.  “I can’t leave you alone for a mere second, can I?”

“I didn’t do anything!”  Nick yelled back.  “I went with his cook to the market.  I finished the list and it will be sent to the ship on the ‘morrow.”

Kevin went back to the washstand.  Raising his straight blade in the air, he began to shave again.  “Finished?  All of it?”

“Yes sir,” Nick lowered his eyes.  Kevin was still pissed.

“Mmmm.”  Kevin swirled the blade in the basin and shook off the excess water.  “So now that you have accomplished your duties, what should I do with you to keep you out of trouble?”

Nick began to grin, Kevin was no longer mad.

“Don’t get insolent boy.”  Kevin could tell that Nick took a step back when he looked slightly impish.  “Who is the girl?”

Nick smiled, “The cook, she helped me.  She said she would teach me a few things.”

“Matters of the heart Nick, beware.”  Kevin chuckled.

“Not like that, she’s like a sister to me.”  Nick smiled.  “I miss my family.”

“I know you do.  As soon as you are of age, I will take you back.  I won’t take you until then.  I won’t have you living under their tyranny.”

“I understand,” Nick stood up as he had forgotten about poor Raina.  “Are you done?”

“Yes boy, I’m done.”  Kevin wiped the soap from his face.  Turning he looked at Nick.  “Please stay out of trouble.  I don’t want to have to send you back to the ship.  Stay away from Edmund.  I’ve warned him.”

“Yes sir,” Nick placed his hand on the knob of the door.

“You had better bed that wench before you leave.  I can see it in your eyes.  You have a soft spot for her.”

Nick laughed, “Is it always about mating with you?”

Kevin shot him a wily grin, “Not always….  Usually, yes.”  

Jocelyn entered the room, slightly flustered.  “I have just spoken to her and now I will speak to you.  You are getting her in trouble, please don’t.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Nick nodded.

Suddenly Jocelyn seemed very please, he had called her ‘Ma’am’, he had treated her with respect.  “Now skedaddle, the Cap’n and I have plans.”

Nick rolled his eyes, “I’ll bet they are similar to ones you had last night.”

“Nickolas!”  Kevin pretended to bellow from the washstand as Jocelyn began to fuss over him.

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