went about her duties well beyond her appointed time to make
up for her earlier transgression. She had made a meal fit
for a king, a feast of sorts. Nickolas dined with the Captain
and the crew that evening. Ray made sure that she stayed
out of sight of most of them, for more than one reason. First,
she didn’t want the Captain to get to know what she looked
like. If he became familiar with what she looked like, then
she could have a problem passing herself off as a boy. In
addition to that, she had spotted one of the men, the one
named Brian, whose pocket she had picked the evening before.
At the time, she felt a little guilty about lifting some
of his coin because he had been so nice to her.
If Edmund were
to find out that she was stealing again, he would lay into
her. Within a few days of Raina’s first arrival at the Inn,
she made the mistake of picking the pocket of a local magistrate.
That had earned her first beating from Edmund. He swore up
and down when he hit that it was for her own good, that she
no longer needed to steal. The second one was because she
had stolen away from her chores to be with a boy. Edmund
had caught them sneaking into the barn. Not only did he hit
Raina, but he leveled the Farmer’s son as well. After that
incident, she received even stricter chores that kept her
tied to the Inn or to Jocelyn.
sat and talked with Raina in the kitchen and helped her clean
“Why are you in
here and not with the Captain?” Ray scrubbed one of the pots
she had used to make the meal.
“The Captain wants
some time with his men. He’ll see to me later.” Jocelyn
seemed a little curt with her. Jocelyn dried the pots as
Raina washed them. “Ray, I really think this idea is just
a little dangerous. You cannot go back to France by yourself.
I understand your fear of Edmund but he has only struck you
twice. I won’t let harm come to you.”
Ray dropped her
head slightly, she didn’t want Jocelyn to know she was lying.
Jocelyn could always tell when she was fibbing. When it came
to Edmund, Jocelyn would conceal things for her, but Jocelyn
insisted on the truth for her own knowledge. Raina couldn’t
tell her that tomorrow she was going to approach Nick about
going to America with him. She would ask first and see what
he said. If Nick said no, then she would just stowaway on
the ship. If she stayed below deck and out of sight long
enough, she might not be caught until it was too late to turn
around. Her confidence in Nickolas protecting her when she
was found out was running high and fueling her desire even
more. “Jocelyn, I just want to go home. I need to see my
family. I have enough coin…”
A pot bounced off
the wooden table. “Coin that you stole child. Did you not
think that I wouldn’t know that you snuck out of here last
night and headed for town?”
Ray shifted slightly,
so she didn’t have to face Jocelyn. She didn’t answer her
“Ray, just because
your mother taught you how to steal, doesn’t mean that you
have too do the same. You need to better yourself.”
“How am I supposed
to do that Jocelyn? Be a whore like you? Be at… at … at
a man’s beck and call, under his command? Like you are with
the Captain.” Ray had a full head of steam now. When she
turned to look at Jocelyn for fear that she had hurt her confidant,
the woman was smiling at her. Ray tossed the rag on the pot
and stamped around slightly. “Why are you smiling at me?
I don’t want to be like you! If the Captain came into this
kitchen and told you to strip and dance for his men, you would
do it. Wouldn’t you?”
“You are jealous,”
Jocelyn’s teeth showed pearly white. She couldn’t help but
smile; Kevin would never ask for such a thing from her. They
may not be in love but they did have a mutual respect for
“Of him? Never,
he’s a pig. He’s a bore. He told me I had a saucy mouth
and Edmund should correct it.” Raina fumed away at Jocelyn.
reached the rafters, “Aye, you do have a saucy mouth that
needs corrected. I’m thinking Edmund is not the one to take
care of that. Maybe the Captain should? He has done wonders
for Nickolas.” Jocelyn waited for another outburst from Ray.
The rag was thrown
into the kettle with such force the bubbles blew back up and
hit Raina in the face. “You leave Nickolas alone, you know
nothing about him.”
the young boy, aren’t you?” Jocelyn ignored the tantrum but
continued to prod Raina for answers.
Wiping the soap
from her face with her forearm, she signed. “Nay Jocelyn,
I don’t think about bedding the boy. I don’t think about
bedding any boy or man. I’m not like you. When I go to a
man’s bed, I will be married to him and he will be my first.
I want fancy parties, dresses, and a castle for a home. “
Jocelyn wrapped her arms around the girl. She didn’t have
the heart to squash such dreams, hopes, and flowery notions
in a young child. At her age of twenty-seven years, she was
now a cynic about such things. Maybe going back to France
would be best for Raina. Inside, her stomach wretched. The
thought of this young, sweet child being turned to a life
of thievery and whoring upset her even more. Edmund had been
approached many, many times for the purchase of Raina. The
old goat would fluster then men and their offers, saying that
his ‘daughter’ was not for sale. Once Jocelyn had heard him
make the comment, she never let him forget. They were a pretend
family in a disjointed way. Edmund played father while Jocelyn
played at being a mother.
would sell your only child,” Jocelyn would tease him.
“If the price is
right,” Edmund would mumble, as he would fuss over something
behind the bar. “That chit does nothing she is told.”
that is one of the reasons that he had treated her so harshly
when he had caught Raina sneaking into the hayloft with one
of the local farm boys. Now he had indeed stepped up to being
a father. Jocelyn didn’t interfere that one time simply because
as hard as it was for her to hear, Ray needed to understand
that her virginity wasn’t something to be handed to any man.
Sighing that day, she thought about the man who had taken
hers and then abandon her and left her penniless to be on
the street. No, that was something that neither Jocelyn nor
did she think Edmund wanted for the girl.
Softly she stroked
Raina’s hair, she could tell by the small sobs that Raina
had been very upset by Edmund’s threats earlier. “It’s okay
sweet-ling, Jocelyn will fix it. You don’t need to be afraid
of that old fool Edmund.”
Raina sniffed and
pulled away from the embrace. “I’m sorry Jocelyn, I’m just
head moved from side to side, “Well if you hadn’t been out
all night picking pockets then you would have rested.”
Sighing, Ray picked
up the rag and continued on scrubbing, she couldn’t argue
with what Jocelyn had said.
Pulling the rag
from Raina’s hand, Jocelyn snapped at her. “Go to bed, upstairs.
The room next to mine. The traveler has left and the room
is vacant. I will make sure to inform Edmund. I won’t have
you sleeping outside again.”
“I can’t let you
do my work. It’s my own fault.” Raina tugged the rag back.
“Edmund will be even more enraged if he finds out that you
are doing my work.”
“If Edmund finds
out that you called the Captain to Nickolas’s aid and he lost
a tasty treat; how do you think he is going to respond?”
Jocelyn had heard enough of the nonsense, Raina needed to
go to bed.
Raina slipped up
the backstairs to the top floor just as Jocelyn had told her
to do. Peeling off the layers of petticoats she stood in
her shift. It was a sorry mess she had just created downstairs
and she had left Jocelyn to clean up. An apology would be
offered to Jocelyn tomorrow.
Lying down on the
bed, she tried to close her eyes to sleep. The tavern patrons
were loud and the noise carried up to the second level. She
could hear men singing shanty songs with lurid lyrics about
women. Pulling her pillow over her head, she attempted not
to listen but their voices were sweet and melodic. Removing
the pillow from her head, she closed her eyes, and tried to
shield out the lyrics but listen to the voices that were singing.
After a few songs, her body relaxed and she fell into a slumber.
Ray awoke when
her door opened. Her eyes peered into the darkness of the
room, searching for something to protect herself. Her entire
body relaxed when she heard the voice of Jocelyn and Nickolas
at the door. “She is in here, I want you to stay with her.
Here are some extra blankets, sleep on the floor, the bed
is too narrow.”
let’s move along,” Kevin spoke rowdily.
eyes rolled under the covers, she still didn’t like the man.
The door shut as
quietly as it had been opened. Raina stayed under the covers
for a decent amount of time. She did steal a look at Nickolas
as he was undressing. He had stopped before he removed his
breeches. Buttoning them back up, he lay on the floor. “Okay
Ray, I know you aren’t sleeping. Nobody can sleep when Kevin
“He was very noisy,”
Ray whispered from the bed as she rolled over.
“And you were watching
me take my clothes off young lady. Did anyone teach you about
how to behave as a young lady?” Nick’s large finger waved
at her in the dark.
Ray giggled, “I
was just curious.” Ray leaned over and lit a small oil lamp
next to the bed with a sulfur match.
“I see?” Nick
propped his head in his hand as he leaned on his elbow. “I’ve
been told by many a woman that I am well-endowed and pleasing
to the eye.”
Ray threw her pillow
at him. Nick laughed as he feigned an injury. Suddenly he
sat up, the sheet low on his hips. His palms rested on the
blankets, supporting his weight. “We have a problem Raina.
You stole from one of my friends. He knows it was you, and
he saw you tonight. To keep him from going to Kevin I told
him that you would return what you took. Brian is a gentle
soul and he will only do this if you return what you took.”
stared blankly at him. “I can’t, I need the money to go home.
I will not have enough to pay for my passage.”
“I know that you
want to leave here, but why go back to France? You don’t even
sound like you are from there anymore? You don’t even know
where they are, do you?”
“I have no other
place to go.” The words echoed off the plank walls.
Raina’s sad face
and lavender eyes stared back at him. Nick had spent the
entire evening listening to the tales of the men downstairs.
He sang with his friends and shipmates as they talked about
what they would do with their treasures.
Each and every
one of them had plans to settle down. Howie had intentions
of going south to the Bahamas. A.J. had his heart set on
Florida. Brian had informed them that he would build a grand
house on the shores of Georgia, not to far from Savannah.
The group turned to Nick and asked him what his plans were.
In turn, Nick turned to Kevin.
“Whatever you want boy. You’ll be on your own then.”
smiled, “Kevin is going to take me to see my family.”
“You can’t do that
on your own?” Sir Alexander laughed as a bony lass bounced
up and down on his knee. His hand cupped under the tart’s
Taking a long swig
of his ale, Kevin stared at Alex. “Aye, he can but he’s not.
I will go with him and see what he decides. After that, he
is on his own.” As of yet, Kevin hadn’t told Nickolas that
he was going to gain a ship upon his departure. Kevin had
decided long ago that he would go back and restore his lands
and his family name.
you awake?” Raina again rolled to face him.
The noises from
the next room carried through the walls. Nick understood
what was going on in the rooms on either side of the room
that he and Raina were in. Luckily, he was able to shield
out the noises of Kevin and Jocelyn on one side and Alex and
a woman on the other.
I’m awake,” Nick sighed as he rolled on his stomach.
“I would like to
go to America with you.” Raina whispered her words and held
onto her heart with her hands over her chest.
the Captain won’t let you.” Nickolas would not even give
it a second thought. He could hear Kevin laughing now and
asking if he was senseless or had a fever. “A woman? On
my ship? I think not.”
Raina thought long
and hard before she continued on speaking to Nick. “It would
only be impossible if he knew I was there.”
“Ohhh, Ray, Kevin
knows everyone on his ship, you couldn’t hide from him. He
is not your typical Captain. Kevin goes over his boat many
times and takes an interest in the crew. He would no sooner
fire a cannon on his own ship then let a woman aboard.”
“IF I dressed as
a boy, he might not know.” Raina offered her idea to see
what he would say. She had made up her mind that she would
get on the ship, with or without his help.
Nick held back
his words as he thought about what Kevin would do. Nick’s
eyes shut even tighter. “Ray, you should warn me of such
things before you do them. distinguish the lantern, I need
The darken room
seemed warmer suddenly as fanciful ideas filled her head.
She would make her own home in a new place and not be subject
to anyone. “Nick?”
“If I let you do
this, we have to find a way that you will be kept away from
the other men. You can’t sleep below deck and I have new
quarters above deck with the officers now. You will be my
“They have galley
assistants?” Ray smiled knowing that Nick was making this
“Of course not.
But you will cook the first meal, after we are out of port
and too far to turn back. If Kevin is pleased, then he won’t
feed you to the sharks nor will he draw and quarter me.”
“He would do that
to you?” Raina turned and tossed in the bed.
“No, but he would
give me 39 lashes with a whip on my back.” Nick thought about
that time and winced as he recalled the pain. It was just
deserved but it took many a year for him to get over it.
What Nick had done was foolhardy. “Never, ever try to slip
into the bed of the judge's daughter.” Kevin’s yelling rattled
in his mind.
“What about me?
What would he do to me?”
Nick didn’t answer
unsure of what Kevin would do. A few times during the evening
Kevin had mentioned the pretty little cook with a sly look
on his face. At first Nick wasn’t sure if he was doing it
to see if Nick was jealous or that he was interested. Kevin
had been known to have threesome’s in the past. However,
knowing him, it wasn’t a subject that he would speak to Jocelyn
about. “I don’t know. Tomorrow we will make sure that you
practice being a male like you are a male.”
fooled everyone I know already,” Raina sighed knowing she
could do this.
“Not the Captain.
And I caught you today looking at silk in the shop. Kevin
can sniff a female out at fifty paces. He loves women, he
loves bedding them.”
loud groan infiltrated their conversation and the room.
understand,” Raina groaned as she covered her head with her
pillow again to block out the sounds of Nick’s laughter and