A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 8

Ray 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.

Jocelyn sat and talked with Raina in the kitchen and helped her clean the dishes.

“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 either.

“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 one another. 

“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.

Jocelyn’s laughter 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.”

“Defensively of 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. “

Stepping forward, 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. 

“You 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.”

Jocelyn suspected 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 very sleepy.”

Jocelyn’s 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.”

“Jocelyn, let’s move along,” Kevin spoke rowdily.

Raina’s 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 is drunk.”

“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.”

Gulping, Raina 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.  

Kevin laughed, “Whatever you want boy.  You’ll be on your own then.”

Nick 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 left breast.

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. 

“Nickolas, are 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. 

“Yes 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.

“Impossible Ray, 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 to think.”

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 galley assistant.”

“They have galley assistants?”  Ray smiled knowing that Nick was making this up.

“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.”

“I’ve 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.”

A loud groan infiltrated their conversation and the room.

“I understand,” Raina groaned as she covered her head with her pillow again to block out the sounds of Nick’s laughter and Kevin’s moaning.

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