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Emerald left the day cabin in Mr Bishop’s company to dine with the men once more, following the insistence of her mother. Yet this time Emerald smiled back at Rita and her mother before closing the door. The world had become considerably brighter. Her mother and Rita were sitting up in their bunks, propped up on pillows, Emerald’s mother reading, Rita sewing. They smiled back.
The cabin had smelt fresh and clean when they’d returned to it this afternoon, no longer a place of sickness. Perhaps that had helped. Certainly they both were much better in spirits as well as health, and they had eaten a simple meal of spiced mutton and rice and Rita had even said she intended to return to her duties the following day.
So Emerald smiled and laughed through her meal, without guilt, as Mr Prichard related some of the mad things the sailors did when they crossed the equator. Then Mr Bishop progressed, explaining some of the humorous positions he’d found the sailors in ashore. Mr Farrow was silent. She ignored him, focusing her attention on the other men. But felt him watching her often, although that might only be because they were seated opposite one another.
It was ridiculous, there were four other men at the table, all talking, all smiling and listening to her and yet the one her attention focused on was the one who did not say a word. Her body was tingling yet again, her senses on alert, and stupidly she was also aware of the door leading to the cabin he slept in, opposite the door which led to hers. Her senses were becoming obsessed by the man. She even caught herself laughing more brightly and smiling more brilliantly at all the other men, solely for the effect she hoped it would have upon him. It was a way to mock him for his silence, and stir him into speech.
She laughed internally.
What did she think? That he would suffer jealousy and it would spark him into some form of engagement? He was sitting at the table among the men she flirted with. It was his ship. These men were his employees. He had nothing to feel jealous of. If he wanted to speak, he could. If he wished to spend time with her, he could. She was at his beck and call. He clearly wanted neither to spend time with her, or to speak to her. So he was hardly likely to feel even a slight twinge of jealously. He was merely being civil by inviting her to dine – and sensible in managing her mother’s and Rita’s health.
But regardless Emerald continued flirting, hoping beyond hope to stir something in him, to see some light of emotion in his eyes. When there was none, her flirting became more and more pronounced, and it went from a silly notion to a vicious, obsessive revengeful act as she fluttered her eyelashes at Mr Prichard. It irked her that Mr Farrow could ignore her so easily, as though she was not even there, despite watching her occasionally. The arrogant man. She longed to turn and look at him after more than an hour and poke out her tongue when she felt his eyes on her once more.
Watching Emma Martin was a novelty. He had never paid young women much attention before. He’d deemed them insignificant. But as he ate, facing her for the second night, he allowed himself to enjoy the view. Happy, animated and laughing, the girl was different again, but she was neither foolish nor missish and tonight her ire toward him had taken a new turn, she was flirting, trying to irritate him. It did not annoy him, it intrigued him and the innocence of it was endearing. She was no coquette. He could see from the faces of his men they were all enchanted but Duncan and Joseph had wives and Mark and Philip were too far below her station to believe they had a hope. Yet he…
He did not let the thought form. He did not want a wife. And all Miss Martin could be to him was that.
But nevertheless he still found himself drawn in and watching her more and more.
The issue with his growing fascination in Miss Martin became a problem, though, when he woke the next morning. It took an awkward turn he would not have expected when he had agreed to let the women aboard his ship; but one he supposed he should have anticipated, he was as much a man as any member of his crew. It was not an issue with Miss Martin, though, and it was not her fault. It wan an issue with himself. He awoke amidst tangled sheets, sweating and hot with a rampant hunger, and a throbbing erection, and hanging in his vision was an image of Emma Martin lying in his bunk her slender legs, as outlined by the wind two days ago, wrapped about his hips, while her head was thrown back as he took her by storm. Then her fingers suddenly gripped at his chest and she looked up at him her bright blue eyes laughing.
Richard cursed aloud as he swung his legs over the edge of the bunk, the sheets still tangled about him. He tried to throw the images from his mind as he threw of the sheets. He did not need the added complication of desiring the girl. But desire her, it seemed, he did. He wondered how many men aboard his ship had had a similar dream in the last two nights. Undoubtedly he was not the only one who felt her allure, especially in the middle of the bloody sea when there was nowhere else to damn well look. He cursed again when the cabin boy knocked and entered without awaiting Richard’s agreement. “Take the dirty linen and get out!” Richard snapped at the boy. The poor lad had done nothing wrong.
Once he’d gone, Richard went to the wash-basin and tipped the water into it. “Women be damned,” he muttered before looking up and facing his reflection in the small mirror on the wall above the basin. “Why the hell did you have to thrust yours upon me Charles Martin? I did not want them.”
Richard focused on his ablutions then, lathering the soap to shave the stubble off his chin. Afterward he carried on with his day as normal, walking into the day cabin to look at the charts and shutting thoughts of Miss Martin out of his mind. So when he walked out on to the deck later he was busy congratulating himself on his strength of will, only to face the women and have his good intentions shattered.
They were sitting outside, with Mark hovering close by. Miss Martin was reading. She was a perfect portrait. Her bonnet was loosely tied, and a few strands of fair hair caressed her shoulders, twisting on the light breeze which also stirred the sails. While as she leant forward, with her head bowed, the neckline of her bodice slightly gaped, revealing the first curve and outline of her small breasts.
Richard’s mind delivered a picture from his dream over the view.
Damn. This voyage could well become excruciating over the next few weeks.
But never one to run from difficulty, determinedly shoving the fictional image of Emma Martin out his thoughts, Richard walked over to speak with them, facing Catherine, while standing before her daughter.
Emerald looked up as a shadow covered her book. It was cast by Mr Farrow, he was looking at her mother, but she had a feeling he was deliberately gaining her attention. She looked back at her book, ignoring him as he had ignored her conversation last night.
With the suns’ rays blocked by his broad shoulders, she was suddenly chilled.
“How are you, Catherine? Feeling better I hope…”
“Much, yes, thank you, Mr Farrow.”
He was using her mother’s first name again, belittling her.
“And Miss Martin?” Emerald looked up again and met his gaze. He declined his head a little.
“I am well, thank you, Mr Farrow.” She thrust his name at him.
“Wonderful, you will be fit to dine with us again tonight then.” It was not a request, it was a statement. He looked back at her mother, not even waiting for a reply. “And perhaps by tomorrow, Catherine, you will also be able to sit with us at the table.”
“One can hope, Mr Farrow, one can only hope. I am still a little weak.”
“Then I shall ensure you have the best provisions from the stores to feed you up. We’ll soon have you active again.”
Emerald’s mother said nothing for a moment. Emerald glanced sideward. There was something uncomfortable in the hesitation and her mother looked sorrowful. But then she smiled and nodded at Mr Farrow. “Thank you, that is very kind. And thank you for the books. I know you did not wish us aboard, but I am grateful you allowed us to come. I will not forget it, and continue to try to be unobtrusive.”
Emerald frowned. Her mother did not sound as though she thought she was getting better.
Mr Farrow changed the subject, sweeping over the moment but after yesterday Emerald did not doubt he’d noted it. He was too sharp. “Are you enjoying, Gulliver’s Travels?” He progressed, making parlour conversation. It was no surprise he could do so. He was an expert in making people feel at ease when he wished – when their ease was useful to him. Of course her mother’s happiness was of use to him, because of Emerald’s father’s influence. No wonder Mr Farrow had stepped in to manage their health.
Cynic! Emerald charged herself, smiling suddenly, her eyes returning to her book, still covered by his shadow. He was being courteous enough.
Richard caught Miss Martin’s sudden smile in the corner of his eye and wondered what had appealed to her, though he continued speaking with her mother, discussing the book. He spent a further twenty minutes in conversation with Catherine after that, constantly aware of Miss Martin’s proximity and feeling uncomfortable with the images of his dream still haunting his brain – although Miss Martin neither spoke nor looked up again. Eventually, with a formal bow, he took his leave and then lifted his gaze to look at Joseph who stood at the helm on the upper deck. Richard’s captain smiled; a knowing smile. Richard smiled back. He didn’t know if Joseph was making assumptions or if he was merely amused because he knew Richard was only suffering the women’s presence.
Richard smiled more broadly, suddenly, and decided to go and investigate the cause of Joseph’s smile. He climbed to the poop-deck.
Joseph was smiling more broadly too when Richard set his foot on the upper deck and let go of the stair rails.
“Well what do you think?” Richard’s captain said, both hands gripping the wheel, “The weather is fair.”
Of course he did not mean the weather. He had guessed Richard’s interest in the girl. “Fair, but to travel one needs wind, or at least a bit of a breeze. A man requires passion not placidity.”
Joseph’s eyebrows lifted.
“Besides June would eat her alive.”
Joseph laughed, causing the women to look up. Most senior men in Richard’s company knew his mistress. She’d been in Richard’s life for a couple of years and she’d often played hostess for his business meetings, when his men were not with their wives. They all knew she would not be easily snubbed. She would certainly not take kindly to Richard bringing home a wife. The thought was amusing. Hearty, passionate, vibrant June, and calm, quiet, intelligent and magnetic Emma Martin – the two simply did not compare. But then Richard thought of Miss Martin as she’d been the night before, laughing, her eyes bright and her smile wide and wondered again how much of the wild child of rumour was still hidden within.
To be continued…
The Marlow Intrigues
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Passionate Love of a Rake #3
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5
The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5
The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come 🙂
Go to the index
- the story of the real courtesan who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
- another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
- the prequel excerpts for book #3 The Scandalous Love of a Duke
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark