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this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Emerald laughed as the rainstorm carried on its way leaving her behind, dripping wet. The water fell from the brim of Mr Pritchard’s tricorn hat as it dripped from Emerald’s soggy bonnet. She tried to undo the ribbons to take her bonnet off but the dampness had firmed the bow into a knot.
“Miss Martin.” She turned to discover that Richard had come up on to the deck and was standing behind her. He held up a blanket. Emerald caught Rita’s gaze across his shoulder as she was climbing up the steps to the poop-deck. Richard must have sent Rita into their cabin to fetch something to cover Emerald with. She wanted to reject the offer, she did not mind being wet, and yet Richard moved with a determination that implied he was adamant she take it.
She moved so that he could lay the blanket across her shoulders. As he did so he leaned a little closer. “Hold it across your bosom.” The words were a quiet but sharp order.
When she fulfilled his request she could see why he had said it: her damp clothing clung tightly against her skin.
His fingers were then at the stubborn bow beneath her chin, attempting to free her from her soggy bonnet. “You should have gone inside when I proposed it.” Those words were said in angry condemnation, but at least he did not say them loudly.
Emerald glanced over his shoulder again and saw Mr Pritchard staring at them with an odd expression as Richard held the ruined bonnet out for Rita to take.
“There. Now you must go back to your cabin and change,” he ordered quietly.
She obeyed only because she would have done so anyway. But she did not speak as she walked past him and then carefully descended the awkward, steep stairs back to the quarter deck, one hand holding the blanket and her shawl in place as the other gripped the rail in case she slipped. Rita followed her down and once in their cabin helped Emerald remove her soaked dress and undergarments. She said nothing as Emerald spoke of how exhilarating it had been to watch and feel the rain.
Later, after she had eaten her dinner with the men, Emerald returned to her cabin and lay in her bunk listening for Rita to fall asleep and for the men in the room next door to retire. It seemed to take a long time for them to finally wish each other goodnight. She waited for a little longer, in case any of them returned. Then she quietly pushed back the sheets then slid her legs out from under the covers and got up to go through the adjoining door. Richard was there, waiting. He had removed his evening coat, waistcoat and neckcloth and was leaning on the table, his head hanging forward while his hands gripped its rim. She could see all the perfect outlines of his body when he was in his trousers and his shirt was tucked in at the waist but loose at the neck.
As she walked farther into the room he stood upright and turned towards her.
His eyes looked at her with an expression that seemed hard and shallow, just as he had always looked at her in Calcutta.
“Why did you not obey me this afternoon? I asked you to go inside to avoid the rain?”
Her forehead pulled out of shape into a frown. The tone and the sentiment of his words injured her. She had never liked his orders. “Because you did not ask. You cannot command me. I am not one of your crew.”
His eyebrows lifted in a warning. She had displeased him and his look said he did not want to be displeased again. She could picture him casting that look at his agents spread all over the world if they had done something he did not like.
She walked closer, her bare feet making the boards creak a little as she walked more heavily rather than running lightly through the room as she usually did. “Richard,” her voice placated but she did no intend to concede. “You cannot bully me. I was enjoying watching the rain. Had you not told me to go below I probably would have done so. I have my own mind. I can make my own decisions.”
His eyebrows descended as his glare intensified. It was the condemning expression she had known when she had boarded his ship. She gripped his shirt at either side of his waist and tried to shake him a little. “I will not jump to your orders and you cannot mould me with your will. Even when I will be your wife I will not become your servant. You said you loved me.” It was a battle for ground she had to claim. He may own land all over the world but when they married she would not let him think that he owned her. “What did it matter if I stood in the rain?”
His arms hung at his sides and his jaw was tense. “You refused me in front of the crew. If a woman disobeys me, and one who is barely out of the school room, what message do you think it sends them?”
She let go of his shirt. “A woman who is barely out of the school room… Is that how you see me?”
“Emerald.” His voice flooded with frustration. “I see you as you. But you have to understand how they see you – and me. I am the owner of this ship. Their employer. They expect me to be obeyed. When I am not obeyed it puts that option into their minds. Do you wish to begin a mutiny?”
A sharp, loud, note of amusement escaped her throat.
He glanced upward, showing that he was thinking of whoever was at the wheel above them and the possibility that the sound had been too loud.
“No one shall attempt mutiny just because I chose to stay outside in the rain,” she soothed, her hand touching his arm.
He moved his arm away, his eyes challenging her dismissive response and shook his head. “Would they not? Have you ever endured a pirate raid?”
She shook her head, uncertain now.
“No, of course you have not. Well when it happens the men need to be more afraid of me than pirates or they will hand over my bloody ship. This is not a game, Emerald. My men need to fear and respect me. They will do neither if they see a woman defy me.”
She was not bending. She glared back at him. If he wished this to be an argument then it would be so. “Then do not order me about like I am one of them and I shall not defy you.” Her fingers curled into fists. She loved the man who cared for her, the man hidden beneath this arrogant, bristling, business like skin – and yet when he was like this she still did not like him. She would have turned away, but he gripped her arm and stopped her turning.
There were no more words. His mouth covered hers and he kissed her deeply, his tongue thrusting into her mouth as one of his hands pressed against the back of her head holding her to him while the other slipped to hold her at the arch of her back.
The longing her body had learnt for his swept through her, soaking her just as the rain had done. She could not be angry with this Richard. She could not deny this man. Her hand lifted to his hair, as his fingers began working up her nightgown.
To be continued…
The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama, like Victoria and Poldark.
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ A Free Novella #2.5
The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ A second Free Novella #3.5
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75 now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉
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