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this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
What did I do to be so cursed today?
“No one,” he answered Emerald. Then he turned back to the charts as he addressed the boy, “Put the coffee down and go, we’ll pour it ourselves.” He heard Emerald walk farther across the room as the door shut behind the boy.
She repeated, “Who is June?” He saw in the periphery of his vision that she now asked the question of Joseph not him. Joseph would not be willing to lie under any circumstance.
“Excuse me, Miss Martin, that is not for me to answer. I shall fetch your maid.” With that Joseph went out and the door bumped heavily behind him as the ship rocked down into the dip before a wave. Richard steadied himself and then turned with a sense of resignation. Her arms folded over her chest in a gesture that bid him to begin the battle he sensed was coming.
The door opened once more and Rita slipped into the room. The maid must have been waiting outside on the deck.
“Richard…” Emerald pressed for her answer, all caution gone as her blue eyes flashed her determination to know who June was.
But he supposed she need not keep their secret from Rita. Rita must know her mistress crept of her cabin every night to sneak into his.
“What do you wish me to say, Emerald? Why did you come in here?”
“I heard you shouting. I came to defend you. Who is June? Tell me?”
“People who eavesdrop hear things they may not wish to know.”
Rita ignored their conversation and poured the coffee.
“Who is June?” There was a note of concerned horror as her voice climbed in decibels and pitch.
His heart banged out a faster rhythm as he made the decision to tell her. If he did not she would just keep asking more frantically and probably guess anyway.
“My mistress,” he answered on an outward breath. “My former mistress,” he clarified immediately.
Instantly Emerald’s skin paled, then almost immediately afterwards it flushed red. His hand lifted as he stepped forward to catch her arm, fearing she was about to faint.
But just as quickly her pale skin had turned scarlet she pulled her arm from his reach and stepped back. Horror. That was the expression on her face. “No.” The denial was a whisper but whether she denied his touch or his words he was not sure.
“It is over. I wrote to her from Gibraltar. I–”
“But Mr Swallow knows your mistress…” It was a statement of surprise. And yet a strange thing to question.
His hand remained high, waiting to help if she did faint, while his voice expressed his need for her to understand. “All my senior staff do. June has hosted numerous business meetings for me.”
“Hosted? Do you live with her in Calcutta?”
“It is what men do-”
“Is it?” The words defied his statement as she took another step backwards, away from him. Her colour faded again. It was not now horror but shock and confusion in her expression. “Does everyone aboard know?”
He said nothing. What did it matter if they did? Knowing that would do her no good.
Her chin lifted and her eyes flashed fire suddenly. “Does everyone know you have this woman?”
This woman… He might have put June off for Emerald but he was not going to allow her to speak of June with disgust. “June was my mistress for three years. So, yes, everyone knows her. I have not kept her hidden. I was not ashamed of her. I never loved her but we were close friends, companions and–” He was about to explain the difference between his feelings for June and Emerald but he was not allowed to.
“Lovers!” she thrust at him accusingly.
“Of course,” he answered in a belligerent tone, tired of defending himself. Emerald had still been in the school room when he had met June. What difference should it make! “That is the purpose of a mistress after all.”
He’d gone too far. She blushed scarlet again, turned and fled, racing away from him like he was a damned monster, towards the internal cabin door.
“Emerald!” he barked at her to stop her flight. Then pressed, “Everyone knows you are here, you cannot disappear through that door. You will increase the crew’s speculation if they remember the adjoining doors.”
She stopped and spun around, glaring at him her eyes wide and full of hurt. Then she turned the other way hurrying back across the room and banging her hip on a chest by the door as she fought with the lock forgetting to twist the handle fully.
Rita walked past him with a swish of muslin as her Sari brushed his arm. Rita clearly had her views on his behaviour too and was probably cursing him in the name of her Gods behind her closed lips.
To be continued…
If you are enjoying the story still, do pop back up to the top of the page and score it, as you all know my health isn’t great and I still work all week, so I give time up on my Sunday afternoons to continue the story because people asked me to. I am happy to continue but only if you really want me to. 🙂 A couple of people have said they really aren’t enjoying it now and if that is the case let me know as I will stop posting if that’s so and claim my Sunday back. But I will keep going if there are people who are reading and enjoying the book still. Best wishes, Jane.
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
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)
Coming soon, the last part in the story, The Tainted Love of a Captain
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