The Truth by Jane Lark ~ a free book exclusive to my blog ~ part forty-two

The Truth

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 ,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,34,35,36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41

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Emerald

Emerald hurried into the room and closed the door then turned to face Rita who was fully clothed and sitting silently on her bunk. She had put out Emerald’s clothes.

“Miss,” Rita stood up. “Is this wise? Your mother would–”

“My mother is dead,” Emerald answered in blunt denial, a cold pain breathing through her chest. “She is not here to care. Now help me dress. I am late for breakfast.”

As was Richard. The thought brought a smile back to her lips and warmed her inside.

Emerald stood still as Rita pulled tight the laces of her corset and then tied the tapes of her petticoats’. Her body ached from the delicious test of endurance Richard had challenged her with last night. He had displayed a new vitality and he’d seemed so desperate. She could not deny how good it felt to be able to make a powerful man like him desperate for her.

When she left the cabin in Mr Bishop’s company, her hand on his arm, she was smiling broadly, she could not help it. She was living in a dream. The memory of her argument with Richard only made her wish to smile more as she thought of its wicked conclusions.

Mr Bishop held open the day cabin door and she very nearly asked him what had happened about the French ship, when she walked past, only catching her tongue at the last moment when she remembered she should not know. But she had already taken the breath to speak and then stopped. He smiled in an odd way, but then a frown immediately furrowed his brow. He’d been silent as they crossed the deck. She supposed if he suspected, he would disapprove, as Rita who was walking behind them did.

Emerald had a feeling that she blushed. There was only Dr Steel in the room. “Are the others not eating?”

“Mr Pritchard is at the helm and Mr Farrow is with him. Mr Swallow is resting.” It was Dr Steel who answered as he stood.

Rita sat in a chair across the room and Mr Bishop walked ahead of Emerald to withdraw a chair at the table for her. Emerald sat opposite Dr Steel, and felt as though she faced a judge in a court room. But Dr Steel could not know. Mr Bishop would not dare defy Richard and speak even if he had guessed. This was Richard’s ship.

Dr Steel offered her the basket of fresh bread. She still did not want to speak to him. She had not forgiven him for not speaking up about her mother’s illness. Her smile was wiped away.

She accepted some bread and reached for jam. They had cured ham too, which they’d brought aboard in Gibraltar and oranges, with strong coffee or hot chocolate. As she helped herself, Dr Steel asked, “How are you?” His voice formally polite.

“As well as I might be when my mother died unexpectedly a little more than fortnight ago.”

“Am I never to be forgiven, Miss Martin,” he challenged quietly as Emerald took a slice of ham from a plate Mr Bishop held for her.

She looked directly at Dr Steel. “I should not think so. You cannot change the fact you did not tell me and I cannot change the fact my mother is dead and I had no chance to say goodbye. I must endure my pain. You may endure my lack of forgiveness.”

Dr Steel smiled, but it was only an acknowledgement that her jab had cut him as intended. “I am sorry my decision caused you such distress. Yet forgiven or not, if you need to talk to anyone, I am willing to listen.”

She frowned at him. Listen to what? She did not answer.

“Will you sit on the deck this morning?” Mr Bishop’s tone was curt, when normally he was always so pleasant.

She was sure she was blushing again when she looked at him. “Yes, please. I know it is getting colder and soon it will be too cold to do so.”

“Would you like a companion?” His tone was still terse.

The pitch in his voice brought a sense of uncertainty. She wished to ask if he knew about her and Richard and if so would he speak of it? If he would then she would beg him not to. She did not want Richard judged badly because of her. But she could not say anything because what if Mr Bishop had not guessed.

“I would be grateful, if you may spare the time?” Her gaze dropped from his and she focused on her food.

“I may. I know you prefer not to be alone.” There was a change to his voice, it held sincerity and it drew her eyes to look back at him.

He smiled.

She smiled too, remembering how in the beginning she had wanted Richard to be more like him. But she had never been attracted to Mr Bishop, he was kind and polite but he had no spark. It was Richard’s fire which ignited her.

The door into the day cabin from the deck opened. She looked across to see Richard enter accompanied by Mr Swallow.

Mr Bishop stood.

“Sit, Mr Bishop.” It was Mr Swallow who made the direction.

“Gentlemen, Miss Martin,” Richard said in greeting. He bowed his head formally towards her. Her smile became broader again, parting her lips . Less than an hour ago they had been in his bed, wrapped up in each other. She felt another blush and caught the movement of a twist in his lips that implied a smile. She looked away once more, at her food. But when he walked past she distinctly felt the tip of one of his fingers brush across her back.

“What are your plans today, Miss Martin?” he asked when he was seated as he began filling his plate.

She glanced at Richard, very aware of Mr Bishop watching them, and she could not seem to stop blushing. “I have agreed to sit with Mr Bishop on the deck this morning.”

“Then I shall entertain you this afternoon.”

He had not spent time with her for days to avoid suspicion. “Thank you.” She glanced at Mr Bishop and met a look of what seemed to be sympathy. Why? She frowned. Oh. But Richard was probably playing games and facing Mr Bishop’s suspicion head-on denying fear of any speculation. Richard Farrow at his most venomous. But then Mr Bishop would be foolish to speak out. She would not fear it either.

When they had finished breakfast they all stood. “Miss Martin,” Mr Bishop, lifted his arm. She looked back at Richard. He bowed his head then smiled slightly.

“Might I have a word with you later, Captain?” Mr Bishop asked as her hand rested on his arm.

Mr Swallow’s eyebrow’s lifted. “Of course, look me out when you have finished keeping Miss Martin company.”

“Thank you, sir.”

As Mr Bishop walked her from the room, with Rita following, Emerald glanced back again. Richard was talking to Mr Swallow but he saw her look and smiled at her over Mr Swallow’s shoulder, a lightness rising in his eyes. It was the greatest acknowledgement she would receive before his crew.

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama, like Victoria and Poldark.

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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 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) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come  :-) 

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

Go to the index

For

  • 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

The Truth by Jane Lark ~ a free book exclusive to my blog ~ part thirty

The Truth

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 , 19,20,21,22,23,24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

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Chapter Ten

 

Emerald

As Rita undid the buttons at the back of Emerald’s dress, Emerald stared at the letter lying on her bed, at her name written in her mother’s hand. She had let them push her mother’s body over the side of the ship today. She would never see her again and already the memory of her mother’s face was fading, the details were not there and behind her, her mother’s bunk was empty, shouting it should not be vacant.

It felt as though the cabin walls were crushing her.

Emma fought to keep her breathing steady, and fought not to slip into insanity.

She had to be strong. There was no one else but herself to rely upon. Yet she wanted to scream, to throw things about the room, to upend the trunks and strew the contents across the floor. Why had Dr Steel not told her!? Why had her mother not told her!? Why? Why? Why?

Emerald kept breathing as she stepped out of her dress. Then Rita began unlacing her corset. In. Out. She would not go mad. She would not fall to pieces. She would be strong. In.Out. She was the Governor of Calcutta’s daughter, the great-granddaughter of a duke. She could not let her father down. She only had to reach England. Once she reached England she could plan how to get home.

But… I just want to go home. The words whispered through her thoughts repeatedly as Rita removed her corset. Then the tapes of her petticoats loosened. In. Out. In. Out. She stepped out of the pool of her petticoats.

So much for adventure. So much for something more to be found in life. She wanted nothing more than what she’d always known.

Rita lifted Emerald’s chemise and pulled it over Emerald’s head and then Emerald took over, untying her drawers, feeling like a fraying rope. She slipped them off and took her nightgown from Rita’s hands. The cotton was cool and it smelt fresh as it tumbled over her head and slithered down her body. “Thank you, Rita, you may retire.”

Rita was now Emerald’s maid, her responsibility. “Can you change by the moonlight? If so would you turn down the oil lamp?”

“Yes, Miss.” Rita was distressed too, she had been crying half the day. She had been with Emerald’s family all her life. She turned her back to Emerald as she started to undress.

Emerald sat on the edge of her bunk, facing her mother’s empty bunk, and picked up the letter, then broke the seal. For a moment Emerald just looked at the writing illuminated only by the silver moonlight now that Rita had turned down the oil lamp. Such familiar writing that would never be formed again. Emerald looked at the empty bunk with sadness flowing through her heart as her eyes adjusted to the dark.

She could see to read the words her mother had written when she looked back down. They explained what Dr Steel had said, that she was ill, she’d been ill for months and that was partly the reason for this journey to England; she had wanted to see Emerald married before her passing. But since boarding the ship her illness had worsened. She’d spoken to Dr Steel but asked him not to speak of it because she hoped to reach England.

The letter said, if Emerald was reading it, her mother had not succeeded in reaching England. She wished Emerald to know how much she was loved, and  how sorry she was for making this foolish journey and leaving Emerald alone. But Emerald was to trust Mr Farrow, he would take her to her family in England.

Rita lay down on her mattress on the floor to sleep.

Tomorrow Emerald would tell Rita to use the other bunk. But not tonight. Tonight she could not bear her mother’s place to be taken by someone else. Emerald read the letter over again, absorbing every word.

Rita’s breathing changed, implying that she’d drifted into sleep.

Emerald read her letter again. She read it a dozen times, her fingers shaking with the pain of holding in tears. But she could not let the tears escape, it would wake Rita. A part of her wished to go outside and walk about the deck in the darkness, to be alone with the sky and the stars, but she was in her nightdress and she would not be alone there would be sailors on the deck. Yet… Pain and grief screamed within her. She wanted to do what Rita had done this morning, to fall on the floor and wail out her misery, and this small cabin was trapping her in.

The day cabin.

The day cabin would be empty. She’d heard the men retire, saying goodnight to one another. No one would be in there and there was a key among her mother’s things that would open the door from her cabin into there.

She set aside the letter, then slipped quietly off the bunk and knelt before her mother’s bunk. She slowly pulled open the drawer beneath it. Rita did n0t stir. Emerald’s fingers shook as she turned over her mother’s clothes searching for the feel of a key.

There. The cold awkwardly shaped steel caught on her finger, she grasped the key in her fist, then pushed the drawer shut.

When she stood, her legs felt as wobbly as aspic, and so she stepped carefully over the corner of Rita’s mattress. The key fitted  in the lock and turned easily. Emerald pushed the door open, then stepped into the day cabin that was full of the shadows of night which the moon threw about the room as the ship swayed on the waves.

The only sign that the cabin had been occupied an hour previously was the  white tablecloth that still covered the table.

Emerald shut the door and gave in to her grief; leaning back against the wood and sliding down. She needed a moment, just a moment, to allow this to overwhelm her, then she would hide it away again and pretend it was not there.

Her knees bent up before her and her hands pressed over her face covering it as she cried, letting the knot of pain which had been tied about her throat for hours loosen…

To be continued…

To read the epic historical Marlow Intrigues series, for all those who love period drama you can start anywhere, but the actual order is listed below ~ and click like to follow my Facebook Page not to miss anything…
 The Marlow Intrigues

 

 

 

 

IMG_6159[1]

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 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) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback and, yes, there are more to come  :-) 

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

Go to the index

For

  • 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