~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
At Nathan’s side, Kristin
stood as he carefully steered the seaQuest through the small inlet that led to a
secluded cove in the middle of his island.
She couldn’t take her eyes
off of him. The blowing breeze off
the bay touched and caressed him as she done mere hours ago; ruffling his hair
and causing his sapphire shirt to billow and open, revealing his muscular chest.
Kristin clenched her fists at
her side, wanting nothing more than to step over to him and run her fingers
through the downy curls smattered over his torso then follow the trail of hair
‘Oh…’ Kristin thought
and moaned softly at the sudden image of herself on her knees before him as
she… ‘Stop it, Kristin!’ She
told herself firmly as she felt the low level of arousal that was always present
when Nathan was around begin to flare slightly at the thought of tasting him as
he’d tasted her.
“Kris? Are you all right?”
Kristin turned to face him
and felt her face flame as the image persisted.
“I… I’m fine.”
“You sure?” Nathan asked.
murmured. “I’m sure.”
“Good,” Nathan said a
slow smile formed on his lips. “For
a moment there, I thought you were undressing me with your eyes.”
Nathan laughed as Kristin
blushed even deeper. “Ah! So I was right! You
were removing my clothes in your mind.”
“I… I was not!
I was…” Kristin’s voice trailed off as the image of herself on her
knees before him once again formed in her mind.
A sudden thought occurred to her and she stepped closer to him.
“If you must know,” Kristin began in a low voice.
“I was just imaging what it would be like to… to taste you.”
“Taste me?” Nathan repeated in a voice that told her he had a very good
idea of what she meant.
“Yes…” Kristin answered
as she surreptitiously brushed her hand over the front of his pants to leave
little doubt in Nathan’s mind as to what she was referring to.
“Oh god… Kristin…”
Nathan moaned as his head was suddenly filled with images of Kristin working his
straining member in and out of her hot mouth.
Kristin laughed softly then
inhaled sharply at the sudden desire she saw darkening his blue eyes.
She swallowed hard when he reached out, grasped her hand and pulled her
so that she was standing in front of him, his reaction to her words obvious from
the pressure against her rear.
“Once we have docked,”
Nathan spoke in a low voice against her ear,
“and the cargo has been offloaded, and the crew settled…” he nipped
her earlobe. “I am going to take
you upstairs to our bedroom and make love to you…”
“I thought you were going
to show me around your island?” Kristin
interrupted in a breathless voice.
“Oh, I will… I am,”
Nathan said. “But you see, right
now, I have this overwhelming desire to be lying naked in your arms, your long
legs wrapped tight around me…”
exhaled his name and leaned back against him as his words sent a fissure of heat
through her body.
whispered as he reached a hand up to cup her cheek and tilt her face toward him.
“Very soon,” he murmured again and covered her mouth in a deep,
“Not soon enough,”
Kristin moaned into his mouth as she returned the kiss.
Several moments later, Nathan
broke off the kiss and eased her out of his arms to stand beside him.
“Now, if I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, I may very well
steer this boat into the rocks.”
Kristin merely smiled as she
turned her gaze towards the front of the ship.
“Definitely not soon
enough,” Nathan muttered.
Kristin giggled softly.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“And this…” Nathan
gestured to the large, two story building in front of them.
“Is my home.”
Kristin glanced up at the
light green house, admiring the simple elegance of the structure. There was a wide, wrap around porch on the ground level and a
smaller sectioned balcony around the upper level.
French doors dotted both levels and all were open, sheers billowing in
the pleasant breeze that blew off the ocean.
Kristin told him just as a loud cry emerged from within the house. “I like it. It’s
not too big, not too small. Just
“Do you really like it?”
“Yes,” Kristin nodded.
“I really do.”
At that moment, a happy shout
sounded from the short, plump black woman that came rushing down off the porch.
“Bless me, it’s about
time you made it home!”
“Don’t you ‘hey’ me,
young man! What do you mean by
being away so long?”
“And you’ve probably got
a whole pile of torn and dirty clothes for me to mend and clean…”
“I’ll also bet you’ve
brought back a whole new bunch of unruly men who’ll need to be told what’s
“Bess!” Nathan walked over to the older woman and gave her a big hug,
cutting her off mid sentence.
“Welcome home, Nathan,”
Bess said with a broad smile as she reached up to ruffle his hair. “I’m happy to see you made it back in one piece.
A wide grin split Nathan’s
face and he nodded. “Yes we
“Oh, that is wonderful
news!” Bess clapped her hands
joyfully. “Where is Master
“Crocker’s bringing him
“Is he hurt?”
“He was injured when we
found him, but he’s all right now.”
“I’ll believe that when I
see it with my own eyes,” Bess told him, glancing around him for a glimpse of
the two men. When she didn’t see
them, she looked back to Nathan expectantly.
Nathan told her as he stepped back over to Kristin and grasped her hand. “Bess, there’s someone I would like you to meet.
“Kristin. Kristin Westphalen,” Kristin interrupted Nathan and held
her hand out to the older black woman in greeting.
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Bess replied
slowly as she carefully regarded the woman before her.
‘She don’t look like a typical whore,’ Bess thought to herself.
‘So, she’s his mistress. Which
would explain…’ She turned to look at Nathan.
“Oh, Nathan… the Wayfarer was in port the day before yesterday.”
A big smile lit Nathan’s
face. “Wonderful,” he said.
“Well, if you’ll excuse us, I’d like to show Kristin the house.”
Bess merely nodded and
watched as Nathan slipped his around Kristin’s waist and led her up the steps
and into the house.
“Well, ain’t you a sight
for sore eyes!”
Bess turned at the voice, a
bright smile filling her round face. “Gator!
You ol’ sea-dog! You get
scruffier every time I sets my eyes on you.”
“And you, Bess my sweet,
get lovelier each time I come home,” Crocker responded.
“You’re just saying that
so I’ll make you some of my special fried chicken and dumplins.”
“And your biscuits, Bess…
ain’t no one on this earth who makes’em as good as you do.”
“Flatterer!” Bess laughed as Crocker finally got close enough to hug.
“Welcome home, Manny-boy.”
“Thank you, ma’am,”
Crocker said as he released her. “And
as you can see, we finally found our errant young man.”
William flushed slightly as
Crocker reached out to ruffle his hair. “Hello,
“Tis good to see you,
Master William,” Bess said, gently embracing the young man.
“And why is you limping?”
“Saber wound,” William
answered. “But the countess
cleaned and stitched me up…”
“Countess?” Bess gave both men a questioning look.
Crocker answered. “Didn’t
Bess nodded. “Yes, he did… but he didn’t say nothing ‘bout her
being a countess,” she said then shook her head.
“So… this ‘lady’, took care of you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” William
“She’s been taking care
of all of us,” Crocker told Bess. “Lucas,
the cap… they got the fever and she nursed them back to health, and helped
stop it from getting really bad with everyone else.”
“Hmm…” Bess looked
thoughtful. ‘Gonna have to keep
my eye on her.’
“But most important of
all,” Crocker said. “Nathan
loves the lady. He is absolutely
crazy about her.”
“He’s what?” Bess obviously didn’t believe what she was hearing.
Crocker lifted an eyebrow at
her. “Are you telling me that you
didn’t notice the change in him? He’s
happier, he’s been smiling more…”
At that moment a deep male
laugh floated down through the windows.
“He’s laughing more,” he said and turned to Bess.
“Tell me… when was the last time you heard him laugh like that?”
“Not since young Master
Bobby was alive,” Bess answered quietly.
“Lady Westphalen is the
most unpretentious, honest person I have met in a very long time,” William
spoke up. “Her title is merely
that… a title. She doesn’t act
like a stuffy aristocrat. She
doesn’t think that she is superior to anyone.”
“And more importantly…
she loves Nathan as much as Nathan loves her,” Crocker told her.
Bess was stopped from
commenting as Ben and Katherine approached.
She put her hands on her hips and fixed Kreig with a look. “And what sort of trouble you been getting yourself into,
“Not a one, Miss Bess,”
Ben answered then glanced at Katie and smiled.
“Unless you count falling in love as trouble.”
“Course I do!”
Bess smiled. “The best kind of trouble.”
She glanced up at the house. ‘The
best kind for sure,’ she thought. ‘And
I truly hope Nathan’s found it with his countess.’
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Oh my…” Kristin
exhaled. “It’s so… it looks
so much bigger in here than it does from the outside,” she said as she stared
down the long hall. “And it’s
Nathan watched as Kristin
stepped out of his embrace, lifted her arms and twirled around the hall with a
smile on her face.
“And smell that air!
That wonderful salty ocean air…” Kristin stopped spinning and gazed
at Nathan. “This is wonderful.”
“Wait until you see the
rest of the house,” Nathan told her as he walked over to her and placed his
hands on her waist. “Especially
Kristin raised an eyebrow at
him. “Your bedroom wouldn’t
happen to be upstairs would it?”
“Why yes, it would,”
Nathan smiled as he slowly walked her back towards the stairs in the middle of
the hall. “Fancy that.”
Kristin laughed softly.
“And you wouldn’t by some chance be trying to seduce me now, would
you, Captain Rogue?”
A wolfish grin appeared on
Nathan’s face as his eyes darkened. “Most
Nathan laughed heartily and
scooped Kristin up into his arms. “I
“I love you too,” Kristin
replied and looped her arms around Nathan’s neck as he began to ascend the
A soft moan made its way from
Nathan’s lips as Kristin dipped her head and began to nibble lightly on his
neck. “Kris… that’s not
“But you taste so good…” she murmured as she continued to nip and
lick his salty skin. She lifted her
head when he reached the top of the stairs and looked straight in his eyes.
“One day…” a slow blush rose up her cheeks,
“one day I want to taste all of you.”
Nathan growled as he covered
her mouth with his and strode unerringly down the hall into his bedroom.
He kicked the door closed behind him and leaned back against it as they
continued to kiss passionately.
Slowly the kiss came to an
“Welcome to our room,”
Nathan said in a husky voice.
“…our room…” Kristin
echoed in a quiet voice as she turned her head to look around.
The room was large, with two
sets of French doors set in two of the walls to catch a cross-breeze off the
ocean. The walls themselves were
painted a pale blue and in the middle of the room was a very large bed, its
sheer mosquito netting pulled back to reveal a silk comforter of sapphire blue,
the material identical to that used for Nathan’s pirate shirts.
“What do you think?
Do you like it?”
“It’s very…” Kristin
continued to look around the room. ‘Our
room,’ the words repeated in Kristin’s mind.
‘You knew, the moment you gave yourself to him… the moment you ran
after him when he set you free… the moment you fell in love with him… you
knew this was inevitable… that you would be his…’
“Sorry,” Kristin shook
herself out of her thoughts and pushed away the sudden uneasy feeling as she
smiled at him. “It’s very
“Are you all right?”
He asked in a quiet voice sensing the change in Kristin’s demeanor.
Kristin’s smile grew
affectionate at the concern she heard in Nathan’s voice.
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m
just a little…” she paused, and searched for the right word, “overwhelmed.”
“You sure?” Nathan asked, regarding her carefully.
Kristin reached up and cupped
his cheek. “Yes, I’m sure.”
“Good. You would tell me,
wouldn’t you, if something was wrong or if anything was bothering you?”
“Yes, Nathan,” Kristin
replied as he began to slowly move towards the bed.
“I’m serious,” Nathan
told her as he laid her down on the thick mattress then stretched out beside
her, propped up on his elbow.
“I know you are,” Kristin
said as she reached up to slowly begin unbuttoning his shirt.
“Good…” Nathan moaned
softly as Kristin slipped her hands inside his open shirt and began to caress
his bare chest. “Just as long as
we’re clear about that.”
murmured in agreement as she rolled towards him, her lips once again attacking
his neck. “…crystammm…” she
hummed as she laved her tongue against his skin.
“Ssh… no more talk,”
Kristin whispered against his throat. “Make
love to me…”
“With pleasure,” Nathan
answered softly as he rolled onto his back and pulled her on top of him, his
fingers attacking the buttons of her dress.
“Kris… sweetheart, sit up…”
Kristin stopped her
exploration of his neck to raise her head and look at him.
“Sit up so I can,” he
tugged on her dress, “get this
Kristin nodded and slowly
pushed herself up then bent her knees so that she was straddling Nathan.
She moaned at the feel of his arousal hard and throbbing against her
center and unconsciously rocked against him, gasping at the wave of pleasure
that rushed up through her. Kristin gazed down at him, watching his face as he worked the
bodice down over her breasts and arms to pool at her waist.
“Come here…” Nathan
grasped her upper arms and pulled her down on him so that their chests were
pressed together. “I love the
feel of your breasts… your nipples hard and drilling into my chest,” he told
her as he captured her lips in a hungry kiss.
Kristin moaned at his words
and returned his kiss with a fervent desire as Nathan rolled them over, pressing
her into the mattress with his hard body. “Nath…an!”
Kristin cried out softly as his lips left hers to take a peaked nipple
into the hot cavern of his mouth.
Nathan drew hard on the rosy
tip for several long minutes before he released it and moved to bestow the same
sweet torture on the other dusky point, smiling as Kristin lifted her chest to
push more of her breast into his mouth.
Kristin moaned as she trailed her hands down his back to tug at his britches.
“I need you…”
Nathan released her breast
and pushed up on his arms to look down at her.
He smiled and dipped his head to brush his lips over hers.
“And I you…” he told her in a soft voice.
“What is your pleasure? How
would you like me to make love to you?” Nathan
rained gentle kisses over her face. “Shall
I start by kissing you below?”
“Oh yes…” Kristin
replied breathlessly as Nathan rocked against her.
“Your wish is my command,
my lady,” Nathan told her as with one final kiss to her mouth he inched his
way down her body. He settled
himself on his knees between her legs and with her help, quickly removed her
dress and petticoat. The sight of
her glistening curls brought a grin to his face and he reached out to comb his
fingers through the damp auburn hair. “I
love how wet you get for me.”
“I… I never… it’s…” the red stain on her face deepened and
she shook her head as words escaped her.
Nathan told her. “And nothing to
be embarrassed about. This…” he
stroked his fingers between her folds then held up the glistening digits for
Kristin to see. “This just means
that you’re aroused… that what I’m doing pleases you… and that,”
Nathan smiled at her, “pleases
“You really…” Kristin
began, her face once again flaming. “You
really like it when I… when I’m… wet?”
She finished in a whisper.
“Oh yes,” Nathan told her
as he shifted so that he was stretched out on the bed, his face positioned
between her creamy thighs. “I
love it when you’re wet for me…”
“Nathan!” Kristin cried out as he lowered his mouth to her center.
Nathan grinned inwardly as he
pulled her clit between his lips and teased the hard nub with his tongue while
stroking her inner thighs with his hands. “I
love the way you taste,” he murmured against her as he moved lower and plunged
his tongue into her core.
“Oh…” Kristin bucked
beneath him as he brought his fingers in to continue stroking her swollen flesh.
Nathan felt a small tremor
pass through Kristin’s body as he once again took her clitoris into his mouth
and pressed two long fingers inside her tight sheath. He stroked them in and out of her slowly and then without
warning, quickened the pace.
“Ooh… oh yes!”
Kristin moaned and thrust herself against his face and fingers.
“Oh, Nathan… please…”
Nathan murmured against her.
“Please… make me…
oooh… make me come…”
“As you wish…” Nathan
replied and pressed his mouth back to her.
“Ooh… oh… god…
Nathan…” Kristin groaned at the feel of his tongue lapping and swirling
around her clit. “I… I… oh
please…” she reached down and threaded her fingers in his hair.
“Kris…” Nathan hummed
against her. “Come… come for
“NATHAN!” The shimmering heat curling in the pit of her stomach
exploded over her as she cried out his name.
“Oh… Nathan…” Kristin repeated his name over and over as the
waves of pleasure continued to wash over her.
Nathan kept his mouth and
fingers moving against her, prolonging her orgasm until she finally lay
quiescent beneath him. With one
last lingering kiss to her quivering sex, Nathan slowly crawled up over Kristin
and covered her body with his.
Kristin moaned and grasped
his face in her hands then pulled his mouth to hers in a voracious kiss.
She drove her tongue past his lips to tangle madly with his as she pulled
her knees higher to cradle him more fully against her.
Nathan groaned at the feel of
her moisture soaking through the material of his britches to wet his hard shaft
and thrust his hips against her as he deepened their oral connection.
His fingers itched to thread themselves in her long auburn hair, but the
thick tresses were bound in a braid.
“Nathan…” Kristin broke
off the kiss. “Help me…” she
tugged on the waistband of his pants.
Nathan rolled off her, made
quick work of his britches and rolled back on top of her.
“Better?” He asked in a
husky voice as he rubbed his erection against her damp curls.
“Mmm… oh yes…”
Kristin replied as she trailed her hands down his back to cup the bare cheeks of
his rear and pull him closer. “Much
Nathan smiled then dipped his
head to catch a dusky nipple between his teeth.
He nipped it gently then pulled more of her full breast into his mouth
and swirled his tongue around the pointed tip.
As he continued to feast at her breasts, he could feel Kristin smoothing
her hands over the firm muscles of his back.
“Oh… god…” Nathan
groaned around the succulent flesh in his mouth when he felt her cool fingers
wrap around his hard length and tentatively began to stroke him.
“Kristin…” he released her nipple and buried his face in between
called his name softly as she continued to move her hand up and down his member.
With a kiss to the side of
each breast, Nathan lifted his head and gazed down at her.
“I want you…” she told
him in a quiet voice.
Nathan smiled and pushed
himself up onto his arms. “Make
us one, Kris…” he told her, thrusting gently into her hand.
Kristin nodded and brought
the head of his shaft to her waiting entrance then moaned as Nathan pressed his
length into her. She held his eyes
as she took him inch-by-inch into her willing body, marveling yet again at the
incredible sensation of feeling him fill and stretch her.
“Oh… yes…” they
moaned in chorus as their bodies joined together.
Nathan dropped back down to
his elbows and caught Kristin’s mouth in a fervent kiss as he slowly began to
thrust against her. He smiled
against her lips as she immediately wrapped her legs around him and arched
Kristin begged softly when he pulled his mouth from hers, pushed up on his arms
once again and began to increase the pace of his strokes.
Nathan continued to move
inside her, Kristin’s body answering; arching slowly into his movements.
They rocked together in perfect harmony, both striving to find the
ultimate release within each other.
“Nath… an…” Kristin
gasped as the sensations began to grow in intensity and tightened her legs
around him. “Ooh… ple…
Nathan groaned as he felt his
orgasm nearing and began to move faster, driving himself deeper inside her with
every stroke. “Kris…” he
panted when she started to clench her muscles around him.
“Yes… just like… oh god…”
Kristin moaned. “I…”
Nathan slipped down onto his
elbows and slipped a hand between them to find and stroke her clit.
“Nathan!” Kristin cried out softly.
“Oh yes… yes…” her back arched beneath him, pressing her chest
against his as her legs tightened around his waist.
“Yes… Na… than…”
“That’s it, Kris… let
go…” Nathan pressed his fingers harder against the swollen bundle of nerves
even as he quickened his thrusts into her.
“Come for me, Kris… come…”
Nathan smiled as Kristin
screamed his name and her body writhed under his.
He thrust a few more times and with a coarse yell of her name, he joined
her in her euphoria; the fierce spiking rapture pulsing upward in hot waves.
Nathan collapsed on top of
her and buried his face in her neck. Kristin
wrapped her arms around him as the ripples from their orgasms continued to wash
“I love you,” Nathan
breathed against her damp skin, feeling her heart pounding wildly against his
chest and knowing his was beating just as fiercely.
“I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Kristin
replied in a husky voice as she slowly eased her legs down from around his waist
and entangled them with his long limbs.
Several minutes later, Nathan
rolled them onto their sides, their bodies still joined and their legs still
entwined. He pushed the damp
strands of hair off her forehead and smiled at the satisfied look on her face.
“It just gets better…
just like you promised…” Kristin told him shyly as she traced her fingers
through the hair on his chest.
Nathan grinned at the memory
of his promise to her on the island. “You
make it easy to keep that promise,” he told her.
“So very easy…”
Kristin moaned softly as he
leaned closer and caught her lips in a gentle kiss.
“Sadly though… as much as
I would love to stay here in bed with you for the rest of the day… I do have
some things I need to take care of.”
“But… I remember my other
promise as well,” Nathan told her as he slipped out of her, pausing to hold
her close at her soft whimper.
“What promise is that?”
Kristin asked a moment later and sat up as Nathan climbed out of the bed.
“That we are going to spend
a week together in bed,” Nathan leered at her as he held up her chemise.
Kristin laughed and blushed
as she took her slip and slid it over her head.
“And once I have attended
to all the business that I need to… I will fulfill that promise,” Nathan
told her as he pulled on his britches.
“I look forward to it,”
Kristin replied and slipped off the bed to pick up her dress. She shook out the garment then with Nathan’s help, pulled
the dress on over her head.
“So do I,” Nathan said in
a low voice as he slowly buttoned her up. “So
They quickly finished
dressing then headed downstairs. Once
they were in the large hall, Nathan turned to Kristin.
“The house is yours to
explore as you will. Every room is
open to you, nothing is off limits,” Nathan told her.
“Thank you,” Kristin
replied then with a quick glance around, she rose up on her toes and pressed a
quick kiss to his lips. “Go… do
what you need to do. I will
Nathan nodded and reached up
to caress her cheek. “Have fun,
“You too,” Kristin winked
at him then laughed softly at his low groan.
“Go…” she pushed gently on his chest.
“The sooner you go…”
“The sooner I get to come
back and ravage you,” Nathan replied over his shoulder as he walked away.
Kristin couldn’t help but
laugh again at Nathan’s parting words. Once
he was gone from view, she turned around slowly.
“Where to start…” she asked herself out loud. “Might as well be at the beginning,” she said and headed
for the front of the house.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
The smell of food drifting
through the hallway caused Kristin’s stomach to growl and she realized that
she hadn’t eaten anything since early that morning on the ship. She uncurled her legs from beneath her and stood, placing the
book she was reading on the seat of the chair and followed the pleasant scent
out of the room and into the corridor.
A short search through the
back of the house led her to the dining room and from there she found a door
leading to a small hallway. She
followed the wonderful aroma down the corridor and emerged in a large airy
A row of long windows flooded
the entire room with sunlight, including a small potted herb garden in one
corner. A large metal rack holding
gleaming pots and pans hung over a square counter in the middle of the floor.
Bess stood over a massive cast iron stove stirring a large pot.
Soft footsteps on the stone
floor alerted Bess to Kristin’s presence and she looked up to see who was
invading her kitchen. She glared at
Kristin for a moment before asking, “What can I do for you, ma’am?”
Kristin was caught aback by
the cold tone of the woman’s voice. She
smiled tentatively. “I… I
smelled something wonderful and I followed my nose.
I didn’t mean to intrude. I’m
sorry… I’ll go.”
“When was the last time you
had a decent meal?” Bess barked
out. “You look like you could use
a little more meat on those bones.”
“I… I’ve been occupied
the last week. There hasn’t been
a great deal of time for meals.”
“Sit.” The tone of the old woman left no room for argument as she
gestured at a stool tucked beneath one end of the island.
Kristin did as she was bid without argument.
“You look like a tea
drinker to me. Most of you English
are. Don’t understand it
myself… Coffee… now there’s a drink,” Bess’ quick movements belied her
advanced years as she filled a cup with steaming hot tea and placed it in front
“I have missed tea these
last few months,” Kristin admitted as she took a sip from the cup and sighed.
Bess didn’t comment but
seconds later a plate piled high with fresh baked bread and thick sliced ham
appeared in front of her.
I want that plate clean before you get up.”
Kristin’s eyes grew wide at
the thought of consuming everything on her plate but the smell of the warm ham
was so appealing… she began to eat.
“Thank you. This smells wonderful… and having something besides
shipboard stew will be such a treat.” Kristin
smiled tentatively at Bess but the old woman just snorted and turned back to her
pot. A tiny tear formed in the
corner of Kristin’s eye as she gave up her attempt to engage in conversation
and turned her attention to the food.
“Who are you?”
Kristin felt a tug at the skirt of her dress as the whispered question
floated up. She looked down to see
a small dark-skinned girl of about six smiling up at her.
The child’s black hair was caught up in braids and her dark eyes gazed
over Kristin curiously.
“My name is Kristin.
I am a… friend of Captain Nathan’s.
Who are you?” She slipped from the stool and knelt so that she was on the
little girl’s level.
“My name is Sarah.
I came to see my grandma Bess. You
are pretty.” The child’s hand reached up to stroke Kristin’s auburn
“You are very pretty too,
Sarah. I like your braids.”
Kristin smiled at the little girl.
“You leave the lady alone
so she can finish eating, Sarah.” Bess appeared, towering over both of them.
Kristin stood and returned to
the stool as Bess led the reluctant little girl away. She knew why Bess didn’t want the little girl around her
and Kristin didn’t blame her. What
grandmother would want her grandchild exposed to her employer’s lehman?
The half-filled plate of food before her suddenly lost all of its appeal
and though she tried to nibble a bit more, her stomach rumbled in rebellion. Finally
Kristin pushed the plate away.
At that same instant a
child’s cry filled the air. Kristin
jumped up and hurried around the island to see Sarah sitting on the floor, a
kitchen knife by her side. Blood
streamed from her hand.
Kristin reached Sarah’s
side seconds before Bess did, bending down and grabbing the hand to place
pressure on the gushing cut.
“Sarah, you know better
than to touch anything in here!” Bess
scolded the child who just cried all the more.
“I didn’t mean to touch
it. The handle was out and I
knocked it off by accident. I was
trying to put it back.”
“You’ll get your dress
all bloody, ma’am. I’ll look
“I don’t care about the
dress. The cut needs pressure or it
will begin to bleed again. I
suspect that it is deep enough that I am going to need to stitch it.
We’ll need some alcohol and boiling water plus a needle and thread.
Do you have a clean rag that I can try to wipe some of the blood away
Bess pulled the towel hanging
from her waist out and gave it to Kristin, amazed at the authoritative tone the
lady had taken. She watched for a
few moments as Kristin gently cleaned the cut then, assured that Sarah was in
good hands, she moved away to gather the supplies Kristin wanted.
Sarah’s sobs faded to
sniffles as Kristin wiped blood away from her hand, being very careful to keep
the pressure on the cut while murmuring soothing words.
Following Kristin’s directions, Bess boiled the threaded needle and sat
out all of the supplies on the counter by the windows.
When everything was prepared Kristin slipped her arms beneath the child
and lifted her easily to the tabletop.
“Can you hold her please,
Bess? This is going to hurt a bit
and I don’t want her to move suddenly. Now
Sarah, I’m going to have to put the needle in your finger to sew up the cut so
that it won’t bleed anymore. You
are going to have to be a big girl and sit very still for me. Can you do that?”
The girl nodded, her eyes
wide as saucers.
“What I want you to do it
look out the window at all of those pretty flowers.
Do you like flowers? I
thought you might. I come from an
island far away from here where it isn’t nearly so nice and warm so I don’t
know the names of these blossoms. While
I work do you think that you could tell them to me?”
Bess stood silent, her arms
wrapped around her granddaughter’s shoulders as Sarah began to speak.
“That bright orange flower is a hibiscus…”
Sarah flinched when Kristin
coated the cut with alcohol then pushed the needle through for the first stitch
but after a few moments she bravely continued her task.
Kristin commented on each flower that was named and before Sarah realized
it the stitching was over.
Kristin doused the stitches
with alcohol then tied the clean white bandage that Bess had provided around it.
“You must be very careful with your finger for the next few days,
Sarah. Come back and let me check
it for infection tomorrow. If it
heals well we will take the stitches out in a week or so,” she told the child
as she washed her hands with the water Bess provided.
“I’ll see to the child
now, ma’am. You can go back to
the main house.” Kristin
recognized the dismissal in Bess’ voice and nodded sadly, knowing that now
that the danger had passed the old woman didn’t want her granddaughter
associating with a woman of Kristin’s ilk.
Kristin walked back toward the corridor entrance dejectedly.
“Ma’am… I thank you.”
A faint flicker of hope surged in Kristin as she heard Bess’ words of
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin drifted back to the
cozy study but the book she had been reading no longer held any appeal for her.
She had completely explored the downstairs portion of the house but
Nathan had given her the run of the place so she decided to have a look at the
The upper level of the house
held four large bedrooms, each laid out similar to the one she had been in
earlier with Nathan. Light colors,
large windows and open doors were present in all of them but they lacked any
personal touch at all. With nothing
much to see in these rooms Kristin quickly made her way back to the largest room
on the floor.
She ran her hand over the
smooth coverlet, a smile touching her lips as she thought of the intimacy that
she and Nathan had shared there a few hours earlier.
Bess had obviously found time to fix the bed linens, which brought a
tinge of color to Kristin’s cheeks.
The heavy mahogany
four-poster bed dominated the room. A
matching chest and wardrobe lined one wall while a delicately carved vanity sat
on the other. Double doors beside
the vanity beckoned Kristin and she pulled them open, amazed to find a large
closet full of beautiful gowns.
Kristin swallowed hard as she
fingered the expensive cloth of one of the dresses, not quite succeeding in
fighting back her jealousy of a woman long gone.
She pushed the doors closed resolutely.
‘Perhaps he just hasn’t
had time to dispose of Carol’s clothing,’ Kristin argued with herself as she
moved toward the dresser, hoping to find something of Nathan’s. She pulled open one drawer after the other and quickly closed
them again, not wanting to see the other woman’s intimate garments.
The last drawer caught and
held her attention and the woman in Kristin couldn’t resist running her
fingers over the almost transparent silk of the top garment.
She pulled it out of the drawer and let it fall open.
The daring nightdress was sleeveless and completely sheer except for a
smattering of delicate embroidery around the scooped neckline.
Further searching revealed the most scandalous undergarments Kristin had
The thought of wearing things
like this for Nathan embarrassed Kristin even as they enflamed her passions.
‘But he has seen these before,’ her subconscious reminded her,
‘on his wife.’
She carefully refolded the
garments and returned them to the drawer then slid it closed. Feeling the need for some air, she moved in the direction of
the side veranda. As she passed the
vanity something shiny glinted in the sunlight, catching her eye.
An expensive silver hair set
lay on a silver tray atop the carved vanity.
Kristin’s fingers fell to the handle of the brush, noting that this set
was similar to the one that had caught her eye in the marketplace.
She lifted the brush, tempted to use it to brush her wind tangled locks
but the thought that Nathan might be angry if she used his wife’s things crept
in so she lay it back down.
Sadness overwhelmed her.
‘He told me that he came to care for Carol.
Perhaps he loved her very deeply. Can
he ever let go?’
She wandered out onto the
veranda, her mind in turmoil.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Kris… are you here?”
Kristin quickly flicked the
tears away from her eyes and plastered a smile on her face before she called out
softly to Nathan, alerting him to her presence on the balcony. She turned her head into his chest as he wrapped his arms
around her torso and pulled her back against him.
“Did you miss me?”
“What did you do while I
“I looked over your home.
It really is lovely, Nathan. I
wandered through the rooms and looked at a few books in the library then I came
back up here.”
“What about the kitchen?”
“Oh… you talked to Bess.
Her granddaughter cut her finger and I happened to be near by so I helped
get the bleeding stopped.”
“Bess was impressed.”
“She told you this?”
“She didn’t have to.
I have known her since I was in diapers.
I’ve learned to tell.”
“I was glad to help.
Sarah is a sweet child.”
“And I thank you for
helping. What did you do then?”
“I came back upstairs.”
“And did you wander any up
“I did… Nathan… are you
sure you want… I could sleep somewhere else if you wanted me to. I would never want to intrude on your memories of Carol.”
“Carol… What are you
talking about, Kris? You sleep with
me. Carol was an important part of
my life, just as Oliver was a part of yours.
I don’t think either of us would change our time with them but they are
gone. Now belongs to us.”
“But this room, Nathan.
You obviously have very deep sentiments attached… you’ve practically
turned it in to a shrine to your late wife.”
Nathan turned Kristin in his
arms to stare at her. “A
shrine… what the hell are you talking about?”
“Her things… her dresses
are still hanging in the closet… her brush and comb… all her toiletries
still on the vanity. She’s still
in this room.”
“She was never in this
“Carol was never in this
room. She was never on this island.
The house was started before she died but she never wanted to visit.
Once she was gone there was nothing left in Boston for me so I came here
“But the clothes…?”
“Are yours… I bought them
for you, Kristin… as a gift. The
dressmaker in Port San Luis took your measurements and made them up for you.”
“But… how did you
Nathan cupped her cheek as he
stared into her whisky eyes. “I
already knew deep inside that I was in love with you.
Not having said the words didn’t mean that I didn’t feel them.
I left most of your clothes behind and I wanted to replace them.”
“And the other things?”
“You admired the hair
things. You liked the cologne.
I sent Lucas back to get them for you.
Everything was delivered to the dressmaker.
When my supply ship was in port Madame Beaudoin had the things delivered
to the docks and they were brought here. Bess
set them out.”
“But she didn’t know you
were bringing me, did she?”
“No… but I know Bess.
She would understand that the clothing was coming for a reason and she
would take care of it, just as she did.”
Nathan detected the dark cloud that crossed Kristin’s face so quickly
that for a moment he thought he must have imagined it.
“You don’t like the
gifts?” His face fell.
“No… I love them.
You are so thoughtful… it’s just so much.
I was content with the dresses I have.
You didn’t need to have so many more made.
And then the combs and the perfumes… not to mention the other
things…” A light pink blush crept into Kristin’s cheeks.
“You mean the under things… the lingerie.
You will wear them for me, won’t you?”
Pink turned into red.
“Wear those? I couldn’t… Nathan, they are sheer! Those are the kinds of things a mis… No decent woman would
wear garments like that.”
“How do you know?
How many decent women’s underwear have you seen?
All of your friends… Duchess Whosit and Baroness Whatsit could be
wearing something even naughtier than this and no one would know but their
husbands… or their lovers.”
Kristin’s head fell.
“I’ll… think about it.”
“Mmm… how would you like
a bath? It’s been much too long
since we were on the island… able to submerse ourselves completely.
Would you like that?”
“That sounds heavenly.”
Nathan winked at her saucily.
“I thought you’d say that. I had Bess start the water heating before
I left. Come on.”
“Where… I don’t
remember seeing a tub.” Kristin
asked as Nathan took her hand and pulled her into the room.
“Did you look here?”
His hand gestured at a narrow door.
“No… I thought that
perhaps that was more of Carol’s things… I didn’t want to intrude.”
“Then come look.
I designed this room myself.”
Nathan opened the tiny door a
crack and slid inside, dragging Kristin along behind him. Steam blocked her vision for a few seconds but when it
cleared she gasped as she stared around the enclosure.
The room wasn’t big; there
was barely room for both of them to stand on the level they were at.
A ramp rose up before them leading to a ledge three feet above the floor
level. The narrow walkway around
the top of the ledge was tiled in deep blue as was the tub sunk into the middle
of it. Lavender scented steam rose
off the surface of the reservoir, which was clearly big enough for two people.
“How…?” Kristin asked, her amazement evident in her voice.
“I have a cistern with an
oven built beneath it. We fill the
cistern, heat the water then fill the tub.
Another vat provides cool water as a balance.
When we are done I pull the stopper and the water drains out through
piping into an irrigation system for the garden.” He loved the way that Kristin’s eyes lit up as she stared
at the bath.
“Would my lady like to
enter?” Nathan bowed and held his
hand out to Kristin.
She chuckled as she dropped
him a curtsey. “Most certainly,
my good man.”
Nathan quickly stripped away
his shirt then sat down on the one small chair in the room to tug off his boots.
Kristin had her bodice half undone before he finished but he quickly
moved to her to finish the job. Once
her dress was free he hung it carefully from a hook on the back of the door.
“I’ll never understand
why ladies have to wear all of these trappings,” he mumbled as he struggled
with the knot of her petticoat. “I
like it better when you only wear the chemise… you are much more accessible to
“And to any other man who
might want to look… or touch.”
“If another man dared to
touch you I would kill him.” The
petticoat fell to the floor. Nathan
wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted Kristin a few inches off the floor
so that she could kick her shoes away then sat her down at the beginning of the
ramp so that their faces were even. Kristin
smiled as her fingers fell to the band of Nathan’s trouser and adroitly slid
A quick wiggle of Nathan’s
hips had the pants pooled on the floor and he kicked them away before leading
Kristin up the ramp.
“I’ll check the
temperature.” He dipped a toe in
carefully. “Just right.”
Kristin took a step back and
bent to grab the hem of her chemise.
She quickly skimmed the garment off her body and threw it over her
head, leaving both of them completely bare.
Nathan took a long slow look at his lover’s body, his finger reaching
out to trace a trickle of moisture running down her breast as the steam
coalesced on her body.
Without warning Nathan
scooped Kristin up then stepped down the two narrow stair treads into the tub.
He sank down into the fragrant water, shifting Kristin so that as his
back came to rest against the slanted end of the tub, she was resting against
him, her back to his chest.
“How is that?”
sighed. “This really does feel
Nathan cupped his hands in
the water and brought them up so that tiny rivulets drained out over the swell
of Kristin’s breasts bobbing above the water.
“We have had a rough few weeks. You
have to be exhausted… between the attack and the kidnapping… not to mention
going days without sleep while you were taking care of William…”
“And a certain insatiable
man…” Kristin wiggled her bottom against the hard muscle pressing into her
“That too… although I
didn’t hear any complaints.” Nathan
pulled his knees out of the water, one sliding between Kristin’s floating legs
as he did so. Her hands fell to
stroke his muscular thighs.
“No complaints at all.
I can’t… I don’t know how to thank you for making me feel this
way… showing me these wonderful feelings.”
“They can’t compare to
what you’ve given me, my love.” Nathan
buried his face in the auburn curls piled high atop her head for a moment.
Kristin gripped his thighs even harder in answer, no words needed.
They lay in this manner until the water began to cool, content just to
stroke each other, enjoying touching and being touched, occasionally murmuring
soft words of love.
Finally Nathan stirred.
“Why don’t you let me wash your hair before the water gets too
Soon soft moans filled the
tiled room as strong fingers carefully massaged scented soap through her
burnished tresses, their touch arousing even as they stripped away two weeks of
oil and dirt.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“You have the most
beautiful hair I’ve ever seen,” Nathan murmured as he stroked the brush
through Kristin’s damp tresses.
“It is a handful to deal
“Don’t ever cut it. I
would be heartbroken.”
“And give up treatment like
“I’ll brush it for you
every night.” Nathan’s fingers
curled through the fiery strands as he continued to carefully smooth the tangles
out of the Kristin’s hair.
A glance in the cheval mirror
across the room showed Kristin sitting naked in the middle of the room’s huge
bed, legs crossed. Nathan sat
behind her, his legs in a loose circle around hers.
A soft white sheet was pooled around their hips.
But what captivated Nathan was the look of contentment clearly evident on
Kristin’s face. Her eyes were
closed and a peaceful smile adorned her lips as she arched her head back into
Nathan continued brushing
until Kristin’s hair was almost dry and lay in a silky sheet down her back to
her waist. So intent was he that he
barely noticed the faint knock at the door.
“Come,” he called
absently as he worked on the last small tangle.
The sounds didn’t register with Kristin until the door began to swing
Bess didn’t bat an eyelash
at the sight that greeted her but a spark of approval showed in her eyes at the
embarrassed flush tingeing the woman’s skin as she frantically grabbed for the
sheet and dragged it over her nude torso. Her
head dropped in an effort to avoid Bess’ gaze.
‘She certainly isn’t
brazen.’ Bess moved slowly toward the small table by one set of doors and sat
down the laden tray she carried.
“You missed dinner and I
thought you might have worked up an appetite.”
Nathan let out a hoot of laughter at Bess’ words but quickly quieted at
the withering glare she gave him. “I’ve
fed the boys and sent them home. Young
Will is settled in Lucas’ bedroom downstairs resting comfortably.”
“Thank you, Bess.
I’ll bring the tray back to the kitchen tomorrow.”
I’m too old to be climbing these stairs up and down all day long.
You have a good sleep, Countess.”
Bess nodded, as Kristin
looked up stunned, then closed the door firmly behind her.
“How did she know…?”
“Gator.” They both
answered Kristin’s question at the same time.
“I wish he hadn’t said
anything.” Nathan felt the
tenseness in Kristin’s body.
“What’s wrong, my love?
I’m sure that Gator didn’t mean any harm.”
Nathan’s strong fingers began to massage her shoulders.
“Why did you call for her
to enter, Nathan? I’m not wearing
any clothes and neither are you. You
know what she thinks that we’ve been doing.”
“Well she wouldn’t be
wrong… only it was in the tub this last time.”
He began to chuckle but as Kristin pulled away from him he realized that
she really was upset. “I’m
sorry, Kristin. It was thoughtless
of me. Truth is that I am so used
to Bess having the run of the house that I really didn’t think about it.
I’ll tell her not to disturb us again when we are alone in here.”
“No… I don’t need her
censure.” Nathan couldn’t quite
make out the end of Kristin’s words as they tapered off into a mumble.
“I’ll get enough of that from other people.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin stared through the
gauzy mosquito netting draped around the bed at the billowing curtains, a soft
night breeze causing them to dance elegantly about the room. She sighed. ‘I’m
exhausted. Why can’t I sleep?’
‘Because you haven’t
fully accepted your situation. Why
are you even here?’ Her subconscious answered back.
‘I love him. I want to be with him. If
this is the only way then so be it.’ Her
hand whacked the fluffy pillow beneath her head.
Nathan’s arms immediately
tightened around her waist as he pressed her back even more closely into his
“Nothing. Go back to sleep,” she whispered soothingly.
Nathan’s head snuggled up
to her hair as he yawned widely. “Can’t
“No… but that’s no
reason for you not to.”
“You know what it is,
don’t you? You miss the rocking
of the boat. I normally have the
same problem. It takes me several
days to get used to the foundation not moving beneath me.”
“You were sleeping like a baby.”
She felt Nathan’s smile
against the crown of her head. “That’s
because someone exhausted me. I
obviously didn’t return the favor since you are still wide awake.”
“Perhaps I do miss the
sound of the waves…”
“If you listen very closely
you can still hear them. You can
even see the beach from the side balcony.”
“You have a lovely home,
Nathan… a lovely island. Tell me
how you came to this place.”
Nathan wiggled a bit so that
they were perfectly spooned together. “It’s
a long story. Are you sure you want
to hear it now?”
“Unless you are too
“Never.” Nathan ran an arm lightly down Kristin’s bare arm, pausing
at the end to lace his fingers into hers. “I
guess to tell the story properly I should start at the beginning… my birth.”
“That far back?”
He heard the amusement in Kristin’s voice.
“Mmm… my father, Richard,
was from a very prim and proper puritan family dating back over a hundred years
in Boston. On a business trip to
the southern colonies he made friends with a wild hellion named Lyman Hall from
Georgia. Lyman invited Richard to
visit his family home, a lovely plantation called Idlewild. He also introduced Richard to his beautiful sister, Amelia.
For whatever reasons the
staid and stuffy man fell in love with the gorgeous southern bell, married her
and took her north, back to Boston. She
was like a fish out of water but Amelia Hall wasn’t a quitter so she dug her
heels in and made a life for herself in the cold city.
And by cold I am not necessarily referring to the climate.”
“I understand,” Kristin
whispered, her heart going out to a young bride all alone.
“A year after the marriage
a son was born.”
“And by any chance was that
son named Nathan?”
“Actually no… that son
was named Richard after my father and my older brother was just as pompous and
stubborn as the old man ever thought of being.”
“So the two of you didn’t
“You are very perceptive,
my love. I appeared four years
later, much to the dismay of my older brother who wanted all of the attention
“From the time I was small
my mother brought us back to her family home every year in the spring for a long
visit. My grandfather passed away
when I was ten and my Uncle Ly inherited the place.
I adored Uncle Ly. We spent
days and weeks tramping through the woods, fishing and hunting.
I learned a lot from him. That
is also where I met Gator. His
family worked a farm down the road from Idlewild.
A lot of the local landowners looked down on them because they worked in
the fields themselves but I didn’t understand any of that.
Manny tagged along with Uncle Ly and me on our camping trips and such.
We had a grand time.”
“It sounds like it.
How did Mister Crocker receive his nickname?”
“That’s another story
entirely but it did happen on one of our camping trips.
Anyway… as I aged I began spending more and more time in the south.
I loved the freedom of the plantation and I hated my father's restrictive
rules. Finally, when I was
eighteen, I had all I could take. I
ran away to Uncle Ly and he arranged for me to work to pay for my passage on a
cargo ship bound for the Orient. I
had been sailing all of my life so I was thrilled.”
“Of course… you belong on
“Gator went along as well.
That was a very educational trip.”
Nathan’s hand slipped beneath the sheet to caress her round bottom,
leaving little doubt as to what he had been educated in.
“We were gone for two
years. When we returned I
found out that Uncle Lyman had died in my absence.
He had never married and in his will he left the plantation to me.
My brother had also contracted a fever and passed away, leaving me the
only son. My father decided that
with so much responsibility I needed a steadying hand to keep me at home so I
also found myself engaged to a lovely girl from a respectable Boston family.
During the voyage I had
resolved to try and get along better with my father so I married Carol and we
went south on our bridal trip to visit my inheritance.
I quickly discovered that I wasn’t meant to be a plantation owner.”
“Why ever not?”
“Slavery. I find the institution abhorrent. I remember trekking through the woods with Gator one day and
coming out on our neighbor’s property. Their
overseer was whipping a slave. It
was inhuman. Even though Uncle
Lyman made sure that the slaves on Idelwild were well treated they were still
slaves. I didn’t want to be a
slave owner… but what could I do?”
“You could have freed
them,” Kristin whispered, glad in her heart to know that Nathan did not
believe in so vile an institution. She
was surprised when he shook his head.
“To do what? No one in the area would have used free labor from an
ex-slave. They would have starved.
I traveled back and forth between Georgia and Boston for several years
trying to decide what to do. Robert
was born and I gradually assumed more responsibility for the family business as
my father grew older so my time in the south became less and less.
One day the answer came to
me. The plantation was profitable
so I began to turn those profits back into the land and its workers, making sure
that my people were taught marketable trades.
I called them together and told them that they would be freed in one year
and they were welcome to take advantage of the training programs.
I also let them know that if any of them wished to stay on as paid
workers they would be welcome.”
“I bet that made you very
popular with your neighbors.”
“They loathed me.
It became too dangerous to bring Carol and Robert with me, not that Carol
liked to come anyway. She found the climate too hot and humid.
At the end of the year I paid every man a wage equal to a year’s work
and gave him a choice. Most of them decided to go and I couldn’t blame them.
Why would they want to stay where they had once had no freedom?
Those who left found that they couldn’t survive where they were so they
mostly migrated north into the free states.
But several of them stayed on.”
She took care of me when I was a baby, as I am sure she will share with
you. I wanted to build a house here
and I knew that Bess would be the perfect person to run the house for me.
The plantation existed for
several more years but it became increasingly obvious that it needed more
workers and I couldn’t hire them. More
and more of the land fell fallow. I
didn’t have the time to oversee the land properly.
So I decided to sell.”
“Oh, Nathan… that must
“It did. I spent the happiest days of my childhood there… but I
could not in good conscience continue to be a part of that culture.
One day while I was sailing I found this island.
I liked it here so I bought it. I
sold the plantation and brought anyone who wanted to come out here.”
“So your people aren’t
slaves? I’m so relieved. I wanted to ask about the young man on the boat but…”
“Jonathan? His parents are here. He
didn’t like farming but he took to sailing immediately.
Everyone here is free. We
have community fields for growing cane and each man has his own small plot to do
with as he sees fit. The men
provide the labor in the fields and I provide the land and the seeds.
We split the profits. Fifty
percent for me and fifty percent divided equally between the workers.
If they grow a crop on their own plot they keep everything.”
“You are an amazing man, my
rogue. I’m glad… I can’t
abide slavery either.”
“I know. I knew that about you immediately. The way that your men spoke of you when I questioned them…
the respect in their voices. I knew
then that you were a fair and good person… even if you were a little
Kristin twisted in his arms
until she could see his face. “Mouthy?
“Yes you. Very mouthy as I
recall… but what… a love… ly mouth… you… have…” he punctuated his
words with loving kisses that quickly inspired a different kind of communication
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin entered the kitchen
door hesitantly, unsure of how she was going to face the old woman in charge.
Bess slowly straightened from the hot oven where she was checking on her
baking bread to stare at the interloper.
“I don’t mean to
intrude… that is to say, I brought back the dinner tray from last evening.”
“You can sit it there,
Countess. I will take care of it
once my baking is done.”
Kristin inhaled deeply.
“That smells wonderful. If
you would… please don’t call me countess.
Couldn’t you just call me Kristin?”
Bess’ eyes narrowed as she
observed the woman closely. So far
she had found little fault with the woman.
As Crocker and Will had assured her, Kristin was polite, respectful and
unpretentious. Bess decided to try
a little experiment.
“That wouldn’t be
right… ma’am. I wanted to tell
you I was sorry for walking in on you and the captain last night.”
Kristin blushed bright red,
much to Bess’ approval. “You
have nothing to apologize for. You
knocked and Nathan bade you enter. I’m
sorry that you… that I…” she broke off as wave after wave of embarrassment
overwhelmed her. “How is Sarah
Bess accepted the change of
subject gracefully since she’d found out what she wanted to know.
“She’s trying to use that finger to get out of doing her work.”
“It was a deep cut.
Perhaps… where is Sarah?”
Bess smiled a toothy smile.
“She’s down at the beach playing.
I smeared her cut with some ointment and wrapped it clean then told her
I’d tan her hide if she got it wet or dirty.”
“The ointment… your salve
is nothing short of miraculous. Nathan
used it on my wrists when the ropes I was restrained with cut deep into my skin.
Your unguent stopped the pain and helped me heal very quickly without
A thundercloud crossed the
old woman’s face. “Your
ropes… That boy tied you up? His
mama and me raised him better than that. Miss
Amelia be spinnin’ in her grave… I’m gonna have a talk with Mister Nathan,
yes sir… he ain’t too old for me to take a cane pole to his backside!”
Kristin was surprised at the change in Bess’ accent.
The normally soft southern drawl growing deeper and more colloquial as
her anger intensified.
“Oh no… that was before
we… when he first kidnapped me off my ship… before we got to know…” At
the look in Bess’ eyes Kristin decided very quickly that she had better not
say anything else or Nathan might be in mortal danger.
“Your ointment is a very good medicine.”
“You know about medicines?
Manny told me that you took care of Nathan and the young’un when they
“I’ve spent some time
learning about the medicinal properties of herbs.
I’ve also sewed up a few of my worker’s wounds when a doctor wasn’t
available. I wish I’d had some of
your ointment then.”
Bess eyed Kristin
thoughtfully. “I need to mix up a
new batch. You got nothing to do
while Nathan is off checking on his ship. You
want to help me ‘til your man gets back?”
Although Bess’ words made
Kristin color she nodded eagerly, happy to have something to do to fill her free
time. “I would be glad to.”
Bess pointed toward a
chopping block and a pile of greenery on the corner counter.
“All that rosemary needs to be stripped and chopped.”
Kristin rolled up the sleeves
of her pretty new dress as she moved to the counter and immediately began to
strip the stems.
‘She’s not afraid to work
either.’ Bess added another
positive point to her mental tally.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan paused in the doorway
of the kitchen to stare at Kristin as she worked diligently at the herb bench.
A large white apron was wrapped around her waist and curly tendrils of
red had escaped her smooth chignon to frame her face.
His groin tightened at the sight of her.
“Unh uh… none of that,
young man. You need to git on out
of my kitchen.” Nathan turned to
see Bess staring at him, gesturing with the large cleaver she held in her hand.
“I just thought that
Kristin might like to see some of the island.” Nathan eyed the knife warily as
he took a step back toward the door, the sound of Kristin’s gentle laughter
filling the air.
Bess stared hard at Nathan.
“How you coming with that rosemary?”
She called out.
I’m just chopping the last bit now.”
“Are you sure you want to
go exploring with this rapscallion?” Bess
made note of the brilliant smile that appeared on Kristin’s face.
“I would love to… unless
you need me here to help you?”
“Go on. That needs to steep a day anyways. You can come back tomorrow and help me some more.”
Kristin untied the apron
around her waist and folded it carefully before laying it over a chair.
“Just let me wash my hands and I’ll be right with you,” she told
Nathan before she ducked out the back door to the pump.
“You do remember that you
are a grown man, don’t you?” Bess
“Of course, Bess.
Why?” Nathan’s eyes had
followed Kristin but at Bess’ question he turned back to her, relieved to see
that the cleaver now lay on the table.
“Cause you’s acting like
a randy teenager.”
If Kristin wondered why
Nathan was howling with laughter as she returned she didn’t say.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“I do know how to ride you
know,” Kristin spoke against Nathan’s ear.
“I know,” Nathan replied.
“But this is infinitely better than two separate horses don’t you
Kristin tightened her arms
around his torso and slipped her hand into his open shirt to caress the bare
chest beneath. “Yes… much…”
she agreed and laid her head on Nathan’s shoulder as he guided the stallion
they were riding along the beach.
“It’s so beautiful here,
Nathan,” Kristin said, taking in the lush scenery surrounding them as the
horse continued to trot over the sand. “I
can see why you love this island so.”
Nathan reached up to cover
her hands with one of his. “I
knew you would.”
They fell into a comfortable
silence as Nathan steered the horse away from the beach and onto a verdant
meadow. He felt Kristin squeeze his
chest in appreciation of the natural beauty and smiled.
Several minutes later, after
passing through a line of trees, Nathan brought the stallion to a stop.
He dropped a hand down to Kristin’s knee and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“This is what I really wanted to show you.”
“Oh… oh, Nathan…
it’s…” Kristin shook her head. “Beautiful
doesn’t seem to do it justice…”
“This is my favourite place
on the island,” Nathan told her as he urged the horse to move a little deeper
into the grotto. “I come here
often… when I need to be alone… to think…” he said quietly.
“It’s… my special place.”
“I can see why… thank you
for showing it to me,” Kristin said as she let her gaze drift around the small
secluded alcove nestled into the side of the island’s mountain range.
Her eyes followed a small waterfall spilling down from a ledge a few feet
above the ground into a crystal clear pond.
Nathan stopped the horse,
carefully dismounted then reached up to help Kristin down. He kept his arms around her and drew her close as he lowered
his lips to hers in a loving kiss. They
parted several minutes later and Nathan smiled down at her.
“I’ve been wanting to do that since I saw you in the kitchen.”
Kristin returned his smile
and stretched up to press her lips to his.
“However did you hold out so long?”
“Heaven only knows,”
Nathan told her as he caught her mouth again.
The kiss slowly gave way to a series of breathy touches and Nathan rested
his forehead against hers. “I
could kiss you forever…”
“I certainly wouldn’t
argue,” Kristin replied softly. “I
love the way you kiss me…”
Nathan smiled and lifted his
head from hers. He reached behind
her and pulled a blanket from the saddlebag.
“Here,” he handed it to Kristin,
“why don’t you spread this out by the water?”
Kristin smiled and nodded
then left the circle of his arms.
Nathan watched her walk away
then tearing his eyes away from the sway of her hips, he turned back to remove a
few more items from the saddlebag, staked the horse’s reins and turned to join
The sight that greeted him
caused his heart to skip a beat. Kristin
had removed her boots and stockings and was lying on her back on the blanket;
her arms bent beneath her head. As
he approached, Nathan noticed that her eyes were closed, but by the sound of her
breathing he knew that she wasn’t asleep.
He dropped down onto his knees beside Kristin and leaned over her,
careful not to touch her in any way.
A soft smile formed on
Kristin’s face but she didn’t open her eyes as she waited to ‘see’ what
Nathan would do.
Nathan gazed down at her,
memorizing every feature of her face… from the dark crescents her eyelashes
made against the slightly tan skin of her cheeks and the faint smattering of
freckles over her cheeks and nose to the full red lips just begging to be
Kristin gasped softly at the
whisper like touch of his mouth against hers and waited for his lips to return
and deepen the kiss. When that
didn’t happen, Kristin slowly opened her eyes to find Nathan leaning over her,
his eyes dark with desire… ‘Softened by love,’ she thought to herself and
felt her own heart swell with the same feeling.
“Nathan…” she whispered
his name as she reached a hand up to cup his cheek.
Nathan smiled and lowered his
lips to hers.
The kiss was soft and gentle
as Nathan moved his lips against hers. His
tongue darted out to trace the lines of her supple lips then slipped into her
mouth when she opened to him. Nathan
explored the honeyed sweetness of her mouth; his tongue tangling with hers as
the kiss quickly grew into a passionate embrace.
Kristin slipped her arms up
around his neck and pulled Nathan’s body down to hers, moaning at the feel of
his chest against hers. Her hands
slid over his shoulders and down his back to hold him closer.
A loud rustling in the trees
saw Nathan pulling out of the kiss and pushing up on his arms to look around the
“Must’ve been a bird,”
he said as he brushed a soft kiss against her lips then rolled over onto his
back; smiling as Kristin immediately turned onto her side and snuggled against
“Tell me a story?”
Kristin asked in a quiet voice as her hand slipped into his open shirt to
rub his chest.
“What kind of story?”
“A true one…” she
answered. “Tell me how Gator got
A large smile formed on
Nathan’s face and he chuckled softly at the memory. “How Gator became Gator…
okay. Well, let’s see…
we were about, oh… thirteen and fourteen years old at the time.
Uncle Ly took us camping down in southern Georgia for a few days over the
summer,” Nathan began. “On our
second night… we were all asleep when out of nowhere, this big ol’ alligator
comes strolling though our camp. I
mean he was big… well at the time to us kids he was big… I think we measured
him at about six… six and a half feet.”
“Oh my! What happened?”
“The ‘gator walked right
past my uncle and was heading for me actually, when all of a sudden, Manny
jumped to his feet and then onto the alligator’s back.”
“Oh yes he did,” Nathan
replied with a laugh. “That
animal started thrashing about, trying to shake Manny loose… but that boy held
on tight. Wrapped his arms around
the ‘gator’s neck and squeezed until the animal stopped moving.”
“You mean he… he killed
“Only thing he could
“With his bare hands?”
“Oh my,” Kristin gasped.
“Then what happened?”
“Well, once we were sure
the alligator was dead, we tied it up then went back to sleep… hey!”
Nathan laughed as Kristin slapped his chest.
Kristin rolled her eyes and
shook her head against his chest. “You’re
right… I did.”
“The ‘gator was skinned,
a nice thick hide with which Manny had some boots and a couple of belts made.
The rest of it was cut up and fried…”
“You don’t mean you…”
Kristin lifted her head from his shoulder and looked down at him. “You ate it?”
“Oh yes,” Nathan nodded. “Alligator
is actually quite tasty. And Bess
grills up a mean ‘gator.”
Kristin didn’t look
convinced and Nathan couldn’t help but laugh.
“Wait until you try it
before you say you don’t like it,” he told her as she laid her head back
down on his chest. “And you have
to try it… or you’ll insult Bess.”
Kristin laughed softly in
defeat. “All right… I’ll hold
judgment until I’ve tried it.”
They fell into a comfortable
silence, the sound of the birds in the trees and the waterfall splashing into
the pond lulling the two lovers into a light doze.
Nathan opened his eyes at the
soft utterance of his name and looked up at the blue, cloudless sky.
“Are you… now that
you’ve found William… are you finished being a pirate?”
Kristin asked him.
Nathan hesitated, knowing the
answer he wanted to give her, but realizing he couldn’t. Not yet. “I
honestly don’t know yet, Kris,” he told her.
“There… I may have one more thing to take care of before I can let
the Blue Rogue disappear into obscurity.”
Kristin’s hand fisted in
the material of his shirt and she gently nodded her head but didn’t say a
word. Fear and a strange sense of
dread washed over her and she shuddered.
Nathan pulled her closer.
Kristin shook her head.
“Nothing. Just a chill,
“Yes,” she replied and
snuggled closer. “What do you
expect when so much of me is exposed to the elements?”
Nathan laughed and rolled
them over. He covered her body with
his and gazed down at her. “And
the fact that you are fully clothed…”
“Has no bearing,” Kristin
replied with a saucy grin as she shifted beneath him and drew her right leg up
to wrap around his. “I could be
in a winter’s dress with a fur-lined cloak over it, in the middle of the
desert and still not be as warm as when I am in your arms.”
“I love you,” he told her in a voice husky with emotion.
“I love you too, Nathan,”
Kristin responded as she slid her hands up into his hair and pulled his face
down to hers, their lips meeting in a loving kiss.
“Will you make love to me?”
“You realize that anyone
could walk up on us?”
Again Kristin nodded as her
hands moved to stroke his chest.
“I really don’t like the
idea of anyone else seeing you naked.”
“I know,” she whispered. “And
I’ve no desire for anyone else to see me unclothed.”
A large smile spread across
Nathan’s face and a gleam of desire filled his azure eyes as he brushed his
lips over hers. “I have…
another idea that I think will be just as good,” he told her in a throaty
voice as he began to inch his way down her body.
“What are you… ooh…”
Kristin’s eyes widened in anticipation as Nathan moved between her legs.
At his touch, she bent her knees and opened herself to him then watched
as he disappeared under her skirt. She
held her breath even as she felt his breath washing against her damp curls and
then cried out when Nathan’s mouth finally made contact with her swollen
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Two heads popped up over the
tall grass then turned to look at each other with knowing grins.
“Guess we’re not the only
two who’ve snuck out for a little peace and quiet.”
Katherine laughed as she and
Ben settled back down on the blanket. “That’s
not all we’ve done,” she said as she stroked her hand over his bare chest.
“And I suspect that’s not all that Kristin and the captain are doing
Ben laughed and pulled Katie
closer, enjoying the feel of her naked body against his. “I’m inclined to agree,” he said then shook his head.
“I was just… it’s been
a long time since the captain has been this happy,” Ben told her. “And I don’t ever remember seeing him… quite so
“He wasn’t like this
before? Not even with Robert’s
“Oh heaven’s no!”
Ben exclaimed. “Mistress Bridger was… a very proper Boston matron.
She… she was nice, and I know Bobbie loved her dearly, but the cap… I
don’t think he loved her as much as he loves Lady Westphalen right now.
Yes, he cared about her… even maybe grew to love her to some extent,
but she was not the great love of his life.”
“I suspect the same is true
with Kristin,” Katherine told him. “Over
the years… she’s told me bits and pieces about her life with her husband.
And while she did love him… I don’t think she was ‘in’ love with
him… not the way she is with Captain Bridger.”
“I’m glad they found each
other,” Ben said and rolled them over, pinning Katie beneath him. “And I will also be forever grateful to Jackson for mis-spotting
your ship… otherwise I would never have found you.”
Katherine smiled up him.
Ben wasn’t perfect by any means… was always working on some scheme or
other, but he was honest. And she knew, without any doubt, that he loved her.
“I love you, Katie,” Ben
“I love you too, Ben,”
she replied and reached up to cup his cheek.
“And you’re finished being a pirate now, right?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ben
replied as he lowered his mouth to hers. “I
am most certainly finished in the pirate business.”
“Good…” Katie murmured
against his mouth as the kiss deepened, cutting off any further conversation.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Ooh… oh my… Nathan…
that was incredible,” Kristin gasped breathlessly as her body continued to
tremble from the intense orgasm she’d just experienced.
Nathan pulled his head out
from beneath her skirt and crawled over her.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he told her as he lowered his body to
“I always enjoy it when
you…” Kristin’s face flushed, “do
Nathan grinned at the red
colouring Kristin’s face. “And
I enjoy doing it…” he told her as he captured her mouth in a deep kiss.
“What about you?”
Kristin asked as she pulled her lips from his and looked up questioningly
“What do you…?” Nathan
began to ask then stopped when she thrust her hips up against him. “Oh…” he shook his head.
“Don’t worry about me.”
“No buts…” Nathan
placed his finger over her lips. “It’s
getting late and we should get back to the house.
“Are you sure?”
Kristin smiled and reached a
hand up to caress his cheek. “Tonight…”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan called out as he walked into the kitchen carrying a tray loaded
with empty dishes. He placed it on the counter then leaned over to give Bess a
kiss on the cheek. “Thank you.”
Bess merely smiled and nodded
as she continued to knead the dough on the counter in front of her.
“Did the countess like the grotto?”
Nathan just smiled, not even
asking how Bess knew that’s where he had taken Kristin.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, she did.
She loved it.”
Bess nodded. “She’s got the sea in her, that one does.”
“Yes… she does,” Nathan
agreed reaching for one of the raw vegetables cut up on the counter, narrowly
avoiding Bess’ flying hand.
“Is the countess still
“Yes, she is,” he
“Is it any wonder when you
can’t keep your hands off her.” Bess
told him, glancing over at Nathan to see a sheepish smile on his face.
“Gator and Master William tell me you’re in love with lady…” Bess
said as she turned to face him, wiping her flour-covered hands on her apron.
“Is that true?”
A large, brilliant smile
filled Nathan’s face and he nodded. “Yes.
“You love her?”
“With all my heart.”
Bess nodded. “Make yourself useful and grab me the flour pot,” she
waved her hand in the direction of the far kitchen wall.
“Aye aye, Captain,”
Nathan saluted and moved across the kitchen.
“Don’t you be sassing me,
“Not me… never,” Nathan
quipped with a chuckle.
“I was determined not to
like your woman,” Bess told him.
“When Captain Keller
brought them dresses and that frilly underwear, I knew that you’d either
gotten yourself married or you’d actually found you some lightskirt…” Bess
was saying as Nathan carried the flour pot over to her.
“And then when she got here… and I saw that you’d not put a ring on
her finger,” she scooped some of the flour out onto her work surface and
gestured for him to put the pot down, “I
was expectin’ her to be brazen… to flaunt her bein’ your mistress… try
and take over things,” Bess punched the dough.
“But she wasn’t.”
Nathan crossed his arms and
leaned against the counter, wincing every time Bess’ fists impacted the
“In fact, she is the
opposite of what I was expectin’. She
was embarrassed when I walked into your room the other night and even apologized
to me for it. She’s not afraid of
hard work… of gettin’ her hands dirty…”
“She’s not concerned with
material things… got Sarah’s blood all over her new dress and didn’t bat
Nathan smiled; knowing that
had really impressed Bess and then winced again as her fist once again hit the
flour mixture. “And now?”
“I likes her.
She’s down to Earth and honest.”
Punch. Punch. Wince.
“She’s got spirit.
There’s a fire in her that is just waiting to be allowed out,” Bess
told him as she reached for the rolling pin lying on the counter and slapped it
down onto the dough. “I can tell by lookin’ at her that Mistress Kristin’s
not had an easy life. She’s not
been loved like a woman should be…” Bess turned her chocolate eyes onto
Nathan. “Until now.”
“I am not arguing with you at all, Bess.
Kristin is one hell of a woman.”
“Yes she is,” Bess
agreed, her eyes still locked with his. “So
when you gonna do right by her?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You heard me, child,”
Bess said. “You love her don’t
“An’ she loves you!
Any fool can see that…”
“Nathan… that is some
beautiful woman you got there!”
“See, what’d I tell
you?” Bess said as she turned to
face the owner of the gravely voice and saw a large, balding man entering her
kitchen. “You’d best wipe them
feet! I don’t want you draggin’
any mud in my clean kitchen.”
“I’m not draggin’
anything in your kitchen, old woman, quit your belly-aching.”
Nathan grinned as the man
walked over to Bess and kissed her cheek. “I
can smell your bread clear across the island.”
“Sure you can,” Bess
shook her head, even as a large smile split her face when the man kissed her
“Best damn cook on or off
the island,” he said and slapped her large bottom.
“That’s why I married her… for her cooking.”
Bess just harrumphed and went
back to her dough.
“So, Raleigh, you were
saying?” Nathan said and watched
in amusement as he moved over to the stove to lift the lids on the various pots.
Raleigh glanced back at
Nathan thoughtfully then nodded. “Oh
yes, your woman. Beautiful creature
that Kristin is… and so…” his eyes grew large as he spotted something in
one of the pots.
delightful,” Raleigh said as he grabbed a fork and use it to lift a large fish
from the pot. “Can you eat
Bess turned to see what he
was holding up. “Now there’s a
Raleigh smirked and dropped
the fish back into the pot.
“Wait a moment,” Nathan
said suddenly. “Raleigh, you’ve
not been here for the last two days. When
did you meet Kristin? Where did you
“I met her just before I
came in here… right out back,” Raleigh answered.
“She was with Sarah, checking her finger.
Sarah had to tell her Grandpa all about her accident and how the pretty
lady fixed her hurt.”
“I thought you said she was
sleeping,” Bess turned to Nathan.
“She was…” Nathan moved
over to the large window in the kitchen and looked out.
Sure enough, sitting beneath a large tree was Kristin with Sarah cuddled
happily in her lap. A large smile
formed on his face at the sight.
“I don’t think I’ve
ever seen that child sit still for more than five minutes…” Bess shook her
head in amazement as she peered out the window beside Nathan.
“And yet with Mistress Kristin… she’s as quiet and content as a
“Kristin has that calming
affect on a lot of people,” Nathan said.
“Especially me,” he finished in a whisper as he moved toward the
“So I repeat… when you
gonna do right by that girl?”
Nathan paused in the doorway
and looked back at her. “Soon,
Bess. I swear.”
“You best, else I’m gonna
tan your hide!” Bess called after
him as he left the kitchen.
Raleigh joined Bess at the
window and the two watched as Nathan made his way across the grass and joined
Kristin under the tree.
“He’s got it bad!”
Raleigh grinned as he slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulder and
“Yes he does,” Bess
agreed. “And it’s about
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Upon the ninth day of May,
seventeen eleven, one James Welch came down to my cabbin; and said he had Orders
from the Captain to set me ashore. I
ex… expos… expostulated with him, but in vain; neither…” Lucas stopped
reading and looked up at William to find him staring across the yard. He sighed and closed the book.
This was the third time in as
many days that he’d found William’s attention wandering away from his
reading lesson and judging from the dopey, wistful smile on his face, Lucas now
knew the reason.
“She’s quite pretty,
“Yes, she is.”
“Mister Kreig is a lucky
man,” Lucas said.
“What?” William shook his head and turned to look at the teen.
“Miss Hitchcock,” Lucas
replied. “She and Mister Kreig
are going to be married. That is
who you were looking at, weren’t you?”
Will smiled then shook his
head. “Actually, no.”
Lucas looked back over to the
women seated on the blanket then turned back to William. “Who else could it be?”
William shook his head and
Lucas turned back to the
women. His face suddenly screwed
up. “You don’t mean you…
“She’s a very beautiful
woman, Lucas,” William said.
“Yeah, I guess so… but
she’s… she’s…” Lucas stammered.
funny, caring,” William stated then smiled, knowing exactly what Lucas was
thinking. “But I am nearly a
decade older than you are. You
don’t see her like that do you?”
“Course I do,” Lucas
said. “I just…”
“Think and look at her as
more of a mother than a woman,” William finished.
“Well… yeah,” Lucas
“And yet you look at Miss
“Oh hey, that’s
They’re both women aren’t they?”
“Yes… well, Miss
Hitchcock is… and Lady Westphalen… uhm… is… I suppose…” Lucas began
to blush furiously. “It’s just
William laughed softly.
“It’s not funny!”
Lucas said angrily.
“Yes, it is,” Will
replied. “And one day, you’ll
“Tis the duty of every man
to defend the honour of his mother.”
Both boys turned at the sound
of Raleigh’s voice to see him standing on the porch with a smile on his face.
He slowly made his way over to the young men and handed each of them a
tankard. “Don’t say anything to
anyone,” Raleigh told Lucas with a wink as he settled his girth into an empty
Lucas took a drink, grimaced
slightly at the bitter taste of the ale then smiled at Raleigh.
“I won’t… thank you.”
“So tell me, Raleigh,”
William took a long swallow from his own tankard.
“What do you think of the countess and her friend, Miss Hitchcock?”
“Lovely women,” Raleigh
answered. “Of course, neither of
them can hold a candle to my Bess… but they are both delightful. Smart, beautiful… and both very much in love with their
men, which is what makes them even more irresistible to others.”
“And knowing the woman you
love is in love with you, seeing it in her eyes and hearing her say it as you
hold her close…” the three men turned their heads to see Nathan standing
beside them, his attention focused on Kristin,
“that is without a doubt, the most incredible feeling in the world.”
“Amen!” Raleigh lifted his tankard and nodded his head in agreement
then took a drink.
As if she sensed his eyes on
her, Kristin turned from her conversation with Katie and met Nathan’s gaze
The three men, without
realizing it, held their breaths as they watched the silent communication pass
between the two lovers.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,”
Nathan spoke softly and pushed off the railing; not once taking his eyes off
Kristin as he walked towards her.
They weren’t sure who said
it, but all three nodded in agreement and took a long, hard swallow of their
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Good morning, Gator,”
Crocker turned and smiled.
“How’s everything coming
“Fine. Repairs are a little slow going… but they’re getting
“Good. Glad to hear it,” Nathan said as he followed his first mate
up the gangplank of the seaQuest. “Tell
me, have you been able to get anything out of McLeary?”
“Dammit!” Nathan swore.
“Maybe he’ll be more…
willing… if you have a talk with him,” Crocker suggested.
“I really didn’t want to
have to see the man. I am afraid of
what I’d do to him…” Nathan’s voice trailed off as he clenched his
fists. “But I need that information.”
“Don’t worry, Nathan… I won’t let you kill him,” he said as he
followed Nathan below deck. “Not only is he really not worth it… but you’d hate
yourself afterwards and you know it.”
“You will let me get a few
good hits in though, right?”
Crocker laughed and nodded.
The two men grew silent as
they made their way to the holding cell where Kristin’s attacker lay sprawled
out on the wooden bench against the ship’s wall.
“Well well, if’n it
ain’t our fearless cap’n,” McLeary drawled as he slowly climbed to his
feet. “How’s the little woman?
Does she ask ‘bout me at all?”
Nathan’s eyes narrowed but
he refused to give in to McLeary’s taunts.
“I am only going to ask you this once,” Nathan stated as he walked
steadily towards the man. “And
then I am going to beat it out of you.” Nathan
stopped mere inches from McLeary. “Where
is Zellar’s hide-out?”
“I don’t know what
you’re talkin’ ‘bout,” McLeary said.
“And even if’n I knew… I wouldn’t tell ya.”
Crocker winced as he watched
McLeary go flying back into the hard wood of the ship’s outer hull with a loud
McLeary wiped the back of his
hand over his lip, not surprised to see it come away stained with a streak of
blood. He slowly got to his feet.
“I’m gonna make you pay for that,” he said.
“Then I’m gonna go find that woman and finish what I…”
Nathan’s fist connected
with McLeary’s face, once again knocking him back against the wall. He waited, fists clenched at his sides, legs braced and eyes
narrowed as the man before him straightened up and lunged at him again.
“Ouch, that’s gotta
hurt,” Crocker muttered under his breath as the force of Nathan’s next blow
flipped McLeary backwards so that he landed flat on his stomach.
“I’m gonna kill you,”
McLeary told Nathan as he climbed to his feet, breathing hard.
Nathan didn’t reply.
Crocker leaned back against
the cell door, arms crossed and watched as McLeary, rambling continually,
repeatedly charged Nathan, only to meet the captain’s fists and be sent flying
back into the wall. After about ten
minutes of this, Crocker could see that McLeary was getting tired.
McLeary shouted as he took another swing at Nathan that was easily
deflected. “Why won’t you
Nathan’s fist in his
stomach prevented McLeary from finishing his sentence.
“All right…” McLeary
cried out as he sank to the floor. “I
give up… I’ll tell you what you wanna know…”
Nathan glared down at the
bruised and bloodied man and waited.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Make sure he is turned
over to the port authorities this time,” Nathan said with a nod towards a
chained McLeary as he was being led up the gangplank of Nathan’s smaller
ships. “I never want to see him
“I hate to admit it,”
Nathan flexed his hands, “but it
actually felt good to hit the bastard.”
“I bet it did,” Crocker
nodded then gestured to Nathan’s hands. “What’re
you going to tell the countess about how you did that?”
“I dunno. I haven’t even told her that we recaptured McLeary,”
Nathan said then shrugged. “I’ll
figure something out.”
“More’s likely you’ll
find someway to distract her,” Crocker said with a laugh.
Nathan just shook his head.
“So,” Crocker said as he
folded the list of supplies Nathan had given him earlier.
“Anything else you want or need me to get?”
“As a matter of fact… yes.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Sound the word out,
Lucas… ex… plor… er. That’s
it!” Will encouraged the younger boy. Lucas
finished the sentence he was reading then folded the book closed.
“I enjoy reading on the
ship but studying is so hard when the sun is shining bright and the ocean is
beckoning.” Lucas sighed as he stared down the lawn in front of the porch to
the path that led to the beach.
The air was hot and humid and
Will agreed that a swim would be just the thing right now but he had promised
Nathan that he would oversee Lucas’ reading lesson this afternoon and he
didn’t intend to let his uncle down.
“There are only three more
pages of this chapter to go. Once
you’ve finished maybe we can go swimming.”
Lucas grumbled beneath his
breath as he opened the book and thumbed his way back to his place.
He was just about to start reading again when rustling from the lush
foliage grabbed both boys’ attention.
Will remarked absently as he grabbed his sturdy cane and heaved his body out of
the chair. Lucas quickly jumped up
to join him as they made their way slowly down the stairs.
Just as they reached the
bottom a couple emerged from the trees. The
gentleman was tall and portly, balding with a fringe of long graying hair tied
back neatly with a black satin ribbon. His
clothes were light but sturdy. He
was obviously familiar with the climate he was now in.
The man moved slowly as he helped a pretty brown-headed woman up the
incline. Her dress was also light
and her head was covered with a straw hat.
Lucas heard his companion breathe the words quietly before he yelled them out to
the approaching couple. Bill and
Janet’s heads snapped up as they heard the voice they had despaired of ever
hearing again. Both mother and
father began to run up the hill toward their son even as Will struggled with his
cane to walk to his parents.
Bill reached his son first
and grabbed him around the neck, hugging him tightly.
He only released the boy when Janet reached them and joined their
embrace. Tears flowed freely as all
three tried to talk at once. Lucas
heard the words ‘thought I’d never see you again’ emerge from all three of
them at almost the same time. He
chuckled as he turned and headed back to the house to alert Bess to the
Will finally broke away from
his parents with a barely suppressed groan.
“I’m sorry. I need to
sit down. My leg isn’t strong
enough yet to support me for long periods of time.”
His parents immediately moved
to each side of the boy and helped him move back towards the porch.
When they reached it Will sank down into a rocking chair with a relieved
“Tell us about your leg,
son. We didn’t know.” Bill
encouraged as he squatted in front of his boy; Janet moving to take the chair
that Lucas had been using at Will’s side.
“We had a battle with a
pirate ship… Zeller I heard someone say.
The Brits fought them off but I received a saber cut to my thigh during
the fight.” Will gestured to his
leg, the bandaged area very obvious beneath his snug trousers.
“By the time that Uncle
Nathan found me the cut was badly infected.
If he hadn’t come when he did… the limey doctor was going to amputate
“Thank God that Nathan
found you,” Will’s mother murmured as she brushed back her boy’s hair
“I was still afraid that I
was going to lose my leg but the countess promised me that I wouldn’t and she
worked day and night to save it.”
“The countess?” Both Bill
and Janet asked in unison.
“Who is this countess?”
Janet continued with a sheepish smile at her husband.
“She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen… and the kindest.
Uncle Nathan took her off a ship they raided because she was accidentally
hurt but I know she saved my leg. She
and Uncle Nathan slept by my bed for almost a week.
She burned out the infection in my leg and sewed it up then cleaned and
bandaged it every hour for two days.”
“Nathan captured her… but
she looked after you? Why would she
do that?” Bill asked.
“Because she is a wonderful
caring person. It is so easy to see
why Uncle Nathan fell in love with Kristin.”
The longing look in Will’s eye told his parents that their son had
developed his own infatuation with the woman he was speaking of.
“Nathan… in love… You
are telling your father and I that your sour grumpy uncle has actually fallen in
love? That’s a little hard to
believe.” Janet observed. “Nathan
hasn’t had a happy moment since Robert died.”
“You are going to be so
surprised when you see him. He’s
like the Uncle Nathan I remember as a child.
He laughs and grins… Kristin… Lady Westphalen has made him so happy.
I actually heard him singing this morning as he left the house to check
on the boat repair.”
“Admiral! Miss Janet! It’s
so good to see you!” Bess appeared at the front door of the house carrying a
tray holding a lemonade pitcher and glasses.
“Bess! Let me help you with that.”
Bill quickly stood and took the tray as Janet held a hand out to the old
“Come sit.” Bill pulled
up another chair.
“I believe I might sit just
a few minutes.” Bess sank into
the chair gratefully. “I spects’
you are glad to see your boy alive and well.”
“More than you could know,
Bess,” Janet said with tears in her eyes as she gripped Will’s hand.
“He’s just been telling us about his rescue and the damage to his
“He’s gonna walk again
without that cane. That’s
what’s most important. We sure
owe a lot to the countess for saving Master Will’s leg.”
“Will has been telling us
about this countess as well.” Janet handed out the glasses of cool lemonade.
“Our son seems to think that Nathan is quite taken with the lady.”
Bess nodded. “I was suspicious of the woman myself when she first showed
up with Nathan but she’s changed my mind.
She’s not afraid of hard work and she makes my boy happy… happiest
I’ve seen him… ever.”
The group broke off talking
as three sailors approached the house with large trunks slung across their back.
“Where would you like your baggage, Mrs. Noyce?” Ben asked politely.
Janet looked at Bess who
answered. “Put them in the front
room upstairs… the green room where the Admiral and his missus always stay.”
Ben nodded. “Follow me, boys.” The
other two sailors trudged diligently after their leader.
“We don’t mind one of the
smaller bedrooms, Bess. We don’t
want to put Nathan’s other guest out of her room.”
“You ain’t puttin’ her
out now, dear.” Pearly white
teeth lit Bess’ dark face as she fixed Janet with a knowing look.
“Where is this countess?”
Bill asked as he watched his wife, now deep in thought.
“Lady Westphalen and Uncle
Nathan went on a picnic in the meadow.” Will volunteered.
“My leg is feeling better now. Why
don’t we walk out and let them know you are here?
I could make it if we walked slow.”
“Perhaps we should…
Nathan might not appreciate us appearing out of nowhere… not with his
“Nathan has been expecting
you. He knew that as soon as you
got word that Master Will was here you’d be on your way.
He had me tidy up the front room several days ago, just waiting for your
arrival. You go on and meet him and
the lady while I gets back to the kitchen.
How would you like some fried chicken and dumplins for dinner tonight?”
Bess’ toothy grin appeared again at the look of rapture on Bill’s
face at her mention of the dinner menu.
“That sounds mighty fine,
Bess… mighty fine.”
Bill hooked an arm around
Will’s as they slowly moved off the porch and towards the path to the meadow.
Janet watched them until they were out of earshot then turned back to
“She’s sharing his
“She is,” Bess answered
the other woman straight. “Sharing
his bed, too… and she loves him like he has never been loved before… like he
deserves to be loved. I know what
you must be thinking. I thought it
when he first brought her here… but that woman is no whore.
She’s a lady through and through.
She’s the one he’s been needing all of his life.”
Janet nodded thoughtfully,
trusting Bess’ judgment but still curious to meet this woman who had
enthralled both her dear friend and her young son.
“Are you coming, Mother?”
Janet turned to see that her two men had reached the path entrance and
were waiting for her.
“I’m on my way,” she
called back and with a quick good-bye to Bess, hurried over the lawn to catch up
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“O sweeter than the
’Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company!
To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men, and babes, and loving friends
And youths and maidens gay!”
Eyes closed and head resting
in Kristin’s lap, Nathan listened as her lyrical voice read the words of one
of his favorite poems. The shadow
of the book she held fell over his face, as did the shade from her wide brimmed
hat. He’d been delighted when she
had pulled the book of Coleridge prose from the picnic basket to read.
“Farewell, farewell! but
this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.”
Nathan’s eyes popped open
as she neared the end of the poem. He
couldn’t resist quoting the next stanza in unison with her.
“He prayeth best, who
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
Kristin shifted the book
slightly to look down at Nathan, her face showing both surprise and happiness
that he was familiar with the work.
“The Mariner, whose eye is
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.
He went like one that hath
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn.”
“I could listen to you read
for hours. You have a beautiful
voice,” Nathan told her as he continued to gaze at her. “I am very glad that you brought the book.”
“You are prejudiced, good
sir.” Kristin laughed as she
closed the book to gaze at him. “I
am so pleased that you enjoy the works of Mr. Coleridge.
I thought that you would like ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ being
a sailing man yourself.”
“It is one of my favorite
poems,” Nathan admitted. “But
when I look at you… another poet comes to mind…”
“She walks in beauty, like
Of cloudless climes and starry skies:
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:”
“You know Byron?” Kristin
grinned brightly as Nathan slowly sat up, his gaze never breaking with hers.
“Thus mellow'd to that
Which heaven to gaudy day denies
One shade the more, one ray
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every fiery tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face:”
Kristin looked at Nathan
suspiciously as he continued.
“Where thoughts serenely
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”
“That was lovely… but you
misquoted a line.”
“I did not!” Nathan stated emphatically.
“I am sorry but you did.
The line is ‘which waves in every raven tress’.”
“I did not misquote.
I merely improvised for the present situation.
Since I came to love you I always think the word fiery in that line.
Unless… you haven’t changed your hair color, have you?”
Nathan tugged impishly at the
ribbons tied beneath Kristin’s chin and stripped her hat away, revealing
auburn hair piled high atop her head. “Do
I see a bit of raven in your tresses, my lady?”
Kristin couldn’t help but
laugh as she reached for her hat. Nathan
pulled it out of her reach.
“Give me my hat back, you
imp! You know that the sun causes
me to freckle!” She shifted to
her knees and made another grab but Nathan quickly leapt to his feet.
“You must pay a forfeit for
your hat. What shall I charge?
Should I charge… a kiss?”
“If a kiss is what you
require I shall pay it gladly, my captain, if you will only return my
Nathan nodded and bent
towards her. Kristin pursed her
lips in anticipation of the kiss. Just
as Nathan was about to make contact Kristin’s hands moved up behind him,
grabbing the bonnet from him as she jumped away.
“Minx!” Nathan exclaimed he took off in hot pursuit of a now fleeing
They romped across the
meadow, Nathan gaining on Kristin then Kristin increasing the distance between
them. Several times he grabbed for
her, catching the back of her skirt or the tip of her fingers before she quickly
freed herself and dashed away again. Somewhere
in the playful romp Kristin lost her grip on the straw hat and it fell to the
grass unheeded as they continued their love play.
The warmth of the day
eventually caused a light sheen to spread over both of their bodies and their
breath grew winded. Nathan slowed
and stopped, bending over with his hands on his knees.
“Pax!” He called out.
Kristin stopped at his call,
secretly glad for a few moments to rest. She
came to rest just a few feet from Nathan, her hand lifting to smooth back the
escaping curls from her twist. The
movement thrust her breasts forward, the peaked nipples pressing boldly through
the thin silk. A single drop of
moisture broke loose from her collarbone and slowly descended, sliding languidly
down the swell of her breast before disappearing into the shadowy valley beneath
Nathan pounced without
warning, grabbing Kristin around her waist and hauling her to him.
His mouth locked over hers in a ferocious kiss as his hands wrapped
around her generous breasts, fingers kneading the tender flesh beneath her
bodice. Kristin responded
instantly, her hands slipping into his half-opened shirt to caress his hard
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
The Noyce family approached
the meadow slowly owing to Will’s inability to move quickly. As the reached the clearing a beautifully accented feminine
voice drifted through the air in a patterned tone.
They all immediately recognized the poem. As the couple came in to view Janet held a hand out, halting
the little party.
“What’s wrong?” Bill
asked, only to be immediately shushed by his wife.
“I want to watch them for a
few minutes… try to get my bearings about this woman.” Janet whispered.
“Dear…” Bill’s low
voice held a warning tone.
Janet started to reply but
was distracted by the sound of Nathan’s voice reciting a poem back to the lady
sitting with him. Even from the
distance they were standing at Janet could see a look in Nathan’s eyes that
she had never seen before.
Both Bill and Will chuckled
as the woman chastised Nathan for misquoting Byron, enjoying seeing the normally
in control captain on the receiving end of the lady’s rebuke.
A hoot of laughter filled the
meadow, startling the watching party, as Nathan plucked the woman’s hat away
and she tried to retrieve it.
Bill and Janet turned
together, their eyes meeting in surprise. “When
was the last time…?” Janet started.
“We heard Nathan laugh like
that?” Bill finished.
“He hasn’t laughed so… deeply… freely… since we were young…
on our voyage to the Orient. Oh my
God… I’d forgotten how much Nathan loved to laugh.”
A feminine shriek dragged
their attention back to the field and they watched in wonder as Nathan chased
Kristin around the field.
“Don’t do it… It’s a
trick,” Bill muttered when he heard Nathan call pax.
Moments later the couple were in each other’s arms, the simple chase
quickly turning into something a great deal more passionate and certainly more
With a nod from his wife,
Bill called out Nathan’s name and the little group moved forward as if they
had just appeared at the edge of the meadow.
Nathan lifted his head from
Kristin’s with a muttered curse about gangplanks but his annoyance quickly
gave way to pleasure when he saw who was hailing him.
“It’s Bill and Janet…
Will’s parents. Come on.
I can’t wait for them to meet you.”
Nathan moved forward, his arm around Kristin’s waist, pulling her
Kristin dug her heels in,
halting their movements. “What’s
wro…” Nathan was surprised to see Kristin staring at him, a horrified
expression on her face.
Nathan… You can’t introduce… “
Kristin realized that the threesome was closing in on them and with a sob
she turned and ran across the meadow.
“Kris… KRISTIN!” Nathan
yelled as his love disappeared into the trees, his face showing his confusion.
He took a step after her but quickly stopped, knowing that he had to
greet his guests.
“What’s wrong, Nathan?”
Janet asked as they reached their stunned friend.
“I don’t know,” he
muttered as he returned Janet’s embrace and grasped Bill’s hand. “I wanted to introduce you to her and she bolted.
I don’t know why.”
Janet’s eyes fell and she
bit her lower lip as she marveled at Nathan’s naiveté.
“I’ve been expecting you
to show up anytime now. Did Bess
get you settled at the house?” Nathan asked distractedly, his eyes continually
straying toward the patch of trees where Kristin had disappeared.
“She did indeed.
Lemonade on the porch and the promise of fried chicken for dinner.
But that is just icing on the cake compared to finding our boy sitting on
the front porch as we approached the house.”
Bill beamed as he clamped a hand down on Will’s shoulder.
Janet noticed that Will also
appeared to be disturbed by the lady’s disappearance, his gaze following
Nathan’s to the copse of trees. “I
wonder what is wrong with Lady Westphalen.
Why wouldn’t she want to meet my parents?”
“I don’t know, Will,”
Nathan answered. “Maybe I should
go after her…”
“Nathan… why don’t you
let me go after your lady? Perhaps
she is just nervous about meeting friends who’ve known you for so long… who
knew Carol as well. She may feel
that we might resent her taking Carol’s place.
Let me talk to her… reassure her.”
Nathan looked dubious but he
could see the determination in Janet’s face.
“I don’t know…”
“I do. Will is looking tired. Why
don’t you and Bill take him back to the house?
I’ll find… Kristin?” Nathan
nodded. “I’ll find Kristin and we will join you there.”
Janet didn’t give Nathan
any opportunity to answer before she turned and strode off across the meadow,
following the same path as the fleeing woman.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Bent branches and broken
twigs easily marked the course Kristin had taken although Janet had a fair idea
of where she had gone. Years of
visiting the island had made her comfortably familiar with all of the major
landmarks so she followed her instincts and the signs straight to the grotto.
Nathan’s woman knelt at the
side of the water, her face buried in her hands as her shoulders shook with deep
sobs. Janet’s heart went out to
her immediately. She moved to her
side and joined her on the grass, placing a comforting hand on the woman’s
Kristin looked up at the
unfamiliar touch and recoiled, falling onto her bottom as she tried to get away
from the woman Nathan had identified as Mrs. Noyce.
“Please… don’t run
away. Why don’t you want to meet
me?” Janet held her hands out in
Kristin swiped her tears
away. “It isn’t proper…
Nathan should have known better. You
are a married woman of some standing and I’m just…”
“Just a countess.
Your social standing is much greater than mine.”
“Not any more,” Kristin
muttered. “I’m a mistress… a
kept woman. I’m no better than a
Janet’s fury rose.
“You saved my son’s life. You’ve
made a very dear friend happier than I’ve ever seen him.
William has been singing your praises ever since we arrived.
But even more telling to me is the fact that Bess did so as well.”
“She did?” Kristin
sniffed. “I didn’t think she
liked me very much.”
Janet held out her hand in
greeting. “I’m Janet Noyce and
believe me when I say how very pleased I am to meet you, Lady Westphalen.”
After a moment’s hesitation
Kristin took the hand. “My name
is Kristin. I would be very pleased
if you would use it and I am very glad to meet you as well. Will talks of you and his father incessantly… Bess really
“The old dear hides it well but once you get to know her you will
realize that she thinks very highly of you.
I remember the first time I met her… I was terrified.
It took me years to figure her out but we get along very well now.
You will see. Just give it a
“I… I don’t know how
much time I have,” Kristin muttered.
“You’re planning to
leave?” Janet asked, confusion showing on her face.
“I will have to return to England sometime. My daughter is there. I… I don’t think that I am cut out for the courtesan life. I’ve tried… but… and yet I can’t imagine leaving him as long as he still wants me.”
Janet nodded knowingly.
“Are you in love with Nathan?”
“I love him more than my
own life.” Kristin admitted honestly.
“Nathan feels the same way
about you. The love that you have
for each other is obvious… why do you call yourself a courtesan?”
“That’s the nicest thing
that I can think of for what I am… a mistress… a whore.” Kristin whispered
the last word, her face full of shame. “Our
relationship is improper. I’m a
kept woman. He bought me a closet
full of clothes… undergarments that are so… I can’t imagine wearing them
but I will because he wants me to. We
share the same room… the same bed.”
“I can imagine Nathan
showering you with gifts. That is
the kind of man he is. As for the
lingerie… you should try it. You
will be amazed at what it will do for a man’s desire.
Bill loves it when I surprise him with one of the new French styles of
Kristin looked shocked.
“You have… I’m sorry. I
shouldn’t ask that.”
“Of course you should.
We are going to be great friends, Kristin.
I am sure of that. As to
sharing a bed with Nathan… Bill and I have shared the same bed since we
married. I don’t think that makes
me a loose woman. It just means that I enjoy sleeping next to my husband.”
“But Nathan and I seldom
sleep…” Kristin’s cheeks flushed a deep red.
“My husband never visited my rooms more than two or three times a month
but Nathan gets… amorous two or three times a day!”
“And how do you feel about
“I…” Kristin swallowed
hard. “I enjoy it… I want him
even when he’s not around… I think about him all the time… wanting him
to… I never felt that way about my husband.
I’ve never felt that way about anyone.”
“Then that is another reason that I am glad you and Nathan have found
each other. I am being completely
truthful when I tell you that Bill and I have never seen Nathan so happy as he
was those few moments with you in the meadow.”
“You were watching?”
Kristin’s cheeks turned red again.
“Only for a few minutes.
I’m just sorry that we had to interrupt you.
Making love out of doors can be so wonderful.
Bill and I do it often.”
This statement turned
Kristin’s entire face bright red.
“I take it, you've already
experienced love-making in the great outdoors,” Janet remarked with a knowing
smile at the blush on Kristin's face. “I
remember the first time Bill and I were together outdoors. Actually,” she continued with a confiding look on her face,
“it was the first time we were ever together.
Bill had received notice that his ship would be leaving for a trip to the
Orient and would probably be gone for a year or more.
We already knew that we were going to get married but I was only
seventeen and my parents wanted us to wait until he returned.”
“You… you weren’t
married?” Kristin whispered
“No. We anticipated our
marriage vows. If I was going to
spend the rest of my life with this man I wanted to make sure that we were
compatible… that I was going to be well satisfied… and I was.
We had to be careful of course. It
wouldn’t do for me to turn up pregnant with Bill so far away and the vows not
spoken… but it was an incredible experience.
When Bill returned the next year we got married… but not before we’d
enjoyed each other many times during the planning stage.”
“I don’t have to worry
about that, thank goodness.”
“I must admit that I was a
bit surprised at your age. No one
said anything and I thought that you would be quite young… especially the way
that my son was carrying on. Not
that you aren’t beautiful because you are…”
“I’m guess I am a bit old
for a typical mistress.” Kristin observed.
“You are a lovely woman and
I can see how Nathan fell head over heels in love with you. I adore Nathan so I can see how you fell in love with him.
I don’t think that Nathan sees you in the role of mistress.
I think he just sees you as the woman he loves.”
“No… Nathan doesn’t
understand. He wouldn’t have
attempted to introduce me to you if he had.
You are a lovely understanding woman, Janet, but I know that others
won’t be so nice. I… I can’t
allow my daughter to suffer because of my choices.
If word of my behavior ever got back to England… if it weren’t for
Cynthia I would stay with Nathan as long as he wanted me.
Even now I don’t know how I will ever be able to leave him… I feel
incomplete if he is away from me for just a few hours.
How will I cope when he doesn’t want me anymore?”
Janet wrapped her arms around
her new friend’s shoulders in a comforting hug.
“If I have learned anything from this horrible experience with William
it is to appreciate each and every day that you have. Enjoy your time with Nathan.
Don’t worry about it ending. I
have a feeling that you aren’t going to remain a mistress for long.”
Kristin nodded, not quite
sure how to take Janet’s words.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Janet sensed Kristin’s
nervousness grow as they approached the house so she kept up an endless stream
of chatter in an attempt to keep her distracted.
When they reached the French doors leading into the side parlor Kristin
hesitated but Janet grabbed her hand and dragged her forward.
The men looked up as the
ladies stepped into the room, Nathan’s questioning gaze seeing only Kristin
and the distress in her eyes. He
stepped toward her but Janet slipped between them, not allowing Kristin a chance
to flee again.
“Bill, come meet Kristin.
Kristin, this gorgeous fellow with the balding pate is my much adored
husband, William Noyce, Sr. otherwise known as Bill.
My darling, this is Kristin Westphalen, Countess of somewhere… but
don’t call her that. She
Bill smiled as he held out
his hand. When Kristin placed her
palm in his, Bill lifted the back of her hand to his lips gallantly.
“I am very pleased to meet the wonderful, beautiful angel of mercy my
son has been raving about. I
understand that we owe you a great debt.”
“Oh no… I was glad to
“Janet and I value our
son’s life very highly, Kristin. Without
you our son would have lost his leg at the very least but more probably his
life. Nathan admitted that no one
else on the boat had the medical expertise to treat Will’s wound.” Bill reached out and took his wife’s hand.
“You have our eternal gratitude.”
“Thank you, Admiral,”
Kristin answered modestly, her face tinged pink at the praise she’d just
“I really mean it…
Countess.” Bill stared Kristin
directly in the face as he popped an eyebrow up at her.
“Turnabout is fair play.”
“All right… Bill.”
“Good! Now that is settled, would you ladies like a drink?
Perhaps a dry sherry?”
Both women agreed and Janet
tugged Bill toward the side bar as Nathan stepped to Kristin’s side.
“Are you all right?
Why did you run away from me?” He
whispered as he slipped a hand around her waist.
Kristin’s discomfort at his touch was immediately evident to Nathan.
“I’m fine… I promise.
I’ll… try to explain… later.”
She stepped away from his embrace as Bill and Janet rejoined them.
“I’d like to propose a
toast,” Bill interjected as he handed Kristin a crystal glass filled with
amber liquid. “To happy
homecomings and to good friends, both old and new.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan was confused.
The evening had passed by pleasantly enough.
Bess had outdone herself preparing dinner and the chicken was cooked to
perfection, crispy golden brown batter encasing moist succulent meat.
The dumplings were as light as a feather and Bess had even broken in to
her treasured store of pecans to prepare a pie in honor of the Noyce family
Kristin seemed happy and gay,
chatting wittily with Bill and Janet, teasing both Will and Lucas about girls…
but something was wrong. Nathan
knew it deep inside. She was
pleasant enough to him but every time he tried to touch her she stiffened and
Will attempted to suppress a
yawn but it rang out through the room, reminding the assembled company that the
young man was still recovering from a grave wound.
“Time for bed for you,
young man.” Janet announced in
her best motherly tone.
“Mom! I’m not ten years
old any more.”
“Your mother is right,
William. Rest is the best medicine
for your leg,” Kristin prodded gently.
“Come on, son.”
Bill moved to his son’s side and offered his arm.
“I’ll help you to bed.”
Janet moved to Will’s other
side as Lucas opened the door. “I’ll
show you the way. Will is bunking
down in my cab… room.”
‘Finally!’ Nathan thought
as the room cleared and he and Kristin were left alone.
He moved to her side and to his surprise she turned toward him and
pressed her body against his. His
anger bubbled up as she reached to kiss him and he captured her lips hungrily,
pressing her body back against the wall and driving his knee between her legs.
“Nat… what are you…
stop!” The aggressiveness in
Nathan’s actions shocked Kristin.
Nathan’s hands immediately
fell away. “What the hell are you
playing at, Kristin? You haven’t
let me within five feet of you all evening and all of a sudden you can’t wait?
I don’t like a tease!”
“I’m not teasing you!
I just… you can’t go around touching me anytime you damned well feel
like it!” Tears of frustration
filled Kristin’s eyes.
Nathan’s anger rose.
“This is my home and I will do anything I damned well please including
touching you whenever I want to!” He
pressed his lips down to hers in a feral kiss, one hand slipping beneath her
neckline to pull at her breast.
Kristin’s lips parted
beneath his as her body responded to his touch.
At the touch of her tongue on his Nathan jerked back, suddenly aware of
what he was doing.
“No…” he whispered as
he backed away. “Not in anger…
never in anger.” The backs of his
knees made contact with the elegant settee and he fell into the chair, his eyes
locked with Kristin’s, pleading. “Why…
explain to me… what did I do to make you so angry you don’t want me to touch
“Oh no, Nathan.”
Kristin moved to kneel in front of him, her hand coming to rest lightly
on his knee. “I’m not angry.
I’m just… uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable with my
touch?” Nathan asked, clearly
“No… Nathan, can’t you
please try to understand? In
England couples don’t display affection so openly.
I can’t imagine what your friends must think.”
“You aren’t in England,
Kristin. You are here… on MY
island… and I enjoy touching you. Bill
touches Janet all the time. Don’t
tell me you haven’t noticed because I know that you have!”
Kristin’s tone told Nathan that she was beginning to get exasperated with him
but he couldn’t stop pushing.
“Why is it different?
They love each other and they aren’t afraid to show it.
It isn’t as if I was trying to strip your clothes off!
I just wanted to hold your hand… touch your waist.”
“Can’t you try to
understand how I feel? Bill and
Janet are marr…” Kristin’s voice tapered off as Janet stuck her head back
in the door.
“Did I interrupt?
Lucas said that you wanted to change Will’s bandage this evening.”
Kristin yanked her hand back
from Nathan’s knee as she stood and smoothed her skirt. “Yes… I’m glad that he remembered. I’ll get my bandages and go do that right now.”
She fled the room, obviously relieved to get away.
“What did you do to her?”
Janet asked as she closed the door securely behind her.
“Hell, I wish I knew!
This is the second time today she has run from me and I still have no
idea why. She’s upset because I
touched her! I touch her all the
time and she’s never been upset before. Bill
touches you all the time and you don’t get upset.
I’ll never understand women.”
Janet chuckled as she moved
to the settee and settled down beside Nathan.
“Perhaps not… but you could understand this if you would just try.”
“Then help me, Janet…
Janet thought a moment.
“Nathan, how do you see Kristin?”
Nathan was taken back for a
moment. “Kristin is beautiful…
she’s funny, kind, generous, witty, loving, intelligent, passionate…”
“Let me ask the question in
a different way. What is
Kristin’s role in your life?”
She’s the woman I love.”
Janet patted Nathan’s hand.
“That is so obvious… and I can’t tell you how very happy Bill and I
are that you’ve found someone… someone who loves you so much in return.”
“I’m not so sure of that
at the moment.” Nathan observed
“Yes you are.
Your lady’s feelings for you are more than obvious.
But Kristin is feeling uncomfortable with your situation.
Having Bill and I in the house… She hasn’t really been around any one
except your crew since your liaison began.
This is your first venture into polite society.”
“Kristin is a countess,
Janet. She is used to mixing and
mingling with total strangers. You’ve
already become a friend to her.”
“Yes… but Nathan, Kristin
isn’t a countess here. Her title
means nothing. How does Kristin
view herself right now… in a social setting?”
Nathan’s brow furrowed.
“She’s the woman I love. Janet,
I don’t understand where all this is leading.”
“That is how you view
Kristin and that isn’t what I asked you.
How do you think that others will view Kristin… the Smiths… the
Robertsons… if they were to show up tomorrow what would Kristin’s role
Nathan was really confused
now. “She’d be the woman I
love. That doesn’t change no
matter who is around.”
Janet rolled her eyes in
exasperation. “It doesn’t
change to you… but think about what other people’s perceptions will be.
To society as a whole Kristin is your mistress… your kept woman… your
leman, Nathan. She’s a countess,
for God’s sake, and she’s trying to fit herself into this perception that
she has of a fallen woman because that’s what she believes she is!”
Nathan exploded. “She is none of those things!”
“But, Nathan…” Janet
continued quietly. “She is… she
is all of those things. Those are
the names that people will give her… because she made the choice to stay with
you… to love you. They won’t
care how much you love each other. They
will only see that you are not living under their prescribed set of acceptable
Her calm words finally sank
in and Nathan fell back aghast as Janet continued.
“The reason that Kristin ran today is because it is definitely a social
faux pas to introduce your mistress to a respectable married woman. Kristin
is trying to prepare herself… harden her skin against the insults that she
knows will come.”
Nathan shook his head
vehemently. “They will NOT come!
I’ll run anyone through who dares to…”
“Then you will be running a
great many people through… and most of them will be women. Men will overlook your little affair, be amused by it.
Many of your male friends will probably try their hand at seducing your
‘whore’ away from you. But their wives… women are mean, vicious, spiteful
creatures. Women will be the ones
doing most of the insulting.”
A look as hard as steel
appeared in Nathan’s eyes as he spoke, his voice low but hard. “No one will ever offer an insult of any kind to my wife or
they will have to deal with me.”
Janet did a double take then
sat back, a look of pure satisfaction on her face.
“I thought so. When did
you decide to marry her?”
“Who knows… from the
moment I saw her, perhaps. Consciously,
I made the decision while we were on Monito Island.
We spent a few days there while I was recovering from the fever.
Crocker took the boat to port and we were alone… that’s when I
realized that I loved her… that I’d probably loved her from the very first
time that she had the audacity to back talk me when I boarded her ship.”
“But you’ve apparently
neglected to mention your intentions to Kristin?”
“I… what if she says no,
Janet? She’s an aristocrat… a
peer! Why would she ever consent to
marry a rogue pirate captain like me?”
“Pirate…? You haven’t told her?”
Nathan looked Janet square in
the eye. “No. Well… I’ve told her little bits here and there but what
good would it do? If she loves
me… if she wants to marry me… it’s for the person that I really am… the
“When do you intend to ask
her? And do not tell me that she
should know what you intend because I am guessing that you’ve given her
absolutely no clue.”
“Soon. As much as I’d love to hide away on the island forever…
there are things that I have to do… things that have to be taken care of.
I’ve already sent Crocker to find a minister and bring him back here.
I thought that once the minister was here I would ask her.
If she says yes then I won’t give her a chance to change her mind.”
“She will say yes, Nathan.
I have no doubt of that.”
“I hope you are right,
Janet. I can’t imagine my life
without Kristin in it.”
“You won’t have to.
Just try to be a bit more understanding of how she feels until you
propose. Kristin is in a place that
she has never been before. I
suspect that her entire upbringing consisted of being trained to do the right
thing… the proper thing. It took
a great deal of courage for her to ignore that.”
An impish grin crossed Janet’s mouth.
“You must satisfy the hell out of her.”
Nathan turned to Janet,
aghast. “Janet Noyce! I can’t believe…”
“Please… I’m a
sailor’s wife. Nothing shocks me. I’m also a woman with a husband who satisfies me very
nicely. I know what would make a
countess turn her back on society’s rules and it isn’t a handshake.”
Nathan’s shoulders shook as
he struggled to contain his laughter. “I
do my best,” he finally managed to say.
“Kristin has had more than
enough time to change that bandage so I suspect that she might have fled
upstairs rather than come back in here. Why
don’t you go find her and do your best again by way of an apology?”
Amused laughter spilled from
Janet’s lips as Nathan’s eyes lit up at her suggestion and he nearly tripped
over his own feet as he jumped up and ran from the room.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~