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Danielle felt him draw near and looked up at him and flinched as if he were going to hit her. He saw her reaction and arched his eyebrow. He reached out and before she knew what he was doing had pulled the knit cap from her head, tossing it aside. Free from its confinement, her hair fell gently downward framing her face. His eyes widened in pleasure. Before him stood the willow slender figure of a woman. Scott stared down into her face. Her beauty astounded him, so much so that he could not look away. She reminded him of a gypsy temptress. Above her ivory skin, her hair was black as a moonless night, startling in its contrast to her fairness. It hung in tangles of disarray to her waist. He wanted to bury his lips in her tresses as he suddenly longed to bury himself deep within her body.
He whistled softly as he counted the last of his cargo, marking it carefully on his list of booty. With the job completed, he passed the last hogshead laying on its side, setting it upright.
Suddenly he stopped. He heard something. Retracing his steps, he looked around and heard it again. It sounded like a moan and it came for one of the barrels nearest him. He pulled his dagger from its sheath at his waist, and sticking it under the lid, applied leverage under its rim. He replaced the weapon and lifted the circular disc and cast it aside to stare at the rumpled contents huddled on the bottom, moaning in semi-consciousness.
"Well, I’ll be damned! What have we here? A stowaway?" he said surprised.
Danielle, the pain in her head throbbing with each beat of her heart, could hear the strange voice speaking to her from miles away. As her mind cleared she realized the man was speaking in English.
"Here lad, let’s take a look at you." Scott reached down and placed his hands under the armpits of the young woman in the cask, lifting her out to stand on wobbly bare feet.
Danielle, a thousand pins going through her limbs, crumbled toward the hard muscular body in front of her. Her head barely reached his shoulders. Before she made contact with his chest he blocked her fall, grabbing her shoulders, righting her once again.
Scott looked at the lad before him. He could be no more than ten and four years of age and his shoulder bones had felt so thin beneath his hands he presumed the lad to be half starved.
Danielle stepped back in shock and grasped the side of the barrel for support. She looked around her. Even in her dazed condition, she was aware that she was no longer on Captain Le Homme’s ship. The explosion… it must have been this English speaking pirate! Her memory returned full force.
Her anguished mind was full of questions of Captain Le Homme and his men. She closed her eyes tightly, her body slightly swaying, hoping to open them and find it was all a nightmare. What if the man before her found out she was a woman?
"Well, son, what have you to say for yourself? Do you know the penalty for being a stowaway?" He meant to frighten the lad into some sort of life. At the moment he looked scared to death. He was not to be disappointed. The lad’s eyes, way too pretty for a boy snapped open and stared daggers at him.
"I am no stowaway, pirate!" Danielle purposely dropped her voice an octave. As long as he thought her a ‘lad’ she may be able to live and escape. "I did not come willingly to this ship… I was carried!"
Scott looked at the fire shooting from the dark eyes and inwardly smiled. The waif reminded him of himself many years ago. He may hate the French but he was never one to hurt children or women.
"So you speak the King’s English well. You must have had some education. Well contemplate this! You have no idea what a bad day this is for you. You see, I despise all French. And… whether you came of your own free will or not, you are now on my ship!" He saw the shoulders slump in fright. "So what shall I do with you? Throw you overboard?" He looked down at her bare feet and raised his glance assessingly. "There’s not enough meat on your bones to feed the fish." Scott shook his head. A lad this young would be a hindrance aboard a ship of seasoned sailors. And his prettiness and slight frame would cause all kinds of heckling from the seamen…
"Are you trained at anything? Everyone has to pull his own weight on board this ship." the words came out in a gentler tone.
Danielle’s mind raced over all her talents, discarding each one as worthless in the predicament in which she found herself. Bravely she answered. "I can help cook and clean the cabins."
Scott threw back his head and laughed. "I have an excellent cook and he will not be too happy to have a child in his galley."
Mariah lives on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, off the coast of Washington State, with her hubby, Ed of over 40 years. She claims he is her knight in shining armor.
Since she first read the written word she was hooked. She has read literally thousands of books over her lifetime and when she is not reading she is writing. Always a lover of romance, her novels remain in that genre.
She’s been a member of Pacific Northwest Writers, Romance Writers of America and the writing group called Seannache.
Her first novel THE REIVER’S PASSION was published earlier this year from Wings ePress, Inc. If you enjoyed this novel, you are sure to love the sexy Scottish Laird in that one.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 296
Paper Weight (lb): 12.6
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