Rhiannan found a hiding place in the front of the ship near the huge iron anchor. It was a small room that seemed to be empty and abstractly wondered why, then shut the small hatch door behind her and thought nothing more on it. On a ship this size there was no spare space usually and so this room would most likely have a purpose eventually, but for now it was a place she could huddle in and lick her wounds like she had in the cave back on the beach when she was a child, or the window alcove in her rooms with Cook.
There was a sail folded on the floor of the room and so she sat on that. Being so close to the bow of the ship it was cold as the wind blew through the cracks in the wood. She pulled Michael’s black velvet coat about her tightly, hugging her knees and wondering how she’d reached this place in her life.
By her calculations she had been on board the ship almost three months; if you included the week on the island. That had surprised her, for she realised she’d had no monthly courses in that time. She was no longer feeling motion sickness as she had since being on board and now her breasts seemed to be tingling. She touched them and thought they must have grown, they felt full and heavy. The touch though reminded her of when she’d been in that damp place with that man.
Was it Michael? Something deep within her wanted so much for it to be so. A throbbing of longing swelled her lower belly just at the hint of the memory. Absentmindedly her hand was warming her breast and she closed her eyes to try and conjure up that man’s face again to try and recognise it as Michael’s. She couldn’t be completely sure but she thought it was. She had to ignore the memory of rankness that filled her nostrils, a man could wash that away and Michael now certainly smelt one hundred times better in a fresh salty, spicy kind of way. His hair was short then, badly closely cropped and probably filled with filth and vermin. His back was raw with the lacerations from the lash and the scar on his face had bled all over his cheek. The scar! It was healed now yet still angry red. It had to be him. She remembered touching it, he’d winced but not pulled away and she’d traced its length under his left eye, nearly from his nose to the edge of his cheek bone near his ear. She had kissed his eye above it and he had then kissed her lips in return. Then he touched her, he’d held her breasts, he had even kissed the small pink nipples. It had thrilled her then and the same thrills were tingling through her again.
‘Oh bother!’ she swore into the emptiness and squished her tingling breasts into her legs.
She held her breath hoping the first mate would walk on but he didn’t. He opened the hatch on the room and looked in.
‘Ah the new cabin boy.’ He declared smiling and swung his legs into the semi hatch sitting on the step above the three, ladder-like steps, leading down into the room and to her. ‘Good evening young Sam.’
‘Oh please.’ she sighed dismissing him by burying her face on her knees.
‘Life as a boy is not all that it’s made up to be, aye?’
‘I would appreciate some privacy.’
He chuckled at that ladylike request.
‘And the cook would appreciate some assistance.’ He suggested and suddenly that’s exactly what she needed to do. ‘No rest for the wicked so they say.’ he added offering his hand to help her out.
Standing before him she noticed he couldn’t help but look at her chest. ‘Are they that prominent?’ she dared ask him, pulling the coat across her and folding her arms across herself. She had the pleasure of seeing him splutter in embarrassed astonishment. He looked away to the darkened corner of the passage. She reached in and pulled out a length of canvas that was bundled in the corner. ‘Have you a knife?’ she asked him instead and he looked back at her to see the square yard of patching sail canvas she was holding up.
It took them a few minutes but finally she had a few lengths of canvas that she could use as a binding. She started undoing the ties on the shirt and stopped, looking up to see him innocently watching her.
‘Oh I beg your pardon.’ He spluttered embarrassed again and turned his back to face the hatch and down the passage.
She also turned her back and slipped the shirt off her shoulders then attempted to wrap the binding about herself unsuccessfully.
‘Oh bother!’ she hissed when it slipped down for the second time.
‘Could I be of any assistance?’ he coughed. ‘I could keep my eyes closed.’
‘And what assistance would that end up being?’ she scoffed back. But if you promise to only look at the canvas then yes you might assist.’
It was awkward and he seemed to be clumsy and all thumbs but finally together they bound her chest line. And strangely she felt so much better. He stood back and gave one last assistance in helping her pull the shirt back up her arms and back and wished he hadn’t as the sight of her creamy shoulders disappearing into the homespun linen burnt their image into his memory.
‘Thank you.’ She said to him somewhat bashfully, slightly irrational considering that she was more soundly adorned now than before.
‘Right, Cook awaits your assistance.’ He said changing the tone to all matter-of-fact and business.
‘Yes, thank you.’ She replied finding her confidence grow with moving away from the embarrassment of her chest needing securing.
Rhiannan laughed at Furness’ shock at her being in pants. But with the rush of preparing the meal he soon ignored her gender confusion and ordered her about as usual. She actually found working in trousers so much easier than her skirts, not even discarding the several layers of petticoats.
But when she helped Furness carry the meal into the captain’s parlour, she was unprepared to see Michael sitting with Maloney, Gavin and Lord George. She stumbled and nearly dropped the terrine of stew but Michael shot his hand out and steadied her. Lord George saw with eyes as sharp as a hawk.
‘Kent I do appreciate your choice of cabin boy.’ Lord George began. ‘When a woman cannot be seen for fathoms of brine, there’s nothing like a sweet young lad to substitute.’ Rhiannan froze in sheer terror as Lord George stroked her jaw line. ‘And this one definitely is sweet and young. Not even shaving I see.’ He grabbed her chin and drew her face to meet his ‘Just as I like them.’
‘He’s my lad there George.’ Gavin warned standing and George realised the impressive physique and wiry strength meant the first mate not only held the men’s respect with his fairness. George backed away with a flourish of courtesy.
‘I beg your pardon sir.’ Then taking a seat seemingly at the head of the table, and pouring himself a goblet of wine he spoke as if to the decanter. ‘Can I offer you a fee for his services for the night; it has been so long since I have reached …’ he flicked his eyes up at Gavin then Michael and finally to Rhiannan. ‘… sexual relief.’
She remained frozen staring at the table top but was certain fear widened her eyes and stole her breath.
Lord George smiled at her and raising his glass licked the lip suggestively before drinking from it, his eyes never leaving hers.
‘He’s my son Grey.’ Gavin clarified precisely his tone tight with control. ‘I would thank you to refrain from further lurid remarks directed at him.’
‘Your son?’ George Grey said with a half hearted laugh his voice almost breaking with disbelief emphasising the last word. ‘Certainly sir I withdraw any remark considered in bad taste.’ Again the wicked flick of his eyes to Rhiannan on the last word. ‘Ce l’ dommage! Such a pity, for he blushes as sweet as any girl. A sample of his lips would convince me I were back in my young wife’s chamber.’
‘A sample of his lips would be accompanied by a sample of my fist shortly followed by the smell of gunpowder overpowering your nostrils as a shot burries itself deep into your dense brain.’ Gavin warned the control on his temper showing itself to be fragile.
All eyes flicked to him as if he was now recognised to be the bigger threat. Rhiannan saw the fury radiating from his glare. She wondered why he would be so hot tempered. She looked at Michael and saw the same furious glare. A quick glance told her Maloney and Furness echoed the same anger as the first two. She wondered if they displayed more than just the pretended protection of a parent to a child. It made her realise she would never know, never having witnessed such emotion in the past. Not from her own parent, nor from the family or the staff. But then there was the time that Eliza Urquhart, mistress of the family she’d worked for, had turned suddenly inexplicitly vicious toward her when she learned of her connection to George Buran. Was that born of love for her son? Was that the passion of a parent for its child? She looked again at Gavin and Michael. Somehow she didn’t think the men portrayed the same, Maloney portrayed it better, Gavin and Michael seemed somehow dangerously angrier.
Lord George gave a shaky laugh. ‘Certainly sir if you were to put it that way.’
He rose his glass to Gavin as a salute to his victory then gulped the contents whole.
‘Just remember it well Grey, for I will not stand your nonsense aboard this ship!’ Gavin warned clearly and hissed out venomously ‘Especially not with the cabin boy.’
Taking that as the best indication of dismissal, Rhiannan pushed the terrine at Maloney and fled.
It was well dark before Michael found her in the sail room where Gavin had suggested she might be hiding.
‘Come back to your cabin. Let me lock that rapscallion Jake in here.’
‘No I’m safe enough here.’
‘But you’re freezing. Maloney is sailing us day and night to get to Rio as fast as possible and be rid of this leach. That will mean the wind will rip through here incessantly and you’ll freeze in the small hours when it’s coldest.’
‘That Lord doesn’t know where I am, he won’t find me here. But he will if I return to mine.’
‘Then go to Fairchild’s, George fears the first mate and either believes him to be your father or suspects him as your lover.’
Her eyes flared at him indignantly.
Suddenly Michael was angry.
‘What? You think us animals for seeking sexual satisfaction?’ he caught her shoulders. ‘The sea is our mistress, she is hard on us and she makes us lonely. She cannot ease our wanton desires. We are merely men, Rhiannan, we are not gods; our needs must be satisfied …’
‘Stop it.’ she whispered but she could have screamed it for the same impact. ‘I don’t want to hear, I don’t want to know. It is a sin it is a sin of the flesh. It is carnal, it is …’
‘Rhiannan it is natural.’ His tone was gentile, his demeanour softening. How could he ever stay angry at her for long? ‘How else do we conceive babies?’
‘The lord will bless us …’ she turned her face from him trying to ooze free from his hands.
‘Balderdash and hoodwinks!’ he spluttered where he would rather have cursed seriously long and loud. ‘They spoon feed you that nonsense in church to keep you from experiencing the joy of life. Rhiannan please …’ he shook her shoulders slightly ‘Look at me sweetheart, please.’ she dared look towards him, something in his tone pleading her, begging for her trust.
And then he was kissing her. His lips moulding hers, moving hers apart and then as she moaned slightly he felt her surrender a little to him and could not resist the urge to deepen it. His tongue slid between her lips and then her teeth as his hands pulled her against him. She pushed at him, struggling, not understanding his motives his aims, the engulfing response within her; and had he the power to resist he would have pulled back and no doubt received a stinging resounding slap for his daring, but he could not resist. He held her tighter moving his jaw to deepen the kiss further, his nose pushing against hers and it paid him. She surrendered completely. He felt the fight in her dissolve as her hands slid about him, her fingers scratching up into his hair, her own tongue dared to suckle on his drawing his own moan of pleasure.
They sunk to the floor and he bent one knee and put one hand down to catch them as they landed on the sail. She still clung to him and when he could have so easily taken her he froze and as the last vestige of control he dragged his mouth away.
‘Rhiannan …?’ he needed to be sure she was agreeable; that she wanted him as passionately as he demanded of her.
‘You’ve had me before, am I not worthy to have again?’ she asked her eyes looking up at him the passion making them glow green with desire.
‘Sweet Jesus thank god!’ he sighed and smiled dropping to his elbow so as to free his supporting hand and be able to caress her with both hands. ‘My sweet angel …’ he dropped his mouth to hers again but felt she had stiffened. He rose up to look at her. ‘What is it?’
‘So the cabin boy is only for the selected few.’
☼ To be continued …..
For my NaNoWriMo challenge
One Part of a three part novel.
A spin off from my Daintree Daughter’s Book
Beware: this is a realistic Adult book & not a pretty tale like my poetry
It tells of the fight to become free and happy, with the leading characters first facing the trials of the ugly side of life, and the shackles of their pasts dragging at them as they carve their own standard of living.
Who knew what really happens in the mystical Tropical Islands of South America? Who knows what went on the the dens of iniquity encouraged by the tropical heat and scantily clad people.
Back in the mid 1800s there was still a strong pull for Piracy if for nothing else than the immoral indulgences and the black market trade the world over.
I do wish to apologise if this fictitious re-enactment offends anyone – my intention was to put my leading characters through extraordinary experiences, not offend.
So all that aside I hope you can enjoy the story! ☼