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Eight Nights At Sea

Eight Nights At Sea

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Eight Nights At Sea

Length:
268 pages
2 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781310191152
Format:
Book

Description

Zephyr Jamieson is a pirate, sailing the seas of a magical realm. He encounters a beauty named Rina, a woman with a body that sets him aflame and a secret that she cannot tell. Rina barters passage aboard Zephyr's ship for herself and her secretive twin brother with the only thing the pirate captain appears to be interested in. Can eight nights at sea lead to more? Or will her secret tear them apart?

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781310191152
Format:
Book

About the author

Britt DeLaney lives and writes near Philadelphia. In her spare time she watches too much Netflix, eats too many Pop-Tarts, and is currently writing her ass off.


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Eight Nights At Sea - Britt DeLaney

Fortuitous Circumstance

Rina had been watching him for hours.

She and her brother had avoided the docks for more than a week, knowing it was the first place they'd be looked for. They'd spent their time in a hidden mountain cave not far from the lake that bordered her father's land, waiting for the search parties to fan out and move inland.

With a couple of good disguises, they'd managed to rent a room at an inn near the docks, posing as stable assistants who were there for the monthly horse auction. The auction also provided just the right amount of bustle and chaos to confuse anyone who might still be on the lookout for a young woman and her brother.

She'd been making discreet inquiries for the past two days, trying to determine which ship's captain would be best for her purposes. Unfortunately, her choices were limited and it appeared that there wasn't one of them that couldn't be bought off for information, if the price was right. She was just going to have to find her way onto a ship and make it into another port where they weren't as likely to know her or her brother.

Rina knew the ship before her wasn't the smart choice. Pirate ships weren't the best transportation, in general. But she'd watched the man in black for a good long while yesterday, and she'd even slipped down to the dock last night after Aven had gone to sleep to watch the man again. It was very late and he'd been sitting alone on the deck of his ship, his back against the rail and his arms wrapped around one knee as he looked out at the sea and up at the stars. The moonglow had played across his features, shining on his midnight hair, and when the breeze picked up, he turned his face into the wind.

Rina had never seen a man so beautiful. Something about him pulled her closer, and she'd felt something inside her grow, like a song that needed to be sung. She'd finally moved back into the shadows, forcing her legs to return her to the inn, scolding herself the entire way. It wasn't like her to be turned by a pretty face.

Still, he had a ship.

But that ship wasn't the smart choice. Besides, there was no way to get aboard without being seen. From the looks of it, they were almost underway. She pulled the hood of her cloak further down to cover more of her face, and stepped out onto the dock to look for her brother.

As luck would have it, Aven was hurrying toward her, his satchel swinging as he walked. He swerved out of the way of a large crate being wheeled up to the ship and bumped squarely into the man in black. Rina didn't think, she just moved – before the man could render a cuff or a kick, Rina was between them, helping Aven to his feet and in the process, tripped over her own. Once again, the man in black got the brunt of it. With a sound of exasperation, he pushed her off him, steadying her by the shoulder.

Watch where you're going, lads. Did your mother not teach you common manners?

Her brother stood frozen, staring at the man in panic. Rina ducked her head and lowered her voice, making it as gruff as possible.

Your pardon, sir. Won't happen again.

She started to move off, but he hadn't let go of her shoulder yet. His hand moved around to chuck her under the chin.

See that it doesn't.

He turned his attention to his bos'n. Look alive, Mr. Barton. This needs to make its way down to the hold.

What is it, Cap'n? Mr. Barton stared up at the crate. It's awfully large. It might not clear the hatch.

Textiles. Rare materials that we can sell for a lot of gold. Won it due to a fortuitous roll of the dice. Now round up some hands and get it moved. Once it's secured, we're on our way.

Rina was a few paces down the dock, but still listening intently. She pulled her brother aside.

Can you get us in the crate, Aven? Quickly?

Aven looked back, and then nodded. Rina's fingers lingered on her chin, where she could still feel the warmth of pirate's touch.

Time for a diversion, she said, heading off down the dock.

2

The Stowaways

The tumult at the dock was drawing a crowd of terribly amused onlookers. The shouting was growing quite loud, and a catfight had broken out between two women – one of whom was now missing a patch of hair. 

Over the din and amidst the flailing of fists and feet, an authoritative voice rang out:

Enough! Zeph jumped down off the rail of the ship and landed squarely on the dock. What in blazes is going on here, Mr. Barton?

Cap'n, Mr. Barton stammered, they're here about the job.

Who? Zeph said, clearly confused. What job? What the devil are you talking about?

One woman pushed forward. Captain Jamieson, you have to pick me!

No me! called another.

He'll pick you if he wants the pox, you nasty baggage! I'm the one he wants!

Several other women added their voices and another scuffle broke out as they elbowed and shoved, tearing at clothes and raking nails across faces and shoulders. Zeph found himself pushed and pummeled in the middle of the fray.

Stop! he called out, raising his arms. The women quieted, jostling and poking in a more subdued fashion.

Zeph looked down at the redheaded wench closest to him.

Scarlet, if you please, what are they all talking about?

Scarlet straightened immediately, pushing her ample bosom forward to rub enticingly against Zeph's arm.

Word's been going around the dock that Zephyr Jamieson is looking for a companion this journey, and here I am. Send the rest away, lovey. She grinned widely, then remembered her missing teeth and closed her lips into a tight smile.

You won't have to pay me, Captain! shouted another woman nearby.

Or me! another chimed in, and several more began to bicker for his attention as well. Zeph had reached his limit.

Ladies! Go home! Someone is apparently having a joke at my expense. I sent no such word and I have no such plans. Go home. Zeph made a disgusted sound as the women howled in protest. He leaned down to address his bos'n.

Are we loaded yet, Mr. Barton?

Almost, Cap'n, The crate's being moved to the hold just now – we had to wait for the crowd to clear.

Have you any idea who caused this uproar? Zeph rubbed the back of his neck as he climbed the stairs back up to the wheel deck.

No sir. Mr. Barton bent down to haul the stairs up and secure them on the deck. Wait! he said. There was the man you played darts with last night. He swore he'd repay you when you hit him in the arse.

Zeph let out a chuckle. Oh yes, I remember now. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. I suppose I had that coming. I was a bit drunk. Zeph's eyes scanned the deck and the dock beyond it.

Shove off, Mr. Barton. Get the wind at our backs.

Aye, Cap'n.

Mr. Barton called out orders to the hands as Zeph stood, shaking his head and chuckling to himself. He really had been a mess the previous night. He was lucky the man only pranked him instead of really trying to hurt him. He'd been furious, and rightly so. It was a great shot and that dart was buried an inch deep in the bugger's fat arse.

Zeph had just reached the wheel deck when a shout came from below. He quickly swung himself down onto the lower deck, then stepped of the way as the two boys he'd run into on the dock were shoved forward. They came to a halt in front of him, their eyes downcast.

And what have we here? he asked a crewman.

Stowaways, Cap'n. The crewman shoved them both forward. They were hiding in the crate. We couldn't get it down through the hatch, so we were going to empty it out and fit the goods around some of the other cargo, since it's just cloth and such. Got a bit of a surprise when we opened it up.

Zeph studied the boys in silence, his eyes hard.

Do you know who I am? And more importantly, do you know what I do with stowaways? His voice was quiet, but all the more deadly for it. One boy's head snapped up, and his eyes widened in fear. The other remained staring obstinately at the ground, his hood still blocking his face.

Look at me when I'm talking to you, Zeph commanded. The other boy continued to stare at the deck, shaking his head stubbornly. This kind of disrespect couldn't be allowed. Zeph reached out, intending on ripping the hood off and forcing the boy to meet his eyes, when the other boy knocked his hand aside.

It only took a second for the boy to land in a sprawl after Zeph backhanded him in reflex. He was scrambling to get to his feet, but ceased his struggling when the end of Zeph's cutlass lifted his chin.

Now then, Zeph began again – but his words were cut short when he felt the press of a knife at his ribs. His rolled his eyes, but lowered the point of the cutlass.

Very poor planning, my boy, he remarked. You're outnumbered. You've nowhere to go. And now you're going to die. He whirled away quickly, his fingers catching the collar of the boy's cloak and pulling him off balance as his sword hand crashed down, knocking the knife out of the boy's hand. He completed the move by swinging the lad hard into the mast pole, and then got the shock of his life as he flattened himself against him.

He was a she.

Zeph looked down into an amazing pair of crystal-blue eyes, and his mouth parted in pure surprise. It wasn't often he was thrown this badly. Who the hell was she? He slowly moved his fingers from where they were entangled in her cloak, but kept himself against her.

There was no mistaking a pair of breasts that soft and full; especially when they were moving with every rapid breath she took. She had flawless skin, and delicately arched brows in a shade of blonde so light they were nearly white. High cheekbones, a small nose and a softly trembling mouth finished the picture from the neck up. If the rest of her matched what was above, it was no wonder she went about masquerading as a boy.

He finished his perusal, and returned his gaze again to her eyes, which were flashing now in anger. This amused him, considering the position he had her in and the fact that she barely reached his chin in height. She was in no position to do him any real damage, but he admired her for trying, damn him if he didn't.

He smiled, shifting a bit against her. The anger in her gaze was replaced by a moment of shock and then something fleeting sparked in her eyes before she quickly lowered them. Her lips parted, and she let out a long, slow breath.

What's your name, love? he asked quietly.

Her eyes closed briefly, and he felt a shiver run through her that had nothing to do with fear. The corner of his mouth lifted slightly, and he pressed himself into her again, smirking in satisfaction as another shudder shook her.

Well, well, well… he murmured thoughtfully, Isn't this an interesting development?

He backed off, sheathing his cutlass. The young man that was traveling with her had gained his feet, but was being held by his crew. He could see now that they were brother and sister – twins most likely, from the look of their age. Not as young as he'd thought them to be, but older - though neither had much height. It was only too easy to mistake them as lads.

Zeph's gaze moved from one to the other. Which of you is going to start talking? Hmm?

The girl's eyes locked on her brothers, and she gave a small, almost imperceptible shake of her head. Zeph saw it, and his eyes narrowed. He crossed his arms and tilted his head toward the brother, giving one of the crewmen a short nod. A blade appeared at the brother's throat, and the girl made a strangled sound.

Last chance. One of you had better start talking because I'm starting to get angry. His eyes shifted back to the girl, who was still backed against the mast. He looked her up and down slowly, adding And there are consequences for that, love.

3

The Bargain

Very well, Zeph said, uncrossing his arms. Throw him in the hold.

He glanced sideways at the girl before his hand lashed out, trapping her wrist in an iron grip. You're coming with me.

Zeph pulled her forward, behind the stairs leading to the upper deck, and through the cabin door. He shoved her inside unceremoniously before shutting the door behind him and leaning on it for good measure.

He crossed his arms once again, pulling one booted foot up flat against the door as he studied her.

Well, then, he arched a brow. Shall we start with your name, love?

Rina looked at him mutely.

You do realize that this is my ship, and as its Captain, I can have you tossed in the hold, whipped – if you're into that sort of thing – or even pitched overboard upon my slightest whim?

He pushed off the door with his foot, taking two long strides across the room to stand in front of her. You're in a precarious position. He brought his fingers up, sliding them from just under her chin down along the collar line of her cloak. I would suggest you start talking before I head below and get what I need out of your companion.

Rina's eyes widened with alarm. Not Aven!

Please, she said, unable to break his gaze. He can't tell you anything. He can't talk at all. Please.

Zeph leaned in uncomfortably close, his breath feathering her lips.

I do like that word, he said. Now tell me your name.

Rina. We need passage. We have gold – I can pay you.

Zeph stared at her thoughtfully. Passage to where?

She paused a moment, staring out the porthole at the sea. How far are you going?

Ah, he said, stepping back. Now I understand. Running away, are we, my lovely? Fat husband? Angry father?

She held his gaze, but didn't speak. Zeph walked over to the dining table in the corner of the room, pouring two portions of ale from the pitcher set there. He offered her one and took a long draught of the other.

You're too pretty and fresh to have been working the docks. And I'd most certainly have known you by now if you did. So who are you running from?

She lifted her chin. Does it matter? I have gold. That's all you need to know.

You keep mentioning gold. He took another drink. I have gold, and plenty of it. You'll have to do better than that. He smiled at her, his brow lifting. Suddenly, Rina felt like she couldn't breathe.

What is it that you want? she asked warily.

He strolled around the cabin, circling her slowly, and Rina felt like she was in a cage with a tiger. She was afraid to take her eyes off him, but at the same time, she couldn't meet his gaze.

Come now, love. You're not a very young girl. I'm sure we can come to some sort of…. he paused, stroking his chin thoughtfully. …arrangement.

He moved up behind her, leaning down until his lips were at her ear.

I felt every inch of you when I had you pinned to the mast, and I liked the feeling. His fingers played along her neck, touching softly and sending shivers down her arms. And I'm willing to wager you liked it, too.

He stepped away to the table again, refilling his goblet. As fortune would have it, we're on our way to Tyverna. That's eight nights at sea and far enough away that you'll likely never be found. I could be persuaded to provide safe passage.

Rina stared at him a long moment. And if I say no?

He gestured out the porthole. We're already underway, love. You don't have anything left to bargain with. At this point, I can take what I want anyway.

Her eyes narrowed. Then why bargain at all? Just get it over with.

He put his goblet back on the table. Not that simple, love.

He walked closer to her again and she tried to keep her breathing even so that he couldn't tell how badly he affected her.

"I could take what I want, certainly. I could toss your brother overboard and lock you in my cabin and pass the journey with a sullen wench, while I wait for an attack every time my back is

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