Rina and her silent brother Aven stow away aboard the ship of pirate captain Zephyr Jamieson. He agrees to give them safe passage across the sea – for a price. Zephyr soon finds out he’s in over his head, and in this scene, we discover how protective Aven can be when a pirate gets a little too close to discovering their secrets.
Here’s another excerpt from Eight Nights At Sea:
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Rina wound her hair around her hand, lifting it off her neck in the hope of cooling off. She’d been sitting on the deck most of the afternoon, after having cut her patterns out of the textiles below. She was amazed to find such a variety of rich cloth – some from lands that were very far away from her own.
She’d managed to complete one shirt for the captain, and only had to take in the bodice of her dress since she’d misjudged it the first time. The material was amazing – deep blue feathering out into brilliant shades of aquamarine, depending on the way the light struck it or the movement of her body. It draped beautifully, as well, pooling and sliding on her as she twisted and turned.
She gave a yawn, rolling her neck on her shoulders.
“Don’t tell me you’re tired already,” Zeph said from somewhere behind her. “I can’t have you dozing in the middle of your duties.” He laid a warm hand on the back of her neck, kneading. She couldn’t help herself as she let out an appreciative moan.
“If you’re going to make sounds like that, love, you can be excused from your chores for the rest of the day.” He flashed her a dazzling grin. “Perhaps I’ll have your brother take over for you. It would be just about the only job he hasn’t done today. I’ve never seen anyone work like him.”
Zeph glanced over at Aven, who was cleaning and oiling the railings with meticulous attention to detail.
Rina smiled at her brother fondly. “He always works hard. I think he feels that he has to prove himself to people. The minute they realize he can’t talk, they assume he can’t do anything.”
Zeph crossed his arms and leaned against the railing. “I find it refreshing. A man who can’t talk is a man who can’t talk back, or bore you with endless stories, or run his mouth and get you in trouble.”
“My father never saw it that way. He always treated Aven like a simpleton.” Rina’s voice echoed her contempt. “And he always made it clear that Aven was a complete disappointment to him.”
Zeph mulled that over a moment, and then finally asked:
“And what about you? Were you equally disappointing? I really don’t need a reason to loathe the man more, but feel free to add to my dislike.”
Rina smiled, but it was brittle, and her eyes were hard as she looked off at Aven. “Oh, I was disappointing, but slightly less so than my brother. At least my pretty face had some value and my father could trade it for the alliances he wanted.”
“And your late husband – was he one of those alliances?”
Zeph could see instantly that the subject was unwelcome. Rina’s face closed off and she reached down to gather up her materials, obviously intending to leave.
“Wait,” he said, grasping her by the shoulder before she could stand up. “I came over here for a reason. Would you like to swim?”
Rina looked up at him, her face lighting up. “Really?”
“It’s practically a flat calm right now. And certainly warm enough. Your brother has earned a respite and so have you.” He smiled down at her, and then his face changed to one of slight alarm. “Wait – you’re not planning on swimming nude, are you?”
Rina laughed. “You’d like that.”
“I would. And so would my men. There’d likely be a mutiny and the ship would be flung wildly off-course.”
“Well, I couldn’t let that happen,” Rina remarked wryly. “I made this.” She held up a one-piece garment that would cover her from shoulders to thighs, in a shade of deep green. “Aven can swim in his breeches. He does it all the time at home.”
Zeph gestured toward the railing. “Very well then, off with you both. You can swim until the wind picks up, or I need my dinner, whichever comes first.”
Rina jumped up, impulsively flinging her arms around Zeph’s neck and kissing him soundly on the cheek. His arm held her tightly as she started to pull back, and he turned his head. His lips brushed hers and Rina’s eyes went wide. She pushed desperately on his arms, but he refused to let her go.
Zeph leaned his forehead against hers. “Sorry, love. I quite forgot myself.” His eyes closed and he exhaled slowly before adding: “And you’ve the softest lips…”
Rina felt her resolve slipping, as her arms moved up and around his neck. She pulled him closer, and her breath mingled with his as her eyes closed and the world became just her and a pirate. And Aven.
Her brother spun her about by the arm, taking them both by surprise. His eyes blazed anger and he was clearly upset at seeing Rina in Zeph’s embrace. She glared at him in response, and Zeph took a step forward only to have Aven push him back into the rail.
Rina stepped between them. “Stop it, Aven! Apologize!”
Aven’s jaw clenched, and he stared stonily at Zeph. Rina leaned over to whisper in her brother’s ear.
“You’ve just publicly disrespected the captain, Aven. He has to address it if you don’t apologize and now.”
Zeph crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes narrowing.
Aven finally nodded at his sister, offering a hand to Zeph, who waited a moment before taking it. Rina shot him a grateful look before heading off to the cabin to change.
They stood in awkward silence for a few moments before Zeph addressed Aven’s behavior.
“You’re trying to take care of your sister, mate, and I applaud that. But she’s in my care at the moment, and I won’t tolerate this again. Do we understand each other?”
Aven gave a begrudging nod, but his eyes carried a warning.
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You can read more about Rina and Zephyr (and Aven) in Eight Nights At Sea – available via Kindle Select and out in print in July 2015!