In my novel Eight Nights At Sea, pirate Zephyr Jamieson is sailing the seas of a magical realm – a realm where all sorts of fanciful creatures abound. He comes across a beautiful stowaway named Rina and her silent brother, and offers a bargain: safe passage on an eight-day voyage across the sea in return for Rina’s companionship. Rina agrees, despite her brother’s objections.
In this scene, it’s the day after the deal has been struck, and Rina has already spent the first of her eight nights in a pirate’s arms….
“May I see my brother?” she asked at last. “I’d like to reassure him that I’m all right. I know he’s worried.”
“As any brother should be when he has a sister who looks like you and a pirate’s sword at his throat.” Zeph pushed his plate away. “If you’re finished, I’ll take you down to him now.”
Aven was curled up in the corner, gaining his feet when he saw Zeph’s boots descending the ladder. He started forward when he saw Rina but thought better of it, wobbling slightly on his feet as he stopped. Rina had no such qualms. She leapt forward, wrapping her arms around him tightly.
“Aven, are you all right? Have they fed you? Are you warm enough?”
Aven shook his head quickly, but his hands ran up and down his sisters arms and his concern was clear on his face.
“I’m all right,” she reassured him. “I’m fine, Aven, really. The Captain has been most gentlemanly, but don’t share that with the crew. I fear it might cost him his fearsome reputation.” She joked with him easily, obviously trying to allay his fears. Zeph raised a sardonic brow as his eyes met Aven’s behind her back.
Aven wasn’t buying it for a minute.
“You really can’t speak?” Zeph asked.
Aven shrugged, and then shook his head.
“Well, I’ve a policy against idle hands on my ship. I’d like to put you to work, but I’m not sure where.”
Rina turned to Zeph and addressed him in a sharp voice, “He’s not simple-minded. He can understand anything you say.”
“I didn’t say that he was. I can see the intelligence in his eyes. I’m just saying I’m not sure where he’s best suited.” He looked Aven over again. “Do you have skills?”
Aven nodded, looking at his sister. Rina spoke for him. “He can spear fish, and make and mend nets faster than anyone you’ve ever met. He can navigate by the stars easily and has a keen eye for the way the swells roll and pitch the ship.”
“Is he good with making rope?” Zeph asked, stroking his chin. “We’ve two barrels of twined hemp in here that needs to be wound into rope for the lashings.”
Aven nodded vigorously.
“Very well, then. Get started on that, and I’ll check back with you later in the day. You’re free to work up on deck in the fresh air, if you’d like.”
Aven’s eyes lit up, and then he looked at his sister, warily.
“Since you’re now passengers,” Zeph said with a smile, “You may have the freedom of the ship during the day. I do ask that you remain in the hold on the overnight.”
Aven tilted his head, giving a nod in Rina’s direction.
“She stays with me.” Zeph said implacably.
“It’s fine, Aven.” Rina said. “Really.”
Aven stared at his sister, obviously not thrilled with her answer. He gave a short, begrudging nod, and then turned to find the barrels that held the hemp.
“I can help around here, as well,” Rina said. “I can assist the cook or clean. I’m fairly handy with a needle.”
Zeph assisted Rina up the ladder as she rattled off the list of her abilities. He kept her hand once they’d gained the deck.
“You have a job. You’ll need all your strength for it, too.” He gave her a roguish grin.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m serious, Captain. I’ll be bored while you’re working and while I love your library, I can’t read all day. Let me do something.”
He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I could use some new shirts, and we have a hold full of textiles. I’ve a preference for black or white and nothing too flashy.” He looked her up and down. “Sew yourself a dress while you’re at it.” He reached out, tucking a windblown strand of hair behind her ear. “Make it blue. To match your eyes.”
He strode off to the wheel deck and she stared after him for entirely too long. She started when a hand came down on her shoulder. Aven pulled his sister around to face him, with a look of alarm on his face. His hand reached out, settling gently across her heart.
Rina stared up at the wheel deck, where Zeph stood with the wind mussing his hair and his eyes gazing out to sea.
She covered her brother’s hand with her own.
“I know, Aven,” she said, not looking away from Zeph. “I know.”
And now for the big announcement! In anticipation of Eight Nights At Sea going into print, I’ll be offering the Kindle version FREE on Friday, July 10th only! Get it while you can!