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Authors: Kat Martin

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Captain's Bride

BOOK: Captain's Bride
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From now on you’ll
do as I say, or you’ll spend the rest of this voyage in your
cabin
.”

Glory’s eyes widened. Drawing herself up, she tilted
her chin defiantly. “Why are you treating me this way?”

“Because, you little vixen, I’m trying to make you
understand. The
Black Spider
is not a passenger ship. These
men aren’t used to having a woman on board— especially a beautiful
woman. You’re putting yourself in danger.”

Nicholas cursed beneath his breath and hauled her
against him. “This,” he said, his voice cold, “is what I’m trying
to make you see.” Brutally, his mouth claimed hers. He felt her
stiffen in surprise, her lips part in protest, and he deepened the
kiss, thrusting his tongue violently between her teeth. Her slender
fists beat at his chest, and she fought to pull away, but he only
held her tighter . . . Mercilessly, he shoved her against the
bulkhead, pinning her wrists above her head. One hand slid up her
thigh to cup her bottom. He kissed her fiercely, savagely, without
a thought for her pleasure . . .

“Now do you understand?” he asked, his voice ragged.
“That’s what will happen to you if you don’t do what I say.”

CAPTAIN’S BRIDE
KAT MARTIN

No part of this book may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publisher
.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Kat Martin (originally published
by Charter/Diamond)

 

All rights reserved. The right to reproduce this
book or portions thereof in any form must be obtained in
writing.

 

Printed in the U.S.A.

 

Smashwords Edition

 

ISBN: 978-1-885339-72-0

 

Wolfpack Publishing

PNB 414

1001 E. Broadway, #2

Missoula, Montana 59802

To my husband, Larry, who is always there for me.
And to the wonderful people of Charleston, who, even in the face of
disaster, work to preserve their proud heritage and welcome others
to share it with them.

Chapter One

 

Charleston, South Carolina

April 2, 1840

The snap and crack of the lash, followed by a
bone-chilling scream, echoed across the manicured lawns of the
great plantation house.

Gloria Summerfield closed her eyes. Her slim fingers
trembled as she tightened the sash of her ruffled silk faille
wrapper and moved to the open window, gray with the first light of
dawn. Outside, the birds had ceased their morning trill, which only
amplified the quiet between the screams. Pulling the window closed,
Glory secured the brass latch in an effort to block out the noises,
but still she could hear them. Muffled now. Eerie, haunting
sounds.

Her movements wooden, Glory seated herself before her
gilt-framed mirror, determined to still her racing heart by
immersing herself in the tasks of the day, but her hand shook
fiercely. The silver brush seemed leaden as she fought to arrange
her sleep-tangled hair. Pale blond wisps caught in the horsehair
bristles, and it was all she could do to free the glistening
strands. It will be over soon, she told herself. But when the
screams didn’t stop, Glory’s fingers tightened around the handle of
the brush and her usually bright eyes turned to angry blue flame.
Whirling around on the tapestry-covered stool, she jumped to her
feet and raced to the door, forgetting her slippers as she hurried
down the hall.

The sounds of her bare feet muffled by the thick
Persian carpet, Glory descended the two flights of stairs to the
cold marble floor of the foyer. She hurried past the elegant
receiving room, past the dining room with it’s imported crystal
chandelier, and into her father’s study, certain he would already
be hard at work on his ledgers. Instead, the tall man stood staring
out the window, hands clasped tightly behind his back, a decided
droop to his usually straight wide shoulders.

“Papa, you’ve got to stop them,” Glory pleaded, her
voice high and brittle. “They’ll kill him if they keep this up!”
She slammed the heavy door behind her with a little more force than
she intended. As her father turned the full force of his gaze on
her, his stem features gentled for a moment; then he stiffened, his
face implacable once more.

“I wish it were that simple, Glory,” he said. Kindly
blue eyes a shade lighter than her own seemed the only softness to
his features. “I’m afraid I have no more say in the matter.”

“Surely there’s something you can do?”

“It’s out of my hands, daughter. Ephram conspired
with a Negro from another plantation to run away. That makes his
crime punishable by the committee.”

“But Willie is his brother. Surely that isn’t the
same thing.”

“It’s still a conspiracy in the eyes of the law.
Ephram knew the chance he was taking when he left. The sentence is
fifty lashes and that’s what he’ll receive.”

Glory gripped the back of her father’s high-back
chair, fingers biting into the tufted brown leather. “Punishing a
man for wanting to be free isn’t justice, Father. The man is a
human being. He deserves better treatment.”

Her father left the window and strode the short
distance to her side. Lamplight shone on his once-blond hair, now a
glistening gray.

“We’ve argued this a thousand times,” he said. “You
know he’s chattel in the eyes of the law.”

Glory responded with silence, making her position
clear.

“You like your life here,” her father said. “At least
admit that much. You like the parties and the gowns and the
beaux.”

How could she deny it? Of course she liked her life.
What young woman wouldn’t? “Those things are wonderful,” she told
him. “Summerfield Manor is my home. I love everything about it. But
it isn’t right for us to enjoy ourselves at the expense of
others.”

“Life isn’t easy to understand, Glory. We all just do
our best. Ephram had a good home here, far better than most. He
shouldn’t have run away.”

“I know, Father, but slavery can’t be the answer.”
Julian Summerfield sighed. “I know how strongly you feel about
this. I’m just grateful you have enough respect for me not to let
the others know.”

“Sometimes I think I should.”

Julian lifted a lock of his daughter’s pale blond
hair and smoothed it between his fingers. “It’ll all make sense
when you grow up. In time, you’ll get used to it.”

“I
am
grown up,” Glory said.

Her father only nodded. Stuffing his hands deep into
the pockets of his gray serge morning coat, he turned back toward
the window.

Glory thought he’d looked older for a moment, the
lines of his face a little deeper than just the day before. Her
father was a good man. Intelligent, considerate, and generous to a
fault. Glory valued his judgment, and knew him to be correct in
most things. But not in this. I’ll never get used to human
suffering, she thought. I don’t ever want to.

Finally, the screaming ceased, the quiet almost as
loud as the Negro’s high-pitched screams.

Glory felt her tension ease. Life at Summerfield
Manor would return to normal. Tomorrow evening she would attend her
gala nineteenth birthday ball. By then she would have forgotten the
terrible scene outside her window as she’d taught herself to do.
She would laugh and dance and flirt—and enjoy herself immensely.
She would remember none of the cruelty of today.

But her heart would remember. Her heart would never
forget.

As if reading her thoughts, her father tilted her
chin with a callused hand. “It’s over now,” he said gently. “Your
mother has coffee in the dining room. Why don’t you bring us both a
cup. After you’re dressed, you can help me with the ledgers.”

Glory forced a smile she didn’t feel. “All right,
Father.” With a breath of resignation, she swept from the room.

Nicholas Blackwell swung his long lean legs over the
side of the bed and reached for his breeches, casually draped over
a spindle-legged chair.

“Surely you aren’t leaving yet?” Lavinia Bond seemed
incredulous. “It’s still early and Victor won’t be home for
hours.”

To Nicholas it seemed incredible he’d stayed through
the night. “Sorry, sweeting. Duty calls. I need to check the
off-loading down at the dock.” Still sitting on the bed, he pulled
on his breeches, then grabbed up his shirt.

Lavinia ran her hands along the corded muscles of his
back and nipped playfully at his shoulder. “Are you sure you won’t
change your mind?” Almost reverently, she laced a finger through
his curly black hair.

Nicholas turned to see one creamy breast spilling
above the sheet, the pink bud at the tip beckoning his touch. There
was no denying her body was beautiful and yet . . .

He scoffed at his lack of interest. A month ago he
might have been tempted to stay. Now he was eager to be gone. He
had sampled the lady’s more than ample charms and had not found
them lacking. But, like all the others, she’d become tiresome and
demanding. He’d spent too much time in Charleston lately. When he’d
visited her for just one night two or three times a year, he’d
enjoyed her company—at least in bed. But his ship had docked in
Charleston a week ago. And a week with Lavinia Bond was far too
long.

“Not this time, sweet.” He cupped her breast and
kissed it quickly, then turned and pulled on his tall black boots.
Lavinia slipped into her embroidered silk wrapper and walked him
through the elegant single-house down the stairs to the front
door.

“Will I see you before the party?” she asked, running
her finger down his chest inside the front of his partially
buttoned shirt. The stiff black bristles curled against her hand,
evoking memories of their heated lovemaking. Lavinia licked her
full red lips, a shade darker than her hair.

“What party?” Nicholas asked, his mind already on his
duties aboard the ship.

“Why the Summerfields’, of course. Julian’s a friend
of yours, isn’t he?”

“It slipped my mind.” But it hadn’t. Julian had made
a point of inviting him to spend a few days at Summerfield Manor,
and Nicholas found himself actually looking forward to it. Though
the older man had been his father’s best friend, Nicholas had never
visited the estate. But he’d been working hard these past few
months; he deserved a rest. He needed one. The last thing he needed
was more of Lavinia Bond.

“Do us both a favor, sweeting. Try to be a little
discreet. I’d hate to have to shoot your husband just to satisfy
his misplaced sense of honor.”

“You don’t think I’m worth it, darling?”

“I didn’t say that, did I?” Nicholas opened the door.
A heavy dray laden with barrels thundered down the narrow
tree-lined street. Milk bottles rattled and clanked, and a stray
cat hissed and rushed from beneath the wheels of a flatbed wagon.
“Time to go, sweet.”

Lavinia pulled his head down for a warm moist kiss,
but his mind was already on the day ahead. He had more than enough
to do if he intended to finish by tomorrow, in time for Julian’s
party.

“I’ll let you know when Victor will be gone again,”
Lavinia called after him as he moved onto the street.

“You do that,” he said. Without looking back,
Nicholas strode down Tradd Street toward the three towering masts
of the
Black Spider
, which swayed above the buildings along
the Battery in the distance.

“How do I look, Plenty?” Glory took a last backward
glance in her full-length cherrywood-framed mirror, doing a tiny
pirouette that made the voluminous skirts of her new white organdy
gown swirl around her.

Plenty pursed her thick lips as if she wasn’t certain
Glory would pass inspection. “Well . . .” She checked Glory from
every angle, then her round face split into a wide bright grin.
“You look lovely, chile. Jes’ like always.”

Glory leaned over to plant a light kiss on the old
slave’s cheek. “And you
always
say that. But—I have to
believe, this time you’re right!” Glory laughed, a soft tinkling
sound, and postured in front of the mirror. “I shall absolutely
devastate them this evening!”

Plenty chuckled, her vast girth rippling with the
motion. “You always do!”

“I’ve got to go. I’ve kept them waiting just long
enough.” She snatched up her white silk fan, heavily beaded with
the same seed pearls and silver thread that adorned her gown, and
swept through the door. Strains of a Viennese waltz rose up from
below as Glory descended the sweeping staircase from her third
floor chamber to the second-floor ballroom. When she was halfway
down, Benjamin Perry, a slim blond man in his early twenties
spotted Glory and beamed up at her, delighted, it seemed, to be
coming up from the foyer just in time to escort her into the
ball.

BOOK: Captain's Bride
3.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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