Read Losing the Earl: Regency Romance Clean Read (Yearnings for Love Book 2) Online
Authors: Rebecca Grave
Despite the insanity of it all, she focused on the voice, sure she knew it from somewhere.
The other captain was…was it William?
It was all too confusing.
In moments they boarded, and both captains squared off as the others give them a wide berth. Eyes locked, and they circled, wary but with aggression clear in the eyes of both.
Then swords met, and they danced.
It was a dance of blades, a violent dance, the moves almost too fast. It was almost poetic.
But soon William’s masterful sword had pushed Samuel towards Mary. But a foot away from her, Samuel parried hard, and the tide turned just as quick. Spinning his sword in a circular motion, he caught the hilt of William's blade and it flew out of his hand. Samuel threw his arm around Mary’s neck as the fighting stopped. The pirate had disarmed him.
William put his hands up and Mary felt the rough steel of the sharp blade on her neck. “I’ll bleed 'er like a butcher a pig, neck open.” Samuel had the same nauseating odor as his crew. Mary realized she was breathing again and at the same time wished she couldn't.
“But sir, do you not understand the meaning of four rotations at fifteen paces?”
“What?” Samuel spat.
Williams arm went behind his back in a second. Sunlight flashed of off metal as something flew from his hand. Samuel’s sword clanked against the deck as he released her.
He then tumbled to the deck, dead on his back, eyes unmoving. A dagger handle protruded from the middle of his head. William pulled the knife out and cut the ropes binding Mary to the mast. Spent, she went slack with the ropes. William caught her, not allowing her or her dress to touch to the blood soaked deck.
“How did you move so fast?” She asked weakly.
“It is not that fast, only the speed of love…” he said as he worked.
“I don’t understand.”
“I couldn’t allow that man to sully you, your spirit, which is far greater than what he has to offer.”
She felt heat flush her body at his proximity.
His first kiss a test, he looked at her wanting approval to give her another. Mary leaned in and kissed him. She felt like she was betraying herself, who was she, this other Mary. She unbuttoned his jacket, and he undid her dress. As they pulled at each other’s clothes, they continued kissing, stopping only to get garments out of the way. The rest became a blur at a strange sound.
The sound forced her eyes open. Morning light flooded eyes. A warm, inviting feeling filled her thoughts and left her body aching to return to sleep. To him… to who?? She felt guilty at the remembrance of her savior. William had pulled her in and… it was too much to process. Yet it had been…nice.
Shaking her head clear of such disturbing thoughts, she watched as Dahlia came into the room, reading a note in her hand.
“What is that?” she asked, yawning beneath her hand.
“It was under the door when I walked in, I didn’t mean to read it, my lady.” Dahlia handed Mary the paper, “I assume it’s a letter from Samuel. I suppose he slid it under the door as to not be seen.”
Mary blinked and cleared her eyes of sleep before sitting up-right in bed and taking the note.
I Bow To Her With Sonnets.
When I perhaps compounded with endless day
I tell you, to please you, thou art bright
And fortify yourself in your way
But you are more than revealed by sight
Had you never seen the soil sewn
Be you self-will’d, for thou are much too fair
That you yourself, being unbound, well might shown
A true self then at most affair
When I have seen such interchange of stare
Incapable of more, replete with you
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
Which should example where your equal grew
Her audit, though delayed, answer must be
For her I bow on broken knee
Mary smiled for a second, “Samuel loves me…” Her expression faded as images of her dream flashed in her head. “Listen, do not take the news of this note to anyone. I don’t want it misinterpreted.”
“Of course my lady.”
Mary got out of bed and shivered as Dahlia helped her dress. Once clothed and Dahlia dismissed, she locked the note in her desk and headed out of the room to escape the cold. Only once she was in the study in front of the fire and looked out the window did she notice the blizzard had not let up. The snow on the ground would be level with the window if it continued this pace. She shivered for a moment as the fire warmed her and she wondered where William and Thomas were. There’d be no way they’d leave for London in this weather, she thought.
The burning wood cracked adding percussion to the wind racing by the house. Voices, creaky floorboards, and footsteps mingled in a singular noise echoing off the walls. She listened, like an animal sensing a predator’s gaze and she tried to pick out William’s voice.
Footsteps were approaching. Watching the storm she did not want to turn so as to appear interested. The sound of loafers on wood stopped at the doorway, a pattern she knew well. She sighed as Mr. Bancroft’s soft voice announced, “My Lady breakfast is ready to be served.”
The seating arrangement remained identical to the night before. Mary assumed the morning conversation would be more be more vivacious, but Samuel had little to say. William and Thomas made jokes about taking a horse full stride out onto a frozen lake.
“Think they’d do good on skates?” Thomas asked.
“When we return to the states, I’ll get Ainsworth to make horse skating shoes.”
“He’s a terrible blacksmith, you need them looking good.”
“Can you imagine the look on a blacksmith's face when he receives the commission for the work?”
“You are idiots, a horse on ice skates.” Samuel started.
“Dear sir, have you never fancied a joke?” replied William.
“How gauche is your humor you would hire a blacksmith to make skating shoes for horses. That’s not even funny; the idea of a horse slipping on the ice and it breaking.”
“We’re merely joking and it’s not like we are telling the horse to play ‘find the black ice.’”
“Find the black ice?”
“You’ve never played it?”
“I’ve never heard of it.”
“Well, you know what black ice is, a patch of clear thin ice. As a young boy, and still today as a grown man I’ll play this. What you do, is you lay on the ice and slowly push yourself across. If you do it right, you can cross the ice without it even cracking. There is a professor of science who did a study of the game showing how laying down prevents the ice from cracking.”
“You really do this sort of thing?”
“No, I’m joking,” William leaned back. “The game is only played by horses.”
Samuel looked interested. “My word, that is incredible.” He looked impressed. The entire room silenced. Samuel continued, “Is there a special technique you use to relax the horses onto the ice? I should hope to see such a thing.”
“Friend, I mean no sally towards you when I tell you, I was but jesting that such sport occurs.” William looked mildly uncomfortable.
Samuel looked around at the guests at the table. Eyes were wide, and no one moved. Guilty of no faux pas, Samuel had stumbled into something far worse. He’d embarrassed himself. Mary heard Victoria whisper something into Lucy’s ear and then a giggle. Mary made out only “nick-ninny.”
Thomas broke the silence. “These eggs in a kipper are mighty good. I never had them until coming here and I wish I could take them home. We usually do cider, bannock and roast beef. And eggs. Always with the eggs.”
Mary continued the polite discourse on differences between the American breakfast and the English breakfast. Thomas had much to say about the distinction in food. Even the beer was different because in Europe they didn’t mix sassafras root in with the hops when brewing.
While talking to Thomas Mary would notice William looking at her. She looked away from him, then over to Samuel. The man she thought was so handsome last night—till she had dreamed of him as her captor—looked at the middle of the table saying nothing and barely touching his food.
After breakfast, most of the guests headed to the billiard room or to the parlor for card games like Victoria and Lucy. Samuel had disappeared. Mary and William were the last two left in the room.
“May I ask something that weighs on me?”
She stopped and looked at him, “With people dispersing it is not proper you and I should be in a room alone Mr. Caulfield.”
“I beg but a moment. I think of my friend and his former situation, and I can’t help thinking that it parallels your current situation, does it not?”
“Surely, you jest –if not, you are certainly speaking out of turn.”
“With respect, my lady, did you have a choice in the choosing of this man? I was under the impression this was an arranged match?”
“Yes,” she frowned, “but that doesn’t mean I disapprove.”
“So you love him?”
The question shouldn’t have offended her, but it did. “Not everyone is as fortunate enough sir as to come from a place where they can assign their own station in life.”
“They told Thomas the same thing since birth as well. Where he was, the punishments for assigning his own station in life were far more severe than what British society offers. I mean don’t you have an opinion on your situation more than the one expected of you?”
“I don’t think you understand the place in which you visit.” She didn’t want to be rude, but courtesy dictated they leave and let the conversation go.
“I think you don’t understand your own potential for freedom. Don’t you ever wonder what you could do if given the choice? Can you not see you are bound?”
She was getting angry. But something else plagued her as well. “What I feel, what I think, and how I live are…” Mary felt her chest heaving against her corset. The feeling she remembered from her dream watching William and Samuel fight. She held her breath for a second and let the feeling pass. She thought about breakfast, how she had been kind to his friend and did not understand why he now attacked her. Her business was her own.
William’s expression was passive. She realized he was not trying to attack her. He was trying to understand her situation and why she allowed it. She relaxed.
“What is all this?” Samuel’s voice disrupted her thought and the moment to expound passed.
“I was just asking Lady Mary her opinion on slavery. I wanted to know what an English lady thinks of the barbaric practice.”
The sharp bark of Samuel’s laugh hurt Mary’s ears. “Why would you ask her that?” He was genuinely amused.
“To find out what she thinks.”
“No, why are you asking a woman her opinion? Surely, in your Colonies, a woman knows her place as it is here.” Samuel smiled. “Women are for birthing sons, and hopefully, to make the home beautiful for when entertaining guests and to be an ornament to her husband. And of course to surrender a male child before too long. I wish the marrying bit was easier. The ceremony is a bit much, don’t you think?”
William smiled at Mary, his eyes bouncing off her and focusing on her husband to be, “Is that so sir, so husbands and wives should share interests?”
“Of course they should, if a husband has an interest it is part of the wife’s job to take up that interest.”
“And what is your game of choice, sir?”
“Boar and deer.”
“Lady Mary you shall learn the use of the flintlock it seems.”
Samuel laughed, “No good sir, you don’t bring a woman hunting. They are far too delicate, but I’m sure she’ll love hearing stories of the chase and the kill.”
“I have seen warrior women ride down Buffalo on horses and spear them.”
“Buffalo aren’t dangerous.”
“In height and bulk, they are bigger than any bull I’ve seen in the United Kingdom. They do kill horses, riders or anyone annoying them, either with their horns or by trampling.”
“Why would a woman do such a daring thing?” Mary asked.
“There is a lot of meat on a Buffalo. A woman without a man still needs to feed her children.”
“But you speak of the savages, I’m sure she had fangs and a terrible odor as well.” Samuel offered his arm to Mary, and she put her hand on it as they made to leave.
She leaned in towards him, “I loved the poem you wrote me last night.”
Samuel said, “I did not write you anything.”
“You’re too modest.”
“I know I am.” He turned and smiled at her.
Reaching the end of the hall, Mary left him for the parlor and cards as Samuel headed to the billiards room.
“Why do you watch the snow?” Mary could hear the annoyance in her mother’s tone. Lucy and Victoria had taken off leaving her with Samuel’s mother and her own. They played piquet and Mary was left out as it was a two-player game.