Authors: Katherine Bone
Tags: #Romance, #Historical
disturbed him. Had she been seduced by
Henry Guffald aboard the
promised something Henry could not
give? He gazed upon the fingers of her
left hand. She wore no ring. The
knowledge that she was unattached
pleased him, howbeit oddly.
Percy smiled. Henry was not her
lover. Lady Constance had been through
an unconscionable ordeal and relived
the moments in her dreams, calling out to
the first capable man she knew could
save her. But Henry had failed to answer
her prayers. It had been
quick reaction that had
kept her from being ravished by Frink.
To take advantage of the woman he’d
championed now would only align him
with the likes of Frink and his men, in
Percy closed his eyes and directed
his thoughts to his sister, willing her
petite form to reappear, just as he’d
done a thousand times before to fuel his
anger. Long black hair, dimpled cheeks,
and trusting purity — Celeste. Nearly a
year ago, when he’d been called away to
duty, his young sister had been forcibly
taken from the family landau, leaving his
father badly crippled, never to recover.
Unrelenting in his pursuit of her
attackers, Percy had tracked Celeste to
the docks, where he’d discovered that
she’d been forced aboard a ship and ill-
used. Much to his dismay, he would later
discover her abused and left to grovel in
the streets like a common doxy,
hovelling in the shipyard, uttering
nonsense, professing one word —
over and over again. Consumed by
disease, spirit broken, Celeste had
lasted but a few months after she’d been
found. Percy had been forced to watch
her die a slow, agonizing death. And
since that time, he’d been consumed with
a hatred yet to be staunched. Even now,
thoughts of Celeste’s suffering fired up
his rage, a rage that had served him well
under Frink’s command.
Body tense, his goal in place once
again, Percy opened his eyes. The dawn
of a new day filtered through the ornate
window occupying the back wall of the
cabin. The fiery glow cast a golden haze
upon all he surveyed — all but his heart.
Frowning, longing to ignore the call to
rise because he took great pleasure in
the feel of Constance’s tender flesh
against his own, Percy knew he would
never get another chance to be so
intimate with a lady of her worth. Days
of trivial pursuits were gone. Nothing
and no one existed now but Thomas
Sexton and those who would pay with
their mortal souls for what they’d done
No longer able to prolong the
inevitable, Percy eased out of the
coverlet, rose from the bed, and stepped
away from the bunk. Naked and stiff, in
more ways than one, he reached for his
discarded trousers, shook them out and
yanked them on. He then picked up his
shirt but noticed, as he retrieved it from
the floor, it had experienced the worse
for wear during his battle with Frink.
The garment was a holey, ruined mess.
His gaze settled upon Frink’s trunk.
Though the man was shorter than he, and
more rotund, he crossed the distance,
opened the lid, and rummaged through
the contents, casting aside one garish
selection after another until he found a
plain black shirt wadded in the bottom.
For a slight moment, he wondered who
the shirt had once belonged to, for it
certainly did not fit the captain’s size or
style. Then, casting off the question, he
slipped his arms into the flowing, ruffled
sleeves and tucked the long ends of the
shirt into his breeches, leaving the laced
front gaping open across his chest.
Hands on his hips, he looked about
the cabin. A fine work of carpentry it
was, giving credit to the captain’s rank.
Frink, he was surprised to find, had
with the best, lining
the walls in rich mahogany. Bookcases
filled one portion of the west cabin wall.
A section, cordoned with glass cabinets,
held liquor, showcasing one of Frink’s
Stepping over to the cabinet, Percy
touched the fine-etched glass. The
artistry was quite good. How had Frink
financed the skilled laborers?
Whoever had been backing the man
had to have been someone of great
importance. For no other could have
sponsored such opulence. The liquor in
the cabinet stared back at him with
invitation. Sating his thirst proved quite
appealing since he couldn’t act upon his
hunger for the lady herself. Percy opened
the cut-glass doors and stared at two
bottles of port, a bottle of brandy and a
jug of rum, each tethered against the wall
to keep them from breaking in choppy
seas. An additional pair of low
bottomed glasses stowed nearby proved
Frink unbelievably civilized.
The bed shifted. Percy glanced
over his shoulder, half-afraid he’d have
to deal with a startled woman before
getting the stiff drink he needed to warm
his bones. What he saw made him even
more adamant to get that drink.
Constance lay on her side, the coverlet
gathered over her breasts. The sight of
her dipping waist and mounding hips
stirred his soul. He licked his dry lips,
closed the liquor door, and frowned.
Liquor would not ease what ailed him.
He strode over to the built-in
bookcase and stopped to scan literary
works neatly stacked inside.
by William Shakespeare, Edmund
Reflections on the Revolution
The Marriage of Heaven
by William Blake lined the
shelves. Percy frowned. Who would’ve
guessed Frink had any sort of taste in
literature? A deep-rooted suspicion
began to take root within him. He had
not been toying with a simpleton, but a
man of complexities.
Percy settled his gaze upon the
large mahogany desk jutting out of the
inlaid floor like coral on a reef. Built
with a tall wooden lip around the edges
to prevent content spillage and complete
with garish designs carved upon the
legs, the monstrosity owned the room.
The surface, unbeknownst to him until
now, displayed rolled parchments and
maps, which had been tossed across the
top of the desk as if they’d been
discarded in a hurry. Percy eyed the
papers curiously, scanning the myriad
paperwork until he spied a map
weighted down by a quadrant and
compass. Leaning closer, he examined
the nautical measurements, and then used
them to calculate the distance off of
England’s coastline, a directional chart
flow that led to an unnamed port off the
coast. The location had been circled,
however, and dated three months prior.
Intrigued, he traced back over the route
with his fingertip. His brow arched
when his fingertip came to rest at
Talland Bay just beyond the tiny town of
Polperro along the Cornish coast.
His hopes immediately lifted as he
recollected that he’d returned home
briefly to tend to his ailing father during
that time, making him suspiciously
absent at the recorded meeting place.
Determined to find out what had
transpired there, Percy flipped through
the hastily assorted piles, eager for
another clue. Two names appeared —
Zephaniah Job and Josiah Cane —
beside which the word
Percy lifted his
hand and nearly slammed it hard upon
the desk, but stopped mid-air as a
movement out of the corner of his eye
reminded him he was not alone. He held
his breath and waited to see if his
actions had awakened the lady. When
she failed to move, he redirected his
attention to the maps.
Simon had once informed him that
Zephaniah Job commanded a smuggling
ring near Polperro. But who was Josiah
Cane? Who was this fox? Frink had
never mentioned anyone other than
someone known as Whistler, the one
who’d keyed them in to the
whereabouts. Until now, Simon hadn’t
believed Whistler existed. Recently
intercepted messages proved Whistler
did, however, mastermind the
defeat. But who was Whistler? And how
was he going to get a message to Simon
to prove the informant’s existence?
Sifting through papers at his
fingertips, enthralled by information
he’d been fortunate to gather, Percy
collapsed into the desk chair. Mind
racing, his heart thrummed with hope.
For the first time since the
to the bottom of the Channel, barriers to
beginning to thin. He leaned back and
closed his eyes, satisfied that he still had
a chance to avenge his sister.
A knock sounded at the door.
His eyes darted from the door to the
bed to see if the disturbance had roused
Lady Constance. He simply wasn’t ready
to deal with the sobbing woman. Not
when a new plan was beginning to
develop in his mind. He didn’t need
distractions right now and that was what
she was proving to be, a disruption to
his life and ambitions. He eyed her
suspiciously and eased himself out of his
chair. Then he strode soundlessly to the
cabin door and quietly stepped outside.
“Shh,” he rebuked. “The lady’s
shoulder, wincing with the effort and
stopped short when the only thing visible
was her torn shift lying on the floor.
“Not asleep, I wager, but ridden to
exhaustion,” he joked.
“Aye.” Percy winked. With a lop-
sided smile, he let the man think what he
would. It only served to enhance the
lady’s protection. “Is anything amiss?”
“A … miss?” Ollie stuttered.
“Other than wanting to catch sight
of our prize, why are you here?” he
He didn’t want to dwell on Lady
Constance — as if he could forget her.
He wanted to focus on how he was going
to get Josiah Cane to lead him to
Celeste’s killer. There would be time
later to figure out what to do with the
tempting wench in his bed and deal with
the annoying trouble she’d caused him.
But first, he had to get to London. Until
he docked, he had innumerable problems
to contend with, not the least of which
were keeping Constance safe, Collins
and Guffald alive, and making sure the
men on the ship didn’t mutiny again.
After he arrived, there was the
’s sinking to report, prisoners to
relinquish, and Constance to see safely
delivered home to her uncle. Simon was
not a man he wanted to engage when
angry. The man was a formidable
legend. The sooner Constance was off
his hands, the better.
Perhaps news he’d been able to
save his old friend, Guffald, would
soothe Simon’s ruffled feathers where
Constance was concerned, he thought.
“Aye?” he answered, stirred at last
from his musings.
“Your pardon, sir, but it seems you
are preoccupied.” He grinned. “Not that
I blame you.”
“You’re quite fixated on that girl,
aren’t you, Ollie?”
“Aye, Cap’n.” Clearing his throat,
Ollie groaned, “If you get tired of her,
the crew and me have drawn straws.”
Percy grinned. “Save it, you old sea
dog. The girl is returning to her uncle. I