Read Stormy Seas Online

Authors: Evelyn James

Tags: #historical romance, #regency romance, #victorian romance

Stormy Seas

 

Table of Contents

At the Docks

Nobody's Daughter

Rogues

Too Many Hands

The Other Side of the Door

Another Surprise

Some Kind of Rescue

Confusion

Worlds Away

Introductions

Battles

Danger

The Royal Ball

Sparkling Halls

Darkness

Regret

Connect with Evelyn James

At the Docks

 

 

Kira walked quickly through the muddy streets near
the docks, hoping to avoid the curious eyes of several unkempt
on-lookers. It was getting late and the darkness promised a certain
kind of unnamed danger, especially for a girl so young and
innocent-looking as she. Kira hiked up her skirts and started to
patter softly on the dirt.
“Where ya going, missy?” a scraggly man cackled at
her. Looking back, she saw several dark shadows slowly lumbering
towards her and heard a low, gravelly laughter.
Kira's heart jumped and she made a run for the end
of the street, knowing her own hut was just around the corner. It
was nothing more than a small lean-to, but it had sheltered her and
her father for many years. In this moment, that dirty, humble
little place seemed like a fortress made of steel.
She heard the perverse laughter echo towards her,
reaching out its suffocating hands to pull her back. Kira rounded
the corner in a panic only to slam into the hairy chest of a
bearded sailor.
Kira let out a panicked scream and and threw her
arms out violently. She could feel a hard grip, hands tightened
around her arms. “Let me go!” she shouted. “My father's house is
just there!” She struggled further only to find she was only
fighting with herself.
She looked up from her panic to see a humorous
glint in the eyes of the sailor, whose blonde hair was swept back,
giving him a slightly regal look despite the rest of his
appearance. He held his hands out to show her he had no intention
of restraining her.
Kira could feel the blood rushing to her face and
she slipped past the Nordic sailor with a slight “Humph.” Kira
wondered what she would find if she turned to look back, but could
not bring herself to do it. She reached the little, weathered door
of her father's hut and threw herself inside.


Kira...” her father's weathered
face crinkled up a little to show he was pleased to see her. He sat
hunched over his workbench against the far wall, fiddling with a
piece of wood for his carving. He was a graying man, with very
little hair left, and friendly eyes that were touched with a
despondent air of sadness.

His once robust frame had grown withered and
weakened, and Kira could only blame the wet, musty conditions near
the dock and the knowledge that her father felt completely lost
without her mother.
Kira's mother had been a glorious beauty with
radiant green eyes and the most beautiful red hair anyone had ever
seen. Or at least that was how Kira remembered her. Kira had heard
her father speak many times of the numerous well-to-do suitors her
mother had turned down when she fell for him.
She fell for the humble dock hand, with no pedigree
and no name. Now Kira wondered, sadly, if her mother would still be
alive had she not spent most of her days in this dark, stale
hut.


Did you get it?” Kira looked up
from her post at the door and realized she had forgotten the hard
lump of bread clutched between her fingers. She smiled cheekily.
“Yes, I got it. Had to haggle a bit, but Jeremiah has a hard time
resisting my charms.”

She spoke of the quiet baker's son, who always
blushed when she came by. Kira heard her father's voice in the back
of her head every time, reminding her that a nice boy like Jeremiah
would make a good husband.
Someone to provide for her, watch over her when he
was gone. Kira shrugged that thought away. She had little patience
for most men, and even less trust. Only her father deserved that
oft-misplaced emotion, and she could not bear to make a mistake
with the kind of men she had seen run the docks her whole
life.


Here, papa.” She tore the meager
loaf in half, reserving the larger chunk for her father. He
hungrily tore away at the bread, while Kira took a place on the
little cot in the corner.

Kira's thoughts flashed momentarily back to the
large, blonde sailor she had barreled into before. Again, she could
feel her pale skin flushing over the thought. She ran her hand
softly through her deep auburn hair, wondering what he had thought
of her, so disheveled and panicked in the moment.
Kira bit her lip and pushed the thought away. If
she couldn't trust Jeremiah, the meek son of a baker, she knew she
would never allow herself to give into such a rough, powerful sort
of man.
She wasn't sure when she had decided men couldn't
be trusted, or even if it had been a decision at all. Perhaps it
was just the cold reality, and she had seen it clearly, like every
other woman who grew up in this world. She shuddered to think of
life without her father even though she was reminded every time she
heard his painful, hollow cough that she could not hold onto him
forever.


Kira...” She heard her father say
her name softly. “Yes, papa...” “I've taken some work at the docks
tomorrow. Nothing too difficult,” he smiled with a weary light in
his eyes. “Just enough to make sure you don't wither away on me
now.” Kira tried to laugh, but found the irony painful
enough.


Papa, I'm old enough now to be a
lady's maid. You can't keep this up forever. Won't you just let me
try to get some work?” She heard his good-natured chuckle turn into
a low, scraping cough. “Tomorrow, Kira. We'll talk about it
tomorrow.”

Kira pulled the covers back on the little cot, and
curled herself into the bed. She stared at the naked planks that
formed the wall, and searched silently for answers. He was here for
now. But how long 'til he left her alone?
~~~~~~~~~~
Marcus O'Hare was startled by the panicked mass of
red hair that he found himself wrestling with on the street corner.
He looked down to see big, frightened blue eyes framed by porcelain
skin. He tried not to be distracted by the girl's perfect,
rose-colored lips as she started to struggle against his body.
He fought a smile as it became clear to him that
the girl felt truly in danger. The auburn-haired beauty threw a few
frenetic punches, and Marcus removed his hands from her arms. For a
moment, he felt the urge to speak, to say hello, but her startled
eyes blinked quickly, she blushed and disappeared past him.
He turned just in time to watch her feminine figure
disappear inside the first door on the street. Marcus sighed. There
was something about her that triggered his interest, but he
dismissed the thought and continued on his way to the docks.
His confident stride was unmistakeable. Marcus
O'Hare was a man of the world, experienced on the open sea and
well-adjusted to the dangers of that life. Very little on the
streets of this dock could cause him distraction. His regal profile
and blonde hair made for a striking image against the more rough,
weathered appearance of his clothing.


Captain!,” a voice called out
with uncertainty. Marcus turned to the all-familiar voice with a
smile. “Malcolm...pick up the pace, why don't you?” From behind
him, a rather portly, older fellow attempted to match his speed.
Malcolm was an agreeable, serious type with a balding head and
distinctive spectacles who had served as the cook on Marcus' ship
for many years.


Are we behind schedule,
Captain?”

Marcus smiled distractedly as he continued taking
fast, confident strides down the street. Rustling his hands through
his white gold hair, Marcus tried to shake the vision of the
dazzling fair-skinned beauty out of his head. His mouth twitched
imperceptibly then he remembered Malcolm's presence with a slight
laugh.


We leave tonight. It's not wise
to stay docked for long with the munitions on board.” Malcolm
nodded his round head with a serious look on his face.


Of course, Captain.” Malcolm knew
that this particular voyage of the ship
Reliance
was an unusual one to be
sure. Captain O'Hare, who was more at ease manning a ship and
shouting orders, was a decorated Navy man who had been entrusted a
very important job by the King himself.

And while Marcus managed to charm and impress while
ashore in London, he preferred the freedom of uncharted expeditions
and assignments that were so often given to him because of his
determined, relentless nature.
Today, they were responsible for bringing a large
load of munitions and some very valuable information back to
London. Malcolm knew failure was not an option for the Captain, who
had a reputation for numerous outlandish victories on the high
seas.
What that top-secret information was, Malcolm could
not know. Only the Captain carried that with him, a look of
resolute determination on his face.
Malcolm continued his attempt to keep up with
O'Hare, pushing his short legs to waddle much faster than they were
meant to. “I suppose you'll be happy to see Lady Kensington when we
return,” Malcolm suggested, feeling a kinship with the Captain
despite their age difference.
Marcus looked slightly off-put, his eyes glazed
over with a vague look of confusion. He tried to nod in a suitable
response, but his head was lost in a cloud of thoughts and
questions. His thoughts moved to the dark-headed beauty he had last
seen 8 months ago. Luciana Kensington was a stunning and exotic
woman, with a long-line of blue-blood ancestry on her father's
side.
In his mind's eye, Marcus traced over the lines of
her sculpted face. Perfect cheekbones, supple lips. She was
everything a man could ask for and more. Somehow, Marcus' exploits
on the open sea had brought him into favor in the upper-class
circles and he found himself a sought-after bachelor.
But Luciana's existence had startled him at first,
and he had been drawn in by her beauty and the allure of her
luxurious, influential lifestyle. To the world at large, Marcus
O'Hare and Luciana Kensington were meant to be. A glamorous
dichotomy of raw adventure and bravado, melded with the powerful
combination of beauty and riches.
Marcus shook himself out of his reverie, made a
cursory response and then ordered Malcolm to mind his own business.
Marcus wanted to laugh at his own uncertainty, wondering why he
could see shining red hair in his visions instead of black.

As the men reached the edge of the
dock, they could see the
Reliance
rocking steadily back and forth. The frigate was
made for battle, but today, speed was of the essence. Marcus had
been warned that the intelligence he carried would be highly
sought-after by certain high-powered governments. Staying docked
too long was an unnecessary risk and one Marcus intended to
avoid.


Ahoy, Captain.” Several shipmates
were working steadily, preparing the
Reliance
to set sail. Johnson, a
slender, wiry young sailor with a light-hearted smile gave a nod to
the men as they came aboard. Johnson had just joined the ship at
the beginning of this voyage and was still adjusting to the newness
and excitement of life on the high seas.

As Captain O'Hare made his way to the hull, he
heard the pounding of a horse's hooves reach the dock. “Captain
Marcus O'Hare!,” breathed the rider, a frenetic youngster with a
stream of blood running down his shirt. Shouts went up on deck as
the sailors called the Captain's attention to the battered
messenger.


What is it, son?,” O'Hare
shouted, scrambling back onto the deck. He could feel the pounding
in his chest as his heart started to race. It was no coincidence
that this bruised rider came to him as he boarded the ship with
top-secret information. The rider panted, looking desperate, “Your
informant, Mr. Green. He was my master, sir, and now he's
dead.”

The messenger's voice cracked with a slight tinge
of pain and he looked at O'Hare with a pleading sort of insistence.
“You must go, and be warned. They are after you.”
~~~~~~~~~~

Marcus O'Hare scrambled onto
the
Reliance,
shouting orders to his men. The death of his informant meant
that someone was fast on his trail. The information he carried to
the King was too vital to risk. They needed to be out at
sea,
now
.

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