A SNIPPET FROM "THE HOT PIRATE'S SECRET BABY"[WORKING TITLE]
Writing is going well this morning, the kind of morning where I feel like I made the right career choice after all. Since it's been a while, here's a snippet from my WIP. You're going to see it warts and all, and it shows part of my writing process. When I don't like a word or have doubts, I put it in brackets and move on.
It 1817 pirate Robert St. Armand is sailing from the Caribbean to England. Aboard the Prodigal Son is his young daughter Mathilde, age 8 or so. Robert realizes he needs some quality childcare, and happens to know Mathilde's former governess is aboard another vessel in these waters.
[Working Title) The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby
“I am contemplating murder at this moment, Captain St. Armand. Leave me alone to continue to St. Thomas!”
“That I cannot do, and I am done discussing this.”
She gasped as he hoisted her in his arms.
“I suggest you cease struggling and put your arms around my neck, Miss Burke, unless you fancy crashing to the deck or falling into the ocean.
She did as he instructed and he grabbed the line tossed to him by one of his men, then easily swung over to his ship. Now, there was a move calibrated to impress starched-up spinsters! Whether from fear or simply overcome at being in his arms—he had to assume the latter was the case—she clung to him for dear life. Even over the smell of the fishing boat Robert registered that the bundle of womanhood in his arms smelled clean. Like soap, not like the heavily scented whores and ladies he was used to having in his arms.
Clean was pleasant. Showed she wouldn’t instill slovenly habits in his daughter. He set Miss Burke on her feet where she wobbled for a moment and put her hand up to her scalp. Some of her pins had come loose and so had her hair, now flying about in the breeze.
Robert eased the pins into his coat pocket.
“Avast, ye scurvy dog! Strike your colors or I’ll…I’ll…what will I do, Mr. Turnbull?”
“Say, ‘I’ll scupper your ship and use your guts for garters, ye lily-livered—oh. Captain, sir!” Turnbull knuckled his forehead and said, “Um, I have to be off now, Mattie,” before scurrying below.
Mattie looked up then and spotted the governess. She ran over and Arabella Burke squatted down on the deck to open her arms to Mattie’s embrace.
“Miss Burke! Miss Burke! I am so happy to see you again!”
“I am happy to see you too, Mathilde. I missed you very much,” she said fiercely, hugging the child to her chest. Mattie drew back her head and looked at her.
“I am not Mathilde any more, Miss Burke. Now I’m Marauding Mattie, the terror of the West Indies!”
“Are you indeed, miss?” She said in a voice that might have left icicles on the rigging as she looked up at Marauding Mattie’s father, who devoutly wished he was somewhere else at the moment.
The governess stood, still holding Mathilde. If she were a dragon she’d be breathing flame protecting the child. Rather than make Robert angry, he found it gratifying she would champion the child’s welfare. Mathilde needed someone to watch her back because while there were few things in the world he was certain of, he knew most pirates did not die of old age in bed. At least, not their own beds.
“Mathilde, you know I said you needed a governess.”
“Papa did say that, Miss Burke. He said he would keelhaul me if I disobeyed his commands.”
“Wha—no, I did not say that!” He glanced around the deck for rescue. “Mr. Fuller! Is the cabin ready for Miss Burke?”
“Aye, Captain, and we’re almost done here.”
“Very good. Prepare to get underweigh. Miss Burke, may I escort you to the cabin you’ll be sharing with Mattie?”
Miss Burke set Mattie back on her feet and brushed down her garment before clasping her hands at her waist and taking a deep breath.
“I can see I will accomplish nothing by discussing my--” she looked down at the child who was watching her, “My situation, but we will talk this evening.”
“I am certain any evening spent in your company can be nothing but delightful, Miss Burke.”
[NOT QUITE RIGHT “I can say with equal certainty that you will be proven wrong, Captain St. Armand.”]
Robert kept his smile fixed on his face. Miss Burke thought she had the weather gage, but the day was not yet over. He did need a governess, but he was not about to stand down on his own ship. She was a servant, kidnapped to care for Mathilde. He was the captain and enjoyed all the privileges of that position. He flung open the door to Fuller’s cabin, then stopped still.
“My goodness,” Miss Burke said as she peered around his back. “This was not what I expected.”
Someone had raided the captain’s cabin while he was out, and carried off the booty. There were two bunks, narrow, but awash in embroidered and jewel-toned silk pillows of crimson, amber, sapphire, turquoise and emerald. A fine rug on the deck promised comfort to bare feet padding about during the night. He knew from experience how cozy, deep and luxurious the silken pile of that item felt, a gift from a grateful Turkish pasha.
The raiders had not carried off his deep mattress or the mirror fastened to the wall, or the rose satin coverlet, but it was a near thing. They had taken the ivory-inlaid chest, the brass lantern from Morocco, his dresser set in silver and for all he knew, his chamberpot with the King of Spain’s portrait on the bottom, a special gift from the Mexican rebels.
The cabin was cramped for two people, even if one was a little girl, but it looked much more inviting than when Mr. Fuller had occupied it. Miss Burke walked into it in a daze, looked around, and then turned and did the strangest thing. She smiled at him.
Robert blinked. He knew his smiles were devastating, but that was to be expected, given his charm, amazing good looks, fashion sense, savoir faire, and his practice sessions before his looking glass, but to find such [beauty] behind Miss Burke’s drab exterior…
“Most unexpected indeed,” he murmured.
“You told me the accommodations aboard your vessel would be finer, but really, Captain St. Armand, I never would have imagined this!”
She reached onto the bunk and picked up—dammit, those scrubs had taken his fur pillow!—his favorite pillow and caressed it with her slim hand. A ripple of pleasure crossed her face, quickly suppressed. It appeared the governess had a touch of the sensualist within her and he filed the information away in his mind, one more weapon he might use to his advantage.
He crossed his arms over his chest, one of his favorite poses.
“This is satisfactory then? You will be sharing the cabin with Mattie.”
“Mattie the Marauder?” she asked dryly. “Yes, I think the littlest pirate and I can be quite comfortable here.”
She looked about to say something else, but he forestalled her with a raised hand.
“I recognize that look. Before you ring a peal over my head, I’ll leave and spare myself. I really do not care to hear it. The men will bring you your gear. Get what you need for now, and the rest will be put in the hold to give you more room here. Supper is at [bells] and you and Mattie will join me, Miss Burke.”
“Is that an order?”
“When I say you will do something, you may take it as an order. It is safer that way.
He favored her with another smile, the one that sent his men scurrying for the relative safety of the rigging, but she just sniffed in a governessy fashion and said, “Send Mattie to me, Captain, and we will organize our cabin and discuss our schedule.”