Becca’s betrothed, her elder earl, and his huntsmen found her comfortably
asleep by the hearth fire, wrapped in Pirate Aidan’s great cloak, and Aidan was
gone from her side when she was abruptly awakened.
barely escaped, so at peace with her, so distracted was he by an extraordinary
hid in the wet trees unable to return, as the earl himself gathered up his
wayward fiancée and left. Aidan tipped back, not caring that his good cloak was
gone, but the silver cup’s loss was immeasurable. He’d found it gone, taken,
and had swallowed hard, fighting the panic to draw pistol and cutlass and
retrieve it, as the sudden grief of its loss filled him.
not forgive me if I’m hanged for your sweet cup, would yah dearest?” He said to
the sweet spirit, who accompanied him everywhere, then left the way he’d come.
* * *
was small talk after the quick wedding in her family home. Talk of new queen
and her foreign king, of a deadly pirate roaming their western coast, an
Irishman, who hated the English. “I am English,” she thought, then excused
He new greying groom had asked.
prepare for my wedding night.” And he’d grinned with great anticipated pleasure.
* * *
felt dizzy and disjointed, as the horizon in her head and stomach, and heart,
wavered and floated and rose and abruptly dipped and ruthlessly rose again, as
she told HIM her story.
done my filial duty. Even compelled the earl to presign the completed financial
draft release of my father’s obligations, sealed upon my ‘I do.’ Then I’d drank
our private toast, a toast well planned by me to make me ill, and when the
faked cramps and smell of sick deterred him, he went to sleep on the couch,
contented that full consummation would be his in the morning. All were deep
asleep, having drunk to his coming new father’s glory, as I’d tiptoed forth
from my pristine bed and ran for all I was worth.”
ship rose and fell with the swell of the incoming tide, but her story made his
stomach roil all the more.
gave your sworn word, Becca, before God.” He sounded angry.
sworn under duress must be illegal, and immoral. God wouldn’t hold me to that.
Besides, a woman’s word isn’t worth a hal’ pence, everyone knows that,” she
joked, but he didn’t smile.
you find me?”
made my maid go out to look at the sea for me, for I was locked in. She’d said
she’d seen ‘a pretty little ship’ here. Good thing she tells me everything
first. I didn’t let myself hope, but she said it was marked with a flying bird
of prey. A hawk. And I….”
abruptly considered what she must sound like. And her cheeks flushed hot.
would’ve been a deadly, bad chance, if it’d been another pirate.” He still didn’t
laugh. “I married, under blackmail’s coercion, but I never swore to consummate.
He may tell the world, if he likes, if he can stand the humiliation of my
chatty maid declaring my bed untouched, and his unwilling bride run twice.
Father’s debt is marked clean, if wed. I did. But slave to bed and babe weren’t
explicitly written in our contract, although tacitly implied.”
Aidan, wouldn’t look at her, and it bothered her more than she could bear.
not his, Aidan, despite whether all laws and courts and gods say otherwise.
Aidan, forgive me.”
me. A woman, even a woman buccaneer has only her face and body; no ship, no
blade of steel, no hard arm of her own. I was trapped and it was the only way
out. Until a blind chance to run again and I knew I had to run. To you.”
You’ve just said your word means less than nothing.”
are you angry with me?”
another man’s wife! Consummated or not. You are his.”
consummation, there is no full marriage. No divorce can be obtained, even, only
annulment. This is an inconvenience, not a permanent bind. And even if it is, I
cannot belong to him.”
you stupid Irishman, I belong to you.” He stared at her in stunned disbelief.
“Oh, I believe these are yours.”
handed him his silver cup from the cloak pocket, and noted his eyes close in
prayerful thanks for its return.
wife gave me this.”
Oh. Oh dear.”
was killed, murdered by your king’s English redcoats, whilst taking all things
from me, save this ship, this cup, and my loyal men.” He sighed deeply, as if
to force the past to lie quiet for now. “You said ‘these’ are mine. What else?”
She blushed and made a show of the cloak.
my best cloak.”
that. And more.” She dropped the cloak, and beneath wore only her translucent
bridal shift, bridal corset, stockings, and bridal shoes. His mouth dropped
open, and she stepped forward.
the buccaneeress Becca, may I sail wherever you sail?”
on deck told of the duke’s approaching armed hunters, but the tide was in, as
Aidan shouted to weigh anchor and set sail, and then he seized his cherished
prize, his Becca, in his strong arms.