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Authors: Jennette Green

Tags: #Historical Romance, #Regency Romance, #England, #Pirate, #Pirates, #Romance, #Love Story, #Sea Captain

The Pirate's Desire

BOOK: The Pirate's Desire
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The Pirate's Desire
Jennette Green
Diamond Press (2014)
Rating:
***
Tags:
Historical Romance, Regency Romance, England, Pirate, Pirates, Romance, Love Story, Sea Captain

England, 1812

Seventeen-year-old Lady Lucinda wants her freedom back. But an orphaned young woman has no property rights in regency England; indeed, she has few rights at all. . .

After Lucinda's father is killed in action, he leaves her under the guardianship of a former pirate, the devastatingly handsome Captain Riel Montclair. Riel is a barbaric rogue, however, as he demonstrates the very first evening he arrives.
Montclair clearly has a will of iron, which frustrates Lucinda beyond measure.

Even more distressing, once Riel signs the legal papers with the solicitor, he will not only dictate her choice of a husband, but he'll financially control her centuries old estate, Ravensbrook, too.
Neither idea sits well with Lucinda, who has ruled her own life for the past two years.

Is Montclair planning to plunder Ravensbrook for his own personal gain? Additionally, Lucinda overhears him telling his disreputable-looking first mate that if the British Navy becomes suspicious of his past, he will lose his ship.
What dastardly secret is he hiding?

How could her tender-hearted father have come to trust such a dangerous man? Lucinda must protect Ravensbrook, and her future, at all costs.
But how far is she willing to go to get Riel out of her life, and ensure her freedom?

 

 

 

 

The

Pirate’s Desire

 

 

 

Jennette Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

THE PIRATE’S DESIRE

 

A Diamond Press book / published in arrangement with the author

 

Copyright © 2014 by Jennette Green

Cover design Copyright 2014 © by Diamond Press

 

All rights reserved.

 

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

Scripture quotation taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation .

Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

 

ISBN:
978-1-62964-010-5

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014933239

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

Love stories

Romance fiction

Historical—Fiction

Man-woman relationships

Fiction

Mate selection
— Fiction

Aristocracy (Social class) — England — Fiction

London (England) — Fiction

England
— Social life and customs — 19th century — Fiction

 

 

 

Diamond Press

3400 Pegasus Drive

P.O. Box 80043

Bakersfield CA 93380-0043

www.diamondpresspublishing.com

 

Published in the United States of America.

 

 

Also by Jennette Green

 

Romance Novels

The Commander’s Desire

Her Reluctant Bodyguard

Ice Baron

The Pirate’s Desire

 

New Adult Romance

Beyond the Rapture

(Christian Apocalyptic)

Castaways

(a novellette)

 

Shorter Works

Toot of Fruit

(a children’s story)

Murder by Nightmare

(a novelette)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.”

 

LAMENTATIONS 3:22-23
NASB

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

 

England

June, 1812

 

“Forgive me
if I find
it difficult to believe you.” In the soft twilight, Lucinda suspiciously eyed the man requesting entry into her centuries old home, Ravensbrook. He wore no uniform. In fact, he looked the worst sort of blackguard. And yet he professed to be a messenger from the Royal Navy…from her
father
.

The stranger stared implacably back at her. He was a big man, but this did not intimidate Lucinda. Neither did the fact he looked like a Barbary pirate, what with that faint, disreputable beard shadowing his jaw, and his unfashionably long black hair drawn back in a careless tail. All he lacked was a gold earring. In fact, was that an indentation where an earring used to be, there in his left ear? A shiver slid down her spine. The man exuded raw danger.

Lucinda told herself to stop being fanciful.

His clothes looked clean. And he didn’t smell. This was a dubious point in his favor. The black broadcloth covering his broad, obviously muscular shoulders was made of the finest quality. His boots, however, had seen better days. And his beige pants appeared of uncertain origin. Quickly, she averted her eyes from this involuntary, fleeting inspection.

A subtle, threatening sense of power emanated from him, like thunder in a gathering storm. It deeply disturbed, and even, if she were honest, frightened her a little. It further convinced her that he was dangerous.

Although he made her feel uneasy, Lucinda refused to let him see it. She met the stranger’s hard, dark brown eyes and lifted her chin a bit. He wore no cravat with his linen shirt, which left the deeply tanned column of his throat exposed. She surveyed his face again, which was composed of a blunt jaw, a straight nose and brow, as well as a firm, unsmiling mouth. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he didn’t want to be here.

Maybe she should grant his wish, and send him on his way. Unfortunately, he seemed determined to speak his piece. And, ruffian or no, if her mother were alive, she’d expect better manners from Lucinda than to escape up the stairs and slam the door in his face.

Too bad he had hailed her while she was out walking, otherwise the butler would have dispatched him.

Lucinda offered a polite smile. “If you have anything further to add, I am listening.”

After this effort to be courteous, she straightened her shoulders, and tried to make the most of every one of her five feet six inches. It helped she stood two steps above him. It also helped to know she looked passably pretty in her lemon and cream, finely tailored silk dress that was the height of fashion this past Season. It complemented her blond hair and blue eyes, and did its best to divert attention from her freckled nose and tanned skin.

No need for this man to know she was only seventeen. For all purposes, she was the mistress of the house, since her father was a commissioned officer in the war. Never mind the housekeeper, who thought she ran things. Well, maybe she did, but this stranger didn’t need to know that, either.

He rumbled, “Perhaps you will invite me inside. Our discussion will best be made in private.” He spoke with a faint accent. French? Or somewhere more exotic?

Did he truly think she’d let him inside her home? Lucinda swallowed a small gasp of fear at the very idea. Who was he, to demand entry, with no calling card, nor letters of introduction? She would be an utter fool to let him into her house.

Soft flutters beat in her stomach, and she wondered how she could send him on his way. If only Wilson would come to the door!

A movement caught Lucinda’s eye, and the man’s sharp gaze followed hers. Abigail, the scullery maid, stared at the stranger with wide eyes, clutching a basket of groceries in her arms.

Quick relief flooded Lucinda. “Abigail! Please fetch Wilson.”

Although the butler was over seventy, between the two of them, surely they could send this stranger away. Abigail swiftly bobbed her head and scuttled inside.

Lucinda returned her attention to the man. “Whatever you must say can be said out here.” Ignoring the unease coiling within her, she pressed her lips into a firm line, as she had often seen the housekeeper do when displeased with Lucinda’s behavior.

Lucinda pinned the man with an unwavering stare. “If you please, be quick. I have duties awaiting me.” Such as arranging the flowers for the supper table, but this man need not know the details.

He placed a booted foot on the bottom step, which levered his massive frame disconcertingly closer. Her heart beat faster, like a frightened bird’s. “You will be more comfortable if we speak inside.”

Lucinda stiffened her spine. “I will be more comfortable when you leave,” she snapped. “You say my father has sent you in his stead, but I find this harder to believe by the moment. Present your credentials, or be on your way.”

The black brows drew together like a thundercloud. With a terse movement, he pulled two folded parchments from his pocket. “For you.”

“Letters? Why didn’t you say?” Lucinda’s quick pleasure at receiving any sort of missive—presumably from her father—quickly faded. Why would this man carry a letter from her father? Her unease deepened.

All the same, she plucked the letters from his fingertips, which were calloused, with a bit of dirt under the nails. She flipped the parchments over, wanting only to finish this unpleasant encounter and send the stranger on his way.

One was from her father. She recognized his flowing script. He had been a Captain in the Royal Navy before he’d retired ten years ago, and after that he had become a part-time professor of war history at Oxford. When his friends at Command Headquarters in Portsmouth had written him, telling of the great need for seasoned officers for the prolonged war with France, he had immediately rejoined the British Navy. That had been two years ago. It had been months since she had heard from him. From his last, cryptic letter, she suspected he’d been recruited to head up some secret mission.

Now, it was all she could do not to rip open the note this moment and eagerly devour the contents. And assure herself of his safety.

But of course she could not do that with this man watching her. The other letter… Her hand suddenly trembled when she saw the seal of the Royal Navy and her own name, Lady Lucinda Hastings, written across the front.

The Royal Navy. Why would they write to her unless… unless…

She swayed slightly, and a firm hand gripped her arm. “Would you like to go inside?” His tone was gentler.

With a small, choked gasp, she jerked free. It could not be true. “Tell me how you came to possess these letters.”

He did not answer.

This was some sort of a trick. It had to be. Who was this man? Surely he was an imposter, and not from the Royal Navy at all. Grief shut down her logical thoughts.

“They’re forgeries. I know they are.” Her voice wavered. Lucinda dropped both to the ground, suddenly blinded by tears. The horrified fear twisting her insides could not be true. It could not.

She mashed her delicate satin slipper onto the parchments, twisting them, splitting them.

“Go!” she gritted, and pointed to the drive. “Go, and never return!” Picking up her skirts, she fled up the stairs, for the entrance to Ravensbrook…for safety…and for its sheltering, comforting arms. Everything would be all right once she was inside, she thought incoherently. The man would go. And all would go back to normal.

“Lucy!” The deep voice reverberated down her spine and shivered to her toes.

Shaking, she stopped. No one ever called her Lucy. No one except for her father.

She cast a wide-eyed, horrified glance over her shoulder. The stranger remained where she had left him; only now compassion flickered in his dark eyes. “Lucy,” he said again. “Perhaps we should talk inside.”

He had retrieved the scuffed, torn letters.

She didn’t want to touch them again. A sensation like worms creeping over her skin assailed her, and Lucinda felt nauseous and faint. “No.” Her voice sounded thready and weak. Not like herself at all. “No!” she said, louder, and felt pleased by the authoritative ring in her voice. “Leave at
once!

She fled again, but grief swirled after her like a speeding shroud. With a tiny wail she ran faster up the remaining stairs for the house, but it was no use. Tears blinded her, and she pressed her hands to her face to catch the raw sobs. Running blind, her toes caught in the hem of her gown and she tripped and fell hard on the steps. Pain exploded through her shin and her hip.

She sensed movement and then strong arms lifted her and cradled her against a broad chest.

“Put me down. Put me down at once!” She struggled against the hard muscles confined within the fine broadcloth.

No answer. Just dimness as they entered her home.

“Oh my heavens, what happened?” The housekeeper’s voice rose in fright.

“Lady Lucinda has received a shock, madame. Where may I take her?”

“Her room is just up these stairs…”

“No. Mrs. Beatty!” Lucinda struggled for freedom, and the man allowed her to regain her feet.

“Lucinda,” the short, plump housekeeper said sternly. “Who is this man?” Worry sharpened her tone. “What has happened, child?”

“That man claims Father sent him. He…he has a letter. Two of them.” Grief clogged her throat, and Lucinda swiped her eyes with her sleeve. Perhaps it wasn’t ladylike, but the unconscious gesture was a remnant from childhood, when she’d run wild and free on the grounds with her best friends, Amelia and Tommy.

“Letters? What do the letters say, Miss?” the housekeeper asked.

“I do not know. I don’t wish to know!” Her voice broke.

Above her, the man’s voice sounded like the rumble of thunder from the bowels of a storm. “Please sit down, Lady Lucinda.”

“Yes, miss, do.” Mrs. Beatty took her arm and gently led her to a faded chintz couch in the parlor. “I’ll fetch some tea.”

When she left, Lucinda was alone with the man. Without invitation, he sat on the chair beside her. He sat forward, forearms on his knees. Lucinda felt him watching her, but could not look at him. Illogically, she felt if she did, it would make her worst fears become real. But they couldn’t be. This must be some sort of mistake.

“Would you like to read the letters?” he asked quietly.

Lucinda bit her lip and plucked at a stray bit of lace on her sleeve. Fear knotted in her stomach. She didn’t want to believe the horrible certainty filling her mind, but running would not change the facts. First, she had lost her mother to the dreaded pox twelve years ago. Now Father…?

A painful, growing ache in her throat made it difficult to speak. “Did Father truly give you those letters?”

“He gave me one. Command Headquarters gave me the other.”

Helpless tears welled. “Why
you?
” she whispered. “Why would he give a letter to you, a stranger?”

“Your father and I served together. We became friends, and he trusted me.”

Trust
ed
. Past tense. Lucinda’s jaw ached from willfully clenching it. She refused to break down in front of this man. But tears swam in her eyes and she knew she could read no letter right now. “Tell me the truth. Is Father…is he dead?”

A second ticked by and the man expelled a short breath. “Yes. Your father fought valiantly and died among friends. His last words were for you.”

“No.” Lucinda felt unable to breathe. Her chest felt tight; unbearably, painfully so. Her beloved father, noble, honorable, and gentle for a military man—a man scholarly and full of high ideals—was dead. She would never see him again. He would never come home again.

“No!” She gasped out a high, keening wail, and hot tears wrenched out, boiling her soul in torment. Grief, long forgotten but bitterly familiar, ached through her. Grief for the hole in her life that would never be filled again.

“I am sorry.” The stranger’s words sounded rough, as if he did not know how to deal with a storm of emotional weeping.

“La, miss.” Mrs. Beatty had returned, and the tea tray clattered onto the coffee table. A comforting, motherly arm went about her. “Now, then. Let’s get you up to bed. Effie!” she called for Lucinda’s maid. “Come help, if you please.”

“I will carry her.” Through her incoherent sobs, Lucinda heard the faint rumble of the stranger’s voice.

Mrs. Beatty released her without protest, and the man scooped Lucinda into his arms again. When she was deposited in her bed, Effie and Mrs. Beatty fussed over her, drawing the sweet smelling sheets to her chin, leaving her a glass of water, and closing the curtains. Then, blessedly, she was left alone. Lucinda sobbed in broken, unbearable misery. Her father was dead.
Dead.

Nothing would ever be the same again.

Nothing would ever be all right again. Forever, she would be alone now. She was an only child, with no parents…and only a few distant relations scattered far and wide across the world globe.

Then fright filled her. What would happen to her now? She had not yet come of age, and she was a woman, with no property rights. Would she be thrown from her childhood home while it was given to another…some distant relation she had never met? Fear mixed with the agony in her soul. Whatever would she do now?

 

* * * * *

 

Gabriel Montclair had been unprepared for the girl’s anguished, almost violent sobs. He had also been unprepared for her beauty, with her blond hair springing free from her rolled coif, and bright blue eyes the color of a summer day—a stormy summer day. A spitfire. She had distrusted him on sight.

Riel ran a palm over the rough whiskers on his jaw. He’d been in such a hurry to arrive before the shocking delivery of her father’s coffin tomorrow that he hadn’t taken the care with his appearance that he should have.

Not that it would have made a difference. Lucy appeared to have disliked him on sight. Perhaps she’d guessed the reason for his appearance on her doorstep. Perhaps she would not take kindly to anyone bearing the news of her father’s death.

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