The Clan MacLaren #2
Glynis MacLaren longs to see the world, not get married and live a suffocating life in Scotland. She leaps at the chance to escort her sister to the colonies. She soon finds out the larger world is just as constraining for a woman. People expect her to marry and follow certain protocol. Then she meets the ship’s captain. He stirs feelings in her that she never knew she had. The trip across the ocean is filled with the adventure she sought, love she didn’t expect and a sudden heartbreak when the journey ends.
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Pink Satin Romance
First Week at Sea
“A good evening to you, madam,” Captain Aaron Redding addressed the woman standing at the bow’s rail, her back to him as she stared out to sea. He liked to make the habit of getting to know the passengers, especially the upper class. Word of mouth was paramount to the success of his merchant ship. He had learned the ways of polite society at a young age and knew from many admirers he was quite handsome. The combination of the two went far in his business. “Let everyone know how well you were treated aboard the Pembroke,” he would bow and tell them as they disembarked at the end of the journey.
Aaron shook his head, returning to the moment. Perhaps she did not hear. The wind had picked up, and waves crashed against the side of the ship. “Madam? We have just left port and this will be your first night at sea. Are you faring well?”
A steady breeze blew across the ship. The woman wore no cap, and her blue silk dress whirled about in the wind, at times clinging to her body. Her dark hair reached almost to her waist and whipped around her in a seductive way. For some outlandish reason, Aaron longed to reach out and latch onto one of those silky locks, run it through his fingers then bring the tip to his nose to inhale the fragrance. The willowy figure in front of him didn’t acknowledge his presence, which made him all the more infatuated. Instead, she pulled her shawl closer to her body, tossed her head, and became still again.
Perhaps she is hypnotized by the sunset. It is one of the more magnificent ones I have seen in a while. Or enthralled by the crash of the waves on the bow? I sometimes cannot even hear when I am close to the ship’s edge with the wind and sound of waves in my ears. He wished to join her at the rail yet afraid he would startle her. So he stood quietly behind her, watching the edge of the horizon where the sky met the ocean, as the sun sank out of sight in a blaze of deep pink, golden yellow, and shades of purple. He felt a strange communion with her, this shadow of a woman who disappeared in the last ray of sunlight that almost blinded him.
Aaron blinked as if he had seen a mirage, but she was still there. He studied her carefully in case she might be one, so he would not forget a detail. Do not be a dolt. She is a real woman and is still standing there. Ignoring you! The captain of the ship. He cleared his throat. “I hope you continue to enjoy the evening, madam.” He turned and left in haste without looking back.
When Aaron reached the entrance to the lower deck, he smacked his forehead. “What a fool I have been! There are so many Scots on board, she may not speak English.” He whipped open the door and found his cabin boy slumped against the outer wall that led to his quarters. “Noah! How many times have I told you not to sleep out here? Get up, boy.” He pulled the child up by the shirt collar. “Go find the Chief Officer and tell him to come to my cabin immediately.”
“Yes, Master.” The boy saluted.
“And you do not have to call me Master in private, Noah,” Aaron said in a low voice as he patted the boy’s shoulder. “We are like brothers. Remember that.”
Noah bowed his head. “Ya saved me, Master, and this ol’ Noah here?” He pointed to his chest with his thumb. “Never gonna forget.”
Aaron looked into the ten-year-old’s hazel eyes. “No, laddie, you saved me.” He tousled the light brown curls on the boy’s head. “And remember to say, ‘going to’, not ‘gonna’. Now get going or I will have to give you a real whipping.” He winked.
Noah laughed and hopped up the stairs. “I will have the Chief Officer to your cabin before you know where you are!”
Aaron chuckled as he went to his cabinet and retrieved two glasses and his bottle of port. “The good stuff.” He nodded as he poured, pleased that he thought of a solution to his problem so quickly. “That is why I am captain of this ship.” He lifted a glass and toasted himself.
* * *
On the second night out at sea, Aaron made sure his evening rounds were finished on time before heading off to the bow of the ship. He had had a most unpleasant supper, entertaining some high-ranking government officials and rich landowners in his cabin. They droned on and on to the point where he finally had to excuse himself, citing ship business.
Being a good study of character after years of dealing with people on the ship, he discovered that the two men closer to his age were complete opposites. Lord Hiram, the nobleman, sat quiet as a mouse. Aaron had to hold back a guffaw as he compared the man’s eyes to the little rodent. Small and beady, they darted around the room as if looking for a way out. The other, an aristocratic bastard with satanic brows, and so full of himself Aaron thought he might burst, said he also had somewhere to be. The older men had laughed, and one slapped Jasper on the shoulder. “Good luck with that. If you mean the girl from last night, I think those were daggers in her eyes, not stars.”
“Her sister said she was a stubborn one. I can make her come around,” he answered as they all laughed again.
Aaron felt sick to his stomach, although he joined in the laughter. Poor woman, whoever she may be. He shook his head then clapped his heels together, bowed, and left the cabin. Rounds were made in record time, and he rushed to the bow, hoping the woman had not been a figment of his imagination. He panicked, afraid she would not be there then admonished himself for feeling that way. His breath hitched as he grew closer. She is here.
“Feasgar math, madam,” Aaron said to the now familiar woman’s back.
He shook his hands to release the nervous tension as he stood waiting for an answer. She is just a woman. Nothing special. Not an ethereal creature.
“I do hope I said that correctly. My shipmate found a wonderful Scottish woman in steerage to help me. Feasgar math.” He tried again to no avail. “Are you from Scotland?” he asked in a loud voice. Or deaf perhaps.
“Parlez-vous Francais?” Asking if she spoke French, a language he did understand, was his last hope of the night.
Aaron removed his tricorn hat and ran his hand through his hair. “All right then. I will leave you in peace until tomorrow. I will find the language you understand so we can converse during this long trip.” He brushed the top of his hat and replaced it on his head. “And it will be a long trip. You will be happy to have my company, I assure you.” Aaron gave a bow even though she could not see, and as he returned to an upright position, he caught a slight movement in her shoulders. Laughter?
* * *
Glynis MacLaren crouched low in the crow’s nest, grinning from ear-to-ear, proud of her achievement. “I made it up here a second time without notice.” She stared beyond the gray mist that rose from the ocean, trying to spot the first sign of daybreak. “Aye, the little laddie was more helpful than I ever thought he would be.”
On the first day, after boarding the Pembroke in Le Havre, France, Glynis had literally bumped into the cabin boy that served the master of the ship. “Excuse me, lad,” she had said as she helped him regain his balance. He had a bit of mischief in his eyes, and she was certain he would be up for a challenge. “Are ye all right?”
The boy bent at the waist, giving her a deep bow. “Noah Redding, at your service, madam. Cabin boy to the ship’s captain.”
“Where might I find ye later for a tour of the ship?” Glynis asked. “I have to unpack and make sure my sister and her husband are settled in their cabin first.”
“I will be right here on top, madam, and will watch for your lovely presence.” He bowed again and came up with a smile.
Glynis refrained from rolling her eyes. The lad means well. “Then I will be on my way and will see ye shortly.”
Uncle Gill had spared no cost. The accommodations went well above anything Glynis expected. A table with two chairs stood in the middle of her cabin, and she could see out the rectangle window when she sat there. Her bed ran along one side of the room, small but functional. She even had a cabinet built right into the wall for her things. What she loved most? She had her own space, small as it may it be. The ship they traveled on to the New World carried dignitaries and gentlemen from British society. “They wouldna sail on a ship filled with cattle and pigs, now would they?” She sniffed as she laughed.
As soon as she had changed, Glynis had rushed up top to watch the cargo loaded onto the ship from the dock. She took in a deep breath of the sea air and admired the water as she waited for Noah. She had heard mid-May was a wonderful time to set sail and had to agree. The weather was temperate, the sun lingered into the evening, and the winds were mild.
Glynis had watched as crates were lifted high in the air and swung over to the top deck. From there, the crew lowered them through a hole to the decks below. The only animals that boarded were for food consumption. Many crates held wine and ale to sustain the wealthy on their trip.
“What about the poor folk in steerage? What do they get?” She knew they brought their own food and drink, but what if it wasn’t enough for the duration? She planned to check and make sure they were provided for, but for now, Glynis cleared the memories of that day from her mind. She hadn’t gone through all the trouble to dress as a man to daydream. She wanted to enjoy the view.
Glynis adjusted the scarf that held her wrapped hair in place to make sure it could not be seen. A sailor’s hat, the monmouth cap, knitted from brown wool, hugged her head. She gave it one more tug to make sure it was in place. It covered her ears and kept the wind at bay. The shirt she had chosen was on the big side, but all the better to hide her figure. The cabin boy had given her an extensive tour of the ship, right down to where the extra clothes for the crew were kept. She had no trouble sneaking in and snatching a pair of breeches, shirt, and hat so she could climb to the crow’s nest. No way could she scale the netting in a dress or even her plaid, if she had brought it. She needed to look like boy from a distance.
Back in Scotland, Glynis had told her sister-in-law, Juliet, she planned to climb the highest mast after boarding the ship. She smiled as she remembered the look of horror on Juliet’s face. The lass had tried to understand Glynis’ wish for freedom and to see the world, but did not really understand the feeling. She is a woman. “Och! What am I thinking! I am a woman too.” She smirked. And we should be allowed to do as we please…as much as a man.
Then her father’s words to her brother-in-law came back to haunt her. She would not be going on an exotic adventure or have any freedom. “Ye will also provide for Glynis for as long as she lives in yer house.” He had told Jamie. She had volunteered to sail to the British colonies with her younger sister, Heather and her husband.
Heather was with child, and being only sixteen, needed her family. Glynis saw it as a chance to escape Glenhaven, her childhood home in Scotland. Second daughter to the laird, Donnach MacLaren, she always felt caught in the middle. Her older sister, Greer, had been the good lass and the younger, Heather, the favorite. Her father always said that Heather resembled him the most, hazel eyes and red hair. The rest of the children took after their mother, dark-haired and emerald green eyes. “But I am most like ye, Da,” Glynis whispered. “I am Donnach’s daughter. Ye just never saw it, ye ol’ fool.”