The Charles Town dock in early summer 1753. Different worlds come together in a port town. Cultures cross and life and freedom are not always protected by the law but by willing men.
Our young Captain is captured by the charms of an unexpected passenger but his loss of her company is forgotten when he must rise to the defense of a good man.
From my recently released historical action/adventure novel, CAPTAIN’S CROSS:
Coming back aboard from the agent’s office, Ben met Jovalle on deck, “Do you have everything?” Ben asked.
Jovalle smiled and said, “She will not come up until she sees you.” He nodded his head toward the aft cabin.
“Oh, I see,” Ben took Jovalle’s hand and as he shook it he said, “If you tire of being a rich farmer, you can sail with me. I wish you good luck. I hope you find what you want.”
Ben turned and went below. He could see the crew in the cargo hold grappling with a cargo net and the heavy barrels. Ben knocked on the cabin door and heard her say, “Come in, Benjamin.”
She had on the floppy hat and the light blue dress. She seemed taller and Ben realized she had shoes on. “It’s time,” he said.
She drew a breath and said, “I will have a nice dinner for you when you come back from your salt trip. Please bring the crew with you and we will all have a wonderful time.” Her voice faltered at the last and she tried to speak again but nothing came out. Her shoulders began to move and Ben saw she was crying.
He stepped to her and took her into his arms. They just stood there. He felt her sobbing subside and she slid her hand up to wipe her face with her handkerchief.
He said, “Three weeks and we will be together again. We should be out and back by then.” She started sobbing again and he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her at first soft, but she pushed into him and he kissed her harder and put his arms back behind her and lifted her up and into him. He could feel her breasts against his chest as she breathed heavily.
He parted from her and whispered, “I love you, Suzanne. I have from that first day on the Hudson.” He felt her stiffen and he was suddenly afraid. He put her down and she looked away.
When she turned back to him, his face was hollow, his eyes pleading. She let him suffer only for a moment and then smiled sweetly and said, “It’s a good thing you do, Benjamin Deland. It’s a good thing you do because I love you, too, and always will. In three weeks you can tell me just what you intend to do about it.” She went up on her toes and kissed him again and went out of the cabin door, leaving Ben to stumble out after her.
Ben saw her into the carriage and told her he would call on her later in the evening at the school. She said no. He was hurt but then she said, “I want you to think of the ship and crew and come back safely. I will not be a distraction. You may call upon me when you have returned.”
Jovalle shook Ben’s hand again and entered the carriage. The black footman climbed up on the back over the boot and the driver cracked his whip in the air over the backs of the horses and they moved off down the dock and turned into the next street, going out of sight.
Unable to move, he simply stood there. Men shouting behind him brought him out of his thoughts and he turned to see Wills on the dock being kicked by a large white man in a long black coat. Almost tripping over his own feet trying to get up to speed, Ben propelled himself toward the struggling men. His boots seemed to get in the way of his forward movement. He could run like a deer in moccasins but boots slowed him.
Covering the ground in spite of his boots, he piled into the dark coated white man pushing him away from Wills and into three other men who had been watching. The flapping coat seemed to fall into his hands and Ben grabbed it and pulled it up and over the wearer’s head and upper body. Ben then delivered a short but powerful blow to the stomach of the man. Long Coat cried out and dropped to his knees. The fist coming from behind the bent over man caught Ben on the side of his head and caused Ben to let loose of the coat. A second fist followed the first but only swung through the air.
Two of the men that had been standing behind Long Coat stepped out and tried to grab Ben’s arms on either side. Ben saw them coming and stepped back. Catching the man on his left with a sharp backhanded blow to the throat, he stepped behind him, shoving him into the man coming at him from the right. They both fell over the kneeling Long Coat and onto the dock, but Long Coat started to rise with a dagger in his hand. Ben pulled the hawk from his belt and swept it out, striking and knocking the dagger from Long Coat’s grasp.
It became quiet and still. Ben was heaving breaths in and out but his vision was clear and he saw Thomas, Bear and Hans standing over the two who had fallen and Wills getting to his feet looking fiercely at Long Coat.
Long Coat spoke, “He’ll get two dozen lashes for that. This here runaway don’t know his place, mister.”
Ben lowered the hawk and moved next to Wills, “Are you hurt, Mr. Wills?”
Wills brushed dirt from his shirt and said, “Only my foolish pride, Capt’n. Dis idiot don’ like me, I believe.”
“He’s an uppity one, ain’t he? Wouldn’t get outta my way to let me pass,” Long Coat looked down on the dock at his knife lying near the edge over the water.
“Not true, Captain!” Thomas interrupted, “This, this, gentleman pulled Mr. Wills off the gangplank and started kicking him for no reason.”
“Reason? Don’t need no reason for a runaway black devil tryin’ to escape,” Long Coat said. “You better have papers on him or he goes with me to get his lashes.”
Sliding the hawk back into his belt, Ben stepped up to Long Coat. The other three seemed to be shrinking back away from them. He kicked the expensive looking dagger into the salty water under the dock and said, “This is my Second Officer and a free man. I’ll expect you to address him as Mister Wills. You came looking to pick a fight and you lost. Now if you wish to continue with your efforts, we will be very happy to oblige.”
Long Coat blinked and looked over at Mr. Wills and to the crew that now included Michele and Jeffrey. Draco stood growling on the gangplank. Long Coat glanced back and saw his companions had now vanished and his face drew long and what little color was there before, drained away.
Shaking his head, Ben said, “I’m not sure what your game is, but it didn’t work.” Stepping very close, Ben said in a low voice, “Unless you want to be sewn into a sailcloth and dumped into the sea with a cannonball to keep you company under the water, you had better retreat while you still can.”
The Long Coat had a puzzled look on his face but as he turned to go said, “This ain’t over.”