This week’s Flash Friday is the culmination of two of my favourite areas – history, and the paranormal. Opening in Rhode Island shortly before the start of the Revolutionary War, the Work-In-Progress this passage is taken from, LADY’S LAMENT, it absorbs all the history of the period, and the danger of being a privateer in an age of upheaval. Then, it fast-forwards to modern day, as a paranormal investigator takes on a challenge she never saw coming – tangling with the ghost of a man determined to make her remember.
“Love So Deadly”
copyright 2009 by Esther Mitchell
“The Cap’n, he be acomin’, Mistress! An’ he look fit for the storms of Hell, he does!” The brogue-laden words of Brigit, Caroline’s Irish lady’s maid, reached Royce’s ears, even as he mounted the stairs, and his lips twisted in a dark smirk. Oh, aye, he was in a fit, and his lady-love should well know why, if the rumors he heard were true.
Ah, Caro, how could you? Cold comfort enough, the news borne by the Continental Congress, that the Colonies were to go to war. Normally, war would profit him most fortuitously. Hadn’t he procured the funds for this lavish estate from the war between England and France, ended just twelve years ago? Even as young and new to the fine arts of the privateer as he’d been, back then, he secured his fortune in those turbulent waters of the channel, and then added to them by plundering French merchant vessels from the West Indies in the name of King George, in the years since. And still, Caro would not marry him. Though he gave her lush estates, and provided her with everything she could want, she claimed she could not marry a man who made his fortune on the blood of another.
She was returning to Boston. His scowl returned in force, and rage prowled his soul. He gave her everything, squandered his immortal soul at the Devil’s table, for nothing more than her love. And now he learned she could not be bought.
“Damnation!” He spun on the stair, his fist flying of its own will, to crash against the timbered walls with a terrible splintering of wood.
“Royce!” The voice from above him on the stair was sweet, and laced with shocked disapproval. Ah, how he wished to truly offend his lady’s delicate sensibilities! Images flooded his mind as he stared up at her, standing at the top of the stairs like a goddess over her erring petitioner.
“You’re leaving.” He spat the words out in a fury as he lunged up the remaining steps between them, heedless of the mud on his boots upon the expensive carpeting.
She stood her ground, which drew a grudging smile from him. That was one thing he loved most about his Caro. She never backed down. “Yes.”
A simple enough statement. Another man might have taken it at its worth. But he was not another man, and he already made a bargain with the Devil, to have her here. Without Caroline, he was already damned.
“No!” He roared the word as he covered the final inches between them, and yanked her hard against his body. “You belong here.”
“Unhand me, you beast!” She shoved at his chest. “How can you say I belong here, when here I am nothing but miserable? I am not your property, and you cannot buy me – not with coin, and not with demands.”
“Have I not given you everything I have to give, ungrateful wench!” He could not control his tongue. After weeks of fear, terror that he would arrive to find her already gone, his temper ran unchecked. “Perhaps I should just take what I have already paid for, then!”
He would not harm her. It was not in what little remained of his soul to ever cause her harm. Yet, he craved one taste of her, and the chance to convince her to stay. Yanking her hard against him, he slanted his mouth over hers, and plundered willfully, the pirate he truly was.
Caroline’s body went rigid against his, and he heard a soft snick, like a knife loosed from its sheath. Breaking his hold, he barely heard her soft whisper, before heat pierced his chest, and the world began to darken. But, as he stared up into her tear-filled eyes, he knew he was betrayed, and her words were his last companion into the darkness.
Forgive me, my love.
He would not. He could not. She had consigned him to the Devil, but as life ebbed away from him, he made a promise to them both. One day, he would return. And she would pay for what she did.