First Mate Cade Talbot disobeyed a direct order, sacrificing himself to save his best friend. Since then, Captain Grant Rowen rules his ship with an iron fist, demanding strict compliance from all aboard.
Coffers are low, and when a lone woman requests passage to St. Thomas, Captain Rowen accepts her payment. But the stormy sea crossing holds more than just nature's surprises.
Aurora Journade reveals that she not only speaks to spirits, she makes love to them --and she doesn't follow orders. With Aurora's help, Cade has one last chance to reach out to his captain. Not even death can keep them from seeking passion's redemption.
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So Passes the Night
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Cassidy McKay
"Yes... no... Oh God, how you touch me, my love. But what if someone should see us? We shouldn't do this here." The female voice coming from the dark alley quivered, ripe with passion.
Grant couldn't hear her companion's murmured reply, but from her enthusiastic cries it must have been to her liking.
He continued toward the tavern, almost late for a meeting. The repairs to his ship had taken longer than he'd anticipated. Noise and smoke rolled out into the street as Grant pushed open the scarred wooden door, spreading over him in a wave of stinking humanity. Squinting through the smoke and dim light, he made his way to the busy barkeep.
"I'm looking for a merchant named Crofton. Know him?"
The slight man behind the bar pointed toward the corner where most of the noise was coming from. "Aye, Linch is over there."
Grant squared his shoulders and strode toward the merchant. "Crofton? Captain Rowen of the Venture. Amory Talbot said to find you the next time I was in port."
The older, ruddy-faced man fixed his gaze on Grant. "Yes, my cousin has good things to say about you, Rowen. It's a pity about his son, though. The boy was your first mate, wasn't he? Sit down and we'll have a drink before we talk business." He motioned to the barmaid for another round.
"Thank you, sir. Yes, Cade was my first mate." Grant took a long pull on the foaming brew the barmaid set before him. "I'm told you're looking for a ship to do some regular cargo runs. The Venture is a fine vessel and I have an experienced crew. She's in port now if you'd like to look her over." He took another drink and choked back bittersweet memories. He hadn't visited Cade's home port since just after his death, but it had been the closest for needed repairs.
* * *
Breathing in the fresh night air, Grant closed the tavern door behind him. The promise of a full cargo hold and a regular run starting at the end of the week lifted his lagging spirits. He walked down the street, dust kicking up under his boots as he hummed a familiar tune, one that his best friend Cade had often whistled.
A flash of red silk coming out of the alley was the only warning he received before he was knocked on his ass by a voluptuous female body. He wrapped his arms around her instinctively, her bountiful breasts flattening on his chest. The heady scent of aroused woman rose from her and his cock stiffened instantly.
"Oh, I beg your pardon, sir! I wasn't looking where I was going." She scrambled up and rushed off, leaving him with an aching cock and the impression of long, dark passion-rustled hair, haunting gypsy eyes, and a body made for love.
"My pleasure, miss." He readjusted his erection and stared after the little minx. He hadn't had a woman in a while, but the insistent desire pulsing in his cock from the unexpected tousle rekindled his interest. As he boarded his ship and took over the watch, he decided it might be time to see if the brothel in the next port was still in business.
* * *
"Please, I must speak with the captain."
Grant spied the woman rushing up the wooden gangplank past one of his crewmen, almost tripping in her haste. Though dressed well, she had no bags and no servants.
"I'm Captain Rowen, miss." He extended a hand to help her onto the deck and a thrill of awareness ran through him at the touch of her hand. It was the woman who had run him over last night. Her beautiful black hair was confined in an intricate knot, now, and the lush figure that had intrigued him was caged behind a corseted gown. He much preferred the unrestrained seductress of the night before.
She glanced up and her eyes widened with recognition and interest. Grant smiled, sensing sexual adventure in the wind. As any good sailor, he listened to the wind when it spoke to him.
"I am Miss Journade. I need immediate passage to St. Thomas, captain." She fidgeted nervously but didn't let go of his hand or drop her gaze.
"I'm afraid most of my crew is ashore on leave, miss. You'll have to wait until they return before we can set sail."
"It is important that I depart this afternoon, Captain Rowen. I can pay you well. I am meeting a... a friend and his time is very limited. Please, sir, I will give you whatever you want." She stepped forward and laid her hand on his chest, her fingers curling against the cloth. Could she feel his heart pounding with desire?
Grant weighed his options, measuring his empty coffers and skeleton crew against the delicious temptation of the woman and her money. Normally he would have refused, as would most captains. Women on ships were considered bad luck, and a woman without an escort could be nothing but trouble.
Still, the passage to St. Thomas was generally an easy one and they needed gold after the recent repairs. He'd risk the journey and try to find an acceptable chaperone in town while he rounded up as much of his crew as he could find.
"Welcome aboard the Venture, Miss Journade." He motioned toward a young boy standing in the shadows. "Remy, please show Miss Journade to the passenger's quarters. I'll be in town rounding up the crew. We set sail on my return."