Drake was aboard the Seahawk. He and his crew had spent the morning helping to make repairs to the battered ship that would hopefully see it safely to it's destination. Drake stood near the Seahawk's mast with captain Taylor, reviewing the list they had composed pertaining to the repairs that had been made, and the ones that still needed attention. Both ships had a limited supply of materials that had been used for the repairs, but they still required more wood to patch the hull completely. The materials they had used had sealed up the cannon blasts ten feet high, a safe enough level above the seawater on a calm sea, but should they encounter even a squall the open three foot by five foot space that was left would be their undoing.
Captain Taylor had ordered the damaged cabins to be dismembered to supply the needed lumber. The captain had then asked Drake if he would be able to accommodate the passengers that had been left without lodgings, offering to provide food and water stores for the time being, and a healthy payment upon their safe arrival. Drake had agreed and seven additional passengers had been escorted to his ship and shown to empty cabins. There were two families, one consisting of a father, mother and two daughters, the other was a Viscount, his brother, and his heir of newly reached majority. Of course, Mrs. White and her companion would remain aboard his vessel as well.
Drake was not sure how he felt about that, and he almost suggested that another party, with an escort, be moved upon his ship, and the ladies returned, but the words would not pass his lips. Her companion was injured, and unlike the Seahawk, his doctor was a female. A fact that he knew made the situation much more comfortable for all involved. The Lady's doctor, known only as Shaw, was a Jamaican woman. Some claimed she was a witch, but in the five years she had sailed with the Lady and her crew, she had brought them nothing but good fortune. The woman had a history of her own, but she never spoke of it. She did, however, have the foulest mouth he had ever encountered.
To be honest, he did not want Mrs. Arianna White to go either. He remembered the previous evening fondly, even though he knew he had to apologize for the kiss. It was not that he regretted kissing her, but rather, that he had not meant to scare her. And yet his conscious warned that he should not pursue a lady when there was nothing he could offer her.
The fact that he was promised to another had weighed heavily upon his mind late into the night and had been present all morning. He was conflicted between this very real, very powerful attraction he felt for the angel aboard his ship, no doubt sleeping away the healthy portion of rum she had consumed the night before, and his sense of honor to the woman his father had promised him to. Now, it was true, many men easily dismissed fidelity when it came to marriage, but his father had never been one of them, and even Drake had ended one affair before entangling in another. Drake had had more than his share of women in almost every port they had put into, but he had never failed to say his goodbyes before turning his eye to a new attraction. He was not sure that a few short months, should she agree to spend them with him, would be enough. He knew the widow White was the kind of woman to get into a man's blood. Hell, she was already a surge of heat in his. And he had only spent one evening with her.
It was then he realized how little he knew about her.
He knew she was beautiful. He knew she was eloquent and graceful. He knew that she had a sense of humor, as did he. He knew that she was the perfect height to slip in against him, just under his chin. He knew that he had not had to lean down strenuously to bring her lips to his and he also knew how almost.. right it had felt to do so.
Shaking the thoughts from his head he realized the other captain was speaking to him. He smiled lazily and stretched both hands out before him to show that he was at a loss. "I apologize, what was the question?"
"I had asked, captain, how much of my stores will you need transferred to your ship to keep the extra passengers comfortable?"
Drake nodded, and attempted to come up with an amount. Shaking his head again, he replied, "Allow me to check my stores and run a few numbers. I will have a figure to you shortly." He was already moving to the bridge of gangplank that had been constructed between the two ships. "My crew are at your disposal captain."
Drake crossed back to his ship and preceded to his cabin. Reaching his desk he unlocked the drawers and rummaged through them for his logbooks and a quill. He found them easily enough, and began to compute how much food and water he would need, to sustain the extra passengers. It was not a large amount, as he kept his stores full and freshly replenished. He fumbled through his drawers once again, looking for a fresh sheet of parchment with which to send captain Taylor his figures, when he came across his betrothal contracts. Pulling them free, he began to read them for the hundredth time.
I, William Kent, the eighth Duke of Marlborough, promise my daughter, Lady Arianna Kent, to Drake Medeiros, the ninth Earl of Trent, heir to the Marquess of Moonhurst...
The document went on to state terms of the dowry and bride price, but Drake stared at the name. Arianna Kent. Arianna. Was the name that he had never previously heard, so common that his betrothed, and his angel, shared it? How odd.
The memory of the previous day aboard the Seahawk, when he had asked her her name, came to mind. "Arianna Ken.. White. Mrs. Arianna White."
Had she been about to say Kent? Was it possible? Could his angel and betrothed be one in the same? But surely she couldn't be. Wouldn't a Duke's daughter be safely at home awaiting her wedding? Surely a Duke's daughter would never dream of visiting the colonies without a full entourage. He had thought she may have been highborn, but surely no Duke's daughter would be as courageous as his angel. And no Duke's daughter would be caught dead sneaking into a gypsy camp to learn their primitive dances.
No, they could not be one and the same. It had to be coincidental that they shared the same first name. Well, he thought, if this siren angel brands her name in his blood, his lady wife would never know.
Setting the contract back into it's drawer, he dug a little deeper and produced the blank page he needed. After penning his note, he folded the parchment and moved towards his door. Voices could be heard in the hall but they were not loud enough for the words to be distinguished. Drake propped open his door and glanced out in the hallway in time to hear the last of his siren's words. "..And rum. Please be quick about it."
Drake's brows raised as he watched her rumpled raven curls retreat behind the door frame, and he heard the latch on her door click into place. The cabin boy turned to carry out her wishes, and as he passed, Drake stopped him, handed him the note, and gave him his own instructions, "See this to captain Taylor aboard the Seahawk, and then report back to me. Drop the lady's orders with Pedro on your way."
"But sir, the lady said it was.."
"Who pays your wages, boy?"
"You do, captain. But the lady said.."
"Do as you are told, boy."
Until next time :)
YOU ARE READING
The Duke's Daughter -Wattys2014 Collector's Dream Award Winner-Historical Fiction
The Duke of Marlborough has signed betrothal contracts on behalf of his daughter, Lady Arianna Kent. But Arianna is not the type to blindly follow her father's biddings. It is not long before Arianna has different plans for her life and as the weddi...