Title: The Pirate’s Jewel
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Historic Romance Fantasy
Deception and family honor are at stake – so is her heart.
Wesley Reynolds will do anything to avenge his family’s banishment from Dundhragon Castle even throw in with the notorious pirate, MacAlpin. His plan, ruin Lord Ewan’s trading network. He has a more devious plan for his father’s ‘best friend,’ the man who abandoned them at the eleventh hour. He’ll ruin the man’s most precious jewel, his daughter Darla. Wesley’s so close to ruining the trade network and succeeding he can almost taste it, but revenge is not nearly as sweet as Darla’s kisses.
Darla Maxwell, beloved by her parents has no prospects of marriage. Her father and Lord Ewan search to find her the right husband. Darla’s special gifts are frightening to many. She has visions that often come true. The murky image of a man haunts her, she’s sure it’s Lord Ewan’s soon-to-be son-in-law, but the vision morphs when she meets Wesley. The meaning couldn’t be any clearer to her, her destiny lies with Wesley.
When revelations surface indicating Wesley has been deceived and his revenge misplaced. Will he find the truth of what really happened to his family in time to stop the pirates? Will Darla ever forgive him? Will he ever forgive himself?
She closed her eyes. Once again, she was seven. After all these years the memory still haunted her.
The day was cold and damp. The gray mist that hung low over the water made seeing difficult.
“Why did you insist on coming here today?” her mother asked as they walked along the narrow rock-littered strip between the cliff wall and water.
“Something made me come here. Now I fear I may be too late,” she said softly.
A woman’s frightened scream pierced the air and brought them to a halt. Darla’s eyes widened. Her pulse quickened as the cry echoed along the stone wall making it hard to locate its source. The scream came again, this time desperate and terrified.
Darla’s legs pounded along the shore, her ears strained for any clue as to where to find the woman. Another wail, painful and pitiful broke the silence. In the thinning haze not far away, she saw the woman weeping at the water’s edge by the base of the rock spur that reached far into the water and disappeared into the gray mist.
“Help me, please. My boy,” the woman pleaded and pointed into the mist. “He went out in a boat with a friend. I told him not to go, but he insisted.”
Darla’s mother tried to calm the woman, but nothing helped.
“I’ll never forget the sound of the boat crashing against the rocks. I called out to him, but he never answered.” Tears traced down the woman’s cheeks. Her mother cried with her.
This was why she was drawn here today. She ran down the rock spur. Pieces of wood floated in the water.
“Here,” another boy called. “I tried to reach him, but he’s down too deep.”
Without hesitation, she dove in the water as she had done a hundred times. Down she swam to see what she could find.
Over and over she dove to the bottom and searched. People gathered on the shore, some out on the spur.
Her mother begged her to stop, but the agony of the boy’s mother’s sobs pushed Darla to her limits. She wouldn’t stop until she found him.
She climbed onto the rocks for a wider look and concentrated, the boy’s friend not far away.
“As above, so below, as within, so without, I ask for help and a clear mind, show me where the boy to find, so mote it be.” She repeated the words over and over.
Her hand brushed the small pouch she wore. Another deep breath and she dove back into the water. It was a foolish chant, but one that helped her focus. For a moment, she hung suspended trying to find inspiration on where to search next.
A movement to her right caught her attention. The vision of her sea dragon rushed up from below and darted in front of her. She followed and skimmed along the bottom until she reached an underwater cliff. Could the boy have fallen to the valley below?
She didn’t hesitate. Darla rose to the surface, took a breath, and dove for the cliff. Deeper and deeper she went passing the edge of the cliff and deeper still until she reached the valley bottom. Sunlight barely touched this place. As dark as it was, she managed to make out debris from the boat. She knew the boy was near and rushed on to find him.
Her lungs demanded air, but she kept on going. She feared she was already too late. Mud and debris swirled beyond the large boulder in front of her. She hurried, reached for the rock and pulled herself around. The mud settled and the outline of a boy pulling on a rope caught in the debris emerged.
She wasted no time as she and the boy worked the clumsy knot until it fell away. With renewed energy, she grabbed him, kicked off the bottom and pulled for the surface with her free arm. Her lungs burned as she fought the instinct to take a breath. The light grew brighter as they raced up, but the surface remained beyond her reach. Her legs ached, her arm tired, her lungs were on fire.
The boy slipped in her grip. It would be so easy to let him go and swim to safety, but that wasn’t a choice. She repositioned him and felt his arm tighten around her.
She kicked hard and rushed to the surface as if pushed from beneath. She looked down, the image of her sea dragon forcing her to the top.
Up they went the water brighter with each stroke. No more air. Just. Keep. Kicking. Pull. Stretch. One. More. Time. With energy she didn’t think she had, she stretched her arm over her head and felt air. She looked beneath her. Her sea dragon was gone.
Darla and the boy broke through the water. Arms grabbed the boy from her grasp. He was safe. They were both in a boat. But still, she didn’t take a breath. Strong fingers held her chin and wiggled her face.
She opened her mouth and sprang up gulping for air.
“Now, now, sit back.” A gentle hand pushed her down.
“She’s fine,” the man shouted over the noise. “Come Lass, we’ll have you back to your mother. You gave her quite a scare. If you’re worried about the other boy, he’s safe.”
Darla didn’t struggle. She didn’t have the strength. Her arms ached, her chest heaved, thankful for each breath and thankful the boy had enough strength to help get them to the top.
As the men rowed to shore, she silently said a prayer of thanks. She had brought him home.
The men moved them quickly from the boat on to the shore. A tingling at the back of her neck made her turn. She stared into the dark insolent eyes of the boy on the rocks. He said nothing, simply turned and walked away.
The men carried the boy to shore, his mother ran to his side.
“Mother,” he murmured.
The woman bent close to hear him.
Darla turned her head and gazed into the boy’s eyes that were filled with intelligence and gratitude. Her eyes went wide and her heart pounded against her chest. She pulled away from her mother and rushed to him.
He held her hand and bit his bottom lip over and over. She bent her ear to his mouth but heard only a whisper. His grasp weakened. A smile spread across his face before water dribbled from his lips and his eyes clouded over. Nothing she or the others did could save the boy or console the grief-stricken mother. Her sobs continued as they carried him away.
Wrapped in a blanket, her mother slid her arms around her as they sat on the shore.
“What good is my gift if all I am is a useless witness?” She spat out the words.
“You brought the boy to his mother for him to say goodbye. Maybe that is why you were here, not to save him, but to save her.”
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What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
Wesley and Darla are the parents of Lisbeth, the heroine in The Guardian’s Witch. I wanted to know how Wesley and Darla met and fell in love. The only way to find out was to write their story.
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