Title: The Pirate’s Jewel
Author: Ruth A. Casie
Genre: Historical Romance
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?
If he wouldn’t stay, then she had no choice but to go with him. The trip was less than a half day’s travel. All she had to do was get on board and stay out of sight. The idea appealed to her. She’d already left Lord Ewan a note. He wouldn’t be looking for her.
She licked her lips. Father would be very upset if he found her on board. The simple answer was to make sure he didn’t find her. This ship was so much bigger than the others her father owned. Hiding shouldn’t be too difficult. The trip was short, and she only had to make sure he didn’t find her until after they had gone too far to return.
She hurried to the gangplank, while her resolve was still intact, and stole onboard.
“Men, gather round.”
The sound of her father’s voice coming from the forward structure nearly made her jump out of her soft soled shoes.
“We encountered pirates earlier and we suspect we will again on this short voyage as well. You can leave if you want without any question. But there’s double pay for those who stay.”
She braced herself against the small castle door and tried to blend into the shadows expecting sailors to rush toward the gangplank to make their escape. No one came.
“I’m glad you’re with me.” Her father sounded relieved. “Now stay alert, follow Captain Richards’ orders. With any luck we’ll have a smooth sail home and be in our beds before the sun comes up. Captain, dismiss the men.”
Frantic, she glanced around. Barrels stood like sentinels stacked in the corners. Frozen to the spot, she had no idea where to go. Men’s voices from the bow grew louder and jolted her into action. Stepping between the barrels, she tucked herself down out of sight.
Men’s voices were all around her shouting orders, while others groaned as they leaned their backs into the tasks. Two sailors hauled up the gangplank. From her hiding place, she looked on as the mates released the dock lines and others managed the sail. Still others used poles to push away from the dock.
The barrels around her inched apart as the ship caught the current and moved into the channel. With nothing to grab onto, all she could do was pray they didn’t roll away with her.
The sail rippled as it unfurled and filled with air. The guidelines pulled and strained. The power of the ship was unmistakable. She closed her eyes and for the moment enjoyed the surge of power as the ship moved forward. The smooth gliding motion and the lapping water against the hull thrilled her now as it had years ago.
Her father burst through the doorway a few feet from her. Instinctively, she pushed back, hoping her brown dress blended in with the wood grain.
“Sir,” Captain Richards’ second man said. “I couldn’t find Lady Darla. I went half way up the street toward the castle and didn’t see her.”
“That girl will be the death of me. If I’ve told her once, I’ve told her a hundred times she is not to go anywhere without an escort.”
Anger rolled off her father in waves. Even from where she sat she saw his clenched jaw and fisted hands.
“Why aren’t these below?” her father asked, pointing toward the barrels that comprised her hiding place.
Richards shrugged. “With Lord Ewan’s men and supplies, there isn’t any room. I’ll have the men tie them to the deck.”
Darla froze. The men picked up ropes and started to secure the barrels across from her. Her watery eyes enlarged, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled, and gooseflesh pimpled her frigid skin. Slow and deliberate, a tall man stepped out of the shadows and marched toward her hiding place. Please, don’t let him find me. Not now. She kept her gaze focused on him and tamped down her building panic. There was no place for her to run. She was trapped. His powerful well-muscled body moved toward her with an easy grace.
As he got closer, she tried to make out his facial features. They were strong, but in the darkening shadows, she couldn’t make out who approached. His dark hair was ruffled by the wind. He moved with an air of authority and the appearance of one who demanded instant obedience.
She closed her eyes. A vision emerged from a swirl of mist. A face. His face. Wesley Mills’ face. She snapped her eyes open.
With all the activity and noise around her she still heard his footsteps thunder as he came across the deck heading toward her. If he unveiled her now, all would be lost. He bent over the barrels, stretched his arm between the casks brushing her shoulder, but not claiming it.
“You’ll not find Magnus there either, m’lady.”
“As your co-conspirator you can call me Wesley. Now hush. Not another word.” He found the loose sail next to her and yanked it out. With a toss, he covered the barrels with the sheet.
“Tie this down. This will keep the barrels and anything else in place,” Wesley said.
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If money were no object, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
I would go to Scotland in the spring. I have traveled around the world, but there is no place like Scotland, the scenery, the history, and the people. Everywhere I looked another story popped into my mind.
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I love the warmer weather, the flowers blooming and the longer days. It all makes me feel renewed.
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RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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