Zalanthea's a runaway slave, but not by choice. While emptying chamber pots she's attacked by a Union Soldier, and in the process of defending herself she kills him accidentally; so she steals the town drunk's clothes to disguise herself as a boy.
Thinking her a lad First Mate Wooldridge offers her a job on board ship, because the boy looks as if he hasn't eaten in days. Zayla believes he's the Captain and follows him aboard the large ship. But she's surprised when Wooldridge delivers her to the captain, and she realizes just why he's been dubbed the name Stone. The piercing gray eyes say all he doesn't...
Thinking her a lad First Mate Wooldridge offers her a job on board ship, because the boy looks as if he hasn't eaten in days. Zayla believes he's the Captain and follows him aboard the large ship. But she's surprised when Wooldridge delivers her to the captain, and she realizes just why he's been dubbed the name Stone.
Excerpt: A Lad's Trouser's
As Stone came through the door, Ernie shot up from his chair. Stone's eyes narrowed, his glare going to Zayla. He stared at her for several moments then asked;
"Nothing, as you can see I'm teaching Ernie his letters." I snapped indignantly. I saw the look in his eyes and was appalled at what he was insinuating. Like he thought Ernie and I'd been doing something other than letters. Something improper!
He looked from me clutching the book, to Ernie with his hands in his pockets.
"Ernie, that will be all." He said not sparing Ernie even the slightest glance, as he continued to glare at me.
Stone would kill this pup if he found out he'd put his hands on her in any way.
"But I'm teaching him his letters. Surely you can't see anything wrong with that?" I cried shocked.
Ernie took his hands from his pocket to fiddle with the book I gave him. As he stared wide eyed at Stone he gulped when Stone spoke again.
"I said...that will...be all Ernie." This he hissed still glaring at me.
Ernie thought it best if he obeyed his captain and high tailed it out of there. Everyone onboard ship knew what the Cap was like when he was angry. He could see the sparks flying between these two, and he didn't wanna be anywhere near them.
"Aye Cap." Ernie squeaked and rushed for the door.
He couldn't leave fast enough!
I couldn't believe what he'd just done. What a bully! I placed my hands on my hips and turned so I could glare at him as well.
"What was the harm in me teaching him to read? You obviously can't either, because if you could you would have learned some manners by now."
"And reading was all ye two were doing?" He asked sitting on the edge of his desk.
"You've a filthy mind. And you're disgusting to boot. I was teaching him his letters and nothing more." I spat, and a hard little smile came to his lips.
"I never knew ye had to get so close to learn letters. At least my governess never taught that way." He replied looking directly at me now. "And I'll tell ye this, I won't have it in here again."
"What, you're just being cruel. Why shouldn't he learn to read and write, you do? Not that it's evident from the way you act. That is completely unfair of you. I don't see what the problem is?" I said giving him my nastiest look.
I could see the tiny muscle working itself in his jaw, the fire leaping to his eyes. I knew he was angry now, but I didn't care.
"Ye! A smart mouthed little wench who doesn't have the faintest notion of what a man is, or what he'll do."
"I know about men alright, and what you're thinking was the furthest from his mind. Why he's nothing more than a boy himself. It's you with the filthy mind."
"Boy? The devil he is." Stone cried and turned to open the door to someone's pounding. He snatched it open to reveal a frowning Wooldridge.
"Stone we can hear ye all the way up on deck. The men know there's a woman on board now."
Stone turned sharply to glower at me. Seething with anger now, I could see he shook from head to foot.
"Now look what ye've done!" He shouted nearly turning blue in the face.
"Me? How is this my fault? You're the one who came in her bellowing like the fricken hounds of hell, with that big fat mouth of yours. All you ever do is yell at people. And it was your filthy mind which started this in the first place. So fu..." I paused as Wooldridge gasped.
Stone closed his eyes and Art could see the fury mounting. This situation was about to explode, and Art didn't wanna be anywhere near it when it did. The only reason Stone was pitching such a fit about the whole thing was because he was jealous, and Art was loving every minute of it. Stone knew he cared for Zayla, but he was too busy trying to hide it.
The lad had come to Art and asked if it was all right, and Art seeing nothing wrong with it said yes. Not to mention he wanted to play devil's advocate. It'd been a long time since he'd seen any spark of life to his friend, and he'd begun to worry about him.
"Well yes then, I'll leave you two alone to sort this out on your own. But please come up top Stone when you're done." Art said as he left.
They could hear him laughing all the way up the corridor.
"So, ye think ye know so much about men eh?" Stone asked as he approached her.
I inched backwards and around his desk, only stopping when I felt the desk at the back of my legs.
"I...I didn't..." My voice trailed off as he stood directly in front of me now, pinning me with his icy stare.
My breath trapped itself in my throat.
"Tell me what ye know Zayla love?" He mocked in a whisper, his lips inches from my own. I closed my eyes, because all of a sudden I felt so strange. I needed to move away from him.
Stone watched her every move.
Finally I opened my eyes, only to find him still staring at me. Before I knew what to do his lips crushed mine stilling any further protest I might have voiced. I clutched at his chest for balance, weakened by the flood and intensity of whatever it was he'd evoked from me. My lips burned as if they were being scorched, and my heart seemed to race around in my chest trying to break free.
Stone deepened the kiss, his mouth fierce and demanding.
I felt myself respond with the same intensity, and a need of urgency which surprised even me.
He lifted me and placed me on his desk, as his lips moved over mine seeking a response which matched his own. His lips traveled the length of my throat, then back to my mouth.
He was consuming me, and yet at the same time creating a fire which threatened to burn out of control. He coaxed my lips open with his tongue, and plundered the softness of my mouth. He deepened the kiss once more, as a slight moan escaped my lips.
Then just as suddenly as he'd started it, he broke off the kiss and non to gently pushed me away from him.
I gasped looking up at him.
"I see...ye have a vast knowledge of men." He mocked, turned and left me trembling from the havoc he'd just worked on my senses.
My hand immediately went to my lips, and they felt swollen. I'd never been kissed like that in my entire life!
I slid off the desk and fixed the front of his shirt. My trembling hand went to my hair, and I smoothed it from my face.
In mere seconds he'd managed to humiliate me for life.
Why had I been so stupid?
I asked myself as I retrieved my fallen book and walked back to the bed. As I tried to read the pages I realized they were out of focus, and the tears began to fall.
I hated him!
He was as black as the devil! I would find some way of escaping this ship, if it was the last thing I did! That little voice inside my head asked me why I was running.
Is it because you're in love with him?
I screamed back, but I knew it to be true.
Where would I go anyway?
You have no place and no one
I got up and retrieved the cap, then placed it on my head. I needed some fresh air. I needed to get my thoughts in order. I wanted to feel the ocean breeze on my face, and had to get out of this blasted cabin.