2:00 pm, Monday River Thames
“’Tis good to be on a boat again,” Fiona said as the Sea Rover glided along, “even though ‘tis nae like a loch.”
“That is an understatement,” Lorelei answered, trying not to sound sarcastic. Loch Awe, where Strae Castle was located, was crystal clear and carried the fresh scents of forested woods and heather. The river was grey and murky and smelled awful. Hopefully, this sailing adventure would not last that long now that Erik hadn’t accompanied them.
“Combien de temps avant qu’ils ne le découvrent?” the boatswain asked the first mate.
“J’espère pas avant que nous soyons en mer.” He shrugged. “Je ne veux pas les attacher.”
“What are they saying?” Fiona asked.
Lorelei frowned, not sure she heard correctly. She’d taken two years of French while Papa was still alive, but hadn’t had much cause to use it.
“Oui. C’est une bonne dizaine de jours à Tripoli.”
“Avec de bons vents.”
The boatswain laughed. “Nous obtiendrons beaucoup d’argent pour eux.”
Those last words chilled her. She gave Fiona a look that she hoped her friend would understand before she turned to the first mate at the helm. She prayed her voice wouldn’t shake.
“Do you mind if we stretch our legs a bit and walk to the bow?”
“Of course. Just hang on to the railing so you do not fall overboard,” he answered.
Falling overboard might be a good option. She wondered how the man could be so pleasant after what he’d said.
Luckily, Fiona followed her without a word until they reached the bow.
“What is wrong?”
“We’ve been betrayed,” she whispered.
Fiona widened her eyes. “What?”
“Shhh!” she cautioned. “Keep your voice down and smile like we are having a regular conversation.”
“Just do it.” Lorelei arranged her face in what she hoped looked like they were having a pleasant conversation. When Fiona did the same, she continued.
“They are planning to take us to Tripoli.”
“Tripoli?” Somehow, Fiona managed to keep smiling. “Across the Mediterranean?” When Lorelei nodded, she whispered, “Why?”
Lorelei pretended to push a strand of hair away from Fiona’s face, but her hand was really there to place on her mouth to keep her quiet. “They are going to sell us. The boatswain said we’d bring good money.”
To her credit, Fiona remained perfectly still. Lorelei slowly lowered her hand. “They were talking that it will take ten days to reach Tripoli with fair winds.”
Her friend was quiet for so long, looking over the water, that Lorelei wasn’t sure her words had registered. She was about to ask when Fiona turned to her.
“I doona think I will go.”
As if they had a choice? “We are trapped.” She looked over the bow sprint at the rapid current sweeping them along. “Are you thinking we should jump over? I…I cannot swim that well.”
“I have nae desire to swim in that filth,” Fiona replied, her hand moving slowly over her skirt. “Ye do remember that I always carry a knife?”
“Yes, but…” Lorelei looked back to make sure none of the men were coming forward. “… you will not have time to stab all four of them.”
“I doona need to.” she reached down subtly to pull her sgian dubh out of its sheath on her leg, then kept it hidden in the folds of her skirt. “Ye forget that I ken my way around a boat. What I need ye to do is keep the men occupied in the cockpit while I fray the halyards holding up the jib and the main sail.” She gave Lorelei a genuine smile. “The ropes will tear, the sails will flap, and we will have to stop to do repairs before the ship can make it out of port.”
“You can do that?”
“Aye.” Fiona gave her a little shove. “Now go and do what your English Society has taught ye how to do.”
Lorelei would have laughed if she hadn’t been so utterly terrified. Flirting was supposed to be a genteel sport of sorts. A game of cat-and-mouse. Only this was no game. There were four tigers in the cockpit.
If she survived this, she would forever respect the actresses on Drury Lane. She took a deep breath. Right now, her life—and Fiona’s—depended on her own acting ability.
(c) Cynthia Breeding, Entangled Publishing, 2021. Shared with permission from the publisher.
Children of the Mist #3
Lorelei Caldwell is elated about her first season in London. For the next few months, she and her best friend can indulge in balls, flirting, and enjoying the delights of London society without any family interference. This season is for adventure, not marriage. But her adventures are short-lived after the arrival of her friend’s brawny, dark-haired Highlander brother, Alasdair MacGregor, who insists on standing as chaperone.
Officially, Alasdair is in London to reclaim lands that rightfully belong to his clan. Unofficially, he’s here to figure out how best to win Lorelei’s hand in marriage. But London proves to be full of complications… especially when she begins matchmaking him with someone else.
Except Lorelai’s plans have backfired and she is finding herself craving Alasdair’s attentions. Her longing for freedom could come at a high price, unless Alasdair can salvage her reputation...without destroying her independent heart.
Romance Historical [Entangled: Amara, On Sale: November 15, 2021, e-Book, / eISBN: 9781649372468]
An avid reader of anything medieval, Cynthia Breeding has taught the traditional Arthurian legends to high school sophomores for fifteen years. She owns more than three hundred books, fictional and non-fictional, on the subject. More information on Arthur, Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot can be found on the Historical Account link. In addition, she has won numerous awards including the Holt Medallion, Beacon Contest, Barclay Gold, More Than Magic and Ancient City Romance Authors. Cynthia lives on the bay with her Bichon Frise and enjoys sailing and riding on the beach.
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