excerpt

Excerpt: Alone With The Captain

Astray‘s release is just one month away. Because of that, I’d like to share a short excerpt from the book with you today. In this scene, Nick has been part of Captain Hart’s crew for just a few days. He is still struggling to find his place, and trying to understand what the Captain wants from him.

When supper is over and the sun has begun to set, Hill asks Nick to bring a message to Hart.

Goldie, listening in, slaps Nick’s shoulder when he hears. “Wouldn’t want to go in there myself. Seems he’s in one of his moods today.”

Nick thinks of this as he waits outside the Captain’s cabin.

“Yes?” Hart calls from the opposite side of the door.

“Sorry, sir,” Nick blurts out as soon as he steps into the room. “Mr. Hill said to bring word. They emptied another barrel of hardtack tonight. There are six left.”

Hart is sitting at the table with the book open in front of him again. The sunlight is fading, and the room is a little too dark to read, but the candlesticks aren’t lit. “Thank you.”

Nick turns to leave.

“Wait. Now that you are here… how are your sewing skills?”

Nick turns around to answer Hart’s question. “Fine, sir.”

Hart stands and walks over to the bed to get something. The bed-hangings obscure the view but then Hart pulls out a dark bundle of fabric—his coat. He strides to the window and places the coat on the low leather bench. Comes back to the bed to rummage through a chest underneath it. “I tore it on a nail earlier. I had meant to mend it tonight but I don’t think I can find the time.” He finds what he has been searching for—a needle and thread.

Nick is reminded of Hart telling him off for idling earlier. The pad of his thumb is still tender from working on the sails. At least this time the cloth isn’t as hard to work with as canvas.

“Sit here.” Hart places the items on top of the coat, before returning to his book. “You will need the light.”

Nick sits. The bench is upholstered—a comfort he isn’t used to. He runs the fabric of the coat between his fingers. It is wool, pitch black and lined with some fine, thin material Nick does not know. Cotton? His fingertips find the tear quickly—a sliver of lining bursting through on the left side, right beneath the pocket. He works, the same way he used to in the winters when his mother’s hands were dull from ache and he and Jamie split such chores between them. The coat’s embroideries mock him with their silver threads, their shine and fancy. Like taunting voices from inside a world he can never enter.

Hart takes no more notice of him. He sits with his back turned and neck bowed down, focused on his work. Occasionally he lifts the quill or turns a page. The faint light makes his shirt appear whiter and his hair almost black, where it rests against his collar. If he’s in a foul mood or not, Nick can’t tell, but it’s a relief when he’s done with his task, the tear made undone with a net of stitches.

“It’s finished, sir.”

Hart comes over. Takes the coat from Nick, examines it. He frowns, and Nick braces himself for a scolding.

“Good.” Hart runs his fingertip over the mending. “Thank you. You may leave.”

Nick does as he is told. But he hesitates at the door and turns to glance at Hart again. The Captain is holding the coat in front of him still. Like he is searching for holes or broken seams. Or like he’s deep lost in thoughts.

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Release day! + snippet

The release date for Entertaining the Sombrevilles has finally come. I’m so excited, and so grateful that it’s happening. This has been my dream since I was in my teens, though to be honest I don’t think I ever imagined being published in English. It’s beyond what I thought was possible then.

To celebrate today, I thought I’d share with you a snippet from the book. This is from a scene where Lucas, the youngest of the Sombrevilles, has escaped from a dinner party together with a handsome stranger:

~~~

While his siblings were leaving the dining hall together with the other guests, Lucas Sombreville sneaked into the garden in the company of Giles Perry, Viscount Atherton. Atherton had made it quite clear, from the first time their eyes met in the hall earlier, that Lucas was his number one priority tonight. The other guests around their table probably saw it as nothing other than an older man’s genuine interest in a boy who seemed destined for a bright future, maybe reminiscing on his own adolescent years and the dreams he once had.

For all Lucas knew, Atherton might have some nostalgic reason for being drawn to him. His main interest, though, was something else entirely and Lucas sighed contentedly when they were finally outside and Atherton pulled him into an embrace.

“I could lose my entire career for this,” the man groaned, strong fingers digging into Lucas’s hair. “You’re practically a schoolboy.”

“I am a schoolboy,” Lucas said, and Atherton groaned even louder.

“I should go back inside,” he said, “I really should. Christ, my wife is in there. And my father-in-law.”

Lucas had been introduced to Lady Atherton earlier: a pointy-nosed, decidedly unpleasant woman. He had not been the least surprised to learn that she counted herself as one of Lady Blackford’s closest friends.

“Please don’t,” he said, tugging at the man’s lapel. “You promised you’d show me the view.”

“Oh, my dear, I’d show you anything.” Atherton cupped Lucas’s face in his hands. His eyes were a light grey, almost the same shade as his hair. “Just let me kiss you and you can have anything you wish for.”

Lucas let him. Atherton’s lips were dry and warm, his breath tinged with wine. They were still on the stairs leading down from the back terrace and the thought of how easily they might be spotted excited Lucas even more. Atherton must have thought of it too, for he ended the kiss and took Lucas by the hand.

“Come with me, it’s too risky… it’s all too risky…” But he kissed Lucas again before they were even off the stairs, pushing him against the wall and running his hands along Lucas’s chest and belly.

“Oh, sir,” Lucas moaned, knowing exactly what men like Lord Atherton wanted most of all. “I-I’ve never…”

Atherton’s hips pushed forward and Lucas grabbed him by the shoulders just to keep himself from reaching down the man’s trousers. Might spoil the illusion.

“Don’t worry, my darling.” Atherton’s voice was so thick with arousal Lucas could hardly make out the words. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”

“You will take care of me, won’t you?”

Atherton kissed his forehead, his nose, his cheeks. Hands sneaked inside Lucas’s jacket and stroked his back and shoulder blades. “I will, dear, I will.”

~~~

Get the book here or here to find out what happens next!

30- Post a chapter or so for everyone to read and review

It’s not an entire chapter but it is the last page of a chapter… Chris has just joined the pirate crew and here’s what happens during one of his first meetings with the Captain:

Captain Hart had eaten by himself that night. By his desk, because the cabin had no room for a dining table. He didn’t say much while I served his dinner but as I was leaving, I heard him say my name.

”Come back here once you’re finished. I’ve got more work for you.”

More work meant polishing his black boots. I sat on the floor near the door, rubbed the stiff leather with a cloth. Rubbed until it shone. Music could be heard from outside. Captain Hart was by the desk, books and scrolls in heaps in front of him. He was down to his shirt, just like during the night, and wore no socks. Through the opening in his shirt I could see the skull amulet peeking out with its evil eyes. He didn’t speak to me. Now and then I heard him sigh, watched him run his fingers through his hair. Outside of the window, the light was sinking lower. All noises from the other side of the door had died out.

“Chris,” he said at last, putting away the documents he’d been studying. “Come here.”

He showed me to the bench by the window but did not sit down beside me. “Do you want a glass of wine?”

It was a strange question, I didn’t understand it. Gentlemen drank wine. Mr Thomas had been drinking wine. I said no.

“No? Oh well, suit yourself. The bottles were a gift from the king of Spain to the governor of Panama, unless I’m mistaken… or would have been, if they had reached their destination.”

The hint of a smile, before he sat down. The room was lighter this time and I saw the fine net of veins on the back of his hand, the curve of nails.

“How are you settling in on board?”

New people, names and events running through my head.

“Very good, sir.”

“I do hope everyone’s been nice to you.”

I told him they had, and he nodded.

“They’d better be! It’s rather different from what you’re used to, of course.”

“I’ve only been at sea for a few weeks, sir.”

He raised his eyebrows. “So you just left your village. Ashley, wasn’t it? That was a very brave thing you did, leaving home like that.”

I could have told him that I regretted my decision more than anything, but didn’t want to risk making him angry.

“It must be a beautiful place.” His hand was placed on my shoulder.

“It is, sir.”

Warmth through the fabric of my shirt.

“You miss home a lot, don’t you?”

The fingertips moved to my right shoulder, caressed my neck. His eyes were like stormy clouds as he looked at me.

“I do, sir.”

There was a strange atmosphere in the room, I wouldn’t be able to describe it. Almost like it had grown darker in there. His other hand landed on my arm.

“You truly are lovely.”

He put his arms around me. A tender embrace, soft, light. Then he looked at me, so close that I could feel his hot breath on my skin. A single moment, before he pressed his lips against mine.

I broke free, stared at him. My cheeks were hot.

“Come, don’t worry.” He grabbed my hand, squeezed it. Came closer to hold me again, and I didn’t try to push him away. Not even as he started caressing my hair. He was warm next to me, and my arms ended up around his waist somehow.

“There’s no one here to see us.” His face closed in on mine once more and this time I let it happen. Let him kiss my lips and touch my cheeks, while I stroked his back.

He ended it after that. Leaned forward to press a chaste kiss to my brow, caressed my fingers.

“I’ve kept you here for far too long. Off you go back to the others… good night.”

A smile, his gaze that followed me through the room. The mad, thumping heartbeat in my chest. He had kissed me. Captain Hart had kissed me.

And I had enjoyed it.