Wednesday, March 27, 2013

His Lady in Green: Chapter Nineteen

Stars winked in the broad expanse of sky overhead, and the scent of tobacco drifted on the humid night air. Eve lay on her back in soft matted grass, and for a moment she only wanted to close her eyes and drift into blessed sleep, forget the mania of this night and wake more able to face it in the morning.
But she didn’t have all the emeralds, so she sat and took stock of her surroundings. Below the riverbank where she sat, a brightly lit riverboat was moored at the end of a dock. Tinny music and laughter floated on the night air, and couples dotted the deck. The American Captain Carson Daubenay’s riverboat, she recalled with apprehension. She’d fled from the man who had threatened to lock her up for her imagined crimes.
She patted the bag on her wrist, assuring herself her precious attainments had made this last journey safely. It was just as well the knife remained on the floor of Tristan’s chamber. She could hardly steal aboard the paddlewheel boat carrying a jewel-encrusted weapon without suspicion. She brushed bits of grass from her rumpled dress, took a comb from the little purse and ran it through her hair. After a quick glossing of her lips, she made her way down the hillside, no easy jaunt in the stilettos which by now had her feet aching.
 Her ruined shoes made a racket on the gangplank, but she strode forward as though she belonged there.
‘Don’t see many unescorted ladies of an evenin’,’ the balding man seated on a keg at the top said around the stub of a cigar.
‘Captain Daubenay is expecting me,’ she said and continued past. ‘Point me to his cabin please.’
‘Down the stairs at the end of the corridor.’
Eve followed his directions until she stood before the last door in the narrow corridor. By some twist of fate no one had stopped her. She reached for the knob. The door was soundly locked.
‘Looking for something?’ The aromatic scent of tobacco enfolded her, as did the Captain’s heat along her back. With her trapped before him, he inserted a key into the lock, turned it and pushed her into his dark cabin. ‘I’ve been waiting for you. I did a little research.’
Her heart beat furiously.
A match lit, illuminating his features as he lit a lamp and turned up the wick.
Eve glanced around the tiny room. A wide bunk fastened to one wall, a trunk against the other and a small sturdy writing desk were the only furnishings.
‘Research?’ she asked.
‘I vaguely recalled some talk of a legend, so I contacted my brother and inquired. I’d cut myself off from the family, but I suppose that doesn’t matter to the Lady in Green. If you don’t mind a test, let me ask you this. Why have you come back? Have you returned for me? To stay perhaps?’ He approached and reached to skim the backs of his fingers along her cheek. ‘You are surprisingly real.’
Eve’s skin tingled where he touched her. His black hair shone in the lantern light, and his eyes pierced her with intense scrutiny—and regret. She let her eyelids drift shut and enjoyed the caress against her cheek, stole her hand to the front of his jacket.
A swell moved the boat ever so gently, but the movement reminded her where she was and of her mission. ‘I’ve found a love in the not-so-distant future,’ she told him. ‘His name is Sebastian, and he’s heir of the 14th Earl of Meryngham.’
‘This Sebastian will make you happy?’
‘I believe he will, yes.’
‘Then why are you here?’
‘The emeralds you saw me wearing when we last met are missing. I can’t go back without them.’
Carson dug into his vest pocket. He opened his palm, revealing one of the brilliantly cut gemstones. ‘I found it the night you fled and disappeared before my eyes. It is yours…’ he closed his fingers over the stone. ‘For a kiss.’
Not an unappealing price by any means. Eve leaned forward and met his warm lips with her own. Carson kissed her with a sad sweet finality, and she wished she had time to stay and learn more about this man and the life he had forged in a new land. She ended the kiss and looked into his eyes.
‘What’s your name?’ he asked.
‘Eve.’ He took the hand she had splayed against his jacket over his heart and pressed the emerald into her palm. ‘I wish you every happiness, Eve.’
The boat moved again—or so she thought at first. She clutched the emerald and reached with the other hand to steady herself, but Carson was gone. Again she saw stars and felt the humid night air. Wind struck her like a gale force and she couldn’t keep her balance.
 * * *
Cheryl St.John is the author of nearly fifty books. Her most recent releases are available as ebooks in most digital formats.

In this tale of hope and love, too-tall spinster Thea Coulson wants to be a mother to a child who arrives in Nebraska on an orphan train. When Booker Hayes shows up to take his niece, a marriage of convenience suits them both. Thea’s nights are filled with dreams of the tall, dark army major, but she guards her heart. Booker’s first taste of home and hearth has him longing for more, but first he must win the trust of his niece..and the heart of the sun-kissed farmer's daughter.


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Barbara Monajem said...

All these lovely heroes. What a pity Eve can't clone herself!

Cheryl St.John said...

Yes, exactly!