Anyone who is familair with my work knows I'm a die hard science-fiction, fantasy and paranormal fan, but you may not know is one of the very first stories I began working on when I started writing for publication was historical romance.
That story, called The Baron's Bride, never made it out of my own private slush pile, but since then, at the back of my mind, I've had a few historical romances floating around, waiting to work their way past the space ships and shapeshifters that populate my forebrain.
This summer I time traveled. I ended up in the early 18th Century on a pirate ship in the Indian Ocean, and there my imagination went a little wild. Here's the first of the two stories I wrote before I came back to the future.A Rogue's Reward
by Jennifer Colgan
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-364-1 (Electronic)
In 1708, kidnapped and ransomed by the legendary lady pirate, Captain Fallon Robard, Sheppard York finds his only salvation in the kindness of the captain’s beautiful young ward, Rhea Galant. But when negotiations with Sheppard’s wealthy father go sour, Captain Fallon plans to exile him to a deserted island where he will have to fend for himself and face possible death.
After weeks of tending her captain’s handsome prisoner, however, Rhea discovers she can’t bear to part with him, let alone see him abandoned, and plots to help him escape.
What will be her reward for abandoning her shipmates for love?
EXCERPT: [My heroine, Rhea, has offered to shave the hero, Sheppard, who has been held captive in the hold of the Gabrielle for several days.]
He mumbled something incoherent, and she grinned, then brandished the razor. “I’m going to enjoy this.”
He rolled his eyes, but she noticed his muscles relax. He trusted her just enough to permit her to place the blade against his skin.
For a time, the only sound in the cell was the rhythmic scrape of the razor over his flesh. She worked carefully, less fearful of accidentally nicking him than of missing a spot. She tilted his head and skimmed the finer hairs below his ears, then, with precise movements, denuded his upper lip.
He sighed when she dropped the razor into the bowl.
“There. You’ve survived.”
“Yes.” He lifted his hands and rubbed his chin, smearing a bit of lather that remained. “It feels good.”
“And it looks good, too.” It did. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed his face since the stubble had taken over. She dabbed at his naked jaw, searching for minute cuts, but there were none.
“Where did you learn to shave a man?”
“In this room, milord. Sheppard.”
His brows knit, then shot up. “You’ve never…before?”
He clutched his chest. “I’m glad you didn’t tell me that before you began.”
Rhea tipped his chin up and examined her handiwork. “I’m quite good. I believe you’re better looking now than when you came to us.”
He snatched the cloth from her hand and wiped all the remnants of foam from his face and neck. “I wasn’t aware I could get any better looking.”
She laughed. “I’ll bring you a mirror to admire yourself later. If you’d like your hair trimmed, I can do that tomorrow.” Without thinking, she ran her fingers through the silky waves of it, judging the length, imagining how it might look a little longer or shorter. He glanced up, those piercing eyes following her movements, all trace of humor gone from his expression.
The skin of his chest rose to gooseflesh, and she swore he shivered a bit when she trailed her exploring fingers down the side of his face. Lost in his gaze, Rhea stopped thinking. She saw only his face, earnest and still wet from her ministrations, and some unseen force seemed to draw her toward him.
Her lips touched his so briefly she might have denied it happened at all, except he pressed forward, increasing the pressure. Unbidden, she opened her mouth, and his tongue rushed inside to sweep over hers. He tasted salty, with a hint of the breadfruit he’d eaten for breakfast. His scent enveloped her—sweet tallow lather, honey and man.
He delved deeper, and she let him. She put her hands on the now-smooth sides of his throat and held him there. The faint rattle of the chain accompanied his movement as he lifted his wrists and placed one palm flat against her chest. Though her tunic covered her, the very tips of his fingers met naked flesh above her collar, and the heat of that touch seared her. Something inside her seemed to melt, and molten liquid trickled through her to pool in the same spot that had been hot and damp each morning when she awoke from dreams of him.
Rhea gasped and broke the kiss.
Sheppard stared at her. York. Lord York. He didn’t smile or comment. He merely licked his lips and let his hands drop back into his lap.
“You kissed me,” he said, as if she might not have realized what she’d done.
“And you kissed back.”
Silenced stretched between them until Rhea found the courage to speak again. “I’m finished here. I have other duties.”
He cleared his throat, and the moment faded away. He cast around for his shirt and clenched his fingers in the material. “Can I put this back on?”
She nodded, unable to keep from glancing at his chest. His brown nipples had hardened, just as hers had beneath her tunic. Below the buckle of his belt…
* * *
For more information about A Rogue's Reward, visit Amber Heat!