Author Topic: ZARA  (Read 1738744 times)

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #135 on: February 12, 2021, 06:24:04 PM »
“Where are you two off to?”
Zara adjusted her hat and Phillip slipped on his coat.
“It’s such a beautiful autumn day Zara and I thought we would go for a ride over by that meadow.”
Zara jiggled a burlap bag. “There are a lot of black walnut trees, Uncle Will. We thought we would pick a bag and bring them home to Mrs Avery. She will love to put them in butter cookies.”
“Uh huh. Just be home before dark.”
Phillip took Zara by the arm. “You do realize, Will, that I am considered an adult. And Zara is ALMOST an adult.”
With that she gave him a withering look and then smiled sweetly at Will. “No need to fret. We will be home by dinner.”
“And watch out for Pefflys. They aren’t in season.”
Zara gave Will a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I know. And they are like oysters. It is not safe to eat them if the month has an ‘R’ in it.”
Phillip corrected her. “No, darling, it is the other way around. If the month has an ‘R’ in it, it is safe to eat them.”
She frowned. “Are you sure?”
“No matter, we aren’t eating them.”
She shuddered. “I don’t like them anyways. Slimy things. Like Pefflys.”
With that, Phillp took her by the shoulders and turned her around. “Say goodbye, Zara..”
“Goodbye, Zara.”
“Smart arse.”

“Is this the place?” Zara asked.
“It is. I discovered it a few weeks ago.”
The place was a small field surrounded by trees. Charred remains of a fire scarred a bit of the field but the grass was growing back over it.
“Looks like there used to be a cottage here. Probably belonged to a caretaker. See that pile of rocks?”
Zara nodded.
“Must have been where the chimney was.”
Philip jumped down from his horse and walked over to Zara. He held his hand out.
“I am perfectly capable of dismounting, Captain Briggs.”
“Suit yourself.”
“Are you ready for this? I mean, is it quiet enough? You don’t think anyone will come here and interrupt us, do you?”
Phillip shook his head. “No footprints or smashed down vegetation. I think it will suit our purpose.”

He smiled at her and gently untied her cloak, hanging it on the branch of a tree.
He then removed his coat and threw it over the horse.
“Are you ready?”
“I am,’ she breathed deeply. He took a few steps away from her and drew his sword.
“Then...en garde!”
She smiled and drew hers too.
Zara thrust her sword and Phillip parried. The attack went back and forth for a few minutes and then Phillip took a lunge. Zara leaped back, spun around and thrust her sword, Phillip followed with a thrust and she parried.
“You are good, darling!”
“I learned quickly!”
They kept up their choreographed fencing for the better part of an hour.
Sitting down on her cloak, Phillip opened up a bottle of wine and cut off a piece of cheese, popping it into Zara’s mouth.
“I have to ask...where did you learn to fight so well?”
Zara took a sip of wine.
“I learned from the best.”
“Ah. Your father?”
“No. Guess again.”
“Your mother?”
“Wrong again.”
“Well, now you have me stumped.”
“You won’t believe it.”
“Try me.”
“Uncle Josie.”

She nodded. “There was no one better in a swordfight, my father said, than Josiah Briggs. While you were out sailing the seven seas, I asked him to teach me. Uncle Josie told me that while my father was light on his feet in a sword fight, he was always a bit reckless. Your father had the finesse and patience that was needed to..shall we say? Drive home his point.”
Phillip said, “I heard about the mutiny the two of them put down. Jack and Father put that mutiny down in one evening. With a bit of help from your mother.”
“Really? They never told me.”
“Guess that is one secret I shouldn’t have told.”
Phillip helped Zara up and stood back.
“En garde!”
Zara stood there as her bodice lacings came apart with one stroke of the sword.
She stood there with her mouth open.
Phillip reached over and drew her to him.
“I guess that is one move ‘Uncle Josie’ never thought of,” as the lacings fell to the ground.
She drew him into a kiss.
“Yes, love?”
“You owe me some lacings.”
« Last Edit: April 24, 2021, 07:43:03 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #136 on: April 24, 2021, 08:34:36 PM »
Phillip walked down the stairs and caught sight of Will.
“Ah, there you are, Phillip! I just am laying out the finishing touches on the ball I had planned for next week. I am sure Zara will want a new dress.”
Phillip cleared his throat. “I am afraid we won’t be able to make it, Will.”
“Nonsense! If you are worried about the Peffly’s….”
“That’s not it. We are going home next week.”
“You are….what? Leaving?”
Phillip handed Will the note from Jack. He scanned it and handed it back to him.
“Well.. I guess that’s that.”
“Will, you knew the time would come when we would have to leave.”
“Yes, but I didn’t expect it so soon. I thought for sure you would be here another six months.”
Phillip shook his head. “The….problem….has been removed so it is safe to take Zara back. She misses her mother and we need to get another shipment of molasses together for you.”
“El Lobo is ready?”
“She will be. Davis will be here by the end of the week and the ship has been fitted with new sails and a new masthead. I had the other one stowed away.”
“Do you plan on telling Jack what happened with Tranquillo?”
“All in due time.”
“Uh huh. A sanitized version, no doubt.”
“It depends on Jack’s reaction and his mood.”
“But he needs to know you poked Diego Mendoza in the eye.”
“And your engagement?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Better figure it out soon. Hell hath no fury. You know the rest.”

Just then Zara came down the stairs. “From the look on your face, I am guessing Phillip told you we are headed to Barbados.”
Will nodded. “I wish I could say ‘good riddance’ but Dilcey and I have gotten used to having the two of you here.”
She hugged Will. “I can’t tell you what it means to me—to us---the hospitality that you have shown us, Will.”
“It was never a dull moment with you here, Zara. A duel….and your marriage. Marriage! I can’t get used to thinking of you as a married woman. You will still be that little girl who climbed up on my lap and gave me a cookie.”
“And you gave me a ring. See? I still have it.” She held up her right hand.
“And I see an enormous emerald on the left.”
“I plan to put it away until I can figure out how to tell Mama and Da.”
“You had better think of a way pretty quick. Because the two of you won’t be able to keep your hands off each other.”
Phillip added, “And I have to figure out a way to tell Renee and Father.”
Will smirked, “Josiah may be in the dark but I am betting Renee will take one look at your faces and figure it out. I have never met a woman as shrewd and insightful as her.”

Zara picked up her shawl. “Phillip and I want to do a last bit of shopping before we sail. There’s a pewter shop down the way. Phillip? You are ready?”
“As ready as I ever will be to see you spend my money.”
“Then we shall be off. See you at dinner, Will.”

Will watched them leave. Dilcey came into the room.
“Will? What’s the matter?”
He turned his back to her. “Nothing, darling. Just got something in my eye, that’s all.”
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #137 on: June 21, 2021, 08:03:24 PM »
Back in Barbados--

Josiah walked up to the massive oak door around back. Not because he was a back door tradesman, but family. Jack always regarded his closest friends as earning the right to come in the back way. Close to Mrs Avery's scones and tarts, he always said. And Jack's house always had an open-door policy. As he mounted the stairs, the sea breeze ruffled his hair. Life was good, he contemplated. Good friends, one he regarded closer than a brother. A beautiful healthy woman to love him. And a son that would make any man proud.
'The son...' he thought. Renee's fanciful suppositions rankled him. 'No, not possible. Phillip was a man of honour. A man betrothed to a woman of high society with the possibility of an important career....'
He wouldn't throw his chances on...Josiah shook his head as if to clear it. Renee always had a wild imagination. And regarded Phillip as the son she never had made their relationship all the more special. Because he was a child of choice, not by accident. Accident....babies....good grief, Briggs! Snap out of it!
He shifted the papers to his other arm and knocked. Honour of all people answered the door, a baby on her hip and a streak of flour on her face.
"Josiah! Come in!"
He smiled when he saw her. "What on earth are you up to, Honour?"
"Oh...just helping Mrs Avery roll out some dough. The baby was in her cradle in the kitchen and I just picked her up when you knocked. But you don't have to knock, Josiah. You are family. Next time just walk in. Promise?"
He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "I promise. the man of the house around?"
"He's just finishing up with an invoice with Eli. Go right in."
Josiah made his way down the hall to Jack's study and de facto business office. In many ways, it felt like his many walks to the great cabin aboard El Lobo. The door was open, but he felt the need to knock anyway.
"Master Briggs! Since when did we begin standing on pretence? Make your way in, you scoundrel! You know where everything is," called Jack.
Josiah chuckled as he stepped into the expansive library Jack called a study. Eli was sitting in a chair across from Jack's desk, but for a change, the young man seemed relaxed. But presently he gathered up his papers and hat.
"Much obliged, Cap'n Wolfe."
"Eli, how many timed must I ask you to just call me Jack?"
"At least once more, Cap'n. As you'll always be my Cap'n."
"On your way, Mister Meredith. All my best to your family."
Eli paused to acknowledge Briggs before he left the room. And Briggs couldn't help but notice the large brown bottle of rum on Jack's desk.
"Josiah!" said Jack. "What brings you round this fine day? Let me pour you a gulper, like old times."
As Jack poured the rum, Briggs said, "I recall it was me pouring you a gulper, you being captain and all."
"Again with the pretences. Here. Courtesy of Will Harkness himself."
Josiah knocked the cup back and found himself gasping for air. "What in blazes is that?!" he managed to croak out.
"Rum, of course," said Jack. "Unless you've lost your taste for it."
"My taste be just fine. But I'd sooner fuel a lamp with that than drink it."
"Suit yourself. So, what's on your mind, my friend?"
Josiah plopped into a chair and tried to formulate his words as the rum's effect began to work its ways with him.
"Well, Jack, Renee and I were talking..."
"Good man. Communication is the key to a happy marriage."
"No, I mean, we were talking about Phillip. More to the point, Phillip and Zara."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe either of us is properly drunk enough to continue this conversation."
Briggs handed over his cup. "Aye, that be true enough."
Jack poured them each a portion, which was quickly knocked back by both men. After a few moments of shuddering and head shaking, Jack said, "All right. What are your carbuncles? I mean, concerns?"
"None that you haven't had yourself on a sleepless night."
"Worse. Being a grandparent."
"Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of your opponent's fate." ~ Sun Tzu

Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #138 on: June 21, 2021, 08:09:27 PM »
“Well, good morning to you!”
“Jack! Come, sit with me and have a cup of coffee. I am sure you are here to see Josiah. But he’s not here. He’s off seeing if some furniture I ordered has arrived on that ship that came in last night.”
“Ordering furniture and having Josiah see to it? My, any more domesticated and you can put him outside at night like a cat!”
She laughed as she set a small bottle of brandy next to his coffee mug.
“Ah, Renee—a woman after my heart. You know just what I like!”
She laughed and said, “Let’s not go there. We are ancient history!”
“So what did you order?”
“One item I am anxious to get is a vargueno.”
“A var—what?”
“It’s Spanish and--”
“Renee, you know Spain is our sworn enemy. Why would you want anything like that in your house? And exactly WHAT is a vargueno?”
“It’s a writing desk about so high. It’s rectangular and it has a drop down front so I can write on it and it has lots of little drawers and nooks and crannies and a padlock and---”
Jack held up his hand. “Enough. I get it. And it is so like you. Full of little secrets you only let a few be privy to.”
“Jack, darling we are ALL full of little secrets. Present company included.”

He poured a generous dash of brandy into his coffee.
“We’ve come a long way, Pip. Look at us now! Me a prosperous plantation owner and you—YOU!--a madame!”
She retorted, “It wasn’t always this way, I may remind you! I just kind of fell into dabbling in the pleasurable company trade.”
“True. Winning the deed to a brothel was a stroke of fortune.”
“I remember when we first met. You had your nose buried in a book.”
“Which I shared with you.”
“You opened up a whole new world for me, Jack. And for that I am forever grateful.”
“Do you ever think about the weird turns our lives have taken, Pip?”
She nodded. “I guess we have Will Harkness to thank for that.”
“If he hadn’t taken the Laura Ann, I would probably have stayed a merchant sailor, caught scurvy—or something worse!-- and be dead by now. And you—YOU!--would be a farmer’s wife with a dozen kids.”
She shuddered, “Perish the thought! I got the best son a mother could ask for and I didn’t have the snotty noses or the dirty nappies to go along with it.”
“Phillip was blessed the day he arrived at your door in search of his father.”
“And look at you—giving up the sea for a life of domesticity. You always said you couldn’t see giving it up for a yard full of mewling children.”
“Pardon me, but my children DON’T mewl!”
“Those were your words, not mine, ducks.”

Renee leaned back and closed her eyes, savoring the smell of the brandy mixed with her coffee.
“Do you ever wonder, Jack, what would have happened if it had”
He leaned back, too. “I do, Pip. But you know what? We were too alike. We would have combusted. And then there would be no friendship.”
She opened her eyes and looked at him. “You were my first love, you know.”
“I know, darling. But first loves are not always made to last. It’s like trying on a coat and realizing that it looks great and feels great but then you start taking a good look at the workmanship and realize it would fall apart really soon. It was not long-lasting. So you discard it and find one that works.”
“As you did with Honour.”

“It was colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it.  It’s when you are hit by a lightning strike that is so powerful and intense, it can’t be denied. No matter how hard we try to think it didn’t hit us.  It’s beautiful and messy, like cracking a treasure chest open and spilling your soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there’s no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed.”

She nodded. “If anyone knows about treasure chests, it is you, Jack.”
“Honour certainly changed my life. When I first saw her, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My heart caught in my throat and I would do anything to possess her.”
“Including getting married.”
He laughed, “Well, that was the only way I could talk her into bed.”
She took a drink of her coffee and smiled.
“It was different with Josiah and me. We were like two trees growing side by side that eventually became intertwined so tightly, there was no separating us. Once we were together, I knew I found the part of me that was missing. Like a puzzle piece. It was comfortable and it fit just right. And I got a son—the family—that I never knew I was longing for.”
“You’ve been a wonderful mother to Phillip.”
“He’s my heart and soul. I am forever grateful to Anne. She birthed him and I have to think she steered him in my direction and gave us her blessing. Alright, so she was fifteen years in taking her time—but it all worked out. I love Josiah more and more each day.”

Renee put out another flask of brandy, leaving the coffee behind.
“The children will be home soon. Children! I know Phillip is a grown man, but Zara will always be a lovely child to me. I’ve known her since she was a year old.”
Jack smiled, “I can’t wait to see her. Honour is busy fixing her room up.”
Renee hesitated and then plunged right in.
“Jack—what if Zara has...changed. I mean, she’s been away for almost six months.”
“And what is your point?”
“She’s not the little girl who used to sit on your lap and pretend to hold the moon in her hands.”
“I know that.”
“You’ll always be her father, Jack. And she will always be what you consider your little girl. But have you ever entertained the idea that she needs...maybe, a different kind of love?”
Jack took a drink of brandy.
“She’s too young, Renee.”
“How old is she, Jack?”
“How old was Honour when she was married to Madoc?
“And before that, there was Rhys Morgan. She was—what? Fifteen? Sixteen?”
“Renee, I don’t like the direction this is leading.”
She shrugged. “All I am saying, Jack, is that she has been away and on her own basically for the last six months. She has been under the care of a dashing and—I say this in all honesty—a very handsome man.”
“You aren’t saying that Phillip is taking advantage of my girl, are you?”
“Not in the least. Phillip is honorable. But I am saying that she is a grown woman and if I may be frank, I’ve seen the way she looks at Phillip.”
“What are you saying?”
“I mean, the sidelong glances and the opportunity to be near him. If I may be so bold, Jack, I would say she is in love with him.”
“But she has her studies! She’s studying to be a cartographer. I want all my daughters to have a trade that they don’t have to depend on any man for their existence.”

Renee felt herself getting a bit hot under the collar.
“Are you trying to say, Jack Wolfe, that my Phillip isn’t good enough for her?”
“Calm down, Renee. Not at all. I mean, there is an age difference---”
“Oh, stuff it, Wolfe! There is fourteen years between you and Honour.”
“And she’s known him all her life—he’s like a big brother to her--”
“Would you prefer she end up with a governor or a diplomat? Someone who would bore her to death?”
“Certainly not, Renee—it’s just that--”
“You aren’t ready to let go.”
“I guess that is it.”
“Well, let me tell YOU something, Jack Wolfe! If those two end up together, I will be ecstatic over it. Am I the only one who can see that those two were made in heaven for each other?”
Jack sighed and picked up his pipe.
“I guess I am not just ready to give her up to someone. She’s more like me than the rest of the brood. All the more reason why I worry about her.”
“She’s not reckless, Jack.”
He stood up and reached for his hat. “No, she’s not. But if I find out they’ve been dallying—and I will!--I will see that Phillip makes an honest woman of her.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry to leave. I almost forgot to tell you what one of the girls—Monique--told me in passing yesterday. It seems Governor Culley has just now started to notice his son is not around.”
“Just now? He’s not very observant.”
“Well, it seems Tristan comes and goes as he pleases and he was going to go to Havana for a few months. He was due back about three weeks ago. He’s been making a few inquiries and someone told him that he had been keeping company with a one Zara Wolfe. It’s also been noticed that Zara has disappeared around the same time.”
“We let the word get around that Zara had planned to go abroad to study her cartography. Paris is where I figuratively sent her.”
“One rumour has it that she was in the family way and was sent away to have her baby and give it up for adoption.”
“That’s bollocks!”
“I am just repeating what I hear. And I hear plenty. You know that a lot of men can’t keep their mouths shut when they are between the sheets. And Monique is an expert at extracting information. There is another rumour she heard too.”
“I suppose it can’t be any worse than that one.”
“It depends on how you look at it. There’s talk she ran away with Tristan and is secretly married to him, that she went to Havana with him.”
“That’s a load of shiner bock. There is no way I would have let Zara a thousand miles near Havana. Not with Mendoza still breathing.”
“I heard from a captain that the Mendoza empire is being run by his son Tranquillo. Very handsome—and just as ruthless.”
“That the son he had with Mercedes?”
“One of them. Tranquillo is the eldest. From what I hear he is smart. And also a pirate hunter.”
Jack stood up and this time he did put his hat on.
“Then I say it is a good thing I am not a pirate anymore!”
Renee frowned. “Just watch your back. Between Culley and Mendoza’s son, I think some scores may be waiting to be settled.”
Jack kissed the top of Renee’s head.
“Duly noted, my love. See you and Josiah Tuesday for dinner!”

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