Pirate's Wraith, The
When lightning strikes Lesley's car, she passes out and wakes up on the Lyrical, a twenty-four gun frigate, in 1711, where the captain looks like her fiancé—except for one fine asset, the cannon in his britches. Though disguised as a cabin boy, danger awaits her at every turn.
Captain Harlan Sterford turned pirate to restore his fortunes, but his ship leaks and the crew is mutinous. When Lesley appears on the deck of his ship resembling his dead wife and carrying the toy horse he carved for his son, he believes she is a ghost or a demon wraith.
Word Count: 77,956
Genre:Paranormal/Time Travel Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Alex DeShanks 2013
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
As they walked together to where the junction of the twine had been, they realized the twine and all the spoons had vanished. The bottle had rolled away and shattered against the carriage truck of a cannon. However, directly below the spot where the eyebolt had dangled lay a naked woman.
Harlan thought his mind must be playing tricks on him. Otherwise, he must be mad. He rubbed his eyes but the body on the deck did not vanish. The October wind blew sharply colder.
The doctor gasped. “This is indeed very strange.”
A soft moan came from the woman as her pale flesh lay exposed to the elements.
Shock took away Harlan’s breath as he stood above the small figure. The woman at his feet resembled Elsbeth—his long dead wife. Indeed, she looked so much like her, he feared her magic had been more effective than he could have imagined. Her last words to him as she lay dying had been, “I will come back.”
“I will get a blanket.” The doctor dashed away.
Harlan did not move. He studied each of the woman’s features. Not a single scar marred the perfection of her flawless skin. Elsbeth had scars from cowpox. This woman looked taller than Elsbeth and possessed a wiry build that spoke of hard labor, though not all of her was taut and unyielding.
Mesmerized, his gaze wandered across soft breasts and down to the sweet curls that gathered in a delightful tangle at the juncture of her thighs. Heat suffused him despite the chill of the wet weather.
On the holystoned deck, she lay like a luminous pearl, a rare and unusual prize. Then he noticed her lips losing their luscious pink tinge. Doffing his wool coat, he covered her with it.
“Dammit.” He muttered beneath his breath. “A leaky ship, a drunken crew, and now this. Is this what you have done to me, Elsbeth?”
Another moan sounded from the female as the bitter wind blew in from the ocean. Her skin took on a ghastly hue. What would he to do with her?
Hell’s bells. He would put her in the dory and have Gilly row her to the settlement upriver. As he bent down and slid his hands beneath her, an unexpected roaring filled his ears and everything about him began to whirl. A strange dizziness overtook him and he closed his eyes. His mouth grew as dry as a bone. Surely the demons had a seized him and he could not fight back. Had Elsbeth come to take him to Hades with her?
After a short space of time, the deafening sound that had enveloped him ended and the spinning stopped. Harlan steeled himself and opened his eyes. Everything appeared to be normal once more. He gazed down at the woman. Studying her features made him pause. Again, he noticed the differences between this woman and his long dead wife. Variations did exist. It had been seven years since Elsbeth’s death, but he had forgotten nothing about her.
He lifted her head and brushed the damp strands of straight black hair away from her features. This woman had a far more delicate face. His rough fingers slid along skin that seemed to be made of the finest silk.
Her eyelids fluttered. Long lashes swept across cheeks the color of sand on a sun-swept beach. He held his breath as the lashes swept upward.
Hazy eyes a soft shade of mossy green peered up at him. An unwelcome blaze coursed through his body.
“It isn’t Halloween yet.” The voice, barely a whisper, had a hard, sharp edge to it--like a foreign dialect. She did not speak like Elsbeth. In fact, Harlan could not comprehend all she had said. Her eyes closed and she went limp.
The piercing wind returned to slice through him--cooling off the heat that had flushed him but a moment before. He wrapped his coat more securely about her and scooped her into his arms. When he did, an object dropped from her nerveless hand.
He glanced down and saw the small wooden toy. Dread pressed upon him. The pony looked identical to the one he had carved for his son. He picked it up and his heart gave a dull thud as he rubbed at the initials JS carved into the smooth belly. He stuffed it into his pocket.
The doctor hurried up to him with a blanket and draped it over the woman’s long, shapely legs. “We must get her inside and warm her.”
“A woman on a ship is bad luck and against the ship’s articles. You will take her to the settlement upriver and hand them a few doubloons for the trouble.”
Gilroy’s face turned ashen. “But ... but she is the result of my experiment. I must find out where she came from. This is a most interesting prospect.”
Harlan clamped his jaw together and hissed through his teeth. “We cannot have a woman aboard. That is in direct violation of the articles. Even I cannot disregard them.”
Gilroy’s features hardened. “I came aboard at your request and now that you have turned pirate, I have sullied my own reputation.”
Harlan pressed his lips together until his jaw hurt. He owed the doctor more than he could ever repay but no one could neglect the rules. “I would be keelhauled for keeping a woman aboard.”
“We will dress her as a cabin boy.” Gilroy stated. “She is not a fleshy woman and could pass for a lad. No one need be the wiser.”
“The men will discover the ruse.” How could they not? Her beauty radiated outward with an intensity that left him reeling.
“They are a drunken lot and rarely sober.”
The two men stood still for a moment and listened as the slurred words of a bawdy song drifted upward from deck below.
“If you dressed their own mothers in pants, they would not recognize the breasts that nursed them.” Gilroy pressed Harlan’s shoulder. “Take her to your cabin."
Harlan balked. “I cannot keep her there.” He glanced once more at the woman’s flawless skin and refined features. When she had spoken, he had glimpsed her row of even, white teeth. She shone like an exquisite jewel amidst the gray all around.
“It is the safest place.”
“What if she is a spirit—a ghost sent to haunt me?” He spoke in a low tone.
“Nonsense. You can see she is not a ghost.”
He shuddered. “She resembles my wife, Elsbeth.” He would not reveal the detail of finding the small wooden pony.
“This woman is alive, made of flesh and blood. We must get her warm and feed her.”
He continued to resist. In a battle, he stood a chance. In this situation, dishonor and death would come swiftly. “Smuggling her aboard will bring disaster.”
“She comes from far away, Cap’n. We must learn all we can about her. This has been a most extraordinary event!”
Harlan clenched his teeth together. “This is unnatural. Perhaps it is a deadly omen.”
“Balderdash. It is an historic event.’ The doctor’s face radiated with the light of elation. “There is much about the natural world we do not understand.”
“The devil’s minions control this world and you have summoned them.”