Kathryne Byam stood at the bow of the Lady Maire, clutching a thin black wrap tightly around her shoulders as she gazed into the depths of the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It stretched in every direction, encompassing everything in view. The sunset painted the sky with shades of pink and orange, casting a glow over the waves that rocked the ship back and forth.
Unnoticed by Kathryne, a tall man watched her from his post at the wheel. Her soft light green gown stood out from everything around her and a few wisps of her dark brown hair freed themselves from her braid and plastered across her face. As she started rubbing her arms to return warmth to them, William Kendrick called for a sailor standing at the rail come and take his place.
"Lady Foxton, you should not be out here in the cold. The Atlantic's winds are not kind to all," he said, walking up behind Kathryne quietly.
"I know… but the sunset is so beautiful. I don't think I ever really noticed it at home," she replied, tearing her gaze from the sea and turning to look at the young lieutenant. Concern for her was etched into his face so deeply that she chose not to correct him about her title this time.
"Will you at least take my coat then, if you insist on being so stubborn?" Will asked teasingly. Kathryne smiled and playfully protested as he wrapped his officer's jacket around her. But she shuddered slightly when he pulled her hair out from under the collar, his hands brushing the back of her neck.
Will noticed and pulled his hands away as quickly as he could manage, muttering and apology and making another comment about the sunset to fill the awkward silence. Kathryne faced him again when she replied, but wasn't concentrating on what she was saying- her mind was more occupied with the sight of Will's tanned arms and chest that were nearly bared by his white shirt. It was half way unbuttoned, revealing firm muscles and chest.
"I didn't realize the sun was blue, Lady Foxton, but it is beautiful."
Kathryne blushed. "I meant the sea is blue… I think. But please don't call me Lady Foxton. I am Kathryne Byam for at least another month."
"I am sorry then, Miss Kathryne Byam, I just thought…." Will trailed off, but she knew what he had been thinking. Richard, Kathryne's fiancé, had given her new trunks to take on the ship, engraved, "Lady Foxton," her name once she married him back in England. Since then, everyone had regarded her as Lady Foxton without knowing that she didn't like it.
A sailor saved her from having to make a reply when he came running up to Will. "Lieutenant Kendrick, sir," he said, slightly out of breath. "Cap'n wants all the men at the main mast in ten minutes, sir. Another man was caught stealing from the stores." Will groaned inwardly and dismissed the man. He knew the poor man about to be flogged most likely hadn't been doing anything wrong. He was probably in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee to warm up and had been unlucky enough to be caught by the captain when he was in a bad mood.
Sighing, he turned to Kathryne. "You might want to retire to your cabin, Milady. This won't be pretty- I'm sorry." He said, and he was. For some reason, the thought of parting with her for the slightest moment plagued him, even though he knew she was soon to be married.
"You'll need this back I'm sure," she said, handing him his coat. "I…. Thank you," she smiled but inside she felt almost sick. This would be the fifth whipping in a week- the tenth over the three weeks they ha d been on the ship so far. And they were only halfway to England….
Will called out an order for everyone to get to the main mast and Kathryne turned quickly to hide herself in her cabin. With a last glance before she closed the door, she saw William pick up Thomas, a little blonde-haired boy, and bring him to his mother in one of the two other passenger cabins. She watched as Will tickled the boy, making him squeal and wiggle, then gently set him on the floor, Will's face relaxing for a moment but hardening again once the door was shut, the boy, his mother, and his sister all shut safely inside. Will looked in Kathryne's direction, and embarrassed that she'd been caught watching him, she blushed and finally closed her own door.
Kathryne dropped to her bed, mind in a total uproar. Though she had lived in Boson all her life, she was now going to London to marry Richard Foxton- a wealthy new member of Parliament. He had come to Boston to visit with his family before his term started, only to fall in love with Kathryne. No, he had not fallen in love with her, she knew, just desired her for a trophy wife. That desire, however, was strong enough to ship her off to England, to make her leave her family- little as it was- to go to be paraded about like a monkey on a leash. But, she reminded herself, he is handsome enough, and wealthy, not to mention titled and powerful, and is a much better match than I had hoped for.
And it was true, sad as it sounded, for since her father had passed away a year ago and her mother giving birth, Kathryne had been living with her aunt and uncle. They had very little social standing, so when Richard had come around four months ago, of course they had agreed. And now she was on her way to London, Richard having left on an earlier ship to prepare things for her coming.
But the trip on the Lady Maire was different than she thought it would be, due mostly to the handsome Lieutenant William Kendrick. He knew she was engaged, ad it seemed, was only trying to make her comfortable on the six week voyage. But Kathryne found herself attracted to his gentleness, like she had seen when he tickled little Thomas or offered her his coat. She suspected that the affection was mutual between the two of them, and the thought was more than a little frightening. To be on her way to marry one of the elite of London and find herself spending more time thinking about a sailor than her fiancé- why, it was scandalous!
And every time she thought she had steeled her heart again him, he did something as simple as pulling her braid out from under a collar and unwittingly crumbled her defenses at the same time.
Sighing, she lit a candle and pulled out her Bible, attempting to block out the sound of the whip and the shouts of the men on deck as well as the thoughts she knew she shouldn't think.
A/N: I know, i know.... i shouldn't be starting another story without finishing another one or at least updating more often.... i'm sorry. But this is what has been taking up most of my time lately....
Oh, and do you like shorter chapters or longer chapters better? I just wondered so i know, both for this story and my others..... thanks!
And as always, please review!! I love getting them!!