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An Excerpt From: CAPTAIN’S PRICE

Copyright © LYLA SINCLAIR, 2010

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

 

I stood trembling on the deck at my moment of truth, having no one to blame but myself. After weeks of success in my masquerade—only one short week from my destination, I’d done the unthinkable.

I’d acted like a female.

And now Captain Drew Price—who’d taken no notice of me up to this point—stared down at me as though I were some bizarre creature that had flopped up on the deck from the depths of the ocean.

As I attempted to force down the fear threatening to overtake me, I focused on the fact that at this proximity, I could finally see the color of his eyes. At home, I might have been able to create the shade with my paints if I’d mixed blue and green and gray. His eyes were the color of the ocean.

I watched a muscle twitch in his bronzed jaw. His sun-touched chestnut hair blew in the gentle breeze as everyone on the ship went deadly quiet, waiting for his verdict. Onboard, the captain is judge, jury and executioner.

Captain Price ran a tight ship and tolerated no misbehavior of any kind from his men. And what was I? Not truly one of his men, yet not a paying passenger. My bravery suddenly abandoned me and my eyes dropped to his long, lean trousers.

My untimely unveiling had been caused by that clown they called Jeebers—though I felt certain his mother hadn’t bestowed that name upon him. He’d sneaked up behind me as I was swabbing the deck and attempted to pull down my breeches. Before I’d had a moment to think, I’d squealed, turned and slapped him across the face. The moment I made contact, I realized my mistake.

This was just one in a long line of pranks from the other seamen, since I was a “new boy”. I’d played my role to perfection through everything, until now…until this. I could have hit him with the mop or simply grabbed at my breeches, but no. I’d slapped him.

Afterward, Jeebers had stared at me in shock, holding his palm to his cheek. Everyone on the deck went silent until a voice called out, “He’s a woman!” or something of the sort. The ship’s occupants began stepping closer to examine me, both the seamen and the whores, the latter of whom were part of the cargo being transported to America.

And as one voice after another confirmed the assertion, I watched Captain Drew Price leave the helm and walk toward me with measured steps, his eyebrows lowered, his lips pursed, as though our all-knowing, all-confident captain was giving himself time to decide what to do if the shouters turned out to be correct. When he stopped in front of me and peered into my face, I hoped he couldn’t see my lower lip tremble.

Boy…remove your shirt,” he commanded after several long seconds.

“I cannot, Captain,” I replied, no longer bothering to change my voice or manner of speech.

I watched his eyes grow stormy as he pulled his sword from his sash and pointed the blade at my chest. An instant later my shirt hung open and the bindings on my breasts dropped away.