Autumn was coming on fast with torrential rains and high winds. The
storms had turned the streets to mud and kept Elizabeth confined at home;
after days of bad weather, she was bored and restless. She was too fidgety
to sew, her novel failed to hold her attention, and when she tried to write
a long-overdue letter to her Great Aunt Arabella, she garbled her words
hopelessly. Attempting to strike out a poorly phrased sentence, she knocked
over the inkwell, making a sticky mess of the letter. She threw it in the
fire in disgust and stretched out on the settee for a nap.
Without meaning to, she found herself recalling Jack's last visit and the
alluring trick he had of looking at her out of the corner of his eyes, as if
they shared some great secret. Of course she loved Will and would never
play him false, but she couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to
have a pirate in her bed. She and Will had been equally innocent on their
wedding night, and although she took great pleasure in their explorations,
she suspected there were delights yet to be discovered, if only they had an
Both horrified and aroused by this thought, she jumped up and began to pace
the length of the narrow parlor, trying to banish the improper ideas, and
wishing for Will's return from the smithy. Finally, she gathered up her
cloak, told Estrella to hold dinner, and went to see what was keeping him.
Before she got more than a few feet from her front stoop, her shoes were
filled with water and her cloak was spattered with mud. She carried on
nonetheless, unwilling to turn back now that she'd started. When her hood
blew off, she didn't bother trying to pull it up; instead she tipped her
head back and let the water wash over her face. It beat against her closed
eyelids and stung her cheeks, rousing her from the lethargy that had dulled
Laughing, she broke into a run and breathlessly dashed into the door of the
smithy. The heat of the forge, such a contrast to the cool evening air,
struck her like a blow to the chest. Wisps of steam rose from her wet
"Will?" she called, already heading for the back room where he settled
She stopped short. Was that a moan? She rushed to the door, envisioning
Will afflicted with some sudden illness.
The door swung open at her touch. Will sat at his desk, his eyes squeezed
shut and tension drawn in every line of his body. The bottle he kept for
Jack's frequent visits sat on the desk, along with two glasses, but Jack was
not in evidence.
Before she could ask Will if he was well, he moaned again, and stuttered
out, "J-Jack." Elizabeth's eyes widened as she lowered her gaze to see
Jack, his head between Will's legs and Will's hands tangled in his hair.
With a little hiccup of understanding, Elizabeth realized what he must be
doing, and was filled with indignation. How dare he. . .interfere
with her husband? But Will was making the most intriguing sounds, and doing
something quite obscene with his mouth, and Elizabeth's earlier speculations
were fresh on her mind. She gripped the door frame, the first burst of
anger rapidly transmuting into fierce lust.
She wondered if Will would respond similarly to her mouth on him. It had
never occurred to her that a lady could serve her husband so, although in
retrospect, it seemed so obvious, she wondered how she could have missed
it. In a very few minutes, his hands tensed and he bit his lip to stifle
his cry, then slumped back in his chair, passed out from too much strong
drink. Elizabeth sagged against the wall, her heart pounding wildly.
Jack sighed morosely and said, "It's all right, love, you can return the
favor when you're feeling a bit more yourself."
Perhaps it was the noise she made at this thought that betrayed her, or
perhaps Jack, no longer quite so engaged, heard the water dripping off her
cloak and pattering on the hard floor. He whirled around. "Mistress
Turner! What are you doin' hiding in the shadows?"
Elizabeth forced her face into a bland expression, as she shed her cloak and
began pulling the pins from her destroyed coiffure. "I was looking for
Will. I was worried when he didn't come home for dinner."
Jack chuckled uneasily and swiped at his beard, dislodging a strand of
Will's hair that had caught in his mustache. He was not so far gone as
Will, but obviously he was feeling the affects of the rum as well. "Will
and I were just. . .catching up. Poor boy can't hold his liquor. Just like
his father. Why, I remember a time when William-" He stopped abruptly and
from somewhere on his person, produced a silver locket hanging on a delicate
chain. "Nearly forgot. . .I brought you a present."
As distractions went, this was rather thin. Clearly Jack was hoping she'd
just arrived and hadn't seen anything compromising. Elizabeth wasn't
entirely sure why she didn't correct this misapprehension, but merely arched
an eyebrow and said, "Thank you."
Jack stepped behind her and lifted the hair off her neck to fasten the
clasp. Rough fingers brushed her skin and she couldn't stop herself from
shivering. He made a surprised noise, then dragged his thumb over the nape
of her neck, humming with satisfaction when she gasped. He pulled her
closer to him and whispered, "Just how long had you been standing there,
"Long enough," she confessed, with the feeling she was stepping off a
precipice into the unknown.
Slowly, giving her time to move away if she wished, Jack wrapped his arms
around her waist. When she did not protest, he turned her in his arms and
kissed her lightly, teasing her lips with his tongue and teeth. There was
an odd taste overlaying the rum on his breath, and the realization of what
it must be made her kiss him harder. He fumbled behind her for the desk,
and they both tripped on her sodden skirts, landing with a crash on top of
"Ow! What in bloody hell are you doing?"
"Kissing your wife," Jack replied insouciantly. "Care to join us?"
Will suddenly appeared a good deal more sober. "Elizabeth?"
"It's fine, Will, truly. All of it."
Understanding hit him and he flushed dark red. "I'm not sure I like this,"
"You will," Jack assured him, yanking him down onto the floor with them.