Captain Pershore had his chef prepare a feast fit for a princess of the sea. Once everything was made to his high standards, he bid the man carry it to his cabin and follow him inside.

The lovely Lady Annamarie stood the moment he unlocked the door and swung it open. Behind the swirl of her skirts, he spied a few items. A smirk teased the corners of his lips. Did she plan on escaping? On attacking him?

No matter. Such a venture would be ill conceived. More importantly, any attempt would fail.

Such a concern did not bother him. Lady Annamarie would enjoy this night and be grateful for his company.

Without a word, the chef laid out the spread upon the table. Three kinds of fish, the freshest breads they had, some vegetables, even a few desserts. And ale.

“Fetch a jug of water too,” he demanded.

The chef nodded, left, and returned with the jug a few minutes later before departing once more.

The captain shut the door. “Won’t you please sit?” he asked kindly.

***

What devilry was this? The lunatic of a captain was actually behaving nicely.

Perhaps she should obey. The last thing she wished to do was riley up his anger and wrath.

She crossed over to the table but hesitated, holding onto the high-backed chair instead of sitting.

“I wish to know the name of the man who… who wished to share a meal with me,” she said as calmly as she could.

Her knees quivered with fear, anger, and frustration. A compass, a candlestick holder, and a few other items were all she had collected. Not one of them would be able to help her escape. She had been a fool to think she could save herself while at sea. At port remained her only chance.

And if he saw her gathered items, and his anger sparked, what then? What might he do to her?

“My lady Annamarie, forgive me for not saying so previously. I am Captain… I am Lord Pershore.”

Her eyes widened. He had mentioned that their mothers had been friends, and he had the right of it.

“I last saw you when I was…”

“Five. You were beautiful even then.” He reached toward her as if to touch her cheek but instead moved about the table to her side. The captain pulled out her seat. “Please, won’t you join me for supper?”

“I am hungry,” she admitted, hating herself for her weakness.

“You must keep up your strength. It will be a long until we reach port.”

“When? Where?” she asked, hoping her eagerness would not be noticed.

But his eyes gleamed with understanding. “Come now. It has been over a dozen years since last I saw you. Let us catch up first. Do tell me all about yourself.”

She sighed as he went about filling her plate. Perhaps if she played nicely, he would give her some information.

But the moment he sat across from her, that wicked gleam in his eyes told her all she needed to know.

He would never allow her to leave his side.

***

“How can it be that we have no bearing on their position?” Barnet grumbled.

Larry “Landlubber” Lancaster grimaced and let out a deep laugh. “You be actin’ like you won’t ever be seein’ your lass again. Relax. We be findin’ her. You be savin’ her. I be killin’ Pershore. All will be well.”

“When?” Barnet demanded.

“Soon enough. I’ll be sending out signals with my lantern tonight. If any of the nearby ships know of Pershore’s destination, where he be headin’, we will soon know.”

Barnet nodded. He cursed the sun for her brightness for he felt no happiness. He cursed her light for it meant no signals. He cursed himself for his inability to locate Annamarie himself.

Most of all, he cursed himself for having never worked up the courage to tell her that he loved her.

Annamarie, don’t be afraid. I’ll save you somehow. I will ask your father permission to court you. No. Rather, I will ask you first. You deserve to have some control over your life given that that despicable, vile, repugnant pirate has kidnapped you against your will.

Please, Annamarie. Wait for me. Trust in me.

But in his heart, he knew she could not. She did not know how he felt nor did she know that he was coming for her.

“Soon,” he murmured with all the hope in his being. “I will be with you soon.”

To be continued…

Read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.

Taken from the notes of one Lady Anna Wycliff

Lady Anna is the heroine in Christmas Kisses, which had been a part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxed set Holly and Hopeful Hearts and now contains a bonus end scene.

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter, wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. She suffered through trials to find love herself.

Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke. Her mother insists on Anna befriending a marquess’s son, a man Anna finds far too rude. Can either man be the right one for Anna?

Buy CHRISTMAS KISSES here!