Been a while since I've put up an excerpt from Beyond the Ocean's Edge. This is the last scene, if you will, from Chapter Ten, "Commissioning." (I goofed the last time and said the previous excerpt was from Chapter Eleven. Both the last one and the one here are from Ten.)
(Jessica, my daughter photo-shopped this from a sketch I made to use as a business card logo...
Harold Smythe and Evangeline had rooms in the inn, to be closer during the final preparations. Evangeline often took an active role. She acted as messenger between her father, others of the Organization, Pierce, and various merchants and suppliers. Aboard Island Expedition she willingly tailed onto lines and helped sway casks and bales of cargo with the crew. She was handy with tools and with a little help, soon mastered many of the knots, hitches, and splices used in the work at hand.
When he had the time, Pierce accompanied her as she made journeys as messenger. He also watched with admiration or amazement as she pulled her weight and helped with the ongoing stowage of equipment and stores.
Unless duties demanded he be aboard in the evening, Pierce generally joined Smythe and his daughter for supper. One evening, following the after-dinner Madeira, Pierce found himself sitting alone with Evangeline.
“You would make a fine seaman, my dear,” he observed. “That is, should members of the fairer sex ever be welcomed as fellow crew.”
“Not in our lifetime, I would guess. Still, I do what I do to stay busy.”
“And you do what you do so well.” Pierce paused for a moment, took a sip from his glass, and went on. “Too bad you are not going.”
“Yes. Papa has arranged for Henry Dawes to take charge. He trusts him, but….”
“He trusts you more?”
“Yes!” She was silent for a while, perhaps feeling her next words. “I try so hard every day to stay busy! I try not to think! How lonely it will be when Papa sails! I’ll miss him! And Edward Pierce, I will miss you!”
“I will miss you. I’m not sure how it would be, not spending a little of each day in your company.”
“I must see to the rooms.” She rose from her chair, and Pierce did as well.
She stepped closer to him. “I’ll miss you. I’ll miss you so much!” She moved nearer and he could see the tears flooding her eyes.
Her eyes searched out his and locked upon them. He returned the longing look, as tenderness, desire, affection, and caring all welled up within. Then, without effort by either, she was in his arms, and he in hers. Their lips met.
Pierce luxuriated in the embrace and kiss. He was aware of her closeness, the heat of her body so close to his, and the scent of her hair, her skin, and the lingering taste of Madeira upon her lips. He was aware too, of her eagerness, her hunger, and her desire. He was aware of his own desire, and in the throes of their first embrace, he did not worry that she might notice.
In this white-hot blaze of mutual passion, Pierce’s mind functioned as if separate from his fevered and demanding body. She was his, and he could have her, but she was more to him than a simple outlet for his masculine needs. She was not one of the harbor’s easy women, one he would forget after a week at sea, or one whose personal happiness did not matter.
While he ached painfully to have her, he wanted her in a higher, even a more spiritual way.
They parted slightly. Still he could feel the rise and fall of her breast. “When you return, my love, I’ll be here!”
“My darling Vangie,” he said softly, “I shall return to you, as quickly as can be done!”
It was with great joy and nearly unbearable sadness that Pierce returned that evening to HMS Island Expedition. Regulation and custom required the captain to sleep aboard. Even had they followed their desires, Pierce would have had to steal away in the night, and to have left Evangeline alone then would not have been at all proper.