Through the Maelstrom

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LENGTH: NOVELLA

AVAILABLE IN PRINT:  AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | CREATESPACE

AVAILABLE IN DIGITAL:  AMAZON  |  BARNES AND NOBLE  |  ITUNES  |  KOBO  |  SMASHWORDS

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BLURB:

Christophe Jones never asked to be a pirate. Pressed into a crew, he moved up in rank to make his eventual escape. When he finally has a chance to cut ties and return to his former life, he takes it—or tries to. A whirling maelstrom sucks him beneath the waves… Only he doesn’t drown. Instead, Christophe finds himself three hundred years in the future, captivated by a beautiful woman.

Serena’s twenty-eighth birthday cruise isn’t going as planned. The only one of her friends who didn’t cancel gets sick on the voyage, forcing Serena to spend her birthday alone. As an introvert, there’s little chance of meeting new people, at least on purpose. So when a wish upon a falling star comes true, can she open her heart to a handsome stranger who claims to be an eighteenth century pirate?

Christophe attempts to woo the siren who summoned him through time, but she’s convinced he’s nothing but a con man playing a part. They must determine if fate brought them together, or if it’s just a trick of the Bermuda Triangle.

EXCERPT:

She padded toward the housing portion of the ship, and a crowd rushing past her drew her attention. “It’s Jack Sparrow!” someone announced excitedly.

“Nah uhhhhh. He’s blond.” This was said as though it were sacrilege to put the two in the same sentence. God forbid.

Pausing at the bottom of the short flight of stairs leading to the rooms, Serena peered over her shoulder in the direction of the exclamation right as a small herd of women and children passed by in an excited rush of murmurs.

“But I want a picture with him,” a woman snapped. “You already took one.”

“Are you a scurvy bilge rat?” a little boy asked, voice full of awe.

“Do you really say things like ‘shiver me timbers?'”

A woman mumbled, “I’d shiver his timber.”

“Why don’t you find your sister, Tommy, and let mommy talk to the nice pirate?”

“Are you a real pirate? Can I hold your sword?”

“Oh, my God, Lisa, look at the rear end on that. He’s authentic and sexy. The cruise line really pulled out all the stops on this actor.”

Backtracking until she stood at the edge of the crowd, Serena had to see this mystery pirate ramping up hormones and imaginations. It was her birthday, after all. Didn’t she deserve a good ogle?

The gaggle of women and curious children had circled around an actor dressed up as, yup, a pirate. Sword, pistol, knee-high worn leather boots, long brown jacket with gold buttons that glimmered under the outdoor lighting. The stubble on his face was not quite a beard, but wasn’t too far from it. His blond hair had grown long and looked curled by ocean water and wind. Rings covered most of his fingers, and when he turned his head, a small hoop adorning his ear glimmered in the light.

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.

How cliché. All that was missing was a fan somewhere making his hair and coat billow as he took romance novel cover-style photos with his rabid admirers. He was handsome, she’d gotten her glimpse of him, but she wasn’t going anywhere near the center of the crowd if she could help it.

She almost walked away again until she noticed the pirate wasn’t smiling. Instead, he’d backed up against the wall and looked as though he was about to place the way-too-realistic sword in his hand between his teeth and crawl up the side of the ship. Maybe he hadn’t been warned that not only are children obsessed with pirates, but women salivated over the pop culture romanticism of them.

Pfft. Romantic pirates. She rolled her eyes. Please. They were dirty, malicious scoundrels with bad teeth and no morals. Sure, Hollywood could make it attractive, but real pirates weren’t sexy. They weren’t cleaned-up, designer versions in guyliner and leather like the guy on Once Upon a Time. They were criminals. Even if there were gray areas, crimes were still crimes when it came down to the bottom line.

Yet Serena couldn’t help but sympathize with the guy as he warily eyed the crowd. Tell me about it, pirate man. She shuddered. Crowds sucked. Too many judgmental people hovering with inquisitive, judgmental gazes… No. Just no. She would rather jump in acid. Unfortunately, as an adult, she didn’t have an easy out from it. Especially since someone had to pay the bills. Her boring filing job at a large law firm was perfect for her. She had her own office, didn’t have to see the clients, and could avoid people for the majority of her work day.

It was also the dullest job on the planet—hence, the gift of a birthday cruise from her friends. A much needed adventure, they’d said.

As a woman threw herself at him, clinging tightly, Serena snorted. The pirate’s eyes widened and he slowly peered down at the female clinging to him like a parasite and cleared his throat. He painstakingly sheathed his sword and tried to dislodge her. He obviously hadn’t done the pirate act before. Maybe it was his first night at it, which was odd considering the cruise was in its last few days. In that moment, he seemed almost kindred soul; a victim of a crowd that wouldn’t leave him alone.

The few friends she had helped her through the times when people—in general—overwhelmed her. Perhaps that’s what she’d do for her birthday: pay it forward. Taking a deep breath, Serena steeled herself for the inevitable horror of talking to people she didn’t know. The karma for the good deed should turn her luck around at least.

“Okay, everyone, okay. Break it up. Captain, eh, Morgan here will be back tomorrow. He has to go feed his parrot.” Serena grabbed the pirate’s arm and tugged despite protests from the crowd that there wasn’t an actual parrot. The thick leather of his jacket was soft to her touch, his arm firm and warm beneath it. She shivered, but not because she was cold. Just the opposite. He didn’t budge, and heat rose into her neck and face. She hoped she hadn’t done something that would come back to embarrass her. She hated public embarrassment. Didn’t handle it well, much to her friends’ amusement.

Instead, he stared at her hand and then his gaze slowly traveled up her arm to her face. Eye contact hit her like cannon fire—a sharp strike wrecking her resolve and leaving her bare as the world around them splintered away into the farthest depths of perception. As though he experienced what she had, his lips parted. Then a sly grin tipped up the corner of his mouth and she gulped while harsh, cold reality came pouring back with rapid intensity. He definitely had the swashbuckling rascal appearance down, and Serena feared she wasn’t as immune to it as she hoped.

“Oh, my God. That look,” a woman from the crowd said, breaking the remnants of whatever spell had tethered Serena and the pirate momentarily together. “That right there. Pillage me, pirate man. Pillage me hard!” Giggles and scandalized gasps from the crowd pulled Serena free of her inertia while a little boy loudly questioned what pillaging meant, to many awkward chuckles.

“Right,” Serena added when the man didn’t play along. Her heartbeat thumped rapidly in her chest, and her breaths quickened with panic the longer he and all those people had their attention focused on her. “You can either come with me or stay with them. Your call.” She had to escape the crowd before she started hyperventilating and embarrassed herself further. She was making a damned fool of herself. He hadn’t needed her help, and she had made an assumption she wouldn’t again.

The pirate regarded the women and children with a sneer, only appearing to recall their presence when he turned to seek out what pulled her focus from him—which created more of an excited ruckus in the crowd than before. He leaned down to grab a dirty old sack and draped it over his shoulder before gesturing for Serena to lead the way. She turned, headed toward the corridor she’d come from without waiting to see if he followed.

She could hear the crowd behind them start to disperse, and once they rounded the corner, alone, Captain Morgan drew her up short. He took her hand and brought her knuckles to his lips, kissing them lightly. “I must thank you, love, for the daring rescue.”

Flutters erupted in her abdomen and she shivered. He had an English accent, but it was also influenced with inflections of the Caribbean islands. A cacophony of dialects within one deliciously masculine timbre. Great. Now I’m one of the pirate worshipers.

© 2016 Rebekah Lewis.