An Excerpt from Sweet Auralie
The weather was fair and our second night at sea I left the wheel to Mr. Foulkes at nine bells and went to my quarter. Lenora was already in her nightdress, and the sight of her brushing her unpinned hair as it flowed over her shoulders and down her back unleashed in me a familiar passion.
She put down the brush and unbuttoned her dressing gown and stepped from it. It dropped to the floor at her feet and she stood naked as Venus herself. I felt my stomach tighten with desire and took her into my arms, allowing myself to taste the soft skin of her neck and my fingers to play over the soft curve of her shoulders. I had done this a hundred times before and I would have known her blind by the smell of her and the taste of her skin and the swell of her breast under my hand.
She stepped back and took both my hands in hers, an action that, given I was well on my way to passion, felt as though she had stabbed me with a sharp needle. It took me a moment to regain myself. “What is it, mon amie?
“I have something to tell you.” She smiled gently and put my hand to her waist. “ I am again with child.”
I drew my hand back. “With child? How long have you known?”
“I suspected it on the day of the hanging. I wasn’t certain, I’m still not certain, but with everyday it becomes more evident that it is true.
I sat upon the bed, overcome with a mix of emotion. The thought of a child warmed me and yet this warmth was tormented. We were at sea, heading for a land where we neither spoke the language nor well understood the customs. Lenora had already lost a pregnancy, and this was hardly a place for a woman with child.
Then something else occurred to me and anger was added to this mix of feeling. “You had thought to wait until now to tell me?”
Lenora stared at me as though I lashed her with a whip. She took her gown off of the floor and put it on, then crossing her arms over her breasts she tried for an explanation. “I have not seen a doctor. I have not shared the news with anyone. You must know I would tell you first.”
“A fortnight has passed since the hanging. And yet you waited until now.”
“ I hadn’t found the right time to tell you.”
I got up and pulled on my breaches and stood over her. “ You carry my child and think the time must be right?” I pulled my shirt on and made ready to go.
“Anton, don’t be angry. I was—you were so busy, hiring a crew, preparing the ship. I did not want to add to your burden.”
“A child is no burden. Surely you know that. And your concealing it is no small matter.” I left her then. Let her think hard and long on what she had done.