Hi everybody! I thought maybe everyone would be interested in what I’m currently working on. Well honestly, I needed a break from Brita and the AOD gang, so I decided to switch things up and go full-on historical romance! This started out as an intended Pirate story, but it veered off in a different direction, but I think y’all will still enjoy! I hope you do anyway! So far, this novel remains title-less.
And, as always, I welcome and look forward to any comments you guys may have!
Despite his precarious position, Thane Talbot rested comfortably, delicately perched at the junction of the foremast and the support of the lowest foresail. His speed and lithe form had earned him the position of Lookout, a job most of the ship’s sailors were glad to bestow upon him. No one wanted to climb the ratlines, dodging the intricate weaving of support ropes, to hang high above both deck and churning sea for hours at a time, but, unlike the others, Thane was more than willing to accept the position.
Having been sold off at the tender age of eight, Thane exchanged the title of orphan for that of slave to the English Navy, or at least that’s what he liked to call it. Being the youngest on board a ship of sailors, he was given every menial, demeaning task the crew could think of. He didn’t let them break his spirit however. He took everything they threw at him with the determination to not only complete the task, but to exceed their expectations. He knew if he was to ever find his place on this ship, he would have to be diligent and harden himself against the unfair hand he’d been dealt. This was his life. It was up to him to make the best of it.
Finally on his tenth birthday, the ship’s crew and captain gathered around him, presented him with a crudely made cake, a tankard of ale and the new position of Cabin Boy. This elevation, though not putting him in the same ranks as everyone else, thrust him into the inner workings of the ship. He found himself a silent bystander as important decisions were made and the fact that he was able to keep his mouth shut about such learnings, quickly made him a trusted favorite, especially with the captain. Soon, he was being trusted with more important tasks, such as Lookout. Yes, it was easier for him, now a twelve year old boy, to scale that line, but the eyes of a grown man were considered more trustworthy. So the fact that he was being trusted with something so great was a huge testament to his hard work over the years.
Today however, he was perched high above the deck, not searching for enemy ships. No, he was searching for a different kind of enemy. The ship was docked within the London Harbor to welcome aboard its newest member. Fate had thrown him a cruel turn in the form of a bought commission by some Duke, or Lord or whatever his title was, for his youngest son. But unlike Thane, this bought commission ensured the son would be brought in, not in the lowliest position that Thane had previously held, but would warrant him the title of Mid-shipmen. Oh how Thane coveted that title! But he would never get it. Not a lowly orphan such as himself. No, those positions were bought by the rich who were too soft and gentle to actually earn them! He almost expected the chap to show up in a dress! A devilish smirk spread across his lips as he imagined the girl-boy boarding the ship to the catcalls and taunts of the crew. So wrapped up in the vision, he nearly missed the captain disembark to approach the carriage that had arrived.
Thane leaned forward, straining for a look at this interloper, to the point that he almost lost his grip on the slick wood. Deciding a closer inspection was needed, he quickly descended, stopping just short of the deck.
The boy was roughly the same age as himself, also with black hair, though it was slicked neatly down, unlike Thane’s curls that blew wildly in the wind. He appeared shorter than Thane and very thin. Thane smiled again for the boy looked weak. There was no chance of him becoming a threat! Hell, he probably would grow sick and die before they returned to dock!
Thane felt a tightening in his chest as he watched the boy wrap his arms around his father’s waist and beg, quite loudly, for mercy. So, he didn’t want to be there any more than Thane wanted him there. But why would he want a sailor’s life, stripped of his lush estate, his fancy clothes and his…family? For Thane, this ship was his estate, and these men, while rough and downright ugly, were the only family he had ever known. He might not be rich in coin, but he was rich in other ways. As this realization sank in, as well as the subsequent tug of guilt, Thane dropped his bare feet to the deck with a hard thud at the same moment the boy stepped on board. He jumped slightly from the loud sound and his eyes met Thane’s. They were red and wet, as was his face. He had been crying. Thane shoved his hands into the pockets of his ratty trousers then slowly ambled toward him and the captain.
“Ah! Talbot!” Captain Dorset called out when he saw him, openly showing relief that he would no longer have to tend to the sniveling boy alone. “This is Master Hamlin. Please welcome him to the crew.”
The boy offered his hand, but Thane decided to keep his hands firmly ensconced in cloth and chose instead to nod his head in acknowledgement. Sniffing back his tears, the boy slowly lowered his hand and diverted his brown eyes from the deep blue ones boring into him.
“Talbot, take him to his quarters, will you? I am charging you with acclimating him to the ship and crew. We will begin his tutelage at daybreak.” Captain Dorset gave him a small push toward Thane before quickly retreating.
With his hands still in his pockets, Thane gave him a long, hard once over. “Stop crying.” He barked. “Wipe your face and stand up straight!”
“I’m sorry, sir.” He quavered, quickly swiping the tears from his cheeks.
Sir! He called me sir, Thane thought with glee. He freed his hands, only to clasp them behind his back as he circled the trembling boy. “What’s your first name, Hamlin?”
“How old are you, Brant?”
“Well Brant, you are now the youngest person on board this vessel. Your father may have bought your position here, but he didn’t buy the respect of the crew. If anything, they will be harder on you, resent you even.” Thane watched Brant’s eyes grow wide with fear. “That means you must be act a man. No crying, no whining, understand?”
“Y-yes sir.” Brant nodded obediently
“Yes sir!” He said louder, with more force.
“That’s better.” Thane nodded, pleased. “My name is Thane…lose the sir.”
“But…” Brant’s brow furrowed with confusion prompting Thane to hold his hand out to silence him.
“You are a Mid-shipman. I am but a lowly Cabin Boy. I didn’t have a father to buy my way onto the ship, I have to earn my way.” When his voice cracked with emotion, he swiftly spun on his heels and walked toward the center of the ship. “Are you coming, Hamlin?”
“Y-yes, sir..um…Thane.” Brant tried to recover from the shock of the revelation as he raced to catch up.
The ship was quiet save for the numerous snores and occasional coughing of the sleeping sailors. Thane fought for sleep, hoping the back and forth swaying of his hammock would lull him, but to no avail. Instead, he laid wide awake, staring through the small porthole. The moon was bright, glaring off the surface of the blackened waves as they rolled by. It was an absolutely beautiful evening to be sailing the high seas, and Thane hated it! Nights like this led to too much thinking and even fantasizing about the future or an alternate life. He found himself thinking quite a bit about that alternate life, or Brant Hamlin’s life to be exact. What was it like to have a loving mother, a strong, powerful father, and siblings to play with?
Startled by the sharp hiss, Thane nearly fell from the hammock. Straining his eyes, he peered into the darkness for its source. Suddenly, amidst the sea of swaying hammocks, the whites of two wide, scared eyes appeared, followed by the small round face. “Brant? What are you doing down here? Your bed is up in the Officer’s Quarters.”
Brant slunk forward, peering over the edge of the hammock. “It’s very dark in my room, and there are…noises.”
Thane suddenly realized that Brant was scared and had sought him out for comfort. As much as he wanted to tell the boy to be a man and go back to his room, he found he couldn’t. There was something about those large, brown eyes that tugged at his heart. Sighing with defeat, he pointed to the empty hammock beside him. “Here, take this one.”
Before he was able to complete the sentence, Brant was scrambling to climb into the rope contraption. It took several minutes, but he finally settled in comfortably.
“Yes?” He sighed with irritation.
“Thank you for being nice to me.”
Crossing his arms angrily over his chest, Thane rolled onto his side, away from Brant. “Quiet, Hamlin. Some of us are trying to sleep.”