RIDE THE WIND by Nia Farrell writing her debut novel as Erinn Ellender Quinn.
A paranormal historical romance ~ length 70,033 words / 244 pages
Release date October 1, 2016
Amazon e-book http://mybook.to/TW2
ASIN B01LX6ZVBS / ISBN 10: 1537491148/ ISBN 13: 978-1537491141
Captain Ian O’Manion is a man with three names and a perilous past….
As Ian O’Malley, he’s wanted by the English. He’s wanted by the French as Jean Delacorte. When he wins The Oaks, a Maryland horse farm, he takes a new name for his new life…until the past catches up to him, with a vengeance.
Ian returns to The Oaks with a festering gunshot wound, fractured bones, and a broken spirit. Haunted by abuses suffered in a Jamaican prison, devoid of hope after his botched escape, he believes that he’s come home to die.
Elsbeth Gordon is an indentured servant with dangerous secrets of her own ….
A young woman of power, Beth talks to trees, communicates with animals, and practices magick alone. When healing the Captain means sharing her secrets, Beth has no choice but to risk being burned as a witch. The psychically gifted beekeeper sees the promise of their future in his eyes…if they can survive an old enemy and an ancient evil that threaten to destroy them both.
Written for ages 18+.
Ian frowned to think that she was still reading his mind. Jaysus, Joseph and Mary, would he never have any privacy with her? he wondered. The idea was damned disconcerting.
“I expect we’ll be able tae move ye tae the big house in a day or two,” she promised, scooting off the counterpane and letting the insect netting close behind her. “It’s just tha’ here, ye’re closer at hand.”
“Wouldn’t want to inconvenience you,” he mumbled. He knew it was rather childlike but he was unable to help it. Months of torture and a botched prison escape had a way of making a man not quite himself, but he couldn’t tell her that, any more than he could tell her his real name, not until it was cleared.
“Please, call me Beth,” she offered, tossing another bone. “And ‘tis a matter of degrees,” she said. “Ye’re gang tae be a bother, regardless. I thought tae make it easy on me mam. She’s no’ getting any younger, ye ken.”
Thrilled to realize that his fevered brain could actually follow her reasoning despite the brogue, Ian waved his hand, bestowing absolution. The Widow Gordon was, what, in her mid-fifties? Staid, steady, and still able to tend the plantation’s medicinal herb garden when she wasn’t busy birthing babies or ministering to the sick. She had a passion for fishing and he wondered if she used the quiet time it afforded to pray the rosary for her heathen daughter or her late husband, whom he’d brought over to manage his stables. All three had been indentured for seven years. Fever had carried off the one, but the two females were left, his fisher midwife and his busy, busy beekeeper, together with a small village of other indentures who tilled the soil and reaped the harvest and mucked stalls and sheared sheep and spun and wove, while a pair of hired brothers bred his horses, whose lines had been vastly improved by the blood of Spanish Barbs and Narragansett Pacers.
Even before the late Philip Rhys Davies had raced off on and toppled with the promising Zeus, the prize of The Oaks plantation was a stallion named Zephyr, fifteen-and-a-half hands high and black as midnight, save for a brilliant white blaze that flashed like lightning on the track. Zephyr was a racer that sired other racers, but the pretty pacers he had thus fathered would be in demand with the fox hunting and pleasure riding denizens of the surrounding counties, once word spread. Right now his men were working to recover from the loss of Zeus, and Philip. They managed the breeding, kept Zephyr busy mounting brood mares, and cared for those expecting the next go-round. They evaluated the one-year-olds and trained the two- and three-year-olds deemed worth the investment, breaking and selling the rest as opportunities arose.
One of the hired brothers, the farrier Thomas, had let it slip that Elsbeth—Beth—Gordon had the real talent for culling goats from sheep.
Beth Gordon, who slept with foxes and talked to bees and communed with horses. Who worked magick at midnight and refused to let him die whilst she was doing it. Who’d fought with him and for him and climbed into bed with him when the only way to keep him here was the promise of soft pink lips and delicious pomegranate breasts and those pretty, pretty feet. Whose naked body could have been his for the taking, except…except…
Nothing. Nothing. Jaysus, don’t tell me it’s come to this.
In prison, he’d had time for reflection between the day’s beatings and the night’s violations, and during one of his bargaining sessions with God, should He deem him worth saving, Ian had offered to leave his sailing and smuggling days behind him and retire to The Oaks as just another gentleman farmer, above reproach of the law. His daughter’s marriage had started him thinking, had turned his thoughts to the future and whether it might hold someone to share it with.
Good luck with that, when Beth Gordon in her birthday suit couldn’t get a rise out of him.
Maybe it was the laudanum.
God, let it be the laudanum.
“There came a point, we jumped ship, the three of us, Justin and Christiana and me. Our next berth was with a Welsh smuggler who plied his trade…here…and there. Then came the king’s pardon, that I couldn’t take under my own name, there likely being a desertion charged against it, so I took the name of Jean Delacorte, got pardoned, and found us—Christiana and me—a berth on a Dutch square rigger that plied the Atlantic trade. Back and forth we go. When I got to be captain, I did take us to Italy once. I’d promised meself to see Michelangelo’s chapel before I died, and I’m happy to say, I took it off the list.”
He paused, remembering the soaring ceilings, God’s outstretched finger imparting life to Adam. Adam, in his full glory, with the tiniest penis imaginable. If there’d been any competition, Eve wouldn’t have given him a second look.
“We saw the Sistine Chapel, and the Pope, and the Coliseum and other antiquities, but the city was pure filth, so we saw what we came to see and hied ourselves back to the Caribbean. There we sailed, all about the West India Isles, until Christiana was old enough, she needed to be in school, needed to learn to be a lady, which was nothing to be done aboard ship, so I took her to Havre.”
The Captain’s finger made a sad, slow line to France. “I left her with the Ursulines. She did fine,” he told himself. “She’s bright, and bold, and now she lives here.”
He pointed to the south side of Saint-Domingue. “Justin’s own island. Calls it Valhalla, a nod to him being part Viking and all. You’ll know it, soon as you see that white-blond hair. It’ll be worth laying odds to see what comes out on top, with the mix between the two of them. Christiana’s hair is dark, but her mother was a red head, and Christiana’s got the highlights.”
He angled a glance at her and pretended he was changing the subject. “You didn’t happen to see any red-headed grandbabies?”
“Aye,” she admitted, though they didn’t come from Christiana. It was too soon, and the future was not set. He still had healing to do.
She spoke to herself, but the laudanum seemed to let him hear it. Maybe it was just as well he thought it was about his other grandbabies rather than about her. About them.
He angled his head. When she ignored the question in his eyes, he shrugged a shoulder and turned his attention back to the map.
“All right, then. While Christiana’s in Havre, I’m…here, when I win The Oaks in a card game that lasted three days and nearly put me under the table, but I came out on top with the biggest purse I’d yet taken and still have yet to match. I’m…here,” he said, “when I win the Deirdre and get a second ship. I’m…here, at Mrs. Smith’s House of Entertainment in Road House, on Tortola, when I win the purse that lands me in prison…here.”
And there he was, back in the space of a heartbeat. Port Royal prison. A mute roommate who painted with piss. One guard who enjoyed torture, and another who enjoyed making men cry.
Beth’s heart hurt for him, for what he’d had to live through. Picking up a piece knocked loose, she tucked it away and anchored it with light and love and a wishful bit of pixie dust.
“You’re here, now,” she said softly, taking his hand and bringing him back to her. You’re here. You’re safe. I won’t judge you. I promise.
Suddenly, he stopped breathing. For a moment suspended in time, she did not move. Then, she rubbed slow circles on the back of his large hand, over the dark hair that dusted his knuckles and the scar where he’d startled his dog and it bit him. Her bottom hand was eclipsed by the width of his calloused palm, a captain come from the sea, bearing such terrible wounds.
“Aye, here,” he said, pulling free, breaking apart.
Feeling less than a man.
How could she tell him how special he was? He’d rescued his Marie from the uncle who’d have raped her. He’d saved his “niece” any number of times. Didn’t he know he was a man worth the wait?
She willed him to listen to her; the laudanum should let him. But she wasn’t certain he’d heard until he raised his head, and she looked in his beautiful green glass eyes and saw it for herself.
Ian blew out softly, frustrated beyond bearing, recognizing that lambent look in her eyes and knew that her interest in him had gone beyond tending his wounds. He might be better than he was, but he was still a broken man. He wanted her too, but wishes alone wouldn’t make that happen.
He wanted to feel her lying naked against him, with her wild red curls and eyes the color of Aruba and her pomegranate breasts and those pretty feet of hers. But she’d tended him enough, she’d seen his lifeless member when he should have been standing at attention and giving her a salute.
Adam might have had a tiny penis, but at least it worked. His hadn’t since Jamaica.
“Give it time,” she said.
As if she thought that’s all it took. But how could she know?
Eavesdropper. She gave him a smile, soft and sweet and full of hope. “Can ye nae feel the truth of it?”
“Aye,” he said, surprised. The first time she’d asked him that, he hadn’t been able to fathom it. But now….
Now he’d eaten a man’s breakfast. He’d eaten electrick strawberries. He’d put Jamaica behind him again, and told himself that would get easier with time. Time, the healer of most wounds, even if the scars remained.
For now, she was willing to wait, willing to give him however long he needed to be able to come to her and take what she would share. Their time had not yet arrived, but when it did, he was sure it would feel like heaven, and he would not be remiss if electrick strawberries were involved.
At the stables, they found that the Marshall men and O’Flaherty boys and Theo had everything under control. Ian still didn’t know why Red Beth had to drag him from his sickbed and make him walk all the way down here, feeling uncomfortably weak as a kitten, when she could just as easily have told him a bedtime story about it. But she’d insisted. Mindful of his indebtedness, he had humored her, and so it was that they had come to this, poised in the role of passive observers in an empty stall, until the mare was brought in. Red Beth excused herself and went over to talk to the chestnut, rubbing her head and whispering in her ear and adjusting the leather cover that would protect her neck from an overzealous stallion’s bites.
Zephyr smelled the mare, even before Thomas brought him into the stable. Outside, he whinnied his pleasure, and he came in dancing with an erection that hung to his hocks. Ian almost called out to beg her not to when Beth dared to approach his horse.
Zephyr reared up, and Ian swore that his heart stopped. It would have been too late; there was no way he would have reached her in time to save her, but the prancing, padded hooves miraculously cleared Beth as they came down. Ian exhaled sharply and released the breath that he’d been holding.
Thomas had his hands full, controlling the stallion and keeping an eye on Beth, who was talking to the beast, no doubt sharing a bit of breeding etiquette, warning him not to play too roughly. Zephyr whinnied, and Thomas waited until Beth was free and clear. She rejoined Ian in the empty stall, closing the short door behind her. Zephyr pranced up to the pretty chestnut mare, who had twitched her tail to the side to ease his way. She was good enough to welcome the stallion’s weight as he reared up and covered her, shoving his massive member inside her and thrusting home like the magnificent stud that he was.
And all the while, Beth stood, almost breathless, watching spellbound, wincing when Zephyr bit at the leather-covered neck. She gripped the door of the empty stall that was their viewing room, and Ian knew she was not unaffected. Forget Zephyr. He watched Beth watching the horses. He listened to her telling breath, and felt the hum in her body that sang to him as surely as the fiddle’s phantom tune.
And because they were in a place where they could see without being seen, Ian stepped behind her and slipped his hands around her waist and pulled her back against him. She shivered, and inhaled sharply, then forgot to breathe altogether. He leaned down, bending until his teeth found the base of her neck. “Red,” he whispered against her petal-soft skin just before he tasted it, tasted her, and asked her to take him home.
“Please,” the Captain begged when she stayed rooted, transfixed, watching his stallion cover the chestnut mare as he wanted to cover her. “Have mercy. Don’t do this to me. You don’t know what it’s been like.”
But she did. She did. She knew exactly what he’d felt. It was her gift. Her curse. Like now, feeling the blood pump in old haunts, the word made flesh, the promise of resurrection fulfilled. The Captain wanted her, and she wanted him to want her, and Herne would just have to understand.
The stallion finished and disengaged, dropping onto all four feet, with his penis tamed and near normal size already, while the Captain’s was just coming to life. She wished he could have taken her right then and there, amidst the sharp scents of the stable as they tumbled in the straw and hay.
They headed for the house, each one priding themselves on moving at a reasonable pace, when every step brought them closer to the bedroom upstairs, with its urn full of dead honeybees and a plate of herbs and sliced ginger root and an odd number of pinch-necked glass cups. Back in the day, Ian could have swept her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. Now it was all he could do to navigate under his own power and pray the feeling wouldn’t go away once they’d gotten to where he could do something about it.
When they reached the front door, he took her hand and pulled her through the house he’d won on a turn of the cards, gotten by chance and kept by pretense, until he could clear his real name. At least his Christian name was the same, and the subtle change from O’Malley to O’Manion was still a damn sight better than the years he’d played Jean Delacorte.
He counted the steps on the sweeping entrance stairs, marked the feet from the landing to his bedroom door, and numbered the eyelets on the back of her bodice as he put his fingers to the task of unlacing them. While he was busy in the back, she unpinned her apron front, reaching around and pulling one tie so that the thing fell free, landing in a puddle on the wide board floor. He opened his mouth on the back of her neck, and he knew she remembered his stallion, covering the chestnut mare, giving her that enormous member of his in a mating that was as intense as it was brief. A stallion did his business in a minute; it took three hundred forty days, give or take, for a mare to finish hers.
Beth felt the Captain’s breath on her skin, like dragon’s fire. No sooner did she wonder if he intended to consume her than he put an arm around her waist, pulled her back against him, and opened his mouth on the base of her neck. He scored it with his teeth, not quite biting, and then he did bite her, inhaling sharply with his mouth fastened on a spot that made her knees go weak. His hands skimmed up her sides and pulled down her bodice; he splayed his calloused fingers and lay claim to her breasts.
Ian wanted it to be good for her. He wanted it to last, but he couldn’t wait for layers of clothes and shoes and stockings, no matter how much he enjoyed a leisurely disrobing. For the first time in months, there was life in every part of him.
“Red,” he whispered against her hair. “I’m sorry, I can’t wait. Forgive me.”