When I first started this tale, it started out with two brothers–pirates, of course. Then I took a European Cruise with my parents and fell in love with the coast of Great Britain. The fog didn’t bother me, nor the rain, wind, and chill. I embraced it because the hills were lush and green. The seas? They called to me. Best trip I’ve ever taken–and that includes Disneyland and Space Mountain.
With romance on my mind, because I was in love with the landscape, I gave one of the brothers a love to go home to and the other one to find. The tour guides were so passionate about their home country and it gave me a new appreciation for it. So how about the first chapter for just one taste.
The wind and rain lashed against Aedan’s face. He peered behind him, frowning at the dark outline of another ship in the distance. For days, his brother Daithi swore he saw someone lurking on the horizon, but only once they entered Sruth na Maoile—The North Channel—had he, too, noticed it. Anyone fool enough to follow the Ó Loinsigh brothers in the rough seas courted death.
“I told ye, brother.” Daithi gripped the railing at the stern, his dark hair matted to his face.
“Aye, aye.” Aedan sighed.
“Worry not.” Daithi grinned. “Ye be cradled betwixt Kaitlin’s legs soon enough.”
Aedan kicked his brother, more to draw his attention to the task at hand than his remark concerning Kaitlin. He’d been spouting off crude comments about Aedan’s exclusive relationship with the woman. Daithi could have his fill of every lass who lifted their skirts when the Ó Loinsigh brothers returned home.
“She’s bigger than us.” Aedan jerked his thumb to the stern.
“But not faster.”
“Let’s show the bastard the bottom of Sruth na Maoile, then.”
“Oh, aye.” Daithi bent down near the railing, peering toward the front of the ship.
Aedan rushed to the deck below. He signaled the man on the whipstaff to relinquish his hold. “Stay here, Callum.”
The crewman nodded. Aedan smirked at the awe in the man’s face. The way the two brothers steered through the murk fascinated the younger lads who never served on Maiden’s Kiss. None could feel the tug and pull of the ocean on a ship like the brothers. The small Dutch man-of-war may be undersized compared to some of the ships they came across, but her maneuverability leveled the playing field.
Aedan’s hands gripped the top of the long iron rod affixed to the rudder far below. The top was fashioned by a smithy in their hometown after the death of their mother. Shaped like a spike and fitted down into the long iron rod, the necklace she wore twined around the polished wood. With it, her spirit would always be felt when he guided the ship through rough waters.
“Callum, port tack and all sails hoisted.”
Callum bellowed the order up to Daithi. But a few moments later, the ship lurched forward.
Aedan’s thoughts drifted to Kaitlin, his sweet lass surely waiting for his return. He wanted no other when he ventured on land to send his crew off. None would fill his bed but her on the ship while docked. She had captured his heart though he could never make her a proper wife. One of her beauty deserved a man whose life would not lead him to the gallows. Yet she waited each year for the Maiden’s Kiss to make berth. He shook his mind free of the heavenly vision of her tight in his arms. Concentration was the key in such turbulent waters.
They were almost through of the worst of the storm. Once clear of the Channel, he could guide their ship into the rocky isle, away from prying eyes. The men serving on Maiden’s Kiss would leave with plenty of money to keep their families living comfortable. Aedan and Daithi only employed a crew for one year before recruiting others to join their cause. Stealing from British ships was never a problem with their countrymen.
Aedan tensed before smiling as his brother pounded on the wood above him. He never asked how Daithi could weave them through the dark waters. So long as he directed, Aedan had no problem guiding their ship. How Daithi pounded on the deck determined Aedan’s direction on the rudder.
The waves crashed against the hull, and the ship tilted to her starboard side. The crew, tethered to prevent themselves from spilling over, glanced to Aedan from his covered position. He smirked. No matter how well they built their reputation, there were always a few that doubted the brothers’ abilities. Daithi tapped, and Aedan eased the whipstaff back.
“Callum.” Aedan called out.
“Check the stern for that ship.” Aedan jerked his head back.
The brothers refused to be called by any proper titles on their vessel. They were for the people of Ireland and had no ambitions of thinking them above their crew. The respect gained from their piracy was all they needed for loyalty.
Aedan turned the ship sharply and righted quickly.
“I see no ship,” Callum said.
“Good.” Aedan nodded. “Less sail, and tell Daithi to steer us to calmer seas.” No sense in taking the hardest route through the wall of waves if no one posed a threat. He could smell the scent of Kaitlin’s skin in the ocean’s spray.