Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.
After a week in Port Royal, I’ve learned only that I hate Jeffrey even more living under his roof. He shows me off at his daily garden party, like I’m proof of his superiority, bragging about his young fiancée while his so-called friends snicker behind their hands. They stare at me, whispering slurs about foreign races, yet gorge their bloated bellies with the food and drink my money buys.
I could kill him. I will kill him, once Charles reigns and I can escape this farce. Even a blood-born man as debauched as Charles will remember the favors he owes me. I’ll settle for Aberdeenshire.
Finn Bannantine sways in his chair, repeating the same gossip he slurs in a drunken muddle day after day. The others pay no attention. I’d ignore him too, but watching him taunt Jeffrey is the only amusement I’ll get from these stiffs.
“Better save your gold, boy-o. You’re too old to play the gallant for Charles,” Bannatine says, wagging a thick finger in Jeffrey’s face.
“Not this madness, again.” Jeffrey’s hands ball into fists. “Charles will never rule.”
“Then, why does the Governor bow and scrape like a blackie to MacGregor?” Finally, Bannantine offers good news; the Governor changes his allegiance.
“I’ll tolerate no more talk of royalist swine,” Jeffrey shouts, his face bright red.
Damn him. Years of empty promises, and I still don’t have my lands back, yet he stalls to keep his hand in my purse. When I can confirm the rumors of Charles’s return, I’ll enjoy ending him as slowly and painfully as possible. I’d drain the bastard dry, but I have no taste for failure.
While I seethe, a slipper nudges my calf. “Miss DeEsse,” Mrs. Bannantine says. “I’ve heard so much about the lovely antiquities of your toilet.”
Her wan face brightens with a sly smile. She knows something.
“It’d be my pleasure to show them to you,” I offer, standing to leave the table. “Would the ladies care to join me in my rooms?”
The other women rise for the lark, bowing their heads demurely to conceal impish grins on the way to my rooms. As my maid sees us in and closes the door, the women start to chatter.
“Thank you, love, please see we’re not interrupted.” Her lips glance my cheek. My mouth longs for scandal. She curtsies, giggling, amused as ever at feigning propriety.
I usher my guests to the salon, where we can gossip in comfort. Mrs. Pike claims my favorite chair, leaving me to perch on the chaise while the others plop onto the sofas. They’re already half-way to hysterics.
“Seamus MacGregor,” Mrs. Bannantine sighs.
“Angels weep.” Mrs. Dalton fans her neckline.
“I ran into him outside the Exchange. He caught my waist in those big, strong hands. I could’ve fainted,” Mrs. Hale says, breathing in thrilled gasps.
“He could put them all over me. Such a fine cut of a man.” Mrs. Bannantine says. I peek into her thoughts, but they’re too jumbled with adventurous urges to sort out. Her minds’ eye, however, provides the dashing image of a dark man with the most piercing eyes I’ve seen in centuries. Considering the mate her father chose, it’s little wonder she fantasizes about this one. If MacGregor is half the man she imagines, I’d swoon, too.
They say nothing valuable, but youthful merriment is a welcome change. Excepting the aging Mrs. Pike, my companions have had maybe twenty years. I can’t believe these lively girls are the same ghosts who’ve haunted the garden all day.
But now my curiosity is too piqued to be satisfied with tittering. “Who is MacGregor?”
“They say he’s a pirate,” Mrs. Bannantine says with hushed awe. “Not a soul knows, with any faith, where he was for all those years.”
Their excitement infects me, and my heart races at the prospect of a beguiling riddle. “All which years?”