The Caribbean, 1661
When Titus Kandel meets Sir Henry Polglase, an irrepressible fire smoulders between them. But Ty belongs to another man—the repulsive Jonkheer Van Wyck.
Sir Henry swears he will rescue Ty from his master’s clutches. Past disappointments have taught Ty to be wary of idle promises, but somehow he knows the English gentleman is different. Ty can trust him to keep his word.
And then he discovers Sir Henry’s true purpose in coming to the Caribbean…
A Chevalier in Deed is the first installment in the Chevaliers & Charlatans series. Find out what the crew of the Audacious got up to before they became the Pirates of Port Royal!
The dock was agreeably empty of Jonkheer Van Wyck. Despite that, Ty knew better than to wander off—giving his master additional excuses to punish him would be foolish. He stared at the Batavia riding at anchor, her crew swarming over sheets and sails, preparing for a voyage. He dreaded being stuck on her with the jonkheer, for he would take the blame for every little thing that went wrong. If he was lucky, the jonkheer would be delayed and miss the tide. But he had never been a lucky man.
“Is that ship the Batavia?”
Ty started, his reverie broken by the question. The voice was deep, from the chest and not the nose. Musical. It resounded through him like bass notes, travelling down to his toes. He turned, curious and fascinated in equal measure.
The voice’s owner was a little shorter than he, but not by much. Ty was impressed; usually he towered over these pale men of Europe.
And a pale man this one was—as yet unspoilt by the tropical sun, his face looked to be carved of choice ivory. Ty resisted the urge to discover the texture of the fine-grained skin with his fingers. Roses bloomed in the man’s cheeks, as delicate as the hand-tinting of a skilled artist, and gave life and animation to his visage. His eyes were more grey than blue, an unremarkable colour, but they were alive with intelligence, and his firm mouth was twisted upwards in a smile.
“Aye, sir,” said Ty.
“And a lovely sight, I declare. I hope you’re enjoying the view as much as I.”
The knowing look in the man’s eyes made the words ambiguous. Realising he was still staring, Ty tore his gaze away. But though he kept his eyes respectfully lowered, he continued to study the stranger covertly, eager to know more.
The man was English as far as he could tell, though in that language all accents sounded similar to him. The suit of silk marked him as a gentleman, a discreet dark green with touches of lace. Not enough for vulgarity, but enough to show he was a man of means.
A carter was behind the stranger, and at his signal unloaded his barrow, dumping a large chest and several leather sacks onto the dock. The gentleman flicked him a coin, and Ty’s eyes widened. It looked like two reals, a generous sum for the carter’s service.
The servant tucked the coin away, his face beaming. “Thank you, master,” he said, bowing low before taking himself off.
Ty weighed the gentleman up with new eyes. If he was looking for the Batavia, he must be a fellow passenger, and one who might throw a coin or two his way. And Ty needed coin—he saved every shilling, every real, every meagre maravedí he could get his hands on. One day, he would have enough to purchase his freedom.
“Are you sailing with this ship?” asked the gentleman.
“Aye, sir. To Port Royal.”
“Excellent, for I too am bound for that fair city.” The man made a leg, a polite courtesy. “Sir Henry Polglase at your service. May I have the honour of knowing your name?”
Ty was surprised. Seldom did free men speak to slaves but to give an order, and rarely asked for a name. This one, however, showed every sign of wishing to indulge in conversation. Ty bowed, but without Sir Henry’s genteel flourishes.
“I am Titus Kandel, sir. At your service.”
“I’m obliged, sir; much obliged. Mr Kandel, do you think it is too early to board? I would like to settle myself.”
Ty bit his lip. “Please, sir, don’t call me Mr Kandel. My master would—Jonkheer Van Wyck will dislike it. I am Titus.”
The carved nostrils twitched a little, and Sir Henry’s brows drew together. The gentleman had not known he was a slave, then. Staring at the ground, Ty waited for a rebuke, even a blow. Masters were apt to punish slaves for their own errors.
“Then I shall ensure Jonkheer Van Wyck has no cause to chastise you, Titus,” said Sir Henry lightly.
He might have been a slave since his boyhood, but Ty had never become accustomed to the humiliation of it. When a personable man smiled at him, he was all too aware that he did not have the luxury of doing as he would. The freedom to associate with whomever he chose. For once he was grateful for his dark skin, for it would not show the blush of shame that flowed to his cheeks.
Sir Henry’s skin would have shown it, though. For a fleeting moment, Ty imagined how the gentleman would look flushed with arousal, lips red from kisses. He shook the sinful thought from his head. With such a devil inside him, it was little wonder his master beat him so often.
This book was added to our catalog on Wednesday 03 January, 2018.