An Undeniable Passion Ch. 16byopels©
Virginia sank down into the warm, soapy, perfumed water. She closed her eyes and sighed. The extra large tub she had purchased for herself was definitely worth the additional cost. She recalled the small tub she had bathed in while on the Aurora. She had thought that a man as tall as Drake would require a bigger tub, but being on the ship she supposed space and the amount of water a large tub would require were both considerations.
She tipped her head against the rim and let her mind wander back to the time on the ship. The times she had spent with him. A smile crept across her face, thinking how even after so short a while, the bad memories were fading and she more and more thought only of the good times. The times she spent in his arms, her fingers sliding through his thick, soft hair, stroking his hard, muscled body, feeling the tingling tremors flying through her veins under his hands.
Her own hands slid along the insides of her thighs recalling those nights on the ship and the magical way he had made her feel. A soft gasp slipped through her lips as her fingers dipped into the nest of curls between her thighs. Stroking herself as Drake had touched her, she groaned softly, finding all the sensitive spots that he had played like a fine instrument, evoking the most erotic music from her. Water slopped over the side of the tub as she lightly thrashed in the warm, soapy water, her orgasm rocking her.
As the glow of her climax faded, she wondered if there was a man that could ever make her feel like that again. Would the time she spent on his ship be the only time she would experience such ecstasy? She had been kissed by two men other than Drake and she hadn't felt anything. Was she doomed to a life of comparing every man she ever met with him? She sighed in resignation. It was useless to even speculate. She would most likely never see Drake Stratford again but knew that he would always be with her, whether she liked it or not.
It was the beginning of November and with the colder weather forcing Billy indoors he resumed his search for the door to the hidden portion of the attic.
Virginia was busy in her sewing room when she heard some very typical sailor-type language coming down the hallway. Venturing out she peeked into the attic. Billy was standing in front of the wall his hands on his hips.
"No luck yet?" she asked.
He spun around clearly embarrassed that she had heard him cursing. Turning a deep crimson he said, "No, no luck yet."
"How about to take your mind off it, you fetch a ladder from the barn and get those bags off the chandeliers in the ballroom and foyer," she suggested. "If they require any repairs we should get that done now."
He sighed heavily, glanced back at the wall once more and then made his way through the attic towards the door.
She was back in her sewing room trying to concentrate on her dress but kept thinking about the hidden door. She was wondering if the catch for it might be somewhere other than on the wall. She went down the hallway and stood in the entrance to the attic. Looking about she was wondering where to start. She turned to the door frame and thought that here was as good a place as any.
She knelt down and ran her fingers up along the edge of the frame, standing on her toes she skimmed them across the top. Halfway across she stopped and went back. What was that? she thought. There was a small piece of wood sticking up. She gently pushed on it but it didn't give. She gripped it and pulled gently. Still nothing. She pressed her fingers on it again and pushed harder. It suddenly snapped down and she heard a click to her left. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that a panel in the wall was indeed ajar. She stared in disbelief. Billy had been searching for so long and she had found it in a matter of minutes. She ran down the hidden stairs calling his name and turned into the ball room just as he was coming down the ladder from the chandelier.
"Billy," she gasped. "Come quickly, I found it!"
"Found what?" he asked running up the stairs behind her.
"The catch for the hidden door!" she shouted over her shoulder to him.
"You found it? Where?" He caught up to her in the entrance to the attic.
"Look," she said pointing to the open door in the wall.
He stood and stared in amazement. "Where did you find it?" he asked.
"It's up on top of the door frame," she said pointing up.
"Up there?" he said, amazed. "I never thought to look in another part of the room!"
"Well, go on. Don't you want to see what's in there?" she asked giving him a nudge. She didn't want to admit that she was actually a bit frightened to go in the room.
He slowly walked over to the door and pulled it open. Peering inside he looked around and then walked in. Virginia stood in the doorway and looked around. There was enough light from the attic windows so that they could see inside the small unlit room. It was extremely dusty and full of cobwebs. There were a number of chests on the floor, with keys in the locks. Billy knelt down before one and wiped the dust off with his sleeve. He turned the key and slowly lifted the lid. It was full of burlap sacks, not unlike the ones that had held the pearls. These were much bigger though. He lifted one and heard the unmistakable clink of coins. He quickly looked up at Virginia with wide eyes. Setting the bag down on the floor, he undid the drawstring and opened the bag. His eyes grew wide as he stared at the contents.
"What is it?" Virginia whispered.
He looked up at her with shining eyes. "Gold," he said. Reaching inside, he pulled out a coin and tossed it to her. She caught it and walked over to one of the windows to examine it more closely.
"It's a plain coin, unstamped," she called out to him. "They must have been stolen before they had a chance to be stamped."
"Are we allowed to keep it?" Billy asked from inside the room. "It is stolen property after all."
"But if it's unstamped how can they trace it?" she asked. "Thomas said that both British and Spanish ships were targeted by the pirates. If we turned this over to the authorities they wouldn't know who to return it to," she said happily.
She returned to the entrance of the small room where Billy was still checking the contents of the chests. "How much is there?" she asked excitedly.
"Quite a bit, Ginny. There's silver too," he said, checking the last trunk. He pulled out the last few pouches and paused with them in his hands. He furrowed his brow as he rolled the small pouches in his hands.
"What is it?" she asked.
"These feel different. They're not coins," he said carrying the bags out into the lighter room.
"Well open them," she said impatiently.
He walked over to a small table and dumped out the contents. They both gasped loudly. A dozen diamonds sparkled on the table top. "Oh, Billy, diamonds. Look at them, aren't they beautiful?" she exclaimed.
"Are those real?" Billy asked
Virginia picked up one of the glittering stones and held it up to the light. "I'm not sure," she said. "But if they were being hidden in that room, I would assume so," she said with a grin. "Open the other bag."
He undid the pouch and poured out its contents as well. An assortment of sparkling stones in hues of red, blue and green tumbled out of the bag.
"Billy, I think we may be rich," she said with wonder.
"Well, Ginny, you're rich, not me," he said fingering the shining stones.
"No, Billy. We're rich. We're in this together and I intend to split everything with you. I would never have found this without your help. You're entitled to it just as much as I am." She picked up a large diamond. "I think I just recouped my original investment," she said with a laugh.
"Ginny, do you know what that means if you share this with me?"
"That you'll be a very wealthy young man?" she asked with a smile.
"Yes!" he laughed. "I can ask Elizabeth to marry me!" Gathering her into a big hug, he whispered, "Thank you Ginny. Thank you so much!"
"You're more than welcome Billy. And congratulations," she said still smiling.
"Thomas was right about privateers owning the house. He did hint that there could be treasure hidden here," he said.
The smile from Virginia's face faded and her brow furrowed.
"What is it Ginny?"
Slowly she said, "Thomas knew that the house had been previously owned by privateers and that there could be treasure hidden here. One of the first things he said to me when we met was that he had been trying to buy this place from Otis for the longest time." She turned to Billy and continued. "He explained it by saying that the soil is very good and that he was interested in expanding his operations a bit, but I can't help but wonder..."
"Was he after the treasure?" he finished for her.
"He did offer to help us go through these things," she said indicating all the crates and trunks in the main part of the attic, "which at the time, seemed such an unlikely thing for him to do." She put the diamonds back in the pouch and said, "Maybe we should just put all this back in the room for now, and until we decide just what to do with it, maybe not mention it to anyone. And in the meantime, perhaps it's time you showed me how to shoot one of those pistols you kept."
She began to gather up the gems, when a warmly hued stone caught her eye. It was a slim piece of amber. She thought it strange that it was mixed in with the other stones. As she turned the smooth piece in her hands she was reminded of Drake's eyes. They were the same color and held the same mystery. She slipped it into her pocket and put the remainder of jewels back into the pouch.
That night as she undressed the piece of amber fell from her pocket to the floor. She had forgotten she had put it there. She sat on the bed and stared at it. In the dim light of her room it did indeed remind her of his eyes. Those eyes that she had fallen into so deeply the first moment her gaze had fallen upon them. The stone caught the candle light and seemed to glow. Just as his eyes so often glowed when looking at her. She grasped it tightly in her hand and held it to her chest as tears threatened to spill out of her eyes. She placed the amber under her pillow and crawled beneath the sheets. She knew she would dream of him that night and this time she welcomed them.
Drake stared deeply into her inviting green eyes, eyes that were saying yes, eyes that were begging for the pleasure that only he could give her. They were gliding about the deck of his ship, dancing to the beat of their hearts. He picked her up and carried her to his cabin, kicking the door shut behind him. Her long red hair fanned out about her face as he lay her down on the bed, and she was somehow already undressed. He leant down to kiss her and could hear his heart beating, thumping in his chest, in his ears, thumping so loudly. She was crying out, calling him Captain. But it wasn't her voice, it was too deep, a man's voice.
Drake opened his eyes and realized the thumping was coming from the door and one of his crew was calling his name. His hand reached out into the bed next to him; it was cold and empty. He had been dreaming of her again. Dreaming of that night. That last night he had spent with her. One of the many nights he almost wished had never happened, but was also so thankful they had.
Groggily he called out "What is it?"
"A storm up ahead Cap'in. It's far enough off that we should be able to sail around it."
He jumped out of bed, dressing quickly, memories of the last storm flooding through his mind. He looked at the bed and smiled as he recalled how scared she had been, huddled amongst the rumpled sheets. How he wished he could kiss her for luck again. He shook his head and pulled on his boots. "On my way!" he called out.
He ran up on deck and picking up the spy glass he put it to his eye. The flashes of lightening could be seen clearly up ahead. The storm was still quite far away, but they could lose a whole day trying to avoid it. The crew was already preparing the ship to go around when Drake began shouting orders. They were going to go through it. The mean stared at him with shock and wonder, surprised that he would take such a risk. They knew he was eager to get back to Virginia as soon as possible, but to purposely go right through a storm? The wind was already beginning to pick up and the ship was starting to rock. For the next few hours Drake helped his crew raise and lower sails, pull men back from being swept overboard and just tried to keep the ship in one piece.
They finally pulled out leaving the thunder and lightening behind them and he staggered down to his cabin. He once again collapsed, exhausted onto the bed. This time, however, he awoke several hours later still fully dressed, still wet and still alone. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He put his head in his hands and reminded himself that he was almost there. Just a few more weeks and they would be back in Williamsburg.
He had only accepted an export job so he didn't need to go back to England right away. His first mate, Simpson, would return the crew home and he would stay behind. At least for a while. He needed time to convince Virginia of his feelings. He just hoped he wasn't too late and that someone else hadn't stolen her away.
For some reason this voyage was worse than the last one. He thought that perhaps by now he would be used to sleeping alone in his bed again. That he would be used to always returning to an empty cabin. That he would be glad that he was no longer tempted by her at every turn. But each day that it continued it only seemed to get worse.
He had to be careful though when he did see her again. He didn't want to scare her away or overwhelm her with what she was sure to think was a false display of emotion. But he wasn't quite sure how to handle it. It would all depend on how she reacted to him. He would be polite and pleasant and base his words and actions on how she acted.
He stood up and began to peel off his wet clothes, satisfied with his decision. He crawled under the damp blankets and remembered what had happened in the aftermath of the last storm. How he had awoken to her fingers gently trailing across his chest. Her fingers touching his bare skin had been exciting enough but the look in her eyes, the wonder and passion burning there, had driven him over the edge. He recalled how he had attempted to seduce her but had only succeeded in terrifying her with his demands of payment for her crossing. He gave in to the fantasy where she had passionately welcomed his advances and closed his eyes. Dawn was peeking through the portholes as he drifted off to sleep and back into dreams of inviting emerald eyes.
It was mid-November as Billy's romance with Elizabeth continued and Virginia was beginning to wonder when he would propose.
One afternoon during lunch she noticed that Billy seemed very distracted.
"Billy, are you all right?" she asked.
When he didn't respond, she gave him a small nudge. "Are you all right?" she asked again.
"Hm? Oh. Yes, yes, I'm fine. No, no, I'm not," he said, putting his fork down.
Concerned, she asked, "What is it?"
"Well, you know how I feel about Elizabeth, right?"
"I think so. You love her, don't you?"
Blushing and smiling he said, "Yes, yes I do." He hesitated before continuing. "You know I want to ask her to marry me, but I'm not sure how to do it. Do I have to ask her father first, or do I ask her?"
"You should ask her father first. Her parents love you Billy. And Elizabeth loves you too. I don't think you have anything to worry about," she said encouragingly.
"Should I buy her a ring then?" he asked.
"Yes, I think having a ring ready would be a very good idea."
"What kind should I get?"
"Well, there are several options. There's a tradition of choosing one with a number of stones where the first letter of the name of each one spells out a short message." Images of Charles presenting her with the large diamond flashed through her mind. "Or, as men in Europe are beginning to do, so I've been told, is to give their fiancées diamond rings."
Billy detected a strange note in her voice and looking up saw a flash of pain in her eyes. Remembering the large diamond ring that she had traded for the farm and her brief mention of leaving a fiancé behind in Liverpool he quickly realized that that ring must have been her engagement ring.
"Diamonds," he said quietly.
"Really, any type of stone will do," she said, mentally giving herself a shake. She was not going to feel sorry for herself over her failed engagement. Smiling, she added, "I'm sure that whatever you choose, she will love it."
"Could I use one of the diamonds we found?" he asked.
"I don't see why not," she said.
"Will you help me to pick out a good one and also help in getting it made into a ring?" he asked anxiously.
Putting an arm around his shoulders and giving him an affectionate squeeze, she replied, "Of course I will."
The next morning they rode into town and paid a discreet visit to the goldsmith. Billy presented the diamond they had chosen. "Can you tell me if it's a good one?" he asked the goldsmith.
The man put his jewelers loop to his eye and examined the stone. Looking up he said, "Sir, this is a magnificent stone. Did you wish to have it made into something?"
"Yes sir. A ring, an engagement ring," he said shyly. He chose a simple setting and was told to come back in two weeks.
Before they left, Virginia held out the piece of amber that she had been carrying in her pocket. "Could you drill a hole in this and hang it on a chain?" she asked him.
He took the stone from her and said that indeed he could. "It will only take a moment, would you care to wait?"
He returned in a moment with the stone and an assortment of chains. She chose a long one so that it would hang near her heart.
Outside on the street he lamented "Two weeks? Ginny, how am I going to be able to wait two weeks? Every time I see her I'm going to want to tell her that I'm having an engagement ring made for her." He suddenly stopped walking.
Virginia turned smiling to Billy, but the smile quickly disappeared from her face. "Billy, are you all right?" He was pale and seemed slightly dazed.
"I'm having an engagement ring made for her..." he whispered. He slowly turned to Virginia. "I'm going to ask her to marry me. It just really hit me, just now. I'm going to ask her to marry me."
"Yes, Billy, you are," Virginia said encouragingly.
"What if she says no?" he said in a worried voice.
"She'll say yes. I'm sure of it," she replied confidently.
"Really?" he asked, his blue eyes full of uncertainty.
"Really." Seeing that he was feeling better, she asked, "Would you like to think of a reason to visit the mercantile?"
"No. I don't know if I'll be able to keep this a secret. We should just go back home. Besides, aren't you going to see Mr. Ogilvy this afternoon?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm visiting Thomas later today," she replied.
"Do you like him?"
"Yes, I do."
"Are you going to marry him?"
She laughed and said, "I don't know, Billy. We've both had our hearts broken so we're taking it slow. It's too soon to tell."
He hesitated and then asked, "Did Cap'in Stratford break your heart?" When she didn't answer at first, he apologized for prying. "I'm sorry, Ginny. It's none of my business."
She put her palm over her new pendant hanging beneath her dress. "No, it's alright. Yes, he did. He broke my heart, but, despite that, I think I still love him," she said quietly.
"He'll be back soon. Probably about another month or so."
"Oh, I don't know about that, Billy. He usually stays home for quite some time before coming back. And it may not even be here," she said. "There are ports all along the coast. He could go to any one of those."