The diary of Lady Ashton, 1775
Black Jack Rhys is the fiercest pirate to ever roam the raging seas. Every sailor alive fears to mention his name a" lest it summon him up from the very bowels of hell.
'Tis said to see his ship is to see your death, for he gives no quarter, shows no mercy. Once his prey is spotted, he is relentless in his pursuit and will not cease until he claims his prize.
Jack Rhys is a man possessed of a mysterious legend. A man possessed of numerous talents.
Tonight, I have met said man and discovered for myself just how hypnotic a creature he is. Aye, he is fierce and wild and untamed, but more than that, he is a spectacular specimen of manliness. And though I ache to have him for my own, I know only too well that no woman shall ever claim him.
With a sigh in my heart, I have resigned myself to the fact that I spent but one glorious night with the Master of Seduction. For one moment in time I held the unattainable, and tasted the full delights of my gender. There is no other man who can come close to matching Jack Rhys and so I end this small entry with the same sad note that I ended last night.
Farewell, Jack Rhys. May you always avoid the gallows.
"Charleston, South Carolina, 1780
This was her night of supreme triumph.
Lorelei Dupree smiled in satisfaction as Justin Wallingford whirled her about the crowded dance floor. After all these years of waiting, of knowing deep inside her heart that he was the only man for her, she had finally heard his proposal.
And what a proposal it had been. Wearing his immaculate British uniform, Justin had tapped on his wine glass with his monocle until he'd held everyone's undivided attention. Thenthe haughty, much sought after lieutenant had begged for her hand in the presence of Charleston's social elite.
Oh, but it was a glorious evening. She would treasure the memory for the rest of her life.
As the music finished and she left the dance floor on Justin's arm, Lorelei caught the pleasure in her father's smile. In his mid-sixties, Sir Charles Dupree, the most renowned Tory in Charleston, still held the striking handsomeness that had marked his youth. With his powdered wig rolled in the latest fashion, and wearing his dark blue jacket with the heavy gold embroidery, he looked quite dashing.
"I shall fetch us a cup of punch," Justin offered before leaving her side. As he made his way through the crowd, several men clapped him on the back and nodded in her direction.
Lorelei paused before her father. "You're looking smug this evening," she teased.
His smile widened. "And you, little Lori-Angel," he said, taking her extended hand and bestowing a fatherly kiss on the backs of her knuckles, "are as breathtaking as your mother."
She blushed at his compliment.
He kept her hand in his and held it tightly. He'd done that much tonight, as if fearing her coming marriage would somehow separate them. But Lorelei knew better. Nothing could ever come between her and her beloved father. He was her Saint George who had slain every evil dragon that had haunted her childhood.
"How is it Justin has left you free for this dance? I thought you had promised it to him alone?" he asked.
She raised her white lace fan to her face and whispered behind it, "I'm afraid I'm the one to blame, Father. My toes needed time to recuperate."
He laughed. It was common knowledge that Justin, a manof numerous talents, had never mastered the art of dancing.
"If you'll please excuse me," she said, reluctantly withdrawing her hand, "I see Amanda and Annabeth heading out to the balcony. I must speak with them."
"Ever as you wish, sweetest." That had always been his answer to any request, large or small.
Lorelei gave him a quick peck on the cheek before she skirted through the groups on the edge of the ballroom floor to seek out her friends.
The cool breeze outside was fragrant with magnolias as it whispered through the sculpted shrubs that surrounded the balcony. Crickets and frogs sang to the night while Amanda, Annabeth, and Martha fanned their flushed cheeks in the privacy of the ivy-covered balcony.
Annabeth was the daughter of the local magistrate. Fair Of face, she was pleasingly plump and had a cheerful disposition. Tall and thin with brown eyes, Martha had been Lorelei's very first friend. And the ever beautiful, perfectly coifed Amanda was either Lorelei's closest friend, or her worst enemy, depending on the mood they were in.
"Oh, Lorelei," Annabeth breathed as she joined them. "You're so lucky to have Justin dote on you SO."
"Aye," Martha agreed. I think he's the most handsome man at the party."
Lorelei looked to where her fiance stood inside with a group of other British Regulars. His father had commissioned Justin's lieutenant's rank just last year.
He was a handsome man. Tall of frame and slight of build, he had laughing blue eyes and was probably second only to her father when it came to indulging Lorelei's whims. The two of them had known each other all their lives and she looked forward to spending the rest of her life with him.
Amanda poked herarm with her closed pink fan. "Be warned, Lori," she said, her tone dire. "My mother told me a woman only has a month after the...