Jeremy took another drink of brandy and its fire burned through
him. "There's no harm in that, for sure. It could be the
"Lad, talk sense. They'll not hold to these conditions you've
described. Once the island is disarmed, it'll be th
bewildered. He drew her to him and kissed her gently, to
her for that moment now lost to time.
Then he lifted her in his arms and lay her against the soft
grass, her body open to him. He wanted this woman, more than
The afternoon sky was
the things you've been holding back."
"Unlike you, who's held nothing back? Like this island and
what it means to you?"
She just ignored him, the best way to handle Hugh when he
was like this, and stroked again, staying even, the taste of salt
Calvert had suddenly seemed to remember himself and rose
to pour a tankard for Morris. He took another sip from his own,
then turned back. "And there's apt to be more killing now, here
the Americas, before this affair's finished. But to what purpose,
the love of God, lad, what happened?"
He almost laughed at the question. Would that any man ever
knew, he found himself thinking. What ever "happens" . . . save
that life flows on, of its own will, and drags you with it willynilly?
Morris said that whilst you were their staunchest foe, they also
knew you for a gentleman. They said you were the only man on
the island they felt they could trust. That you alone could
this place being brought to ruin by Cromwellwhich would
glumly for a moment, then shoved the windows closed and
back. "But what's the point of it, Master Walrond, by all that's
"You'll never take Barbados, blockade or no." Jeremy had
tried to meet the glare in Calvert's eyes. "We'll never surrend
air than to the others in the room. Colonel Morris, his face still
smeared with powder smoke, had shifted his glance back and
forth between them and said nothing. He clearly was impatient
being summoned to the Great Cabin when there were wounded
He reached a familiar arch of palms and turned right, starting
the long climb along the weed-clogged path between the trees
that led up to the house. As he gripped his flintlock and listened
the warbling of night birds and the menacing clatter of land
all too clear now."
He pushed open the wax seal with his thumb and unfolded
the paper. Jeremy watched his face as he began to read.
My Lord, I send this to you as one who is master of a great deal
reason, and truly sensible of the ruin of the island if
"If you'd use your influence to work for peace, and convince
your Windward Regiment here in this parish to cooperate, he'll
take steps to thwart the designs of Powlett. If the island laid
its arms, then there'd be no garrison of troops. He'll gu
He was subdued and quiet as they stepped around a
gleaming pile of shells. Then he stopped and quietly enfolded
in his arms. "It's only fair to tell you I've never before felt about
woman the way I feel about you." He kissed her softly. "The
stars. The heavens in the Caribbees always reminded him of
dusk, many years ago, when he had first seen London from afar
a jewel box of tiny sparklers hinting of riches, intrigues,
secrets. What waited there amidst those London lights, he ha
shallows, happy to escape the horseflies nipping at its shanks.
Winston spurred his mount and splashed after her. Ahead of
them, Little Island stood like a tropical mirage in the sea.
"You're right about one thing. I'm damned if this place isn't
examined his tankard. "But I'm beginning to grow fearful he
have the last say in this matter, truth or no." He looked up.
did you see of their forces, lad? Can they mount another
"They can. They will. They've got the Dutch provisions,
"It's not a pretty tale. Before I came, I never even thought
much about the New World." He smiled at the irony of it now. "It
all started when I was apprenticed and shipped out to the
Caribbean for not being royalist enough."
"Well . . ." He p
slipped slowly downward, while he moved carefully to meet her.
Her soft breasts were still pillowed against his chest.
She gasped lightly, a barely discernible intake of breath, and
closed her eyes as she slowly received him. Her eyes flooded
from anything. He was all hers now, no gunnery mates, no
seamen. To swim! What a sensible . . . no, romantic idea.
He laughed and began to tie a leather thong to her mare's
forelegs. "Katy, you should know better than to try being coy
me. I'll wager
the rest of the Americas."
"Then that's what it'll be, if you think you've got the means to
attempt it." Jeremy had pulled himself upright in the chair. "But
you try landing on this island again and we'll meet you on the
beaches with twice the men you've
the more pungent odor of human wastes emanated from the
vegetable patches farther back.
He heard occasional voices in the dark, curses from the men
and the Irish singsong of women, but no one in the indenture
compound saw or heard him pass. Ahead th
the palm were still soft from the water. "Why did you finally
He pulled her next to him and kissed her on the mouth, twice.
Then he ran his fingers down her body, across her smooth
till he reached the mound of light chestnut hair at
the king, he took his ship and defected to Parliament. . . ."
"It wasn't a threat."
Suddenly the words came again. Out poured Calvert's story of
Cromwell's plans for the island if it defied him. The Assembly
Council would be dismissed and Powlett set
Moreover, he suddenly thought, when Charles II moved to
restore the monarchy, this island's strength and arms would be
intact, ready to help throw off the yoke of Cromwell's
With a surge of pleasure he realized this could well be a
sure you'll be gone from Barbados soon enough, never fear. If
that's what you want." She sensed she had pressed him too
"But maybe you'll remember me once in a while, after you've
sailed off to get yourself killed by the Spaniards."
"Well, I'm not d
over. The island's truly a lovely spot, whether you decide to use
He stared after her in amazement. Maybe she was right.
Maybe life was just being sensible, taking whatever you could.
But that was also a game two could play. So back to busines
anymore. It infuriated her. Why did men have things so much
Like Winston. He moved the same way he handled his
flintlock pistols, with a thoughtless poise. As he walked now, his
shoulders were slightly forward and his broad back seemed to
of teasing. Yes, Hugh Winston was quite a tease. In everything.
"Just now. This Jacques le Basque."
"Him? Why did I try to kill him?" He pecked at her nose, and
she sensed a tenseness in his mouth. "I scarcely remember. It's
as though the fog that moming
"Nothing much, really. . . . Just the Walrond plantation, up the
coast, inland a mile or so, about halfway between here and
"Good Christ! I'm beginning to understand it all." He laughed
wistfully. "I'll wager you've probably come out here with t
"I enjoy doing things for you sometimes."
He seemed startled; she'd suspected he wouldn't like it. But
he didn't pull away. "Come on then." He quickly stepped out of
boots. As she laid them against the trunk of the palm, she
they were still sm