Leigha kept her hands folded in her lap, embarrassed by her nakedness, not wanting the cabin boy to come back and see her like this. Turk looked at her, puzzled by the look on her face for a moment and then, smiling to himself, he went over to one of his trunks. Rummaging through it, he soon found what he was looking for and came back over to Leigha’s side. Tenderly draping a wide length of emerald green silk about her bent shoulders, he straightened back up and placed his hand on one hip as he again offered the other to her, surprising her with his now gentle manner and understanding.
“You are covered now, come eat.” He smiled down at her when she turned her gaze to him. “I know that you have need, for I can hear your belly growl from here.”
Leigha could not deny his words and obediently got up from her seat to wrap the shimmering material securely about her before taking his offered hand and following him silently to the table to share his meal. Turk noted with amusement the puzzled looks Leigha kept giving him as they ate. He could hardly contain his laughter as he finished his meal and waited for the cabin boy to complete his work so that they could be alone. Pushing his plate aside, he leaned back in his chair and watched Leigha finish her meal before finally speaking.
“I can see that you are wondering about me.” He smiled over at her, making her lift her bowed head. “What kind of man am I? Who am I? Where am I from?” Leigha opened her mouth to utter a denial, but he held his hand up for silence and went on, his deep voice carrying evenly over the shouts of some of his men arguing out on the deck beyond their door.
“I am called Turk, and I am the captain of this proud ship, the Tiree. We sail the seas in search of one treasure after another!” he spoke proudly. “I am not usually a slaver, neither do I particularly like being so now. I prefer to make my living taking the wealth of great ships and filling my hold with their cargo as there is greater sport in that. Kashim occasionally offers me an irresistible target such as yourself and poof! I become a slave trader!”
Leigha listened quietly but could not distinguish the difference between pirating and slave trading though Turk was obviously more proud of the pirating. They both seemed despicable to her especially now that she was the ‘cargo’ though she dared not give her opinion on the matter.
“I speak good English because I spent several years in your England learning from your schools and your society.”
“I am not English,” Leigha interrupted him. “Scotland was my home.”
“Ah, you are from Scotland! That explains your temper and fighting spirit! I knew that you were a lady, but I was puzzled that you are not like those thin-skinned schemers that I have met in London!”
“How, ah, did you come to meet any ladies in England?”
Turk laughed and pounded his great fist on the table at her knowing remark before speaking.
“That was the one wish of my mother’s that my father honored! Not just to meet real ladies, mind you, but to get to know what her people and way of life were. You see, my mother was a fine English lady, and my father a seafarer like myself. He took her much the same as I have you, only he kept her and I must give you up for sale in Constantinople. However, that is not to be thought of now.” He paused and waved his hand as if to brush away the thought that he could see was upsetting Leigha. “My mother made my father promise to send me to England for five years to live with her family and to learn what that half of my blood was like. When I turned twelve, I reluctantly but obediently went to England with my mother and served my sentence. When I was finally allowed to leave, she remained there with her people. She would not return to my father, and he has damned her ever since. That was twenty years ago now.”
Leigha sat silently looking at him as he spoke, wondering about the complexities of this man’s nature and how she could best survive the coming weeks ahead with him. Just when she determined him to be one way, he turned and showed yet another side of his nature and her head swam in confusion. He seemed content to do all of the talking at the time and so she sat back and listened, her mind working all the while like a squirrel in a cage, unable to get out of the situation she had been placed in.
“Ah, but I have been rude. Your bath is waiting and is growing cold while I sit here speaking to you,” he said, rising from his chair to come and stand over her. “Come, the hot water will make you feel much better. I will try to remove all signs of my ‘beast’ and see if you can at least let me be your friend while you are on board my ship.”
Leigha ignored his offered hand and followed him to the now clean tub that held sparkling clear water. Turning her back to him, she disrobed and gingerly stepped into the steaming bath. Busy bathing, she did not hear Turk turn from her or see the sadness on his face as he went around the partition and laid down on the large bed he himself had built for greater comfort for his size. She was only alerted to his absence when she heard his loud snoring coming from the other side of the wall. Relaxing, she soaked for a while to ease her bruised body and thought of the strange man that lay sleeping so near her. From his story, she could begin to understand his complexities. He was half wild and half gentleman due to his upbringing. She knew how fiercely savage he could be and yet marveled at the gentleness and keen insight he had also displayed to her. She understood that his openness in telling her about his life and the luxury of the bath he offered her was his way of apologizing for the pain that he had caused her earlier. He wanted to be friends! All right, if he would continue to treat her fairly, she would try to be his friend, but there was room for only one man in her heart, and that was already taken by Simon. Turk could never replace him, but Leigha would try to forgive the fierce captain for what he was doing to her and try to understand his lifestyle, hoping that he could indeed prove to be the friend she so desperately needed now.
Lee, Virginia – Dagon’s Blood – Kindle Edition