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Monday, March 13, 2017

Pirate's Vengeance Chapter 2

One more week! Then the entire book will be available for your reading pleasure. Here is chapter 2, when all the fun happens. I hope you enjoy!


Nova whined, “I look ridiculous, Mother.” She studied her reflection as she spun around in front of the double mirror in her small bedroom.
“You look beautiful,” Kamali insisted as she held the purple fabric between her thumb and index finger. “It fits perfectly. Now let’s do up your hair.”

Nova rolled her eyes. “Mother, nothing you do with it ever keeps. My hair will be undone by the afternoon.”
“Well, we might as well try.” Kamali smiled and began pinning the wavy blonde pieces up on her head.

Nova watched her mother. Her eyes looked tired, but she smiled as she worked on her hair. Kamali was going on as if she and Varick hadn’t been up late talking. Nova wanted to ask what her father was afraid of, but every time she tried, the words stuck in her throat.

The morning had come and both of them greeted her brightly with birthday wishes as if nothing was wrong, but Nova sensed the mysterious tension building.

“Do I really have to go out in this?” Nova complained once her mother had finished.

“The Carters are very kind to offer their home for your birthday celebration. The least we can do is dress our best,” Kamali answered kindly. “Oh, Nova, don’t forget your tea.”
Kamali placed the fine china cup in front of her and Nova wrinkled her nose. “How about for my gift this year, I don’t drink the tea?”

Kamali narrowed her eyes and shook her head. “Drink.”

Nova sighed and sipped the brown tea her mother had been insisting she drink for the last four years.

“This can’t be healthy,” Nova said grimacing as she gulped the tea in one go.
“Your physician would disagree. Growing young women need nutrients and this has them all.”

Her father pushed through the door. He was dressed in a white pressed shirt with fresh gray pants. His face was clean shaven, and his thick muscles were accentuated in his fine clothes instead of hidden beneath his heavy work suits.
“Are you ladies primped and ready?” He chuckled, winking at Nova.

Kamali curtsied playfully in her teal and gold gown. Her dark hair was pinned in soft curls, with a blue pearl necklace resting along her thin neck. Nova often found herself marveling at her mother’s beauty. Kamali was a wonder, both on the outside and inside, despite forcing dresses upon her.
“Unfortunately,” Nova answered, but smiled.

Kamali sighed. “Just once I’d love to have my daughter behave like the beautiful young woman she is.”
“I don’t think your wish will come true, Mother. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” Nova answered, lifting her shoulders.

“I figured. Well, let’s be on our way,” Kamali said. She linked arms with Varick and they made their way toward Dria’s manor.
The Carters were plump and jovial people. Mr. Carter was the foreman of a sun mango plantation. The rare fruit was difficult to grow because their island bobbed closer to the sun than other islands and often dried the crops, but Dria’s father had designed custom shades and created a way to grow the succulent fruit. He had made a fortune trading to distant islands that were much too cool to even dream of such a treat.

“Welcome, welcome,” Mrs. Carter said once the doorman had ushered them in. She shuffled toward them, and her red dress rustled along the polished marble. Nova was immediately pulled into a tight hug while Mrs. Carter squealed in excitement. “Oh, it’s so wonderful to have you celebrate your birthday with us, my dear.”
“Thank you for welcoming us into your home,” Kamali said, taking Mrs. Carter’s hand in hers.

“Nova, dear, go join your friends in the dining hall. Supper will be served shortly.”

Nova bowed her head slightly and rushed away from the two women until she found Dria and Jovany catapulting ice chips on their spoons toward the manservant standing at attention against the wall.
Jovany muffled a laugh when one chip hit the servant in the center of the forehead, earning him a steely glare, but the man didn’t budge.

“You two are terrible,” Nova said, glancing at the servant before plopping onto the seat next to Dria.

“There she is,” said Jovany, standing and bowing dramatically at her feet. “Happiest of birthdays, milady”
Dria snorted as she held her laugh behind her hand and averted her eyes from her father’s disapproving stare.

“Get up,” Nova insisted, feeling her face flush with the heat of embarrassment. Jovany stood, chuckling until he sat next to Dria again.
“Oh, my parents have turned your birthday into a drab adult gathering,” Dria admitted. “We were just trying to have some fun.”

Nova spent several minutes laughing and joking with her friends, until they again began catapulting chips at unsuspecting guests. She scanned the room and saw her father and mother across the hall. They seemed deep in discussion and Nova watched her mother’s beautiful face turn up with worry. Her heart pranced with curiosity. Something was wrong, but she knew she’d have to find out on her own. Her parents would never tell her the truth.

The tinkling of silver on glass drew her attention away from her parents. Purple-faced Mr. Carter smiled widely in the front of the room, causing his skin to fold over his collar, creating the illusion he didn’t have a neck. The room mumbled to a silence as the guests took their seats at the long mahogany dining table.
“I would like to thank you all for joining us on this special occasion to celebrate a remarkable young woman who has become like a second daughter to my wife and me.” Nova blushed at the sentiment, but inside she enjoyed the praise. “As is customary, before we begin our feast, we invite Mr. Willock to come and say some short words about his daughter on this special day.”

A small applause rippled along the dining room as Nova watched her father stride to the front of the crowd.
“He looks nervous,” Dria whispered.

“He hates being the center of attention. I’m sure he’d rather do anything than this,” she answered back.
Varick cleared his throat and looked at the crowd. “Well, first, thank you to the Carters for hosting Nova’s birthday celebration. The tradition of friends celebrating other friends’ children is one of my favorite on this island,” he began shakily. “It means there are good people looking out for our children when we can’t always be there.”

Varick turned and met Nova’s eye. His expression was somber and serious, and Nova felt a shiver run up her spine from a sudden blast of anxiety. “I want my daughter to know how proud I am of her abilities and talents. I hope she never forgets the lessons she’s been taught and never doubts her strengths. You have more power in you, Nova, than you know. And I know everyone says this during these speeches, but I may not always be around. So, I hope you know how valuable you are to me. You were one of my wishes that came true, and no matter what happens, just know I love you. Happy Birthday, my girl.”
Nova pushed the sting of hot tears down before they spilled over onto her cheeks. Her father raised a crystal glass filled with burgundy wine and the other guests joined in the toast to her life. His eyes never left hers, and something behind his pride and adoration frightened her, as if he was trying to tell her something which couldn’t be said aloud.

The party ended up being more fun and less drab than Dria had anticipated. The Carters served Nova’s favorite dish of sun fish, specially ordered from the wet island of Regen. By the time she stepped off the enormous porch with her parents, the gigantic moon was high in the sky.
Brilliant light spread across the sky, casting eerie shadows on the nearby islands as they floated amongst the numerous stars. Nova never tired of the blanket of twinkling lights that brightened her world. Each star was its own color, even if it was only a shade darker than a neighboring star. But the result of such unique lights created a stunning, colorful tapestry of twinkling diamonds above them.

Their house was quiet and warm when she stumbled sleepily down the hallway toward her bedroom, removing the long pins her mother had stuck in her curls. Unbuttoning her dress, she slipped into her cotton nightdress without returning the birthday gown to its hook in her armoire. Her ears perked when she heard her father bolting every door and window in their home.
Odd, she thought. Their island was humid and tropical and it was a common practice to leave windows open at night to bring in cooler air.

Varick tapped on her bedroom door and stepped in without waiting for her reply. “Forgive me, Nova, but I need to latch your window,” he said as he snapped the lock in place.

“Father, it’s hot. Can’t I crack it a bit?”
Varick shook his head. “A storm is coming. All the windows need to stay locked for the time being.”

Nova rested her head again on her soft down pillow; her exhausted brain accepted his explanation for confining them to a thick, humid furnace for the night. She removed her quilt from her sticky legs and slowly drifted away into a peaceful sleep.

China crashed in the kitchen just a few feet from her bedroom. Nova snapped up in bed, her wet hair sticking to her forehead from beads of sweat. She looked around her dark room, wondering if she’d imagined the commotion, until another loud crash caused her to leap out of bed and snatch up her sword.
Carefully, Nova cracked her door and heard angry voices shouting, but she couldn’t make out their words. She crept down the hallway slowly, gripping the hilt of her sword. Nova gulped as more plates crashed and the shouts grew louder. Peeking around the corner of their kitchen, she gasped.

The two frightening men from town were swinging swords and knives as they toppled chairs and dishes. But it was her father fighting them that surprised her more. He held a sword she’d never seen and she watched as he furiously sliced through the air at the two men.
Nova gripped her sword, ready to help her father, but the man with the silver tooth snuck behind him and struck his head with the butt of his gun. Nova covered her mouth to stifle her scream as she watched her father crumble to the floor.

Unsheathing her small, rusty sword, she stepped forward, but someone grabbed her from behind and covered her mouth. She kicked and squirmed, but was held with great strength until she was pushed into the dark living room.

“Mother,” she gasped when Kamali finally released her. “Mother, what’s happening? We have to help him.” Nova let her stinging tears fall when she saw Kamali’s determined face.
“They haven’t seen you, Nova. We cannot risk them seeing you,” she insisted.

Great shuffling boots clomped along their wooden floor as if they were searching for something.
“Quick, follow me,” Kamali demanded, pulling Nova’s arm hard.

Kamali pushed against their large standing clock until it moved to the side. Nova’s eyes widened when her mother opened a narrow door that had been hidden behind the clock.
“Get in,” Kamali whispered.

“Mother, we have to help him,” Nova cried again.
Get in,” Kamali whispered and shoved Nova’s head into the small room before joining her and slamming the door shut.

Nova covered her mouth to hold back the sobs trying to erupt from her throat, and Kamali listened intently to the room outside their hiding place.
Heavy feet paced the living room. Nova heard the coffee table her father had built for her mother slam against the wall. The small porcelain clock on the table next to the sitting chair broke as it went through the window. Over and over, her heart broke with her possessions as she listened to the hideous men search for something and grow more frustrated as they kept coming up empty handed.

“There isn’t anyone here,” a man hissed. “Ye were mistaken.”

“I know he took her, the cap’n said so. We aren’t leavin’ without her,” snarled the other.
Nova looked curiously at her mother, who never turned her attention from the room.

“C’mon. He’s comin’ to; we gotta get him to the ship. He’s useless to us if I have to kill him. Now, grab a leg.”
Nova heard the second man shout in frustration before hearing something brush along the wooden floor as if they were carrying a large sack of vegetables. Finally, the house fell under an eerie silence.

Nova and Kamali didn’t move for what seemed like hours. Kamali kept her ear pressed to the doorway, listening for any signs of the men returning. And Nova softly cried into her knees until all feeling in her lower body was gone from sitting in the awkward position.
As soft sunlight cast its happy glow over the carpet, Kamali unlatched the door and they spilled out into the battered living room. Nova stared at the destruction in disbelief. All around her, belongings dear to her heart had been destroyed. Even the pillows she’d helped her mother sew were slashed and unstuffed on the floor.

Kamali didn’t stop and look at her destroyed home; instead, she rushed into her bedroom and Nova watched as she opened a loose floorboard and removed a long box.
“Come on, Nova. We must leave now,” Kamali directed, wrapping her shoulders in a blue cloak.

“Mother…I…we have to get Father…they took him,” she cried, feeling as if her feet had stones tied to them.
“Listen to me, Nova. We must leave immediately.” Kamali paused and Nova saw the truth behind her blazing diamond eyes. Her mother’s heart was broken, but somehow Nova knew she wasn’t going after her father.

“Mother, why can’t…why can’t we save him?” she whispered.
Kamali pursed her lips tight together, placed the box on the floor, and held Nova’s face between her hands. “You must listen to me Nova. We are leaving. This night never happened, and you must promise me you will never try to find your father.”

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