27 November 2015

Black (beard) Friday

So it has been Black Friday?
I thought I'd end the day of sails 
by changing things a little...
let's make it Blackbeard Friday instead!

Here's an excerpt from the third
Sea Witch Voyage for you to enjoy 

Buy on Amazon

Thursday 10th October 1718

There was a distinct chill in the air in the quiet hour before dawn. Jesamiah stood under the trees, his hands tucked beneath his armpits, staring across the dew-wet lawn at the balcony and window from where he had just climbed, leaving Tiola asleep, her body curled, contented, hair tousled. A smile on her face. He had not woken her but had dressed quietly, placed one of the less wilted flowers in the dent of the pillow where his head had been, and left her.
   “I’ll come for you when you are ready,” he had said as he had felt the shudders of ecstasy coursing through him, and had grinned as she had cheekily answered, “I am ready now, and you are about to come.”
   “That’s not what I meant,” he had repeated later, after she had crept down to the kitchens and stolen him some food; after they had sat in bed, naked, together, devouring the spoils and leaving crumbs on the sheets. “When you are finished here I’ll fetch you.” And had added, suddenly doubtful; “If you want me to?”
    He smiled up at the blank darkness of the glazed window. “Of course I do,” she had assured him.
   “I want to know about my father,” was the other thing he had said. “I want to know why he did nothing to stop Phillipe. Why he allowed a boy – a man, he was all those years older than me – to do what he did. I thought Phillipe was my elder half-brother, and I thought he did those things because being the elder somehow gave him the right. But he had no right. He was not my brother. He was not my father’s son.”
    “Leave it,” Tiola had urged him, her palm on his chest. “They are gone, it is done. Leave it.”
    He puffed air through his cheeks, his breath visible in the coldness. If only he could. If only he could!
    He was fiddling with his right earlobe, realised suddenly that the hoop of his gold earring was loose, that the attached acorn charm was not there. He cursed as he fastened the hoop, hoped the acorn had fallen off in Tiola’s bed. That she would find it, keep it safe.
     Lost in thought, he did not hear the whispered breath at his back until it was too late.
     “Move a muscle an’ thee be dead, bastard.”
    Jesamiah froze, willed himself to keep still as the pistol barrel pressed into his right temple. He forgot all about his earring as he heard the double click of the hammer. Prayed that his voice would not betray the fear thudding through him as he responded as nonchalantly as he could; “Hello Teach; you really have to learn how to move quieter if you want to creep up on people.”
    It was a lie, he had not heard a sound, but Edward Teach, Blackbeard, would not be knowing that.
   “What be thee doin’ ‘ere, Acorne, skulkin’ aroun’? Gotten thy eye on tha Guv’nor’s silver, hast thee?”
    Slowly Jesamiah lowered his hands to his waist and felt surreptitiously for the slender blade concealed inside the facing of his coat. “I would wager I’ve been doing the same as you. Taking my pleasure with one of the ladies of the house.”
    “Tha Guv’nor bain’t be pleased to be hearing tha’.”
    “The Governor ain’t goin’ t’be ‘earin’ of it, is ‘e?”
    “No’ ‘til ‘er belly swells.”
  “When that happens, Teach, I’ll be long gone. Or I could put the blame on your nocturnal activities.”
   The bigger, older man snorted, pushed the pistol harder against Jesamiah’s head. “Thee tried t’kill me. Thee crippled my sloop an’ made a gurt fool out o’ me in fron’ of my men. Give me a reason why I shoul’ nay shoot thee ‘ere an’ now. An’ make it quick, I’m in no mood fer parlour games.”
   With his left hand, Jesamiah eased the weapon aside. “You fire that an’ you’ll wake the entire household. You’ll probably think of an excuse to explain why you’re standing over a dead body, but saying why you are here, in the dark, an hour before dawn will be more difficult. Add to that, you owe me. Seeing as how you reckon I owe you, that makes us quits.”
   Teach snorted again, but he uncocked the pistol, lowered it. “An’ just how doos thee fathom tha’n?    Thee lost me my ship. She were’n a fine vessel, tha Queen Anne’s Revenge.”
  “I didn’t lose her. You were pissed out of your skull and you sailed her over a sandbar. You wrecked her, not me.”
   A snarl began to pucker Teach’s lips. “An’ what of my sloop? Adventure? Thee nigh on scuppered ‘er an’ all, thee bastard.”
   Slipping the knife into his sleeve, from where he could retrieve it in a hurry should he need to do so, Jesamiah tipped his hat back slightly. “Actually, for some fokken stupid reason I saved your life, mate.”
 “Fuckin’ tripe, thee bilge rat!” Raising the pistol Teach reversed it suddenly and brought the butt down hard into the curve where Jesamiah’s neck met his right shoulder. Jesamiah cried out and slumped to his knees. Willpower and gritted teeth made him ignore the agony shooting down his arm and stabbing up into his brain. He held his breath to ride it out.
   A couple of deeper breaths and he forced himself to his feet. Halfway up he moved quickly. Stepping forward he thrust the blade up and under Teach’s waistcoat, pushed it against the lower ribs.
   “You even think of blinking and it’ll be in to the hilt.”
   “Thee casn’t kill me Acorne, nay un can. I ‘as made a pact with tha Devil.”
   “I’m willin’ t’put that claim to the test.” Jesamiah was very close to Teach, his face almost in his; the smell of bad breath and body odour was nauseating, even with the general stench of uncleanliness a familiarity. Through the concealing bush of his beard ulcerous sores were spotted around Teach’s mouth and nose, a few blackened teeth were loose in his gums.
   “I could kill you,” Jesamiah said, taking half a step backwards, but not removing the dagger. “Send you to the Devil to find out if he lied. Or are you goin’ t’throw the pistol into that flower bed over there and talk to me like a civilised gentleman?”
   “Thee bain’t got tha guts t’kill me, worm.”
   “Ah, but I have. Only, the price on your ‘ead ain’t ‘igh enough yet. Give it another month an’ you’ll be worth killin’. Now, do you want to know why I stopped you attacking the Fortune of Virginia or not?”
   Teach growled, tossed the pistol away.
   Jesamiah removed the dagger, but kept it in plain sight. “She sailed from Nassau, where she had been commissioned by Woodes Rogers who, as you know, is a bosom pal of Virginia’s Governor. The pair of ‘em ‘ave got bees buzzing in their bonnets about pirates who ain’t sworn an oath of amnesty. Are you listenin’ to me, Teach? They’ve got it into their ‘eads t’be rid of scummers like you.”
   “I be list’nin’.”
   “You were going to attack the Fortune of Virginia – you see, Blackbeard me old mate, you’re too fokken greedy. What had you assumed? That she was laden with rum; molasses; passengers? Slaves maybe?” Jesamiah shook his head, tried to ignore the throbbing ache in his shoulder. “You’d got it wrong. She was packed to the gunnels with armed militia. Her orders were t’draw you in, wait fer you to board. Then finish you off. Savvy?”
   “An’ thee,” Teach sneered, “out o’ tha goodness of thy putrid heart decided t’save me? Pull tha other leg, it has a bell tied to it!”
   “I decided to warn you ‘cause I figured if I did you a favour you’d stop sendin’ your bloody men to spoil me pleasant evenings with a bottle and a blonde.” Jesamiah slipped the dagger into his pocket, spread his hands. “I ain’t got no quarrel with you, Teach, and I don’t p’ticlarly like the way these bastard governors are tryin’ to run us out of the Caribbean. This is our patch. Let ‘em bugger off if they don’t like the way we do things.” He folded his arms. “I came here specifically to warn you, but if you don’t want to listen, I’ll not waste m’breath.”
   Blackbeard grunted, nodded, fell for it. Every untruthful word. He put his arm around Jesamiah’s shoulder and steered him away from the house, heading through the boundary trees to walk up-creek along a gravel path of crushed ballast that crunched beneath their feet. Began boasting how he had made the girl he’d been poking scream with delirious pleasure. “Left she crumpled in a heap sobbin’ an’ wantin’ more. She’m nait been drubbed like that afore. Takes a man to show as how it be done prop’ly.”
   “Indeed it does,” Jesamiah responded, wondering who the unfortunate victim was, then wondering if it was true. He could not see any woman willingly bedding with this odious man. And Teach could not have been ashore long. They must have taken a good while to limp home, and there was fresh tar on Teach’s hand, Jesamiah noticed, while his boots were mud-caked. Come to see Governor Eden perhaps? To arrange the secret offloading of cargo?
   Stopping at the bank beside a wooden jetty, Teach indicated a bumboat, four men were huddled together in the stern, snoring.
   “I be goin’ home to me bade, Acorne. I live’n o’er to there,” he pointed in a vague direction across the creek, “at Plum Point. I be wantin’ thee to row back tha way thee came, an return to thy little ship an’ get off m’river. If ’n I catch thee here again I’ll string thee up from thy own yardarm by thy balls. Be thee understan’in’ me?”
   Jesamiah touched his hat, turned on his heel. “Aye Cap’n.” He walked away, heard the sound of a hand slapping against faces to wake up sleeping men. Heard grunts and grumbles and then the splash of oars.
   Sweat trickled down his spine. That had been close. Thank God for his ability to think quickly and lie convincingly!
   Peering over his shoulder, Jesamiah saw Teach’s men rowing across the creek, Teach standing in the stern, one arm outstretched. Saw a flash, heard a loud bang and remembered belatedly that Teach always carried more than one pistol.
   Felt the impact of a lead ball slam into his right shoulder. As he crumpled to the ground, heard a man laugh, then shout. “Nay’un tries t’better me Acorne! Nay’un!”

Buy from Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another rip roaring read
By Bookwormon 17 May 2014
Loved this book. Cannot wait to hook up again with Tiola, the adorable Jesamiah and crew of Sea Witch. This is not my normal subject to read but I have been captured.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Have now read all of this series
By  Sparrowon 15 October 2013
Have now read all of this series, a very entertaining series of novels.
Jesamiah, an all action hero with human flaws and frailties and a glimpse into foreign lands.
You can smell the tang of salt in the air and hear the creaking of The Sea Witch.
I recommend this read.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Pirates Alive
By L. B. Luxon 20 July 2011

Bring it Close is the last book in a trilogy, and I was drawn into the fast paced adventure, pirates, sea chases, action, and thrills. What a talented author, and she has done her research, not only the time period, and Blackbeard the pirate, but the construction of a fighting ship. As a sailor myself, I was impressed with descriptions of sail handling. I must now buy the previous two in the series, and cannot recommend too highly you do the same!

(note - the series is not a trilogy, Bring It Close is the third Voyage, there will be at least six Voyages)

5.0 out of 5 stars
More Jesamiah ! Woo Hoo !
ByDemonicaon 2 September 2009

She has done it again. The literary equivalent of a journey in a time machine, Helen Hollick has transported the reader onto the deck of a magnificent three master, The Sea Witch. So vividly realised, you will hear the creak of the timbers, feel the buffetting of the wind in the sails and taste the salt spray in the air. Meticulously researched as you would expect from one of Britain's leading historical writers. This is a robust, exciting adult adventure starring the charismatic rogue Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his beloved Tiola. And the vilest villain to cast an evil shadow across the oceans, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. What more could you want in a pirate novel!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant & Exciting!
By Sue Bon 9 July 2009

I've just finished reading Bring It Close last night and hated to see it end! And what an ending!! Wow! What a surprise that was!(I will not be giving any of it away!) The entire book was fascinating and Jesamiah is just such a bad boy, and so smart, and lucky, fun and sexy! I just love him and Tiola together! This 3rd installment to the series is just great and I don't know what more to say other than it keeps you on the edge of your seat, laughing, crying, horrified (Blackbeard was so awful), and so very interested! I can see each chapter playing out as if I were actually there! Thank you Helen so much for such wonderful reading enjoyment! I am planning on re-reading Bring it Close again very soon as I am sure I will find something that I may have missed in the first go round. I was excited to be able to purchase this from Amazon.co.uk as it is not yet available here in the USA!! I am so looking forward to the next Sea Witch Series book from Helen! Bravo!!

Amazon Author Page


  1. I do love Jesamiah..... Down with Black Friday crowds!

    1. Thanks Ginger - more news of Jesamiah coming soon, he's got a small bit-part in someone else's novel! (And the fifth Voyage, On The Account will be ready soon!)

  2. Love this! But you already know that!


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