Lucky's Lady (The Caversham Chronicles Book 4)

T
his was dangerous territory, Mary-Michael reminded herself as his lips came down on hers in her very first kiss. Her emotions were in jeopardy. She didn't like this feeling of helplessness when he touched her the way he was touching her... as though he treasured her, adored her. And she most especially didn't want to lose her heart to this man.
If she were honest with herself, she'd known all along that this was a possibility. Perhaps that was why she had tried her best to keep him at a distance. Now with her husband's blessing, she stood in this room, about to make love with this man. She was going to break her vow of fidelity while at the same time she prayed to get with child.
She shouldn't be reveling in the myriad of sensations he created in her. She shouldn't be enjoying this as much as she was. All this man had to do was touch her, hold her, whisper sweet words to her and she was tingly and wet between her legs. Her breasts ached as she pressed herself into his embrace. Surely he would think her a harlot.
It doesn't matter what he thinks, does it? As long as I conceive a child.
"I... You should know I've never taken a lover." She wasn't lying. Really. Mary-Michael hoped it was a reasonable enough explanation for her skittishness.
"I know." He stepped toward her and his hand brushed the strap of her petticoat off her shoulder. He bent to kiss the flesh he exposed and the simple act caused a vicious clenching reaction in her womanly parts.
Her trembling legs could barely hold her up as he lifted her petticoat over her head and exposed her breasts to him. She felt so inadequate that she crossed her arms over her front and covered her chest with her hands. He ran his finger around the band holding her drawers up at her waist. Finding the ribbon, he pulled it and let them drop to the floor as well.
He took her lips with his in yet another kiss, and surprised her when he swept her naked form up in his arms, lifting her as though she weighed nothing. The hair on his forearms tickled the backs of her thighs as he carried her to the bed and lowered her in the center without ever parting lips. His hands caressed her sides without touching her breasts, almost as though he understood her fear, her last thread of hesitance. Backing away, he began to remove his clothing while he went through the room extinguishing two of the three lanterns and bolting the door.
Mary-Michael drew the covers back on the bed and watched him as he undressed. His entire body was well-muscled and he moved with grace and fluidity for one so tall and large. His naked back was darker than his round bottom, telling her he obviously went around without a shirt quite frequently. A part of her wanted to touch the dimples above the cheeks of his bottom, and stroke her hands along the taut curves and planes all over his body.
Her breath caught in her chest. She was unable to breathe. God he was beautiful. Desiring him was surely going to lead to heartbreak. She had to stop herself from thinking these primal thoughts of the two of them together—mating and satisfying the needs of each other's bodies—surely it was sinful.

L
ucky's
L
ady

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
 
Copyright © 2015, Sandy Raven
 
ISBN: 978-1-939359-12-4
 
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and/or reviews.
 
Edited by Gail Shelton
 
Copy Edits by Proofreading by the Page
 
Cover design by The Killion Group, Inc.
 
Formatting by Natalie Somersall, Clear Skies Author Services

A
cknowledgements

To the Beta Crew: Rosetta Boydston, Mary Mallini, Melinda Hicks, Janet Firestone: I appreciate your invaluable input more than you could ever know.

Karen Nash and Adam Purser, you have my most heartfelt gratitude for making sure I got the ‘boat stuff’ right.

Michael Wilson, thank you for making sure I didn’t get in over my head with all that legal stuff.

For my daughters ~ I love you both so much.

Curtis, you are my heart.

Dear Reader,
 
LUCKY'S LADY is the fourth book in my series, The Caversham Chronicles, and I really hope that you enjoy Lucky and Mary-Michael's story.
    
I fell in love with tall ships when I was growing up on the Gulf Coast. I was fortunate enough to watch the tall ship Elissa being restored for several years while working in the building right next to it. And almost from the time I could walk, I remember loving hot tea (even in summer, go figure!) As I grew into a voracious reader, I discovered this short period of time in the mid-1800's where they had tea races on tall ships from China to London, before the Suez Canal was built and steam engines made the era of sail obsolete. I fell in love with those stories and prints of famous paintings of tea clippers at full sail racing back to London with their hulls so full of tea they sat low in the water as they hurried home from China with the finest offerings for that year. Because I always knew I was a writer, even when I was forced to pass algebra, it was inevitable that I was going to write a tea clipper story one day.
    
LOVING SARAH and LUCKY'S LADY are the clipper stories I had to write. It's two books because I couldn't get the whole story of my two heroes in one book. The innovations made during that time to the design of the clipper hull happened in almost the blink of an eye, historically speaking. My heroine in this book, Mary-Michael, is loosely based on a woman from Nova Scotia, Albenia Boole. Thanks to her father, who recognized her talent early on, he saw to it that his daughter had a good education, something unusual for a woman of the day. Her father moved his small ship building business to New York City, where she drafted and designed ships "as well as any man." She married Donald McKay, a man from across the river in Nova Scotia, also from a shipbuilding family. They lived in a little house on East Broadway in New York City. Here she became Donald's mentor and teacher. Albenia was five years younger than Donald, but at night she schooled him in the mathematical principles necessary for McKay to compete in the packet building trade, where competition was strong and every ship owner wanted the fastest ships, which led to the biggest profits in the lucrative trade markets. Speed was in the design of those packets.
    
Anyway... because of the constraints of my story that began in Caversham's Bride, the timing is off by about ten to twelve years for it to be the "official" tea races. When I started that first book, I never knew Ian existed and Lia was not going to allow her brother to sail a ship. (I think she wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer.) So my fictitious set up to those historic races is in these two books, where Lucky and Ian race each other home. In one of the two books somewhere there is mention of the number of boats participating in the race increasing each year. And, in my fictitious world, before you know it, it will all become official and people will start writing about it in the papers of the day, thus making it history. Right?
    
This is Lucky's book. I loved the research that went into it, and the characters that developed as I wrote. Here, Lucky falls in love with an incredibly intelligent young woman who is a naval architect designing ships for her elderly mentor-husband who owns a shipyard that constructs the famous Baltimore clippers. Mary-Michael Watkins is a young woman who desperately wants to conceive a child before her husband dies. He wants her to have a child too, because through having a child she will experience life being renewed as he slowly loses his. The man even goes so far as to help her decide that Lucky is the perfect candidate for siring said child, and facilitates their time alone. Knowing she's running out of time because of her husband's failing health, and acknowledging there is more than just an ordinary attraction with the captain, Mary Michael accepts Lucky's flirtatious overtures knowing that once his business with her shipyard was over, he'd leave her—hopefully with a child to raise. She prayed for a son or daughter who would inherit her husband's fortune and carry on the legacy he began and she continued.
    
What she didn't count on was falling in love with a man to whom family, loyalty and love meant everything.
    
Quick fact: There are still laws in several states making adultery illegal. As of this writing, in Maryland, the fine for committing this misdemeanor crime is $10.
    
I would love to hear from you! So, if you have any questions or comments, I'm online at:
    
Twitter -
@SandyRaven
  
Sincerely,
  
Sandy Raven

C
hapter
O
ne

 
Curtis Bay, Maryland, Late June, 1836
  
L
ucky Gualtiero strode through the bustling Watkins Shipyard and watched as a hundred or more men and boys left their work stations as the day drew to an end. He knew from the position of the sun that it was nearing six-thirty, and realized he may have to wait until morning to meet with the owner. Slapping the leather folio against his thigh, he was impatient to introduce himself and speak with this shipyard’s architect on record,
M. Michael Watkins
. In his folio were the specifications and drawings compiled by his partner, Ian Ross-Mackeever, heir to the first Earl Mackeever, and some notes Lucky had compiled over the past weeks visiting other shipyards, as well as the letter from their creditor bank in London guaranteeing the mortgage for two new clippers.
This was the last stop of the three North American shipyards and Ian's builder of choice, as his father had worked for Mr. Watkins before his death twelve years ago. Lucky made his way through the dry dock, looking for their offices, while scrutinizing several new vessels under construction, all at different stages. One appeared near finished and was afloat dockside, and another was just a hull up on blocks, still in the early stages of interior construction. Others were in various stages between.
For Lucky, watching the building process was enlightening, because he could clearly recognize the quality of workmanship at different stages in the construction. So far it appeared Watkins built a very fine hull from what he saw. The in-water boat had three solid masts, where one of the two on blocks nearest him awaited cladding, the copper plating used to prevent shipworm and saltwater from damaging the wood. All the wood used for hulls appeared to be solid cypress. The rudder was about to be placed on the hull in dry dock, which would be interesting to watch if he was still here when they raised it. The inner post and stern post were already affixed and the rudder–a typical gunstock shape–lay on blocks on the ground waiting for the hinge apparatus to be joined to it. Once that was done, the whole unit would be lifted into place.
He turned and kept walking toward what he thought were the company offices, a brick two-story building, and was stopped by a lad as he neared the door.
"Can I help you?"
Lucky turned to look at the most amazing thing he'd seen in his life, a young female garbed for working in a shipyard with the voice and diction of an educated woman.
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