It was a night not unlike many other nights. Jeb sat watchful, his hands idle upon the oars of his skiff, while aboard the Green Myst, wooden crates were hoisted from below decks and loaded onto similar waiting skiffs. Methodically, one after one, the ship disgorged its cargo. (Cargo: loosely defined as the value of coin collected by the simple moving of these crates from the Green Myst to the shoreline.) Horse drawn wagons waited upon the banks to carry the cargo to warehouses on the wrong side of Savannah where the wooden crates were burned, the contents safely inventoried.
Jeb could not help but notice the name burned in heavy black ink on the side of the rough crates: TALBOT.
Until tonight, he had always felt a smug satisfaction when Talbot property was looted from the high seas. Never in his past had he given a second thought to this process. Talbot cargo was fair game. But now...something was different. Something would have to change.
For now...Jeb had met Dagny Talbot.
His thoughts twisted and turned as he recalled the vision of Dagny dancing upon the beach, her dark copper curls glinting in the sun, her skirts tucked up into her belt, her petticoats dampened. She had yet to realize she was not alone, and he laughed aloud remembering her fearless outrage at his trespassing.
The Green Myst sailed from sight, the horizon taking her within its dark embrace. Ashore, the work continued at the wagons. Empty skiffs rowed the bend and then up the river. The tide was rising, and the work of the oars was easier as the current of the river was overtaken by brackish water. No link between the small fishing skiffs, and the movement of cargo to the wagons had been noticed thus far by the locals. No need for docks, only the strong backs of men who knew how to work both land and sea for movement of pirated goods.
The wooden crates at last safely loaded onto the wagons, Jeb pulled at the oars of his empty skiff, his thoughts now on a "Southern Belle" from Boston. He smiled at the contrast in cultures captive in the pretty head under those coppery curls.
He spoke her name softly as he mused at her boldness in calling him a poacher. He could not help but wonder if she knew how closely she had pegged him! Or how he was the last person her family, and most certainly her father, would wish her to come upon in such an unprotected manner. A smile curved his lips as he pulled at the oars of his skiff in the misty water. What a little spitfire! The top of her curly head barely reached his chin, but she had shown no fear, and indeed, had given him a thorough tongue thrashing. Could he be blamed for stealing a kiss?
She had hissed and spat like an angry kitten, but for a moment...just a moment...those sweet lips had quivered in response. Jeb could still feel their soft promise, and for the first time in his thirty-four years, he felt distracted. The scent of her...the feel of her slender body...seemed burned into him.
"Dagny Talbot...you are a prize that I shall not let slip from my grasp."