Scandalous Desires(2)

By: Elizabeth Hoyt




The pirate’s eyes opened lazily as he swallowed his sweetmeat. “Who?”



Oh, this was too much! Silence felt her face heat as she shook off Harry’s restraining arm and marched right up to the foot of the small dais on which the ridiculous throne stood. “You know very well who! Mary Darling, that sweet little baby girl I’ve taken care of for over a year. Mary Darling, who knows only me as her mother. Mary Darling, who you took from the foundling home where we both live. Give her back to me at once!”



So great was her ire that Silence found herself out of breath at the end of her little tirade and pointing her finger nearly in Mr. O’Connor’s face. For a moment she froze, her finger only inches from his nose. Everyone in the room seemed to hold their breath. Mickey O’Connor had lost his smile, and without that expression to lighten his face, he looked quite, quite frightening.



Silence let her hand fall.



Slowly, the pirate straightened from his chair, his long limbs uncurling gracefully like a predator. He stood, his polished black jackboots thunking to the floor, and stepped down from the dais.



Silence could’ve backed up, but that would’ve shown fear. And besides, she thought she might’ve become rooted to the spot. The scent of lemons and frankincense drifted in the air. She lifted her chin in defiance as Mickey O’Connor’s smooth, tanned, bare chest nearly touched her nose—the man was so vain he left his extravagantly ruffled shirt unlaced—and looked him in the eye.



Mr. O’Connor bent, his mouth lightly touching her ear, and murmured, “Well, and why didn’t ye say so in the first place, darlin’?”



And while Silence gaped up at him, he straightened, his gaze still locked with hers, and snapped his fingers.



A door opened and Silence finally found the willpower to tear her gaze from those black, impenetrable eyes. And then she forgot all about Mickey O’Connor. A servant girl had entered, and in her arms was the sweetest, most wonderful being in the whole world.



“Mamoo!” Mary Darling shrieked. She began a frantic bouncing in the servant girl’s arms. “Mamoo! Mamoo! Mamoo! Up!”



Silence rushed to catch the toddler before she could completely squirm from the girl’s arms. “I have you. I have you, my love,” she murmured as Mary Darling wrapped soft, pudgy arms about her neck and squeezed.



Silence breathed in the scent of milk and baby, tears pricking her eyes. When she’d found the toddler gone—when she’d feared that she’d never see Mary Darling again—her heart had seemed to shrivel into a tiny, frozen thing.



“Mamoo,” Mary Darling sighed, and unwrapped her arms to pat Silence’s cheeks.



Silence ran her hands over Mary Darling’s black curls, touching and squeezing and rubbing, making sure the little girl was as well as when she’d last seen her, half a day before. The previous six hours had been the most frightening of her life and she never wanted to repeat—



“Ahem,” a masculine voice murmured nearby, and Silence suddenly remembered where she was.



She clutched Mary Darling to her breast and whirled to face the river pirate. “Thank you. It’s most… most kind of you to have given her back to me. I really can’t thank you enough.” Silence took a step backward, afraid to take her eyes from Charming Mickey’s face. “I… I’ll just be leaving—”



Mr. O’Connor smiled. “Oh, certainly, sweetheart, do as ye wish, but the little one will be a-stayin’ with me, I think.”



Silence froze. “You have no right!”



The pirate lifted one inky eyebrow and reached out to finger Mary Darling’s black curls. His tanned hand was large against her little head. “Oh, don’t I? She is me daughter.”

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