Read an Excerpt
Stephen wandered down the cobblestones, nodding to the random people he met, heading to the long stretch of planks by the docks. His boots thumped against the wood. The sound of the water against the dock was quite relaxing.
There was a soft splash and then two men appeared before him, in the shadows. "You're the doctor, eh?"
"I am." Hell's bells. He started backing away, gripping his cane firmly.
"Good." They each grabbed one of his arms and went over the side of the pier, landing in the water with a splash.
"Unhand me! Help! Constable!" He struggled, trousers and shirtwaist soaked through and heavy immediately, the water cool and slick. Oh, Elizabeth was never going to let him forget this nonsense.
One of his captors turned to glide through the water on his back, tugging him along, hand over his mouth. In moments he was being pulled up into a rowboat.
He still had his cane and as soon as he could find his balance and pull away from the fiends, he swung, hoping to make contact. "What wickedness is this?"
There was a yelp from in front of him and a laugh from behind him and the cane was yanked from his hand and unceremoniously tossed overboard.
"We're taking you to a patient, Doctor. This how you treat all of 'em?"
"I beg your pardon? The governor sent you?" Did they think him a fool?
They laughed. Not the polite titters he was used to either, but full out belly laughs.
He looked around, judging the distance to the shore, the weight of his clothing. He was not the strongest swimmer on the isle, but he could survive. Stephen tensed, diving for the edge of the rowboat. His hopes were dashed as one meaty hand wrapped around his arm,holding fast.
"Now, now, sawbones, don't be thinking of going anywhere before you see the Cap'n."
"Captain? Captain of what? Captain who? I know everyone on the isle." His mind could not imagine it, could not come to terms with this insanity.
"Not taking you to anywhere on the isle, now are we?"
"Shut it, Dawson."
"You shut it!"
"Both of you shut it," came a third voice as they drew up next to a large ship.
"I am here under duress! I insist upon being taken back to shore!" Oh, he despised ships, the rocking and rolling.
That brought another loud round of laughing and he was unceremoniously hauled on board.
"Below? Below where? What is wrong with him? Why did you come fetch me? What on earth is that stench?"
"That'd be me, 'ya butcher." A foul-breathed giant of a man pushed into his face, laughing before grabbing his arm and pulling him along.
"I say! Unhand me! What on Earth do you expect of me, without my bag, my tools?" Fiends. Foul, beastly fiends.
"We expect you to fix up the Captain, sawbones. He dies--you die."
They started going down. Oh, my. The stench was ... Unbearable. People honestly lived this way? Apurpose? Utterly ridiculous!
"Stop hovering, Havers, and get me the thrice damned whiskey!" The angry growl came from the direction they were going in and a sailor pushed passed them like the very devil was on his tail.
Oh, facing the bear in his den. Goodness. What tales he'd have to tell tomorrow over breakfast.
He was brought into a little cabin with barely enough room to stand upright. The bed and desk took up most of the space, his escort taking up most of the air in the small place. But it was the man on the bed who seemed to take up the most room.
Lying absolutely naked on the bed, the Captain filled it entirely with a long, muscled body. In fact Stephen was quite sure he'd never seen such an excellent specimen of humanity, even marred as the man was by a deep gash on his chest and a wound that looked to be made from a musket on his upper thigh.