In national bestselling author Beverly Jenkins' Destiny series, the Yates men play hard and live hard. And when they find that special woman, they fall hard . . .
Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that's not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.
And Pilar isn't just an ordinary woman. She's descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he'll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.
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Pilar Banderas scanned the slew of vessels an- chored in Havana’s crowded harbor. She needed to steal a ship. Disguised as an old woman and wearing a worn head wrap, a shapeless blouse, and dusty skirt, she leaned on a cane and contin- ued her slow walk down the docks. Two brigs be- longing to the hated Spanish navy were quickly ruled out as candidates due to their size and the surety of punishment should she be caught aboard. There were other vessels about, both smaller in design and tonnage, but these required more crew members than she had access to, so she quickly eliminated them as well. The most likely candidate was a two-masted schooner named the Alanza. Having sailed similar ships in the past, she knew it would easily make the journey to Santo Domingo for her rendezvous with the gunrunner and wouldn’t need a large crew. She’d had her eye on it since beginning her surveillance yesterday and the more she observed it, the more she cottoned to it. From intelligence gathered from friends inside the city, she knew the Alanza’s owner to be a wealthy American named Noah Yates, and that he docked in Havana annually to sell Oriental silks, spices, and other exotic goods to those with the coin to waste on such extrava- gances. Last night, he was seen escorting one of the city’s fabled beauties to the theater and after returning her home, he’d spent a few hours at a popular gambling hall where he won a sizeable amount of gold. Were he to lose his ship, he was undoubtedly wealthy enough to commission an- other, so she felt no remorse.
Pilar was an araña, a “spider,” one of many who gathered information on behalf of the Cuban rebels determined to rid their beloved island of Spanish rule. The last attempt at independence, known as the Ten Years’ War, ended in 1878 with a negotiated surrender by the rebels, but she and her compatriots were convinced the next cam- paign would be a success mainly because of the prowess of rebel leader General Jose Antonio Maceo, affectionately called the Bronze Titan by his followers for the color of his skin and his fear- lessness on the battlefield.
Her decision on the Alanza made, she picked her way through the crowds and moved back to the three-legged stool that marked her spot on the busy dock, where Cubans of every hue, age, and size hawked everything from food and drink to religious medals in an effort to supplement their paltry incomes, all under the watchful eyes of the increasing numbers of Spanish soldiers on patrol. For the past few months, hundreds of new troops had been brought in to help keep the crown’s boot on the neck of the people. In a shameless effort to quell the rising dissent, thousands of people tied to the rebels had been rounded up and forced into squalid camps filled with despair, disease, and too little food. But instead of breaking the spirit of the movement, the calls for freedom were intensi- fying with the dawning of each new day.
In spite of the island’s underlying tension, the air near the docks was alive with the smells of food cooking on small braziers, the sounds of peddlers and musicians and the tangy scent of the sea.
“Where’s your badge, old woman?”
Pilar slowly raised her attention to the man who’d spoken in such a sneering tone, and eyed him for a moment. He had a thin, light-colored face, was dressed in a tight, Spanish-cut suit, and his hair was slick with pomade. “What badge?” she asked as she lined up the fish she was selling as part of her ruse.
“The badge that gives you the right to be on the docks.”
The graft in Havana was so pervasive even beggars were required to pay a bribe to beg. “I don’t need one.” Out of the corner of her eye she watched her friend Tomas ambling innocently in her direction. He was posing as her fisherman son in order to be part of her eyes and ears. He was also good in a fight should the need arise.
“Everyone needs a badge to be on the docks or you’ll have to leave.”
“And who’s your master?” she asked careful to keep her voice in the register of the aged.
Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including four previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, and Vibe. She lives in Michigan.
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