From Pleasuring a Pirate
Jenny Miller clutched the fabric of her long dress as she carefully walked down the steep stairs from her second-floor apartment. She was determined to get through this day without disaster, despite the too tight costume and the uncomfortable shoes and the awkwardness that lay ahead. She reached the door to the street, opened it, stepped onto the sidewalk, let the door slam shut behind her and realized she was stuck. She looked behind—a clump of fabric at the back of her dress was trapped by the now locked door.
“Damn!” She rummaged through her shoulder bag until she found her key ring, took it out of her bag and promptly dropped it. She bent to pick up her keys, her breasts nearly popping out of the low-cut dress. “I must look like an idiot,” she muttered. She fumbled with the keys until she found the one she needed. She inserted the key, but it wouldn’t turn in the lock. Was there something wrong with the lock? That was all she needed this morning. She pulled out the key. She was using the wrong one. She took a deep breath, inserted the right key, unlocked the door, freed her dress and turned once again to face the day. Relax, she told herself. Everything is going to be fine. You will not make a fool of yourself in front of him.
The sun shone in a cloudless blue sky. The leaves on the maple trees that lined the cobblestoned length of King Street glowed greenly in the bright spring light. She had planned to drive the mile from her apartment to the beach at Perkins Cove, thinking she would feel ridiculous walking through town in her 18th century costume. Now she reconsidered. She could use the walk to steady her nerves. She needed to be in control of all her emotions if she was going to get through this day without embarrassing herself. She set off down the street.
At the corner of King and State Street, Agnes Hopewell came out of her antiques store. In her hand she held one end of a leash, the other end of which was attached to the collar on Jo-Jo, her pony-sized black Newfoundland. “Hi, Jenny!” Agnes said. “Where are you off to, dressed like that?”
“I’m acting in a promotional video for the Chamber of Commerce.” Jenny stepped off the sidewalk to the street. She wanted to protect her costume from the string of slobber hanging from Jo-Jo’s enormous mouth. “We’re doing the Pirate Blackwell story.”
Agnes snorted. “I don’t care what the History of Stoneyport says—it’s a made-up myth. There may have been a privateer named Blackwell in the seventeen hundreds, but he didn’t bury gold here!” She followed Jenny into the street. Jo-Jo trotted behind.
“I’ll be sure to tell our director that,” Jenny said.
“Who’s the director?”
“How nice!” Agnes said. “Your mom must be pleased you two have become friendly. I know how hard Susan took it when her mother died. It must be tough for Susan to have her dad engaged to your mom. Though Carol is a real sweetheart. Caring for your dad all those years. A real angel.”
Jenny picked up her pace. Agnes’ business was selling antiques but her hobby was gossip. Sometimes Agnes’ gossip hit painfully close to home—Susan deeply resented her father for marrying Jenny’s mother.
“I can bet who Susan got to play the pirate,” Agnes continued, undeterred by having to jog to keep pace with Jenny. “That bad boy brother of hers. Jimmy Chang told me Robert is back in town. Saw him at the Barnacle last night. He’s quite a character but handsome as they come. Probably left a string of broken hearts all over the world. Have you met him yet?”
Ouch! Direct hit! “Got to hurry! Don’t want to be late for my film debut!” Jenny started to run. Fortunately Jo-Jo spotted a cat and took off in the other direction, dragging Agnes with him.
Jenny hurried up the steep hill as fast as she could. When she reached the top, she stopped. She gasped for breath. She glanced behind. Agnes had not followed. Jenny’s breasts ballooned over the top of her bodice. Why on earth had Susan picked this costume for the pirate’s wife? It made Jenny look like an 18th century hooker. She yanked the top of the bodice as high as she could.
Damn Agnes! She’d named the very source for Jenny’s anxiety that morning—her soon-to-be stepbrother and one-time lover Robert Goodman. For weeks Jenny had been dreading seeing Robert at her mother’s wedding. Last night, Susan had called to instruct Jenny one more time about the shoot and casually mentioned that Robert would now be playing the part of Pirate Blackwell. The guy Susan had asked to play the part had broken his arm and Robert had offered to come home early and help her out. Jenny had to disguise her shock at the news with a fit of coughing. Susan, of course, did not know about Jenny’s fling with Robert. Nor did Susan’s father or Jenny’s mother.
Down below, at the base of the hill, several people were walking along the paved path that led between 18th century row houses to Perkins Cove. Jenny was still too far to decipher faces, but even after more than nine months of not seeing him, she would know Robert’s body.