Captain Bjorn (Tales from The Compass Book 1)

Captain Bjorn (Tales from The Compass Book 1) by Anyta Sunday, Dru Wellington Read Free Book Online

Book: Captain Bjorn (Tales from The Compass Book 1) by Anyta Sunday, Dru Wellington Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anyta Sunday, Dru Wellington
“I’m not that terrible.”
    “You really are,” a slick voice came from behind me. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled. A clunk sounded on the marble floor and a snake-topped staff peeked into view.
    I twisted, stepping between the pirate prince and Lauretta.
    A chill smile stretched his lips and his fingers drummed over the head of the staff. He stroked the length of the snake’s tongue with his finger. To Lauretta he said, “The color worked for your friend, but the dress suits you infinitely better.”
    She sidled to my side with a giggle. “Thank you.”
    “Would you do me the honor of a dance?”
    “Marc is rescuing her,” I snapped and called for him.
    “Perhaps the one after?” Lauretta said.
    Serrin smiled and sealed the promise with a kiss to her hand.
    Marc cleared his throat. “Shall we?”
    As they lined up for the next dance, Serrin tipped his head toward me before sauntering through a jubilant crowd.
    “What is your game?” I murmured, and set off after him, stopping when Sir Walter brushed past me, calling my mother’s name.
    My teeth clenched, and I backed toward mother. She caught my eye and gently shook her head, begging me to stay back.
    I glared at the dancers, filtering out the rhythm of clapping steps, the bouncing music, the collective murmuring of gossiping ladies, to hear Sir Walter.
    “Never thought you’d be invited to such an event.”
    Mother spoke too softly for me to hear her response.
    “I’m not a callous man. I’m happy to make a deal with you.” Sir Walter tucked a strand of Mother’s hair behind her ear—
    “There’ll be no deals,” I bit out, and pulled mother into the foray of dancing.
    “Aaron, honey,” Mother said, falling into step. “I appreciate your help, but I can handle Sir Walter.”
    “You have no idea what he’s capable of.”
    A shadow passed over her face. “I have been there for maid Miller, I know what he wants.”
    “Then—”
    “I’ll do what I have to do to protect my family.”
    “Mother!”
    My step faltered, and she urged me on. “You are a good son. Your father would have been so proud.”
    “He’d—”
    “He’d also be saddened.”
    “Saddened?” I said.
    “The only thing he ever wished was for you and Marc to be happy. You, Aaron, are not.”
    We turned. “You’re wrong—”
    “Why are you still at home?” she asked.
    “I love you.”
    “I don’t doubt that. Why are you still at home?”
    “Because you need me.”
    Mother smiled. Soft. Sad. “Ah. Exactly.”
    I bristled. “What is that supposed to mean?”
    “What about you? What is it you need?”
    My grip tightened.
    “Don’t think I don’t notice the cuts and bruises. Don’t think I don’t see the light in your eyes when you leave the house. Everyone sees it. It took a stranger confronting me about it to realize things have to change.”
    The music stopped, and so did my heart. “What?”
    “Bjorn saw through you in an instant. You want to fly.” Mother gathered me in her arms and hugged me. “ I want you to fly.”
    “Bjorn! Bjorn knows nothing. I cannot, will not just leave you.”
    “Yes, you will. You’ll leave, and you’ll come back to visit.”
    “This is . . . nonsense.”
    “The wind is changing, love.”
    “But not me.”
    “Not you. You shouldn’t have to.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “Fly love.”
    Mother’s eyes shone the blue of a sea after a storm all churned up. But she quickly hauled in a breath and glanced over my shoulder. Her gaze calmed. “Excuse me,” she said with a soft croak. “I promised Marc a dance.”
    With that she melted away, leaving me gaping after her. Ocean scent tickled the back of my nose, and heat swamped the ballroom. Too stuffy, too warm.
    I felt a presence close in behind me, and though we barely knew each other, I knew who it was. “I need air,” I gasped.
    His warmth weaved with me through the guests and out onto the deserted balcony. Rain drizzled, softly hitting my

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