Today we have a sneak peek from Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest, the award-winning historical fiction book by Dianne Greenlay.
In the year 1717, Tess Willoughby’s privileged life is shattered when she is forced to accept a mysterious Spinner ring from a dying stranger. Worse yet, she finds herself forced onto a merchant ship bound for the pirate-infested West Indies and betrothed to the stranger’s murderer – a man who desperately covets the ring’s supposed power. When her fiancé double-crosses her during a pirate attack, Tess must learn to use the strange Spinner ring, but will she also learn to play the game of double-cross in time enough to save herself? For if she fails at either, the stakes are unbearably high.
Here is an excerpt from Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest…
Smith and William found themselves on the mid watch together. Just after midnight the ship had entered into a fog bank and by now even the overhead carpet of stars was obliterated. The ocean was relatively calm and the Mary Jane rocked her way gently onward through the inky blackness.
“Eerie, ain’t it?” Smith remarked. “Not bein’ able to see any further than her bowsprit, I mean.”
William squinted into darkness but could see nothing, could not even make out the usual rows of white foam on the cresting waves alongside.
“Yeah,” he remarked to his friend, “it does feel funny–kinda’ like being suddenly blind.”
“Well,” Smith reassured him, “it’ll be dawn soon. The sun’ll burn this off. You’ll see.”
Being devoid of one of his senses while on lookout duty left William feeling nervous however, and he strained to listen to the sounds of the ocean around them. His ears picked up the usual creaks and familiar groans of the ship’s wooden structure, and the soft rustle of the canvases strung up high overhead–he had come to think of such noises as the ship’s pulse and breathing–and then he thought he heard a faint new rhythm. As quickly as it had pricked his senses it was gone ….
William cocked his head and leaned over the railing trying in vain to see past the impenetrable wall of fog that enveloped them.“Did you hear anything?” he asked Smith in a low voice.
Smith too, leaned over the railing and listened. He shook his head and looked questioningly at William.
There it is again! A rhythmical splash, not unlike the ocean’s melody, a soft regular swish as their ship sliced through its surface, but this sound lagged ever so slightly, as though it were a half a beat behind their own.
And then it hit him. At first it was just an uncertain whiff. A faint tendril of pernicious stench, full of human decay, rot, and unwashed flesh. His nostrils flared involuntarily and he swallowed back his stomach’s attempt to empty.
William’s heart began to pound so hard in his chest that it felt as though it was knocking the air right out of him. He whirled on Smith. “Sound the alarm!” he hissed.
“What? What’s wrong?” Smith asked bewilderedly.
William’s eyes were wide with panic. “Do you not smell that?”
Smith inhaled deeply then exhaled. “Smell what? I smell nothin’.” He frowned, his deepening unease etching worry lines in his face. “C’mon Taylor, this isn’t funny. You’ll spook us all!”
William inhaled again. “Holy friggin’ Christ!” he whispered, paralyzed. “They’re here! There’s a friggin’ ship right behind us! I smell them.”