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When a poor choice and some wild fluctuations in the space time continuum leave school teacher Violet Johansen stranded in the car park of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, Violet wonders if she’ll ever find her way back to her comfort zone. She has two choices – to trust a piper who looks exactly like someone she dated a decade ago, or a band of nefarious pirates.
Pirates. Pipers. People and mistakes from the past that threaten to haunt you forever... A castle that’s been ravaged and rebuilt... Will Violet and Nathan’s fragile new friendship survive the storm and see love reborn?
Shy Violet Excerpt:
“I’ve a passenger who needs transporting,” the red- headed girl said to the pirate at the stern of the sailboat. “She needs to go far, far away and stay there until everyone is gone.”
The girl didn’t appear nervous, but Violet was. The man didn’t look like a tour guide. He looked like a real pirate. His hair hung in long, matted dreadlocks around skin stained dark from too much sweat and sun.
“Will ye do it? We have precious little time.”
“For the price of the rest of the day’s tours.” The pirate used his fingers to scratch his skin under the greasy headscarf tied around his forehead. “Lost revenues, I cannae afford. Much as I’d like to help the lass.”
“I have no money.” Violet blinked away tears for the first time. She’d been so close.
The man must have sensed her desperation. “Climb on board. We’ll take ye for a spin in the loch and find a way to work things oot.”
A stream of tourists spewed out of the mouth of Eileen Donan castle and began to cross the moat. She took the hand that was offered, leapt aboard, then ducked and crawled to the deepest part of the boat. Her legs were crossed under her, her head bowed.
“Ahoy, mateys.” There was a clatter as the anchor was raised and ropes cinched and drawn, then a creaking noise as the boat left the dock. The waves hit with a jolt, swell after swell, a roller coaster ride of fear and regret and wonderment and terror.
“What’s yer name, fair lassie?”
She dared not look up for fear Alexander would see her. She let out a deep breath. He was more likely checking the bathrooms, consulting the authorities, or asking around to see if anyone had seen her. Would the red-haired girl be able to resist his charms? He was a knight with a thick pocketbook. He had ways of getting what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to use them, especially on young women who giggled at his good looks and swooned when he wooed them.
She’d been such a fool. “Violet. My name is Violet. Violet Johansen.”
A wave splashed over the gunnels and doused her. She clutched her glasses to make sure they hadn’t been knocked loose, and tried not to cower – it was just water. Water couldn’t hurt her. But it was bad enough, being scared silly and at the mercy of a bunch of marauding pirates who were complete strangers. She did not want to be cold and soaked besides.
The pirates swayed with the rhythm of the waves that were rolling the boat from side to side and talked among themselves, a half indistinguishable mishmash of conversation and sailing lingo in Irish brogues and the lyrical cadence of Scots.
The sea calmed, and she resisted the urge to sneak a peek at the water, the heather-covered hills and the blue-hued mountains she’d glimpsed from the castle.
“So, you’re not really pirates, right?” She didn’t dare lift her head for fear Alexander was eyeing them from the dock or using the binoculars he always traveled with to scope her whereabouts.
“Depends on how ye define pirate.”
She still couldn’t see their faces, but the voice that spoke was deep and husky.
A second voice spoke, softer and gentler. “So if I be a pirate, does that mean ye be the cooking wench from me fantasies, come to feed us delectable morsels and pleasure us on our long voyage, far from land?”
“Um. No. Sorry to disappoint you.”
The other pirates laughed, a few in silly, nervous-sounding dulcets, the rest in deep, frighteningly raunchy hoots.
“There be a group of prospective passengers waiting in line at the dock,” another voice said. That made three. She’d barely looked at the motley group when she’d jumped on the boat, but thought she remembered five or six total crew members.
“What’s this gent look like – the one ye’re hiding from? If he has a defining characteristic I could pinpoint with my eyepiece, perhaps we can determine if it be safe to swing back and pick up some paying passengers.”
Okay. She got the point. She’d always hated being a nuisance. She swallowed her pride. What choice did she have? “He’s wearing a black sports jacket with an ascot around his neck. Red, I think. He was wearing sunglasses and carrying a satchel over his shoulder for his camera, Kindle, and binoculars.”
“Ye were dating a man who carries a purse?”
She pushed her glasses higher onto her nose. “It’s not a purse. More like a backpack only smaller – and designed for men.” Why was she defending him? The man was a blimey bastard. Let them think what they would.
“I’m afraid I’ve lost all respect for ye noo. Ye know what they say aboot women who love men with purses,” said the pirate with the deep, husky voice.
“Got him in my sights,” the gentler-voiced pirate said. “We nae can turn back noo. He’s got his binoculars trained right on us.”
Her fear meter soared off the chart and she jerked involuntarily. She felt like her lungs were being crushed.
“Stay down, lass. He can see twice what I can at this distance. Take a look, Hoodie.”
“Do ye think if we returned her, all nice like, he’d give us his binoculars as a reward?” a gruff voice asked.
Great. Untrustworthy pirates. Just her luck. She mustered her courage and tried to sound intimidating. “Knowing Alexander, he’d have you charged with kidnapping and hauled before Scotland Yard.”
“It weren’t us who kidnapped ye. It were ye who commandeered our ship and made us do yer bidding.” This one had a thick brogue.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to drag anyone else into this mess. As for the money you’re missing out on, I’ll make it up to you somehow.”
“Oh, we’ll find a way to extract it from ye awright – sooner or later.”
A new voice. Was it the chill in the wind, or did this one sound more menacing than the others?
* * *
Twenty-three years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer's grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Shy Violet” is Sherrie’s eighth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing, a mid-sized, independent press out of Kernersville, NC.
www.BlueBelleInn.com or www.BlueBelleBooks.com
Books Titles: Wildflowers of Scotland novels - Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, Shy Violet. Night and Day, Love Notes, and the Maple Valley Trilogy – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.