We bring you an exclusive lunchtime treat – a cheeky snippet of Jane Jackson’s The Master’s Wife, the second book in The Captain Honours Series!
‘When you’ve finished writing, leave the pen and ink out, will you? I need to update the log.’
She glanced round and saw him strip off his shirt, revealing a broad back and muscular shoulders. Longing pierced and a flush burned her cheeks. He was her husband, the only man she had ever kissed, touched, held, loved. He was her husband and he had lain naked with Louise Downing; made love with Louise Downing… She choked down a painful stiffness in her throat and carefully wiped the pen nib on a cotton square before laying it on the grooved wooden tray.
Water splashed, she smelled the fragrance of the soap she had used, heard the soft rasp of the towel as he rubbed himself dry, then the rustle of clothing as he dressed again. He emptied and replaced the basin then carried the bucket and ewer to the door.
‘Goodnight.’ Caseley limped into the sleeping cabin, pulling off her shawl and dropping it over the foot of the berth. She reached for the curtain but didn’t touch it. With it drawn across, the small space that had once been a cosy private haven now felt lonely and claustrophobic. She lay down and pulled the blankets over her. Had she no pride? What kind of fool longed for a man who preferred someone else? A tear soaked into the pillow.
When Jago returned to the cabin he sat down and opened the log. Elbows propped on the table he raked both hands through his hair. Tension made his scalp ache.
He was ashamed of his pleasure at seeing Caseley out of the black that constantly reminded him of his failure. Recognizing her uncertainty about wearing a summery dress, he had hoped to reassure her. She was still hurting, her loss still a raw wound. She hadn’t uttered a word of complaint. That made it worse. He didn’t know what to do and hated his helplessness.
After meeting the reporter in the Custom House, he and Pawlyn had walked along the quay to Cygnet. Making conversation, Pawlyn had asked if he had family. He’d said no, and left it at that. Explanations would invite commiserations that were pointless and painful. They reminded him too vividly of Caseley’s drawn, grief-ravaged face when he arrived home too late.
How could he ever make it up to her? Did she even want him to? That her rage seemed to have dissolved only increased his guilt. Their conversations were pleasant and their unspoken understanding of each other’s thinking on all other matters was still intact. If only she would meet his gaze, she would surely see everything he could not find words for: how much he missed her, needed her.
Several times, about to blurt it out, he had bitten his tongue to stop himself. Such a confession would make it about him and that was self-indulgence while she was coming to terms with such devastating loss. He would live with the permanent ache at the base of his skull and a gut tied in knots. He would wait for as long as it took. He had adored his sons. But Caseley was the love of his life. So he would wait until she was ready, until she turned to him.
The Master’s Wife is available to purchase on amazon.