Here’s the first part of Tiffany Reid’s made to order story, Kidnapped to Freedom. Her specification: A buccaneer (secretly a wealthy plantation owner) kidnaps an heiress for political reasons and keeps her aboard his ship. He wears a mask so she falls in love with him though she doesn’t see his face on the ship. The characters are all siblings: The eldest is strong willed, happy, rebellious, passionate and feisty. She is the one who is kidnapped. The middle child is her sister, 18 months younger: soft, carefree, all kids and animals love her, but fiercely protective and loyal. The youngest is their brother. A very eligible bachelor who is extremely witty, funny, handsome, with the best heart; he is very protective of the sisters who constantly pick on him (in good ways). The one who is kidnapped loves tall, dark, and handsome with brown eyes.
Phoebe hurried from shadow to shadow behind the row of cabins. The full moon had risen. She was late. Why did Massa Paddy have to send for her tonight of all nights! He was drunk, which was no surprise, for he’d been drunk since the Master died. The drink, though, had left him limp, for which he blamed her, until the punishment he administered excited him enough to finish.
Then he’d collapsed on top of her, and it had taken time to edge out from under his weight.
Under the constant susurration of the cicadas, she could hear murmurs of conversation inside the cabins. He wouldn’t look for her when he woke; he would assume she’d gone back to the cabin she shared with the children.
Had he made her miss her chance? Their chance—for she wouldn’t go without the children.
Phoebe felt some of the tension leave her when she saw them waiting for her behind their cabin. Venus balanced little Patricia on her hip, and Joe cradled Baby. Jake ran to meet her, taking her hand for the few steps back to her family.
Now if only whoever it was had waited. If only it was true and not a trap. Phoebe hoisted one of the bundles she and Venus had hidden here earlier this morning before work.
“Jake, take this bundle, and Venus, give me Pat-a-cake, and take the rest of our things.” The three-year-old didn’t stir during the transfer, just settling her head into the curve of Phoebe’s neck. She slept like a rock, that girl, just like Massa Paddy, who’d sired her.
She led her little flock down the path that led into the woods. She was putting a lot of trust in the letter the peddler had slipped to her three weeks ago. But what choice did she have? Miz Nettie was going to sell them to the slave trader—Phoebe and all of the five children left to her.
When she first made the threat, Phoebe had hoped it was just the sorrow speaking. Miz Nettie had been wild with grief since her husband fell from his horse and died, followed in short order by Ol’ Massa Blake, his father, who took an apoplexy when Mist’ Chan turned up dead. Or at least Miz Nettie had been wild since the will was read.
But she meant her threat. Massa Paddy said the trader was coming this way next week. He was sorry, he said, because he was fond of Phoebe, but her sewing skills would mean she would fetch a high price and find a good place, so she wasn’t to worry.
Not to worry? Not to worry about her children being taken from her and sold away, probably down the river? Venus, at nearly 12, was old enough and pretty enough to catch a master’s eye, and Joe already did a man’s job in the fields, but at least Massa Paddy had a reason to treat him fair.
Please God the letter is true, please God. It had been her constant prayer these last weeks. Please God it was from her brother as it seemed to be. It would read like nonsense to anyone else opening it, but she knew.
“To the gentle Lady of the Lake. Sir Morien bids you, on the night of the first full moon after the natal day of the loathsome Sir Kay, to go to the place where the Parfait Knight shared his tales of chivalry, and from thence to seek the Holy Grail.”
She read, but not well. She couldn’t ask for help, but she managed to puzzle most of it out. The names she’d seen before, long ago when she learned to read. What was ‘natal day’? She fretted over that one for a week, until she overheard a visiting preacher comment how sad it was that the Master had died on his natal day.
Sir Morien—the name that Mist’ Phineas had given her brother Cudjo in the long sagas they had played out at his directions in these very woods. Mist’ Finn was the Parfait Knight, of course, and they readily agreed to refer to his older brother, Mist’ Chauncey, as Sir Kay. The Holy Grail, to them all, was freedom.
This was her third note in the 12 years since Mist’ Finn had run away, taking her younger sister and brother with him. The first, some 18 months after they left, was just five words. ‘We found Avalon. All safe.’ The second, five years ago, had offered escape ‘at the abode of the Lady of the Lake’. The little harbour where Mist’ Finn had kept his sailboat might just as well have been on the moon for all the chance she had of reaching it.
But this time, the meeting point was right here on the plantation.
They were heading for the Woods House, behind which, in stolen moments, Mist’ Finn had taught the three of them to read using the books about the Arthurian legends that he so loved.
Please God she was not too late. Please God it was not a trap.