Ghost Memories - By Heather Graham Page 0,2

him,” Bartholomew explained. “Craig Beckett, though a civilian, helps attend to matters for David Porter, and he ordered that Pie-Eyed Wallace be taken if seen, and I follow his lead in all things.”

“You’re very brave,” she told him.

He shrugged, aware that a blush was forming on his cheeks. Brave? No, just hardened, and aware from his penniless youth on the streets of Liverpool that he must find his own place in the world. He’d been a hungry child, not just for food, but for knowledge, and he had used every opportunity to learn, being like a sponge around well-educated men.

“Not so brave, Mistress Wyeth. I’m just a man doing as he must. Captain Beckett is someone I admire greatly, and he is my friend, helping me to gain a solid foothold that I might become a man of means about this town.”

“And that’s important to you?”

He looked at her, and the words slipped from his mouth. “You are important to me, Miss Wyeth.”

She sucked in her breath, staring at him.

“I beg your pardon. I most heartily beg your pardon!” he said hastily.

“But you have not offended me,” she told him. “You need beg no pardon.”

He was horrified to find himself speechless.

He was customarily the one who teased and flirted. He had confidence and ease, and he loved to make the young girls giggle and speculate.

Bartholomew Miller cut a fine figure. His shoes were buckled and bore heels, his hose didn’t display a single knot, and his breeches were impeccable. He wore a ruffled shirt, red vest and black jacket. His hair was jet-black and neatly queued beneath his tricornered hat. His eyes were light and bright and bore a sparkle of mischief that women usually found to be as captivating as his grin and his dimples. Women had always liked him, and he was grateful that he’d always managed to keep the friendship of his fellows, as well. He enjoyed life, and was fascinated by events and people.

He’d been lucky in living a life that had brought him around the globe, and he was grateful for the hard training he’d received at the hands of the British Navy. It had prepared him to captain a ship, and though he had been born and bred in Liverpool—admittedly in an area that was the cesspool of the city, he’d discovered a passion for a wild new country in the western hemisphere—the United States of America.

But this feeling was new to him. This pining, this sense of wonder just to be near a woman.

“Oh,” he managed at last.

She laughed softly, and again, just the sound of it was like music.

“My good fellow, this is America!” she said.

“Meaning every man might have his chance?” Bartholomew asked.

“Of course,” she said.

“I don’t think your father would agree,” he said.

“I’m not a child,” she told him, a flash of indignity in her eyes.

He was touched and amazed that she had so noticed him, that she might be attracted to him, as well.

But he had been around the world.

And he knew many a man like her father.

“Let me walk you home with this parcel,” he said.

They walked, and she asked him questions about sailing, about the exotic ports he had known, and the men with whom he had fought. When they reached the house—a huge clapboard with a grand porch and beautiful veranda—she laughed and insisted that he come in. He was uneasy, but her enthusiasm was such that he agreed, and he carried in the parcel, depositing it in the foyer where she directed, and then following her into the parlor. She rang a little bell, a maid came, and she ordered tea service.

The maid brought their repast, and they sat together on the sofa, still talking. She and her father had come down from New York City, where her father had been a successful banker, allowing him the freedom to come south to fulfill his dream of creating a vast shipping empire. Bartholomew was familiar with New York, but not as she knew it, and she talked about life south and north of Wall Street, and the sadness in the Five Points area, where immigrants fought and starved, and gangs often ruled the street.

Their fingers touched, their voices were quick and hurried, and they were close, so close he knew that he wanted her more than ever, and he said, in the midst of a sentence about London, “I will do anything. I have loved you so from afar, I can no longer imagine life without