An Unsinkable Love - By Terri Benson Page 0,1

I understand you're looking for a skilled tailor."

Confusion washed over his face then he frowned as it must have dawned on him she couldn't have been aware of his snap decision. "Might be. How did you know?"

Bree dropped her hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't intend to eavesdrop, but I was standing behind the shrubs resting for a moment and happened to hear you mention it."

"Well, and what difference is it to you, young lady?" he asked, eyes narrowed.

"I'd like the job, sir." She struggled to keep the quiver of desperation from her voice.

The man's lips squashed down at the corners and his head tilted. It was an expression she'd seen before. With wild auburn hair cascading in curls down her back and fair skin sprinkled with freckles, she knew she appeared all of about twelve years old.

He pursed his lips and shook his head. "I'm sorry. I need someone experienced. We're far too busy to allow anyone to learn on the job. And our clients are very demanding."


An Unsinkable Love

by Terri Benson

"But you see, I am very experienced." Bree quickly turned to her trunk, snapped the latches and pulled out several garments, laying them across the open lid before he could object. "This is my work. I've been seamstress for the Lady Rothberry here for nigh on four years. If you doubt my word, the millinery is up the way a piece and Mrs. O'Malley will most certainly vouch for me. And I'm nearly nineteen, even though I don't look it."

The man regarded her with disbelief, then shook his head and picked up a soft, forest-green woolen cape. He rubbed his fingers over the beaded border, turning a seam out. Bending close, he scrutinized the tiny, neat stitches. He laid the cape down and picked up a crisp white shirtwaist. The buttonholes were exactly matched, heavy lace graced throat and cuffs, and the topstitching ran perfectly straight. Bree knew he wouldn't find any flaws in her work. She'd spent too many nights under her mother's tutelage to make mistakes, and Lady Rothberry hadn't tolerated anything less than perfection.

"The lace is mine as well, but I'm much to slow to make it for anyone but myself."

He peered down at her, taking in the lightweight wool suit she wore, his expression thoughtful. Bree was glad she'd worn her best outfit. It was quite fashionable, pieced from remnants of Lady Rothberry's latest traveling suit. She'd planned to wear something old to avoid soiling her good clothes, but had changed her mind at the last minute.

"What is your name, young lady?"

"Bridget Barry, sir. But everyone calls me Bree."


An Unsinkable Love

by Terri Benson

"I'm not a man to make hasty decisions normally, but today I don't have the luxury of mulling it over. I'll give you a chance, Miss Barry. Do not disappoint me."

Bree nodded solemnly, but inside her stomach flip-flopped with excitement.

"I'm Reginald Barton, purser for the White Star Line. I'll take you on as seamstress. You'll be provided with a berth, uniforms, your meals and very little else."

She eyed him sharply and he smiled at his attempt at a jest.

"For the outrageous wage of three pounds, you'll work long hours providing our clients with exemplary service. The cruise lasts six more days. You'll be expected to stay in New York as our employee and make the return trip." He looked at his watch. "We sail in an hour." He pointed at her trunk as she finished repacking and flicked the latches. "It appears you're packed and ready to go?"

Bree couldn't believe her luck. Not only would she sail away from this place, she wouldn't have to spend any of her hard-earned funds to do it. She nodded. "Yes, sir. I have everything I need right here." Not just everything she needed, but everything she owned. She wouldn't tell him that, though. Her thoughts whirled. This was it—a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get away from the near-slavery she'd experienced most of her life. America here I come, praise be to God!

After he glanced at his watch again, Mr. Barton muttered to himself and flagged down an open carriage for hire. He hoisted her trunk into the boot and handed her in. As soon as 15

An Unsinkable Love

by Terri Benson

he settled across from her, he urged the driver to make all speed down the quay toward the White Star dock. As the horse clip-clopped at a good pace over the jarring cobblestones, Mr. Barton inquired, "Are you from Queensland? You don't have much of a brogue."

"Yes, sir,