He walked to his seat, barely acknowledging his men. What was it about the woman that his supper should be bleak without her? Every other woman he’d only valued for what lay between her legs. He wanted that from Silence as well—make no mistake—but he also had the strangest urge to simply talk with the woman. To flirt and provoke and watch her brown-green-blue eyes spark in outrage, soften with interest, warm with heat.
Mick sat and stared down at a plate of roast goose without interest, irritated by his own apathy. He’d eaten countless meals without the wench and been perfectly happy—joyous, even—why then should—
“Don’t you like roast goose?”
He felt the grin stretch his lips before he even looked up. “It’s me favorite.”
She looked adorably confused—and a little shy. Perhaps she was remembering the kiss they’d shared that morning. The thought gave him a tender pang near his heart.
“Have some boiled turnips,” she said, passing him a bowl.
Mick frowned. “Turnips? At me table? I’ll have a word with Archie, I will.”
“There’s no need,” she said blithely as she served him the misshapen vegetables. “I already have.”
His eyebrows arched. “What do ye mean?”
“I mean,” she said as she accepted a dish of boiled beef from Moll, “that I discussed with Archie the food you serve at your table and I’ve made a few healthful additions. I think you’ll find that your digestion improves considerably.”
He watched in bemusement as she added a heaping mound of steaming carrots to his plate. She was serving him as if she had every right. As if she were the mistress of his table and his home. Strange that. He supported an entire household of people—pirates, servants, and until recently a bevy of doxies—but no one had ever attempted to care for him. The thought spread warm pleasure through his chest—even if the things she was serving did not.
“Vegetables and good English beef, simply prepared, are quite beneficial for the constitution,” she said.
Mick grunted. He’d never been particularly fond of boiled anything.
“Try some,” she said, her cheeks pink her eyes bright and encouraging.
He looked down the table and saw that his crew were staring, appalled, at huge platters mounded with boiled roots and beef.
Mick narrowed his eyes. “Every man eats vegetables tonight, right?”
The pirates hurriedly began to spoon up carrots and turnips.
Mick forked up a turnip and bit into it, chewing bland mush.
“How is it?” Silence asked.
“Right tasty,” he lied, swallowing.
“You seem distracted tonight,” she said as she frowned at a platter of artichokes.
“Do I?” If he squinted a bit, he could imagine the shadowy curves he’d glimpsed beneath the chemise this morning. Tantalizing, elusive, damned unclear. Mick sighed and looked up to find Silence staring at him, her cheeks flagged red.
He cleared his throat. “I’ve et yer food. Can ye not taste mine?” He pushed the platter of artichokes closer to her, wanting her to eat the food he provided for her.
“Thank you.” She examined the platter with a small frown. “Are you planning another thieving raid?”
“Pirate’s raid.” He propped an elbow on the table. There was a dish of boiled beef by his side, but he had the feeling it wouldn’t taste that different from the turnips. “Why? D’ye hope I’ll meet me bloody death at the end o’ a sword?”
“Dear Lord, no!” She stared at him, appalled. “I wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone.”
“Even me?” he murmured.
She blushed as she hurriedly helped herself to an artichoke, avoiding his eyes. “Especially not you.”
Something in his chest squeezed.
“Such a saint,” he murmured low. He didn’t want to share this banter with anyone else at the table. “I can almost see yer halo, a-glowin’ in these curles at yer temples.”
He reached out a hand to brush the curls in question. They were little wisps, escaping from the prim knot at her neck, innocently seductive against the delicate skin of her temple.
She caught his hand before he could touch her face.
“Mick,” she whispered, and he felt a sudden thrill: it was the first time she’d used his given name. Her gaze darted down the rest of the table. His men were too smart to be openly looking, but he had no doubt that they were quite aware of what was happening at the head of the table. “Don’t.”
She abruptly dropped his hand.
“Ye wound me, love,” he said lightly, and wondered if it were true. Heaven help him if it were.