Since my family came from Ireland during that grand time when more than a million people a year came to the U.S. for a new life on steamers like the Titanic, I wanted to write about a girl I call Katie O’Reilly.
Katie is a steerage passenger who, like Dorothy in Oz, is given a chance to leave behind her black-and-white world in third class–
She runs away from the grand house where she is in service after she is wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet. The law is after her, but she has one chance to escape.
On board she runs into the arms of handsome gentleman gambler, Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn. Katie is awestruck. She’s never seen such a man.
Tall, muscular and possessed with an arrogance that intrigues her.
No wonder she’s fascinated with the pampering he shows her in first class, while trying to seduce her by offering her his protection. Quite a tempting proposition for a lass like Katie. Her God-fearing soul swears to resist him.
But for how long?
Here’s an excerpt from Titanic Rhapsody when Katie first meets Jack aboard the Titanic:
She was all in a flap when she saw him. Like a burst of golden sunshine he was, shining down on her after she’d been drenched by a cold, drizzling rain in her dark, gray world.
He was a handsome gentleman, with black hair and black eyes that held dark secrets that could make a lass blush. He had an aristocratic air about him that tamed his wildness just enough to keep him on balance.
And put her off balance.
Stepping away quickly, almost too quickly, she flinched when his strong hands grabbed her around the waist, then hoisted her up into the air. Katie let out a big, loud groan, then wrestled to get away from him.
Struggling, she cried out, “Let me go!”
“Be quiet, you little hellion,” the man said, his voice ringing with authority. “I know you’re in trouble—”
“Me, Katie O’Reilly, in trouble?” she said, chin up, his powerful and pleasing presence arousing her. “What makes you think that, sir?”
He put her down, but didn’t release his hold on her. “Steerage passengers don’t belong up here in first class.”
First class? She blinked. That explained the rich carpeting, ornately-carved banisters and wide staircases.
Katie relaxed. He thought she was a third class passenger and didn’t know the law was after her, or if he did, he was playing games with her. She was desperately unaware of his true motive and that made him dangerous.
She had to play it cautious.
“Now if you’ll point me in the right direction to the third class deck,” she said, showing him her ticket, “I’ll be on my way.”
“And right into the hands of the law.”
She took in a deep breath. So he did know.
He continued, “You have no choice but to allow me to offer you my protection.”
“And who are you, sir?”
He bowed slightly. “Captain Lord Jack Blackthorn, at your service.”
What are you waiting for, girl? Look at the man.
He was tall, muscular and possessed an arrogance that intrigued her. Not to mention a building heat inside her that warmed her down to her toes. He seemed more alive to her than any man she’d ever seen. A man who knew his charm and savored it.
“And why would you help the likes of me?” Katie wanted to know, with a proud air.
He smiled at that, continuing to stare at her, his eyes dark and searching. “Come with me and find out.”
Katie laughed, disbelieving. After all she’d been through and now this. Why oh why did God put such temptation in her path? The devil himself he was, mischievous, wickedly self-assured and alive with a masculine vitality that set a girl’s pulse racing.
“Escape with you to where?” she asked, the words flying fast and quick between them.
“To my cabin in first class,” he said.
“First class?” she said, “with all them rich swells?”
It was too much for her poor, tired mind to take in. Here were riches beyond what she’d ever dreamed. Here was the smell of grandness, that rich, seductive, cloying smell that grabbed her heart and singed her soul.
To run off with such a man was a sin, the priest reminded her each Thursday in the confessional box, but the law was after her. They’d take her back to Cork in chains with the shame of stealing marked upon her forehead.
“You won’t escape them, Katie…that is your name, isn’t it?” he questioned. “The ship is large, but the crew knows every inch of it.”
Katie was at a loss. What was she to do? She could hear the sound of voices and footsteps pounding on the stairs, coming closer and closer.
“We must go, now!” he said brusquely. “Or I won’t be able to help you.”
His words brought her to tears, though she refused to let them fall and show weakness in front of him. She thought and thought and thought. No, she had to do what he wished and face the consequences later with the Almighty.
Katie nodded. “I’ll come with you, Captain Lord Blackthorn.”
“Hurry, they’ll be upon us in a minute.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her close behind him.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, she prayed in a somewhat uncertain state of mind, her feet flying over the red carpeting down the long hallway. Was she condemned to hell for saving her own arse?
Or did the holy saints have something more alarming in store for her?
She found out minutes later in his lordship’s cabin when he ordered her to take off her clothes.