Diana’s note: This is a repost. Since GoDaddy got rid of my old blog, I am reposting a few blog posts I want readers to be able to access. Thank you.
For Pirate’s Proposal readers, my gift to you is a never-before-seen prologue. Because you know what they say: Readers don’t like prologues. But I do. I love them! And so I hung onto this short prologue which made my heart tighten and my throat clog when I wrote it. I hope you find it as emotional. (And if you haven’t readPirate’s Proposal: Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll then check out the website links-and the great cover!-below.)
Twelve-year-old Gina Santini sat on her bunk, hands tightly clasped, eyes squeezed shut. The tears musn’t escape.
“No, no, no, no,” she muttered, unable to muster any other thought.
The door separating her cabin from her parent’s cabin opened.
“Mi figlia.” My daughter.
Gina looked up at her father’s voice, then jumped off her bunk and ran to him, wrapping her thin arms around his sturdy frame. He enfolded her in a hug, and for a moment, her world felt right.
But only for a moment, for then he spoke.
“Figlia, your Momma, she wants to see you.”
Tears welled again, but she bravely fought them back. “Babbo, this is because she’s better, no?”
Even without his head shake, she knew the answer. Sadness surrounded him, permeated even the air he breathed.
“You need to see her, mi figlia before it’s too late.”
With a gasp, she released her father and ran into the adjoining cabin, where her mother lay in the bunk covered with a thin sheet. Gina kneeled on the floor and took her mother’s hand. So frail, so cold. No!
“Gina, amore, Momma is happy you are here.” Her voice sounded so weak.
“Don’t talk, Momma, save your breath, get well.”
“No, mia figlia, there will be no getting well. I am not long for here.”
Gina wanted to scream, stamp her feet and shake her fist at the heavens, but she resisted the urge and stayed still so she could hear her mother’s last words.
Momma gently pulled from Gina’s grasp. “I have something for you.” Momma reached across on her pillow and picked up her doll. She handed it to Gina.
“This will be yours.”
“Your doll?” Gina remembered once when she’d been little that she’d sneaked into her parent’s cabin to play with the doll and received such a scolding from her Momma to never ever touch the doll.
“But, Momma, you said–”
“Si, amore, she was a doll made special for me by your Nonno Enzo. But I cannot take her to a watery grave with me.”
Gina choked on the sudden lump in her throat at the thought of her Momma’s body in the ocean. But there really was no other choice once Momma…passed. They were in the middle of the ocean without land in sight, although they were sailing hard for port.
“Momma, don’t say such a thing. You will get better. We’ll reach port soon, find you a doctor–”
“No, figlia, I will not last the day, I know it.”
If that were true, Gina knew her father would turn the Gypsy Doll around and head back to the open sea. There was no reason to sail for land if they no longer needed a doctor. They owned nothing but the Gypsy Doll, a large frigate which had been Gina’s home since the day she was born. There would be no need to bury her mother, other than in a sailor’s grave, where her spirit would always remain close.
“Take her.” Momma’s voice interrupted Gina’s thoughts.
Gina took the doll, expecting her to be cold and hard as she was made of whale bone. She looked at her mother. “She’s so…warm.”
“She does often feel warm, which is odd, I know. But she is a special doll, with special powers. If you take care of her, she will keep you safe.”
A sob slipped from between Gina’s lips. “She hasn’t kept you safe.”
“Not that kind of safe, amore. She cannot prevent sickness. But she can prevent someone from being disloyal to you which can be as dangerous as an illness.”
At the moment, Gina didn’t care about loyalty; she only wanted her mother to live.
“Listen, bella mia, I will tell you the tale of the doll.”
Gina sniffed and held the doll in one hand, and her mother’s hand with the other.
“My father made her with his own hands, carved every bit from the whale bone. He made her after mi Momma was mysteriously murdered in her bed, as a tribute to her.”
Gina gasped at the thought of her Nonna being murdered.
“See, here…” At this Momma took the doll back from Gina and raised her dress. “This is the rose he carved as a reminder–your Nonna’s name was Rosa.”
On the front, where the doll’s heart would be was a tiny carved rose. “Ah, Rosa,” Gina murmured, thinking it a romantic gesture. “So he carved this to show his love for her?”
“Si.” Mamma sighed, obviously thinking the rose was a romantic gesture too.
“But Nonna Rosa died when you were a young girl, si?” Gina just realized her mother was motherless much of her childhood…just as she would be. She blinked hard and swallowed. “And did Nonno Enzo make the doll soon after her death?”
“Si, it helped him past the pain he said.”
Gina thought on that a minute before she asked what to her was an obvious question, “So then why does a young girl need a doll who protects against disloyal people? And how could he have ensured that anyway?”
“Ah, mia figlia, you always have been such a smart one.”
“The spell on the doll came on the eve of my wedding. Your Nonno wanted to ensure your father would always be loyal to me so he engaged a gypsy witch–”
“Si,” But at that Momma started coughing and couldn’t continue.
Babbo, who had been listening at the door, came and led Gina away. So many things she didn’t know, that she wanted to ask, that she wished she had more time to learn.
“Your Momma is very tired, and needs to rest. She will tell you later.”
But later never came. Gina’s mother died that night.
I hope you enjoyed the prologue. If you would like to read more, please visit my website for reviews and buy links, now only 99 cents! Pirate’s Proposal begins the legend of “The Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll” series with The Wild Rose Press and tells how and why the cursed gypsy doll was created.