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“No, Papa, I do not want to marry. You know that.”
Sophie Bellard stamped her foot in the salon of her father’s house on St. Charles Street, outside of the decadent Vieux Carre. Tall, with alabaster skin and ebony hair, Sophie Bellard knew she was a beauty at twenty years of age, but the strong-minded personality she’d inherited from her father lessened her chance of a good matrimonial match. Not that she wanted one. After four coming out seasons, one disastrous, Sophie resolved to hang up her dancing shoes and become a captain in her father’s fleet. He didn’t agree.
“No Bellard woman has ever gone pirating and you will not start. I understand your lack of interest in marriage, but this is one decision I must enforce. Our family has always had arranged marriages. I gave you the chance to choose a husband—”
“Papa, please.” She teared up at the very thought of giving herself to a stranger, a pirate. Forget the fact that she came from a pirate family herself, that the house she stood in had in fact been purchased with pirate booty.
She didn’t know the man her father had chosen for her. What would happen if he were mean-spirited? A drinker? A womanizer? Sophie knew Papa needed money, but why did she have to sacrifice herself for his transgressions? It wasn’t fair. She stamped her slippered foot once more.
“Papa, it’s just not fair. I do not want a man to boss me around. Why can’t we just charge more percent from the plunder you already get from your captains? Please?”
Her father wouldn’t be swayed. “The deal has been struck, ma chère. From what I know of the Commandant’s son, he is not a man prone to excesses. In addition, he will afford you more protection than I can give you.
“The two of you will meet this evening at a soiree at your Tante Michelle’s, the bans will be read, and you’ll marry within two weeks. I’ve gotten the good Father’s blessing ahead of time.”
Sophie looked down. “But he may find out about—you know, Papa.” She heard her father shift his stance; come to pat her shoulder awkwardly.
“Once you’re married, he will definitely find out. But it will be too late then, my sweet, for him to do anything.”