She smiled at the thought.
She’d counted twelve generations between Lyndall and Zach. The paintings on this wall were all men. But she’d noticed the ladies’ portraits were hung on the opposite side of the room.
She walked her way back, studying Lyndall all over again. The main staircase of the grand hall was behind him in the painting, so he’d definitely been the one to build the castle. It was strange to stand on a spot in a room, then see that same place depicted nearly three hundred years earlier. She shivered at the notion of the pirate Lyndall walking this same floor.
“Scary, isn’t it?” came Zach’s voice, his footfalls muted against the carpet.
For some reason, his voice didn’t startle her.
“He looks just like you.” She twisted, squinting from one man to the other.
“Want to see something even stranger?” He cocked his head and moved toward the wall of ladies’ portraits.
Kaitlin followed him across the room.
“Emma Cinder.” He nodded to the painting. “She was Lyndall’s wife.”
The woman sat prim and straight at a scarred wooden table, her long red hair twisted into a crown of braids. She was sewing a sampler, wearing green robes over a thin, champagne-colored, low-cut blouse with a lace fringe that barely covered her nipples. Her red lips were pursed above a delicate chin. Her cheeks were flushed. And her deep green eyes were surrounded by thick, dark lashes.
“Wow,” said Kaitlin. “You don’t think ten-times great-grandma when you see her.”
Zach chuckled. “Look closer.”
Kaitlin squinted. “What am I looking for?”
“The auburn hair, the green eyes, those full, bow-shaped lips, the curve of her chin.”
Kaitlin glanced up at him in confusion.
He smoothed his hand over her damp hair. “She looks a lot like you.”
“She does not.” But Kaitlin’s gaze moved back to the painting, peering closer.
“She sure does.”
“Okay, maybe a little bit,” she admitted. Their eyes were approximately the same shape, and the hair color was the same. But there were probably thousands of women in New York with green eyes and long, auburn hair.
“Maybe a lot,” said Zach.
“Where was she from?” Kaitlin’s curiosity was even stronger now than it had been in the cemetery. What could have brought Emma to Serenity Island with Lyndall?
“She was from London,” said Zach. “A seamstress I was told. The daughter of a tavern owner.”
“And she married a pirate?” Kaitlin had to admit, Lyndall was a pretty good-looking pirate. But still…
“He kidnapped her.”
Zach leaned down to Kaitlin’s ear, lowering his voice to an ominous tone. “Tossed her on board his ship and, I’m assuming, had his way with her all the way across the Atlantic.”
Kaitlin itched to reach up and touch the portrait. “And then they got married?”
“Then they got married.”
“Do you think she was happy here? With him?” For some reason, it was important to Kaitlin to believe Emma had been happy.
“It’s hard to say. I’ve read a few letters that she got from her family back in England. They’re chatty, newsy, but they’re not offering to come rescue her. So I guess she must have been okay.”
“Poor thing,” said Kaitlin.
“He built her a castle. And they had four children. Look here.” Zach gently grasped Kaitlin’s shoulders and turned her to guide her back to the men’s portrait wall.
She liked it that he was touching her. There was something comforting about his broad hands firmly holding her shoulders. He’d kept his arm around her the whole ride back from the cemetery, his body offering what warmth he could in the whipping wind. And that had been comforting, too.
“Their eldest son, Nelson,” said Zach, gesturing to the portrait with one hand, leaving the other gently resting on her shoulder.
“What about the rest of the children?”
“Sadie has their portraits scattered in different rooms. The other two sons died while they were still children, and the daughter went back to a convent in London.”
“I saw the boys’ tombstones,” said Kaitlin. “Harold and William?”
“Good memory.” Zach brushed her damp hair back from her face, and for some reason, she was suddenly reminded of what she was wearing.
She was naked under the white robe, her skin glowing warm, getting warmer by the minute. She realized the lapels had gaped open, and she realized the opening had Zach’s attention.
Their silence charged itself with electricity.
She knew she should pull the robe closed again, but her hands stayed fast by her sides.