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Alias Hook

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Alias Hook

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Author: Lisa Jensen
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books, 2014

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Fairytale Fantasy
Romantic Fantasy
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(3 reads / 3 ratings)





"Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It's my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy."

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan's rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella's knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook's last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.


Chapter One


"James Benjamin Hookbridge! What is the meaning of this object?"

My father was a mild man, most often buried happily in his accounting books or off to his warehouse. He did not countenance disobedience, but on this morning, I had no notion I had disobeyed, eager to claim credit for the marvel he held in his hand.

"It's a ship, Father," I crowed, jumping up to greet him, glad to escape my tutor. My father's appearance in the nursery was a rare event to a lad of seven. "I built it!"

For weeks I'd scavenged scrap wood, chips, shavings from the floor of the woodshop down by the stables on our estate. It was a patchwork affair, dark mahogany from the Indies jumbled with native oak and white pine, no larger than a small half-melon, discounting the thin doweling mast and handkerchief sail. But old Turlow himself, the senior carpenter, had shown me how to lap the narrow strips of board for the hull and nail down the deck.

"So I heard." Father did not look pleased. Perhaps my work wasn't fine enough.

"Turlow said it was handsome done," I said hopefully. "He says I'm clever with my hands."

My father gazed down at me, pale blue eyes stern behind his spectacles. "I shall have a word with Turlow. You are not to go to the carpenter's yard any more."

"But... why?" I stammered, horror-struck. My happiest hours were spent among the joiners and planers in that busy place.

Father bent down with a sigh and laid a hand on my shoulder, an unusual gesture of affection. "You are a gentleman, sir. Only common laborers work with their hands."

My mother always received me with warmth and tenderness when I came to her with my troubles. I recall the armies of tiny pearls worked into her bodice, a halo of fine white dust from her powdered curls, her fragrance of violets and tonic. She was a fragile creature to be cherished and honored, but she had no power to influence my father on my behalf. "You are his only surviving child," she told me gently. "He only wants what's best for you."

But I forgot my disappointments on those grand days when I was permitted to go with Father down to the Bristol docks to his warehouse. How I loved to go racketing around the waterfront, its cobbled streets worn smooth from the horse-drawn sledges that ferried heavy loads to and from the ships. But my father had ambitions for his only son, and shortly after the incident of the toy ship, I was sent off to school to be educated as a gentleman.

* * *

Master Walters was snoring like an army of kettledrums in the next room by the time we finished the Purcell prelude. It was the hour after midday when no one had any business in the chapel and we were least likely to be disturbed. Carver and his mob of bullies were off shrieking at their games. Master Walters, the organist, was sleeping off his dinner of mutton and port, but his servant knew to let us into the study where he kept a harpsicord for his private compositions.

"Bravissimo!" I cried, as we made our final flourish. Four hands gave the music wings. By then I might have managed a tolerable accounting on my own, but it was always more fun with two of us.

"Nay, sir, we have put our audience to sleep," said Alleyn in mock reproof, with a nod toward the rumbling from the next room.

"Then we have played well," I pointed out, "for I am sure no one can hear us over the din."

Teddy Alleyn was eleven years old, two forms above me, and by his careful instruction alone had I progressed thus far in my illicit studies. He'd been playing since he was big enough to sit on a bench, and I treasured our stolen hours playing preludes and airs. He grinned now, and tucked a glossy curl behind his ear with one of his long white fingers. Alleyn's delicate features and soft curls enraged the other boys; they thought him weak and girlish, harried him without mercy. But he was kind to me. He taught me to play. He was my friend.

"You must learn to get on, Jamie," my mother tried to soothe me after my first year away, when I complained of how the bigger boys taunted me. They derided my small size, my fancy clothing, a father in trade. My father's advice was more succinct. "Be a man," he commanded me.

"You're certain no one saw you come in here, Hookbridge?" Alleyn asked me.

"No one pays any attention to me," I reminded him.

Alleyn's mother paid extra fees to continue his musical instruction, which the organist earned chiefly by allowing his pupil access to his instrument whenever he pleased. It was our only refuge, and Alleyn guarded it absolutely, as he guarded the fact of our friendship, to spare me the stain of our association in the eyes of the mob. Alleyn had a way of turning inward when the older boys tripped him up in the commons or called him names. He neither cried, nor fought back, nor defied them with insults, and they could never forgive him for it. I hated to see him so abused, longed for the power to defend him.

"When you've attained my great age, sirrah, you will understand what a mercy that is," Alleyn said loftily. And then we both snickered, outcasts together, confederates in exclusion.

"Come, what next?" he went on, paging through the sheets of music on the stand above the twin keyboads. "We've time, I think, for the minuet—"

A babble of voices erupted out in the passage; the study door burst open to disgorge a gang of shouting boys, Carver in the lead, stout, ruddy, sandy-haired, eyes bright with belligerent glee.

"There they are, the little lovebirds!" he cried, and several of the others made smacking noises with their lips.

"I told you!" shrieked another, as a half dozen more tumbled in, above the feeble protests of the servant out in the hall.

Two boys dragged Alleyn away from the bench, held him fast. Carver himself came for me, plucked me from the bench like a flea off a hound, pinned my arms behind me.

"Don't touch him!" shouted Alleyn, setting all the other boys atwitter.

"I won't have to, will I?" Carver smirked down at me, looming, feral and terrifying in the enormity of his power. "He kissed you, didn't he?" His big hands were crushing my arms. "Say it, Hookbridge! The filthy invert kissed you. Say it!"

I shook my head, but the other boys were all crowding around us, chanting, "Say it! Say it!" like a game. Alleyn stood frozen, dark eyes sad and urgent, watching me. His guards were heavy, pitiless boys, baying with the others, itching to strike.

"No!" I yelped in my impotent outrage, only to see Alleyn wince in pain; one of his captors was twisting his fingers.

"Yes," I squeaked.

Such whooping and confusion followed this utterance, I scarcely knew what I was about, but that the racking of my arms out of their sockets ceased, and Alleyn's captors let him go. No such thing had ever occurred between us, of course, but my heroic delusion that my false confession had saved us lasted just until I saw the usher, the headmaster's assistant, in the doorway, pursing his lips in a very worried look.

"You heard him!" Carver crowed over the heads of the throng.

And the chattering boys parted as the usher came to lead Alleyn away. The last look he turned on me was not angry, nor hurt at my betrayal, so much as resigned, as if he had expected no more. It stung worse than if he'd peppered me with invective.

"Well done," Carver said to me. He motioned to one of his toadies, a smaller boy clutching the muddy stick Carver liked to use at games, and nodded for him to give the thing to me. "Carry that for me, Hookbridge. Let's go, men."

Teddy Alleyn was expelled the next day, collected in a carriage and bustled off the grounds. I never saw him again. But I was taken in by Carver and his mob. At first, I consoled myself that I'd worm my way into their good graces in order to wreak a terrible revenge on them all. But as time passed, I was glad enough to have traded a lie for their protection, bartered away my only friend for a pack of allies in petty schoolyard rivalries. They were wild things searching for a target for their malice, and Carver was clever enough to give them one, else they had fallen on each other.

Alleyn's weakness had forced me to perjure myself on his behalf, or so I convinced myself. How else could I bear what I'd done? Affection made a person vulnerable, and so I learned to mask whatever feelings might be seen as weak in myself behind a show of bravado, and advanced among their ranks.

Thus my education began.

Copyright © 2014 by Lisa Jensen


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