image from the book The Brittle Sea


The Two Minds of Maggie.

It was late afternoon and while Blackmore was at Gordon Bellagon’s office, Maggie was in a local shop buying produce for the evening meal she was preparing. It was a chore she had come to enjoy, something she could do to repay the kindness of Blackmore. But over the short time they had been together, Maggie felt increasingly at odds with herself. Initially her cooking had been a strained affair, something she felt she knew how to do but the dishes she was cooking were not sitting well with her. She felt Blackmore was wrong in his assumption that Maggie was Irish. In fact, as the days had gone by, Maggie felt more inclined to cook food of an entirely different type to Irish stews.

As she looked at the produce, studying beetroot of all things, Maggie had what she was later to describe as a flashback, a flashback to her previous life, her real life.

“How much is the beetroot,” she asked the shopkeeper.

“It says on the ticket, Madam.”

“I can’t… seem… to read it. How odd.”

“Beg pardon, Miss, but you’ve read the prices fine until now.” The shopkeeper strained to look at the price over the counter.

“Это не легко читаемы, вы глупый человек,” Maggie said, gasping as she did so. Not only was she speaking a foreign language, the voice was somehow different and the vehemence in her voice was evident to the other shoppers and the poor shopkeeper.

“I’m sorry,” Maggie said, feeling a little sick and holding herself steady on the shopkeeper’s counter.

“Вы почувствовали недомогание, дорогие?” A concerned old lady standing behind Maggie said.

Maggie looked at the old lady with a mixture of confusion and contempt. She felt distinctly sick, but at the same time oddly elated, as if she were on the verge of understanding something about herself, finally. But the feeling passed and suddenly Maggie was embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me. Please, forgive me,” she said to the small gathering and left the shop quickly.


Blackmore arrived back at his apartment to find it empty. His disappointment soon turned to fear as he thought Maggie may have had a relapse and was lying somewhere, ill and alone. As he began to quickly search the small apartment, the door opened and Maggie walked in. Blackmore’s relief was palpable, but it soon turned to concern as he saw the confusion on Maggie’s face.

“Maggie! What is it? What’s wrong?”

She smiled, a small but sickly smile and took his hand. “I don’t know, something odd happened just now, in the little store down the street.”

“What? What happened?” Blackmore took Maggie’s arm and guided her to a chair and sat her down. “I’ll get you a glass of water.” Blackmore hurried to the kitchen and poured a glass of water, then brought it back and handed it to Maggie who took it gratefully and sipped at the water.

“I’m fine, please don’t fuss. I just had an odd feeling, that’s all.”

“What, sickness? Dizzyness?”

Maggie nodded.

“Very well, let’s get a Doctor here…”

“No, please, Richard. No need it’s passed. I’m fine. I don’t feel physically ill, but just a little lightheaded.” It was then that she realised she hadn’t got her wicker basket.

“I’ve left my basket in the store,” Maggie muttered before bursting into tears. The strain of the last hour had drained her mentally and all she wanted was to clear her head.

“You need to rest, Maggie. Let me help you to your room.”

“But the meal, I was…”

“Never mind that, I can sort that out. Your well-being is more important.”

Maggie nodded, too tired to protest and was grateful for Blackmore’s concern.


Though Richard Blackmore had cooked for himself, many, many times in his life, he was nervous in the extreme at the prospect of cooking for Maggie. But providence, in the form of his First-Officer, leant the Captain a hand.

The rap on his front door came as Blackmore was sifting through his pantry, looking for something, anything to cook. Blackmore quickly went to the door and opened it and was surprised to see his First-Officer, David James, and his wife Mary smiling at him.

“Why, Mr. James and Mary, what a pleasant surprise, please come in. Come in.”

“We were passing by Captain and Mary wondered if you would care to step out and take a meal with us, as we’re leaving soon.”

“Mary,” Blackmore said with a smile, “ever the thoughtful Mary. Though Maggie is…”

“Maggie is what, Richard?”

Blackmore turned and was delighted to see Maggie was up and smiling once more. “Maggie was asleep. How would you like to eat out, Maggie?”

“Is it that time, already?”

Blackmore fumbled for his fob watch in his waistcoat, looking down when all he could find was the chain. “Now how’s that fallen off,” he said, holding the chain in his hand.

“Looks like it’s been ripped off,” James said.

Blackmore pulled the chain from his waistcoat and dropped it on the sideboard near the door. “Never mind, I’m sure it will turn up. Now, who wants to choose where we eat?”


The two couples had the perfect evening and had parted and gone their separate ways by ten o’clock at night. Blackmore had whispered in David James ear not to mention they would be leaving within a couple of days and he had done so. Blackmore wanted to break the news to Maggie himself.

Half-way through the meal Blackmore had suddenly realised why Mr. James and his wife had come around. Mary James was, as he had said earlier, ever thoughtful and she had realised that Maggie would be at a loss living in a strange city, while unwell, with Blackmore on a six-month voyage. Mary had therefore decided to befriend Maggie and in that way, she could offer her support. His First-Officer’s wife was, Blackmore decided, the most loyal, thoughtful and kind person he had ever known.

Maggie and Mary had of course got on like a house on fire and were firm friends by the end of the evening.

Blackmore and Maggie strolled back to their apartment, content and happy. Though Blackmore frowned on having officers under his command as friends, he had given in to the inevitable. Mr. James was as competent as he was and as such had Blackmore’s respect. Now they also had friendship and that made Blackmore feel good about himself.

Blackmore held the apartment door open and Maggie walked through, smiling at him as she passed.

“You look like the cat that got the cream.”

“Do I? I wonder why?”

“Yes, I wonder why? Did you enjoy this evening?”

“I did. It was nice to make friends with two such delightful people.”

“Then it was a success, thanks in no small part to Mary.”

“Yes, I suspected she had engineered all this. Perhaps she would make a good officer on your ship?”

Blackmore laughed. “Who knows, maybe one day women will be ships captains. Who can tell what the future holds.”

Maggie sat down and clasped her hands together on her lap and Blackmore stood regarding her, a silly grin on his face he found hard to hide. “You have something to tell me? I was wondering, Richard, at what point you were going to tell me you were leaving for another voyage?”

Blackmore’s smile turned to a frown then to amazement. “How did you know?”

“It seems even woman with no memories have the ability to, shall we say, know what men are up to.”

Blackmore shook his head, “I certainly hope not,” he said with a laugh. “Would you like a nightcap before you turn in?”

“I would, thank you.”

Blackmore poured two small glasses of brandy and handed one to Maggie, before sitting cross-legged on the floor at Maggie’s feet. “Will you be alright on your own for, a while. It’s a long voyage and I suspect I’m being punished by the owner.”

“Because of me?”

“No, because I threw his nephew in the brig.”

Maggie laughed, “I’ll bet he deserved it. You’re not a vindictive man, Richard.”

“No, I’m not. And yes, he did deserve it. We needed to get to the Titanic as soon as we could, lives were at stake, not least of which was your life, Maggie.” Blackmore raised his glass and Maggie chinked hers against his and then downed her drink in one.

“Where did you learn that trick?” He gasped.

“I have no idea, but I did enjoy it.”

Blackmore followed suit and reached for the brandy bottle and gave them both a refill.

“How long will you be away, Richard?”

“Three months, Maggie. Three very long months. We sail in two weeks. The life of a ship’s Captain is very solitary, not easily shared.”

“Is that why you never married?”

“I suppose,” he said, taking a gulp of brandy. “No wife would put up with her husband away so often.”

“But it makes the coming home so much more… fun,” Maggie said with a glint in her eyes.

“I never thought of it like that. I suppose it would, yes.” There followed a long pause in which Blackmore struggled to find the right words, but in the end simply blurted out what he felt in his heart. “I’ll miss you, Maggie.”

Maggie held Blackmore’s gaze, their eyes no more than inches away from each other and slowly, but with infinite pleasure, they moved toward each other and kissed with the lightest touch.

Before he knew it, Blackmore was on his knees and holding the sweet face he had longed to kiss with his hands. This time, the kiss was harder, passionate and full of knowing desire.

Still kissing, Blackmore and Maggie stood as one and held each other tightly before Maggie suddenly broke away but held Blackmores hands, dragging him toward her bedroom door.

Blackmore didn’t resist, saying only one word, “I…” before Maggie stopped his words with a passionate kiss that made Blackmore lose all sense and control. He was no longer a ship’s captain, but a slave to this woman that he loved with a fiery passion that time would never quench.

The door to Maggie’s room closed and the living room was quiet, except for the slow ticking of the grandfather clock, as if counting down to some unseen event in the future.


Blackmore woke up to a semi dark room, dawn was slowly creeping in under the heavy drapes. His confusion was the same as many a lover before, unsure of his surroundings and why he wasn’t in his own bed. That was until he heard a sigh and realisation came to him as quickly as light to an electric bulb.

He lay on his side with his face to the drapes, beside him lay Maggie and he realised, from the stroking of her finger down his spine, that she was also awake. Then he realised that he was more than awake, he was aroused, yet again, and let out a soft moan as Maggie’s fingers moved across his back, to his buttocks and then between his legs. A gasp escaped from both he and Maggie.

“You’re awake,” she said in a deep, almost husky, voice.

“I certainly am, Maggie,” Blackmore managed to say as she squeezed, hard, manipulating him as she had done the night before. With a groan he turned, and smiled at the gleam in Maggie’s eyes. “I know what you want,” his voice soft and gentle. Maggie nodded, taken him in her hands, sliding down under the covers and began teasing him with the tip of her tongue. Blackmore lay on his back as Maggie’s lithe body slid up his chest, her nipples rubbing against chest and then she held him, opening her legs and guided him into her. She sat astride him, squirming on his hardness until Blackmore slid into her, making her gasp. Gripping the side of his chest she steadied herself and then pushed down on him, rotating her hips to get the maximum pleasure with each thrust. Blackmore arched his body in response and pushed himself hard into her, thrusting faster and faster as the passion blanked out all reason. All that mattered was in that room, in that bed. All they wanted was knowledge of each other as their moans grew louder and the energy of their lovemaking engulfed them.


“It was never my intention to fall in love, not with you, not with anyone really. But look at me now, making puppy dog eyes at you. Pleading with you to let me make love with you again.”

Maggie smiled at Blackmore and suddenly burst out laughing. “You are such a pathetic little puppy dog, I think you need training.”

Blackmore’s eyes lit up.

“But not now, now we need to get up and go shopping.”


“Even little puppy dogs must eat,” Maggie said, slapping Blackmore’s buttocks as she raced for the door hotly pursued by her lover.

Maggie made it to the bathroom just in time and slammed the door shut in Blackmore’s face. “I’ll remind you who owns this place, woman.”

“I think I know,” her muffled laugh sounding far away.

“Yes, I suspect you do,” Blackmore said, suddenly realising his was in his sitting room, naked. He decided to go back to bed and await her ladyships pleasure.

A clatter and smash of breaking glass and a scream made Blackmore forget his undressed state and he rushed for the bathroom door, charging in and breaking the door lock in his desperation to reach Maggie.

Maggie, on the other hand, laughed out loud when she saw the desperation in Blackmore’s eyes. “Sorry,” she said with a smile, “I broke your shaving mug!”

Blackmore’s shoulders sagged. “Thank goodness for that. I thought you had another

taken another turn for the worse.”

“Sorry,” she said, looking down at him. “But my, isn’t that a surprise. Breaking glass brings out the best in you.”

Blackmore instinctively covered himself with his hands but Maggie was just as quick and managed to get there first. “I didn’t think we had time for this?” His voice quivered slightly as she stroked him.

“We don’t… but I am wanting you, right here, right now Captain Blackmore,” Maggie said, pushing herself up onto the sturdy sink and opening her legs. “Now, Captain. Take me now.”


Shopping had never been Blackmore’s idea of fun and that morning it was even less like fun. One thought and one only got him through the ordeal. The thought of making love with Maggie again and the secondary thought of where.

During the shopping ordeal Maggie had flashed smiles at him and they had made eye contact that said everything. No words were spoken to each other, but both knew what was on their minds.

But in the back of Blackmore’s mind, there was a tiny voice telling him this would all end sooner than he wanted, and he would be on a voyage that would seem never to end.


The shopping finished. Their lovemaking continued and both now knew that the desperation they felt was heightening their desires and as the days closed in on that fateful day, they sought solace in each other’s arms and their love grew beyond anything either had ever felt possible. But the fateful day would not be spurned and it became a torrent of time that would not be denied. The day arrived and though he didn’t know it at the time, it was the last time Captain Richard Blackmore would see Maggie as she now was, and time was now his nemesis.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2018

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MARCH 15, 1931

APRIL 15, 1912



















This is a first draft, so please forgive spelling & grammatical errors. Context and characters may change between now and the final publication date.

When published as an eBook and paperback at the end of 2018, this book will be the first in a trilogy: The Brittle Sea, The Brittle Land and The Brittle Sky.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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