On the same day that Mama and Papa took Dolores away, Captain Harris and other grubby buccaneers off-loaded black-market goods at Papa’s dock, Refugio.
“No taxes here, mates, and the bonus is that the harbor master has three daughters! This place is a gold mine.” Harris hummed to himself, straightening his tattered coat and turning to the hacienda on the bluff.
Safe from the Spanish harbor taxes of 1805, the wharf was not truly a secret to anyone. Even some of the Mission padres used the dock to bargain for linens, silks, and ornaments.
“Finish unloading the merchandise while I patrol up the hill and inspect Papa’s little treasures.” Captain Harris reached the veranda steps at the hacienda and announced, “I can help Clara run the dock if you let me.” He slid his muddy boot close to wedge the door open. Too close.
Alicia saw him approach and leaned against the other side of the door. She and Harris were only inches apart and she studied his face.
“You should not be here,” Alicia cried out. “Dolores is not here. Mama and Papa are gone too.” No one entered the house when her parents were away, especially not sailors.
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