Title: Pirate’s Pleasure
Pairing: Nathan & Kristin
Archive: tay’s site
Disclaimer: Avast ye scurvy dogs… we make no claims to owning any part
of seaQuest or its characters, but aarrgghh… any characters we’ve created
within Universal/Amblin’s universe are ours.
This story is ours, maties… and woe to the person who claims
otherwise… any falsehoods told will see you walking the plank!
Summary: A sweeping drama of epic proportions taking place on the high
seas, lush tropical hideaways and exotic foreign ports of call.
An adventurous tale… full of intrigue… revenge… and justice.
A story of destiny. A man.
A woman. Two hearts hardened
by pain and loss. Two hearts
softened by a love that shouldn’t be… a love that wasn’t wanted… a love
that was meant to be.
This story was started in February of 2004, after several
months of talking, plotting, and mapping out of the story timeline.
We have become quite attached to our characters with this story,
especially the ones we made up for it.
COLD SHOWER WARNING!!
As stated above, this story is NC-17!
We are not lying! It is VERY
NC-17!! Other warnings include…
hanky warning, humour warning, violence warning (not so much in the story,
although there is some but it is mild… the warning is for the violence you
will want to commit against one or more of the characters) and lastly, numb-butt
and eye strain warning! Breaks are
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Early eighteen hundreds…
(seaQuest minus two hundred years!)
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Old Peterson smiled at the
image filling his sight; a beautiful woman with long auburn curls stood in the
bow of the boat as it cut swiftly through the calm sea; enjoying the salty
breeze blowing around her. She
lingered there until the sun rose over the horizon, her waist length hair
blowing around her face and shoulders in a fiery cloud, while she soaked up the
warmth of the sun beating down on her.
Finally she stepped away with
a deep sigh and Peterson moved to intercept her as she headed back toward the
shelter of the cabins.
“Fine day for sailing,
milady,” he observed.
“Indeed it is, John.
I’m only sorry our voyage couldn’t be longer than a few days.
I’ve enjoyed seeing the sunshine.”
“It is good for me old
bones,” John agreed. “She’s
handling beautifully, fast as any ship I’ve ever sailed and quick to respond
to the hand at the wheel.”
“I agree. I took a turn steering earlier today and was amazed at how
easy she handles as well. I think
that this design is a good one to add to our line.
When we get back I’m going to have the yard start building another one
“You’ll make a mint of
money to be sure, milady.”
“Hopefully we’ll all do
well. I have several buyers
interested in purchasing this vessel already,” Kristin Westphalen, Countess of
Kilhairn told the old man as she struggled to bring her unruly hair back into
order. Once she had the strands
smoothed she bundled the ends into her fist and wrapped a long strand of fabric
around the length to secure it in place. “To
that end, I should get back to work.”
Peterson laughed quietly as
he watched his employer move reluctantly toward the door leading below deck,
knowing that she hated to be cooped up in her office when she could be out in
the fresh air. Kristin Westphalen
was a model lady in society but her crew knew that she secretly hated the rigid
rules that women of her station were forced to follow.
Her frequent journeys on her shipyard’s newly built vessels were one of
her few means of escape.
The sun was sinking low in
the sky when the lookout called down announcing the sighting of another ship.
A quick check with the spyglass showed a friendly flag flying so the crew
thought no more about the other vessel.
Orange rays were snaking
across the blue water when Peterson thought about the ship again and raised his
eyes to the horizon to see if it was still visible.
What he saw chilled his blood.
“Sound the alarm!”
He screamed over and over, loping as fast as his old legs would carry him
toward the owner’s office, pointing at the rapidly approaching ship as he did
“Milady! Milady! Come at
Kristin reached the door from
the inside just as Peterson reached it from the deck. “What is all the commotion?”
“A ship, milady… with
Kristin ran to the railing
and stared with rising fear at the vibrant blue sails of the sleek ship that was
quickly closing in on them.
“It will be all right,”
she tapped down her fear as she turned to Peterson.
“We carry no cargo so we have nothing of use to them.
They will leave us alone.”
“We do carry something that
pirates might find valuable, milady, especially one as dastardly as the Blue
Kristin thought hard, trying
to guess what Peterson was referring to, her face questioning him.
“You, milady… a titled
lady of some means. He’d hold you
for ransom… or he’d misuse you then sell you to white slavers… and your
companion, that pretty Miss Hitchcock as well.”
“Katie,” Kristin exhaled
her friend’s name as she took off running toward her cabin, a plan quickly
forming in her mind. She burst
through the door, startling the young dark-haired woman who sat by the window
approached… pirates. You have to
change,” Kristin threw open a trunk and began to rifle through its contents.
Her hands finally emerged with a pair of trousers and a man’s shirt.
“Put these on… bind your breasts tightly.
I’ve got a hat around here somewhere…” Kristin spied the cap and
moved to grab it. “Wrap your hair
securely and cover it with this.”
“But, Lady Westphalen…
what about you?” Katie asked as
she began to loosen the fastenings of her bodice.
“I’ll be fine.
They won’t hurt me. Now do
as I say.” Kristin grabbed a heavy shawl and threw it around her
shoulders, knotting it at the front to effectively cover the low neckline of her
day gown. “Stay in here and bolt
the door. Try not to speak and if
you have to, lower your voice. Don’t
reveal your identity.”
With that said Kristin moved
back to the deck, slamming the door closed behind her.
By the time she returned to the deck her crew stood at the ready.
She was surprised to see that the pirate ship was almost upon them.
“Put your weapons away,”
she yelled at the men.
“But, milady…” Peterson
protested. “I ordered…”
“I know that you are the
captain of this vessel, John. But I
don’t want to fight if we don’t have to.
Surely they will leave us in peace once they realize that we carry
nothing of value. I don’t want to
see any of these men killed or wounded.”
“They are willing to fight
for you, milady.”
“And I’m grateful for that… but please God, it won’t be
“You should go back below
The scraping of wood against
wood told her ears that it was too late for her to retreat and she turned to
meet their invaders head on as wiry young men swarmed over the side rails and
quickly lashed the two ships together. Under
her orders, Kristin’s crew did nothing to oppose them.
Kristin turned to smile bravely at the old man beside her.
She nodded slightly and squeezed his hand.
“Well, well… what have we
here? I’ve never seen a sailor
quite as pretty as this before,” Kristin turned back at the sound of a male
voice to find a muscular chest just inches from her face, the tanned flesh only
half covered by a shirt of deep blue. She
dragged her eyes upward to find a bronzed face covered by a neatly trimmed gray
beard streaked with brown. The face
was dominated by a pair of the bluest eyes she had ever seen.
“You are trespassing on my
property, sir, and I would like very much for you to leave,” Kristin affected
an air of cold authority, unwilling for the man before her to know her fear.
Those deep blue eyes raked over her form and Kristin knew that he was
stripping her mentally. She drew herself up to her full height, which still left her
several inches shorter than the pirate in front of her.
“I spoke to you, sir.”
The man before her smiled
roguishly. “It seems to me, good
lady, that I have the upper hand here so I suggest that you be silent.”
Angry words sprang to
Kristin’s lips but Peterson’s hand flew up to grip her shoulder, reminding
her that more than just her safety was at stake.
Still, she couldn’t let the handsome stranger think that she was
“What is it you want from
us? We carry no cargo. Our stores are small; we are only on a short journey,” she
demanded as the man she now knew to be the infamous Blue Rogue moved away from
He turned back to her, an
exasperated look on his face. “Of
course you would say that. Please
don’t be offended if I check your information for myself,” he made a motion
with his hand and strong hands quickly clamped around Kristin’s upper arms. “I’m going to speak to the crew now,” he glanced at the
young black man holding her. “If
she makes any noise, gag her.”
Kristin fought her fury
silently as she watched the pirates fan out over her vessel, several of them
moving through the entryway to the decks below.
The Blue Rogue moved among her men, stopping to speak quietly to almost
every one of them. She strained to
hear the words but they were too far away.
All she could see was an occasional shake of the head from several of her
Kristin jumped as a shriek
filled the air. A tall pirate with
dark hair emerged from the doorway, dragging what appeared to be a young boy
after him. Kristin’s heart began
to pound wildly as she willed the pirates not to notice Katie’s feminine
“Look what I found hiding
below deck, Captain,” the black-headed pirate announced as he slung the body
forward. Katie fell to the deck
before the head pirate, her cap pulled low over her forehead.
The Blue Rogue moved to grab
the lad as Kristin wrenched away from her captor and ran toward them.
Kreig moved to intercept her but his feet got tangled up in Katie
Hitchcock’s splayed legs and he stumbled, knocking Kristin away as she passed.
She fell with a thud, a loud cry escaping her lips as her head made
contact with the rim of a nearby barrel before falling to hit the deck. The sound of metal striking metal was the last sound Kristin
heard as she lost consciousness.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan Bridger swore beneath
his breath as he stared at the woman lying on the deck, blood pouring from the
wound on her head.
“Stop him!” He yanked his
head toward the single sword fight going on, one of the lady’s men having
leapt to her defense. His men
quickly surrounded and disarmed the loyal sailor.
Nathan looked back to see
that the young lad lying on the deck had crawled to the woman’s side and
removed the shawl around her neck to try and staunch the blood flow.
His eyes were momentarily riveted to the generous bosom now revealed and
threatening to spill out from beneath the lace edging of her gown.
A sudden suspicion crossed his mind and he yanked the boy to his feet,
grabbing the cap away as he did so. Black
hair tumbled out and down.
“Dammit! Another female?” Nathan
swore loudly as he stared at the girl’s pretty blue eyes and delicate pink
lips. The girl pulled away and bent
back to the bleeding woman.
“Someone better tell me
what is going on. You!” Nathan pointed at the old captain. “Who is this woman?”
The old man simply glared at
Nathan took a deep breath and
motioned the old man to follow him to the railing.
“Look,” he began quietly once they were away from the others.
“I’m not going to hurt them and I’m not going to hurt you.
There is nothing on this vessel that we want.
This was simply a case of mistaken identity.
Now, the lady obviously owns this ship…”
Peterson nodded grudgingly.
“Her name is Kristin Westphalen. She
inherited the shipyard from her late husband.
We were on a test run and she decided to come with us.
The other woman is Katherine Hitchcock, her companion.”
“Thank you. Go back to your men now,” Nathan turned back to the group.
A robust man about the same
age as the Captain detached himself from the group and moved to join Nathan.
“How in the hell did this
happen?” Nathan hissed.
“We don’t have any quarrel with these people.
Her crew all serve freely, down to the last man and every one of them
would defend the woman to the death. She’s
obviously a very humane employer for all that she is a British bitch.”
“The ship matches the
description we have of the naval vessel… that two of this new design could be
in the same area… we just didn’t consider that.”
“What are we supposed to do
now? We can’t let them go.
If they should run into our quarry… warn them… we’ll have to
disable the ship. We saw an island
not too far back. Get a man on the
wheel and head toward that. We can
damage the hull enough so that it will take several weeks to fix and leave them
enough stores to survive while they do so.”
“What about the women, Cap?
Stranded on an island for all that time… and one of them injured.”
“What am I supposed to do
about that? If the harridan had
listened to me she wouldn’t be hurt…” Nathan swore again at the look on
Crocker’s face. “All right!
Take her to the ship… the other one too.
Put her in my quarters and tend her wounds.
But, Crocker… tie her up… securely.
I have no wish to be murdered the moment I walk in the door.
And make sure the girl takes that bloody gown off of her. I don’t want my sheets stained then lock the girl in
Kreig’s quarters. I don’t want
the two of them conspiring against me.”
Nathan moved back to the
prone woman and her caregivers, the woman named Katherine and the old Captain.
He was pleased to see that they appeared to have stopped the bleeding
although the woman’s dress was obviously for the rag bag being covered with
her own blood.
“You, woman…” Crocker
cleared his throat behind Bridger. “Miss
Hitchcock, go below deck and gather up a few of the lady’s things… and some
of your own. The two of you are
being transferred to my ship.”
He heard the murmur travel
among Kristin’s crew as well as his own.
And it looked as if the young woman was going to have the audacity to
Nathan met Kreig’s eyes.
“Please escort the lady and make sure that she doesn’t give us any
more trouble. Carry out my orders,
Nathan moved back toward his
own vessel, swearing loudly all the way.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin moaned at the pain
that pounded through her skull as she gradually worked her way back toward
consciousness. She attempted to
pull a hand up to her forehead but found that it wasn’t responding to her
wishes. She pulled again and felt a
burning sensation around her wrist.
Her eyes flew open to find
both of her wrists tied together, bound above her head, the rope held securely
by an iron circle in the wall above the bed.
She yanked at her bonds but they held tightly.
“So you are finally
awake,” she recognized the voice as her eyes darted around the dimly lit
strange room, looking for the speaker.
Untie me!” Kristin
flinched as her own voice irritated the pounding in her head.
“Where are you, anyway?”
Something shifted in the
shadows cast by the shaded lantern and the blue-eyed man emerged from the corner
where he had been sitting, staring at the woman in his bed. “At your service, my lady,” he affected a bow as he
“What is going on?
Where am I? Where is my
crew?” Her arms continued to yank
at the ropes around her wrists.
“Your crew have been dealt
“Dealt with? Dealt with how? What
have you done to my men?”
“I did what I had to do.
You needn’t concern yourself with them any longer.”
“Oh God… my men!
They have families; children… let them go, PLEASE!
They won’t stand against you if I tell them not to.”
“They are no longer any
concern of yours.” The steel in
his eyes told Kristin that he would discuss her men no longer. “Now, I suggest you calm down or you will hurt yourself.
You are on board my ship.”
“Why… why did you bring
Nathan moved closer to the
bed. “You were injured… through
your own stupidity, I might add, not through any fault of my men.
I couldn’t leave you lying there in your own blood.
As much as I may have wanted to.”
Kristin felt his eyes rake
over her body and glanced down, shocked to realize that her gown was missing.
Even though she was covered to her neck with a fine linen sheet, she felt
exposed. “What have you done to
me? Where are my clothes?”
She twisted even more vehemently.
The cool air brushing over
the bare skin of her neck made her realize that her struggle was causing the
sheet to slide down and she briefly stopped her fight as she waited for answers
to her questions.
“I’ve done nothing to
you, never you fear. Why any man
would choose a cold-hearted British bitch to ice up their bed is beyond me. Your gown was removed because it was soaked in your blood and
I didn’t want it staining my sheets.”
A quick mental inventory told
Kristin that she was still wearing her chemise, corset and petticoat and she
breathed a silent prayer of thanks for that.
“Who undressed me?” She
“Well it for damned sure
wasn’t me. Don’t worry, woman.
I have no designs on your person. You
wouldn’t even be in my cabin if I thought you’d be safe…” Nathan stared
down at the woman tethered to his bed and was unnerved by the sudden leap in his
own heartbeat. “I’ve got a good crew of men but we haven’t been in
port in a while and some of them might be feeling a little lonely… if you
understand what I am saying. You
are in here for your own good.”
The woman’s icy gaze told
him she didn’t believe him for a minute.
“I’m going up on deck.
The sun will be gone soon and I have a few things to deal with before
night watch starts. I have a man
posted in the hallway. If you need
anything yell out and he will come and get me.”
Kristin watched the man with
the intense blue eyes stalk to the door then pull it shut behind him, the sound
of metal grating on metal telling her that he was locking it behind him.
She yelled after him as she once again yanked furiously at her bonds.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“He could have at least
left a lamp on for me,” Kristin grumbled beneath her breath as she lay in the
darkness, the disappearing sun and the cover of clouds having left the room inky
black. She yanked at the ropes
again, knowing that they wouldn’t release; she was fettered too tightly, so
tightly that her hands had gone numb over an hour before.
She heard the scrape of the
key in the lock and got ready to flay the Blue Rogue verbally but knew
immediately that the person entering wasn’t her nemesis.
The form was too small.
The approaching lantern light
revealed an adolescent boy carrying a small cloth-covered tray.
The lad set his load on the table then carefully lit the wall lamp before
moving to the side of the bed and smiling tentively.
The captain sent me down… I’ve brought you something to eat… and a
drink that cook said might help your head if it still hurts.”
The child was so sincere that
Kristin couldn’t help but smile back at him.
“My head does still hurt a bit. I
must have taken quite a hit.”
“I didn’t see it but Mr.
Kreig, he’s the second mate, he said that you almost broke the barrel.”
“Barrel?” Kristin questioned.
“A barrel… that’s what
you hit your head on. Mr. Kreig
accidentally tripped over the other lady and knocked you off balance.”
“Other lady… oh dear!
They found Katie. Did they… where is she?”
“She’s confined in Mr.
Kreig’s cabin. She isn’t very
happy about not being able to see you but the Captain says you have to be kept
apart so you can’t plot against us.”
Kristin filed the information
away, one more tidbit that her captor was going to catch the sharp end of her
tongue for when he finally returned. “That
“It’s only chicken
broth… cook didn’t think you needed anything heavier, what with your head
being hurt and all.”
“How am I supposed to eat
with my hands tied up?”
The boy looked ashamed.
“I can’t untie you… Captain’s orders.
But I will help you. I’ll
be very careful… I can help you sit up, if you’d like.”
Kristin couldn’t detect
anything but sincerity in the boy’s voice so she nodded.
He came to the edge of the bed, stuck his arms beneath hers and pulled
her up into a sitting position.
“What is your name,
child?” Kristin asked the boy as
he picked up the tray and headed back toward the bed.
“Lucas, ma’am,” he laid
the cloth carefully over Kristin’s chest and shoulders and picked up the bowl
of broth. “Would you like for me
to spoon it or would you like to drink it?”
“I think that drinking
would probably be better. Your
captain seems to have a problem with getting anything on his sheets.
How old are you, Lucas?”
“I don’t really know,
ma’am… somewhere around fifteen or sixteen we think.
My ma died when I was young… I don’t really remember how old I
was,” Lucas held the bowl to her lips and tilted slightly.
“How did you end up
here?” Kristin asked after she
swallowed the broth.
“I was working the docks
one day… ‘bout four or five years ago, I guess.
I made the mistake of trying to lift the captain’s wallet and he caught
me. Instead of giving me over to
the watch he brought me on board his ship.
Best day of my life.”
“But… you don’t…
you’re too young to be fighting.”
“The cap doesn’t let me
join the battles. I keep his
quarters, look after his clothes… he’s teaching me about navigation.”
Once Kristin finished the
bowl of broth Lucas carefully washed the wound on her forehead.
“It’s not bleeding anymore, ma’am and I don’t think it will leave
a scar, at least not a bad one. I’ve
washed the blood out of your hair best that I could.”
“Thank you, Lucas,”
Kristin sipped the cup of warm liquid that he held to her lips gratefully.
“Mmm… willow bark. I hope it helps. My
head is aching a bit.”
After a few more sips of the
bitter brew, Kristin pulled away from the cup.
Lucas moved to a small crock
and ran some water into a cup, proffering it to Kristin to rinse her mouth.
“Can I get you anything else, ma’am?”
“No thank you, Lucas.
My head is hurting a bit so I think I’ll try to rest.
Could you… would you be in trouble if you left the lamp burning?”
“No, ma’am. I’m supposed to come in and light it for the captain
“Thank you, Lucas.
You’ve been very kind.”
The boy smiled widely.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Kristin closed her eyes and
laid her head back against the wall as the boy closed and locked the door,
willing her head to stop pounding and her arms to quit aching. After a few minutes the pounding lessened and she opened her
eyes just a bit and glanced around the cabin.
The bed that she was lying in
was comfortable and spacious, big enough for two people to sleep in.
She blushed slightly at that thought and turned her eyes toward the small
table and two chairs, an open trunk with various garments hanging out and a
bookcase overflowing with reading material.
‘He’s obviously not
illiterate… but then I guess a pirate captain would need to be intelligent.’
Kristin suddenly grew weary of sitting up and decided to squirm her way
back down the bed. She swore as she felt her petticoat bunch up beneath her but
there was no way for her to straighten it.
Finally she was lying flat again, a load of material waded up beneath
her. After wriggling for several
more minutes she finally gave up and fell back against the pillow, exhausted.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan breathed a sigh of
relief when he entered his cabin to find the woman sleeping. He’d been working hard along side his crew to wreck the
other ship then put her crew ashore. Tomorrow
they would most likely find the hidden supplies but Nathan hated having to
abandon the men, especially after they’d shown such loyalty to the woman that
he now held captive.
‘Why do you inspire such
loyalty? Very few men I’ve met
command as much respect as you do,’ he sighed and moved to one of the deep
drawers beneath his bed.
“What are you doing?”
Nathan swore when he heard the feminine question.
He’d been trying so hard to be quiet.
“I’m pulling out a
hammock so that I’ll have some place to sleep,” he saw the relief that
crossed her face. “You didn’t
think I’d be climbing in there with you, did you?”
“No… of course not.
Go away,” Kristin was obviously still half-asleep.
Nathan looped one end of the
cloth swing around an iron loop in the wall and tied it securely then attached
the other end to the support post near the center of the room.
He could feel the woman’s eyes on him as he moved but he deliberately
didn’t say anything else to her, hoping that she would go back to sleep.
Once his bedding was secure he sat down and worked his boots off then
stood and yanked his blue shirt over his head.
He heard Kristin’s voice
catch as his hand fell to the button of his trousers and he paused.
‘Guess there is a bit of gentleman left in you after all, Bridger,’
he dropped his hand away but couldn’t resist one final tease.
He walked slowly toward the bed and deliberately leaned over the woman
until his face was just inches from hers. Her
body went rigid as she stared defiantly at him.
Nathan’s left hand reached
out and yanked a second pillow from the bed as he abruptly straightened.
“You don’t mind, do you?” He
muttered sarcastically then moved back toward his hammock, stopping to douse the
lamp as he did so.
Heavy clouds hung over the
moon so little light filtered through the large bank of windows that faced the
back of the ship. Nathan settled
into the hammock thinking that he would fall asleep immediately but to his
surprise he did not. The events of
the day continued to play over in his mind.
‘How could we have picked
the wrong ship? That was a stupid
error and it could cost us greatly. Hang
on, Will. Don’t give up on us.’
Sleep had just begun to
overtake him when the rustling in his bed pulled him back to wakefulness.
He glared at its occupant through the darkness but, of course, she
couldn’t see him. The twisting
continued, seeming to get louder every time that Nathan got near sleep.
“Be still, dammit!”
He sat up and yelled, then swore loudly as the hammock flipped and he
landed on his bottom on the hard deck.
“Didn’t you hear me?
Stop moving around and go to sleep!”
He exclaimed again as he stood.
“I’m trying, you dolt!”
Kristin fired back. “Have
you ever tried to sleep in a corset!?”
The scrape of flint told
Kristin that he was lighting the lamp and a second later she saw the tiny flame
being applied to the swinging wall device.
Once he lowered the globe back in place he stormed over to the bed and
yanked the sheet away from her. Kristin
tried to turn her body away but he clamped a hand on her shoulder to hold her in
he spoke. “Fine! So I’ll take it off,” his hands moved to the criss-cross
lacing on the front.
it! I don’t want you…”
“Look… I am exhausted and
I intend to sleep tonight. If
this…” his hand shook over the cloth cage locked around Kristin’s torso, “implement of torture is preventing that from happening I
am going to rid you of it.”
He yanked one criss cross of
lacing free then stopped. “I’ll
be here all night doing this,” Nathan said as he walked over to his chest and
reached in, his hand emerging seconds later holding a large knife in a scabbard.
“Be still and I won’t hurt you,” he told her as he approached the
“What are you going to
do?” Nathan detected the note of
fear in her voice even though she tried to hide it.
“I’m going to take your
corset off, my lady,” he slid the knife beneath the waistband of the petticoat
that covered the lower half of the stomacher and lifted, the fine cotton
splitting easily beneath the sharp blade.
Nathan yanked the ripped
cloth from beneath her and threw it to the floor, trying not to notice the shape
of her legs, now bare from mid thigh down.
One hand grasped the edge of the corset and pulled it away from her waist
as he slid the flat edge of the knife along her body beneath the ties.
When the knife was all the way in he turned it sharply and lifted.
As the confining strings fell
away the garment loosened around her body and Kristin took a deep gulp of air.
Nathan tugged the mass of
cloth wrapped whalebone from beneath her body then turned back to look at her
“Why in the hell didn’t
you say something earlier? How can
you women wear that damned contraption?”
His hand fell to her side to gently pull at the soft linen embedded in
the skin of her torso. He refused
to allow his brain to register his fingers accidentally brushing over the swell
of one of her more than generous breasts, even more prominent now that they’d
been freed from their confines.
Kristin gasped as the cloth
turned loose from her skin. “I
hate it! But society demands that
all well-bred women wear a corset. Can
you imagine the talk if the Countess of Kilhairn went without one?”
Kristin bit her lip, knowing
that she’d made a crucial error when she saw the spark in his eye.
“So I have a countess in my bed now, do I?
You are obviously a lady of gentle breeding… but a countess…”
“I’m not the countess…
at least not any more. The title
belongs to my daughter now that her father is dead.
Killed by pirates…”
For just a moment Kristin
could have sworn that she saw a hint of… something… in the rogue’s eyes
but it he covered it instantly. “Do
you think that you can sleep now, milady?”
He exaggerated her title sarcastically.
“I think… well… there
is one thing…”
“I need… that is to
say… I had the broth for dinner and some of the tea and…” Nathan realized
the problem, as Kristin blushed crimson. For
a moment he thought to have a bit more fun but the lurking gentleman inside won
“I’ll cut you free for a
moment but no tricks. There is a
pot on the ledge beneath the head of the bed.”
“You’re not… you have
to leave. I can’t!
Not with you…”
“I am not cutting you free
and giving you the run of my quarters. If
you have to go so badly you’ll overcome your embarrassment,” he pointed to
the drape hanging on rings at the foot of the bed.
“If you give me your word that you won’t make any mischief, the word
of the Countess of Kilhairn, then you may pull the curtain while you do your
“I hate you!”
Kristin responded vehemently. Nathan
simply stood and stared at her with his arms crossed.
Finally she nodded. “You
have my word. What could I accomplish anyway?
We’re in the middle of the ocean.
My ship is gone, my crew gone. I
have very few clothes… I have no option but to remain your most unwilling
Nathan grasped the rope and
sliced it away from her wrists. He
stared as her arms fell limply to her side.
“Why in the hell didn’t
you say something?” He yanked one
wrist up; staring at the deep cuts surrounding it and the rivulets of dried
blood staining her arms nearly to her elbows.
Kristin stared at her wrists
as well. “I don’t know… I
didn’t realize… they went numb hours ago.”
“Well they aren’t going
to stay numb. In a few minutes
those cuts are going to be stinging like hell then you are going to be in a
great deal of pain. Stay there.”
Nathan moved to the water
crock and dipped some into a small bowl. He
grabbed the bowl and a drying rag then moved to a small chest and pulled out a
brown glass vial.
By the time he returned to
the bed Kristin’s face showed that feeling was coming back to her deadened
limbs although she was struggling not to make a sound. She shied back when he sat on the edge of the bed but he
reached out and grabbed one arm, pulling it toward him. Kristin fell forward, rewarding the Rogue with a quick glance
down her chemise, through the smooth white valley of her breasts to the flat
plains of her stomach before she quickly jerked up and straightened the garment.
Nathan washed her arms
gently, first one and then the other, until all the blood was gone. The lady was biting her lip to keep from crying out by the
time that he finished; he admired her fortitude though he was loath to admit it.
“This should help the
sting,” he told her as he unplugged the vial and dipped his fingers into it.
Nathan carefully coated the open wounds with soothing ointment, taking
care to cover every inch of the raw area. When
he was done he glanced around then, spying her petticoat on the edge of the bed,
grabbed it up and began to rip it into strips.
Kristin started to protest
but at the look on his face thought better of it.
He carefully bandaged her forearms then stood and cut the rope away from
the loop with a disgusted look on his face.
“It was never my intention
to hurt you. I should have checked
the knots myself. I can’t let you
roam loose but I will see that you are more comfortable.
Are you able to see to yourself now?”
“Your salve seems to be helping. The
sharpness is fading into a dull ache,” she lifted her hands and flexed her
wrists for the rogue captain to see.
Nathan took the bowl of water
and towel and stood. He heard the
curtain rings rattle across their wooden rod as he moved toward the back window
and flipped a latch. The glass flew
out and he dumped the bloodied water into the sea below then stood a moment,
enjoying the fresh salty air.
Nathan was careful to secure
the latch before leaving the window and moving back to the water crock where he
refilled the bowl. He walked to the
curtain and stuck the dish around the edge along with a fresh towel.
“I thought you might like to freshen up a bit more before I have to
Kristin took the offerings
without a word.
‘What did you expect,
Bridger? You are going to chain her
back up, after all.’
He moved to a hidden door and
slid it open, seeing what he was looking for immediately. He pulled several sets of manacles out before finding one
with a chain that was long enough. The
Hitchcock woman had left Kristin’s bloodied dress in the corner of his cabin
so he took his knife to the silk, shredding the stained parts out as he cut.
By the time that Kristin pulled the curtain back Nathan had thick padding
covering the iron wristbands.
Kristin had climbed back
beneath the sheet and blanket, pulling them both up to her neck. She said nothing as the Rogue came toward her with the
“Do you need anything
else?” He asked as he removed
both the basin of water and the chamber pot.
“No… I’ll be quiet
Nathan held his hand out and
Kristin reluctantly pulled one arm from beneath the blanket and laid it in his
palm. He fastened the iron manacle
carefully in place, taking care that it didn’t fit too tightly over her
bandages. Her face showed surprise
when she realized that he had padded the metal bracelet. He shoved the second bracelet through the metal holding loop
on the wall and equalized the length of chain before attaching it to her other
Kristin pulled her arms down
to her side, surprised at the range of motion the new bonds allowed her.
“Good night then…
Nathan had killed the light
and climbed back into his hammock when he heard the whispered ‘thank you’.
He sighed, knowing that sleep
would be a long time coming this eve.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Nathan smiled contentedly as
the sun’s warmth caressed his face. He
turned into the heat as he slowly began to rouse from sleep… and found himself
once again flat against the wood floor of his cabin, the hammock swinging wildly
He swore when the distinctly
feminine giggle reached his ears. ‘So
much for yesterday being a dream!’
Nathan rubbed his neck as he
sat up and glared at his bed a few feet away.
The woman was peeking around the edge of the recessed sleeping area, a
devilish twinkle in her eyes as her shoulders shook with mirth.
He stood guardedly.
“Let me get this straight
in my head,” he started as he walked menacingly toward the bed. “You’re my captive… my prisoner.
You are chained to my bed… completely at my mercy… practically
naked… and you are laughing at me?”
Kristin gripped the sheet and
blanket close to her neck. “I’m
your captive… your prisoner,” she mimicked his words.
“I am chained to your bed… completely at your mercy… practically na…
well, why shouldn’t I find amusement in your clumsiness?
What else is there to find humorous in my life at the moment?”
Surprised at the lady’s
quick wit, Nathan couldn’t help the tiny twitch of his lip but he quickly
pushed it back into a frown. “Do
you realize how much you have disrupted my life, Lady Westphalen?
I did not want you on this ship. I’m
not really sure why I even bothered. One thing is certain… I don’t like to be laughed at.
Just be grateful that I let you have the bed instead of chaining you up
in the hold… or climbing in there and joining you.”
Nathan laughed inwardly as
the lady bristled visibly.
“You wouldn’t dare.
If you don’t want me on this boat then take me someplace where I can
get passage for myself and Miss Hitchcock back to England and let me go.”
“And how do you propose to
pay for this passage? Oh, I’m
sure that you could manage quite easily… especially dressed as you are… but
the captain is sure to demand… something… up front.”
Kristin struggled to pull
herself upright while keeping the sheet and blanket over her body.
“Give me back my clothes!” She
Nathan barked with laughter
at her order. “I think you look
quite… fetching… as you are. Any
of my men would think the same should you manage to free yourself and go
wandering… so don’t even try.”
“Where is my dress?
You can’t keep me here… like this,” the lady’s anger was growing
and Nathan found that he was spoiling for a fight.
“I can do anything that I
want… it’s my ship. Besides,
you are already wearing your dress… in a sense,” he gestured toward the iron
bands clamped around her wrists.
Kristin knew that the
manacles were padded but she hadn’t noticed the pattern the previous night.
She now recognized the cloth as being from the dress she had been wearing
the previous day.
“You cut up my dress?
“Be nice, Lady Westphalen.
The garment was so stained with your own blood that it wasn’t
salvageable anyway. Let me look at
Kristin yanked both arms away
from his reaching hand. “I
don’t want you to. I don’t want
you to do anything for me. Where is
my companion? I want to see
“Young Miss Hitchcock is doing well.
She is being made very comfortable by my second mate.”
Kristin’s eyes blazed when
she realized what the devil in front of her was implying. “If she is hurt in any way, so help me I will…”
Nathan swooped in over her, his face coming to a halt just inches from
hers. “You don’t get it do you,
Countess? I don’t give a damn
about your title. I don’t give a
damn about your wants. If it were
possible I’d have you off of my ship this instant.
As it is you have to be my… guest… for a while, but rest assured that
I will get rid of you as soon as possible, even if I have to throw you overboard
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“You forget whom you are
talking to, my lady,” Nathan reached out and grabbed her forearm, yanking it
toward him as he fished the key out of his pocket.
He quickly unlocked it then snapped it closed around the length of chain
holding her opposite wrist.
Kristin kicked at him once
from beneath the bedding but quickly realized that she couldn’t do very much
without losing her cover so she contented herself with an evil glare.
The rogue captain ignored her as he carefully unwound the bandage from
He was pleased to note that
the cuts were no longer bleeding and didn’t seem to be infected.
He dropped her hand to her lap.
“Don’t move,” he
ordered as he moved to his desk then returned with the brown vial of ointment.
He slathered a thick coat on the wound then grabbed clean strips of cloth
from the pile he’d left at the foot of the bed.
Kristin continued to glare as he repeated the procedure with the second
Once he had secured both
bands in place he gave the chain a good tug then moved over to an open chest and
grabbed a clean white shirt. He
felt her glare follow him as he shrugged it on then sat down to pull on his
“I’m going up on deck
now. The rules are the same.
Someone will be posted outside. If
you need anything yell and they will come and get me.
I have the only key to this room so no one else will step through that
door without my knowledge. I also
have the only keys to the manacles. The
added length of the chain gives you freedom enough to move around a bit… take
care of any business. But know
this… if you give me reason to regret my generosity you’ll be tethered so
tightly that you can’t move at all.”
“I will make you pay for
this someday,” Kristin bit out at him, her brown eyes blazing with hate.
“I am looking forward to
that day, Countess,” Nathan laughed as he closed the door behind him.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Lucas!” Kristin was genuinely pleased to see the young man when he
appeared with her breakfast tray.
“Good morning, ma’am… I
mean milady. The captain says that
is what I have to call you.”
“The captain is…”
Kristin quickly clamped down on the expletive threatening to spill from her
lips. “…teaching you proper
manners. But you don’t have to
call me that. Why don’t you just
call me Kristin?”
The boy blushed.
“I couldn’t, ma’am… milady.”
“Then ma’am is fine.
My title isn’t worth anything on this ship anyway.
Your captain has no respect for it.”
“The captain doesn’t
respect anything British. He hates
all of you.”
“But why?” Kristin latched on to this brief insight into her captor’s
“He just does. I’m glad to see that you can move around a little better.
The captain chewed Mr. Crocker out but good for tying you up so
Kristin wrinkled her nose at
the bowl of mush that Lucas handed her. “I’ve
always hated porridge, even as a child.”
“I fixed it up a little,
added some sugar and honey plus a little milk.”
“Milk?” Kristin asked, surprised.
“Where did you get milk in the middle of the ocean?”
“We got it day before
yesterday when we were in port. The
cook stores it way down in the hold to keep it cool.”
Kristin took a tentative
taste. “This is delicious, Lucas.
Where were you when I was six? Oh,
the fights I had with my nurse over my refusal to eat my porridge,” she smiled
warmly at the boy. “So… the
captain doesn’t mind chaining me himself but is angry about how someone else
“The cap told Crocker to tie you up so that you couldn’t escape but
he didn’t mean for you to be hurt. He
said your wrists were really bad, bleeding and everything.”
Kristin lifted a wrist.
“Whatever your rogue captain put on them seems to have worked a
miracle. They don’t hurt anymore
and they are healing nicely.”
“The famous ointment…
Be… an old lady on the cap’s island plantation makes it.
She won’t tell what is in it but it works wonders on everything.”
“Your captain owns a
Lucas bit down on his lip,
realizing that he’d given away too much information but at that moment a knock
on the door saved him from answering.
“May I come in, milady?”
Manilow Crocker stuck his head in the door; cap in hand, a questioning
look on his face.
“This is Mr. Crocker, our
first mate, ma’am,” Lucas told her.
“Come in, Mr. Crocker,”
Kristin handed Lucas her now empty bowl and checked the placement of her covers.
A much ashamed Crocker slowly
approached the foot of the bed. “I
just wanted to apologize… I never
meant to tie the ropes tight enough to cut into you.
I just knew that the captain would have my hide if you got free.
I should have taken more care.”
Kristin was impressed by the
man’s sincerity, both in his voice and his face.
“It is all right, Mr. Crocker. I
did a great deal of struggling against my bonds once I woke up.
I’m sure that was the cause of my cuts.
I am sorry that your captain called you on the carpet for it.”
“I should have taken your
struggling into account, milady. After
the way you stood up to us on your ship… I should have known you wouldn’t
accept being tied up meekly.”
“Nonetheless, I refuse to
allow you to blame yourself when the fault was mine.
I will be sure to tell your pig-headed captain that when I next see
“Oh… no, ma’am.
You don’t have to do that. I
just wanted you to know… I never would have hurt you intentionally.”
“What a funny pirate you
are, Mr. Crocker,” Kristin’s infectious smile finally teased an answering
grin out of Crocker.
“I’d never hurt a woman.
I just wanted to apologize. I’d
better get back on duty now,” Crocker backed out of the room, still beaming.
“I’ve got to go too,”
Lucas picked up the bowl and tray.
“Can… will you be coming
back later? I enjoy speaking with
“I’ll bring your lunch.”
Nathan stood in the shadows
of the hallway and watched until Lucas had secured the door and disappeared down
the hallway. He moved back toward
the entrance to his cabin and stared, willing the oak planks to disappear so he
could see what the woman within was doing.
She’d behaved like a harridan towards him less than an hour ago but
judging by the conversation he’d just heard, Lady Westphalen was well on her
way to charming at least two of his crew.
“Whatever you are up to…
it won’t work!” He swore
quietly then turned and stalked away.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin popped one eye open
when she heard the key in the lock but closed it again as the door began to
swing open. She hoped that her
visitor was the rogue captain. Time
had become her worst enemy and the only thing she had to look forward to in her
long boring day was a visit from Lucas or a good verbal fight with her handsome
‘He isn’t handsome,
Kristin! He’s a bloody pirate for
God’s sake!’ she chastised her subconscious but it didn’t seem to help.
Lucas’ whispered voice drifted across the room.
“I guess that we’ll have to try again tomorrow.”
“Wait… we can still have
a reading lesson,” Kristin was surprised to recognize the captain’s voice.
“Get your book and we will go to my office so we won’t disturb Lady
‘Reading lesson?’ Kristin
opened both eyes and watched as Lucas moved to the large shelf of books and
chose one then moved back toward the door.
“You don’t have to go,”
she called out as the two fellows moved back toward the door.
“I’m sorry, milady.
I didn’t mean to wake you,” Lucas came forward, a contrite look on
“You didn’t wake me,
Lucas. I wasn’t really asleep…
only nodding a bit. Sitting here
all day gets quite tedious. If you
are going to have a lesson can’t you have it here?
I’d love to hear you read.”
Lucas turned back to look at
the captain eagerly, his face falling at the dark scowl on Nathan’s features.
“I am teaching him quite
well. I don’t need any
interference from you.”
“I… I don’t mean to…
I won’t interfere. It’s just
that… I’m going to go mad if I don’t have something to do and then you
will have an insane woman chained to your bed.
You don’t want that do you?”
Nathan couldn’t help the
small smirk that touched his lips. “I
don’t think that that would be particularly pleasant, no,” he nodded at
Lucas. “Put the chairs over by
Lucas quickly jumped to do
his captain’s bidding.
Nathan stared at Kristin for
a moment then approached her. He
pulled a small key from his pocket and unclasped one manacle, snapped it around
the chain at the loop and relocked it.
“Why don’t you join us,
Kristin glanced down at the
sheet covering her body then shook her head.
“I can’t… he’s just a boy! I
can’t let him see…”
Nathan nodded and moved to a
large oak chest on the opposite wall. He
lifted the lid and pulled out a large piece of bright blue cloth.
“Lucas! Look out the window!”
He commanded as he moved back toward the bed.
Lucas obeyed immediately.
“Stand up,” Nathan told
the countess in a softer tone. Kristin
clutched the sheet as she swung her legs off the bed and stood. “Turn around and hold out your arms.”
Kristin turned her back and
stretched out as bidden. Nathan
shook the cloth out and wrapped one end of it around her side.
She gasped as he tucked the corner into the neckline of her chemise,
cheekily giving the swell of her breast a quick grope as he did so.
He enveloped her in the blue silk, winding it around her body several
times before pulling the end up and over one of her shoulders.
“Will that do?”
Kristin glanced down, pleased
to see that she was covered from neck to foot.
The cloth was form fitting but concealed her very nicely, leaving only
one shoulder bare. She nodded in
Nathan gestured toward the
chairs by the window and Kristin moved haltingly toward them, her leg muscles
protesting at being used after several days of inactivity. She stumbled once but the blue-eyed man was there to catch
her, a hand at her waist and on her elbow guiding her the rest of the way.
The chain was just long
enough so that Kristin could sit comfortably.
Lucas flopped down in the other chair, a loud throat clearing from Nathan
causing him to quickly sit up and position his book to catch the light.
Nathan propped against the window beside Lucas.
Lucas read better than
Kristin had expected and she was soon caught up in his reading of one of her
favorite stories, that of the travels of a man named Gulliver. The boy stumbled over an occasional word but Kristin resisted
the urge to help him, especially after receiving a very hard stare from the
captain. She soon realized that
Lucas was perfectly capable of sounding out the words.
The fading light finally made
reading too difficult and Nathan gently told the boy that he’d done enough for
the day. Kristin made note of how
the man encouraged the boy without being overly effusive. She stood and began to walk carefully across the floor while
Lucas returned the chairs to their place beneath the table.
“Lucas… go to the galley
and get the lady’s dinner.”
Nathan moved the edge of the
bed and waited for Kristin but she stopped a good length away from him.
He could see her internal battle rage on her face and waited patiently
until she finally spoke.
“Could I… could you leave
the chain like this? Just for a
little while. My legs are weak and
I need to walk… to exercise them,” Nathan could tell how much she hated
asking him for any concession… hated it almost as much as he enjoyed it.
He let her stew for a few
moments before nodding. “You can
walk until your dinner gets here… your word?”
“I won’t try anything,”
Nathan moved to the window
and opened it, climbing out onto the small balcony and taking in deep breaths of
fresh air to try and clear his head. ‘What
in the hell are you doing to me, lady?’
He turned his back to the
ocean to stare at the woman moving around his room.
Nathan was pleased to note that her walking was improving and resolved to
give her a few minutes walking time everyday. He didn’t want her muscles too atrophied to move once he
was able to get her off of his ship.
Lucas returned with a linen
covered tray and placed it on the table then held out a chair.
Kristin spared a glance at the dark figure outside the window,
silhouetted against the setting sun, before sitting down.
Nathan watched the scene with interest, the improvement in Lucas’
manners, the loving way the woman reached out and ruffled the boy’s hair.
A huge grin covered Lucas’
face as he removed the linen cloth covering the tray and placed a large bowl in
front of the countess. He took a
second bowl and placed it in front of the empty seat then put a large plate of
fresh bread between them. He turned
toward the window and jumped, surprised to see the captain had returned to the
room so quietly that he hadn’t noticed.
“What is this?”
Nathan glowered down at the boy.
“I just… I thought that I
would bring you your dinner as well, sir… save you the trouble of having to
go… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t
“No, you shouldn’t have.
Go get your supper then get some sleep.
Tomorrow might be the day…”
Once Lucas had left the room,
carefully closing the door behind him, Nathan joined the woman at the table.
He hoisted his tankard of ale and took a long drink then slammed it on
the table and grabbed the bread loaf. He
tore off a large chunk then dropped the loaf back on the plate.
Kristin simply sat and watched.
His inner gentleman won out
in the end and he ripped the bread in his hand into two pieces then handed the
woman one of them. She smiled
prettily as she took it from his hand. They
began to eat in silence.
“I’m sorry that dining
with me is such a chore,” Kristin finally spoke.
Oh… I didn’t… I’m sure that you don’t particularly wish to eat
with me either. A meal should be
enjoyed… not battled over.”
“Then… let’s not
battle. Surely we can spend a few
minutes eating without ripping into each other?”
“I wouldn’t lay odds on that. Why
are you so jovial all of a sudden?”
“I… I enjoyed this
afternoon, listening to Lucas read. He
really is a very bright boy. And
I’m glad for the opportunity to move around.
I am not, by nature, a sedentary person and I do find having my mobility
limited quite… difficult.”
“I appreciate that but I
can’t afford to take any chances. You
are my prisoner… not my guest… and you don’t need to forget that!”
“Believe me, I can’t
forget it. I’m the one chained
up… we’re doing it again… we are fighting.”
Nathan dipped his bread in
his stew then savagely tore a bite of the gravy-drenched loaf off with his
teeth. Silence fell between them
Finally Kristin decided to
try again. “Where did you get the
cloth? This lovely blue silk
you’ve draped me in?”
“I bought it on a trip to
the Orient. The color appealed to
me. I have several bolts of it.
Pirates tend to go through shirts rather quickly.”
“Thank you letting me wrap
myself in it. I couldn’t expose
myself in front of the boy,” Kristin’s cheeks turned pink.
Nathan’s gaze raked over
her still covered form and an image of him taking the silk off of her formed in
his mind… rubbing the soft fabric over her naked body, feeling her nipples
pucker through the barrier into his hands…
He grabbed his tankard and
took another long drink.
The meal was almost done
before Kristin made one last try at conversation.
She took a dainty sip from the tankard that Lucas had brought her, wiped
her lips carefully with the linen napkin then spoke.
“What might happen
Nathan’s head jerked up.
“You told Lucas that
‘tomorrow might be the day’. I
was wondering what might happen.”
“That is none of your
concern. Nothing that happens on
this vessel is your business. You
would do well to remember that, Countess.”
Kristin’s brown eyes blazed
for a moment, answering the fire in the captain’s cerulean blue orbs, but she
quickly hid her ire, unwilling to jeopardize the small amount of freedom that
she’d been given this day.
She finished her meal quickly
then took a little more ale before standing and gathering up the empty dishes
and placing them back on the tray. Nathan
watched her as he slowly finished eating then did the same with his empty bowl.
Once Nathan took his last
spoonful of stew Kristin moved back toward the bed.
“I trust that I’ll be allowed a few more moments or do you wish to
chain me back up now?”
Nathan waved his hand toward the bed and Kristin fled into it, yanking
the curtain shut behind her.
Once again Nathan felt the
urge to clear his head of the image of the woman draped in his silk and he
climbed back out onto his private balcony.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”
He swore at the lonely sea.
When he returned to his cabin
the length of silk lay carefully folded on his hammock. Kristin was in the bed, the blankets pulled to her neck; she
averted her head, refusing to look at him as he locked the manacle back in
place, once again limiting her mobility.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“You’re doing very well,
Lucas. I’ve noticed a marked
improvement in your reading in just a few days,” Kristin told the boy as she
settled onto the chair beside him, the length of blue silk once again covering
“Thank you, ma’am… I
mean milady,” Lucas blushed slightly, his head bending at her praise.
“You still have a great
deal of improvement to do,” Nathan cautioned, angry with the woman for her
words of encouragement. “But…
you are doing well,” he finished with a crooked smile.
Lucas was halfway through the
next chapter, all of them caught up in the travels of Lemuel Gulliver, when a
sharp rap came at the door.
“Come!” Nathan called with an annoyed look on his face.
“Sorry, Cap,” Crocker
entered, cap in hand. He nodded
politely at Kristin. Nathan scowled
and moved to stand between them, blocking his first mate’s view of the
beautiful woman. Nathan was
absolutely sure of Crocker’s loyalty but he was still just a man… and
Kristin Westphalen was gifted with an exemplary figure…
“What is it?”
Nathan snarled, angry at his own thoughts.
“Message coming in, sir.
I’ve ordered the sails lowered… we’re slowing.”
“Finally!” Nathan turned toward the window.
“We’ll finish later, Lucas. Back
in the bed with you, Countess, and pull the curtain.”
“But…” Kristin began to
protest as Nathan pulled her to her feet and motioned for Lucas to take the
Nathan thrust her toward the bed. Kristin
climbed onto the mattress and slowly pulled the curtain, managing to see Nathan
climb out of the window before she had it fully drawn.
Crocker followed Nathan out
onto the ledge as his captain grabbed a rope running from an iron hook just
above his head. Nathan threw his
legs over the railing and began to lower himself down, hand over hand, toward
the waiting ocean. He was halfway
down when a bell above his head began to ring.
I see you. Just give me
another minute!” A genuine smile
touched Nathan’s face as he stared at the water below.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Within the cocoon of the
curtained bed Kristin jumped when she heard the clang of the ringing bell.
She heard the rogue’s voice call out although she couldn’t make out
his words, and strained to hear a reply. ‘Perhaps
I can smuggle a message out through his courier,’ she thought.
She twisted in the bed, grateful that the captain had forgotten to
recapture her freed hand, and shifted the curtain just an inch or two. From her limited vantage point she could see Crocker’s
broad back outside the window and Lucas standing within but she couldn’t see
the lean figure of the handsome captain or the person he was speaking to.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
When Nathan’s feet were
only a few feet above the rolling waves he threw his body weight back toward the
ship. The rope began to swing as
Nathan worked himself toward the narrow ledge that ran across the back of the
ship. Finally his feet caught the
wood and he was able to keep his balance. The
rope was quickly tied to a hook then Nathan carefully knelt down and reached
into the water.
A gray dolphin immediately
appeared, butting its snout against Nathan’s open palm in greeting.
Nathan stuck a second hand out to rub the mammal’s sensitive gray
“How are you, boy?”
Nathan asked, firmly convinced that the dolphin understood him.
The dolphin chattered back, telling Nathan that he was fine. Nathan’s fingers brushed over a scar running along side
Darwin’s dorsal fin, checking to make sure that the old wound hadn’t
Darwin shook his head again
and Nathan laughed as he was doused with cold water.
“Okay, I know you are
anxious to get rid of this,” Nathan carefully pulled the length of rope
running through the dolphin’s mouth over his teeth and lifted the attached
glass cylinder from the water.
“You go find something to
eat while I read this. I’ll have
a reply soon.”
The dolphin nodded his head
again then slid beneath the waves with one last cackle.
“I’m coming up!”
Nathan yelled to Crocker as he looped the short handle of the glass vial
over his shoulder and loosened the rope. Muscles
bulged against his sleeves as Nathan climbed back up the wooden siding, bracing
his feet against the ship for added leverage.
When he neared the top Crocker offered him a helping hand over the
balustrade then tied off the rope while Nathan used his knife to strip the wax
covering off of the cylinder’s cork.
Crocker took the cork and
container as Nathan slid a piece of dry parchment free and unrolled it to
quickly scan the contents.
“The Wayfarer believes they
have sighted our target,” he glanced up at the position of the sun in the sky.
“We should be able to overtake her by sunrise.”
Nathan stepped over the
window ledge and moved toward the table. He
grabbed a map and spread it out, his mind quickly doing the necessary
calculations for a course change. Crocker
was right behind him both physically and mentally.
“I’ll take the helm right
“Say a prayer, Crocker.
This could be it. I’ll be up in a few minutes to talk to the men.”
Nathan paced the room,
struggling to get his thoughts in order, happiness at the prospect of completing
his goal continually disrupting his mental processes.
He completely forgot about the other occupant of the cabin until he heard
a muffled sneeze.
“Dammit!” Nathan strode over to the bed and yanked the curtain back.
Kristin grabbed frantically
at the hem of her chemise which had worked its way up to her hips while she
struggled to unwind the blue silk. ‘At
least my back is to him,’ she thought thankfully, never knowing that the rogue
behind her had gotten an eyeful of her naked rear.
Nathan felt his member begin
to rise at the glimpse of rounded bottom that he got before Kristin yanked her
garment back into place, not realizing that the dousing he’d received from
Darwin dampened his trousers sufficiently enough that he was clearly outlined
against the straining placket of his trousers.
Kristin turned and held out
the rumpled silk, her eyes widening slightly at the captain’s obvious arousal.
Her eyes slid slowly up his body, her fingers clenching as she fought the
strange, unfamiliar urge to reach out and run them through the curling chest
hair revealed by his open shirt. She
licked her lips unconsciously as her gaze locked with his.
Nathan was the first to pull
away from the stare, warning bells in his brain telling him that he was about to
do something he was afraid he wouldn’t regret.
He reached out and grabbed the silk she offered, wadding it up and
throwing it in the general direction of the chest.
“You should fold it… or I
will do it. I just didn’t have
room in here and I didn’t want to come back outside with your first mate still
“I would have had you
flogged if you had done so,” Nathan’s eyes raked her body.
“You will not attempt to entice my crew.”
Daggers shot from her eyes as
she grabbed the blanket and pulled it over her before wiggling down into the
bed. “As if I would… contrary
to your obvious opinion, I am not a harlot or a loose woman. But I really don’t care what you think of me,” she held
out her free wrist. “Just lock me
back up and then go away.”
Nathan did as the woman told
him although he was quick to let her know that it wasn’t because she had
commanded it. “As it happens I
have a great deal of work to attend to this evening so you probably won’t have
to suffer my company at all. Lucas
will bring your dinner at sundown.”
Kristin didn’t answer and
Nathan didn’t really expect her too. He
started toward the door then had a pang of conscience, recognizing that he had
picked the fight to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation.
He changed his course and ended up in front of the bookcase where he
pulled out two volumes and carried them back to the bed.
“Here… something to pass
Kristin picked up the books
and held them as if they were an infant child or a lost treasure, her face
conveying her delight.
Nathan turned and left the
room, locking the door behind him then leaning his forehead against it.
‘God, you are so beautiful when you smile.
I wish you would look at me the way you looked at those books…’ He
jerked up with a start, slamming his fist into the wall before turning and
heading toward his office.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin slept fitfully,
waking several times in the night to find herself listening for the sounds of
gentle breathing that weren’t there. ‘I
don’t miss him!’ she told her subconscious vehemently but it didn’t
believe her. She was aware of
something happening in the room next door; thought that she caught the
inflection of the rogue captain’s voice several times but she couldn’t make
out the words.
The first rays of sunlight
streaking through the cabin roused her for the final time, her eyelids
fluttering open with the dull light. She
sat up and stretched, noticing that the cabin was dark and guessing that Lucas
must have come and doused the lanterns. She
shifted her legs over the edge of the bed and stood, her arms stretched behind
her by her bonds.
The almost imperceptible
sound of a breath being caught alerted Kristin to the rogue captain’s
presence. Her eyes swung around the
room, finally landing on his dark form
shadowed deep in the room’s
corner. She gulped as he stood and
stepped forward but made no move to cover herself or retreat into the bed.
Nathan stopped just a foot
away from her and lifted his hand toward her cheek.
Although he didn’t actually touch her he cupped her cheek less than an
inch from its surface as he caught her gaze and held it.
“Something… something is
going to happen, is it not? Soon…”
Kristin whispered, seeing a strange look in his eye.
Nathan nodded slowly,
seemingly unwilling to break the silence. Finally
he answered, “Something is going to happen.
We are going into battle. I
wish… I wouldn’t have you endangered if there were any other way, Countess.
In a few minutes we are going to overtake and board another ship.
No matter what happens I won’t allow them to hurt you. One of my men will be armed and left within the cabin to
protect you. He has orders to
Kristin trembled at the
intensity of emotion in his voice and in his eyes.
This man would be a formidable opponent in battle.
swallowed the expression of concern for his safety, horrified that she’d
almost given voice to it. “Lucas…
you will keep him safe?”
Nathan nodded, “Lucas will
be here with you as well.” His
gaze finally broke with hers to travel up to the ceiling, heavy pounding from
overhead signaling the increased activity of the crew.
“We don’t have long now. You
need to take care of… your morning toilet… before I send O’Neill in.
I’ll get your water.”
Kristin nodded and backed up
to the bed as she watched him walk toward the water jar. Nathan listened to the sound of the curtain being pulled
behind him then began to dip water into the bowl.
He closed his eyes against the image that sprang unbidden to his mind’s
eye; that of Kristin dressed in only her chemise stretching by the bed,
beckoning to him to join her…
Nathan dipped a hand in the
bowl and threw cold water on his face, dragging his mind back to the coming
battle. He cleared his throat as he
approached the bed the handed the bowl around the curtain.
The woman worked quickly and a few moments later she hauled the curtain
back, her face freshly scrubbed.
“I should get you the
silk…” Nathan’s words were cut off by banging on the door.
“This is the one, Cap’n!
She’s running but she’s no match for us.
We’ll have her inside of five minutes.”
Nathan’s gaze fell to
Kristin’s face, locking with hers again for just an instant.
She nodded, knowing his thoughts even though no words had been spoken,
and climbed beneath the covers.
Nathan picked up a strip of
cotton, one of the bandages he’d ripped from Kristin’s petticoat and placed
it over her mouth then tied the ends firmly behind her head. Kristin jumped and tried to fight him but he moved too
“I’m sorry… I can’t
take a chance on you screaming out…” With one final look he was gone.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
The first blast of cannon
fire caused Kristin to sit straight up in the bed, her head turning toward the
deck above. The young man the
captain had sent to guard her gripped his weapon even tighter.
“We’ll be coming up on
the other vessel just any time now. We’ll
probably scrape as we come along side so don’t be alarmed,” young Timothy
O’Neill told the captive woman in a flowing Irish brogue.
Kristin nodded and tried to
settle back against the pillows, her eyes making contact with Lucas and smiling
Although she’d been warned,
the sound of metal and wood scraping caused her stomach to roll, reminding her
of the day she’d been taken captive. Soon
the sound of clashing swords could be heard between the sounds of gunfire.
strained against the manacles as she worried about the battle above. O’Neill realized how nervous she was so he dragged a chair
up along side the bed and sat where he could see both the lady and the door.
“I wish I could remove the
gag but the captain would throw me overboard,” he was glad to see the countess
nod her understanding. She gestured
with her head toward Lucas and the boy moved over to the foot of the bed and sat
“I know why the captain
keeps you locked up in here… a lot of the men would… well… when we are out
on a mission we go a long time without seeing a woman and… you are very
beautiful. He has to keep you safe.
That’s why he brought you on board in the first place.”
“O’Neill!” Lucas shook his head furiously at the older male, his eyes
cutting toward Kristin.
“I’m sorry! I just thought that talking might help keep Lady
Westphalen’s mind off the fighting.”
Kristin reached out a
manacled arm and touched the bespectacled young man’s arm.
When he looked at her she smiled and nodded, then pointed at him.
He shrugged self-consciously as Kristin nodded again.
“There isn’t really much to tell.
I’m Irish… the second of four boys.
My da worked on the docks in Dublin.
I was lucky enough to attend the local Catholic school where the priests
found I had a talent for languages. When
I was sixteen I was taken by a British press gang.
The captain res… he took me in one of his raids and when he found out
my talent he kept me on.”
Kristin thought a moment then
picked up her left hand and wiggled her ring finger.
“Oh no, milady.
I’m not married. You don’t really get a chance to meet a lot of girls when
you sail the high seas. One day…
someday I’d like to meet a nice girl and get married… have a house full of
kids. After I’ve made my fortune
on the ocean, of course.”
Kristin smiled around the
“Do you have any children,
Countess?” Lucas asked.
The smile on Kristin’s face
grew as she nodded somewhat ruefully and held up a single finger.
Kristin shook her head.
“Oh… a girl,” Lucas
“Is she… will your
daughter be all right while you are with us?”
Tim asked delicately.
Kristin’s eyebrows furrowed
for a moment and then a muffled chuckle emerged around the gag.
She held up two fingers on her left hand and then three on her right.
“Two… three… oh… she’s twenty-three.
You must have been a very young bride, milady.”
Loud banging on the door
brought Tim to his feet instantly, gun in hand as he stepped away from the bed.
He took careful aim.
“It’s Crocker, O’Neill.
The fighting is done and we need you topside.
We’ve got a few frenchies in this lot and two speaking something I’ve
never heard before. I’m going to
unlock the door now so don’t shoot me.”
The key turned in the lock
but O’Neill kept his rifle trained on the door until Crocker had entered the
room completely and closed the door behind him.
Crocker nodded his approval at the younger man’s diligence.
“Go on. I’ll take care of things here,” Crocker inclined his head
toward the bed.
O’Neill nodded and handed
the weapon over before departing. Crocker
laid the gun on top of the credenza before moving back to the bed.
Lucas asked, a touch of worry in his voice.
“The cap is fine,”
Crocker answered, his gaze covertly locked on the woman.
Her eyes closed and her head fell back as a quiet sigh of relief rushed
from her. Crocker’s eyes widened
slightly as a thought struck him…
He moved behind Lady
Westphalen and loosed the knot then pulled the gag from her mouth. “Lucas, get the lady some water.”
“Thank you, sir,” Kristin
told him, her voice huskier than usual. She
took the cup of water Lucas handed her gratefully and sipped it.
“Was it a great battle,
sir? Lot’s of fighting?”
Lucas’ eyes glowed with curiosity.
“It was a battle, son,
neither good nor bad. I’m sorry
that I can’t remove the irons, milady, but with those captive limeys on
“Lime… you attacked a
British naval vessel? Are you mad?
You’ll have the entire fleet chasing you!”
Kristin sat up, her eyes blazing as she yanked the falling sheet back up.
“They already are,
Countess. Have been ever since we
started this… Please don’t make trouble or I’ll have to muzzle you again. Lucas, we’re about to start the interrogations so you will
be needed on deck. I’m going to
leave you here alone, Lady Westphalen, but you are in no danger now.
Do you need anything before I go?”
“Could… could I have
another book, please? I’ve read
both of these,” she pulled the slim volumes the captain had given her the
previous day out from the corner of the bed.
Lucas took them carefully and
moved to replace them. “What
would you like in return, ma’am… milady?”
He added as Crocker shot a hard look at him.
“Anything will do.”
Lucas pulled a book from the
case and crossed the room to hand it to her before joining Crocker at the door.
Kristin sighed as the key
turned in the lock, leaving her once again all alone.
Even though she hadn’t relished the thoughts of the battle raging above
them she had enjoyed Lucas and O’Neill’s company. She really liked the young Irishman in spite of his role in
‘And he was stolen from his
family… so young as well… is that what happened to Lucas?
Did the Blue Rogue steal him?’
Kristin was so caught up in
her thoughts that she didn’t realize the object of her mental musings had
entered until he was looming over her. She
yanked the shifting blankets back up with a start.
“You scared me.
You could have knocked.”
Nathan was taken aback
These are my quarters, dammit!
Her eyes raked over his body,
taking in the torn shirt and the black gunpowder residue coating his face and
hands as well as his bleeding knuckles. “You
are hurt. Mister Crocker said that
you were all right.”
Her concern shocked Nathan
even more. He couldn’t remember
the last time a woman had cared… “This…” he glanced at his knuckles then
waved his hand dismissively. “This
is nothing. A bullet or a knife
wound… that is being hurt.”
He moved over to the credenza
and dumped some water in the bowl then stripped his ragged shirt away and
splashed water over his face and arms. The
strip of linen he picked up to run over his body quickly turned black.
When he was finished he pulled a fresh shirt from a drawer and slid it on
before turning back to her.
“O’Neill said that you
behaved very well during the battle.”
“While you were attacking
one of his majesty’s ships! How
dare you! Don’t you know that the
royal navy will be after you if you don’t turn that ship and its crew free?
How could you endanger Lucas like that?
How could you endanger yourself?”
Kristin halted her speech suddenly, realizing that she’d said much more
than she intended.
“I couldn’t expect a
blue-blooded British bitch like yourself to understand but I have to do this!
You may rule most of the world but you don’t rule my country and you
certainly don’t rule me!”
By this time he had reached
the side of the bed. He placed one
knee against the mattress and bent over her, one hand on either side of her
body. If he expected the countess
to cower before his rage he was doomed to be disappointed.
She held his gaze, fire flashing in her own eyes.
“I never claimed to rule
you,” she hissed back, “but if you attack a British ship you must expect
retaliation! What Englishman hurt
you so badly to make you hate an entire nationality so fiercely?”
“All of you, milady…
every damned one of you… especially you blue bloods and your House of Lords…
and your insane king and his degenerate heir.
Due to your occupation of MY quarters I am forced to conduct my
interviews in my office next door. If
you so much as utter one single sound that gives away your residence here…”
Nathan paused, an enigmatic glint coming to his eye, “I will make you regret
it.” His threat was low and
menacing and an involuntary shiver ran through Kristin’s body.
“Don’t doubt me,
Countess. I will do what I say,”
he tossed a final warning out as he slammed the door shut behind him.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin threw her book down
in disgust, the increased movements on the deck above constantly reminding her
of the day’s earlier events. She
stretched her neck and stood, moving as far as her bonds would allow her.
‘I guess we will not be reading today.’
At that moment her ears
caught the low murmur of masculine voices drifting through the wall. She strained to hear what was being said but only bits and
pieces were understandable.
“Seven all together…”
she recognized Crocker’s voice.
“Two from eastern Europe…
Poland, I think.” The thick
brogue quickly identified Tim O’Neill.
“What about the officers…
the captain and his command staff?” Kristin
immediately recognized the tone of the rogue’s voice.
“Plans… made… walk the
plank… few hours.”
Kristin could not believe
what she was hearing. To her it
sounded as if the Blue Rogue was going to make officers from his majesty’s
navy walk the plank. Her heart
warred with her mind momentarily, refusing to believe that the man who had been
so gentle with a young boy could be so cruel but then she thought of her own
crew. She still didn’t know their
fate although she feared the worst.
Despair washed over her as
she wondered if she would ever be free again.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Are all the arrangements
in place?” Nathan asked Crocker
as he scribbled a note at his desk.
“Everything is ready.
The men all understand. Sunset
should be about an hour away. We
are passing the island cluster now and Kreig is commenting on it to the British
captain. Our gray friend was spotted near the seaQuest twenty or
thirty minutes ago.”
“Good,” Nathan signed his
note with a flourish, rolled it tightly and sealed the edge with candle wax then
slid it into the canister that he’d taken from Darwin earlier.
“I’ll send this off once we are done.
Let’s pray for an overcast sky tonight.
That will make the ‘escape’ much easier.”
“What about your… guest?
What will you tell her?”
“Nothing. She knows what the rest of the world will hear.
The Blue Rogue attacked, took captives, and stole supplies.
The ship was damaged then set adrift with the majority of the crew on
board. Those members of the crew
that were held captive were all forced to walk the plank.
Nightfall prevented the dastardly pirates from completing their foul
plans and the captain along with his first and second mate managed to fight
their way free of the pirate hordes and steal a boat, making a daring escape.
They will be lauded all over the British Empire and we will have achieved
“But she will think…”
“She already suspects that
her own crew was killed.”
Crocker was aghast.
“You didn’t tell her that they were only stranded?
You are deliberately letting the lady think that you had those men
killed? I don’t understand.”
“She’s a Countess, an aristocrat.
You know how those circles work, Manny.
If she doesn’t have the prince regent’s ear then she will know
someone who does. If our mission is
to succeed then we need the edge that fear gives us.
We can’t have her returning home to tell of the ship that captures then
frees their captives.”
“She will think you are a
“I know that,” Nathan
admitted grudgingly. “It is best
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Kristin wasn’t aware of the
spectacle taking place on deck but she could feel the drumbeat humming through
the ship. She felt it rumble once
again as a dejected Lucas came through the door and flopped down on the floor
beside the bunk.
“What’s wrong, child?”
“The captain won’t let me
stay topside. He never lets me
watch the ending… I would like to see a plank walking but he says I’m too
young. I’m probably fifteen at
least… best I can remember… that isn’t too young!”
“Fifteen is very young.
And I agree with your captain. You
don’t need to see that ugly business above.
At least he sent you away. I
can’t believe that he is going through with this.
Doesn’t he realize the danger? The
British navy will never overlook the attack on one of their ships or the murder
of that ship’s officers.”
“The captain knows that but
he isn’t afraid of them.”
“He should be.”
Worry lined Kristin’s face.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Heavy clouds covered the
moon, leaving the seaQuest bathed in a cloak of darkness.
Bridger and Crocker stood in the shadow of the mast and listened to the
sound of oars stroking the smooth water in the distance.
The ‘escape’ had gone
cleanly. Nathan’s sailors
pretended to drink a great deal in celebration of their defeat of the British
naval vessel, enough of them passing out to encourage the captured officers to
attempt to escape. The three men
had easily picked the simple lock on the door of their holding room then slipped
onto deck and stolen the boat, never realizing that either Nathan or Crocker was
watching them every step of the way.
When he deemed that the
escapees were far enough away Nathan waved his hand at Miguel Ortiz who was
standing at the entry door. He
nodded then yelled into the deck below, raising the alarm about the breakout. The sound of the crew’s yells raced over the water.
Nathan knew that the officers would embellish the story, making their
escape even bolder.
“I think they are far
enough away now.”
Crocker nodded and followed
Nathan as he moved down the deck toward his cabin.
“What about the
countess?” The first mate asked
as Nathan pulled the key to the door from his pocket.
I’ll pull the curtain just as before.
I don’t want her to know about any of this.”
Crocker nodded although his
facial expression made his opinion of the captain’s decision clear.
A rapid glance at the bed
revealed that Lady Westphalen was asleep and Nathan breathed a silent sigh of
relief. Kristin lay on her side,
one arm pulled up to rest on the pillow beside her, the other draped across her
hip. The blanket was bunched at her
waist, the soft rise and fall of her chest clearly visible above the low
neckline of her chemise.
Crocker watched with interest
as Bridger moved in front of him, effectively blocking his view of the beautiful
woman. The Captain carefully
brushed a curl away from Kristin’s face then gently lifted her arm and pulled
the spread up to cover her completely.
He felt Crocker’s eyes
burning into his back so he grabbed the edge of the curtain and eased it along
the wooden rod until the woman was completely blocked from view.
The two men moved onto the
“I’m getting damned tired
of it always being the wrong ship!” Crocker
heard Nathan mutter as he held a shaded lantern and watched as the captain
lowered himself to the small ledge and transferred the canister to the waiting
dolphin, taking a few moments to murmur quietly to the animal.
The first mate extended a
helping hand as Nathan swung his legs back over the railing. “Tell the men to call off the search… they are probably
out of range now. Set up the night
watch and get some sleep. It’s
been a long day.”
“You too, Cap.
Why don’t I tell the galley to send you some dinner?
You haven’t eaten all day.”
“That sounds… shit!
I haven’t eaten all day and neither has the woman.”
“It’s been a busy day.
Nathan shook his head.
“Not without my permission. Tell
the galley to send enough for two.”
“Aye, Cap.” Crocker replied as he left the cabin.
Nathan lit the wall lamp and
shaded it before dragging back the curtain hiding the occupant of his bed.
Lady Westphalen still slept, her countenance peaceful.
When Nathan realized how long he had been staring at her classic features
he pulled back into the shadows, confused by his desire to gaze at her.
A tap on the door heralded
the arrival of dinner. Nathan took
the tray from his crewman at the door, unwilling to let the man in although his
curiosity about the captain’s guest was evident.
‘Should I?’ Nathan moved back to the bunk after depositing the tray on
the table. His hand fell to touch
her bare shoulder, his fingers caressing the soft flesh.
Kristin’s chest rose as she
took a deep breath in her sleep then sighed as she turned into his touch.
Her eyelids fluttered open as she smiled up sleepily at him.
Nathan stepped back guiltily.
“I… dinner was just delivered and I know you haven’t eaten all
day… unless you would rather sleep?”
Kristin pulled herself up as
she shook her head slightly, attempting to clear the cobwebs from her mind.
The reality of the blue-eyed captain was so much more stimulating than
the one she had just been dreaming about. She
blushed and looked away as she held out her right wrist.
Nathan unlocked the manacle
then wrapped it around the chain and was in the process of locking it back when
he stopped. He stared down at the
woman for a moment.
“Hand me your other
Kristin was confused but did
as he asked. Her astonishment grew
as the captain quickly released the other bracelet, freeing her completely for
the first time since she’d been manacled.
Nathan helped her to her feet
and pulled her toward the gleaming lamp where he carefully inspected the healing
cuts around her wrists.
“No sign of infection.
I’ve never known Bess’ ointment to fail.
Are you still in any pain?”
Kristin shook her head, her
mind still whirling as she tried to comprehend the complex man now leading her
toward the table. The captain
pulled out the chair and seated her as grandly as if they were in the most
luxurious restaurant in London.
“It’s stew for dinner
again tonight. I’m sorry, but we
don’t get a lot of variety on board ship.
Once we put in to port again we’ll have something a bit nicer,”
Nathan handed Kristin the piece of bread he’d torn from the loaf for her.
“Thank you,” Kristin
mumbled as she took the bread and carefully bit into it.
“We’ll settle back into
our routine tomorrow. I don’t
want Lucas missing too many reading lessons.”
Kristin’s spoon clattered
against the pewter plate as she stared at the stranger before her, dumbfounded.
“What are you playing at? Are
Nathan’s jaw muscle began
to work as he struggled to control his temper.
“I am trying to be pleasant. It’s
been a long day…”
“Of course it has been a
long day. You attacked a British
ship this morning! You took her
crew captive and you forced them to walk the plank!
Then you come in here trying to pretend that nothing happened?
You can’t be so witless that you don’t realize what you’ve done!”
Nathan slammed his fist to
the table. “Now look, Countess…
you have absolutely no idea what motivates me so get off your moral high horse
and finish your dinner!” He roared at her.
“I don’t want it.
I don’t want anything from you. Being
near you sickens me!” Kristin
started to stand but Nathan beat her to it, his hands clamping down on her
“Finish your dinner.”
His voice was so quiet that his words were almost a whisper, but the
steel was evident beneath his dulcet tones.
Hard blue eyes warned her not to defy him.
Kristin picked up her spoon
and began to shovel stew into her mouth as fast as she could swallow it, glaring
at him all the while. Nathan took a
long swallow of ale then plunked his tankard back down with a smile on his face,
determined to show the woman that she couldn’t get to him.
The only problem was that, deep down; he did feel guilty about
deliberately misleading her.
The last bit of bread raked
across Kristin’s plate, wiping it completely clean.
She popped it into her mouth and chewed defiantly before swallowing
hastily. Kristin gagged then began
to cough as the bread stuck in her throat.
The captain was at her side instantly.
He wrapped a strong arm around her torso just beneath her breasts and
hauled her to her feet, his other hand hitting her sharply between her shoulder
blades. The lodged object finally
came free and flew from her mouth as she coughed violently.
The captain pressed her ale
tankard into her hands and helped her hold it to her lips while she drank, the
wet liquid soothing her irritated throat. Kristin
sagged back against him as the tankard left her lips.
Nathan relished the press of
her body against his, even tightening his hold around her chest to pull her
closer. The increased pressure
caused Kristin to realize where she was and she pulled away quickly, moving back
from the table as she watched the blue-eyed devil warily.
“Did you have to kill
them?” She asked in an anguished
“I did what had to be done.
I don’t take life lightly, Countess.
But I… I made a vow and I have to keep it.
What happened today is a necessary part of that vow.”
“How… how could it… how
could you take a vow that means death… and a price on your head and on those
of your men?”
“If it is any consolation to your wounded British pride, the price on
our heads probably decreased greatly. We
didn’t get around to the officers today and after the sunset they managed to
escape. I doubt that the Admiralty
will give a damn about a few low-ranking sailors disappearing.”
“Escaped… from you?
I find that hard to believe.”
“Nonetheless it’s true.
But don’t let their flight give you any ideas about attempting one of
your own. My crew would never lose
sight of you.”
Kristin’s eyes followed his
gaze as it roamed over her body making her feel even more naked than standing
there in just her chemise did. She
turned away self-consciously; unaware of how the fine cotton clung to her
“My crew…” Nathan
dragged his eyes up to find Kristin staring back over her shoulder at him, her
arms wrapped protectively around her body.
“What did you do to my crew?”
A flicker of something that
might have been sorrow was visible for just an instant before the blue eyes
hardened to black again. “I told
you… I did what I had to do.”
A sob escaped from
Kristin’s throat. “Then… oh
God… Martin… Sal… John… I knew those men for most of my adult life. To think… HOW COULD YOU!?”
She launched herself at Nathan, her fists pummeling his chest as grief
The desire to pull her into
his embrace and comfort her came out of nowhere, shocking Nathan almost as much
as her attack had. He fought back
both the sensation and the woman, grabbing her shoulders and giving her a hard
“I am the Captain of this
ship. No one questions my
decisions, especially not you!”
“DON’T TOUCH ME!”
Kristin broke away and fled back to the bed.
She grabbed the manacles and fastened them around her wrists then held
them out to the man staring at her. “Lock
them and then go away. I don’t
want to see you or talk to you anymore. Do
whatever you are going to do to me… kill me or free me… but don’t make me
look at you any more.”
Nathan did as she bid then
gathered up the empty dishes and left the cabin without another word.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Looks like we might be
getting rain, Cap.”
Nathan looked up from his
ledger to gaze out the open door and nodded slowly.
“You may be right, Manny.”
“Should I have the men get
things ready? Just in case?”
“Probably a good idea,”
Bridger nodded. “And while
you’re at it, set up a couple of catch buckets for our guests.
I’m sure they’d appreciate the chance to clean up a little too.”
“Aye, Cap,” Crocker said
with a quick salute then turned to leave. He
stopped at the door. “Nathan…
is everything all right? You seem a
little… out of sorts today.”
“You can say it, Gator,”
Nathan told his friend, using the childhood nickname of the boy who spent his
youth hunting alligators in the southern swamps.
“I’m mean and cranky and completely unreasonable.”
“I wouldn’t go quite that
far, Nathan. The buckets for the
ladies are a nice gesture.”
“And one that the good
Countess of Kilhairn is likely to throw right back in my face.”
“The two of you have
“You could say that.
I thought that she would be happy that the naval officers escaped but she
was more upset about the supposed deaths of the crew members… and those of her
own vessel as well.”
“She sounds like a very
compassionate woman… not really what one would expect of a blueblood but
refreshing don’t you think?”
“She’s a pain in the ass,
Crocker. She had the audacity to
question my decisions then order me out of my own cabin.”
“So… where did you sleep
“In the chair in…”
Nathan regarded his first mate with a hint of laughter in his eyes. “Very good, Gator. How
did you know I didn’t stay in my cabin anyway?”
“Because I’ve been your friend for almost fifty years, Nathan.
Maybe the countess will take the water by way of a peace offering.”
“Not bloody likely,”
Nathan muttered as he watched Crocker leave and then went back to his books.
Several minutes later, the distinct sound of rain hitting the deck could
be heard. With one final stroke of
his pen, Nathan laid it down on the desk and sat back, looking out the door at
the falling drops.
He wasn’t surprised to see
that his men had shed their clothes and were moving about naked in the rain,
bars of soap being passed around. While
his crew was always clean, something Nathan insisted on, they always took
advantage of the summer showers to clean up a little more and not have to use up
their limited supply of reserve water.
Nathan closed the ledger, put
it in his desk, locked it and then stood. He
slowly removed his shirt, folding and placing it on his desk.
His boots and britches followed before he made his way out of his office
and onto the deck.
He inhaled deeply the scent
of the rain as he lifted his face up towards the heavens, sighing happily as the
cool water cascaded down his tan, naked body.
“Isn’t this great,
Cap?” Lucas asked excitedly,
dancing around happily in the pouring rain.
“Yes it is,” Nathan
agreed, his face still upturned.
“I think I like cleaning up
this way better than washing,” Lucas laughed.
He knew exactly what Lucas meant. There
was just something about standing beneath the rain as it showered down, feeling
the water glide down his skin, washing the dirt away.
“Lucas,” Bridger said
suddenly, bringing his gaze down to the young man.
“Those two buckets there,” he pointed across the deck.
“Bring those to our guests please.”
“Right away, Cap.”
Lucas said; handing the bar of soap over to Bridger then headed
immediately across the deck.
“Put your pants back on
Lucas glanced down, turning
bright red when he realized that he was still naked.
“Good idea,” he stammered, quickly locating and pulling on his
Nathan chuckled to himself as
he watched a still scarlet Lucas grab the buckets and begin to head below deck.
“Oh and Lucas…”
Lucas stopped and looked back
at the captain; just managing to catch the set of keys Bridger tossed at him.
“You can loose Lady
Westphalen, but advise her that she’s to wash up.
Nothing more. She’s not to
wander about my cabin or I will toss her below in the hold.”
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
Knocking softly at the
entrance to the captain’s cabin, Lucas slowly opened the door.
“Lady Westphalen…” he
called, peering around the door. He
flinched at the angry glare the woman tied to the bed shot him. “It’s uh… it’s raining.”
“I can hear that, Lucas.”
“Right. Uhm… well, we caught some of the rainwater,” he held up
the bucket in his hand. “And the
captain thought you might wanna wash up some.”
“How very thoughtful of
him,” Kristin replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“And how pray tell am I supposed to do that shackled to this bed?”
Lucas moved further into the
cabin, placing the bucket on the floor near to the captain’s desk before
stepping over to the bed.
“Well, the captain said I
could remove the manacles,” Lucas began.
“However, he also told me to remind you that you’re to stay in
“Is that so? Aren’t you just going to lock the door again anyway?”
“Yes, milady,” Lucas
replied. “But… he… the cap…
if you manage to get out of his cabin, or go through his things, he’ll toss
you down into the hold.”
Kristin scowled and then
gestured to her hands. “Let me
Lucas unlocked the manacles
as quickly as he could and then left the cabin in a rush, pulling the door shut
Kristin slowly sat up on the
bed, rubbing her wrists to get the circulation back in her hands as she shot
dirty looks through the cabin door at Bridger up on deck. Getting to her feet, Kristin moved towards the door, having
not heard the sound of the lock when Lucas left and opened it, determined to
have words with the captain.
“I wouldn’t if I were
you, milady,” came a male voice in the shadows by the door.
“I heard what the cap told Lucas he’d do to you if you left his
cabin. And the captain always means
what he says.”
Kristin threw a glare at the
voice before stepping back and slamming the door then leaning back against it.
She growled in frustration as she glanced about the room for something to
“Damn the man!”
Kristin swore as she began to pace the room.
“Who the hell does he think he is!?”
After several minutes,
Kristin stopped and sighed, glancing down at herself in the process. “Probably a good thing I didn’t go. I am definitely not dressed for it.”
Sighing again, Kristin moved
towards the bucket of rainwater the young boy had brought in, deciding she might
as well make use of her limited freedom before it was revoked.
She loosened the tie on her chemise and began to shrug the garment off
when she suddenly stopped.
Moving quickly across the
room to the door, Kristin slid the lock into place.
Feeling a little more secure, she quickly dropped her chemise and moved
back to the bucket of water. She
lifted it onto the small table beside the bed and began to wash up.
She sighed happily at the
feel of the cool water on her skin and while she would have liked some soap and
a cloth, she made do, starting to hum softly to herself as she washed.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~
“Hey, Cap… where you
Nathan turned to see Crocker
starring curiously at him. “I’m
going to go check on our guest,” he told his first mate.
“Once the men have washed themselves… have them return to their
“Aye, Captain,” Crocker
nodded and watched Bridger walk, barefooted, to the back of the ship towards his
cabin, his shirt and boots in his hands.
~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~ ~sQ~