The Virgin Pirate [Pirate's Booty] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Temple Hogan
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Born to a life of piracy, Nellie Bouchard knows no other life, but she longs to find a world beyond the ruthless violence and danger. Her wish is fulfilled when she captures Lord Trey Carlyle. Mesmerized by his masculinity and raw sexuality, she insists he teach her the secrets between a man and woman. Long tropical nights and sun-drenched days aboard her ship allow him to show her every aspect of sexual encounters while she teaches him about love. But he's her captive and she's a pirate with a price on her head. Their future might mean separation?or death.
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC/Resplendence Publishing, LLC, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2010
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The ocean trembled with the sound of cannon fire. Gunpowder, mingled with the metallic stench of blood, tainted the sea breeze. Screams of dying men nearly drowned the clang of steel while black plumes of smoke rose to the heavens in silent appeal.
The English frigate, The Duchess of Dover, listed, a gaping hole torn in its side. Its mast and great sails sagged on the ship's deck not unlike a majestic swan in its death throes. The damage was fatal. The once proud vessel yawed sluggishly as saltwater seeped into her hold. A ship, bearing a flag of skull and crossbones, was tied off at the frigate's side. Grappling hooks were thrown, and a motley crew of men and one woman rushed aboard the crippled vessel slashing away at those who had so valiantly resisted. But the English were outnumbered, and soon, the ship was taken.
"Quickly now. She'll not stay afloat for long." Nellie Bouchard sprang to the rail of The Merry Virgin, one hand clutching the rigging for balance, the other brandishing a bloodied sword as she surveyed the carnage below with satisfaction.
A sudden wind had come up and fanned the flames. A strong gust blew against her as if wishing to shove her from her perch. It plastered the loose pantaloons and cotton shirt against her slim frame revealing a near perfect form. For any man who cared to look at that moment, he would have glimpsed her rounded, full-bosomed figure and forgotten she was their captain and strictly forbidden to them.
The gust died away and the grimy folds once again encased her body. Her face was streaked with soot and blood, her auburn hair was hidden beneath a dirty rag tied around her head. Only her face was young and alive, her brilliant eyes, the color of the sea, sparkling with adventure and pride.
"Well done, lads." She saluted her bloodthirsty crew, which had fought like demons to overcome the hated English. Not a man among them held their motherland in any esteem, most having barely escaped her merciless justice by the skin of their teeth. They were a motley horde, but they were as loyal and true to her as they could be to any man. Their fearlessness struck terror in the hearts of many a ship's captain and elicited enraged curses from their tongues. Now, she raised her sword in tribute to their victory.
Their triumph had not been without cost. The Duchess of Dover lay in ruins. Only the ballast from the pirate ship kept her afloat. As the daughter of Black Jack Barlow, and having been raised on a pirate ship, Nellie could never accept the waste of lives and property. The Duchess of Dover had been a handsome vessel worth thousands of pounds; now, it was unsalvageable. A waste, indeed. Her only consolation, besides the rich bounty the English ship had carried, was that, once again, she'd shown the world a mere woman could best any man, English or pirate alike. But that thought brought her less satisfaction with each conquest, and what was she to do about it? This was the way of her life. She had a price on her head nearly as high as her father's had been. She thrust the thought aside and concentrated on the thrill of their victory.
"Bring our prize aboard, gentlemen," she commanded.
In one voice, the crew sent up a shout and sprang over the ship's rail, carrying barrels of silk, spices and whiskey, and the biggest prize of all, chests of gold. Finally, the prisoners, bloodied and bowed were roughly prodded forth by sword points. When one stumbled or protested his fate, a whack across his backside with the flat of a blade swiftly ended his rebellion or he found himself thrown overboard. Their lives were lightly held by their captors.
Suddenly, a young gob, hardly more than a boy, tripped and sprawled across the deck. One of the pirates ran forward, his sword held high for the deathblow.
"Cease!" a voice roared. The pirate halted and looked around, his features pulled into an ugly sneer.
"Leave the lad, you blackguard," the voice commanded, "or by the gods, I'll send you to Davy Jones' locker myself."
"And die in the trying, mate," the pirate answered, swaggering over to challenge a tall, dark-haired man in a captain's uniform. The confrontation might have been more impressive, if the pirate, a man known only as Waite, hadn't stood a head's length shorter than the speaker.
From her perch, Nellie studied the English captain. He was gracefully built with slim hips, broad shoulders and a full codpiece. His hands were secured with rope behind his back, but he seemed no less diminished for that. He tilted his head with an air of absolute authority. Dark eyes blazed with fury as he glared at Waite, who had, surprisingly, halted in his intent to kill the young English sailor.
Nellie's lips twisted in disdain. Aye, the captain was a magnificent specimen, and she would get a pretty penny for his ransom, no doubt, but she held little regard for any Englishman with their assumption of superiority and their dandified airs. Turning away, she dismissed him from her thoughts.
"Leave the lad be, Waite. Get on with loading the ship."
The pirate's face darkened with anger, and it looked as if he meant to defy her orders, but a quick glance at his shipmates convinced him otherwise. Reluctantly, he sheathed his blade and turned to help carry chests from The Duchess of Dover to The Merry Virgin.
The Englishman stared at her with black, hate filled eyes and a clenched mouth. He was handsome, she saw, in a rugged, rough-hewn manner. Black hair fell over a wide brow and curled around his ears but did nothing to soften the harshness of his set features.
Impudently, she saluted him with her bloody sword and broadened her stance in an unspoken challenge. Her message must have been clear enough, for he bared his teeth in a feral snarl and surged forward as if he might climb to the railing and engage her in combat. She readied herself, but Skelly stepped forward and placed the point of his blade against the Englishman's neck. No words were spoken, but the prisoner stepped back in acquiescence. Such a surrender was not easy for him. His eyes glittered with rage, and the muscles in his jaw jumped from the pressure of his clamped teeth. His glare promised retribution. Nellie's breath caught in her throat, and her knees felt as if they might buckle. Here was a worthy opponent.
Still, her temper flared. How dare he assume she might be intimidated by his demeanor? She'd teach him a lesson, right enough. He'd just been soundly defeated and by a woman. She wasn't Black Jack Barlow's daughter for nothing. She'd grown up on a pirate ship and stood at her father's side when he'd taken his prizes from the English fleets.
"Skelly," she called.
"Aye, Captain," the burly pirate answered, looking up at her. The English captain swung around to gaze at her with evident surprise. She couldn't help being pleased at his reaction.
"When ye've scuttled the ship, bring the captain to my cabin." At her words, the captain's face darkened yet again, as watchful as a wolf scenting his prey. She felt a thrill of something, not fear, for she was afraid of nothing, but of wariness and excitement. This was a dangerous man, she surmised, and she should have him killed or left with his sinking ship. But she knew she would not. Forcing a smile to her lips, she held his gaze while a wild exhilaration poured through her body.
"Welcome aboard, Captain," she taunted and was rewarded with a flare of his nostrils and the hardening of his clean-shaven jaw. His eyes promised a terrible vengeance, and suddenly, her blood boiled with a need to see him in action, to feel him touching her, to put her lips against his, but most of all, she wanted to tame that power with her own passion. She was the first to turn away, afraid he might see the lust on her face. She would never deliberately weaken herself with the carnal need for a man.
"Set fire to the vessel and cast off."
She didn't wait for Skelly's response, nor did she look back, but turned and leaped off the railing into the netting to break her fall then onto the deck. She watched from the bridge as the last of the prisoners were quickly shunted aboard and lashings released.
The Merry Virgin slipped away from the floundering English ship, which gave a mournful groan as of one dying. Her decks were aflame and her slack sails flapped helplessly in the air currents that hastened her demise. The pirates raised their sails, which billowed in the full-bodied wind and sent the trim ship skimming across the ocean waves. Soon, they were far enough away they couldn't see the burning ship, only a wisp of smoke on the horizon.
Barrels of rum were broken open, and the pirates dipped their cups into the rich, dark brew and drank deeply. The blood thirst was still upon them so they needed a release. Soon enough, they'd want a woman or at least a boy. She glanced among the prisoners and saw several sailors who could fill that need. One pirate made so bold as to approach the captain, running a blood-crusted hand over his sleek buttocks in their tight breeches. He was rewarded with a head butt to his nose. Blood gushed, and the man drew his sword, but his shipmates blocked him from running the captain through. They knew full well what price in gold such a prisoner could bring.
"Skelly, bring the captain," she commanded, "and set sail for Port Royal."
"Aye," Skelly answered and saluted her with his tankard while the men about him cheered. Given good seas, they'd be in Port Royal in seven days time with money aplenty in their breeches for wine and women and nary another man to answer to. Nellie smiled at their exuberance and turned toward her cabin. She'd no sooner reached it than the door opened behind her and the English captain was shoved inside.
"There ye be, Nellie, just as ye asked," Skelly said. "D' ye want me t'stay?"
"Nay, go back to your celebration."
Eagerly, the man turned toward the door then hesitated. "Are ye sure 'tis a good idea, lass?" he asked. "He's a fighter, this one, and a nobleman besides. That kind don't take to bein' defeated."
"Especially by a woman," Nellie added, smiling as she looked the prisoner full in the face.
"I'm not afraid to be left alone with him. Go enjoy the celebration with the men."
Skelly grinned. "Aye, Captain, they was good lads today, they was. We spilled English blood and gained a treasure to boot." He cackled with laughter and left the cabin, slamming the door behind him.
Picking up a dagger, she turned to face her prisoner. "Captain Nellie Bouchard at your service," she said with a mocking bow.
He snorted and made no comment, obviously still smarting over her reminder she'd bested him.
"And who might I be addressing?" she asked, ignoring his derisive sneer.
"Madam," he began with considerable heat, "I am Lord Trey Carlyle, Earl of Guilford and Captain of The Duchess of Dover, which you and your murderous crew have just sunk and for which you will answer to His Majesty's government.
"I answer to no one," she snapped.
He regarded her through narrowed eyes. "I realize you and your men are lawless pirates who rob and plunder the seas at will. But you will answer for your crimes."
She advanced until she was a few feet from him and smiled slightly, one eyebrow arching. "But not by your hand, Lord Carlyle. You have been defeated by a woman, your ship lies back there somewhere, burning. Soon it will sink to the bottom of the sea, never to be seen again. You are my prisoner, and whether or not you are ever heard from again depends on my whim and mine alone."
She stared into his face as he acknowledged to himself all she had said was true. It was a bitter pill for a man of his ilk to swallow. That fact made victory all the sweeter. She could afford to be magnanimous. She tightened the grip on her knife and advanced on him, watching for any expression of fear to cross his pale features. He made no move to get away from her nor did he wince when she moved behind and cut the ropes that bound his hands.
Her breath felt tight in her chest as she faced him once more. He seemed bigger here within the confines of her cabin, and she wondered if she'd done the right thing in setting him loose. She reminded herself that she was armed and he was not. He stood rubbing his wrists, eyes narrowed and watchful, the planes of his face elongated and flat. His was a hunter's face, watching for some weakness in his adversary. He'd find none with her.
Deliberately she turned her back to him to pour a mug of rum. "Come, m'Lord Captain, let us have a swig of rum and get to know each other better." She held the cup out to him and watched as rage hardened his features. His eyes, silver gray when he was calm, turned black again, and he swung his arm, knocking the mug from her hands. It shattered against the wall splattering rum.
Nellie held her own anger in check and shrugged. "Suit yourself," she said. "But your imprisonment can be made much more enjoyable if you cooperate."
"You murderous savage," he muttered.
"No more so than you and your men," she sneered. "Plenty of my men died this day."
"As they should have," he answered, rubbing his wrists. "You're naught but a bunch of thieving, murdering pirates, the worst scourge of the sea."
"Aye, we're that," she shot back. "And I'm the worst of the lot, I am. How does it feel t'be bested by a woman?"
"I'll not drink with the likes of you," he snapped. His chest rose and fell, his nostrils flared. Furious hatred radiated from him in waves. He was a magnificent looking man, and she felt something stir deep within her, almost as if she wanted him to think well of her. But how could that be?
Slowly, she circled the room, casting surreptitious glances at him while she considered her next words. "We don't kill without cause," she said. "We take prisoners as you can plainly see." She waved her hand toward the deck to indicate the number of his men who were, indeed, alive. "We don't murder our prisoners. In your case, we'll send word to your government and family demanding a ransom. Once it is paid, we will release you in a port where you can take a ship home to England."
"And my men?" he demanded, not giving an inch.
"We sell your men--"
"Into slavery!" he cut in. "Is that any better than death?"
"You tell me, m'lord. Does not your government allow the selling of its own subjects into slavery? Only they call it indentured servitude."
He had the grace to look embarrassed, then his glance hardened. "You are well-informed about my country, madam."
"Aye. I make it my business to be." She paced her cabin. "I had occasion to entertain one of your countrymen last year during his captivity. We had a most pleasant time. Sir Cedric Bickford of Dearbourne. Are you acquainted?"
His top lip lifted in disgust. "I know the man. A braggart and a liar. He regales all who'll listen of his exploits. Even his capture by your band of renegades became a tale of his personal bravery and wit."
"Aye, I suspected as much of him, but he was truly charming. We passed many an hour conversing about London and the important people he knew there, the balls and events. I feel as if I've been there myself."
For a moment, something changed in his demeanor, a flicker of pity, then his jaw hardened and he fixed his gaze on the distant wall. "You've been well discussed in his narratives and not always to good advantage, I might add."
"You lie," she said. "He called me a lady."
Once again, he gave her that look, half pity, half derision. "Pardon me." He bowed slightly, his lips twisted in a half smile then he scowled. "Make no mistake, Madam. You are not a lady; you're not even a decent woman. You're a blood-crazed hag and would never be received in the parlors of London."
"I warn you, captain. Be cautious about what you say. Do not underestimate me. I'm as good as any man with a dirk and better than most. I'll not hesitate to use it, though I'd rather not. You'll bring more gold into my pockets if you're alive and reasonably unharmed."
His words had offended as nothing else could. She stood straighter and drew the rag off her head, letting her fiery hair swirl down her shoulders and back. "Many a man would have me," she stormed. "But only if I say so."
"Who, these lecherous, dirty animals you rule? This boat is your little kingdom and well you should enjoy it, Captain, for soon enough you'll be caught and hanged with all your villainous cohorts, and none will weep for you."
"I have no need of weeping," she answered angrily. "And yes, this is my kingdom, and I remind you that you are my prisoner. I can do what I want with you, even kill you if I so desire." To demonstrate her power, she stalked across the cabin and yanked his hair so his head lowered to hers. She forced a kiss on his chiseled lips and deliberately swept her hand across the front of his breeches. The fullness of his cock and balls filled her hand, causing her to catch her breath. No sooner had their lips met than he thrust her away with such strength as to cause her to fall across her bed. She sprawled, staring at him while he wiped his mouth as if he could not bear the taste and feel of her.
"You cur," she shouted, mortified at his rebuff. She'd never experienced such a response, and it struck a cold place in her heart. Leaping to her feet, she drew her knife with one thought in mind, to draw it across his throat and thus end his life and his sneering rejection of her. "You'll not see the light of day again."
"Why? Because I won't submit to your attack? Madam, you hold yourself in high regard if you think I'd welcome such advances."
His words brought her to a halt in her headlong rush. "What do you mean?"
"I am not as accommodating as Cedric Bickford. I choose which woman I take to my bed, and you, harridan that you are, are not one of them nor will you ever be. The stench of battle on you is like the dead risen from the grave. Go back to your own stinking kind, you devil's whore."
His words smote like death blows. Much of what he said, she didn't understand, but she felt the contempt.
She lunged at him with her knife and felt strong hands grip her arms. She thought he meant to break her bones, but he only whirled her around and held her so her knife was aimed at her own belly. She hardly noted the danger to herself, her buttocks were pressed against the deliciously hard mound of his cock and once again, heat spread through her body like a raging inferno, causing her to momentarily forget his insults.
"Who's bested whom now, Madam?" he said and, with a hard shove, heaved her away.
She fell against the small stand holding her washbasin with the mirror above and caught a glimpse of herself. Her face was smeared with blood and soot, her hair snarled around her head. Gore splattered her shirt and face. But the worst of it was the wild lust in her eyes, the feral snarl on her face. She was not unlike her own men when they killed and raped. What sane man would want such as she at this moment? Using her head rag to wipe at her bloodied, grime smeared face, she pulled herself upright and slowly turned to face him.
He stood with a wary anticipation. She could launch herself at him again, but she guessed he'd best her as he had before. She had no wish to humiliate herself further.
"Skelly!" she shouted, and when he didn't answer, she stalked to the door and threw it open, grabbing the first drunken reveler who staggered passed. "Take this prisoner to the brig," she ordered. "No food or water until I say so." She whirled and glared at the Englishman who regarded her calmly.
"So you do not think me worthy enough for your attentions, m'lord? You have greatly offended me with your words, and I expect an apology."
"It will not be forthcoming," he answered stoically.
"It will, or by god, you'll die of thirst and hunger."
"A more honorable death than I deserve," he sneered.
"You'll beg me to bed you before this trip is over," she shouted, stung by his dismissal of her as a woman.
"I'm afraid that won't happen, madam, if it is your goal. I have no desire for a furrow already over plowed." He stomped out of the cabin behind the staggering drunk.
She slammed the door behind him and paced her cabin. Even in the end, she had the feeling he'd won. She was used to men who deferred to her, men who were obsequious and obedient despite their brutish natures. If they hadn't been, she, like her father before her, would have seen them swing from the yardarm. That was, if any had lived past Skelly's watchful eye and vengeful blade. He had vowed to her father he'd protect her, and he'd kept his promise well. But who could protect her from the contempt of an English gentleman like the captain? She flushed with shame at the memory of the things he'd said.
Pride made her cross to the mirror and splash water over her face. She scrubbed at the dried blood and dirt then looked into the glass. There were men enough who found her comely. She'd show the captain what he was missing and laugh in his face. She'd make him want her then she'd reject him as cruelly as he had done her. Ah no, she wasn't yet finished with the fine captain. In the end, she'd humble him or he'd die with her trying!
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