Duchess of the Sea Ch. 01byPiratess©
The ship creaked eerily against the docks, the haunting sounds echoing deep within. Morgan sat hunched over her table, drowning in merchant papers and tariffs as the candlelight glowed and flickered golden around her and the cabin.
She was staring at the numbers willing her brain to function, but her wandering mind wouldn't comply.
Instead, Morgan was far off in another place, reliving a very different scene. One that had led a merry chase, and left her here to wait out in hiding on the sweltering islands...
The ballroom dulled, conversations lowered to hushed whispers and wide open stares toward the doorway.
"Her name is Morgan." The captain grimaced to Admiral Scott, "Lady Morgan Kelly..."
The Admiral glanced at the captain's expression, uneasy at his reaction.
Morgan stood tall at the grand hall entrance, a defiant and aggravating, yet stunning beauty, and her eyes directly challenging the Admirals. She lifted her eyebrow in false mockery as the two men stared at her openly.
Admiral Scott found himself almost entranced. He had had heard she was beautiful but nothing prepared him for her in the flesh. He remembered vividly that her mother was a beauty, but as a child Morgan was anything but beautiful. It was more than 6 years since he had seen her last.
The Admiral had heard quite a bit of this wild young girl. No-one really knew her true background; perhaps she was Irish, the rumours often ran rampant throughout the ports of call, and he had heard totally wild accusations of her pillaging, plundering and fighting better than any man, and then turning the treasures over to the poor or orphaned. More often than not, his ships, and other rich sailors were targeted; his stores and stocks were repeatedly stolen from.
The Admiral knew that it was all planned, that he was the target, but he had his own plans with Lady Kelly, and he smiled to himself knowingly.
Morgan tried to breathe deeply, her chest bound in the restricting corseted ball gown. She had found her target; Admiral Scott. Morgan glanced down at her dress; the colour was that of the dark stormy ocean, with shimmering flecks of silver. The deep V neckline was alluring, her sleeves off the shoulder in an unusual fashion. She was out of habit in wearing such finery; the last ball she had attended was at least two years prior. Gathering her thoughts, Morgan slowly walked into the humid ball room; gold flicker of candles giving the whole room a warm glow.
There were many beautiful ladies, sweeping skirts, diamonds and pearls, and many fine gentlemen, in their military splendour, clean shaven and scented. Many eyes had turned on her, and Morgan smiled with all the grace of a queen. Hushed whispers of her name echoed across the hall, Morgan secretly chuckled to herself about her reputation here in England.
Her unusual complexion captured many peoples attention. Her hair, a rich combination of fiery red, copper, and sun streaked strawberry blondes with her large winter blue eyes, dark lashes and fair skin often drew attention wherever she went. Her blue gown enhanced her features, and tonight drew many smiles of admiration, jealousy and desire.
Morgan headed towards Admiral Scott, her eyes twinkling with disobedience.
"Admiral," Morgan curtsied slowly, "How very nice to meet you...finally." Morgan straightened and met his challenging rich dark brown eyes. Morgan suddenly felt prickly all over.
"My Lady, how very nice to meet you." His tone was nearing sarcasm. "Er you know my colleague, Captain Smith?"
Morgan proudly faced the man, smiling widely she remarked, "Yes, I believe we met in the Spanish Main, how are you Captain?" her eyes danced with devilish mischief.
The captain stammered and his cheeks flaming red. Morgan glowed with satisfaction, as she had most of these men round her little finger among other things; Except for the Admiral...
They were approached by Captain McNally, Lieutenant Jones and their partners, Morgan also knew them from sailing in the Spanish Main, and across to the coast of America. Stealing a glance at the Admiral before modestly curtsying Morgan excused herself to find the drinks.
Making her way through the open stares, nodding at various Dukes and Duchesses she remembered from the ton, Morgan headed for the refreshments.
"What you doin' 'ere love?" A rough but strangely familiar voice came from behind her.
Slowly Morgan turned around.
"Devlin!" She hushed excitedly, eyes bright with new found happiness.
She looked him up and down with a bewildered smile; he was dressed as a servant of all things.
"Shush! What you doin here? Playing with fire again..." Devlin stammered.
Morgan interrupted him caught between hysterics of laughter and sheer exasperation, "Devlin, what's this terrible accent you have! What are you doing in London? How long have you been here? You're not working here for the Admiral are you?"
"I'm earning an honest wage young sister, and more importantly what are you doing here Morgan? You aren't going to do anything to the Admiral are you...? Revenge is not so sweet..."
Morgan battered her eyelids in false innocent protest.
"Why of course not brother, I'm just here for a dance." Morgan's brow furrowed, "But quite seriously, why are you here?"
Devlin's eyes grew dark,
"I'm warning you Morgan, do not get caught up with him. He is more than even you can handle. And what for? You have all the treasure, land and ships you could ever want, which is a hell of a lot more than a lady should want! He is not what you need to go after. Please leave, before it is too late."
Morgan stared at her brother with real disbelief, and then determination flashed though her eyes.
"You will not tell me what to do or where to go brother, and I'm not a lady anymore, I left that years ago... And stop avoiding my question!" Morgan whispered sharply. She silently thanked God her brother didn't know half of the things she had done in her life.
"Look, we are being watched I must go, meet me later tonight, at the Three Swallows, okay? Please don't do anything stupid." Devlin begged her.
"Yes of course I'll be there." Morgan replied, she straightened and lifted her head haughtily. "But first give me quick drink!" Her eyes lit up with mischief, her brothers the same.
Devlin handed her a snifter, and mimicked poshly
"Milady... you haven't changed."
"Thankyou." She replied winking then downed the glass in a flash. It burned down her throat into her chest, heat flaring throughout her lungs. "Ugghh."
Devlin suppressed a sad chuckle, as Morgan returned to the ball.
He was so proud of his older sister, braver than he ever was, he was too afraid to even tell her that he was working for the admiral and even more scared to admit that it was against his will. If only she knew what trap she was falling into. He hoped and prayed that she would be safe, and that one day he could protect her as she had them.
From across the ballroom, Admiral Scott had watched Morgan the entire time; in fact he couldn't tear his gaze away, even if he wanted to. He watched the two meet, talk and share special looks bonded by love and family. An evil pleasure spread through his body; it was going to be so easy to get her! He stepped back into the shadows of the room, contented to wait for his prey to come to him...
Morgan had danced for near two hours, hand after hand being offered for the next dance, and her head was spinning. The room was stifling; a overwhelming mix of heavy perfumes and body odour, candle wax and wafts of food. Before any more hopeful suitors could call her Morgan made a dash for the open cool air of the large balcony.
The clean night air was a welcome relief, and she breathed deeply. There were several lovers taking the opportunity to romance under the stars, Morgan moved silently away around from the candle lit area. Rounding the corner, Morgan sank back against the cold stone walls, staring up at the night sky which was a familiar comfort for her.
Her thoughts turned to her brother, her stomach knotted with fear for him. She felt sure that it was more than coincidence that he was here. How could she get him out of here?
"Plotting your next course Miss Kelly, or something more sinister?" A deep voice shattered the peace in the dark. Morgan's breath caught in her chest.
A shadow moved closer beside her, and his dark eyes were shining even darker.
"Admiral Scott." Morgan stated tersely, slightly uneasy at being cornered, trying hastily to compose herself.
"Correct." He replied smoothly, before his demeanour changed threateningly.
He continued to gaze at her for a long moment, sending chills through Morgan's body.
"Just taking some air, it's quite stifling in there. And you? I haven't seen you dance tonight Admiral." She replied coolly after regaining some composure, she lowered her eyelids shielding her soul from his dark and penetrating gaze.
"Well something tells me you're not here to wish me well for my birthday...and I'm out here to make sure even my enemy is enjoying her night." He drawled sarcastically before growling,
"What do you want Morgan?"
His whole body language flashed dangerously, with intent. He turned to face her, one arm leaning over her head against the wall, his body moving closer to hers.
For the first time since taking to the sea, Morgan felt fear creep through her veins. Her brother's words echoed in her mind, 'He is more than even you can handle'.
Her reasons for being there flooded back into her mind like a raging torrent. Images of her village being burned, people being captured and tortured, her mother taken away her step father had also been taken or abandoned them. Her brother was only 2 years of age, and didn't remember a thing, but the memories haunted Morgan every day.
Morgan slowly moved her hand between her skirts, where she kept a sharp dagger handy. As if he knew her moves the Admiral swiftly and sharply grabbed her right wrist.
"I think not Miss Kelly, a simple answer would suffice." His smile was darkly seductive.
"You will get what is coming to you Admiral Scott, and I intend to be the one who delivers it." Morgan growled defensively, vainly trying wriggle free from his grasp.
In one swift movement, he had grabbed Morgan and twirled her savagely, her face grazed against the stone walls. He was directly behind her, pressing his hard body against hers and deftly removed the dagger from her skirts to holding it to her throat.
Gripping her tightly he could feel her beautiful soft curves through the layers of silk and satin, and to his surprise his reaction was strong, instantly feeling himself swell and grow with the sensation. Moving his head to press against her ear and neck, he was tempted to kiss her shoulder.
"I had heard of you Miss Kelly, a pirate come Robin Hood saviour, who seeks revenge on those who murdered your people and stole your home, but I am not the one who you should seek Morgan," his voice thickened, "so don't even try."
Morgan was breathing heavily now, nothing had gone to plan, it always goes to plan! She cried out in her mind, she hadn't felt this trapped since she was captured in Tripoli. How did he know her story? Not even her crew knew about her past, her closest friends and ship mates didn't even know her real title...
Just as abruptly, the Admiral threw the dagger aside and deftly spun Morgan back to face him. He gripped her shoulders, pressing her back towards the wall.
He stared at her wild eyes; he could see her fierce determination and spirit. Her cheeks were flushed and lips slightly parted as she took shallow and hasty breaths. His treacherous mind envisaged her underneath him, her mouth parted the same way, breathing shallow and... a sharp jolt of desire sparked through his being, snapping him back to reality. He really didn't account for her beauty to be so alluring, and he mentally compared her to the tales of Mermaids luring their prey with siren songs and sheer magnetism.
Morgan too was shaken by this encounter. Her body heated, but she wasn't feeling hatred. Her belly flipped with fear and a strange ache began to consume her body. Panic rose in her throat,
"Remove you hands," Morgan commanded roughly.
The Admiral held and challenged her stare for a long moment, before he dropped his arms and stepped back from her. His eyes darkened impossibly, before he lowered his lashes and looked away. Without returned his gaze, he spoke softly,
"Enjoy your evening Lady Kelly," before turning on his heel and leaving swiftly and as silently as he had arrived.
Morgan was frozen against the wall, her feet rooted to the floor, her legs heavy as lead. She clasped her heated cheeks with cool hands, and steeled herself against the Admiral. She knew this was going to be a long night, and fearful knew it was only the beginning of this battle.