I don't really remember much from the crossing. It was rough. Rough enough that I either cant, or don't want to remember it. I do remember seeing Sydney through the porthole as the ship inched its way closer to the shoreline. That was one of the few times I wasn't in irons in the ships hold. I briefly entertained thoughts of escape once we made port. Diving off the ship, swimming for freedom...
She quickly dashed those thoughts from my mind. She was the reason I was in this mess to begin with.
Well, no. If I am to be completely honest, I'm in this mess because I'm trouble. I'm an outlaw. I have broken the law. I have stolen, bribed and cajoled. On occasion, I have killed. I am not what you would call a model citizen. But I couldn't be touched. I couldn't be caught. Law enforcement meant nothing to the likes of me, as I went on a madcap crime spree. I thought I was invincible. Until she came.
And I walked into her trap.
She was in a saloon. A creature of rugged beauty far greater than had any business being in a saloon, but I was blinded by her presence. We had a few drinks, talked, and laughed. I made my move, she accepted. We went to one of the rooms upstairs. The rooms where everyone knows what goes on, but no one ever talks about it. She was wearing a strapless red satin dress that expertly framed her ample cleavage. I couldn't wait to get it off of her.
She offered me another drink, and I almost turned her down. It turns out I should have. It was drugged. And as my vision blurred the last thing I saw was her smiling. An angel in a nightmare. Later, when my mind swam against the drugged current to semi-consciousness, I was on the bed, handcuffed to the headboard. Her face blurred into existence before me, still smiling.
"Do you have any idea how much you're worth, Chance?" Her voice was smooth like her satin dress. She practically purred the words at me.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"You're quite attractive for a Bounty Head." There. That term. That's when I realized who she was, and how much trouble I was in. Gabrielle. As a woman, she is beautiful and desired. As a Bounty Hunter, she is dangerous, and deadly. I'd been warned to look out for her, and like a dimwit I walked right into it.
She ran her hands along my forehead and down my face, then over my chest. "It seems almost a shame to turn you in for the money, I could have... fun with you."
Her voice was husky, deep. I knew I was in trouble, but couldn't help but be aroused. I clamped down on my trembling muscles, knowing this had to be part of her game.
"You're taller than I thought." She continued, slowly dragging her nails over my chest and down across my stomach.
"Glad you approve." I said through clenched teeth, hoping it sounded like I was biting back anger instead of a pleasurable moan. None of the women I'd been with before touched me like she was touching me, and none of them were getting the responses she was getting. I tried to focus. "So what is the going rate for me, anyway?"
"Enough to attract my attention."
Right. Dumb question. Gabrielle was only the most exclusive, premiere Bounty Hunter in the land. For her to take an interest in a mark could only mean I was worth a lot of money, or she was taking it personally. Her hands never stopped moving, and as they passed South of my belt buckle, I began to wonder how personally she was going to take it.
"Oooh. There's something else that attracts my attention."
Apparently very personal.
At this juncture it was pointless to try and hide my interest and arousal, (she'd already felt that) so I let a gasp escape my lips.
"You like?" She purred as her hands continued to move. I couldn't move, I couldn't think, I could barely respond, and that was with a sharp intake of breath. "Yeah, you like."
"What do you want?" I blurted out, trying to remember what would happen to me if she succeeded in turning me in.
At that, her hands stopped. She blinked, and her blue eyes—eyes that I would have sworn were brown a moment ago—looked at me differently. Suddenly I was no longer an object, but a person, no longer a paycheck, but something more. Just as quickly as the look came it was gone. She shook herself, and then smiled again.
"I want you to make me forget all about the bounty." She planted a feather light kiss on my lips; just grazing them with hers, then swung one leg up and over, straddling my prone form. The hem of her dress rode up her thighs and game me a tantalizing glimpse of what lie beneath. She ran her hands up her own body, caressing her breasts and rubbing the satin so that her hardening nipples began to show beneath the soft material. "Mmmm."
"What—" I stopped when I heard my voice, barely a croak escaped. I wet my lips and tried again. "Are you going to untie me?" Not that I could have escaped at that point. Not even if I had wanted to, which I didn't. Lying underneath her undulating body was infinitely preferable to busting out the window, crawling over rooftops and stealing a horse to get out of town.
She just smiled again. That same, coy smile. "Maybe. Eventually." Her hands found the top button of my shirt, and I closed my eyes, wanting to savor the sensation of her unbuttoning. Instead, there came a loud ripping noise as she grasped the material and tore my shirt open. The buttons landed on the hard wood floor and rolled to a stop, my Parisian silk shirt in tatters. I'd paid good money for that shirt. Not honest money, but good money.
Then her nails were dragged through my chest hair and I found I didn't give a damn about the shirt. I just needed to touch her, to feel her. "Please, untie me."
She leaned forward; her lithe body pressed firmly against mine, and stretched her arms up over my head. This put her satin covered cleavage nearly in my face, and I could only breathe her in, smelling of flowers and sweat. Her hands rested on the handcuffs, and her lips began sucking on my earlobe. First, tender kisses, quickly turning to playful bites. And she whispered her breathy voice in my ear.
"Not... A... Chance..."
The play on my name excited me more than the fact she wasn't going to release me. She kissed her way back down my head, from my ear, to my neck, to my chest, lingering on my right nipple. Then she continued down, kissing my stomach and stopping just short of my trousers. Her long, elegant fingers grappled with my belt, and before I could register what was happening, she had managed to get me undressed enough for her purposes. I let out a gasp as she grabbed me with one hand. She didn't bother to undress herself, instead opting to just pull her panties aside and straddle me again, one hand on my chest, the other guiding me into her.
Now, with my checkered past, I'd had a few women before. Hell, there's more than a few stories circulating about me, a fact of which I am justifiably proud. But this... The sensation as she pulled me past and into her, the slow, almost agonizing stroke she used to penetrate herself with me, until I had sunk as far in as she would allow, as far as she could take. And she just sat there, her eyes closed, lips quivering with... anticipation? Pain? Incomparable bliss? I had no idea.
Until she moaned.
At least, it started as a moan. A low rumbling in the back of her throat quickly became a bestial roar, and just as quickly escalated to a whimpered cry.
That was all the encouragement I needed. We made love, and despite still being half dressed and handcuffed to the headboard, I managed to deliver her to ecstasy. My own followed shortly thereafter, and she collapsed on top of me, barely able to move, or breathe. She fell asleep that way, lying on my chest.
It finally came to me as I watched her sleep, just before I dozed off myself. The look in her eyes earlier... It was one of recognition. Like she knew me from somewhere else, some when else.
Then the blackness came again, and I found I didn't care. As long as I could sleep with this ravishing creature beside me, I didn't care about anything. But of course, I awoke in irons on a ship bound for Australia. That's when it occurred to me I should have cared a bit more. And watching the harbor lights of the penal colony slide past my porthole, it occurred to me I should have cared a lot more
The ships cargo—us—was off loaded to the docks and marched manacled and naked through processing, where we were checked for disease, and eventually folded into a holding cell. During processing, I stood in a room before the Lord Magistrate and was notified of my rights as a prisoner. I had none. I happened a look out the room's only window, and on the other side was Gabrielle, receiving payment for me.
I've done a lot of things in my life I'm not proud of. Being sold like so much beef ranks among the most degrading, more so than standing in that room naked and shackled. But seeing Gabrielle receive payment, somehow that made it one of the more erotic moments of my life.
She was dressed all in black leather, from the tight, form fitting bustier and jacket, to her thigh high boots. She turned and looked at me, licked her lips and planted a kiss on the window. Then she smiled, a look that will forever be burned in my mind and etched in my soul, and walked out of my life.
And while I lamented my misfortune at having wound up here, I rejoiced in the knowledge that I got to have Gabrielle, even if it was just for a night, and even if it was part of her act.
My time in prison passed. Night turned into day. Days turned to weeks. Each night brought dreams of Gabrielle and the time we shared. Each day brought new horrors of life in prison, leaving me longing for the nighttime and another dream... At least I could escape into those. And as the weeks progressed, I became more and more convinced I would see her again.
One night, about a month into my incarceration, a guard came to my cell. It was after lights out, and the guards frequently made checks on us after dark, so it wasn't all that unusual. His request was. "Move your bunk as far from the south wall as you can, then get under it. You have two minutes." And with that, he was gone.
Well despite my natural stubborn streak (yet another of my less enduring qualities...) I decided with the clock ticking, perhaps now was not the best time to question him. I slid the bunk across the stone floor as far from the South wall as I could. It now rested against the bars of my cell door, but again, I wasn't feeling too inquisitive. I slid my body prone underneath and counted.
When I got to 100, there came a sound like distant thunder. At 101, the thunder crashed through the South wall of my cell in the form of a cannon ball, which flew through the room, punched through the bars of my cell door, and exploded across the hall. The initial explosion blew the wall inward, sending great chunks of debris raining down on my bunk, which sheltered me from the worst of it.
The sound was deafening, and for a moment all I could do was lie under the twisted remains of my bunk, ears ringing. Finally, I got to my feet and surveyed my surroundings.
Dust and smoke filled the room, but through the haze I could see the South wall of my cell was gone, torn to shreds by the incoming cannon fire. From the gaping hole in the wall I could see a ship in the harbor, firing relentlessly at the prison's defenses. My bed was nearly crushed under the flying chunks of stone, but it had sheltered me, kept me alive.
Without the guard's warning, I would have been killed. Deciding this was no accident; I risked a jump out the hole. Someone wanted me alive. And if it was just coincidence, better to escape in the confusion than stick around for another nightmare filled day.
My cell was on the second floor of the prison, so I didn't have far to jump. I rolled when I hit the ground and managed to not injure myself
seriously. Alarms were beginning to sound now, muffled distortion though the ringing in my head. The batteries around the harbor began to return fire on the marauder until all of Sydney was filled with cannon blasts.
I half ran, half stumbled toward the outer wall of the prison yard, fully expecting to be caught or shot at any moment. But the guards apparently had their hands full with a riot inside. I found a breach in the wall and was through, my first taste of freedom in nearly a year. God, had it been that long ago in that saloon? I stumbled over debris in the street and landed right smack dab in the arms of one of the local constables.
Damn the luck.
He sized me up quickly, noted what I was wearing and nodded to his buddies—there were five of them in all, not favorable odds for me to escape from this time—and "escorted" me down the street.
Away from the prison, toward the harbor. What the hell?
We reached the docks and pilled into a longboat, and began rowing out to sea. The Marauder's attack had died off as the ship sailed for open water, hoping to outdistance itself from the guns of Sydney. "You must be quite the mark for the mistress to be taking this much of an interest in you." One of the men said.
He peeled off his uniform tunic and revealed a vest of black leather beneath. "Milady arranged all this for you, you must have one hell of a bounty on your head."
Gabrielle. Suddenly, it all made sense. This wasn't an attack, but a rescue. My heart leapt into my throat and stayed there as the longboat approached the marauder. We were hauled aboard, and I was ushered to the brig. Moments later, she entered.
"I was expecting the Captain's Quarters." I said nonchalantly.
"But Chance, you are an escaped prisoner, a wanted man with a hefty price on your head. Surely your place is in the brig."
"I was under the impression this was a rescue."
She moved closer to the bars of my new cell, and I could smell her again, that same mixture of flowers and her own musky sent. "Afraid not, bounty head. This is business. You see, I turned you into the Marquis De Renard, who placed a bounty on you of 10,000 pounds. Something about deflowering his daughter?"
"A misunderstanding, I assure you."
"Well, you must have a lot of misunderstandings, because the Countess La Roche put a bounty out for you of 20,000 Francs just a month later. Another daughter?"
I blushed. "Her mother, actually. Countess is an... honorary title."
"Well, at any rate, she apparently had not heard about your capture and incarceration. I figure if I were to break you out of prison, I could collect twice."
My heart collapsed at that. And here I thought she came back because she loved me. "Isn't that a bit disreputable?"
"You, accusing me of being disreputable? Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?"
"Point taken. So what happens now?"
"Well, now I figure I can just keep rescuing you and turning you in, over and over and over." She unlocked the cell door and stepped inside, moving close to me.
"And since we have a 3 month voyage to France, I thought maybe we could get better acquainted."
"You drugged me, seduced me, sold me, nearly killed me, just so you could do it all again?"
"And again and again. What do you think?"
"I think I'd better get out of this prison garb if your bluff is going to be taken seriously."
And she smiled, and my life became complete. Oh, a little unconventional perhaps. I've been arrested and sentenced to life in prison 14 times now. Gabrielle has made nearly one million pounds off of me. I am regarded as the world's greatest escape artist and scoundrel, she is thought off as my ultimate nemesis, the one who always gets her man, and returns the vile beast to prison.
No one knows we are also man and wife.