Pirate's Heart Ch. 05byopels©
Thank you to all of you that have left such wonderful comments on this story. I'm so glad that you're enjoying it!
Catherine's hand stretched across the sheets, searching for him. She opened her eyes and saw that he wasn't there. She sat up in the bed and looked about. The light was dim as the sun was low in the sky and she heard the front door close. She tensed wondering what was happening when he approached the room carrying a large tray with a bottle of wine tucked under his arm.
He smiled seeing her awake and stopped in the doorway, again struck with how beautiful she was. She sat amongst the rumpled sheets of the bed, her hair about her shoulders in a messy tumble, half covering her bare breasts. He stared at her hungrily for a moment before continuing into the room.
She sighed with relief at his smile. She had been afraid that there was going to be another ugly scene which ended with her storming out of the room boiling with anger.
He sat on the edge of the bed with the tray brimming with an assortment of cold meats, breads, cheeses and fruits. "How do you manage to keep such a large supply of succulent food here, Miss Veleslav?" he teased, feeding her a strawberry.
"I have my ways, Mr. Kincaid," she replied.
He poured them each a large glass of wine and they enjoyed a very pleasant dinner, feeding each other and emptying the bottle. After they had finished, he removed the tray from the bed, and fell on top of her, both of them again swept up in a flurry of passion.
Later that night she silently slipped from his rooms, leaving him sleeping as she crept down the hallway towards the other side of the large house. She entered her rooms and strode to the window. Hers was the only room, other than the lookout tower, that had a view of the ocean. She stared at the black water, wondering what was happening to her.
She recalled the other men she had had affairs with but none of them had stirred in her the emotions that Nathan did. Perhaps because he did not come to her willingly? It had been pure lust that had caused him to wind up in her arms, but today had been different, hadn't it? She had felt so safe and so happy dozing by his side, wrapped in his arms. She felt a sudden shiver and looked deep inside her heart with awe.
She shook her head and strode away from the window, shaking her arms out at her side as if to ward something off. She wasn't in love with him, it was impossible. They came from entirely different worlds, it would never work and besides he didn't even like her, he had said so himself. Yet, today, yes it was different. She sat down in her sitting room and opened the humidor, pulling out a thin cigar. She puffed on it thoughtfully, trying to sort out the jumble of emotions in her head and in her heart.
She awoke late the next morning to find that Nathan had requested to see her. She had a bath, and a leisurely breakfast before dressing and leaving her apartments. She was nervous about seeing him, so delayed it. She went in search of her first mate who's rooms were on a lower floor and confirmed that the Themis had not yet been spotted. She knew it would be a few more days, but sometimes favorable winds caused ships to arrive earlier than expected.
She left the house and walked down the winding drive to the pier. She stood at the end and looked at her ship, bobbing out in the deeper water. The damage caused by the recent raids had not yet been repaired and it would be a few more weeks before she was again ready for adventure. Her gaze shifted over to the Veles, a ship she had captured a few months ago. She had been undergoing considerable repairs and renovations and was almost ready to head back out to sea.
Sitting on the edge of the dock, her legs hanging above the water, she thought back to Daniel, the man who had made her who she was today. He had made her a woman and a pirate. She closed her eyes and his green eyes, blond hair and heart melting smile danced behind her closed lids. She thought she had loved him, but later realized that it was only the infatuation of an impressionable seventeen year old. But what was this she was feeling for Nathan? She thought about him leaving and never seeing him again and she felt a cold and sudden stab in her stomach. Her eyes flew open and she jumped to her feet, running back to the house.
"I am not in love with him, I am not in love with him, I am not in love with him..." she repeated under her breath as she ran up the drive. Her heart had broken when her father was killed and she broke her promise of never letting another person near to her heart when she met Daniel. His death had almost destroyed her and she had renewed her vow and she wasn't going to break it again. She quickly located Simpson and inquired hastily as to the seaworthiness of the Veles.
"She's pretty much ready Catherine. She can go any time," he replied.
"Good. Inform the crew, we sail tomorrow," she replied.
"Tomorrow? When I said anytime, I meant allowing adequate time to stock her with food, ammunition...furniture. She's bare inside," he said with alarm.
"Than I suggest you get busy!" she snarled, turning on her heel and leaving him. It was imperative that she get away from Nathan as soon as possible.
Nathan paced his rooms, again sweltering from the heat, wondering where she was. For the last few hours he had distantly heard a great deal of commotion and wondered what was happening. Perhaps his ship had returned. He felt a stab of dread in the pit of his stomach. He should be elated but the thought of leaving only saddened him.
By nightfall she still hadn't come to him and he ate his dinner alone. Hours later he crept beneath his sheets, falling into an uneasy slumber, filled with dreams of her.
He awoke with a start, sunlight streaming in through the windows. The noise in the house continued and he knocked at the door. The guard opened it and Nathan inquired as to the noise. The man stared at him.
"That is not your concern," he replied.
He sighed, and asked. "Could you please send a message to Miss Veleslav that I would like to see her?"
The guard nodded and pulled the door shut. Hours passed and he paced the rooms morosely, puzzled as to why she was staying away.
Catherine stood by the shore and watched the small boats sailing back and forth to the Veles. She had named this ship in the same vein as the other. Veles was the Russian god of death and the underworld. She was going to be a force to be reckoned with out on the seas. Simpson approached her.
"She's going to be ready Catherine. I didn't think we could do it, but we did."
"Thank you," she said quietly. "I'm going to pack, come get me when we're ready to go."
She turned to leave but he called her back. "What should be done with the Themis when she arrives and her crew, and Captain Kincaid?"
She turned away and looked out to the opening of the harbor. "When his ship returns, he and his crew are to be released. Send them all back to England."
"What about the ship?" he asked. "Should we keep it?"
"No, repair her and sell it. She's too big for our purposes," she said still staring out at the cliffs guarding the entrance to her harbor.
"But we could use her. She's a fine..."
"I don't want it here! Release everyone and sell the ship!" she ordered and turned up the drive to the house.
She stormed into the house and ran up the stairs to her rooms. She pulled out a trunk and began throwing clothes into it. She came across the purple velvet gown she had worn during that first dinner with Nathan. She clutched it for a moment and then put it aside. She would never wear it again. She found Maria and left instructions with her on the care of the house and let her know her wishes regarding the crew of the Themis.
Shortly after, Simpson arrived at her door, with two other crew members, letting her know they were ready for her.
"Thank you," she replied. The two men picked up her trunk and other belongings for the ship and made their way downstairs. She followed and paused at the door, staring up at the steps that led to the east wing of the house. She shook her head and resolutely walked through the front door.
Nathan stood at the window staring out at the trees that covered the island. He hadn't seen Catherine for four days but was still requesting her presence. Whenever he did the guard at the door only shut it in his face. He heard a knock at the door and he spun about, his heart leaping into his throat. It opened and Maria poked her head in.
"May I come in Mr. Nathan?" she asked.
"Yes," he said disappointed that it wasn't her but glad to have some company.
Sensing his mood, Maria said, "Sorry, I'm not her sir."
"It's all right Maria, I'm glad you're here." He hesitated and then said, "Why isn't she coming to see me? I've told the guard every day that I want to see her, yet she stays away."
Maria looked up at Nathan with surprise. "Well she can't come see you, she's gone. She and the crew sailed on the Veles two days ago." She saw the shocked look that crossed his face. "Didn't anyone tell you? I guess not, they left in such a rush. I've never seen such a commotion around here."
Nathan staggered to a chair and sat down heavily. She was gone? She had left without telling him, without saying goodbye? He put his head in his hands, running his fingers through his hair. It was probably for the best he thought, raising his head. They were all wrong for each other. Yes, he told himself, it would be better if he never saw her again.
Maria watched him, knowing that his heart was breaking. She knew why Catherine had left so suddenly. She had taken care of the young woman for five years and knew that she never let anyone get close and Nathan had been getting close, far too close.
"She left instructions that once your ship arrives that you and your crew are to be released and returned to England. While waiting for the transport ship you will no longer be locked in this room and can move about the house and island as you please," she said, hoping it would cheer him up.
He looked up at her with surprise. "Released?" he asked with wonder.
"Yes sir. Those were her orders."
"How long will she be gone for?" he asked.
"She usually stays out for six to eight weeks at a time," she replied. "She's been waiting for the Veles to be ready. This is her maiden voyage. I guess she was eager to get her out on the open ocean."
Nathan recalled seeing another ship in the harbor the day he was brought ashore. She was sleek and would be very fast. An ideal pirate ship. And that's where she was, prowling the oceans, searching for prey. He expected to feel a wave of disgust but felt instead a gnawing fear, hoping that she would be safe. Yes, it was best if he never saw her again. The pain he was feeling right now would eventually ease and in time she would slip from his memory, allowing him to get on with his life.
Several days later, the door to his rooms was opened and it was announced that he was now free to move about the house. His ship had arrived. He ran from the room, down the stairs and out to the harbor. The Themis was just passing through the high cliffs and entering the harbor. He was afraid he would be disappointed to see her but his heart lightened at the sight of her majestically gliding through the water. She stopped out in the deeper water and her anchors were lowered. Eventually the smaller boats began ferrying his men across and he momentarily forgot about Catherine. His men were haggard and thin, sickly looking. Some had to be brought up to the house on stretchers. He was disgusted with himself. They had been hovering on the brink of death while he had been kept in a luxurious set of rooms, eating whatever his heart desired and making love to a beautiful woman. Their condition was her fault and he would not forgive her for it. He turned away from the shore and began tending to his crew.
Catherine already had a small hospital in her house to tend to her own wounded crew and that is where the men of the Themis were placed. Nathan paced between the rows of beds watching over his men, listening to the distant sound of hammers and saws as repairs were done on his ship.
Catherine stood on the deck of the Veles loving the feel of the wind on her face, blowing her hair out behind her. She was a fast and nimble ship, not as quick or stealthy as the Perun, but still a ship to be proud of. She gazed at the horizon, anxious for a set of sails to appear. They had been out for a week and she desperately needed a distraction from her constant thoughts of Nathan.
She felt bad leaving him so suddenly, especially when they had finally come to terms with each other. But her growing feelings for him had dictated that she leave immediately. He would be gone when she returned home and she would never see him again. She had convinced herself every night since she last saw him, that it was for the best.
Several hours later she heard a cry from the lookout and snatching up her spy glass she scanned the horizon. There it was, far off, a speck of white. It would take awhile before they would even be able to tell what kind of ship it was and under who's flag she was sailing. She felt her adrenalin begin to pump, her excitement level rising. She ordered her crew to be ready for a possible attack.
Twenty minutes later, she heard a cry from the lookout. "She's a frigate Captain, a big one, named the Eagle and sailing under the King."
She smiled to herself. "Prepare to attack!" she cried out. Her order was met by a chorus of cheers as the men raced to their duties.
The Veles chased after the other ship, quickly catching up to her. The men were hurrying about, frantically loading the cannons and arming themselves. The planks and ropes required for boarding were brought out and made ready. The air on the ship was excited and a bit frightened. Going into an attack was always a little scary but she was looking forward to it. She needed this. She had to reaffirm in her mind that she was first and foremost a formidable pirate, not some weak, lovesick woman.
She gave the order to load the cannons with chainshot, two cannon balls chained together and they pulled up alongside the other ship. As they were maneuvering into position, panels all along the side of the Eagle opened, revealing the mouths of canons. She had grossly misjudged this ship. Her first mate, Simpson was at her elbow.
"We must retreat Catherine! They're far better armed than we are!" He turned to bellow the order but she grabbed his arm. This ship was hers and she wasn't about to let it go.
"We're faster and far more nimble, we can outmaneuver them and win that way," she replied calmly.
Before Simpson could reply, the canons of the other ship fired, blasting into her ship. They had fired first! She was knocked off balance and as she scrambled to her feet she saw the sailors of the other ship swinging over on ropes, attacking. They were attacking her!
She turned and shouted the order to fire, but her crew were already busy battling the attacking sailors and only a few cannons blazed. She drew her sword to join the fight but she was roughly grabbed from behind. She struggled to free herself but realized that she was no match for two strong men. She felt a sharp blow to her head and she slid to the deck and into darkness.
...to be continued...