Pirate's Heart Ch. 06byopels©
She awoke and winced from the pain in her head. She didn't open her eyes at first, just listened to the sounds around her. All was quiet. She was laying on a bed, on a ship. She opened her eyes and slowly sat up. She gingerly touched her head and felt the dried blood and matted hair. She looked around the small cabin she was in. She silently walked over to the door and tried the handle. It was of course locked. She realized with a shock that she was a prisoner. She had never been captured before and she cursed her own stupidity. It had been her own selfish pride that had gotten her into this mess. Her thoughts went to her crew and she wondered what their fate had been.
An hour later the door to her cabin opened and a tall, middle aged man with a sizeable belly stalked into the room. He stared at her, his gaze sweeping over her from head to foot. She glared, fury sparking in her violet eyes while he took her in. He approached her and reached out a hand to stroke her cheek. She slapped his hand away. "Don't touch me," she hissed.
He gave her a surprised look and with a chuckle turned away. "The formidable female pirate, Catherine Veleslav. I can hardly believe my good luck at catching you so woefully and uncharacteristically unprepared. I will be quite the hero when I return you to England to be hanged," he said, his eyes twinkling.
"Go to hell," she said quietly, her voice dripping with venom.
He again chuckled. "I've heard about your brazen nature and feisty temperament. That reputation is only succeeded by tales of your astonishing beauty. I see that neither has been exaggerated." His eyes swept over her again, hungrily this time. "I am the captain of the Eagle, Captain Edward Burnham at your service," he said gallantly. She only continued to glare at him.
"Your clothes are torn and dirty and I'm sure you would appreciate a bath. More suitable attire will be provided for you after you bathe," he stated, his tone turning brisk. He approached the door and gestured for one of the guards to enter. "Take away Miss Veleslav's clothes and replace them with the garment I gave you earlier. Notify me after she has had her bath." He turned to her with a smirk. "I will leave you in Jones' capable hands." He then left the cabin.
The man named Jones stood staring at her. After a moment, he said, "The Captain said to give me your clothes."
"If you will please leave me with the replacement he gave you I will."
"No, you are to disrobe now," he replied, leering at her.
"Fine," she said briskly and began to remove her clothes, her eyes not leaving Jones for a moment. She stood before him unabashedly naked as his eyes swept over her. "My change of clothes, please?" she asked impatiently.
Jones tossed her a man's shirt and left the room. She stared at the garment. Was this all she was going to be given? She laid it on the bed and waited for her bath. When it finally arrived, she endured the stares of the men carrying it and patiently waited for them to leave. She sank into the tepid water and vigorously soaped herself. She felt dirtier from the lecherous stares she'd had to endure than from the actual dirt on her person. She dried herself and picked up the shirt. She pulled it on and was glad that it came down almost to her knees, however, she was dismayed to find that the buttons had been cut off. With a sigh she turned back the long cuffs and sat on the bed, waiting to see what would happen next.
She had expected Burnham to return but instead she was given a meager dinner and left alone. It was three days later that he finally arrived.
"Well, Miss Veleslav, how are you enjoying the voyage?" he asked jovially, taking in her bare legs as she clutched the shirt closed.
"Where's my crew? Where's my ship?" she asked angrily.
"Both your crew and ship got away safely. My only goal was to capture you, so after that was accomplished we quickly left your ship. Unfortunately my men did not want to leave right away and I heard that the injuries on your side were rather high and your ship did sustain quite a bit of damage. She should be alright though. Well enough to return to your hidden port."
She looked up at him quickly, fear prickling her skin. He chuckled and said, "No need to worry. I don't know of its whereabouts, only that all you pirates seem to have small islands, with hidden harbors."
He fell silent, mesmerized by her near nakedness and beauty. He approached her, his eyes glazed with lust and Catherine felt a stab of fear in her stomach. She backed away, until she was pressed against the wall and he was so close she could feel his fetid breath on her cheek. She turned her head away, repulsed.
He grabbed her by the hair, turning her face to his. He pressed his wet lips to hers and she felt a wave of disgust. She struggled to free herself but he was stronger than she. His hand reached up and clumsily groped for her breast. He grabbed her roughly and she fought back the revulsion his touch brought. She relaxed in his embrace, pretending to relent. She ground her pelvis against him and when he parted his legs for her, she quickly brought her knee up. It connected forcefully with his groin and his hands dropped from her to clutch at himself as he staggered backwards. His face was pale and contorted with pain. She kicked his backside and he fell to the floor in a fetal position. She knelt by him and grabbed him by the hair, lifting his head off the floor. "Don't ever touch me again!" she breathed. She dropped his head and banged on the door, belligerently ordering the guards to rid her of him.
She sat on the bed, her knees drawn up to her chin, the sheet wrapped around her. She suspected there would be retaliation for her self defense and she had to admit she was afraid. Her mind went back over the events and she was struck by how similar they had been to what she had subjected Nathan to. He most likely had viewed her with as much disgust as she had her captor. At least she was prettier she thought with a small smile. She had a small porthole and it had been dark outside for quite some time so she thought perhaps she was safe for today. She extinguished the light and lay down.
She awoke the next morning to a guard bringing her breakfast. He placed the tray on the table and left without a glance or a word. She warily rose and donning the shirt she sat down to her breakfast. She spent a tense day, starting at every sound in the corridor but by nightfall the only persons in her cabin had been her guards bringing her meals.
A week passed before Burnham finally returned. He eyed her warily, well aware of what she was capable.
"How do you feel, Captain?" she asked him, glancing at his groin.
He only glared at her, not answering her question. Gruffly, he asked, "How are you faring? Is everything to your satisfaction?"
Surprised by his interest, she replied. "More suitable clothing would be appreciated," she replied dryly.
His gaze flicked over her. A small smile played about his lips. "My apologies madam, but we do not have any gowns aboard, so a shirt is all that we can provide."
"Surely you have a pair of trousers that will fit me?"
"I do not consider trousers to be suitable clothing for a woman, so you must make do with what I give you," he replied still smiling, gazing at her bare legs. He approached her and standing arms length away, pulled a dagger from his belt. She tensed, seeing the blade and didn't move as he pointed it at her. "Lower your hands," he whispered and she released her hold on the front of the shirt. With the dagger tip he parted her shirt, revealing her nakedness. His eyes shone as he stared at her, his breath coming faster.
Catherine's own pulse quickened, not from excitement but from fear. If he threatened her with the dagger she would have no choice but to comply with his demands, demands that she knew would be made in bed.
Her mind again flew back to Nathan's imprisonment on her ship. How she had him shackled to the bed as she tormented him with her exposed breasts, her touch and her kisses. He had eventually given in, involuntarily surrendered to her. She would never give in to this man. He would never make her heart pound with passion, a groan of pleasure escape from her throat and most certainly not cry out in ecstasy. She stared back at him with icy eyes, her hands clenched at her sides.
"Miss Veleslav, you are indeed beautiful. Yes, yes, very beautiful," he murmured.
No longer able to stand his eyes on her, she took a step back and pulled her shirt closed. "You've seen enough. I want you to leave," she demanded.
He stared at her for a moment and then burst out laughing. "It is such a shame that a gem of girl like you has to hang. But then again, with that temperament you would never have been able to keep a husband for long."
Furious with him, she replied slowly, "I have no need for a husband nor do I wish one, now please leave."
Replacing his dagger in his belt, he tipped his hat to her and left the room. Once she heard the key turn in the lock she collapsed onto the bed. She closed her eyes with relief that he hadn't touched her this time. Her mind went back to Nathan shackled to the bed on her ship. How wonderfully helpless he had been, how enthrallingly helpless. Her hands slid down her belly and between her thighs as she gave in to the memories and desires she had been holding at bay since leaving him on her island.
The Veles limped into the harbor of the small island, her listing masts scraping the cliff walls, causing one to break off and fall into the water. She had been seen outside the harbor and the staff and remaining crew were already streaming down to the docks. Nathan was outside on the lawn with a few of his crew members taking in the sun when he heard the commotion. He overheard snatches of conversation as people ran past. "...she's back so soon...", "...masts listing...", "...badly damaged...". His heart caught in his throat and he joined the crowd waiting on the dock. He felt a cold stab of fear in his stomach when he saw the ship. Holes blown in her sides, masts broken and leaning badly, and the worst sign of all, hardly any crew on deck. The small boats were already out waiting and the injured crew was transported back to shore to fill the hospital that his men were just beginning to vacate.
Nathan grew more and more agitated when Catherine didn't appear. He assumed she would stay on board until everyone else was off. He strained to see a flash of her mahogany hair or hear her shout out an order. Finally the last boat came across and she had not been in any of them. He grabbed a crew member as he stepped onto the dock.
"Where is she? Where's Catherine?" he asked desperately.
"She was captured, sir. We attacked a ship but she was too well armed for us. Captain ordered that we continue but the other, she turned on us and fired first, boarded us. They took her, we tried to stop them, but they were too much for us," he explained, the distress plain in his voice.
"Where did they take her? Under which flag was the other ship sailing?" he asked, fearing the worst.
"England, sir. They're taking her back to hang," the sailor replied quietly.
Nathan felt as though the air was being sucked out of his lungs, and a cold dread began to creep through his veins. They can't hang her he thought. "You have to get her back. Get back out there and rescue her!" he demanded.
"How?" the man asked. "Most of the crew is in hospital, and of those who aren't, no one knows how to chart a course or navigate. I'm afraid it's hopeless." He turned and headed up the drive to the house.
Nathan stood on the dock, staring at the crippled Veles. She couldn't be gone, she just couldn't be. But what could be done? As the man said, it was hopeless.
He turned to the house, heading back to the sick room to see to his men. That night, he returned to his rooms and was pacing through them. It was late but he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep. Dawn was breaking as he sat in a chair and watched the sun come up over the trees. He began to hear sounds in the house and soon his breakfast was brought to him. Along with it was a note from Simpson, Catherine's first mate, requesting to see him.
He ate his breakfast and then went down to the hospital where Simpson was. He had been shot in the leg and was not yet able to walk. Nathan drew a chair up to his bedside and sat down.
After inquiring about his wounds and talking about the attack, Simpson looked up at Nathan, staring at him intently.
"I want you to go after her," he said simply.
"What do you mean?" he asked, his heart quickening.
"Take however many men are able on the Perun and go after her. When she is back here safely, you can go."
"I'm already allowed to go. She gave that order before she left," he said indignantly, however his pulse was racing and he could already feel her in his arms again.
"You can sail away on the Themis, your ship," Simpson replied. "If you bring her back ... safe," he added.
Simpson gave the order for all able bodied men to report to the ball room. He also stated in no uncertain terms that Nathan was in charge. He would be captaining the Perun. Several hours later Nathan had his crew, which was a mix of his and Catherine's men, and they were loading supplies onto the ship. He had sailed the Themis and ships like her across the Atlantic before but he had never sailed a ship like this one. He stood on the dock watching the smaller boats rowing back and forth. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He could do this. For Catherine he could, and would, do this. His first mate, Thornton, had come through the voyage on the Themis in good shape and would stand by him on this trip.
Two weeks after Catherine had been captured, the Perun slid out of her harbor and onto the open ocean. Nathan was relying heavily on the Perun's original crew to get them going as he wasn't familiar with her rigging or how she reacted to maneuvering. After a few days he had a better feel for the ship and they were slicing through the waves searching for the Eagle.
After a week, Nathan began to get restless and agitated. How were they supposed to find one ship in the whole Atlantic ocean. The Perun's original crew had assured him that they knew how to find ships. They knew the usual lanes the ships traveled through and they were confident that they would find her.
A cry came from the lookout that a ship had been spotted. Nathan picked up the spy glass and peered towards the horizon. Sure enough it was a ship, just a speck of white, too far away to identify. He paced back and forth waiting as they raced towards the unknown vessel. After ten minutes the lookout shouted down that it wasn't the Eagle but from the lines of her, most likely another pirate ship. Nathan asked what they should do.
"Hoist the jolly roger sir. Let her know what we are. If we pull alongside we can let them know we need to talk."
Nathan watched as the black flag with the scull and crossbones was raised and waited. He peered through the glass and saw the same flag flapping from the mast of the other ship. They pulled up alongside and the captain of the Firewind, Joseph Burrows, came onto the Perun. Nathan and Holmes, an original crew member, sat down with him.
"We're looking for the Eagle, have you seen her?" Holmes asked Captain Burrows after pleasantries and introductions were made.
He looked at Nathan and replied, "Yes, we saw her a few days back. Thought about trying to take her but she showed her cannons and we left straight away. She's heavily armed and I wasn't in the mood to take the chance." He looked around at the men seated at the table. "What's your business with her?" he asked suspiciously.
"They have Catherine Veleslav," Nathan replied bluntly. "We're going to rescue her."
"Catherine Veleslav?" Burrows asked incredulously.
"You know her?" he queried.
"I've never actually met the lass but she's legendary as far as pirates go. Not many women take up this trade and none do it as well as she. If you're going after her, we'll join you. I didn't want to face that ship on my own but with both of us and to rescue the fair Miss Veleslav, well that's a different matter altogether!" he exclaimed, pounding the table happily.
Nathan felt his spirits soar. He had been losing hope of finding her but now there was a chance.
"Follow us and we'll find her," Burrows said, rising from the table.
He quickly returned to his own ship and soon the Firewind was being followed by the Perun, to retrieve her captain.
...to be continued...