Fire And Ice: Love on the High Seas by Stein Willard

Fire And Ice 3: Love on the High Seas

PART 1

The image was a bit blurry, but she could still make out the shape of a ship. Lowering the spyglass, Kris turned to Soren.

“ It seems like we’ve managed to catch up on them,” she said as she held out the spyglass to him. “Get the cannons ready.”

Soren nodded and brought the spyglass to his eye. After a few seconds he turned back to Kris.

“ It looks like the Sea Siren, but we are still too far away to be sure.”

Kris turned on her heel and walked down the stairs to the woman who stood at the railing, looking out at the wide expanse of water. Hopefully this will cheer her up a bit. Coming to stand next to the woman, she was suddenly self-conscious of her height as she towered over the petite woman. Sorrowful dark eyes looked up at her and she smiled.

“ There is a ship about a day ahead of us. It could be the Sea Siren, but we’ll only be sure once we are closer.”

The dark head nodded and turned away to look over the ocean as a sharp wind tugged at her dark locks.

It has been three days since Seweeka was taken and three days since Manena had a good night’s sleep. Kris had received a number of reports from her men who had seen the petite brunette wander on the deck.

“ You look tired, Manena. You sure you don’t want to lie down for a while? I promise to send someone to wake you as soon as we have any news.”

The brunette looked up at her, the dark eyes emotionless. For a few moments they just stared at each other before Manena nodded and walked away. Puzzled by the woman’s strange behavior, she watched the petite frame until it disappeared down the stairs. She felt eyes on her and turning her head, she found her wife looking at her. With a slight smile, she walked over to her.

“ What do you think? Are we perhaps too hasty to pursue the Siren?”

Morgana frowned. “Why would the Sea Siren leave port so suddenly only a few hours after we have made plans to travel together?”

Kris inhaled deeply and turned away from Morgana to look across the welling sea. “What if she is not on the Siren?”

Morgana’s amber eyes turned cold.

“ Lillian knows something, Kris, and we will find out what it is even if we have to torture her.”

Kris nodded. “We will have to do something about Manena. She’s exhausted, but has trouble sleeping.” She turned to look at Morgana. “I hate that we have to do this, but I believe we will have to give her something to help her sleep. I doubt she would agree to take it freely.”

“ I will ask my cook to bring her something.”

****

The room was cast in darkness when she opened her eyes. She tried to sit up, but a splitting headache made her go limp and she fell back against the bed. She heard soft footsteps and slowly turned her head into the directions he heard the footsteps coming from.

“ How do you feel?”

Her eyes travelled upwards from the shiny boots, muscled legs encased in tight black pants up the muscular torso and the she gasped.

“ What … Why did you capture me? Why am I here?” Her voice came out in a rasp and she tried to sit up again. This time her hands went to her head and she cradled her aching head in her hands.

“ Do you want me to bring you some water to drink?”

Her head snapped up and a soft groan escaped her lips as the sudden movement sent a piercing pain through her skull. “No, I do not want you to touch me. Your kindness is poisonous.”

She watched as the grey eyes darkened and something akin to pain flash through their depths.

“ I just wanted to help.”

“ You have a strange way of showing it, Captain Scarborough.” She carefully studied the woman, noticing the tension in the broad shoulders and the slight trembling of her hand. “Why did you take me?”

Lillian averted her eyes and when she looked up again, her eyes held a strange look in them. She inhaled deeply.

“ I … You … I don’t know.”

Seweeka’s brows rose at the unexpected answer. “That sounds ridiculous. You must have a reason. You do know that you have brought the wrath of the Viking on you for taking me. What has driven you to want to seek such a needless death?”

Lillian walked over to her desk and splashed a healthy amount of wine in a goblet. She quickly swallowed the potent drink before she turned back to look at her.

“ Are you sure you don’t want anything to drink? The cook will bring you food in a little while.”

Seweeka slowly shook her head, careful not to aggravate her already pounding headache.

“ No. I do not trust you.”

This time she wasn’t mistaken about the hurt she saw in the gray eyes. Lillian blinked quickly and the look was gone.

“ You … you have all the right not to trust me, but I just want to make you as comfortable as I can.”

“ Then take me back to my friends and my mate.”

Lillian looked like she’d been hit by a bullet. Her face had paled suddenly and her hand was stroking the area over her chest.

“ Your … your mate? You are married?” Her voice was unsteady as she looked at her and Seweeka frowned at the strange behavior.

“ Yes, I am … married. I have been for the past two years.”

Lillian closed her eyes for a long moment and when she opened them, she had the saddest expression on her face.

“ I apologize for taking you away from your mate, Seweeka. I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have abducted you.” She turned away and walked over to the door. “I have instructed my men to put us on course for Ireland. I promised Morgana that I would help to ensure you safe passage to there and I will keep my word.”

Without a further word, the captain left the cabin.

Seweeka slowly looked around her. The cabin was large and sparsely furnished. Expect for the large bed, a chest, the desk and two chairs, the room lacked the feeling of being lived in. No paintings and no other personal articles. She rolled over on her side and closed her eyes. She was so thirsty, but she refused to ask for any type of kindness from the woman who had captured her. She would rest for just a few more moments and then she would get herself some water. She could see the pitcher and glasses on the desk.

The next time she woke, the cabin was dark and an unfamiliar warmth was pressed against her side. She slowly turned her head and in the dimly-lit room, she could make out the silhouette of the captain’s face. She slowly pushed away from the woman’s warmth.

“ I will get your some water. You should be thirsty by now.” Lillian’s voice broke the quiet of the room and Seweeka felt her climbing out of the bed. She watched as the tall, broad shouldered woman walked over to the desk and returned with a goblet of water. She just stared at the woman when she held out the glass to her, remembering her vow not to allow any help from the woman.

“ It is safe to drink.”

“ I don’t want anything from you, Captain Scarborough.”

Lillian slowly knelt next to her bed. “Please take the water, Seweeka. I really don’t want you to fall ill.” She brought the goblet to her lips and took a sip. “See, it’s really safe to drink.”

Seweeka looked into the pleading eyes, but still her resolve remained. She was here against her will and nothing this woman did would make her accept her fate.

“ No.”

“ Please don’t do this. It … it would kill me if something was to happen to you.”

Seweeka was almost swayed by the pleading she heard in the husky voice, but she still remained steadfast. “I do not need your help, Captain Scarborough. If and when I need anything, I will get it myself.”

She watched as Lillian’s head lowered until it rested on her chest. She sat like that for a few more moments before she nodded and came to her feet. “I understand. Please just take some of the food too. You have been asleep for almost two days.”

Lillian walked over to the desk and set the table. Making sure that everything was within reach, she stepped back and walked over to the bed. Without a word, she stretched herself out on the bed and turned her back on Seweeka.

****

Lillian lay quietly next to the woman, listening for when she would make a move to go to the desk. As she lay there, she was overwhelmed by the nearness of the exotic woman and the subtle scent of sweat which came off her body. She had never before been so affected by another person and even now she doubted if anyone would ever be able to touch her so profoundly. Lillian Scarborough never really needed anyone in her life before and over the years she had found that no one really needed her either.

She was born into poverty. Her mother, Victoria, worked as a chambermaid in a tavern back in Devon. Her most respectable work was done during the day when she would clean and straighten the rooms. At night, her lusty alter ego made its appearance. That was how she was conceived. Up to this day she had no idea who her father was. When she was 9 years old her mother met and married a vegetable farmer. Everett Williams was a bastard. Life, before he stumbled drunkenly into her mother’s, was not easy. She was left alone by her mother more times than she wished to remember. Some nights her mother would take her with her to the tavern, especially when there was nothing for her to eat at home. She would spend her time in the kitchen with Mary, the cook and eat and drink her fill. Much later Mary would walk her home to the small hut she and her mother shared. Mary would make sure there was a fire burning and that she had a bath before she was put to bed. Victoria would stumble into the hut much later, drunk and with pieces of straw caught in her blonde hair. Victoria was not a bad mother nor was she a good one. But there was a semblance of happiness in her life.

Then Everett entered their lives and things changed overnight. He worked his infertile piece of ground mercilessly, refusing to admit that no matter how many time he plowed and seeded the ground, the only things they had an abundance of from his efforts, were pieces of rocks. He could’ve just as well been growing rocks. But Victoria fell in love with the stoic man almost immediately. Within two months, they were wed and the savage beatings started.

At age nine she had only one way of trying to help her mother. She would distract a drunken, rampaging Everett by drawing attention to herself. Everett’s dull blue eyes would fill with hatred the moment they fell on her and he would use her to beat out his jealousy for the men who had lain between Victoria’s legs. In his alcohol-soaked mind, he believed that Victoria was still meeting men behind his back and Lillian was a living testimony of Victoria’s transgressions.

As the years passed the beatings lessened. The reason for that was because Lillian, forced to work the infertile patch of land day out and day in, grew into a tall, muscular teenager. She didn’t know who her father was, but she had thanked him many times over for the fact that as she was growing older, she began to tower over a gradually shirking Everett. When she turned sixteen she left the quiet, slow village life behind and made her way to London. Finding work was difficult and after a month of doing odd work here and there, a plan formed in her mind while she was sitting in darkened corner of a tavern sipping her ale. Looking at the patrons, she’d noticed that most of them where working at the docks. With so many ships coming and leaving, there were always work to do on the docks.

That night she left the tavern, cut her hair and went in search of the harbor master. Life became easier. She had work, money and friends. Very soon the women followed. The women were a tricky issue. It was while she was drinking at a tavern with her friends from the dock, that a beautiful young servant girl had planted herself on her lap. Not know what to do, she had tried to gently push the girl off her lap to the horror of her drunken friends. Scared that she might give away her disguise if she seduced the girl and scared that she’d be ridiculed if she refused to take the girl to the stables behind the tavern, she had tried to get one of her friends to take the girl for the night. But to her surprise the girl was adamant that she wanted no one but her. Amidst the ribald jokes and encouragement from her friends, she had taken her girl outside and behind the tavern to the warm stables. She had uneasily tried to kiss and caress the girl. After a while of inexperienced fumbling, the girl had pushed away from her, her eyes were dark and mysterious as they’d looked at her.

“ You need not fear me, honey. I know your secret.”

Stunned, Lillian had pushed away from her. “What do you mean, woman. What secret would I be keeping?”

The girl had smiled gently. “The kind where you are not and never will be like your friends.” She had stepped closer and had placed her hand on her chest. “I know about you, because we are the same. I have been bidding my time ever since the first time you came to the Green Hog almost a year ago.”

Lillian had stared at the girl, shocked by what she was hearing. “Why have you chosen me?”

“ Because there are not many like us around, Liam or whatever your real name is. And because you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The softly muttered compliment had warmed her heart and made her warm up to girl even faster.

“ I have never done this before …” She had looked at her girl pointedly. “….uh … What do I call you?”

“ Bessie. And what are you called?”

“ My friends call me Liam, but my real name is Lillian.”

Bess had pulled her into her arms that night and every single night afterwards. To be able to protect the both of them in case their secret was discovered, she had made it her priority to learn how to use a pistol and later to master the art of sword fighting. The latter she learnt from a Spanish sailor who was left behind by his ship and was living in a small hut not far from where she and Bess lived.

It was Pedro’s tales of instant riches and adventure which inspired her to join a motley crew of sailors in search of treasure. Bess was happy to stay behind and take care of their home while she crisscrossed the ocean and brought back exotic gifts and baubles for her. After three years of working on a pirate ship, they were hit by a storm off the coast of the Dark Continent. Half the crew, including the captain and the first mate was washed overboard by a giant wave and Lillian took it upon herself to captain the leftover crew, making Pedro her First Mate. Now three years, after that day she had a fearsome reputation, a loyal crew and more money than she needed.

As captain of her own ship, she was expected to spend more time on her ship and find more ways to increase the wealth of her crew. This led to her spending more and more time away from Bess and finally the young blonde had found herself an aristocratic lover and had left her. They were still good friends, but any chance of reconciling was gone. It was also then that Lillian’s reputation as skirt chaser began. Because of her good looks, wealth and shrewd mind, women in every port clamored for her attention. The woman came easy and was just as easily discarded. Lillian couldn’t ask for a more satisfying arrangement—until a few days ago.

Just one look into the peculiar, smoky green eyes of the woman who was presently lying next to her and she’d known that she would never be able to look at another woman without her body craving this woman. But she was already married. Just the thought of that made her heart ache. Here she was, finally finding her soul mate, only to find out that not only was she already married, but that she hated her for having kidnapped her. And then there was the issue of a furious Viking chasing her down to take her revenge. What was she to do? Returning her to her mate was not what she wanted to do, but if she ever wanted to garner the respect of this spectacular woman, that was what she had to do. The breath caught in her throat. Another option was to seduce her and make her fall in love with her. It was possible, but definitely not easy.

She held her breath, trying to listening to the woman’s breathing to determine if she was still awake. Yes, she was still awake, but was obviously not going to make it easy for her to follow orders. A small smile play at the corners of her lips, when the bed creaked softly and the woman pushed herself to her feet. Almost immediately a loud thud sounded and Lillian shot out of the bed, gently scooping the woman off the wooden floor. With infinite tenderness, she placed her on a chair and pushed it closer to the table. Not particularly eager to become involved in another verbal skirmish with Seweeka, she quickly turned away and walked over to the bed. She lay on her back, patiently waiting for Seweeka to finish her dinner so she could carry her back to the bed.

There was complete silence for a long while before she heard the unmistakable sound of water being poured in glass. Seweeka drank thirstily from the cup and poured another one. Soon afterwards the sound of a fork scraping the plate could be heard. She had instructed the cook to prepare a very special meal of tender fowl, fresh peas, softly cooked potatoes and pumpkin pie for Seweeka. Only the best would suffice for her green-eyed temptress.

She must’ve dozed off, because when she opened her eyes, it was to find those strange green eyes looking down at her from where Seweeka was sitting on the bed. Surprised by the woman’s nearness, she’d quickly rolled to her feet watching Seweeka carefully to determine her next move. She was relieved to find that Seweeka was not armed and that the fork was left on the empty plate.

“Are you feeling better now?” she asked softly not expecting an answer at all since Seweeka had made it known that she was going to ignore her as much as she could.

“Yes … thank you.”

Those softly spoken words almost brought her to her knees and Lillian held on to the bed to support her rubbery legs.

“I’m glad. I will not bother you any further. Unfortunately we only have this one bed and the floor is too hard and uncomfortable to sleep on. We will have to share this bed for the next four months until we reach Ireland.”

The green eyes were unreadable as they looked at her and Lillian quickly shut her mouth and crept back onto the bed. She felt the mattress sag as Seweeka lay back. At that precise moment a wave pushed the ship sideways and Lillian opened her arms instinctively to accept Seweeka’s body as it rolled into hers.

Lillian moaned softly at the exquisite feeling of having Seweeka in her arms again. For two glorious nights since they had left the Port of Greenwich, she had held the unconscious woman in her arms when she went to bed. Sometimes, during the day too, when she was at the helm and her arms had felt so empty and her body had craved the nearness of the woman who was lying in her bed in the Captain’s Quarters. This afternoon when she’d noticed that Seweeka was awake, she had felt a mixture of sadness and excitement. Sadness, because she’d known that with Seweeka awake she wouldn’t get the chance again to hold her in her arms and at the same time she was excited to see those beautiful eyes again.

Now here she was again, savoring the feeling of having Seweeka in her arms again. The woman was just as tall as she was if not a few inches taller and their bodies fit perfectly together. She held on longer to Seweeka than was necessary before she loosened her grip. She was pleasantly surprised when the green-eyed woman didn’t move away immediately, but laid there pressed up against her.

****

Seweeka was astonished by her body’s reaction to the deceitful pirate. She wasn’t expecting to have any other contact with the woman again after she’d collapsed on the floor. But just now when her body had rolled into the woman’s waiting arms, she was taken aback by the familiarity of the pirate’s body against hers. It was as if her body already knew the captain’s touch. Even now as her mind was screaming at her to push out of the woman’s touch, her body balked at the prospect of letting go of the pleasant trance the captain’s nearness placed her body in.

She just laid there, listening to calm breathing of her captor. Captor! Her body stiffened with the realization and she rolled away from the pleasurable warmth of Lillian’s body. Making sure that there was adequate space between the two of them, she closed her eyes and willed her tired, sated body to sleep.

But sleep didn’t come early that night. She was still tossing and turning when the long shadows of early dawn crept up against the walls of the cabin. Slightly guilty, because she knew her restlessness must’ve kept Lillian awake too, she turned slowly to cast a quick look at the sleeping woman next to her. She found two bright blue eyes looking back at her. A soft gasp escaped her lips at the unexpected change in eye color.

“Good morning, Seweeka.”

Seweeka felt a shiver run down her spine at the soft husky note in the captain’s voice. Combined with the bright, warm blue eyes, the impact was almost devastating. She groaned inwardly as a tiny stirring began in her stomach and slowly moved downwards. The moment it reached its destination, she closed her eyes at the disturbingly pleasant sensation and turned away from the stirring sight of the captain. She heard a soft sigh coming from the captain and she felt the bed sag as Lillian sat up. She watched in fascination as the captain strolled over to the other side of the cabin and was surprised when the supposedly solid wall gave way to another room. Inside she heard water running and heard the sounds of undressing. After a while Lillian returned to the main sleeping chamber and walked over to the desk and pulled out a chair. As if she was unaware of the presence of another in the room, the captain calmly collected the used eating utensils and pushed them to the far corner of the desk. She pulled a map out of the drawer of the desk and continued to study it in silence.

Seweeka, in turn, studied the captain as she sat at the desk. She truly was a beautiful woman with her long golden hair and strange changing eyes. Her body was dressed in a clean black shirt which was neatly tucked into fitted black pants. She cut quite a stunning figure with the black clothing accentuating the long, muscled lines of her body.

A soft knock sounded and with a curt invitation from the captain, who still had her head bowed over the map, the door opened and a large man with handsome swarthy features entered the room. He cast a quick glance her way and nodded a greeting.

“Good morning, Captain. I assume you’ve slept well.”

Lillian grunted something under her breath and looked up at the man. Seweeka was surprised by the faint smile which transformed the captain’s sullen features.

“As a matter of fact I did, Mr. Morientes.”

“That’s a good thing, Captain, because the Lilac Crest is but a few hours away and fast gaining on us.”

Lillian nodded and looked at her. Seweeka was surprised to find that the eyes which were bright blue earlier were now a dark, stormy gray. Lillian slowly came to her feet and walked over to the round window.

“Do you want us to get the ship ready for battle, Captain,” the man asked carefully and Seweeka noted a slight stiffening of Lillian’s shoulders.

“No. There will be no battle. If they are chasing us, then the fight is between me and the Viking. I don’t want my men to be drawn into this. Drop anchor and let’s wait for them.” She turned to the man. “Also, get the cook to prepare a nice noon day meal for my guests.”

The man had a confused look on his rugged features, but he nodded and left the cabin quickly. Lillian turned back to the window. “The cabin boy will bring you warm water for a bath and breakfast. I will allow you privacy while you take care of your needs.”

She turned abruptly and without another look in her direction, she left the cabin.

****

Manena left her cabin and walked out onto the deck, her eyes immediately drawn to the direction where she’d last seen the ship carrying Seweeka. She sighed with relief when she could still make out the shape of the Sea Siren. Heavy footsteps sounded behind her and she turned to find the awe-inspiring figure of the Viking captain making her way over to her. Even in her state of distress for her kidnapped friend, she couldn’t help but find pleasure in the way the captain moved across the swaying deck with long, purposeful strides.

“We will catch up with them before noon today,” the Captain said when she joined her. The pale blue eyes held a look of worry. “There might be a battle and I would want for you to stay in your quarters until we have secured the Sea Siren.”

Manena nodded, saddened by the prospect that men would die today, just because of the foolishness of the Sea Siren’s captain. She turned away from the piercing gaze of the captain and looked out over the tranquil ocean.

“Do you think Seweeka would be okay?”

“I believe so. Lillian is many things, but she’s not cruel.” Kris said with complete conviction.

“That is good to hear.”

“Have you had something to eat already? If not, would you like to share breakfast with me and Morgana, perhaps?”

Manena shook her head. “I am too nervous to eat, but I will go down to the galley if I feel hungry.”

Kris smiled briefly and with a soft squeeze of her large hand on Manena’s shoulder she walked away. Manena gaze returned to where the Sea Siren crested the swells of the waves. Just a few more hours and she would be reunited with her best friend. She had made peace with the fact that they would never be more than friends, but she couldn’t think of a life without Seweeka. She needed to know Seweeka was unharmed and nearby for her to keep on living.

There was a sudden flurry of activity and turning to face the deck, she saw Kris running towards the stairs leading to the bridge. She watched with batted breath as the blonde captain took the spyglass from her First Mate and swung it in the direction of the Sea Siren. After a while she turned to Soren and gave him curt instructions. Coming down the stairs, the captain walked over to where she stood.

“It seems as if they have thrown anchor and are waiting for us to catch up to them.” The blue eyes hardened. “I hope Lillian doesn’t entertain the foolish idea of trying to take me on. She has lost more times than I care to remember and this time will not be any different.”

****

Morgana looked up as her wife entered their quarters and slowly came to her feet when she noticed the cold expression in the pale blue eyes.

“What is wrong?” she asked carefully as she advanced on her visibly irate spouse.

“The Sea Siren dropped anchor and is waiting for us to catch up with them.”

Morgana noisily expelled the breath she’d been holding in. “Foolish woman. Must be that all the sex she’s been having over the years has caused her to become soft in the head. What does she hope to gain from this?”

Kris shrugged. “I wonder. Have you had breakfast yet? I’ve invited Manena to share with us, but she’s too nervous to keep any food down.”

“Poor girl. It must be hard for her to not know the fate of her mate.” The amber eyes studied Kris carefully. “I would go crazy if something like this should happen to you.”

“You have demonstrated already what could happen if someone tries to play with your toys. Kilabi can attest to that.” She planted a soft kiss on Morgana’s upturned lips. “So, have you eaten already?”

A leer formed on Morgana’s face. “Well, I have had an early breakfast, but I should add that I have a bottomless pit where you are concerned.”

Kris smiled at Morgana and the Spanish captain felt her heart flutter at the sight of the dimples in her wife’s cheeks. They had spent the night and a better half of the early morning in torrid passion, but looking at the beautiful woman before her, she realized that she still wanted her. Her eyes must’ve reflected her desire, because Kris took a quick step away.

“If you can hold that thought until later tonight, I promise to allow you to do anything to my body. But right now would not be a good time to engage in what you have in mind. Not with a possible battle looming.”

Morgana smiled brightly. A big portion of her day is spent thinking up ways to make her big Viking whimper in bed like a defenseless baby. She surely will keep her wife to her promise. But for now, she needed to reconnect with her again. Standing on tiptoes, she hooked her arms around the broad shoulders and took Kris’ lips in a long, hungry kiss. Pulling away, their lips parted with an audible smack and Morgana looked into her Kris’ eyes to see her reaction. The pale blue eyes burned into hers, a fierce hunger in their depths. Satisfied that she got the reaction she’d been aiming for, Morgana stepped out of Kris’ arms and walked over to the desk, her back turned to Kris.

“That’s what you can expect tonight. So you better make sure that you are not injured in the battle.” She yelped when she felt strong arms wrapping around her and she was pulled against Kris’ hard body.

“You should be careful too, my love. I would hate to slaughter a whole ship because some idiot was clumsy enough to nick you with his cutlass.”

Throwing her head back, Morgana exposed her neck to Kris and sighed deeply when she felt the warm lips nuzzling the column of her long neck.

“We have a pre-arranged tryst later tonight inside this cabin and I wouldn’t want anyone or anything to interfere with it.”

“Good, now when do we eat?”

“You have a one track mind, my dear, but it surely has its benefits. Gerd has sent up a tray not too long ago. The coffee should still be hot.”

Together they quickly set the table. Over a nice meal of sweetbread, bacon and eggs, they discussed possible scenarios on how to diffuse the battle they knew were coming.

“There is something we are missing. Why do you think she did it?”

Kris took sip from her coffee. “What? Kidnap Seweeka?”

“Yes.”

“It’s rather obvious, love. Lillian is in love with Seweeka. It was there for all to see the first time she laid eyes on Seweeka.”

Morgana’s dark brows rose and a teasing smile formed on her full lips. “Since when are you so observant, Viking? If I can recall correctly, it took you almost a full year to come to the realization that you were in love with me.”

“Sooner, actually,” Kris murmured as she buttered another piece of bread.

“Really? When exactly?” Morgana placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin on them while she studied Kris with warm golden eyes.

Kris smiled, albeit a little sadly. “I realized it the morning Drusilla told me that you had left. I was so angry at myself for having been so stupid and I knew you were not going to give me another chance.” She took a bite from her bread. “You made it clear that night that I was a fool to let you go and would regret it for the rest of my life.”

Morgana smiled at Kris. “You were a fool, but you managed to come to your senses. That is all that matters now.”

“I love you, my heart,” Kris whispered softly and reached for Morgana’s hand.

“I love you too, my Viking beauty,” Morgana said softly and chuckled when Kris blushed at the endearment.

They shared a long intimate look before Morgana pulled her gaze away.

“Even if she was … is in love with Seweeka, still why did she kidnap her?”

Kris drained her coffee cup and came to feet. “I can’t speak for Lillian, but I know how confusing and terrifying it was all of sudden to find myself having these powerful feelings for one woman. I felt totally out of control and as if I was losing my mind.” She bent over Morgana and brush her lips over hers. “I’ll have to be on deck and help the men get ready.”

Morgana smiled up into the warm blue eyes. “I will meet you up there in a little while. I just want to finish writing these letters.” A thoughtful expression crossed her eyes. “What you said just now made me think that I know why Lillian acted the way she did. I doubt we’ll have to get ready for a battle after all.”

Kris cocked her head to the side as she studied her wife and Morgana shook her head.

“I will just get the men to be ready for in case we are expected to engage the Sea Siren. Lillian is just as unpredictable as you are and being with you has taught me to be prepared at all times.” She hastily made for the door when she saw the amber eyes churning with a strange expression.

Kris left the cabin with Morgana’s laughter following close behind.

****

Lillian felt her stomach drop as she watched the Crest plowing forward, cutting the distance between them and grimaced. She would’ve never been able to outrun the Viking longboat. They were built for speed and power just like the captain of the Lilac Crest. She looked at her men. She could sense their uneasiness. The reputation of the Viking was well-known. The men of Sea Siren knew first hand of what those giants with the broadswords and hammers were capable of. She had tangled a few times with Kris over the years and every time she was left with a limping ship and a severely bruised crew. The Viking, when looking for retribution, was a swift and deadly enemy, but she was rather slow to kill. For that she and her crew were very thankful indeed. She had no idea why most of her foolish acts were committed when the Viking was in close proximity to her.

The times she had tangled with the Lilac’s captain were over petty transgression. Things like stealing a delectable bedmate from right under the Viking’s nose. One very painful encounter with the Viking stemmed from when a group of her men, drunk out of their minds, cornered one of the Lilac’s crew members at a tavern in a port they had stopped over. They had beaten the man within an inch of his life. She was still asleep, head resting on the soft, bosom of a young servant girl, when she heard the commotion outside. Storming out onto the deck with her sword drawn, she was stunned by what she’d encountered. The Viking had boarded the Sea Siren with only six well-armed men and was mercilessly punishing her crew for what they had done to one of her own. The devastation she’d left in her wake had even made Lillian blink in shock.

It seems as if they were going to have another painful reminder of the Viking’s hatred for treachery in a few hours. She lowered the spyglass and handed it to Pedro.

“Just tell her the truth, Captain. They can say what they like about the Viking captain, but she is a very understanding woman.”

Lillian snorted. “I believe we are talking about two different women here, Pedro. The Viking I know well want to thump me into the ground any chance she got.”

Pedro gave her a sly smile.

“That is because all those other times you were deliberately trying to provoke her and you knew that she disliked it immensely.”

Lillian shrugged and smiled ruefully. “She is just so arrogant and it had always riled me.”

“With all due respect, Captain, I find arrogance to be a relative term. I always found her to be the least arrogant of all the fair captains sailing the seas. She does show immense determination to obtain what she wants and believes she deserves. Does that make her arrogant? I think not, captain.”

Lillian held up her hands. “When you sprout all this philosophical drivel, I sometimes wonder why you prefer to waste your intelligence on the deck of a ship.” She studied her best friend of the past ten years and wondered for the umpteenth time what her friend was running from. It was obvious that he was an educated man. Beside his sword fighting prowess, he had also taught her how to read and write. Her questions as to who he was and why he was working the docks when it was obvious that he could easily be mistaken for a Spanish nobleman had stayed unanswered. He always changed the subject or just got a faraway look in his eyes, a sign she came to knew would mean the end of a conversation.

Pedro chuckled softly and lifted the spyglass to his eyes.

“I think they will be just in time for the noon meal.” His dark eyes were twinkling when he turned to look at her. “You do realize it would be unwise to bait the Viking captain.”

“I know and I promise to behave for the sake of the crew.”

“That is very comforting to hear, Captain. I will go down to the galley to make sure the meal is ready for our guests.”

Leaning over the railing she looked down at the waves splashing against the ship, but her mind was on the woman who was down there in her quarters. What was she thinking kidnapping the woman? A woman who was under the protection of a very vengeful Viking captain, for that matter? She sighed deeply. No, she wasn’t thinking. She remembered leaving the tavern after having seen Seweeka. She had stumbled blindly over to the dock and into her quarters. There she had sat at her desk, looking at her shaking hands for what had seemed like hours. Disgusted with herself and confused by her reaction to the tall, green-eyed woman, she had reached for the decanter of rum. An hour later and with more than half of the decanter gone, she had gotten to her feet and had gone in search of Pedro. She still remembered her look of complete shock on Pedro’s face when she had asked him to arrange for two men to stake out the inn and to abduct the woman she had described to him.

“Permission to speak freely, Captain.” Pedro’s handsome face was a picture of confusion.

“Granted,” she had snapped, knowing what was coming.

“You can’t just go and kidnap a woman. It’s a punishable crime and you could get hanged for that.”

She had glared at her First Mate until he had nodded and walked off to see to it that her orders were followed through. Not completely sure why, she had followed her men at a safe distance and was hiding behind a stall when her men had accosted Seweeka. She was furious when they had knocked her out and once the men were back on the ship, she had put them on deck scrubbing duties for having clubbed the red head.

But now it all seemed to have been for nothing. Seweeka already belonged to another. In hindsight, she was so engrossed in wanting to make sure that her men apprehended Seweeka that she hadn’t given any thought to the woman Seweeka was with. She also remembered that Seweeka was standing at a jewelry stall with the other woman. A strong surge of jealousy coursed through her and without thinking clearly about what she was about to do, she spun around on her heel and marched down the stairs and into her quarters.

Seweeka stood at the window and the picture she made, standing there with the rays of the sun highlighting the golden tresses in her red hair brought Lillian to an abrupt halt. Her heartbeat accelerated as she stared at the woman.

“You … you are …” She caught her tongue just in time, before she made a complete fool of herself. “The noon meal should be ready anytime now. We will take it down in the galley. If it is your wish I would like to escort you there.”

Seweeka turned to face her and Lillian was caught in a cool unreadable green gaze. “I would prefer to stay here.”

“Your friends will also be joining us.”

“I know, but I still prefer to meet with them in here.”

Lillian stepped closer to the redhead. She was right. Seweeka was indeed taller than her by a few inches. Looking closer, she realized that the woman had a very strong build and more than capable of defending herself. She suddenly wondered why Seweeka hadn’t tried to overpower her yet. She took a careful step forward which brought her within a few feet from the tall, redhead. The green eyes were unreadable as they stared at her.

“ Why haven’t you tried to overpower me? Heaven knows you have had ample opportunity.”

The green eyes narrowed. “And go where? We are in the middle of nowhere.”

“Your friends were not far behind us. You could’ve used me as a hostage and get my men to turn the ship around.” She took another step closer, but still the green eyes just stared back at her calmly.

“You are right. The blow to my head must have affected me more than I thought initially,” Seweeka said drily and Lillian thought she saw a flicker of amusement in the smoky green depths, but it was gone so quickly. She took another step closer and this time the green eyes narrowed slightly. She was very close to Seweeka. So close that she could see little gray flecks in the green eyes. That explained the smoky effect she saw in the red head’s eyes.

“Many people would call what I did foolish and maybe it was indeed foolish to have abducted you.” She took another step closer and this time she noticed the tall frame stiffen. “But deep down I know I had to do it. The three nights I’ve spent with you were the greatest three days of my life.” She reached and placed her hand on Seweeka’s hip. “I might not live to see the end of this day, but before I am cut down today, I would like to beg you for a kiss, one small kiss for me to take with me wherever my soul ends up.” She took another step closer and her nostrils flared at the familiar scent of the woman. “Be merciful and grant me this small boon.”

The fingers slowly curled around Seweeka hip and she subtly applied pressure. She felt a slight tremor underneath her fingers and inhaled deeply. Seweeka wasn’t totally unaffected either. She recalled the incident last night when Seweeka had laid in her arms for a few long moments before she’d moved away. Maybe, just maybe she actually stood a chance of winning over this enigmatic woman. She slowly shifted closer still until her face was few centimeters away from Seweeka’s.

“I beg you for only one kiss and then I will let you be. It will kill me to let you go, but I will if you want me to.” She moved her head closer, shrinking the distance between their lips. When she was close enough, she saw the green eyes darkened slightly. “You are the most beautiful woman alive.” Feeling bold suddenly, she moved her hand around Seweeka hip until it rested on her lower back. She swallowed hard, knowing that the moment of a lifetime was upon her—the first kiss from her soul mate. She leaned closer and shuddered when her breath mingled with Seweeka’s. She vaguely noticed that Seweeka’s breathing was ragged and that the green eyes were extra bright.

Their lips touched gently and they both moaned at the feather light touch.

****

Seweeka felt her insides melt at the first touch of the woman’s lips on hers. The touch was light but so powerful in its gentleness. She slowly pulled away and looked into the stunned eyes of the captain. They stared at each other for a long moment, before they simultaneously moved in for yet another kiss. But just as their lips were about to touch, there was a hard knock on the door.

“Captain …?! Captain, you need to come see this.” Pedro’s voice had a slight ring of desperation to it. Even in her cloudy state of mind, Seweeka picked up on that and quickly stepped away.

“You are needed. Go.”

She watched as Lillian lifted her hand to her mouth and touched her lips lightly. When their eyes met, she saw that Lillian’s eyes were bright blue.

“Strange eyes,” she said softly and blinked when she realized that she had spoken out loud. She quickly looked away.

“They change color according to my mood.”

She looked back at Lillian and the warrior almost drowned in the blue depths. The knock sounded again and this time Lillian walked over to the door and yanked it open.

“What happened, Pedro?”

“Your … uh … guests are here. They … uh … brought their own cutlery and they seem really hungry … for revenge.”

Throwing one last look over her shoulder at her, Seweeka saw that Lillian’s eyes were a dark grey. They held each other’s gaze until Pedro cleared his throat loudly. Lillian turned away and left the cabin.

Alone, Seweeka gently touched her fingertips to her tingling lips. So this was a kiss. It was quite pleasant but very short. She remembered seeing Kris and Morgana, their lips locked in long passionate kisses, while they were on their late night strolls on the deck. Now that she knew what it feels like, she’s eager to try some more. But longer ones. The kind that Kris and Morgana shared.

Cocking her head to the side, she noticed that it was very quiet. Lillian! She quickly made her way to the deck and came to a screeching halt at the scene which greeted her eyes. Standing opposite each other, their swords drawn were Kris and Lillian. A half-circle had formed around the two duelists and Seweeka spotted Morgana and Manena easily.

“Stop!”

All heads turned her way and she slowly moved to stand between the two women. Kris’ eyes raked over her quickly before she lowered her broadsword.

“Were you harmed in anyway, Seweeka?” Kris asked curtly.

“No, I was not harmed by the captain or her men. In turn I would not want them to be harmed either.”

She felt a soft hand on her shoulder and looked into Lillian’s grey eyes. “Please, don’t do this. My men expect me to take responsibility for my actions the same way I expect it of them. I have to fight her.”

Seweeka turned her back on Kris to create a little privacy for them. “She will hurt you.”

“I know and she has all the right in the world to want to do so.”

“No. I do not want you to get hurt.”

“Why not, Seweeka? I thought you were angry with me for what I did to you.”

Seweeka looked over her shoulder, meeting Kris’ eyes. She saw a warning in the pale blue depths. She quickly turned back to Lillian and leaned closer. “Because I would like to kiss you again.”

She watched, fascinated, as right before her eyes, Lillian’s grey eyes slowly began to shade. It first became a lighter grey, then a mixture of blue and grey and then finally, a vivid blue. Lillian stepped closer to her, her eyes blinking repeatedly as she looked at her.

“I would like to kiss you again too.”

Seweeka nodded turned back to Kris. “I do not want any harm to come to Captain Scarborough.”

Morgana quickly stepped closer, her eyes staring daggers at Lillian. “You rat, did you seduce her?”

“No,” Lillian answered indignantly. “I haven’t put a finger on her.”

“You must really think me stupid to believe you, Lillian. You were locked up in your cabin with her for three days and you want us to believe that you didn’t do ANYTHING!”

“I didn’t touch her. Why don’t you ask her yourself? She has no reason to lie to you.”

With many sets of eyes on her, Seweeka quickly nodded. “The Captain is telling the truth. She has not touched me. She was a true gentle … gentlewoman.”

She saw Kris’ eyebrow shoot up, before she looked at Morgana. Whatever the two of them were sharing by way of non-verbal communication, Seweeka knew she wasn’t going to like it.

“Seweeka, I know that you do not want any blood to be shed on your behalf,” Morgana began, “but unfortunately there are certain decrees and codes amongst pirates. You were under the protection of Kris and myself. Lillian knew that abducting you were against our codes. She was also aware that she would have to be punished when we caught up with her.” Morgana came to stand next to Seweeka. “Breaking that code now could cause a lot a chaos amongst the captains and crews. This is our way of bringing a semblance of order to an otherwise chaotic trade.”

Manena stepped forward and at the sight of the best friend, Seweeka opened her arms and Manena rushed into her arms. They held on tightly to each other and Seweeka was surprised by the thickness in her throat at the familiar nearness of her friend.

“I missed you, my friend,” she whispered into Manena’s hair, unconsciously slipping into their native language.

“And I you, Seweeka. I was so scared that they were going to harm you.”

Seweeka held Manena at arm’s length and smiled down into her dark eyes. “She did not hurt me. On the contrary, I think she likes me.”

Manena’s eyes widened slightly. “And … and you?”

Seweeka averted her eyes quickly, but Manena gently lifted her chin.

“She is not a bad person.”

“So you like her then?”

She threw a look over her shoulder at Lillian and was shocked to find dark grey eyes looking back at her. Strange, but she was getting really used to seeing those beautiful bright blue eyes looking back at her. But to see them more often, she’ll have to be around more often. She turned back to Manena.

“I would like to get to know her, Manena.” She saw a look a hurt cross her friend’s eyes and she felt her heart ache at the pain she was sure her friend was feeling at the moment. “I am sorry.”

Manena just snuggled into her arms. “As long as you are happy I am happy.” Manena gave Seweeka a tight squeeze and stepped out of the embrace. “You need to go over there and save her.”

Seweeka gave her a soft smile and walked over to where the three pirate captains stood. She threw a quick glance in Lillian’s direction. The Sea Siren captain stood with her legs apart and with the tip of her cutlass facing the deck floor. Her blonde hair was windblown, giving her a very appealing, untamed look. She heard a soft clearing of the throat and turned to find both Kris and Morgana staring at her.

“What do you suggest should happen?” She saw Kris lift her broadsword and stepped closer to Lillian. “I believe you are forgetting a very important issue.”

“What is that,” Kris practically growled at her.

“Without Captain Scarborough we will not be able to reach Ireland. We need her to negotiate safe passage for us.”

Morgana looked at Kris and back at her.

“She is not the only one who has a safe pass, Seweeka. We can find someone else even if it means we have to pay them for the favor.”

Seweeka hadn’t thought about that. She looked at Lillian. The blonde looked so nonchalant about the whole situation and it was slowly beginning to infuriate her. Why was she even trying to protect her from Kris’ wrath? With one long stride, she was standing before Lillian. Her hand shot out and she grabbed the captain closer by her arm. She saw the startled look on Lillian’s face and pulled her even closer.

“I do not like the cowardly manner with which you are dealing with this situation.”

She saw a flash of anger in the grey eyes and felt the captain jerk her hand out of her grasp.

“Coward, you say? Well, let me tell you something. I am taking responsibility for my actions, because what I did deserves punishment. A coward would try to wiggle their way out of this, I am not.” She pushed her face into Seweeka’s. “Why don’t you do us both a favor and worry about your mate while I take care of this?”

Seweeka’s eyes widened at the captain’s uncharacteristic outburst. She turned to Morgana and Kris and found them both trying hard to avoid making eye contact.

“What will her punishment be?”

Kris looked at Morgana and together they both looked at Seweeka. “Thirty lashes and her word that she will ensure safe passage for us to Ireland.”

Thirty lashes. She had once seen a warrior from their village cry like a small child after he was found to have been guilty of mating with another warrior’s woman. He received twenty lashes with a thin reed. After ten lashes the warrior was crying shamelessly and after the final strike, he lost consciousness. His back was an ugly sight to behold. There was blood everywhere and a few of the warriors couldn’t help but vomit at the sight.

“I am ready,” Lillian said in a quiet voice and Seweeka quickly turned to her. What was wrong with the woman? Didn’t she know the agonizing pain she just invited upon herself? She turned to Kris, her eyes pleading silently with the Viking.

Kris just looked away and held out her hand to one of Lilac Crest’s men. A thick black cat o’ nine tails was slapped in her palm. Seweeka eye widened at the sight of the long, multi-tailed whip. It looked even more menacing than the reeds they used back on the island. Looking at it, Seweeka knew that that weapon would shred Lillian’s back. It would look worse than what the warrior’s looked like. She had to do something. She looked up and Seweeka saw the icy look in the Viking’s eyes.

“Flogging is the least we could come up, Seweeka. She actually deserves much worse for what she did.” Motioning for her men, two large men stepped forward to grab Lillian by her arms. A collective growl sounded from the Siren’s men at the sight of the captain being manhandled. That was incentive enough for Seweeka to act and before Lillian could react to her handling at the hands of the sailors, Seweeka’s fist shot out and the man nearest to her crumbled to the deck, completely unconscious. A loud cheer sounded from the Siren’s sailors. She reached around Lillian for the other man, but she was suddenly caught in a vise like grip. Turning, she looked into the unreadable eyes of the Viking pirate.

“Don’t do this. I will have to lock you up if you continue with this.” Kris turned her around and pushed her into the arms of two of her men. “Don’t let her go. If you do, you will each receive ten lashes,” Kris hissed.

Seweeka felt the hands tighten on her arms and she sighed deeply. She looked at Lillian and saw that her eyes were bright blue again. She was happy, Seweeka thought. She wondered why. Was it because she was willing to take on two large Vikings to free her? She gave Lillian a tiny smile and blinked when she received a brilliant smile in return.

Seweeka watched as Lillian walked over the mast and embraced the thick pole. Kris stepped closer, the nine braided tails of the whip dragging on the deck behind her. Kris’ body tensed as she looked at Lillian’s back. The only sound on the deck was the soft sloshing sounds of the waves as it beat against the rump of the ship. Seweeka felt a hand slip into her and looking behind her, she met the sympathetic dark eyes of Manena. She felt her own hand tighten around Manena’s as she turned back to the gruesome scene which was to unfold before her eyes.

Kris’ arm lifted and with a curt flick, the nine tails cut throw the air, accompanied by a hissing sound.

****

A loud crack sounded and the breath was expelled from Lillian’s lungs as a blinding pain exploded through her body. She felt her hold on the mast falter, but she quickly tightened it again. She was going to see this through even if it killed her. She refused to look weak in front of her men nor did she want Seweeka to be a witness to it. In the ten years as a pirate she had witnessed and delivered many floggings, but had never been the one of the receiving end of the . Even as the pain radiated through her body, she couldn’t help but feel admiration for all the men and women who’d been in the spot she found herself in. The pain was unbearable and …

Lillian braced against the mast as the second strike fell. It fell on the same spot and she felt a slow trickle of liquid. First blood—the first of many to follow. She bit back the groan which threatened to escape her lips. A sign of weakness now could loose her the respect of her men. She could ill afford that. As the third stroke came, she closed her eyes tightly and pushed the pain as far deep as she could. To do that successfully, she carefully delved deep into her mind until she found what she needed—

Everett.

She saw his hateful face and beady little eyes before her. She smelt his breath, sour from stale ale. She never showed him the satisfaction of what his beatings was doing to her. In her mind’s eye she saw him walking over to her, his beefy fist pulled back. It made contact with her face and the pain exploded in her cheek. After so many beatings at his hand, she was well aware of the man’s strength and the damage he was capable of. She looked up into his eyes, hers hard and dry even as she knew that he had broken her jaw with that powerful strike. She could see in his eyes that he knew that he must’ve wrecked her jaw and she saw too that he was surprised by her resilience. His eyes began to glitter and she knew what to expect. He pulled back his work boot and as it hit her midsection the breath whooshed out of her. Doubling over, she cradled her stomach, but when she looked up again, her eyes were still bone dry. He wasn’t going to break her. That was the last beating she had suffered at the brute’s hands. That was also the day she made the promise that nothing and no one was going to break her—until Seweeka.

Seweeka had managed where so many had failed. She had burrowed into a place … a deep place which even she had doubted existed anymore. She was so sure that even she had lost the key to that place.

Another strike.

Her mental separation technique seemed to be effective. The pain was there, but not as intense as before. Another strike fell and her back arched. Maybe she had spoken to soon. It hurt like the fires of hell.

She concentrated hard until two smoky green eyes appeared before her. She studied them carefully, fascinated by the dark grey slivers which threw tiny shadows on the green background, giving them a dark, smoky feature. Seweeka. The name whispered down the corridors of her mind. What is it about that woman that she failed to think straight when she was around her. Could it be that she was in love with her? Does such a thing as love at first sight exist? Could she have been bewitched by the woman? So many questions and no answers.

****

Seweeka heard a soft groan nearby and turned to look at Manena. The brunette’s face was pale as she looked down at their joined hands. Then only did she realize that she had her friend’s hand in a death grip. She quickly released it, her eyes begging for forgiveness. Manena returned a soft, understanding smile.

Another crack sounded and she turned back to see Lillian’s back arch again as a slow stream of blood was trialing down her torn shirt and onto the deck. Seweeka’s stomach turned at the sight of Lillian’s torn flesh. A sudden surge of anger powered through her. She was angry at Kris for mutilating Lillian. She was angry at Morgana for just standing by doing nothing to stop the brutality. She was angry at Lillian for having placed herself such a situation. What was the woman thinking? She must’ve known what would happen when she captured her. She lived by the code of pirates. There was no way she wouldn’t have known. Or did she and she still went ahead? She remembered Lillian’s words of earlier.

“Many people would call what I did foolish and maybe it was indeed foolish to have abducted you. But deep down I know I had to do it. The three nights I’ve spent with you was the greatest three days of my life. I might not live to see the end of this day, but before I am cut down today, I would like to beg you for a kiss.”

Just a kiss. She had tempted fate for just a single kiss. Her sight suddenly blurred at the realization. The foolish woman knew what she was doing. She knew!

“Enough!!!” She saw Kris’ arm drop immediately and she looked at the Viking with her heart in her eyes. “She knew what would happen but she still went ahead and did it. There must be reason why she did it. Let her tell us why. If you don’t rate it a worthy enough reason, then I give you my word, I will not interfere again.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lillian slowly slide down the mast, her arms still embracing the pole, until she was kneeling on the deck.

Kris looked at Morgana and then back to Seweeka. After a moment of silence, Kris turned back to look at the bloodied figure kneeling on the deck.

“Captain Scarborough, the lady requests your motive for committing this punishable act. Please answer the question truthfully.”

Silence.

When no sound from the kneeling woman was forthcoming, Seweeka shook the hands of the two Vikings off her and walked over to Lillian’s bloodied body. She lowered herself on the deck and reached for the blonde. She gently lifted the blond head so she could look into the Lillian’s eyes. Lillian’s eyes were shut tightly. Her beautiful face was pale and her lips bloody from where she had bitten them to keep from screaming out at the pain. A warm feeling rushed over Seweeka at the sight and she gently touched the bloodied lips. They were dry to the touch not as soft and warm as when she had kissed her earlier.

“Please tell us why you did it, because it is hurting too much to see you going through this.”

The bloodied lips moved slowly.

“Why do you care?” Lillian asked in hoarse voice.

This time it was Seweeka’s turn to be silent. She didn’t know the answer to the question. She turned to look at Manena. The brunette’s eyes were swimming in tears, but she gave her an encouraging smile.

“If you tell me why you captured me, I promise to tell you why my heart aches at seeing you like this.”

The silence which followed was heavy with expectation. It was as if everyone present on the deck were holding their breaths. Seweeka gently cradled Lillian’s face in her hands, silently urging her to speak up.

“When I saw you the first time, I believe … my heart had found its other half.”

She wasn’t completely surprised by the declaration, because she had suspected it and Lillian had admitted it to her earlier in the cabin. But still it was nice to hear it said before thirty witnesses.

The long light eyelashes moved and Lillian’s eyes blinked open. They were a fascinating blue-grey color as they looked up into hers and Seweeka thought that it was a beautiful color she could also get used to.

“Your turn,” Lillian whispered softly. Her eyes were intense even as a shadow of pain hid in their depths. A tiny smile form on Seweeka’s lips as she leaned closer. She felt a strong current run through her body when her lips made contact with Lillian’s. She pulled back and watched in rapt fascination as Lillian’s eyes began to lighten. She quickly leaned forward again and pressed her lips again Lillian’s. This time Lillian opened her mouth slightly and Seweeka gasped at the warmth bathing her lips as Lillian’s tongue traced them.

A loud cheer sounded and they jerked away from each other. Seweeka threw a quick glance in Kris’ way and found the Viking looking at them with a satisfied look on her face.

“That, I believe, is the most worthy motive ever. The second part of the bargain still stands though. Captain Scarborough gave her word to travel with us to Ireland.”

Lillian nodded as she tried to hoist herself to her feet. Before Seweeka could offer her help, two of the Siren’s men, stepped forward and gently helped her to her feet. Lillian swayed lightly, but the men held on to her until she was steadier on her feet. She looked at Kris and Morgana.

“I was going to invite you for the noon meal when you got here, but we were otherwise distracted. The offer still stands and I would be honored if you would share the meal with us. My First Mate will show you in while I quickly freshen up.”

Seweeka looked at the woman next to her with undisguised admiration. A curious warm feeling settled around her heart when bright blue eyes met hers. With a brief smile in her direction, Lillian slowly crossed the wide deck towards her quarters.

****

PART 2

Morgana threw a worried look at the quiet woman sitting quietly as she sipped from her wine.

“Is everything all right, my love?”

The pale blue eyes turned her way and in that one unguarded moment, she saw the guilt that was weighing on her lover’s heart. Making sure that her eyes reflected all the love and admiration she felt for her Viking, she just stared at the love of her life. She knew nothing she said would make more of an impact than reassuring her of her love for her. She watched as the pale blue eyes warmed gradually until she felt Kris falling into her eyes. This was a trick that Mira, Kris’ mom had taught her. Mira was a very resourceful woman and had very early on learned that the only way to handle her husband and her giant offspring was not to butt heads with them. Instead she gently coaxed them to do her will with pure love.

“They are extremely stubborn, must be something to do their size, I don’t really know,” Mira said one evening while Kris, her father and her brothers were visiting a sick friend nearby. She and the petite Englishwoman was seated in cooking area, sipping on spiced wine. “But when it comes to love and affirmation, they melt like snow on a sunny day.”

“What do you mean exactly when you say ‘love and affirmation’?” she had asked carefully. Mira had thrown her head back and laughed deeply.

“I have what Thor calls ‘the look’. He says it makes him feel lightheaded the longer he stares into my eyes. I swear I can feel him fall into my eyes then. You should try it with Krista.” The impish woman had winked at her. “She is her father’s daughter after all.”

She’d sworn to its success. Now almost a year later she needed to thank her mother-in-law for the tip. She smiled at the dazed look in her wife’s eyes.

“Are you all right?” she asked softly and chuckled when Kris blinked a few times before her eyes became focused.

“Uhm … yes.” She looked away and then back again. “I am now.”

“Good,” Morgana purred.

The door opened and a tall man stepped in. She gave him a quick once over and turned back to Kris. She was pleasantly surprised to find the pale blue eyes still resting on her. They shared a long intimate look. A sudden crash nearby made them both surge to their feet. Looking for the source of the crash, they found the tall men bent over what looked like the shattered remains of a dinner plate. They slowly took their seats again.

****

Pulled out of her morose thoughts by the loud crash, Manena also surged to her feet. She sighed with relief when she saw the man busy picking up the shattered pieces. As if on autopilot she slide out of her chair and bent down next to the man to help him.

Stunned, the man looked up and Manena was shocked to meet vaguely familiar looking amber eyes.

“No, please, senorita. You will injure yourself. Please let me do this,” the man said in a deep baritone. He had barely finished his sentence when she pulled her hand away sharply, seeing a small red drop form on her thumb. She aimed to push it into her mouth to suck at the blood, when her hand was clasped in a gently grip and her injured thumb was pushed into a warm, gently sucking mouth.

A soft gasp escaped her lips at the foreign sensation coursing through her body. Her eyes met the gentle eyes of the man and for the first time she was struck by how incredibly handsome the man was. As if realizing what he was doing, the man quickly pulled her thumb out of his mouth and with a self-conscious look gently placed her hand in lap.

“I apologize, Senorita. Please forgive me my forwardness.” He quickly averted his eyes and began to pick up the shattered pieces. “If I have your permission, Senorita, I would like to take a look at the wound later to see if there is a piece of glass imbedded in your thumb.”

Manena was so busy staring down at the man’s dark head that she didn’t hear him speak. When the golden eyes raised to meet hers again, an expectant look in them, she mentally shook her head.

“I … I …” she stopped when she realized she didn’t know what to say. He smiled gently and two deep dimples formed in his shaven cheeks.

“I will understand if you feel uncomfortable having me touch you again, Senorita. I could get our cook to examine your injury.”

Manena’s eyes lit up in understanding. He wanted to examine her hand further. Looking at his large tanned hands, she remembered how gentle they’d been. She also remembered the pleasant sensation which had shot down her spine when he had taken her thumb in his mouth. Blushing, she lowered her head and nodded.

“I believe it is not serious, sir, but thank you for offering,” she murmured softly.

The man’s smile widened and he looked even more handsome, if it could be possible.

“I am glad that my clumsiness hasn’t crippled you completely, Senorita.” He gently reached for her hand again, but a shadow fell over them and he quickly lowered his eyes again, busying himself with picking up what was left of the dinner plate.

“Are you all right, Manena? Did you cut yourself?” asked Morgana. With one last look at the man, she rose to her feet and held out her injured hand to Morgana.

“ It is just a small prick, but it would be fine. I have the gentleman to thank for it.” Looking into Morgana’s worried eyes, her gaze sharpened at she couldn’t shake the feeling of familiarity. She quickly looked down at the man’s bent head.

Morgana was gently prodding the sensitive area on her thumb for a few seconds before she released Manena’s hand. She turned her eyes on the man.

“Thank you for your help, sir,” she graciously thanked the man. Manena frowned when the man nodded, but failed to look up. A slight tension filled the air as Manena watched Morgana look down at the man’s bowed head. “If you please, I would like to see the face of the man who so graciously helped our friend.”

When the man failed to look up again, Manena watched uneasily as the tall Viking uncoiled her powerful frame from the chair and came over to stand at her mate’s side. Unconsciously, Manena placed herself between the two captains and the sailor. The man must’ve read her protective body language, because he sighed deeply and slowly came to his feet. He towered over Manena’s diminutive frame and she quickly looked up at him. Their eyes met for a brief second and she was surprised by the resignation she saw in his eyes. He looked away from her and just as his eyes met Morgana’s, a Spanish exclamation broke the tense silence.

“ Madre!” Manena blinked as Morgana launched over her and grabbed the man close.

Manena and Kris watched as the man’s heavily muscled arms wrapped tenderly around the Spanish captain and held her close to him. After a long moment, Morgana stepped back. Manena saw that the amber eyes were wet with unshed tears as Morgana looked up into the eyes of the man, shaking her head. Then the Spanish captain’s fist shot out and land with a sickening thud against the man’s cheek, making Manena shriek in surprise. He went down, landing on his derriere, a stunned look on his face. Morgana’s eyes were blazing with anger when she turned to face Manena and Kris who were gaping at her.

“Ladies, let me introduce you to my brother, Don Pedro Raul Morientes III,” she said as she slammed out of the galley.

Manena stared as the man dazedly tried to get to his feet and she quickly stepped forward to help him up and into a nearby chair. Everything made sense now. No wonder Pedro had looked so familiar to her. She poured a glass of wine and handed it to him. With a slow smile of thanks, the noble man took it and brought it to his lips. His amber eyes moved over to where Kris stood.

“I apologize for not being able to get to my feet to greet you properly, Captain, but my younger sister always had a very powerful arm. I would however like to welcome you to the Morientes family and I am proud of the choice she has made in choosing a wife.”

Manena looked at Kris and almost smiled at the Viking’s speechlessness.

****

Seweeka gently dapped at the oozing cuts, her hand shaking lightly as she worked. She had never thought the cat could do so much damage. She heard a soft groan escape Lillian’s lips and immediately lightened her touch. She peered over into the captain’s pale face and a soft smile formed on her lips. Although she hated the fact that Lillian was injured, she was equally proud of the captain’s resilience. Like a warrior, she had taken her punishment and even had the grace afterwards to extend her hospitality to the person who had exacted it on her. She rinsed the blood-soaked cloth in the bowl of lukewarm saline water. She knew having the saline seep into her cuts, must be extremely painful, but her warrior bore the pain.

“I know you what you did out there … what you did was only to stop the flogging.” Lillian said, her usually smoky voice made deeper by the pain. “I want you to know that I will not hold you to that.”

Seweeka’s hand stopped midair just as she was about to wipe away the last drops of blood on the Lillian’s back. She arched her neck so she could look into Lillian’s face. Pain filled grey eyes met hers.

“You do not want me?” Seweeka asked softly, hoping her voice didn’t project the sudden hurt she felt weighing heavy on her heart.

Lillian blinked, surprised. “I … I thought … you didn’t.” Seweeka saw her throat work as she swallowed repeatedly. “You don’t love me, Seweeka.”

“How do you know?”

Lillian’s eyes widened fractionally and she turned her head so she had a better view of Seweeka’s face.

“You didn’t tell me, that’s why.”

Seweeka exhaled slowly, feeling her body relax gradually. She was not rejecting her! She just seem to be unsure about the feelings she, Seweeka, had for her. Seweeka calmly began to clean the wounds again. After a long while, she got up to gather the salve and the strips of linen on the desk. As soon as they had entered the cabin, she has asked the cook/physician to bring her everything she would need to clean Lillian’s wounds.

“You don’t even deny it, Seweeka.”

Applying the strong smelling salve to the cuts she saw Lillian stiffen slightly at the burning sensation.

“You are right, Captain. I did not tell you that I have feelings for you.” She gently rubbed a large glob of the salve onto Lillian’s back, equally distributing it amongst all the cuts. “I grew up in place where words held lesser importance than deeds. You show your mate how you feel about them instead of wasting time trying to tell them.”

Lillian sighed softly and Seweeka smiled as she felt how the woman body began to relax almost immediately under her fingertips.

“Does that mean that you love me?”

Seweeka thought about the question long and hard as she helped Lillian into a seated position so she could wrap the linen strips around her back. Their faces were close as she leaned closer to gently roll the long linen strip around the Lillian’s back and to the front. All the while Lillian was sitting there, looking at her.

“I have never known what it feels like to be in love or to love a mate. Manena and I mated because we had no choice. She was scared of being picked by a brutal man, who’d wanted her, but whom she feared. I, on the other hand, had earned the right of first pick amongst the warriors. So I picked Manena. There has never been any talk of love. Nor has either of us try to show the other that there could be more than friendship.” Seweeka fastened the linen strip under her breasts, taking the time to look at the small, well-shaped globes. “My honest answer to you would be that I do not what love is. I have seen what it could be like between mates from Kris and Morgana and … and I find it to be very beautiful.”

She reached for another piece of linen and walked over to the desk to pour clean water from the pitcher onto the linen until it was thoroughly soaked. Returning to the bed, she sat down next to Lillian and turned her face so she was facing her. With infinite tenderness, she began to bathe the teeth marks on Lillian’s lips. “You seem to be the one who knows about love more than I do and I am hoping that you could teach me about love.” She stopped her ministrations and stared, as always, fascinated by how Lillian’s eyes change color. She smiled when vivid blue orbs where looking back at her now. “I like it when your eyes change like that. They are beautiful whatever color they are.” She cocked her head to the side at the redness which spread from Lillian’s neck to her cheeks. She continued to clean Lillian’s lips. “Are your lips hurting too much?”

“No. They are all right now. Why?”

Seweeka leaned forward and using her tongue, gently laved Lillian’s abused lips. She felt rather than saw the change in Lillian’s demeanor. The Englishwoman’s breathing accelerated and a soft moan slipped from her mouth. Seweeka felt the Captain’s lips open underneath her attention. Unsure, but curious, she slipped her tongue into the hot cavern of Lillian’s mouth. This time she was the one to groan at the exquisite textures she encountered. Timidly, the tip of her tongue traced the hard, smooth surface of Lillian’s teeth. It slipped deeper until it met the warm evenness of the Englishwoman’s tongue. She spent a few moments there rubbing her own tongue over Lillian’s. By the time she was done, she noted that Lillian was shaking like a leaf. She quickly pulled away and gazed into the Lillian’s eyes. They were a dark, intense shade of blue as they calmly looked back at her.

“Did I hurt you?”

“On …” Lillian cleared her throat softly. “On the contrary, my darling. I believe you just found a very exciting way of lessening the pain in my back.” She licked her lips slowly, savoring the sensation she’d felt earlier when Seweeka had made love to them. “We can’t keep our guests waiting any longer, but I would love it if you would do that again later … please.”

Seweeka smiled warmly. She had done well. Lillian liked what she’d done to her.

“If it would help for the pain, then I can assure you that you can expect many more in future.”

Lillian smiled broadly, her brilliantly white teeth lighting up her darkly tanned features. “I’m looking forward to it.” She slowly came to her feet and winked when Seweeka moved closer to steady her. She grimaced at the pain which shot through her back and reverberated through her whole body.

Seweeka’s eyes darkened and she gently took Lillian’s lips in a warm kiss. Pulling back she looked down into Lillian’s eyes, hers expectantly. Lillian looked slightly dazed. “Is it a little better now?”

Lillian could only nod and Seweeka smiled at her. Their hands blindly searched and found each other’s.

“Let’s go see to our guests.”

****

Manena quickly straightened when the door to the galley opened admitting Lillian and Seweeka. With a soft blush, she took a step away from Pedro. Her eyes rested on Lillian and upon closer inspection, she noted that the English Captain walked a little stiffly, but otherwise didn’t look like anyone who’d only two hours ago had her back shredded.

“Holy cow, Pedro! What the hell happened to you?” Lillian stepped closer to her First Mate and turned his face so she could have a better look at his swelling jaw. “You are a clumsy fellow, but I believe that whatever you walked into this time must’ve had hands.” She placed her hands on her hips, her brows raised as she looked at him. “Well?”

He shrugged and grinned. “Morgana hit me.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. “Are you sure? It looks more like the work of Kris.”

“It was Morgana,” Manena spoke for the first time since the two had entered the galley. “Kris and I saw her hit him?”

“But why? What did you do?”

Pedro slowly came to his feet. “I’m the reason that she had to leave home and take up piracy.”

Now all three women stared at him with avid interest.

“Do you care to explain?” Lillian walked over to a chair and Manena saw Seweeka step closer, making sure the backrest didn’t come in contact with the Captain’s injured back. It doesn’t matter that she made piece with the fact that Seweeka would never love her, but it still hurt to see how attentive she was when it came to the English captain. She found her own chair and bringing her glass to her lips, she settled back, content to be a silent observer as Pedro’s tale unfold.

****

Lillian shook grimaced as her wounds pulled slightly when she settled herself in the chair. A soft hand landed on her shoulder and she smiled up into Seweeka’s worried eyes. She placed her hand over the warrior’s and turned her attention back to Pedro.

“You were saying?”

Pedro cleared his throat. “Morgana is my younger sister.”

“What?” Lillian’s face was a mask of pure shock. “Did you just say that you are Morgana’s brother?”

“Yes. I am two years older than her. We have two younger sisters.”

Lillian shook her head in amazement. “And all this time … ten years to be exact, you didn’t say anything. Why?”

Pedro was quiet for a while, his amber eyes turning to Manena and then back at Lillian.

“I didn’t want to be found, Captain.”

“Why the hell not?”

Pedro smiled bitterly. “As the only son and the eldest, I was expected to follow in my father’s footsteps.”

“As what, Pedro? A merchant? A fisherman? What could be so terrible to make you leave your mother and sisters unprotected?”

Pedro blushed. “I was expected to take my father’s place at the Spanish Court as advisor to the King.”

This time Lillian slowly pushed to her feet. “I’ve asked you this question ten years ago, Pedro. I will ask you again and this time I want a true answer.”

Pedro straightened; his eyes intense. “I am Don Pedro Raul Xavi Morientes III, the son of Pedro Raul Morientes III and fourth cousin to Joana, Queen of Castile. I left home ten years ago on one of her Majesty’s ships. Upon reaching the English coast, I jumped overboard and swam until I reached land. I was declared dead five years later, leaving my sister, Morgana to find a suitable husband to inherit the title and reinstate the Morientes presence at the Spanish Court.” He rubbed over his rapidly swelling jaw. “I knew Morgana hated the Court and politics in general. She had made it clear from the beginning that she was not going to get married and that she would prefer to become a pirate. Five years ago when I was declared dead, she left home. I’ve heard of her over the years, but have always been careful not to meet with her lest she recognized me.” He pulled a face. “I guess I ran out of time. Morgana was rather upset seeing me again.”

“I think that’s a gross understatement, Pedro. She almost broke your face.” Lillian took a seat again. “I always suspected you to be more than what you wanted us to believe you were. So … you’re of the nobility. It all makes sense now. The fact that you could read and write and speak Latin makes sense now. What happens now, Pedro?”

The tall Spanish nobleman shrugged. “I still have no desire to return to the Spanish Court, but knowing my mother, she will not let Morgana neglect her duty. Morgana will be hounded for the rest of her life.”

“What does that mean?”

“Being of the noble class, we belong to the Crown. We can’t just decide not to assume our responsibilities. Either you are dead and buried or you are hounded until you return and fulfill your duties. With me dead Morgana will never find any rest, especially since they know that she’s still alive. Teresa and Salma are still too young to be expected to assume our responsibilities. I believe little Teresa should already have given her first vows. She always wanted to join the convent.” He slowly walked over to the door. “I have to speak to Morgana.”

Lillian shook her head.

“Maybe you should wait until she has calmed down a little, Pedro. If she’s hurting as much as I believe she must be, I think the Viking might snap you in two for causing her wife any heartache.”

Pedro nodded. “I believe you are right, Captain. With your permission, I would like to have someone look at my jaw. Please excuse me.”

“I … I would like to help, if you like.” A timid voice said and Lillian blinked at Manena who was looking at Pedro. She was equally surprised when Pedro’s amber eyes lit up in unadulterated delight.

“I would be honored, Senorita.”

Lillian lift an eyebrow as she looked at Seweeka. Seweeka shrugged and smiled back at her. Lillian watched as Manena blushed and quickly walked over to where Pedro was holding the door open for her.

****

Kris heard the sound of glass shatter and jumped out of the bath to inspect the sound. Walking into the main room, she found Morgana leaning heavily against the desk, decanter of wine in her hands. When they’d returned to their cabin from the Sea Siren, Kris had opted to soak her body in a warm bath. Morgana on the other hand just walked straight to the decanter and poured herself a glass of wine. She had waited patiently for Morgana to open up and talk to her, but the Spaniard had drunk her wine calmly, not even looking at her. That was an hour ago. Now as she looked at her obviously inebriated wife, she could tell that it was indeed going to be a long afternoon, before the Latin temper had sufficiently cooled down. Morgana turned, having sensed her presence, and Kris cringed at the lewd leer which formed on her wife’s beautiful face. That was also when she noticed that she was stark naked, having jumped out of the bath at the sound of the glass breaking.

“Are you all right, my love? I heard a glass break. You didn’t injure yourself, did you?”

Morgana pushed away from the desk and unsteadily made her way over to her. Kris felt her body begin to heat up as hot amber eyes raked over her naked body. She so desperately wished that she’d gotten dressed first before inspecting the source of the broken glass. But then Morgana could’ve been injured and she’d have wasted precious time.

Morgana began to circle her slowly, taking a few sips directly from the decanter as she studied her naked body. The last time she had felt like this was after Morgana had to maroon a group of her men, some of them childhood friends. That day Kris had selflessly offered her body to her wife and Morgana had used her well. Today, however, she would’ve wanted for Morgana to trust her enough to talk about how she felt about finding her brother again. But she knew that if Morgana wanted to use her body, she would give in to her demands without a second thought.

Kris felt Morgana put her arms around her neck and standing on tiptoe plant a surprisingly soft kiss on her lips. This time seemed to be different, Kris thought and pulled Morgana in for a warm, tender embrace.

“I love you, darling, and I am ready whenever you want to talk. You know that, don’t you?”

Morgana nodded and placed a soft kiss in Kris’ neck, making the powerful Viking shudder in unexpected pleasure. Morgana snorted softly and pushed out of the embrace.

“Go put some clothes on, Viking. You know what happens when I’m in this kind of mood. I will ask the cook to bring us something to eat. Drinking on an empty stomach is not such a good idea after all.”

Kris nodded and brushed her lips over Morgana’s before she left to get dressed. When she returned to the cabin, Morgana was still taking long sips from the decanter.

“I spoke to Olaf, he said that Lillian sent over some food for us. He is just warming it for us now.” Morgana’s eyes were glassy from the alcohol, Kris noted as she studied her wife. Morgana came to her feet and Kris had to leap to her rescue as the brunette almost toppled over. But she still clung to the decanter.

“This is some really good wine, querida . You want to have a taste?”

Kris shrugged and reached for the decanter, but Morgana refused to release it. Kris smiled encouragingly. “I just want a small sip and them I will return it to you. I promise.”

Morgana smiled slyly and took another long sip. Before Kris knew what Morgana had planned, the brunette pulled her head down for a long kiss, pouring the wine into Kris’ mouth. Kris, shocked by the erotic act, quickly swallowed the slightly warm wine. Morgana pulled away and Kris blinked at her.

“That is the best way to drink wine.”

Morgana chuckled softly. “We could do it again, but I have to warn you that if we do try again, that I might not want to stop all together.”

“I understand,” Kris murmured softly. There was a knock at the door and at her invitation the large frame of the cabin boy filled the door.

“Your lunch, Captain.” He deftly set the table and placed the covered plates on the table and with a quick bow he left the cabin.

“Shall we?” Kris pointed to the table and at Morgana’s nod; she helped her into a chair. They began to eat and Kris noted with a smirk that Morgana still had a death grip on the decanter while she used the other hand to fork food into her mouth.

Morgana took another long drink from the decanter and threw a glance in Kris’ direction. “Did you know that I ran away from home, because in Pedro’s absence I was expected to choose a husband so he could inherit the title?”

Kris stopped eating and carefully put her cutlery down. “Why? Couldn’t you carry the title?”

“No. My mother married my father and became Donna Morientes. For me to be able to carry the title I need to get married first. For centuries the title only travelled down from one male member to another.”

Kris reached for her water glass. “What happens if you don’t get married?”

“The title reverts to the Crown. My mother and sisters will still have a few properties to own and manage, but the bulk of the wealth will be ploughed back into State coffers.”

Kris speared a sweet carrot and popped it into her mouth. She chewed on it while she waited for Morgana to finish yet another long drink. “Now that you know your brother is alive, what’s going to happen now?”

“I don’t know … yet. He has a responsibility to the family and he, unfortunately, can’t renounce it. I will have to get news to my mother. But first we need to get to Ireland. I could still send a message from any port.”

“When will you talk to your brother about this?”

“When I’m sure I will not hit him again,” Morgana said with a smirk.

Kris watched as Morgana placed the decanter on the table, so she could cut through her juicy chicken breast. She considered taking the decanter and keeping it with her, but she quickly discarded the idea when two knowing golden orbs met hers.

“Do that and you’ll have to take its place as my afternoon diversion.”

Kris smiled at her wife’s perceptiveness even while under the influence. She reached over and put her hand over Morgana’s. “I have no problem comforting you, my heart. Just say the words and I will gladly take the place of the wine.”

Morgana’s eyes softened and she brought Kris’ hand to her lips. “What a stroke of luck for me to have met and fallen in love with a woman such as you? You are the truly the most beautiful thing that has ever happened in life.”

Kris smiled back at Morgana.

“I feel exactly the same about you, except slightly more than you.”

Morgana threw her head back and laughed deeply. Kris was astounded by the beauty of the woman sitting opposite her. She quickly pushed her chair back and grabbed a surprised Morgana by the hand.

“I need you so much right now.”

Morgana slyly grinned up at her and Kris had the sneaky suspicious that Morgana had carefully set a trap for her and she stepped right into it. She reached out and pinched Morgana softly curved derriere. The minx wasn’t as drunk as she’d wanted her to believe.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you have done, milady. I will make sure that you pay for your trickery.”

Morgana laughed softly and threw herself on the bed, her arms wide as she waited to receive her wife.

****

“I think this will work better if I’m in an upright position,” Lillian murmured against Seweeka’s lips from where she was lying on her stomach in the bed, her face turned towards the beautiful woman lying next to her. She watched as Seweeka’s enigmatic eyes warmed even further.

“You are injured, Captain Scarborough,” Seweeka said in her trademark smoky voice, making the hair on Lillian arms stand upright.

“My name is Lillian, Seweeka. Come on, say it.”

Seweeka hesitated slightly. “Lillian.”

Lillian groaned softly, but quickly ironed out her expression at the worried look on Seweeka’s face. She reached out and touched Seweeka’s cheek before the warrior pulled away.

“No, Seweeka. It’s not wrong … not at all.” She pushed herself up, but Seweeka quickly pushed her back down.

“You are injured,” she said in a flat tone.

With her face pressed against the pillow, she looked at the blank expression on Seweeka’s beautiful face. “I like the way you say my name. It sounds very alluring.” She saw a flash of doubt cross Seweeka’s tanned features. “Really. You pronounce it beautifully. It sounds … you make me … I think of what it would sound like if you said it …” Lillian could feel her cheeks heating up and she averted her eyes not able to look into the inquisitive green orbs.

Seweeka’s eyes narrowed. “Are you talking about the mating ritual?”

Lillian’s mouth fell open as she looked at the woman lying next to her. “M … mating ritual?”

Seweeka nodded. “Yes. It is when a man and woman …”

“I know what m … mating means.”

Seweeka nodded. “So why would the way I say your name make you think of mating?”

Lillian swallowed. “Well … I’m not thinking about mat … sex … actually. I just think that the way you say it is so nice that it … it stimulates me.”

“What does this mean then? Should I refrain from using your name?”

“No, I like it when you use it,” Lillian said quickly. And she did. If she wasn’t to have any intimate relations with Seweeka in the near future, then she could at least fantasize about what it would do to her to have Seweeka whisper her name in the throes of passion. She felt a warm glow start in her belly and slowly migrated to her nether region. Staring at Seweeka, she realized that she was becoming more aroused the longer she looked into the smoky green eyes. She had to change the subject and quickly. “So, uhm, I don’t know much about you, but since we are on the subject about the way you pronounce my name, where are you from originally?”

Seweeka rolled onto her back, but her face was turned so she could face Lillian. “I grew up on a small island near the Dark Continent.”

Lillian blinked at that. “Really? I wouldn’t have guessed it. How did you end up there? What about your parents? Were they originally from there?”

The green eyes twinkled at her and Lillian blushed. How interesting? Once she’d picked up on Seweeka’s halting speech, she’d never guessed that she was raised on a godforsaken island in the Atlantic.

“My mother was abducted from Ireland 24 years ago to be sold to a rich merchant in the East. In route she was raped by one of the flesh traders and fell pregnant. Knowing that she was useless to them now, they marooned her on an island. She was taken into the native tribe and married the Chief’s son, who became my father. My parents died two years ago.”

Lillian was amazed. “How did you survive?” She saw Seweeka lift a brow, an amused look in her eyes. “How did you keep yourself from seeking revenge for the wrong which had befallen your mother and yourself?”

“I had a good life, Lillian. I had very loving parents and good friends.” The green eyes darkened slightly and Lillian saw a flash of pain cross the beautiful features. “It was the wish of my parents that I should look for my kin one day.”

“How did you meet Kris?”

“We captured her and a group of her men.”

“You … you captured the Viking?” Lillian sputtered; her eyes wide in shock. “Kris is not one to take down easily, you know.”

Seweeka smiled. “I have firsthand knowledge about her power. We had to work fast to neutralize the threat she posed. She was seriously injured. Morgana came to rescue her that same day.” Seweeka’s shook her head. “Morgana was furious when she found Kris. She shot me and almost killed another warrior for injuring Kris.”

“She … she shot you?”

Seweeka shrugged. “I refused to name the warrior who had injured Kris. Manena stopped her from doing worse to me and pointed him out to her.”

Lillian suddenly realized that she was staring at Seweeka, open-mouthed and quickly closed her mouth. “But … but … you have forgiven her?”

Seweeka smiled. “Morgana’s mate was in danger and she reacted accordingly. I would have done the same had my mate been threatened.”

The Captain was quiet for a while, her eyes travelling over Seweeka’s face. “If I was threatened, would you avenge me too?”

Seweeka eyes narrowed. “Are you asking me to challenge Kris for what had transpired today?”

“No … not at all. To be honest, I did deserve my punishment.” Lillian’s eyes were dark as she looked at Seweeka. “What I want to know is whether or not you will come for me if I was to be captured by the enemy?”

“I will.”

That’s it. No hesitation. But Lillian still felt cheated. What was she expecting? Seweeka had warned her earlier that she was not in love with her … yet. The last word made her brighten up a little.

“I am glad to hear that.”

“But still you seem not to be happy.”

Lillian nodded. “I would be very happy if you could kiss me again.” She watched as Seweeka eyes became smoky and she quickly leaned closer. But I will be even happier if you could love me.

“I believe I can do that.”

Their lips met softly and Lillian moaned softly when Seweeka almost immediately pushed her tongue into her mouth. She will have to get Seweeka to stop doing that unless she wanted her to lose control completely. But for tonight she was just going to lay back and enjoy Seweeka’s mind-numbing kisses.

****

They were about a month into their journey when Morgana sought out her brother. She had been avoiding him since their first meeting. Even when she and Kris were invited over to share a meal with Lillian and Seweeka, she would pointedly ignore her sibling’s eyes. Kris had tried, on numerous occasions, to encourage Morgana to confront her brother and to clear the air. Instead, these moments had led to heated verbal alterations between her wife and herself. Looking over the wide clean deck of the Crest, she easily picked out the tall frame of her wife, were she stood talking to her First Mate, Soren. Her anger towards her brother was chipping away at their happiness. She debated whether to walk over to Kris and apologize for her vicious outburst the previous night or to give her more time to calm down first.

“Don’t you dare try to tell me what to do, Kris. You come from a muddled setup which has absolutely nothing in common with how I was brought up. You have no idea of the type of obligations Pedro brushed off onto me. So, please just stay out of this. I will handle this MY way.”

As soon as those words had left her mouth, she’d known that she had pierced the heart of her Viking. Kris’ eyes had iced over and without a word she had left their cabin and hasn’t returned. Morgana had spent a restless night alone in the cabin, listening out for Kris’ heavy footsteps. They never came.

Kris’ head turned suddenly and Morgana felt her heard jerk at the exhaustion she saw on the beautiful face. Kris quickly looked away and Morgana sighed deeply. It was time to put this ugly chapter behind her. She walked over to where Kris stood on the bridge. She knew exactly when Kris became aware of her presence, because a slight tensing of her shoulders gave her away.

“Kris?”

“Yes.” The broad back was still turned on her.

“I would like to board the Siren.”

Expressionless blue eyes met hers before a curt nod followed. “I will have one of the men flag them down so you can board. We have spotted land a few hours ahead. Since the tide is good, I suggest you stay aboard the Siren until we reach land. I will come to get you.”

Morgana briefly closed her eyes at the impersonal way Kris was speaking to her. She knew she deserved it tenfold for having referred to her wife and her family as nothing more than barbarians. She was still ashamed by her outburst and especially her words. What she had said could never be erased even when and if, Kris decided to forgive her. When she opened her eyes, she was once again staring at the broad leather-clad back of her wife.

“Thank you,” she murmured softly and turned to leave. She never noticed the pain filled azure gaze following her as she made her way down to the captain’s quarters.

Back in the cabin, she fought hard not to cry even as she felt emotions making her swallow convulsively. She went to sit on the bed, her face resting in her hands. What was she thinking lashing out at Kris like that? After all, Kris only wanted for her find a way to assuage the stress she was feeling as a result of having found her long, lost brother. With a deep sigh she got to her feet. She would have to get ready to be able to board the Siren soon. Walking over to her chest she took out portraits of her family to show to Pedro as well as a few letters she had received from her sisters to share with her brother.

****

Lillian was on the deck to welcome Morgana. The Spanish pirate was stunned by the woman’s appearance. Although they were travelling together, they haven’t seen much of each other in the past month. But every time she saw the Siren’s captain, she was surprised by the tranquil, happiness the woman radiated. Lillian’s eyes which were normally grayish blue appeared to look bluer nowadays. Seweeka seemed to be good for the captain.

“Welcome aboard, Captain Morientes,” Lillian greeted her with a grin, her bright smile lightening up her darkly tanned features. “To what do we owe this wondrous honor?”

Not really in the mood to fool around, Morgana looked over Lillian’s shoulder to where her brother stood, his amber eyes averted.

“I’m here to talk to Pedro. That is if you could spare him, Captain Scarborough.” She saw the wariness in Lillian’s eyes and added quickly. “I just want to talk.” After her last meeting with her brother, she had hit him so hard that she’d nearly broken his jaw. For weeks afterwards, he had walked around with a grotesquely swollen face and Morgana knew that Lillian would not want a repeat of the last time.

“Of course I can spare him for as long as you need him for, Morgana.” She turned to Pedro. “I will take the wheel for now until you have finished visiting with Captain Morientes.”

Pedro nodded and stepped closer. Morgana watched him with hooded eyes until he was standing a few feet away from her.

“Would you like for us to retreat to my cabin for privacy, Captain?”

“I would appreciate it very much.”

****

Lillian quickly took the steps two at a time to take over the wheel from one of her crew, leaving the siblings to each other. Looking down from the bridge she saw them moving downstairs to where the cabins were located. She saw Seweeka walking across the deck, her gait slow and rhythmic. They had talked some more about Seweeka’s upbringing and it was extremely thrilling for her to find out that Seweeka was a warrior. Her warrior. Lillian felt the all too familiar warm stirrings between her legs as she gazed at the tall woman. She had practiced the patience of Job these past weeks, never letting her passion overwhelm the redheaded woman. Instead, she had learnt to relax into the searching erotic kisses, Seweeka ambushed her with the moment she stepped into their quarters.

The auburn head lifted and their eyes met. Lillian reveled in the small smile which formed on Seweeka’s face. If there was one remarkable change she’d noticed in the redhead over the past month was the fact that her stoic mask was slipping more often. There was a softness about her now and Lillian was the main beneficiary of the warrior’s newfound gentleness. Seweeka loved to cuddle and Lillian had grown used to Pedro’s teasing about her rushing to wrap up her evening tasks so she could slip into the warm, welcoming arms of Seweeka. The smile on her face grew wider. She wasn’t ashamed to admit that as soon as dark shadows, a sign of the approaching night started to crisscross over the deck, that she grew restless and her eyes kept moving in the direction of her quarters. She loved spending time with Seweeka. She loved her. Period. There was no reason for her denying it. Everyone on the Siren and the Lilac Crest, for that matter, knew how she felt about Seweeka. Seweeka, herself knew too. Maybe one day her island warrior was going to say the words she so longed to her. Words to complement her actions.

“Is it not dangerous to man the wheel while your mind is wandering so far away, Captain?”

Lillian was shocked to see Seweeka leaning against the railing not far from where she stood at the wheel. Her eyes raked over the tall, muscled legs and thighs. She was so captured by Seweeka’s eyes the first time she’d laid eyes on her that she hadn’t even taken note of the strong physical and commanding presence the woman had. She was really tall, at least two inches taller than Lillian which made her a little over six feet tall. She was hard and soft in all the right places. Lillian had noticed that since every morning for the past four weeks while waking cuddled in a strong, but gentle embrace. Her inspection of Seweeka’s body led her to her head on collision with amused dark green eyes.

“What is on your mind, Captain?”

Lillian quickly looked away before Seweeka saw the blush which crept up her face. Och, but the woman was turning her into a blushing youngster. Who would believe that she, a predator amongst young fair maidens, could still blush? But on the other hand, she doubted she would ever be able to look at another woman ever again. Seweeka was too intoxicating. She was on her mind all the time. During the day her thoughts would stray to the green eyed warrior and during the nights, she was locked in the most erotic dreams about the woman. Now this enchanting creature wants to know what she was thinking about. Only the truth would suffice once again.

“I’m thinking about you and how beautiful you are.” Swinging her glance to the woman to see her reaction to her answer, she was surprised by the unreadable look that came over the woman’s face.

Seweeka’s gaze was intense as she studied her. Lillian could feel the green eyes raking over her body, leaving in its wake a scorching trail which made her breath shorten and her place between her legs dampen with need. She swallowed when the green eyes met hers. They were a shade darker, highlighting their smokiness.

“Does this mean that we are ready to mate now?”

Lillian’s jaw dropped at the softly spoken question, but before she could think of what to reply to it, she saw stars explode before her eyes. Staggering back, she felt arms slip around her waist and she was pulled against a warm body. A long arm shot past her reaching for the spinning wheel. She could hear startled shouts and curses coming from the deck where the men had been flung off their feet by the sharp swerving of the ship.

“You will have to take the wheel, Captain. I have no idea what to do with it,” Seweeka said sharply, effectively drawing Lillian from her dazed state.

Lillian quickly stepped forward and grabbed the wheel with both hands, immediately fighting the tide to keep the ship on course. It took her almost half an hour to reset their course. Winded, by the exercise, she held onto the wheel with one hand while she drew large gulps of air into her lungs. Once she had restored her balance, she turned to Seweeka who was looking back at her with a worried frown.

“I …” she began.

“Captain?” It was Pedro, followed closely by Morgana. “Is everything all right?”

Lillian nodded curtly. “Yes, I was just … distracted for a minute and the wheel spun out of control.” She watched as Pedro and Morgana looked at her with identical golden eyes and then at Seweeka, who stood there with a calm look on her face. She raised an inquiring brow when the golden eyes returned to look at her. “I have it under control now. I’m sorry for having interrupted your talk.”

Pedro looked at Morgana and smiled. “You didn’t interrupt us, Captain.” Morgana smiled at back at him. “We have discussed everything that needed to be discussed.”

“That is good to hear. What do you say about taking the wheel for a while, Mr. Morientes? I need to have an urgent discussion with our guest.” Her eyes rested on Morgana who was looking back at her with a confused look on her face. “Could I have a word with you, please?”

“Of course.”

Lillian waved at the stairs allowing Morgana to walk ahead of her. When the cabin door closed behind them, Morgana turned to Lillian.

“What is the matter?”

Lillian walked over to the wine decanter and poured herself a glass full of the ruby liquid. She lifted it in invitation to the Spaniard, but Morgana declined. Lillian took a small sip and slowly looked at Morgana.

“How do you know when you’ve met your soul mate?”

Morgana’s eyes widened, her surprise easily read on her face. “I beg your pardon?”

“How do I know that what I feel for Seweeka is not a passing fancy?”

Morgana cocked her head to one side as she studied, Lillian through narrowed eyes. “Is she?”

“I’m asking you?” Lillian said softly and drained the glass. “How did you know with Kris?”

Morgana walked over to the decanter, obviously having changed her mind about the wine. She quickly served herself.

“It was with the first kiss. I just knew that I would never be able to touch another woman after she kissed me.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, that’s it.” Morgana took a sip, studying Lillian over the brim of her glass. “Kris wasn’t convinced though. It took her a whole year to come to her senses.”

“Why?”

“She wasn’t willing to give up all her other women for one. You know what she was like before. She tried to return to her previous lifestyle, but the other women just didn’t appeal to her anymore.”

Lillian poured herself another glass. “Seweeka asked me earlier when we were going to … become intimate.”

Morgana held the glass away from her as a sudden fit of coughing came over her. Lillian quickly stepped forward, but Morgana waved her away. “Do you mean to tell me that you have been sharing a bed with Seweeka for the past month and you haven’t had sex with her yet?”

Lillian looked at Morgana, her eyes a little anxious. “Yes.”

Morgana placed the glass on the desk. “Have you ever had that with another woman?”

“No.”

“Then I believe you might have met your soul mate, Lillian. Unless of course you simply see her as a challenge and someone you might tire off once you’ve had her in your bed.”

Lillian shook her head vehemently. “I cannot … will not … use Seweeka like that.”

“There you have it. You are officially in love, Captain Scarborough,” Morgana said with a broad grin. “You will find monogamy to be rather trying at times, but also very satisfying the rest of the time. You will have to experience that for yourself.”

“You weren’t much help, Morgana. What should I do now?”

“Tell her how much you love her and then …” Morgana’s eyes darkened. “…show her just how much.”

Lillian groaned softly. “I don’t know how.”

“You have had more women than all your men combined and you want to tell me that you don’t know how to please the woman you love?” Morgana asked incredulously.

“That was just sex, Morgana. Raw lust.” Lillian took another sip from her glass. “Seweeka is not like those other women. She’s … she’s …”

“Special?”

Lillian’s eyes lit up. “Yes, she’s special and I can’t help but think that she deserves better.”

“Better than you?” Lillian didn’t answer. “Then maybe you should have a talk with her and find out what she thinks. Let her decide, but then you should be willing to accept the choice she makes. Even if it means you have to let her go.”

Lillian felt a chill run down her spine. Yes, what if Seweeka decides that she would rather have someone else. Will she be gracious enough to let her go? The answer was NO. She had suffered nine lashes for a chance to be with this woman and she wasn’t going to let her go. Instead she was going to try her best to make Seweeka fall in love with and to keep it that way.

“NO! I love her and I will not let her go.”

Morgana shrugged. “There you have it, Captain Scarborough. If you have any doubts about your love for her, how do you expect her to love you back? I would suggest you bed her and bed her well before we reach Ireland. You never know what might happen once she meets her family.”

Lillian’s face grew a little pale. “Do you think they might try to take her from me?”

“I don’t know, but make sure that Seweeka is the one refusing to be separated from you.”

****

PART 3

Kris watched as a boat filled with her men rowed out to the island. From where she stood at the bridge, she scanned the thick vegetated land for anything that might be amiss. Her last memory of stopping over on an island was still fresh in her mind. She had wanted to go down with the first men, but the men had unanimously voted to be the first group to scout the island. She had studied them all with cold eyes, angry at their treatment, but deep inside she had rejoiced at the sense of security their gesture gave her.

“You know that they love you and that they would do anything for you,” Soren said softly from where he stood next to her. “I also think that they fear the wrath of the Spanish captain.”

Kris turned to Soren, her glacial stare unblinking.

“I am the captain of this ship, Soren, and I refuse to put the lives of my men in danger because they fear for my safety. I appreciate the gesture, but this will be the last time this will happen.”

Soren nodded. “I understand, Captain. I, however, have to tell you that they would rather be marooned than return to Vellagrun without you. I mean no disrespect, but I feel exactly the same way, Captain.” He watched her as she process his words, ready to accept whatever she would throw at him. He was stunned to see a broad grin split her face.

“Thank you for the sentiment, Soren. Now let’s get the second boat in the water, because I need a proper bath and I have spotted a few nice coves where I could bathe.”

“I have asked the men to find some fresh meat for us. Perhaps we can have a roasting on the beach and crack open a barrel or two. The men on watch could have their chance to relax tomorrow night while the others stand watch. What do you think, Captain?”

Kris nodded. “Sounds like an excellent plan, First Mate. I will leave it in your hands. Make sure the men bring enough meat to feed the Siren’s crew too.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Kris went to her cabin to collect her bathing things as well as a fresh set of clothes. Stepping into the cabin for the first time since yesterday afternoon, she was overwhelmed by Morgana’s scent. Hot and spicy, just like the fiery pirate. She looked at the large bed and she couldn’t help but regret the fact that she hadn’t shared it with Morgana last night. She knew that Morgana was hurting when she’d lashed out at her and she could see that she was hurting even more after what she had said to her to make her leave the cabin. She had been so convinced that Morgana liked Vellagrun and the easy-going nature of the people there. Yes, she was right that the stiffness of the various Royal Courts she’d visited over the years was not present in their ruling structure, but at least her people were honest and loved and trusted their leaders. They were far from being barbarians.

She walked over to where her chest was and rummaged inside to retrieve clean clothing and soap. With the Siren still a few kilometers away, it gave her enough time to take a bath before she had to meet with Morgana. They needed to talk and clear the air between them. She realized that she hasn’t given Morgana the chance to apologize and in hindsight, she has to admit that her behavior was childish. She had to make it right.

The second rowboat was ready when she stepped out of her cabin and after a few quick orders to Soren, she climbed down the ladder and into the boat. After ten minutes of vigorous rowing they reached the beach and Kris, eager for a bath, made off along the beach to the cove she had spotted earlier. She looked out at sea and saw the Siren steadily advancing. She estimated their time of arrival to be another hour to two, still enough time for her to have her bath and be back in time. With hurried steps she made for the cove which was now but two hundred meters away. Turning the corner, she smiled at the sight which greeted her eyes. The cove was not big, maybe a dozen square feet in size and surrounded by rocky out crop.

“Nice,” she murmured as she walked closer, undressing at the same time.

****

Pedro reached out and took Morgana’s hand in his large one.

“You have sadness in your eyes, sister. What is bothering you?”

Morgana looked up into eyes so much like her own. It was good to have Pedro back. She could remember growing up at their Villa in Madrid with her big brother and the children of the servants. Pedro was the dependable older brother. He was loyal to a fault and had always been a protecting barrier between her and her mother’s ire at her outlandish behavior. And then one day he was just gone, leaving a 12 year old Morgana without a protector, friend and brother. But now he was back and looking into his warm eyes, she could see that he hasn’t changed much.

“Is it Kris?”

Morgana looked away from him and back over at the ocean. Just as protective as Pedro was over her, she felt the same about Kris. No matter who was asking, she doubted she could betray her wife’s trust by discussing Kris with a someone who was still a virtual stranger to her. She looked back at Pedro.

“I don’t want to talk about it now.”

“I understand. I also know that although we have cleared the air a little between us, that it will still be a while before we regain our previous relationship.” His eyes gentled. “Just know that I’m here for you if and when you want to talk.”

Morgana smiled at her brother and turned away to look at the Lilac Crest. Now that she had resolved her issue with her brother, she was desperate to be with Kris. The bed was way too big without the presence of her Viking. She needed to restore what she so carelessly had torn asunder. She turned back to look at her brother and she was surprised to see the warm glow of love in his eyes. Without a word she walked into his personal space and sighed deeply when he opened his arms.

“Thank you for being here now. This is more than enough for me now.” She was so happy that they have made peace. It was wonderful to feel and act like a little sister again.

****

Kris was submerged in the sun-warmed water listening to the deep, soundlessness of the mass of water surrounding her. She was momentarily surprised by the feeling of familiarity this strange soundless silence brought her. It was the same feeling she got when she laid Morgana’s arms right after they’d made love. In the dead of the night, when nothing moved and the world was asleep around them, she felt the same quietness in the arms of her wife. She missed Morgana. She needed her wife. She needed to soak in the love her wife felt for her. She surged out of the water.

“Morgana!” The name was echoed in emptiness around her as water streamed off her face and her body.

“I’m here.”

The soft voice made her turn towards it. Morgana was sitting on a rock nearby, fully dressed and with apprehension in her eyes. Their eyes met and held.

“I love you.”

Morgana exhaled noisily and Kris realized it she’d been holding in it for quite a while. Morgana slowly came to her feet, her amber eyes darkening the longer she looked at her.

“I know, my golden angel. I love you more now than I did a second ago and I will love you more every following second.”

Kris watched in rapt fascination as the tall brunette kicked out her boots and stepped into the water, wading towards her. They were close, very close, only separated by their lingering insecurity; Kris knew that Morgana had come ninety six percent. The other four had to come from her. She closed the scant distance between them and pulled Morgana into her body.

“I doubt you can love me more than you do. Every moment of everyday I feel surrounded by your love and every second your love grows stronger and stronger until I feel as if I am losing myself in you.”

Morgana shook her head, her eyes wet with tears. “I could never love you enough.”

Their lips met in a soft, tender embrace and held. Kris felt her whole world tilt on its axis wildly until it slowly settled … right where it should be. She pulled Morgana closer against her. Odin, what has this woman done to her? She was utterly captivated.

****

Lillian knew she was slightly beyond tipsy. Around her, her men where singing and dancing clumsily in the thick sand. She looked down at the glass in her hand. She’d been holding onto it for the past ten minutes. Drinking it could either push her over the edge making her drunk enough to want to join her inebriated crew members dancing in the dense bleached beach sand or … it could make the slow ember between her legs catch fire and make her go in search of the gorgeous green-eyed warrior and slack her lust on her.

“Are you going to drink that, Captain?”

She looked up and saw Pedro and Manena looking down at her where she sat against the trunk of a big-leafed tree. She smiled faintly. Pedro has been spending a lot of time in the presence of the dark, beautiful brunette. Having known Pedro for ten years, she had never seen him spend this much time in the company of a woman. Yes, they were travelling together, but still, the soft light in the Spaniard’s eyes told a different story. Her First Mate was falling … hard.

“Why do you ask?”

“Seweeka’s taking a bath and needs someone to stand guard. I would’ve offered but Manena and I have been busy helping Cook dig up roots for cooking and medicinal ailments. We were hoping to get something to eat.”

Lillian had only heard the first sentence. The cup of rum fell from her hand, its contents seeping into the thirsty sun-baked sand. “I’ll stand guard for her.”

“Oh … fine … thank you, Captain.”

She looked away when she saw the knowing look in Pedro’s eyes. Better to look away than see the smirk on Pedro’s face. She didn’t want to be forced do something she might regret later … like slapping that knowing look off his face. He just recently recovered from the swollen jaw Morgana dealt him. She turned back and fixed him with an icy stare. She could understand why Morgana felt the need to sock him. His face just had that ‘knock-me-out’ quality. Funny that she only noticed it now.

“Where can I find her?”

Following Pedro’s directions carefully, Lillian crashed through the hanging leaves of a densely overgrown tree. She saw a rather large pool of water, but it was unoccupied. Her eyes scanned the area around the pool. After a few seconds she turned and pushed through the hanging leaves, convinced that she’d been taken for a fool. She had just stepped into the dark shadow of the tree when the smooth surface of the water broke. A smooth auburn head came into view followed by broad, bronzed shoulders. Lillian’s mouth went dry at the sight. With guilty pleasure and an acute jealousy, she watched as long lazy streams of water ran down the broad back. She noticed a slight tensing of the powerful shoulders and she quickly averted her eyes.

“I had thought that this area would be very private. How did you find me?”

Lillian swallowed hard.

“Pedro and Manena had to go back to the camp and he asked me to stand guard for him until he returned.”

Seweeka turned back slowly, her eyes narrowing. “He did?”

“Yes, he did,” Lillian replied, a little defensively. “Would you rather I go and ask him to return to his duties?” Even as she said the words, she couldn’t help but feel hurt that Seweeka didn’t want her here.

“No, I do not want you to do that, because I did not ask him to stand guard for me.”

“But … he …”

“I did not ask either Manena or Pedro to guard me while I bathed.” Seweeka cocked her head as she studied her and Lillian was aware that the warrior could detect her frustration at having been duped so easily. “But I am very glad that you are here now. I have caught a slight whiff coming off you earlier today and I was going to request that you take a bath before going to bed tonight.”

Lillian stared at Seweeka, not sure if she should be offended by her nonchalant observation or whether she should be flattered by Seweeka’s awareness of her. She decided to do nothing. Seweeka dunked her head under water and when she came up again, she turned to Lillian, giving her a full frontal view of her naked body. Lillian’s eyes widened as she stared at the full, pink tipped mounds which boldly pointed at her. Her eyes slowly caressed the swell of the soft mounds, imagining herself what their texture would be like on her tongue, inside her mouth.

“The sun is setting fast and the water will cool rapidly. Perhaps you should take your bath now.” Seweeka said calmly, her eyes fixed intently on her face.

“Now!”

Seweeka’s eyebrows rose slowly. “Is there a problem?”

Lillian felt a warm heat rise up her neck. It would be very dangerous for her to undress at the present moment … not with Seweeka standing in the pool, naked. “I … no … no there’s no problem. I just thought I would give you a few moments to finish up here.”

Seweeka shrugged. “It does not bother me to be naked before you.”

Lillian blinked once … twice and then she nodded. “Okay,” she croaked and slowly began to undress. She was aware of the green eyes on her as she undressed and carefully folded her clothing. She slowly waded into the shallow water and made herself comfortable opposite of where Seweeka stood. Seweeka slicked her hair back and slowly made her way over to her. Lillian felt her body began to tremble slightly at the thought of having a naked Seweeka so close to her. “Please … don’t come any closer, Seweeka.”

“Do you fear me? Why?”

Lillian almost laughed at the incredulous look on Seweeka’s face. Oh, what an innocent she was. “No, I don’t fear you. It’s just … that you … I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep my hands off you if you come any closer.”

“But we always touch.”

“Yes, I know,” Lillian said softly. “But not when we’re both naked.”

Seweeka’s eyes narrowed. “I do not understand you, Lillian. Please make me understand why you are acting so strange.”

Lillian saw genuine confusion in Seweeka’s eyes mixed with a little frustration. She swallowed hard. The time for the truth to come out was here. She stared deeply into Seweeka’s eyes, baring her heart in that one look.

“I love you, Seweeka and I … I’m scared that if you come any closer now, that I won’t be able to keep myself from …” her courage deserted her and she looked away.

“You want to mate … have sex with me?” Seweeka asked carefully.

“Yes. I want to make love to you, Seweeka.”

The tall warrior nodded. “Good. I want that too.” Before Lillian had a chance to respond, Seweeka had closed the distance between them and pressed herself against Lillian’s body. “I want it very much.” And then her head lowered and Lillian felt her lips taken in a deep, hungry kiss. Just before her brain turned to mush, she’d bravely told herself to allow Seweeka a chance to back out if she wanted. But at the sweet taste of Seweeka’s lips and lower down, the brush of soft hair against her stomach, she lost all ability to think clearly. Her hands lifted and she gently placed them on Seweeka, narrow waist. She didn’t know how long the kiss lasted, but it must’ve been for quite a while because the both gasped for breath when the kiss ended.

Lillian felt Seweeka’s large hands rise to cradle her face between them. The green eyes were serious as she looked into hers. “If what I’m experiencing now, is love, then I must love you very much.”

Lillian felt her heart skip a beat at the declaration of love. Just as she was about to scream her happiness to the world, she felt her stomach drop. Looking into the green eyes before her, she saw them watching her intently.

“Your eyes …? You are not happy? Why not?” Her hands dropped to her sides.

Lillian pressed her lips against Seweeka’s and avoiding eye contact, she spoke. “I’m not entirely sure that what you feel now is love, Seweeka. It could just be lust.” Just saying the words, hurt badly too. When she lifted her head to meet Seweeka’s eyes, she could only blink.

The green eyes were dark with something akin to anger. “Lust?”

“Uh … yes. Unless you can try and tell me what it is you’re feeling?”

The green eyes grew even darker as they watched her and Lillian felt slightly uncomfortable under the close scrutiny.

“No,” Seweeka said in a low voice and Lillian swallowed. Now she had did it. She’d offended her. “I would like to show you what I feel,” Seweeka continued softly.

This time Lillian swore her heart was going to stop in shock. Her eyes must’ve reflected her feelings, because Seweeka gently lifted her hands and cradled her face again. “I have never done this before, but I still want a chance to show you. Is it okay with you?”

Lillian slowly nodded her head. The ability to speak had simply deserted her.

****

Kris was sprawled out on her the rock outcrop as she watched Morgana floating on her back a few feet away. She was happy and tremendously relieved that they had talked. Morgana felt great remorse about her careless words and the hurt it has caused. Kris apologized for deserting their bed the previous night. They made love, slowly and tenderly to reaffirm their love for each other. She could still feel her body tingling where Morgana’s lips had caressed her. Kris grinned slyly. It was their first argument as a married couple and she simply loved how they’ve resolved it. It was extremely pleasurable. She saw Morgana swim over to where she was stretched out on the rock.

“What are you grinning about, wife? Or should I even ask?” Morgana murmured as she hoisted herself out of the water and moved next to her on the rock. Kris shivered slightly as Morgana leaned over and placed a soft kiss on her lips.

“I was just thinking about us?”

Morgana slicked her wet hair back, the action causing her breasts to lift slightly, the dark tipped nipples peeking out at her seductively. Kris felt saliva pool in her mouth as she stared at them.

“Don’t even think about it, Viking. I’m famished,” Morgana said calmly, as she watched Kris through narrowed eyes.

“Then let’s get you some food.”

****

Lillian closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them again, the picture was still unchanged. Seweeka was kneeling next to the makeshift bed made out of their clothes, her hand extended toward her. All she could do was just to stare. With the sun slowly beginning its descend, the last of its rays gently caressed Seweeka’s reddish-brown locks, spitting small sparks of gold into the air around her. She swallowed and stared some more. This time she was captivated by the dark, intense gaze from her warrior woman. The outstretched hand faltered a little and Lillian could swear she saw doubt flash in the green eyes.

She slowly waded through the water to where Seweeka sat, patiently waiting for her. Naked and dripping wet, she carefully stretched herself out on the bed. Seweeka’s enigmatic eyes slowly began to study her body. She could feel her gaze, almost like a soft caress on her breasts, hardening her nipples. The warm gaze travelled further down.

Lillian watched Seweeka watching her. The warrior was especially interested in the blonde patch of her hair between her legs. The green eyes swung up to meet hers, before they moved back to have a closer look. This time however, she gasped as she felt the feather light touch of Seweeka’s hand moving through the slightly coarse hair.

“It is beautiful,” Seweeka murmured as she gently stroked her. Lillian closed her eyes. Seweeka’s innocent searching touch was turning her on more than she thought it would. She felt her legs began to shake with the effort of trying not to throw herself at Seweeka and startle the woman. Noticing her trembling, Seweeka frowned. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No … oh no, please.”

The touch continued, moving across her thighs, her knee and down to her calf. Lillian swallowed hard. She knew that she was going to embarrass herself very soon. Lying next to Seweeka, every night, for the past month had been more like foreplay for her. Hesitantly, Seweeka’s hand moved up slowly until it rested on her clenching mound and with a soft moan, Lillian arched her back.

“You like it?”

“Yes … oh yes!”

Seweeka’s hand moved lower and brushed over her engorged clitoris. Gasping, Lillian reached out her hand and pulled Seweeka closer for a deep, lusty kiss. A long, slender finger gently prodded her entrance and Lillian closed her eyes. She knew what she would do and she prayed that her actions would not scare Seweeka. Her eyes snapped open and she gripped Seweeka’s hand.

“Please forgive me, my love, but I can’t wait any longer.”

With a blinding speed she quickly reversed their positions and forged their lips into a searing kiss. When she wrenched her lips away, she saw undisguised hunger in Seweeka’s smoky gaze. Her eyes tracked down the muscular body, coming to rest on Seweeka’s taut nipples. Her head lowered and she began to feast on them. Her head jerked when Seweeka moaned and spurred on by the erotic sound, she moved lower and sighed when the musky scent of Seweeka assaulted her nostrils. She didn’t know when her control finally snapped, but she found herself ravaging the hot, oozing center with wild abandon. Her hands clamped around Seweeka’s bucking hips, holding her still as she probed her sex over and over again with her tongue. She only let up when a hot gush of musky wetness poured out over her tongue and it was only then that she heard the soft sobs. She lifted her mouth and pressed her face against Seweeka stomach. What had she done, taking Seweeka like all those faceless whores she’d taken to her her bed over the years. She had vilified the woman she loved with her tainted touch. She’d been so aroused that she’d completely unleashed her need on an innocent Seweeka. Her Seweeka. She pressed her face into the heaving stomach under her cheek.

“Forgive me, my love. Please forgive me,” she chanted as tears of shame and regret spilled from her eyes. She knew she’d just ruined the most beautiful thing in her life. Full realization of what she’d done and what she was about to lose, made her tremble uncontrollably. “Please … don’t leave me.”

****

Seweeka floated back to earth after the most mind numbing experience of her life. Her eyes opened slowly and she gasped when she felt the warm trickles of tears running over her stomach. What happened? Was that …? She heard the mournful pleas coming from her lover and she reached out a hand to touch the blonde head. Wet, sorrow filled, grey eyes met her and she carefully reached out and pulled Lillian’s shaky body over hers. She tenderly cradled her in her arms, wanting to say something, but not sure if she was capable of forming any words after what her body’s had just experienced. She was sure a large part of her brain had dissolved and leaked through her ears. For the time being all she could do was to hold a sobbing Lillian to her heart. Was the woman really so crazy to think that she was going to leave her? Especially now, after what she’d just experienced in her arms.

Something, a strange warm feeling, had been unlocked deep inside of her. Something so profoundly unique and new that she feared she couldn’t contain inside. She cocked her head to the side, bringing her lips close to Lillian’s ear.

“I think … I … love you.”

She felt Lillian’s body stiffen and after a moment, the Englishwoman pulled back, hoisting herself on her hands as she looked down at her. Seweeka’s heart took flight at what she saw. Wet, sapphire eyes met hers, probing her mind.

“Seweeka?” The fear in the soft voice, made her smile gently.

“Yes?”

“Are you sure?” The blue eyes dimmed as grey shadows threatened to steal their brilliance.

As always Seweeka was fascinated by the color change. She lifted her upper body slightly and pressed her lips against Lillian’s. She blinked when she encountered a heady musky flavor. She pulled back and looked into Lillian’s eyes, which after the soft kiss was almost blinding her with their brilliance.

Lillian nodded and lowering herself gently onto Seweeka and took her lips in a deep kiss. Seweeka’s senses were buzzing as she gave into the kiss. Too soon the kiss ended and with slightly unfocused eyes looked into Lillian’s eyes.

“Am I forgiven?”

“You did not do anything wrong, Lillian.” Seweeka smiled faintly. “I was hoping we could try it again later.”

Lillian face brightened and Seweeka grinned at her lover. Yes, later she would get her chance to show the Englishwoman just what a fast learner she was.

****

Lillian sighed deeply cradled in Seweeka’s strong arms. For as long as she could remember, she’d always been a one man army. She’d depended on herself and looked out for herself always. Now here she was, lying in the arms of another woman and for the first time in her life she felt secure and loved. She tightened her arms around Seweeka’s and felt the redhead stir slightly. They made love two more times before giving in to exhaustion. She smiled as she recalled the moment Seweeka had flipped her over on her back and ravished her.

It was extremely liberating to just let go of all the power she’d clung to for so long and release it into the hands of the woman she loved with all her heart. She lifted her head slightly and pressed a soft kiss on Seweeka’s neck. She grinned when her lover didn’t even stir. She must be completely exhausted. After months of celibacy, something she didn’t know she was capable of, she had unleashed all her carnal hunger on Seweeka.

She was looking forward to spending time with Seweeka in their big, soft bed back in their quarters. She would love for Seweeka to be the last face she saw when she went to bed and the first one she saw when she woke up. A grin formed on her lips as she thought about how her life has changed in the last few weeks. She’d fallen in love, abducted her love interest, got herself whipped for doing so and now she had consummated their relationship. Lying here listening to her lover’s heartbeat, she knew that she would do it again if she had to. It was all worth it. She lifted her head slowly and smiled brightly when she found those smoky eyes resting on her.

“Hello, my love.”

“Hello.” Seweeka studied her from under hooded lids. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m deliriously happy, thanks to you.” She pressed a soft kiss on Seweeka’s lips. “What about you?”

Even in the rapidly darkening sky, she could still make out the smoky quality of her lover’s eyes as well as the slow grin spreading over the redhead’s beautiful face.

“I am very happy too, Lillian.”

“What do you say; shall we join the others and eat something before we retire for the night?”

Seweeka nodded. “I do feel hungry.”

“Making love does that to a person,” Lillian said with a sly grin and rolled to her feet. Reaching out a hand to Seweeka she pulled the woman to her feet and into her arms. She held her close for a few moments before stepping back. “I love you and I want to make you happy for the rest of our lives.”

“I believe you will be able to do that,” Seweeka teased.

They moved closer, but before their lips could meet, Lillian saw a blur out of the corner of her eye and she gasped when Seweeka was ripped out of her arms. She watched in stunned silence as Seweeka flew through the air, landing on her back a few meters away. Before she could move to come to the aid of her lover, a dark shape landed on top of a clearly stunned Seweeka. She saw an arm pull back and a sharp, wicked-looking wooden stake slanting down with deadly intent.

Oh no, you don’t, Lillian thought as she threw herself through the air. No one’s going to take Seweeka away from her now that she’s finally found the missing half of her soul. She ploughed into Seweeka’s attacker. With raw satisfaction she heard the attacker grunt in pain as she hit him with all she had. She pushed to her feet, ready to attack their faceless assailant again, but she was unceremoniously pulled away and behind the strong, towering body of Seweeka. She tried to push passed the taller woman, but she was held back with a strong hand.

“What are you doing?”

Seweeka’s eyes were on the crumpled form of the attacker as she answered. “I am protecting you.”

A sudden surge of rage filled her at that and she was just about to give Seweeka a piece of her mind, when a cloud of dust came right at them, blinding them. Cursing loudly at the irritatingly gritty feeling under her eyelids, she felt herself being tossed to the side and braced herself for the impact. She was relieved to land on soft beach sand. Her relief was short-lived when she heard a soft moan of pain. Seweeka! She jerked her eyes open, ignoring the grainy sensation. What she saw made her shoot to her feet. Seweeka was kneeling in the sand, her hand covering her chest, blood oozing between her fingers. Lillian’s eyes hardened at the sight of her lover’s blood. Without any warning she charged their assailant, placing a hard blow to his gut watching with grim satisfaction as he doubled over with a grunt. Not waiting for their, as yet, faceless attacker to recover, she aimed a hard kick to his head. She saw the man crumple to the sand, unconscious.

She rushed over to where Seweeka was struggling to her feet. “Let me see your wound.” With shaking hands she carefully pulled Seweeka’s bloodied hands away from the wound. There was a lot of blood and at close inspection she noticed a deep gash close to where Seweeka’s heart is. “Come, I need to get you to the ship.”

Seweeka glanced over at the unconscious figure. “What about him? We cannot leave him here.”

“Why?” Lillian snapped. “He could die where he lay for all I care.”

“No. We need to know why he attacked us?”

Lillian walked over to where their clothes lay and brought them back to where Seweeka stood. “I will send some of the men over to get him, but for now let me help you get dressed.”

****

Manena jumped to her feet when she saw Lillian leading an unsteady Seweeka across the sand to the rowboat.

“What happened? What did you do to her?” she yelled as she ran over to where Lillian was gently helping Seweeka into the boat. “Tell me what you did to her. Or I will … KRIS!”

Seweeka turned to look at her Manena. “We were attacked.”

“Attacked? By who? But … but why?” Manena stumbled over her words as she touched a soft hand to Seweeka’s cheek.

“We do not know him, but you can ask Kris to send someone to get him.”

Manena nodded quickly, swallowing convulsively as she tried to keep herself from crying. There was so much blood and Seweeka’s face was ashen. She leaned close and placed a soft kiss on Seweeka’s cheek. “I will do that and then I will come to see to your wounds.”

“That’s not necessary,” Lillian said coolly. “You are holding us up, Manena.”

Manena glanced at Lillian and saw a mixture of anger and jealousy. She threw a nervous glance at Seweeka and found the green eyes resting on her, pleading with her. She nodded, but placed another kiss on Seweeka’s cheek.

“You need to have the wound looked at. Go now. I will go get Kris.” She walked away without another look at Lillian.

****

“Uh, Kris, you need to come and see this?”

Kris slowly moved over to where Morgana was standing, looking down at the crumbled form. Kris looked down at the unconscious form and then back at her wife.

“What is it?”

Morgana pointed at the chest area of the attacker. “See anything familiar?

Kris looked closely and after a few moments shook her head. “It’s a woman,” she said, confusion evident in her voice.

“Yes. Now can you tell me what a woman would be doing alone on a deserted island?”

Kris looked at the woman and once again back at Morgana. “I don’t know, beloved. I know however that there is probably a very interesting story behind all this.”

“It would be interesting to know why she attacked Lillian and Seweeka. I would think that being stranded here on this island would’ve made her approach them more cautiously.”

Kris bent down and effortlessly lifted the woman and threw her over a broad shoulder. “Let’s get her on board before she wakes up and causes more trouble.”

After depositing their captive in the brig aboard the Siren, they’d returned to shore and with the help of a small group of men searched the small island for any other signs of human habitation. They were three hours into their search when they came across a crude tree house, furnished with primitive utensils. Studying the contents, they could deduct that the woman had been on the island for at least a few years. As she carefully inspected the inside of the woman’s abode, Morgana couldn’t help but feel sorry for this woman. It must’ve been very lonely and scary to live here alone.

Searching through the thick, jungle she couldn’t help but eavesdropping on the men’s conversations as they talked about their earlier hunt for meat for the roasting. She picked up bits and pieces and putting them together she couldn’t help but shiver at what the poor woman must’ve lived through. According to the men, they’d come across unbelievably large reptiles, large enough to swallow a grown man alive, the insects were relentless and tried to penetrate any available hole in human body. Even the wild boars they had devoured earlier in the evening had not been easy to capture. With sharp tusks the size of the large man’s forearms, they were just as deadly as any other predator. Than how did this woman survive all those years on this perilous island?

She felt a soft hand on her shoulder and turn to look into the cool, ice blue eyes of her wife. She sighed, pushing the melancholic thoughts to the back. She saw the worry in Kris’ eyes and smiled at her, reaching for her hand and giving it a slight squeeze.

“I can’t believe she survived alone in a place like this.”

“Me neither?”

“Maybe we should take some of the stuff back to the ship. She might need them.”

Kris threw an incredulous look at her and Morgana shrugged.

“Maybe instead of throwing her in the brig, we could also arrange a cabin and a cot for her, don’t you think.”

Morgana narrowed her eyes at Kris. “Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, my love.”

“I don’t see why we should pamper a person who tried to kill a friend … our friend.” Kris frowned. “I’m not even sure if we should feel sorry for her.”

“Well, that’s not up to us, Kris,” Morgana said with a sigh. “Let’s just get her to the ship and see what happens from there. I’m sure Lillian would want to question her.”

“I already feel sorry for her.”

Morgana nodded. “Me too. Lillian’s methods of extracting information is legendary.”

****

The soft knock on the door startled Lillian to wakefulness from where she was dozing in a chair. She slowly got to her feet, stretching as her spine popped into place. She glanced at bed and felt her heart ached at the sight of the still form of her lover. It’s been three days now and Seweeka’s body was ravaged by a fever. Whatever that man had used to stab Seweeka with must’ve been unclean, causing an infection. The knock sounded again and Lillian reluctantly pulled herself away from the bed. Stomping over to the door, she jerked it open. She found Kris and Morgana on the other side of door.

They were the last people she’d wanted to see. With Seweeka lying in bed fighting for her life, the last thing she wanted was to have a happy couple around, rubbing their happiness in her face. She sighed deeply and leaving the door open, she left them to follow her inside. She went to stand next to the bed again looking at Seweeka.

“How is she today?” It was Morgana.

“Not much changed. She’s still running a fever. I sponge her down every hour.”

“I would like to help if you’ll let me.”

Lillian’s head snap up and she fixed a surprised look on Kris. Did she hear correctly? Was Kris offering to help sponge down Seweeka? She saw nothing but sincerity in the cool blue eyes.

“Thank you for offering, but …” she began, but was quickly interrupted by Morgana.

“Seweeka saved Kris’ life twice.”

Lillian looked down at Seweeka. The redhead never said anything. No wonder the Viking was baying for blood when she abducted Seweeka. According to the little she knew about Vikings and their culture, Seweeka had become an honorary member of Kris’ family for having saved her life. A soft moan sounded and Lillian saw a deep shudder run through Seweeka’s ravaged body.

“It’s about time for her next sponge bath. I’ll ask the men to bring in a bucket of fresh water.” She leaned down and placed a soft kiss on Seweeka’s sweaty brow. The reddish brown eyelashes twitched and hazy green eyes emerged. Lillian smiled tenderly.

“Hello, my love.”

Seweeka swallowed hard and blinked a few times. With a slightly more focused gaze, she tried to smile at her and Lillian kissed her again. She missed those smoky green eyes looking at her and the faint, almost sardonic smiles Seweeka subjected her too on rare occasions.

“Are you thirsty?” At the small nod, she walked over to the table and returned with a goblet of water. “Sip slowly.” She gently curled her arm around Seweeka’s shoulders and lifted her up to help her drink. She waited patiently until Seweeka had drained the goblet in small sips. Helping her to lie down again, she tenderly brushed her lips over Seweeka’s forehead. “I’ve to go see how the ship is doing and how far we are from the nearest harbor.”

“You … you will be back soon?”

Lillian cradled Seweeka’s burning face in her hands. “I’ll be back before you know it, darling.” She kissed her again. “I love you.”

She saw a small smile form on Seweeka’s pale face. “Me too, … Blue Eyes.”

Lillian felt her eyes shoot full of tears. Blue Eyes . That’s what Seweeka had called her while they were making love. Her lover was quite adept at reading her moods lately and Lillian knew that her relief and pleasure at seeing Seweeka awake, must show in her eyes. They sat there, their foreheads touching as they breathed each other’s breath and savoring each other’s nearness. After a few moments, Lillian pulled back.

“Kris and Morgana are here to sponge you down. I will be back very soon with something for you to eat.” Lillian stepped away and turned to look at their guests. “The water will be along shortly.” With a tender look at Seweeka, she left the cabin.

****

Lillian stood at the door leading down to the most feared place on the ship—the brig. She carefully looked around her. The deck was relatively quiet, with only few of the men tending to the sails. They were anyway too busy cracking jokes and sharing lewd stories about exploits at amongst the ladies to notice her. She reached out and pushed the door open. Both Morgana and Pedro had made her promise not to confront the captive alone. They were concerned about Lillian’s unstable and murderous tendencies. She had to admit that since meeting Seweeka, the urge to fornicate, kill and plunder had diminished greatly. But seeing the woman she loved with all her heart, being injured and tethering on the brink of death had brought back her dark side with a vengeance.

Slowly maneuvering down the dimly lit stairs, she purposely fingered the hilt of her dagger. It wasn’t fair that Seweeka was lying in the bed fighting an infection while this low-life was lying in the brig being fed and protected by her allies. She peered into the nearest cell and found it empty. On silent footsteps, she made her way deeper into the dank smelling interior. She came to the last cell and standing in the shadow, watched her quarry.

Unawares of the murderous stare coming from the dark shadows of the brig, the prisoner was pacing the small 4X4 meter cell. Still clad in a thick, crudely made cape, the prisoner’s feet silently wore a path on the wooden floor.

Hard eyes glittered with malice as Lillian stepped out of the shadows. He was about the same height as her, but the heavy cape he wore made it impossible for her to estimate his size. She saw the prisoner stiffen and quickly turned to face her. What Lillian saw made her hesitate for a moment – a very short moment. Burning dark eyes were staring back. She walked over to the wall where the keys hung and removed it. Turning back to the cell, she flung the key inside and watch as it land at the prisoner’s feet. She slowly reached behind her back for her dagger and hoisted it slowly, staring at the sharp point. With a quick flick of her wrist she tossed the knife, watching it land next to the keys.

“You attacked the woman I love and for that I will kill you. To give you a slight advantage, I’m not armed.” Lillian’s eyes were flat as she took a step back, an open challenge for the prisoner to exit the cell.

The silence grew as two sets of eyes met and held. A cold smile of satisfaction formed on Lillian’s lips as the prisoner bent down and picked up the items at her feet. Lillian’s smile quickly turned to shock as the items were tossed back at her. With her quick reflexes, she grabbed the dagger and the keys out of the air.

“This is not your fight.” The woman turned her back on her, making Lillian bristle with anger at being dismissed like that. “She’s also not your woman.”

At hearing the last words, Lillian stepped closer again. “What? Why do you say that?”

The silence that followed was the last straw, prompting Lillian to use the key, entering the cell. With the door opened she stepped into the cell. “Answer me.”

The prisoner turned back to face her and Lillian’s eyes narrowed.

“Because she loves me .” With that they prisoner pushed the hood off her head and straight, midnight hair cascaded down the prisoners shoulders.

Stunned, Lillian stared at the impossibly attractive woman. The woman’s appearance, combined with what she’d said, sunk in and an intense anger and jealousy spiked her blood, making her see red. Before she even knew what she was doing, Lillian’s hand shot out and with blinding speed, she seized the prisoner in a head grip. She watched as the prisoner’s hands rose, trying to break the hold.

“How dare you imply that my woman would love one like you?” She tightened her grip and only loosened it when she heard a soft clearing of the throat. She turned to see who had interrupted her act of revenge … or jealousy, whatever anyone wants to call it. Morgana stood there; her eyes cool as they rested on her.

“Let go, Lillian.”

“You knew all along she was a woman, didn’t you? Do you perhaps also know why she tried to kill Seweeka?”

“We found out the day we carried her abroad.”

The woman squirmed in her grip and Lillian angled her head so she could look into the other woman’s face. Yes, she was a ghastly red color.

“Let go, Lillian,” Morgana said softly and stepped into the cell, her hand resting on the hilt of her cutlass. Lillian pierced her with a cold stare before she pushed the woman away from her. She raked Morgana with a disdainful look as she pushed passed her.

“I hope you don’t regret this one day,” she said with her back turned to Morgana. “It would also be wise to get her the hell off my ship otherwise …” Lillian swallowed hard. “Just get her as far away from me as you can.”

****

Kris grimaced as she placed the cool cloth against Seweeka’s forehead. After numerous applications, the woman was still burning up. She gently lifted the sheet and lifted and peered at the dressing covering the wound. It was still oozing puss. Not a good sign. Getting up she walked over to the table and gathered a fresh cloths. She will have to dress the wound again. Turning back to bed, she found dazed green eyes watching her.

“I will have to redress the wound.”

Seweeka swallowed and nodded weakly. “Yes, you will have to do that. Lillian is too gentle and hates causing me pain.”

Kris smiled. That was exactly what she’d thought too. She walked over to the bed and with deft movements began to peel away the soiled bandage. Looking at the wound she frowned. This was not what she’d expected to see. The infection was spreading alarmingly. She covered the wound with the sheet and quickly got to her feet and walked to the door. Peering outside, she called out to one of the men.

“Get me some hot water and asked the cook to send me some honey.”

She briskly walked over to the table and flung open the medicine chest. Reaching inside she removed a vial of opium powder and a small bottle of acetum. Double checking the labels, Kris silently thanked her mother’s patience in teaching her basic medicinal skills when she was younger. Returning to the bed, she mixed a tiny bit of opium powder in a goblet of water.

“Take this, it’s for the pain.” She gently supported Seweeka’s head as she drank the bitter mixture. With a grimace the redhead closed her eyes and drained the last bit of medicine. As Kris placed the empty goblet on the dressing table, there was a knock on the door. She curtly called out to enter and watched as the cabin boy come in with a container filled with hot water and a small mug filled with honey. His eyes were huge as they rested on the tall, intimidating Viking captain. He quickly placed the items on the table and made for the door.

“Get over here, boy,” Kris ordered. When the boy failed to move, she turned to look at him. “I said get over here.”

The boy carefully scuffled closer, his eyes huge as they rested on the semi-conscious woman. Kris grabbed his hand, making the boy jump.

“I want you to pour me some of the hot water in here,” she held out a silver basin to him. The boy took the container from her and quickly followed her order. When he brought it back, Kris added a liberal amount of acetum to the water. She turned back to Seweeka and gently lifted her eyelids to find them dilated. Now for the hard part, she thought. She dipped a piece of cloth in the acetum mixture. She saw the cabin boy wringing his hands nervously and Kris glanced over at him. “You will have to help me hold her down.”

“Uh … Aye, Captain,” came the hesitant reply.

“Good. Now come closer, boy.”

PART 4

Morgana’s eyes burnt with ill-suppressed anger as she looked at the woman who stood with her back to her. Not even a thank you for having saved her from Lillian. She turned slowly and hung the key on the hook.

“I hope you don’t expect any gratitude from me.”

Morgana turned back and found the woman staring back at her with cold dark eyes. She shook her head slowly as she raked her eyes over the woman.

“Not from the likes of you, no.” she turned to leave, but the woman’s voice stopped.

“Then why did you stop her?”

Morgana turned back again. “Because she loves her mate with all her heart and killing you without her partner’s consent will destroy them, that’s why.”

The woman’s face pulled into a hate-filled sneer as she looked at Morgana. “Love? Hah! That viper doesn’t know what love is.”

Morgana’s eyes narrowed as she stepped closer. “You know her?”

Dark eyes darkened even further before the woman turned away, leaving Morgana feeling a chill going down her spine. Ireland was still a few weeks away and she couldn’t shake the feeling of foreboding. She remembered the look in Lillian’s eyes and the chilling warning to get the woman off her ship.

“What’s your name?”

“Why would you want to know?” came the rude reply.

Morgana stepped closer to the cell as she felt her anger slip. This ungrateful, rude woman was really grating on her nerves.

“Because, until we reached the next settlement, I’m the only one to keep you from getting your throat slit.”

The woman turned to face Morgana, a mocking smile on her face.

“I don’t scare easily.”

“And that’s your biggest mistake.” Morgana’s eyes flashed. “Lillian Scarborough is not someone you want baying for your blood. If she wants you dead, then she won’t rest until you are.” Having had enough of the woman’s presence, she quickly left the brig. Once outside in the fresh air, she took a deep, calming breath, realizing only now how upset she really was. Maybe she should’ve let Lillian kill her earlier. She felt eyes on her and scanning the deck, met the accusing stare of Lillian. What was she thinking getting involved? Now she had a woman who’s attitude at the least, is going to get her killed. On the other hand she had a semi-reformed sociopath who wants to avenge her lover’s attack. She needed Kris. With one last warning look at Lillian, she made for the Captain’s cabin and her sanity.

As soon as she stepped inside, she almost vomited at the heavy scent of blood hanging in the confined air. Looking up from where she was bent over Seweeka’s shivering form; Kris’ hands were stained with blood. Oh no, what had she walked in on? Her legs shaking, she walked closer, pushing past the sweating cabin boy. Seweeka was deathly pale and her body was wrecked by shivers. She turned huge amber eyes at her spouse.

“What are you doing, Kris?”

“Saving … my … life…” Seweeka said weakly, before Kris could answer and opened her eyes. “Do not … she should not stop.”

Kris gently brushed Seweeka’s auburn locks out of her eyes and then looked back at Morgana.

“The wound needed a good cleaning. Lillian couldn’t do it for obvious reasons.”

Morgana looked at the small heap of bloodied cloths lying on the deck next to the bed and back at Seweeka. “I’d suggest you get rid of those before Lillian walks in here. She’s not in the best of moods, as we speak.”

Kris glanced at the cabin boy who quickly began to gather the cloths and made for the door.

“You’ll have to hide them, boy. The Captain is right outside that door.” She turned back to Kris after the boy had left. “I’m really worried?”

Kris looked at Seweeka who, mercifully, had slipped into unconsciousness again. “She is fine. I’ve cleaned the wound nicely.”

“I’m not talking about her.”

“Then who?”

“Unless we get the prisoner off the ship, Lillian will surely kill her.”

Kris raised a blonde eyebrow. “Well, I can’t blame her. The woman tried to kill her mate.”

Morgana sighed deeply and cocked her head to the side.

“That would be murder, querida .” She looked down at the pale face of Seweeka. “I doubt Seweeka would like it if Lillian killed the woman.”

“What do you want us to do then?”

“Get the woman off the ship and keep her away from Lillian.”

Kris turned narrowed ice blue eyes on her. “I understand what you said about murder and all, but why are you really doing this?”

Why indeed, Morgana thought. She’d just placed herself in the middle of a very explosive situation. She reached out and pulled Kris closer to her. At the touch of her wife’s body against hers, some of the pent-up tension seeped out of her. She sighed deeply.

“I can’t help but feel as if there’s more to this than meets the eye. Our prisoner hinted today that she knew Seweeka.”

“She did? How?”

Morgana pulled back and looked into cool blue eyes. “In the biblical way, it seems.”

“That’s impossible!” Kris looked down at Seweeka. “Is that why Lillian’s upset?”

“That’s quite an understatement, love.” Morgana bit down on her lower lip. “Lillian’s livid. I caught her earlier busy throttling the woman.”

Kris shook her head. “Maybe we should just stay out of this, Morgana. That woman almost killed Seweeka.”

“I know, but don’t you think it’s strange that we land on a strange island and some woman just come out of nowhere and want to kill our friend? I can’t help but think that there’s more there and I think we need to keep her alive until we get to the bottom of it?”

Kris gently caressed her cheek, making Morgana lean into the caress. The ice blue eyes smiled down into hers. “You’re right as always, my love. We’ll keep her safe until we reach the first British port.”

Morgana nodded and squeezed Kris tighter to her. She never doubted Kris’ support, but knowing how Kris felt about Seweeka, she hadn’t expected her Viking to give in so easily. “Thank you for your support.”

Kris leered at her. “You do know that it’ll cost you, don’t you.”

“You’ll be richly rewarded, Viking. Now let’s get that woman off this ship before Lillian snaps.”

****

Lillian was still seething when she pulled a chair closer to the bed, settling herself in for the night. Looking down at the pale face of her sleeping lover, she felt the almost uncontrollable rage she’d felt earlier, return with a vengeance. She felt hot tears of helplessness built up in her eyes and she didn’t even bother wiping them away when they trickled down her cheeks. She had never been so afraid in her life of losing someone. No one has ever meant as much to her as Seweeka. No one. Not even her mother. She wanted to rip the woman apart for trying to take the most important thing in her life from her. Killing had always come easy to her. But contrary to what other thought about her, she never took pleasure in it. It was simply something which had to be done to rid herself of a threat. But today she wanted to kill for pleasure. She bent her head until her chin rested on her chest.

“Lillian.”

Lillian head snapped up and she quickly wiped her eyes. Seweeka was awake and looking at her with concerned green eyes.

“How are you feeling, my darling?” She sat closer and tenderly placed her fingertips against Seweeka’s lips and then placed them against hers. “Are you having any pain?”

“Not too much, Seweeka,” murmured. “Why were you crying?”

Lillian rubbed her hand over her face before looking back at Seweeka. The green eyes were a bit more lucid now which was a good sign. “I’m scared.”

Seweeka’s face softened at the quiet admission. “I will be back on my feet very soon, I promise.” She reached out a hand. “Join me on the bed.”

“No, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“It hurts not having you close to me.”

Lillian swallowed hard and blinked away fresh tears. What had she done to deserve this woman? She quickly took off her boots and weapons and climbed over Seweeka to lie behind her. Carefully, she pressed her body again Seweeka’s side and sighed as a feeling of utter peacefulness settled over her. She gently kissed Seweeka’s cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Now try to sleep. You look exhausted.” Seweeka reached for her hand and pulled her arm around her. “I will watch over you.”

For the first time in her adult life, Lillian Scarborough sobbed. As tears of relief, love and happiness fell from her eyes, she clung to the warm body of the woman lying next to her. She can’t believe how she’d survived without this woman – without her love.

****

With a soft groan Seweeka opened her eyes and stiffened. Looming over her was the tall, dark frame of a stranger. Next to her, Lillian was fast asleep. She looked up into the cold dark eyes looking down at her. She calmly looked at woman.

“Why did you do it?”

Seweeka raised a brow. “What did I do to you?”

The woman shook her head. “Don’t act the innocent with me. You betrayed me and our love.”

“I do not know what you are talking about. Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” the woman hissed vehemently.

Seweeka carefully lifted herself until she came to rest on her elbow. “I do not know what you are talking about, but if it is what you believe and you want to take my life, then there is nothing I can do about it.”

“Yes, this is more like you, you coward.” The woman sneered. “Now that there is no one to do your dirty work for you, you are not even going to lift a finger to protect yourself.”

The soft moonlight caught the shine of a blade as it arched through the air.

“NO!” Lillian screamed as she threw herself across Seweeka.

****

Seweeka felt the air explode from her lungs, coupled by the intense pain in her chest. Her eyes when they opened were wet as she tried to locate the reason for the sudden attack. Her eyes widened when she realized Lillian was lying on top of her, sobbing. With a shaking hand she reached for the tousled blonde head.

“Lillian?” When there was no immediate response, she called out again. This time, the blonde head lifted. Lillian’s face was contorted in anguish as she looked down at her. “What is wrong, Lillian?” When Lillian just stared at her, Seweeka gently traced a finger down a wet cheek. “Please tell me what happened.”

She watched in utter confusion as Lillian turned and scanned the semi-dark interior of the cabin before she turned to look at her again. The dream was so vivid. Never before had she felt as helpless as she felt in the dream. She felt as if she was a silent bystander and at the same time as if she was inside Seweeka’s body feeling the other woman’s fear and resignation when the blade arched through the air.

“Are you okay?” she asked in a tremulous voice.

“Yes, I am … except that you are crying and lying on my wound.” Lillian’s eyes widened and she quickly rolled off her, apologizing profusely. With the weight of her chest and the pain subsiding slowly, Seweeka reached out to lover. “You are acting very strange.”

“I …” Lillian once again scanned the cabin. “I think I had a bad dream.”

Seweeka nodded, relieved. “It must have been a very unpleasant one to have made you cry.”

“Yes, it was bad.” Lillian cradled her face in Seweeka’s neck. “And it was so real.”

“Do you want to tell me what it was about?” Seweeka asked gently, stroking the soft blond hair.

“That woman tried to hurt you again,” Lillian said in a voice muffled against Seweeka’s skin. “I couldn’t stop her this time.”

Seweeka listened quietly as Lillian began to cry again. What woman was she talking about? And what did she mean with ‘again’? She tightened her arms around Lillian. The only person who’d tried to hurt her lately was that …

“Was that a woman who tried to kill me?”

Lillian cleared her voice. “Yes.”

“Do you know why she attacked us?” Seweeka asked softly, puzzled by the new information. She felt Lillian struggling to move and loosened her hold. She watched as Lillian got out of bed and walked over to the table to light the lantern. She turned and slowly walked over to sit in the chair by the bed. Lifting herself so she could rest on her side, Seweeka studied Lillian through sharp eyes. She couldn’t help but pick up on Lillian’s sudden nervousness. “Why did she try to attack us, Lillian?”

Dark grey eyes met hers. “She … she believes that you and she … that you are … were … lovers.” Lillian quickly looked away.

“Lovers?” She asked incredulously. “I do not even know her.” Seweeka blinked when a soft smile formed on Lillian’s lips. “Did you believe her?” she asked quietly, her eyes intense as they studied her lover. She noticed a slight stiffening of Lillian’s shoulders before the Captain shrugged.

“She sounded very convincing.” Lillian said with a sheepish look on her face, her eyes avoiding eye contact.

Seweeka didn’t know how to react to that. A dull ache settled around her heart at hearing her lover’s admission, but she still wasn’t sure how to react. She carefully lay back, staring at the ceiling. Maybe she should ponder on this a little more because Lillian still looked a little rattled by the dream. She might not know how to react to the fact that her lover suspected her of double crossing her, but she was sure that she’d want an answer later.

“I would like to meet her tomorrow. Will you take me to see her?” She turned to look at Lillian who was watching her with hawk like intensity. “Where is she?”

“On the Lilac Crest .” The grey eyes darkened. “She wasn’t safe onboard.”

Seweeka’s lips pulled into a small smile. “I thought as much. It is still early and you need your rest.

****

Morgana reached down and pulled the thick blanket over them both which had ended up at the foot end of bed during their vigorous love making session. Kris was already dozing when she finally settled herself in the Viking’s arms. She sighed deeply and smiled. It was unbelievable how much she still wanted Kris. Even now after another earth-shattering climax. She wondered how long this honeymoon feeling was going to last … if it would ever dissipate. Kris was just as insatiable as she was. She moaned softly and threw her leg over Kris’, bringing her wet sex in contact with her wife’s strong thigh. Arching her back, she sucked in a long breath as her clitoris rubbed against Kris’ skin. Immediately her body began to heat up with anticipation. She slowly lifted her head to see of Kris was still awake and smiled when she encountered a piercing blue gaze.

“More?”

“Yes. I’ll always want more.”

Kris smiled as she moved her hands down her back and cupped her derriere in her hands. Using her immense strength, she gently pushed her upwards, making Morgana moan in pleasure as the hardened nub made full contact with Kris’ thigh. For the next half an hour, the only sound heard in the cabin was soft sighs of pleasure as Morgana was skillfully ravished and brought to a thundering climax.

“That was unbelievable,” she mumbled as soon as she was able to form a coherent sentence and watched Kris with smoldering eyes. “Just give me a minute and I’ll take care of you.”

Kris shook her head. “I doubt I’ll be able to wait another second.” Morgana squealed in surprise when Kris rolled her over on her stomach and straddled her. “Madre …!” she exclaimed when she felt Kris’ wet sex sliding over her cheeks. She lifted her shoulders slightly when Kris flattened her chest against her back and hooked her arms under her shoulders. She closed her eyes, envisioning Kris’ large body on top of hers as she thrust wildly into her soft derriere. She groaned at the erotic movement of Kris pulling her into her while at the same time pushing into her. With Kris’ mouth close to her ear, she felt her passion escalate as the sound of the soft grunts coming from her wife.

Morgana hissed when the pace increased, the sound of flesh slapping on flesh filling the cabin. Closing her eyes she savored the feel of her wife strong body as she bucked on top of her. She could imagine the pale blue eyes, glittering with lust and the beautiful face pulled in a mask of hunger. That was the last thought Morgana had. Obviously nearing her climax, Kris wanted to take her down with her and had reached under her, rubbing her throbbing clit.

“Come with me, my love.” Kris rasped in her ear. The combination of the husky invitation and the warm breath on her ear was Morgana undoing and energetically rubbed herself against Kris’ hand.

They both came amidst lusty cries of release.

****

Squinting through the cloud of gun smoke, she watched with cold eyes as the man toppled over, dead, even before he’d hit the ground. Long gone where the days, when she’d felt a small stirring of guilt after taking a life. Death was an integral part of her life. Turning away she tossed the smoking weapon at the man nearest to her.

“Clean it up.”

With long, powerful strides she walked over to her horse and hoisted herself into the saddle of the large horse. Pulling on the reins she looked at the body of her latest victim. There was no stirring of guilt, but there was a tiny bit of satisfaction. He was the second in a long line of men whose blood would be shed before she found what she was looking for. Kicking the horse into action she galloped away, her mind already on the next man on her list.

A while later, she dismounted and tossed the reins of the horse to a scruffy looking man who avoided eye contact with her. She towered over him as she straightened her cape, looking at the majestic ship anchored in the harbor. She was relieved to see the Jezebel , her pride and joy. Hunting Matthew Collard had kept her on land longer than she thought it would and she couldn’t wait to be back on the open seas again. She sighed with almost orgasmic pleasure as she thought of how it would feel to stand on the deck again with the wind tucking on her hair and the sun caressing her skin with long warm fingers.

She saw her first mate making his way over to her. For the first time in nearly six months a smile came over her lips. Seeing William was like coming home. He was the only bright light in her otherwise dark, cold existence. She waited until he reached her and they hugged warmly.

“Good to have you back in one piece, cousin.” His handsome face was lit up by a brilliant smile although his green eyes held a hint of concern. “Did you find him?”

“He’s dead,” she said flatly. She watched as he swallowed and grimaced. “You knew what I was going to do to him once I’ve caught up with him, Will.”

“I know, Eagan, but it doesn’t mean that I have to like it,” he said softly, his eyes trailing over her face. “This is not who you are.”

Hard green eyes stared back at him. “This is what is left of me now, William, and I don’t see myself changing in the near future. We’ll leave at first light.” She stomped away toward where one of her crew held on to her saddlebag.

****

Seweeka was breathing hard by the time she’d descended the stairs. Lillian and Morgana threw worrying looks her way she gave them a small smile. Seweeka held out her hand to her lover, knowing that she was still angry at her for wanting to meet the woman. Lillian reluctantly took her hand and pulled her closer.

“How’re you feeling,” she asked softly as her dark grey eyes moved over her face.

“I am doing fine now,” Seweeka murmured and placed a soft kiss on Lillian’s lips.

With a curt nod, Lillian led her over to one of the holding cells. Moving closer, Seweeka peered into the cell, watching as a tall shape unfolded from where it was sitting on a rickety cot. She felt Lillian stiffen as the woman lifted a hand to push back the hood which was hiding her face. Seweeka blinked at the look of pure hatred blazing at her from pitch-black eyes. The woman was beautiful with midnight black hair tumbling down her back. Mesmerized by the woman’s captivating appearance, Seweeka stepped closer to the bars. She knew she’d never met the woman before. Lillian growled under her breath when the woman slowly, with almost catlike movements, came over to the bars. Close up she was breathtaking and Seweeka couldn’t help but stare at the woman. She noticed that the woman was doing the same, the black eyes softening the longer they stared at her.

“You’re different,” the woman murmured as she reached out a hand to touch her. Seweeka took a quick sideway step to block Lillian from reaching for the woman. She gasped when Lillian’s momentum pushed her against the bars, jarring her wound and making her fold her arms over her wound. Instantly contrite, Lillian gently pulled her closer. Morgana also stepped closer.

“I’m so sorry, my love. I …” Lillian said gently, her voice breaking slightly.

“You don’t deserve her, you idiot,” the woman spat at Lillian from behind the bars, startling them all with her vehemence. Seweeka took a careful step back, pulling Lillian with her, because even before looking at her lover, she could feel the waves of menace rolling off her lover.

Morgana quickly stepped forward warningly, her eyes narrowing as she saw the murderous rage in Lillian’s eyes.

“What … did … you … say?” Lillian said haltingly, making Seweeka shiver at the lethal undercurrent in her voice.

“Only an idiot would hurt the woman they ‘supposedly’ love,” the woman flung back, her black eyes gleaming with rage. “She may love you now, but she will never, ever belong to another as she did to me.”

Seweeka’s mouth fell open at the woman’s words. Lillian was right. The woman sounds very convincing, even she almost believed her. A deep roar sounded behind her and she quickly turned to face Lillian. She needed to get Lillian away from her, off the ship. “Take me from here, Lillian.”

“No, please don’t leave.” The woman suddenly moaned; her eyes wide in panic as she looked at her. “I’m sorry for hurting you, but please stay with me. You love me even if you don’t remember me. You love …”

“Quiet!”

Before Seweeka or Morgana could react, Lillian had surged forward, her hands around the woman’s neck. Morgana was the first to snap out of it and reach for Lillian.

****

Kris paced the small interior of the cabin, her movements were jerky, an obvious sign of her distress. Sitting at the table drinking straight from the decanter, was Lillian. Her hair was disheveled from the countless times, she’d raked her fingers through it.

“What were you thinking?”

Lillian just sneered as she brought the decanter to her lips and took a healthy swig. “I wasn’t thinking.”

Kris stopped her pacing and turned cold blue eyes on the half-drunk Lillian. “How could you do that to Seweeka?”

A flash of anguished crossed Lillian’s face before she lifted the decanter to her lips. This time she held it to her lips and kept on swallowing prompting Kris to step in and yank it away from her.

“That’s enough. Pedro is outside to take you to the Siren . “

Pain-filled grey eyes looked up at her. “And Seweeka?”

Kris lifted the decanter to her lips and took a sip. She really hoped that Lillian came to her senses and not let jealousy spoil the one good thing that had fallen in her lap. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand she looked at Seweeka, finding stormy grey eyes watching her.

“I don’t know about Seweeka, Lillian. You did tell her to stay away from you.”

“I … I don’t know what got into me.” Lillian’s speech was slurred and Kris saw tears well up in her eyes. “She doesn’t love me.”

Oh, please Odin, don’t let her cry. She wouldn’t know what to do then. “Did she say that?”

Lillian averted her eyes. “She didn’t have to. She kept quiet when that … that woman said all those things.”

Kris shrugged and took another drink. She was the last person to give out relationship advice. Instead she held out the decanter to Lillian.

“That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you. Maybe you need to talk to her.”

Lillian chuckled, a brittle sound that grated on Kris’ nerves. “She hardly looked at me when we left the brig.”

“Well, you could try and see what happens.”

****

The hand shot out repeatedly, slamming against the wooden wall. Only when it was numbed by the pain did she cradle it against her chest and slowly slid down the wall until she was sitting flat on her derriere. Her hand hurt like hell, but at least it was distracting her from the hollow feeling in her heart. After what had transpired earlier, it was evident that something was wrong. She’d thought she’d known her lover well. Or did she only know the side of her that she wanted her to know. Was she truthful when she said that she didn’t know her? Or did she just not remember? Maybe she was injured and had lost her memory. She remembered her grandfather Lone Wolf, falling from his horse once and losing his memory. All of it … and the illness lasted for quite some time before his memories were restored. Could that be what had happened to her lover? After all they’d been through it was unconceivable that they could not be together. She had a vision of her when she was but ten summers old and it took another ten summers before she finally met the other half of her soul. They promised each other that nothing would keep them apart … not even death. But then she was betrayed, carried away in the dark of the night by her soul mate’s orders. She was cast away like a used piece of cloth. She felt the anger and bitterness begin to churn in the pit of her belly as she recalled their tender pledge.

“I will love you for as long as I draw breath and even beyond, my wild flower.”

Those were the treacherous words that came from her lover’s lips. She felt warm tears coursing down her cheek as she relived more and more moments such as those.

“You are my heart, Mimi, and without you and your love I am but nothing but a drifting ship. I will perish without you.”

This time, the dark woman sobbed softly as she remembered the reverence in those odd smoky green eyes as her lover had uttered those words. They had made love afterwards, her name like a litany on her lover’s lips.

“Mimiteh…”

Curling up on the cold floor, she cried and cried until her sides began to hurt and her heart … or whatever was left of it, splintered in a million pieces. It was on the cold floor of the brig, with her heart splintered and cast around her, that Mimiteh made another pledge. Her pain will be avenged.

****

The cabin was dark as Lillian walked inside and closed the door behind her. Her head was still ringing from the large quantities of rum she had consumed, but not even that had helped to ease the ache in her heart. After four months together, it was near impossible to think that she would sleep without Seweeka’s warm body curled around hers. She walked over to the table and lit the lantern. As soon as the cabin was flooded with light she turned to look at the bed. No Seweeka.

Frustrated and hurt, she tore the clothes of her body and fell face first on the bed. Sleep was not going to come quickly tonight, if ever. Feeling the chill of the night on her naked body, she grabbed the corner of the thick blanket and pulled it over her. After leaving Kris’ cabin, she’d scanned the deck of the Lilac Crest , hoping to catch a glimpse of Seweeka, but she was nowhere to be seen. Maybe that was for the best for now. Seeing her would’ve probably made it more difficult to come to this cold cabin. Unhappily, she settled herself in for the night.

****

The wind had picked up, blowing chilly streams of salty seawater onto the deck, but for the woman standing alone and motionless at the railing, it didn’t matter. Her face was hard as she looked out over the swelling ocean. By tomorrow night they would make land. Her hand slowly moved to the hilt of her sword. Another man would be dead before she set sail for the Americas in a fortnight’s time. Jonah Hertford’s time was running out as well as all the places to hide from her.

****

Kris’ eyes sharpened as she followed the shadow stealthily making its way across the shadowed deck. Moving her hand to the hilt of her dagger, she carefully followed the intruder. She sidestepped the dark puddles of water left by the midnight visitor’s drenched clothing. She jumped slightly when she felt a soft touch on her hand.

“Let her be, Kris.” It was Morgana.

“You knew?”

Morgana shrugged and pulled the Viking into the nearby light cast by an overhead lantern. Her amber eyes were warm as she looked at her wife. “About two nights ago I was taking a walk on the deck when I saw her climb over the side of the ship. She just stood there looking in the direction of the cabins before she dove overboard and swam back to the Siren .”

Kris threw a quick glance over her shoulder to where she could make out the silhouette of Lillian as she stood at the door leading to where the guests’ cabins were located.

“It’s been a week and still they haven’t made peace.” Kris turned back to Morgana. “It’s worse than I thought.” The blue eyes were somber. “Shouldn’t we help them?”

“Where do we start? Seweeka spends more and more time down the brig with Mimiteh and Lillian …” Morgana shook her head. “She refuses to come to the Lilac Crest unless it’s dark and she can stalk Seweeka like an obsessed hunter.”

“Maybe the first thing to do would be to try and get them alone somewhere. We should reach land in the day or two. Maybe we can come up with something.” Kris smiled. “This is also our last stop before we encounter the Royal Fleet.”

A slow smile spread over Morgana’s face. “You are such a romantic, darling. No wonder you swept me right off my feet.” She laughed softly. “Come let’s go someplace we can talk.”

Kris threw a last glance at where Lillian stood before she followed her wife.

****

Lillian’s breathing hitched when she heard voices nearby and tried to press her body flat against the door. She couldn’t make out the voices, but it didn’t matter. Being caught here would raise unnecessary questions which she didn’t feel she was ready to answer. She heard footsteps and sighed in relief. Just a few more minutes and then she would leave. The first night without Seweeka had been hell. She’d lain awake the whole night, haunted by the hurt look in Seweeka’s eyes … a look she put there with her stupid tongue.

“Let her go, Lillian.”

“Why?” Her eyes were cold as she’d watched for the second time in twenty four hours how the woman’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. “She tried to kill us, Seweeka, and now she’s trying to plant doubt in our minds.”

Seweeka had reached for her arms and gently stroked it. “I know, but this is not how we are going to get to the truth. Please let her go.”

Reluctantly, she’d dropped her hands. “This is the second time that someone stopped me from killing you. I doubt you would be so lucky the third time.”

The dark eyes were hate-filled as they’d look at her, but they softened slightly when they move to rest on Seweeka. Seweeka too was staring at the woman strangely. That was when she felt a deep rage fill her and combined with her jealousy, she was blind. She turned to Seweeka, the closest person she could lash out at.

“What are you not telling me?”

She saw a look of shocked hurt cross over Seweeka’s face, but it was quickly replaced by an unreadable expression. “What do you mean by that, Lillian?”

“Yes, Lillian, what do you mean?” Morgana snapped at her and Lillian laughed, a hard bitter sound.

“This whole situation is too bizarre to not be true somehow.” She turned hard grey eyes on Seweeka. “Why don’t you deny the fact that you are not who she says you are? What are you hiding?”

“Nothing,” Seweeka said softly.

“Well …” she looked at the woman she loved, knowing that was she was about to say would hurt and that that was her intention. “I think you’re a liar and unless you start telling the truth, I want you stay far away from me.” She had stomped out of the brig, her stomach rolling at the intense look of pain she’d seen on Seweeka’s face.

Two days later and two horrible nights later, she was still lying awake at night, haunted by her callous words. Two nights ago she was chased from the cabin by her guilt and loneliness. Then it chased her off the Siren and it was only once she was standing on the deck of the Lilac Crest that she realized what she was doing. But the loneliness was bearable, standing on the deck of the ship that held the woman she loved.

And tonight here she was again. It was only when darkness fell that her heart’s disobedience became apparent. It was then only when it warred with her brain and took control of her body. She shivered as the cool breeze cut through her wet clothes. These two days had made it clear that her heart had one master and that it wasn’t her. Now as she stood here, a few feet away from where Seweeka was, she could feel her heart become at ease with itself.

She missed Seweeka and she wanted her back in her arms. But how was she going to do that? All this was new to her, even the pain. Pressing her hand against the door, she sighed softly. Tonight was going to be another sleepless night for her. Maybe she could use those hours to look for a solution.

Just as silently as she’d appeared, she left.

****

The port was buzzing with action. Being the closest port to the raging war zone between the English and the Spaniards, it was filled with soldiers, merchants, and women. Kris’ eyes scanned over the ships moored in the harbor. A few were familiar to her, but just as many were not. She felt presence next to her and smiled at Seweeka. Since her fight with Lillian the woman was withdrawn and smiled even less now.

“While we wait for the others, maybe we could try and find rooms for us.”

“Yes, we can do that. Are you sure Morgana will not need our help transporting Mimiteh?”

“No,” Kris said shortly.

“Then we should go now and hope we find any rooms. This place is crowded.”

They carefully made their way through the throngs of people, over open, stinking sewers and drunken sailors. Kris spotted a sign, the Cocks Den. She could already see Morgana’s reaction if they were to find rooms available there. She turned to Seweeka with a big grin on her face, only to find the redhead to be surrounded by a group of sailors. She hadn’t even noticed that the redhead wasn’t next to her any longer. Stepping closer, she frowned when she overheard one of the men addressing Seweeka.

“We were listening out as you asked us to, Cap’n, but we could find nothing.”

Captain?

Kris stepped closer and watched as the men’s demeanor changed at her presence. They eyed her warily as she glared at them. She glanced at Seweeka. The redhead had a confused look on her face as she looked back at her.

“Seweeka?

“Cap’n?” One of the men reached for his pistol and Kris shook her head.

“That would be suicide,” she said calmly as she too reached for her broadsword. A tense standoff followed before the man’s hand moved away from his weapon. Kris relaxed slightly. “Do you know my friend?”

The men threw nervous glances at each other before they slowly nodded. “Yes. She’s our Cap’n.”

Kris nodded and turned to Seweeka. “If you’ll excuse us for a minute, I would like to talk to your captain.”

The men hesitated, looking at Seweeka. She gave them a curt nod and they turned and left, throwing cautious glances over their shoulders as they disappeared into the throng.

“What is going on here, Seweeka?” Kris asked slowly. “First it’s Mimiteh and now this?”

Seweeka shook her head.

“I do not know why they approached me. Nor do I know what they were talking about.”

Kris looked into the direction the men had disappeared and back at Seweeka. There was something wrong and she was going to figure it out before they leave this place. Studying Seweeka she could see that the woman was unnerved by the encounter and decided to leave it for now.

“Let’s go find the rooms and then we talk.”

“Yes.”

They entered the Cock’s Den and were immediately assaulted by the noise and smell of unwashed bodies. Kris had been in many places like this before, but she doubted if she’d ever get use to the smell. A petite blonde made her way over to them and Kris smiled.

“Julia.”

“Viking.” The woman stepped closer and before Kris could react, the woman had her arms around her and kissing her deeply. “It has been too long.”

Kris carefully stepped away from the woman and looked at Seweeka who was staring back at her, eyebrows lifted high. She wasn’t ready to explain to Seweeka about her past, especially her past with Julia. She was slightly surprised to find the blonde here. They’d met a few years ago in a seaport in the warm tropical Mediterranean.

“Uh … Julia, meet my friend …?”

“Captain Death,” Julia’s hazel eyes were wary as they looked at Seweeka and for the second time in less than five ten minutes, Kris felt a feeling of uneasiness coming over her.

“You know her?” she asked carefully, her ice blue eyes were sharp as they rested on Julia.

Julia turned to look at her and nodded. “We’ve never met officially but she was in here last night and I overheard someone calling her Captain Death.”

Kris looked at Seweeka and swallowed. Where was Morgana when she needed her? She scanned the crowd. It was evident that their arrival hadn’t gone unnoticed, because even above the din of the ribald song of the sailor, wary eyes were watching them.

“Do you have any rooms available? You do work here, don’t you?”

Julia smiled lecherously as she looked Kris up and down, making the Viking want to hide behind Seweeka. “Yes, I work here now. The Sailor’s Cross burnt down two years ago and I was luckily to find a position here when this inn was opened.” She looked at Seweeka, her eyes still wary. “But to answer your question, we do have rooms available. How many do you want?”

“Two.”

She saw mild surprise and then the relief on the blonde’s pretty face. “Follow me.”

As they followed the serving girl to the stairs leading up to the rooms, Kris could feel eyes bore into her back. Morgana loved mysteries and would love to get to the bottom of this one.

****

Morgana’s patience was running thin as she sat in the hot room, waiting to be attended to. She looked over to where a bristling Lillian was keeping watch over Mimiteh. She was surprised when the Englishwoman had offered to accompany the prisoner to the Office of the Lord Marshal with her. Now she complete regretted agreeing to it. Both women were staring at each other as if they couldn’t wait to jump each other – not in the good way though. Looking at Lillian she could feel the menace coming off the woman. She truly prayed that Lillian wouldn’t do anything stupid, especially not while Seweeka was still miffed at her. A door opened and a heavyset man shuffled in. Looking closer she could see breadcrumbs sticking to his beard and she shook her head. Here they were patiently waiting for him and he was stuffing his face. She gracefully came to her feet and bowed low.

“My lord, thank you for granting us an audience at such short notice.”

The man puffed his cheeks as he looked them over. After a while he nodded and made his way over to the large gilded chair taking up most of the room. Seated, his eyes studied them again.

“What brings you here? It is well-known that Crown does not acknowledge piracy nor expects it subjects to fraternize with them.”

Morgana bristled at the man’s tone, but held her temper in check. If the Crown didn’t condone piracy then she wondered what kept Lillian afloat. “We understand and respect the Crown’s stance, milord, but it is in the interest of both parties to ensure that its subjects are protected,” she said quietly. The man pulled his face in a sneer, but nodded, encouraging her to continue. “We bring before you a woman who has been apprehended on a deserted island.”

“Which one is she,” the man asked curtly and Morgana nodded in Mimiteh’s direction. The man’s face pulled in a scowl. “She’s of the Americas.”

Morgana nodded. “Indeed she is, but from what we’ve gleaned from her, she was abducted from British soil and humbly requests the Crown and your protection until she is claimed.”

There was a long silence as the official studied Mimiteh. “What proof do we have that she is indeed who she says she is? For all we know she could be a simple slave trying to worm her way into the good graces of the Crown. It is common knowledge that more heathens from the Americas are exploiting Her Majesty’s goodwill only to turn against the Crown later.”

Morgana sighed deeply. For that she didn’t have an answer. She turned to Mimiteh who glared at the man defiantly. She knew that she was supposed to give her up as a felon, but after a long talk with Kris last night they’d decided instead to present her as a victim and hope that she would be able to find her way from there. No matter what they were both of the same mind that there was more to the woman than meets the eye. Getting her under the protection of the Crown was the least they could do to ensure that she had a chance to find whoever she was searching for.

“She is fluent in English, milord. That alone, I believe, should hold merit.” Morgana tried one last time. “This port is a popular stop for most travelers and placing notices around is sure to bring news about her identity.”

The Lord Marshall studied Mimiteh again before his eyes travelled to where Lillian stood. “Captain Scarborough, do your correlate what is being said here?”

Morgana’s eyebrows shot up. Lillian hadn’t made it known that she knew the Lord Marshal. She wondered why. Could that be the reason Lillian offered to accompany them? Was her presence here going to ruin their plans? Morgana threw a glance in Mimiteh direction only to find the woman’s face pulled into a cold, blank mask. Morgana felt her heart sink. What was she thinking allowing Lillian to come her with them?

“Yes, Henry, it is all true what is being said.” Stormy grey eyes met Morgana’s. “I, however, think that it would not serve any purpose to keep her locked away until she is claimed.” Lillian’s eyes narrowed. “I would like to request she be released into my custody.”

Morgana threw a cold look at Lillian, but the Englishwoman was looking at the Lord Marshal, who was now sitting at the end of his chair, his eyes suspicious.

“Do you know of anything that you are not telling us about, Lillian?” The Lord Marshal’s eyes were sharp as they came to rest on Mimiteh. The woman’s defiant glare made the Lord Marshall’s eyes narrow even further before it turned back to Lillian.

“No,” Lillian said calmly although her eyes were hard with anger when they met Morgana’s. “Give us a few days to see if we can find out anything about her and if not we can bring her back here. But no, she is not a danger to the Crown in anyway.”

The man relaxed a bit, but his eyes still flitted back to Mimiteh. He turned to Morgana. “I will allow Captain Scarborough’s request. You have a week to find out how she ended up on that island, but I want you to promise me that you will report back to me if and when you find anything. If she’s found wandering around unsupervised, I will have her arrested.” he said as he heaved his bulk out of the chair and shuffled out of the room. When the door closed behind him, Morgana turned Lillian.

“What are you doing?” she snapped.

Lillian shrugged. “I’m trying to help her.”

Morgana felt a flicker of anger spring to life in the pit of her stomach. Lillian was lying and she hated being lied to. “I know you are planning something, Lillian, but I want you to know that as of this moment Mimiteh is under my protection and I’m warning you that if anything happens to her while in your custody, you’ll have to deal with me.” She walked to the door where she turned to give Lillian a hard look. “This is not an idle threat.”

Morgana bristled as she made her way over to the harbor. In a way she can completely understand Lillian anger and lust for vengeance. She herself felt like wiping out a whole village just to get to Kris. But she couldn’t shake the feeling that everything that happened since the arrival of Mimiteh was just a misunderstanding. Just as she reached the docks, she saw the huge frame of Soren making his way over to her.

“The Captain found accommodation for you at the Cock’s Den and she’s requested that your luggage be taken there.”

Morgana’s eyes narrowed slightly. The Cock’s Den? A slow smile formed on her face. Kris’ humor was greatly appreciated, but her presence would be even more so. She turned on her heel and went back the way she came.

****

Just as they stepped out of the Lord Marshall mansion, Lillian felt a body slam into hers and she instinctively reached for her pistol. She scowled down at the man staring back at her, wide-eyed. Before he could open his mouth to say anything, she held up her hand.

“Save it. Now get the hell out of my way.”

The man almost fell over his own feet as she tried to get away from the Amazon with the deadly eyes.

“You do have a way with people.”

Stiffening at the unexpected voice, Lillian slowly turned to skewer Mimiteh with a withering stare. “I don’t remember asking you for your opinion.” She reached for Mimiteh’s arms and frowned when the woman shook her hand off. “Please do not try my patience.”

The other woman’s dark eyes glowed in anger as she glared back. “You asked for me to be entrusted in your care,” Mimiteh snapped. “It doesn’t mean that I have to like it. So don’t expect any obedience or gratitude from me.”

Lillian never would’ve thought that she could dislike the woman even more than she already did, but she did at that moment and she had to keep herself from slapping the defiant look off the woman’s face. But she couldn’t and probably wouldn’t. Mimiteh was her only chance of getting Seweeka back. She’d lain awake the whole night last night, missing Seweeka desperately and trying to think of a way to win back her love. That was when she’d thought of Mimiteh. She’d known that Lord Henry Winston was appointed Lord Marshall of the small sea port, New Hastings. It was soon after his appointment that a mutiny aboard a French merchant ship spilled over into the sleepy port threatening his authority. Lucky for him she was docked there too and with the help of the small contingent of soldiers and her crew, they managed to contain the pillaging.

Now looking at this infuriating woman, she realized that Henry was indeed a man of his word. Still staring at Mimiteh, she couldn’t help but feel eyes boring into her back. Turning her head, she caught the wide-eyed stare of the man who’d bumped into her earlier. He quickly ducked his head and disappeared into the crowd. Turning back to Mimiteh, she found the woman’s eyes following the man’s disappearing back, the dark eyes holding a pensive expression.

“A friend?” she asked curtly.

“It’s none of your business.”

Lillian growled under her breath as she gently caressed the butt of her pistol. It was going to be a very trying week for her. She can’t remember when last she’d been so eager to kill another human being. Smoky green eyes suddenly flitted before her eyes and she sighed deeply. But that Lillian was no more. Seweeka made sure of that.

“Let’s go,” she said in an almost resigned tone, noting the look of surprise in the other woman’s black eyes. She wasn’t going to allow the woman to bait her anymore.

“Where are we going?”

Lillian spoke without looking at the woman. “Back to the ship.”

“Lead the way, Captain. Your slave will follow,” came the taunting reply and Lillian grinded her teeth, but ignored the remark.

****

Kris was stretched out on the bed, staring at the ceiling when there was a soft knock on the door. She reached for her dagger as she sat up. Morgana wouldn’t knock on their door, not if she’d gotten the room number from downstairs.

“Enter.”

She was surprised to see Manena step into the room. “I would like to talk to you, Kris.”

A blonde eyebrow shot up, but she nodded. The petite woman closed the door behind her and walked over to the chair next to the window.

“What do you want to talk about, Manena?” She hasn’t seen much of the young woman in the last few weeks even though she was travelling on the Lilac Crest with them. The reason was because Manena had been spending more time on the Siren lately.

“Pedro has asked me to go to Spain with him.”

Kris’ eyes widened slightly. She had been aware that Manena and her brother-in-law were spending a lot of time together. She knew there was something brewing, but she never thought it was this serious. According to what Morgana had told her, upon return to the Spanish Court, it would be expected from Pedro to find a wife. It was well-known that he would be expected to find a woman amongst his peers to fill the requirements, or … She shot to her feet. Manena almost fell out of her chair at her sudden movement, her dark eyes blinking at her.

“Where is he?”

“Downstairs with Morgana.”

Kris held out her hand to Manena. “Let’s go join them.”

Identical golden eyes looked up at them when Kris and Manena came to a stop at a table where the siblings were seated.

“In what capacity will she accompany you to Madrid?” Kris asked in a deadly quiet voice. “Your bride or your mistress?”

Now three pairs of eyes were resting on her. Morgana and Manena’s registered shock while Pedro quickly averted his.

Manena slowly turned to look at Pedro. “Why would she ask that?”

“I was just about to talk to Morgana about that.” He sat up straighter and cleared his throat. “I was about to ask her for advice.”

Manena slowly sunk into a chair. “Advice about what?”

Kris saw Morgana’s eyes soften and she placed a soft hand on her brother’s arm. “You shouldn’t have taken so long to confide in me, brother, but allow me to explain it to her.” Pedro’s eyes were troubled as he nodded. Morgana’s golden gaze met hers. “Sit down, Viking.”

Kris took the chair closest to Morgana.

“As you are aware already, Manena, a lot is expected from Pedro once he makes his return to the Spanish Court. The reason, I think, why Pedro sought my advice, is because he will be expected to find a wife as soon as he is accepted back into the fold.” Morgana made direct eye contact with Manena. “The King will present him with a number of choices and he’ll have to make a choice.”

Manena’s dark eyes moved to Pedro and for a moment Kris regretted bringing up the issue although she knew that that was something that needed to be brought in the open. Manena and Seweeka both became part of her clan the moment she placed them under her protection and clan members look out for each other.

“Pedro …?”

Pain-filled amber eyes caressed Manena’s face. “We will find a way around this, but I want to make it clear to you that when I asked you to go to Spain with me, it was so you could meet my family and then become my Donna.”

Kris watched as the two reached for each other. Manena’s head came to rest on Pedro broad shoulder and he tenderly stroked her cheek. The touching scene made her look at her wife and she smiled when she felt a soft touch on her thigh. Her hand slipped under the table and she rested her larger hand over Morgana’s.

“I knew the two of you were seeing a lot of each other but I wasn’t sure what it meant,” Morgana said softly and chuckled when the two people in question pulled away to look at each other. Manena smiled tenderly as she touched Pedro’s cheek. “For what it’s worth, I’m happy for the both of you.”

“Thank you, Morgana, but it still doesn’t solve our problem,” Pedro said softly, even as he leaned into the Manena’s caress. “I can’t live without Manena.”

****

A groan sounded and then the hump on the bed moved.

“You’ve almost slept away the day, Eagan.”

“I will have to hurt you if you don’t go away now, Will,” came the sleepy threat.

“Yes, but to do that you’ll have to drag your hung-over carcass out of bed.”

“Just go away, please.”

This time the blanket was ripped off, making Eagan shoot up in an upright position. “Do you have a death wish, Willy?” Eagan hissed through clenched teeth, her eyes glittering with fury.

“No, I don’t and that is the reason why I woke you.”

Eagan fell back on the bed and sighed.

“I’m awake now. What is so urgent that you had to interrupt my sleep?” Eagan inhaled deeply, trying to suppress the feeling of nausea. It wasn’t very bright of her to have moved so fast while suffering from a hangover. Oh, how she regretted all that rum she’d imbibed last night. But that was how most of her nights had been spent over the past two years. During the daylight hours she extracted her revenge and when night fell, she hid from the pain in her heart and sought consolation in a bottle. Last night was nothing new.

“There is someone outside who wants to talk to you.”

Rubbing over her eyes to try and tame the headache thrumming there, she closed her eyes.

“Who is it and why do you think it’s important enough to wake me?” When William didn’t answer she opened her eyes and looked at him. William was avoiding eye contact and that alone intrigued her enough to sit up slowly. “Out with it, Will.”

“There’s been a sighting.”

Those four words made her swing her feet off the bunk. Her green eyes were hard as she looked at her cousin. “Send him in.”

****

There was a soft touch on her shoulder and looking over her shoulder, Kris groaned softly. Please not now. Julia must’ve mistaken her moan for one of pleasure, because she stepped closer until her breasts were rubbing against Kris’ arm. Worried ice blue eyes tracked over to the table where, cool amber eyes met hers. She quickly turned to the serving girl.

“Julia, I need to tell you something,” she began. The girl smiled at her and stepped even closer. Kris swallowed hard and suppressed the urge to throw another look over her shoulder to see Morgana’s reaction. She didn’t need to because, almost immediately, the hair in her nape stood up.

“What do we have here, my love,” came the deceptively soft voice of her wife. Kris watched as Julia’s eyes widened slightly before she turned to look at her.

“Kris …?”

Kris smiled down at the girl. “I want you to meet my wife.”

Julia’s mouth fell open as she looked from Kris to Morgana and then back at Kris. “You’re married?”

Kris saw Morgana flashed a sickeningly sweet smile at Julia as she wrapped a possessive arm around her waist. “And we are very happy, aren’t we, darling.”

Kris nodded quickly. “Yes, we are.”

Julia gave them one final look before she nodded curtly and left. Morgana slowly stepped around Kris until she was standing before her wife, her amber eyes were serious.

“I know your history, Kris, and I’ve learned to accept it. A friendly warning though …” She leaned closer. “Unless you want me to leave a string of maimed women in my wake, please tell them beforehand about your marital status.” The dark head lowered and Kris’ lips were taken in a hard possessive kiss. “I’ve ordered us a hot bath and something to eat. You want to join me?”

“Most definitely, my love. Lead the way.” Kris blew out a slow breath, before she hurried after Morgana.

****

The man cowered in his chair as he looked at the woman pacing before him. What had been an easy way to make a gold coin had suddenly taken a menacing twist. Deadly green eyes turned to look at him again and he felt a shiver go down his spine.

“You do know what will happen to you if I find out that you’ve lied to me, don’t you?”

“I … I wouldn’t lie to you, Cap’ tan. I saw her with my own two eyes.”

The tall frame settled into a chair opposite him. “Then tell me again what you saw and don’t leave out anything.”

****

Seweeka sighed as she turned on her back and stared at the ceiling. She hasn’t seen Lillian for three days. It almost seemed like a lifetime ago for her. She missed her so much. Nights were the most difficult. That was when she longed for the lean hard body in her bed. Those were also the times when she relived their first time together. Arousal thrummed through her body as the soft pleasured cries of Lillian echoed through her mind. She remembered the blue eyes, made vivid by desire.

With a moan she turned on her side and stiffened.

“I just want to talk.”

Seweeka looked at the opened window behind Lillian and sat up slowly. She wondered why the Englishwoman opted to use the window instead of the door.

“Why do you approach me like a thief climbing through a window if all you want to do is talk?” Seweeka asked calmly as she swung her legs off the bed.

Dark grey eyes looked at her with an infinite sadness in them. “How is the wound? Is it still bothering you?”

Seweeka gently touched the bandaged area under her shirt and shook her head. “Not too much. It is healing fast.” She cocked her head to the side as she looked at the woman she had missed so desperately. Lillian looked gaunt and had dark circles under the eyes. “Tell me why you are here, Lillian?”

Lillian pushed away from the window and came to sit on the bed next to her. Seweeka noticed that the blonde was careful not to touch her.

“I’m dying inside, Seweeka.” Lillian took a deep breath and thumped her chest. “I’m dying because my heart is not where it should be. No matter how many times I apologize to you for what I have said, it will not take away the guilt and heartache I have caused you. But I want to try and make it better.”

Seweeka was astonished. It was unlike Lillian to use such dramatic words, which made her remorse so much more believable. Almost immediately after Lillian had uttered those devastating words that caused a chasm between them, she’d known that the Englishwoman didn’t mean them. The words had been born out of frustration and anger. She watched as the normally unflappable pirate fidgeted with her hands.

“I will not lie to you, Lillian. What you said hurt me and being away from you hurt me even more.” Troubled grey eyes met hers and Seweeka could see a tiny spark of hope in them. “But what I want to know most, is why. What made you say those things to me?”

The blonde head lowered slowly until Lillian’s chin rested in her chest. Seweeka heard Lillian take a ragged breath, before she looked up. “I feel like such a failure. I couldn’t protect you. You are the most important person in my life and couldn’t protect you.”

Seweeka saw a lone tear run down Lillian cheek and she ached at the pain she heard in the soft voice.

“Lillian …?”

“No one seems to understand how important it was … is for me to seek retribution. I needed to redeem myself in your eyes and in the eyes of my men. Before I met you I have killed and maimed men for spitting in the direction of people I didn’t even know or liked.” Lillian took a shuddering breath. “She almost killed you and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Seweeka reached out and placed her hand on Lillian’s twitching hands. “You did not fail me. You will always be my safe haven. I will always look for protection in your arms.” Seweeka brought one of Lillian’s hands to her lips and felt a slight tremor go through Lillian’s arm. “I know you did not mean what said.”

“But I said it and I hurt you.” Lillian’s voice broke as she lowered her eyes.

Seweeka put a finger under Lillian’s chin and lifted her head so she could look into the troubled depths. “What do you want me to do, Lillian? Do you want me not to forgive you?” When the grey eyes flashed in sudden panic, she smiled tenderly. “I cannot do that, because I love you and forgiveness is part of my love for you.”

Lillian looked at her with wide eyes. “You will forgive me just like that?”

“Yes.”

Seweeka’s heart melted at the sight of her lover breaking down before her. Lillian lowered her head and her shoulders shook as she sobbed quietly. Seweeka gently pulled Lillian to her and slowly lowered them both to the bed. She held her lover as she cried until only soft hiccups sounded in the room.

“I missed you so much.”

Seweeka brushed her lips over the soft blonde hair. “I missed you too.” She held Lillian tighter. The Englishwoman seemed to have lost weight over the past three days. She sighed deeply as her fingertips gently brushed over the protruding ribs. “Sleep for a while. I will watch over you.”

“No, I don’t want to sleep,” Lillian murmured softly, her voice heavy with sleep.

“Do it for me then, Lillian. Just close your eyes and I will be here when you wake up.”

Lillian lifted her head sleepily. “You promise?”

Seweeka smiled broadly. “I promise,” she said, her eyes looking deep into Lillian’s. As the Englishwoman drifted off to sleep, Seweeka’s smile still held. Lillian’s eyes were a vibrant, albeit a sleepy blue. All was well again.

****

Soren jumped when he felt the familiar sting of a blade against his throat. His blue eyes were wide as he slowly put his tankard of ale back on the table.

“Where is she?” The voice of his faceless assailant hissed in his ear. Looking at his drinking buddies sitting across from him, he saw them all going for their cutlasses. “Touch them, gentlemen, and you friend chokes to death on his own blood.”

Soren watched his men lift their hands, placing them on top of the table. By now everyone in the tavern were aware of the drama unfolding at their table.

“At least show yourself so I know whom I am speaking with,” Soren said quietly. His chair was suddenly kicked out from under him as he was hauled to his feet and spun around. He blinked at the woman who was quite few inches shorter than him, holding a sharp dagger at his jugular. But that was not what had him stare at the woman.

“Odin!”

****

“Oh no … no … no … no,” Morgana gasped at the sound of the knock on their door. Her eyes opened and she looked at Kris. Both her legs rested on the Viking’s shoulders as a hungry, warm mouth plundered her depths.

“Ignore it.” Kris mumbled, causing her to stifle a moan as delicious vibrations ran through her body at Kris’ words which were mumbled against her sensitive flesh.

“What if it’s important?”

Kris lifted her head, her chin glistening slightly. “They will come back if it’s important.”

The knock sounded again and with a frown, Kris looked at the door and then back at her. Morgan lifted a brow.

Kris sighed. “Who’s there?”

“It’s me, Captain. Something’s came up that needs your urgent attention.”

Morgana gasped as Kris quickly rolled out of bed and reached for her clothes. She turned back to her and Morgana saw that the blue eyes were frozen over. She, too, reached for her clothes.

“Give me a second, Soren. I hope this is an emergency,” Kris said, injecting the right amount of annoyance in her voice. Morgana shrugged into her shirt, closing it haphazardly. She reached for her pistols, checking them quickly before pushing them into her waistband and made for the window. She lithely heaved herself out of the window, finding the ledge. Stretching out her hand she found the window sill of the room adjacent to theirs and shuffled over. She smiled coldly when the widow as open and she climbed inside. Sharp green eyes met hers as Seweeka slowly sat up. Her brow rose as Lillian rolled out of bed, her pistol aimed at her with unerring accuracy.

“We have a situation next door,” she said softly as she made her way over to the door.

****

Kris pulled the door opened. Soren stood before her, but the giant had a dazed look on his face. She grew up with him and knew him better than most people. The way he had addressed her earlier was code for trouble. Thus she wasn’t surprised when a pistol came out of nowhere and made contact with his skull. Kris watched as her friend crumpled before her. She slowly raised her eyes, eager to see the idiot who was courting death. Her blue eyes widened as she looked at the woman.

“What it this?”

The woman aimed the pistol at her chest, motioning for her back up. “Where is she?”

“Who? Seweeka, what is this?”

She saw a flash of confusion on the woman’s face, but then it was gone, replaced by cold indifference.

“I will not ask you again. Where is she?”

Kris shook her head slowly. “Who are you and who are you looking for?”

A loud bang sounded and Kris gasped at the piercing pain in her shoulder as she fell to the floor. She raised her hand and grimaced when it came away stained with blood. The woman stepped closer and stood over her, this time she had a cutlass aimed at her throat.

“You have one last chance. Where is she?”

Before Kris could answer, there was a quick movement from behind the woman and her attacker was flung from her. The sharp blade nicked her throat and Kris reached for her neck as a stream of warm blood trickled down her chest.

Turning her head, she saw Morgana sitting on the woman’s back, her hands around the woman’s neck as she bashed the woman’s head against the wooden floor.

“Morgana … Morgana … Wait!”

Morgana’s eyes were wild with bloodlust as she looked at her. The amber eyes took a while to focus before they widened and she immediately got off the dazed woman and came over to kneel at her side. Kris saw Lillian quickly walk over to the fallen woman, her pistol trained at the woman’s head.

“You’re bleeding. Oh my … She shot you!” Morgana brushed Kris’ hand away and looked at the thin cut across her throat. “She cut you too!”

Kris grabbed Morgana’s hands. “It’s just a nick.”

The Spaniard shook her head. “You are bleeding heavily. We need to stop the bleeding.”

Kris saw Seweeka kneel next to her and held up her hand when the other woman reached for her. She saw the frown on Seweeka’s face.

“Seweeka?” she asked carefully.

“Yes, it’s me Kris.”

Kris turned to look at her attacker as she slowly began to stir, shaking her head before moaning.

“If you’re Seweeka, then who is she?” Kris asked haltingly as she slowly sat up, grimacing as pain shot through her shoulder.

Three sets of eyes turned to look at the woman who was lying face down on the floor, moaning softly. Lillian bent down and pulled the woman’s head up by the hair to look into her face.

“Sweet heavens …” She quickly stepped away from the woman and turned to look at Seweeka. Kris pushed to her feet with the help of Morgana. Cradling her injured shoulder, she walked over to where the woman lay and bent over her. The woman moved suddenly, the sunlight glinting off a sharp dagger. But Kris was ready and she knocked the blade out of the woman’s hand with her uninjured hand. She grabbed the woman by the throat and pulled her into a sitting position. The woman struggled to loosen the hold around her neck, but Kris tightened her hold further.

“Once was enough, don’t you think,” she hissed through her teeth as she come upright, dragging the woman to her feet. She heard a loud gasp behind her as she was sure that everyone could see the woman’s face. Lillian quickly stepped behind the woman, twisting her arms behind her back.

“What the …” Morgana stepped closer. She quickly turned to look at Seweeka who had look on with a pale face. “Seweeka?”

****

On rubbery legs, Seweeka stepped closer to the woman. It was like looking into a mirror. The hair, the eyes … She turned to look at Kris who was seated on the bed. Morgana was carefully cleaning the gunshot wound, while they waited for the settlement’s doctor dig out the bullet lodged in the Viking’s shoulder. Her eyes swept over to where Lillian stood, her gun still trained on the stranger. Looking back at the woman, who resembled her so closely, she cocked her head. The woman was also looking back her, her green eyes wide with curiosity.

“Who … who are you?” she asked carefully. She stepped even closer, looking at the woman from all angles. She shook her head in disbelieve. She was tempted to touch the woman to make sure that what she saw wasn’t a mirage. They looked almost identical, except for the coldness in the woman’s eyes.

“You tell me first,” came the gruff reply.

If the woman was shocked, she hid it very well, Seweeka thought. She felt a presence next to her and she turned to find Lillian standing very close to her.

“Are you all right, love?”

Seweeka shook her head. “I do not know. She … she looks just like me. I do not understand.”

Lillian’s arm curled around her shoulder and Seweeka leaned against her, grateful for her lover’s support. “I don’t understand either, but we will come to the bottom of this, my love.”

“Kris …! No, Kris, you need to lie down,” Morgana’s voice rose in frustration and Seweeka saw the large Viking push past them to stand before the stranger.

“Who are you and who were you looking for?” asked Kris. The green eyes of the captured woman hardened as they looked up at Kris.

“I’m looking for my partner,” the woman said sullenly.

Almost immediately Seweeka knew. She reached out and took Kris’ arm. When the Viking turned to her, she smiled.

“Mimiteh.” Out of the corner of her eye she could see the captive’s head jerk in her direction. “It all makes sense now. Mimiteh thought I was her mate, because I resemble her true mate so closely.” Her smile widened, she was giddy with excitement as every piece fit into the puzzle. “Remember the men who addressed me as ‘Captain’ earlier and the serving girl who called me Captain Death?” She turned to the captive woman. “Who are you?”

The woman looked away before her green eyes tracked back to Seweeka. “My name’s Captain Eagan O’Riordan. Who are you?”

Seweeka smiled as she stepped closer, but was gently held back by Lillian. “I am Seweeka.”

The woman cocked her head to one side, the green eyes bright with curiosity. “Seweeka? That’s all. Where’re you from?”

Seweeka noticed that the room was quiet as everyone listened to their conversation. “I grew up on an island near the Dark World. My mother was kidnapped from Ireland and when the traders found out she was pregnant, they left her on an island.”

The woman slowly pushed to her feet and Seweeka felt Lillian stiffened next to her. She took a careful step toward the woman. Seweeka noticed that the woman was a little paler as she studied her closely. Eagan lifted a shaky hand and placed it against Seweeka’s cheek.

“I know who you are?” the captain’s voice broke. “You are the daughter of Siobhan McIntyre and Douglas O’Riordan. As unbelievable as it may sound, our mothers were identical twins who married two brothers who were identical twins too.”

Seweeka’s mouth fell open at that. “You are my family,” she asked carefully as she reached for Eagan’s hand. “I have found my family.” She turned to look at Lillian. “I have found my family.” By this time tears coursed down her cheeks as she turned back to look at her cousin. Eagan, too, had tears running down her face.

“When Aunt Maeve disappeared. We all thought she fell from a cliff and was swept away by the current. Uncle Douglas took her passing very bad. But here you are.” Her eyes went to the door where Soren groggily leaned against the door jam. “Send your man to go downstairs and call William.”

Seweeka saw Kris nod and throw a quick glance at Soren which had the large man jump into action. She turned back to look at her newfound cousin.

“But my mother told me she was raped on the flesh trader’s ship.” Seweeka studied Eagan. They were about the same height, had the same hair color, and the same eyes. Something wasn’t adding up.

“You’re mother must’ve have been expecting already when she was kidnapped. That is the only way to explain our appearances. You are an O’Riordan. There is no doubt in my mind.” Loud footsteps sounded on the stairs and she smiled. “I want you to meet someone.”

Seweeka saw Soren enter the room followed by a tall, sturdy young man with a shock of red hair. The young man’s eyes moved from her to Eagan and then back at her. “Eagan?” he called in an uncertain voice, his eyes flitting between Eagan and herself. Looking at Eagan, she saw that her cousin had a warm smile on her face. The boy obviously means a lot to her.

“I’m over here, Will,” she said gently and the young man moved over to stand at her side. His green eyes ran over Eagan’s face, taking in the bruises, before he spoke again.

“What’s going on here, Eagan? Why do you look like that?” He threw a quick glance her way and Seweeka smiled at him. “Who … who is she, Eagan?” Eagan threw an arm over his broad shoulder and turned him so they both were facing her. Seweeka studied the young man closely. Her eyes widened when she encountered familiar looking green eyes.

“Will, I want you to meet Seweeka. She’s your half-sister.”

Seweeka gasped, even as she took a step towards the towering young man. Her brother! She had a brother! She turned to Lillian again and the Captain nodded reassuringly. Next she looked at Kris and Morgana and was surprised to find a strange man standing near the bed with a black bag in his hand. She returned her gaze to William and found him staring back at her, his face pale.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, William,” Seweeka croaked, as more tears ran down her cheek. The tall man stepped forward and surprised her by pulling her into his arms, cradling her against his broad chest.

“It’s an even bigger pleasure to meet you, Sis.” He dropped a gentle kiss on her hair before holding her away from him. He, too, had tears running down his cheeks. “You look exactly like Eagan, but you are a wee bit prettier than her because you’re my sister.”

Seweeka was charmed by the softly lilting sound in her brother’s voice as he spoke. She pushed herself against his chest and held on as he chuckled softly. He was obviously younger than her, but he had such a comforting presence which made her feel safe.

“Thank you, … brother.”

She peeked around William and saw Eagan looking at them. She held out her hand and Eagan readily moved into the embrace. They stood like that for a long while before William gently pushed them out of his arms.

“Where’s Mimiteh? I thought …” his voice died down suddenly and Seweeka turned to look at her cousin. Eagan’s shoulders had stiffened with tension, as she avoided eye contact.

“She is safe, Eagan.”

At that the Irish Captain’s eyes shot up to meet hers, deep sorrow and longing in their depths.

“I would like to see her. Where is she?”

Seweeka looked at Lillian and only continued when she got a curt nod from her lover. “She’s on the Sea Siren .”

“What?!” Both Eagan and William shouted simultaneously. Seweeka saw Kris and Morgana turned to look at them from where the doctor was busy, studying Kris’ wound.

“Do you know who that ship belongs too? Oh my …” She made for where her sword lay.

“Eagan, wait!” Seweeka shouted.

Eagan’s eyes were wild as turned to look at Seweeka. “You don’t understand, Seweeka. Mimi is in danger. The captain of the Sea Siren is a barbarian. I need to get to Mimi now.” She sheathed her cutlass, her eyes hard in her pale face. “I need to go.”

Seweeka reached out for Eagan, but the Irish woman shook her head. Seweeka saw Lillian lifting her pistol again, but Seweeka threw her a warning glare.

“Please listen to me. Mimiteh is safe, I promise you.” Even as she said it, Seweeka prayed that it was indeed so. She never had the chance to ask Lillian about Mimiteh.

“How could she be if she’s kept prisoner by a rapist and a cold-blooded killer.”

Seweeka looked at Lillian and saw the grey eyes darkened further. She slowly walked over to Lillian and reached for her hand.

“Eagan, I want you to meet Lillian, my mate and the captain of the Sea Siren .”

Had the situation not been so dire, Seweeka would’ve laughed at the look of incredulity that came over her cousin’s face. Eagan’s eyes shot to where a silent Lillian stood. Even William was staring at the Lillian now, his green eyes suspicious as they raked over the quiet Englishwoman.

“I will take you to Mimiteh so you can see for yourself.”

Eagan’s hand moved to the hilt of her cutlass. “What did you do to her?”

Lillian didn’t answer, but Seweeka could feel cold menace roll of her lover’s taut body. She reached out and placed her arms around Lillian’s waist, drawing her closer to her. She placed a gentle kiss on Lillian’s lips. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice by not being supportive of her lover again. She fully understood Lillian’s ire this time. Seweeka felt Lillian gradually relax against her body as she returned the kiss. She pulled back to look into blue-grey eyes. “I love you.” She smiled as Lillian’s face softened almost immediately and the pirate gave her a gentle squeeze in return.

Seweeka turned to Eagan and William who were watching her and Lillian. She smiled at their stunned faces.

“Let me introduce you to the rest of my other family. That is Kris and Morgana. They are the closest I have to sisters. I will introduce you to Manena later.” She gave Lillian another peck on the lips and saw a bright blue hue began to seep into Lillian’s eyes. Satisfied that everyone she cared about were happy, she turned to Eagan and William. “Let me take you to Mimiteh.”

****

Morgana shook her head as soon as she and Kris were alone in their room once again. The Viking was a little pale as she lay stretched out on the bed. The doctor had given her something for the pain.

“I must say that our honeymoon is turning out to be the worst experience ever for you, angel.” She came to sit next to her wife and gently pushed sweaty white blond hair from Kris’ forehead. “All I wanted was to make you my wife and live happily ever after with you. Now all I seem to do is nursing you back to health time and time again.” She placed a soft kiss on Kris’ lips. Sleepy, dark blue eyes fluttered open.

“Morgana …”

“I’m right here, my love.”

Kris licked her lips. “Lie down next to me and hold me.”

Morgana quickly walked over to lock the door and shrugged out of her clothes. She wasn’t wearing any underclothes since there was no time to put them on when Soren interrupted their lovemaking. She heard Kris sigh deeply when she stretched her naked frame next to hers. Kris immediately pulled her closer.

“This feels nice.”

Morgana pressed her face into Kris neck careful not to press on her injured shoulder. “I know,” she murmured.

It wasn’t long before their breathing evened out and they drifted into sleep.

****

Mimi was bored, angry, and hungry. She pushed herself to her feet and began to pace the small cell. She was never one for small spaces, but for the past few weeks, she had reverted to her people’s custom of meditation. That was the only way she could give her spirit the illusion of freedom. She missed her home. Maybe once she managed to get away from here, she would return to her people. Her heart tightened as memories of her childhood poured through her mind. She saw herself, hair blowing loosely in the wind, riding her pony as hard as she could through the wide open plains of her home. She could smell the rain in the air, smell the buffalo droppings wafting up from the sun-baked earth. Mimiteh pressed her head against the wooden wall of her prison. She should’ve heeded her grandfather’s warning. Even then she was torn between leaving her home and the call of her heart. Her heart won out back and she was so sure it was the right thing to do. She was in love. The decision was very easy to make.

When the English government agreed to the treaty of peace with the Mattaponi, as a sign of goodwill the English pledged to take a handful from the tribe and take them to England to obtain a white man’s education. Upon their return these new educators were to serve as a liaison between the English settlers and the Mattaponi. As the granddaughter of Chief Great Eagle, she was given the option to choose, an option other didn’t have. She was scared of leaving her home and family behind for the big unknown.

A group of negotiators were sent to the village. The group consisted of plantation owners, tradesmen, and farmers. The moment her eyes had fallen on the tall green-eyed English settler, her decision was made. Dressed like a successful plantation owner, she could tell that there was definitely something different about the settler. He appeared gentler than the other men and kept to himself most of the time. But Mimiteh could feel his gaze on her all the time.

After a week of having the intoxicating man around her, she had made her decision. She wanted to talk to him – in his own tongue. That was what helped her to make up her mind. Having noticed the shy looks that passed between her and the settler, her grandfather had called her aside one evening. She still remembered how his wizened face was pulled in an intense mask as he warned her about giving her heart to a white man. But she was young and her blood thickened every time those enigmatic green eyes lit on her. A few moons later they set out for the ship which would take them to faraway land. The settler was part of the entourage and even partook in the journey across the great waters. One night, while the moon bathed the deck in a ghostly white the settler came to her. They never spoke. He simply stood nearby as they both enjoyed the cool breeze after a hot day. For weeks, their silent courtship continued.

Sometimes he would stare at her so intently, making her skin come alive as his eyes travelled over her body. The other rough men seemed to either understand that she was off limits to them or perhaps they respected the settler. She was never bothered by any of them. The advantage of the long sea journey was that she began to learn the white language. At nights she would lie in her bedroll and form the words silently, memorizing their meanings and sounds. About three months into the journey, their ship was crippled by a storm and they had to stop at a small island to make repairs.

While swimming in a shallow pond near where they had made camp, the settler came to her again. No words were needed as he waded into the water fully-clothed and pulled her into his arms.

“My wildflower …” he had murmured into her hair as he held her gently to his heart. The first touch of his lips made her blood sing, making her crave more. The kisses grew intense, as his large hands ran over her naked body. When she wanted to touch him, he grabbed her hands in his. “I have to show you something first.”

The words, so foreign already and even more so in the aroused state she was in, didn’t make sense. But he pulled away from her and began to unbutton his shirt. Her shock was great when the white linen parted and small breasts peeked at her. Bewildered, she had stared up into the green eyes. She had given her heart to a woman! Her silence made him quickly button up his shirt. She had reached out and took the large hands into hers, pressing them to her own chest. If her heart longed for a woman, then so be it. Looking at the woman, she found her even more intoxicating. That night they had lain together and so many nights after that. Upon their arrival at the foreign land, her lover had taken her with her to her land. A land, so green, it reflected in her lover’s eyes. They were happy and she was accepted and welcomed into her lover’s family. But looking back now, it seemed all to have only been an illusion.

She felt warm tears trickling down her face. Her heart betrayed her. Never was she ever going to allow it to make a decision for her. She suddenly felt a presence nearby and turned. Her eyes pierced the dark shadows.

“Show yourself,” she said in a voice that sounded tired, even to her own ears. Her memories had drained her emotionally. She watched as a tall shadow stepped from the shadows. She sighed heavily when Seweeka came forward. What terrible timing the woman had, now after she had reminisced about her traitorous lover. “What brings you down here, Seweeka?” She turned her back on the woman. “I am not up for visitors now.”

When the woman didn’t say anything, she threw a quick glance over her shoulder. Seweeka stood there, her eyes intense as they stared at her.

“As you can see for yourself, I’m fine. Now please leave me.”

She sighed again as the woman stepped closer, her hands holding on to the bars. She turned away again, resting her head against the wooden wall. Seweeka will never understand how her presence now was torturing her. As much as she came to like the woman, she didn’t want her here right now. Not when her tears were threatening to overwhelm her.

“My wild flower …”

Mimiteh felt the breath caught in her throat. Was she hearing things? She could swear Seweeka had just called her … No, it can’t be possible. In the three weeks she had spent with the woman, she had realized that Seweeka was not who she thought her to be at first. And now this… She turned slowly and looked at Seweeka. She took her time to study the woman. What she saw, made her heart began to hammer in her chest. Seweeka never walked around with a cutlass nor had she ever looked at her with such hunger and longing in her eyes. Taking a deep breath, Mimiteh walked over to where the woman stood. Her eyes carefully traced every line on the beautiful face, searching the green eyes. What she found made her stumble back in shock.

“Eagan …” she gasped softly as she stumbled back.

“I can’t believe that I finally found you, Mimi.” Eagan choked out.

If there had been any doubt, there none now. She knew that voice better than her own. Eagan came for her. She stormed the gate, her hands shooting through the bars to pull the woman closer, even as she pushed herself against the cold iron bars. Their lips met in a bruising kiss as they tried to draw each other closer. Mimiteh tasted something salty on her lips, knowing it was tears. All the loneliness and fear she had endured during the two years on that god forsaken island came to the foreground as she grinded her lips against Eagan’s.

“Wait … wait …” Eagan gasped as she pulled away, but Mimiteh refused to let her go. “Let me get the key, my love. I need to hold you properly.”

Mimiteh grabbed hold of the bars, as she watched Eagan looking around for the key. “Over there on the hook.”

Eagan made a grab for the keys and with shaky hands, fiddled with the lock. Mimiteh reached out and took the key from her. She quickly unlocked the door and stepped back only to pull Eagan into her arms as soon as the Irish woman stepped into the small cell.

Their lips met again as they hands began to tear at clothing.

Mimiteh knew that there was a lot to talk about … even fight about … but not right now. All she wanted to do at this moment was to devour her lover.

****

Seweeka looked around the cabin, her eyes hooded. She heard the door close behind and turned slowly. Lillian was leaning against the door, her eyes a vivid blue as she looked at her.

“I missed our cabin,” she said softly as walked over to Lillian. She cradled Lillian’s cheek in her palm and smiled. “This has been my home, because you were here.”

Lillian’s face split into a wide grin as she leaned forward and took her lips in a tender kiss.

“It was so lonely here without you,” Lillian whispered against Seweeka’s lips.

They pulled away, but their foreheads stayed pressed together. Seweeka reached for Lillian’s shirt and pulled it out of her pants. She carefully pushed her hands under the soft cotton shirt and raked it over Lillian’s flat stomach.

“I want you.”

Lillian closed her eyes as she inhaled deeply. “I’m yours to do with as you as you please.”

Seweeka groaned softly as she placed a soft kiss on Lillian’s lips. “Good, but I want you to keep your eyes open so I could look into them while I take you. Can you do that for me?”

The blue eyes shot open immediately. “Yes!”

****

Lillian hoisted herself on her elbow as she looked down at Seweeka’s sleeping face. Her eyes traced the beautiful face, which looked almost angelic in repose. If anyone had told her four months ago that she would be tamed by a soft-spoken island warrior, she would’ve laughed in their faces. She had spent her life as a condemned woman for too long to have wanted to believe in fairy tales. She fornicated, killed, and robbed because that was the path her life had taken and she had no-one, or rather, no-one dared to tell that there was a different way. She was so sure that one day she would go down with her ship.

Until Seweeka.

The first time she’d looked into those green eyes, she knew that she would never feel whole again unless she had her in her life.

She was in love and was actually thinking of finding a place where she could settle down with Seweeka. She wanted what Kris and Morgana had.

Seweeka stirred and opened her eyes and she smiled drowsily when their eyes met. “What are you thinking about, Captain Scarborough?”

Lillian brushed her lips over Seweeka’s cheek. “I was thinking how I could convince you to marry me.”

The green eyes widened. “You want to marry me?”

“With my whole heart, darling.” She swallowed hard. “And you?”

“I would like that very much.” Seweeka said softly and Lillian closed her eyes for a moment.

When she opened them an errant tear slipped out and ran down her cheek. Seweeka gently brushed it away, her green eyes concerned.

“Will it be too soon to get married tomorrow?” Lillian asked softly, after she had taken a few moments to compose herself.

Seweeka smiled. “Are you scared you might change your mind?”

“Not at all, love. On the contrary, I’m scared your cousin might talk you out of it.” She had meant for it to come out teasingly, but she knew a touch of seriousness had seeped into her words.

Seweeka pressed closer to her and brushed a soft kiss over her exposed breast. “There is no chance of that happening, Lillian.”

“I will need assurance.”

A loving look softened Seweeka’s face as she nodded. “I think I know just how.”

THE END …?

To be continued in the yet to be published Fire and Ice: Revenge. Keep checking, I’m sure Stein will be posting it  soon.

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