Take The Wind by Michelle L. Frazier

Take the Wind
by Michelle L. Frazier

Summary: A pirate attacks another ship, and takes everything she and her crew carry away . . .including the small blonde cabin boy.

Part 1

“Captain! Ship, three points off the starboard bow!” Came the cry from the crow’s nest.

Alex stepped away from the stern rail, pulling her glass from her pocket as she moved to the bow of the trim galley. Long legs sheathed in thigh high boots of black leather covered the distance with sure, smooth strides. Piercing eyes the color of the Caribbean scanned the horizon coming to rest on the dark speck the sailor was pointing too.

“It’s the Helios,” she called out, the wind whipping the strands of her ebony hair around her face as she lowered the glass. “One of Lord Connelly’s fat merchantman on it’s way back from the colonies.”

The first mate was at her side now and she handed him the glass without looking. He was almost as tall as she, his long dark hair braided and pulled back from his face with a leather tie. A kerchief was tied about his head to keep the sun off.

“What do you make of it, Mr. Davis?”

“The few men who are moving about do so with care,” he answered, the lilting tones of his deep voice colored with laughter. “They must’ve had themselves a party last night.”

“Prime the guns, men! Prepare for battle!”

The men of her ship were instantly in motion, moving with precision as they did just that.

Alex moved to her cabin and laid out her pistols, loading each one with quick efficient movements until all four were shoved into her belt, primed and ready. Her cutlass hung low on her left hip, a dagger at her right as she stepped from the cabin to join the waiting sailors on the deck.

Mr. Davis manned the small cannon mounted on the bow. It was light but in the hands of the skilled gunner it was deadly in its accuracy.

Alex took up a position at the bow, once again scanning the decks of the Helios with her glass. The men were up and about now, preparing for battle, their movements sluggish and clumsy.

“They are the worse for drink but never underestimate them.” She spoke to her crew from the foredeck, the low voice pitched to carry all the way to the stern without rising above a normal speaking tone. “Desperate men take desperate chances. Keep your wits about you.”

As soon as the Helios was within range Mr. Davis began firing, the wheel house of the other ship went up in splinters followed by the mainmast rigging.

“Hard to starboard,” Alex shouted and as the ship came about, “Fire!” and the deck of the Helios was pummeled with cannonballs.

“Bring her about!”

The Draco hove to and begin bearing down on the Helios again. They pulled alongside and began the process of grappling on as the crack of muskets and pistols filled the air, smoke billowing across the decks of both ships. With a ululating cry Alex grabbed a rope and swung across to the Helios, her cutlass spinning as she was met with resistance from the now desperate men. Her men lay about themselves shouting her name as a chant, quickly overpowering the demoralized men of the Helios. The battle was over in a matter of minutes, the surviving members of the crew stood roped together on the deck of the listing Helios.

Alex eyed her captives coldly from the poop deck, standing before them like a dark goddess of vengeance. The wind whipped her hair forward as the ice that was her eyes took in the sorry lot that had surrendered to the pirate’s superior force.

“Captain!” Mr. Davis’ voice boomed to her from the captain’s cabin. She looked down to see him holding a struggling figure by the collar. “I found this one hiding under the captain’s bed. Must be the cabin boy.”

Alex caught a glimpse of flashing green eyes as the small form slumped finally in defeat. In one fluid movement she vaulted the railing and landed lightly in front of her first mate. With a critical eye she took in the captive, noting the soft features, and beardless face. Loose fitting clothes gave away nothing as green eyes stared defiantly into hers. Alex reached forward slowly and ran a lazy finger up the captive’s torso from belt buckle to chin, not pausing as she felt the cloth band beneath the shirt. The green eyes widened with alarm as a gasp sprang unbidden from soft lips. The defiance was now replaced with fear and a tiny crack appeared in the ice that was Alex’s heart. Why this one? What makes you so sure you have to keep her safe?

“You need a new master, I need a cabin… boy,” Alex stepped back, deliberately pausing to let the girl know her secret was out. “You can take your chances with the rest here….” Alex indicated the bound captives with a slight inclination of her head. “Or come with me.”

Once the girl realized that her death was not one of the options at this point she looked upon the compelling figure before her. She saw cool aloofness and an aura of power which the pirate wore like a second skin, and as she found herself drowning in eyes as blue as the summer sky a flood of warmth washed over her.

“I’ll take my chances with you,” the girl decided, her voice firm and low as she straightened her shoulders, drawing her chin up in a determined gesture that didn’t quite make it as her head slammed back against Mr. Davis’ chest.

“Put him in my cabin,” she instructed the first mate and as he started to protest she stopped him with a raised brow. “I believe we’ll have no more trouble from this one.” With that she turned the querying look to the girl and received a nod of affirmation.

“Take what you will men, and be quick. This ship is sinking fast.” Alex called out before turning on her heel and striding back to her own ship.

She stood on the rail, leaning against the ropes of the mainsail watching the progress of the pirates as they stripped the ship of everything worth taking, piling it on the maindeck of the Draco. When all her men were back aboard and the grappling lines were cut loose Alex pulled a dagger from her belt and sent it flying into the deck of the Helios, between the feet of the bound captives.

“I suggest you get to the lifeboats quickly!” With that she turned to face her own men. “Take the wind and go!”

Once they were well away from the Helios, Alex oversaw the division of the spoils, quickly and ruthlessly settling any disputes that arose. Alex claimed the ‘little one’ as part of her captain’s share. When questioned about the cabin boy Alex assured them she would see personally to the ‘boy’s’ education and indoctrinization into the way’s of the crew of the Draco.

Casks of rum were broken out and the men proceeded to celebrate as a blood red sun sank below the horizon, painting the sea with its ghastly color.

“Have dinner brought to my cabin, Mr. Davis.” Alex instructed as she finally headed in that direction after sharing a few mugs with her men.

“Captain, I know that your new cabin boy is no boy. How long do you think you can fool the men?” Mr. Davis whispered against her ear.

“Long enough to get her to Port Royale and out of rough hands.” Alex stated, and strode away, closing the matter.

* * * * * *

Alex ducked into the gloom of her cabin, lighting the lantern that swung from the center of the room. The sight that greeted her widened the crack in her heart as the girl lay on the bed, curled up around a book, fast asleep. Alex studied the small figure and wondered at the age. Red gold hair was tied back in a pony tail, a kerchief covering her head. One softly rounded hip was discernible as she lay on her side, but the visible forearms were corded with wiry muscle.

With a sigh Alex hung her sword belt on its peg and dropped her empty pistols to the desk. The noise woke the girl and she looked around sleepily, her eyes settling immediately on Alex.

“I… I’m sorry,” the girl muttered, sliding off the bed and holding out the book towards Alex.

“It’s okay, someone should get some use out of them,” Alex shrugged, dropping to her chair and proceeding to clean her pistols.

“What’s your name?” the pirate questioned without raising her eyes from her task.

“Gen, um, Genevieve Dubois. Shouldn’t I be doing that?” Genevieve pointed to the pistols.

“Do you know how?” Blue eyes met green and Genevieve nodded in ascent.

“Then you can help,” Alex pointed to another chair by the desk and the girl moved to it. She took up one of the pistols and removed the spent cap from beneath the hammer, dropping it into the bowl on the desk before retrieving a piece of the soft rag Alex was using. She wet it carefully from the bottle of cleaning fluid and proceeded to thread it through the cleaning rod, carefully swabbing out the barrel.

At that moment a knock sounded at the door and at Alex’s curt “Enter” Mr. Davis entered, placing a tray of meat and fruit on the desk.

“What are our plans for the morrow Captain?”

“As soon as the men are up and about enough head for Port Royale. We’ve had some good hauls this past month. They’re in need of some shore time to spend their loot and bed some whores.” Alex instructed coldly.

“Looks like you might need a whore yourself, Captain,” Mr. Davis shot her a lascivious grin and wiggled his eyebrows at her.

Alex grabbed a mango from the tray and fired it at her first mate with a menacing grin. He caught it deftly and rubbed it on his shirt. “Ah, thank you, Captain. I was hungry meself.”

“Get out of here, you letch.” Alex’s grin turned to one of genuine warmth now. “Go, have some rum and keep the men from falling overboard.”

“Aye, Captain,” he threw her a mocking salute and left.

Alex caught Genevieve’s look from the corner of her eye and turned to face the girl. Her mouth was hanging open in surprise and the pirate reached out and gently closed it. “You’ll catch flies.”

Green eyes narrowed before a smile curved soft lips. “I guess I should’ve remembered the stories.” Genevieve grinned.

“What stories?”

“The one’s that say your thirst for blood is equal only to your thirst for beautiful women.”

It was Alex’s turn to let her jaw hang open in shock as she studied the girl with new eyes.

“Where did you hear these stories?”

“From the sailors aboard the Helios. Some of them sounded like they were hoping to run into you. I kind of expected you to be “bigger” and “bigger”,” Genevieve raised her hands above her head, then out from her chest to illustrate her point.

Alex burst out laughing, a hearty belly laugh that left her sides hurting and tears streaming from her eyes.

“Eat, little one,” Alex indicated the plate before her when she finally regained the capacity for speech. “The pistols can wait.”

Genevieve dug into the food with a relish reserved for the half starved and Alex looked on as she munched quietly on an orange.

“Don’t hurt yourself there.” She grinned. “Didn’t they feed you aboard the Helios?”

“Cabin boys always get what’s left and there was never much left,” Genevieve shrugged apologetically around a mouthful of mango.

“How did you wind up a cabin boy aboard the Helios? Don’t tell me your thirst for adventure drove you to it. You’re very lucky your secret wasn’t discovered.”

“My father and I were going to Kingston, his sister lives there and he wanted to see her before he died,” Genevieve suddenly grew serious, a sad smile on her face. “He was ill, he wasn’t sure if he would make it. He convinced me I would have an easier time of it if I posed as his son in case something happened to him on the voyage. He died a week out of Boston. The first mate of the Helios pressed me into service. They stole everything I had and made me work in the galley.”

A tear slid from the corner of Genevieve’s eye and she wiped it away impatiently with the back of her hand. She sat back in the chair, her appetite gone now. With a sigh she reached for the pistol she had been cleaning and picked up where she’d left off.

Alex watched the emotions play across the girl’s face in silence remembering a father who had left her mother with two small children to raise, going off to seek his fortune elsewhere. She wondered what it was like to have a father who risked his life to deliver his child into safe hands. Alex’s mind refused to wrap around the concept so she pushed it to the back of her mind to be examined at a later time. She poured out two mugs of port placing one in front of Genevieve before reaching for a pistol, joining Genevieve in her task.

For a while the only sounds were that of the men’s revelry as they celebrated their victory, both women lost in their struggle with their own personal demons. As the level of Genevieve’s port lowered, so did her inhibitions and she began to tell Alex a story, an ancient Greek myth about a lost mariner, cursed to sail the seas for eternity. Alex listened enraptured as the girl unfolded the story and spoke with such eloquence that the pirate could picture the events in her head.

The storytelling was thirsty work and Alex kept Genevieve’s mug filled. Barely into the second tale Genevieve’s speech began to slur as she now stood in the center of the room, animated gestures punctuating certain points of the story. Alex continued to watch and listen as she wrapped the now cleaned and oiled pistols in oil rags and put them away.

As the motion of the ship and the amount of port she’d consumed took their toll Genevieve stumbled in her pacing only to find Alex beside her, catching her and preventing a fall to the deck. Genevieve looked up at Alex with narrowed eyes.

“I didn’t even see you move.”

“I’m not surprised,” Alex smiled, attempting to steer her back towards the chair when the girl turned in the pirate’s arms, grasping her upper arms and staring deeply into eyes of cerulean blue.

“By the gods, you are beautiful!” Genevieve exclaimed and Alex pulled her head back in surprise at the girl’s outburst.

“Uh huh, and you are drunk,” Alex replied with a wry grimace, continuing to move the girl towards the chair, pushing her into it gently.

The girl’s hands were tangled now in the ties of Alex’s shirt and the pirate found herself unable to pull away without ripping it, her face mere inches from the girl’s.

The pirate’s eyes opened wide in shock as Genevieve suddenly pressed her lips to Alex’s in a tentative kiss. A low groan rumbled deep in her chest as desire knifed through her gut. With a concerted effort, Alex pulled away. So now your crimes include child molesting? Alex berated herself.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Alex’s face became a cool mask as she slammed the lid on her passion.

“I thought it was obvious, I was trying to seduce you.” Genevieve looked up, her eyes clouded with desire and Alex took a step backwards. This was not the look of a child.

“You’re just a child.” Alex said as much to herself as to Genevieve.

“I’m eighteen, well old enough to know what my body’s feeling.” With that Genevieve moved forward pulling the pirate’s head down to hers, pressing her lips once more to the softness of Alex’s. A low moan escaped Genevieve’s throat as Alex’s lips parted beneath hers. The pirate’s tongue gently explored the warm softness.

Alex was brought abruptly back to earth as an incessant pounding at the door broke into her consciousness. With a concerted effort of will Alex pulled herself away, carefully disentangling Genevieve’s fingers from the laces of her shirt.

My god, what was I thinking? the pirate cursed herself as Genevieve stared at her in wide eyed wonder. She’s drunk, she doesn’t know what she’s doing.

“Captain! There’s a storm coming in!” the voice of Mr. Davis called to her through the closed door and she hurried to open it.

“Are the men in any shape to handle it?” she questioned, forcing him to back up as she exited the cabin and closed the door behind her.

“Probably not,” he indicated the prone figures strewn about the deck.

Alex looked at the night sky critically. The moon was still unobscured by clouds but she could see the darkness brewing off to the east and smelled the scent of rain on the wind as it blew in from that direction.

“There’s an atoll just west of here where we can shelter from the storm.”

Alex dragged him back into her cabin and laid out the chart, pointing to a small ring of islands.

“We’re here, that puts us about an hour from the atoll. The channel is clearly marked, we should be able to get through safely in the dark. The moon is bright but I don’t know how long that will last. Muster all the men that can stand and steer west by southwest, and hurry.”

She needn’t have added the last as Mr. Davis sprinted to his task barking out the orders. Alex moved forward, lending her hand where she could. At one point she saw Genevieve poke her head out of the cabin but Alex was quickly in front of her, prepared to push her back inside. Genevieve tried to stand firm but the increased swaying of the ship caused her to clutch at her stomach. With a firm but gentle hand Alex led her back inside and handed her a bucket.

“You see what you can do about securing things in here.” Alex swept a hand around the cabin and left.

They reached the shelter of the cove just as the storm hit with full force and Alex breathed a sigh of relief. Rain fell in sheets but the islands blocked most of the fury of the wind and waves. Chains rattled loudly as the anchor dropped into the calmer waters.

When everything was secure and the men bedded down to wait out the storm Alex finally headed back to her cabin but was stopped as Mr. Davis laid a hand on her arm. She was soaked to the skin and impatient to be out of the rain and she glared at him, an eyebrow raised in silent query.

“I saw the look on her face in there, I thought you wanted to keep her out of rough hands,” he spoke quietly.

“It’s none of your business,” she lashed out at him, the guilt she was feeling finding release in her angered outburst.

“But your welfare is my business. If the men see weakness in you they will not hesitate to mutiny. Tread carefully Alexis and don’t let your heart rule your head.”

“I have no heart, Mr. Davis. The men say so themselves. How could it ever interfere with my head?” She spoke grimly, pulling away from him to continue on to her cabin.

Genevieve was sprawled across the bed, her head hanging over the side above the bucket. Alex inhaled the sharp stench of vomit but it seemed the girl had been careful in her illness. There were no traces anywhere else in the cabin and for that Alex was grateful. Everything that might’ve moved around in the cabin was stowed away or tied down. Genevieve seemed to be sleeping peacefully now and Alex picked up the bucket, opening the window and dumping it’s contents into the water. She tied a rope to the bucket and lowered it into the water, letting it fill only a little before hauling it up, rinsing it before setting it beside the bed again.

Alex stripped out of her wet clothes laying them across a chair to dry before donning a loose fitting tunic that reached to mid-thigh and crawling into bed. Genevieve was oblivious as Alex turned her the right way in the bed so she could stretch her long frame out comfortably then fell immediately into an exhausted sleep.

* * * * * *

Alex awakened to sunlight streaming through the aft windows, and tried to ease her cramped muscles but found herself pinned to the bed by the weight of one small figure twined around her like an octopus. Alex reveled in the softness of Genevieve’s body pressing against hers, letting her mind wander to the interrupted kiss of the previous night. You’ve been at sea too long, Alexis. You’ve come down to seducing innocents. You’re losing it. Get away now while you still have a chance…. Just then Genevieve moved, her thigh suddenly pressing against Alex’s center and she groaned, her body coming alive with the contact.

She reached out to touch the rich softness of the girl’s hair and paused, looking at her hand as if seeing it for the first time. She turned it over and saw the callus pattern on her palm, calluses built from wielding a cutlass. It looked normal enough, strong, long fingered and yet, how many lives had been cut short by that hand? How many men had fallen, fighting to hold on to what was rightfully theirs?

You should’ve run when you had the chance, Genevieve Dubois. Do you know what kind of monster you’ve chosen to sail with?

“Hey, get off of me,” she muttered, unsuccessfully trying to release herself from the death grip Genevieve had on Alex’s shirt.

“Oh, sorry,” the girl murmured pulling away and rolling off the bed, regretting the motion instantly as a dull throb erupted in her head. With a moan of pain she sat back down, clutching her head in her hands.

Suddenly the sounds of angry voices were heard on the deck followed by the sounds of swords clashing. With a muttered curse Alex yanked on her clothes and boots, strapping on her cutlass before striding out the door and into the bright sunlight, Genevieve following close behind.

The source of the noise was obvious as two burly sailors stood nose to nose, cutlasses locked above their heads.

“What’s the meaning of this?” Alex barked, her voice commanding all eyes to turn her way. “Mr. Bones, Mr. Bowden, you have a dispute? You know my rules.”

“Aye, Captain,” both men spoke in unison.

“What are her rules?” Genevieve questioned of Mr. Davis, whom she found standing beside her.

“In-fighting is punishable by twenty lashes each.”

“No matter who started it?”

“No matter who started it.”

“But that’s not fair,” Genevieve exclaimed, keeping her voice low, but Alex turned and faced her, the pirate’s face set in a hard mask.

“It takes two to fight, Dubois,” Alex informed her coldly before turning back to the men. “Chain them to the mast.”

Alex retrieved a whip from her cabin and calmly handed it to Mr. Davis. All the men lined the rails of the ship as the punishment was carried out. The captain took Genevieve’s arm and led her to the railing overlooking the main deck.

“I would spare you this if I could but all the men are required to watch,” Alex spoke to Genevieve in a low voice, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Genevieve had seen a whipping carried out on the Helios, the experience had been sickening. The other sailors had stood around jeering, further humiliating the subject of the first mate’s cat-o’-nine. Bets were placed as to how many lashes the man would take before he passed out. The man had been whipped until his back was a bloody mass and he hung unconscious from the ropes binding his wrists. Genevieve had spent the rest of the afternoon clinging to the aft railing, pouring the contents of her stomach into the sea.

Now Genevieve noted that on this ship the usual cat-o’-nine had been replaced with a long whip and the men watching were silent, almost reverent. Unlike the captain of the Helios who had fled to his cabin, Alex was not only in attendance but stood at a careful parade rest, hands clasped behind her back, eyes on the bare backs of the two men bound to the mast. Her face was an unreadable mask as Mr. Davis looked up to her, silently requesting permission to begin the punishment.

At Alex’s silent nod Mr. Davis shook out the whip, swinging it carefully around his body a few times and then began abruptly. In a smooth rhythmic motion he opened lines of blood across the backs of the men, alternating from one to the other with each stroke, their screams of pain began almost immediately and Genevieve saw no jeering faces among the men gathered at the rails, only solemn silence.

Genevieve flinched as each blow landed, her knuckles on the rail were white and splinters of wood dug into her palms. A concerted effort of will kept her from falling to her knees as the men’s screams of pain echoed in the calm waters of the atoll’s lagoon. It was over quickly, the men were still conscious as they were eased from their bindings and led into the hold.

Face streaming with silent tears Genevieve looked up at Alex, catching a glimpse of something that looked shockingly like pain before it quickly disappeared behind a dispassionate facade as the pirate turned on her heel and strode down the stairs to stand beside her first mate.

He looked at her and the look on his face shot through to Genevieve’s core. His eyes spoke of forgiveness, and the blonde woman frowned in puzzlement.

* * * * * *

“We have repairs to make and this is as good a place as any. Mr. Davis, take a group of men, there’s fresh water and fruit on that island. See what you can come up with. A roast pig would be a nice change for dinner.”

“Aye, Captain,” Mr. Davis strode forward as Alex made her way back up to the wheel house to get a better view of the islands surrounding them.

The pounding in Genevieve’s head was lessening somewhat and she turned to stare up at the pirate who was so different from the woman she had spent the evening with. Gone was the lighthearted banter and gentle demeanor, replaced with a cold ruthlessness that spoke of command.

With a careful tread Genevieve made her way to stand beside Alex, waiting until the pirate acknowledged her with a raised brow.

“What are my duties, Captain?” Genevieve questioned, her eyes downcast to show the respect that was her station.

“To serve me, you have no other duties other than your obligation to be at my side. It will make it easier for you to continue to hide your identity,” Alex spoke in a barely audible whisper.

“Come, I feel the need for a bath and I know just the place.” Alex’s voice was louder now, shaking off the pall that had settled on the ship.

* * * * * *

They landed the boat a short way from Mr. Davis’ and Alex headed off in the opposite direction from the supply detail. Genevieve followed behind carrying a duffel which Alex had packed for their expedition. The pirate spoke little as she cut her way through an overgrown path leading away from the beach.

Genevieve drew her breath in on a gasp as they suddenly emerged from the jungle into a small clearing at the base of a waterfall. The surrounding area was a riot of color against the gray background of a cliff which rose straight up from the edge of a small clear pool.

Alex took the duffel from Genevieve and tossed it down on a large flat rock at the water’s edge. Her clothes soon followed and she stood on the edge of the rock a moment before diving into the pool.

Genevieve was still standing, frozen to the spot, stunned by the vision of Alex’s naked form.

The pirate’s head emerged from the water a short time later and she turned to look questioningly at the girl.

“Are you coming in or not?”

“Um,…” Genevieve shook herself mentally and moved forward, stripping off her own clothes self-consciously, aware of the dark haired woman’s eyes following her every move.

She breathed a sigh of relief as she unwrapped the cloth band that covered her breasts and Alex’s eyes widened in surprise. ‘How’d she keep all that hidden?’ the pirate wondered.

Genevieve followed Alex’s lead and dove into the water, coming up immediately sucking air into her lungs as the icy chill of the water hit her.

“Holy Mother of God!” Genevieve’s lips were blue as she shivered, heading immediately for shore.

“Oh no you don’t,” Alex grabbed her by the shoulder and pulled her back. “Just give it a few minutes, you’ll get used to it.”

“Not if it kills me first,” Genevieve returned through chattering teeth but she could already feel her body adjusting to the temperature.

Alex moved to the edge of the pool and began pulling things out of the duffel. Finally finding what she was looking for, Alex handed a sliver of soap and a cloth to Genevieve and took one for herself.

Both women were silent as they scrubbed the sweat and grime from their bodies until Genevieve moved behind Alex and began scrubbing her back. The pirate relaxed into the gentle pressure of the girl’s attentions, allowing herself to close her eyes and give in to the sensation of the small hands on her skin.

Genevieve felt the pirate suddenly stiffen under her fingers, her whole body coiled like a spring as her eyes searched the surrounding jungle. A figure suddenly stepped forward from the undergrowth and the blonde felt the tension just as suddenly leave Alex as Mr. Davis waved to them and came up to the water’s edge and squatted down. Dipping his hand into the clear water of the pool he brought it to his lips, drinking deeply before addressing the two women.

“The men are off hunting, mind if I join you two for a bath?” he grinned.

Alex swept a hand across the pond, “Be my guest.”

Genevieve gasped in shock, trying to keep Alex’s body between herself and the first mate, fingers digging into the pirate’s shoulders.

“Relax, Genevieve, he knows,” Alex spoke quietly over her shoulder, gently loosening the death grip the blonde had on her.

Genevieve felt a tingle crawl up her spine as her name rolled off the pirate’s tongue for the first time but the small thrill was replaced by another gasp of shock as she looked up to see the first mate’s back as he stripped off his shirt in preparation for his bath. His back was a mass of whip scars, they spread across all of his back and disappeared into the waist band of his trousers.

Alex turned slightly to catch sight of Genevieve’s face and followed her eyes to see what had caused the sudden outburst. The cold mask dropped back over her face as she moved away from the blonde woman and took the soap from limp fingers. As a splash heralded Mr. Davis’ entry into the pool she turned and waited patiently for him to surface, he did so on a gasp.

“Whoa, I think I have two knots in my throat,” he grinned and Alex laughed out loud, tossing the soap to him and then the cloth.

It took Genevieve a moment to puzzle out that remark and as the answer came she flushed furiously, and ducked under the water to hide her embarrassment.

“I think your friend is not so worldly as you, Captain,” Mr. Davis commented, indicating Genevieve with a nod of his head.

Alex turned to see Genevieve’s back and noticed the tinge of red at the tips of the blonde’s ears. “Perhaps she just didn’t grow up with brothers.”

Genevieve turned at that comment, a mischievous grin coloring her features as she sent a hand across the water catching Alex full in the face with a generous splash. A look of horror crossed her features as Alex rose menacingly from the water and faced the blonde. Genevieve swallowed convulsively but stood her ground.

“Of course you know, this means war,” Alex spoke in a low growl and lunged for the blonde, catching her about the waist she suddenly heaved the smaller woman out of the water, and threw her into a deeper part of the pool accompanied by a howl of outrage from Genevieve.

When the blonde didn’t immediately surface Alex’s frowned in consternation and headed for the spot where Genevieve had gone into the water. Suddenly her legs were caught in a fierce hold and she took in a lungfull of air just before she went under. Just as quickly she was released and she surfaced just after the blonde.

“Congratulations, DuBois, you’re the first one to count coupe’ on the captain,” Mr. Davis was laughing heartily as he continued to scrub himself.

Genevieve and Alex looked at each other, an unspoken agreement lit both their faces in a menacing grin and they moved forward towards the oblivious first mate. He gave a shout of surprise as he was suddenly deluged with a shower of water as both women sent wave after wave of water his way. Their laughter rang through the area as Mr. Davis retaliated in kind until they all collapsed onto the rocks in the shallower part of the pool.

A loud rumble from Genevieve’s stomach finally broke the companionable silence and Mr. Davis reached for the bag he’d tucked into the cool shade of a rock before entering the pool. A quick search produced a bunch of bananas and a few of mangos. Genevieve tucked into the food with the same relish she’d exhibited the night before causing a look of disbelief on the first mate’s face as he reached into his bag this time bringing out a small packet of salted meat.

“Where does she put it?” he questioned of the captain.

“I think they were starving her aboard the Helios,” she spoke with a frown glancing at the blonde who looked at them both, realizing she was the object of their conversation.

She shrugged and grinned. “Actually, this is normal.”

That got a raised brow from Alex and a guffaw of laughter from Mr. Davis.

“A woman after me own heart,” he responded, handing across a chunk of meat for Genevieve.

After the meal Mr. Davis dressed and went off in search of the rest of the crew, glancing back once before disappearing into the undergrowth. ‘Little one, do you realize what your presence has brought out in my captain? This is the first time I’ve actually seen her laugh in the five years I have known her.’

* * * * * *

It was late afternoon before they headed back to the beach, Alex maintaining a careful distance from the smaller woman once they cleared the trees. Genevieve once again carried the duffel with their now clean clothes, her assets concealed beneath the binding cloth.

A large fire pit had been dug in the sand, well up from the water’s edge and a large pig was roasting over a makeshift spit, tended by a pudgy sailor.

“Mr. Jones, I see we’ll have the pleasure of your cooking tonight,” Alex grinned, moving forward to examine his project more closely.

“Aye, Captain, Mr. Davis gave me free rein,” he smiled broadly, wiping his hands on a large piece of linen which was slung over one shoulder.

“I’ll be heading back to the ship now. I’ll send someone out later with some rum if there’s any left after last night,” Alex turned on her heel, heading towards the boat with Genevieve close on her heels.

She felt the eyes which followed from the cover of the trees, but refrained from glancing over her shoulder until they were both settled in the boat and pulling away from shore. At that point Mr. Davis’ shadowy figure was standing next to Jones’ by the fire pit. He gave her a casual wave but the look on his face was brooding. A sudden sense of foreboding settled over Alex’s shoulders like a cloak.

Once back in her cabin Alex sat back with her blades and a whetstone, proceeding to hone the weapons as Genevieve opened the windows to air out the cabin and the bedding. As she did so she began another story, a tale of the twelve labors of Hercules. The doorway to the main deck was open and Alex watched curiously as a few of the men found mending or rope braiding to do that would keep them close to her door. With a bemused smile the pirate realized that they were listening carefully to the story as Genevieve spun it out, reeling her audience in as the little blonde became aware of them.

On impulse, Alex gently pushed Genevieve out onto the main deck and indicated she should continue as the captain took up a seat on a convenient cask and continued her task. Taking their cue from the captain, the men continued their tasks trying to make as little noise as possible while still getting the work done.

As her tale came to a close with a flourish the men burst into applause and Genevieve’s face flushed with color at the unexpected tribute. She moved to stand beside Alex as the men continued with their tasks enthusiastically, the noise level returning to normal as ropes thumped to the deck and the men began their usual banter as they worked together to repair worn ropes and mend the sails that the previous nights storm had ripped.

“When I was aboard the Helios, I wasn’t allowed to tell stories except to the captain once he found out about my penchant for them. He always demanded tales of blood thirsty pirates being bested by the king’s soldiers or wily merchantman captains or bawdy tales.” Genevieve spoke quietly, searching the inscrutable features of the pirate captain before her.

“You have a gift, a way of bringing the characters and events of your stories to life. These men are mostly former slaves. They have had so little joy in their lives. They follow me because they hit their former masters in the place it hurts most, their purses. If we profit from this, all the better.”

“The Helios was owned by Lord Connelly, one of the biggest slave holders in Jamaica.” Genevieve suddenly made the connection.

“Aye,” the captain nodded. “But the sailors aboard his ships are innocent victims, that pay for their loyalty with their lives.” Alex set aside her cutlass, looking down at her hands and flexing them once before moving abruptly, taking her weapons and disappearing back into her cabin.

That one gesture spoke more than any words could and Genevieve’s eyes followed the stiff back of the pirate captain a new understanding coloring her features.

She was brought from her reverie by the sound of the long boat returning.

“Dubois, tell the captain the feast will be ready in about an hour,” Mr. Davis called as he bound over the rail and onto the deck. He quickly turned to the other men and began directing them in preparation for getting all the men to the island, and securing the casks of rum in the long boat.

“Aye, sir,” Genevieve acknowledged and headed for Alex’s cabin. She knocked first and at the captain’s gruff “Come!” she entered to find the dark haired woman seated at the desk, the log book open before her and a quill in her hand.

She passed on Mr. Davis’ message which received a nod in acknowledgment. Genevieve stared at the impassive face a moment her heart lurching at the darkly beautiful woman before her. A vague flash of memory whispered through her mind from the previous night, she didn’t remember much but that flash was enough to color her features with a pink flush as she remembered staring into those blue eyes at very close range. A warmth spread through her body as more flashes of memory asserted themselves. A burning question burst from her lips before she could stop it.

“Why did you turn me down when I offered myself to you last night?” It was out, she couldn’t take it back so she faced the pirate squarely, waiting for the brush off she expected.

“I didn’t turn you down, we were interrupted. I must remember to thank Mr. Davis for his timely intervention,” Alex looked up into Genevieve’s startled face and grimaced. “You were drunk, I shouldn’t have taken advantage of that.94″

‘One more weight to add to that pile of guilt she carries on her shoulders,’ Genevieve realized and moved forward until she was leaning on the desk staring the dark haired pirate in the eye.

“Don’t you dare diminish my part in this. Yes, I was drunk but I distinctly remember making the first move,” she shot back, temper flaring at the cool aloofness on the pirate’s face.

“You’re a romantic as well as an innocent,” Alex frowned, moving forward to face the intense woman. “It doesn’t change what I am. A pirate who takes what she wants, no matter who stands in the way.”

“Captain, it’s time!” Mr. Davis called from the door, pausing as he caught sight of the women poised across the desk from each other, looking like two lioness’ engaged in a battle of wills. He felt a pang of sympathy for Alex, the little blonde looked like she was holding her own. He made a mental note to have a chat with the “cabin boy” later.

The women turned away from each other simultaneously, the tension broken by the first mate’s entrance.

“This isn’t over,” Genevieve promised as she stood back, reining in her emotions with a concerted effort of will as she followed behind the captain, trying to remember her station. Her eyes widened in shock as the full import of what had just transpired hit her. ‘Uh, you idiot, she had every right to kill you on the spot. She’s the captain, you’re a cabin boy, the lowest of the low. Then why didn’t she put you in your place?’

A skeleton crew was left aboard the Draco and the long boats took the pirate crew to the beach where a feast awaited them of roasted pig and various other dishes of food native to the island. Genevieve remembered her place in front of the men and prepared a plate for Alex and set it before her on the makeshift table. She carefully poured out a mug of rum and placed it there also.

“Get yourself something, DuBois before there’s none left,” Alex insisted and smiled as she watched the blonde woman fill her plate to almost overflowing before sitting at the captain’s left. She forewent the rum in favor of water, her stomach not quite up to alcohol so soon.

Genevieve ate until she felt ready to burst and she leaned back on the bench stretching her much abused stomach as she replied in kind to the good natured ribbing she received from the rest of the men. As the men sat back and waited for their dinner to digest someone called for a story and all the men looked expectantly at Genevieve. She looked to Alex in surprise.

“Please, entertain them, they’ll forget that we’re running low on rum,” Alex advised her in a low whisper.

The blonde woman shrugged happily and complied, entertaining the men with tales of adventure until her voice cracked from abuse. Reluctantly she was allowed to sit down finally as someone brought out a fiddle and the men began dancing with each other and playing games. Genevieve was content to sit at Alex’s side and watch but she was soon dragged into the foray of dancing bodies, albeit unwillingly.

Their dancing became wilder and Genevieve began to get worried as she felt hands getting tangled in the loose fitting tunic she wore. She backed away from the men carefully and from the corner of her eye she saw Alex, a worried frown on her face, heading her way.

A last lunge for her arm did it, her backwards momentum and the sailor’s ill placed grasp combined to rip the tunic from her body, displacing the cloth band in the process. She felt a cool breeze and looked down in horror as her secret was revealed. All revelry halted as the men facing her stared, their dancing partners also turning to see what was going on.

Alex was there in the next heartbeat, yanking the tunic from the astonished sailors hand and covering Genevieve with it.

“What’s this, Captain? Ain’t ya gonna share wi’ us?” a burly sailor ground out.

“She’s mine, I don’t share.” Alex stated calmly, pushing the blonde woman behind her as Genevieve tried to set her tunic to rights.

“Oh, come on, you claimed a cabin boy, that’s a girl,” the man continued, but his fellows were backing off as Mr. Davis moved to stand at Alex’s side.

“Mr. Robbins, I distinctly remember claiming “the little one,” not a boy or a girl. Do you wish to challenge my claim?” The look in Alex’s eyes should’ve warned the man but he was either to drunk or stupid to notice.

“Aye,” he spat on the ground.

“Very well, you are drunk. I will let you wait until you are sober to carry out the challenge.”

“No, here, now,” Mr. Robbins’ voice was a menacing snarl.

“Choose your weapon,” Alex nodded in ascent.

“You can’t do this,” Genevieve whispered for Alex’s ears alone.

“Cutlasses.” Mr. Robbins drew his and the men cleared the area of tables and benches as Alex turned to look at Genevieve, one eyebrow arched in query.

“This isn’t about you, he challenges my captain’s share. Mr. Davis, would you mind loaning DuBois your shirt for now? Hers is beyond repair.”

The first mate complied immediately, handing the shirt to Genevieve and turning his back as she pulled it on and then tugged the now useless cloth from beneath it.

Alex faced the large man, her eyes slowly raking over him from head to toe and the sneer which twisted her lips sent the message that she had measured him and found him lacking. With a howl of outrage Robbins charged, determined to win by brute force alone. That was his second mistake as Alex simply stepped aside at the last possible moment and his cutlass met with only air and he sprawled face first into the sand.

Alex waited for him to regain his feet, her body poised ready for the next attack. Robbins came up and at her again, still letting his temper get the best of him but this time he swung his cutlass low, aiming for her knees. Alex launched herself into the air with a shrill battlecry, flipping over to land behind him on her feet.

“Walk away Mr. Robbins, I don’t relish the idea of killing one of my own men needlessly,” Alex spoke softly, the heaving gasps of her opponents labored breathing apparent to all.

Robbins shook his head in reply, his face still purple with rage and Alex gave a mental sigh. Have it your way then.

This time Robbins came at her more slowly, and Alex met his swing with a smooth parry, deflecting his blade away from her head and driving him back with a flurry of strokes aimed at his arms and legs, he defended himself gamely but he was tiring quickly. Alex took advantage of his waning strength and disarmed him efficiently, sending his cutlass flying with a smooth flick of her wrist and followed through by slamming the hilt of her cutlass into his chin. The blow sent the man to his knees, his eyes rolling back into his head before he toppled forward to land face first in the sand.

Alex stood over him for a moment, feeling the adrenaline rush in her veins slowly ebbing, her breathing quickly returning to normal.

“When we leave this island Mr. Robbins stays,” she announced coldly, sliding her cutlass into her belt before moving to face Genevieve and Mr. Davis with a wry grimace.

Genevieve stepped forward, her eyes searching the pirates face with a worried frown. Before she had a chance to speak movement from behind Alex drew a startled gasp from her lips.

The reaction and a roar from behind Alex sent her into action, pushing the small blonde to the side with one hand she grabbed the hilt of her cutlass shoving it downward and the naked blade up as she went to one knee. A grunt of surprise was the only sound heard as she followed the dead weight over, the cutlass was still in her belt and she landed on top of the prone figure, a searing pain ripped through her side as she landed but she ignored it. With a sneer of disgust she freed her cutlass and rose to her feet, wiping the blade on Robbins’ tunic.

“Anybody else got a problem with my cabin boy?” She eyed the sailors coldly.

“No, Captain!” they called out almost as one, standing with their backs straight and eyes forward.

“I’m going back to the ship, someone bury this garbage.” Alex swept a hand towards Robbins’ body and turned on her heel.

Genevieve stood up and followed in her wake silently, noting the blood that spread in a crimson stain across the pirate’s back, contrasting sharply with the crisp whiteness of her shirt. Robbins’ blood, Genevieve decided and thought nothing further of it as they were rowed back to the ship by two of the least inebriated sailors.

Alex said nothing during the entire passage and inwardly Genevieve cringed. ‘I should’ve been more careful,’ she berated herself. ‘She’s trying to keep me safe and then I go and do something stupid and blow my disguise.’

Genevieve was the first up the ropes and she waited for Alex silently as the pirate clambered slowly over the railing. She felt the warm hand on her shoulder and looked up in surprise as she felt the pirate lean heavily on her, her head lowering until soft lips brushed against the blonde’s ear.

A thrill of excitement ran up her spine but turned chill as the words Alex was saying registered, “Help me to my cabin quickly.”

Genevieve complied, moving swiftly to the main cabin, the captain putting more of her weight on the blonde’s shoulder.

Once inside the cabin Genevieve shut the door behind them and led Alex to the bed before lighting the lamp. The pirate lay back weakly on the bed, her hand clasped tightly against her side but Genevieve saw the blood which seeped from between her fingers.

The blonde grabbed a piece of linen and a bottle of strong rum from the shelf and moved to Alex’s side, gently peeling away the pirate’s fingers. She gasped in shock at the sight which greeted her there. A deep gash ran across Alex’s side.

“The dagger Robbins had in his belt … gods, that was poetic,” Alex berated herself.

“Sh, he was trying to stab you in the back, it could’ve been worse,” Genevieve blanched as she remembered Robbins’ look of pure hatred and rage as he’d lunged for the captain’s exposed back.

A few quick strokes with a dagger and the shirt was gone and the pants unfastened as Genevieve went to work, wiping away the excess blood with the rum soaked linen before wadding up a clean piece and pressing it to the wound.

“Hold that there,” Genevieve instructed, placing Alex’s hand against the linen. She grabbed a needle and some leather twine from a cabinet and brought another lantern close, hanging it above the pirate’s bed.

“Drink this, you’ll need it ‘cause this is going to hurt,” Genevieve instructed, handing the rum bottle to Alex before going to work, sewing up the wound with neat careful stitches.

Alex’s lips were tight, drawn in lines of pain but she said nothing, taking long swigs from the bottle in her right hand.

As she worked Genevieve began weaving a story, her lyrical voice distracting Alex from the action of her hands. The pirate found herself once again enthralled by the words of the small blonde, her mind focusing on the tale of Lepithus and Io and how Aphrodite took pity on the lovers.

When she was done Genevieve washed the wound with soap, cleaning the blood carefully from the silent captain. She noted with a grimace of satisfaction that the blood flow had stopped and she looked up into those startling blue eyes to see a look of gratitude and she smiled softly.

“My father was a doctor,” Genevieve supplied, images flashing through her mind of long hours spent helping her father in his practice, sewing up wounds, changing bandages, and telling stories to ease the tedious moments of the sick and wounded.

“I need your help, these men can’t see me this way. I’ll be dead by morning if they sense weakness in me,” Alex spoke finally as Genevieve busied herself pulling off the pirates boots and tossing the ruined shirt into a bucket.

“I think you underestimate your men,” the blonde looked up into Alex’s eyes, studiously avoiding the sight of the pirate’s naked torso and the way the lamp light sent a warm glow across the creamy white skin of her breasts.

“After that little business on the beach, you believe that?” Alex tried to shift her position and winced, bringing Genevieve immediately to her side, laying a firm hand on her shoulder.

“Stop that, you’ll tear out the stitches,” she admonished. “I saw no one backing Robbins up, as soon as he made the challenge he was on his own. What I saw in the other men’s eyes was pity, they knew he was going to die.”

Alex fell silent, chewing thoughtfully on the storyteller’s words, wondering why it was suddenly so important that she get this woman, yes woman, Alex couldn’t deny that anymore, to safety and away from the influence of herself and her men.

Her thoughts were still whirling as her body gave in and she fell into a troubled sleep as Genevieve curled up in a chair beside the bed to watch over the pirate who had stolen her heart.

* * * * * *

Genevieve was startled from her doze as she heard someone cry out in anguish and she was instantly at the pirate’s side who was thrashing about in the throes of a nightmare. The small blonde reached out carefully to press Alex back onto the bed, afraid that she would tear out the stitches and was shocked to find the woman burning up with fever. Grabbing a bucket of water and a clean cloth Genevieve began to gently bathe the dark haired woman’s forehead, murmuring soothing words. She smiled briefly in satisfaction as the pirate settled down and her breathing returned to the slow even rhythm of sleep.

Dawn was just peeking over the island when Genevieve succumbed to sleep, stretching out beside the pirate on the bed, one hand resting gently against the smooth muscles of Alex’s stomach, the contact seeming to calm the woman because every time she moved away the pirate would begin stirring restlessly again.

* * * * * *

The first mate waited until mid-morning before knocking on the door of the captain’s cabin, the men were just beginning to move about and it was time to be on their way. He was puzzled about his captain’s non-appearance this morning, she was usually up with the dawn.

To his surprise, it was not the captain who opened the door but the small blonde, her hair disheveled and a sleepy smile greeted him with a warm “good morning”.

He frowned, as his mind instantly put a dark spin on Genevieve’s peaceful countenance and he tried to brush past her to confront Alex. To his surprise the little blonde blocked his way, a determined look on her face.

“The captain doesn’t wish to be disturbed, she said to set sail the instant the men are ready,” Genevieve lied smoothly, her face suddenly an impassive mask as she set her feet, refusing to allow Mr. Davis entrance into the cabin. He looked past her to catch a glimpse of dark hair and tanned shoulders resting against soft pillows and his lip curled in disgust.

Genevieve was startled to discover that the dark look wasn’t directed at her and she turned to see what had raised his ire. She saw that Alex was awake now and sitting up on her elbows and the small blonde caught the lascivious grin the captain threw at her first mate.

“You have your orders, Mr. Davis,” the captain spoke, effectively cutting off any comment by the man.

Mr. Davis turned on his heel and stormed away, barking orders as Genevieve slowly closed the door.

With a puzzled frown she turned again to the pirate and flew instantly to her side as she fell back, her features twisted in pain. With a gentle tug Genevieve pulled the sheet aside, carefully unwrapping the bandages to check the wound. A sigh of relief escaped her lips as she saw that the stitches were still intact and there was no sign of the redness which would indicate infection.

“Why was Mr. Davis so angry?” Genevieve questioned as she began putting a fresh bandage on the wound.

“He believes that I have taken liberties with you,” Alex replied softly, the look on her face was unreadable as the small blonde looked up in surprise.

“Why would he think that?”

The captain shrugged, sweeping a hand over her bare torso. “It looks damning,” Alex acknowledged, a sad, apologetic smile on her lips. “It will keep him off-balance long enough for my injury to heal. I’m sorry to use you in this way, Genevieve. I will set Mr. Davis straight as soon as I am able.”

“Now why would you want to do that?” Genevieve grinned mischievously, swooping down to steal a kiss from the startled pirate.

“You take much for granted, little one,” Alex’s eyes were narrowed in speculation.

“I take nothing for granted, I only offer my heart freely. I feel our souls are already as one.”

“What makes you say that?”

“I only met you two days ago and yet I feel as if I’ve known you my whole life, as if I’ve been waiting for the fates to step in and bring about this chance meeting.”

“Uh huh,” Alex said skeptically and yet she felt the same way. Only there was no way she was going to let this innocent be dragged into the bloody reputation the pirate had made for herself. The sooner they got to Port Royale the better, and Alex was determined to get Genevieve as far from her as possible.

* * * * * *

Genevieve dressed quickly and went to the galley to fetch food for the captain and herself. She immediately noticed a change in the way the men treated her. They showed her only courtesy and respect, gone was the rough disdain reserved for a cabin boy, the lowest of the low. The ship’s cook hurried to fill a tray for her, offering to have his assistant carry it but Genevieve refused, heading back to the captain’s cabin with a much lighter step than when she’d left.

They both tucked into the food with a relish reserved for the half starved and the small blonde found herself once again sharing light hearted banter with the pirate known in the Caribbean as the Bloody Savage, a bastardization of Alex’s surname.

Once the captain succumbed to Genevieve’s insistence that she sleep, the blonde left the cabin, returning the tray to the galley before wandering the main deck of the trim ship. The men were busy at the mundane tasks that seemed to always need doing. She found Mr. Davis leaning against the bow railing, staring out at the sea.

He spared her a brief smile, before returning to his perusal but Genevieve leaned against the rail beside him, refusing to be dismissed so quickly.

“Why does she believe she is the heart-less pirate that is spoken of in the tales I’ve heard?” she began and he turned towards her, a brow arched at the forthrightness of her question.

“I suppose you would know that better than I at this point.” He frowned.

“Who says that she took the liberties? What makes you so sure that I didn’t make the first move?”

“Did you?” he questioned, and it was apparent to the small blonde that that thought had never crossed his mind.

“Yes,” she answered, her face open to the first mate and he saw the truth written there.

“You don’t seem the type…,” his voice trailed away, eyes wide with astonishment.

“What type is that? A lover of women? We come in all shapes and sizes,” Genevieve smiled warmly, refusing to take offense when she could tell that none was intended. “Tell me about the woman who leads these men willingly into battle, and the freedom of the open seas.”

Mr. Davis smiled then, and he accepted the small blonde for what she was, a bright soul, making her own way in a world full of darkness. He spun out the story of a young girl of seventeen who had been taken captive by pirates, her body ravaged by them and left to die on the beach of a Caribbean island. And how that girl had survived and had single-handedly taken over a slaver’s ship that had stopped there for repairs. She had freed the slaves and led them on a bloody rampage across the West Indies in search of the pirates who had committed the crimes upon her person, only to find that they had been captured by the Dutch and hung for their other crimes not long after marooning her.

“So she just kept on pirating?”

“We gave her no choice. We were slaves, runaways according to the law and we had no place else to go. We asked her to continue to lead us, only things changed, no longer was her cause ours, our cause became hers and she began striking out at the wealthy slave holders exclusively and the slave ships, freeing their human cargo whenever possible.”

“How does this make her better than the pirates who took her in the first place?”

“It doesn’t, only suffice it to say that other pirate ships steer clear of the Draco too, we will target them just as quickly as the slaver’s ships. Because of this, she is safe in many ports in the Caribbean and can come and go as she pleases. And women will always be safe upon this ship. We have rules, and those rules are strictly enforced. We are not animals.”

“Then why was it necessary to continue to hide my gender?” Genevieve questioned with a puzzled frown.

“Because, while we are not animals, we are men and alas, as you have witnessed, too much drink and too much time at sea can reduce some of these men to a more primitive state. Robbins hadn’t been with us very long, he was picked up a month ago from a slave ship to replace some men we lost in a particularly difficult battle. Most of these men have been with Captain Savâge since the beginning but their are some that haven’t been. That’s where our potential troublemakers come from. Mr. Bones and Mr. Bowden have only been with us for a few months also, they learned their lessons the hard way yesterday. Time will only tell if they will last the distance.”

With that, Mr. Davis bid Genevieve good day and returned to overseeing the ship, striding through the men with an authoritative step that held none of the anger and broodiness she had witnessed earlier.

She wandered back to the main deck and watched as one man carefully braided long strands of rope. She sat down beside him, learning quickly that his name was Stevens and with little trouble, persuaded him to let her help. As her nimble fingers quickly picked up the task she began weaving a story, and soon found that the conversations around her had died as the men listened, careful to continue their work but making as little noise as possible so that they could hear her words.

By late evening, Alex made her way out of her cabin to find the small blonde perched on a barrel surrounded by the men who had finished their tasks all listening intently as Genevieve spun tale after tale for her captive audience.

Mr. Davis moved to her side as she leaned against the bulwark, watching and listening to the small blonde, her face an unreadable mask.

“How long has she been doing this?” Alex questioned, not sure if her first mate was speaking to her or not after the morning’s events.

“Since noon, I think you need to rescue her again before she loses her voice,” he laughed softly and Alex turned to face him, a puzzled frown creasing her brow.

“I would’ve succumbed to her charms too if she had turned them my way,” he shrugged away the unspoken question, missing the blank look which came over the captain’s face as he turned away, heading back to the wheel.

Alex waited until Genevieve finished the story she was currently telling and then called to her.

“Dubois, fetch me some dinner and let the men get to theirs.”

Genevieve turned a startled face to the captain, barely suppressing the urge to ask what she was doing out of bed. “Aye, Captain.” Was all she said as she apologized to the men and jumped to do Alex’s bidding. She was grateful for the interruption and only wondered if she had been doing something wrong.

The small blonde entered the captain’s cabin and found Alex sitting at the desk, writing diligently in her log book.

“What are you doing out of bed?” she admonished.

“I was hungry and my “cabin boy” was nowhere to be found,” Alex replied.

Genevieve looked up guiltily and caught the sparkle of laughter in the blue eyes and instantly smiled in return.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize the lateness of the hour.”

“It’s okay, I wasn’t really that hungry but you sounded like you were very tired. I knew the men wouldn’t be able to coax you into another story if you had been summoned by me,” with that Alex handed over a mug of wine which Genevieve accepted gratefully, gulping it down quickly as she sat down in the chair next to the desk.

“You don’t mind me telling stories to the men?”

“Why should I mind? As long as they are getting their work done it makes them less likely to get up to mischief. Life aboard ship can be hard and I won’t begrudge them their entertainment as long as you understand that you have to know when to stop and give yourself a break.”

“I will remember that,” Genevieve nodded in agreement.

Alex pushed the plate of food her way and watched in awe as the little blonde began eating heartily. The pirate closed her log book and set it aside before rescuing some meat and rolling it in a slice of bread.

“What did you tell Mr. Davis?” Alex questioned carefully, studying Genevieve’s face for her reaction. The small blonde blushed to the roots of her hair, nearly choking on the wine.

Alex waited patiently until she regained her composure, but didn’t relent.

“Um, enough of the truth to put him off looking at me like I had three heads.” Genevieve tried for the evasion but the look on the captain’s face told her she wasn’t buying it.

“I told him that I made the first move.”

It was Alex’s turn to choke on the meat she had just swallowed, and Genevieve pounded her on the back until the pirate regained her breath, taking a deep swallow from her mug.

“And he believed you?” she finally squeaked out.

“I can be very persuasive,” Genevieve grinned. “Besides, it’s the truth. I have been trying to seduce you, I just didn’t tell him I hadn’t succeeded yet. The look on his face was worth it.”

“I can only imagine,” Alex laughed. So with a simple statement of truth you have managed to restore peace between me and my first mate. Whatever shall I do with you, Genevieve Dubois? And what shall I do without you? You’ve also managed to crack the ice that was once my heart. If you knew half of the things I have done you would run as far from me as possible.

That night Genevieve slept curled up against the dark haired woman but she awoke to find herself alone in the bed, the captain having already dressed and gone out on deck. Her wound seemed to be healing nicely so the small blonde said nothing as she found the captain perched on a barrel by the wheel house, chatting amicably with her first mate.

The week passed in a similar manner and Genevieve found herself falling into the routine of this ship easily. The men treated her with kindness and respect, letting her help where ever she could as long as it didn’t interfere with her duties as cabin boy. She eased up on her pursuit of Alex, spending more time getting to know this complex person who had saved her from certain hardship and other things that Genevieve shuddered to think about.

But the closer they came to Port Royale the more distant Alex was becoming, slipping into long silences that Genevieve couldn’t draw her out of. Finally in desperation, the small blonde sought out Mr. Davis, cornering him alone by the bowsprit.

“What is supposed to happen in Port Royale?” she asked point blank.

“Shore leave for the men, and the captain is hoping to get you to your relatives in Kingston. Why?” he questioned in return only to find himself alone as Genevieve made a beeline for the captain’s cabin at a dead run. The first mate winced as he imagined the confrontation that was to come.

“What makes you think I want to go to my relatives in Kingston?” Genevieve demanded angrily, her green eyes flashing with fury as she faced Alex from across the desk.

Alex looked up, taken aback by the outburst.

“It’s too dangerous for you to be here. You need to be with your family, in a place where you can find a proper husband. A pirate ship is no place for a woman to be.” Alex shot back, standing to face the younger woman, her tone brooking no refusal.

Genevieve wasn’t having it. “What makes you so sure I want to be with family I have never met before or want a ‘proper husband’? I want to be here, with you.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying, Genevieve. I can’t keep you safe here.”

“If I wanted to be ‘safe’ I never would’ve left Boston. I would’ve stayed and married John Spencer.”

Alex’s eyes widened in shock at this new information and she found herself at a loss for words for a moment.

“Yes, I was betrothed. I talked my father into letting me go with him to Kingston because I wanted to be with him during his last days. I never intended to return to Boston. Then I met you and suddenly knew that this was what the fates had in store for me all along. We were meant to be together. Can’t you see that?” Genevieve’s tone was soft and pleading now.

“I am a monster, Genevieve. All I can see is the blood on my hands. I’ve led these men against countless ships, I’ve killed thousands in my quest for vengeance.” The pirate closed her eyes, silently willing Genevieve to see the wisdom of her words.

“Do you think you’re the only one who is allowed to feel guilty for your deeds? These men follow you yes, but when you freed them you gave them a choice. They stay with you because they believe they are making a difference and you offer them something they can’t have in this area, freedom. The sailors on the Helios followed their captain out of fear, you could smell it in the air aboard that ship. Here there is nothing but respect and loyalty, I see it on their faces every time they look at you. They know the price, and from what I can see, they pay it gladly.

“I knew exactly what I was doing when I offered myself to you. I’d heard all the stories, I can repeat them for you word for word. You hit only the wealthy slave holders and privateers who do murder in the name of the king, you let the survivors go free and if there are slaves aboard the ship you free them from their chains and give them a choice in their future,” Genevieve delivered her points in a low passionate voice, ticking them off on her fingers.

Alex sat down heavily in her chair, her mind whirling with all the things the small blonde had said. Was it possible? She finally asked herself. This woman who had stolen her heart knew what she had done and yet was still here, still wanted to be with this blood encrusted pirate.

“And if you leave me there I won’t stay, I’ll just come after you,” Genevieve promised, sitting down across from the dark-haired woman, taking the callused hands into her own.

A loud knock at the door jerked them from their silence and at Alex’s “Come”, Mr. Davis stepped in.

“Captain, a ship, off the starboard rail. Looks like one of Lord Malcolm’s slavers,” he grinned ferally.

“Lord Malcolm owned the ship that we came to the Caribbean on,” he explained to Genevieve and she nodded in understanding causing another surprised look to cross Alex’s face.

“Don’t I have any secrets anymore?” she growled at her first mate but he just shrugged and headed back out on deck.

Alex headed for the door, followed closely by the small blonde.

“This isn’t over,” Genevieve promised and saw the pirate hesitate before opening the door, but she said nothing.

Alex took her glass and stood at the starboard railing, studying the ship for a moment before calling out the orders.

“Hoist our colors and prepare for battle!”

A cheer arose from the men as they jumped to their tasks. Alex turned, expecting to find Genevieve beside her but was surprised to see the storyteller in the midst of several pirates loading muskets and pistols with practiced hands.

The captain caught Mr. Davis’ arm as he headed for his own post.

“Who taught her to do that?” she nodded towards Genevieve.

“I thought you did, Captain. She was cleaning your pistols that first night,” he gave her a puzzled frown.

“No, she already knew how. I think there is more to this little storyteller than you or I expected,” Alex continued, a wry smile twisting her lips.

“I learned long ago never to underestimate a woman when it comes to battle skills, Captain, perhaps you should do the same,” he smiled to take the sting from the words and she nodded once, acknowledging his point.

“There are slaves aboard this ship,” the captain spoke to her crew from the foredeck as they waited at their battle ready positions. “Shoot to disable and avoid the lower decks. We don’t want to sink her unless there’s no other alternative.”

With that Alex moved aft to take up her place as close to the steersman as possible and found Genevieve beside her.

“How do you know it’s a slave ship?” Genevieve questioned softly and Alex pressed her glass into the smaller woman’s hands.

The dark-haired woman patiently explained the subtle signs and watched the blonde’s expression change as she found each of them just as the pirate described them.

“Why would they leave themselves so vulnerable to attack?” the small blonde noted astutely.

“We’re only a few days out of Port Royale, pirates don’t usually attack this close to a port for fear of retaliation from the king’s navy.”

“Then why are you attacking if it will put your ship and crew in danger?”

“The men will not allow me not to attack, this thing with Lord Malcolm is personal. They are willing to take the risk.”

“There are some muskets and pistols in my cabin. Load them and I want you to stay there until someone comes and tells you it is safe to come out,” Alex made the decision knowing she was going to get an argument from the stubborn woman. “Will you do that for me, please?”

“But…” Genevieve started but the pirate pressed a finger to her lips cutting off further protests.

“I want to know that you are safe, I can’t be worrying about you while I’m in the midst of a battle.”

The small blonde studied the pirate’s face for a moment, seeing only concern there and her arguments fell away. She nodded once in ascent and moved to do as the pirate had asked. And she had asked, hadn’t she? Genevieve noted. It had not been an order although she had every right to make it one.

* * * * * *

From inside the cabin Genevieve heard the sounds of the battle, the muffled reports of the muskets and the deep booming of the canon vibrated through her as she sat behind the desk, her arsenal spread out before her. She felt the shudder run through the pirate ship as it bumped against the slaver. From her position she could see directly into the captain’s cabin of the slaver and she made sure she was safely shrouded in the dark shadows.

She heard the battle sounds lesson and then watched as a familiar figure was silhouetted in the windows of the other cabin. Alex moved further into the cabin and suddenly another silhouette rose up behind her and Genevieve realized that a gun was being pointed at Alex’s back.

The small blonde reacted without thinking, picking up the musket and taking careful aim she fired.

Alex spun around and dropped to the floor at the muffled sound of the gun shot and heard the figure behind her crumple with a scream of pain. She looked first at the window to see the shattered panes of glass indicating that the shot had come from her cabin and then down at the figure of the slaver captain who was moaning and holding his bloody hand. She grabbed him by the collar and dragged him out on deck to be tied up with the rest of his men and then headed for her own cabin as fast as her legs would go.

Genevieve was still sitting there in shock, the musket cradled in her hands but as her eyes focused on Alex she dropped the musket and flew into her arms.

“Oh, thank god,” the small blonde cried out in relief against the pirate’s shoulder.

“That was a hell of a shot,” Alex spoke softly as she recovered her composure. “You blew the pistol right out of his hand.”

Genevieve looked up at her in surprise. “I was aiming at his head.”

It was Alex’s turn to look surprised and she stared down at the woman in her arms.

“Impurities in the glass,” Alex swept a hand towards the window then looked down at the spent musket. “And that one always pulls to the right.”

Genevieve looked down at the musket and blanched. “If I had aimed for his hand…”

“Well, you didn’t.” Alex spoke matter-of-factly. “And from now on, I will let you know about the weapons I leave you with.”

“You’d better,” the small blonde wrapped herself tightly against the pirate’s body, stilling the trembling that shook her frame.

“Captain!” the first mate called from the doorway and stopped as he saw the two women wrapped in each other’s arms.

Alex turned towards him without loosening her hold.

“What is it, Mr. Davis?” she inquired, a brow arched in query, daring him to comment on what he was seeing.

He cleared his throat carefully before continuing.

“The men await your orders,” he looked away and saw the shattered pane of glass and moved forward seeing that the cabin of the slaver sported a similar shattered pane.

“What happened?”

“Genevieve just saved my life, someone was trying to shoot me in the back.” Alex explained.

“That spineless jellyfish you brought out of the cabin? He’s still crying about his hand,” Mr. Davis grinned. “It’s just like Boudro to shoot someone in the back. He’s the worst of Lord Malcolm’s slaver captains.”

“Tell the men I will be right there,” Alex dismissed Mr. Davis and he gave her a curt nod before turning on his heel, striding out the door with a bounce to his step.

“What will you do with the crew of the slaver ship?” Genevieve questioned, reluctantly moving out of the pirate’s warm embrace.

“Turn them over to their former captives,” Alex shrugged. “As we usually do.”

Genevieve followed Alex out of the cabin, a worried frown on her face as the pirate captain vaulted to the rail of her own ship, looking down upon the deck of the slaver.

The slaver crew was roped together on the deck of their ship and the slaves began making their way above deck, shielding their eyes from the bright rays of the sun. The small blonde gasped in horror at the sight before her, men, women and children stretched and breathed in the fresh sea air for the first time in weeks, their bodies covered in rags and their wrists and ankles raw from the manacles which kept them chained below.

“This ship is yours,” Alex called out to the former slaves. “Do with it what you will, but if you slaughter your keepers you will be no better than they. There is an island west of here where you can pick up supplies and sail on to America where you can find freedom. Mr. Davis will mark it on the charts for you.”

With that Mr. Davis proceeded into the captain’s cabin followed by a small group of men.

He returned a short while later and when all the crew of the Draco were back aboard the grapples were released.

“On to Port Royale!” Alex shouted and her men cheered.

“We’ll help Mr. Bones with the wounded now,” Alex explained as she headed below decks to the area set aside for triage.

There were only a few wounded, mostly cuts and other superficial wounds, Genevieve jumped in to help and Mr. Bones was grateful to turn most of the stitching up over to the small blonde.

“It would seem your cabin “boy” is a bit overqualified for her position.” Mr. Bones spoke to Alex as they worked together to stitch up a particularly nasty cut on one of the gunners mates.

“Her father was a doctor,” the captain smiled and on sudden impulse tugged her shirt from the waistband of her breeches, showing him the neat stitches in her side.

The doctor looked at her in surprise. “Robbins?” was all he said and at Alex’s nod he reached down and picked up his scissors, pointing to the healed wound, silently asking permission to remove the stitches.

Alex stood and held her shirt up as Mr. Bones carefully removed them, causing the pirate to grimace as she felt the threads being pulled through the skin.

The captain watched as the small blonde moved from patient to patient, her bright smile and soft words soothing as her hands gently tended wounds. When the last patient was taken care of Alex took Genevieve’s arm and led her back to her cabin, stopping only once along the way to ask that food be brought to her cabin.

Genevieve was too tired to eat, barely taking time to strip off her boots and breeches before falling into bed and quickly drifted into deep slumber.

Alex bent and placed a tender kiss on the smaller woman’s forehead, gently tucking her in. A knock sounded and she moved to the door, opening it quickly to prevent further noise from disturbing Genevieve’s sleep.

Mr. Davis had taken the tray from the cook’s assistant, and he stepped into the cabin to place it on the desk.

“Stay and eat with me,” Alex spoke quietly indicating the chair across from her at the desk.

He nodded in ascent before pouring out two mugs of port from the bottle Alex handed him from the cabinet behind her.

“You’re not going to leave her in Kingston are you?”

“What makes you say that?”

“Alexís, you are blind. She is hopelessly in love with you and I believe that those feelings are reciprocated. I’ve noticed the way you look at her. She has released your heart from it’s chains, deny it if you can.”

Alex shot him a startled look. “Am I that transparent?”

“Only to me. I’ve known you longer than anyone on this ship. She has brought the laughter back to your eyes.”

“A pirate ship is no place for her, Jean. What if she’s hurt or killed? I couldn’t live with myself if I was responsible for that.”

“There is no guarantee that she will be safe anywhere. Look what happened aboard the Helios. I dragged the story out of her the other day. She should’ve been safe there but she wasn’t. She is as safe here as she would be anywhere and I don’t want to sail with a captain who’s heart is not with her ship.”

Alex dropped into a brooding silence at the wisdom of his words. She began carefully unloading and cleaning the guns which still lay on her desk and Mr. Davis stood, carrying a piece of bread and meat with him as he headed for the door.

“You know she has a place in this crew,” he said quietly before exiting.

He didn’t see Alex’s nod of agreement.

* * * * * *

Alex awakened to find herself again wrapped in Genevieve’s arms. She reveled in the softness of the body pressed against hers, unwilling to break contact. Her fingers wound themselves into the silky smoothness of the blonde hair which spilled across her chest.

“You’ve stolen my heart, little one, do you know that?” Alex whispered softly.

“I do now,” were the low words which startled the pirate out of her reverie and she looked down into sleepy green eyes, her breath catching in her throat as she saw the love shining back at her from them.

Genevieve moved forward first, catching the pirate’s bottom lip in her teeth and sucking gently on it. A groan of pleasure rumbled from the dark haired woman’s mouth and she raised her head further to capture the blonde’s lips, parting them gently with her tongue as she tasted the sweetness that awaited her there.

Genevieve found herself melting into the softness of the pirates body, her hands sliding beneath the tunic wanting to feel and touch all of her. With a gentle tug the small blonde pulled the tunic upwards, and the pirate complied, letting her pull it over her head to land at the foot of the bed as the dark haired woman tugged the blonde’s tunic off too and sent it after her own.

“You are beautiful,” Alex smiled softly, catching Genevieve’s shoulders and holding her away from her for a moment as blue eyes drank in the sight of soft creamy skin lit by the rays of the morning sun.

“As are you,” green eyes slid over soft curves before moving up to focus on the pirate’s face. She saw her love reflected back in blue eyes and felt her soul crying out to it’s other half.

Lips and hands sought to memorize every fold and curve of the bodies pressed together in the slow dance of desire as love wove its passion play in the quiet confines of the ship’s cabin. Two souls came together after centuries apart and shouted with joy at the homecoming and whispered words of love until the two lay exhausted in each other’s arms, drifting off the sleep to the gentle rocking of the waves.

Genevieve awakened much later to find herself alone in the bed, at once feeling the emptiness of the cabin. She rose and bathed herself from the bucket of water left sitting on the window sill with a cloth and soap before dressing in a clean tunic and breeches.

She found Alex deep in conversation with the ship’s cook and moved to stand beside her, surprised to find a strong hand wrapped gently around her upper arm.

“Give your list to Mr. Davis, he will see that the supplies are procured in Port Royale,” Alex dismissed the cook and moved on to the chief gunner, gently tugging Genevieve along in her wake.

“Do you have a list of the things we will need in Port Royale?” she asked him and when he nodded she repeated the instructions she had given the cook before moving on to the bow of the ship.

Genevieve suddenly found herself between the bowsprit and the pirate captain, facing foreword as the dark haired woman pointed out the tiny dot on the horizon that was Jamaica.

“Kingston is two days overland from Port Royale,” she spoke against the smaller woman’s ear and then found herself face to face with cold fury.

“You’re sending me to Kingston?” she hissed.

Alex stepped back in surprise, holding her hands up in protest. “No, but I thought you might want to get word to your family about your father’s death and to let them know that you are safe.”

The fury was gone as quickly as it had arisen and Genevieve threw her arms around the pirate’s neck, reaching up to plant a quick kiss on soft lips.

Alex stepped back again and turned quickly, feeling the eyes upon them but the faces which quickly looked away held only warm smiles and soft laughter.

“You’ve ruined my bad reputation you know,” Alex growled, turning back to the small blonde, but her eyes twinkled with laughter.

“I know,” Genevieve replied before planting another quick kiss on the pirate’s lips and turning once more to face the sea. She felt strong arms wrap around her from behind, enfolding her in warmth and she leaned back against the pirate, ready to face whatever new challenge the day would bring safe and secure in the embrace of their love.


-The End-

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