A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 14

Violet eyes turned upwards towards Nick, the tears spilled next. "I'm so sorry. Are you okay? He is such a dreadful man."

Clearing his throat, Nick tossed her the towel that hung on the hook by Kevin's mirror and shaving stand. "Don't cry now because any minute some of the men will be bringing in a tub and some water that has been heated. Please just wait until they leave to fall apart."

Ray took a seat at the table as she watched Nick and the men settle a huge wooden tub in the center of the room. She didn't speak out of fear of revealing what she truly was, a girl. Raina cursed her own self under her breath for acting so insipid and female. The men grunted as the huge cypress tub was then filled with boiling water and then cold to temper it. Taking over a half of an hour to fill the tub. Ray knew the water had come from the galley and she would be the one who would have to replenish all the pots that had been brought up to Kevin's cabin.

One of the older men chuckled, "Scrub up boy or the Cap'n 'ill do it for ya. Ask Nick 'bout dat."

Nick motioned them all out of the room. Ray's entire body shuddered as she finally relaxed.

Nick watched her pout as she wrung her hands together. "Ray, whatever you are thinking, stop right now. There is no way out of this without us telling the Cap'n you are a girl. That ain't gonna be good for me or you."

Raina watched Nick's body shake as he spoke. Sighing she pulled her hat off and looked around the room that she now would call home. "It's not fair that he can just do this. What about a voice of two?"

"I punched him first, so this is part of my punishment, I'm sure of it. Now get undressed and clean before Kevin gets sopped up and ends up coming back here." Nick shouldn't have spoke as though Kevin might commit some type of folly against Ray but Nick was unsure of Kevin at this point in time. Kevin had never struck him the way he had this evening and it wasn't as if Nick thought that he would. After all of their years together, Kevin was used to Nick's flashpoint anger and dealt with it as it occured.

Ray wasn't paying much mind to Nick as he spoke. She looked around the cabin. The woods were old and heavy, truly a male's chamber, male's den. She had been in the room many times but never left alone in it. There was a huge, ornately carved bed of some exotic wood. It was also the only bed that she could see.

Nick followed Ray's line of vision to the bed, he then laughed. "Ray you won't share Kevin's bed, you have your own." Nick gave his old hammock a push. "You will sleep here."

Gulping air she looked back at Nick, "I don't like this. I think I should confess."

Nick had gambled so much so far that Ray wasn't aware of. The highest price he could pay for this scheme was to lose Kevin as his best friend. The anger started to boil in his body. Reaching forward, he grabbed Ray by the arm and shook her, "No, you will not tell him, never. If he finds out or becomes suspect, then we will handle the matter."

"Nick you don't understand, we'll be sharing a cabin, how am I going to keep things, personal things, from him?" Ray blinked back the tears; all of this was going to blow like a powder keg. "I didn't have to hide things from you. You weren't in our cabin much and then we worked in the galley."

Nick chewed his lip, he had taken special care to make sure Ray had some time alone more than once a day to take of 'female stuff.' "Just try, if it becomes to difficult, we can figure something else out. Maybe by then Kevin will have calmed down and his fascination will have run dry."

"What fascination?" Ray tossed her hat on the table after she plucked it from the top of her head. Her hands slipped beneath the rough cotton shirt she wore and pulled the garment over her head.

Nick never turned his gaze from her for he knew he didn't have to as he faced her. He knew that her breasts were tightly bound with strips of cotton. He frowned as he saw how dirty the strips had become during the voyage. She had had no time to care for them properly by cleaning them.

Turning her back to him, Raina waited for Nick's assistance. Nick had always tied the last knot in the back so it would stay secure and not come undone. "Come on Raina, we've talked about Kevin and you before. At the moment, he is confused because he thinks you are a male. God help us if he finds out you are a female."

"What would he do?" Ray questioned as she waited for Nick to turn his back to her. Once done she tested the water in the tub with her foot. "It's nice," she sighed as she settled in. A bath on a voyage was a rare treat.

Turning back around, Nick smiled a smile that Ray was unfamiliar with. "Don't look at me like that, that is how Kevin looks at me."

Nick laughed, he was caught, "Well if he was here right now and saw you, you wouldn't be in that tub."

"Where would I be?" Raina asked innocently.

Nick narrowed his gaze, "Flat on your back and in his bed." His gaze never left her face as he watched her cheeks pink and it wasn't from the heat of the water. "I apologize but it is the truth." Nick could see the embarrassment on her face, 'thank God that tub is big,' he moaned in his head, 'And high, I can't see anything.' Now he was battling his libido, as well as his mind.

Walking by the door, he stood, spreading his body in front of the portal as if someone were going to try and come in. "Wash your hair."

"I will if I could ever get the knots out. I don't have a proper brush." Ray fought with her huge, heavy, mop of hair as it fell in her face after she dunked herself under the water. "Jocelyn always helped me wash my hair."

"So now I'm a ladies maid as well," Nick muttered as he looked around Kevin's cabin for anything that might help. He couldn't find anything that would assist them but then he might find something in Isabella's trunk. Kevin carried the trunk everywhere and on every voyage. "Watch the door."

Cautiously Nick went to the trunk and lifted the lid. Kevin never locked the lid unless they were under siege. There had been many times when Nick had been told to go below deck during those times when he was younger. Nick would perch himself on the lid of the trunk and look out the portal. All the years he had spent in the cabin with Kevin, he never once ventured a look inside.

"Don't ever do this," Nick raised the lid and looked inside. Among the various items that he could immediately see that was on the top was a sterling silver hairbrush. Removing it quickly, he closed the lid. His eyes darted back to the door as if were going to be caught.

Raina laughed at his antics until Nick shook the brush at her. "Hurry up, you heard him say he wanted to bathe."

"Help me rinse my hair." Raina leaned forward as Nick pulled a bucket of fresh water off the floor. Dumping it on Ray, he bit his tongue, for the water was cold and he knew it was when he picked it up.

Ray sputtered under the cold shower and shoved at what she thought was Nick. "That was not funny Nickolas."

"Well then, hurry up," Nick turned his back as she stood up in the tub and stepped out of it.

Drying her body, she slipped on her pants. Then she began to bandage herself again until Nick pulled on the other end of the strip of fabric. "Those are soiled. You need to new ones or something. Give them to me and I will wash them and return them to you tomorrow."

Raina covered her mouth and giggled. Her mind couldn't picture Nick slaving over a boiling kettle of clothes with soap. Scrubbing, stirring, and rinsing them clean.

Nick pulled her hand away from her. "You'll be able to wash them after tomorrow because you are now Kevin's cabin boy. Not only will you be doing your wash but his as well."

A look of indignation crossed her face, "I most certainly will not." She pulled a clean shirt over her body, one of Nick's no doubt since it was so huge. She was limited in boy apparel to what she already owned, two pair of pants and one shirt. Her shirt was in an unclean state at the moment.

"Yes you will and he is very particular, especially about his shirts." Nick dried her hair as she sat in the chair. He began tugging the brush through the matted and gnarled mess.

"Ouch, that hurts." Raina put her hands on her head. "You are supposed to hold the hair."

"Well pardon me," Nick gave her hair another yank and then set about the task of trying to finish before Kevin came back. He worked methodically at her hair until once it again it was as beautiful as when he has first set his eyes upon it. Shiny, and black like a raven's wing in flight. Hearing commotion outside the door, Nick hid the brush behind his back. Neither of them breathed for a few scant seconds as they waited for whomever it was to either enter or pass.

Blowing out a breath, Nick tossed Ray her hat and returned the hairbrush to its rightful place.

Ray spun her hair around her finger and tied it at the top with a string. Quickly she pulled the hat down over her head as a knock sounded at the door. Her heart fluttered hoping that nobody would notice the oversized shirt she wore.

"Nickolas, is the lad done or are you two having a little fun in there?" A boisterous chorus of laughter echoed off the timbers of the ship.

Nick stuck his finger up in the air for Ray to hush. "Aye, the boy is done."

The door swung open and two burly men entered. "You're a cute boy, don't be spending all your time with the young pup," the man with arms as large as kegs winked at her.

"That's enough talk," a commanding voice that was steady but true came from the door.

Ray mustered all she could not to just run out the door.

"Sorry Cap'n," the seaman muttered as he removed his cap.

"I bet you are," Kevin frowning made the man uncomfortable. "See to your duties and that is all." Kevin followed the man outside; turning back, he looked at Nick, who was obviously playing stupid for the boy's sake. Kevin closed the door and had a conversation with the man under his command.

Kevin re-entered the room and pulled off his shirt. "Nick, go see that Shamus heats my water properly. He might try to scald me after what I just said to him."

"Um… I... I..." Nick stammered. He could see how uncomfortable Ray was with Kevin standing next to her only clothed in his boots and pants.

"Did I stutter Nick?" Kevin glared at Nick's insolence.

"No sir," Nick was backing out of the room.

"I have no idea what has gotten into him Ray but I do believe it has something to do with you?"

"Me?" Ray stood up and crossed her arms. The Captain may be the Captain but he was just a man and he wasn't going to boss her. Then her mind clicked a few minutes ago she was willing to give him a full confession, now she was confused as she looked at herself in the mirror. She did mimic a boy rather well maybe she could do this.

"Yes you," Kevin had to admire the boy's courage if anything. Going to the washstand, he poured water into the basin. Splashing his face, he reached for his towel but couldn't find it. The towel was placed in his hand, soggy and cold. Kevin cursed. "Tomorrow we will lay down some ground rules for the rest of the voyage."

Ray watched Kevin swirl a brush in a cup, and then apply the foam to his face. Pulling a straight blade from the pouch that hung on the mirror, she watched him shave. He would pull his cheek up and run the blade over his skin, then swirl the razor in the basin. He would rinse the blade after every stroke of the razor over his face. "Have you ever shaved before?"

Ray shook her head no, trying to hide the shock.

"I'll show you how, when you get some whiskers." Kevin chuckled as he watched the little one's face pucker up in displeasure.

"Sir," Nick coughed after he had tripped over the chair leg.

"Yes Nickolas, I know you are there. Your figure is hard to miss, neither is your clumsiness." Kevin smiled in the mirror. "Thank you Nickolas. Have a good evening." Kevin dismissed him.

"Do you need anything else?" Nick was hesitating, he had just had a short chat with Brian, something was making Brian uneasy, but he wouldn't tell Nick what it was.

"No, Ray is here if I need anything." Kevin waited for Nick to close the door. Kevin slowly turned and saw that the waif was pasty white. "Off with you to bed," Kevin motioned to the hammock. "Tomorrow we'll go over your duties and what is expected of you."

Ray's brows furrowed, she didn't like the sound of what he had said. Climbing into the hammock wasn't as difficult now as it was when she first boarded the ship. She turned her back to the Cap'n afraid of her reaction of what she might see in the lantern light. She remembered the sounds that Kevin had made when he was with Jocelyn. She heard the water slosh in the tub and a loud sigh, that was the last thing she heard as the waves and the motion of the hammock lulled her to sleep.

Kevin sat in the tub and watched the small frame fall asleep. It wasn't to hard to see when the boy had fallen asleep, his body actual relaxed. "You are a puzzle Ray, a true puzzle, and after my conversation with my cousin tonight, I think I know why. Do you know what he told me? He told me that I'm just looking for someone to mother and father, that I miss Isabella and that Nick has grown up on me. I didn't want to believe it at first but the more I dwell on his words, the more I believe he is accurate. " Kevin paused as the sleeping lad turned under the blanket. "Tomorrow, little one, we'll talk... talk about your future... and all the adventures we are going on. We're going to sail to Barbados to re-supply and continue our hunt for British wealth. I'll make a man out of you yet."

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