climbed the steps choking on the acrid smoke and sulfur that
clung to the air. Covering her mouth, she disregarded Nick's
warnings for her to come back. Soon she heard his footsteps
falling in behind her; she knew he would follow her.
Nick watched her
climb the railing and reach for a rope for balance. "Dammit
Ray, Kevin will kill us both. He told us to stay below."
"Well I want
to see her, she's a real pirate," Ray tried to see over
to the other ship.
Nick mumbled as he grabbed onto the rope only to have Ray
latch onto it with him.
as easy as she had anticipated, she almost fell into the ocean.
However, Nick caught her so that they landed almost silently
on the deck. They made their way around the crowd that had
formed not far from where the Captain stood.
Kevin stood in
the center and a circle had formed around him. Ray's eyes
dropped to the deck since all eyes were focused there. She
gasped but covered her mouth as to not call attention do herself.
Lying on the floor of the ship was a man who did not speak
but was in obvious fear of his life as a cutlass rested on
the side of his neck. Shiny buttons rested around the man
and his jacket was open, exposing a large ugly stomach. Ray
recognized the fear in the man's form as he quivered and shook.
She moved around so she just barely stood next to a woman.
Ray gasped as she saw the woman; she was nothing like she
had ever seen before. The woman was dressed like a man, just
like her. Ray hid her smile as she stared at a real lady pirate,
the woman had flaming red hair, like fire. She wore a white
shirt that was open more than society would allow any female
to expose herself. She wore leather boots to her knees and
a tight black leather pants. A.J. had his arm around her waist.
by the site of the woman, her eyes turned back to the man
lying on the deck. He was bleeding from a graze on his neck;
his face bloodied. The cutlass was pressed even deeper into
the man's neck causing more blood to flow. Ray's gaze followed
the sword from the tip of the weapon, to the handle, to the
arm of the owner of the cutlass, to the face. The face she
saw was concentrating on his prey. The face that Kevin wore
scared her. She looked down and felt the man's raw terror,
whom was at the mercy of the man holding the weapon, race
through her body. Ray had tasted the same terror before herself.
Nobody should feel that kind of fear. This man was going to
die if nobody helped him. Any death was horrible to someone
even if not the people presently with them. Death affected
A hand placed on
his stopped him from performing the life-ending slice. Turning
he saw Ray standing next to him with the boy's hand on his.
He watched A.J. grabbed for Ray's hand only to have it shoved
back at him. "This is not right. He is still a human,"
were the words Ray spoke at she pushed Nickolas and A.J. away.
Cocking his head
to the side, he saw the scared look on Nick's face. Ray had
just challenged Kevin, in front of not only his crew but also
J.C.'s, as well as the blue coats. As Ray's body turned away,
the cutlass in his hand swung swiftly upward. Howie reached
for Nickolas as Nick screamed no, the blow contacted with
J.C.'s voice rose above the rest as Ray's tiny body rolled
across the deck, slammed into and bounced off the wall of
A.J. pulled J.C.
back into his arms, "He doesn't know," he whispered
in her ear. "Do not interfere, he won't kill the child."
Moving her head
to the side and touching her lips to A.J.'s "I don't
understand, how could he not?"
later," A.J. kissed her back with his words.
J.C. now watched
the child struggle with the pain as she tried to right herself
with her own strength, at least what was left of it. She sighed
with relief when the child stood and began to turn. Kevin
had struck with the flat of the blade, not the tip, or the
edge. He had drawn no blood. The blow had landed across the
upper back and left shoulder. J.C. could still not understand
why Kevin thought this girl was a boy, she would get to the
bottom of it later.
Ray raised her
eyes, her chin jutted out as she openly defied his punishment
of her. Her eyes were filled with tears that she refuse to
let fall and she bit her lips closed until she could taste
the brackish taste of her own blood in her mouth. She would
not cry in front of this man, she held breath, and gulped
down the searing hurt that was running across her back and
down her arm.
A few of Kevin's
own crew could not believe that the child had the audacity
to stand and confront the Captain again. In a small way, they
were cheering for the lad, the boy had enough bravado for
all of them.
Kevin glared back
at Ray, daring him to say anything, when he knew the child
understood him his voice didn't boom across the deck of both
ships, it was just above a hiss, hinting that his anger could
grow more. "Nickolas, return Ray to his proper place,
where I told both of you to stay."
" Nick was trying to cover for Ray's folly of
usurping the his authority and challenging the Captain in
front of all of these men, then showing defiance by not backing
down. He stopped when he saw Kevin's shoulders ripple and
the man licked his lips. It was a sign to all who knew him
that he was at his breaking point and one more wrong move
by anyone would end up in death for someone. Nick watched
the cutlass begin to swing and he grabbed Ray, who had yet
to speak. Dashing to the side of the ship, he grabbed a rope
and swung back to their own ship, praying to God he would
at least land on the ship.
Brian had seen
all with Kevin's spyglass. When they landed, he began to help
Nick with Ray. "That bastard!" Nick cursed loudly
but not loud enough for it to travel to the other ship. He
ran down the steps to his cabin with Ray in his arms. He was
trying everything to help but only causing more pain from
his own agitation by jostling Ray.
easy, you're only hurting Ray." Brian reached behind
him and pushed the door closed.
Nick set Ray down
on his bed that he had neatly made this morning. Tears flowed
down her face as she sniffed and still bit her lips closed
as so she did not howl out in pain.
one," Brian tried to soothe her in a tone he used with
his own child. Brian began to peel back the fabric of her
shirt. "I know it hurts honey. When Kevin is angry, he
lashes out quickly and mercilessly, no matter who you are."
Ray coughed and
cried as the pain seared her to the core. The tears ran down
her face even faster than they were before. Her hands clutched
at her shirt to stop him from opening it.
know Ray, remember, we talked. You need to take a deep breath
for a minute." Brian was trying his best and Nick pacing
back forth in the tight space commanding Kevin to hell for
eternity wasn't helping. "Quiet Nick and help me!"
Ray was shaking
from the pain in her back and shoulder. The more Brian moved
her, the worse she felt. It hurt to breathe and cough. It
was agony as Brian tried to remove her shirt and balance her
at the same time in a prone position.
Nick moved to the
bed to aid Brian. He maneuvered Ray's body so that Brian could
view Ray's back. Brian could see the odd angle of her shoulder
but he could take care of that, right now he wanted to see
her breathe. "I want you to take a deep breath."
Brian couldn't feel anything under the mound of the cloth
strips that Ray wore to bind her breasts closely to her body.
They were preventing him from seeing properly as well.
Brian was shaking
his head to Nick that he couldn't do anything. "I'm sorry
Raina," Nick mumbled as he began to pull at the knots.
"It's okay Raina. You need to relax or it is going to
hurt even more if you don't." Nick pulled at the knots.
"I'll pay him back for this, you can count on it."
this talk Nick," Brian chastised him as he began to help
Nick unbind the strips. "If both of you had remained
where he had ordered you to, none of this would have taken
place." Brian continued to have a conversation with Nick
since it seemed to calm Ray down. Once her back was laid bare,
he frowned and began to search with his fingers and his eyes.
Reaching into his bag, he removed an instrument. "Breathe
as deep as you can honey."
Ray did and repeated
what he requested each time he asked. Brian repeated more
instructions as he felt closer to her shoulder. Feeling six
or seven more times Brian asked her again almost knowing what
was going to happen.
Ray cried out a
'No' and fell forward into Nick's arms.
you do to her!" Nick yelled as Ray fell forward into
his embrace. "I'll kill you."
"I put her
shoulder partly back in place, Kevin dislocated it."
Brian paused, "I wanted her to pass out so that she wouldn't
Nick closed his
eyes as he heard a snap. His mouth fell open when he heard
Brian say. "And that should feel better to her soon for
her." Nick cradled Ray, as Brian looked closer at the
Since she had passed
out, it was a little easier for both of him and her, especially
Nick. "She will have a bruise for quite awhile. It is
already very ugly looking. I really don't think he meant to
harm her Nick. If he even had the slightest knowledge that
Ray was a woman it wouldn't have happened."
"He's an asshole,"
Nick growled back at Brian.
the cotton strips so not only did they hide Ray's chest from
curious eyes but offered support for her back and shoulder.
Next, he tended to her arm. After cleaning the wound with
liquor that Nick had removed from Kevin's cabin, he pulled
wood splinters from her arm. He bandaged her arm as discreetly
as he had her body.
Nick gently lay
her down on his bed as he went in search of Ray's only other
shirt, in Kevin's cabin. Coming back empty handed he squeezed
his fists closed. "Ray only has two shirts. The other
is not yet washed."
Brian had placed
his supplies back in his leather satchel. "I have one
that might fit her. It won't be as big on her as one of yours
would be." Stepping out of the cabin and down the corridor,
he left Nick alone with Ray.
Nick fixed Ray's
cap, then pulled it off. Touching her hair, it as soft and
silky. "I'm sorry Raina. I'll protect you from all of
them. I won't let him or anyone else hurt you again."
Brian hovered at
the door and watched Nick stroke her hair. Brian was confused,
Nick needed to calm down or this would not go right for any
of them, especially Ray. He had no idea how Kevin was going
to handle the situation when he returned to the ship. Brian
had a vial that he clutched in his hand tightly. Ray needed
rest and he was almost sure Kevin wouldn't be giving any under
the circumstances. Now he thought Nick was in love, this was
not going to be pleasant.
of you Ray, I promise. We'll do whatever you want to do when
we get back home or wherever Kevin's decides to go. We could
open a pub and we could have a business
Brian cleared his
throat, letting Nick know that he had returned.
Nick smiled, "She
reminds me of my sister. I miss my sister."
Brian's heart leaped
hearing those words; Nick wasn't in love with Ray except in
a family sort of way. Nick had spoke of his family on many
nights when they were at sea. None of it was pleasant except
for the love of his sister, who he truly missed. Crossing
the room, he sat on the edge of the bed and helped Nick dress
Ray. "Help me give her some of this." Brian steadied
the bottle to Ray's lips.
"What is that?"
Nick wrinkled his nose at the pungent odor as he rested Ray's
upper body on his chest and held her head in one of his hands.
She should sleep for a good while," Brian answered him.
"Is that a
good idea?" Nick watched as Brian dribbled a generous
amount of the opiate into Ray's mouth. She coughed, swallowed,
never take his anger out on a sleeping child," Brian
was trying to get his thoughts across to Nick.
a child," Nick corrected Brian.
"And he doesn't
know that Nickolas, nor does he know that Ray is a woman.
He's going to be very angry over this for some time to come.
Three crews, one of them being the royal navy and J.C."
Nick blinked as
the insight hit him. "Sleep is good."
"Yes in this case it is. Now let's move her back to his
Nick crossed his arms around the sleeping form in his arms.
Brian closed his
eyes and then opened them. He let out a deep sigh, "Nicky
if Ray stays in here, he will only come looking for him, her,
whatever." Brian shook his head in his own confusion.
Nick wasn't budging, Brian tried again. "Nick you have
to. If Ray isn't in the hammock, what is the first thing Kevin
is going to do; since I could have thought I distinctly heard
your Captain give you an order to return Ray to where he had
told both of you to remain."
I know Kevin as well as you do, he is my cousin. Ray has to
be in his cabin when he gets back here or all hell will start.
He will go off on both of you. Look at her, can she take anymore
of this?" Brian was playing the guilt card and hoping
it would work.
Brian placed Ray's
cap back on and tucked the long hair back under it. They heard
footsteps above them. "Do it now Nick."
Nick picked up
Ray as quickly as he dared. Brian held the one door open and
then pushed the door to Kevin's cabin open. They deposited
her in the hammock. Nick covered her up with a crude blanket
and shook his head.
Nick. A couple of days of sleeping and a talk from me and
Kevin will be guilt ridden."
Brian," Nick pulled Kevin's cabin door closed.
Brian blinked as J.C. stood in front of him.
Does Kevin know you know?"
An arm jerked her
backwards and into a room. They both sighed when they heard
A.J. giving orders and J.C. balking and barking back at him.
never change," Brian grinned.
Nick winked back at Brian as they stood and listened for the
entertainment value alone.