A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 22

Ambling to the lantern, he lit the oil; turning down the flame to a brightness that only allowed eerie shadows to be cast a short distance. Pouring another glass of rum, he sat in his chair and watched the shadows dance on the floor. Tipping back in the chair, he stared at the child that slept soundly in the hammock. The sea slapped ever so gently against the side of the ship making a calming sloop noise rather than a loud strike. Moonlight pushed through the portal attesting to the fact that the moon hung low in the sky this evening. It cast its light on the hammock. "Ray what am I doing to do with you?" he sipped from his glass. "First you talk a gullible Nickolas into getting you on my ship. From that day forward, you and I have had conflict between us. I know nothing about you and you will reveal nothing to me."

Standing, he walked to the small round window and gazed out at the moon. Leaning on the wall, he thought of nothing as he tried to let the day ease off his mind; looking out the portal for a long while as he nursed his liquor, little by little. "I'm confused about you little one. There seems to be an invisible tether that keeps me tied to you, no matter how much you or I detest. Most of all, I'm frightened by myself." His eyes traveled back to the hammock as he leaned on the wall. Placing his foot against the wall, he studied the tiny body. "I don't know how to handle you. You are disrespectful to me as your Captain and as a man. You disobey my orders. Hell, you even stand up to me when everyone else has enough sense to back down."

Walking back to his desk he topped off his glass. Raising his glass to the sleeping boy, he smiled, "To you chit, for getting to me like no one has in a very long time," he chuckled at the toast. Thoughts of Isabella rolled into his mind. Isabella could get the best of him most days. They never fought loudly but she had a way of keeping herself and her anger silent. Keeping silent so much that it cut through him like a knife and he would do anything to get back in her good graces. She was defiant to him in her own little way. "See you're like Isabella, but you are different. You are louder and you don't hide your anger well."

Frowning as he thought about what the boy had done earlier in the day. "See, Isabella would have done the same thing, but she would have done it away from the others. Yes, you are very much like her except, you are a male." Kevin let out a long held breath as he lumbered to his chair; he was sincerely confused over his attraction to Ray. Drinking two more glasses of rum he began to feel the uneasiness of that thought diminishing in his mind. Taking a long swig he looked at the hammock, "I killed the blue coat captain today. I'm sorry. I know you didn't want that to happen, but he insulted both of us. He inferred a relationship between us that was not possible because we are both males." Sitting down he mulled over the words that he had just spoke. After listening to the waves lap at the ship, he turned to the hammock. "I think I was angry because he voiced what I have been feeling. It's not natural, how I feel about you. My body aches to touch you."

There he had said the words and hadn't been struck down by any great force. Looking around as if he were confessing all his sins, he began again. "That day on the ropes; when you fell, when you slid down the front of my body. My manhood just didn't twitch Chit, it was giving you a full salute. I was sick over it. After I saw that you were safe, I went to the side of my ship and became ill. I think I heaved the entire breakfast you had made me that morning over the side and into the sea. A.J. either saw me or followed me, I don't know which. He has never said a word about what happened that day to anyone, at least not to my knowledge."

Ray's rolling in the hammock and wincing distracted him from his thinking and speaking. The guilt tugged at him, he had really walloped the boy today, deservedly so, but still. Setting his drink down on his desk, he hesitantly went to the hammock. Ray was lying on his side, the same side he had struck. "I didn't have the opportunity to speak to Brian about your injuries, but I can see that you are in pain." Carefully he moved the boy's small frame. His fingers met with the heavy bandages wrapped around the boy's chest. "I hit you high intentionally, as not to cause any permanent injuries, just something that you would remember." Agile fingers felt the front and the back of the child. "What is wrong with you?" Kevin's concern and curiosity grew as he probed the boy's chest with his fingertips. Going over to the lamp, he turned the flame up and brought it back to the hammock. He hung the lantern on a nail by the hammock. The light being a little too bright, he adjusted the flame appropriately with just enough light so he could see the boy. Unbuttoning a button on Ray's shirt caused a flash of heat to course though his body. "Maybe this isn't a good idea. I have had more than too much rum," he mumbled as his fingers continued their task to unbutton the old shirt.

Staring at Ray's chest, his frown deepened and his brows creased in confusion. His senses may be dull from all of the rum he had partaken in but this was not normal for Brian either. The cloths strips that bound the boy were tattered and in poor condition. "These are unclean," Kevin shook his head from side to side, he would take care of that in a minute, and there were better dressing for this, right in this cabin. He would be speaking to Brian in the morning; this was not acceptable for Ray or anyone on his ship. Slipping the shirt off, he could see the damage he had caused. The bandages were supporting the shoulder. Carefully he began to sit the boy up only to have Ray promptly fall forward into his chest. Closing his eyes, he summoned strength from somewhere to control his body and then he cursed under his breath. He was supposed to be helping the child and instead he could feel the desire beginning to tingle in his body. His erection straining on the buttons of his pants just added to the discomfort. He had been obvious to when it had begun but he was trying to pay no attention to it. He growled softly as he regained his composure. Settling himself mentally, he clasped the boy and removed the shirt. He shuddered when Ray's warm breath caressed his chest. Kevin's skin was already glowing from perspiration caused by the heat of the evening and the rum. The rush of air from Ray only caused a deeper shivering sensation throughout his body. His body was on fire but his senses were clearing quickly. "Damn, this goes against everything I have ever been taught. I have traveled the world and have seen this type of relationship before, it is not new to me." He cradled Ray against his body. Closing his eyes, he tried to center his thoughts. "I was approached on many occasions. For God's sake, I was married to a woman." Jamming his eyes shut, he thought he could try to erase what he was feeling but he was losing the battle with his body. Now agitation was beginning to replace the desire. He was angry that he couldn't control his lust. His loins ached to be with the boy. His manhood wanted to be freed and touched but not by his own hands but by Ray's. "Christ! I've seen some of my own men…" he set his face and his temper. Ray's cap was rough against his skin. Every time the boy moved his head, the rough wool snapped and scrapped at Kevin's senses. It chaffed him unnaturally and only served to aggravate him as well. "Why are you always wearing this infernal thing?" he plucked the hat from the head it rested on. A black waterfall of hair cascaded down his arm and chest. "Oh God," he ground his teeth together, as he touched the soft silken strands. "This is not happening to me."

Laying Ray down back in the hammock, he went back to his desk for his bottle of rum. He tipped his head back and drank more than a healthy measure. Dropping in the chair, he held on to the bottle for dear life. "You just have very long hair, Right?" he asked knowing that he wouldn't get a response and knowing the true reason. As the anger began to seep through him and rapidly replace the desire he was feeling, he repeated his words. "This is not happening to me, on my ship…"

Cocking his head from side to side, he stared in disbelief. "I think I need to confirm this, just in case it is the rum." With his bottle still in his hand, he gingerly stepped to the hammock. Pulling a few knots and ripping one in the process as his fingers worked the strips free. He smiled as he looked down on two perfectly petite breasts… female breasts. Kevin's eyes drank in the sight of two glorious mounds, which were slowly reforming after being bound tightly for so long. With his bottle in his hand he swung around and did a little dance, "I'm not insane," he sang, he laughed as relief flooded his body, "I'm not a lunatic," he cackled. He hadn't held desire for a boy, but a girl. He stopped suddenly, turning back to the hammock; he spoke to Ray, "Are you a girl or a woman?" Shooting to the hammock, his hands feverishly worked at the buttons on the breeches Ray wore. The pants were thrown to the floor as his eyes traveled to the juncture of her thighs. "A woman," he whispered to himself as he stared at the triangle of black curls, "Definitely a woman."

Standing next to the hammock, his left hand explored the exposed the body and his right held his rum. The small breasts, the flat stomach, his hand trailed the curve of her hips. Slowly his hand traveled down the milky thigh and over a knee, all the way to a petite foot, with tiny toes. His fingers reversed their path and didn't hesitate as it brushed once again over the crisp curls of her womanhood. He longed to fondle, stroke, and explore this area more fully. All the torment that he had been through since Ray had landed on his deck were coming forward from his memory. Kevin's thoughts swiftly changed as he remembered all the things that he had spoken to Ray about, about growing up, learning to shave, and the talk he had intended to have about women, now they seemed ridiculous. His recall switched to one of recognition of who Ray was. His fingers tangled in the mass of raven black hair as he leaned down to her ear. The strands curled around his forearm. No longer could he touch her body since his own would not take much more. His physical needs would over-rule him and he would make a grave mistake with this woman. "You are Jocelyn's little cook. You were the one with the saucy mouth and sharp tongue that Nickolas seemed to have the uncanny knack of getting into trouble with." His fingers stroked the hair around her face, "I remember you clinging to that doorway, scared out of your mind the night Edmund wanted Nickolas. Jocelyn told me later that it was you who searched me out to protect Nick." Kevin's face showed torn emotions. "I guess Nickolas did what was best for you."

Pulling his eyes away, he thought about what his first impressions were of the girl. She had definitely caught his fancy. The eyes and hair were such a striking combination. Add the smallness of her body and the milky white skin, he couldn't help but notice, she reminded him of a porcelain doll. When he had inadvertently asked Jocelyn about the cook, her hackles raised suddenly and he was dully informed that the child was off limits to all including him. His chest rumbled slightly as he laughed, "She told me you were not Edmund's daughter but you were a little sister to her. Oh, Jocelyn is intelligent; she knew I would take a shine to you… It was the exotic eyes and coloring you have. She said you were from France and of mixed blood, gypsy she told me. Jocelyn might have just helped this little plan along to get you away from that dreadful place. It wasn't a good life for child," his eyes once again locked on the woman. "But you are no child, are you?"

Walking around the cabin, he began to wonder who else was playing this little game. "Nick had to know… I'm going to assume Brian does know by now, my own cousin…" Kevin shook his head. "A.J. might know; he has spent a large amount of time with you. Alex shows more patience with you than he has any other, with the exception of Nick. He also defended you when I wanted to punish you and he wouldn't give me the consent of two. I don't think Howard knows or he would have told me." Kevin eyes kept searching out the young body that he had a strong desire to hold. He watched Ray shiver and went to the hammock. Tipping his bottle down at her, he became annoyed, "You have been a thorn in my side since day one in Edmund's kitchen. You have caused me mental anguish and bouts of insanity over this…" Kevin looked down between his own legs, "Physical pain as well." Tossing a blanket over her, he shook his head.

Going to his desk, Kevin replaced his bottle of rum with a glass of water. He needed to think. Fitting the pieces together slowly he frowned, they must all know and they all were deceiving him. If anything, that was the most painful part for him. It wasn't that they were his Officers, but they were his friends. His friends had played him for a fool. After assuming that they all knew, he began to wonder why. Kevin stood on principals and one of them was no women on his ship. "I guess that would answer that for me," he caste a glance to the hammock. "I have two choices, reveal you to all or keep you hidden." His mind raced over what might happen if Ray was revealed for what she really was to the men on the ship. Already he had been watching her closely to the point that it caused speculation by his own crew. One of them would have to be with her day and night. The night part was solved but it was leaving a smarting pain in his groin. Yes, he wanted her at night but not in a damn hammock. Then there were the blue coats, who didn't have the opportunity to take J.C., her men defended her honor, a few to their death. To make matters worse, he had the Spanish ship that he wanted to raid. Would his own men be capable of handling their assignments, or would Ray prove to be too much of a distraction.? "Boy, you have complicated things for me… or is that girl," he shook his head as he sorted everything out. He laughed again when the memory of Nick knocking him out of the chair when Ray was reassigned to be Kevin's cabin boy. "No wonder he was so damn mad, he thought I was taking his bit of fluff away and that I would find out your little secret."

Thinking a little harder he tried to draw the lines of what had happened and how it had happened, matching this with that. This line of thinking had drawn him to how each person interacted with each other and how things were working. Nick defended Ray emphatically, on the border of a mania almost. Kevin could now identify the few times that Ray had made mistakes and Nick had corrected or stepped in to cover. Frowning at her when she laughed like a female or shoving her when she walked liked one, and always fussing with the damn cap so the hair would stay hidden. After thinking it over for quite some time, he came to a conclusion. Nodding in Ray's direction he spoke, "Nick doesn't love you as a lover; he loves you as a sibling. He misses his sister, he has always missed her." Drumming his fingers on the desk, he glared at the girl that slept so soundly while he was left with a mind full of answers and questions. "I guess my only choice is to let you continue to masquerade as a male. It's safer for my men and safer for you, in a sense."

Deciding that this was his one and only true option, he went to the hammock. His one hand swooped down and secured the knickers that Ray had been wearing. Once he had placed them back on the woman, he stopped and looked one more time at the breasts that he wanted to feel next to his chest. The nipples that he wanted to harden in his mouth. Bending down, he kissed one lightly and then tugged with his teeth. Ray moaned and her mouth opened as the nub hardened in his mouth, he smiled back wickedly. Laughing quietly, he took the other and she groaned again. He had to stop for he would take her now, sleeping or not. "I think I shall play your game with all of you for awhile. I can ferret out the little weasels that have helped you in your journey." Kevin quietly re-tied the knots on the cotton strips securing them in place. He didn't change the strips for that would be a sure sign that he had seen what was a foot. Slipping on Ray's shirt, he worked the buttons swiftly closed. When she was completely dressed, he placed her hair back under her cap. "This is far from over Ray, far from over. In the end, you will wish you had stayed in England with the lovely Jocelyn to protect you. The likes of Edmund will not have looked so bad."

Going to his desk, he retrieved his rum, re-capping what was left of his liquor, he returned it to the locked cabinet. Placing the key in the drawer of his desk, he slid the drawer closed with his knee. Turning his head he felt a twinge in his gut as he watched Ray try and turn and then wince. "Damn scruples," he mumbled as his head kept telling him that a hammock wasn't the proper place for an injured lady. Going to the hammock, he lifted Ray from it and walked to his bed. Kevin still wrestled with his own demons on the short trip across the room. The last thing he wanted as he placed Ray on the bed and covered her up, was Ray in his bed, unconscious. The thought of walking up the stairs and to the rail to toss the wench overboard seemed liked a better idea to him. Leaning down he placed his lips to hers and kissed the tender flesh. His tongue slipped between her parted lips, just a taste was all he wanted. Ray's mouth opened even more to allow him in. Kevin jumped back slamming his head into a timber and he yelped. Half-in pain from the emotions that stormed his body and half from the bump on his head, he groaned as he rubbed the now swelling lump. When the tip of Ray's tongue slipped out from her mouth and traced where he had just kissed, he froze. His eyes locked on those lips, so soft and red. "The next time I kiss you, you will be awake, you will feel every part of it, and you will welcome my kiss. Make no mistakes Raina; the next time you are in this bed will be because I want you in it, as a woman, one way or another."

Exhaustion began to take over his tortured body and soul, his brain not as sharp as it had been. Grabbing a quilt from his chest of drawers, he went to the hammock. It had been awhile since he had had to sleep in one as he stared at it but managed to land in the contraption in one piece. The hammock swung wildly and he cursed about the movement and how damn uncomfortable the thing was. Closing his eyes, he smiled after one last look at Ray. She lay with a peaceful expression on her face, in his bed, with his quilt pulled up to her chin. "At least I haven't lost my mind over this. I should have listened to my body. It was telling me long ago what you were. I think I'll tell you my theory on women. I'm sure it will really stir you up" he laughed one time as he closed his eyes and dreamed of his plan coming to fruition. No, he wasn't going to make it easy for any of them. All the little things he was going to do to torment them all, "Such fun," he sighed as he finally fell into a deep slumber.

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