A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 26

"I'm finally teaching Ray to take care of himself. The boy needs to learn how to defend himself and to fight." Kevin didn't take Nick's comment as a challenge, just curiosity.

Ray was intent on listening to Kevin but her concentration broke by the strange feelings welling up inside her. Trying her best to ignore them, she froze when the small weapon locked on her.

Kevin shook his head, "One fluid movement, as I showed you. Let's try it again." Kevin leaned over her and grasped her hands in his. Together they loaded the pistol together properly. Her hands seemed so small and dainty in his. He shouldn't be teaching her this, he should lay his claim on her and just protect her himself. A ship was no place for a girl like Ray.

"There you go," Nick nodded his approval. He was pleased with the progress Ray had been making. Nick could see the anger build in Ray with each lesson. Kevin could be overly demanding when it came to learning something new. He would not stop until you had the task perfected.

Kevin's inner turmoil was growing as his body brushed up against Ray's. He was stilling his inner thoughts and feelings so as not to show how much he lusted after the chit. Having his manhood give a full salute wouldn't be a good tactic at the moment.

Ray was shaking on the inside for reasons she did not know. The Captain's body pushed against her backside and she dropped her head. She could feel the heat rising up her neck and into her cheeks. A small knot formed in her stomach. Quickly she loaded the pistol again, without error, hoping to escape Kevin's attentions.

Nick was called away by Howie, who grinned at Brian. Brian was horrified since now Ray and Kevin were left alone once again. Most of the men were paying little if no attention to the two on the quarterdeck. They were to busy getting drunk on the ale that was free flowing this evening. Brian hoped the evening would conclude soon. If everyone retired then Ray, Kevin, and Nick would be safely tucked away in Kevin's cabin, together. "Safety in numbers," he mumbled.

Kevin showed the small dagger that he kept in his boot. From behind his back, he pulled a matching dagger. "This is to be on you at all times," he instructed Ray as he placed the silver blade in her hand. "You can carry it in your boot for safety. Never pull it unless you are planning to use it. You have my permission to use it freely when you threatened by any of the crew."

Ray's body reacted strangely to Kevin's intent gaze on her. His arm wrapped around her and he bent her forward. She had no choice but to follow. With ease he slipped the dagger in her boot.

Kevin had to force himself to concentrate on teaching, not exploration of the young, lithe body wrapped in his arms. It was a damn hard fight but so far, he was winning over his own carnal instincts. His hands grazed over her stomach and his hand fastened onto her hip. "Now when someone comes from behind, what are you going to do?"

Instinctively and in one fell swoop, Ray grabbed the dagger, hooked her booted foot around Kevin's leg, turned, and locked onto his body. Kevin slowly swallowed since the knife was now precariously poised on his throat. "Very good," he whispered as his gaze swept her face and locked onto the violet tempting eyes that looked back at him. He smiled slightly as he saw the dawning of what was to come from the chit that had latched onto him. Kevin could see the smoky desire in her eyes, the need, and the want. Clearing his throat, he ended the lesson as he backed away from her. "That's enough for the evening. I want you to retire to the cabin. I'll be down in a minute, once I see to the men."

"Sir?" Ray called to him as she tried to steady her trembling body.

"Yes, Ray?" Kevin noticed the respect and offered the same, however his voice was laced with need.

"How long will the ships be tied together?" Ray needed to know. She needed to get away from this man, he did things to her that she couldn't explain.

"Two days Ray, but you'll be very busy, so I wouldn't make any rash decisions if I were you. Tomorrow we will finish these lessons as well as some more. You'll be with Nick or I day and night." Kevin intended to squash any plans that the girl had of seeking immunity on J.C.'s craft or of escaping him. He would be sure to have Brian or Howie watching her as well. She would never be out of sight from any of them. Most of her time would be spent with him, it was a conclusion he had already reached. His body reacted strongly to the girl but his instinct to protect was even stronger.

Ray reached the safety of the Captain's cabin, relieved to finally be alone. Angry at herself she tossed her cap to floor in frustration. Realizing her mistake, she quickly retrieved it and pulled it over her head. She stuffed her hair into the cap trying so as not cause the hat to bulge in any particular place. Pulling her boots off her feet, she set them next to Kevin's bed. Swinging up into the hammock, she closed her eyes seeking peace from her troubles at hand. Her body had been reacting oddly around Kevin. Feelings were overtaking her thinking and she needed to discuss this with another. She didn't understand what was happening to her. Not having Jocelyn with her saddened her, there was no one she could confide in.

Dutifully she rose the next two mornings and set about her obligations. Forming a new strategy in her mind as she succumbed to sleep the evening before last, she decided to become the obedient cabin boy to Kevin. If she did as asked, without questioning him, possibly he would give her the distance that she needed to get away from him. Her anger seemed to roll with the tide, it would ebb and then peak. The breakfast conversation was little if none at all. Brian and Howard ate together but did not speak. Playful banter seemed to have been banned from the room. Kevin immediately swayed into her path as she finished cleaning the galley. Ray froze as he stood in her way, it was time to begin her plan again, it had worked yesterday, and she yearned for it to work today as well. "Yes sir?"

"Top side for some sword lessons little one," Kevin stood next to the door, not quite out the opening.

"Yes sir," Ray focused her thoughts and emotions as she brushed by him in her effort to reach the main deck.

Howie and Brian both tossed questioning looks to Kevin. Kevin smirked, "The boy has found respect after all. It's amazing what you can teach them when they are well disciplined."

Both men held back their mirth until Kevin was a safe distance away. When they heard him yelling orders above them, the galley filled with hysterically laughter.

"He is so confused, he cannot figure out what is going on. We just may be safe until we reach New Providence." Howie offered with amusement.

"I question that," Brian moved back his chair. "Ray's sudden complacency with him should be an alarm to all us. You forget Howard, we are just as involved with this as Nick and Ray. We all could be in for some serious troubles ahead. We dock in New Providence tomorrow." Brian left Howie with something to think about.

After giving everyone his orders for the day, Kevin set about training Ray. After reviewing the pistol and knife skills, he moved onto teaching Ray swordsmanship just as he had the day before. Every now and then Kevin would follow Ray's gaze back to the Lady J. Her lines were slacked so that the vessel would trail behind Kevin's without creating a weight on his own ship. The Lady J rode high on the water, since her cargo was now safely tucked in Kevin's hold. Every now and then communication was present between the vessels. It was the Captain's way of checking on A.J.'s welfare. Ray never missed on opportunity or a communiqué between the vessels. The more Ray focused on the other ship, the harder Kevin drove her to pay attention and to do as he had requested. The idea of her escaping to the other ship without he exacting what he wanted from the chit annoyed him. His anger would flare and he would pull her attention back to him.

By nightfall, every muscle in Ray's body ached. The swords were heavy and Kevin was insistent that she learn everything without fault. She had practiced for hours with the heavy metal weapons and her arms throbbed. Kevin had called everyone to the galley for the evening meal. Ray didn't think she had the energy to prepare anything. Upon entering the galley, she was surprised to see a cold meal had been set on the table. Smiling, she turned to Nick who smiled in return. She mouthed a thank you to him.

Conversation commenced on the state of A.J., and loud laughter. A bawdy conversation filled the room in regards to their docking in New Providence tomorrow evening. Kevin laughed and Ray tried very hard not to blush. Kevin suddenly turned to Ray. "You can retire now. I will help Nick clean up after the meal. Shamus will bring the tub and hot water to the cabin. You worked hard today and need to bath." Kevin stopped short of giving her any accolades on how she had done. He didn't want her to think that she could be alone with anyone on the ship other than the people present in the room. She still would not be safe on her own, whether she was masquerading as a boy or a girl.

Ray didn't know whether to stay or go. She counted her blessings and quickly left the galley for the safety of the cabin. So far her plan to listen to all of Kevin's orders had worked. Granted she was extremely tired and her body ached, yet today the physical contact was limited to learning what she needed to know. Earlier in the day, she had resigned herself to the fact that Kevin's lesson would only serve to help her well when she ventured off on her own. Her anger towards him seemed to lesson due to physical exhaustion as well.

Silently Shamus and another crewmember filled the tub. "We'll be outside Ray, if you need us. None will pass."

Ray sighed with relief when the door finally closed. She had no idea why they were posted at the door but she didn't question the decision any further. The bath was truly heaven as she finally settled in for a soak after thoroughly washing her hair. Wallowing away the time, until the water grew tepid, she extricated herself from the tub. She finally felt clean, her hair smelled fresh and soft, no longer like salt and scratchy. Dressing quickly in her clean clothes, she opened the door only to be standing face to face with the Captain.

Kevin's mouthed formed a smirk, his eyes a bright green. His intention of letting Ray clean up served his own purpose. He had had time alone with Howie and Brian to discuss how they would keep a watchful eye on the young upstart after they docked. Also, he knew that the girl just needed some time and the feeling of safety to be exactly that, a girl. He wasn't total ignorant of the female psyche. "I thought you had drowned in their boy. I was just coming in. I need a bath, so you will stay and help if I need you."

Ray groaned loudly and then ducked her head.

"You only need to wash my back chit. I swear you bathe like a woman." Kevin began to undress as the large vat was emptied and then filled with hot water once again.

Ray stood off to the side until Kevin reached the button on his breeches. She turned her back not wanting to see him in any state of undress. Her body had betrayed her over the last two days. Her mind wanted to run from the man, her body wanted nothing more than to be closer to him.

Pouring a glass a brandy, he set it on the table next to the tub. "What is the matter with you?" Kevin was giggling like a small schoolgirl on the inside seeing Ray panic as he undressed. 'You are afraid to look, I have to wonder why. You are nothing more than a tavern wench. I'm sure many have bedded you before.'

"I'm giving you some privacy Sir," Ray swallowed and turned to face the man that she no longer understood. As she turned, she heard an audible sigh. Her heart thumped loudly in her chest when her eyes landed on the tub. Kevin had settled and now sat smoking a cigar. His chest was glistening from the water, one arm lazily draped over the tub, his fingers wrapped around a brandy glass.

"Come'er," he motioned to her to come to him.

Her feet dragged as she made her way across the room.

With his head down, he smiled to himself. Nick's timing always seemed to be the worst and he was waiting for the older boy to come charging into the room. As if the man had read his thoughts, Nick barged in on them.

"Kevin! What are you doing?" Nick eyed Kevin suspiciously, since Ray stood by the tub holding a cloth.

"It's called a bath, you should try it sometime. You might get more women that way."

"Why can't you take your own bath? You don't need him to do it!" Nick's face turned as red as could be. In all the years he had never helped Kevin bath, Kevin usually kicked him out in annoyance.

Kevin smiled, knowing full well what was upsetting Nick. "I can't reach my back."

"Yes you can…" Nick stormed over to the tub. Pulling the rag from Ray's hand, he slapped it into the water. Water splashed all over Kevin. "He's tired and you are acting like a bastard."

Kevin gripped either side of the tub and began to raise himself out of the water. Before he completely stood, Ray turned and bolted for the door of the cabin and then halted when he spoke. Kevin frowned, "What is the matter with you two? You certainly are acting strangely."

Hearing the water slosh, she closed her eyes and slowly turned around. "It's my fault Captain. I'm very tired from today's lessons and Nick knows this. He was trying to spare me from your wrath."

"Wrath? Wrath? What wrath? I'm not angry at either of you. I think we all have had a good day, don't you?"

"Yes Sir," Ray answered without opening her eyes.

"If you're that tired go to bed. I can manage on my own." Kevin stared at Nick to see his reaction. Normal color had returned to Nick's face and the whelp let out a slow breath. 'Don't worry boy, you'll get what is coming to you and I will scare you witless when it happens.'

Nick began to talk to Ray and Kevin as Ray climbed up into the hammock. Kevin saw her small feet since she was bootless now and had to shake his head, what a charade this was turning into.

"I can't wait to show you New Providence. You will love it Ray. It has the best food and so many things to occupy your time. The markets are wonderful. You can find anything your heart desires." Nick swung up into his hammock and began to make it swing violently. Once it had slowed, he spoke again, non-stop.

Kevin listened to the incessant chatter of the two until finally he had heard enough. The discussion had been thinly veiled as to what the two little twits had in my mind. Too bad neither of them knew that he would be with them at all times when they were in port. He was not going to lose the one boy that he considered his son to a wayward girl that he had every intention of bedding. "Enough, I'm tired. Both of you go to sleep." Kevin had long finished his bath and the large vessel had been removed from the cabin. Now he lay below Ray looking at the delicious backside that swayed back and forth above him. He hardened as he lay under the covers with the only thought being that he should be on top of Ray not Ray on top of him. He would take her soon…. Very soon… he groaned as his hand covered his manhood to cease the ache that had grown.





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