A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 27

Journal Entry- My it has been an interesting journey. The moon is hanging high in the sky this night. It is late, well past the two o'clock hour. I can not sleep, I am restless. My emotions are running high and mixed as well. Tomorrow we dock in New Providence. Under normal circumstances, I would be elated at the process of divesting our cargo for coin. I believe that taking one more ship will fill my coffers enough to regain my home. My good name will come in time when I settle with the demon that took everything from my family and I.

I have come to know that Ray is an imposter, a woman imposter. My concern grows for her, my feelings are mixed. One moment I want to punish the chit for all that has happened aboard this vessel, the next moment I want to stand and protect the child. Foolishly, yet slowly she is letting her guard down around me. I am slightly more confident after the last two days of training that she can protect herself long enough for someone to come to her aid. I still feel the inner need to extract a confession and punishment from the girl. Nicholas will also need to be punished for he is as guilty as she. The punishment that I have set out will serve my needs and still accomplish my goal.

I have serious concerns how to handle the docking since I will need to keep an eye on both Ray and Nickolas. I am in fear that the two will escape from me and the safety that I provide. Neither of them fully understand what they have done or what lies in the real world for them. Perhaps I have protected Nick far to long but I am not ready to accept his ability to stand on his own. Or possibly, it may be that I live in fear that my young charge will leave me and I will be alone once again. I have taken precautions so both of them will be watched by Brian, Howard, or myself.

I will also entrust Alexander when he re-boards, before he takes over the Lady J., there are many things that I need to discuss with my Quartermaster. I need to find a replacement for him. I'm sure that Nickolas and I will get into a quarrel about him wanting the task. Nick does not have the heart to extract punishment from any human being. Alexander has the unique ability to extract pain and yet show confessions. I have thought about asking him to stay on until the task of Ray and Nickolas is settled but that would be unfair to him, he is finally the Captain of his own vessel and he has a new bride. Perhaps something will come to me when the time comes.

The night grows late and I will close for now. I sit and watch the two sleeping in my cabin. One I want to throttle for his dishonesty, the other, well I would like nothing more than to take to my bed and take what I need and want. For now, I retire trying to map out my intentions.

Captain Kevin S Richardson

Ray walked about the deck and saw the excitement building in the crew. All of them wanted to dock as soon as possible. She watched the towlines to the Lady J tightened as the ships were pulled together. They were now side by side bouncing on the water. Alex jumped from the Lady J to Kevin's ship. Standing on deck next to Kevin, Ray jumped back. A.J. embraced Kevin in a huge bear hug, yelling, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

The crew laughed loudly but quickly stopped when J.C. also boarded Kevin's vessel. Her eyes met Kevin's and Ray stepped further back. She was avoiding getting into the middle of any argument that would take place. Gingerly J.C. stepped forward and placed a kiss on Kevin's cheek.

Brian stood back and watched Ray's face change from fear to anger. "Oh no," he groaned as Howie joined him. Ray's face indicated jealousy, but it quickly left.

"Thank you J.C.," Kevin smiled with amusement at the red headed hellion.

Letting out a loud huff, she inclined her head towards Kevin, "You win. You were right."

"Of course I was," Kevin's smug face looked down at hers. "Now behave yourself and don't get into anymore trouble."

"Yes sir," J.C. grinned as she reached to clasp A.J.'s hand.

Howie and Brian joined the small group on the deck. "Congratulations A.J. you now have your own ship."

A.J. nodded in agreement, as he squeezed J.C.'s hand. "We have our own ship."

"Negotiating were you J.C.?" Kevin chuckled.

J.C. smiled and fluttered her lashes at Kevin.

"She's evil," A.J. crackled.

"But effective," Kevin snorted. A deal had been struck between the two and he would learn of it soon, he was sure. Alexander was one who never could keep his mouth closed.

Ray stood back knowing what the conversation was insinuating, it disgusted her. She began to think that all of the men on this ship had only breeding on their minds. Making her way to the quarterdeck, she watched the dolphins break the water and hoped that New Providence would show in the distance soon. She had planned to slip off the ship late this evening when all were sleeping. The Captain had already told her that he had plans for the evening to see a friend, a dear, old woman friend. Ray felt her skin crawl at the thought, there was no doubt in her mind what kind of old friend the woman was. Another Jocelyn, she was sure. After seeing Nickolas with Kevin, she knew that she couldn't involve him with her plan. Nickolas had been wonderful to her and their plans of doing anything in the future together could not happen, she could see that now. Nick belonged with Kevin and no one else. It was a tie that she was not willing to break, Nick needed Kevin.

"We'll see land soon," Brian offered as he stood next to her. Turning around he did not miss Kevin searching the ship for Ray. When he saw that she was with Brian, Kevin relaxed and continued his conversation.

"I have never seen a foreign place. It's so warm here." Ray ignored him and watched the animals continue to follow the ship.

Brian nodded in agreement; he needed to impart some wisdom on Ray. "You need to understand that when Kevin discovers all of our deceit that there will be repercussions."

Ray swallowed the lump in her throat, "I do understand… I've taken precautions to protect all of you."

Brian had a feeling he knew what she was thinking. After his conversation last night with Kevin, he also knew that Kevin was scrutinizing every move Ray and Nick made to avoid any attempt of either of them leaving him. "Running from Kevin will serve no purpose other than to cause him to seek you out Ray."

Turning quickly, she seethed the words out as her anger spewed, "He can seek, but he will not find."

Brian shrunk back from Ray, he was taken by surprise by the tone and her heat in her words. Shaking his head slowly, he tried to make her understand. "He will find you and it will not be pretty. You can not best him at this game Ray. You do not understand that he is in a current state of confusion. He is attracted to you, yet he does not know that you are a female. For him to find out and you to escape, it will only heighten his drive to find you and prove a point." Leaning forward he whispered in her ear, "I know that is something that I do not want you do endure. Kevin has pride, male pride."

Ray's entire body shook from Brian's words. She remembered Kevin and Jocelyn's coupling and the noises that came from the room. No, it was not something that she wanted to endure, at all. "I don't know what else to do… I'm worried about Nickolas."

Hearing those words, Brian thought perhaps Ray could be reasoned with. "Howard and I have tried to think of ways to get you back home to Jocelyn. We believe we have enough money to buy you safe passage back home if there is a ship available."

"I have no need to go back home. The only thing waiting for me there are dirty pots and a filthy kitchen. I can make more of myself here." Ray wasn't about to go back to being a scullery maid for Edmund. Yes, she missed Jocelyn but this could be a whole new life for her. She would no longer be under anyone's rule or guidance.

"Ray, New Providence accepts women as business owners. However, you are barely a woman. It would be too dangerous for you to go out on your own." Brian was imploring her to think twice about what she had planned. He feared for her safety, she would not survive on the streets of New Providence.

Ray had heard enough of Brian's advice. "I will do what I need to do. I will not stand by and let Nick be punished for his kindness. Nor will I let any of you fall out of favor with him because of me."

"Raina, please listen," Brian clenched his teeth together. He could not fathom who was worse to deal with, Kevin or Ray. "If you make any attempts now he will be on you and it will be much worse. You will surely be discovered."

Ray paused hearing someone other than Nick use her birth name for the first time. "Brian, I am not dim-witted. Do you think that I don't know what Kevin will do to me when he discovers that I am a female? He is like any other man, he will bed me and then toss me aside. Nick and I have discussed this. I will not be dominated, nor will I concede to a man that would treat a woman in such a manner. I hear the talk of the crew. The entire time they we are docked in New Providence, they are going to be doing one thing, satisfying their lusts."

Brian didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Evidentially Ray had heard the crew talking entirely too much. What bothered him more was that Nick and Ray had had a discussion in regards to Kevin. "What did Nickolas talk to you about Kevin, if you were to be discovered?"

Ray's face flamed red, "That I would be flat on my back in the Captain's Bed. Whether it be my choice or not."

"Aye, that is what would happen. I think you have forgotten your station in life..." Brian faced the deck; Ray was facing the opposite direction. Brian could see Kevin becoming restless with the two of them talking so close. "Off with you for here he comes."

Ray stepped away only to hear Kevin's thunderous roar of her name caused her to halt.

Taking the steps two at a time, he joined Brian and Ray. "We need to review the accounting. We will be docking soon and I will not have time them. I want to be sure that your figures are accurate."

"Yes Sir," Ray whispered and began to walk away. She let out a small yelp when a large hand locked onto her forearm. Quickly spinning she almost broke the grasp only to be jerked closer to his body, yet still not touching.

"I'm warning you boy, don't try a thing. You still owe me for a passage." Kevin glared down into the young face. He couldn't take much longer to reveal him, it was driving him crazy. Kevin couldn't stand to see her standing with any man, not even his cousin.

"I cooked for you… I was your Cabin Boy," Ray growled back.

"Not enough…" Kevin snarled back at her. "You are part of this crew and the journey is not yet over. We still have to journey home and you will remain with us. I have lost my Quartermaster and I will not lose my Cook and Cabin Boy as well." Kevin dropped Ray's arm and stormed away.

Brian looked towards the land that was becoming clearer and clearer in the distance. "It is obvious what you plan to do. Please be careful and do not go forth with it. He is beyond reasoning with now." Leaving her to think, Brian walked away.

The closer the land became the more Ray thirsted for her freedom. Kevin had continued his fit as they drew closer to docking. She did as he requested and returned to the cabin to review the numbers. Hearing the cheering and commotion, she knew they had finally reached their destination. Standing on Kevin's bed, she looked out the porthole. All she saw was water and other ships, no glimpse of land whatsoever.

"If you go above deck you will see more," Kevin stood in the doorway.

Ray jumped quickly off the bed, upset at being caught and knowing that he had already threatened her once today. She didn't need to give him more reasons to focus on her. "Sorry Sir," she dropped her head so as not to have to look him directly in the eye.

A hand wrapped around her chin and tilted her head up so that she had to look at him. "I'm sorry I yelled at you child. You didn't deserve my anger. I am nervous about getting rid of our wares and getting home safely."

"I understand," Ray whispered. Her body seemed to like the feeling of his hand on her face. The way Kevin was looking at her made her feel safe and secure, not angry and afraid as he normally did. The hand slowly left her face and she had to stop herself from sighing loudly. She watched him shave and change his clothes. She was fussing on the inside, she felt that she shouldn't be watching yet she couldn't stop herself from doing so.

Grabbing a dress coat and heading for the door, he turned back to his young charge. "Clean yourself up and put clean clothes on. Nick told me that you do rather well on the market so you are going to join me."

Ray waited for the door to close and she kicked the chair, an opportunity had escaped her. "Damn! Now I have to wait," she kicked the chair again and succeeded in only hurting her foot.

Kevin smiled from the other side of the door hearing her. "Oh Ray, you need to get much smarter than I before you think that you can flee from me. I have big plans for you girl."

Kevin reached the top of the stairs of the main deck. "Nickolas!" he shouted and continued to shout until Nick appeared before him. "Where have you been?" Kevin eyed Nick's clean dress and kept up appearance.

"You said I could go with you," Nick practically danced. Usually A.J. was the one to go with Kevin.

"Aye you will whelp, but along with Ray and Alex." Kevin grinned at him, knowing that his remark would take the wind of Nick's sails."

"Fine," Nick shuffled his feet.

Kevin frowned, "A.J. is going to make sure that J.C. gets her fair share."

Nick frowned back, "You wouldn't cheat J.C. Why is Ray going?"

Nick had taken the hook, now it was time to sink it. "You told me once that Ray helped you get the goods for our journey. If the boy is well versed in quality and value, then he will be indispensable today."

"Oh, then why am I going?" Nick wouldn't question Kevin's decision, if he did, it might hint to what Ray truly was.

"You're going because I want you to be with me and learn Alex's duties," Kevin smiled and waited for the whooping and hollering to begin. His grin increased when Nick contained his excitement like a true businessman. "Very good Nicholas, very good. Now we wait on Ray. I swear that boy needs a ladies maid." Kevin leaned over the side of the ship so that Nick couldn't see his smirk but he didn't miss Nick gasping for air at the comment.

Once Ray had appeared, they disembarked from the ship. Kevin repeated his orders to his men to keep a close eye on J.C. and her crew. If she slipped her moorings and was not present when they returned, there would be hell to pay for all of them.

Alex waited on shore, with J.C. in tow. "I guess that solves one of my problems," Kevin mumbled to himself. He didn't want a woman involved in this. In his mind 's eye, he could foresee the penny-ante squabbles that would break out over pricing and such. Then his eyes landed on Ray. How ridiculous that sounded now.

"J.C. has some things to attend to," A.J. offered Kevin. Kevin wouldn't be pleased to have J.C. along during negotiations.

"She is to take Shamus with her, that way I know she will return."

A.J. smirked, "She'll return, I have her ship."

J.C. tromped off with Shamus as her guard walking next to her.

Ray watched the goings on about the street. The warmth of the sun, the air smelled fresh and sweet and no longer like salt. The colors were amazing and she sighed slightly. Nick elbowed her to bring her back to them. Jolted she became aware of the present company.

"Let's get this accomplished please; I have plans for the evening." Kevin spoke as his intentions for the evening rolled around in his head.

Alex once again shook with laughter, "No doubt what those are either."

"Careful Alex, you haven't gotten the ship yet. You haven't been discharged you're your duties or your articles."

"Aye, Captain," A.J. winked at him.





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