A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 28

Ray wandered from stall to stall at the open-air market. Colors seemed to be sharper and the surroundings were lush as a breeze gently swayed the fabrics hanging from twine and ropes. Inhaling deeply, she smiled. She smelled different aromas, fresh fruits that were sweet and flowers, mixed along with spices. Her fingertips ran the length of a piece of silk that hung over a line. Everything was new and exciting. Music filled the air along with laughter, the noises of children playing, and the beat of drums. Ray thought she had found home, it felt wonderful here.

"Ray," Nick whispered to get her attention. Kevin and A.J. walked ahead of them. Kevin turned the corner and headed down a row of buildings. When he entered an establishment, Ray and Nick dutifully followed, since Alex had stopped and waited to be sure that they did.

By evening, Kevin resisted the urge to pick Ray up and squeeze her. After all, he wasn't supposed to know that she was a woman. After spending the day negotiating with the merchants, they emptied the hold of Kevin's ship. The profit from the ship was a quarter more than what they had originally hoped to earn from the sale of the goods.

Nick was more than pleased as he managed to squirrel some fabric that was very similar to a fabric that Ray had admired when they were in England. He wasn't sure of the quantity but he felt he had overbought rather than under bought.

A.J.'s spirits soared as he accounted for each sale. "I'm wealthy," he chuckled to all of them.

Stopping a short distance from his final destination, he turned to A.J. "Yes A.J., we are, as long as we can keep it." Kevin sauntered down the paved street with the three of them. "It's getting late. You need to get back to J.C. and the Lady J. We will speak later. I have some things to do."

Alex stopped abruptly, "I should, I'm sure my bride is missing me." Knowing the streets of New Providence, A.J. had a good idea where Kevin was heading. They were within walking distance of Mademoiselle Celestine's. Lilting his head to the side, A.J. waved his fingers in the air. "Come, let's go back now."

"They are staying with me. I will see them back safely." Kevin nodded to Alexander.

Alexander stood stiffly at attention. Kevin's voice was that of a man being a Captain, not a friend. The day seemed to have passed as friends, not a Captain and crew. "I thought that you were going to…"

"I have changed my plans. These two will stay with me. We will return together when I finish."

Warily eyeing him, A.J. was suspicious. Kevin was a man of habit and pattern. Celestine's was always a stop for the man, especially on the first night in port after a long sail.

"I don't understand…" A.J. stepped closer to Kevin. His hackles rose, if Kevin was not going to see Celestine, then where could he possibly going and why force Nick and Ray to go with him. His eyes searched the street, which now seemed less than safe in the dark than it had during the day. Men moistly milled about and the lot did not seem like a friendly or honest bunch.

Flippantly Kevin replied, "There is nothing to understand. I gave you an order that I expect you to comply. I'll keep an eye on the young ones." Kevin waited for yet another challenge from Alex. If Alex continued to challenge his authority or question his plans then he would see to it that the man was properly punished as well. He had thought this trickery out thoroughly; in order for the events to take place, as he wanted them to, nobody from his crew must be present except Nick, Ray, and himself. It was time for Ray to admit what she was to him, otherwise the next two weeks sailing home would be dreadful for him. He doubted that he could exercise much more constraint where Ray was concerned.

Ray and Nick exchanged nervous glances to each other. Ray's plan to slip away from all of them would be thwarted for this evening if Alex left without her. "I think I should go with Alex…."

"Are you questioning my directive Ray?" Kevin intended to intimidate the wench. He knew he had succeeded when she searched out Nickolas to rescue her. The fact that she did so annoyed him even more. "Excuse us Alex," Kevin admonished his Quartermaster as he stood silently in a street that was filling with unsavory characters. "We must be going soon," Kevin's eyes searched the street for any intended harm directed at them.

A.J.'s displeasure reflected in his voice when Kevin received an, "Aye Captain," in return. A.J. literally marched away in a huff rather than walking away at a normal place.

"Stay close to me," Kevin barked at the two as they stared at him. Kevin refused to drop his head as he walked slowly down the street. He would not show any fear amongst the populace that dotted the street. To show fear would invite a threat, a threat that he was willing to end to protect the two that walked next to him. For this night, he would extricate from Ray and Nickolas a full confession. The balance of his travel would be sweet with a wench to warm his bed, whether by her choice or not. Nickolas, on the other hand, would be sore from the beating that Kevin was more than willing to administer himself.

Kevin turned at the next corner and entered a luxurious home. Knocking on the door, he smiled slightly; this was the beginning of the end. A man answered the door and offered a hearty greeting to Captain Richardson. All three of them were ushered into a parlor.

"Where are we?" Ray whispered to Nick, who only shrugged his shoulders indicating he did not know.

A beautiful woman entered the room. Nick's mouth fell open as he stared at the brunette haired woman with deep blue eyes. She was tall and slim, her lashes long and dark. Her skin sun kissed and flawless, her features stunning. If he didn't know better, he thought he had fallen in love.

Ray frowned, Nick's tongue was almost rolling out of his mouth. Placing her foot on the top of his, she pressed down with her own. Nick frowned at her, gave her a slight shove, and looked back at the woman.

Kevin's head shake and the closing of his eyes amused the stately woman before him very much. However, at the moment he had to speak to the woman alone, without the other two present. "I need to have a private conversation with you first."

Kevin had asked for privacy, the woman titled her head slightly. She saw the velvet smile that always seemed to get the man what he wanted. He reached his hand out and captured hers. Kevin kissed the top of her hand, he raised his head, and he winked at her. "I never could tell you no. Osgood, could you show these two young gentlemen to the other parlor for a moment?"

The man who had shown them appeared from the entry hall. He led Nick and Ray to another room. The pocket doors of the parlor were slid shut once they had entered. Ray held her breath waiting for a turn of the key to lock them in. It never came.

"Where has he brought us?" Ray nearly tripped over Nick. The boy was lost to her as he focused on the raving beauty in the other room. The door closing ended his titillating fantasy. "Nickolas," Ray tried to kick at him.

"Don't do that," Nick smacked her leg away. "I don't know where we are. I've never been here before. Kevin doesn't always take me with him." Scanning the room, Nick couldn't fathom where they were. With the parlor door shut, he could see nothing.

Ray began to prowl the room looking for an exit. The windows were open but the building was up one story. A group of men whistled when she glimpsed out the glass. Backing away, she continued her search. Nothing in the room hinted as to where they were. "I'm uncomfortable. I don't like this. I don't trust the Captain…." Ray searched for some kind of clue.

Ray ceased speaking when the door to the parlor opened after minutes ticked by. Osgood stood board straight and waited for the two of them to follow him. Ray thought she had seen the butler smirk at her. Her entire body stiffened as they re-entered the room that they were ushered from. The room was now filled with women. All types of women, heavy and thin, short and tall. Some exotic and some not, some were older and some were not.

Nick swallowed hard; he had never seen such a varied amount of women before him. Some beguiled him, but none as much as the woman he had met when they first arrived.

"Shall I pick?" the woman spoke with a hint of amusement in her voice as she walked towards Nick but directed her question to his Captain.

"Nay, I think they should pick." Kevin laughed heartily. His plan was coming together and seeing the bemused look on Nick and Ray was priceless.

"But I know them so well," the woman laughed as her hand came to rest on Nick's chest.

Nick smiled at the gorgeous beauty in front of him. Nick could feel his heart begin to pound. His manhood was beginning to stir, this woman smelled wonderful, her touch was soft, not rough like other women he had lain with.

Ray ground her teeth in frustration, not sure of what was going on, but well aware that Nick was now ignoring her for the woman that stood in front of him.

Nick's eyes were planted on the hand that effortlessly caressed his chest. Urges and thoughts made his mind begin to spin. It had been a while since he had been with a woman. He spoke just above a whisper, as he enjoyed the feeling that was beginning to build. "Pick what?"

The women in the room giggled and smiled.

Ray looked from the ladies that stood in the room, to Nick, to the woman, and finally to Kevin. "Where are we?" Ray spoke to Kevin giving him the obedient voice that he always requested of her.

Kevin smirked back at Ray. This was all too much for him to handle, he wanted to outright laugh in Ray's face. With one single plan to manipulate both of them, Ray had just lost Nick, her protector. Folding his arms and still smirking, he walked forward to stand next to the woman, who touched Nick's chest. His eyes dropped to the hand that still had not left Nick's body. With a snort, he turned his gaze to Ray. "We are at Mademoiselle Celestine's."

"Mademoiselle Celestine's!" Nick shouted and stepped back from the hand. He gawked at Kevin and then to Ray.

Kevin watched Ray's eyebrows furrow together in confusion. Smiling as she glanced to Nick for clarification, when she did not get what she was seeking, her features changed remarkably. Kevin watched the anger build in the chit. He saw many emotions on her face, fear, confusion, anger. Ray definitely felt threatened. Kevin's smile increased ten-fold watching a nervous Nick start to fidget. The boy actually started to sweat as he stood in front of him. Whether it was because of the information that Nick had absorbed as the boy's brain linked everything together or was it because he was under Kevin's direct scrutiny. Kevin preferred the later, he knew that everything was about to dawn on Nick rather quickly. He wasn't ready to let the proverbial cat out of the bag yet with Ray. "Oh now, you don't have to afraid. I'm sure Celestine will let you pick."

"We're in a brothel!" Nick screamed in horror at the thought.

Kevin's roar of laughter filled the room as well as the women. Stepping closer to Ray, he leaned down and stared directly at her. All color had drained from her face and he thought she would faint. "I'm sure you will find one to your liking as well," Kevin heckled at her.

'"God!" Nick's inner voice screamed. 'What are we going to do?' 'Stay calm, his inner voice answered him, it will come to you.' An idea struck him as a hand squeezed his backside. He did not want to sacrifice this. This was a big step in Kevin's book to becoming a man. But Ray, poor Raina, what could he do? Nick shifted from foot to foot. "I need to talk to Ray," Nick licked his lips nervously, as he waited for Kevin to refocus on him.

"What in God's name for?" Kevin let out an exasperated sigh. He didn't see this coming as he glared at Ray waiting for a confession that didn't seem to be coming. Now he was annoyed as he straightened up to his full height and looked Nick in the eyes. "I'm waiting. I have all night, but I would prefer not to spend it down here."

Nick was going to go so far out on the proverbial limb on this. He hoped Kevin didn't cut down the tree and the limb on this. "I want to consult with him. Make sure that I don't pick what he wants." Nick's headed bobbed up and down as to confirm his thoughts as he spoke them.

Kevin snorted once more, "Is this a joke?" Kevin's eyes narrowed on Nick and he could see that focusing his intention on the lad seemed to be working. Nick was now practically sweating all the way through his shirt.

"No, but it's his first time. He should pick… You know…" Nick kept shifting his weight from foot to foot. If he didn't know any better, he would swear that this was some type of game or something. However, it wasn't because Kevin didn't know about Ray.

"No, I don't know," Kevin rolled his eyes. "Fine, confer with Ray, but be damn quick about it or I'll do the picking. I have a feeling you won't like my choice." Kevin's eyes landed on a specific woman that was very far from Nick's taste. He watched Nick's eyes grow wide, twice their normal size. The woman that Kevin had picked scared Nickolas.

So far Ray had remained calm, but barely. Kevin had trapped her and she had nowhere to go. He would find out for sure. Once the idea had planted itself in her mind, it grew from there. A horrible idea went wild in her head. If she were discovered here, how would he react? Her previous conversations with Nick and Brian whirled around in her head. The worst thought pressed forward in her mind as she glanced to the face of her tormentor. Kevin wore a deep scowl, obviously, he wasn't happy. Nick's fierce grip on her arm and his determined pull forced her to the foyer.

"You're hurting me," she pulled from Nick's grasp.

"Not half as much as he is going to," Nick scowled as he looked over Ray's shoulder. Kevin was staring at him and he needed to do this quickly. "We should just go with this," he whispered and placed a finger up to silence her as he watched her mouth open widely. "Take the young one on the end." Nick glanced towards the woman to make sure Ray knew what he was talking.

"I think you have lost your mind. In case you have forgotten…."

"Shut up," Nick growled at her. He had a dilemma that he was going to deal with. He would get out of this. The mere thought of the punishment that Kevin would measure out to him made his skin quiver, especially the skin on his back. The skin on his back wasn't the only thing quivering, so were his loins. Ray needed to be convinced, "She's a slip of a girl, she barely weighs four quarters. Drink with her and get her plenty drunk. When she passes out, she'll remember nothing." Nick studied Ray's face for acceptance, he winced when her expression changed.

"I will never…"

"YOU DAMN FOOLS!" Kevin bellowed with as much force as he had.

Both of them ran back into the room and slid to a stop before him. They waited since his back was now towards them.

Kevin rested his head on his folded arms as he leaned on the mantel. His head pounded much more loudly than his groin. His booted foot absently rested on the grate in the unlit hearth. Celestine's hand slipped inside his doublet, her soft voice came to his ear, along with her warm breath. "Now if you wish this to work according to what you would like, you need to calm down." Her hand lazily swept over his stomach and rested softly.

"I know," he whispered as he pulled himself to a stand. "Have you decided?" Kevin rolled his eyes at Nick and Ray as he battled inside himself. He wanted nothing more than to step forward and reveal Ray to all. Then he would take her upstairs and do what he pleased to Ray. He was waiting for Ray to say something and the damn girl still had not done what he had wanted.

"Ray wants her," Nick pointed to a girl of immature age with a small stature.

Kevin's head swam with the implication.

Nick thought wisely, as he saw Kevin's exaggerated expression. He wouldn't be getting Celestine, even if he picked the woman. "Her," Nick pointed to an auburn beauty.

Now confusion settled in Kevin's head, Ray had picked a woman. The sordid idea slapped him mentally; he had lusted after a boy, who actually was a woman that preferred women. "ARRGHHH!" Kevin bounded out of the room and up the stairs three at a time. His hand on the banister pulled his body along with the force of twenty men. He could no longer maintain a grip on his anger. CELESTINE!" Kevin thundered as his headed pounded as loud as his heart. His anger grew teeth and gnashed at his insides.

Celestine anxiously spoke to Osgood as her eyes darted up the staircase. Repeating her instructions, she left the room with extreme haste. Lifting her skirts so she did not trip, she ran up the massive steps, dreading what was waiting for her on the other side of her bedchamber door.

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