A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 32

Racing up the stairs, she burst on the deck. Blinking rapidly her eyes searched and located Nick. Her body shook as her mouth fell open. She ran across the deck and threw her body in front of Nickolas. "NO!" Ray screamed at Kevin and Alex who stood in front of Nick. Chains creaked as Nick's body was lifted from the deck. She screamed again at them, both of them watching her.

A.J. held a Cat-Of-Nine Tails in his hand, waiting for The Captain's signal as he walked around Nick. Now he faced Nick's bare back. His stomach squeezed on the inside, this was something he did not want to do.

The sound of chains clanking behind Ray caused her to turn to the man who hung precariously behind her. His limbs were being drawn away from his body. She saw the tears fall from his face. Nick was frightened. Not once did she hear him cry out from pain. It was as though he had accepted his punishment. A bead of sweat ran from his temple down his cheek and dropped not far from where the tears had landed. Nick was being punished for something he had done. He had angered Kevin somehow aboard the other ship. "No, you can't do this," she hissed at Kevin.

Alex knew better than to question Kevin and his command. Kevin had the consent of two, but A.J. thought that maybe by seeing Nick hung in chains would bring Kevin back to reality and cause him to snap out of his anger. Nick had not followed orders as the Officers had quickly discussed after re-boarding their own ship. With a hasty meeting held on the Quarterdeck, Brian was the lone dissenting vote. A.J. wanted to do the same but knew that he could not do so without revealing to Kevin that he knew the truth about Ray. Knowing Kevin, not only would he take the offense personally, he would most likely maroon all of them or throw them overboard for failing to inform him that Ray was a woman. Kevin demanded loyalty from all but even more so from the people that he called his friends. Alex was at a loss that it had gotten this far. However, he also understood Kevin's fury; Ray was almost killed protecting Nick. Ray had left the safety of their own ship to protect one of their own. Alex couldn't quite see why Kevin had such a problem with Ray's courage, all of them would have done the same. He sighed when Kevin nodded for A.J. to commence. Raising his arm he closed his eyes and let the whip fly, as he opened his eyes he focused on the back of Ray's head, he couldn't bear looking at Nick when the Cat-O-Nine Tails hit its mark. The only offense Nick had committed was not taking care of Ray, Nick did not deserve this over something so simple. A.J. shifted his stance and narrowed his eyes at Kevin. Their eyes met, that is unless, Kevin knew what Ray truly was. Knowing Ray was a woman in the middle of a fight would be the only thing that would make him act like the rabid animal that he was right now.

Nick howled in pain as the fine strands of leather landed across his back, the knotted ends sinking into his flesh. He felt his skin tightened at the pain, split, and then he felt the blood flow from the open gashes. Nick tried to prepare himself for the next blow by pulling on the chains, the metal made an eerie squeaking sound as he waited for the next strike. His skin burned from the knots in the whip ends and he let out a hiss as the sting increased.

Ray flew to Nick's side. Her hand swiped his face. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." She begged Nick for forgiveness. It had to be her fault that he was being beaten, there would be no other reason that Kevin would treat Nick so poorly for.

"Step aside Ray," Kevin's chest heaved with anger. He had had enough. Ray and Nick had bested him in his own little game. If Ray wasn't going to confess then he would beat it out of Nick. After all, Nick was responsible for Ray being on his ship. It was Nick's fault that Ray had tormented him all these months. Nick was the one to blame for Ray almost being slain today, his Ray was almost lost. Kevin blinked as the realization hit him, he had referred to Ray as his. Then he watched the diminutive hands tend to Nick. "I SAID STEP ASIDE NOW!"

"Please move Ray, you are only making it worse for me now." Nick fought the tears that were welling inside. A.J. would strike again, he had to or he would be the next one to hang in chains and receive the same punishment. A.J. was the Quartermaster. Picking his head up Nick focused on the man that he deemed his father. Silently he pleaded with Kevin to make it end. Only Kevin could stop this. Nick could see the anger in Kevin as his fists pumped opened and closed, he was breathing heavy, and his brows were drawn together tightly. There was no chance that even pleading with the man would help him. He didn't understand what he had done wrong since the charges were not officially given to him.

Ray's eyes looked down Nick's bare back. Nine red strips of flesh swelled up from his form. Small trickles of blood flowed down the side of each end. She inhaled deeply and from somewhere deep in her soul she summoned her inner-strength. Power and anger boiled to the top. Going up on her toes, she glared at Sir Alex. "How dare you!"

Alex stepped back; Ray seemed like a feral beast. In a flash, he watched her as she turned and ran straight towards the Captain.

Kevin stood his ground, his chest tight. His anger only matching that of Ray's as she dared stop this. "Interfering again? Questioning my orders?" he growled at her.

"You will stop this," her defiant chin jutted out. Her eyes locked on him and she refused to yield her ground.

Kevin gave her a menacing smile and began to nod his head towards A.J. to begin again. As he nodded, an open hand made contact with his cheek. He blinked as he felt the burn and sting of his own skin. His head twisted to the side from the slap. Rubbing his cheek with his hand, he took two steps forward to Ray. He towered over her and hissed in her ear. "He'll be sorry you did such a thing. You should be the one hanging there, not him." Pausing, he glared down at her, yet she refused to do nothing more than taunt him with her eyes, her lips, and that damn chin.

Ray swallowed as Kevin stared her down. He was trying to intimidate her so she would fear him. It would have probably worked had Nick's had not been hanging in chains. She sensed more was going between the two but she wasn't sure what. Ray could hear some of the crew mumbling that the boy would be next for he had struck the Captain. She heard other words such as treason, insane, and jealous. Yanked up by her forearms off the deck, her body turned around, and Ray was slammed to her feet, facing Nick. A puff of hot air by her ear made her squirm as Kevin held tightly to her wrist. Her body yanked back to his. A hand squeezed her bottom, she knew, he knew. This was the end; she now knew what angered him. Then she heard the words whispered harshly so that only she could hear. "Now you will watch another take your punishment."

Tears fell down Ray's face as the second lash landed. She twisted away from Kevin, who freely let her go. Running to Nick, she went up on her toes, her lips almost brushing his ear. "No more, you can't protect me anymore from him. I won't let you do this."

"NO," a horse groan came from Nick. "It will be worse…"

Ray turned and slowly walked back to Kevin. "This needs to stop. You aren't angry at him, you are angry at me." Ray's hand swiftly moved to the top of her head. She plucked her cap from where it had been for many months. Her hair cascaded down to frame her face. Shaking her head, she let the tendrils land freely.

Gasps, chortles, and curses came from the crew. Ray held her breath long enough to let it out slowly. Obviously, her charade had still been in place until this moment for many of the crew were shocked that she was a female. Her eyes went to Howie first, for he was the lone one who did not know about the masquerade. When he simply smiled at her, she whipped her head around to others; the crew looked dumbstruck. She needn't bare her breasts to them to prove who she was, her hair was trademark enough. Ray faced the man that she had angered the most. His chest heaved and he looked like the devil himself as he stood in front of her.

Kevin seized his fury in the pit of his stomach. For the first time he had seen Ray as a woman, a true woman. She had finally revealed herself to him and the crew. The tension grew between them as she glared back at him, daring him to make his next move. His hand swept out and his fingers brushed a lock of hair from the small porcelain face. Porcelain was now an inaccurate description, her face now dark from the kiss of the sun, which only seemed to add to her exotic looks. The violet eyes sparked back at him as she slapped his hand away from his face, the little one's anger flashed in her eyes

"Ray please," Nick groaned. His welts did not hurt as much as his limbs from being in an unnatural position.

Kevin cocked an eyebrow at her and flashed a set of white teeth at her. Again, his hand reached for her face.

"Don't do it Ray," Nick gasped as he struggled to free himself. If Ray slapped his hand away again, there would be hell to pay and she would suffer, she had hit him twice now. Kevin had been fascinated with his cabin-boy for many months and to now see her for a true woman was justifying everything that Kevin had felt. Nick knew Kevin to well after all of these years.

Ray raised her hand to slap the offending object away from her again. Quickly her hand was snagged from the air, jerked, and twisted behind her back. The air rushed out of her lungs as she slammed back into Kevin's muscled body. An arm wrapped around her waist to hold her firmly in front of him.

Kevin felt her bottom connect with his hips as he pulled her up against him. He wanted her, he could smell her, and wanted nothing more than to take her right now. Her hair scratched against his chest as she struggled in his embrace. Her struggling seemed to lick at his desire and cause it to inflame, almost to the point that he wanted to burst. She fought against his every move until finally she settled. "Resigned yourself, have you?" Kevin whispered into her ear. She began to struggle again, only to have a few of the crew begin to laugh at her helpless acts.

"Kevin," Nick begged as his eyes went around the crew. Most of them respected Ray as the cabin boy, Ray as a woman would be free to take. A few would stand for her, the Officers, Shamus, Colin, injured or not, William, and possibly a few more, but not many. He could call Kevin's attention to the shift in mood but could only hope that he understood what he could not say. Ray struggling against Kevin's commands and body were only serving as an arousal for the crew.

Kevin followed Nick's eyes around the circle that had formed on the deck. Nick had intuition, as well as A.J. Kevin quickly sought Alex's gaze and he seemed to support the unspoken words of Nick. Howie and Brian nodded in agreement, as they came closer to Kevin in order to protect him and Ray. "Bring him down," Kevin barked as he glared at his own crew. How dare they even think such thoughts? Ray belonged to him and only him. She was his.

Ray had ceased to struggle against Kevin's body. If she were to break free, she could see by some of the crew that they would go after her and the first one to catch her would have their way with her. For now, she was safer with Kevin even if she didn't feel all that safe with him. The man was going to do her great harm; she felt the apprehension crawl through her body. A rough jerk from Kevin caused her to be pulled even closer to him. Her back pressed tightly against his chest, her feet almost off the ground. Kevin's arm wrapped around her, just below her breasts, feeling like a steel band being drawn so tight that she couldn't breath.

Nick began to breathe normal as the chains creaked and he was lowered to the ground. His arms and legs hurt but not as badly as they could have. There was an enormous amount of slack in the chains so as not to pull his limbs from his body. He would thank Alexander for that later.

Kevin tightened his hold on Ray as she pulled to free herself and go to Nick. Her head shot up at him and he grimaced at her. "Nay, you'll stay where you belong." To demonstrate his point, he roughly jammed his hips into her body.

Nick shook his arms as Brian helped him to his feet. Struggling he made his way to Kevin. "I have deceived you and I'm sorry. I can only hope that you will forgive me in time." With his shoulders slouched Nick walked away slowly.

"Nickolas!" Kevin barked and Nick halted in his steps. Kevin watched his shoulder's slump forward in defeat. He waited for Nick to turn and face him. Later he would finish the brunt of his anger out on Nick, it would be in private, right now he needed to issue a dictate. "I am issuing an order to all of you. If any of you seek Ray out without my permission, you will die. I will not take the time to necessitate a cruel torture, I will slay you where you stand."

Kevin paused and looked down at the face that was snapping with anger. "She belongs to me now, to do with what I wish. She stowed away on my ship and deceived me, as well as Nickolas." He smiled down at her, which caused her face to screw up in fear. He snickered as he hauled her body up next to his. He roared with laughter as she kicked and yelled against the very idea of what he had announced. Kevin let her freely thrash about, it would do her no good to defy him now. "I have something I need to take of gentlemen!" Kevin shouted with glee as he headed down the stairs to his cabin dragging a thrashing Ray with him.

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