sat on a stool by Nick's bed well into the night.
"You can leave,
I will be fine." Nick wanted to sleep but Kevin wasn't
ready to let him. This was Kevin's way, hot-tempered as he
was, regret usually set in not to soon afterwards.
Nick didn't comment
on the white cotton cloth wrapped around his friend's bicep.
Brian had told him that Ray had pulled a knife on Kevin. Even
Nick blanched and asked if Ray was okay.
Kevin sighed loudly,
as he stood up. "I'm sorry." Kevin looked down at
the bunk and watched Nick roll his eyes at him. "I am
sorry." Kevin touched the bandage on his arm.
Nick laughed and
then hissed as his face twisted. "You are not sorry.
You are mad at me for lying to you and not being loyal to
you." Nick watched Kevin abruptly begin to pace the room.
"You're beside yourself that I sent them to stop you
from hurting Raina. You know as well as I do that you have
feelings for her that are different
Kevin leaned down
into the bunk with his hands on his hips. "Don't forget
your place you young pup."
Nick shifted on
his stomach. He didn't say anything when Kevin had brought
him something to eat on a tray and then stayed. They talked
about what they would do when they reached home. Kevin was
going to restore his name and properties as well as his family's
good name. The only time that Kevin had left Nick alone was
long enough for Kevin to check with the crew and secure the
deck and the holds. No prisoners had been taken and they had
slipped away under the darkness of the night, with clouds
covering the moon offering additional protection. Nick gave
him a half smile, "I know my place, and you know I'm
correct, she's just a girl. A young one at that," Kevin
began pacing again, his fingers absently touching his arm
where she had slashed him.
Nick slowly began
to sit up. "You wanted her and now you can't have her."
"I can if
I want to," Kevin leaned on the doorframe, automatically
picking at the cotton.
finally put his feet on the floor, "No you can not. It's
not your way. Jocelyn, yes. Celestine, yes. Ray is like Isabella,
declare it Kevin." Nick was taking a big risk. It was
only a few hours earlier that the man had him hanging in chains
and was trying to have the skin removed from his back.
A steely gaze landed
on Nick, "No she isn't."
"Yes she is,"
Nick chirped and nodded his headed. Nick had been told the
gossip of all the clothing made to fit Ray. Kevin must have
had known for awhile about Ray, or none of the clothes would
have been able to be made for her.
too much of yourself Nickolas and you are testing my bond
with you." Kevin brought his full height up; he huffed
out his chest at Nick.
you want but you would have taken Ray tonight if we hadn't
stopped you. They told me what happened. Alex said you looked
like you had seen a ghost." Nick moved his shoulders
slightly just to see if he could. He waited, knowing that
Kevin would respond.
see a ghost," Kevin crossed his arms again and relaxed
as he took a seat on the stool. He would never mention to
anyone that he had heard Isabella, they would call him insane
or worse, think that he had the fever. He hadn't seen a ghost,
he had heard one.
Nick's tongue balled
up in his cheek. "Raina has had a difficult time of it
Kevin. Not everything we told you was a lie. She was abandoned
by her Mother and she has no Father. Jocelyn protected her
and so did Edmund. You saw her cower in the kitchen. She was
stealing to return home, she was fending for herself."
Nick paused to see if his best friend was listening to his
words. "Ray fancies herself a business woman. She wants
to open a pub of sorts or a dining hall. I guess I'll help
her do that since, she has no family to watch over her. So
" There, he had said it. Nick would leave
Kevin to be with Ray. At least he would if Kevin didn't do
what Nick surmised he would do, Kevin was not willing to let
go of Ray.
she's a young female. Nobody would have dealings with her.
You're young yourself, seriously. Both of you would get hurt,"
Kevin chortled at the unbelievable little dream the two had
Kevin balked just
as Nick had thought he would. Nick would lay claim to Ray
if his feelings for her were different. Unlike Kevin, Nick
did not regard Ray as a sexual creature. Nick regarded Ray
as a sister, a sister that needed protecting.
haven't finished discussing what you two have managed to do
to me and the crew." Kevin changed the subject. The thought
of Nick leaving him angered him. The thought of Ray with Nick
just made his feelings far worse.
enough punishment out of me for both of us. You frightened
her so terribly she took a slice out of your arm. You had
me beaten. You'll not get the consent that you need."
Nick stretched out on his side. He watched Kevin's mind work
frantically for a solution. Soon Kevin would excuse himself
to think. "I know you were angry that she came to my
aid but you couldn't beat her for it, simply because you knew
Ray was a woman. The fact that she was in a woman in a battle
is what inflamed your anger. You took it out on me."
Kevin shifted twice,
uncomfortable on the stool and then stood to leave. "Get
some sleep. We'll discuss the rest in the morning."
Nick hid the smirk
as Kevin showed himself out. Twiddling with Kevin's mind and
instinct could be dangerous at times. He smiled to himself
and thought of Ray. He really should go see her. Kevin's booted
feet had thudded up the steps to the deck and not to his cabin.
Nick slid from the bed and walked slowly down the hall, wincing
on the way. "Damn," he cursed, his back still hurt.
another step Nick," A.J. stood at his own door.
to check on Ray," Nick placed his hand on the door, only
to find himself toe to toe with A.J. Alexander was much shorter,
they weren't equally matched, but for his lack of height,
Alex made it up for it by the way he carried himself.
A.J. removed Nick's
hand from the door. "No you aren't. They need to work
this out between themselves."
Nick stared at
A.J. "Alex?" Nick questioned Alex thinking.
"I heard your
entire conversation with Kevin. I spoke to Ray and explained
some things to her. Now she needs to think about them without
you confusing her." A.J. had maneuvered his body in front
of the door as the two of them stood in the hallway.
Nick again tried
the door and then thought that Alex might be right. It was
best to leave Ray be. The door opened from the other side
and Ray stood in a nightshift and a robe. Her fingers clenched
the robe tightly to her body. Nick swallowed, she looked beautiful
as a woman, but still he blushed, it was Raina, and turned
his head away.
"How are you
Nickolas?" Ray waited for an answer or for Alex to close
the door and lock it this time. She had heard the two conversing
from inside the cabin.
I'll be fine," Nick dropped his head, he found it difficult
to look at her face. Her face was flushed and her eyes puffy
from crying. "Are you
. Are you okay?" Hesitantly
he waited for her voice to come back to him.
" Ray focused on the tall blonde and felt
a familiar easiness slip into her body. "All those men
have followed orders Ray," Nickolas shook his head. "You
had no place there. You have seen things that no woman should."
me to do those things Nick. I didn't want to see you hurt."
She needed to continue her confession, it was only right that
Nick would and should know. "I know that you didn't want
to see Kevin hurt." Ray dropped her head before A.J.
or Nickolas could see her face. "I didn't want him to
Alex's grin broke
free and wide, evidentially the discussion that he had with
her earlier had done some good. How much good, was yet to
be seen. Ray needed some clarification and he obliged her.
In his head, he was recalling her distress and shock at the
news, that even though in her head she detested the Captain,
her body and her heart was trying to tell her otherwise.
Nick focused on her.
"Do you think
Alex is correct?" Ray stepped back into the room, hoping
Nick would follow. Now that she had seen that he had faired
well with his punishment, she needed to talk to him.
Nick stepped into
the room, turning back, he waited to see if A.J. would follow
or toss him out the door. When he did neither but began to
shut the door, he understood that A.J. knew Ray needed Nick
at this very moment.
hurt, I'll guard the door." A.J. silently shut the door.
"I don't understand
Nickolas," Ray sniffled as she threw herself into the
arms of the stocky male.
Wrapping his arms
around her, he thought for a moment before he spoke. He had
to choose his words carefully. Ray's future dangled precariously
at the end of a short thread. "Ray, I won't let Kevin
dishonor you. I think Alex, for once in his life, is right.
You do desire Kevin as much as he does you."
Ray clung to Nick.
Nick would tell her the truth. A.J. had told her that she
was attracted to Kevin but she couldn't fathom how she could
be attracted to such a beast. "He's not right. I hate
that man. He is a commanding, selfish bore, who does nothing
but shout at me, and order me around.
"Ray, every time Kevin has lost his temper was because
of you. He's known for awhile now that you are woman."
Ray gasped as her
head turned up to Nick.
Letting her go,
Nick stepped back. "He hasn't told me as much but he
had to know. Today was because he was angry with both us.
You didn't follow orders and stay on the ship. You put yourself
in danger. Women don't belong in battle."
." Ray stammered to find the right words.
you," Nick had let the words come out casually.
Ray stood with her hands on her hips.
Nick laughed, there
was the look that Kevin loved but hated to see so much. Ray
defiant as hell, the chit with the saucy mouth now stood across
funny," Ray paced the room.
Nick said nothing
about the revealing gown she was wearing. How nothing was
hidden well and just the faint glimmer of skin could be seen
under the fabric. "Look at your night clothes. Do you
think those were bought for a person that he wanted to just
lay with, someone he wanted to punish?"
Ray touched the
delicate fabric with her fingertips. Nothing so fine had ever
graced her body. She felt like a woman, an attractive woman
for the first time in her life.
Nick watched the
reaction and suspected that Alex had told her something along
similar lines when they conversed. "Ray, Kevin wants
you with his body. He wants you with his head and heart as
Ray stared out
the porthole window. "I'm so confused about all of this.
You have told me the same things that Alex told me. I believe
that Brian and Howie feel the same way?" Ray turned over
her shoulder in time to see Nickolas nod in agreement. "I
do not know what to do. I have had these feelings inside me
when I look at him. My stomach tightens into a ball and I
Nick closed his
eyes; he really didn't want to hear of these things but knew
that Ray only trusted him to tell these things.
that it is desire that I feel. Desire for Kevin to touch me
and kiss me. Would he not tell me the truth?"
Nick hissed. His
back hurt as he leaned against the wall of the cabin. "No,
he wouldn't lie." He could see she was waiting for him
to agree with what A.J. had told her but felt it better to
move on. "He'll not hurt you Ray. He knows now that you
Ray sat on the edge of Kevin's bed.
Nick laughed openly;
Alex might have missed some finer point in their conversation.
"It's not rutting," Nick snorted. He walked to the
bed and sat. "It's a beautiful thing if you are with
a person that you care about."
"I don't care
you do care or you never would feel the feelings that you
lust," Ray spat back at him; maybe, she questioned herself.
"Tell me about your first time," Ray needed to hear
words that would not frighten her. Alex had scared her with
his descriptions and what would happen between them.
Propping his elbow
on his knee, he fidgeted as he thought about what he should
do. Closing his eyes, he thought back and began to speak.
A.J. leaned back
on the door and listened to the conversation. He probably
shouldn't have but he wanted to see if Nick had deep feelings
for Ray. Becoming immersed in Nick's story, he listened. His
own thoughts drifted to J.C. and how he missed her but they
had made a deal and he promised to stick with it. She would
be by his side soon; she had one last conquest that she thirsted
for. The woman was hungry and after hearing her plan, it delighted
him as well.
Nick opened the
door, only to have Alex fall in the room. "What were
orders. Nobody is allowed to touch her," A.J. grinned
as he pulled himself from the floor. He was proud of Nick,
but not because of any of his doing. It was the guidance and
creed that Nick had been raised with, raised by Kevin. Ray
seemed more relaxed in Nick's company and not so fearful.
down the stairs to find his cabin door open. Ray barely dressed
in nightclothes standing at the door and his two officers
standing in the hall. "Can I help you gentlemen?"
Kevin stepped pass them and entered his cabin. His body now
filled the entrance, blocking their vision of Ray who stood
inside. His hackles were raised, how dare they stand in an
open hallway looking at Ray in such a manner.
The last thing
he wanted to do was rile Kevin up now. The scene that Kevin
walked in on would be inappropriate by any society standards.
He watched the Captain's face contort with rage and his muscles
tighten. Kevin wanted to fight. Fight for Ray. "I'm going,"
Nick muffled his voice. It was time that Raina decided what
A hand touched
Kevin's back. Small fingers pressed into his spine. "Leave
them be, we need to speak."
Kevin felt like
he had been punched, all the wind knocked out of his lungs.
Her very words almost dropped him to his knees. What had happened,
he did not know, as he stared at Nick's back as he entered
his cabin and Alex heading up the stairs after muttering that
he had the deck until sunrise. Easing the door shut, he turned,
sudden discomfort began to grow in him, both passion and fear
as he looked at the woman before him. Kevin no longer viewed
her as a defiant, stubborn waif all of the time. The clothing
hid nothing from his feral gaze, as he soaked up each and
every curve of her body.
Going up on her
toes, she placed her hands on his biceps and held fast to
them, pulling on them as he crossed his arms. She placed a
tentative kiss on his lips. She felt strong arms wrap around
her, and pick her up. A groan emanated from the man holding
her. Raina's body held taught against his as he covered the
short space to his bed. Her body slowly lowered to the bed
as he continued the kiss. Her skin tingled and warmth flowed
freely in her body. "They are right, I think," she
whispered in his ear.