A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 34

Kevin 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 right."

"You're not 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.

Grumbling, Nick 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.

"You think 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.

"Believe what 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.

"I didn't 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 very young…" 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.

"That's ridiculous, 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 concocted together.

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.

"We still 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.

"You extracted 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.

"Don't take another step Nick," A.J. stood at his own door.

"I'm going 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'm fine, 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.

"Today was horrible… " Ray focused on the tall blonde and felt a familiar easiness slip into her body. "All those men…"

"You should have followed orders Ray," Nickolas shook his head. "You had no place there. You have seen things that no woman should."

"He trained 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 be hurt."

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.

"I see," 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.

"It can't 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.

Nick chuckled, "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."

"But he… he…." Ray stammered to find the right words.

"He loves you," Nick had let the words come out casually.

"He can't," 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 from him.

"'Tis not 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 well."

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 feel warm."

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.

"Alex said 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 have never… never…

"Never rutted?" 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 about…"

"Stop Ray, you do care or you never would feel the feelings that you are feeling."

"'Tis just 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 you doing?"

"Following 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.

Kevin lumbered 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 she wanted.

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.

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