A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 36

Ray sashayed in her skirts up the stairs to the deck. She wanted Kevin to see her in the finery that he had bought for her. She had awoke alone but comfortable over what had happened. They had all been correct. Not only did she desire Kevin and he her, she loved him. All the trappings of lady made her feel above her station in life. Coming around the corner, she heard Nickolas and Kevin arguing above her on the quarterdeck.

"You cannot do this." Nick's voice raised slightly with each word spoken.

"I can and I will!" Boomed from Kevin, not caring who heard him. Ray was still sleeping when he slipped from his bed this morning. Informing Nickolas of his plans was the first thing that he would do. He would speak to Alex as well.

Ray ducked under the roof edge to listen to the conversation.

"I will not let you do this to her." Nick slammed his hand on the side of the wheel.

Kevin knew the decision would not settle well with Nick. Nick always seemed to see life as though it was pretty prose. Everything perfect and tied up in a bow. Part of it was Kevin's own fault for always protecting him as much as he had. "Nickolas, you have no say so in the matter. Ray is going to be with me forever, one way, or another."

"You do not force people to marry you. You ask them and if they accept, then you get married."

"There will be no asking. She will or she will serve as a servant in my home. She will be in no other's bed but mine."

"You would reduce her to that of a household whore if she denies you?" Nick bellowed at Kevin and stormed away.

Ray squeezed her back to the boards as Nick stormed down to the other end of ship. She was seething at the diabolic plan that Kevin had already begun to hatch. They had spent one night together and she was happy. It was everything that Nick said it would be and more. Looking down at the fine dress she wore, she spit on it. "You will never change Captain Richardson." Ray flew down the stairs almost toppling Alex on her way. He tried to grab her and but received a slap in the face in return.

Stepping on the deck, the first thing Alex saw was Nick slamming around the other end of the ship. The boy took to knocking things over, yelling at people, and kicking things. Alex yawned watching Nick's fit. "Rough night boy," Alex grumbled.

The hair on his neck stood up, something was in the air. Something more than Ray's anger and Nick's furry stirred on the breeze. Stepping slowly to the Quarterdeck, he faced an irritated and mutinous glare from Kevin. Tossing his hands up, he tilted his head. "Is everyone having a bad day?"

"Nickolas doesn't understand the way things are done." Kevin grumbled as he stood at the helm. He felt his mood darken. He had been content this morning until he spoke to Nick about Raina's future.

"What is up with the boy?" Alex watched Nickolas actually debate whether he should kick a cannonball or not with his booted foot.

"He's angry. I told him that Ray is going to marry me or be a servant in my home. Either way she is to stay under my protection and under me. He is not pleased with my plans." Kevin's eyes narrowed as soon as Alexander began to cackle like a raving lunatic. He spun the wheel quickly; the ship turned wildly in a half-circle. As angry as he was, Kevin looked ahead to make sure Nickolas hadn't fallen overboard. He would have to be the one to retrieve the smart-ass whelp.

Nickolas picked up a knife and whipped it towards the Quarterdeck. The object landed in the mast behind Kevin making a thonging noise as the handle vibrated from the force from which it was thrown.

"I should finish what I started with that little…" Kevin began to leave the Quarterdeck.

"Nay, no," Alexander grabbed onto Kevin. "You'll not be beating the boy again unless I give you permission. You two will always slam heads, you are both a like."

"I'll have you know…" Kevin stopped as a small figure ran across the deck to Nick. The young one dressed in new breeches that fit and a fine linen shirt. The boots made of fine oiled leather shod her feet, leather he had paid for. "I told her to dress properly."

Kevin yanked at the arm that was determined to not him let bring the two unruly ones into line. A cannonball splashed over the bowsprit almost hitting the jib sails. Kevin roared, he was spoiling for a fight and now he had a legitimate one as a sloop bore down on them from behind. Kevin cursed as they received another round of fire. Men scurried about his ship, not prepared for a mid-day attack. Kevin sought out Ray who was now climbing the rigging. He said nothing. It was probably the safest place for her now. Thank God she wasn't wearing any fancy skirts as he watched her scoot up the lines and go to the highest peak. "Nickolas!" Kevin screamed as the firing became more intense.

Nick ran to the Quarterdeck to assist Kevin. The earlier argument forgotten as Kevin entrusted the helm to Nick. Kevin jumped down and followed A.J. to the hull. They studied the other ship keenly. A lone cannonball landed only inches from them in the water. "I do not know who this is but they will pay."

Running back over the deck, Kevin barked orders at the crew. He turned to Nick. "Ray is up in the rigging. Get her down and take her to my cabin. You make sure she stays there."

A shrill laughter came from the mast where Kevin had last seen Ray. His heart thumped as he raised his eyes to the voice. His heart dropped as he saw her and she pointed to the vessel that was gaining on them. The girl must be crazy; she was laughing and gesturing towards the other ship. Kevin turned over his shoulder to see where Ray was pointing. Kevin blinked once, then twice. Before the words ever left his mouth Nickolas gasped and held his stomach laughing.

"ALEXANDER! ALEX!" Kevin bellowed once again. Glancing up to Ray, he made sure she held fast as he turned his vessel quickly. The last thing he wanted was for her to topple to the deck, or worse, into the sea.

Brian and Howie joined Kevin and Nick on the Quarterdeck just as the two vessels faced each other. A loud bang caused all of them to duck as the cannons continued to fire on them. "Where is that weasel?" Kevin stole a glance at the men snickering at him.

There was no mistake about who was firing on them. It was none other than Alexander's missing bride J.C. She identified herself well. Raina had recognized the offending object first. A pair of Alex's breeches flew in the wind, hoisted on a line instead of a true flag. Only A.J. and a few others knew the britches. Not many people were brave enough to wear purple velvet with a yellow shirt. Many a time J.C. had remarked that the outfit that he was so proud of gave her an ache in her head. It had become a running joke with the crew and Ray knew the story as well.

The cannon fire did not stop as he aimed his brig directly at the small schooner, nor did A.J. come when called. As Kevin rode the next wave to the ship, he watched J.C.'s men swarm his deck. "I will kill Alex myself." Kevin picked up a sword and ran down to the center of the deck.

Ray watched from her perch high above and tried not to smile. J.C.'s men would not harm them but they would divest Kevin of his cargo. The daring red-headed woman landed on Kevin's ship with the entrance of a true pirate. Swinging over and dropping lightly. Her men circled Kevin with rapiers pointed at his neck and chest. At least four men were on him now.

Nick panicked and charged towards the circle only to find himself now included on the wrong end of a cutlass. Kevin glared at Nick and Nick dropped his head.

"Oh Nick, so young and willing to save the man." J.C. smiled at Kevin. She stood with her hand casually resting on her scabbard of her weapon. Nick would never have the nerve to do her harm, however, Captain Richardson most certainly would.

Kevin only deepened the intensity of his glare at Nick. Nickolas should have stayed back, now he would have to protect him as well. Nick knew better too.

"What do you carry Kevin that your bow line rides so low in the water?" J.C. circled the two men her party had captured. Not one of Kevin's men would dare take a stance with four men trained on the two hapless victims.

"I've missed you J.C.," Kevin smiled and folded his arms. "You seemed to have slipped away from me while I was busy elsewhere."

J.C. tossed her head back and laughed loudly. Bringing her head forward she shook her fiery mane and sent Kevin a seductive look. "Men think with the wrong head sometimes." She chuckled. "Again what are you carrying?" She pulled her own rapier and pressed the tip over his heart.

He watched the foil bend as it pressed against his flesh. Kevin's impulse to knock the object away was halted as he felt the sting of a cut at his throat.

"Answer her," a man not familiar to Kevin pushed the sharp metal even deeper causing the prick to his skin to bleed.

"You'll let him go and do it now or she will feel a dirk buried in her back."

The words were loud and clear with a tone that indicated that the compulsion to do so would not be a problem. If Kevin could reach across to her with out injury, he would slap her for coming down out of the rigging. Raina now stood behind J.C. poised for a fight. Kevin's eyes scrutinized J.C.'s crew, they seemed wary of the new man who seemed to take perverse pleasure in causing Kevin pain. The foil pressed deeper just above his collarbone.

"You'll not do harm to anyone lass." The man growled and pushed the metal even more into Kevin's throat.

J.C. gasped as she felt Raina's dirk cut through her jacket and shirt. She hissed as her skin separated from the tip of the blade digging in. Ray had indeed cut her and she was close to burying the dagger into her back.

Nick couldn't understand anything and where the hell was Alex.

"Aye, I will," Raina brought her tiny frame up even closer to J.C. Something was wrong, very wrong. J.C. and Kevin had spared with each other. But, they would never hurt each other, a few slaps exchanged perhaps, but nothing more. J.C. respected Kevin but the new man across from her obviously didn't. She had not seen him before this day, he was a new crew member.

"She will do it," J.C. eyed the member of her crew who didn't follow her orders. If only she could communicate to them what was really happening. "The tall dark one is her lover, the other her brother."
Kevin knew the voice and accent well, though it had been many years since he had run into the man. This was a man who had earned the reputation of a pirate. A ruthless cutthroat who raped, maimed, and killed or had others do it at his command. This was not right, J.C. would never fall in with the likes of a killer and a man who harmed women, not intentionally anyway. Kevin surveyed J.C., she was calm, but her eyes were frantic. The man before him had taken Kevin's wealth, his honor, and almost his wife. However, Isabella's death rested solely, on his head. If he had not left her to search out this man to kill him all those years ago, Isabella would not have died of consumption. Kevin hissed at the man the only man he hated, the man who had taken everything from him. "Dante."

"Ah, you remember well. How is the sweet Isabella?" the man inquired with a sneer. "Such a shame, tsk tsk." Dante admonished Kevin knowing he would get a reaction.

Kevin jumped for him as Dante jumped for Ray by shoving J.C. violently out of the way.
He wanted to take something from Captain Richardson, just as the Captain had taken something from him so many years ago. "'Tis a shame about our lovely Isabella, no?"

Dante pulled the cap from Ray's head and black hair tumbled down. His lips spread into a slow smile. Lowering them to Raina's neck, he kissed and sucked, but never took his eyes off the man he wanted to suffer. He needed a reaction from the man, a sign from him that he had trespassed. Dante glared at Kevin but questioned Ray as he fingered the long black tresses absently. "What do you see in this man, la petite Raven?"

While Dante waited for answer that would not come from the little one in his grasp. He stroked her body boldly in front of the green-eyed man, causing the rage to start. The woman Dante held in his arms was proud and strong; she did not snivel or beg, no, she had courage. Her spine straight and her refusal to answer him showed him that.

Dante smiled as he fondled the little one who was so brave. He brushed himself against her backside openly, taunting Kevin to move. His knife poised at her throat. His hand dipped down past her hips and he smiled when death growl came from the Captain. "It should be fun to take her, no? Have you had her yet?" Dante studied the intense green eyes that told him the answer. The love was evident. The woman that he had seized was a prized possession to Captain Richardson. "Ah, your eyes say yes you have had her and it was good. I will enjoy myself much… And then… I'll share her with the others."

Ray struggled against the man's hand. Dante groped Ray's chest as she grappled with him. He pinched her hard causing her bite back the squeal of pain as he twisted her nipple between his fingers along with her shirt. She tried to throw herself free. He tightened an arm around her waist and backed away from them toward the sloop, the knife pointed at her jugular. "I have come for all I want Mademoiselle J.C. I can't thank you enough for leading me back to the very man I have plotted against for years."

A shot split the silence that hung in the air. Dante dropped to the deck with nothing more than a shocked expression on his face as he grabbed his chest. The blood poured from him and Raina ran screaming into Kevin's protective arms. Alex kicked at the dead body. "It's Madame. She's married to me."

Kevin led a crying and hysterical Raina away, after checking on Nickolas with just a look exchanged between the two. Nick was helping Alex consol a wailing J.C. who was sputtering apologies that she had been taken again. Thanking God that A.J. had remembered that the pants being flown was a cry for help, that she was in need of his assistance, and that there was danger.

"Come my love." Kevin led Raina away from them and down into his cabin. She kept turning back and looking at the dead man as they made their way.

"Too much…" Kevin cooed to her as he stroked her hair. Hearing the commotion in the hall, he half listened as Raina continued to sob and hiccup in his embrace. Gently he laid her down on the bed and pulled her to him. "Never again sweetheart, never again," he murmured into the head that now was nestled on his chest. The crying had ceased and his shirt soaked with her tears after more than an hour. Kevin could hear everything going on in the rooms on the other side of his door as time went by. The ranting and raving of Alex at J.C. saying she needed a good whipping for such a thing. The cries of J.C. reached his ears as she apologized to Alex and professed to him the error of her ways and her undying love for him. A smile played at his lips, those two deserved each other.

Nickolas was the one to enter his cabin first. Kevin did not even try to turn him away. Nickolas always came to him after a battle to speak. He would air his feelings and his heart to Kevin. Kevin said nothing as the small form lay next to him, finally sleeping.

Pulling himself gently from her, he stretched his arms. Many things crossed his mind. However, none were more important than the two people presently in his room. Nick turned to him with a bleary-eyed face. Kevin opened his arms and waited. The two men clasped each other and shed some of their own tears. "We are going to be just fine." Kevin patted Nick on the back. "We are a family, the three of us. This will happen no more. When we go home, we stay home."

J.C.'s begging pierced the evening air as they both turned. She was propelled into Kevin's cabin only to have him grab onto her and drag her out. He paid no heed to the fact that she had slammed into a few walls on their way to the galley. Kevin wanted as much distance between Raina and J.C. as he could get.

The man wanted to make her wail in pain as he watched. Twisting her arm in his grip, he wanted to snap her wrist like his heart had almost been snapped. Yanking her within a foot of his own body, he yelled directly in her face. "You will not trot the high seas any longer. You will settle down and be a good wife to Alex!"

"Yes I will," J.C. stammered. She seriously thought that Kevin would hurt her this time. She had been stupid and gullible with Dante. The twisting of her wrist began again. "I said yes," she whimpered as she tried to get him to let go.

"You are going to do one more thing in the morning." Kevin gave her wrist a sharp twist.

"Yes." J.C went up on her toes. "Anything you want."

Grabbing the fiery red head by trademark the mane, he twisted her around so she could see Alex. Brian, Sir Howard, and Nickolas stood there as well.

J.C. saw the looks on their faces and not one of them would step up to help her, not even her own husband Alex. Her head was jerked and pulled back by Kevin as his hand wrapped in her hair tightly. Kevin twisted her slightly so she could look into his eyes. When they made contact with his, she gasped at the sight.

Leaning down he whispered on her cheek. "Tomorrow you will marry Raina and I as Captain of your ship. Your ass will then be locked up until we reach homeport. Howard will take command of your ship and it's his for the keeping… You'll be Alexander's wife and nothing more!"

"But… Owww," she stopped as he pulled her hair even more.

"Don't question me or you'll be one very sorry J.C. I have had my hands more than full with the insolent chit that I plan to marry tomorrow. She could do well with a good paddling to her backside to put her in her place. I would be more than happy at this moment for you to take her place."

A.J.'s eyes grew wide and so did his grin as he saw nothing but pure terror in his wife's eyes. He finally had advantage on her. This woman who sailed the high seas, who fought and shot a pistol like man was scared to death of Kevin and the threat of a mere spanking to her backside. "I think you should do it anyway. Leave a few marks on her arse so she doesn't forget."

"I would be happy to oblige you Alex." Kevin laughed as J.C. broke free from his grasp when he grabbed for one of the galley chairs. J.C tore down the hallway to Alex's cabin screaming to him to not let Kevin touch her.

Kevin finally sat down at the table and sighed. Nickolas disappeared and then returned with a cask of rum taken from the Spaniards. All of them were well on their way to a good drunk by mealtime in the evening.

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