Pirate’s Intent – Sky Purington

WAKE UP, HANNAH.” ROSE shook her sister. “Something is not right.” “I agree,” Hannah mumbled, pulling the blanket over her head. “You trying to wake me when I spent half the night helping you through seasickness. Go back to bed.” Truth be told, she had been helpful, holding back Rose’s hair during the worst of it. Typically, she did not suffer like that, but the storm had tossed the ship about something fierce. Rose peered out the porthole, convinced something was wrong. “I see land, but the captain said we would not see such for several more days.” “Just a mirage, darling,” Hannah assured. “Now get some rest.” “It is not a mirage.” She frowned at her sister, wondering how she could be so calm considering the dangerous waters on which they traveled. “There is most certainly land on our starboard side.

” “Perhaps the storm sped us up, and we arrived at our destination sooner than expected,” Hannah said on a yawn. She peeked her head out and squinted against the light. “If we were off course, the captain would tell us.” “Would he, though?” There was never a more chauvinistic man. “I cannot imagine him confessing to mere women that the storm might have thrown us off course.” She shook her head. “He is far too arrogant.” “And you are far too chatty,” Hannah muttered, “considering how quiet you have been since we disembarked Yorktown.” As a rule, she was always quiet, preferring observation to communication. Hannah, on the other hand, tended to have an opinion about everything.

Viewpoints she rarely hesitated to share no matter the company. “I see another ship.” Rose narrowed in on the horizon. “Three!” “They are likely just—” “Pirates!” She stumbled back from the porthole, wide-eyed. Her heart slammed into her throat. “Surely not.” Anyone in their right mind would have leapt from their bunk in panic, but Hannah calmly sat up and smoothed her blanket back. “The captain assured us we would not come across such miscreants.” “But we have.” Rose trembled in fear and wrung her hands.

“Those are pirate ships flying pirate flags.” “Even if they are,” Hannah said, “we have British soldiers aboard.” She perked a brow at Rose. “Highly trained soldiers at that.” Her sister was trying to calm her, but it did no good. From the moment she learned they were traveling south, she had a feeling something would go horribly wrong. Almost a sixth sense. Or one too many books about pirates. Hannah was about to speak when yelling ensued on deck. Finally taking Rose seriously, Hannah peered out the porthole, then pulled back abruptly and nodded once.

“It seems you are right, Sister.” Though she audibly swallowed, she remained calm. “Get dressed now.” “But—” “Now, Rose,” she said sharply. Accustomed to taking her older sister’s lead, but rather mindless with fear, she could hardly focus on where to begin. Should she bother with stays? Or just get into her dress as fast as possible? “Do not even think it,” Hannah said sternly, helping her with said stays when Rose reached for her dress. “A lady always dresses appropriately.” “B-but those are pirates!” “All the more reason to cut a fine figure.” She issued Rose a pointed look. “Just imagine if things were less confined.

” She looked skyward, appalled. “It would be downright indecent.” “I doubt pirates care much about decency.” Rose shook her head, her imagination running away with her. “We are doomed, dear sister.” She rounded her eyes at Hannah. “Do you know what they do to women of our ilk?” “I care not to think about it.” Yet Hannah’s cheeks flushed as she finished lacing up Rose. “Continue dressing, then lace me up.” “I should help you now—” “Just do as I ask.

” So she did, and then helped Hannah. In the meantime, sounds of battling grew louder. Far closer. On this ship, if she were not mistaken. Boots pounded above them. Men roared, metal clashed, and guns fired. “It will be all right, dearest.” Hannah squeezed Rose’s trembling hands and met her eyes, using the sisterly voice that typically calmed her. “We have little time, so you must listen to me.” She nodded, trying not to envision the worst.

Yet the screams of pain aboveboard did not help. “You must not let your imagination run away with you unless you intend to put it to good use.” Hannah searched her eyes, practical to a fault. “You must conquer your fear and do what you do best. Observe your surroundings at all times. Pay attention to everything so that you might find your way out of wherever you end up.” Her brows arched. “Become a character in one of those books you so love if need be.” “Why would I do that?” “Because you will need courage.” Hannah remained blunt.

“And that is not always easy to come by.” “But you just said we have plenty of soldiers.” “We do not,” her sister barely got out before the cabin door crashed open, and her worst nightmare leered at them from the threshold. Unable to breathe, let alone scream, she suddenly knew what she needed to become. A persona she prayed might save her from Hell. ChapterOne “IT IS GOOD TO BE ON dry land again, Brother.” Thomas clapped Luke on his shoulder and eyed the brothel, playing the role they had discussed earlier. A role that made sense. “I am too long without a woman.” They had just arrived on the sandy shores of Nassau with a very specific mission.

One that would change everything from this day forward. Luke nodded in agreement and yanked a wench against him in passing. He kissed her hard, murmured something in her ear then set her aside. “She and her sister will see us taken care of when we are ready.” “Sister?” Thomas snorted, praying his brother remained vague. He skirted far too close to why they were here. “How convenient.” Luke winked. “It’s good to live the fantasy on occasion.” Though he said it nonchalantly, Thomas knew Luke enjoyed that fantasy above all.

Not the taking of both sisters, but the one. “I wonder how they fare,” he had murmured earlier, remembering the sisters from their youth. The very ones they were here to rescue now. “Married off,” Luke had reminded, treading carefully around the sore subject. Because in truth, neither were married anymore. “Hard to imagine mine making anyone a good bride, though. She would require too much taming…and patience.” With their fetching beauty, the McCullen sisters had turned many a head. One was haughty, the other withdrawn and sweet. Naturally, the haughty one appealed to Luke’s inherent need to conquer every woman he met.

Mainly because he had never managed to conquer her. The scent of brine and sea salt turned to the pungent smell of sweat, sex, and heady perfumes as they entered town. Grunts of pleasure mixed with boisterous drinking. Wenches with painted faces and ample cleavage leaned against buildings reeling in their next customer where others were already servicing blokes. “They are here,” Thomas’s quartermaster, Charles said softly, falling in alongside them. He spoke louder for the benefit of their fellow pirates. Best that no one be suspicious. “There be biddin’ happenin’ soon in the center square.” He flashed crooked teeth in a lecherous smile. “Blackbeard got himself a good take just out past the breakers.

” Formerly known as Edward Teach, Blackbeard was not only infamous for his fearsome exploits but magistrate in these parts. That meant he was in command of Nassau’s republic, enforcing law and order as he saw fit. “He’s selling off some loot then?” Thomas acted surprised. In this neck of the Caribbean, they lived by the pirate code. They ran their ships democratically, sharing plunder equally. So why was Blackbeard selling something? “Not loot but a single woman.” Charles rubbed his hands together in anticipation. “A real looker, I hear.” Thomas tensed. Which woman? Who was being put on display in front of this lot? Worse yet, was she still dressed? “Why is he selling her?” Luke frowned.

“Usually, wenches end up in the brothel.” “Seems one of ‘em did.” Charles tapped his temple. “The other ain’t so bright. Deaf, dumb, and mute they say.” He shrugged. “So he’s seein’ what he can get for her.” He shook his head. “They didn’t even have a chaperone, so the crew might’ve already had a run at ‘em.” “Bloody hell, let’s hope not.

” Thomas refused to entertain the idea. He would never be able to forgive himself. “Better to have ‘em fresh.” That damn uncle of theirs, leaving them unchaperoned. Yet it was not surprising in the least. Without a shred of decency, the man was a louse. That said, however, it was safe to say if the crew had wanted the women, a chaperone would not have stopped them. Which was neither here nor there considering there were crew members aboard protecting them until they were safely delivered into Blackbeard’s hands. After all, this was by no means as simple as their ship going off course. They continued through the crowd and kept to rowdy talk of bidding.

The pleasure of claiming such a prize. Which was a flat out lie, of course. The life of piracy suited them well enough, but they steered clear of slave trading. It was a dirty business, and there were plenty more opportunities elsewhere. Or at least there had been after Queen Anne’s War first ended and piracy thrived. Over the past few months, though, things had started changing. The Royal Navy was bearing down, and their way of life was coming to an end. Something, quite frankly, they were ready for. “We’re goin’ to see ‘er, aye?” Charles said when they stopped off for a tankard of rum at the tavern. “Worth the sight alone.

Bound to fetch a good price.” “Like a ray o’ sunshine she is,” a random pirate slurred. “Think she’s as sunny between those soft thighs of hers?” another grunted. Thomas clenched his mug and took a hearty swig before he said something he regretted. “What say ye, Brother?” Luke gestured at a woman’s trunk being carried by the door. “Should we go enjoy the show? See what sort of fine lady owns that?” He nodded, spying the familiar crest on the trunk. One that verified the rumors were true. The McCullen sisters had been captured. “I would not miss it.” He downed his rum then got another.

“Let us go see Blackbeard’s latest treasure.” They made their way through a thickening crowd of rambunctious pirates stirred up by what was coming. Better yet, who was coming. “We hang back,” he murmured out of the corner of his mouth to Luke and Charles. “Lest she spy us.” As it were, he and his brother were taller than most and tended to stand out in a crowd. More so, tended to draw a woman’s eye. So they stopped at the fringes and leaned against the overhang of a building that shielded them from the dais. Moments later, a woman was dragged onto it and held on display. “Rose,” he nearly whispered, stunned by the sight of her.

If possible, she was even more beautiful now than she was at sixteen. She wore a pale blue linen dress, and light petticoat, her petite figure as trim as it ever was. With long hair the color of spun gold, and big violet soulful eyes, she was exceptional. As he often did, he recalled their many walks together. Their interesting discussions. She had a sharp mind. A contemplative soul. He had valued their conversations and understood that unlike her sister, she needed time alone to read. Her books were an important part of her life. Who she was.

Some called her mousy, but he’d always loved her genteel, reserved nature. But then she’d often honored him with the lively, interesting mind she more often than not kept to herself. Now there she was, at the mercy of monsters who only meant her harm. They would crush her spirit in little time. Ruin the beauty of her lovely soul. He clenched his fists and nearly started her way, but thankfully, his brother put a staying hand on his arm to remind him why they were there. “She’s a beauty all right,” Charles exclaimed, hollering his approval along with everyone else. “Yes, she is,” Thomas murmured, trying to figure out how to handle this. He had hoped to simply purchase her, but the bidding was already higher than what he had on hand. “Where’s the other one?” Though he was supposed to be playing a role, Luke scanned the windows of the brothel with far too much relish.

“Has Blackbeard let anyone at ‘er yet?” “Not yet, don’t think.” Charles licked his lips. “Rumor has it she’s tied up and waitin’ for her first customer.” Luke’s brow crept up, his grin far too devious. “Is that right?” Thomas shot his brother a warning look reminding him that they had a mission. He better not get distracted when the time came. He had to get her out of there. If he faltered, it would cost them both their lives. They had talked at length about this with the crew members they could trust. Everyone knew what was on the line, and all understood the various things that could go wrong.

Luke getting hung up on finally having Hannah at his disposal on a bed could put a serious kink in their plan in more ways than one. The brothers had spent six formative years in Yorktown, Virginia during which they came to know the sisters quite well. While Thomas had enjoyed one sort of relationship with Rose, Luke and Hannah had gone down another road altogether. From what he could tell, their connection was more often a battle of wills than anything else. Somewhat of a love, hate relationship really. Which made him wonder, should Luke be the one to save Hannah? Or would she be safer in Thomas’s hands? While logic told him one thing, his heart told him another when he looked at Rose. He would not trust her safety to anyone but himself. Men called out various prices, overbidding each other until one grumbled loudly, “’Tis a high price for a wench who cannot speak or even see straight.” “Who needs her to talk?” another called out. “Just her pretty little mouth around my cock is worth the price!” “And no need to see straight,” another whooped.

“I’ll steer her along just fine.” He thrust his hips and grabbed his crotch. “Right onto my main mast!” Many chuckled, others outright laughed, but all kept their eyes on Rose, their filthy gazes just imagining the possibilities. Meanwhile, Rose remained aloof, an almost daft expression on her face. What was she up to? For surely she was playing at something. She must be. “Sometimes I wish I could be one of the characters from my books,” he recalled her saying softly one quiet evening. They sat beneath an old oak behind her uncle’s tobacco plantation, watching the vibrant sunset. “If only for a bit of adventure…and escape.” Well aware of the sort of man her uncle was, he kept with what might make her smile.

“What sort of adventure?” He had wanted to hold her hand. To finally tell her how he felt about her. “And what sort of character would you be?” “Oh, something exciting!” Her eyes lit up. “A great warrior destined to save his kingdom.” Her gaze grew sly. “Or maybe a pirate set to plunder a ship!” “One so honorable,” he grinned, “and one quite the opposite.” “Well, of course.” She met his grin. “If I am to truly adventure, I must be willing to try everything.” She fluf ed her skirt, thinking it over.

“I could be anything, anyone.” She shrugged. “I could be more outgoing, like my sister.” “I quite prefer the way you are,” he’d murmured. Their gazes had lingered on each other for a telling moment before she cleared her throat and broke the moment by crossing her eyes. “I could even be daft!” “She’s acting,” he whispered, biting back a grin when he figured it out. “What’s that?” Charles said. Thomas shook his head and watched Rose with well-hidden amusement. She was acting like one of the characters from her books, and it was keeping her out of the brothel. It would not keep her untouched for long once she was sold, though.

“Anyone set to outbid Big Devil and his rats?” Blackbeard called out. He stroked his beard and considered the crowd. “Anyone?” Thomas’s gut clenched at the idea of Big Devil getting his meaty paws anywhere near her but knew the moment Blackbeard uttered the question, nobody would dare outbid the vicious pirate. With a bulging belly to match his flabby jowls, Big Devil was notorious for two things. Demented cruelty and excessive drinking. If he weren’t daunting enough, his crew known as the rats were named appropriately. More filthy than most, they were Big Devil’s eyes and ears, infesting darkened corners most would not go. Even worse, known for their ability to sniff out opportunity. Not good when he and Luke needed to get the sisters out of here discreetly. “Sold,” Blackbeard declared.

He gestured at his man to collect payment and then handed her over. “She’s all yours Big Devil.” “Of all the bloody luck,” Luke muttered, eyeing Big Devil and his rats. Thomas watched Rose until she was out of sight then gestured that they follow him back to the tavern. “Big Devil’s a lucky man,” Thomas said, talking in code, telling Charles and Luke they would proceed forward as planned. ‘Luck’ meant he still saw it as the best course of action. Luke grinned at Charles. “We will have to celebrate with him tonight!” That meant Charles would buy Big Devil plenty of rum and get him as drunk as possible. Anything to buy Thomas and Luke time. The key was not only to get the sisters out of here but to do so without anyone knowing who took them.

They would get the sisters, rendezvous at their holding where one of their ships would be waiting, and then go from there. Though more of an oversized shanty, their holding suited him and his brother when they were here. It also had the added benefit of being located on a more secluded part of the island. They were set to sail the following morning anyway, so their absence should go relatively unnoticed. “Ah, smells good.” A pirate inhaled the scent of a woman’s undergarments from one of the sisters’ trunks. “Somebody’s gettin’ their money’s worth with those two.” “There are bound to be plenty of baubles in there,” one of Big Devil’s rats grunted, peering inside with beady, cunning eyes. “Hey, ain’t ye part of their crew?” someone called out to the rat. “Seen ‘em safely into Blackbeard’s hands?” He half snorted, half chuckled.

“Such as that is.” Naturally, Big Devil would have had a man keeping an eye on things. No doubt with Blackbeard’s permission as the two seemed to get along well enough. Thomas and Luke glanced at each other before his brother downed some rum and nonchalantly began rummaging through the trunk as well. “Aye, I was part of the crew,” the rat confirmed, still eyeing the contents, not overly interested by most of what men were making off with. Yet he was quick to take notice when Luke looted one of several scrolls with an all-too-familiar seal on it. Bloody hell. Luckily no one here recognized their family crest. “Blackbeard said all is to be spread a little more evenly,” a man declared upon entering. He and another shut the trunk before anything else was taken and hauled it out of there.

Meanwhile, Charles snapped his fingers in front of Luke’s face, trying to pull him out of his stupor. Namely, the faraway look in his eyes as he read the letter. “Are ye with us, friend?” Luke blinked several times and nodded then waved over some more rum. “Just thirsty is all.” Thirsty his arse. Where Thomas had exchanged a few letters with Rose after he left years ago, their correspondences by no means matched the number of scrolls he’d spied in that trunk. “You wrote Hannah?” he nearly muttered when he saw the handwriting and to whom it was addressed. Luke. He knew as he’d done with Rose that his brother had found ways to keep an eye on Hannah over the years but had no idea they’d corresponded. “What’s it say?” someone called out.

Luke squinted at the letter and shook his head before he shrugged and tossed it aside. “Can’t make out a bloody word.” He’d certainly made out every word but played his part well. Unfortunately, the warning look he shot Thomas a short while later told him something unforeseen had happened. Whatever those scrolls had said made their plan a whole lot riskier. Especially considering, having sniffed out an opportunity, Big Devil’s rat had followed in the wake of that trunk.

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