Authors: Paula Quinn
Tags: #Fiction / Romance / Erotica, #Fiction / Romance / Historical / Medieval, #Fiction / Romance / Historical / Scottish, #Fiction / Sagas, #[email protected], #dpgroup.org
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* D P G R O U P . O R G *
Connor Grant ~
Mairi MacGregor ~
Cailean Grant ~
Malcolm Grant ~
her eldest brother
Robert & Davina MacGregor ~
her uncle and aunt
Adam MacGregor ~
their eldest son
Abigail MacGregor ~
Tamhas & Braigh MacGregor ~
their twin sons
Tristan & Isobel MacGregor ~
her uncle and aunt
Lucan MacGregor ~
their eldest son
Mailie MacGregor ~
Patrick MacGregor ~
Violet MacGregor ~
Colin & Gillian MacGregor ~
her uncle and aunt
Edmund MacGregor ~
their eldest son
Kyle MacGregor ~
Captain Alexander Kidd
The ship’s crew:
Samuel Pierce ~
Mr. Bonnet ~
his first mate
the sailing master
Robbie Owens ~
Jack Hanson ~
the master gunner
Harry Hanes ~
William Kidd ~
Hendrik Andersen ~
William Kidd’s boatswain
aptain Alexander Kidd hooked his sapphire-ringed finger into the narrow handle of his jug of rum and brought it to his lips. The woman spread on the table beneath him looked up and moaned while she spread her palms over his sculpted chest. He wiped his mouth and looked at her. The hunger in the slow, salacious smile he lavished on her made her drip around the base of him. He ran his hand up her thigh, withdrew from her hot body, and then drove himself deeper into her, biting down on her pink nipple. Ah, but there was nothing better than warm rum and an even warmer whore. Plundering a ship was a close second, but he’d done that already this morning. He laughed and the wench tightened her legs around his waist. He tipped his jug and drizzled his rum over her breasts and her belly, watching with dark, hungry eyes.
He wasn’t sure of her name. He didn’t need to know it. He paid her to please him and she did.
He heard the sound of fighting from beyond the door of the candlelit room. Fighting was good, but now was the
time for pleasure. He bent forward and drank from her behind his veil of dark hair.
He sank into her, deep and slow, then withdrew almost completely. Teasing her with what she wanted, he spread his palm over her belly and pulled cries from her throat with the gyration of his hips. His smooth thrusts arched her back and brought them both to climax.
Done, he pulled back, fastened his breeches, and took another swig from his jug.
“Will I see you again?” the wench asked when he stood over her, covering his tattoos of Neptune and Poseidon with his shirt.
He looked at her and shook his head. The last thing he wanted in his life was a woman. His father taught him to trust no man, but he’d learned firsthand not to trust a woman. He’d never make that mistake again. He never returned to the same wench’s bed twice, providing no hope in forming attachments.
Pity, this one was a lovely thing with eyes as dark as coal and long raven hair. She was likely a native of the Americas and brought here to New York as a slave to work in this backstreet brothel.
He plucked an extra coin from a small pouch tied into his sash and tossed it to her, then stepped out of the room and out of her life, and into a brawl that sent his quartermaster flying across the full length of the front room.
Alex downed what was left in his jug, then smashed the clay vessel over the head of the man who’d done the punching. He watched the culprit go down, then cupped his groin and readjusted. A woman at a table at the other end of the room smiled at him and waved. He returned the salutation but headed to a larger table, preferring, for now, to share drink and laughter with the drunken, rowdy seamen
who helped him sail his ship. He tucked in his shirt then slipped into a chair and ordered another jug of rum.
“Cap’n.” His tanned, one-eyed first mate turned to him. “Tell this scab-pickin’, bottom feeder”—he hooked his thumb over his shoulder, pointing it at another sailor who looked insulted enough to start killing people—“who among us plays the better jig on the pipes?”
“I’ve already told ya, Mr. Bonnet,” Alex answered, giving his attention to his brocade coat and feathered tricorn hat resting where he’d left them on a chair to his right. “I prefer Simon’s jigs over yars. That’s why he’s the ship’s musician and ya’re me first mate.”
Alex paid his one-eyed comrade no mind when Mr. Bonnet cursed him for breathing. He didn’t put it past his crew to turn on him if doing so gained them something they wanted bad enough. They were pirates, and just like any pirate, they were loyal to the coin in their pockets and the food on the table. He looked up instead at the man who’d sailed by him a few moments ago.
“I think me tooth came loose that time.”
This man was different though. Alex had known his quartermaster, Samuel Pierce, for more than eight years now. Sam was a loyal friend, there with Alex when he learned of his father’s arrest, at his side during his father’s hanging, with him when Alex’s heart was broken, the first and only time, by a woman. They’d plundered many ships together and fought many battles, watching the other’s back. Alex trusted him with his very life and loved him like a brother. “The gold one?” he asked, eyebrow raised.
Three of his men who had been deep in conversation stopped talking and turned to eye Sam.
“Not the gold one,” the quartermaster growled at them.
“But if any of ya be wantin’ to try to pry it loose from me jaw, just stick yer fingers in there if ya have the balls.”
Alex laughed and swigged his rum. “Robbie Owens there doesn’t have ’em.”
It was true, poor Robbie had lost his balls two summers ago when the mother of two of his children caught him in her sister’s bed. Fortunate for Robbie the ship’s carpenter, Harry Hanes, knew how to stop bleeding and sew a man up good as new. Well, perhaps not like new.
“Captain Kidd?” A stranger appeared at the table, drawing all the men’s attention to him. Another man would have taken a step back, or at least reconsidered his decision to make himself known to them as pistols came into view, along with blood-stained daggers.
But not this man. He remained unflinchingly cool in his drab but costly attire, clean hands folded in front of him.
“Who’s askin’?” Samuel said, reaching for the cutlass tucked into his boot.
“My name is Hendrik Andersen. I was a friend of the captain’s father, William Kidd.”
“Me father had no friends,” Alex corrected, reclining in his chair and slamming his booted foot on the table. “None who were worth more than bilge rat shit.”
“I’ve been looking for you for several years now,” the stranger continued as if Alex hadn’t spoken.
It didn’t bode well for Alex that he’d been searched for and found.
“What do ya want?” Alex asked him. “Make yar plea convincin’ or I’ll kill ya where ya stand. I should do it now fer claimin’ to be a friend to me father. None of his crew stood by him when he was arrested. None watched him die. All had abandoned him.”
“But not you.”
Alex slowly removed his leg from the table and sat up in his chair. His movements caused Sam and several others to draw their daggers, others their pistols, and they begged Alex to let them fire.
Aye, him, too. He’d abandoned his father along with the rest of them. Oh, he’d been there in the crowd that day in London to watch his father swing, but Alex had abandoned him long before that. And what made it worse was that he’d done it for a woman.
No one but Sam had known that Alex was present at his father’s execution. His father hadn’t even known. William Kidd began his career as a privateer, authorized by the government to attack foreign or enemy vessels at sea. He never admitted to being a pirate. But Alex knew the truth and had followed in his footsteps, another fact his father had kept secret to his grave, loyal to his outlaw son upon death.
“What is it ya be wantin’ to tell me?” Alex demanded quietly.
Andersen didn’t bat an eyelash. “I would speak to you alone.”
“Nay,” Alex said, not risking a stab in the gut the instant they were alone. Anyone could have sent Andersen to hunt Alex down, the Royal Navy, any number of governors from New York, even the throne. They believed Alex knew where to find the treasure that cost his father his life. Sadly, they were mistaken. “Say what ya would now and say it quickly. Ya’re tryin’ me patience.”
The man cleared his throat and glanced at the others. “Very well, then. May I sit?” When Alex nodded, he pulled out the chair nearest Alex’s coat and hat and sat down on it. Alex watched him catch his hat before it hit
the floor and then place it, with the due respect a captain’s expensive leather hat deserved, back on the chair. “I was your father’s boatswain. I was with him when he captured the
Everyone at the table grew silent. They all knew about the rumors of the
, the infamous Armenian ship said to be loaded with gold and silver, gems of every size and color, not to mention satins, muslin, and priceless East Indian goods, including silks. It was a treasure any pirate worth his weight in salt would kill for… or die for. His father was rumored to have captured it shortly after Alex left him to begin his own life of adventure and piracy. Since Alex didn’t remember ever seeing Andersen on his father’s ship, he concluded that the Dutchman would have had to have joined his father’s crew right after he left.
No proof was ever discovered against William Kidd but Alex didn’t doubt that his father had indeed captured the ship. What he didn’t believe was that his father had trusted anyone with its whereabouts.
“Are ya tellin’ me ya know where the
is?” Alex wouldn’t have believed him if Andersen answered with an aye. The first Captain Kidd had been tried and hanged for piracy and murder rather than give up the location of that ship. Since Alex hadn’t been with him when he took it, nor had Alex seen him alive since, he didn’t know its whereabouts either.
“I’m telling you nothing of the sort, but…” Andersen paused and looked around. When Alex nodded for him to continue, he obliged. “There is a map.”
A map. That sounded quite plausible, Alex decided, trying to keep his heart beating at a steady pace. His father may have denied his true profession, but he wouldn’t have
gone to his grave without a map to his greatest treasure. What if somehow he had come out of the trial alive? His father would have made certain there was a map. Who would he have given it to for safekeeping? He’d told his son that there was only one other man whom he trusted but not who the man was. Was it his boatswain?
“Where is this map?” he asked his guest casually.
Still reluctant, Andersen looked straight at Mr. Bonnet’s patched eye and the scar running down beneath it. “You trust these men?”
“Not always, but I need them, same as they need me. Where is the map? Who has it?” If there really was a map, Alex wanted to know who had it. He wouldn’t try to steal it. He didn’t deserve it. Whoever had it did.
“Where in Scotland?”
“I have a condition, Captain Kidd,” Andersen was foolish enough to announce.
Half the men at the table readied their daggers and aimed their pistols again. Metal gleamed against the firelight coming from the hearth.
“If yar condition isn’t that ya walk out of here alive”—Alex tipped one corner of his mouth up—“then I’m afraid I must refuse.”
“I wish to sail with you.”
Alex shook his head. “I already have a boatswain. I don’t need any more men.”
“You need me.”
Alex laughed. “Kill him,” he told Sam, rising from his chair.
“You need me to find the people who have your map,” Andersen exclaimed as Sam’s dagger edged along his throat.
Holding up his hand, Alex halted his quartermaster’s next move. Not that his friend was truly going to kill Andersen. At least, not while he knew the whereabouts of this alleged map. After that…
“I was born in Scotland. I don’t need ya to find me way ’round. Now tell me who has it.”
“Will I sail with you?”
Regaining his seat, Alex narrowed his eyes on him. It was obvious that this man who claimed to be a friend to his father wanted the map for himself. But why not just go to Scotland and get the map himself if he knew where it was? Why did he need Alex?
“You will never find them on your own, Captain,” Andersen forged ahead, undaunted by Alex’s scowl. “And if you do, they will kill you before your feet touch land. They are hidden in the mists in the Highlands.”
MacGregors. Alex had heard of them. “They are outlawed, are they not?”
Sam nodded. “King William re-enacted the proscription against them when he gained the throne.”
“Their reputation of savagery precedes them,” Alex said, remembering tales he’d heard about them.
“Your father knew the clan chief,” Andersen told him. “He took a few others and me with him as witnesses when he brought the map to them to guard. The chief agreed to surrender the map to you… and to you alone.”
“What do ya mean to me?”
“It was your father’s map,” Andersen said. “He left it to his son.”
Alex leaned back in his chair and took in what he was hearing. His father had found the
and left the map of its whereabouts to him? Had William Kidd forgiven him for leaving? Nay, he couldn’t absorb it all now. Perhaps tomorrow…
“So when do we leave?”
Alex smiled at him. “Bring to me mind the reason I need ya again?”
“Because the chief doesn’t know you, or whose son you are. If you happen to find them on your own you will have no way to convince them of your identity. They’ll kill all of you for finding them. They value their privacy highly.”
“So ya intend on provin’ me identity?” Alex asked him. “How?” he asked when Andersen nodded his head.
Alex cocked his brow. “A letter?”
“From your father to the chief, stating that you are his son and the map should be handed over to you. I have been made privy to things about you that can prove who you are. And because I traveled with your father and already met them, my word will validate.”