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Authors: Danelle Harmon

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My Lady Pirate

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MY LADY PIRATE

By

Danelle Harmon

SMASHWORDS EDITION

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PUBLISHED BY:

Danelle Harmon

Smashwords Edition

My Lady Pirate

Copyright © 2012 by Danelle Harmon

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~~~~

May, 1802

“It is your sex that makes us go forth, and seems to tell us, ‘None but the brave deserve the
fair,’ and if we fall we still live in the hearts of those females who are dear to us. It is your sex
that rewards us; it is your sex who cherish our memories; and you, my dear honoured friend, are
believe me, the first, the best of your sex.”

— British Admiral Lord Nelson, in a letter to Emma, Lady Hamilton

Chapter 1

He was the scourge of the Spanish Main.

Nearly a century before, the pirate Blackbeard had taken some sixteen lovers in New

Providence alone, and Gray, not to be outdone, was determined to best that score in the

Caribbean that
he
now ruled.

Tonight, the lucky lady was one of his particular favorites—the delightfully wicked, carnally creative, Lady Catherine Fairfield, daughter of the richest sugar merchant on Barbados.

No pirate who’d ever swung a cutlass in these lawless waters ever looked more formidable.

A hoop of gold pierced his ear and a patch covered one eye, though there was nothing amiss with the dark orb it concealed. To his other eye, Gray held his night glass, a heavy, brass and leather-bound instrument that he steadied against his arm and now, trained on the blaze of distant light that marked the palatial residence of Lord Fairfield. . .

And—the pirate smiled wolfishly and closed the glass with a snap—his beauteous and

willing daughter.

The breeze, as warm as the bedmate who awaited him, as sultry as the charms of that lovely lady herself, frisked over the dark Caribbean and pushed the little pinnace hard over on her beam. Waves crested white in the darkness, and the pirate’s long hair rode in the wind like a wild, untamed banner, black as the night itself.

“Fetch her up a point to starboard, Bones,” Gray commanded, and the cadaverous man at the tiller did as he was bid, hiding a smirk as did his mates. Tolerant and loyal tars, they were well used to their leader’s nightly sojourns. This raid on Lady Catherine’s bedroom would be the pirate’s last before duty called them all home and the Caribbean was once again safe from his roguish appetites.

Now, the pinnace skated across the dancing waves, aligning its nose on that distant mansion of light. The pirate hooked an elbow around a shroud, propped a foot atop the gunwale, and, ensconced in this lordly pose, leaned far out over the waves that licked greedily at the toe of his big jackboot. “Ah,” he murmured, seeing the single light glowing in an upstairs bedroom, “the prize awaits me. . .”

“Boarding in darkness is never honorable,” grumbled Bones at the tiller.

“And rousing my temper is never wise,” he said with a chuckle. “Hold your course,

helmsman, or I shall seize you up to the mainyard ’pon our return and dangle you like a puppet on a string.
Then
you may talk to me of honor!”

The boat crew laughed, right along with him. Their leader was in good spirits, and why not?

Soon they would be heading home, tonight he was going ashore to live his favorite pirate fantasy and the most wanton lady in the Windwards was standing a secret watch in that upstairs

bedroom.

But Fate has a way of upsetting even the most carefully laid plans, and on this late spring night in the Year of Our Lord, 1805, it did just that.

Gray the pirate would never know what spilled him into the warm embrace of the Caribbean

and thus changed his life forever. A freak wave? A slip of his booted foot atop the gunwale? A shove from a mischievous spirit? One moment he was the proud commander of a pirate ship

embarked on a dangerous raid; the next, he was the sorry victim of shipwreck, floundering in heavy seas that threatened to drag him down and lock him in the hold of Davy Jones forever.

Gray quickly recovered from this odd mishap. He surfaced, cleared the salt from his eyes, and trod water for a moment, unafraid of the depths beneath his booted feet nor the

embarrassment a lesser man might have felt after being so disgracefully dumped in the sea in full view of his subordinates. He heard them calling for him, saw the muted shape of the pinnace’s sail as a dim glow in the windy darkness. For a fleeting moment he considered striking off in its direction, but his blood was up, his appetites lusty, and damn him if he wouldn’t make the raid after all!

But his jackboots—his prized, precious jackboots— they would have to come off.

The pirate took a deep breath, reached down, and allowed himself to sink while he tugged

furiously at the boots with heel and toe and, then, frantic hands. One came off. His breath burst out in a spray of hissing bubbles and he clawed upward, clutching the boot like a prize and damning it for its weight; a similar maneuver and he made a prize of the other, too, while his bare feet thrust him back up to the dark surface.

His head broke water and he blew air out of his bursting lungs. The breeze was warm, sultry, skimming over the salty chop and carrying with it the distant, island scents of roasting meat and blossoming flora. He couldn’t be far from his destination.

But the problem of the boots still remained.

Sweet Neptune.

He trod water as best he could with his free hand and strong, powerful legs. His breeches, wicked and daring and far more boastful of his masculine attributes than his usual attire, fit him like a second skin. But damn him, he would not part with the boots, even if they were fouling his progress!

So what if that old London shoemaker had eyed him quizzically when he’d brought the print of Henry Morgan to him; he’d certainly paid the man well enough to fashion a pair of boots after those the long-dead buccaneer had been portrayed in. After the trouble he’d gone through to get them, he’d be damned if he’d surrender them to the fish. Ingenious as always, he tore the knife from its scabbard, slashed a hole in the fine leather at the top of each boot, dragged off his knotted, sopping sash, and wove it through the holes, effectively snaring both boots before once more tying the sash around his waist to anchor them.

Now,
he was ready to make his raid, and the devil take any who dared try to stop him!

Grinning heartily, he struck off with powerful strokes of his muscled arms that drew him

closer and closer to the island, where the twinkling lights of Fairfield’s mansion stabbed the darkness. Already, he could smell the aromas of roasted pork and beef drifting toward him on the breeze; already, he could envision the more succulent delights of the flesh that awaited him in that upstairs chamber. Aaah, the pleasures of working in the Caribbean! Balmy weather year-round, and free rein to live his life as he damn well pleased. Savory meals by day, and erotic pleasures by night . . . the Lady Catherine being his fairest, and most recent, conquest.

The Lady Catherine. . . She too would be in proper dress, in deference to his fantasy of

taking a lady pirate to his bed. Catherine, of course, was only a nobleman’s bored and beautiful daughter, but her carnal appetites were as insatiable and imaginative as Gray’s own and she was willing to go along with any sexual games he sought to play with her. He grinned in anticipation.

While her papa moved his corpulent bulk among the revelers at his grand banquet this evening, toasting the king and damning the emperor,
she
would be upstairs and waiting in her bed, her decks scrubbed down and damp, her rigging strung tight, and her entry port ready and willing to receive him. . .

He couldn’t wait to drop anchor in
that
harbor.

And thus encouraged, he put his mind to the swimming, the current washing his skin, the

waves buffeting his face. The water was obscenely warm; salt stung his eyes and with a curse, he finally tore the eye patch loose, allowing it to trail from around his neck and lose itself in the sodden, floating folds of his shirt.

Fatigue, however, was catching up with him. He paused, treading water while he gave

himself time to catch his breath. Unlike most sailors, he was a good swimmer, and a strong one at that. . . but surely, he had swum far enough that the shallows should be near at hand.

Blinking, Gray wiped the sopping hair off his brow, knuckled the salt from his eyes—and

saw that the lights of the island were not growing closer, but moving
away
from him at an alarming speed.

God’s teeth and blood.

He was no fool. He was a powerful man, a good commander—but first and foremost he was

a sailor, and as such, he respected the laws of the sea. To try to swim against the current and toward the island would only be folly, for his strength, great as it was, could not hold out forever.

He allowed himself a brief moment to lament the forfeited rendezvous with the Lady

Catherine. Then, motionless in the water, his keen mind began to plot a strategy, while the receding tide and swift ocean current bore him away to God-only-knew where.

And still the jackboots trailed from his waist, heavy, sodden, dragging behind him like a foul-weather anchor.

He did not cut the sash.

The lights of the island dimmed, faded. The riding lights of his great ship, mounting eighty guns, dropped toward the horizon, then under it, as the current bore him farther and farther away.

He was alone.

But still, he did not panic—nor did he consider loosing the jackboots.

There was nothing to worry about, really. At dawn, Colin would bring the mighty
Triton
in search of him. There would be laughter, some thumps on the back from his men, a few snide and obscene comments, but nothing more— Something splashed in the darkness off to starboard.

Gray froze, all thoughts of the Lady Catherine instantly vanishing from his mind.

Above, a ceiling of stars. Below, blackened fathoms. And around him, nothing but the soft wash of tumbling waves that glittered, diamondlike, in the night.

He began to relax.

And then, the splash again.

Shark.

His hand groped for his knife, yanking it free of its swollen scabbard. Something passed

beneath him, pushing him upward on a great swell of current; he felt its size, its power, its total adaptation to a sea on which mankind was only an ill-equipped visitor.

And Gray, in his loose linen shirt, tight black breeches, kerchief, eye patch, and yes,

jackboots—was ill-equipped indeed.

The creature plunged beneath him again, and he was dragged downward for a brief instant

by the rush of water that went with it. Flailing to say afloat, he raised the knife, his feet kicking savagely at the threatening depths.

“Sheer off, you blighty devil, you!”

A fin, glistening in the starlight, cleaved the surface, circled him, and was gone.

Steady as you go, man,
he told himself, fighting to control his rising panic.
Wait ’til it comes
close and then fire as you bear.

The fin broke the water.

It came toward him, the sea parting from it like the bow wave of a man-of-war.

Closer . . .

He gripped the knife, determined not to go down without a fight, and shook it at that

approaching wedge of death.

“Come on, you bastard!”

Closer . . .

“Come on, damn you!”

He drew back his fist, and then the great sea creature burst from the surface, expelling a fountain of misted breath and water straight up to the stars before plunging gracefully back into the warm embrace of the sea.

“Bloody
hell,”
Gray swore, on a shaky breath.

And then the animal’s wake smashed him in the face and sent him into spasms of coughing.

Cursing, he grabbed the dolphin’s offered fin when it came to him again and, shoving the

knife back into its scabbard, allowed the animal to drag him forward through the night.

From around his waist, the jackboots still trailed.

###

She liked sword-fighting, ships, and a stout mug of ale. She was suntanned and lean and not

above ruthlessness when it came to getting what she wanted. She loved sharks, fancied herself a monarch, and now, stood as a reluctant participant to Celtic magic after a recent prize had yielded an old book of spells that keenly intrigued the lot of ex-prostitutes, barmaids, refugees, and slaves-turned-pirate-women who stood with her.

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