Pirate Heiress

 

©2016 Chloe Flowers

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Pirate Heiress

Chapter One

Letter from Anne Bonny to her father William Cormac:

3 March, 1718

Dear Father,

I bid you farewell. I know you disapprove of my choice for a husband. True, he is but a simple sailor. However, I refuse to marry any of those milksops or fortune hunters who continue to darken our door. I love James Bonny and he has sworn his life to me. I have taken my leave and ask nothing more from you than your prayers for my health and well-being.

Your daughter,

Anne

 

July 1811

What the hell, his sister was about to marry his best friend this evening, so he could deal with a cold bath.

Conal dragged out the copper tub from the pantry closet and poured in several buckets of tepid water. He’d found a piece of lye soap, so at least now, the bath would be well worth the effort.

The galley stove had been allowed to wane to the lowest of coals, and he, Conal O’Brien, the captain of this vessel, had neither the time nor inclination, (or rather patience) to heat the water for his bath.

Better to just duck the head down and get it over with, like pulling out a tooth or a wooden splinter, cold water plunges are best if done quickly.

As he expected, the water was brisk, the soap elusive, the suds painful to his eyes and the whole notion of soaking in a cold tub remained annoying, to say the least. Yet, as always, Conal’s stubborn tendency to fight being bested by anything, including the temperature of his bath, won out in the end. He had to hold his breath longer than he’d have liked, but there were areas that had needed extra attention, thanks to Gampo and his damned crew of pirates.

If he were to be honest with himself, it really wasn’t entirely the attack by Gampo that had spurred the extra scrubbing, although his coat had been torn and his breeches stained with grime from helping a mate adjust a ship’s gun; it was the thought of his mother’s look of disappointment that had made it necessary to repair his appearance before attending his sister’s wedding.

Although they weren’t here, both his parents would expect him to see his sister married properly while representing the O’Brien family proudly.

He scrubbed a little harder.

If anyone had asked him a few months ago if his best friend would marry again, he’d have laughed.

Women were too hard a concept to understand, for one. They were weak, silly, helpless and emotional, making them more of a burden than anything else. Aside from the women in his family, women in general weren’t to be trusted, at least not the women he usually ran across when anchored at port. Suffice it to say that the less he trusted women, the better off he was.

No, the notion of marriage didn’t appeal to Conal in the least, unless…he thought for a moment. If he found a woman more like his sister, he might consider it. She was as good or better with a blade than any man on his ship. She was quick-minded independent. He’d never met another woman, save his aunt, who belonged on the deck of a ship more.

His cousin, Brendan’s ship was docked at the pier but the Seeker had to drop anchor further out in the harbor due to a thick cloud of fog that obscured everything beyond a couple hundred paces. He’d had to row a canoe back to his ship to bathe and change. Brendan was probably already back at the tavern and looking like the handsome devil he was, boots polished and collar starched.

He would be damned if his cousin would find fault in his appearance this day. Brendan always seemed to find a loose chain in his armor, where appearances were concerned.

But not today.

He’d already trimmed his beard and polished his boots to a glowing shine. Even now, his boots reflected the low glow of the lantern swinging overhead in time with the active motion of the water.

He leaned over and grabbed for the linen cloth draped over the edge of the tub. After wiping his face, he braced his hands on the rim and pushed himself to his feet.

When he raised his head, his nose nearly clipped the barrel of a pistol. A faint acrid smell of gun powder assailed his nostrils.

Eyes focused on the cold, grey metal, he was careful to avoid any sudden movement. He raised his gaze to peruse the person holding the weapon, a brigand wearing a wide-brimmed hat pulled low. Beneath the hat a brightly colored scarf covered whatever color hair he had. Behind the gun barer was a second figure, armed as well.

“You have my attention,” Conal said evenly. The one holding the pistol stood between him and the lantern, but from what he could see, he was tall but slight in build. If it weren’t for the pistols, he wouldn’t have hesitated to lunge for both of them. The man must have been thinking along a similar line of thought, because the pistol shook slightly.

“This ship has been taken,” the figure said softly. “If you value your life, and the lives of the crew that remain, you will comply with our demands.”

Conal’s stomach twisted in his gut. How did he miss the sound of battle aboard? Granted, all but the watch and a handful of men still making repairs to the damaged sails and yard arms had been allowed to go ashore to attend the wedding celebration, but he should have heard a shout or a pistol shot even down here in the galley. How many of his men had lost their lives?

He cursed under his breath. “Demands?” Conal tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. The voice sounded too…soft. A woman, perhaps?

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