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Authors: Michelle Beattie

A Pirate's Possession

BOOK: A Pirate's Possession
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for
Romancing the Pirate
“Beattie's passion for the sea sparkles on every page, as does her love of adventure and of crafting a sensual love story between two headstrong characters.”
—
Romantic Times
“A fast-paced historical romance that brings to life the seventeenth-century Caribbean Islands . . . An enjoyable and exciting tale.”
—
Midwest Book Review
“A delightful romp across the Caribbean. If you like pirates, this is sure to please you.”
—
Night Owl Reviews
 
Praise for
What a Pirate Desires
“A feisty heroine, a tortured hero, and a sassy parrot along with strong doses of betrayal, action, and plenty of cunning . . . [A] fun romance.”
—
Publishers Weekly
“This nonstop pirate romance has it all: high-seas adventure, a daring quest, a courageous heroine, and best of all, a to-die-for pirate hero. Beattie has penned a fine romantic tale of two unforgettable characters. I'll be watching for more from this author!”
—Jennifer Ashley,
USA Today
bestselling author of
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage
 
“Beattie uses rapid-fire repartee, double entendres, and a daring heroine and dashing hero to spice up a tried-and-true plot-line, turning this into a nonstop read.”
—
Romantic Times
“This terrific seventeenth-century high-seas pirate romance works because Samantha comes across as an avenging . . . pirate captain. Verbal battles . . . sharper than swordplay. Fans will enjoy this fine at-sea cat-and-mouse tale.”
—
Midwest Book Review
Berkley Sensation Titles by Michelle Beattie
WHAT A PIRATE DESIRES
ROMANCING THE PIRATE
A PIRATE'S POSSESSION
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
A PIRATE'S POSSESSION
 
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / December 2010
 
Copyright © 2010 by Michelle Beattie.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-44553-2
 
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY
®
SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

To my daughters, Natalia and Taryn. I love you! You are, by far, the best treasures in the world!
One
Nevis, the Caribbean
1660
 
Claire Gentry pushed open the heavy door and made her way across the crowded tavern, through teetering drunks—though it was barely sunset—and down to the table that held her destiny. Without more than a nod to the three other men that sat around the table, Claire took her seat.
“You sure you're in the right place, boy? This here's a bettin' table and the stakes are high. Bigger men than you have wanted in and were tossed out.”
Keeping her gaze cool, Claire dug into her jacket pocket and dropped two fistfuls of coins onto the scratched surface.
“I'm in,” she answered, keeping her voice low. Not many people looked past her dirty clothes and face, and she'd learned over the years that people mostly saw what they expected. And since they didn't expect a young woman to be bold enough to walk into such an establishment dressed as a downtrodden sailor, they didn't see one. It was what had kept her alive for the last few years.
She'd run from her duplicitous marriage, and the lying bastard who had tricked her into it, determined never to count on anybody again. Her future, her life, was her own, and by God, nobody was going to let her down ever again. However, looking at the shiny coins and knowing how hard they had been to come by, how long it had taken her to save them, she could only hope that she wasn't about to let
herself
down.
She'd been looking long and hard for the missing half of the map, and when word had gotten round that it would be here today, she'd taken everything she had. It all sat before her now.
The man to her right whistled between his teeth. “Looks like he's in the right place,” he said.
“Where's the map?” she asked, keeping her coins close. She wasn't pushing them into the middle until she saw what she'd come for.
“You think you're man enough to find this treasure, boy?”
“It's not muscle that's needed to find the treasure, it's brains. And I have more than enough of those.”
The men who'd circled the table, curious to see who'd bet on part of a treasure map, guffawed at Claire's taunt. Though the man across from her chuckled and his grin ate up a portion of his large square face, there was little humor in his gray eyes. When his gaze, as sharp as the knife she had tucked away in her boot, locked on to hers, she felt a snap of cold against her cheeks.
“Spoken as though you already know what's on that map.” He leaned forward and his sticky breath floated over the table's surface and slid up Claire's nose. “How would that be, given that the map is at least five times older than you are?”
Claire knew she had to be careful. He was right. She had half the map memorized in her head, thanks to her father, but it would be more than foolish of her to let anybody know that. It would likely cost her her life.
She shrugged. “Hearsay, is all.”
His eyes narrowed, but he leaned back in his chair. Claire slowly released her breath.
“Hearsay will get you killed,” came a rumble from her left.
She looked past the last chair, the one that had yet to be occupied, to the man who'd spoken. She watched as he pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper, spread it out before him. Claire's stomach turned inside out.
“But the map is real, and if you want to play for it, you have to pay for it,” he said with a gravelly voice that sounded as though it hadn't been used in a long time.
Claire eyed him curiously. His hair and beard were black, his eyes a deep blue. It was a striking combination, one made all the stronger by the emptiness she saw in his eyes.
“Why haven't you found it?” one of the onlookers countered.
The man raised his gaze. “I lost more looking for that treasure than I ever would have gained by finding it. It means nothing to me now.”
The pain in his voice drew Claire, and though her heart went out to him, she didn't move. Nothing would give away her gender faster than such a womanly gesture. But then again, maybe not. She looked over at the women in low-cut dresses, their breasts straining against their corsets, and mentally sighed. There was a reason she could get away with posing as a boy and it had nothing to do with hiding her curves. There simply wasn't enough there to worry about concealing.
“He's got no problem taking your money for it, though,” someone called.
The man with the map silenced everyone with a cut of his icy glare.
“Well, I'll take my chances,” Claire said and pushed her coins to the middle.
“As will I.”
Though the room was filled with loud conversations and bad singing, Claire's ears heard only that one sentence. She hadn't seen Nate Carter in eight years, not since he went back on his word, but she recognized the voice even before her eyes rolled up his tall body and latched on to the face she'd dreamed about more often than the lying bastard deserved.
Her stomach dove to her toes. Nate was here. He was here and so was the map she'd told him about when she'd still been foolish enough to believe that a man's word meant something. Betrayal burned a hole to her belly. He'd come for the treasure, the treasure they'd talked about together. The treasure he'd promised her they'd find together. Only he'd never come back for her. It was only one of the lies he'd led her to believe.
From under the brim of her hat, a hat she tugged a little lower, Claire willed herself to remain still, a difficult task with her heart racing and her hands wanting nothing more than to slap Nate's lying face, despite how handsome it was. She wasn't concerned about being recognized, not with her hair cut short and the auburn color hidden under the wide hat. Not when he'd likely forgotten about her once he'd stepped out of the orphanage doors. Stepped out and never looked back.
And damn him for looking better now than he had then. Nate's shoulders, which had already been substantial at sixteen, were even broader now. His dark brown hair was much the same and still had a few loose strands that fell over his forehead. Skin bronzed by the sun and further darkened by a shadow of beard covered his chiseled jaw.
Nate reached inside his jacket, put a black leather pouch bulging with jingling coins onto the table before taking the empty seat.
The man to her left picked up all the coins, dropped them into a small sack. He slid the map into the middle of the table.
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