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Authors: Fern Michaels

Captive Secrets

BOOK: Captive Secrets
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T
he garden was exquisite, with colorful lanterns illuminating the intricate footpaths. A slight breeze carried the heady scent of jasmine to Fury's nostrils. She began to relax, savoring the feel of the air and the touch of the handsome man walking by her side.
Be bold and brash, Fury decided. She bent down to pick up her skirts only to realize there was no excess silk to hike above her ankles. She gave a light tug at the clinging wrapped silk—and immediately toppled over to land flat on her face in the grass.
Luis was grinning from ear to ear as he reached down to help her up. “I guess I have to thank you for wearing that scandalous dress, for if it weren't for the dress, I wouldn't be about to . . .”
His lips were so close that Fury could feel his warm breath on her cheek. She closed her eyes in anticipation of the kiss she knew was coming.
Books by Fern Michaels:
The Blossom Sisters
Balancing Act
Tuesday's Child
Betrayal
Southern Comfort
To Taste the Wine
Sins of the Flesh
Sins of Omission
Return to Sender
Mr. and Miss Anonymous
Up Close and Personal
Fool Me Once
Picture Perfect
About Face
The Future Scrolls
Kentucky Sunrise
Kentucky Heat
Kentucky Rich
Plain Jane
Charming Lily
What You Wish For
The Guest List
Listen to Your Heart
Celebration
Yesterday
Finders Keepers
Annie's Rainbow
Sara's Song
Vegas Sunrise
Vegas Heat
Vegas Rich
Whitefire
Wish List
Dear Emily
Christmas at Timberwoods
 
The Sisterhood Novels:
 
Blindsided
Gotcha!
Home Free
Déjà Vu
Cross Roads
Game Over
Deadly Deals
Vanishing Act
Razor Sharp
Under the Radar
Final Justice
Collateral Damage
Fast Track
Hokus Pokus
Hide and Seek
Free Fall
Lethal Justice
Sweet Revenge
The Jury
Vendetta
Payback
Weekend Warriors
 
The Godmothers Series:
 
Classfied
Breaking News
Deadline
Late Edition
Exclusive
The Scoop
 
E-Book Exclusives:
 
Captive Embraces
Captive Passions
Cinders to Satin
For All Their Lives
Fancy Dancer
Texas Heat
Texas Rich
Texas Fury
Texas Sunrise
 
Anthologies:
 
Secret Santa
A Winter Wonderland
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Making Spirits Bright
Holiday Magic
Snow Angels
Silver Bells
Comfort and Joy
Sugar and Spice
Let it Snow
A Gift of Joy
Five Golden Rings
Deck the Halls
Jingle All the Way
FERN MICHAELS
CAPTIVE SECRETS
eKensington
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
For Chelly Kitzmiller, Dorsey Adams, and Jill Landis
Author's Note
There are many species of hawks to be studied. For this novel I chose the goshawk because I fell in love with the winged creature's capabilities. I was astounded to find that
a
hawk, if hand-raised, could become a loyal pet capable of deep affection, anger, and jealousy. They're also generous, offering tidbits of their food to those they like. They love to tease and provoke for a gentle caress. They adore sparkly stones and bright colors. Often they “borrow” items and return them days later. Their prowess in the air is nothing short of incredible. They can fly a mile high in the air and rocket downward almost as fast as a speeding bullet and can literally stop in midair, work the wind, and continue downward or onward. They're loyal to their owner, mate, and young, and will kill any attacker with their talons, their only weapon, if they feel threatened. They're also known for their long-distance flying, sometimes six to eight hours at a time and often through the entire night.
I ask your indulgence and to believe, as I do, that there really could have been a Gaspar and Pilar in 1665.
F.M.
Prologue
Java,
1665
 
The old salt smacked his lips over toothless gums, relishing the moment the stranger standing before him would hand over the jug of rum.
The stranger was tall, muscular, with the torso of a tree trunk, arms full of hard muscle that rippled beneath the fine lawn shirt he wore open to his belt buckle. He was bronzed by the sun, a seaman by the look of him. The old man narrowed his eyes, trying to see around the cataracts that filmed them. Handsome, he thought. Hair as black as a raven's wing and eyes the color of . . . He searched for a word from his past to describe the stranger's eyes. Coal-black, like pitch. He'd never seen such black eyes before, and these held something else he'd never seen: contempt. Oh, he'd seen his share of emotions over his eighty-six years, but always love, hate, anger, or vengeance. He blinked his bleary eyes for a better look, but the film blotted out the fine details of the man's features.
“I would hear your tale, old man, and for the pleasure of your company the jug is yours.” The stranger spoke quietly, his voice deep and . . . educated, the old man decided.
“And what name do you go by?” he asked, eyeing the jug greedily.
“Is it important?” the man asked blandly.
“A man needs a name when he drinks with another man. Every mother gives her babe a name. Mine is Jacobus.”
The stranger debated a second before replying. The old lush would finish off his jug and not remember a thing. Lies always come back to slap one in the face.
“Luis Domingo,” he said at last, and smiled—a flash of white teeth in the hazy lamplight that reminded Jacobus of a shark at feeding time.
Luis Domingo . . . The old man rolled the strange-sounding name over his toothless gums and thick tongue. He'd never heard it before, but then, his memory wasn't what it used to be. “You smell of the sea. I like that. Sit down and I'll begin my tale if you'll pass that jug along.” When the stranger slid the bottle across the table, Jacobus snatched it and brought it to his lips. After a hearty pull, he wiped his mouth with the palm of his hand and sat back with a contented sigh.
“She had the face of an angel, the Sea Siren did. She was so beautiful, even her enemies fell about her feet. Her heart was pure, and she always spared the unfortunate souls who sought to attack her. Mind you, she fought fair. Oftentimes she would switch from a cutlass to a rapier without a misstep. Razor-sharp they were. Shiny like a hawk's eye and just as deadly. I seen her myself, hundreds of times, as she danced across that black ship like the sea sprite she was.” He paused to take several long swallows of the fiery liquid in the jug, then picked up on his words immediately.
“There wasn't a man at sea that didn't hunger for the Sea Siren. Her eyes saw everything at a glance. Like emeralds they were. Her hair was black as yours, and it rode her head like a raven's wings. Her skin was like cream in a crock. She carried a wicked scar on her arm that men would have died from, but not the Sea Siren. There wasn't a man that could best her in a duel. Not a single man.”
Jacobus's voice became dreamlike as his memories took him back in time. “The black ship she sailed was like a ghost. One minute it was there and the next minute it would disappear. Into nothing. She had this laugh that carried across the water. Made many a man's blood run cold,” he said in awe.
“They could never catch her, and hundreds tried. She ruined the man who was the head of the Dutch East India Company. Sank his ships because his men raped and killed her sister. She swore revenge on the bastards and killed every single one of them—fair and square.
“The Dutch East India Company put a price on her head, and handsome it was, but to naught.”
“You make her sound like a saint in a costume,” Domingo said coldly. “She was a pirate and she pillaged and plundered ships, so how can you say she—”
“If you know all about her, then why are you asking me to tell you what I know?” Jacobus said, bristling at the stranger's words. “I seen her hundreds of times. Once she smiled at me, and it was like the Madonna herself gazing on me. She never hurt those who didn't deserve to be hurt. She never kept a thing from the ships she boarded but let her crew have it. Rights of salvage.”
The old man swigged again from the bottle, and then continued, his words slurring slightly. “I think she came down from heaven. That's my own opinion, because she . . . she would just disappear in a cloud of fog. You could hear her laugh ringing across the water when she was victorious. My hair stood on end. Such strength she had, it wasn't human, I can tell you that. I seen her the day she dueled with Blackheart. He was twice her size and twice her weight, and she cut him down. 'Course he was maimed from his first encounter with her, so he wasn't starting even with her. That blade danced in the sun, I can tell you that. Blood rivered the decks of that frigate.” Jacobus lowered his voice to a hushed whisper. “That black ship was . . . magic. She sailed high on the water with a speed I've never seen. Never!” The old man sat back once more and gulped from the bottle.
Domingo leaned forward on his chair, his dark eyes piercing the old man like twin daggers. “Do you expect me to believe this garbage that a woman, even a beautiful woman sailing a black ship, is something mythical?”
The anger in his voice jolted Jacobus, who looked up groggily. “Real or magic, I don't know. I told you what I seen,” he said fearfully, suddenly aware that the stranger's eyes were angry and calculating. All sign of contempt was gone.
“Where is this infamous black ship now, and where is the Sea Siren?” Domingo asked harshly.
The fine hairs on the back of Jacobus's neck prickled. He'd said too much. He had to hold his tongue now and not give away the fact that he'd been a member of the Sea Siren's crew. The rum jug beckoned, but he set it on the table. If this stranger had a mind to, he could rip out his tongue and . . . “Only God knows,” he blustered.
Domingo laughed, a chilling sound in the sudden hush that had descended over the tavern. “Does this Sea Siren's god allow her to kill and maim and . . . disappear into thin air? A fine story from a drunken sot.”
Jacobus did his best to meet Domingo's dark gaze. “It's not a story, it's true. There is a Sea Siren, and there is a black ship. I don't know where they are. No one has seen either for over twenty years.”
Domingo's eyes turned to slits as he leaned across the table. “Is she dead, old man? Is the Sea Siren and that black ship at the bottom of the sea? Tell me the truth, or I'll wring that stringy neck of yours. Or is this a fairy tale?”
Jacobus shook the man's hands off his shoulders. “It's no fairy tale. Go to the offices of the Dutch East India Company and see for yourself. A wanted poster has been hanging there for twenty-five years. And when the Sea Siren is needed, her ship will sail again. You mark my words.”
Domingo stomped from the room, the laughter of the tavern's patrons ringing in his ears. Were they laughing at him? Was it all a trick of the old sot's? Tomorrow at first light he'd go to the Dutch East India offices and see for himself. This was the closest he'd come to actual proof that the legendary Sea Siren really existed and wasn't a figment of his father's imagination. The Sea Siren and the deadly black ship she'd captained had ruined his father.
Domingo's head reared back as he bellowed into the night. “If you're alive, I'll kill you for what you did to my father! No quarter given!”
BOOK: Captive Secrets
3.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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