Authors: Lisa A. Olech
This pirate’s latest prize may be love
With a single pistol shot and the swing of a cutlass, Alice Tupper saves her mistress’s life. But no lady’s maid in polite society has ever killed a duke—at least, not on purpose. So Alice sets sail for America and her new destiny—only to find herself battling pirates on the high seas. Aboard her rescue ship, The Scarlet Night, she is hailed a hero and earns her place among the crew…as well as the ire of Captain Gavin Quinn.
Gavin chose this pirate’s life, but he knows it’s no place for a woman, especially one as exasperating—and beautiful—as Alice. Despite his desire for her, Gavin is determined to do the right thing and deliver her to the new world. But Alice’s deepest wish is a life by Gavin’s side. Will his heart overrule his sense, and will he risk everything to pursue his greatest treasure of all?
WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S TREASURE
A Captains of the Scarlet Night Novel
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Captains of the Scarlet Night
Within A Captain’s Hold
Within A Captain’s Treasure
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
A Captains of the Scarlet Night Novel
Lisa A. Olech
Kensington Publishing Corp.
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Copyright © 2016 by Lisa A. Olech
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First Electronic Edition: May 2016
First Print Edition: May 2016
Printed in the United States of America
To Benjamin and Timothy
I’d like to thank Kensington Lyrical for believing in these stories. They are dear to my heart, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring them to my readers.
I’d also like to thank my agent, Dawn Dowdle and her crew, my editor, Amanda Siemen, and my amazing critique partner, Kathy Hills. You’ve all made this book so much more than simply words on a page, you’ve helped me breathe life into these characters. I am forever grateful.
Portsmouth, England 1686
Alice Tupper refused to look back. As the
pulled away from its docking, she didn’t line the gunwales with the others waving farewell to England. She stood at the farthest point of the bow instead, pulled her woolen shawl tight about her shoulders, and lifted her face to the freshness of the open sea. Her gaze rested on the thin line where the sea and the sky lay atop one another like lovers—that was where her new life would begin.
“Good day, Mistress Tupper. Ye’ve stolen my favorite place to stand.”
Alice turned and grinned at Captain Fredericks. He was a joyous soul who’d already won the hearts of his passengers. Albert Fredericks reminded her of Father Christmas after indulging in an overabundance of plum pudding.
“I’ve only sailed twice, but I love standing here as the ship cuts through the water. It creaks and pops and pulls against the rigging like a bridle. When the sails fill, it’s as if she breaks into a gallop.” She ran her hands along the polished rails and fittings. “I envy you your time at sea. Once I arrive in Virginia, I imagine I’ll never sail again.” She gave him a quick smile over her shoulder. “Governesses aren’t known for their exotic travels.”
“Well, then, you’re welcome at my bow anytime.” He patted her shoulder and leaned close. “Ye can’t tell, those children ye’ve been sent to care for might need to see more of the world than their back porch.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.” She smiled at the dear man. He winked and gave her arm a gentle squeeze.
Over their first days at sea, the other passengers became a tight-knit group, but Alice was hesitant to get too close with any of them. She preferred her books, long hours on deck, and keeping her secrets tucked away. To them she was a simple Englishwoman from northern Weatherington heading to take a new position along the coast of Virginia.
A young girl named Milly made a point to seek her out. The child was terribly lonely but bright as a new copper coin. She’d been sent for by her father, and her excitement to join him in America was contagious. The old woman he’d hired as her traveling companion, however, had spent more time being sick over the rails than she had keeping the girl company.
“It’s all so thrilling, don’t you think, Mistress Tupper? Two adventurous women like ourselves out on the ocean miles from anywhere.” Milly hugged herself. “What do you suppose Virginia will be like?”
“I only know I’m to live on a fine tobacco plantation. Do you think they’ll make their new governess learn how to smoke a pipe?” Alice liked teasing the girl. Her pale blue eyes would twinkle with mischief.
Milly giggled. “Or one of those fat smelly cigars with the gold ring around the middle.”
“Yes. And I’d smoke it clear to the ring in one breath and blow enough smoke rings to make a chain.”
Milly laughed and hugged her. Her companion only groaned and retched.
Alice twisted at the beautiful ring she wore. It was buttery gold, and not made of smoke. She ran her finger over the
carved into the face with a tiny pearl cradled in the tail of the initial. Her only true treasure. A farewell gift from her best friend, Annalise. She’d presented it to Alice the night before she left for her voyage.
“Running off to the new world won’t erase the pain, Alice. It will only take you too far from those who love you. But if you must go, whenever you feel lost and alone, look at this ring.”
Annalise placed her hand next to Alice’s.
“I’m wearing its twin. This way we will forever be linked.”
Alice already missed her terribly, but Annalise had been wrong. The farther the
separated Alice from England’s shores, the lighter the burden of her past became. Perhaps it would be easy to erase the events that continued to hang about her neck like a noose.
A spray of chilled sea mist dampened her cheeks. A baptism of sorts. Her rebirth. She licked the salt from her lips and sighed. With each mile, a new Alice Tupper immerged from the tangled mess of the old.
* * * *
More than a week into their journey, the day burned warm and bright. Alice closed her book when the call came from the crow’s nest, “Ship off the starboard.”
She joined Captain Frederick as he raised his spyglass toward the approaching craft.
“It’s an English Brigandine. Mayhap they be in distress. By the size of her, she could be one of those slave haulers.”
Soon the ship closed the distance between the two and came alongside. Only half a dozen men stood on the wide deck. A voice called out across the water, “Ahoy, we be the
. Permission to board?”
Fredericks called back. “Are ye in some kind of need?” He cursed under his breath. Something in his voice caused a cold shiver to run down Alice’s spine.
Boarding ladders slammed across the span between the two ships. The six men from the
crossed over. Fredericks approached the boarding party and to everyone’s horror, the lead man pulled a pistol and shot the good captain dead on the spot.
Alice stumbled backward as the scene before her exploded. Women screamed and men scrambled, shouting as the assailants from the Delmar fired their pistols at whomever they saw. Her heart hammered. Blood rushed in her ears as she witnessed a tidal wave of brutal, vicious pirates flood over from the
. They swarmed the deck like locusts, killing any who dared challenge them.
Time moved in a slow, heinous haze. The crew of the
was slaughtered before they could pull their weapons. Milly rushed past and fell as she tried to escape the vicious attack. Alice dropped to her hands and knees searching frantically for a place to hide. Her skirts made crawling near impossible. After tucking into a niche behind a stack of barrels, she prayed to survive.
The tang of blood and gunpowder filled her senses. Acrid smells returned her to the last time she wielded a weapon. The fog of sulfured smoke brought the horrific scene back to her mind. The same fear spurred her on. Tears threatened to blind her.
A high-pitched scream spun Alice around. Two pirates had Milly. Alice rushed them, shouting for them to release her only to be knocked to one side. A brutal blow to the girl’s head with the butt end of a pistol knocked her unconscious. The savage pirate tossed Milly over his shoulder like a sack of wheat and headed back to the
In a surge of ice-cold anger, Alice fought to pull a cutlass from a dead man’s chest. She yanked at the weapon until it released. Slipping on the blood-soaked decking, she fell upon another body. The clouded eyes of dear Captain Fredericks stared back at her. Bile rose in her throat at the sight of the cavernous hole torn in the man’s neck.
She stifled a scream and scrambled away from the gruesome scene into the grasping hands of another attacker. The pirate gripped her throat with one vise-like hand and twisted her arm brutally with the other, wrenching the cutlass from her grasp. It clattered to the deck along with any hope of escape. He sneered down at her. Rotted teeth filled his mouth. He spun her about and hauled her back against his chest. Putrid breath fanned her cheek.
She shuddered and gagged at the smell of sweat and filth permeating from him. Shoving against him only made his hold upon her tighten.
“Ain’t ye a purdy one?”
He groped at her as he slammed her forward against the rails. His fingers raked against her breasts as he pinned her to the side of the ship. Kicking her legs astride, he tore her skirts.
Alice kicked back and twisted her upper body. Her elbow connected with the man’s face with a loud
. He swore and spit at her as blood coursed from his nose.
Lunging at her, he knocked them both to the bloody deck. Alice thrashed beneath him. Punching at him, clawing at his eyes, but he grabbed her hands and pinned them over her head. He crushed her wrists with one hand while the other nearly broke her fingers as he ripped her ring from her.
“No.” Alice’s scream tore from her throat.
“Jones!” A shout stopped him short. Alice used that moment to shove him off her. The man who’d murdered Captain Fredericks stood behind her attacker pointing a pistol at the man’s greasy head.