It’s 1753. Having lost hearth and heart to the Stuart Uprising, Cate Mackenzie is alone in London. A fugitive war criminal, arrest an increasing threat, she purchases passage. En route to the West Indies, the ship is boarded by pirates and she is kidnapped—a case of mistaken identity—by Captain Nathanael Blackthorne, the pirate captain.
Cate is instantly drawn into Nathan’s bloody rivalry with Lord Breaston Creswicke, the man who forced him into piracy. Cate, however, finds what she has longed for: purpose, a place to belong and people who notice if she lives or dies.
This is a story of two scarred people, blinded by their defenses.
It’s the story of trust, or rather, the lack of.
It’s the story of a loss of faith and disbelief that Providence might ever smile again.
“Would you mind not staring at me with those damned eyes?”
Cate started at being spoken to. The captain’s voice held a timbre which could have been quite fearsome had it not been so throaty and ragged.
It took her a moment to find her voice. “I beg pardon. I didn’t realize—”
“Aye, well, you are,” he huffed indignantly. “Seeking to curse me, I’ll wager. I’ve only seen eyes that color once. On a jaguar idol in Vera Cruz, they were. Cursed me the bloody thing did.”
He ended with a dramatic shudder. A squat brown bottle sat amidst the table’s clutter. He snatched it up, uncorked it and took a long drink.
She ducked her head to hide a smile. It wasn’t the first time such comments had been made, most especially while living in the Highlands. Nearly as superstitious as mariners, the Highlanders had more than once accused her of casting spells and curses.
He continued to work, while she continued to stand, her gaze fixed on a point at her feet where rug and floor met. From the corner of her eye, she saw him dart a glance at her now and again, presumably in hopes of catching her evil eye.
If only putting a curse on him would be that simple.
“What are you—?” She was cut short by another fit of coughing, this one full of fluid.
The captain straightened. His scowl was visible even through the dimness. “You look bloody awful!”
She cleared her throat, a wholly unfeminine sound. “I feel like I’ve swallowed half of the Caribbean,” she said more crossly than intended.
“Rum will answer.” He seized the bottle, and then glanced about, muttering darkly under his breath. “Ah,” he said at finally locating a glass atop a desk. “I knew I’d seen one somewheres or another.”
Looking up from pouring, he was disconcerted to find her still standing. “Well, don’t just stand there gaping. Sit!”
She came up against something hard and cold, and realized she had been inching backwards the while. It was a cannon, one of a pair, “Merdering Mary” roughly carved in its carriage.
“Jump and I swear I’ll cheer whilst you drown,” he said.
“Come the bloody hell away from the damned window!”
Another glance showed she was indeed not much more than an arm’s length from a gallery of windows. Running ceiling high, they angled out at the top, with a broad sill at their base.
“I didn’t mean… I mean, I wasn’t—”
“Seems once in a day would be enough, but mark me, I shan’t raise a finger to preserve you from Jones’s locker. Most of the men believe ‘tis the hand of God on a drowning soul. To save one is to deny God, so t’will be no matter to watch you go.”
By the sound of his voice coming out of the shadows, he was pacing.
“Then why did you pull me out?” She considered how much easier things would have been if they had just let her drown.
“Because you are valuable,” he said coldly. “At least for now. But pressing the point could prove unwise. Value can be ever so relative, don’t you think?”
She had the impression the inquiry wasn’t meant to be answered.
“Pray, would you not oblige me to shout like you’re a f’c’stlemen. Sit there if you like. Oh, hell, I don’t really give a damn,” he grumbled with an irritated swipe.
Minding the coat, she reflexively sat on the nearest thing: a chest beside her. Gripping the wood beneath her, the urge to cough built like a rumbling bubble in her chest. She gulped several times, breathing quickly in and out hoping to squelch it.
“Be warned: puke on me deck and you’ll regret it. And take those rags off before you catch your death,” he said.
Squinting at him, she searched for any sign of lustfulness, but found none. Turning her back, she did so, the shift, now so torn, nearly falling off on its own accord.
His path around the table brought him into the full light for the first time. She sucked in sharply at seeing him fully for the first time. Her first impression was of black eyes and a leonine head of black hair and beard. The back of her neck prickled as the name “Blackbeard” sprung to mind. She stoutly reminded herself that infamous personage was long since dead. Of average height and slimly built, his hair was bound by a faded blue headscarf. The remainder of his features being so buried in beard, it was blessedly difficult to tell much more about him, other than he was probably not much more than her score and a half in years.
In spite of the bucket boots he wore, he moved like a great dark cat as he brought the drink around, barely making a footfall, a predator, lithe and lethal. She drew her legs up underneath herself and tucked in the coattail more snuggly around her, then shakily took the proffered glass, murmuring “Thank you.”
She took a drink.
Her throat constricted, requiring her to swallow several times before it was allowed it to pass.
“Rum!” She shuddered. “But, it’s fine. I’m grateful for anything, if it will allow me to warm up.”
A fortuitous fit of coughing helped make her point.
He eyed with suspicion then took a drink, closing his eyes to anxiously await its effects. She eyed him, trying to judge his level of drunkenness. Drink could bring a man to do many things not done when sober. His step was solid, but his speech seemed thickened, almost slurred, although that could have been resultant of its graveled quality.
In spite of its noxiousness, she took another sip. If nothing else, the liquor helped erase the nasty taste in her mouth left by seawater and vomiting.
WE HAVE TWO COPIES OF THE PIRATE CAPTAIN TO GIVE AWAY: ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER, BELOW.
About the Author
Kerry was a history major in college and went into teaching. That didn’t work, so she had two office careers. That didn’t work either. Through a circuitous sequence of events, she wound up in the decorative painting world, where she travel-taught and published for some 30 years. And then, her hand wouldn’t work. So she went back to what she knew: writing, history and sailing. It remains to be seen if that is working.
The Pirate Captain was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2013.
The next book in the series, Nor Gold will be available in June 2014, and will follow both Cate Mackenzie and Captain Nathanael Blackthorne across the Caribbean and back. Join them as they strive to pursue what they treasure most.