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July 4, 1776

Barbary Coast

Bare and bloody from forehead to waist, she held the tip of her sword tight to the
neck of the man who lay on the quarterdeck between her feet, his sword-hand fingers
ground under her heavy boot heel. Her long, blood-soaked braid whipped and
snapped in the wind.
This ship is mine now, Skirrow, she snarled. You have three choices. Adrift,
keeled, or death by my hand.
He would have swallowed, but her sword prevented that. Adrift, he whispered as
best he could.
Wrong choice.
The blade of a carefully sharpened battle ax glinted and whistled as she arced it
overhead and brought it down through his neck, cleanly separating his head from his
shoulders.
Heedless of the blood spurting from their vessels, she dropped the ax and snatched
her former captains head off the deck.
She whirled to see the crewher crew nowwatching with varying degrees of
calculation and terror.
I AM CAPTAIN FURY! she roared, thrusting Skirrows bloody head, still with
its terrified expression, skyward. I am your captain now, by right of my victory. Any
who challenge me will also be sent straight to hell.
She dropped Skirrows head upon his body, then rammed her sword into the deck
so hard that it sank two inches into the wood and quivered. Most of the crew gasped
and stepped back.
Dooley Smith, step forward! she shouted.
A man of indeterminate age with a shock of carrot-colored hair stepped forward
proudly and saluted. Sir!
She plucked a jangle of keys from the bodys belt and fired them at him. Without a
blink, he caught them. Dooley Smith. Leftenant. Second in command. Take who you
trust and go free the prisoners. Bring them to me.
A quarter hour passed in which she stood on the quarterdeck, hands on hips, una-
shamed of her bare breasts, surveying her holdings and crew. Many would die today,
but most of those not by her hand.
Only fifteen men knew what this day would bring, and fourteen of them stood
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spread out, heavily armed, their backs to her, holding weapons to discourage any who
might forcibly object.
A gaggle of Moors, Africans, Arabs, Jews, and Caucasians in equal numbers strag-
gled up on deck, gaunt, nearly lifeless and, for the first time on this voyage, not bound
by chains. Two men stood out: An Arab and a runaway Negro slave. Both stood
proud, their backs strong for all their emaciation, and their bearing dignified.
Solomon Ibrahim and Cambridge Bull, step forward!
The two who knew they had the most to gain by this mutiny stepped forward with
purpose. She pulled two leather-sheathed daggers out of her waistband and sent them
zinging toward the men, who caught them handily.
Seek out your enemies and do what you will, she murmured, and studied the fac-
es of the crew, a full quarter of which turned to shock and fear.
The Arab gave no expression to betray his feelings, but he turned on the balls of his
feet and, with one graceful arc, slit the throat of the man behind himthen plowed
through the assembled crew.
The Negros expression had turned murderous and he too pursued those who had
made his life worse than a living hell down in the deep, dark holds below the cargo.
She watched as men dove overboard to escape the wrath of the two who suddenly
possessed the strength of madmen. Throats were slashed and bodies dumped, the sea
below them blossoming vermilion as she stood silent, watching, waiting.
The rest of the prisoners stared agog, their vengeance wrought by proxy, their ex-
pressions slowly betraying hope.
The two men ran for hatches and disappeared into the bowels of the ship from
whence screams erupted only to be abruptly silenced. Bodies flopped in their mates
arms as they were dragged from belowdecks into the sunshine and tossed overboard.
The sun marked three quarters of an hour before the reapers reappeared before
her, as bloody as she, sheathing the daggers in their waistbands.
Solomon al Ibrahim, she intoned. I have no sailors rank for you, but you will be
my equal on this ship, should you choose to sail with me. Anon, we shall together ad-
dress your grievance with the sultan.
His expression still blank, he bowed his head in respect, then raised it to look her in
the eye. She nodded once.
Cambridge Bull. Second leftenant. Third in command. He, too, bowed his respect.
Paulo Papadakos, step forward! The Greek had taken to the sea at ten, when his
family had been run out of their ghetto and he had become simply an extra mouth to
feed. Third leftenant.
Bataar Khan, step forward! A smallish Mongol looked up at her from under low-
ered brows. Bosun. And do away with that farce of hair affixed to your chin. You are
no more male than I. The woman grinned and spun a Turkish sword over the top of
her hand before touching the dull edge of the blade to her forehead.
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Enrico Espejo, step forward! Barely out of the schoolroom, this Spaniard had
proven his worth many times, and no less so today. Master gunner.
Adrian Croftwood, step forward! An English noblemans fifth son, who had no
hope of anything in his homeland and had gone to sea seeking a fortune that had never
materialized. Carpenter.
Orlando Telesca, step forward! Another noblemans son, Venetian, heir to noth-
ing owing to a profligate father. Surgeon.
The afternoon bore on thusly as she named her crew and positions, the last a small
boy who had been used as a toy for the man she had just slain. No one knew his name
or his age, not even he. He had always been called Boy.
Boy! Her voice rang out, still true, though she could feel her throat sting. Step
forward! He did, trembling. She placed him at no more than nine or ten years old.
Can you speak, child?
Yes, Sir, he replied, immediate but timid.
You shall henceforth be known as Christopher. Take the first watch under my
command.
With the energy of the very young, he ran to the mainmast ropes and climbed,
swift as a monkey, to the highest platform, where awaited a glass and cone. She looked
up at him and he looked down at her, then he saluted. She nodded once, then stood
silent whilst she picked out her own victims.
She saw where they stood, still alive. Neither Solomon nor Bridge would have had
reason to kill them.
But she did.
And they knew it.
Lieutenant Smith caught her look and barked an order for five men to be tied to
the masts of the ship. They ran, but her new crew was quick to capture them and fol-
low those orders.
She clipped down the stairs to the main deck. She approached the first. Look at
me. Open your eyes.
He refused, mute, miserable, tears rolling down his cheeks.
Confess your sin.
But he wouldnt. He knew what he had done, and what she would do to him. Her
crewman pried his eyelids open. With the point of her dagger, she pried his eyes out
one by laborious one while he screamed in pain and blood poured out of the sockets. If
he did not die, she would put him ashore.
She went to the next mast to which were bound two men. Turn this one facing
wood and get me a harpoon. Her order was carried out and someone had slapped the
long spike in her hand. Spread him open. With one upward thrust, she drove the spear
into his back passage. His screams were deafening. They would cease in a moment or
two.
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The man next to him was already blubbering and begging for mercy, as he knew
what was in store for him. She cut his breeches open with her dagger. With one hand,
she grasped his cock and balls, yanked them toward her, stretching them as far as they
would go, and sliced them both clean from his body. He passed out. Blood drained
from his groin all over her hands and she wiped her palm dry on her arse. He would be
dead by sunset.
To the third mast were strapped the last two men upon whom she would visit her
vengeance. Smitty had ordered the instrument prepared as soon as shed begun her
rampage, and brought the red-hot iron tongs to her immediately. Open his mouth.
Two of her newly minted officers muscled his jaw opentwisting it so that it
cracked at the hinges. Smitty clamped the tongs to his tongue and dragged it out of his
mouth. She cut it out with short, ragged strokes. He, too, passed out. He could beg on
a street corner somewhere with the blind man.
The last man was the ships former surgeon. She stared at him, and he stared back,
his head high. He had participated in the event that had led her to take this ship, but
not in the same manner as the others.
You killed him, the grog you gave him.
I did, he said without hesitation. Swift and painless.
She took a breath. Thank you.
He inclined his head.
Leftenant Bull! Take him. Lock him in my cabin. I should decide what to do with
him later.
Bridge stepped forward and saluted. Which cabin, Sir?
Oh, aye. I have a new cabin now. My old one, then. Have a boy move my things
first.
Aye, Capn.
That done, she turned and bound back up to the quarterdeck. Solomon. Mount
Skirrows head on the bowsprit as a warning to anyone else who thinks to take me or
mine.
The Arabs mouth turned up in a diabolical smile. She and the rest of the crew
watched silently as he impaled the head on a claymore, then grabbed a measure of rope
before heading to the bowsprit to lash it tight.
Turning to address her men, she said, We put into port in Casa Blanca soon for
drydock. That will take some weeks. Those of you who do not wish to sail under a
womans command will find your own way back to your homelands. After that, I go to
Philadelphia to apply for a letter of marque. War has begun, and where there is war,
there is money to be made.
Those of you whove been bound who would be my crew are welcome to stay as
long as you work. Otherwise, youll tell the leftenant where you wish to debark and I
shall take you there. Any who have wives or sweethearts who would be willing to work
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for me are welcome to bring them aboard as we pass your home ports.
The rest of you who wish to stay as my crew, freely and of your own will sailing
under the command of a woman, will be well rewarded. This ship will henceforth go
by the name Thunderstorm. We weigh anchor at dawn. Monsieur Senzeille, two extra
rations of rum for each man and other than a skeleton watch of two hours each, you
may have the rest of the evening to yourselves.
The crew erupted in cheers.
It was a good days work, but she could find no joy in it.
She looked to the sun, low on the horizon, and kissed the tips of her fingers. Adieu,
mon cur, she whispered and went below to find a dark place to sob out her grief and
heartache before her new crew saw her tears.
It was not meet for a commander to weep.
July 4, 1776
Newgate Prison, London

cold
wet
dark
hunger
filth
stench
humiliation
pain
madness
death
Englands traitor awaited the courts verdict sitting in a puddle of his own filth on
freezing stone, even in summer, barely able to move for cold and pain:
his back against the equally freezing stone wall,
his knees up and his arms propped across them,
his head hung low,
his ankles with bracelets of iron, a short length of chain betwixt them to hobble
him; a matching set gracing his wriststhe two chains connected by a third to keep
him secure from escape,
his waist-length hair matted, filthy, crawling with lice and maggots,
his beard, thick and coarse, itching and crawling with the same vermin as his hair,
his body emaciated and weak, his stomach aching from hunger.
Two years.
He had been sitting thusly for two years here whilst his trial lumbered toward the
inevitable conclusion of his execution.
To keep his mind sharp, he created word puzzles and riddles. He made lists of the
books in the library at home and which ones he had read. He named the names of eve-
ry tenant, villager, and boarder on his estate.
To make himself laugh, he recited by memory long passages from Popes Dunciad;
following that, the works that had inspired such brilliant insults. He stood in the mid-
dle of his cell and delivered monologues from Shakespeare and Marlowe, twisting
them beyond recognition into bad puns that made him cackle at his own jokes.
To keep his sanity, he recalled his boyhood, spent running hither and yon with his
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older siblings, racing their horses through the woods, hunting small animals with
primitive snares and weapons, playing games with the village children, sneaking into
the sea caves to hunt pirate treasure.
To keep hope alive, he flew far away from this place, to the Ohio river valley he had
found and made his home for a fortnight, land he had coveted so much he had paced it
off as if to verify a purchase. Upon reflection, he should have known it could never
have been his, but in this time and place, as it had for the last two years, it was.
He split logs for the fences that corralled his bleating, stinking sheep. He walked
behind yoked oxen guiding a plow, his feet bare in the cool, damp, rich black dirt that
had never before met steel. He dug precise holes into which he carefully set saplings for
apples and pears, then carried water and mulch with which to nurture them. He
mucked his horses stalls and milked his cows, and when he emerged from his stables,
he looked over acres and acres of grain, pastureland, and meadows to the horizonall
his, as far as he could see.
He turned and saw his home, his beautiful home, the one he had built with his
own hands, along with equally beautiful furnishings inside. Here, a rocking chair he
had labored over. There, a well-designed roof hip he was particularly proud of.
A simply dressed woman waved to him from the porch, called his name, and re-
turned the smile that grew upon his face. He could not see her very well, though, for he
was rather far away. He could, however, hear his children squawking at one another
over this favored toy or thatone he had made.
Come to supper, my love! The sun will set again yet tomorrow.
A moment, my love, he whispered, and gazed again over his landhis!
marveling at its vastness.
The day guards thought him mad, for all that he spoke to himself, asking and an-
swering his own questions, reciting the same lists and soliloquies over and over again,
conversing with his nonexistent wife and children, scratching out crop plans on the
stone with the jagged edges of the links that tethered him.
The night guards had nothing better to do than listen to his plans and scoff.
TRAITOR!
Jerked out of his reverie, he smirked at the screech that came through the narrow
bars far above his head. He wiped his mouth with his filthy hand, chuckling. How
many times had he heard that?
Traitor. He heard it shouted outside the prison walls for hours at a time, the popu-
lace clamoring for him to dance from a gibbet.
Traitor. He heard it shouted outside the courtroom where his trial took place,
where he stood stooped because of his shackles. His appearance condemned him even
to those who could not quite be convinced by any other means that he was guilty of
high treason.
Traitor. The word was splashed all over the gazettes, or so he was told. Almost no
8 Moriah Jovan
one would speak of it to him, even when he begged for the truth. Only his mother un-
derstood his need for the truthand gave it to him.
Truth: There was a word whose concept he had long forgotten, if it had ever exist-
ed in the first place.
Honor: He had been betrayed by the Crown itself, its political interests in his
death paramount to any claim of honor.
Nobility: His home, the place he had left fifteen years ago, the one to which he had
wanted to return for so many years He would never see it again.
Reputation: Shredded beyond repair, his family name forever black, his siblings left to
bear societys disdain and contempt. His unmarried sisters, still in the schoolroom, would
find it difficult to make a decent match. His brothers would find the task equally burden-
some, which, if remained unaccomplished, would be the death knell of their family.
It would not be long now until he was shuffled off this mortal coil, if the rising
clamor outside was any barometer.
I did not bear weak men, Son. Keep faith. Your brother will get you out of this Godforsaken
place, and if he doesnt, I will.
Ah, but his mother had always sailed into the wind, making little headway, but de-
termined to defeat Fate, refusing to lose or to fail no matter how difficult the task. He
himself had inherited a good measure of that foolishness, he knew, and perhaps his
father truly had the right of it: allow Fate to deal the cards, then play the hand given
without complaint. It certainly must be easier.
That bloody Hanoverian jackanape has taken too much of us, of you, and I will cheat him of
his goal if tis the last thing I do.
Mother, you would make me a fugitive? I will never see you again.
I would rather never see you again, knowing you are alive and well, than watch my wonderful,
courageous boy sacrificed on the altar of politics. You will not die before I do. Ill not allow it!
Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the
stage, and then is heard no more, he whispered, then shook his head furiously. Lord,
Mother would have my arse, thinking thataway.
He might allow as how his fathers philosophy was easier on the soul, but he was
indeed his mothers son. Visions of a life on the American frontier persisted, which
meant he would go to his death mired in hope.
Yet for all his misery, he had endured far, far worse. Two years alone in these unac-
commodating accommodations was far more preferable to the fortnight of hell he had
endured in the hold of a Royal Navy frigate that marked the beginning of his career
the one he had never wanted.
Here, he was left alone but for a guards occasional half-hearted taunt.
Here, he was given at least a bit of gruel and water.
Here, he was not stripped, not bound in stocks, not flogged, not
Here, he could sleep as deeply as he wished without fear.
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The nightmares were rare and negligible. They did not shake him out of slumber,
nor disturb him when awake. He knew where he was: Newgate. He knew his cell-
mates: No one. He knew that the bars that kept him in kept everyone else out.
Here he could escape across an ocean and hundreds of miles inland to a land of
promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, far away from this meaningless existence.
And here, he had regular visits from people who loved him, who gave him what lit-
tle comfort they could afford, who had dedicated themselves to winning his acquit-
talwhether he was innocent or not.
The noise outside was swelling. Pebbles and larger stones were tossed into his cell,
their plinking against the walls faster and faster. A collective bellow gathered and rose
to a roar.
traitor!
traitor!
traitor!
It was a chant growing in volume and vitriol.
He would be drawn and quartered by sundown on the morrow. Unless his mother
had one of her seemingly endless supply of wily feints at the ready, he would never
have to worry about anything ever again.
He found that a relief. Father was definitely more correct in this, he finally de-
cided and hang what Mother would think. At some point, it was easier to accept it
than to continue fighting against the inevitable. After all, even the best captains and
generals had to retreat now and again. There was no dishonor in losing a battle to win
a war, and no war could have two victors.
Thus, he proceeded to unfurl his minds sails and head for Ohio as he had done so
often, to sink into the soft dirt and sweet grasses on the bank of the Cuyahoga River to
await the executioners summoning. Then it occurred to him that though he could not
have that in life, he could have it in death: He would ask his family to bury him there.
His mother would push back the cliffs of the estate to see this request honored. Aye,
that was precisely what he would do.
He smiled and closed his eyes, letting his head fall back against the stone wall.
Clanging at the iron doors of the gaol two floors up only surprised him in that it
was so soon after the verdict was rendered. The voices of his advocates barely pricked
his resignation to Fate.
The haste with which his cell door opened and men rushed in did spur him to lift
his head. The sudden light from the guards torch blinded him and he raised an arm to
shield his eyes.
My son! He grunted in pain when his father cast himself to his knees and fell up-
on him, weeping. My son, forgive me, I pray!
There was nothing he could say except, Tis of no matter, Father. Except it was,
insofar as he was an obedient and dutiful son, and his tribulations were the direct
10 Moriah Jovan
result of that obedience. But, please, I must ask you to bury me
Leftenant! snapped his commander as he sank to his haunches beside him and
began to fuss with his manacles.
Lieutenant? He had not been any mans lieutenant for nigh ten years, but the sharp
address certainly made him pay attention. What had he donehigh treason notwith-
standingto be reprimanded so by an ally?
Sir?
No one will be burying you in the immediate future. Youve been acquitted.
Acquitted? he croaked. Surely he had misheard ?
He sat confused, but that was certainly of no matter, either, since he would die on
the morrow and now felt an urgent need to get his request made before that happened.
He flinched when the frigid air touched his wrist where the manacle had worn scars
into his flesh.
Father, come. His older brothers voice. Get up. You may weep over him in the
coach. Nephew, help me.
Grandfather. Ah, and there was his nephew, his solicitor. Shadows moved as the
younger man bent over the older one and urged him away from his supplication.
His commander grasped his left wrist, and he watched in wonder as the key went
into the hole, turned, and released the mechanism that bound his other wrist. The
manacle fell off, clattering upon the stone floor. He flinched from the sharp sound.
A fourth man stooped over him. Mother will take you home as soon as you can
walk farther than ten feet. You will be at home in time for Christmas!
What? he whispered as he looked at his younger brother, the barrister who had
argued his case.
Do you not understand? He pulled away when his brothers nose nearly touched
his while he stared directly into his eyes and spoke. Youhavebeenacquitted.
He blinked. And again.
Acquitted? Did he dare hope this was not an hallucination? I can go home?
Aye, grunted his commander, who was currently struggling with the lock on a
rusty ankle cuff. Your brother did a fine job and your fathers influence is not to be
discounted, either. Your motherwell, I should not want to cross her in a dark alley,
to be sure. Youre a free man.
Free.
Nay. Not so long as he could remember the kings betrayals of him, nor whilst he
seethed with the rage that had been building for the last two years.
The first betrayal he had been able to put behind him to fulfill his duties with ex-
traordinary valor.
The second he shared with fifteen other men, all of them cast under the wheels of
political expediency.
This, the third
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He was finished bearing the Britains sins against him without seeking redress.
Redress.
That which the Americans sought also.
But they were little more than beasts, the colonials, with their primitive weapons,
little training, sparse leadership, and no navy.
He was not.
When these men, his family, the people who loved him, attempted to pull him off
the ground, his legs buckled. Even his arms, so long in one position, refused to hook
around their shoulders with enough strength to hold himself.
Bloody hell, his father hissed before sweeping him up in his arms and cradling
him as he had done when he was but a wee lad.
Redress.
Revenge.
Suddenly, it was a more intoxicating idea than Ohio.
Aye, he would seek justice for the crimes committed against him and his family,
and he would do it in the manner the Crown had trained him. Could there be any-
thing sweeter?
His father carried him out of his cell, out of Newgate, whilst the crowds who
screamed for his execution were held at bay by Bailey guards. Soon enough, he found
himself ensconced in a comfortable coach, his father tucking warm blankets around
him.
My son, he whispered as he worked, his eyes glittering, a smilethat smile, the
one he loved so much to seegrowing. You are a free man.
The newly acquitted barked a rough, bitter laugh and said, Your optimism is al-
ways the gentlest of salves, Father, if only for a small amount of time, but look. He
gestured weakly out the window toward the bloodthirsty crowd. Does that look like
freedom? Nay. I shall never be free, he muttered. I am a traitor. I will always be a
traitor.
I
1
January, 1780
Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius
Caribbean

Yere goin ashore, Jack? Lieutenant Smith asked, shocked when Celia swung
from the deck of her ship and dropped into the dinghy already being rowed toward the
docks.
Shush. Solomon cant know. He believes I am abed as he bade me. She cast a
glance between her first mate and her bosun. They were the only two occupants of the
boat. Ill assume you two wanted away from a nosy crew.
Bataar glared at her, and if Celias head were not throbbing like the very devil, she
would have laughed. If Solomon bade you rest, she sneered, then why are you here
disturbing our liaison?
Aye, Smitty agreed. Celia now could see he was equally annoyed with her. Id
think a bodyd rest after sailing through that last stretch of storms.
It had been an incredibly long and difficult voyage from Portugal, after an incredi-
bly long and difficult voyage from Virginia to London and on to Portugalbut for
different reasons. Truthfully, she would like nothing better than to sleep, having al-
ready postponed her meeting with her partner until the morrow, but
Not this body, she returned wearily.
Then why ?
She gestured vaguely out to sea. Dunham sailed into the bay two hours ago. I
must make haste to go to Mohammed before Mohammed comes to me.
Bataar sighed in sudden understanding. Your mother. Does she know he has
graced us with his presence?
Celia grimaced. Not yet. Shed have my head if I allowed him on board, yet I can
hardly deny him. I sent a message for him to meet me at the Bloody Hound.
Its been near five years. He must miss ye much.
She slid Smitty a look. He is not so sentimental as to cross the Atlantic for a visit
with me, and he cannot possibly know Mama is aboard, so Ill admit to some curiosity
as to his reasons for being here.
More than one?
He does not do anything without he has six reasons at once, and certainly would
not do such a thing as leave the Mediterranean without those reasons being very large
ones.
16 Moriah Jovan
An whatll ye do when he requests a tour of the Thunderstorm? He hasna seen it.
I have not thought that far ahead, and I have a singular inability to lie to him. I
shall have to arrange for Mama to go ashore somehow. Celias head began to throb in
earnest, and she rubbed at her temples. Certainly, she was happy to see the man, but
why here? Why now? Oh, God, she groaned, closing her eyes and lying back in the
dinghy. Does it never end?
Perhaps, Bataar said haughtily, you should allow Fate to do what she will. It is
not your concern.
Celia could only groan again. Do not make me think, Bataar. Your family con-
cerns are a matter for all scholars of history to sort out, whilst I am alone between
twonay, threewarring factions.
They are adults. Stand aside and allow them to war.
It was not long until the dinghy scraped the shoals. Smitty hopped overboard, up
to his knees in the water to haul it close and tie it off. Celia climbed out even as he held
his hand out to Bataar.
Im off, Celia muttered. My thanks for the conveyance.
Were bound for the Bloody Hound as well, Smitty admitted reluctantly as he laced
his fingers in Bataars. There is a quiet inn behind the courtyard, but weve yet to eat.
Mmm, I may avail myself of that. I could use
CALICO JACK!
Gods blood, she moaned again, but Smitty and Bataar both turned at Solomons
bellow from behind them. Half the streets denizens stopped and looked around. Soon
enough her gunpowder supplier spotted and hailed her. Four days hence! she called
to him. He nodded enthusiastically.
She was obliged to greet half a dozen people and arrange meetings whilst Solomon
and another four of her officers fought through the crowd of drunken sailors and
women to reach her and her companions.
Capn Jack! Heads up!
Celias head snapped to her right just in time to see a bottle flying toward her.
Praise be, she said fervently, snatching it out of the air, pulling the cork, and tipping
her head back to drink deeply. It was good, strong rum, and once she had poured a
good quarter of it down her gullet, she saluted the man whod tossed it to her. Excel-
lent, Distiller! One hundred barrels to the Thunderstorm. Come see me this week, as I
have a Greek spirit for you to sample.
Many thanks, Capn!
We might as well have stayed on board, Smitty muttered to Bataar.
Speaking of that, Celia said, feeling her headache fade with the alcohol and her
mood lift as she graciously collected salutations and good wishes with every step she
took. Why do you not share a cabin as well as a bunk? I can find a use for a cabin that
stands empty most of every day.
Dunham 17
Well, Capn, Smitty drawled snidely, now that yeve made a spectacle of us, I
spose theres no need to keep us to ourselves.
Happy to help! Celia chirped, suddenly amused, and waved at yet another ac-
quaintance.
Jack, came Solomons ominous voice from just behind her.
Oh, do not berate me. Dunhams here.
I know and I had a plan to defuse the situation, but you did not stay long enough
for me to inform you of it.
She huffed at the dark Arab, who was clad in his preferred white silk tunic and pa-
jamas, his bald head wrapped in more white silk that emphasized his black close-
shaven beard. Her mouth twisted in thought. Aye, well, now Im here and he awaits
and I find myself in dire need of food and more of this fine rum. She took another
swig. That, she pronounced with a satisfied smack of the lips, is lovely.
He grunted.
Solomon, she said, annoyed with his clucking. I do not need my physician tag-
ging after me.
I told you not to come ashore. If I cannot force you to your bed, I will cling to your
heels like dog shit and follow you like its stench.
Solomon!
His eyebrow rose. Am I now under your command Captain?
Her jaw ground. That was a mistake Ill not repeat.
He smirked.
Oh, here we are, Celia said, surprised they had arrived so soon. She looked over
her shoulder to see that many of her crew had assembled behind her. Do not get your-
selves killedand thats an order. If I have to knock on hells door to drag you back to
your posts, I will, and then Ill flog you for putting me to the trouble.
The lot of them laughed and wandered off.
So, Jack, Smitty drawled as they filed through the doorway, now that yere the
only body occupying your bunk, should I keep an eye out?
Bataar laughed and Celia flashed the old salt a grin. Im not sure, Smitty. I married
the last man you brought to me.
Oh ho! I should take up matchmaking, ye say?
Youll not get my business, then. I have need of a procurer.
Jack, Solomon growled, there will be no procuring done on your behalf for the
foreseeable future. If you test me, I will inform your mother.
We shall see about that, Celia said archly. Ive not had a good tumble since be-
fore we made London. I am positively famished.
The tavern fair crawled with pirates and privateers, most of whom she recognized.
She cast around for Dunham, who sat in a back corner of the tavern holding court
with Maarten Gjaltema, her sailing partner.
18 Moriah Jovan
The last five years had aged Dunham aplenty, his long once-orange hair now al-
most completely white. His close-shaven beard was the color of new-fallen snow with
not a patch of orange in sight.
She had been too busy to think about him much since hed officiated her wedding,
but she had missed the old man and was more than glad to see him. It shocked her how
much she wished he had come here because he had missed her.
HO, DUNHAM! HOLLANDER! she bellowed, her hands cupped around her
mouth.
HO, JACK! Dunham returned in the heavy brogue he affected in public. Come
aboard, Lass! Make room, lads. Ere comes me finest work.
She made only a little stir as she worked her way through the writhing mass of
male and female bodies. Whether she knew any particular individual or not, most eve-
ryone here knew her by sight or deed, and dare not offend her.
Except one.
It was not until she had made half her destination when she found herself pulled
down into a hard, muscled lap and her mouth thoroughly kissed.
The man tasted of rum and cocoa.
Surprised, shocked, and so unexpectedly warmed as she looked into amused ice blue
eyes, she ceased to think. She opened her mouth to let his tongue stroke hers, raised
her hand to caress his rough, stubbled cheek. His body was big and strong, so she re-
laxed against him with a sigh, closed her eyes, tilted her head to get closer, and kissed
him for a long moment.
She whimpered when he palmed one of her arse cheeks, caressing and squeezing
but no matter how beautiful his eyes, no matter how well he kissed, no matter
how sweet he tasted, no matter how famished she was, allowing just any sailor to accost
her so publicly would set an inconvenient precedent.
The point of her dagger just under his jaw convinced him to let her go.
He drew away from her carefully and Celia caught her breath. Never had she seen
such a beautiful man in her life. Long silver-streaked blue-black hair, chiseled features,
dark tan, good, white teethand those eyes!
There are many ways you could have acquired my undivided attention for a night
or six, she remarked mildly after admiring his face and making no secret of it. Mistak-
ing me for a whore is not one of them.
She slipped off his lap and sheathed her dagger as she walked away without a
backward glance. She felt her wrist grasped and prepared herself. By the time he had
swung her around to face him, she had drawn her cutlass with the unmistakable ring of
battle, silencing the mob of people in the great room of the tavern. Her crew gathered
behind her, as did the Hollander and the crew of the Mad Hangman, Dunham and her
former shipmates from the Iron Maiden.
Other men gathered behind this beautiful stranger who had kissed her so well.
Dunham 19
Takeyourhandoffme, she growled, then whirled into his arms to drive
the tip of her elbow into his breastbone and her thick boot heel down onto his instep.
The battle erupted with a roar, and she found herself in an unexpected sword fight
with the man. Solomon and her crew, as did the two other crews, fought alongside her,
outnumbering her opponents men two to one. Sword in one hand, dagger in the oth-
er, she was forced to fight better than she had ever fought beforeeven against her
own master.
Dunham! she bellowed above the mle, who is this bastard?
Judas, the man himself snarled just before half the tavern shouted likewise. My
name is Judas and youll have reason to remember me, lady, never fear.
Oh, aye. Ive heard of you, she announced as she parried and thrust. Little boys
playing pirate.
That seemed to infuriate him and he pressed her backward, raining strikes upon
her faster and harder, forcing her to drop her cutlass and snatch her other dagger.
The pirate was brought up short by the Hollanders sword point near his throat.
Well, now that you have met, he said conversationally, his Dutch accent thick with
amusement, allow me the honor of the formal introductions. Anon, we can gather in
Philadelphia for a ball my wife will be delighted to plan, and you may continue this
dance there. Sans weapons. Fury, this is Judas, captain of the Silver Shilling. Judas, this is
Fury, captain of the American privateer Thunderstorm, formerly the Moroccan corsair
Carnivale. Most know her as Jack.
That brought a glimmer of recognition to his face, but for her name or the Carni-
vales, she could not tell.
Jack here, Dunham murmured from Celias other side, is me best student and I
see youve near bested her, which is a feat. Jack, he drawled, chastisement so heavy in
his voice she grimaced. Yere out of practice. Been lazin on yer laurels?
Aye, Capn, she breathed, her chest heaving. Twill not happen again.
Judas, yer crews outnumbered. Ye might have bested Jack here Dunham shot
her a disgusted glance. an he shouldna be able to do it again or Ill know the reason
why, Missybut your crew be not so lucky. Turn an look.
Indeed, the clash of swords had nearly ceased. Celia looked over her opponents
shoulder and saw that between the crews of the Thunderstorm, the Iron Maiden, and the
Mad Hangman, Judass crew had no chance.
I should think youll not assault a woman again without knowing who she is and
the extent of her firepower, Celia murmured. She felt Dunham start. Aye. He
grabbed me and kissed me like some common whore.
No, wench, Judas growled. No common whore, I see now.
Celia sucked up a breath, then glared at the Hollander when he laughed.
Sheathe your weapons, Judas, Dunham commanded, an you an yer crew be on
yer way. You got yer kiss an she got er fight, so tis a draw. You can hash this out at
20 Moriah Jovan
sea. I wanna enjoy me time ashore with me protge.
Im sure. Judas drawled as he put his weapons away and sneered at her. Your pro-
tge. He turned and stalked out of the tavern, his crew following reluctantly.
Well, me girl, Dunham chuckled as they watched him leave. I doonna know
where yeve been in the last year that yevena crossed paths with Judasbloody hell,
even Ive heard of him all the wayt the Holy Land, wagin his own war on King
George. No payin attention, are ye?
Celias mouth tightened and her eyes narrowed on her former captain.
Aye, and make no mistake, either. Now hes gotcha in his sights. Whether to bed
ye or kill ye, I canna say, but it dinna look like yed object to bein bedded. He paused,
then slid her a significant glance. Id not object should ye bed him.
To that she replied with great precision, Rafael Covarrubias.
Dunhams humor vanished, his facing flushing bright red. Ye gods, woman! he
roared. You dare speak that mans name to me?!
You are as predictable as the sun, Capn, she said with a sweet smile. Makes one
wonder how youve escaped the hangmans noose this long.
He cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed, Rums on Jack tonight,
lads! Tell the port! She heaved an annoyed sigh, and he grinned at her. Whats at,
Whelp?
She should have known better than to engage in a battle of wits with the man
whod made a commander out of her.
2

Elliott brooded as he rowed back to his ship.


He had never lost such a battle before. Granted, it was not one hed meant to start,
and had taken him and his crew completely unawares. Granted, too, that while hed
outmatched a highly skilled swordswoman, his men had had to fight three crews at the
same time over her
and there was no honor in besting a woman at swords, no matter how accom-
plished she might be.
Still
Captain Fury.
Dunham had called her Jack, but it did not sit well on her shoulders, and definitely
not as well as her nom de guerre.
It and tales of her adventures traveled from the Colonies to the Caribbean, from
England to Egypt, from Africa to Argentina. Hed thought her a myth, such as sirens
and mermaids and selkies. Hed heard she was striking, though not beautiful, and even
that only as an aside. Hed also heard she occasionally went bare-breasted about her
ship and always, without fail, in battle.
Twas said she had taken the Carnivale on her own, with no forewarning, no con-
spiracy, but he refused to believe that. Captain Skirrow was known far and wide as a
tyrant so cruel even the Ottomans feared him. Considering the women in Elliotts fam-
ily, he could easily believe in the existence of a female privateer captain, but not that a
woman could lead a mutiny to acquire it.
If she had indeed taken itno one seemed to know whyshe would have had to
have its crew behind her.
mutiny
by a woman
accepted as an equal by two well-respected commanders
Elliott searched his mind for more tidbits hed long forgotten because her exist-
enceif, indeed, she did existmade no difference to him. A woman pirate. Not
since Anne Bonney and Mary Read. Even they had worked as men, and under Jack
Rackhams protection.
Myth.
Most men werent capable of the exploits laid at Furys feet.
Striking? Aye, he supposed. Not beautiful. She had generous hips, magnificent
22 Moriah Jovan
breasts, fair skin that had the faint look of perpetual sunburn, and eyes the color of
burnt sugar. Her hair had initially caught his eye: pink. A red so light and so streaked
blonde by the sun it looked like a strawberry, peach, and creme pure.
But it was the smile she had cast at the old man with whom shed entered the tav-
ern that transformed her into something ethereal.
Fierce? Aye. She had challenged him so that he had been stretched to defeat her,
and even then her mentor had reprimanded her for being out of practice. He could see
why she might be; she likely relied upon her reputation to stay out of as many battles
as possible. Twas logical: the most reward for the least risk.
Captain Fury.
She kissed like a woman who knew how to spike a man on his own lust, and her
arse had filled his hand perfectly.
There are many ways you could have acquired my undivided attention for a night or six.
His eyes narrowed as he rowed harder and his jaw clenched.
He definitely wanted her undivided attention. Wanted to run his fingers through
that incredible pink hair. Wanted to grind his mouth against hers. Wanted to wrap
her thighs around his hips. Wanted to bury himself so hard, so deep within her she
would never, ever forget who he was or what he could do to her.
What pleasure he could give her.
His men had left the tavern to seek their fun elsewhere, but Elliott had lost his taste
for whoring tonight. With each pull of the oars toward the Silver Shilling, he cast about
the bay for the Thunderstorm. Ah, there, not so far from his ship, though he could be
easily forgiven for missing it, as it was painted entirely black so as to disappear in the
night.
The stern was sparsely embellished, but its design was definitely British. He rowed
slowly toward it. It was a sixth-rate sloop-of-war, three masts, ship-rigged. He counted
no fewer than sixteen carronade and at least twelve swivels. It was a rare vessel, Swan
class, the same size as the HMS Rose, which Elliott had once numbered in a fleet he
had commanded. It was the perfect privateer: enough room in the holds to put a de-
cent amount of cargo, enough armament to fend off most predators as well as take
merchant vessels much larger, and enough speed to outrun any warship she came up
against.
He found himself nodding in approval as he rowed slowly past it, admiring its sleek
lines. He was just past the ships hull when he looked up at the prow and his mouth
dropped open.
That figurehead!
Almighty God, he whispered, thoroughly awed.
Fury herself. Carved thrice scale in mahogany, with her hair streaming behind her,
her body bare to the apex of her thighs, which then parted and straddled the prow as if
she rode a lover, her bare arse firm, her wooden feet curled up over the rail. Her breasts
Dunham 23
were high and well-formed, the erect nipples large and prominent. Her right fist
gripped the hilt of a massive steel sword, its point thrust deep into the wood beneath
her thigh, its blade dripping wooden blood down the hull. Her left hand was out-
stretched to the world, her first finger pointing the way.
Her face had been caught in an expression of savage ecstasy; one could not tell if
she was receiving ungodly pleasure from her prow or from battle. If Elliott had not
already been half aroused thinking about how that arse fit in his hand, he was fully
engorged now, watching her fuck her ship.
Then he grinned. No, he had not intended to do anything other than kiss a pretty
wench with an entrancing smile, much less start a war, but there was only one thing to
do after one had lost a battle to an enemy: Win the next and with it, finish the war.
By dawn, Elliott and his ship, its crew lively from a good nights work and now not
at all resentful of a lost tavern brawl, weighed anchor and put out to the other side of
Sint Eustatius.
Elliott could barely think to command, his attention riveted by the sword-wielding
mahogany privateer captain who now fucked the prow of the Silver Shilling instead of
the Thunderstorm.
3
February, 1780
Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

Not a fortnight after he had left the Caribbean, Elliott dropped the spyglass, won-
dering how the hell he was going to get the Silver Shilling through the barricade of Brit-
ish ships o the line strung out along the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. If he had a
smaller ship
Then again, if he had a smaller ship, it, along with its captain and crew, would be at
the bottom of the ocean. Instead, the last two British frigates whose captains were fool-
ish enough to turn and fight him were the ones now breaking bread with Davy Jones.
Dr. Covarrubias is near three miles north of us, Capn.
Wonder why, Elliott muttered to himself more than his lieutenant. It was dark,
but the moon was just bright enough to catch a glimmer of another vessel.
Do you think hell give us trouble?
Elliott shook his head. I see no reason that he would. He is neither one of King
Charless minions nor any variation of pirate, and our quarrel is with the British. To
my knowledge, hes never opened his gunports without being pushed to it. He
churned through the possibilities and put the glass to his eye again. He probably has
cargo and awaits what we do.
The British line was rumored to be changing soon, and any captain worth his salt
would take advantage of it.
The man is the best astronomer since Galileo. One would expect him to be a de-
cent captain.
Hes too impetuous for command, Elliott grunted. Reckless. But his navigation
is impeccable, clearly, and he has a gift for squeezing the last pence and more from his
cargos.
Yeardley snorted. If he can get his cargos to port.
Aye, precisely. He should simply hire a captain and keep to navigation.
And Fury? Shell want her figurehead back.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw the two men closest to him glance at her mag-
nificent wooden effigy. His. Hed claimed it, and by doing so had dealt her and her
crew a grave insult. Figureheads were sacrosanct and men had gone to war for far mild-
er offenses. If she or her crew were the least bit superstitious
Yet shed not pursued him for it. He wondered, not for the first time, if she had
any intention of pursuit.
Dunham 25
Elliott had taken care to learn her intentions and had then followed her out of the
Caribbean, losing distance every hour the wind blew. Had she a mind, she could have
sailed around him and approached him from behind. But a ship built for speed and
cargo was not built to declare war on an unusually large pirate ship and crew. The
Thunderstorm was no match for the Silver Shilling and a captain of her rumored accom-
plishments would not consider such action for more than a moment.
There are many ways you could have acquired my undivided attention for a night or six.
Or did she understand Elliott was determined to keep her attention now that he
had it, and stealing her figurehead simply the first notice of his intentions?
His cockstand, it seemed, was interminable. Truly, taking that figurehead had been
a mistake, if only for strategic purposes because he couldnt seem to think beyond that
fine wooden arse that permanently graced his line of sight, parting at the thighs to re-
veal nothing.
Aye, she had had reason to be angry with him, but before it had occurred to her to
be angry Oh, that kiss. What would have happened if hed stayed in Oranjestad,
swallowed his pride, and groveled adequately?
He didnt grovel well.
Capn?
Elliott started.
Fury?
Elliott looked toward the Virginia coast. Rumor had it that Fury and the Holland-
er (Elliott had no idea how to pronounce the Dutch captains name, nor, he gathered,
did anyone else), were, at this moment, somewhere in the Bay with God only knew
how many more American privateers, awaiting the change of line.
If she is in the harbor and if she gets through the blockade and if she sees us, she
will sail on past and blow us a kiss whilst she outruns the Navy fleet that will be pursu-
ing her.
And after that? Shell have the Hollander with her.
The Mad Hangman was a fourth-rate frigate with at least forty gunsthree-
quarters the size of the Silver Shillingand the Hollander was rumored to be at least as
merciless as Elliott. If Elliott were caught fore and aft twixt a ship of the line and a
fully armed sloop-of-war whose captain had reason to sink him, he would have a fight
on his handsa fight he did not need or want, and might not be able to win.
But that kiss
Point taken. We cannot underestimate anyone capable of mutinying Skirrow,
alone or otherwise, so you need not worry Ive lost my head over her enough to allow
her to engage us at any point without reprisal.
Sage nods all round.
Capn, said another of his crew, lightly landing on his feet beside Elliott. The line
is shifting watch, right on schedule.
26 Moriah Jovan
Elliott grinned. Excellent. If they were trapped in the Bay, the privateers would
take the opportunity of the change to break through the line and head out to sea. The
patrol vessels?
There are six. The three to the north have not seen Covarrubias, so far as I can
tell. The other three have not come close enough to us to see us.
Nor would they.
Sir, I took it upon myself to watch for the Iron Maiden behind us. Should I con-
tinue?
Elliott was still chafing at what had happened in that tavern, though his men
thought him daring for having claimed a kiss from Captain Fury and felt the figure-
head more than compensated them for the loss of a brawl in which they were so badly
outnumbered.
Nay, Elliott rumbled. I gather Dunham went back to Morocco. But good think-
ing, seaman. Thank you. Dismissed. Leftenant, you stay.
Yeardley lowered his voice once the rest of his men had scattered to tend their bat-
tle preparations. Do you mean to chase the woman hither and yon?
Only Elliotts most trusted officers could get away with asking that question.
Wouldnt you?
Yeardley opened his mouth to protest, and then muttered, Aye, I suppose I
would.
I want her, Ian. Mayhap as much as I want that pay ship.
I dont have to ask why, but I have never seen you like this over a woman. Tis a bit
disconcerting.
Elliott shrugged. How long have we ever been in one place long enough for me
either of usto form some attachment?
You formed an attachment the minute you saw her in the door.
He ignored that. We are here for several reasons, only one of which includes Fury.
However, should she have any trouble, we shall assist. He tilted his head to his right.
I would not be surprised if Covarrubias thinks to charge the line by himself. If possi-
ble, we shall assist him also.
Yeardley accepted that with a nod. Elliott and his crew, the American privateers,
and the Spaniard had a common enemy, and engaging the British was the first priority.
He had no quarrel with Covarrubias or the privateer fleet, and his bone of contention
with Fury could be settled at a later date.
There was only one way Elliott wanted to settle his bone with Fury.
4

Celia, my love, what troubles you so? You have been out of sorts since we left Sint
Eustatius.
Celia did not want to think about Sint Eustatius and all the things that had hap-
pened in the fortnight they had spent there, so she settled on the least concerning thing.
Having my figurehead stolen by a pirate might be a good enough reason, dont you
think?
Mary chuckled as she braided Celias hair. What I am thinking is that you are rest-
less over what that pirate didnt steal.
Oh, aye, and Celia was still famished, but now she had her mouth set for him. She
harrumphed.
I think its a good sign. Especially after the last row between you and that person.
Mama, please. You have made your opinion of Rafael perfectly clear. So has eve-
ryone else.
Mary made no answer.
Tis the war, she burst out. Rather, my competing tasks, all of which are urgent
and none of which I can complete with efficiency. I cannot be in three places at once
and time spent on any one of them comes at the cost of the other two. And then Dun-
ham sought to add to my list.
There was a moment of silence, though her mother never slowed in her task, her
hands deft in the weaving of Celias hair. It was a ritual they indulged in often, Celia
seated on the floor between her mothers knees, being cherished by the only parent she
had never disappointed.
Mary had taken a fancy to use seven strands this time and Celia could only imagine
the braids intricacy. Twas a shame to waste it on a crew intent only on getting to
London without dying.
What did he want? Mary asked low.
Celia had hoped Dunham had simply missed her, but no. His true purpose for
crossing the Atlantic had little enough to do with her and everything to do with him.
She swallowed hard and pressed a closed fist to her breast. Tis of no matter, as I re-
fused him. In truth, I am weary. Bored. I have more money than I can spend in three
lifetimes. Ive accomplished things I never set out to accomplish. I do not now, nor
have I ever had a goal. She shuddered. I wish to
Wish to what, love?
28 Moriah Jovan
Sleep! But then Celia sighed. Truly, I do not know. Something anything else.
Preferably something I have not yet done. I am empty.
Babes. That is what you lack.
I have no wish for babes, Mother, Celia said wryly. Rather, they had no wish for her.
Not now, her mother countered with a jerk of her scalp. But when tis too late,
you will, mark my words. And I want grandchildren. You will have them because you
do not deny me anything.
There are one or two things I would refuse you, Mother.
The door to Celias cabin flew open and banged on the wall. Christopher was out
of breath and panting. Lines changing, Capn.
Celia had no need to move. It was the very thing they had been awaiting.
The Mad Hangman?
Sent the signal.
Aye. The black sails?
Ready, Sir.
Braziers?
Being prepared.
Good, Kit. Dismissed.
The door slammed closed behind him and his feet pounded toward the hatch, and
then above. Indeed, the ship was vibrating from the men and women running hither
and thither to prepare for their nights work.
Allow me topside, Captain, Mary said, mocking the whine Celia had used to get
her way when she was small. Please?
Learn to wield a sword properly and I may consider it. I cannot keep watch over
you and twould only take one small mistake to send us all to the judgment seat.
I would rather meet God by way of a fire fight on a ship captained by my daughter
than waste away alone.
You are alone by your choice.
Celia, she warned.
Do not speak to me of your loneliness, Celia snapped. Ill not tolerate it. After
what happened in Sint Eustatius, you cannot now cry Lonely! at me nor instruct me
on how to conduct my affaires.
Mary sighed and did not press. In silence, she finished the braid and tied it off. I
am so proud of you, my love, she murmured finally, her hands resting on Celias
shoulders. I cannot imagine that such a brave girl came from my body.
Celia stood and twisted to look down at the woman before her. She was smiling,
enhancing her beauty to that of the angels. Celia had gotten none of that beauty. Per-
haps I was a changeling, she muttered.
A dimple appeared in her cheek as her smile deepened. Then the fae granted me a
great boon.
Dunham 29
A devil changeling, I meant.
CAPTAIN!
Go, Mary said. Would that I could watch my daughter command during battle.
Celias mouth twisted into a reluctant smile. She would grant most all her mothers
wishes if she could, but that was not one of them. She bent and brushed her mouth
with a kiss. I shall see you tomorrow, Mama.
No strategic planning for the evenings adventure was necessary other than a slight
recount of the drill and which ships were positioned where in the blockade, which
were new, and who captained what.
Bancroft and Rathbone, Bridge reported to her. Commanding His Majestys
Ships Grace and Purity, respectively.
That did not bode well.
Which Bancroft?
Lucien.
Bugger. Mind you do not let his name slip to my mother.
Oh, never fear, he said fervently. We know. Speaking of captains awaiting your
pleasure
Do not, or I shall have Solomon transform you from a bass to a contralto.
Not a soprano?
Nay. Ill not have my second mate singing fairer than I.
His grin flashed in the meager celestial light of night. The Silver Shillings rumored
to be a few miles out, to the south.
Ah, so I was right. He did follow us here.
Tis a rumor.
As good as fact in this harbor.
Perhaps the figurehead is too much for him and wants a smaller portion.
More likely because it has no convenient holes in which to stuff his yard. Bridge
barked a laugh and Celia sniffed. God knows he cannot catch us with that poor excuse
of a boat, so he is deprived of both the figurehead and my person.
And a Spanish vessel called the Indigo IV is a few miles to the north.
She started. Another one?
Bridge simply shrugged. Twould seem he might learn from his misadventures as
any rational man would.
He did not tell me about this.
As I recall, you two were not speaking when we set him down in Portugal.
That was only four months ago and he is here with a full hold?
He had to have left soon after we did.
Celia sneered at no one in particularor at least, no one who was present. His
family must need more funds. They would drive him to the ocean floor for their greed,
then spit upon his memory for being so careless as to leave them without income.
30 Moriah Jovan
You also have difficulty denying your parents anything, Bridge pointed out.
I forget: Are you under my command or not?
He laughed and disappeared into the darkness to direct the rest of their prepara-
tions while Celia headed up to the quarterdeck to take the wheel.
Solomon was ghostly in his black tunic and trousers as he bent and checked his
work. She saw the faint glow of lit coals in twelve copper braziers tucked solidly in
weighted lead boxes along the wale of the main deck, six to a side and spaced evenly
along the decks length.
An unfamiliar flash between two hatches caught her eye and she squinted through
the darkness, as if she could see better doing so.
Jack, Bataar said from her right. Were ready.
Celia ignored that and gestured toward the crewman she did not know and said,
Who is that?
He came on board two days ago wanting to roust the British. He said he was sent
by the General. Marcus Zimmerman.
Celia looked at her officer, her eyebrow raised.
She shrugged.
Well, if General Washington sent him Celias lips tightened. I do not like not
knowing my entire crew. There are few enough of us.
I had need of a large man willing to work.
She watched the stranger a bit longer and saw that he was indeed an ox of a man
working with an enthusiasm that was not misplaced. Aye, then. How far is the blockade?
Within the hour.
Good. Tis time. She took a deep breath. Fore course!
A lone black canvas rose low against the night, and blocked nothing but a few stars,
then filled. It would be enough to get them to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and
give them some momentum, but not enough to outrun the patrol vessels.
Weigh anchor!
Soon the Thunderstorm was under way, and Celia put everything out of her mind to
maneuver the sloop through the shoals. From where she stood, she could barely see
her crew, outfitted all in black, any exposed white skin covered with kohl.
Her own snug black breeches, black stockings, and tar-soled deerskin moccasins
were invisible in the darkness, as was her black shirt. Her head was covered with a long
black silk scarf that hung down her back and camouflaged her mothers braid work.
Her face, she knew, shone like a beacon in the night. Solomon would arrive
Your face can be seen from England, he murmured before she felt his fingers rub-
bing kohl over her cheeks and nose.
Tis my misfortune to glow, Celia replied. The only sounds were the wind in sails
drawn tight and the slosh of a ship carving its way through a calm harbor.
Celia spent the next forty-five minutes alone at the wheel in utter concentration, re-
Dunham 31
fusing to think about what they had planned. The sea was calm, the wind favorable
and loud, and the constellations twinkled helpfully. If all went aright, they would slip
through the British blockade without being noticed.
If all went awry
She supposed she would have no more reason to worry about boredom or babes.
After another quarter hour had passed, Celia took out her spyglass and peered
through the darkness until she could barely make out the silhouette of the warships
blocking the harbor. A smile slowly stretched her face. It wouldnt be too much a chal-
lenge, after all. The ships lay at anchor far enough apart to allow the sloops passage.
Rear-Admiral Lord Rathbone on the starboard side.
Captain Lucien Bancroft on the larboard.
Her mouth went dry at what they were about to attempt.
It had been Rafaels idea, sparked after a long night of heavy drinking and fucking.
Yet even soused, Rafaels calculations were precise and his judgment on probabilities
above reproach.
The plan was as dangerous to the Thunderstorm as it would be to the ships they tar-
geted, and Celia would never have done such a thing under normal circumstances. Not
even Dunham, who despised Dr. Rafael Covarrubias, could come up with an alterna-
tive plan should they be caught in Chesapeake Bay, and agreed that eventually they
would be caught.
Maarten had been enthusiastic about the plan, but then, the Hollander was inordi-
nately cruel to those he considered to have wronged him, and what King George had
done to him embodied in the person of Lord Rathbone
Even though she and Maarten had known they would have to blow the blockade,
they had not anticipated they would need to do it so soon.
As the vessel slowly approached the line of battleships, all noise on the already qui-
et ship ceased completely. The wind was up, making the lone sail snap, so it was tight-
ened further. Among the noise of the wind, the ocean, and the creaking of the two
British vessels, the Thunderstorm wouldhopefullypass silently, invisibly.
Every man in her crew crouched in the shadows, waiting. Celia steered the ship by
degrees toward the sea and death.
Another ten minutes passed, a tense ten minutes, before the Thunderstorm slid
through the calm night within shouting distance of the British frigates. Still no alarm
was raised on the dark vesselsmost likely the result of bitter sailors impressed into
service and unwilling to aid their captains in any way.
According to the plan, the Hollander was to slip through a gap two ships up the
line. Were Maarten and Celia sailing alone, their only goal would be to slip the line,
but with six more privateer vessels following them, all with less experienced captains, a
path would have to be cleared. The Thunderstorm and the Mad Hangman would slip the
line and then attempt to sink four British frigates of war and outrun five patrol ships
32 Moriah Jovan
with one suicidal maneuver.
Dear Lord. Eight crews and vessels hung in the balance of her and Maartens luna-
cyand she could not but help the smile that stretched her face.
Closer and closer she steered the ship until they were sliding through the corridor.
Sweat rolled down her back and dotted her brow. There was only enough room on
either side of her ship for her yards and rigging not to catch with those of the warships.
Ahoy, lads! Mind the grappling hooks! Ship off the stern and shes tryin to run
the blockade. Step lively!
Celia and her crew whipped into action. Once they had sunk these two ships, they
would have to outrun the patrol ships that would give chase. Timing was crucial.
Hoist the mainsl! Celia bellowed over the sudden din. Ready the topsails and
jibs. Kit! Run up Congresss colors!
Avast, Thunderstorm! In the name of His Royal Highness, King George, we order
you to stand down or we will fire upon you!
Lord Rathbone! she called, and stepped away from the wheel long enough to
drop a quick but elegant curtsey. You would waste shot on me? You flatter me.
Youre outgunned, Fury! Stand down!
You know me better than that.
She might have laughed when she heard his order to ready the cannon being given,
but they were far more efficient than she hoped they would be. Bugger, she hissed,
her plan set awry by enough moments to put them in even more danger than they had
been before.
With a wave of her hand, twelve smallbut deadlyflames burst on the tips of
arrows held by archers and aimed at the frigates on each side of them.
By God, woman, are you mad?! Rathbone bellowed. Youll die with us!
You stand down, Marquess! she roared back. You too, Bancroft! You both have
more to lose than I do! Both captains gave the orders, but it was a faithless gesture.
This was war and she was tired of it. She was in no mood to honor an expedient.
FIRE!
The arrows were loosed into the rigging and slack sails of the British ships. The
next volley went directly into the open ports of the gun deck.
Fire on the ships erupted immediately, and Celia simply knew their magazines
would blow before the Thunderstorm was clear.
Smitty! Bridge! Bataar! For the love of God! Getusout of here!
At that, every sail on the Thunderstorm immediately unfurled and filled to capacity.
The night, formerly impenetrable black, was lit bright as day as the two ships blazed
on either side of the Thunderstorm. The wind was up, feeding the fire, and blew the
sloop quite clear of burning frigates.
The crew raced to douse the coals in the braziers, and Celia nearly allowed her
heartbeat to slow when
Dunham 33
FIRE AFT! Smitty roared.
Mother of God, Celia gritted, as a score of crewmen raced passed her and up to
the poopdeck with buckets of water and sand, then formed a line. The Thunderstorm
rocked with a gust of wind, and all of Celias concentration and strength were again
taken with the steering of the ship.
If that fire were not extinguished
Death screams from the British frigates followed them, cutting through the sound
of flames, wind, and water. She could hear men diving overboard to the relative safety
of the water, for a watery death was imminently preferable to a fiery one, and most of
the men who could swim would survive.
Please God, let Bancroft survive, she whispered fervently.
Fourth-rates off the stern, larboard and starboard, three points each, Capn!
She did not need to turn around to see the two ships burning; they lit the night and
the water reflected the carnage. What she did not know was how much of that fire was
coming from the Thunderstorms stern.
She did not dare attempt to assess the situation.
Behind her, the two blazing ships finally exploded, sending debris raining down on
her and her men. She looked up, terrified a spark would touch her tarred rigging and
masts, and send them down with the Grace and Purity.
But no. The cadre of young sailors who regularly plied the rigging raced in the
ropes to douse each stray ember they could find.
Fire is OUT! came Smittys voice, and Celia allowed her head to drop back as she
partook in a brief moment of relief.
That was all the time she could afford.
Another two explosions, but those far enough from them so as to make no differ-
ence. The Hollander had done his job well, from the sound of it.
Step lively, lads! Celia shouted as she turned her mind fully to evading capture.
Hangmans on our tail!
Aye, she is, Capn! Kit called from on high. One Two Three privateers
clear. Celia held her breath. Four Another, smaller, explosion. That was num-
ber four, Capn.
Damn.
The Mad Hangmans turning! Engaging a patrol. Pause. Five, six. Theyre all
through but the one. I dont know which. Another explosion. Mad Hangman set up-
on another frigate, Capn.
Lord, Maarten, she gritted. Enough is as good as a feast.
Three fourth-rates after us now, Capn.
BY GOD! Bridge thundered. Off the starboard stern! Kit! Report!
The Silver Shilling, Sir!
Celias heart stopped.
34 Moriah Jovan
The roar of cannon fire.
Shes opened fire on the patrol vessels! The third one is turning back Now the
second. The first is sinking.
Wheres Rafael?
Sails up, and gaining speed. Tacking into the breach of the Mad Hangmans last
frigate.
Maarten wouldnt be happy about having aided the Indigo in any way. Celia snort-
ed. The Indigo FOUR.
Our fleets pulling up closer, Capn. Silver Shillings sailing in to the rest of the line
and giving cover to the Mad Hangman.
How many guns does that man have, anyway?
At least sixty, Sir. Maybe more. The Silver Shilling looks like a third-rate.
A third-rate pirate ship? she demanded in utter disbelief.
Aye, Capn. Shes a biggun. Brit-built.
But he still cannot take on the rest of the line himself.
No answer while Celia steered and barked orders to gain as much speed as possible.
He is! Kit cried. Hes breaking through the line. Heading into the Bay.
Celias head whipped around and saw a third-rate frigate with guns blazing. What
in blazes for?
Shes heavy in the water, Capn.
Ah. The Silver Shilling would not have been able to breach the blockade alone, but
with four burning frigates, six patrol sloops occupied with eight privateer vessels, at
least two of which could and would engage in battle, the Silver Shilling could assist them
and take advantage of the opportunity to unload her cargo.
The Mad Hangmans headed out to sea, and the Indigos through the line.
Good, Celia whispered with much relief.
Were clear, Capn! Kit called after a tense fifteen minutes of reports on the activi-
ty behind them. No sign of pursuit.
Another explosion. God help her, if that was the Silver Shilling
Hollanders last frigate, sir. Five ships o the line down.
And Judas?
Clear, also, with three fourth-rates to his credit.
Now will you forgive him? Celia bellowed.
A collective roar arose from the Thunderstorms decks: AYE!
Itll take a mite for the Royal Navy to replace a fleet that big, what with the occu-
pations north and south, Smitty observed from somewhere overhead. The harbor
should be free for some time to come.
Celia breathed a long sigh of relief. That was a satisfactory way to get my undivided
attention. I shall fuck him as soon as tis convenient for me to do so.
5

I shall wring that womans neck when I catch up to her, Elliott snarled to himself
as he wheeled the Silver Shilling hard to starboard. What was she thinking?
The Mad Hangman, too, but the Hollander was known for his well, madness.
Hellfire, he muttered as another volley of cannon fire rocked the Silver Shilling, the
master gunner giving the orders to fire at the last patrol ship that chased the Indigo
his crew so well-trained they could deliver a sixteen-gun broadside every minute.
The last patrol is down, Sir. The remaining two are chasing the Mad Hangman.
Elliott merely nodded as he kept course, heading straight into a cove he knew as
well as he knew his ship. They were free of the line, having left behind five first- and
second-rate frigates burning, four patrol ships and (unfortunately) one privateer sunk,
and assisted seven more privateers on their way out to sea. Theyd even helped an
American ally evade capture. The Hollander would sink the last two patrols when it
suited him to do so.
Likewise, without them, Elliott would never have been able to breach that line by
himself. All in all, a good nights work for the lot of them.
That was the most lackwit thing I have ever witnessed, said Yeardley from beside
him.
Aye, Elliott agreed heartily, still seeing the Thunderstorms stern catch fire and still
angry about it.
I would expect that from the Hollander, but Fury is not known for recklessness.
She is a female sailing as a female. That is reckless.
Yeardley didnt answer for a moment, but clasped his hands behind his back and
rocked on his heels. There are rumors. One hardly knows what to believe, they are so
incredible.
Elliott waited.
Yeardley reeled off the most common rumors, ones Elliott already knew:
She was the protge of James Dunham, captain of the corsair vessel Iron Maiden
that plied the Barbary Coast, one of the Crowns useful brigands whose occasional
misdeeds against the East India Company went unremarked and unpunished. He was
also the last male bearing the name of a noble Scottish clan disenfranchised over the
last dukes regrettable inclination to form bad alliances.
I know the history, Elliott said tersely when Yeardley would have expounded.
Dunham lands march mine and Laird Dunham was a good friend to my grandfather.
36 Moriah Jovan
So Dunhams bitter. As am I. Tis the usual story. What more of her?
She had been trained as a navigator in Portugal by master navigator and astrono-
mer Dr. Rafael Covarrubias, the captain of the Spanish vessel they had just assisted.
She had sailed with Dunham as an officer for a time after shed left university until,
it was rumored, she had openly defied him and been flogged for her insolence. Yet
Elliott and his crew could testify of their loyalty to each other.
All cannot be sweetness between them, Elliott muttered. Was there not some
trouble twixt the two in Sint Eustatius? What of that?
Dunham attempted to abduct one of Furys women.
Elliott huffed. Women aboard cause nothing but trouble.
Id not be averse to testing that superstition, Yeardley grumbled.
That surprised a grin out of Elliott. Oh ho! So I am not the only one on this ship
with a prick invested in the Thunderstorm.
You are far from the only one. The old tars want nothing to do with women
aboard, but after having seen that a ship captained by a woman will not sinkone
with a couple dozen women aboard, to bootwell, it has the young ones imaginations
aflutter.
Aye, well, tis too late to take on women now that weve nearly reached the end of
our last cruise. More, Yeardley, Elliott commanded. About her.
After Fury had left the Iron Maiden, she had sailed on the Carnivale as Skirrows
lieutenant and navigator, beheading him after little more than a year under his com-
mand. It did not quite make sense to Elliott that shed hired aboard a slaver, but it was
possible shed simply found the only captain whod hire a woman. Skirrow would have
had to be desperate to hire a woman in Ottoman-infested waters, especially for such a
powerful position.
After her mutiny, she had sailed directly for Philadelphia and applied for a letter of
marque, legitimizing a lifetime aboard pirate vessels.
Aye, I know all that, Elliott said, frustrated when Yeardley finished. Why did
she mutiny Skirrow? He would have been the only thing between her and the Mus-
lims. Which was, come to think of it, a good reason for her to have quit the Mediter-
ranean altogether.
No one knows. Her officers keep their mouths shut, and the rest of the crew
swear they dont know. Skirrow was only slightly less cruel than Kitteridge.
Elliott and his officers knew enough of Skirrow from their Navy days for Elliott to
know hed have mutinied the man far sooner, but since the Siege of Casco Bay, he was
not averse to using swift and ruthless preemptive measures against those who might
become a problem.
Anything else? Family? Name? Circumstance?
No one knows her family name. When one is required, she signs Calico Jack.
Odd, that. Of all the buccaneers in history, why take his name?
Dunham 37
Yeardley shrugged. Who knows? Tis said shes quite wealthy.
I should think so. If she is not after all this time, Id take her for a fool. He
paused. Husband? Lover?
Possibly Covarrubias.
Elliotts mouth tightened. Do tell.
Since she studied, ah, under him at university Elliott curled his lip and Yeard-
ley chuckled. In fact, she was suffered to undergo a full course and its said she is de-
greed in her own right.
In what?
Mathematics and music.
That shocked him.
Aye, so, Yeardley said slyly, twould seem reasonable to suppose Covarrubias facili-
tated her education. Perhaps astronomy and mathematics were not all he taught her.
Just a supposition?
Everything concerning Fury is supposition and speculation. The Hollander prob-
ably knows, but they are
Lovers?
Possibly. One cannot give credence to any such rumors when tis also rumored
that you are one of her lovers.
Elliott barked a laugh. I am, am I?
Aye. After having handled her so familiarly in Oranjestad
She took exception to that.
Only because you did not respect her as she is accustomed. We were the only ones
in the entire port who did not know who she was.
I have no reason to think a woman in a tavern is anything but a whore, much less
the captain of a ship.
Does it matter? What I witnessed was a lovers kiss, not two strangers. Twould
seem the rest of the island shared my impression.
And there was the rub: It had been a lovers kissright up to the second shed
stuck her dagger in his throat.
Elliott smirked. I intend to make that more fact than rumor.

B
Elliott arrived at the private club where he was expected, handing his tricorn and
long skirted coat to the butler, pausing only slightly when he saw who sat at his usual
table.
What is your pleasure, Captain? came the voice of a comely and very expensively
dressed woman.
38 Moriah Jovan
Brandy, if you have it, Miss.
That was not the answer she wanted, and her pout was real when she turned to do
his bidding. She had light red hair reminiscent of Furys, but green eyes, and she was
shorter, thinner. In point of fact, she was far more beautiful.
She was not the woman he craved, but he had to tup something other than his
hand.
Especially after what hed seen the night before, watching Fury through his glass as
she commanded her men and sailed her ship with expert grace and confidence into
that foolhardy blast through the blockade.
Elliott discreetly adjusted his trousers as he pulled out a chair and sat with no
greetings exchanged. All but two of the five men already present were waiting for El-
liott, and their covert expressions let him know not to speak.
Rafael Covarrubiass presence at the table would make short work of what had
promised to be an enjoyable evening with the harbormaster and the merchants to
whom he sold his cargos. Hellfire. Covarrubias already had a stack of gold, silver, and
papers in front of him.
Elliott looked around at the fifth player, who likely did not know that the man he
played was a mathematician and possibly unbeatable. Elliott didnt care about winning
or losing; he had bigger business to conduct at this table, which he could not do in the
presence of Covarrubias and a Prussian mercenary. Meeting here, playing a few
handsthat was the cover under which he did business. However, he was not averse
to losing a bit of money and time if it meant observing a man who was probably a rival
for Furys affections.
Two women were draped over Covarrubiass shoulders, ignored except when he
absently raised a hand to caress a breast or pinch a nipple. At that moment, the wench
who had hoped Elliott would request more of her than whisky set the glass on the ta-
ble and leaned against him.
Felicitations, Captain Judas, the Spaniard said after a moment, his accent moder-
ately heavy.
For ?
Slipping past the blockade, of course.
No credit to me, alas. I had too much assistance. Elliott cocked his eyebrow and
waited.
Gracias, Covarrubias drawled wryly, then said with far too much disinterest, You
seem to have acquired a lovely new figurehead.
Everyone remarked upon it, hoping for an on dit that Elliott never granted. Nor
would he now. Aye.
You are aware that it belongs to me, are you not?
Goddammit.
Possession is nine points of the law, Doctor.
Dunham 39
No answer. Covarrubias made his play, then slid a glance at the man to his right.
Seor, I do believe you have misplayed your hand.
Elliott wondered if Covarrubias could defend a charge of cheating against a man
almost as big as Elliott. Covarrubias was large for a Spaniard and as Teutonic in ap-
pearance as the soldier hed challenged, but not nearly so tall or burly.
Why, asked the Prussian carefully, threateningly, would you say that?
I say that because four sevens have been played, all in their appropriate suits, and
you just played a fifth seven.
The soldiers eyes narrowed. Are you implying that I have cheated?
No. I declare that you are cheating. And with no cunning whatsoever.
It happened too fast for Elliott to have described later. The soldier had apparently
drawn his weapon, but not before Covarrubias had the point of a short sword at his
throat. It was an oddly shaped blade with the barest of curves, not tapered, and a long,
flat, two-handed hilt wrapped in what looked like black silk thread. It was like nothing
Elliott had ever seen, much less used.
The Prussian watched Covarrubias, who spoke with an impressive insouciance,
Im sure it was a simple mistake, Seor, no?
It took the soldier a moment to decide to take Covarrubiass mercy. Ja.
You may forfeit your winnings to me and be gone. I have no taste for duels, but
should you challenge me, you will lose. Should your compatriots set upon me, you will
all lose.
The Prussian was studying that odd sword and seemed to understand he could not
win. A quick look around convinced Elliott that everyone else did, too. Covarrubias
might be a barely competent ships captain, but he seemed to be able to acquit himself
exceptionally well on land. Arising stiffly, the soldier walked out of the club with what
one could mistake for wounded dignity.
Thats an interesting piece, the harbormaster said, much to Elliotts delight.
It is from Japan, Covarrubias answered matter-of-factly as he sheathed it. I spent
much time in the Orient in my youth and have a particular fondness for its varieties of
cultures. And women.
The gentlemen chuckled. Ah. A misspent youth.
Covarrubiass attention flicked up to the merchant whod spoken. Not at all. It
was thoroughly educational.
Captain?
Elliott looked up at the wench hed forgotten about. Tell me your name, my love-
ly, he said with the graciousness of a properly begotten and reared lord of the realm.
Ill be along shortly. Once shed disappeared, he settled in for a silent evening of gam-
ing. Covarrubias glanced at the door through which the whore had disappeared, then
at Elliott and smirked.
Id prefer her hair to be lighter, Elliott mused, tossing two coins into the pot, then
40 Moriah Jovan
raised his gaze and met Covarrubiass. Somewhat more pink. Her eyes arent the
right color, either, but shell do for now. All eyes are whisky in the dark, eh?
Covarrubiass smirk faded and he fingered the hilt of his odd sword. I have no rea-
son to believe such a pink -haired woman could be swayed overlong from her
long-lived loyalties. Such a woman might dally, but never commit. I would feel it my
duty as a gentleman to warn any man enamored of such a woman to carefully guard his
heart.
Elliotts colleagues shuffled and coughed. Elliott pointedly studied Covarrubiass
female companions. I question that any such woman would long tolerate the dallianc-
es of a man who does not return the loyalty he demands of herdid she but know.
No reaction.
Gentlemen, said the harbormaster. Please.
Without a word, Covarrubias stood and swept the table clean of his winnings. Se-
ores, he said absently, and signaled to his women to follow him up the stairs.
The remaining men at the table breathed a collective sigh of relief once the Span-
iard had disappeared with his coin and his women.
I should know not to play Covarrubias, grumbled the harbormaster as he counted
out three coppers and threw them into the middle of the table. But one does not
simply get up and walk away when he sits down.
So, Judas, murmured another. He was a merchant who made a practice of buying
British goods American privateers had seized, then selling them back to the Tories at
criminally inflated prices. Elliott had liked him immediately. There is a woman be-
tween you, I take it? Mayhap Fury?
Elliott grinned. Do you know of any other women with pink hair?
This should prove entertaining.
Already has, grumbled the harbormaster.
The merchant lowered his voice. When do you plan to sail?
Two days hence, Elliott murmured equally low.
Ah. It would surprise no one that Elliott would want to get out of the Bay while
the entirety of the British line was flotsam, and the fleets in New York and South Caro-
lina were thoroughly occupied. But every one of these men knew Elliott wanted to run
Fury down and bed her, especially after Covarrubias had all but dared him to try.
The tale of this encounter would be all over the harbor and every village along it by
dawn. So I shall see you at ten of the clock?
Aye.
Elliott played his last hand and arose, extending his hand to each of his opponents,
and collecting his meager winnings before heading upstairs to the strawberry-blonde
who awaited him.
6
March, 1780
Atlantic Ocean, Trade Route

The morning sun shone bright on Celias face. Below her, on the main deck, activi-
ty was lazy and, for the most part, curtailed, the crew engaged in menial tasks that nev-
ertheless must be done. Two of the women aboard were mending sails and rope. Two
more were in the galley baking the days bread. Another was with the men who sat
along the rails fishing. Yet another was aloft with Kit, keeping watch. Mary and Solo-
mon were behind her at the communal secretary, Mary dictating correspondence to
Celias moneylender concerning Celias accounts and holdings.
She turned the wheel a bit, allowing the wind to strike her face sharply. In great
need of some respite from her restlessness, she took a deep breath as the Thunderstorm
sliced cleanly through the waters and listened to the music in her head.
For, unto us a child is born
Work halted around her when she began to sing to them, her men and women, even
the ones who did not know her voice had kept her as safe as her scars and her sword.
Oh, child, Mary sighed happily.
Unto us A son is given Unto us A son is given
Johanns tenor answered her soprano immediately: For, unto us a child is born.
Twas only a half measure before the men and women who could, in fact, sing,
joined her lustily.
Wonderful
Counselor
The mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace
It had taken time for her and surgeons mate Gasparo, a highly trained Italian evira-
to, to teach the crew to sing thusly, but now they did so with vigor and skill and the
length of a watch could be easily passed in near-complete abandon.
Bridges deep bass rose as her soprano faded away, then Johanns tenor slipped in
and out. Gasparos countertenor joined their voices.
Then she heard a violin expertly playing the recitative before the sopranos next aria.
Someone else had found his recorder flute, and a third had fetched his squeezebox.
She was certain Maestro Handel had not intended his piece to be performed on the
deck of an American privateer by a crew of neer-do-wells for no one but themselves, yet
here they were.
And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and
42 Moriah Jovan
saying
SAIL HO! Kit bellowed from the platform.
Gods teeth, Celia gritted, instantly on the alert. She was at once disgruntled at
the loss of her respite and glad of the termination of her boredomif only for a while.
If it were British, they would either take it or blow it up.
The instruments were put away and the menial chores abandoned for preparations
of battle. Everyone who could not fight went below immediately, taking their work
with them if they could. Mary and Solomon hurriedly gathered up the parchments
and pens, books and ledgers, and disappeared.
Celia waited for more information before giving her orders.
British, but not navy. Looks like a merchantman. Off the larboard bow. Alone.
Are you certain? she demanded, wary of a trap, and waited patiently another ten
minutes before the answer came:
Brit-built. Square-rigged. Two masts. Ten guns, if that. Aye, Capn, Im sure.
Well, that settled it.
Celia spun the wheel to come hard about. Sea spray and sun splashed her face, her
heart beat faster with excitement. Twas hard to remember why she was bored with
this life at times like these.
Run up the Union Jack. She grinned now, the urge undeniable. Look sharp! If
we cannot sing praises to God, then we shall plunder in his name!
Celia could now see the white sails of the British merchantman, which were ap-
proaching fast. It would not take but a few moments to reach them.
Has she spotted us, Kit?
Aye, and shes spilling wind.
Glad of a Navy escort, is she? Celia laughed, but the sound was whipped away by
the stinging wind.
Capn, theres a woman aboard. In a dress.
Celias eyebrows rose in surprise. It made no difference in her battle plans, but
women in dresses aboard British merchantmen bound for England meant gentry and
that did not bode well for her.
The master gunner barked orders for the guns to be readied in the surreptitious
manner he had drilled into his gunners.
I hope to settle this with not a shot wasted.
A quarter hour passed before the Thunderstorm was close enough to the Lamplight to
hail it.
Ho, Lamplight! Bridge called from the prow, his voice strong enough to carry back
to Celia. His bare chest glistened ebony in the sunlight.
Long live the king! came the return.
Run up Congresss colors! Celia bellowed. The Union Jack was struck. The gun-
ports slammed open.
Dunham 43
The crew aboard the Lamplight scrambled in panic.
Bridge cupped his hands around his mouth. Stand down and prepare to be boarded!
She struck her colors the moment Bridge ended his command, and Celias crew ran
to grab the grappling hooks. Down the rails, the hooks struck the wood one after an-
other in rapid sequence
thunk
thunk
thunk
thunk
thunk
then Celias crew heaved as one until the two ships crashed together. Immediate-
ly, thirty of her men and women swarmed the deck of the Lamplight, swords bared.
They met no resistance, much less a fighting force.
Celia handed command off to Smitty, clipped down the stairs to the main deck and
vaulted over the rails, Solomon and Bridge following. Ten of her crew followed the
pair of them, her other officers left behind to sail the Thunderstorm should anything
untoward happen to their captain.
Celia surveyed the scene before her before she spoke. A normal-looking crew, scat-
tered across the decks, betraying a great deal of fear. The captain slowly came forward
because his position demanded it, but the man would have turned and fled at a mo-
ments notice. Across the deck, Celia caught the flash of pale blue going down a hatch,
and with a slight signal that only her crew could discern, one of her men sprinted
across the expanse and dove down after it. With another signal, the rest of her crew
disappeared into the holds to inventory what she held, leaving Celia, Bridge, and Sol-
omon alone on deck.
The captain of the Lamplight stood before Celia, trembling and wringing his hands,
looking amongst the three of them, unable to decide which would be the captain: the
Arab, the woman, or the Negro.
Her lip curled. Speak, man.
Captain Tunney at your service, maer, uh
I am Captain Fury, Celia intoned, her eyebrow raised and her lips pursed. If this
man swooned, she would lose a ten-pound wager with Smitty. You may address me as
Captain or Sir. Do you understand?
Yes, maer, Sir.
She gestured to her right. This is Captain Bull, who will be commanding this ves-
sel once I have completed my inspection. He watched warily as Bridge strode off to
oversee preparations for his command. What do you carry?
Cotton, mladyer, Sirer, Captain. Spices. Tobacco. Coffee. Naught else.
Not a word about passengers. She and Solomon exchanged glances, which only
made the man fidget more.
44 Moriah Jovan
There is a woman aboard this ship, aye? His face colored, but before he could
stammer a reply, Celia said, Loyalists bound for England, mayhap?
But the captain was beyond speech. His eyes rolled back in his head and he
dropped, a dead weight, onto the deck. Guffaws rang out from the quarterdeck of the
Thunderstorm.
Celia sighed and looked at Solomon. Another ten pounds sterling lost to the
leftenant. I believe I shall have to cease wagering with the man.
No sound or change in expression came from Solomon but a speaking glance told
her he had found amusement in both the circumstance and her comment.
She turned to the crew, and said, Who here would like to work for me?
To a man, not one raised his hand. Well, that was no surprise. Celia was not espe-
cially good at impressing men, because she wanted willing sailors, but no matter.
Bridge would need this crew and she did not.
Capn! Holds full of cotton and tobacco.
She nodded at the crewman who yelled this bit of news. Offload the spices and de-
liver them to Solomons cabin. With a salute of acknowledgment of the order, the
crew went back to their preparations.
Her crewman appeared shortly thereafter with a woman, a girl, and a man in tow.
The man was obviously well-heeled merchant gentry, and even in this dire situa-
tion, the wife would not allow her hem to touch the sailor who held her. She was not
well pleased a Moor held her arm in his iron grip.
What is the meaning of this outrage? Get your hands off me, you animal!
Celia looked at the woman as she was dragged, struggling, across the deck to stand
before her.
With one look at Celia, she ceased struggling and threw herself at her, hugging her
and wailing. Oh, mlady, what shall we do? Theyre monsters, the lot of them!
Grimacing in distaste, Celia tried to extricate herself from the arms that held her.
The woman seemed not to have noticed that Celia was dressed quite differently from
current fashion, in a white cotton shirt and breeches. The tarred moccasins, white
head scarf, broad slashes of kohl across her cheekbones, and huge gold hoop earrings
were also quite beyond the pale for this seasons rage. The flintlock in Celias waist-
band, the dagger strapped around her thigh, and the scabbard swinging from her hip
did not seem to register.
Madam, Celia muttered as she sought to disengage herself. I say, Madam!
With that, the seaman pulled the woman back with some force, and she stood,
panting, staring at Celia as if she had somehow grown another head.
Celia calmly dusted herself off before looking back at the woman. For some reason,
however, the girl caught her attention. So, she was the daughter of this gentrified pair.
She tilted her head in curiosity. What is your name, girl?
Georgina, Sir. Ah, the girl had courage. She did not flinch. She held her head
Dunham 45
proudly and looked Celia in the face.
How many years have you?
Fifteen.
Where are you bound?
England, Sir. To wed.
Celia thought a bit. Had she grown up as other girls, a match would have been made
for her, but now, a score of years past and a truly scandalous marriage behind her, she
could not imagine being given no choice in the matter. Have you met this man?
No, Sir. He is of the nobility. Wealthy, but more than twenty years older than I.
I The girl stopped abruptly and snapped her mouth tight.
Say what you will, girl.
I do not want to wed. Tis as if I have been sold.
The girls mother, so outraged she forgot everyones presence but her daughters,
raised her hand to slap her, but Solomon caught her wrist in a vise grip until she
whimpered, then harder until hed forced to her knees.
Your parents have whored you out, eh?
Yes, Sir.
Oh, the girl was completely bitter, then. Celia ran her tongue over her teeth. Tell
me something. Would you return to your life with them now, if you could? Until it
was appropriate for you to marry? Even someone of your choosing?
Everyone but her own crew started at that question, though the girl herself started
the least. No.
Her mother continued to weep in pain and her father looked away. Celia looked at
the girl for a long time and the girl stared back.
Marriage or piracy. Choose.
She gulped, but did not look away. Piracy, she croaked.
The father blanched. No! screamed the mother. You cant! Georgina! Dont do
this to us, please!
The girl looked down at her mother, her mouth tight. I told you I would rather
die than marry that man, she murmured. This is the best choice I have.
Orlando! Celia bellowed finally, looking over her shoulder to the Thunderstorm.
When he appeared at her side, she waved a hand at Georgina. Take the girl to Officer
Mary. Her crew did not hesitate and the girl looked at her with wide eyes.
Youll thank me for this someday.
She sucked in a breath. I already do, Sir. I already do. She said nothing more, but
went willingly with Dr. Telesca, who, ever the gentleman, would have assisted her over
the rails even if she hadnt been wearing a rather cumbersome dress.
Now, Celia began again. I will reiterate in case the situation is not perfectly clear:
I am Captain Fury, of the American privateer Thunderstorm. This vessel now belongs
to me, claimed in the name of the United States of America. Cambridge Bull will be
46 Moriah Jovan
the commander of this vessel and has every right and protection afforded me as part of
the privateer fleet.
Celia sat on her haunches before the weeping mother and said, Where do you
wish to go?
We have nowhere to go, she wept. We sold everything, and cannot set foot in
England without Georgina. We are ruined.
I see. In that case, England is exactly where youll be going. Ill be sure to deliver
the pair of you up promptly to Georginas former betrothed.
Solomon chuckled as he loosed the girls mother, who fell into another bout of
weeping at Celias feet, begging for mercy, but the sailor whod fetched her earlier
picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. Her screams of outrage made Celia
laugh a bit herself and the father cast her wary glances.
Ah, I amuse myself mightily, she murmured, and the crew that heard her
laughed. She turned back to the woman. And thus we see the Ottomans are not the
only ones who buy and sell Christian women. What name did you sell your girl to?
The woman could not speak for her weeping and gasping and the shoulder buried
in her belly, so Celia looked to the father for the answer. His mouth opened and closed
like a fish gasping for air before he found his voice. Co Co Commander Elliott
Raxham, second so so son of the Earl of Tavendish. A good fr fr friend to
my cousin, who, who arranged the match.
Celia slapped a hand on the hilt of her cutlass, put a finger to her lips, and studied
the deck. Who is that? she muttered to herself. Ive heard that name.
Tried for high treason and acquitted, one of her officers called from the Thunder-
storm. Siege at Casco Bay. Captained the HMS Iphigenia and commanded the fleet. In
the midst of firing on the village, he turned on one of his own ships and sank it.
Aye, that would get one tried for treason. And you sold your daughter to a man
whod turn on one of his own fleet?
Capn, wait, Croftwood continued. His barrister argued Raxham was the target
of an assassination attempt by the captain of the ship he sank and thus was acting to
save his and his crews life.
Celia turned to stare at her master carpenter, but he nodded solemnly. Well! I
simply have not heard a yarn that preposterous in years!
Bloody hell, Jack, Smitty called, you have no room to call that preposterous.
Celias face split wide in a grin and the crew of the Thunderstorm roared. Ah, just
so, she finally said. Twouldnt matter. His name is forever black. Hell not be able to
find a bride with sufficient settlement or title, Ill wager. No noble in England would
desire a traitors name attached to his own by marriage, wealth or notand a second
son with no title to sweeten the pot.
Wots at? her pesky lieutenant called again. Another wager?
She looked over her shoulder and yelled back, Aye, another, you whoreson! An
Dunham 47
hundred pounds this time!
It took another hour to prepare. The familys trunks were stowed aboard the
Thunderstorm, though Celia would have to think about where she wanted to put them
and what they would do to earn their keep.
Captain Bull, Celia called and jerked her head for him to follow her back aboard
the Thunderstorm. She led the way to her cabin and counted out some gold for use as
shares and bribes. Ill send Li Chen with you to navigate. He has not as much training
as Id like, but can find his way to Holland. Dock in Rotterdam and seek out my agent
there. You have met him?
Aye, Capn.
Sell everything, dole out shares as you see fit, then oversee any repairs she may
need. Your new crew promises to be unwilling. How many of our crew will you need
to keep them in line?
A good two score.
Done. Take whom you will. What do you plan to do with the captain?
Throw him in the brig. Im not in the habit of killing mice.
Celia chuckled. I dont expect to be far behind you. Once we arrive, you will de-
posit Georges parents wherever her formerly betrothed lives. Mama and I will likely be
gone to London by the time you return.
Aye, Capn.
Godspeed. George! she bellowed once Bridge had disappeared up through a
hatch and she heard his deep, commanding voice. The girl poked her head out of
Marys door and looked at Celia with some trepidation. Come up on deck with me.
Your education started three hours ago.
Once up on deck, Celia went directly to the pair whose name she did not know,
nor did she care. Woman and Man would do nicely, she supposed, and she went to
stand in front of them, who huddled, terrified. Activity went on all around them,
crewmen jumping over the rail to the Lamplight, grappling hooks being retrieved,
Bridge bellowing orders as he stood on the quarterdeck and threw the wheel hard to
larboard.
Celia waited until the pair actually looked at her.
Man. Take Georges trunks to the mess. A crewman will show you where. Take
your own to the hold. You will sleep in the berth with the rest of the crew. The purs-
ers mate will give you a hammock and change of clothes. You will work and work
hard. Mayhap my crew can shove a ramrod down your spine with regard to your wife
and with any luck, you wont die from it. Get going.
Man began the process of laboriously dragging their trunks belowdecks, a crewman
waiting impatiently for him to direct him.
She turned her attention to Woman, who cowered. Have you tailoring skills?
Yes, she whispered.
48 Moriah Jovan
Good. You will also earn your keep on this ship, since you did not pay me passage.
You will sew George and yourself clothes like mine. As regards George, she is now
under my command by her choice; thus, you no longer have any claim on her, her be-
longings, or her behavior. You will treat her with the same respect you will be expected
to treat the rest of my crew and obey any orders she gives you, understood?
She swallowed. Yes.
Celia then curled her hand into the low neckline of the girls dress and pulled, rip-
ping the dress all the way down to the deck. It was Georges first look of terror as she
attempted to cover herself as if her shift were not enough.
Take off the dress. Give it to Woman. The girl did as she was told without a
word of protest, though she was terrified and the crew watched and snickered.
Gods blood! The girls bound up in stays and shes not yet grown tits. Have you
your courses?
Her mouth dropped open. Yes, she squeaked.
Condolences. Well, what are you waiting for? Get that thing off.
But the girl looked at her helplessly. Heaving a longsuffering sigh, Celia bid the girl
turn around. She drew her dagger and sliced the laces with no further ado. George
turned back around and Celia, catching the garment as it fell, unceremoniously tossed
it overboard.
Celia then pulled her own shirt off over her head, and both George and Woman
gasped to see not her bare breasts, but the matting of horizontally striped scars that
encircled her torso from hips to collarbone. Here, she said, handing the shirt to
George, whose breasts were, in fact, rather respectable. Well, so youre not titless after
all. Good. Put that on over your shift. KIT!
Only a moment it took for the boy to land on his feet beside her. Capn?
This is George. Loan her a pair of your breeches and then teach her to climb the
rigging.
Aye, Capn.
As she walked away in a daze, Celia heard Kit demand, Gimme your slippers, fol-
lowed by a faint plink in the ocean. Celia chuckled.
Woman. George is to have one pair of breeches and a shirt like mine before sun-
rise. After that, you will make her enough to last a week before laundering. When
youve finished her new wardrobe, start on your own. I do not allow skirts on my ship.
I have no cloth, she whispered. What shall I use?
Your wardrobes, of course. Shell not need a dress again for months, if not years.
After that, you will be emptying the slop jars, doing laundry, and keeping all the wom-
en aboard this ship supplied with clean menses rags.
With that, she dispatched Woman to the galley to use one of the broad mess tables
for cutting and sewing. Yet before
Celia gripped Womans neck and hauled her back to speak in her ear. I am your
Dunham 49
entire existence now, Woman. You do what I say when I say how I say. Do you under-
stand me? She nodded frantically.
Celia let her go with a shove, then turned to watch the little merchantman sail east,
ahead of her. She smiled at a job well done and stretched, running her hands up her
ribs, over her breasts, under her braid until it fell from her outstretched arms.
Captain! I must protest!
Celia whirled at this voice she did not know and who questioned her authority.
The entirety of the crew within earshot stilled to watch this scenario play out.
A man approached her with some urgency, a great weaselly fellow. Tall and bulky,
he had thinning hair of an indeterminate mousy brown. One colorless eye did not fo-
cus in the same direction as his other colorless eye and he tended to squint. His hands
were large as hams and, Celia imagined, just as clumsy.
Who are you? Celia asked calmly.
My name is Marcus Zimmerman, Maam.
Captain or sir, Mr. Zimmerman. Youve been on this vessel a fortnight now; you
know the proper address.
Yes, Sir.
What is your protest?
The treatment of the women, sir. Theyve brought you no harm.
Celia was a tall woman, and she was still obliged to look up at him. Mr. Zimmer-
man, tell me: When you came aboard this ship seeking employment, did you not know
twas a privateer and its captain a woman?
Yes, Sir.
And now you question my behavior?
Tis not right to treat gently bred women thusly.
The male crewmembers held their breath, Bataar wrapped her hand around the
hilt of her sword, and the rest of the women abovedecks began to murmur angrily.
Isnt it now? Richins! she bellowed without taking her eyes from the man before
her. Fetch Woman back here. She waited, never taking her eyes off of this upstart,
who began to squirm under her cool regard. Once Woman was shoved to Celias left,
she dropped to her knees, sobbing.
Mr. Zimmerman, she began. You say it is not right to treat gently bred women
as I have treated Woman here. Do I understand you to say that it is right to treat com-
mon women thusly?
The female crew growled and Zimmermans mouth dropped open. Nono, not
at all.
Pray tell me why you protest for this womana woman who sold her girls womb
to an aristocrat? What has she done to earn your chivalry that the other women aboard
this vessel do not deserve?
Ah the others are here toof their own free will. This one is an innocent being
50 Moriah Jovan
taken hostage. Sir.
Celia laughed. I am a pirate, Zimmerman! Guffaws rang out. Tis what I do! She
leaned forward. What I do not do, she murmured, is tolerate insubordination. So. I
will test your chivalry. You get back to work and mind your own business or Woman
here gets the lash.
His eyes widened. But I Celias eyebrow rose and his stuttering became nearly
painful before he said, Please dont lash her, Captain.
With a glance slid to Richins, he took weeping Woman belowdecks once again. I
do not know you, Zimmerman, she said, and I hear you came aboard bearing Wash-
ingtons name.
Yes, Sir.
Youre lying to me. He started and Celia knew she was right. I cannot prove it,
but I dont have to, as I am the only law here. One more misstep, Zimmerman, and Ill
shackle you in the hold for the duration. I dont like liars and I will not have my au-
thority questioned. She turned and walked away from him then, toward the quarter-
deck. Over her shoulder, she called, Id watch my back if I were you, Zimmerman.
Methinks youll not want to cross swords with me.
Once shed taken the wheel over from a glowering Smitty, she saw the man still
standing there, his mouth agape. Get to work, Mr. Zimmerman, she murmured just
loudly enough for him to hear. When he didnt move, out of fear or rebellion Celia did
not know, she pulled the dagger out of its sheath on her leg and hurled it at him.
It pinned his foot to the deck.
He howled in pain and bent to grapple at it, sobbing.
Mayhap now youve an excuse not to move when given a direct order.
She watched as he dislodged it from the wood beneath his foot, then pulled it out
of his foot. He hobbled away, blood streaming behind him. Get Senzeille to tend his
wound, she mumbled to Smitty. I want him alive for his flogging on the morrow and
do not wish an infection to rob me of that.
Aye, Capn.
Made me waste a bloody nice day. Ill not forget that soon.
She began to yell instructions and sails were unfurled. She spun the wheel to star-
board and fought to catch a breeze.
There was some commotion above her and she was obliged to smile at Kits at-
tempts to teach George to climb. Twas a difficult task made more difficult by the soft-
ness of the girls feet, the dizzying height, the strength of the wind, and the pitch of the
ship as she turned. It took tremendous strength and a strong stomach. If George could
master the rigging, she would be able to master anything.
At the moment, though, Kit hopped from the platform to the ratlines and ran
down the net, upsetting Georges timorous hold on the ropes so that she lost her grip
and fell. Celia watched as the girl caught herself halfway down, but she clung to it,
Dunham 51
breathing heavily; Celia smiled with the memory of herself having done the very same
thing. Twould teach her to hold on better.
Oblivious to his charges circumstance, Kit launched himself off the rigging by a
rope and swung out over Celia, dropping neatly beside her. The Silver Shillings twelve
miles behind us, two points off larboard.
She speared Kit with a look, and realized she had to look up at him, too! When had
he grown so without her notice?
Are you sure?
The figurehead, Capn.
Oh, aye, that would do it. Does she see us?
Aye. Shes heavy in the water but seems to me she is trying to overtake us.
Excellent. Get me a shirt.
7

From the periphery of her dreams, Celia felt the bed depress beneath her, and
though it could not possibly have been Dindi, Celia cast the irregularity of it to the
back of her sleep-induced haze and remained settled in the darkness of slumber.
She should not have, she discovered, when a strangers lips pressed harshly against
hers. Her eyes popped open, her heart lodged in her throat, and her stomach
lurched
Light eyes twinkled in the moonlight piercing through the darkness.
Then she tasted rum and cocoa.
She opened her mouth and wrapped her arms around the mans broad shoulders,
under and through his long silky hair, his skin cold and a bit damp from his midnight
row.
Ah, now thats a greeting I didnt expect, he whispered into her mouth.
Not even after I ordered my sails trimmed? I expected you days ago.
He stilled, and she felt him smile against her lips. And now we are becalmed.
Aye. I want my figurehead back.
Is that why you are so willing? Youll fuck me to retrieve it?
If I must.
He chuckled and hoisted himself off the bed to pull the linens back. Share your
bedclothes.
Why? she asked as she moved to accommodate his big body and held the linens
for him to slip in.
Because Im cold, he said wryly, and proceeded to prove the point by rolling up
against her so that they were cold skin to warm.
Celia squeaked. Gods teeth, Judas. First you mistake me for a whore, and then
you mistake me for a warming brick.
And yet you have not chased me out of your cabin for my audacious invasion of
your ship and your person. You havent even fled to the other side of the bed.
You sound particularly pleased with yourself. I told you there were many ways to
gain my undivided attention for a night or six.
And this is one of them.
It is now, although if you had a faster ship, you could have ordered me to heave to
and boarded me.
I intend to board you, Madam, never fear. And I am keeping your figurehead.
Dunham 53
Aye, I thought you might say that. I will simply sink your ship, then. If I cannot
have it, neither can you.
He ignored that. I would like to discuss your questionable judgment in methods
for running British blockades.
Celia laughed. And all this time I thought talking was the last thing you would
wish to do.
In time, my love. In time. Im intrigued. I want to know your mind as much as
your body.
My mind is not engaged at the moment, Sir, she murmured and rubbed her palm
carefully down his body, thumbing his pap along the way, feeling the hard muscles of
his torsoits scarsthe peak of his hip, to the nest of curls around his cock. It was
flaccid at the moment, but she would expect no less considering the cold. And it wont
be long until yours is no longer engaged. Kiss me.
Aye, Capn, he muttered as if he had no choice, pressing his mouth against hers
again, opening her lips expertly with his.
It wasnt the first time Celia had been tempted into bed by a virtual stranger, but it
was the first time a man had made such a concerted and sustained effort to get her
there.
It was also the first time she had bedded a man who was her equal at sea.
Aye, he was a special one, one she wanted to know better, and she did not ken why
she was so hungry for a man she did not know that she would tolerate his violations of
her property and her person. Why? she whispered against his mouth, her fingers
running through his long, damp, salt-laden hair.
Why not?
8

Why not.
Elliott dragged his hand down Furys side, shocked by the heavy scarring, far more
so than his own. She had been floggedand severely. He allowed his fingertips to
study her scars, tracing each bump and ridge, feeling himself harden in her hand. He
cupped her breast in his palm and realized that it, too, was riven with scars. He flicked
his thumb over the peak, but the nipple didnt respond.
I have no feeling there, she whispered absently, lost in their kiss. She did not seem
to find that anything out of the ordinary.
A flogging like this would have killed a lesser man.
Aye, but I am not lesser nor a man.
He grinned against her lips while slipping his hand between her legs to caress her
velvety inner thigh. She gasped. You have feeling there.
Aye, I do. Stand down and prepare for my boarding, Capn.
She arose to her knees as he turned to lie on his back. She lifted one strong thigh
and straddled him so his growing prick nestled in the crack of her arse and slid along
her back. The tail of her braid brushed across his thighs.
Elliott thought he must have died and gone to paradise, as this was truly not the re-
ception hed anticipated, nor had he anticipated how at ease he would be with her
and how rapidly.
She wiggled, grinding her cunt into his belly.
Madam, you are an accomplished tease.
That, she said pertly, is what Marquess Rathbone thinks, also.
Elliott thought to toss her off. What ho, then?
Nay, not so much as that, she said with a wry tone. He is one of the last men on
Earth Id tumble, and not for any reason I would tell you.
Ah, you were speaking figuratively.
You are the one who wanted to discuss the blockade. I have decided to indulge
you. He groaned, and she reached behind her to wrap her hand around his cockstand.
She pressed the pad of her thumb into the tip to collect the liquid there, then manipu-
lated the rest of the head with that same very talented digit while she squeezed with
just the right pressure. I have heard no expressions of gratitude from you, Judas. Me-
thinks youd be more appreciative of the gaping hole Maarten and I left you to sail
through.
Dunham 55
My thanks, Captain, he croaked. Surely the woman had been born for the sole
purpose of driving him mad. Your turn.
My thanks for your assistance, Captain, she purred. Enlighten me, she contin-
ued with amusement. He could smell her arousal and wondered at her control. Then
she put her hand between her legs and spread her flesh open against his skin and bore
down.
Fury, is this some new form of torture? he gritted.
Nay, she said with a little gasp. One more tiny sound of pleasure slipped from be-
tween her lips, and the hand wrapped around his prick tightened. Not for me, any-
road.
If I enlighten you, will you cease torturing me?
Aye, perhaps. If I like the answer.
And if you dont?
I am perfectly capable of pleasuring myself, Judas.
But you would rather have me. He quickly, unerringly slid two fingers up into her
cunt, making her gasp in surprise. Wouldnt you?
He could feel her shrug. This will do.
Liar. Ask your question.
Would you say that your ship is fucking my figurehead or my figurehead is fuck-
ing your ship?
Oh, Elliott knew which answer would get him buried inside this evil woman, but
he could not bear to give her that. Yet. He lunged upward and rolled her over so that
he was on his knees between her thighs, his body pinning hers to the bed. He grasped
his prick and guided it to her cunt, sliding the head between her wet folds, up and
down
Now who is the tease, she gasped, lifting her hips, seeking his prick.
He grinned. He had barely entered her when she drove herself upward until he was
sunk into her to his bollocks.
Oh, yes, she sighed.
He leaned down to press her into the bed and whisper: Your figurehead might be
fucking my prow, Madam, but I am fucking you.
Oh, yes, she sighed again. Do continue.
She was deliciously tight, perfectly wet, as he gave her long, leisurely strokes she
sought to quicken by tightening her legs around his hips until he could not move at all.
Do you wish me to continue, you should not hold me so tightly.
In answer, she reached above her head to the iron rings in the bulkhead, then tight-
ened her legs even further, making him lose his balance so that he fell upon her. It was
delightful to have her restrained so closely underneath him, but not so much that he
would trade it for control. He pushed up, his body braced by his palms on either side
of her head.
56 Moriah Jovan
Her chest was heaving. Her legs tightened. Her mouth found his. Her hips and
legs worked in some odd rhythm for the purpose of
She growled just as her pussy clenched around his him.
grinding her pearl against him. She released the rings and his hips, letting her
knees fall open wide.
Judas, she whimpered.
He could do naught but fulfill her plea.
He thrust hard and fast, and she met him on every stroke.
She arched her back and let forth a guttural cry from deep in her chest when she
reached her crisis. Not long after, his groan of satisfaction came from somewhere deep
in his soul, and he stilled.
They stayed that way, spent but connected. They were both panting as they looked
at each other for a few minutes until Elliott could no longer claim any firmness.
That needs must happen more frequently, methinks, she murmured, cupping his
face in her hands.
Aye, he said brusquely. You said a night or six, as I recall.
He turned his head to press a kiss into her palm, then pulled away, twisting to land
on his back beside her. She looked at him.
As long as we are becalmed, I see no reason not to indulge. But my hold is empty,
so I have prizes to hunt and, hopefully, a shipment to deliver. As soon as the winds
pick up, I must be upon my way.
Where are you bound?
Eventually, London. You?
Ah London. Eventually.
She lifted herself and moved closer to him, until she was tucked in the curve of his
arm and her head upon his shoulder. She caressed his belly, tracing the lash lines with
a fingertip, and whispered, You are acquainted with the cat, too, I see.
Who among us does not bear the scars of a life at sea? He tightened his arm
around the back of her head and she adjusted her position so as to grant him the kiss
he sought.
They kissed, teased, nipped, sucked. He felt her hand in his hair, pulling him closer
as if they could lose themselves in each other. He suspected that might be possible. It
had been nigh twenty years since a woman had so strongly caught his fancy, and
somewhere at the back of his mind, he wished she hadnt.
She was dangerous.
Nay, his compulsion to have her was dangerous.
Will you be in London long? he whispered against her mouth.
I am not quite certain, she returned.
Will you meet me?
Mayhap. Washington is expecting our return in October or November.
Dunham 57
Tis nearly March. You could make two or three voyages in that time.
She paused and pulled away from him, leaving a sudden chill where her body had
warmed his. She rose up and knelt beside him, her knees touching his ribs.
I There are complications with my presence in London, she said slowly,
continuing to trace his scars with a finger. He shivered, and not from any chill: He
could see no fewer than three glowing braziers dotting the cabin. Tis not simply a
matter of slipping in and out, meeting suppliers and selling cargo. I have other obliga-
tions to attend.
As do I, so I ken.
You are British, she said softly. What is your quarrel with your own countrymen?
That is not up for discussion, Madam.
I can tell by the way you choose your battles that you feel you have cause, she con-
tinued as if she hadnt noticed Elliotts tension, but of course she had, yet you have
taken the name of the betrayer and raised him up to destroy the Messiah that is Eng-
land. Tis the stuff of bathos.
He snorted. And yours is not equally ridiculous? Fury.
Oh, that was a gallows jest I made after I killed Skirrow.
And no one laughed.
Nay, but I did not find much humorous about it, myself.
Dunham called you Jack.
Jacqueline wearies the tongue.
Ah. Jacqueline what?
You are so set upon having my name, are you? Methinks you should give me
something other than Judas.
Would that he could hear his name on her tongue, but there were few enough Eng-
lishmen with his given name that she could deduce his surname, too, given a few weeks
in London.
Ill not give you that, Madam, he said gruffly.
Then fie upon you, Judas, expecting my name when you will not give me yours.
Anyroad, I hate Jacqueline, and Jack only slightly less. I always have, so do not think
to address me thusly.
And Calico Jack? To my mind, that would be a dueling insult, as you are more man
than he ever was.
Another jest, though foisted upon me because of my fondness for calico cats. El-
liott grinned. I was very young and did not know the history, so I did not object. By
the time I knew the history, twas mine forevermore. I do not care for that appellation,
either, but tis useful for legal purposes, contracts and such, with my flourish and seal.
For many reasons, I simply do not have the luxury Dunham and Maarten have to go
about wearing their names on their chests, or I would.
And what would you have me call you?
58 Moriah Jovan
I prefer the name by which I am known in my communities on land, but
since you will not give me your name, I will not tell you mine. And he regretted that.
So until you give me yours, you will call me Fury or Captain. None of this Jack busi-
ness, Calico or otherwise.
Elliott said nothing more as she climbed over his body to disappear into the shad-
ows behind a screen. He started when something soft brushed against his foot.
Mrow.
So. There were two cats in this cabin. He chuckled when it climbed up on his belly
and walked up his chest to stick its cold, wet nose up his. He stroked its silky fur, then
its back arched and its claws dug into his chest, begging scratches at the base of its tail.
I was not expecting to be taken hostage and ravished this eve or I would have pre-
pared, she called softly.
He snorted. Did you think I would wait until the wind blew so I would not have
to row?
Furys soft laugh drifted to him.
Once she had finished her ablutions, she emerged from behind the screen, her
shadow moving vaguely about the cabin until a lantern flared. She cast a glance at him
where he lay with one arm behind his head and a calico cat on his chest.
I see youve met Dindi.
I am now the one being ravished, Elliott murmured, allowing the cat to scratch its
face upon his rough jaw. He had never been in the habit of keeping pets, but he found
himself scratching the cats other cheek such that its purr increased until his chest was
thrumming.
Shes spoilt. None of the other ships cats require such excessive praise for their
valor in keeping us free of vermin.
He studied Furys rather large body as she went about her cabin completely nude,
lighting lamps until the cabin was quite bright. He had not noticed her size until now,
accustomed as he was to looking at her many-times-larger figurehead. Tall and muscu-
lar, she was yet voluptuous, with a nipped waist, soft belly, and hips and breasts remi-
niscent of graven images depicting ancient fertility goddesses
all overwhelmed by the most grotesque scarring he had ever seen.
From chest to waist, they encircled her torso, a thick mat of pale pink ridges. Her
breasts were pert, but her nipples lay flat despite the chill in the air. The left nipple had
been cut in two vertically. On the other hand, her arms were smooth but for the welts
circling her wrists: She had been hung from a yard instead of strapped to a mast. He
found the contrast between her feminine-smooth limbs and arse and ravaged torso to
be profane.
Aye, her midsection was hideous, and even though he, too, had been flogged, he
could not imagine how shed lived through it And that her mentor had wielded the
lash
Dunham 59
By any definition, Elliott was an uncommonly big man and, with his strength, had
unwittingly killed a man with fewer than twenty strokes of a common cat. Dunham
was larger than Elliott and had he not personally witnessed Dunhams affection for
Fury, he would swear that the man had tried to kill her.
Not so eager for me now, eh?
Her bitter question shook him out of his reverie and realized that she had caught
him staring, most likely with some measure of horror on his face. He scowled at her
and snapped, Do not assume what I do and do not find arousing, Madam.
She blinked and her delectable mouth dropped open a little in confused surprise.
Oh, she finally said, but then her mouth tightened. Oh, aye, I apprehend, she said
acidly. You have been looking at my figurehead these weeks past and can simply close
your eyes and think about how I once looked.
Incensed, he leveled a glare at her that had quelled more unruly sailors than he
could count. That is enough of that, he growled. I am no callow youth, easily im-
pressed by appearance to the good or bad. Your scars are ugly, but they are part of
what makes the woman I have pursued since we met. Twould take more than the
sight of those to thwart my interest in you.
Her expression was filled with uncertainty, but she made no more protest, for
which he was grateful. It was not well done of him to confess how much he wanted
her, as she did not seem to reciprocate as deeply.
With one final, suspicious glance, she turned to dig a small box out of her sea chest
and sit at her desk with her back to him. Her scars might be hideous, but the rest of
her was precisely to his taste: Her arms and shoulders were shapely but muscular. Her
legs were likewise. Her hips were more than generous, her arse firm and smooth. Her
pink braid brushed her skin.
That pink hair! Elliott thought his wonder at the sight of her hair may never cease.
Why did you not stay in Oranjestad if you wanted me so badly? she mumbled as
she unpacked the small box, sorted its contents, and began a process he understood. I
would not have rebuffed an apology.
Pride, he rumbled. I do not grovel well. Rather, not at all.
Thus you knew you were in the wrong.
No question of that.
The pestle clinked softly against the mortar as she ground spices. Why did you
think I would be more receptive to your overtures after you stole my property?
I was angry, so I thought nothing of it at all. I saw it. I wanted it. I took it.
That made her chuckle, and she paused in her grinding to cast a sly smile at him
over her shoulder. Like Caesar. You took a great risk, coming here, sneaking aboard.
Weve had you in sight for days, and certes, my watch saw your approach.
Elliott scoffed. Twas no risk at all, considering you all but dropped anchor the
moment you sighted us. The smile spread across her striking face, and Elliotts breath
60 Moriah Jovan
caught with her beauty. I am curious as to how you appeased your crew, however.
I didnt. You did. She bent back to her task and spoke matter-of-factly. You
saved us from the three patrol frigates. Whatever your quarrel with Britain, had you
any real quarrel with me, you would have left all of us to her mercy. Then, once we
were sunk, you would have finished the job we began.
Aye, that would have been efficient, he said dryly.
She shrugged. At that point in the battle, you had the advantage of time. You
could have done anything you wanted without Britain to belay you.
Elliott said nothing. It had never occurred to him to leave Fury and her fleet to the
Royal Navys mercy, and that she had any idea he might have done so unsettled him a
bit. But then, that was a hazard of pursuing a woman with whom his only conversation
had involved swords, daggers, curses, and the theft of her effigy.
And, she continued, my crew knows what I want from you. Hand me that rum
over there. Twill kill the taste of these herbs.
He displaced the cat to sit on the edge of the bed, grasp the bottle shed indicated,
and hand it to her. She poured some in a glass and mixed it up with the herbs, then
tossed it back with a grimace. God, thats vile, she muttered.
I told you I have no intention of returning that figurehead.
Not that.
Then what?
Your cock, she said absently, her hands carefully re-packing her box.
Elliotts mouth dropped open. My cock? And now youve had it, youll toss me
overboard?
She huffed and looked up at the overhead. Bedsport with a man I both respect
and desire. Is that better? Forgive my lack of sentiment, Captain, as I am a mathemati-
cian and astronomer, not a poet.
With that, Fury looked down to finish packing up her herbs. That she had such a
collection and in such an exquisitely carved Moorish box told Elliott more about her
tendencies than he cared to know. He was the latest among many, and would not be
the last, just as Covarrubias had warned him.
For the first time in his life, that irritated him.
Have you ever been in love? he asked abruptly.
Love? she hooted. I fall in love with every flap of a sail! That shocked the bloody
hell out of him, and when he made no response, she looked over her shoulder and said,
You were hoping Id say never? That perhaps you might be the first?
He shrugged, loath to admit it.
I may have exaggerated a mite, she said with an impish grin. Oh, God, that smile!
How large a mite?
Oh, mayhap no more than two flaps of a sail.
Elliott could do nothing more than laugh, his relief far greater than the situation
Dunham 61
warranted. Number one?
She raised an eyebrow. This is not the moment for such discussions, Judas.
He almost called her bluff by confronting her with Covarrubias, but decided she
was probably correct.
You know who I am, she said when he did not respond. Did you think that be-
cause I am a woman, though neither whore nor lady, I would remain a maiden, lying in
wait for a handsome pirate captain to climb in my window and skillfully ravish me,
thereby allowing me to abdicate any responsibility I have in my enjoyment of fucking a
man I dont know but want desperately? He said nothing, but she began to laugh. You
did! she squealed, then clapped and laughed with utter glee. He scowled at her, irritat-
ed with her mockery. My womanly awakening did not begin with your stolen kiss,
Captain.
Still chuckling, she arose and disappeared behind her screen. Soon the faint scent
of lemon touched Elliotts nose.
Tell me at least if you are married, he called.
I am not, she returned immediately.
Thank God. Now tell me about the blockade.
Desperation. The Navy had cut off all our avenues of escape. Did the trap draw
tighter, we would all have lost our ships and our lives, not to mention what the loss of
eight or more privateers would have done to Washingtons supply lines. I would not
have done such a thing otherwise or on my own, and I hope never to have to do it
again. I do not relish captaining a fire ship. Elliott closed his eyes and breathed a sigh
of relief. By the bye, did Rathbone or Bancroft survive?
Aye, both. They are too wily to die.
They are intact?
So I hear. I imagine their pride is in tatters, however. You may find your head with
a price attached.
Nay. You would have a price on your head regardless. No matter what I do, I
would be merely a prisoner of war.
Elliott snorted bitterly. Being a prisoner can make a person wish hed been execut-
ed, he said before he thought.
Once again she appeared from the head and went about putting out all but one of
the lamps she had lit. And how do you come to think I have no experience of impris-
onment or torture?
Touch.
One missive to Ambassador Franklin would cut short my imprisonment and put a
period to any plans for my execution. Besides the fact that the ambassador adores me,
there are many leaders in the army who would not hesitate to kill Britains finest offic-
erssons of nobility, as you well knowshould their suppliers be harmed.
Twas true enough. She and her cohorts may be considered pirates, their letters of
62 Moriah Jovan
marque not regarded as legal in British courts, but as a practical matter, they were
treated as enemy combatants.
Now, Captain, she said silkily as she approached the bed. She put a knee along-
side Elliotts hip, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him deeply. She tasted
of lemon, cinnamon, and rum. He pulled her to him tightly as he lay back on the bed.
Tis my turn to ravish you.
9

The rising sun crept under Celias eyelids and she stirred against the big, warm
male beside her. She opened her eyes and turned her head to see Judas there, lying on
his stomach angled away from her, one arm under his cheek and the other dropped
over the side of the bunk. His hair, black and silver, mixed with her sun-bleached
strands and fanned out across the pillows.
He was snoring.
That he trusted Celia enough to sleep that soundly, alone on what might have been
an enemy ship for all he knew, pleased her more than it should have.
thats a greeting I didnt expect.
Not for a heartbeat did she believe his claim that he knew her men would not kill
him before he got to her, yet he had taken the risk. From stealing a kiss to stealing her
figurehead to stealing into her bed, he had more than demonstrated that he wanted her
and would do whatever he had to do to have her.
Rafael had taken advantage of her youth and impressionability, then proceeded to
take her love and loyalty for granted. Celias husband had nursed an infatuation from
afar and feared her rejection of him so much he had had to be coaxed to meet her.
But this man
She smiled sleepily and turned until she lay half atop him, inserting her knee be-
tween his legs and raising it so it just brushed his soft sac. She caressed one dark,
brawny shoulder and kissed the other.
An almost-purr began to vibrate from deep inside Judass chest when she stroked
his scarred ribs, but otherwise he did not move, leaving her to marvel at what a power-
ful man he was, both physically and as a commander.
The Silver Shilling was a British ship of the line, with a roster at least four hundred
men strong, of whom a third would be marines. There were no pirate vessels of that
size. Ships such as his were built for war, not speed or stealth; the number of men
needed to sail and defend one was not conducive to cohesion or loyalty; and the num-
ber of prizes they could expect to take would not be enough to feed and pay that many
people.
I doonna know where yeve been in the last year that yevena crossed paths with Judas
His actions during the blockade spoke to his long experience as a commander, be-
cause he could not have gained it in one year of pirating on a ketch, much less a ship of
the line.
64 Moriah Jovan
Judas was, in fact, not a pirate and everything about him betrayed it. He was a well-
educated and well-seasoned British officer bent on the destruction of the very navy
that had trained him. Moreover, she thought he might be from somewhere near York-
shire, though his accent was far more refined than any shed heard, and was overlaid
with a heavy Oxford polish.
Celia could not fathom commanding four hundred men under any circumstances,
nor could she imagine any pirate or privateer commanding such a large contingent,
much less leading them into a one-man war against the most powerful nation on
Earth. That there were four hundred men who would follow him into that war spoke
volumes of his leadership.
She would wager her last farthing he was from landed gentry or a wealthy mer-
chant family. The possibility that he was of noble lineage was too slight, given that the
repercussions for such would destroy not only him, but his entire family and the title.
Mrow.
Dindi arose from her place at the head of the bunk and sought to nuzzle her way
between them, butting and pushing at Celias face and shoulder. Celia shooed the cat
away (though not without many protesting meows), but the animal would only obey
so far as to hop up on Celia, walk down her body, and perch at the foot of the bunk in
a huff.
Judas was still offering up his version of a purr when she opened her mouth against
his shoulder and bit.
Hells bells, woman! he croaked and shifted until he could look at her over his
shoulder. What was that for?
She made to answer, but had no good reason to give. I she began, but stopped,
suddenly and thoroughly bemused by her act. I thought you looked rather deli-
cious. I have never done that before.
His eyelids lowered. Do it again, he growled.
Celia blinked at the request, but fulfilled it, sinking her teeth into that big muscle,
licking his skin, still salty, and tasting something that was just him.
Harder, he whispered.
In sudden understanding, Celia smiled against his flesh even as she swept her hand
down his back to cup his tight arse cheek.
His back arched away from her when she dug her teeth and nails into him at once.
God almighty, he rasped.
Mmm, Celia hummed when she released him to lick at the small wound she had
made, tasting the bitter copper. Her fingernails were sticky with his blood, which she
smeared over his arse, then slapped him.
Hard.
He groaned.
Ive heard about men like you. More?
Dunham 65
In answer, he moved so that she fell back on the bunk. He flopped to his back,
grasped his turgid cock, and scowled at her. This, you do not bite.
She grinned and arose over him, slid down his body, situated herself between his
bent knees, and took him in her mouth. Clean from her ministrations a scant two
hours before, she tasted him, Judas, with a hint of soap. She ran her tongue round the
head, down the underside length, pressed her nose and mouth into the crease between
his cock and bollocks.
Fury, he croaked, his hand in her hair.
Her quim was wet and empty, the cool air kissing her, tormenting her. She wanted
so much for him to fill her again
Celia screeched when she was jerked upright, one great arm around her waist, lift-
ing her, spinning her round until he slammed her face-first against the bulkhead. She
gasped when he spread her legs and speared her.
If any other man had had the audacity to accost her thusly, Celia would have
fought her way free, and then she would have slaughtered him.
He grasped her wrists and raised them, pinning them together with one big hand
against the wood above their heads.
Judas, she panted, feeling him in her, still, stretching her.
Now I have you where I want you, he gritted in her ear.
She should have expected this.
She had no desire to stop it.
Well, get on with it, she said as calmly as she could. In, out. Theres a good pirate.
He barked a surprised laugh and withdrew until his cock was barely brushing her.
Back in, now, Judas. You know what to do.
The force of his thrust made her grunt with some pain that melted into pleasure
with every hard shift of the warm, velvety skin of his lower belly against her unscarred
and oversensitive buttocks.
Do you imagine someone else Celia grunted between his violent strokes,
now that youre fucking me from behind?
Nay, he growled in her ear. I imagine you. Completely at my mercy. The way I
shouldve taken you in Oranjestad, bent over a table in front of the entire tavern.
God, yes, Celia whispered in appalled ecstasy, her face against the wall as he
pounded into her, his cock sliding in and out, his bollocks slapping against her button.
Harder.
Hinges squeaked and the door flew open. Oh, Captain Fury, please forgive A
shocked gasp and choke. George, late for her newly assigned duties as Celias cabin girl.
Getout! Judas snarled without once breaking his rhythm.
The door slammed and they were alone once again, Judass chest to her back, her
fingers clutching wood and his fingers clutching hers. Celia couldnt be bothered to
care about the poor girls shocked sensibilities.
66 Moriah Jovan
He buried his face in the crook of her neck, kissing and licking with the rhythm of
his hips. Nibbling.
If you bite me, she panted, Ill kill you.
Neither his lips nor his tongue left her skin, but she no longer felt his teeth.
He thrust deep inside her and stilled suddenly, sliding his hand down her leg. He
was not taking his release, so
She knew what he was about when he grasped her knee and pulled it back to wrap
her foot around his hip. Her thigh burned with the stretch and her quim felt a new
kiss of air. Still, she assisted him when he repeated it with her other leg, being very
precise about where he placed her feet.
His hips moved, resumed the punishing pace and force.
Judasjudasjudas, she panted with every step to ecstasy she took. He kissed, sucked,
licked her neck as he went harder and faster.
He was fucking her now the way his ship was fucking her figurehead, her feet
curled around him the way her figureheads feet wrapped the rails of his ship. She was
impaled upon Judass cock, his upper body keeping her utterly immobile.
The way his prow impaled her figurehead.
Her climax welled up in her cunt and her belly and her chest and finally she broke
with the wail of an animal.
He opened his mouth against the nape of her neck, his teeth barely scraping her
skin before he seemed to think better of it. He pressed her harder against the wall, kept
her that way, growling and grunting into her skin, until his hips jerked upward once,
twice, three times with such force it hurt her.
He stilled on the last and most painful thrust.
His cock twitched within her, forcing a nervous giggle out of her.
That, Madam, he growled against her neck, is how my ship fucks your figure-
head. All the goddamn day and night.
Not so, she whispered. She is on top.
He continued to lick at her, the flat of his tongue rough and soothing her bruised
skin where he had sucked at her.
Ive never That was unlike anything I have ever known.
I dont believe that, he muttered. Youre not an innocent. He was still licking
her. Still inside her. Still pressing her hard into the bulkhead, his hand now cupping
her mound.
After the moment they spent catching their breath, she felt him shrink and slide
out of her with a sweet pop. With it, all his juices ran down between her thighs. She
sighed, vaguely aroused at the feel of him, the feel of his possession of her, his taking of
her.
She had not been taken like that since she was an adolescent, when Rafael had be-
gun to add variety to her educationand she had never allowed him to do it again.
Dunham 67
She did not like being taken any more than she liked being bitten.
Until now.
By the biggeststrongestman she had ever tumbled.
Finally, she admitted, I have never tolerated such violence from my bed partners.
That surprises me.
I prefer to be on top, the one in control.
Judass chest suddenly rumbled with a chuckle. Ah, not so surprising, then. But
you tolerated it from me.
She had no response, no way to explain that to herself, much less him, so she pried
them both away from the bulkhead. I must tend myself, Judas, she murmured.
He complied slowly, his large hands wrapping around her arms with some tender-
ness and pulled her back against his chest. He eased her feet from around his hips and
helped her straighten them.
She moaned in pain, but instead of garnering his sympathy or contrition, she mer-
ited only chuckles. Once she had waddled to her private head, she heard him wander-
ing about her cabin. Every creak of every plank was unique and let her know exactly
where he was and, most likely, what had attracted his attention.
What had she done, allowing this man such liberties?
What had she done, admitting she wanted him to take them?
Twas thoroughly shocking. Nay, twas horrifying. It made her question everything
she knew about herself.
Yet he hadnt bitten her.
Nothing would have compelled his obedience had he a mind to disregard her wish-
es, thus he had complied out of respect for her. In the midst of his show of dominance,
he had yet bent to her will.
She pressed her fist to her breast and bowed her head, breathing deeply in an at-
tempt to gather herself.
When she emerged from the head enrobed in red silk, he gave her a cocky grin and
took his turn. She noted a pair of damp breeches half hanging out of her stern window,
then sat at her table. She was nearly finished grinding the herbs for her elixir when he
emerged. She glanced up to see his nude body glistening with water droplets, his cock
peaceful against his sac.
He gestured to her mortar and pestle. Might as well prepare a large batch, Mad-
am, as I intend to avail myself of your charms as often as possible.
She could not help the pleased smile she directed at the table. That was my intent.
Find me an empty rum bottle. We finished the one last night, did we not?
Aye, he grunted and swept it up off the floor, thumping it on her table with a
flourish before heading to her liquor cabinet and sitting on his haunches in front of it.
You, Madam, he mumbled as he ran his fingers over the bottles, surveying its con-
tents, are a connoisseur. He picked out a bottle of a fine Italian wine. This will do.
68 Moriah Jovan
Celia cleared her throat. Do you care to cover yourself, I shall call my girl back to
bring breakfast. Hopefully you have not driven her to cast herself overboard.
He laughed and dropped himself back on the mattress, uncorked the bottle, and
took a long draught.
What is that you are wearing? I have never seen such.
Tis called a kimono, she murmured. From Japan.
Japan? he asked sharply.
She slid him a glance, wondering at his tone. Aye, she drawled. Do you not care
for it?
He paused. I was simply curious, he murmured slowly. From the rumors, I gath-
er you are far more well-travelled than I.
This was given me on my seventeenth birthday. I have not been that far east nor
have I met any Japanese. She watched him examine the worn gold embroidery and
spots where the silk had thinned, an enigmatic smile curling his mouth. He looked up
to find her staring at him, which he held for a long while until his smile faded.
What are you thinking?
She bit her lip and tried to find words. That She gestured toward the bulk-
head. What you did to me. It was wonderful.
Says she who decries violence in bed but awoke me with a bite and drew first
blood.
It was a whimsy. I cannot think of another explanation. But then you asked for
more. Why?
He shrugged. I like it. Why should I not ask my lover for what I want if I have
reason to believe she will grant me the favor?
She was his lover now?
No passing bedsport was he, to be paid (or not) and left behind without a second
thought when it was time for her to return to her work. This man demanded a place in
her thoughts. She suspected he would continue to long after their association ended.
When she didnt answer him, his expression hardened and she caught her breath.
Madam, I will have you know that you are magnificent.
Celias heart swelled so large she thought her body would burst. And you, she
whispered. It was true: His arms were enormous, his legs long and his thighs strong,
his arse tight. His shoulders wide, his belly flat with vague lines around his muscles, his
cock of average length but thick and heavy.
She looked up, into his face. It, too, was strong. His nose was straight and aristo-
cratic. His cheekbones were high. His skin was darkly tanned and lined from sun and
laughter. His eyes Oh, God, his eyes.
The silver streaks in his black hair made him look
How many years have you? she asked abruptly.
Eight and thirty.
Dunham 69
older than that. He had had a hard life, though the laugh lines belied it.
You are twenty-five or thereabouts?
She barked a laugh. Thereabouts! Next month, I am one year shy of thirty.
Tis not usual for a sailor to look younger than his age.
My age is writ large across my breasts and back, Judas.
Ah.
Are you married?
Nay. He paused, then continued on slowly as if suddenly remembering some
troubling thing. If I were, would that curtail any willingness you might have to engage
in an affaire?
Aye, she said matter-of-factly. I will be no mans second.
Even if he didnt love his wife?
Celia stilled and looked at him, but his expression was carefully blank. Too careful.
She tilted her head. Why would anyone not wed for love?
He shrugged. Tis done all the time.
Celias eyebrow rose. Commoners have the luxury of marrying for love. She rushed
on before she could think too deeply on it. Is there some reason you might feel com-
pelled to wed a woman you did not love? Ah, there. The slightest tightening of his
mouth. She went on before he could answer. Politics? Land, wealth, family expecta-
tions? All those reasons bespeak power and the building or continuation of dynasties.
That is enough, Madam.
Celia was torn between glee that she had found some clue to his identity and sad-
ness that if he were in such a position, she would not be an acceptable candidate for a
wifeand not because of her social status.
Candidate.
Rafael had wanted her, so he had seduced her immediately. Talaat had been over-
joyed that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.
Candidate.
It was enraging, that her femininityher selfcould be reduced to candidacy.
Do you know what is rare amongst commoners? she went on without allowing
her growing bitterness to leach into her voice. Commands. I am not wholly familiar
with the intricacies of the British Navy, Sir, but is it not true that one can purchase a
commission if one is wealthy or high-placed enough? That would thereby grant him a
far greater opportunity to rise to captain. And is it not also true that aristocrats are
deemed better leaders because they are of the ruling class and therefore inherently su-
perior in knowledge and wisdom? From what I have seen, you have been a commander
a very long time.
His warning scowl was unmistakable. Cease that line of reasoning, Madam.
Pirating only a year, eh? On a ship of the line? A full complement of sailors and
marines? Do you know: A quarter of my crew is comprised of second and third sons of
70 Moriah Jovan
wealthy merchants, landed gentry, and nobilityevery one of them running from their
fathers.
His jaw ground, but Celia had ever dared where she should not. I am reasonably
certain of the conclusions I am drawing, Ill have you know.
Madam, shall I stuff your mouth with my prick to get you to cease?
Her vanity still wounded, she feigned amusement. Do you not remember I bite,
my lord?
His jaw ground, but Celia stood and went to her bunk where he half-lay, propped
against the hull, one arm behind his head and a blanket tossed carelessly over his mid-
section.
In this time and place, however, she was not a candidate for anything: Judas had also
wanted her enough to take her. The question was: Would he cast off his obligations to
keep her should she wish to be kept?
She sat, her hip against his, and reached a hand out to trace some of the lines
around his mouth. You like to laugh.
His mouth turned up in a reluctant smile and the lines around his ice blue eyes
good Lord, those eyes!deepened. Aye, he murmured. Im not one to brood. I should
be furious with you.
She leaned in to kiss him softly, closing her eyes and opening her mouth. Judas
threaded his fingers through her hair and closed them into a fist to hold her close
whilst they kissed.
I shall make a point to lie back and love you gently, he murmured finally when
she pulled away, if that is what you prefer.
His respect for her and her preferences warmed her to her soul, but it was a simple
enough task. His preferences, however Alas, I cannot reciprocate, for I know noth-
ing about administering pain for pleasure.
He smiled slowly, sensuously. I will be more than happy to teach you.
10

Elliotts smile deepened when Fury blushed, arose abruptly, strode across the cabin,
and threw the door open.
GEORGE! she bellowed. FOOD!
He watched as she went about the cabin tidying things that were already tidy until
they had achieved some perfection only she could discern. Her hair swirled about her
hips with every move she made. Instead of the pink braid that had originally caught his
eye, when loose and in the harsh spring dawn, her hair was a lovely Venetian blonde.
Aye, he should be incensed that she had ferreted him out so quickly, but he should
have expected that. She was no fool. Any experienced sailor and sharp observer could
draw the conclusions she had were they afforded the opportunity to observe, which
was precisely why he had never let anyone else that close.
Yet now he knew that the minute he told her of his betrothal to a twenty-three-
year-old American girl he had never met, whose name he could not remember, his time
with Fury would be overirrevocably.
He wasnt surprised, but he was rather seasick at the lost opportunity. The only
thing he could do was enjoy this time with her in order to have one good memory to
take with him into his interminable future, the one in which he was forever trapped,
bound by duty.
She returned to him, scooping her cat up in her arms along the way, and once again
sat on the edge of the bunk, her arse against his hip. He drew a finger down her arm,
and then up again, caressing her until she shivered and sighed with obvious delight.
What did you study at Oxford?
Law, he answered before he realized what she had said. Hells bells, he muttered
when she began to laugh. How did you know that?
I can hear it in your voice. He stared at her and her smile deepened. Tis not ob-
vious, so do not fret that someone else will find you out. I have an ear for accents and
languages.
Languages. That was a safe topic. Oh? Your accent is barely American.
Twould be no wonder, she said matter-of-factly. I speak six languages more or
less fluently and have spent most of my life on the deck of a ship with men who spoke
ten more and every variety of English I know of.
I confess I am fluent only in English and French. Whatever Latin I learned has
long since vanished.
72 Moriah Jovan
I know no Latin, so you have my advantage there.
And the other four?
Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch. French is my second language, as tis the
lingua franca of the Barbary Coast. Portuguese was my most difficult language to acquire.
Ah, yes, he drawled. You attended University of Coimbra, so your Portuguese is
academic, no? And you studied astronomy and mathematics with Doctor Covarrubias.
She reached out and tweaked his nose. That is no great secret, Sir.
Nor that he was lover number one.
Her palm landed softly on his chest and she leaned forward, her smile mischievous.
He still is, she whispered. Elliott wished hed killed the bastard in Virginia, but she
shrugged when his eyes narrowed. Do you care to tell me your name, or for me to
examine your inability to wed for love, we may then discuss Rafael. Men who marry
for duty must choose an appropriate woman and by anyones defining, I am as far from
appropriate as the sun.
She had him thereand he despised the fact of it. He struggled to find another
topic. I heard a rumor you are a musician.
I sing, she answered airily. Soprano. Also not a secret.
Well! That is certainly something remarkable.
Her jaw tightened suddenly and Elliott realized he had stumbled into a sore point.
I am degreed, aye, she muttered, but I could never become a soloist as I cannot
maintain a satisfactory vibrato. I never rose above the chorus.
Neither could I, he said wryly.
Furys brows drew close. You sing?
He chuckled. Not a note. Aye, I studied law, but I am not suited to it. The other
men in my family are extraordinarily talented at it, but I His pride in Niall and
Sandy tempted him to prattle on about how talented they were, but he resisted. Indeed,
I owe them my life would invite yet more speculation by this woman who, in twenty-four
hours, had deduced far too much of the truth of him. Im not terribly suited to aca-
demics in any case. But in reality, it did not matter, as I was bound for the sea. Thus, I
am degreedbarelybut I was never called to the bar. I dare say I could not maintain
a vibrato or rise above the chorus, either.
She laughed and leaned down to kiss him. And so here we are, doing what we
were born to do.
No, Elliott said thoughtfully. At her confused expression, he said, I despise sail-
ing. For some reason, he felt particularly satisfied at her shocked expression, and
grinned wryly. Tis a trap to be talented at a thing one hates. Furys mouth opened
and closed in her shock, seeming to be searching for words. How do you come to your
assumptions of me? he asked to forestall any more questions.
She blinked, then seemed to recover herself enough to slide a saucy glance at him.
Every word you say. Every choice you make. Every detail of your ship and crew. You
Dunham 73
are no pirate, Sir.
The Royal Navy would dispute that.
Is there anyone left of your battles with them to dispute it?
There were none until, of necessity, I was forced to leave a quarter of a British fleet
floating in the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, very much alive. I was an unprovable
myth, but now both Rathbone and Bancroft have seen that I am not.
She laughed and scratched her happy cats chin. Otherwise cheerful men who ex-
pend their rage upon those who built it have no need to brood elsewhere, do they?
Elliott opened his mouth to give her a flippant response, but found himself saying,
I am not angry anymore.
Oh? Then why ?
Now tis only a matter of opportunity. Her brow wrinkled in question. Fury, Im
on my way home. To stay. I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. I will take any
opportunities that present themselves on my way, but once I put into port, I am fin-
ished with this life.
What will you do then? Since you have no taste for the law, either?
He paused, reached out to scratch Dindis cheek, then murmured, My duty.
What would you rather do? she asked slowly. Or have you never thought of it?
Elliott frowned. At times, he said slowly, tis the only thing I can think of, but I
durst not speak of it. As I have my duty, what I want can never happen. Do I speak of
it, I grow angry at what cannot be and truly, I do not like being angry. Nor do I relish
wallowing in my circumstance. And that is enough of that. I will indulge your curiosity
no more.
She cast him a moue of amused dismay.
Can you spare me some of your cats? Elliott asked abruptly.
She blinked with surprise. Certainly. You have none?
Cats. Water. It did not occur to me.
I forget tis not common practice. Just then there was a timid knock at the door.
Come.
It opened slowly, and a small face peered around it. Captain?
It is safe to enter now, George, Fury said wryly.
She did, carrying an enormous tray filled with so much food she should not have
been able to carry it. But she set it down on the captains table with the strength and
gracefulness of a girl accustomed to hard labor.
Well, look whos back, Elliott drawled.
The girl flushed to the roots of her hair and looked resolutely down at the food she
was arranging. She was average in size, possibly fifteen or sixteen years old, with a tight
brunette braid. Her face was soft and plump and her hands red and chapped. She still
wobbled a bit, though the deck was not moving.
Good morning, girl. George, is it?
74 Moriah Jovan
Goo Goo Good morning ?
Capn Judas.
Oh. Um. Ca Captain Ju Judas. She gulped. Sir.
Did no one on watch last night tell you your captain acquired a bed partner?
N N No.
Shame on them.
She peeked at Fury, clearly confused by the fact that her captain was sitting calmly
on the bed, one leg crossed over the other, leaning forward with her elbows crossed
over her knees and Dindi tucked against her body.
Ca Captain Jack? Are you Are you well?
Fury laughed and Elliott was pleasantly surprised at the girls pluck in daring to ask.
Good God, yes. In fact, Im positively boneless.
Boneless, you say, Fury? Elliott queried innocently. Allow me to remedy that.
The girl whimpered and looked away from him, wringing her hands.
Never mind him, George. He plays the ogre well enough, but in truth, he is harmless.
Harmless? Elliott protested, affronted.
Fury continued as if she hadnt heard. You and Kit are relieved of your regular du-
ties for the day.
That confused the girl further. Captain?
We are on anchor watch, which means almost none. Were becalmed. We arent
going anywhere until the wind picks up and thus, no one else is, either. We are relative-
ly safe at the moment, and I have a wish to spend time with my new friend.
Elliott chuckled when she flushed again.
I dont I dont understand, Captain.
It means weall of us, both shipswill be making merry until Mother Nature
sees fit to blow us upon our journey.
Her brow wrinkled. Oh, she said wonderingly.
Since we do not know when that will happen, enjoy yourself, because then it will
be work time once again. Oh, aye, wait. I do have a task for you. Go to the hold and
gather some dozen or so young cats, then take them to the Silver Shilling and hand them
over to its leftenant.
Uh how will I get there, Captain? Its leagues away.
Elliott snorted A bare hundred yards. Fewer than that if its being towed at this
very moment.
Im sure you can find a solution to the problem, Fury purred.
Ask my leftenant for a set of clothing for your return trip, Elliott added.
Aye, Sir, she whispered, unable to look anywhere but at the floor.
Dismissed.
The girl was all too eager to leave the cabin, but took care to close the door softly
behind her.
Dunham 75
She is new?
Aye. She is a good girl and a hard worker, but needs a firm hand by someone who
respects her will and trusts her intelligence.
Shes strong as any able seaman, but has not been aboard long enough to lose her
timidity or catch her legs, much less get that strong.
Fury raised a finger and said, Ah, but she has been aboard long enough to lose her
virginity.
Oh, aye? She acts as if she had never seen a man in the altogether.
Five days. I believe it took Kit two of them to lure her to his bunk. What she saw
you doing would frighten grown women, and she is but a girlalbeit a complete rap-
scallion, or I miss my guesson the edge of womanhood who has been suddenly tak-
en by pirates. She is under the command of a woman more powerful than any man she
has ever met, but whom she does not yet trust. Then she sees this womanwho is her
only protection at the momentbeing violently plowed by an enormous savage with
blood on his arse, who barks at her without breaking stride. How should she comport
herself in his presence after the fact, especially if she has no way to know she is not next
on his menu?
Elliott had to concede the point once he thought about how it must have looked to
a young girl.
Come, eat. You have stirred in me a prodigious appetite, Sir, and I enjoy dining
with pleasurable company.
Elliott refrained from the ribald comment he could have made and stood to join
her at table after pulling on his almost-dry breeches. He looked down as she spread out
their repast: two great covered bowls, two pitchers of something else, a large pot of
coffee, six oranges, a loaf of bread, and a plate of butter.
He was very impressed.
Bread? he asked, even as she lifted one of the lids and sniffed at what appeared to
be a thick stew, closing her eyes in ecstasy. How do you come by bread in the middle
of the Atlantic, Madam, when even I am reduced to hardtack?
He reached across the table to set out the plates, utensils, and tankards whilst she
stirred the stew.
I feed and pay my men well, she said and took her seat, then poured what looked
like lemonade from the pitcher into her tankard, then offered him some.
No tea?
She grinned. Well, are you not the proper Englishman! No. Coffee, lemonade,
grog, beer, or rum.
He grunted and reached for the coffee pot and cup to pour for himself.
This is part of why I can keep a crew happy and loyal. Look at this. Would you
leave my employ if you knew this was on the regular Thursday breakfast menu and
that you were also earning a regular wage?
76 Moriah Jovan
Absolutely not.
Just so. I have been diligent in hiring men and women who can cook and train
others to cook just as well. I cannot abide the usual ships fare and I cannot fathom
how any man can work well without collapsing of hunger subsisting upon it. I know I
would. In fact, I have.
Elliott said nothing, but bent his head to taste the stew while he thought about
how much space it would take to keep provisions enough to feed five hundred men
such a delicious concoction as this once a week for eight weeksnever mind the rest of
the week.
Ive been at sea my entire adulthood, he said gruffly. I have not thought of having
better food at sea as a constant.
His Royal Highness is not known for the tender care of his men, she said dryly.
He snorted. Yet youre the captain. Surely youve eaten far better all these years?
He slid a wry grin at her. As you noted, Im rather much larger than any two of
my men put together and so I eat more, aye, but better? A bit, I suppose. He took a
long draught of the surprisingly delicious coffee. Dining modestly goes far toward
cultivating goodwill.
Modest? What is that?
Elliott spewed coffee.
A knock sounded whilst Elliott was still laughing and coughing at once. Fury
smirked and called permission to enter. An older woman, dressed in breeches and
loose shirt, her pure white hair braided and pinned in a crown atop her head, opened
the door and sauntered in with an enormous ledger tucked under her arm.
He would have to accustom himself to seeing women aboard, for a certainty.
Good morning, Mama.
Elliott choked again. Mama?!
Good morning, see Jack, the woman returned, bending to kiss the cheek Fury
offered her before setting the ledger aside, taking a seat at the table, and helping herself
to breakfast.
Elliott gaped at her.
Good morning, Captain Judas, she said, a hint of a smile curling her lip. I trust
you slept well.
Good God, this is unpleasant, he whispered.
Fury laughed in sheer delight, exchanging amused glances with her mother, who
bore so little resemblance to her daughter, he was tempted to ask if Fury was from the
womans body.
Would it soothe your sense of propriety if I introduced her as Officer Mary? Fury
asked sweetly. Chief Purser. She breaks her fast with me most mornings.
Elliott did not think how he could continue to be taken broadside by this woman,
but she seemed to be able to blow cannonballs through his mind at a rapid pace.
Dunham 77
Whilst Captain Judas is recovering his wits, Officer Mary said, I want to discuss
the Lamplight.
The Lamplight is the merchant I took last week, from whence George came.
Elliott simply nodded. It was all he could manage.
Did you inform Captain Bull of your plans for it? Officer Mary asked. Her ac-
cent, though basically American, was nearly as garbled as Furys.
Nay. Twas a discussion I had no time for at the moment.
Oh, good. Furys mother shifted and opened the ledger to a page Elliott now saw
she had marked. I suggest you ask him if he would like to lease it from you.
Mama, no. He has served me well and I would reward him. He is a gifted leader
and a good friend and I have no need of the ship or the funds. Why should I not give it
to him?
Because it is your ship.
It is my ship to do with what I please, Fury corrected somewhat impatiently, and
it pleases me to give it to Bridge.
You would give away everything you own if I allowed it.
She shrugged. My needs are not that great.
Your modistes in London, Rotterdam, and Paris would disagree with that. I see
the invoices.
That jerked Elliott right out of his shock. Three modistes? he asked with a grin.
Fury sniffed, but her mother slid her a disgusted glance. If that man hadnt spoilt
her rotten and made her so bloody vain, she might be content with one.
Mother!
That Man could be a lover or a father, but now was not the time to pursue it. She
has reason to be vain, Elliott murmured, raking Fury with a lascivious glance.
Fury flushed and looked away. You need not flatter me unduly to pry my thighs
open, Judas, she muttered. I am quite aware of my deficiencies, even without my
scars.
Unduly? Elliott asked, staring at her, suddenly incredulous. Madam, we dis-
cussed this last night. Know this: Had I not thought you beautiful, I would never have
kissed you in the first place.
Her head snapped to him, her mouth open. Look at her! she said, pointing to her
mother. Do I look like her? No. I look like my sire, who is not precisely easy on the
eyes.
Her mother drew herself up with great umbrage. Oh! That is not true!
Fury glared at her. Mama, do not begin to sing his praises to me now.
Elliott smothered his grin and continued with his meal while they continued to
bicker. Until Fury had pointed it out, he had not noticed anything particularly special
about her mother, but now that she had, Elliott had to admit she was, indeed, a beauti-
ful woman.
78 Moriah Jovan
The argument mounted. It reminded him of his sisters and his mother, who regu-
larly clashed and, while he could respect Fury as a wise leader and accomplished navi-
gator, he relished the fact that she was also so womanly.
A beloved pet.
Three modistes.
Bruised female vanity.
A friendship with a mother that allowed for such this type of bickering.
He could have been at the breakfast table at home for all the differences between
his family and this pair, and he was enjoying every second of it.
Thus he learned that Fury was of Marys body and that Furys parents were not on
speaking terms. In fact, Mary was quite displeased with her husband. It was obvious to
Elliott that Fury wanted them to reconcile, but Mary felt there were too many years
between them to do so.
How many years? Elliott asked abruptly around his bite. They both started and
turned to stare at him as if he had just appeared. Forgot I was here, did you? How
many years?
Ah Mary blinked. Twenty.
What did he do?
He failed to divine her circumstance, Fury drawled with a sidelong glance at her
mother. But then she turned to Elliott. The inciting, ah, incident was horrid. Fury
shuddered. Mama had made a grave mistake, it is true, but the other persons involved
compounded that by orders of magnitude. Because of their unwillingness to put their
pride aside, the last twenty years have not been kind to her. In my fathers defense, she
said pointedly (clearly, this was a well-trod subject between them), he made a reasona-
ble assumption that by staying away, he was protecting both me and her. But since he
did not return in all these years to find out if this assumption was true or to reunite her
with me, she is angry and unwilling to listen to him.
Elliott took another bite and thought. There were not enough details for him to as-
sume anything, but he was quite curious about the relationship as it stood now. He
studied Mary from under his brow, noting that her eyes were the same color as Furys.
How did the two of you come to be reunited, then?
I went to her after I took this ship and asked her if she wished to put out to sea
with me. But if I had known she would harry me thus, I wouldnt have.
Mary harrumphed.
Elliott swallowed his bite, took a drink, and pointed his spoon at Furys mother, as
he would his own. You would not be this angry still if you had no feeling for him.
Mary stared at Elliott as if he were a serpent bent on hypnotizing her.
She loves him, Fury muttered. He loves her. But because of all of the other par-
ties involved, a reconciliation is far more complicated than it would be for anyone else.
And where is he right now?
Dunham 79
Oh, likely closing in on Morocco, where she would be, too, if she hadnt fought
him tooth and nail in Oranjestad.
Elliott gaped at Fury. Dunham is your father?
Could you not tell? She cast him a befuddled look. Everyone can tell.
I had no chance to look at the man, Madam, as you were trying to kill me.
She grinned.
I do not comprehend. If you want them together, why did you not allow him to
take her?
Fury looked down at her stew. After our brawl, I fell ill, she muttered, and thus
was unable to give the order or even negotiate a truce. She did not want to go, so in my
absence, my crew backed her. Given that my leftenant does not care for Papa anyroad,
twas not a difficult decision for him to make. Given that we are well known and liked
in Oranjestad and Papa but a stranger, it was also not difficult to convince him he
would be starting a battle he would regret did he attempt to take my ship.
Elliott nodded. It was the correct protocol, but he now had a thousand more ques-
tions. He asked the most important one.
What was your affliction a consequence of our misunderstanding?
Nay. Twas a womanly malady I must occasionally endure.
Ah, yes. He had observed that his mother and older sister had taken to their beds
three or four days of every month in agonizing pain. He had no wish to probe further.
In point of fact, Mary snapped, clearly having recovered herself, one reason I de-
clined to go with him was because of what he did to Jack. I expect youve seen her scars.
Oh, Mama, no, Fury groaned. Not that again.
Elliott looked at Fury. Your flogging?
Aye. I have explained this to her countless times. She will not take my word as a
commander that he was merciful.
Captain, Mary said briskly. You are qualified to say if twas a merciful punishment
or not.
What did you do, Madam?
Fury looked away. I was twenty, she said low. I was at university for over five
years. Rafael doted on me. Jealousy surged through Elliott. He gave me everything I
wanted and more. In short, he turned me into a spoilt bitch.
Ah. He of the Japanese swords and wraps was That Man. Elliott caught Marys
snarl out of the corner of his eye. And Furys mother despised him. Excellent. Even
better would be if Dunham shared his wifes opinion.
Yet there was nothing Elliott could do but enjoy this time with Fury, as her par-
ents opinions of Covarrubias made no difference to his circumstance.
When I returned to the Iron Maiden after I graduated, Papa made me his third
leftenant and navigator, Fury was saying. After about a year, he gave me an order I
refused to carry out.
80 Moriah Jovan
There is more to it than that, Elliott rumbled, reaching out to slide his hand
down her silk-covered ribs. This does not happen for merely refusing a direct order.
I told him he would have to kill me first and see to the task himself if he wanted it
done, she said lightly. Then I spit in his face. In front of the entire crew.
Elliott gaped at her, horrified. Good God, Madam!
Yes! Mary was triumphant. I knew you would see it my way, Captain!
At that, Elliott leveled Mary a hard look. There is an order to things aboard a
ship, Maam. She challenged him to kill her, but instead of doing so, he left her with a
body covered in scars and no other damage. Aye, he was more merciful than I would
have been.
She is our daughter, Mary hissed, banging her fist on the table. His daughter.
Would you do that to your daughter?
I wouldnt raise my daughter on a pirate ship amongst men, Elliott shot back.
Mary blanched. She knew the rules, the consequences for infractions, and likely hav-
ing He looked at Fury. Third leftenant? You administered the floggings, then?
Aye, she replied tightly. I knew what would happen. I expected to die for it.
Why, Madam? Elliott demanded. What order could have been that repugnant to
you?
She glared at him, then at her mother. I had my reasons and those are my own.
Tis trivial enough on the surface until one speaks to principle, but tis naught I would
expect either of you to understand. He certainly never has.
I assume you carried it out eventually.
Furys mouth twisted in an ugly sneer. Absolutely not. Id defy him again. And for
the same reason.
If Mary had not been in the room, Elliott would have swept Fury out of that chair
and right back into bed. Gods blood, but she lit his mind and body like a match put to
the bung of a powder keg.
Ah, see Jack, Officer Mary said carefully. You understand tis a mothers love
for her child that spurs me to this ire, do you not?
Aye, I understand it. But now you have another opinion on the subject that aligns
with mine. And Papas. If I can accept it, mayhap you should also?
Marys mouth tightened and she looked to the larboard bulkhead, where Fury kept
her log books. Elliott saw the telltale glint of tears in her eyes.
She does not understand their value to me, Fury muttered, refusing to look at
him. A flush stained her cheekbones. She was embarrassed by this confrontation,
though clearly not by what she had done.
When you go bare-breasted in battle?
Officer Mary tipped her ear toward the conversation.
Aye. If you knew nothing else of me, met me in battle and saw my scars, would
you see a woman? Would you see my breasts?
Dunham 81
Nay. I would see a commander not easily vanquished or killed.
Furys eyelids fluttered up until she was staring into his eyes. A corner of her
mouth began to tuck up in a pleased smile. Just so, she whispered.
The door opening without a knock halted the conversation, to Elliotts chagrin,
and Furys first mate spoke with a heavy Irish brogue. The Silver Shillins been towed
close enough in now to consider grappling. He looked at Elliott. Yer leftenants askin
do ye permit it. Seein as how our new girls been charged with fetchin an carryin
twixt us, we thought it likely wed be goin back an forth anyroad.
For my part, tis a fine idea, Elliott said, looking at his lover. Fury?
Her eyes narrowed at him and she sat up, poking a finger in his face. How do I
know you will not steal something else I value, my handsome pirate captain?
Youve caught me out, he said, gently grasping that finger to press a kiss to it. I
have designs on your purser and your cooks.
Fury gestured toward her mother. You may have my purser with my blessing, but
not my cooks. I would kill you for that.
Mary laughed in spite of her upset.
Fury turned back to her lieutenant. Make it so. And Smitty she added when
he was retreating, open the casks and bid everyone make merry. She cast a come-
hither glance at Elliott and murmured, Because I certainly intend to.
11

Elliott jerked awake, sweating, casting about wildly in the dark to ascertain from
whence the screech had come. He knew exactly where he was, but this noise was not
normal for any ship. Another screech, just through the bulkhead. A thump. A spate of
giggles. A scandalously delighted squeal: Kit, no! Tis wicked.
Elliott couldnt make out what the boy said in return, but it was of no consequence.
He released a great breath and relaxed into the mattress. He scrubbed at his face with
both hands and listened to the sounds of this most unusual night, simply grateful he
was not again three and twenty and not chained in the hold of the HMS Ocean.
Faint music drifted to him from the Silver Shillings focsle, some one hundred yards
away. Then he heard the foot stomps of dancers, musicians, and people simply keeping
time. Both ships beams and masts creaked, and their hulls scraped where they were
bound together. The Thunderstorms bell rang four times. Two of the clock. There was
intermittent shouting coming from the officers quarters on the Silver Shilling, and El-
liott considered joining them at their dice.
Water barely lapped at the hull just below Furys stern windows, which were
slightly open despite the cold. She liked to sleep in the cold, shed told him, whilst bur-
ied deep in a pile of blankets. It made for a rude awakening, but it was a price she was
willing to pay.
The faintest sound of sea chanteys and rowing reached him and he supposed the
Mad Hangman would be grappled to the starboard side of the Thunderstorm by morn-
ing. It would take the Hollanders crew the rest of the night to tow her the remainder
of the six miles that had lain between them.
Dindi lay curled up next to his ear, the tip of her tail against his cheek, after having
encroached upon his pillow space until he had but a sliver. She was snoring, but the
minute he put his hand to her head to scratch it, she began to purr.
George was shrieking again, laughing breathlessly. Another cabin door opened,
then a fist pounded on Kits cabin door. Settle down, you two, barked Furys lieuten-
ant, or find another berth. Some of usre tryna sleep.
Aye, Sir, Kit called, but then George giggled again.
Lieutenant Smith grumbled and slammed his own door. Elliott finally grinned. He
knew for a fact that Smitty and Furys bosun had, but an hour ago, been engaged
thusly. And upon remembering, Elliott had to admit a great deal of admiration for a
tar of his years to have caught the eye of a young woman that beautiful without benefit
Dunham 83
of an arrangement.
He reached out a hand under the blankets to feel for the woman next to him. Her
ridged skin was warm and her breathing slow, shallow, and even. He declined to awak-
en her, as they had spent the day together touring each others ships, meeting each
others officers and crewmen, tending to tasks upon their respective ships that only
they could do, establishing rules for the merrymaking, rearranging duties, and assign-
ing watches.
Elliott, Fury, and both ships officers had gathered in the Silver Shillings dining salon
to partake in a normal Thursday evening supper for the Thunderstorm, prepared by its
cooks, but a treat for his officers, who ate no better than Elliott did.
The Arab, Solomon, whose unofficial position aboard the ship was as the womens
physician, was taciturn, but not unfriendly. He had seemed to be assessing Elliott for
his fitness as Furys lover, but Elliott had no idea if he had met with the mans approval
or not. Elliott didnt suppose it mattered, as Solomon had decamped to his own cabin
as soon as he had finished his meal.
Even though it had been, to Elliott, one of the most wonderful days he had had in
years, it had been a long one and they were both fatigued. Yet they had managed to love
once after attaining her bunk. He could not get enough of her and, happily, it seemed
she felt the same for him. Now, lying beside her, touching her, feeling her kindred spirit,
he dreaded more than ever the mantle he must take up once he arrived home.
Never before had he felt so at home anywhere other than in his own manor in the
midst of his large, boisterous family. Nor did he expect to feel at home with a wife he
did not want, presiding over an estate in danger of being taken by the Crown, and the
woman he did want plundering the Barbary Coast never to return to him.
Certainly he had never felt at home at sea and even less in the year since he had
gone on account. In fact, he had never felt so alone in his life as he had this past year.
Pirate law was entirely foreign to him and his officers, trained as they were to ex-
pect unquestioning obedience no matter how outrageous the order. Thus, having a
ship full of fugitives, mercenaries, and major and minor criminals to command with no
government authority behind him had put Elliott in a constant state of tension.
Here, in Furys bed, he could not only indulge his mind and body with an intelli-
gent and enchanting woman, he could also sleep.
More thumps. That tickles! More abruptly smothered giggles.
Watching Fury this long day had taught him a great deal about how she kept a de-
mocracy of neer-do-wells from dissolving at the first hint of weakness. Contrary to eve-
rything he had been taught, this captain allowed her men to call her Jack, shared jokes,
traded insults, drank and caroused and gambled with them. However instructive, it was
still not a manner of leadership with which Elliott could ever grow accustomed.
No matter how much he resented that she had deduced the truth of his career, it was
because she knew that she could discern his tension and deduce possible reasons for it.
84 Moriah Jovan
Except as of ten days ago, Elliott had a hold full of glittering reasons for a muti-
ny that had nothing to do with his leadership. He hoped that this sojourn would lull
even the most avaricious of his crew into complacency. Keeping them drunk on good
food and drink, gambling and entertainment, their pricks sated, might prove to be an
effective distraction.
His crew was not stupid. Losing that tavern brawl and stealing a near-spiritual icon
from a powerful and well-respected ship had unified them as nothing else had: It
proved that Elliott was not above a bit of grand mischief. His pursuit of that same
ships captain to make her his lover had garnered a higher respect he needed.
It also gave any potential mutineers pause: She, along with her partner, were fully
capable of sinking the Silver Shilling and, by virtue of his union with her, might be will-
ing to do so at the first sign of mutiny.
Kit! Oh, God, yes! YES!
Yet he was loath to ask Fury for the help he really needed. Firstly, he had no desire
to involve her in his command, as it would weaken him in his crews eyes. Secondly, it
would make him appear weak in hers and he had no desire to lose her respect. It was
too much to be borne that he would lose her at the end of this voyage, never mind leav-
ing her with an impression of him as a weak commander.
But finally, his mind grew as tired as his body and he was relieved he could allow
himself to go back to sleep.
Where is she?!
Elliott started at the sound of a scream that was not George in the throes of release.
He started again when Fury lunged out from under the linens, hopped up and over
Elliott to land on the deck, light as a cat. She dashed across the cabin in the altogether,
swept her kimono around her shoulders, grabbed her dagger and whip, and threw the
door open with a crash.
WOMAN! she bellowed. Elliott flung off his own bedclothes, stepped into his
breeches, and went to the door to lean against the threshold and watch. Get back to
your berth and stay there until I give you leave to come abovedecks.
Where is my daughter, you whore of Satan! she screamed again. Turning her into a har-
lot, spreading her legs for a wretched pirate!
Kits cabin door banged open and the boyalmost as tall as Elliott, but lean and
wirystepped out. He was naked. She is no longer any of your concern, Woman, he
snarled down the hall. You shut your filthy mouth before I shut it for you.
The woman burst into enraged gibberish spiked with entirely articulate curses
aimed at both Fury and Kit.
Because they were becalmed and at play, with everyone coming and going at will,
the hall lanterns were lit and shining brightly despite the hour. Yet she was so far down
the hall, Elliott could only see her thin form swathed in a white nightrail.
Do you take care of this or do I? Fury asked the boy calmly.
Dunham 85
I will, Kit answered and stormed down the hall, brushing past Fury until he dis-
appeared.
I dont think me old heart can take so much excitement of a night, Smitty ob-
served from Elliotts right. Officer Khan, wearing what Fury had called a kaftan, stood
behind him looking well-tumbled, drowsy, and irritated.
Sounded to me as if your heart is right and tight, Elliott drawled.
The man chuckled, and he and his lover disappeared back into his cabin. Woman
screamed again for Kit to put her down. Fury sighed with great exasperation, then
followed Kit and his prey anyway. It was then Elliott noticed George standing in her
own doorway, wrapped in a blanket, distraught, trembling, and weeping quietly.
The sharp point of homesickness stabbed him; she reminded him of his little sisters
and his nieces. Your mother, I take it, Elliott said gently.
When the girl turned to look up at him, he saw that she was not distraught. She
was furious. So furious, in fact, she forgot to be afraid of him.
Not anymore, she snapped, dashing tears away with her fingers. Thank God!
Elliott almost smiled. And why is that?
She sold me, George spat, to some ugly old man who just wants a baby.
Aye, well, tis the way of the world, to be sold.
What!? You have never been sold!
The corner of his mouth twitched upward. Sure of that, are you?
That brought her up short. You are a man. And a captain, she muttered with
confusion. How can that be?
I was not born fully adult with a ship at the ready. When I was your age, I already
knew my father would send me to sea and it was the last thing I wanted to do. But he
would brook no disobedience and so I simply made the best of it. Tis better to rule in
hell than serve in heaven.
She glared at him. What does that mean?
It means
Another scream, but this one of pain. Ah, and there it was, the tell-tale whistle of
the cat. George whimpered, her eyes wide.
It means, Elliott continued, snapping his fingers in her face until he had regained
her attention, that no matter how much I hated it, since I had no choice at all, I would
not countenance being anything less than captain.
Two.
That does not compare to being sold to a man nigh on his deathbed to do She
waved a hand backward into her cabin. that.
Elliott would not argue the point. You have more courage than I did, he said
simply, to choose this in spite of your parents wishes.
Three.
Twasnt much of a choice, she said with a bitter glance down the hall from
86 Moriah Jovan
whence her mother screamed for mercy.
Four. George blanched. Five.
Then, blessed silence.
Is that so. Tell me then, girl, in the five days you have been here, how your life is
worse than being leg-shackled to an ugly old man who needs an adolescent womb to
secure his line. Do you not know that once your voyage here is finished, you may col-
lect your earnings and leave?
She stared at him, aghast. Leave? she squeaked.
Elliott could not contain his grin. I see you dont care for the prospect.
Is she dead? George whispered when the silence continued.
Passed out. The surgeon will tend her, but shell now think twice about crossing
your captain.
She took a deep breath and released it slowly. If I left here, she said after clearing
her throat, where would I go? What would I do?
He shrugged. Anything you want. If Fury and the other women aboard this ship
can flout Fate and determine the course of their lives, what makes you think you can-
not? You have already, in fact. There is no reason not to continue to do so.
She looked down at the floor. I thought I was here forever, she whispered.
And yet, you have made no protestations of being here. You wasted no time taking
up with the first handsome boy to do more than beg a dance. You make an effort to
learn your duties and to execute them well. You work hard and are eager to please. I
see no sign that you resent being here.
Her mouth tightened. This is a pirate ship. If I do not work willingly, I shall be
forced to do more abhorrent things.
Ah, and smart, too. You are a strong girl, for all you have not been here long
enough to be able to fulfill the tasks youve been assigned. Fury thinks you a bit of a
hoyden, which would, in turn, make me think your parents are glad to be rid of you.
She flushed. They made no secret of it, she grumbled.
Elliott leaned down to her. And this life excites you, does it not? he murmured.
She gulped. Tis the adventure you dreamed of? I dare say tis preferable to sitting in a
parlor working sampler after sampler, painting insipid watercolors, practicing an out-
of-tune fortepiano, no? Youre a pirate now, girl. You have a handsome lover, money
you will have earned without bearing an old mans child, becoming a governess to a
lecherous lords brats, a shop assistant to a harridan of a milliner. Or a whore.
Her mouth hardened. He had seen that look on his older sisters face too many
times to mistake it. Nay, his instincts hadnt yet failed him.
You envy Fury, do you not? The freedom she has, the power she wields? You
dont want to disappoint her, do you? You seek to earn her respect. She blinked owl-
ishly. Likely she had not thought that far. Then Elliott went in for the kill. What
would your male playmates at home think to see you here, living the life they never
Dunham 87
dared hope to have?
She gasped, and a wicked smile began to grow. They would despise me, she whis-
pered with conspiratorial glee.
Elliott chuckled. Green is a lovely shade when someone else is wearing it in your
honor, eh? With that, he turned. Good eve, George.
Captain? Sir?
He looked over his shoulder to find her grinning at him the way his nieces did
when he had granted them his approbation for a job well done. You are harmless.
He scowled at her, but she giggled and ducked back into her cabin, leaving him
alone in the hall and staring at the closed door. He returned to Furys cabin, utterly
bemused by this chit even though he had a gaggle of his own females at home he knew
perfectly well how to manage.
He dropped into bed and muttered, Girls.
12

Fury stormed into the cabin some time after Elliott had bid George adieu and set-
tled into bed with a barely touched copy of Fanny Hill he had found on her bookshelf,
sparse of anything not related to mathematics or astronomy. He opened the book to
page twenty-seven, where it was marked by a red ribbon. The pages were stiff, the
book nearly pristine, and red dye had leached from the bookmark, betraying the fact
that the marker had been in that spot for some great while.
I despise that woman, she mumbled at Elliott, then stopped short at the sight of
him. What are you doing on my side of the bed?
He was too shocked at both question and tone to laugh. Ah twould be easier
for the captain to not have to climb over her lover in urgent situations, no?
I am well practiced at climbing over a lover in haste. That is my side of the bed.
Move. Then Elliott cocked an eyebrow at her until she impatiently shooed her hands
at him. He stirred himself only enough to shift to his side of the bed.
But she had turned, saying, Rum? Wine? Brandy? Whisky?
Ive developed a taste for that Italian wine. You have more?
Aye. The harbormaster in Rotterdam is particularly fond of it.
That is your home port?
Aye. Come drink with me whilst I tend my log.
I would rather you come kiss me.
She cast a pleased smile over her shoulder from where she stood in a corner of her
cabin, fetching that bottle of wine. Why, Judas, for shame. I cannot neglect my log.
But you would neglect mine.
She laughed and thumped the bottle on the table. You, Sir, are vile.
He grinned. Quite. Come tend my log.
Do you know, she said matter-of-factly, your smile is a very dangerous weapon.
As if hers were not. I shall wield it more often, then.
Come, she said again, pulling a chair out from under the larboard end of her table
where her charts, ledgers, and logs were arranged neatly. He arose and took the seat he
had occupied for breakfast and noon meals, even as she poured herself a tankard of
lemonade from yet another pitcher of the stuff.
More?
Aye, she murmured, then tipped back the tankard to drink. Her mouth puckered
once she had drunk at least half the cup and she shook her head like an otter, then
Dunham 89
shuddered. I love it, she said finally after that little display. Surely you know the val-
ue of citrus aboard a ship.
He scoffed. Of course. Oranges. Limes. But I would not dare serve any crew an in-
sipid punch one would find at a girls coming-out, with not a drop of spirits. In such
volume. And apparently without sugar, too.
She grinned. But I have women aboard, and we require lemons for our
Avast, Madam, Elliott commanded with his hand held up. He knew only enough
about a womans body to bring her to screaming pleasure. I ken all I need to ken and
have no wish to know more. He took a measured mouthful of wine and savored it
whilst she chuckled.
He relaxed back in the chair to watch her go about a task he had performed every
day for most of his career. With a look of pure concentration, she poked a finger in her
box of quills, found one that met her pleasure, picked up her penknife and whittled off
a shaving or two. She opened another Moorish filigreed box that held her inks and
sand, opened a well and her log, dipped the pen, and began to write.
As Elliott observed this, he marveled at her very existence. She was no myth. No
selkie, mermaid, siren. She was a woman doing a mans job, but not any mans job. Of
all the men who made their living at sea, very few of them had the strength to com-
mand a ship.
Dont be fooled by er jests an whimsies, Capn, her lieutenant had told him aside. She
aint capn for nothin an shes every inch Dunhams get. Half of us saw er take Skirrows ead off,
an weve all been in battle widder.
A lock of her peach hair slid across the still-wet page. Without a pause or a care for
the spot of black now staining the strand, she smoothed it back behind her ear. After
another moment of scratching out words, she stopped and turned away from him to
open yet another exquisitely carved box. She took out what looked like an overlarge
pocket watch, looked at it carefully, then continued to write.
Feeling a bit disappointed, he could not stay silent. A watch?
She did not look up, but a smirk suddenly graced her full mouthone he wanted
to kiss just because it was so lovely. And what sort of brilliant navigator would at-
tempt to navigate with a watch, youre thinking.
Well, aye, he grumbled, knowing he had somehow misjudged the situation, but
how, he could not begin to deduce.
She offered it to him with one hand whilst she continued to write with the other.
Tis Harrisons masterpiece. Well, rather, Kendalls duplication.
The world rocked neath Elliotts feet at he stared at chronometer in his hands. Not
even he, with his family connections, had been able to obtain oneand his father had
exerted no limit of pressure on the Admiralty to get him one.
The K1, she added smugly, as if he would not already know.
How There is only one in existence and Captain Cook has it.
90 Moriah Jovan
Who can say how many were privately commissioned? I doubt Captain Cook and
I have the only two in existence.
I see your point. He turned it over with great reverence, inspecting it. Fury,
would you That is to say Did you tell my navigator about this at supper?
No. Tis the most valuable thing aboard this ship, second only to the ship itself.
Very few people know I have it.
And now Elliott. He cleared his throat. Ah, well, in that case But there was
nothing to do excepting to lay it out to her anyway. Benjamin is getting on in years, as
you noticed But that had not stopped the old salt from succumbing to Furys
charm and monopolizing her attention for the better part of an hour at supper
which fascination had been, thankfully, mutual. He has asked to be pensioned off
once we reach England and I have granted him this request. He has been faithful and
loyal to me for many, many years, and it would mean a great deal to him to see this, to
hold it, just once before he leaves the sea.
You are a good captain to think of him so, Fury murmured. He looked up into
her burnt-sugar eyes, her smile tender, her face plump and soft. I would not deny him.
He deserves great respect. I hope you plan well for him.
Elliott nodded slowly and gave the chronometer back to Fury. He was about to ask
its price when yet another thump on the wall between the captains cabin and Kits
rattled it.
Slightly annoyed at the prospect he might have to listen to that all night, he rum-
bled, Madam, why do you allow them to carry on so?
She scoffed. I am not their mother, to dictate how they should comport them-
selves. I only demand they work for their pay and not disrupt the ships business.
How old are they?
I know not how old Kit isno one doesbut his voice only dropped six months
ago and he grew overnight, it seems. He is perhaps fourteen? Fifteen? Perhaps
younger. Who knows? She is barely fifteen.
And bound to spend her life making babies for some panicked heirless noble facing
his own mortality. Elliott snorted. He certainly had no room to pass judgment on that
panicked heirless nobleand he had, more often than most, glimpsed the end of his
mortality.
But she was still speaking. unfortunate that at his age, Kit knows exactly how
to please womenand menbut he seduced her, so for his part, I am simply glad he
has found some joy in the act. Most likely this is the first time his participation is vol-
untary, and because tis with a girl his own age whom he likes, I hesitate to set that
asunder.
And she?
Judas, she drawled, sliding him a wicked glance, would you deny that having a
good lover as ones first is better than having a bad one?
Dunham 91
He grinned and laughed low in his throat. Nay, he purred. I have very fond rec-
ollections of a talented young widow in the neighboring village. She taught me many
delightful things.
An answering grin bloomed upon her face, and in that instant, she looked exactly
like her mother. What did she call you?
Elliott rolled his eyes. Youll not trick any more information out of me, Madam,
particularly not my name.
She huffed. Well then! Did she bind you and crack a cat cross your arse, too?
Riding crop.
Fury burst out laughing. Gods blood, Judas. What else did she teach you?
Ill demonstrate anon, he purred. I doubt very much Kit is as brilliant an instruc-
tor as she was.
She slid him an amused glance. He is a very kind boy despite his past, she finally
said, and I know not the worst of it. Truthfully, I am not certain he remembers, so I
do not ask.
Elliotts amusement seeped away. But now he is visiting his past upon a young
girl.
She cleared her throat. Kit knows what he would face at my hand did he ever treat
an innocent the way he was treated, but he has never demonstrated interest in anyone
until now. In fact, he has never gone ashore since I took him away from Skirrow six
years ago. I have been growing quite worried about him.
As to her, I would have let no oneincluding Kitnear her did I think she
would be harmed. I have no doubt that, once she went ashore, she would find herself
at the mercy of some knave with no help in sight. The girl is beautiful, in case it has
escaped your notice.
It had, in fact, escaped his notice.
Twould not be long until a man got it into his head to take her, willing or not, and
I might not be there to disabuse him of the notion. No one was present to dissuade
Rafael from his intentions and I was younger than George. Twas only luck I landed in
the bed of a kind and generous man.
Elliotts eyebrow rose, but with another smirk, she bent back to her log. All he said
was, Thus, here you can watch over both of them.
Aye. And control certain aspects, she muttered absently.
Such as?
Shall I say, there shall be no babes from that girls womb whilst she is under my
care.
I see.
Fury shrugged as she wrote. As long as they are happy with each other and not in-
clined to stray, as long as she minds her sponges and elixirs and caps as I have taught
her, there will be less trouble for both of them, either aboard ship or ashore. I shall put
92 Moriah Jovan
a stop to it as soon as I feel it more detrimental than beneficial.
Are you almost finished with that, Madam? I have not rutted you since midnight.
She slid him a glance. Tis an propos description for that beastly bit of business
this morn.
Elliott snorted.
I beg you one moment more, and then I will rut you.
Elliott paused whilst she sprinkled sand on the page she had just written. What of
Georges mother?
Barely touched her, Fury mumbled, blowing gently on the ink and sand. If she
has a welt to her name in the morn, Ill be shocked.
It was not soon enough that the ink dried sufficient for her to close her log and put
away her tools in a careful ritual he found fascinating. She stood, but before he could,
she dropped her kimono and straddled him in the chair.
He looked into her whisky eyes that sparkled in the lantern light. He raised a finger
and traced the mischievous, lusty smile that had laid him low the moment she ap-
peared in the door of the Bloody Hound. She was the most beguiling woman he had
ever met, and he ached for her.
Now, she purred, we may rut.
13

Celia ate her Friday nuncheon of shark steak without participating in the rousing
discussion her mother and Judas were having concerning the Americans grievances
with England. Celia had nothing to add, for she knew little of politics. She had a long
history with and trusted the men she worked for, and, unlike the other privateers, her
real reasons for participating in this little war had nothing to do with profit.
However, her mother was eminently studied in the intricacies of the American
concerns, and Judas was equally studied concerning the British ones.
What do you think, CeJack?
That was the third time Mary had nearly called her by her name. Fortunately, see
and Ce sounded exactly alike, and might not be taken as a slip of the tongue.
Mama, you know I have no thought for it at all, she said calmly, sitting back and
sipping at her coffee.
Come now, Fury, Judas rumbled with a teasing smile. Surely you have some
thought else youd not be spending your energies in this manner.
She took a deep breath and looked at Judas. Tell me, Sir. Do you know of any
other woman who has the freedom I do?
Well, certainly, though it manifests differently.
Name one.
She watched as he thought, his long finger tapping at his lips, lips that had awakened
her in the most pleasurable of ways this morn. A modiste, he finally said. A certain
countess I know but will not name. He raised his eyebrows. An actress. A courtesan.
Mary choked on her coffee.
A modiste, Celia began, is subject to the whimsies of her clientele, which is fe-
male, whose husbands control their pursestrings. One offense to one client or her hus-
band, and she is suddenly without business. That assumes she also has no other
investors in her business, no husband, no children, and all her suppliers are willing to
sell her goods directly regardless of the fact that she is a woman.
You have the same problems.
She smiled. No. I do not. I do not have to sail. I choose to.
Ah, but wealth is a different matter. Wealthy women have more choices.
Celia raised an eyebrow. Oh? So a young heiress could marry for love? Any wom-
an of wealth could travel the world alone?
Judass smile dipped a bit. I take your point, but then we come upon the courtesan.
94 Moriah Jovan
Why do I doubt you know anything about the finances and independence of a
courtesan, Captain? Mary asked sweetly.
Maam! he protested with faux affront, his fingers splayed across his chest. I am a
man of the world!
Which is why you were in the Bloody Hound and not the Friars Club three
blocks inland, Celia said dryly, hiding her smile behind her coffee cup.
He flashed her a grin. I take it the Friars Club is a bit more exclusive.
Aye.
And how would you know of it, Madam?
Her eyebrow rose. Why, I am a woman of the world, Captain. That is where I go
for my amusements. His mouth dropped open and she grinned. And when I am fin-
ished with my amusements I return to a ship I command. And I do not have to
masquerade as a man to do so, unlike most women in history, including my bosun.
You He blinked. Madam, if you have a taste for women, I pray you allow me
to watch the next time you go for your amusements.
She burst out laughing. It happens that the Friars Clubas do several establish-
ments of pleasureare able to cater to my tastes, which do not include women.
And those are ?
Celias mother cleared her throat and, truly, Celia had no wish to parade her habits
in front of her, as it would distress her. Celia arose abruptly and went to her door.
CROFTWOOD! she bellowed. PRESENT YOURSELF TO MY CABIN!
Aye, Capn!
My master carpenter, Celia said as she seated herself, is the fifth son of an Eng-
lish duke. A duke! Yet he is here, on my ship, and has been under my command since
Skirrow hired me. Why is that? Because he has any independence of his own? Nay. He
is four times removed from the heirdom.
How does that relate to a womans independence?
You called, Capn?
Celia kicked at the chair next to her. Aye. Sit. Eat. We are discussing the nature of
independence and I would have your opinion.
Oh, aye. Thank you, Capn. He sat next to her and helped himself to a plate and
food.
Dont drink all my lemonade, Croftwood.
He chuckled and poured himself a tankard of rum.
Now, Celia said, tell Captain Judas about how much independence you, the son of
English nobility, have, measured against that which the Americans seek from England.
He curled his lip behind his tankard and grunted. None to speak of, he muttered.
I ran away to the sea to take what I could.
You studied at Cambridge? Judas rumbled.
Croftwood nodded. My accent gives me away, I suppose. I completed my course.
Dunham 95
Animal husbandry, of all things. My father wanted me to be his land steward. Good
God, but I cannot think of a worse fate, except perhaps marrying that horse-faced
heiress out in her third Season.
As I recall, you were about to do just that, Celia said wryly.
Aye, which is when I decamped from my grand tour in Italy onto the Carnivale.
Im not sure which was worse, he mused, but the Carnivale was bound to be less per-
manent than being leg-shackled to that.
So you have as little independence as a woman, Judas said, flashing Celia a trium-
phant look.
Oh, no, Sir, Croftwood objected. Women do not go on grand tours. Women do
not go to university. Women do not sail, much less become navigators and captains.
He nodded at Celia. I would sail under no one but her now, but if you had told me,
when I was at school or with my chums bedding every woman in Naples, that I would,
within two years time, choose to sail under the command of a woman, I would have
called you out for the insult. Twas when I saw what she would do as compared to what
other women are allowed to do that I realized perhaps women were no less capable than
men. Perhaps some are not as strong, but some men are delicate, also. Even Officer
Khan masqueraded as a male, and she is no coward. She just wanted for opportunity.
Aye, well, Muslim and Jewish women have even fewer choices than Christian
ones, Celia muttered, so you were seeing the worst of it anyroad.
There is that. But American women! Lord, theyre feisty, but they still do not have
the freedom Capn Jack and the other women here have. I dare say my horse-faced
heiress would rather like this life and I might not mind her so much were she here.
Celia cast Judass triumphant look right back at him, but he simply chuckled.
Thus, to answer your original question, Celia finally said, one of my goals in this
endeavor is to see that the Americans have an opportunity for independence, especially
their women, who have a great deal more than English ones. I see them
collectivelyas no different from an heiress bound to a husband, being his property as
much as anything else she brings to the marriage. Or like Adrian here, bound to a
name and a future by accident of birth. I want them to have the opportunity to be me.
After that, they can sort out their difficulties themselves, the way anyone with new-
found independence must do.
She watched as Judas thought about that for a moment, then nodded his head
slowly. Ive freed slaves whove returned directly to their masters, he said slowly, and
so have become far more selective in which slaves I free.
I have taken a similar tack. Some mensome humansare so broken they cannot
bear freedom, although I do think some could be rebuilt and taught, if one were in-
clined to spend the time and care. For some reason, that sparked a memory. Croft-
wood, I have not had a chance to ask. Expound on that preposterous story you told me
last week in the midst of taking the Lamplight.
96 Moriah Jovan
Oh! Commander Elliott Raxham, righto.
Who? Judas asked.
Elliott Raxham, the second son of Earl Tavendish. Tried for high treason and ac-
quitted.
Acquitted? Judas drawled. What brought the charge?
Celia answered. Croftwood tells me some nonsense about this British captain who
fired on his own fleet.
Why would he do that? Judas asked.
Because the ship he fired on was preparing to fire on him first, Croftwood an-
swered. Commander Raxham prevailed, but was tried for high treason over it, then
acquitted.
Youre bamming me, Judas drawled. A British fleet turning on itself? To what end?
Croftwood shrugged. The event was all over the papers, and my father was abso-
lutely livid.
At Raxhams arrest or the fact that he wasnt executed on the spot?
Croftwood glanced up at Judass gruff question. At Rear-Admiral Lord Kitteridge,
whom everyone believed ordered Raxham to be fired upon.
Celia was utterly confused. Believed? They dont know? Why would an admiral or-
der a captain fire on his fleet commander?
Adrian sighed and sat back in his chair for a moment, staring vacantly at the lar-
board bulkhead whilst he thought. Lord Kitteridge, he finally began, is a cruel man,
but he is close to the King and so through the years has done many grievous things in
his service to the Crown.
Worse than Skirrow?
I gather that, Croftwood replied, once again attending his meal, amongst the no-
bles, he is referred to as Vlad the Impaler.
Gods blood. Even Dunham, not quite as superstitious as most seafarers, was
known to cross himself at the mention of Tepess name.
He shrugged. Every so often, Father would return home in a lather over whatever
Kitteridge had done that time. But then there was the big one, some scandal that hap-
pened when I was still in short pants that involved one of my older brothers. Father
thought for a certes that would be the scandal that sank him, but no. It did set several
of the Navys officers against Kitteridge, who in turn nursed his own grudge against
Raxham. Whatever it was, it was kept contained within the walls of Parliament and
Kitteridge emerged not only unscathed, but promoted. My father knows what hap-
pened, as do the others in Parliament, but he has never spoken of it outside of the
House of Lords. That was why he was so furious at Raxhams arrest. He thought Kit-
teridge should have been drawn and quartered fifteen years ago.
Judas snorted. Celia slid him a glance, but said nothing. She turned back to Croft-
wood. If Parliament is unhappy with him, then why is he allowed to flourish?
Dunham 97
Follow the money, Fury, Judas intoned.
Croftwood was nodding and pointed at Judas. Aye, just so. The amount of money
he has contributed to the Treasury is substantial enough his disgraces are either cov-
ered, ignored, or dismissed. There are not enough ranking nobles in the House willing
to censure him against his profitability.
This Kitteridge What rank does he hold?
Hes a duke and some relation to the King.
Was it proven that Kitteridge ordered his own officers death?
I was just about to leave for the Continent when Commander Raxham was arrest-
ed, so I have little knowledge of what happened at trial. Father merely wrote that Rax-
ham had been acquitted, but that it took two years and the best barristers and
solicitors the earldom could purchase, which nearly bankrupted the estate. I do know
that the commander was cashiered, along with his entire corps of officers. I have to
assume there were equal measures of politics afoot on both sides to keep it going so
long and for the Raxhams to ultimately prevail.
Celia pursed her lips, suddenly grateful for the utter simplicity of pirate life. All she had
to worry about was life and death, with no governmental machinations getting in her way.
Were his officers tried for treason, too?
Nay. Father told me they were cashiered for testifying on Raxhams behalf under
suspicion of perjury.
Celia groaned. And Papa wonders why I sail for the Americans.
What happened to Kitteridge? Judas muttered around his food.
Father wrote that he was promoted. Again. And should I ever find myself in need
of passage home, to take any ship but one commanded by him.
Celia barked a laugh. And so you took Skirrows.
Croftwood grinned.
What is Commander Raxham His name again?
Elliott, Judas supplied.
ElliottI like that. What is he doing now?
I dont know, but I would assume he went back to Northumberland properly
chastened and is permanently rusticating. It was rumored, though, that the two years
he spent in Newgate drove him mad.
Of course hes mad. Gods teeth, I was set to chew my way out of the hold after
two weeks. If he is not mad, I would deem him the strongest of souls. Celia snorted.
Well, at least hes the second son. English aristocracy. Entails. Primogeniture. Forfei-
ture. Class privilege. Saying nothing of merit or disposition. Tis an abomination.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noted Judas nodding fervent agreement.
Or sanity, Celia mumbled as she took another bite. Because God help a house
with a prison-mad earl at the head of it.
14

God help a house indeed, since Elliott was, in fact, the head of his: fourteenth Earl
Tavendish by virtue of the fact that his father and older brother had died in a coaching
accident.
Rather, God help him, since he was most definitely not mad.
Enraged, desperate, and betrayed, aye, but not mad.
Elliott sat in his cabin alone, at his table, having pleaded captains duties soon after
nuncheon had concluded and Croftwood resumed his leisure. Elliott had buried his
head in his palms, his hair soaked with the sweat he had been hard-pressed not to wipe
away during Croftwoods recitation.
It would not take long for Fury to make the connection between what she suspect-
ed of Elliotts circumstance and that tale. She seemed inclined toward sympathy, par-
ticularly once Kitteridges sobriquet was trotted out and her face had lost all its already
meager color. Elliott could only hope Croftwoods account, no matter how accurate,
was perfunctory enough for Elliott to avoid unwittingly betraying himself by supplying
further details. As long as Croftwood thought Lord Henry still thirteenth Earl Taven-
dish, Lord Phillip Raxham still the heir, Commander Elliott Raxham still the second
son, and Lord Kitteridge still alive, there was less chance the boy could connect Elliott
to Judas.
Because if he did all could be lost. The Crown would strip the title and every asset
from them all and cast his family to the wolves. His younger brother and nephew would
lose their places at the bar. Elliotts villagers, tenants, and boarders, his staff in London
everyone associated with the earldomwould suffer greatly for Elliotts piracy.
His family and select villagers and tenants, who covered his absence so well that no
one would connect him to Captain Judas, could be counted upon to keep their counsel.
They had far more to lose than he did, as he would suffer the least: If caught, he would
simply be executed on the spot.
He had taken such care this past year to leave no one behind who could identify him,
until the blockade when he could not turn back to kill every last British sailor still floating
in the wreckage and the ones swimming to shore. They were too many and too scattered.
Both Rathbone and Bancroft had been bobbing in the water, casting up for a
glimpseanythingthat would give them a clue as to Captain Judass identity. He
had no way of knowing what they had seen, and thank God hed had his hair braided
and head wrapped.
Dunham 99
And now he was becalmed with a woman who could not only identify him by
sight, but, given just a few more pieces of information, could put it all together in the
blink of an eye.
A series of low thuds reached his ears, then the clang of metal. The Silver Shilling
rocked a bit and Elliott arose to lean out his stern windows. Exactly what he had ex-
pected: the Mad Hangman, now being grappled to the starboard side of the Thunder-
storm. There were shouted commands, greetings, and questions.
He heard Furys voice coming from her quarterdeck, though he could not see her.
She was speaking quickly, orders mixed with bawdy jests. There ensued a shouted
conversation twixt Fury and the Hollander, which Elliott could not understand be-
cause they were speaking in Dutch. She bellowed something which caused great guf-
faws to ring out from beyond the Thunderstorm. Once the Mad Hangman was attached
to the Thunderstorm, all three ships settled back into the still water, and their crews
went about the business of pursuing their pleasures, he ducked back into his cabin.
He looked around as if searching for something to do, or as if he had many things
to do of equal importance and he could not decide which to do first.
Yet he allowed his mind to drift.
went back to Northumberland properly chastened and is permanently rusticating. Elliott
did have to chuckle at that. Only one person had ever managed to properly chasten
him, which was how he had ended up at sea, where he least wanted to be. In fact, he
preferred rustication.
It was rumored, though, that the two years he spent in Newgate drove him mad.
Being confronted with his personal history by American privateers whilst stuck in
the middle of the Atlantic had been an utter shock. He had near cast up his accounts
at the first mention of Commander Elliott Raxham, but managed to remain aloof and
appropriately interested. How, he did not know.
If he is not mad, I would deem him the strongest of souls.
But what shocked him most was his pressing desire to confide in Fury. She would
understand and keep his secrets.
ElliottI like that name
Or at least, that was what he wanted to believe.
If it were not for his family, he would tell her. But everything he had done from the
time he had turned fifteen and been given his instruction as to his duty had been for
his family and he would not betray that now by giving in to a romantic impulse. Other
than obliging him to a career he did not want, his family had always loved him, always
supported him.
Nearly everything Croftwood knew of the matter was true:
His father had bankrupted the earldom to see to his acquittal, had joined with the
Duke of Croftwood to foment the anger against Kitteridge in the House of Lords,
had kept the politics in play long enough to wear down Kings Counsel. And while his
100 Moriah Jovan
fathers efforts were just recompense for forcing him to a profession he loathed, Elliott
still bore the burden of the debt and the rage of injustice. He had known exactly what
to do to refill the earldoms coffers and had no compunction about doing itwith or
without his fathers approval.
It was his mother and sister who had become his partners in crime, for they, too,
felt his burden and anger; they, too, were as heartbroken and disillusioned as he. In-
deed, they had drawn his magistrate brother-in-law, barrister brother, solicitor neph-
ew, and a few key villagers into this conspiracy. They had all gone willingly, their need
to survive greater than their fear of discovery.
He was so closea mere three weeks away from hometo putting this behind
him. He could not risk it now. He had learned, in battle, that it was always the worst
before the victory, and Elliott could smell his victory on the wind. He would persevere
and fight to the end.
Yet what victory was it if the estate was still in jeopardy of being taken, of the
possibility that one dayone daythe army and navy could descend upon Tavendish
Grange with orders for the execution of its pirate earl?
In truth, the job would never be finished, not so long as he looked over his shoulder.
Certainly, Elliott had a contingency plan in case of discoverywhich would be to
take every soul for which the earldom was responsible and flee England. Whether they
fled ultimately to America or Argentina depended entirely upon the outcome of the war.
He remembered in vivid, glorious detail how Fury and the Hollander had blown
the blockade, the risk they took using fire at such close range, their lives gambled on
the tips of uncontrollable arrows in an unpredictable wind. They had been willing to
die to clear the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay for those behind them, to die for this
cause Fury had only a philosophical interest in.
His eyes narrowed and he wondered if her philosophical interest, so strong in her
she was willing to pay for it with her life, was related to whatever order Dunham had
given her that so offended her she was willing to die for that, too.
Independence, she said. The opportunity for the Americans to be her and Bataar and
the rest of the women aboard her ship, their worth determined by merit alone.
He arose from the table and sought his bunk, his head now pounding from too lit-
tle sleep, too much rum, and too much thinking.
There were ways to gain his independence from the Crown and the title. He had
thought them over innumerably in the last year the same way he had walked the land
in Ohio whilst he was in Newgate. He knew what sacrifices he would have to make
and he was willing to do so.
The problem was a matter of what sacrifices his family would have to make, how
far they were willing to go to do it, and if he were so ungrateful to them he would push
them to it to gain his own freedom.
Dunham 101

B
The soft knock on his cabin door awoke him from his doze. Come, he rasped.
It opened slowly and a slightly sunburnt face with a black stripe painted across the
nose and under whisky eyes peeked around its edge. Judas? she murmured.
Ah, Fury, I was just dreaming of you. Come join me.
Clothed in buff breeches and a ruffled white shirt open to her navel, she entered
and closed the door behind her. Her peachy-pink hair was free and swinging about her
hips. Her feet were bare, as he would expect. He had learned to enjoy going barefoot
about his ship instead of being confined in boots. Instead of layers of proper Navy uni-
forms and stiff overcoats heavy with embellishment, he now only wore breeches. Even
in the winter, when the sun shone he could doff his coat. He had never had that. The
newfound freedom of piracy was thoroughly unfamiliar to him.
Have I driven you to boredom already? she asked lightly, but he had sisters and
nieces aplenty and was wise in the ways of women. She feared that very thing.
Nay. I am old. And weary. You, Madam Youth, suck what little life I have left
right out of me. And very well, I might add. He palmed his cotton-covered crotch and
began to unbutton the flap. I beg you suck some more.
She grinned and plopped down beside him on his bunk. You are vile.
So you insist. What have you there?
Games. And rum. Have you finished tending your log?
My hand wearied long ago, so for the nonce, you have sole charge of my log.
Speaking of vile, what are your tastes that you must visit an exclusive house of ill re-
pute to get your satisfaction?
Two men, she said promptly. I could not understand why, if a man can bed two
women, a woman could not bed two men. She gave him a significant glance. At once.
Elliott stared at her, aghast. He didnt know whether to laugh or rage. Ah, Mad-
am, I hope that is not a taste you expect me to indulge you in.
She waved a hand. Oh, no. That is not for my lovers. Besides, she said airily, there
are ways to mimic that, if you are willing.
His eyebrow rose. Oh? You expect me to bugger you, then?
At some point.
Elliott released an incredulous laugh.
Judas, honestly. A man whose cockstand responds so well to pain and practically
asks to be tied up and whipped cannot judge a woman for her own peccadilloes.
That is not a peccadillo, Madam. That is a perversion.
Yours or mine?
Elliott cast her a broad grin.
She sniffed. Says he who also requested viewing privileges should I tup a woman.
102 Moriah Jovan
That is right and proper, two women. And then I would join.
Where is your birch? I am beginning to feel a need to punish you for your mockery.
Whilst you suck me.
Furys grin was everything that was wicked. Thus we can be vile and perverted to-
gether.
That was my thought. In fact, there is a game I want to play with you, one Ill wa-
ger youve never played before.
She granted him a mocking scowl. I have either played all the games or declined to.
I doubt you have one Ive yet to encounter.
Judass eyebrows rose even as his grin widened. It involves your stays.
Her fake scowl turned into genuine confusion. My stays?
His wicked laugh came from deep in his chest. Ah, so you havent. No matter. I
shall teach you.
Or perhaps we could simply play chess for now.
Elliott studied her, marveling that he had the interest of a woman such as this,
cursing Fates whimsy. One hand giveth and the other taketh away.
Her brow wrinkled. What?
Nothing. Why have you put tar across your face?
Tis not tar. It is kohl. A cosmetic from Egypt.
Ah. And its purpose?
It reduces the glare of the sun and water, which a hat alone cannot do. Is this also
something you never learned? Like the cats, who do the work of a half dozen men and
feed themselves, making it possible to sail with that many fewer men to feed and
house? You remarked upon the fact that I look young for a sailor. This one reason
why. And Papa has always had some sort of ointment he puts on his face. We both
burn badly, you see. He does not care for unnecessary pain, and I am vain enough to
want to preserve what little beauty I possess.
I find you beautiful and I refuse to revisit that no matter how you beg further
compliments. She smiled, delighted. He would compliment her endlessly to see that
smile. As to the kohl, the Navy would never allow something so vulgar to tarnish an
officers uniform.
She sighed. Twould seem to me you Englishmen continually sacrifice practicality
for some arbitrary and ineffective propriety. Your army fights in rigid lines, marches
through forests clothed in bright red along the most obvious paths, and has not paid its
men in months. Your navy gangs press hundreds of unwilling men, leaving their wives
and children to starve, which foments rebellion and mutiny, then denies you adequate
sustenance and pay. Why do you think we could run the blockade so easily? The
watch did not sound the call because it did not care. And we knew that.
Elliott shrugged. There were many things he would have done as commander had
he had the freedom to do so. If you are expecting a denial, youll not hear one from
Dunham 103
me. That said, you Americans are naught but primitive barbarians.
She laughed and nudged his body with hers. Even that little bit spoke of comfort
he had yet to experience outside his family. Because aristocratic sophistication wins
wars with barbarians, no? Genghis Khan conquered every land he stepped foot upon.
Why should we not follow suit if it works?
By the bye, is your bosun ?
Aye. A distant granddaughter. She is as fierce as any man I have ever fought
alongside. I believe Genghis would be proud of her. Now tell me of this young widow
who corrupted you at some tender age.
Barely sixteen, he drawled. Twas the most wonderful interlude of my existence
until now.
Were you in love with her?
Her question brought him up short. Was she jealous? I am not certain, he finally
said. How does one measure such a thing at such an age? And now, from such a dis-
tance, one thinks, Oh, it could not have possibly been love.
She shrugged. Longevity?
When does longevity become simple habit? he countered. I would have wed her,
had I the opportunity, but then what? What does a landless sixteen-year-old boy have
to offer a twenty-two-year-old woman and her child? I am so far from that boy now he
may as well be dead and gone. He paused. He is, actually, to be frank.
Fury was quiet for some time and, unlikely though it was, he relished their silence
together. It was comforting.
Habit, she mused. Does longevity always disintegrate into habit?
I might think so, but how would I know for a certainty? My affaire with the widow
lasted the whole of one spring before I was sent to university. I thought I was in love
with her and mourned when she wed a man far older than I who had some wealth.
Then I met a merchants daughter of whom I became quite fond. I looked forward to
the marriage bed and teaching her what I had learned.
She sat up, interested. Oh? Did she return your affection?
Aye, she did indeed. Her father approved, too.
What happened then?
I was sent to sea.
Then she slumped a bit. Oh.
You are sad for me?
She smiled somewhat wryly. For her, rather.
That was telling, but Elliott would rather not dwell on that, as he was about to lose
a third woman to circumstance just when he had found her.
And Covarrubias? You said you were younger than George.
Fourteen. She waved a hand. Every girl falls in love with the first man to seduce
her. Tis a womanly rite.
104 Moriah Jovan
Have you fallen out of love with him?
She said nothing for a second or two. Fall out of love? she said thoughtfully. I
would not have thought such a thing possible. We are Her lips pursed, then said
absently, I know not what we are, to be truthful. Mayhap a habit, now.
If he is just a habit, why do you continue with him?
She slid him a glance. I told you. He was my first.
Women who go on to have seconds, thirds, and fourths do not remain loyal to
their firsts.
He made me who I am every bit as much as Dunham did, she said with a sad
chuckle, then tipped the bottle of rum. Elliott watched her throat bob and wondered if
that was how she looked when she swallowed him. He took the bottle when she of-
fered it, then she leaned toward him and spoke earnestly as if to impart great wisdom.
Mayhap more.
You are not fourteen anymore, Madam, he said softly, looking into those burnt-
sugar eyes, raising his hand and stroking her cheek. Perhaps tis time to put away your
girlish infatuations bound up in gratitude.
An odd expression swept across her face in a blink and she sat up straight. You
have no knowledge of the situation, so pray keep your thoughts on that to yourself.
Elliott did not argue the point. And number two?
She bit her bottom lip and, to his shock, her eyes began to glisten. Ah, he per-
ished, she murmured.
Tell me about him.
She studied him warily, and he wondered why hed asked. It was enough to know
the man was dead and no threat to Elliotts pursuit.
His name was Talaat Khersis, she said low, then rubbed the corner of her eye
with a knuckle. Elliott waited. Not only did he not know the name, he had no idea
what nationality it was. I met him in Morocco, she continued, either unaware or un-
caring of his ignorance. I married him there, too.
Elliotts jaw dropped, and he said the only thing he could think of. Youre a widow?
Fury barked a laugh and turned that smile upon him. Tis usually what a woman is
called once her husband has died, Judas.
How old were you then?
Five and twenty. He was two score and one.
Elliott cracked a self-deprecating smile. You dont care for young men, do you?
She snorted. Not for bedsport lasting beyond a night, no. One peachy-pink eye-
brow rose. I like well-seasoned men who know how to please a woman and can then
carry on a decent conversation afterward.
He was Arab?
No.
Her tone indicated that she would not welcome questions in that direction. Now
Dunham 105
that he thought on it, perhaps he should simply assume that she was not particular
about the nationality of the men she bedded. She had grown up in a land where Arab
men took women of many lands and might not find such intermingling amiss. To his
shock, he did not find that particularly bothersome.
This was how long ago?
Four years now.
Isnt that when you beheaded Skirrow?
Aye, she purred.
Elliott could see how a woman might want to behead the man whod killed her
husband. Condolences. She inclined her head in acknowledgment of his offering.
How long were you married?
Five months.
Elliott had to ask, but he wasnt sure he wanted to know. Do you have any chil-
dren?
Nay.
Such a woman might dally, but never commit.
Does Covarrubias know of your husband? he asked slowly.
Nay.
Thank God. Do you still love him, too?
Furys whisky-colored eyes went cold and her expression was stony. Elliott knew he
had gone too far.
Tell me something, she said smoothly. If I loved you enough to leave the sea to
wed you, spend the rest of my days with you, would you want to die knowing that my
love for you expired when you did? Or that my love was a glamour of gratitude? Or
that I was suffering from some girlish infatuation that would fade the minute I met
the next fascinating man?
Elliott looked away.
Nay, I thought not. Clearly you did not love the widow or the merchants daugh-
ter, else you would not ask such questions.
Guilty, he muttered.
I have bedded a fair number of men in my time, Judas, she said matter-of-factly,
both before my marriage and since. I have loved two of those men, and I wed the sec-
ond a mere fortnight after we met. I will always love my husband. I still love Rafael. But
I am not incapable of loving a third man, should I find him worthy of it. Furthermore,
I know within hours of meeting and bedding a man that I will or will not fall in love
with him. Think on that and then reflect upon why I did not toss you out my window
two nights past.
Elliott had no need to. He knew what she had said, but being the third did not ap-
pease him, especially when she was still fucking Covarrubias and grieving her husband.
But who was he to claim her? He was betrothed and had a duty to his family and
106 Moriah Jovan
title. There was no place for Fury in his life.
To follow that reasoning, then, he said slowly, you must choose to fall in love and
choose not to fall out of it.
She was silent for a moment. Tis an odd way of looking at it, but aye, I think that
is a fair conclusion.
And now?
She granted him that slow smile he would have given his left arm to purchase.
And now, she murmured, her voice utter velvet, I am allowing myself to fall in
love with a man who is duty-bound to put me aside. I would rather spend what time I
have with him in happier conversation.
Falling in love with him. Would that he could put aside his duty. Im sorry, he mut-
tered, his chest aching. More than you can know.
I must tell you, she said matter-of-factly, sliding off the bunk and around his leg
until she knelt on the floor between his legs. She took her time with a button on his
falls. You are quite possibly the most handsome man I have ever met. Big. Powerful.
Intelligent. Well educated. My taste in men runs true.
He laughed harshly, then groaned when her knuckles grazed his stiffening rod and
tightening bollocks with every button she released. He could barely gather his
thoughts. You have so soon determined not to carry on with me after I wed, then?
Her laugh was shockingly bitter. I have no intention of it.
It could be done
Judas! She stopped fussing with his breeches and looked up at him with amaze-
ment. What good does it do me? His gaze dropped to the creamy skin of her chin
and throat, down her chest until the scars began, but it was unfocused. Could you,
confined to whatever protocols you are, wed me, at near nine and twenty, with fifteen
years between me and my virginity, no children despite my licentiousness, and still
fulfill your duty?
He opened his mouth to say no, but instead, I know of a waytwo or three, in
factbut it would require the consent of many people.
People who were not likely to consent.
Then the answer is no. She tsked. His prick had lost all stiffness and her hands
lightly gripped the tops of his thighs. I may be many kinds of wicked, she said softly,
her lovely face turned up to him, but carrying on an affaire with a man who weds out
of duty is not a wickedness that attracts me, for either my own sake or hers.
He grasped her arms, breaking her contact with his breeches, and leaned forward.
Furytis how it is done all over the realm.
She rolled her eyes and pried herself out of his hands. Do not talk to me about
how things are done, Judas, she said with some humor. She stood, then took two
steps to snatch one of his shirts off the floor. I have spent my life doing things that are
simply not done, and refusing to do things Ive been ordered to do.
Dunham 107
Youre a pirate, he said, his elbows dropping to his knees. He was desperate for
her acquiescence while she was calmly folding his shirt, then laying it on top of his
chest. And you just said you were in love with me.
Aye, Im a pirate and thus, I am only interested in me, she said flatly, finding an-
other garment he had carelessly cast aside. Tis the very hallmark of a pirate. She eyed
him skeptically. We are thieves and liars. Yet another way you betray yourself, thinking
of duty rather than booty.
He couldnt muster a laugh for her quip. This moment, every sight, sound, and
smell, etched itself upon his mind, branding him with pain. It was as great as he had
known when his father had stared him down, daring Elliott to defy him and the path
that had been set for him.
Then, Elliott had been a fourteen-year-old boy looking up into the face of a man he
adored, fearing his disapproval. Now, he was a thirty-eight-year-old man looking at the
woman he was quite sure he wanted for the rest of his days who could not be persuad-
ed to follow her heart.
He was as helpless now as he had been then.
Your interest in you and my interest in me are at odds.
Covarrubias is not true to you, Elliott rasped.
She waved that off and began to tidy his bookshelves. Aye, and so what. It is me
he returns to, year after year. This, she continued, looking around, gesturing leisurely
with the sensuality of the most expensive courtesan, with you. Tis but a whimsy. An
idyll. Tis all it can be whilst you are not wed.
And after, all my time and attention would be yours.
Once you have gotten two sons on her.
He had no answer for that.
I have no reason to deny that I am falling in love with youdeliberately, by your
logicand no reason to keep it a secret. But I also have no reason to compete with a
woman who has the clear advantage. She will have a contract, and I am unacceptable as
a wife, for all I can have naught but your heart.
And my heart is not enough, he growled.
Her eyes narrowed. I rather hope you would not expect me to abandon my place
in Rafaels bed nor refrain from any perversions wherever I find myself.
He sucked in an outraged breath, but what could he say in protest? He wanted
who she was, and were she not that woman, she would not be with him.
Aye, I have Rafaels heart, she said as she set about alphabetizing his books,
though every beautiful woman in the world has his yard when I am not about.
And you tolerate this.
How can I not, when he encourages my dalliances? She swooped to pluck another
two books off the floor and examined their spines. You may ascribe it to girlish infatua-
tion if you wish. But I have also been the wife of a man who showed me what tis like to
108 Moriah Jovan
love and have the love of a faithful man. Ill not be any mans mistress. Her head slowly
turned until her gaze bored into his. Notevenyours.
Thus you would deny yourself something you want.
Examine your premise, Judas. I will be amputating a limb to keep the gangrene
from spreading.
My God, Madam!
I know what tis like to lose a beloved, she murmured. If you think the description
horrible, tis only more proof you have no idea of love. And yet I am willing to be your
lover in spite of our inevitable separation when I know how much it will distress me.
Elliott stared at her, still appalled by the comparison.
She pointed to the door. Shall I leave, Captain? If you cannot enjoy the rest of our
time together whilst you are not wed, Id rather not be here at all. We can be uncou-
pled within the hour.
It was a challenge. The commander in him would order her out, then order the
grappling hooks retrieved. But the duty-bound aristocrat could see the years ahead. If
she stayed, he would live with his heartache. If she left, he would live with his heart-
ache and regret the time wasted.
We have been together little more than a day, he said low, rubbing his chin,
scratching his jaw. He had not shaved yet. I would we had not had this discussion
now.
Her eyebrow rose. I would rather have it now and seize what time we have togeth-
er than be slapped with it when we make port. Tell me now, Judas.
He dropped his head in his hands. I cant, he muttered. If you will not agree
to I must have something to take with me into the future. One moment in time that
I was truly happy.
Her brow wrinkled. You have had so little of it, then?
I cannot recall one moment since I went to sea at nineteen.
Mm that is quite sad, she murmured. He heard her move toward him, then felt
her fingers in his hair, running through it gently, tucking it behind his ear, fondling his
ear. He shivered. None?
None. I have also never met a woman who Nay, I should say that I have never
had the opportunity to find a woman with whom I could speak so plainly, with so much
common knowledge, and so much in sympathy. After the merchants daughter, my
only female companionship was bought, briefly and cheaply at that. I am happy with
my family, I think, but my time with them may count as three years in the last twenty,
if I were generous. I believe that if I could never fuck you again, I would still be happy
if you are near.
Her hand stilled in his hair. I make you happy?
Aye.
Oh, she whispered again with what seemed like wonder.
Dunham 109
He gazed at her rounded belly riven with scars, up her body to the curve of those
pert, lovely, scarred breasts with the nipples that could not pucker and had no feeling,
and determined that she would remember him as the man who had made them feel
again. Somehow.
Furys fingers left his hair and skimmed down his cheek to his jaw. She cupped his
chin gently and tilted his head up to look at her, her caramel eyes filled with tears. Let
us set up the chess board, Judas, and I will allow you to describe your peccadilloes
whilst I pummel you into the deck.
She leaned down. He met her mouth, opening it, meeting her tongue, tasting her
flavors: lemon and cinnamon and rum. Feeling against his lips the hum in her throat.
Do not be sure of your advantage, Madam, he growled as he stood, palming her
arse and pressing her body against his as they kissed.
What shall we wager? she breathed.
Anything but our names.
15

It was not the first time Celia had awakened with a mans tongue in her quim, but
it was so rare it never failed to delight her when it happened.
Judas must have put a pillow under her arse whilst she slept, which had her at a bit
of a disadvantage for controlling her sensation. With him, however, her urge to take
control was tempered, as she had amply demonstrated their first morning together.
It had been like that with Talaat, too, a feeling of inherent trust she had learned to
recognize by its startling absence once she had left Rafaels bed. Mayhap that trust was
how she determined a mans worth.
Though he had not bound her, he had blindfolded herand it was a testament to
that trust that she didnt immediately rip the thing off.
She breathed a sigh of luxurious contentment and reached down to dig her fingers
in Judass silky hair to pull him closer. The faint vibration against her skin betrayed his
chuckle. His big hands were wrapped around her thighs and gently pushing, spreading
her open, tipping her hips up.
She gasped and arched her back when he sucked her pearl between his lips, then
licked. She attempted to close her legs, but his strong hands prohibited it and, in fact,
pushed her open wider. Sadly, he withdrew that magical mouth.
God, yes, she moaned when a well-oiled glass dildo gently pressed its way into her
back passage.
Though he was clearly unpracticed at this, his hesitance to ply the dildo charmed
her even while it frustrated her. His hand covered her lower belly and his warm, cal-
loused fingers slipped into her cunt, teasing her, pressing against the front of her
sheath, against the hand on her belly, and one thumb caressing her pearl.
Judas, my God
His chuckle was broader now, a little louder, and far more wicked. She was reach-
ing for her two crises simultaneously, arching her back, whimpering and panting for
them to continue to build, to come to her and sweep her away. Judas! Please!
His fingers withdrew from her, but before she could protest, another of her toys
a leather oneslipped into her cunt, then out and in, filling her more for the one in
her arseand the fingers of his other hand were pressing more firmly into her mound.
Harder, she panted. Harder, Judas!
He couldnt quite overcome his unwillingness to hurt her, but it was enough so that
she cried out at her releaseboth of them, coming in waves, buffeting her unceasingly
Dunham 111
until the storm scuttled past and she relaxed into the pillows.
Even though she was blindfolded, she opened her eyes and felt for him. There on
the bed, what seemed the entirety of her harem toy collection scattered about. Her
fingers touched the vial of coconut oil, the set of three solid silver balls, the gold ring
that
What is that youre touching? he asked softly.
She smiled slowly. Do you have a full cockstand?
Aye, he said gruffly.
Then this is of no use to you at the moment. I will show you later. Im rather
shocked you dont know.
These things are foreign to me, Madam, he said with a haughty sniff, though I
can deduce most of their uses. I suppose it shouldnt surprise me a woman who at-
tained adulthood in the land of the harem would have such things.
Her smile faltered, thinking of the reason why she had them.
Fury, did I say something wrong?
Nay, she replied softly, reaching for and caressing the hand that still wrapped her
thigh. She was still blindfolded, still filled to bursting, and still not feeling burdened to
change the situation. My husband gave most of them to me. I would have never
known anything beyond the one dildo I used in a rather perfunctory way had he not
been so extraordinarily talented with them. You, she hastened on, show great prom-
ise, particularly for someone who has never used them.
She felt the heat of his body as he leaned up over her. The clang of ships bells in-
formed her it was nine of the clock in the morning. Other than faint sounds of the
most pressing of chores being accomplished, it was quiet.
Her blindfold was removed, with the gentle brush of his knuckles against her face.
The cabin was awash in morning sunlight, and she looked up at him, his powerful,
dark body held close over her pale one, and smiled. And what shall we do about you?
Later, he murmured silkily, I shall teach you about pain. Mine, he drawled when
her eyes narrowed.
She sniffed. And you intend to ignore your cockstand until this blessed event?
I do. Twill heighten the experience.
She said nothing whilst he heaved himself upward to kneel between her raised
knees and carefully withdraw one phallus, then the other, and place them in a pail on
the floor. Then he pulled a cloth from another water-filled pail and wrung it out.
He glanced up at her as he began to minister to her. That, too, was something only
Rafael and Talaat had done. How do you stay in control when you take two men?
She shrugged. The money. I dare say I pay significantly more for two whores at
once than you do.
Likely so, he said absently, his concentration almost fully upon her quim, cleaning
her, kneading her.
112 Moriah Jovan
Caressing her.
She shivered with sensation.
She bit her lip. But in truth, she murmured, the dreadful possibilities are
His glanceoh, those eyesflickered up to hers and he smirked. Enticing? he
purred. Damn her tendency to blush. He laughed. Then dare I draw certain conclu-
sions about your state of arousal at Chesapeake Bay these weeks past?
That made her laugh against her will. You may. I was sorely disappointed to find
you absent from my cabin when I finally attained my rest.
He barked an almost humorless laugh. Ah, I may have indulged you, but then I
would have killed you. He must have caught her bewildered and vague hurt. Your
ship was aflame, Madam, he explained softly and began to clean her toys with agitated
movements. You couldnt see it, but I could, and I feared you would die before I had a
chance to speak with you.
Bed me, rather, she said wryly, so very touched by his sincerity.
But he shook his head. Bedding was not then nor is it now my sole desire of you.
He grunted when he reached for the chest in which she kept her dildos, and he careful-
ly put each item in its proper place. She said nothing, watching him pause over one,
study the box, move a different item out of the way, and continue packing them as if
doing so meant something to him.
It couldnt mean anything to him. His cabin was inexcusably cluttered, with books
and boxes stacked willy-nilly, clothing strewn about. The day before, he had taken off
his shirt and thrown it on his bed. It was nothing she wouldnt have done in a hurry,
but it had stayed there for the many hours they played chess. It had been there when
they had put the game away, eaten, and gone to bed. It had been there when theyd
awakened from their slumber. It had still been there when he had begun to seduce her
again, at which time, Celia couldnt stand it any longer. He had looked on with great
amusement as she interrupted his seduction to pluck it out from under him, fold it
neatly, and set it atop his clothing chest with the others she had put there.
She watched him arise from the bed and put the chest in its place at the foot of her
wardrobe. He returned it to its proper position, with the clasp and hinges positioned
just so.
It was when he positioned it the tiniest bit to the left so that it was in its exact spot
that she took those last few steps over the cliff and fell in love with him.
16

Elliott found Furys rituals charmingwhen she was the one performing them. But
making sure to respect her as a captain on her ship in this manner would grow tedious
very quickly.
Kits the only cabin boy Ive ever had who could put my things where they belong,
she said softly. Hes teaching George, but in this respect, she is yet slow. She doesnt
understand its importance to me.
He dropped on her bed and lay between her thighs, his head on her belly. She
stroked his forehead and ran her fingers through his hair, which was one of the most
heavenly things he had ever experienced. He yawned. You do seem rather obsessed of
it. How does Kit come to know this?
Kit shared my bed from the moment I stepped aboard the Carnivale until I took
command. It was the only way I could protect him from Skirrow and his men, who
passed him around. He learned my habits very quickly in an effort to please me.
Elliotts eyebrows rose. Your bed?
Not in that manner. He, like you, could finally sleep in peace. Do you know: I
never heard him speak until I killed Skirrow.
Any other captain would have simply taken on more boys, Elliott pointed out.
She laughed. Aye, who sought refuge in my cabin eventually. I ordered the bosun
to vacate his bigger cabin so I could accommodate them all. She paused. This ship
has more hammock-sharing aboard it than most, I imagine, since I hire women and
take on girls as well as boys, but it must be discreet, it must not interfere with ships
business, and it must not be with the children. When they are old enough, they will
experiment for themselves amongst themselves.
It would be little time now before he was asleep, being coddled as he was by this mag-
nificent woman who commanded a ship in such a foreign way. Then again, her anomaly
began with the fact that a female commanded it without benefit of a masquerade.
Have you ever gone as male?
She snorted. Aye, I have, but only when I must, which is not seldom enough. The
first time, it was against my will and better judgment. It was not a successful endeavor,
if by successful one means that I was mistaken for a boy.
What happened?
Rafael took me for a girl and promptly took me to bed, she answered matter-of-
factly. Because he is perverse and reckless, he thought it would be a grand bit of
114 Moriah Jovan
mischief to train a woman to stand in a mans world and spit in its face. And I will
forever be grateful for that.
Now Elliott could apprehend the reason for her attachment, which did not seem
quite so girlish. Perhaps he should show Covarrubias a bit of gratitude himself.
Surely you can understand the difficulties inherent in continuing such a ruse, and
for so many years, she murmured, still stroking his forehead, running her fingers
through his hair. Twas far easier to prove my sailing worth as a woman than prove it
as a man while also secretly tending to my womanly needs, binding these breasts, and
fearing discovery every moment of every day.
She fell silent whilst she fondled his head and shoulders, caressing, kneading, ex-
ploring him with her fingers. Lying in this womans arms made him ache with empti-
ness over one fact: He could not have her. His future was bound up with a woman
who, as pertained to his duty, could not legally be Fury. The fact that she refused to be
his mistress only put another stake into his gut.
Yet another decision made by someone else, another decree in which he had no
choice but to comply.
Elliott prided himself on his ability to foresee and plan for contingencies and enact
those plans at a seconds notice. Fury and all the implications of her presence in his life
was not a contingency he had planned for.
Youre a pirate.
I am only interested in me We are thieves and liars.
Kidnapping her was out of the question. That was an assault she would never forgive.
But lying
An entire scheme bloomed in his mind as he lay in comfortable silence, feeling her
skin against his.
Truly, he could see no reason why she should ever know of his marriage. She didnt
know his name and the likelihood of her finding outeven after Croftwoods tale
was slim. He did have an heir presumptive, after all, and he could simply inform her he
had decided to allow that to suffice.
He would tuck his wife away in Northumberland with his sons. Fury would be at
sea, in London, or some other port of call he could attain easily.
Aye, that was the way of it: keep them apart and ignorant of each other.
Finally. A choice. One he had created for himself.
What are you thinking, Judas? You appear so smug I should rather become suspicious.
He opened his eyes and stirred himself to look up into her face. I am thinking,
Madam, that you are delightful.
She gave him another one of those pleased, yet shy, smiles. Youre at half-mast,
she observed most unnecessarily.
Aye, but there is method in my madness. I told you that.
She laughed and pushed him aside, then arose to open the box he had so painstakingly
Dunham 115
put away. She produced the gold ring he had asked about earlier and said, You may find
this helpful. It took her only a second or two to put her chest to rights again.
He groaned when she touched his yard and closed his eyes again in pure bliss when
she slipped it through the ring, then carefully maneuvered one bollock, then the next,
also through the ring so that they were comfortably tight against his prick.
This sensation, too, was like nothing he had ever known, and he sighed when she
continued to stroke and fondle him.
I have heard of men who wear these as a matter of course, she murmured as she
worked her magic with her wonderfully calloused but gentle hands. This is gold, so it
is somewhat malleable once it is warmed. Im told there is a certain ongoing mild
pleasure. Once you are fully erect, you will stay that way as long as you please.
That is exactly what I wanted, Madam. Why do I not know of this?
Why do I not know what you intend to do with my stays?
Touch. Is this also something your husband introduced you to?
Her body stiffened. Slightly. The way it had before when he had referenced her toys.
Had he not been in such close observation of her, he might have missed it, then, too.
Ah no, she murmured with slight melancholy.
Then he realized her reaction was not one of having taken offense; it was one of
having remembered something that saddened her.
You miss him, he said softly.
She nodded. Very much, aye. She turned abruptly and crossed her cabin again to
pluck her copy of Fanny Hill off the bookshelf. She handed it to him as she plopped
herself back into bed. I saw you reading this yesterday. You may have it, if you wish.
Ive no interest in it.
I have one, but thank you. I would have thought this would suit you.
She snorted. Tis the most ridiculous thing I have ever read and possibly the most
boring.
He laughed. Boring?
At that, she snatched it away from him again to fan the pages. I am not a scholar
of words, but when I am reading what claims to be an erotic work and my response is
to laugh, it must have failed in its purpose.
Ah, my love, he purred, stretching out beside her and propping his head on his
hand. Tis not meant for women like you who already know and revel in the delights of
the flesh. Tis for people to experience vicariously and for men to stretch their yards by.
Oh ho! Are their yahoo imaginations so lacking they need someone else to narrate
their onanism?
Read to me, Elliott growled, and I will demonstrate its allure.
Fury sat up, crossed her legs, and opened the book. The brute had, it seems, she
read haughtily, but unable to hide her amusement, as I afterwards understood,
brought on, by his eagerness and struggle, the ultimate period of his hot fit of lust,
116 Moriah Jovan
which his power was too short-lived to carry him through the full execution of; of
which my thighs and linen received the effusion.
Aye? What is your point?
Tis an awful lot of words to say he came too quickly and spilt his seed on her legs.
Hot fit of lust, indeed.
Elliott could barely contain his grin. Aye, but his villainy is established by the fact
that he could not bring her to climax before himself. Hence, he is inferior. A virile and
attractive man would not have done that.
She looked at him flatly. The word brute serves the purpose.
The rest is figurative.
Judas, if you deny you have done this very thing, I shall whack you in the head.
You all do it, and you all cannot be villains.
He began to laugh and flopped onto his back. He waved a hand. Continue.
The slight breeze from the flipping of pages was cool and tinged with the scent of
lavender from the oil he had used to soothe her arse.
But every thing must have an end, she read. Does this inane prose end? A mo-
tion made by this angelic youth, in the listlessness of going off sleep, replaced his shirt
and the bed clothes in a posture that shut up that treasury from longer view. I lay
down then, and carrying my hands to that part of me in which the objects just seen had
begun to raise a mutiny, that prevailed over the smart of them, my fingers now opened
themselves an easy passage; but long I had not time to consider the wide difference
there, between the maid and the now finished woman Gods teeth! Does this wom-
an not take a breath? She frigged herself. Why can she not just say that?
Elliott was near to lost in laughter. Oh, Fury. She frigged herself does not excite
anyone.
It does not excite me the way tis written! That is my entire point!
And yet, here we are, discussing it.
Look here, this phrase, which the objects just seen had begun to raise a mutiny
I dare say he does not know the meaning of the word mutiny.
Do not pretend to thickheadedness, Madam. You know exactly what he means.
You just find it overwrought.
I do! Tis what makes me laugh. She read to herself for a while, then giggled. Oh,
this: where the narrowness no longer put me to intolerable pain, and afforded my
lover no more difficulty than what heightened his pleasure, in the strict embrace of that
tender, warm sheath Tis a cunt, you nincompoop. Elliott burst out laughing, but
she continued to read. round the instrument it was so delicately adjusted to
Cock. and which now cased home, so gorged me with pleasure, that it perfectly
suffocated me and took away my breath; then the killing thrusts! Fury squealed with
laughter. Killing thrusts! Lord above. the unnumbered kisses! every one of which
was a joy inexpressible
Dunham 117
That may be how George thinks of it, Elliott said dryly.
Fury squealed again and fell over on the bed, laughing. Im sure. But does she think
of it in those words?
Who knows what latent poetry lurks inside our breasts?
She did indeed whack him then, on the arm, and not hard. You are mocking my
mockery. Cease that. She sat up again. and that joy lost in a crowd of yet greater
blisses! But this was a disorder too violent in nature to last long: the vessels, so stirred
and intensely heated, soon boiled over, and for that time put out the fire Disorders!
Vessels! Boilings over!
Elliott, in fact, ceased listening to her at all so that he could watch her amusement
bubble. He loved the way she read in such an exaggerated manner to emphasize her
point. He loved her laugh, rich but delicate. And she was squealing like a girl.
A woman who had beheaded her captain with a battle ax in one strokegiggling.
Judas! Attend! Only a man would write something this preposterous.
He chuckled. It was an experiment, of sorts. Cleland wanted to write an erotic work
without using vulgarities, which he accomplished, though not to the courts satisfaction.
She stared at him. Oh, aye? But the engine of love assaults ? Inexcusable.
It has an unintentional poetry about it.
Unintentional, you say?
Aye. I would even go so far as to say tis rather an accident.
Engine of love assaults! There cannot possibly be a more absurd phrase in all of
this book than engine of love assaults.
There she went again, off into squeals of laughter. Andoh, look she said be-
tween breaths. Violent agitations wondrous treasure bag of natures sweets Bol-
locks, for Gods sake and Ive not had a sweet one in my mouth yet. ran directly
upon the flaming point of this weapon of pleasure, which she staked herself upon, up
pierced, and infixed to the extremest hair breadth of it. That sent her into paroxysms
so much that she could not catch a breath for several minutes, her face red, a dimple
carving deep into her cheek, tears streaming down her face. He could do naught but
wait for her to compose herself. By all thats holy, she gasped, this man is an idiot.
He is not necessarily an idiot. He is bitter, which is actually quite evident in the work.
How come you by this opinion? Do you know the man?
I do not, but I did hear his drunken rantings in a tavern once. Do you know of
better material that serves the purpose?
Its purpose is to make me laugh, I am convinced of it. Do you not find this book
humorous?
He grinned. In parts.
Is your yahoo imagination so lacking you need to be led to your climax by ridiculous
prose?
Elliott dropped his hand to Furys knee and stroked upward to her quim, caressing
118 Moriah Jovan
lightly, opening her folds leisurely whilst looking. The hair of her mound was a flame
of orange and soft like a cats fur. He smirked at the comparison.
What is so funny about my tender, warm sheath, Sir? My vessel, if you will. She
held the book up so she could watch him fondle her.
Petting your cat, my love, he said huskily, feeling his yard begin to stiffen and re-
minding him there was a ring around it. He slipped two fingers inside her, and chuck-
led when she moaned. Giggled. Sighed. I need no words when there is a quim in front
of me in which I can bury my engine of love assaults.
She screeched with laughter once again, and it occurred to Elliott that she was far
too easily distracted. First his clutter and now this book.
Yet he couldnt help grinning. Her face lit up when she laughed. Joy surrounded
her when she smiled. The sly glances spoke of jests shared solely between the two of
them and mischief yet to be wrought.
Have you finished with your screeching, Madam, so that I may assault you with
my engine of love and deliver unto you killing thrusts and violent agitations?
No No Oh Cant stop laughing
He reached up to grasp the back of her neck and pull her down to him for a kiss.
Though she grinned against his lips and giggled into his mouth, soon enough he had
effectively quelled her amusement into desire.
Elliott took the book from her and, with the flick of a wrist, tossed the book over
his shoulder. He tugged at her leg and lay flat on his back, urging her to cover him.
She started when he positioned her hips over his and brought her down on his
prick. I thought you said
I now want to see how well this vaunted ring works to enhance my engine of love
assaults.
Her eyes narrowed as she lifted herself off him. Oh, no, she purred, standing to the
side of the bunk in all her naked glory, her feet spread, her hands on her hips as if she
were on her quarterdeck bellowing commands. Youll wear it all afternoon and evening.
He smirked. Aye, Ill take that challenge.
And we are invited to the Mad Hangman for supper with Maarten and Catherine.
Just the four of us.
Madam! Do you mean to say I must suffer through social niceties with this thing
round my cod?
Aye, and in formal custom, no less.
She was going to be the death of him, but he decided to take her dare. Aye, but a
formal toilette for you requires stays, does it not?
And there it is again. What is this game with my stays that has you so fascinated?
He grinned. Youll see.
17

The Silver Shillings bosuns mate (a valet by profession before being impressed
aboard the HMS Iphigenia) (though not by Elliott) (who was also extraordinarily tal-
ented at firing a swivel) fussed over Elliotts cravat as if the success of his wedding de-
pended upon it. He had no looking glass and thus must trust Piefke and his
assessment.
You look quite fine, Sir, Piefke finally announced with some gravity. You will be
sure to impress the lady.
Lady.
He had not thought of Fury as a lady. Lady Jacqueline Tavendish, Elliott whis-
pered, though not softly enough, because he caught Piefkes quickly hidden amusement.
No, he must leave off thinking such things. It was not possible, and Elliott had the best
plan he could muster under the circumstances. He must become satisfied with it.
These togs are quite spare, Piefke. Are you certain of them?
He sniffed, affronted. I believe you are better served without excessive ornamenta-
tion, Sir. Then he leveled a significant and bitter glance at him. You left off ornamen-
tation six years ago. We all did.
Ah, yes. At his arrest, during which every medal, stripe, and epaulette he and his
officers had ever earned and worn were stripped from them all.
I am not the only one who prefers the pirates uniform, then, Elliott murmured,
looking down his body, unable to take a true measure of his appearance. He had for-
gotten how it felt to be accountable for his sartorial choices.
The Lady Captain Fury cannot help but approve, Sir, Piefke murmured.
We can hope.
Elliott had been hard-pressed to hide his unusual jewelry from Piefke, but man-
aged. Barely. He had been perpetually at quarter-mast ever since Fury had tossed him
out of her cabin to dress. His waistcoat was long enough to hide the fact that he was
still a bit stiffand he did not mind the ongoing sensation at all.
Still, he was nervous. It had been more than twenty years since he had been in So-
ciety, and the last time he had worn any type of formal dress was in the House of
Lords the year before, which no one saw but his fellow nobles. The fact that he pos-
sessed this suit of clothing spoke more to Piefkes pride in his rightful occupation than
any desire on Elliotts part to attend ton soirees.
Shall I put your cabin to rights while you are gone, Capn?
120 Moriah Jovan
Elliott looked around, but saw nothing wrong with it. The floor was relatively
clear. Everything was secure. His bunk was a tangle, though.
Is it that bad? he asked, bemused. Fury does not find it to her liking, but I cannot
see
I wouldnt bring a lady here, Sir.
He sighed. If it will make her happy, do what you will.
He left his cabin and swung down to her deck. He popped down the hatch just six
feet in front of her cabin door. Like a smitten boy, he hesitated before he knocked.
But his nervousness disappeared as soon as Fury opened her door.
Almighty God, he whispered, thoroughly awestruck.
She was a vision in mint silk, heavily embroidered with peach flowers and dark
green leaves, her stomacher a work of needle art. Her dcolletage was low, the nipples
of her already magnificent breasts near to bursting out of the peach-piped edging. It
was then he noticed that her stomacher was embroidered in the pattern and color of
her scars, to make her ridged flesh part of her gown.
Her hair was elaborately dressed, not powdered nor starched, but with green rib-
bons and strings of pearls woven throughout the high-piled curls. She wore an exquis-
itely cut emerald at her throat and equally lovely ones bobbed from her ears.
She raised her closed fan to her breast and clasped it with the opposite hand, re-
vealing another emerald on her middle finger.
Judas? she asked in a small voice.
His gaze met hers. You look he whispered. Though he dabbled, he was an ex-
ecrable poet and there stood the loveliest woman he had ever met. He could barely
manage to speak at all. My God, Madam! I never would have imagined
He could speak no more, for he had forgotten how.
Aye, now you know what Dunham looks like gowned, she said bitingly after he
had stared, apparently, for quite a while.
Elliott was shocked into a laugh and offered his arm. Your hoops are absent, I see,
he drawled as he took the three steps to the hatch ladder.
She sniffed and began to climb. I made do with hip and bum rolls. Six-foot panni-
ers do not fit through a hatch so well.
I told you I would not lavish more praises upon your beauty, no matter how you
begged.
I did not realize I had done so, she said haughtily when he heaved himself up
through the hole. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she was glaring at him, but
everyone else was gaping at her.
The ships had quieted and his mouth twitched when he again offered her his arm
for the seven steps it would take them to reach the Mad Hangmans ladder, but she
looked over her shoulder and called, Oh, quit your gawping. You act like youve never
seen a lady before.
Dunham 121
Not that one! bellowed someone from the Silver Shilling.
She turned back to Elliott with a pleased grin.
Soon they were directed to the Mad Hangmans captains cabin, which was bigger
than Furys, almost as big as Elliotts, nicely appointed, the bed finely crafted, and all
arranged for the cozy comfort of two.
He shook the Hollanders hand, then made a leg to the missus, who was as exquis-
itely turned out as Fury. Catherine, she said warmly.
Pleased.
As they were seated, Elliott slid a glance at the confection of a captain by his side
and wondered what it might be like to sail on the same ship with her, sharing the cap-
tains cabin, being in sympathy.
But no. Elliott could not think of that if he wished to accustom himself to his fate.
The cuisine and wine were Dutch, as was most of everythingand everyone
aboard the Mad Hangman. The Hollander had worked his way up from an eight-year-
old ships boy to captain of a Dutch East India Company ship, until now he was a large
stakeholder. He liked to sail, he answered in response to Elliotts questioning, but his
foray into privateering for the Americans was at once a respectful nod to his wifes long
American heritage and loyalties, and a way to redress his grievances with the British
government.
Which are ? Elliott asked.
His bushy blond eyebrow rose. Are you prepared to tell us yours, Judas?
Elliott smirked his answer. The Hollander didnt trust him, and that was all to the
better.
He was in the middle of his sixth decade, a fellow whose bluster was of the warm
and inviting sort. His hair was still a youthful blond, though the lines on his face and
the gray in his beard betrayed him. His wife looked far younger than she was but, El-
liott learned, had given the man four children over their thirty years together, one of
whomtheir eldest sonhad perished.
The glint in the Hollanders eye when he mentioned it answered Elliotts question.
He had never been able to think of a better reason than his own for revenge, but there
it was.
The old captain and Fury were at utter ease with each other, owing in no small
part, Elliott thought, to the fact that he did not treat her as anything but an equal, no
matter the difference in their age or sex.
You and Dunham are friends then? he asked.
Hollander shook his head. Not friends. Acquaintances. I would tire of him soon
enough did I spend more than a night drinking with him.
They try to outwit each other with their tall tales, Fury said dryly. They frustrate
each other with their inability to top the other and would perish from lack of sleep in
the attempt.
122 Moriah Jovan
The Hollander laughed. Catherine smiled. Fury smirked.
And Elliott felt right at home.
The conversation was light, calm, and erudite. Once a dessert of a fruit tarta
vlaai, Fury informed him (then was obliged to spell it for him)was served, the dis-
cussion turned to business.
The Hollander had grown comfortable with Elliott, which was not attributable to
the wine. The two of them spoke for quite a while before Elliott noticed the ladies
were silent. He looked to Fury, but she waved a hand.
I have no head for this, she said airily with an equally airy wave of a hand.
Nor I, Catherine admitted with a grimace. Mary shames me.
Elliott looked around questioningly.
Mary served as my clerk for several years, the man said gruffly, then glared at Fu-
ry. Until some upstart privateer stole her from me.
Fury snickered. You got a navigator in return. She looked at Elliott. When we
sail together, he doesnt bother. He simply follows me and takes the time and weather
signals my crew sends him.
The Hollander grunted. Shes the one with the timepiece. There is nothing better
than that.
Indeed there was not.
Elliott almost started when he felt the slightest caress on his inner thigh, then real-
ized how close he and Fury were sitting. He glanced at her, but she appeared to be
paying no attention to anything. In fact, she looked far away, as if she were in some
stupor.
Fury?
She graced him with those whisky eyes brimming with lust and stroked his leg
again. Unerringly, she found his prick and pressed against the ring.
The Hollander cleared his throat and stood. Elliott followed suit with as much
aplomb as he could manage, thanked them with every major and minor courtesy in-
grained into him as both the son of an earl and an officer in His Majestys Navy, and
escorted Fury out.
And now, he whispered in her ear as they made their way back to her cabin. Her
only response was to shiver. I shall teach you my little game.
18

If Celia thought Judas was handsome in breeches or, better yet, the altogether, he
was breathtaking in a formal suit of clothing. He wore a silver-embroidered black bro-
cade waistcoat under a black velvet coat. Black velvet breeches clung to his strong
thighs. He had a modest fall of white silver-shot lace at his throat and wrists, white
stockings, and on his feet were black leather pumps with silver heels as high as hers.
His silver-streaked black hair was pulled back, tied neatly with a silver ribbon.
It was all she could do to keep her hands away from him, knowing what he was wear-
ing around his cock, but most especially after he had looked at her so worshipfully.
She had never struck a man dumb before.
Despite the temptation, however, she refrained from touching him again until they
had returned to her cabin and the door was closed
at which point, Celia shoved him back against the door and crushed his mouth
with hers.
He needed no encouragement to press his thumbs into her stomacher and pull
down just enough for her nipples to pop out of her bodice and rest upon the piping.
He dove for the left one, the most damaged. Celia panted and dropped her head
back, pressing him to her. She couldnt feel his mouth or teeth, but his hair bunched in
her fist and the knowledge that he wanted to pay homage to her scars aroused her fur-
ther.
Take off your gown, he growled against her breast. Leave your stays on.
But I she whispered helplessly, then stumbled backward when he straightened.
He crossed the cabin to snatch her dagger off the bulkhead above her pillow, and in
two steps he was in front of her.
cant
With two skillful slashes, her overdress was cut from her stomacher and fell off her
arms, the weight of the dress at the back of the neck unable to be supported.
Take it off, he snarled, throwing the dagger on the table.
She stared between him and the dagger, not sure she should trust him in this
state whatever it was. Granted, he had taken her before and she had admitted that
she liked it, but certainly she did not care to make a habit of it.
Before she could decide the matter, he stepped behind her and pulled her overdress
off, nearly taking her arms with it. Pounds of silk whooshed through the air and landed
with a plop on her bunk, leaving her in her stays, shift, rolls, and heavy silk underskirt.
124 Moriah Jovan
She jumped when he pressed his mouth to the back of her neck, licking, sucking
nibbling. She felt his knuckles brushing against her back.
Testing her.
His lips found their way to her ear and his rigid cock pressed against her arse.
Suck in.
She did and gasped when her laces tightened. Judas! I cant breathe.
If you can talk, you can breathe. Suck in.
She did. Oh! she choked. Dont like game.
You will, he said, his voice filled with wicked delight as he nudged her toward the
table. Now, he purred in her ear, shall we see if that cat is as ready as it was when
you decided to fondle me under the Hollanders table?
Celia could barely breathe, much less think when he shoved her over the table and
threw her skirt and shift up. Her hips and arse swayed this way and that whilst he
sliced her rolls away.
Then he touched her
She moaned and collapsed into the table, helpless, weak, nearly unable to breathe,
his clever fingers sliding easily, oh, so easily, into her.
With her upper body spread out across the table and her cheek against the smooth
wood, she vaguely wondered why she was allowing this and if she could stop him from
killing her and why she wanted him inside her right now.
He spread her legs apart, pressing against her, the velvet of his breeches caressing
her.
Black spots began to float in her eyes
She closed them. Fuck me, she whispered.
Tsk tsk tsk. You can still talk.
The feel of his fingers over her quim was more exquisite than she had ever known,
the way his rough thumb flicked her pearl, the way palmed one of her arse cheeks, the
way he
drove into her.
Mrrrmph. In her head, she screamed it.
He leaned over her, pressing her into the table, taking the last of her breath. She
began to float a little.
But her quim was grasping for every violent stroke even as she lay suffocating under
his body, trussed up in her stays like a Christmas goose, bent over her chart table being
fucked to a fare-thee-well.
Breath or climax.
Climax or breath.
She ceased to think.
Her stays popped open.
She screamed when she climaxed, dizzy, the sudden rush of air into her lungs and
Dunham 125
Judass hand against her button together doingsomething! What?! Lord God
above, what?!
Dizzy, so dizzy.
She couldnt get enough of him, pounding into her whilst his thumbs caressed the
insides of her thighs and the folds of her quim that would have otherwise been neglect-
ed. But she didnt have the strength to meet him.
Augh, he gritted, fisting his hand in her carefully coifed hair to both pull her head
back and pull himself forward. They were connected tightly, as if they had been made
for each other, but Celia may have been able to say that for any well-endowed male
shed tupped.
At the moment, she couldnt remember.
Judas, she panted, reaching to supply herself with the air of which she had been
deprived.
He pulled her head back and thrust once more. Twice. With the third, she cli-
maxed again.
Unexpected, she simply cried out, caught as she was between Judass big body and
her table, between his cock impaling her and his mouth doing those wicked things to
her shoulder and neck.
He released her hair and she collapsed on the table, panting.
Did you like that game, my love? he whispered in her ear. Nibbled on it.
No, she gasped. Yes. I
You did.
Notenough todo itagain.
A little too much risk for you?
She nodded slowly. Whatwasthat?
It has no name that I know, he replied, and she was gratified now to hear him
panting, too. He was still inside her, still hard. He rose slowly away from her body, his
hands braced on either side of her. His lovely black-and-silver hair fell around her like
soft willow branches. His chest heaved and he lowered his head until his forehead was
against her ear. Tis usually done by strangling.
She panted. Twould seem to me, she whispered, now regaining her breath with-
out the stays, without his body pressing her into the wood, too easy to make a fatal
error. Id rather not die in such a humiliating position, no matter the pleasure to be
had.
He chuckled a bit. Shakily. And withdrew from her.
She closed her eyes.
Her legs were trembling and she did not know if she had the strength to keep her
feet.
The cool air upon her slick quim and thighs made her whimper again, for relief, for
anything that would assuage the need she still had.
126 Moriah Jovan
Tis an aphrodisiac, came his disembodied voice from somewhere behind her. I
have heard of peoplemen, mostlybecoming attached to the play, as some do to
drink.
She could certainly see why. Those releases had been like nothing she had known.
Now instead of being caught between breath and climax, she was caught between the
need for sleep and the yearning for another climax.
Have you? She could barely manage the breath it took to ask the question, but
was too curious not to try.
Once. It was enough for me, and I drew the same conclusion you did. Ive no wish
for my family to be forced to lay me in an unconsecrated grave. His voice was drawing
nearer. If you had two mirrors, he said softly from above her, I would show you how
you look, spread out for me, wet all the way down to your knees. Your stockings and
garters, your arse pink, your skirts askew.
Again, she whispered. Please.
He chuckled. Ah, and you know I can because I have this instrument of exquisite
torture on my yard.
Aye, she breathed.
I like it, he purred, stepping behind her and sliding into her once more.
Celia moaned, then sighed when he began to move slowly in and out, the fingers of
his large hands digging into her hips and pulling her to him. She couldnt help him,
couldnt participate in her own need. She was too weak.
Every slide of his cock, every brush of his velvet breeches, every tiny pain from his
fingertips, every growl as he finally spent
She cried out one more time, which turned into helpless weeping
which continued even as a soft, warm, wet cloth touched her quim and her
thighs and the faint scent of her soap touched her nostrils. When something slithered
over her skin only to be massaged in by strong, careful hands, releasing the odor of
lavender. When strong arms carefully lifted her from the table, turned her around, and
lifted her before setting her on her bunk. When she was gently undressed until naught
remained but her stockings and ribbon garters.
He was on his knees between her legs and Celia fell upon him to sob, feeling the
silver embroidery on her cheek, the silk of his hair between her fingers, the brush of his
hands against her back.
How did you like that game, my love?
It wasastonishing, she hiccupped, then wiped her nose on her hand. If youdo
itagainIll kill you.
19

On Sunday, George entered the cabin, again without knocking, but quietly this
time and with breakfast.
From under shuttered eyelids, Elliott watched her set out the food, humming to
herself and smiling as if she had just divined the meaning of life. Indeed, she probably
thought she had, Elliott supposed. The girl was in love. In his opinion, nothing good
could come of allowing George and Kits shipboard trysting to continue, but it was
Furys business and he would not mind it.
From where Fury still lay against Elliotts side, he felt her breathing and heartbeat
quicken apace with awakening, but she did not stir or open her eyes.
George left as quietly as she had come and done her duty, but then Furys mother
sauntered in and said, Good morning, children.
Fury groaned. Go away, Mama. Isnt there some young buck aboard the Silver Shil-
ling who might interest you?
Too many to choose from.
An old one, mayhap?
If I wanted an old one, Id have gone with your father.
Elliott chuckled.
Go find something else to do, then. Go! You are off duty. I forbid you to work.
There. That is your order.
But, as mothers will do, she ignored Fury and sat down to breakfast. Will you sing
for us today?
Will you go away?
Aye, sing, Elliott croaked, his voice tight from hours of disuse.
She sings like an angel, Mary sighed. If there is one thing That Man did right, it
was discerning her voice and seeing it trained.
Mother, please
Mary cast Elliott a sly glance and purred, I like to see her all aflutter over you.
Mother!
That surprised a laugh out of Elliott, and his grin widened at the flush that now
stained Furys face. Aflutter?
She laughed when she found her figurehead gone.
Mother, Fury gritted.
Elliott leaned down to catch Furys glance, but she pressed her face into his ribs.
128 Moriah Jovan
You laughed?
Fury slowly looked up at him, her eyes narrowed, and drawled, I did, my lord.
Though they were both raw from that delicious game they had played hours ago,
his yard roused for her again, simply for this little threat, which delighted and excited
him at once.
Officer Mary cleared her throat when neither he nor Fury would look away first. I
apologize. I did not mean to provoke a spat. Besides, Captain Judas, she continued,
and rapped her knuckles on the table to direct Elliotts attention toward her, I think I
might like you.
Congratulations Fury muttered. Youve the approval of both my parents.
That shocked him. After that brawl?
He mentioned that he did not object to you.
Does he object to That Man? Mary asked, her words mordant. The undercurrent
of stories untold running between Fury and her mother was thick.
You know very good and well he does, Mother. Now will you go?
Officer Mary balled up her linen and arose with a huff. The cabin door opened and
closed with a bang.
Fury growled and sat up. Oh! Sometimes she treads too close to to things that
should not be spoken of.
Why was that too close? he asked gently, smoothing a finger along her collarbone.
It just was, she said with a genuine pout, but then her righteous indignation must
have fled because she slumped. I am not used to having a mother, she muttered. She
is not used to having a daughter. Having her here has been more difficult than either of
us had imagined.
Do you regret it? he asked quietly.
Oh, no! she denied with wide eyes. Never. Tis true I would rather she be with
Papa, but that is simply a childs longing for her parents to be together. It is Well,
we have too many years to make up and both of us are people we wish the other had
not become. There are some things she would rather not know about me, and the re-
verse.
Elliott nodded. Where is your home?
I have no home, she snapped.
Her voice was thick with bitterness, and Elliott did not know what to say. He had a
home. No matter how long he had been at sea, he had a wonderful place to return to
with wonderful people who loved him.
Where is your birthplace, then? he asked carefully.
Philadelphia.
You dont consider the Thunderstorm your home?
Whisht! Why would I? It can sink. All this can be gone with one lightning strike.
The Iron Maiden is the third one Papa has had. The first two sank in storms.
Dunham 129
Surely you shared a home with your husband?
Two, actually. One in Marrakech and one in Casa Blanca. But I cannot go
back.
Elliott looked up at her for a long time, intending to ask her why, but she would
not meet his eyes and, indeed, arose and swept that swath of red silk around her, cinch-
ing it with a saffron sash. She plopped down at her breakfast and gestured impatiently
at the chair next to her.
He swung his legs out of the bunk and stood slowly, then stretched, deliberately
putting himself on display for herthen smirked when she relaxed back in her chair
to watch with undisguised appreciation.
Elliott was shocked at how much he loved the way she looked at his body. Oh, aye,
women aplenty had ogled him from the moment he had attained his height. He had
exploited it with abandon as soon as he could, but he had never been particularly vain;
his appearance was a means to attain the beds of the most beautiful women available.
But this womans obvious delight in looking at his body fed his previously unex-
plored vanity in ways he had never imagined. Her attention was as palpable and arous-
ing as her touch.
Youre a lusty wench, Fury, he murmured as he came down out of his stretch.
That I am, she said lightly, now feigning attention on her plate, but huffed when
he wrapped the sheet around his waist. It seemed almost no one on this ship knocked
on Furys door, and whilst he did not mind posing for her, he was not in the habit of
going about in the altogether where anyone could see him.
Why can you not go back? he asked once hed seated and piled his dishes high
with yet more delectable food.
Every Ottoman sailor in the Mediterranean wants me dead.
Elliott blinked. Surely thats an exaggeration, Madam.
She shook her head slowly. How much do you know about Robert Skirrow?
He was cruel. He was cashiered from the British Navy for insubordination. The
Carnivale was a slaver. And he died in a very unconventional manner.
That made her snicker. Aye, well. He was despised and feared by the Muslim sail-
orspirate, slaver, merchantit didnt matter. He hated them and would abandon
better prey in favor of Ottomans. He slaughtered or enslaved every one he encoun-
tered.
Why would you sail with a man like that? he asked quietly.
She snorted. And do what? Become a whore?
Elliott flinched.
Tis better to rule in hell than serve in heaven, she muttered.
Elliott snorted, wondering if she had somehow overheard what he had said to
Georgina not two days ago.
I was an armed white infidel female alone in Ottoman territory with no home, no
130 Moriah Jovan
money, no veils, no male family members to escort me, and dressed like a man.
Amongst those captains who might have taken pity on me, I had a bit of a reputation
for insubordination, and would not hire me. Smitty had heard rumors I was in Cairo
and came looking to hire me, since their last navigator had left for a better captain.
Skirrow knew I was trouble, but he had need of me and was not so stupid that he
would harm his last means of finding his way around the ocean. She shrugged. If he
stayed ashore, he would be a dead man within the week. He had to sail, but he could
not pick out a constellation to save his life. Twas why he was desperate enough to hire
a woman.
Did he touch you?
Fury had bent to sip at her soup, but her lashes fluttered up. Rape me?
He nodded.
Fury snorted in derision. There are a thousand reasons that bilge rat deserved to
die, but that is not one of them. And lose the only thing standing between him and his
enemies? No. How do you think I could protect all the ships boys from him?
Then why did he kill your husband?
Her jaw began to grind and she paid more attention to her meal. He killed my
husband, she said low, to take away my reason for leaving him without a competent
navigator, and to frighten me into doing his bidding.
He must have been desperate to do such a thing. Did you not think it a possibility?
Talaat was a very powerful man, Fury said calmly enough, but her grip on her
spoon was deathly. Wenay, Idid not believe anyone would be so bold as to at-
tack him. Thus, it was the easiest thing in the world to do.
Elliotts mouth pursed.
I Sometimes, I think perhaps I was the worst thing that ever happened to him.
So her grief was wrapped up in guilt. He took a deep breath and released it on a
long, slow whoosh. It was not a simple murder, was it?
She laughed caustically and wiped her eye with her linen. Ah, no. It was Skirrow,
who was incapable of a simple murder anyroad. He also forced me to watch to teach me
a lesson. That is all I will say on that. I cannot speak of that day.
Aye, he said hoarsely. There are things of which none of us speak, I think. He
cleared his throat. What will you do when the war has been decided?
Go to Algiers.
Elliott choked on his coffee. I thought you said
An Algerian sultan is holding Solomons wife captive, and I promised him we
would go back to Algiers to find her. I intend to keep that promise, but since Maarten
has no intention of accompanying me, I do not expect to escape the Mediterranean
alive.
He put his elbow on the table and rubbed his forehead. I dont understand. If
Skirrow was hated and feared, but you killed him, would that alone not keep you safe?
Dunham 131
She waved a hand. Oh, that. That I cut off his head does not matter; the fact is,
Skirrow preyed on Ottoman ships and I was no more shy in battle than he was. Sec-
ondly, I am a woman. Not only should I not be aboard a ship, much less as a com-
mander, I should not be aboard one half naked and killing Muslim men. I am an
affront to the whole of Islam.
Not enough to cross Gibraltar, clearly.
Ha! The only way I can cross Gibraltar is by disguising myself as a British patrol
with Papa as escort. The Ottomans would never attempt to breach it, no matter how
much they want me dead.
Cannot he protect you from them?
She took a deep breath. He can. One reason he sought me out in Oranjestad was
to see for himself my current occupation, and to see if I wanted to go back. If so, we
would sail together the way Maarten and I do. He is getting on a bit and, worse, he is
lonely and bored. Hes been going farther and farther afield for new challenges, but he
is restless. Unsettled.
Which is one reason you want your mother to reconcile with him.
Aye.
And you must return to fulfill your vow to Solomon anyway.
Aye. I did not tell Papa of it, though, as he is not happy that Im working for the
Americans and he would argue that I return now. I did inform him that I refuse to
fight for any British cause if it does not suit my purpose, which Papa will do on occa-
sion when covert action is needed.
That would make you adversaries at those times.
Aye, precisely. But it is a moot point whilst my current obligation must be satisfied
before returning to Africa.
What will you do after that?
She scoffed. I have no plans. Why would I plan anything if I expect to die?
Elliott blinked at something odd in her voice, her eyes. He reached out a finger and
traced it along her thigh. Youre frightened, arent you?
She swallowed and looked away.
I would go with you.
And leave the wife at home?
He shrugged. Tis done all the time.
You said you hated sailing, that you were on your way home to stay.
Ah, but I would do it for you.
Why? We barely know one another.
I know enough to make that commitment to you.
Furys mouth tightened and more uncomfortable silence fell until her stomach
growled and she laughed suddenly. I cannot let melancholy interfere with my favorite
pastime, Judas. Eat! Eat!
132 Moriah Jovan
Elliott had never had better meals at sea, not even once he was promoted to fleet
commander. Sailorsespecially impressed oneswere resentful enough, and Elliott
had learned that eating modestly, though a bit above his men, was a small way he could
mitigate the anger aboard a ship and still display his rank and privilege appropriately.
Fury, it seemed, took the opposite tack. Those pleasures she would not give up, she
shared with the rest of her crew. Then again, she had one-fifth the complement he did
and could afford such luxuries.
I did not think your galley could outshine itself, he said in wonder once he paused
to take in the savory foreign dishes.
Thank you, she returned, picked up her cup of lemonade and drank it down, then
poured another.
I could never afford this.
She shrugged. Tis a point of contention with my mother, who thinks I am too ex-
travagant, but I have the funds and see no point in austerity if there is no need. She
pointed her spoon at him. Pare down to a real pirate ship and you could.
He shrugged.
How do you keep your secrets with four hundred men who could turn on you at
any moment?
Five hundred. All my officers know who I am and why I have embarked upon this
path. Indeed, they are as invested in doing so as I and for the same reasons. There are
perhaps one hundred regular seamen who also know and have the same motives. I rely
upon their goodwill and hatred of the Royal Navy to keep the rest in line.
Tell me: Barring soldiers, how few men would you need to sail and fight?
Two hundred fifty able seamen, Elliott said, provided they can also fight as well
as my marines.
One hundred fifty, rather, Fury drawled with a sidelong glance.
You have that many here, and this vessel in no wise compares to mine for size.
She smiled sweetly. I like my extravagances, as you have seen, and I can afford
them. I could sail this ship with forty persons did I have to. I like good food, good liq-
uor, good entertainment of an evening, and good sleep. You, on the other hand, have a
large secret to keep, which is an extravagance you cannot afford. You would have to
give up sleeping, though, to pull one or more mens share of the work aside from your
own.
Elliott would not dignify that with an answer, as he did not care being lectured to
thusly as if he were a midshipman three days out and green around the gills. Oblivious,
she continued:
The fact of the matter is that you are not comfortable sailing any way other than
how you were taught. Considering how soundly you sleep when in the bed of a pirate
you dont know, I would wager you dont find much rest anyroad.
She had noticed, then. I cannot deny that, Elliott murmured.
Dunham 133
You say you leave no survivors. Have you once taken a ship that required the use
of a marine where an armed sailor would have sufficed?
He pursed his lips and again declined to belay her assumptions.
I thought not. The loss of your marines and the other two hundred men you dont
know and dont trust would make this endeavor easier for you. Any seaman can be
turned into a gunner.
He laughed bitterly and sat back in his chair. You must think me the stupidest
commander who ever sailed.
Her head snapped up from her bowl, her wrinkled in confusion. Most certainly
not. Why in Gods name would you think that?
According to you, I have done everything wrong.
She scoffed. If you had done everything wrong, you and your crew would be dead.
You have met success after success, and your ship barely has a dent in it. Tis simply
that you have done everything with more than you needed to be successful and thus
laid yourself and your officers a heavier burden than necessary. But so what. Tis not
stupid to take on more provisions than you need. Extra can be tossed overboard, but
more cannot be found in the middle of the ocean. Tis a matter of degrees of efficiency,
not fatal errors.
She laughed without humor and took another bite. I tell you if Washington
had men like you, Congress wouldnt need to hand out letters of marque to any mer-
chant who can pay the bond. He needs a navy he doesnt have and cannot get. I dare
say, whether you care or not, whether you intended it or not, whether you realized it or
not, you make up a significant portion of our navy, and you, Sir, are no barbarian.
Elliott couldnt help but laugh.
Such a large crew also necessitates you lead by fear, and I suspect this is not to
your taste or your nature.
I very rarely flog anyone.
Her eyebrow rose. Oh? Then how do you keep order?
Ball twixt the eyes.
She stared at him warily for a long moment. Oh, she said in a very small voice.
Minor infractions I care naught for so long as the work gets done. But A shot
through the head for cheating at games. The kind of insubordination you showed
Dunham. A threat my identity will be exposed. Theft. Rape. Ive no time for formali-
ties.
She glared at him suddenly. I hope you are as careful about enforcing that if the
victim is a woman as you are if tis a man.
I make no distinction, nor do I make a distinction whether it happens aboard ship
or ashore. Or even if tis against a whore.
She nodded approvingly. That is efficient, she murmured. What more?
He shrugged. I cannot think of anything else that has been done to warrant that. I
134 Moriah Jovan
had no reason or desire to do that whilst in the Navy, but I underestimated the influ-
ence of government sanction on mens behavior.
What do you fear most that you lie awake at night?
Elliott looked at her and wondered if he should tell her all his worries. It was not one
or two things. Nor was it five or six. It was a dozen, and a dozen more on top that, wor-
ries major and minor. Twould seem all he had done in the last four years was worry.
Finally he sighed. Too many things to list. One of them is the fact that the Navy
now knows Captain Judas and the Silver Shilling actually exist. Another is that both
Rathbone and Bancroft may have seen me. If they did, the question is whether they
can identify me or not.
Fury chewed on her tongue a bit. They know you, dont they? In your real life?
They have sailed with you?
Aye. I served under Rathbone and trained Bancroft. Further, I did a favor for
Rathbone when I was a very new captain that I soon came to regret deeply.
She said nothing, though the question in her face was plain. He refused with a
shake of his head. I dont speak of it. Tis one of very few things I am ashamed of in
my career.
Rathbone is my adversary, if not my enemy, but his reputation is that of an honor-
able man. I cannot imagine him setting you upon such a dishonorable task.
He did not know what it entailed and he did not know what it cost to have it
done. He still doesnt.
Elliott was not aware he was clutching his spoon so hard he was bending it until
Fury laid her hand over his fist. Judas, she said softly with a comforting smile. I ken.
You are not alone anymore.
Anymore.
Would you care to sail with us?
Elliott blinked. Was she was offering exactly what he needed but was loath to ask
after she had all but charged him with stupidity? He could not find words.
Judas? she said carefully. Have I offended you or made you suspicious of me?
Nay, he lied. I have not sailed in a fleet in years. Twould be a nice change. He
slid her a glance and smirked. Why should I trust you?
I havent killed you. Elliotts smirk turned into a laugh, but realized she had not
caught his jest. I have killed men for lesser offenses than what you dealt me by stealing
my figurehead. Or mayhap she had. Yet here we are after that, of four days acquaint-
ance, having fucked to hell and goneafter you sneaked aboard my shipsharing
meals and secrets, touring each others ships, and leaving our crews to their pleasures.
You are heavy in the water, Sir. You have something very valuable in that hold of
yours, because cotton and tobacco do not weigh that much, and you do not have
enough armament and ordnance to displace so much. Do you think Maarten and I
could not take you to find out what? You are bigger, true, but we are seasoned pirates,
Dunham 135
having together taken ships bigger than yours. And my hold is utterly barren, as I sent
my last prize ahead of me to Rotterdam.
He drew in a deep breath.
I might not know your name, Sir, but I know you are of the upper classes, a mer-
chant or landowners son. I know that you were not born your fathers heir, and that
you have been somehow charged with continuing your line or you would not be obli-
gated to wed. I also suspect a few other things of you, which I will allow you to wonder
over. With what I know, it would not take me but half a glass in London to learn your
name. Questions of trust are moot at this point. You have no choice but to trust me,
and, I will submit, you would not be hereand sleeping so well in my bedif you did
not already know you could.
She had the right of it, and it disturbed him. Why did you not pursue me for the
figurehead? he asked abruptly.
Furys eyelashes lowered. I told you. I was ill. I was abed and senseless for the bet-
ter part of a week.
Did you laugh? Truly?
I did. I knew it for the prank it was. You did not injure my men but for their pride.
You cut the rails in a manner that would make it a simple repair and did not damage
my ship otherwise. I left the Bloody Hound the morning after simply furious with you
for not coming back to find me. I was cursing you for a coward.
He was furious with himself for not going back. She had been ill whilst he was
making merry elsewhere, congratulating himself and his crew for their fine bit of mis-
chief, awaiting her pursuit or word of her departure so he could chase her.
But then I saw what you had done, and I laughed. I did not pursue you for my fig-
urehead because I wanted you to come to me.
20

Captain, I need to speak with you privately.


Celia stood in her door looking at her second lieutenant soberly. It had to be dire
for Papadakos to rap her door at midnight whilst she and Judas were clearly in the
midst of bedsport and the crews were only at the beginnings of the nights festivities.
Aye, Paulo. Come in.
She opened the door wide and turned to cover her body with the kimono hanging
neatly over the back of a chair. She cast a strained smile at Judas, whose face betrayed
his tension. Of course he would know this was no trifle.
If you would be so kind she murmured, gesturing vaguely toward the door.
His dark eyebrow rose, but he said nothing whilst he pulled on his breeches and
complied with her request, closing the door softly behind him.
Papadakos took a deep breath and drew close to speak very low. Two of the boys
were getting into trouble aboard the Silver Shilling and overheard plans for the mutiny
of Captain Judas.
Celia gasped. Are they sure?
He nodded.
What in Gods name for? He told me he would rather kill than flog, but
His hold is full of goldand thats the only thing in it.
Celias breath left her in a whoosh and she sat on her bunk, a trembling hand over
her open mouth. Gods blood, she whispered, horrified.
Just before the Silver Shilling reached us, shed taken a fleet of British warships
bound for New York.
A pay ship!
Paulo nodded. A kings ransom.
Bring the boys to me.
Soon enough she was faced with two terrified ten-year-olds who stuttered and
sputtered through their story, sobbing and hiccupping. She wasnt sure if they were
frightened of her punishment for being where they oughtnt to have been or of the men
theyd overheard whilst they explored the Silver Shillings orlop.
She suspected the latter.
She speared the German boy with a glance. Your English is not savvy, she
growled. Are you certain?
The child gulped. They were speaking Vlaams, Capn.
Dunham 137
Good Lord. Twas the mercenary marines, who were mostly some German variant.
Damn the man for his inability to deviate from Royal Navy protocols.
Celia sat still, looking at the floor and searching her mind to put together some
counter to this. Thank you, gentlemen, she said absently. Leftenant, give these two
an extra ration of grog and bread, and bid Captain Judas to join me.
It was only a few moments until Judas had seated himself beside her on her bed.
Celia did not know how best to impart such news but bluntly:
You are about to be mutinied.
I know.
She gasped. Her head snapped up to see him calm, a bit of a smirk on his face.
What I do not know, he continued cautiously, his slight amusement gone, is by
whom.
My boys tell me they overheard Flemish.
He nodded somberly. Aye, then, now I know who it is.
This is what has you so taut?
Only since we took our last prize. Celia said nothing. I have put down a few
mutinies in my career, but never have I been mutinied nor have I known of one solely
over cargo. I assume, then, you also know what I have in my holds.
She nodded impatiently. Surely, you must have known before you took the pay
fleet
Of course I did, he scoffed. You asked me why I carry a full complement. That is
why. I needed every sailor and soldier I could get my hands on to take that fleet. One
first-rate and two second-rates.
Celia gaped at him, a feeling of utter awe leaching into her body. You she
squeaked. Alone?
His eyelids lowered and he gave her a smug grin. Aye, he drawled. Three men o
war down, twenty-three hundred men. Sinking the patrol frigates in Virginia was
childs play by comparison, as we were preparing for much bigger prey, but it was an
excellent drill.
You knew that fleet was there!
I did, and I was actively hunting it. He wrapped his hand around her head and
brought her ear to his mouth. Celia closed her eyes in utter ecstasy. But I thank you
for your lessons in piracy all the same, Madam.
She jerked away from him then, jumping up from her bunk to stalk across her cab-
in. You played me for a fool, she hissed.
Oh, ho! he chortled. Says Fury Prometheus, bringing the fire of piratical wisdom
to hapless, helpless, idiot British Navy commanders. Do not make the mistake of be-
lieving you and the Hollander could take me.
Celias back stiffened as shame filled her, and she took a deep breath.
She looked over her shoulder, but not at him. You are right. It was not well done
138 Moriah Jovan
of me and I apologize.
Och, Fury, cmere and let me soothe your feathers.
Celia looked at him then, suspicious, for with just a few words, he had sounded ex-
actly like Dunham. She could not ascertain if that was his natural accent without the
Oxford glamour or if he were playacting.
Are you Scots? she asked slowly. A lowlander?
His smile grew. No. Of that, you can be sure. Would you be in more sympathy
with me if I told you I had planned to ask you and the Hollander for assistance?
She blinked. Is that why you sought us out?
Judass expression hardened. I wanted you, Madam, but a good commander does
not disregard any collateral benefits.
He had refrained from reminding her of his role in the fact of her continued exist-
ence and she could not fault his logic otherwise, so she huffed and went back to her
bed to plop herself upon it. He wrapped one of his enormous arms around her shoul-
ders and pulled her in to his body until her head was lying upon his shoulder.
I will inform Maarten he is to host nuncheon tomorrow for all our officers, she
muttered, ashamed of how she had spoken to him the day before. I cannot think he
will have an objection to the added duty of putting down a mutiny.
Thank you, he whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
She looked up at him soberly. In truth, would you come to Algiers with me if I
asked?
Aye, he whispered. I would do almost anything for you.
Except forsake your duty.
She didnt say it. She didnt have to. He glanced away.
With a bitter heart, she arose and went to the door, opened it, then bellowed for
the boys and Papadakos.
Go to the Mad Hangman and fetch a Dutch and Flemish boy, she said when they
arrived. Take them to the Silver Shilling. Pretend to play, run, and explore. Find out
everything you can. Report to Leftenant Papadakos every hour. Do not get caught.
Their eyes shone bright with pride when they stood straight and saluted. Aye,
Capn, they said gravely, then scampered off.
Do you think thats wise?
Papadakos gaped and Celia whirled at Judass voice coming from behind them.
Are you questioning me? she snapped.
Judas grimaced and put up his hands. Apologies, Captain.
Celia cast him one last glare before turning to her officer. See that they are given
sweets at breakfast mess, then put them to bed in Kit and Georges bunk and send
another two pairs out. Change the pairs at each watch until we have come back round
to these two.
Aye, Capn.
Dunham 139
Once the door was closed, she charged across the cabin and stuck her finger in his
forehead. Dont you ever do that to me again, she snarled.
I was wrong, he said stiffly. I admitted it and apologized. What would you have
me do, Fury?
Celia looked down and to her right, seeing nothing. What would she have him do?
Had it been one of her trusted officers or Maarten whod questioned her, she would
have simply said No, but Im doing it anyroad.
Why was it different when Judas said it?
What if Dunham had said it? Oh, aye, she would have bitten his head off, too.
Suddenly, the thought of sailing past Gibraltar between her lover and her father
did not seem quite so tempting.
Her safety or her pride?
Her hands were clasped gently in much larger, warmer, more calloused ones and
she looked at him, her loverher beautiful lover who could not wed her even if he
wanted to. He was pressing a long, soft kiss to her knuckles, looking up at her with
those heartbreaking ice blue eyes, his lashes long and black.
Im sorry, he whispered. If I knew how to grovel, I would.
She nodded haltingly and looked away. We must rest. The morrow will be
demanding.
21

They lay in Furys copper bathing tub together late Sunday night after having spent
most of the day on the Mad Hangman making battle preparations, with boys and girls
coming and going with more information. In the afternoon, Fury had somehow be-
guiled Old Ben to climb to the Silver Shillings main mast platform, where the two mas-
ter navigators had kept their glasses pointed to the west, talking and laughing as if they
were bosom companions.
If Elliott hadnt had his head bent with Maartens and three ships officers, all dis-
cussing the mutinys possibilities, probabilities, and strategies, hed have been far more
charmed by their camaraderie, and possibly jealous.
But now the plans were set and they could do no more until the wind blew. For the
nonce, his mind was as weary as his body, and he wished simply not to be called upon
to think, speak, or move.
Three lanterns hung relatively close and swayed gently from the force of hundreds
of feet dancing and pounding, keeping time to the lively music. The crews were just
beginning their nights festivities after having snored and gamed the morning and af-
ternoon away.
Elliott was behind Fury, who relaxed upon him, her head lolling on his shoulder.
He cupped her scar-ridged breasts, but, as usual, she made no sign of feeling his touch
and her nipples did not pucker. He plucked at them anyway.
And as he did so, he mused absently upon the things she had brought with her
from the Arab world that were, to her, ordinary but to him, extraordinary. This tub,
for instance, full of hot water kept hot by three small braziers set in a compartment
under the tub, was not a particularly brilliant idea so why had his countrymen not
thought of it?
She yawned.
Aye, with the hot water and warm woman and comfortable head rest, it would not
take much for Elliott to fall asleep, either. They had been engaged in some type of unfa-
miliar, demanding perversion or another since hed climbed into her window, and he had
never tupped a woman so many times in so many ways for so many consecutive days.
He was beginning to feel it. His legs and arse were sore, as was his jaw.
But as for indulging his particular perversion After last night, he had decided he
didnt want her anywhere near his arse with a cat o nine tails in case she was still angry
enough to wield it more enthusiastically than he liked.
Dunham 141
Do you not have things you can wrap around your nipples to make them stand?
he asked suddenly.
He felt the vibrations from her low chuckle seep from her back into his chest. Do
you think me in possession of every manner of tool and toy?
I do now.
Her cheek creased with a grin. Aye, I do, but they slip off. She shrugged.
He dragged his finger across the nipple that had been sliced in two. Does this not
bother you?
Of course it does. Tis as if my breasts have been cut off and I must yet contend
with these things hanging off my chest. But more to the point, there are days I would
give up my command to be able to feel a mans hands on me there again.
The trace of sorrow in her voice made her matter-of-factness more poignant to
him. Yet you and Dunham get on.
She sighed. I maintain a distance from him for a reason. He, being my father and
former captain, is accustomed to being my father and captain. And I, being an adult in
command of my own ship, am accustomed to doing exactly what I want. The two are
incompatible. She stopped for a moment. I love him dearly, do not doubt. I think he
may love me, too, though he has never said. Even if he did, even if I knew he did, it
would not mitigate the fact that he is and mayhap always will be disappointed in me. I
will never be able to make him happy.
Elliott started. Why?
Because I am female.
Elliott had no words for that. His father had never held Elliotts sisters any lower
than his brothers. Considering Henry had had a taste for hoydens so much that he had
married one, he must have expected to father one or two. Yet here was Dunham, hav-
ing taken his daughter far beyond anything Elliotts father could have thought any
woman could goindeed, beyond anything Henry could have thought his sons could
have goneand the man was disappointed in her?
Surely if Elliott ever wanted for a daughter, he would be proud to have one like Fury.
With Fury
He put that thought away.
I cannot imagine that, Madam, he rumbled after a while. His pride and affection
for you were unmistakable. What little of it I saw, that is.
She laughed without humor. Mayhap at the moment he publicly chastised me for
losing a sword fight to you? In front of the entirety of a port in which I am liked and
well respected?
Elliott sighed. He had forgotten.
Jack, do it this way. Jack, do it that way. Jack, why canna ye do it the way I want-
che tae do it? Jack, ye been lazin on yer laurels, girl?
Elliott did not dare laugh at the mimicry of her fathers brogue.
142 Moriah Jovan
He completely destroyed my credibility in Sint Eustatius.
Nay, Elliott rumbled. He and I were both strangers, and your crews beat mine.
She drew in a long breath, as if she had needed to hear that from someone who
would know.
Thats why you hate being called Jack, though, no? Because tis a mans name.
Aye. I sat all night in the Bloody Hound with him, talking, drinking after not hav-
ing seen him in almost five years. He did not once mention Skirrow. If beheading a
captain feared cross the Ottoman realm is not enough to garner his approbation, noth-
ing is.
Even though her voice was light enough, he could hear her pain and could sympa-
thize, if only slightly.
Elliott wrapped himself around her and pressed her to him.
What order did you refuse that he felt obliged to nigh kill you?
I wont tell you that. You wouldnt understand. But she said slowly, that does
remind me of something I must ask you.
He waited.
Do you fuck men?
He took a deep breath. She was asking for something other than curiosity. A wom-
an of her occupation and experience should not care.
What does that have to do with Dunham or daring him to kill you?
It just does.
And if I did?
Her heartbeat quickened, but he did not know if that was in excitement or anger.
Yea or nay?
Sailors fuck men quite a lot, Fury, he said calmly, as if she didnt know, and very
often, it has nothing to do with whether they prefer men or not. But you didnt ask me
if I prefer men.
She sat up, pulling away from him and covering her breasts. She would not look at
him though she turned her head to speak over her shoulder. Yea or nay, Judas. Tis a
simple question. But then she scoffed. I dont know why I asked. You would tell me
what I wanted to hear anyroad.
I dont know what you want to hear or why. What would you do if I do fuck
men?
I would not be happy.
Youre a woman of the sea. Did you not think about the likelihood of that before
we began this together?
Her mouth tightened. Her jaw clenched. She reached out to grasp the sides of the
bathing tub to pull herself up. Elliott could see that the idyll was about to come to an
endfar sooner than he had expected.
No, I dont fuck men.
Dunham 143
She paused and did look at him then. Her face was full of things he couldnt identi-
fy, except one: hurt. But why, he couldnt imagine.
He stared right back at her. But I have.
She stiffened.
When I was younger. Why was he telling her this as if he were ashamed? He
wasnt, but for some reason, he felt a need to explain. I was lonely. Homesick. Angry
with my father for forcing me to the sea. Angry with my mother for not protesting
more loudly. Angry with myself for not defying him. Desperately missing both the
young widow and the merchants daughter. I wanted a woman in whom to seek solace,
but there hadnt been opportunity for a woman for a year and there wouldnt be for
another. I was desperate enough to take what I could get.
She blinked and looked away as if in thought, as if it hadnt occurred to her that
men rutted for other reasons than lust or simple release.
He laughed wryly and rubbed his mouth with his hand. I havent thought about
that in years. Command has its advantages, and one of them is being able to decide
when to put into port.
The tension in her body began to leach out of her.
Fury, he drawled, wrapping his hands around her shoulders to draw her back.
How can you sail and be so wary or disapproving of men who desire each other? I care
not who fucks whom on my ship as long as it doesnt interfere with my command, and
I dare say I have more reason to disapprove than you do.
She lunged up and out of the water, splashing everywhere, standing over him with
that snarl that made him want to plow her immediately. You have a prick, she hissed.
Idont.
Elliott studied her face though ever aware of the tension and anger in her body, and
tried to sort out what she was really saying.
Because I am female.
And then he did. You see men as competition, he murmured.
Her brow wrinkled. Well, of course I do! She flung her hands and arms out as if
to force the world away from her. Ive spent my life competing with men and losing.
By all accounts, Madam, Skirrow was the one who lost. Hishead.
Aye, well, Ill not be a lover to a man who desires something I dont have and can-
not give himno matter how seldom.
Elliott raised an eyebrow. Do you want to have one?
NO! she roared. She stomped her foot, narrowly missing the prick under discus-
sion, and splashing yet more water out onto the deck. Elliott cupped his manparts to
protect them from further demonstrations of her temper. I like being a woman. I like
fucking men. I am happy to compete with men on the high seas, but Ill be bloody
damned to hell if I compete with a man over a lover, too.
Elliott tipped his head and watched her speculatively. She stared back at him, chest
144 Moriah Jovan
heaving, her expression wary. Fury stood there defiant, daring him to cast her aside,
but only a fool of a man would cast this woman aside.
Covarrubias, then, must be a fool.
Fury, he murmured, reaching up to catch her fingertips in his, pulling her to him,
however reluctantly. He kissed those fingertips, his gaze never leaving her eyes that
were filling with tears. I do not prefer men and I havent fucked one since I was twen-
ty-three. He debated whether to tell her why he hadnt, then decided against it. Pity
was the last thing he wanted from her, and it would give her yet another clue to put
together with Croftwoods tale. Would you hold a youthful indulgence against me?
I dont, she muttered. I simply dont want my lover to have any longing for some-
thing I cannot provide.
Fury, with regard to me, your premise is flawed, as you well know. You must never
have been enamored of a man enslaved by the need for a particular kind of woman.
His throat swelled with regret. As unobtainable for you as a prick.
Her mouth tightened immediately. I am the granddaughter of a duke, she
growled. Daughter of his heir.
He rolled his eyes. A Scots duke, stripped of his title before your father was out of
short pants.
Politics! she spat.
Aye, and so what. Clan Dunham invariably chose the wrong allies for hundreds of
years. And then, not content that the clan somehow managed to survive the Union,
your grandfather decided to reassert his Jacobite leanings. What did he think would
happen?
She stared at him for quite a while, her face still and thoughtful. You are Scots.
You know too much of my familys history not to be, and now I can hear the burr in
your voice no matter how you discipline yourself.
He shook his head. You may continue to believe it, but it will continue to be false.
I am as English as Marlowe.
The corner of Furys mouth turned up reluctantly.
Fury, he said briskly. I have never been terribly particular about bed partners, but
now I am tired and getting old. I grew utterly bored of bedsport long ago, so much that
my hand and my yard have become quite fond of each other. She snorted. I was ut-
terly phlegmatic about fulfilling my obligations until I recently realized that my taste is
quite specific, and I find my need for it is insatiable.
Her eyebrow rose.
Pirate queens.
Her eyes glistened in the lamplight, and he pulled her down to him until she again
lay sprawled upon his chest. She seemed smaller than she really was when she was
against him thusly.
I am no queen, she muttered. That honor belongs to Grace OMalley.
Dunham 145
Elliott laughed. He should have expected that. Im not likely to dig her up to tup
her, though, am I?
He held her to him and caressed her arm, her shoulder, her arse. Her skin was es-
pecially sensitive there, he supposed, because the rest of her torso wasnt. She melted
like a dusting of snow in the desert sun when he brushed his fingertips over the
smooth, taut curve.
So he did that, and was rewarded with her body relaxing against his and her long,
weary sigh. However, the disadvantage of paying attention to her arse was that, instead
of arousing her, it put her to sleep.
The wind will be here soon, she whispered.
I know. I dont care to spend these few hours we have together in argument.
Oh, good. Play with my hair.
Well, are you not a demanding wench. He combed his fingers through her hair,
making her sigh and her body relax even further. He caressed the soft skin of her cheek
and swept back to her ear.
I love that, she whispered, though he was barely able to hear her above the rising
volume of merriment abovedecks.
He started when Dindi jumped up on his chest and butted her way between Furys
face and his shoulder. Simply scooping the cat up, he dropped her on the floor. He
knew she would be back, but strangely, it did not bother him much. Nice puss, he
said to her. Stay there. Next time, Ill throw you in the water.
He examined Furys mouth, soft and pink, dewy and luscious, and felt privileged
that such a captivating woman was his lover. I fear we may not be able to sleep this
night, she muttered, gesturing vaguely toward the overhead as the noise grew and grew.
The dancing and thumping of those keeping time to rather lovely music was so ex-
uberant it rocked all three ships. But for the fact that there was no wind, they might
have well been asail.
Alas, he agreed.
A song ended. So did the dancing. It would only be a moment before the next be-
gan. Men and women laughed. Someone bellowed. There, a screech of a completion
and
Oh, God yes!
The decks roared with laughter and Fury chuckled.
Elliott tensed when the music did not start when he expected it to and men began
to bellow things he could not hear. An enthusiastic roar shook the timbers, and Furys
body tensed when suddenly men ran hither and thither.
Lord, not now, she whispered.
They had planned for the possibility of battle here whilst they were becalmed, but
had not thought it a probability. Then
a horn.
146 Moriah Jovan
A French horn, clear and sweet, its sole note cutting through the noise and the
night. A signal?
Fury
She laid her hand gently on his chest. No, wait. Listen.
Then he heard a cellotuning itself to the French horn.
Violins joined.
A squeezebox, pipes and drums joined in.
One last bellow was met with an affirmative roar:
Somebody fetch Capn Jack!
22

Fury sighed.
Elliott heard the feet running toward Furys cabin, so the subsequent pounding on
her door was not a surprise.
Capn!
Aye! Aye! she croaked. Im coming.
The only answer was the receding sound of those same feet. Shes fixin her voice,
mates!
Another roar of approval and what sounded like people rearranging themselves.
Elliott listened as she cleared her throat.
And again.
Thrice before she began to hum, low in her throat. Hoarsely at first.
Then she pushed away from him and stood whilst beginning to sing the scale. She
stepped out of the tub, went to her door, and opened it.
FRESH WATER! she bellowed.
With the scales, her voice gradually cleared in the time it took for her to enrobe
herself in her kimono and tie it closed with the gold sash. A pitcher of water was
brought by a crewman with a half-wild grin.
She chuckled at him, then tipped the pitcher back, drinking as if she were dying of
thirst, water spilling out of either side of her mouth. She finished half of it, then
fetched her box of herbs. She withdrew a small flat pot, pulled off the top, dipped her
tongue in it (which stirred Elliotts desire for something other than her voice), and
tilted her head back to work it down her throat.
What was that?
Honey.
She put it away with the same sort of ritual she did all her small tasks, then finished
off the water and thumped it down on the table with a satisfied sigh. It was when she
began to sing the scale, louder and louder that Elliott realized he was listening to a
woman he would have paid to see perform.
As her voice grew louder, the men and women above began to cheer and the in-
struments began to play the scales with her, to tune to her voice. Whilst she sang, she
checked her chronometer and sang the time: four of the morning.
Then she stopped singing and looked at him. Come, she murmured. You want-
ed to know why Skirrow never molested me. I will show you.
148 Moriah Jovan
Elliott arose and exited the tub, accepting the towel she proffered him, then pulled
on his breeches. I thought twas your navigation.
Half, she conceded, holding her hand out to him, leading him out the door, down
the hall, and to the hatch. He thought I was a witch, that I could bring down the
wrath of Satan upon him at any time just by opening my mouth. She grunted as she
attempted to pull her kimono out from under foot where she had caught herself. On
the other hand, my crew believes me to have the power to protect them from evil.
Do you?
Do I believe it or do I have it?
Aye.
She chuckled. I am an educated woman, Sir, so neither. But the superstitions
themselves have always served me well, thus I do not discourage their notions.
If Elliott had thought the clamor was great when he lay in Furys cabin, it was deaf-
ening now, akin to that of a battle, without the sound of cannon fire or stench of brim-
stone. And when she emerged from the hatch
God almighty, he whispered, coming up through the hatch after her to see nigh
seven hundred fifty men and forty women gathered across the three ships, all bathed in
the cool light of a full moon and the warm light of hundreds of lanterns hanging from
all the lower yards.
Furys crew was standing and applauding. The crew of the Mad Hangman followed
suit. She dropped into a deep curtsey, the ends of her loose hair brushing the deck.
She arose and looked around, then up toward the poopdeck of the Silver Shilling
looming high above the Thunderstorm. She turned to him. There, she murmured,
pointing to it. Would you be so kind as to assist me, Captain?
At that moment, watching her dignified grandeur, Elliott would have given her the
world. Yet he only grunted, Aye, because he was so besotted he could not speak.
A dinghy was lowered to the Thunderstorm, into which he assisted her as if they
were in a grand ballroom. Once she had her balance, it was slowly raised until it was
level with the wale of the Silver Shilling. He swept her into his arms and set her gently
on her feet.
She smiled at him and he was lost to her. She might fall in love with every flap of a
sail, but Elliott had only done so once. He could not point to the moment, but some
time in the past four days, he had given her his heart.
The makeshift orchestra had taken it upon itself to play some sort of entry march
as she climbed higher and higher until she stood at the rail of the Silver Shillings
poopdeck. She looked down to her musicians and nodded. Everyone settled in and
grew silent as they began to play and Fury stood with her fingers clasped, relaxed, in
front of her and her head bowed.
He saw Furys mother sitting on the main deck of the Mad Hangman in a chair next
to the Hollanders wife, who snuggled against her husband. Several of her crew then
Dunham 149
stood where they had sat before: ten men, four women.
Elliott intended to join his men down on the main deck, but her head snapped up
and she said, No, please, Judas. Stay.
He did, seating himself on the deck at her feet, his back against the rail.
As the makeshift orchestra (which was, by comparison to the very few performanc-
es Elliott had ever attended, not particularly bad) wound down and finished that piece,
Fury raised one hand.
All was still. Not a breath of wind. Not a stir of sail. Not a whisper of a voice.
Then Fury dropped her hand and when the musicians began again, Elliott watched
her raise and lower it again, both now, his astonishment growing as he realized she was
conducting.
A strong male voice rang out over the still ocean.
Comfort ye comfort ye, my people
Elliott closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the rail as he listened. To
have a few musicians aboard a ship was, in Elliotts opinion, an absolute necessity. To
have as many as Fury did meant she had deliberately sought them out.
good entertainment of an evening
A degreed musician, who had not been able to rise above the chorus. Yet she could
also conduct. Why was he surprised? A ships captain who was a trained musician
should be able to lead an orchestra as well as a crew into battle.
The next piece, another male part. Elliott was already half enthralled, never mind
she had not sung yet.
Evry valley evry valley shall be exalted
He didnt know what this was, but it sounded vaguely familiar.
Fury took a breath. And the glory, the glory of the Lord
The other women were singing with her, then all the men joined in. Fury was not
overpowering her chorus, but all Elliott truly heard was Furys voice, high and pure. As
she conducted, her kimono sleeves created a small breeze only Elliott could feel.
The night went on, Fury and a handful of her crew performing for three ships
crews in the moonlight cast large over the still Atlantic. They were alone in the world,
these three ships, and nothing could touch them.
The music wound around him, cradled him in its majesty and safety.
And then Then!
There were shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch by night
Her voice, powerful but delicate, high and pure but warm. It rang out into the
night without accompaniment, and he could indeed believe that she was a sorceress,
keeping her crew safe from evil.
He drew his knees up to his chest and pressed his face into them to simply absorb
the sounds.
could not rise above the chorus
150 Moriah Jovan
Dear God in heaven, why?
cannot maintain a sufficient vibrato
He had no idea what that meant. He only knew he was at the feet of an angel in the
guise of a pirate captain, one he had had the privilege of bedding.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about
them, and they were sore afraid
His mind cast back to the moment Fury and Old Ben had descended from the
platform, after which she had sent her girls up in the ratlines of the Silver Shilling with
glasses. She had then bid Kit go to the platform she and Ben had just vacated, and
keep watch.
Sails?
Nay. Nothing to be concerned over.
That was a lie, but he did not want to consider the truth overmuch.
The music went on and on for an hour, as skilled and joyous as it had begun, but
Elliott knew this was the end of their idyll.
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Her voice was majestic, powerful, blending in with her crews but rising above it,
and with her voice gaining more strength, her arms began to rise slowly
as slowly as the dawn was breaking. She stood toward the east with her arms
outstretched, her face to the sky as she sang to the rising sun.
And he shall reign forever and ever
And as the sun rose to worship her, he saw tears running down her cheekbones,
down the valley of her ear and jaw.
Her voice gained strength and soared over the world, to the sun. Elliott heard
nothing but her.
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth Hallelujah, hallelujah King of kings And
Lord of lords And he shall reign forever and ever Hallelujah, hallelujah
allayyyyyyyloooooooyaaaaaaa!
Silence.
Fury dropped her arms whilst gasping for breath through her sobs, her chest heav-
ing. At the first sniffle behind him, Elliott looked over his shoulder through the balus-
ters to see hundreds of men wiping their noses. Some had buried their faces in their
bandanas, their shoulders quaking. Furys mother was curled up in her chair, also sob-
bing. Even the Hollander, who cradled his weeping wife in his lap, pressed a thumb to
his cheekbone.
whuuuuufffff
Elliotts head snapped up to the topgallant sails, which began to flap, and his mouth
dropped open.
whuff-snap!
A bit of breeze stirred the ends of Furys hair, now a blazing orange halo between
Dunham 151
the red sunrise and red silk.
A strong wind filled the sails, pushing all three ships forward together at once with
a bevy of protesting groans.
Begorra, he heard a man whisper. She summoned the wind.
To a man, Elliotts crew looked up at her in frightened awe. Elliott watched her, as
stunned as his crew, as the corner of her mouth turned up.
The angel was disappearing and the pirate taking her place.
She cupped her hands round her mouth and bellowed, SORT YOURSELVES
OUT AND MAKE READY! WE SAIL IN ONE HOUR!
Three ships crews scrambled to do her bidding, and Elliott blinked up at her. I
think Skirrow was right to fear your voice.
She grinned. Whisht! She leaned down to him and whispered, He was too busy
fearing my voice to hear me sharpen my ax.
II
23
April, 1780
Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
Dutch East India Company
Rotterdam, Holland

Celia swayed against Judas where they stood on the wharf, the Silver Shilling having been
granted a mooring as close to his warehouses as he could get.
Will you meet me in London? Judas asked softly, brushing his mouth across her
knuckles.
No, Celia murmured, looking at him whilst her heart broke. It was a familiar pain,
but not a welcome one, a hazard of how easily she gave over her affections. There is no
future in it for me.
You who will return to Ottoman waters to fulfill a blood oath and expects only to die
victorious have no right to speak of a future.
She feigned a scoff. I would never die defeated.
Which is one reason I do not want to let you go.
Judas, she muttered, exasperated. Please do not make this more difficult for me.
Train your virgin bride to bite and swing a cat cross your arse, and you will forget me by
the time she bears your heir. He dropped her hand with an angry huff, his disgust undis-
guised. Her brow wrinkled. You really do not comprehend, do you? she asked wonder-
ingly. Of everything you know of me, of every conversation we have had, what in Gods
name makes you think I would ever agree to be your second no matter how you hound
me?
You are the one who does not understand, he spat. You would be first.
Her eyebrow rose. If you cannot wed me, I will never be first.
His mouth tight, he swallowed, but did not answer.
She smiled wryly. I would give up the sea for a faithful husband and a home. I begged
for it at twenty, but was refused. I did itgladlyat twenty-five, but lost it not even six
months after the vows were spoken. I would do it now did you ask.
I cant.
Then that is that.
Fury
You will not even give me your name! she cried, now hurt beyond anything she should
have felt, considering her short time with this man. If I cannot have even such a small part
of you as that, why would I think you would give me anything else?
JACK! She turned at Maartens roar to see him dockside with a speaking trumpet. I
want to catch this tide to London, so we must depart now and we await only you. I need to
156 Moriah Jovan
get back to my offices and months of neglected paperwork.
What did he say? Judas demanded, and only then did Celia realize Maarten had spo-
ken in Dutch.
Ja! she called back likewise. Weigh anchor! Ill be along shortly.
He gave a curt nod and disappeared into the crowd of busy sailors, vendors of pickled
herring and overly sweet cookies, worn-out doxies of all ages.
Well?
I must go, she muttered, attempting to step around him, but he took the step to block
her passage, as she had known he would. He wrapped his hands around her arms, but she
looked down at the wood beneath her feet to keep him from seeing her tears. She was reso-
lute, but he would take her weeping as some sort of silent request to pursue her.
Help me find you, he whispered desperately. If not, I will still find you.
No, you wont, she croaked. I could be right under your nose and you would never
know tis me. Release me, Judas, before I stick a dagger in your throat as I did at the Bloody
Hound.
He opened his hands, but caressed her arms in the way he knew that she loved
lightly, the brush of fingertips, a breath. Any patch of sensitive skin on her body, he would
find and lavish attention there, for he could not force her insensate breasts to feel again.
Lord only knew how he had tried.
She loved him for that.
And other things.
He lowered his head to press his mouth to the underside of her jaw. She closed her eyes
and dropped her head back to allow him to seduce her. Fury, he whispered against her
ear. My love. Please. Tell me your direction in London.
She could stand no more.
She broke away from him and strode up the dock to the cobbles, not daring to look
back, ignoring him calling her name: Captain! Fury! Jack! Calico Jack! even. Then
JACQUELINE DUNHAM!
She gasped and stopped short. She put her fist to her breast and pressed. Hard. Oh,
God, she whimpered, then broke into a run, down the street to where Maartens yacht and
skeleton crew awaited to take her to London.

to be continued

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