Red Sails and Black Flags Book One: Black Magic

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Summary

Join Captain Alex the Cold Hearted in a story of love, lust, hate and revenge on the high seas! A deadly game of cat and mouse between the Caribbeans most fearsome Pirate, a swift and silent new comer and the merciless Earl Southwark that can only end in death.

Genre:
Adventure / Romance
Author:
Ayla
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
3
Rating:
5.0 5 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter One

May 16th, 1635

At Sea

The rolling swells of the Atlantic frothed and boiled between the hull of two ships. One carried a flag of black with a crowned set of white crossbones; the other, the colors of Spain. Gulls circled overhead waiting for their next meal with raspy cries. A chorus that was hard on the ears accompanied by the gurgled pleas of drowning men and erratic splashes in the red water below. Pieces of broken timbers and debris pulled away by the current followed the scent of black powder and drying blood.

The battle had been hard fought and won. Now, the Captain felt no need to rush in dressing. A well-worn, bloody waistcoat of sun faded blue slid off narrow shoulders, down weary arms into waiting hands. The fabric rustled softly as it settled over the back of an empty chair, while fingers curled over the cloth weighted down with a heavy sigh as tension finally eased. Steady, even breaths calmed the thrill of battle to clear the mind. Hard grey eyes shifted up toward a set of dark oak doors as the Captain straightened up. Grabbing a pewter mug half full with rum the amber liquid would serve as a balm to shaky nerves. A hardy swig saw the Captain lurching to the doors.

A single outstretched arm pushed them open as another grabbed a well-tailored Captain’s jacket in purple velvet, swinging it on with a flick of the wrists. Hands slid down the front of the waistcoat feeling the freshly shined silver buttons to settle on the hilt of a cutlass belted at the hip and a flintlock settled on the other, giving both a firm, affectionate pat. Hard leather soles of tall boots clicked against the deck as the Captain strode confidently across the connecting gangway, greeted by the ruckus of the crew. Stretching out trew covered legs, the Captain settled lazily against the dilapidated ship’s rail. A hand coming up to cover the mouth in silent contemplation of the Quartermaster, the man in charge of the rowdy crew of Pirates.

He was in the process of tossing an unlucky sailor who denied the chance to join the Black Magic’s crew. The group of Spanish sailors all cowered beneath his towering frame and heavy bulk. He easily lifted a man off his feet and swung him overboard. The resonating crack of a body hitting water hard and the resulting splash were satisfying sounds that made the giant of a Quartermaster smile. Eyes so deep a brown they often appeared black flickered over to the lounging figure along the rail and he belted out; bordering on joyous, “Captain Alex, how bloody kind of ye te finally join us!”

The crew of the Black Magic erupted in a rowdy cacophony of excited cries and Captain Alex “the Cold Hearted” couldn’t help but give a warm smile. Tipping a hat in their direction as a greeting. A dismissive wave towards the Spaniards told the man to continue. “Carry on, Jaheem.” Long weeks at sea often left the crew bored and Alex knew a bit of unabashed violence stemmed internal destructive behavior and mutiny. The crew of the Spanish merchant ship had lost many souls during the skirmish, leaving only twenty men potentially in need of quarter. If one were to count the sailors that Jaheem has just thrown to the inky deep; those numbers were dwindling.

Jaheem’s usual speech about joining the crew and vowing loyalty to Alex was so familiar it could be recited by any long-standing crew member in their sleep. His accent was a mix between his native Swahili and the lower-class English he’d picked up at sea giving an interesting, exotic tone to his deep rumbling tenor. A few pale faces nodded in agreement, a desire to live and a few new dead men were usually enough to get decent sailors to join the ranks. Pity, so many hands are lost already… Alex thought on a sigh, shifting one elbow to rest on a crate to the right. A lonely docker’s hook sat abandoned and the Captain gripped it between long fingers. Feeling its weight and the smooth grain of the pale wooden handle, it was well made and the iron of the hook was sturdy. Surprisingly it was clean of blood, no one had used it for a weapon.

A young scrawny lad of about thirteen was dragged forward next. A shallow cut ran across one cheek still round with baby fat and broke his handsome features. His hazel eyes were wide with fear as they looked up at Jaheem. He trembled like a baby bird, barely an ounce of muscle on him, it was a miracle he’d survived the fight at all. Doubtless, it was the forward thinking of the Black Magic’s crew that kept the boy breathing. A young mind was easier to mold and no one at sea dared to believe they’d live a long life, Pirate or otherwise. The fact that more men on the ship than just the Quartermaster were getting too old was a hard truth to swallow. Good sailors were difficult to replace, let alone a loyal hard-working crew. But, many under Alex’s command had already made their fortune and had only stayed on for the thrill. It would be childish to believe any wished to perish by Poseidon’s hands.

Alex’s attention finally shifted back to the boy. Jaheem had him by the torn collar of his sweat stained chemise, nigh off his feet. Clearly, he’d not wanted to join and be spared. Another life given as tribute to the sea. “Captain!” Jaheem called, “What shall we do wit ’im?” The boy’s dark head whipped up to meet Alex’s stormy grey gaze, going wide with surprise. Then confusion came to chase away the fear from his features.

Believes me to be a boy, no doubt. Alex thought, lifting a dark red brow in irritation. Jaheem shouldn’t need a Captain’s input on this. He dealt with the crew day to day, while Alex boasted good relations with her crew, the Quartermaster knew them far better. The hook came up in a smooth gesture towards the swells. If you aren’t with Captain Alex the Cold Hearted you are against Captain Alex the Cold Hearted. Any hint of betrayal or mutiny was snuffed out early. It wouldn’t be changed for one scrawny deckhand.

“Wait!” Cried the boy as Jaheem tensed for the toss. “Nay, wait!”

Cheeks puffing out in a sigh, Alex held a free hand and said, “Hold, sailor. The boy speaks.”

Once his feet were firmly settled back onto the deck, Jaheem’s mighty hand curled into the back of the lad’s neck as a reminder of his position of subjugation. The cocky smile of a held secret spread across the boy’s face despite his tenuous situation.. “I have information you might find of some importance.”

The Captain scoffed and the crew laughed, as if they’d not heard that before. “Do you?” Alex said, brows rising towards the hat’s rim. Hard leather boots tapping against the planks were the only sound as the fearsome Captain closed in on the Spaniard who dared to show such arrogance. “Pray boy, tell me. What is it?”

“The Terror.” Suddenly, the whole world seemed to go silent as Alex’s heart skipped a beat. Not even the hungry gulls cried or the masts groaned at the mention of the Terror of the Seas. Captain Southwark. The once upon a time bane of every Pirate’s existence.

Alex was quick to gather some wits and began to laugh heartily. “Nay, lad. It cannot be. I killed the beast years ago.” In fact, there was even a fond memory of slicing him chin to chest with his own cutlass, leaving him for dead in the middle of his London townhouse. It was that feat alone that elevated Alex to King of Pirates. The Captain was hard pressed to believe that Southwark the Terror had lived all along.

“Nay, I saw him with my own eyes.” The boy said smugly, as if this knowledge gave him an edge over the young Captain.

Alex’s not quite full mouth curled up in a vicious snarl and the hook not forgotten came up to catch the boy in the collar bone. Lodged deep, the sailor didn’t remain smug for long. Though, one could argue his imitation of a stuck pig was quite good as the Captain tugged him towards the open gangway along the starboard side. “Do not lie to me, boy!”

“No lie!” He cried as Alex tugged him nose to nose, pain had turned warm olive skin ashen and hazel eyes widened as they stared into a delicate and youthful face. Uncommonly pretty for a boy, long auburn waves tied back with a leather thong set beneath the hat, the tail end reaching the Captain’s round hips. Alex grinned harshly as the boy’s eyes settled on the just visible swells of her breasts hidden behind her billowing white chemise and flowing waistcoat. He finally figured it out. The Captain he’d thought was a boy no older than himself was in fact a woman. “Though, you deserve nothing less, you bitch!”

A sadistic grin pulled up the corners of Alex’s mouth. “You dare use that language before a lady?” She twisted the hook deeper until the tip of its curve pierced through the skin for a scold. Enjoying the lad’s anguished cry. “For shame!”

“You are no lady! You are the Devil’s wh- “A swift jerk of the handle shut him up.

“Yes, yes. I’m whore to the Devil, an unnatural member of the fairer sex. Move on, lad.” Alex replied, rolling her eyes. She was clearly bored by his attempt at insulting her. She’d been Captain of this ship for ten years; it’d all been said before. “You have mere moments to live.” She continued, making her tone soft. Gently brushing his dark sweat dampened ringlets from his forehead Alex let her gaze grow heavy lidded and warm; her next words were a purr, “Be a good boy, tell me everything you know. I might just spare you.”

“Tall man, yellow hair, scar from chin down below the collar of his waistcoat he has.” The young sailor described him. “His eyes are hard, cold- “Another tug on the hook silenced him and she forced him to follow her back towards Jaheem and the watching crew. Through the handle, she could feel his sigh of relief no doubt thinking he was actually going to be spared.

“I know what the man looks like. That isn’t important. Where did you see him?”

“I won’t tell unless you let me live!” He cried sharply, pain twisting his features.

A bit of a shrug and Alex waved forward Jaheem, who towered over his Captain and her little toy. “You have seconds now, boy. Tell me where!” The warning was solidified by Jaheem’s hand replacing her own on the handle. Jaheem curled his forearm towards his chest forcing the boy up onto his toes. Blood began to stain the front of his discolored chemise.

“Best be speakin’, lad.” Jaheem growled nose to nose with the Spaniard. Full lips curled to bare straight even teeth.

“Málaga!” He screeched as his feet came up off the deck. The entirety of his body weight pulled against the hook in his flesh. A rush of fresh blood seeped into his ruined shirt. “He was hunting rumors of the Black Magic, overheard him speaking with the Captain. The Terror planned on leaving port the morn’ after us for Tortuga on his ship the Firebrand.”

“Oh! See now, that was not so hard.” Alex exclaimed, throwing her arms wide, smiling coolly. “Now then, men.” The red-haired Captain said, addressing her crew. “Let’s have a bit of a vote, shall we? The Spaniard’s been kind enough to give me.” She put a hand to her chest. “Your very own Devil’s whore such precious information. Should we spare him?” Her smile widened as she lifted a hand to cup a delicate ear and leaned in as if she had trouble hearing their chorus of nays. They were all but frothing at the bit for Jaheem to toss him. The crew didn’t usually take kindly to whomever insulted Captain Alexandria the Cold Hearted. Especially, if the words, whore and devil were used. “Aye, lads I quite agree. To the deep he goes!”

The boy’s pained cries of denial and pleas were drowned out by the crew’s excited roar as Jaheem dragged him bodily towards the gangway. Childlike tears streaked down his face and his hands gripped at Jaheem’s wrist. Almost as if it might ease the weight on the hook as he was again lifted so his feet could settle, teetering on the edge of the gangway. Alex didn’t have to see the look on her Quartermaster’s face, she’d seen that dark twisted grin often enough. Sometimes even she thought he might be the Devil himself and by the look of abject terror on the boy’s face he thought the same. “Y-you said, I’d be spared!”

There was a heartbeat of silence as Jaheem shifted his grip on the hook and growled. “Ye, forget. We be Pirates.” A meaty leg came up and gave the boy a solid kick to the gut at the same time he tore the hook free of the lad’s collar. The sound of snapping bone cracked like a whip in the cool ocean air and the crew roared their pleasure at the resounding splash of a body hitting the swells below.

Once all had settled it was Alex’s cue to speak again. This time towards any of the Spanish men left. “Anyone else like to join the boy?” No one spoke up. “Good. Any misstep, any hint of mutiny will be paid for with your life. Do not think for a moment the crew on the Devil’s Mistress will be lenient.” A much larger ship, with a minimum crew of about fifty men, it had originally been used to raid larger Royal vessels but, these days it was mostly used as a roaming headquarters and training ship for new recruits. Until they proved themselves to be trustworthy or useful, they’d have no other place. “Take the Spaniards below deck until the rendezvous with the Mistress and get this ship sailing, we head to Barbados to sell the bounty!” Alex ordered with a clap of her hands. The men instantly jumped to get moving and both ships became a buzz of activity as she quickly retreated to the Captain’s quarters of the Black Magic with Jaheem in tow.

The Captain’s quarters had once been one large open space set below the top deck of the Black Magic but, not long after she’d become Captain, Jaheem had it split into two separate cabins. His quarters that served as a front the few times they’d been boarded in the early days of their pirating had a connecting door to Alex’s own private room in the back. Though, it’d been years since the older man had to pretend to be Captain, habit and the desire to keep her under a safe eye had kept it all as it was. She was no longer a young girl of sixteen who needed to be chaperoned but Jaheem refused to be moved back into the Quartermaster’s rooms beneath the lower deck.

Rather being an irritating familiarity, his cabin served as a place to hide her unabashed panic. Panting, and shaking with the memories of Southwark’s rugged features turned up in a snarl as he’d slashed at her with his cutlass came unbidden to the front of her mind. He’d been out to kill her that summer. They’d crossed paths a few times, and she’d grown cocky in her abilities to outwit him. She wouldn’t make that mistake a second time. That damn Privateer had a personal grudge, no doubt he’d love nothing more than to get his money-grubbing hands on her and the ship. Especially, since it’d be more than just revenge and a bounty he’d be getting upon her capture.

Turning as the double doors leading onto the deck swung open, Jaheem’s hulking frame entered, dark eyes widening in surprise as he saw her panic-stricken features. Her cheeks devoid of color and eyes gone flat with fear, he turned his mouth down into a scowl. “Get a grip on yerself, lass.” He growled firmly at first. But, when that only served to make her lower lip quiver and tears spill over to her cheeks, he closed in on her. The noise of the deck getting shut out by the swinging doors. Leaving only the sound of her shoulder wracking sobs between them as his calloused hands and strong arms pulled her into a round stomach holding her close.

“Tell me it is not so, Jaheem. I beg you.” Alex cried into his chest, slender arms coming up to hug him hard. Alex couldn’t allow herself much time like this. The life she lived left no room for scared little girls. No, she was a King of Pirates, well respected by her followers and feared by the rest. If she were caught, she’d lose face.

Jaheem held her away once her sobs turned into sniffles and she’d gathered her wits, albeit it was a loose hold. Like a loving father he frowned down at her and removed her hat to brush back a wavy lock of hair from her face. In many ways Jaheem was a father to her. He’d been First Mate on this ship long before she’d been born; alongside her true father. He’d watched her grow, taught her much of what she knew about living at sea and when she’d taken this ship for herself, he’d become even more. A trusted companion, protector and confidante. “Ye know I canna.” He huffed, running hand over his bald head uneasily. He’d never been good with tears.

Alex nodded, “Aye,” Clearing her throat she patted his brawny arms with warmth and said, “I’m one of the most feared Captain’s this side of the Atlantic, there’s no time to wallow.” Flicking out the tails of her long waistcoat she took a seat at his desk like it were her own, ignoring the mess of charts and missives for now, knowing if it needed her attention it would be given to her once things were more relaxed. “The log, if you please?”

For long moments silence stretched out as Jaheem took a guest seat across from her. Only the sound of quill to paper between them as she wrote down the raid of the Spanish merchant ship. How many men they’d lost, how many had been gained, an account of the battle and even adding at the end about the deckhand and Southwark. “What do you believe is our next best course of action?” Alex asked, looking up from the leather-bound book and pausing her quill.

He’d seated himself at an angle to stretch out his long legs, boots crossed at the ankles. His hands were slung low over his belly as regarded her thoughtfully, raising a black brow incredulously. They both knew she already had the answer. “Sell the spoils.” Jaheem replied with a wry grin.

“Naturally.” The Captain replied evenly, leveling a firm eye at Jaheem. “I meant Southwark.” The old dog merely shrugged allowing her to speak her mind. He just enjoyed tugging her chain and trying her patience. “If he has truly returned someone other than that boy must’ve heard of or seen him about. Another ship, or one of the pleasure houses…” Years ago herself and Jaheem had paid the Captains of much smaller crews and the occasional prostitute to lead anyone looking for the Black Magic or its crew on a wild goose chase around the Caribbean. That particular fail safe was still in place. Now, Alex had more players under her thumb, offering the use of her name and protection instead of coin. There were plenty of rumors about her ship and the icy Captain that ran it (some she’d even started herself) that were becoming legend. The ocean was vast but the world of pirating was small, her web of connections would no doubt have heard gossip about the Terror of the Seas. If that boy had been correct, it meant her enemy was only a day behind.

“We’ll be sendin’ out the lads then?”

“Aye, we need to port in any case. Might as well put our ears to the ground.” Ports were usually a place to relax for the crew but, collecting gossip to avoid the hangman’s noose was a small price to pay.

Alex felt the Black Magic’s sails catch on a particularly strong gust of wind, causing the ship to jerk into motion. Timbers creaked and groaned in protest at the harsh shove against the waves but, moving again gave Alex a well needed sense of relief. Tension melted from her shoulders and she sank into the heavy wooden chair. “Chart the shortest course to Jamestown. We’ll intercept the Mistress early tomorrow; she’ll take on our new recruits and tow the ship into Tortuga to sell. We’ll take back our men and the spoils into our hold then continue on with haste.”

Jaheem nodded his approval. “Aye, consider it done, Captain.”

Standing Alex, collected her hat, and gave a single nod. “Aye.”

Dawn had just broken over the horizon when the boys high in the sails called down from the crow’s nest, “Ship, ahoy!” The ringing of the brass bell alerting the crew roused Alex from her black, restless doze and she stumbled through her dark cabin. Blindly she grabbed at a blood free waistcoat by memory. A long-haired Angora cat white as snow rubbed along Alex’s boots making the woman trip a bit in the dark. A quiet, “You fucking cunt!” at the damn feline and a yowl of protest as Alex tumbled into Jaheem’s half of the quarters before throwing open the door onto the lower deck where the wind whipped through her long red waves. The tangled locks were blown into her face as the sounds of snapping rope, sails and the loud voices of excited men met her ears. Crew crisscrossed the deck manning the ship like a well-oiled wheel bringing a sense of pride. Good crews were hard to come by and Alex had one of the best.

“Captain! Captain!” One of the boys cried from the crow’s nest upon sighting her. “It’s the Mistress!” Alex smiled up at his enthusiasm. She was one of the few Captains that employed boys younger than fifteen, though it felt more like collecting strays. If it weren’t for the work, they would have starved on the streets long ago. They owed her their lives and paid her back in undying loyalty.

The other boy, slightly older, eyeglass in hand stabbed a finger in the direction of the rising sun. Turning to look sure enough a familiar silhouette bobbled in the waves. Set before the beautiful sunrise, the English made Man O’ War was a welcome sight in the vast emptiness of the sea. It easily outsized her sister ship Black Magic, not only by sheer mass but also in artillery. The Galleon Alex preferred to sail had certainly been made with pirating in mind. It housed fewer guns and a larger cargo hold than most ships of similar size. This meant her gunners had to be precise shooters no ounce of powder or ammo could be waisted. The Devil’s Mistress had some hundred or so cannons; using it’s brute force to take down other ships instead. Seeing it slowly grow near while the stars above faded into a cloudless blue sky felt like coming home. “Who is at the helm?” Alex called back.

“Captain Bryce!” The boy yelled while the younger of the two began to bounce in place. “Miss Madeline’s with ’im!” Of course, they’d be excited to see the lovely French woman. She served a great deal of roles on board the Black Magic. Cook, nurse, tailor… the list could go on. The week without her in the kitchen had been Hell on the gut. Even with limited provisions Madeline had an amazing skill to work magic on the hearth. The two crew members she had for help just weren’t the same. Alex, however, was just happy to have another woman on board to keep company.

It wasn’t long before Alex could see the pair with her own eyes. Jaheem’s steady hand at the wheel and the crew’s skill slowed the ship. Men prepared to board the Mistress and Alex trotted up the steep stairs to Jaheem catching a glimpse of their stolen ship keeping decent pace behind them. From higher up Alex could see Madeline’s eyes catch and the woman waved excitedly. Captain Bryce’s arm held her close by the waist to keep her from rushing the busy lower deck, kissing the top of her dark head with affection.

For a moment Alex felt her smile tighten as a stab of jealousy hit her in the chest. Alex might’ve had a great many things other women only dreamt of, like freedom and control over her own life but, she didn’t have what Madeline had. A chance at love, children or even just a man to warm her bed at night. At twenty-six Alex was considered an old maid on land. At sea her virtue was a commodity. A close guarded secret, the final piece of her past she’d yet to give up. Scared that if she did; the man she’d once fancied herself in love with would be completely lost to time and with him her chance at peace.

Once all ships were secured and anchored Alex met Captain Bryce on the Mistress’ second deck, they clasped hands firmly in greeting, while their respective Quartermasters handled the transfer of goods. “Commander.” Bryce said with a warm smile. “Glad to see you all made it back.” His accent was decidedly upper-class English giving him an air of haughty confidence without being too arrogant.

“Oh, aye.” Alex replied. “In fact, you have fresh blood.” Bryce’s smile shifted and his eyes that were the color of a blue sky grew wicked. He’d originally been the Sailing Master for the Mistress before Alex had commandeered it for her small fleet. He’d eagerly joined Alex’s ranks and had initially kept his position (educated men were rare at sea). His brutal but fair hand commanded respect from the men and made him perfect for keeping new recruits in line.

“How you spoil me, Alex.” Bryce said, giving her a solid clap on the shoulder making her grin at him.

Madeline then poked her head around Bryce’s shoulder with a wide smile. Her dark brown hair fell loose in gentle curls framing a round, pretty face. Fair cheeks flushed with happiness she reached to tug Alex into her ample bust for a tight sisterly hug. Madeline was a rather tall woman and Alex fit neatly under her chin with some space to spare, wrapping her slender arms around the relatively small waist of the more voluptuous Madeline. “Happy safe return, Alexandria.” Her heavy French accent made her voice sultry and warm. Relief was apparent in her features. The woman constantly worried over the crew of the Black Magic knowing that one day they might never return from a raid.

“My thanks, Madeline.” Alex sighed evenly, pulling away from her long-time friend but, her smile faded quickly as she looked back to the handsome Bryce. “The Terror is rumored to have returned.” Alex kept her voice low to avoid undue tension between the crews but Bryce and Madeline could hardly prevent their shocked expressions.

Non!” Madeline whispered, her face going pale, brown eyes widening with a hint of well to do anxiety.

Bryce shook his dark head and replied, “I saw you myself that very night, you were bathed with his blood. How could this be? Surely, it must be another man using the title.”

“Nay, Bryce. One of the Spaniards we tossed described him. Down to the scar I’d have left behind. How could anyone else have known that if he had not survived.” Alex’s hands tightened into fists at the thought and she could feel her mouth curling up in a snarl. “If your new boys have any more information, I want you to get it out of them. Any means necessary. I will be taking the Magic to Jamestown for repairs and restock.”

Bryce gave a firm nod. “Right then I’ll be two days behind.”

His brows rose toward his hairline when his Commander shook her head.

“You will tow the new ship to Tortuga, once there quietly ask around for a ship named Firebrand. Make your course there erratic. If this is the real Southwark, he’ll pick up on the pattern too easily. That was my arrogance the last time we clashed cutlasses. Only go to port for restock when necessary.” When Alex looked up into Madeline’s face, she felt her features soften and Alex placed a hand on her friend’s forearm. “I’m sorry Madeline but, it will be a while yet before you return here.”

“Bugger!” Madeline cursed. Immediately flushing red in the cheeks at her unlady like display. Bryce laughed and pulled his lover in for a kiss.

Alex was quick to turn her head and give them a bit of privacy. “We leave before noon.” She said as she left them. More than a few members of the Devil’s Mistress greeted her as they took note of her presence but, like good sailors, stayed loyal to their work. She’d been about to cross the gangway back to her ship when she saw the lanky form of Abe trotting up to her. The boy of sixteen bore a striking resemblance to Jaheem in the face. Not quite as tall and far from filled out like his much older brother he still towered over Alex and nearly bounced in excitement as he stood before her.

“Captain!” He greeted. “May I make a request?”

Alex gave a nod and motioned for him to follow her into Jaheem’s quarters, most business happened here and Abe knew to take a seat across from Alex as she said, “Speak.” She let mild interest show on her face, throwing her feet up onto a clear spot on the desk and settling her linked hands high on her torso, just under her breasts. He was one of the youngest crew members on the ship and though he’d joined when he’d barely been five, he wasn’t given any more privilege than the rest of the boys. Alex assumed he was looking for some kind of reward for being promoted to a Gunner.

“I was thinkin’,” Abe began, “That in Jamestown I’d pick up a compass of my own.” His brown eyes looked hopeful full of youthful false confidence. A hand came up to run through short cropped wiry curls in nervousness as Alex took a good long look at him.

She leaned on the arm rest of the chair, propping her chin in a hand as she thought. Abe had a natural talent for navigating. It was a necessary skill needed on board any ship. While the Mistress had a designated Sail Master, on the Black Magic the task often fell to Jaheem or herself. Maybe Jaheem would like to lighten his load. Alex thought. They were both capable of teaching the boy and Alex knew Abe wouldn’t be trouble later on down the line. “What did your brother say?” She sighed out finally not letting him onto her thoughts.

“He said to ask you.” Abe muttered nervously, wringing his hands together in his lap.

“Aye, rightly so.” Alex stood making Abe jump to his feet out of respect. “I will discuss it with Jaheem as soon as it is convenient.” With a wave of her hand she dismissed the young lad, watching his sullen face as he left the room. Once the door clicked shut Alex let out a little chuckle of delight. Her little Abraham was growing up and was finally taking initiative on obtaining his dream of becoming a Captain. He still had a way to go but was turning into a well-respected and capable leader. When the day came that herself or Jaheem were no longer able to run this ship, she hoped that Abe would be ready, willing and able to take their place.

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