“This isn’t over, Grace.” With that, he stormed towards the door and ripped it open, glaring down at a red faced Fig. “What do you mean she’s on the deck? You’re supposed to be guarding her.” I scuttled forward, getting close enough for Fig to finally notice my presence behind the captain.
“She escaped, and she’s got one of my guns. She says she’ll blow her head off unless you come on deck.” Somehow, Fig managed to turn even redder, but there was pure panic in his eyes. He was scared. For her.
Captain nodded, and Fig turned to lead the way, rushing forward while the captain followed suit. Since his attention wasn’t on me, I figured I could get away with joining him, but as I started to follow, his head snapped around. He pinned his glare at me, but I shook my head, running closer to him. He stopped in his tracks, making me stop, and he glared at me as he stepped closer. Instinctively, I took a step back, but he then proceeded to grab me by the shoulder and yank me closer.
“Stand still.” He instructed. His hands trailed down from my shoulders to my shirt, and I flushed, realizing he was buttoning it up for me. “There.” He said, taking his hands away from me as I glanced down at my shirt. When I looked up, he was looking at me in that terrifyingly predatory gaze.
Without another word, he turned and walked briskly after Fig, who seemed to have stopped near the stairs to the deck. “Quick!” Fig urged, and I ran forward too, chasing after the captain who strolled up the stairs, quite casually. Beth was waiting.
Just as Fig had said, Beth was waiting with a gun pointed at her own head. It was night, so not many were awake. The few that were, however, seemed to be waiting. Beth stood at the forecastle deck, yet no one had dared go up the steps to stop her. She stood over us all, but her hand was shaking.
“Lady Elizabeth.” The captain’s voice seemed to echo in the silence. Even the sea seemed to have quietened for them to speak. “What an interesting way to make demands.” Even while standing behind him, I could hear his smirk, and Beth didn’t seem to like it, as a scowl crossed her face. She put the gun down, simply holding it in her hand.
“I agreed to get on your ship with you. I refuse, however, to be treated like an animal. You can’t lock me up and expect everything to be okay!” Her voice increased until she screamed the ending. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Fig inching closer and closer to the stairs to the deck, but Beth’s eyes were on the captain, who had a smile on through his arrogance.
“What exactly are your demands, Lady Elizabeth?” Fig was right at the bottom of the stairs, but still, Beth hadn’t spotted him yet. Would he hurt her? Should I tell her?
“Let me walk free. I’m not a criminal. I need space and time too. Also, let me stay with Grace. She’s my companion, not your toy.” Fig had his head ducked as low as possible as he began his way up the steps. Beth, in turn, was closer to the edge of the deck, where the railing was, so she couldn’t see Fig.
“How can I trust you when any form of liberty I give, you take advantage of and threaten yourself or others with?” She seemed at a loss for words. At that exact moment, Beth’s eyes met mine, and they widened in surprise.
“Grace!” She cried out. Stark relief filled her eyes, and I was shocked at the response she had to my presence. Captain, however, took advantage of her betrayal of weakness. He turned and pulled me in front of him, and I was pressed against his bare chest while facing her, his arms wrapped around me.
“Grace, Lady Elizabeth, belongs to me. She isn’t your slave, and she enjoys spending time with me. She even wears my shirts, and we sleep in the same bed like lovers.” My jaw dropped open. That was definitely not the perspective any of us had been expecting, since even Lady Elizabeth’s mouth dropped open in a very unladylike manner.
“You’re lying.” Almost instinctively, her hand holding the gun lifted as she pointed it threateningly at captain, and myself. “That can’t be true.” It seemed that the captain was doing a great job at distracting Beth, since a certain red headed boy was doing a good job at almost getting on the deck. Did I shout out? I could only watch as Fig got closer, but just as my voice found its way towards my throat, the captain’s hold on me tightened. He leaned in close, his hot breath on my ear.
“If you say a single word about Fig, her punishment will only be more severe.” That shut me up quickly. It would be faster for him to stop her, I knew, but Beth wouldn’t go down without a fight. So I waited as Fig waited. Then, the captain pressed a kiss against my cheek, his hand sliding up provocatively from my waist towards my breasts. I let out a squeak of protest, but all he was waiting for was the reaction he got out of Beth. Still, he kept ahold of me, tight against his chest.
“Let her go! You-you scoundrel!” She shrieked, slamming her other hand on the banister of the deck. Then, Fig rushed forward and tackled her. He didn’t push her onto the floor, but the shock of it made her throw the gun in the air, and he grabbed her hands behind her back and held them there. She screamed, flailing as best she could, but Fig was strong. He held her completely in place, and no movement changed that.
“Bring her down here.” Captain instructed. There he was, back to ‘Captain-talk’. His voice deepened, his words serious, and I could practically imagine the practiced cold look in his eyes. But right then, he was warm, still embracing me in his arms, though his hands were back to my waist.
“Could you let me go now, please?” I asked, tilting my head back, but he only tightened his grip in response. Yes, this was very ‘Captain-talk’. He didn’t say anything unnecessary that could be expressed through actions.
Fig was guiding Beth down the stairs, pushing her in the right direction, while a fire burned in her eyes as she screamed the entire way down. Most of it was her cursing Fig, whose face was grim with determination to ignore her words, but he didn’t look too good. Finally, Beth’s eyes met mine, and the fire stayed aflame.
“Why didn’t you warn me?” Despite her previous shrieks, she was suddenly so much quieter, yet her words were weapon enough. I flinched, but Captain’s hold simply tightened, perhaps in comfort or warning to Beth.
“Grace is helping you. You’re lucky none of my crew got hurt, or your punishment would be so much worse.” Captain-talk. I was scared, but Beth kept her chin held high.
“Punishment?” She scoffed. “Do your worst.” She hissed, and Fig let out a guttural sound of protest, almost sounding pained. Still, he didn’t let go of her, and she didn’t take her words back. I tried to shake my head at her, but she wouldn’t meet my gaze, keeping it instead on Captain. Stubborn pride. It could get her killed.
“My worst would be having you take a few dips with the sharks after you were flogged for every minute you’ve wasted my time.” There was nothing in this man I knew, and suddenly, even his hold seemed colder. He’d told me that he needed to keep an iron grip on his crew, but this was the first time I’d heard of the punishments he had to “get creative with”.
“No.” I whispered. I didn’t realize I was shaking until Captain released his hold on me, and my hand shook as I raised it to wipe the tears rolling down my cheeks. “Please.” I turned to Captain, who looked down on me. Gone was the flirt, and gone was the man who stole my breath with a fire that burned with his gaze. In his place stood a man who had had to instill respect and fear into a crew of pirates, and this man had gone through plenty to be where he was today.
“Your tears aren’t worth it, Lady Grace. You’ve already sold your ‘anything’ to me in return for her first punishment. You have nothing else to offer.” I hadn’t been expecting his diplomatic response, so I was at a loss for words. I had to try, though.
“But you said the punishment would increase if I called out. I didn’t. Will you reduce it?” At this point, I was grappling for anything, but he was unrelenting.
“She asked me to ‘do my best’. Why shouldn’t I comply, Lady Grace? Your mistress gave the order.” I shook my head. They both had such stubborn pride.
“Please.” The tears wouldn’t stop, but neither would his cold gaze. Beth wouldn’t survive anything that severe. “I’ll share the punishment with her.” The words came out before I could think of anything better to offer, but after I said, I realized that was my only choice. I had to do this for her. I owed her my life and so much more.
Captain’s right eyebrow rose, and there it was again, that look that spoke his interest. After all, this side of him loved negotiations. He looked at me for a few seconds, and as I returned his gaze through a blurry screen of tears, never did the side of the captain that I knew best return. His gaze was solely of a merchant’s interest, as though all he cared of was the trade for something I cared about to negate his interest.
“Very well. You’ll both be flogged.” My tears stopped, before returning with a ferocity that went beyond sadness. It turned to fear. He watched me carefully, and I could almost hear his sneer asking if I would quit now. I wouldn’t. Not now, and especially not for Beth. “Thirty for each lady.”