Author Topic: ZARA  (Read 1721263 times)

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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #60 on: June 04, 2016, 09:19:52 PM »
Phillip made for the weather deck at a brisk jog. Something about their uninvited company had alarmed Davis. And anyone who knew Davis also knew he was a difficult man to rattle.

As he stepped onto the deck, Phillip could see the Spaniard closing in from astern on the starboard side. Davis was there to greet him as he climbed the steps to the quarterdeck.
"They're certainly taking their time," said Phillip.
"That ain't the half of it. I know why they've come after us," said Davis. He pushed the ship's spyglass into Phillip's hand. "Look to her stern, just below their flag."
Phillip did as his first mate instructed, and his mouth fell open. There, dwarfed by the flag of Spain that flew above it, was the ensign of the House of Mendoza.

"And I thought this day couldn't get any worse," muttered Phillip.
"You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw it, too," said Davis. "You'd think that old cripple would have given up his vendetta years ago."
"The prouder the man, the more twisted his sense of justice. But he'll get none today. Jack's not aboard."
"But his daughter is. To a man like Mendoza, spilling her blood is spilling Jack's. Any opportunity to hurt Jack is better than killing him outright."
"I've already told her to stay below and quiet until this is over. With a little luck, Mendoza should be convinced to let us go on our way once he knows Jack isn't here."
"Is that your plan, or are you wishin' out loud?"
"Do you have anything better?"
Davis shook his head. "Of course not. We'll try it your way, but if things go sour I say we take as many of those Spanish bastards with us as we can."
"I pray it doesn't come to that, but it's best to keep all options at hand when there's a Mendoza on the doorstep. Have the men secure their stations, Mister Davis. The closer they are to their arms, the happier I shall be."

Davis nodded and went to the taffrail. "All right, listen close! Every man to is to take his station and stay there, no matter what our uninvited guests do next. This galls me as much as it does you. But no man is to raise his hand in anger unless commanded to. Speakin' of which, General Order Twelve is still in effect. Now back to your posts!"
Phillip crossed his arms in puzzlement. "General Order Twelve? We have a General Order Twelve?"
"I made it up," Davis said with a shrug. "Sounds better than 'fill your hands and bring hell on 'em', doesn't it?"
"Not as colourful, but it will have to do." He looked at the closing Spaniard and shook his head. " Davis, am I doing the right thing?"
"If you're asking the question, then yes. I'd be scared if you were sure of yourself."

After what felt like an eternity for the crew of El Lobo, the Spanish ship came along side. Davis gave steadying words to the crew as grapnels flew from the Spaniard and dug into the flesh of their beloved ship. Within minutes, the two ships were lashed together. Two men swung over from the enemy ship, their black polished boots hitting the deck with a precisely timed thud.
Phillip stood at the top of the steps to the quarterdeck and glared down on the new arrivals. "I am Captain Phillip—"
"Silencio!" snapped one of the men. "You will speak only when permission is given!"
"I'm gonna enjoy shooting that one," muttered Davis.
Phillip's only reply was "Shh."

The Spaniards turned back to their ship, and one signalled with a wave of his hand. Two men lifted a large bundle roughly a yard wide and heaved it over the gap between the vessels. The Spaniards on El Lobo caught it handily, and in one fluid motion lowered it to the deck and unrolled it. It was a length of pristine crimson carpet, fit for the coronation walk of a king.
"I ain't believin' this," Davis groaned.
"My father sold the Medoza ego short," said Phillip.
Finally, an ornately dressed man with flowing black hair, his head crowned by a Cavalier-style hat with peacock feathers, swung over to the deck of El Lobo. He landed precisely on the red carpet that had been laid out for his arrival. The two men waiting for him bowed low and remained in that state as he casually plucked the doeskin gloves from his fingers. Once he tucked the gloves into the belt as this waist, he snapped his fingers, releasing his men from their obeisant state.
"You will now pay respect and honour to the Most Illustrious Viscount Tranquillo Mendoza!"

Two more men swung over from the Spanish ship to stand by Mendoza's side. While they too were well dressed, their clothing paled in comparison to their commander's. Several of El Lobo's crew became anxious but calmed down again when Phillip raised a steadying hand.
"Where is the captain of this ship?" asked Tranquillo.
"I am the captain," answered Phillip. "Phillip Briggs, at your service."
Tranquillo gave him a distrustful look. "I have no time for these perfidious games. Bring me the captain, and bring him now."
Phillip descended the stairs to the weather deck. "Perhaps I spoke too quickly for you to follow. I am the captain of this ship."
"Do you think me a fool?!"
"Since you're asking..." started Davis.
"Do you really think I do not recognise this ship? I have hunted her for years, to avenge my father's honour. I will ask only once more: where is Captain Jack Wolfe?"
« Last Edit: June 04, 2016, 09:21:16 PM by Captain Jack Wolfe »
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #61 on: July 01, 2016, 08:03:58 PM »
Meanwhile, back in Barbados--

Jack pulled on a jet black riding coat over his equally black waistcoat and shirt. He paused briefly to brush a bit of lint from his lapel before donning black riding gloves. The sound of someone clearing their throat stopped him as he reached for his hat.

"Black boots, trews, and coat? Turn round and face me."
He turned and faced Honour with a grave look.
She walked to him and snugged the black tricorn on his head. "Black, black, black. Black gloves, too? You know I hate this look on you. Have you turned highwayman?"
"You know I'd never do something so clichéd."
"Yet there you stand. I don't see a brace of pistols, so there's something."
"I'm going through a French phase. You know how it is."
"And you're ever so good with French. Even when you speak it. Now, where are you off to?"
"I'm off to make a point," he said grimly.
"Oh. It's come at last. Then I'll see you when you come home."
Jack kissed her cheek. "I promise this won't take long."
"Promise me, when you make your point? Make it stick."
He nodded, then slipped out of the front doorway like a ghost.

The young man struggled as he was wrestled down a set of stairs and through a narrow doorway. He could see nothing and hear scarcely more through the bag that had been thrust over his head. The next thing he knew, he was shoved roughly into a chair. His hand were bound behind him, and two more ropes bound his ankles to his wrists. He quickly found could not struggle without fighting against himself.
"I am Tristan Culley!" he shouted through the fabric. "I am the governor's son! I'll make sure you bastards pay for this! How dare you treat me like this!!"

Suddenly, the hood was ripped from his head. Tristan saw he was in a small, dank room. There was a table off to one side with an oil lamp that provided only stark illumination to the surroundings. Before him was a man sitting in a chair. A man he vaguely recognised.
"Shhhh," said the man, who kept his face lowered. He casually cleaned his fingernails with a long, gleaming knife. "You'll find I dare quite a lot. Now hush. The rats don't care for a ruckus. Makes them hungry."
Tristan strained to get a clear look at the man's face. "You're going to tell me who you are, and then you're going to release me. Or so help me—"
"Or so help you Daddy?" the man interrupted. "You're off the edge of the map, boy. You're dealing with me now."

Jack lifted his head and made sure the young Culley could get a good look at his face.
"Jack Wolfe. Only you would be so cowardly as to do something like this!"
"Brazen is the word you're looking for, boy. Brazen. Cowardly best describes what you intended for my daughter. Is the purpose of our meeting becoming clearer to that fly speck what masquerades as your brain?"
"Wait, you... This is all a misunderstanding! I never meant— or said! Whatever you think I might have intended, you've got it wrong! If you let me go, I won't say a word about this to my father. I swear!"
Jack lifted the knife to eye level and puffed away a bit of debris from its tip. "A misunderstanding? Let's recount the facts, eh? Just for a giggle. For starters, you contracted with a sketchy ship's captain to take a bound young woman as human cargo to somewhere along the Moorish Coast. To be sold on the flesh market there."
"That's a lie! I never—"
"Save it. That man works for me. He has for years. I trust him with my, and my daughter's, life. Same with the inn keeper. Remember him? The man who steered you to said sketchy ship's captain?"
"But she's gone, isn't she? Everyone knows she was kidnapped and carried off. You yourself posted handbills about her disappearance."
Jack leant in close. "So you do think you've beaten me. For someone who fancies himself the smartest man in the room, you're laughably slow on the uptake. I staged her abduction. I made sure she was spirited away because I knew you were too much of a plonker to think your plan could fail. So start walking things back, mate. This ought to be entertaining."

Tristan's face burned hot as he squirmed against his ropes. "I never really meant to have her abducted. That was just foolish talk on my part. I was drunk! I admit, it happens more than it should, but that's the truth of it!."
"So when you're drunk, you pay out large amounts of cash to people you don't know?"
"I'm not proud of it, but it has been known to happen."
"Boy, I've been drunk a time or two. But I've never been drunk enough to specifically buy passage for someone into white slavery. You might have had a few under your belt, but you knew exactly what you were doing."
"You can't prove it. I'll refute everything your man or the inn keeper has said!"
"What about the people in the public house tonight, hearing you brag about... oh, what was it again?"
Jack motioned, and Simon stepped out of the shadows. "He went on about how he sent, um..."
"I'm already cross enough, just spit it out."
"About how he sent that little Wolfe b*tch - sorry, sir - to whore her way out of Algiers."

"He's lying!" shouted Tristan. "I never said that, and you can't prove otherwise!"
Jack leant forward and tapped the tip of his knife on Tristan's nose. "Shouting will get you nowhere. Oopsy! I gave you a little cut there. Sorry, butterfingers me."
He moved the knife to Tristan's throat and tapped the flat side of the blade against his neck.
"Here's the thing. And don't flinch, you know I'm a bit clumsy with this knife. Simon has been in my employ since before you were born. I trust him. I don't trust you. I'll never trust you. And another half dozen people who work for me heard your bragging. And we have another problem, Mr Culley. You've made my wife unhappy. That doesn't sit well with me. Not at all."
Tristan swallowed hard. "What is it you want? Money? I'll give you anything you want."
"I'm far richer than your pauper father. I'm almost as rich as the East India Company. Try again."
"I'll give you anything. Just don't kill me! Please, I beg you, don't kill me!"

Jack smiled broadly. "Well, my brainless little friend, you are in for a treat!"
"You're not going to kill me?"
"No." Jack tapped the butt of the knife against Tristan's forehead. "I'm not going to kill you," he said, tapping Tristan's forehead with each word.
"Thank you," Tristan exhaled.
"Well, I said not me. So, you're welcome. Your living or dying, that's up to whoever buys you."
"This is the part of me not killing you for trying to sell my daughter into slavery bit. I won't kill you because that would be far too easy for a snivelling little twit like yourself. But there's still a debt, you see. And to settle that debt, there's a price."
"I already told you, I'll give you anything you want!" Tristan begged.
"And I already told you, you can't afford me. I may be easy, but I'm not cheap. No, young Tristan Culley, your fate lies elsewhere. Specifically, Constantinople."
"Constantinople?! Why there?"
"They have a thriving market that no one talks about much. A market for healthy, or in your case, pudgy, young men. You should fetch a fair price."
"Wolfe, you can't do this!" howled Tristan.
"Too late. I already have. Gents, take him to his ship. And gag him this time, please? I don't want the neighbours talking."
"Thy will be done, sir," nodded Simon.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 08:09:03 PM by Captain Jack Wolfe »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #62 on: August 02, 2016, 08:48:39 PM »
Meanwhile...aboard El Lobo del Mar

Zara poured herself a glass of claret and sat down to sulk. How dare Phillip allow her father's ship to be boarded? He should have been able to do something - anything - to evade capture. But no. He had to play it safe. Now she had no choice but to hide below and hope for the best.
As she brought the glass to her lips, the ship lurched as the interloper's hull rubbed against El Lobo's. The wine missed Zara's mouth and splashed down her white shirt.
"Damn it!" she grumbled. "This won't do."
She carefully opened the door to the great cabin and slipped into the companionway. There were no crew below, and she could vaguely hear someone talking on the weather deck. She ducked into her quarters and slipped on a clean shirt. And there it caught her eye.
'Hello, old friend.'
She took out  a scabbard and withdrew a ruby handled bodice dagger. The blade was about five inches. Zara carefully ran her finger down the edge. Her father had always taught her the importance of keeping a blade sharp.
She put the scabbard in the drawer and slipped the dagger into her skirt pocket.
Making her way down the companionway and nearing the deck, she could hear men's voices. One was Phillip's, but the other was unfamiliar. And definitely Spanish.
He was a very handsome man with an aristocratic face.  He was of medium height, broad-shouldered and muscular.His long hair was free and he had a white shirt with an abundance of lace on the cuffs and down the front. He wore a frock coat of black with gold trim.
She could only understand a word here and there but she gathered he wasn't happy and Phillip seemed to be trying his best to keep his temper.
And failing miserably.
"There is no Jack Wolfe aboard this ship," explained Phillip. "I don't know what you're hoping to accomplish here. We are but a merchant vessel bound for the Virginia colony."
"And yet, this ship has the distinctive lines of a pirate vessel named El Lobo del Mar, and before that, Mercedes. The latter name I know well, as it was my mother's. And you, Phillip Briggs, you bear the name of your father. Josiah Briggs, yes? First mate of Jack Wolfe?"
Phillip kept his silence.
"No matter. You have told the story, yes? To amuse your crew? Told them how your father, the criminal Josiah Briggs, lead a raiding party to rescue Jack Wolfe from the imprisonment he so rightly deserved?"
"My father," said Phillip through clenched teeth, "rescued his captain and best friend from the clutches of a madman. Your father. And saved Jack from certain death."

Zara listened intently to the exchange as she lurked just within the doorway to the weather deck. Her father had been imprisoned, and rescued by Phillip's father? Why had no one told her this before? And who was this Spaniard?
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #63 on: August 02, 2016, 08:54:17 PM »
Tranquillo paced the deck, a wry smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Very good. Very, very good. This is the ship I have been seeking. I will take great pleasure in delivering her to my father. But you know where that coward Jack Wolfe is. You will tell me."
"Go to hell," said Phillip calmly. "You've found out what you want, but this is no pirate ship. And I'll be damned if you'll make her a trophy. Now finish your business here and be on your way."
Tranquillo's face twisted with rage. "You will tell me!!" he bellowed. He took a moment to compose himself and stepped close to Phillip. "You will tell me," he continued coldly, "or I will have the throat of every man aboard this ship cut while you watch. I ask you again, where is the coward named Jack Wolfe?"

Zara could not believe her ears. How would anyone dare call her father a coward? Her blood boiled as she listened to the Spaniard's lies. But she kept her head enough to see all eyes were on the Spaniard and Phillip. Seizing the opportunity, she slipped from the doorway to one of the small boats kept on deck and climbed under its tarp. It was surprisingly dusty and smelled of mould. Nonetheless, she was determined to hear what this horrid man was saying about her father.
She crept to the side by the gunwale, being careful to stay in the shadows. The canvas was thrown in a heap in the longboat on the end. She slid into it and covered herself, leaving only a small bit open to watch.
All of a sudden, she felt a sneeze coming on. She desperately put her finger to her nose, trying to cut it off. She sighed with relief as it was abated.
Unfortunately it was at that moment the men stopped arguing. Silence ensued and she felt the canvas being lifted up by the blade of a rapier.
She stared up into the eyes of the Spaniard.

"Que Dios te bendiga, munequita," he said softly.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2016, 07:49:14 PM by Captain Jack Wolfe »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #64 on: September 02, 2016, 07:52:07 PM »
He offered his hand to her and helped her out of the longboat. All Phillip could do was groan.
"Just what the HELL to do you think you are doing, Zara?"
"You told me to stay in my quarters. I got bored. I have every right to be on this deck."
"No, you don't. I'm the Captain. I give the orders around here."
"Since when?"
"Since the beginning of this trip. You are along because you had to cause trouble in Bridgetown."
Zara went nose to nose with Phillip.
"At least I kept it in Bridgetown. Unlike you."
"What does that mean?"
"I mean knocking boots with a tart old enough to be....your sister. Your OLDER sister."

Phillip felt his face turn red.
"And how would you know unless you were following me?"
"Following you? I was shopping and saw you hot-footing it down to that little cottage. Tart couldn't even bother to get dressed in mid-day. What was she, simmering like hot soup in the kettle for you?"
"What I do is none of your business, Zara."
Zara raised her voice. "Oh, really? Did you give her a pink pearl necklace too? Or did she get a different colour? How many pearl necklaces are out in the Caribbean gifted by you, Phillip?"
He retorted, "Who I see and when I see them does not fall under your business. It is MY business, Zara."
"If that is the case, then why did you butt into MY business with Tristan?"
"Because you were out of your league. If someone hadn't stepped in, you'd be halfway across this globe wearing a dozen veils and learning some new belly-dance for a pasha!"
"How DARE you bring that up. You are nothing but a...a..."

"Will the two of you shut UP?" Tranquillo pinched the bridge of his nose with his finger and thumb.
"I am TRYING to mount a decent boarding and the two of you are giving me a headache.
I must say, your cargo is infinitely prettier than ours and I will deal with that cargo in a bit.. Now....where is Captain Jack Wolfe?
"For the last time, Captain Wolfe is not on board," Phillip said hotly.
Tranquillo nodded to Alvarez. The quartermaster drew his rapier and pointed it at Philip's chest, pressing the tip of the blade ever so close to his skin.

Tranquillo stuck his face close to Phillip's. "Captain Jack Wolfe never leaves his ship in another's command. Now...where is he? Hiding like the coward he is?"
"My father is not a coward, you bastard!"

Tranquillo turned sharply and a smile slowly spread over his face. Softly he said, "Dios mio, this is even better than I had hoped for."
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #65 on: October 11, 2016, 09:32:46 AM »

Phillip's eyes never left Tranquillo's face.
"Let her go, Mendoza. She doesn't have anything to do with this."
"Oh, no? This is a blood feud between the house of Mendoza and the house of Wolfe. I intend to take Miss Wolfe back to Havana with me."

He caressed Zara's cheek with the back of his hand and brushed her hair back.
"Perhaps we shall take the way back leisurely--passing the time in my quarters uninterrupted. Then send her off to one of Havana's brothels. Or keep her as my own. Do to her what her father did to my mother. And maybe I will kill you just for the hell of it. But no, that would not serve my purpose. So this is the bargain. I will let you live. And you can take back the tale to Jack Wolfe of what happened to his beautiful daughter."
Zara's eyes closed in revulsion.
"I will take Miss Wolfe and she will be my puta. You know what a puta is, don't you, Captain Briggs?"
Phillip clenched his teeth and said quietly, "A whore."
Tranquillo laughed softly.
"Ah, yes. A whore."
Zara spat in Tranquillo's face. "I will NEVER be your whore!"
Tranquillo wiped his face and then smirked. He straightened his gloves carefully and  without warning, backhanded Zara hard across the face.
Phillip made an instinctive step towards Zara but Tranquillo drew his pistol and pointed it at Phillip's chest.
"Not a step further, Captain."
Zara rubbed her face, tears welling up in her eyes.

Tranquillo held her close. "Ah yes, she will serve her purpose. Perhaps we shall even have children. Grandchildren of Diego Mendoza, his sworn enemy. You can tell Jack Wolfe that."
Zara whispered, "I will never marry you."

Tranquillo laughed with derision. "Marry? Don't be absurd. My wife would never allow that. Now when--and if--she is of no further use to me, I will let her whore her way back to Barbados."

A solitary tear trickled down her cheek.
"Or maybe, Captain Briggs, I kill you and the crew and your quartermaster can tell her father the fate of the two of you."
He whispered in Zara's ear. "Are you trembling in fright? Or anticipation?"
He trailed his hand and cupped the softness under her chemise.
"Captain Briggs will die with the knowledge I will possess you. Or maybe he will have a demonstration of that first."
Phillip made a start towards Tranquillo. Tranquillo cocked his pistol, while holding Zara close to him.
"You are making my decision for me, Captain Briggs. And I think it is now time for you to meet your God..."
Just then the pistol shot up in the air. With lightning fast reflexes, Phillip whipped his pistol out of the belt near the small of his back and fired dead center into Tranquillo's chest.

 The Spaniard staggered backwards, releasing his grip on Zara.
His hand grasped the ruby handled dagger embedded in his chest and then slid down the wall, falling to the side.

The Spanish crew looked on in disbelief as their captain collapsed to the deck, not realising the crew of El Lobo had already filled their hands with swords and pistols. The Spanish quartermaster, Alvarez, moved to draw his pistol, only to find his English counterpart had a pistol levelled at his head.
"Go ahead," said Davis. "What's one more dead Spaniard?"
Alvarez took a ragged breath and raised both hands in submission. His sword clattered to the deck.
The crew of the Spanish ship looked at one another nervously, uncertain if they should attack the Englishmen. The crew of El Lobo outnumbered them two to one. Was their fallen captain worth a certain bloodbath?
"Tell them to drop their weapons," said Phillip. "There's been enough killing for one day."
Alvarez barked an order, and his men reluctantly placed their weapons on the deck.
"Seize that ship," Phillip ordered his men. "Confine the crew, and I want all of them alive."

Zara stood staring at the lifeless body of Tranquillo. But at the sound of Phillips voice, she flew to his arms and sobbed uncontrollably.
"It's all right," he said softly. "You're safe."
"He---he was going to kill you. I had to do something."
"Hush, Zara. It's over now."
« Last Edit: October 11, 2016, 09:33:57 AM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #66 on: December 02, 2016, 07:40:36 PM »
Phillip looked back at Davis, and the quartermaster gave his captain a knowing nod.
As Phillip led a trembling, unsteady Zara below, Davis took command of the situation.
"All right, you lot heard the captain," he yelled to his men as he relieved Alvarez of his rapier and pistol. "Step lively and collect any arms you can find. Bind those men on deck, and sweep below for anyone hiding. You there, Hobson!"
Hobson, a burly crewman who also served as ship's cooper, turned and put his hand by his ear to hear above the commotion. "Aye, sir?"
"Take your tools and two men over there. I'll be wanting their chain."
Hobson smiled broadly. "I'll have it for you, with pleasure!"

Zara jumped as the latch clicked behind Phillip as he close the door on his way out. He had promised he would be back as soon as he could, after a few things had been taken care of. He assured her the danger was over and she was safe now. No one would ever harm her again.
She rubbed her arms as if a chilly breeze drifted through the cabin.
Suddenly she felt the need to retch. She ran to the basin and all she could manage was dry heaves. She hadn't eaten since the morning and there was nothing to come up. Hastily she stripped off her clothes and threw them out the porthole. The waves claimed them in seconds.
She poured water from the pitcher into a bowl to wash, scrubbing herself raw. Her skin burned from Tranquillo's touch as she tried to wash away the feel.
Zara looked in the mirror and what stared back was the haunted look in her eyes.
As if she were moving in a dream, she threw the towel down and pulled out a fresh chemise, cascading over her body.
Opening the door to Phillip's cabin, she walked over to the liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of rum.
Anything to dull the ache in her stomach.
The cork came out easy enough and Zara poured herself a generous glass. She took a deep breath and coughed as the liquor spread its warmth through her body.
'Now I can see why Da and Uncle Josiah like it so much.'
She poured herself another glass and found it went down easier than the first one. Still one more.
Zara was not used to anything but an occasional glass of wine but there was an urgent need for something stronger. The bottle was soon dry. Anything to numb the scenario that kept playing through Zara's mind.
It didn't take long for the rum to take the desire effect. Zara found the room was starting to spin a bit. She spied Phillip's shirt on the bed and picked it up. She held on to it for dear life and stroked her face with it. Then she burst into sobs.
Zara had come so close to losing all that she held dear. Tristan was child's play compared to the Spaniard with an agenda and revenge on his mind. The animosity between her father and this man's father had still played out after all these years. Her parents never talked about it and if they did, it was in hushed tones that followed with silence whenever their children entered the room.
She barely crawled into her own bed, sobs wracking her body. If she hadn't whipped the dagger out of her pocket and stabbed Tranquillo when she did, by this time she would have been in Tranquillo's cabin, subjected to anything he wanted.
'I'm not sorry..I'm not sorry...I'm not sorry....' she whispered between sobs.
She clutched the shirt as she felt the alcohol take over her senses. The last thing she remembered as she landed on the bed sideways was pulling the sheet up to her chin as her head hit the pillow.
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #67 on: December 02, 2016, 07:44:47 PM »
In less than an hour, all eighteen crewmen of the Spanish ship had been rounded up and taken to the weather deck. They sat dejectedly with their hands bound behind them, helpless as they watched every pistol and sword be carried over to El Lobo. Some of the men prayed in a whisper, other sat silently, contemplating whatever fate awaited them. They could see their officers aboard the English ship, standing impotently as their vessel was ransacked. Finally, the English captain emerged from below deck.
 Phillip regarded the Spanish officers with a grim gaze.
"Alvarez, is it?"
Alvarez nodded. "What do you intend to do with us? With our ship?"
"We have no use for your ship. Regardless of what your captain believed, we are not pirates," said Phillip. "I will return your ship to you. You're free to go your way, and we will go ours."
"How can I trust you?"
"You're forgetting who was the aggressor in all this, Mister Alvarez. You will have to take my word that we mean you no harm."
The Spaniard nodded warily. "And what of my captain?"
"His body is already back aboard your ship, in his quarters."
"Gracias," Alvarez replied. "Though I do not think he would have given you the same... dignity."
"We'll never know, will we? Right, then. Back to your ship. We part ways, once and for all. Mister Davis, see to it these men make it back aboard their own ship without incident."
"Aye, they'll get back in one piece. All right, gentlemen, time for you to leave. I think you know the way."
 Phillip waited until the Spanish officers were ready to swing back to their ship before catching their attention one last time.
"Oh, and Mister Alvarez? Don't even think of trying to follow us. My men took the liberty of removing your rudder chain. These winds should take you somewhere near Havana, by my estimate. You'll be in the shipping lanes at any rate. Someone will find you. I hope for your sake they're friendly. Bon voyage."
Alvarez opened his mouth to protest, but he found the El Lobo crew starting to move toward the railing where he and his men stood. With a disgusted shake of his head, the Spaniards returned to their ship and shame that awaited them in their home port.
The Spanish ship was carried westward by the whim of the prevailing winds, while El Lobo made her way north en route to the Virgina colony.
Phillip stood at the gunwale, the bottle of whiskey at his side. He watched in silence as the other vessel grew smaller in the distance. Soon it would vanish from sight. The day's events and their aftershocks would not disappear so easily.

Davis came over and stood next to him.
"Nice shooting, Captain," he said quietly.
Phillip stared out over the black water, the hull of the ship cutting through with a white wake as it glided over the sea.
His eyes never left the view as he took a deep drink from the bottle.
"I won't have her live with the knowledge that she was the one who killed him," he replied. "I won't do that to her. As far as she will ever know, it was my shot that killed him."
Davis helped himself to the whiskey. "She lost a fair bit of innocence today, fearing for her life. You're a good man to keep the blood off her hands."
"Am I? I can't help thinking there's more I could have done, other things I should have done to avoid getting caught by that Spaniard. I'm supposed to keep the ship and everyone safe."
"You reckon you failed Jack, then."
Phillip nodded.
"To quote Jack, then; 'Bollocks!' The ship is still in one piece, so are the crew. We have all our cargo. And Zara, well, she got a nasty fright, but nothing more. Phillip, you did what you thought was right. And you made the best of it. We've had closer scrapes and laughed them off. Why are we treating this one like a funeral?"
"The stakes are higher this time, I suppose," replied Phillip.
"Don't get so damned wrapped up in what could have been. Learn from what happened and move on. You've got good instincts. Don't throw away your trust them."

Davis pulled Zara's dagger from his pocket. "Getting back to our Spanish friend; I retrieved this when they were scraping the peacock off the deck. I don't suppose Zara will be wanting this back?"
Phillip shook his head. "She has enough to remind her of this day. Throw it to the Locker for all I care."
The quartermaster looked at the dagger for a moment, then took his own pocket knife and pried loose the ruby from the dagger's hilt. He rubbed the stone against his shirt and handed it to Phillip.
"Keep it to yourself, and use it to buy the lass something pretty. She deserves that much."
Davis hurled the knife into the sea and walked away softly whistling a tune.
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?

Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #68 on: January 02, 2017, 08:37:19 PM »
Phillip sat on the edge of his bed and reached underneath for the bottle of rum. He uncorked it and took a healthy swig of it. It went down smoothly. Too smoothly. In a matter of minutes, the bottle was empty. He reached into the liquor cabinet he kept and pulled out a bottle of Irish whiskey. Taken off that British ship a few years ago, Phillip was saving it.
Now, more than ever, seemed to be the right time. As he poured a few drinks, he ran his fingers through his hair.
The enormity of what almost happened made him shudder. If Zara hadn't pulled her bodice dagger out when she did, even out of reflex, he very well might be dead. And Zara would be community property of the Mercedes II and later on her way to Havana and God knows what.

He laid back and threw his forearm over his eyes. He almost failed in his mission. To keep Zara safe and deliver her to Virginia. He shuddered as he realized how close he had come in failing to keep his promise to Mad Jack Wolfe.

The whiskey was taking effect quickly. Phillip realized he hadn't eaten since lunch but the thoughts of food were far removed from his mind. He fell into a twilight sleep, images of smoke and screams and Tranquillo's smug face.
The scream...the scream!

He jumped up, and suddenly leaned against the wall, his stature unsteady from all the alcohol. He kicked an empty rum bottle out of his way as he made his way to the direction of the sounds of a night terror.
As he opened the door, there sat Zara straight up in her bed. Her face was streaked with tears. The bedclothes were tossed and her chemise drifted down off one shoulder. Her hair was in disarray and a sheen of sweat glistened off her.
"Zara? Zara! What's wrong?"

She had the corner of the blanket up to her face as she tried to wipe the tears off her face.
" was awful. I saw his face. And then...."
She held her hands out as if inspecting them. "It--it's the blood. It won't come off. Phillip, it won't come off!"
Phillip sat on the edge of the bed and held her hands in his.
Very softly, he said, "Zara, there is no blood."
"But there is! Don't you.....see?"
She looked down and her laugh was brittle.
"You had a nightmare. And no wonder, after all that has happened today. "
He brushed her hair back and wiped her face with the blanket.

Her chemise clung to her, leaving no doubt in Phillip's mind now she was not a child anymore but a young woman.
"I can't stop shaking." She held her hands out and they trembled.
"Hold on." He went to his cabin and came back with a bottle of whiskey.
"Take a sip. A small---"
Zara put the bottle to her lips and coughed.
She coughed again as Phillip took the bottle away.
She closed her eyes as the warmth from the whiskey flowed through her.
"Phillip? Would you...would you please stay here till I fall asleep? I'm so afraid the nightmare will come back."

He hesitated. But Zara's imploring eyes and her hand reached for his arm.
"It's hard for a Wolfe to admit they are afraid, but I am."
"Zara, you are safe here. I am just in the next room. I'll even leave the door open."
She cast her eyes down.
He sighed.
"Alright. I'll stay."
"Thank you," she said in a small voice.
He put his feet up on the bed and laid down.

"What did  you do with....him?"
"He's on his way back to Havana. Probably in a vat of rum."
Zara looked stricken.
"I'm sorry, Zara. But that is the way they do it when they want to..."
She looked about to be sick.
"Never mind. That was thoughtless of me. His crew will see that he gets where he is supposed to."
"Where is the...the....dagger? Did it stay with....?"
"No. Davis pitched it into the sea. He thought you wouldn't be wanting it back."
She nodded silently. "Thank you."

Her hair fell in a tangle around her face. He gently brushed it back as they faced each other. She tucked her arm under her pillow and watched his face as he laid on the pillow next to her.
"Phillip? Do you ever think about....death?"
"Occasionally. Then I brush it aside and go on with living life to the full."
"That's just it. You've had a wonderful time. I'm just starting to come into my own. And the thoughts of dying without ever living a fulfilled life scares me."
"Zara, you are young. You have a wonderful life ahead of you."
"Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Of course."
"Do you intend to marry Lenore Culley?"

He sighed. "I'm promised to be engaged, Zara."
"That's not an answer, Phillip."
"It's all I can really say. Decisions will have to be made when I get back from Virginia."
She nodded, a look of misery in her eyes.
"Zara? Are you alright?"
She felt her eyes mist up and felt a bit sick to her stomach.
"I'm....alright. Except...."
"What, Cookie?"
"That's just it. You call me Cookie and it is a name from when I was a toddler." Her words came out in a rush.
"I'm not a toddler anymore, Phillip, and you can stop treating me like one. And there is one thing I am afraid of. It's coming back from  Virginia and not ever feeling the way I feel when I am with you."
She reached up and touched his cheek gently.

"If nothing comes of this, then I will at least know what love is. I can accept that if you decide Lenore is the one you want.  I will learn to live with that.
But for now, right here in this room and in this bed, it is just us.
It is what I want, Phillip, and I know it is what you want too."

The tears welled up in her eyes as she gathered up her courage to whisper what she had longed to say.
"I love you, Phillip."
And with that she kissed him.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #69 on: February 04, 2017, 09:58:41 PM »
It took a few moments for Zara's words to wend their way through the whiskey haze and into his consciousness. He looked into her eyes and found himself utterly defenseless. She was Jack Wolfe's daughter. He had made some vague noises that sounded like a promise to Lenore Culley. Zara was not supposed to be alone with him like this, and he wasn't supposed to want her this badly.

"Zara... you... I..."
"That's the idea," she whispered, and she drew him into a deep kiss. 

She drew back from him and with trembling fingers, began to unfasten the tiny buttons on her chemise.
 "Shhh....," he whispered in the dark as his fingers took over the task.

The fabric fell away like a silken waterfall in the moonlight.
 Phillip gently pushed Zara back and kissed her neck.
Zara put her arms around Phillip, drawing him to her.
His lips grazed her shoulder.
 At that moment, the thoughts of Lenore Culley and the red haired woman erased from Phillip's memory.
 All he could think of was the young woman he had known since she was a toddler.  Now a passionate woman who wanted him, body and soul.

His hand slid over her hips, gathering the fabric of her silk chemise with his fingers. He gently lifted the garment over her head. Zara's eyes stayed locked with his. She responded in kind by tugging at his shirt, pulling it over his head and casting it off the bed to lie with her chemise. They kissed, an intense, fiery kiss that would not easily fall to embers. Zara felt light-headed, but not from the alcohol. The sensation of Phillip's skin against her own was intoxicating in ways she had never dreamed possible. Feeling his hands on her body, stroking her, caressing her, made her want him even more. Her fantasies could not prepare her for the rush of desire that overtook her at this moment.

Every practiced touch and kiss from Phillip seemed to carry its own electric charge, her body responding in ways she had not anticipated. She gave herself over to him without reservation, joining with him in an ever-heightening spiral of ecstasy.

To finally hold Zara in his arms, to at last acknowledge his feelings and desire for her, was like throwing off shackles for Phillip. The warmth of her body, the sweet smell of her skin, the taste of her kiss, every supple curve under his touch, made his blood burn. At this moment, no other woman mattered to him, just as to her no other man existed.

The lovers, no longer burdened by rules and pretense, could finally allow their smouldering desire to become one flame.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #70 on: April 03, 2017, 07:35:47 PM »

Phillip tenderly brushed the hair back from her face.
The moonlight shone down on the couple through the porthole.
"I'm sorry, Zara. I didn't mean for this to happen."
She stroked his face. "I'm not sorry. And yes, I meant for this to happen so don't have any regrets."
He held her close and kissed her.
"I don't think I have ever seen a woman glow like you are now."
She laughed softly, "You underestimate yourself, Mister Briggs."
He took her hand and kissed it.
"You, my girl, are amazing."
"But I am not a girl anymore. And there is one thing I have learned."
He drew back and laughed softly. "Just one thing?"
"Alright, quite a few things but you know what fleeting thought went through my mind?"
"Now I know that look Da would give Mama and the smile she gave in return. And why I have six brothers and sisters."
He laughed, "Well, it has been said that Jack Wolfe never left a woman unsatisfied."
She drew him close to her and kissed him.
"Can we do this again?"

"What, now?"
"Zara, along with the whiskey, that took alot out of me."
"Is that why you were breathing heavy?"
She rolled over and propped herself up on her elbow. She ran her finger down the side of his face and traced her finger on his lips.
"Because it was your first time. I wanted it to be perfect for you. No clumsiness, no awkwardness. Just...pure bliss."

She laid her head on Phillip's chest and sighed contentedly.
" Da said you were to be my instructor."
He placed his finger on her lips.
"This is one lesson, Zara, that we aren't going to tell your father about."
He drew her close to him. "I guess we won't be getting much sleep."
Her soft voice echoed in the room. "No, I guess we won't."


Zara snuggled up next to Phillip.
He gently stroked her back as he drew the blankets over her.
"How many days till we reach Virginia?"
"About ten days with a good wind."
"I wish we could stay here, Phillip. In this cabin and never have to surface again."
He laughed. "The crew needs me to get El Lobo to port. We had enough trouble.
"I need you too."
"Yes, but not the way they do."
She got up, the blanket trailing behind her as she wrapped herself up in it.
"The moon is still up. I imagine it is about two in the morning."
Phillip yawned, "More like two-thirty."
"How do you know?"
"Sailor's instinct. Now come back to bed where you belong."
She grinned and climbed back in.
He wrapped his arms around her and drew her to him in a deep kiss.
"I love you, Zara."

She pulled back suddenly. "What did you say?"
"I love you. God help me, I have tried to fight it but I can't deny it any longer. You are smart, beautiful, fun-loving. Everything I have ever wanted in a woman."
"A woman. Phillip, this is the first time you have admitted that I am a woman."
"Well...." he laughed. "I feel so free when I am with you. It's honest. It's real. Maybe I was just waiting for you to grow up."
Zara felt the tears well up in her eyes.
"Oh, Phillip....I love you. I love you with all my heart."

With that confession, Phillip knew there was no way he was going to marry Lenore Culley.
A conversation from a month back flashed through his mind.

"Are you going to end it with Lenore?"
"I think I would be doing her a disservice by marrying her when..."
"When you are in love with another woman?"
" did you know?"
"The distraction. The questioning. The doubts. But I have a thought for you to ponder."
"Of al the women in the world, why did you have to fall in love with the daughter of Mad Jack Wolfe?"

He sighed. 'Renee, you could give Bonita a run for her money with your uncanny talent for predictions. Or are you just stating the bleeding obvious?'

With that he blew the candle out and settled down to as deep a sleep as he had not experienced in a long while.
All the while holding the woman he could finally love completely.

« Last Edit: April 03, 2017, 07:36:24 PM by Welsh Wench »
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #71 on: May 02, 2017, 07:52:03 PM »
Davis stood at the gunwale, watching a few dolphins frolic in El Lobo's wake.
Keating sidled up next to him.
"Seen Captain Briggs?"
"Yes and no."
"What does that mean? Either you saw him or you didn't."

"It's that I mostly see the back of him  as he goes back to the cabin. Frequently."
"Ah, well, he's in love."
"More like a new plaything."
"Don't be so ticked off, Davis. You were young once."
Davis threw his cigarette into the water.
"He makes the lamest excuses. He has to check the charts. He has to write in the log book. As if he ever did before. But the one last night was the topper. He had to go back for his hat."
"So what is so wrong with that?"
"He was wearing it."

Keating laughed. "Well, we haven't seen much of Miss Zara. Either she is occupied with her books or Briggs took her clothes away."
"Regardless, ol' Mad Jack will be out of his mind when he finds out. After all, that's his little girl."
"Don't be too sure about that, Davis. Phillip has been like a son to Jack. Maybe this is all part of a master plan. She has to get married sometime and what better way than to arrange it with somone you select yourself?"
"Aye, well, he'd best marry the lass before she makes him a father and HER father a grandfather. That won't go over so well and young girls...well, they can be careless."

Zara propped herself up on her elbow, the sheet barely covering her breasts.
She smiled at Phillip as he pulled his shirt over  his head.
"Do you really have to go?"
He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
"Yes, sweetheart, I have your father's ship to command. And the sooner we get to Virginia, the easier I will breathe."
Zara stretched her arms over her head. "OH...I kind of like passing time here."
He grinned, "I'll take that as a compliment."
"How many more days till we reach Virginia?"
"About ten days."
She ran her finger up and down the blanket languishly. "And that leaves ten nights."
He laughed. "I'm going to have to stop my afternoon visits. The crew is beginning to whisper and talk."
"Let them. After all, you tell them you are picking up papers or writing in the log."
"They aren't dim-witted, sweetheart."
"Well, maybe I need to go up on deck."
She started out of bed. He grabbed her from behind and pulled her back in bed, kissing her neck.
"Oh, I don't think so. I like you just where you are."

Davis passed the door and heard soft laughter and giggling from inside.
He shook his head. "Can't we make it to Virginia in seven days? If he says clap on more sail, he'll get no argument from me."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

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Offline Welsh Wench

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« Reply #72 on: June 02, 2017, 08:10:02 PM »
Meanwhile, back in Barbados.....

"Good morning, darling," Josiah kissed Renee on the cheek as she sat there with her coffee cup in her hands.
She took a sip and smiled to herself.
"Good morning to you, too, love."
Josiah turned as he finished pouring himself a cup of coffee.

"What is that look?"
"What look?"
"That look like you know something and maybe want to say it but don't know if you should. Like a secret that is like a cat in the bag. You want to let it out but don't know if you should."
She laughed. "Josie, Josie.... what makes you think that?"

"Because I know you, Renee. Better than you probably know yourself."
She put her coffee cup down and traced her finger around the edge as a bit of a tease. That was when Josiah knew she was about to spill the beans. So he patiently waited.

"I was just wondering...."
" you and Jack will look as proud grandparents at a baby's baptism."


Renee looked over. "
"Oh...was it something I said?" She asked with a cocked eyebrow.
"Where in God's green earth did you EVER come up with a notion like that?"
She leaned back and stretched her arms over her head.
"I've always thought it. But never got around to mentioning it."
"I think you have been adding a bit too much rum in your coffee."
"Oh, have I? Or am I the only one saying what is the obvious?"
"Renee, Phillip is going to marry Lenore Culley."

"I wouldn't be too sure about that."
Josiah mopped up the spilled coffee. "How do you figure that?"

She took the wet rag from him and tossed it in the sink..
"Here. Use this one to mop your brow while I explain."
He sat down and reached for the rum.
Renee set another cup of coffee down in front of him.
"Have you ever known Jack Wolfe to do something that wouldn't benefit him?"
"Well, no..."

"You take one starry-eyed seventeen year old. Add a tall, strapping good-looking man with
nothing to do on a ship for a few weeks but watch out for said seventeen year old. Anything is possible."
"Phillip wouldn't!"
"Would. Could. Probably did. Oh, don't look so shocked, Josiah. You know how Phillip is and what a determined young lady Zara is. Has that girl ever been denied anything she set her heart on?"

Josiah gulped his coffee. "Jack will kill him."
"Don't be too sure. What better way to ensure that you like your son-in-law than to handpick him yourself?"
"But that is so...calculated. Jack wouldn't do that to Zara."

"Who better understand human emotions and certain drives better than Jack Wolfe? He's just enabling Zara to get what she wanted all along. And giving Phillip an option instead of making the biggest mistake of his life by marrying that stuck up viper."

Josiah stood up and grabbed his hat. "I have to see Jack about some molasses that are due to go out next run. We'll forget this conversation ever existed."

As he walked out the door, Renee took another sip of her coffee and smiled.
"Don't be too sure, my love. I am betting it is already a done deal."
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 08:10:57 PM by Welsh Wench »
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #73 on: July 05, 2017, 07:07:18 PM »
Josiah walked toward the tall oak doors at the back of the estate house. He never could get used to having his presence announced, and the waiting for Jack to receive him always felt uncomfortably long. Jack often teased him about his actual reasons for preferring the rear entrance over the front. Closer to Mrs Avery's scones and tarts, he always said. And Jack's house always had an open door policy for those considered more family than friends. 

As he mounted the stairs, the sea breeze ruffled his hair. Life was good, he contemplated. Good friends, one he regarded closer than a brother. A beautiful, supportive woman to love him. And a son that would make any man proud.
'My son...' he thought.

Renee's fanciful suppositions rankled him. 'No, not possible. Phillip was a man of honour. A man betrothed to a woman of high society with the possibility of a meaningful career. He wouldn't throw away his chances on-- Josiah shook his head as if to clear it. Renee always had a wild imagination. And that she regarded Phillip as the son she never had made their relationship all the more special. Because he was a child of choice, not by accident. Accident, babies-- good grief, Briggs! Snap out of it!

He shifted the papers he carried to his other arm and knocked. Honour of all people answered the door, a baby on her hip and a streak of flour on her face.
"Josiah! Come in!"
He smiled when he saw her. "What on earth are you up to, Honour?"
"Oh, just helping Mrs Avery roll out some dough. The baby was in her cradle in the kitchen, and I just picked her up when you knocked. But you don't have to knock, Josiah. You are family. Next time just come in. Promise?"
 He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "I promise. Now, is the captain of the house around?"
"He's just finishing up with an invoice with Eli. Go right in."
Josiah made his way down the hall to Jack's study and de facto business office. In many ways, it felt like his many walks to the great cabin aboard El Lobo. The door was open, but he felt the need to knock anyway.

"Master Briggs! Since when did we begin standing on pretence? Make your way in, you scoundrel! You know where everything is," called Jack.
Josiah chuckled as he stepped into the expansive library Jack called a study. Eli was sitting in a chair across from Jack's desk, but for a change, the young man seemed relaxed. Unusually so. But presently he gathered up his papers and hat.
"Much obliged, Cap'n Wolfe."
"Eli, how many times must I ask you just to call me Jack?"
"At least once more, Cap'n. As you'll always be my Cap'n."
"On your way, Mister Meredith. All my best to your family."
Eli paused to acknowledge Briggs before he left the room. And Briggs couldn't help but notice the large brown bottle of rum on Jack's desk.

"Josiah!" said Jack. "What brings you round this fine day? Let me pour you a gulper, like old times."
As Jack poured the rum, Briggs said, "I recall it was me pouring you a gulper, you being captain and all."
"Again with the pretences. Here. Courtesy of Will Harkness himself."
Josiah knocked the cup back and found himself gasping for air. "What in blazes is that?!" he managed to croak out.
"Rum, of course," said Jack. "Unless you've lost your taste for it."
"My taste be just fine. What's left of it, after that. I'd stow it well away from the powder magazine if you get my meaning. How many have you had?"
"Two, before that one. I think. So, what's on your mind, my friend?"
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Offline Captain Jack Wolfe

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« Reply #74 on: July 05, 2017, 07:07:55 PM »
Josiah plopped into a chair and tried to formulate his words as the rum's effects began to work its ways with him.
"Well, Jack, Renee and I were talking..."
"Good man. Communication is the key to a happy marriage."
"No, I mean, we were talking about Phillip. More to the point, Phillip and a certain young lady we're both acquainted with."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe either of us is sufficiently drunk enough to continue this conversation if it's headed where I think it's headed."
Briggs handed over his cup. "Aye, that be true enough."

Jack poured them each a generous portion, which was quickly consumed by both men. After a few moments of shuddering and head shaking, Jack said, "All right. What are your concerns?"
"None that you haven't had yourself on a sleepless night."
"Snoring? And don't tell Honour I said anything. It's a sensitive subject."
Josiah set his empty cup down on Jack's desk. "No. Not snoring. You see, Renee mentioned—"
Before he could protest, the cup was refilled and waiting for him. He gave a resigned shrug and picked it up.
"She mentioned how this certain young lady had caught Phillip's eye. And how he's taken quite a fancy to her."
He paused to gauge Jack's reaction.
Jack took another drink and nodded attentively. "Yes, and?"
Josiah took another drink himself to hide his puzzlement. "Well, them being from such different family backgrounds and such, it makes you wonder how her parents might feel about, you know, things."

"Ah, I see your point," said Jack. "A young woman's parents can be very protective. And rightly so."
"I said as much to Renee. But she doesn't see any rough waters ahead."
"Renee is an excellent judge of people. And I would agree. I think Phillip has found a fine match."
Briggs choked on his rum. "You— what did you say??"
"I said Phillip found a suitable woman."
"You'd best pour me another."
"Well, 'suitable' might be a stretch. She's certainly stuck up. And more than a little boring."
"I never thought I'd hear you say that, Jack. Not in a million years."
"Why not?" said Jack. "It's the truth. But there's not a lot of choice on this island for a strapping young man. He could do worse than Lenore Culley."
"Lenore? I thought you were talking about.. you know..."
"No, I really don't."
Jack shook his head. "Why would I be talking about her? You're not making any sense, mate."
"I do appreciate it, Josiah," said Jack as he topped off their cups. "To be honest, the thought had crossed my mind as we were planning Zara's disappearance. Phillip is a good man. The only scallywag on this island I would trust with her safety more is yourself."
"Then Phillip is—"
"Dear Phillip is a calculated risk. One that I believe I could live with."
"That's right kind of you to say, Jack. And Phillip is a smart man. Hopefully smart enough to keep from... well, you know."
"We're smart men, and I don't recall it ever slowing us down. Especially the times it should have had us racing out of the harbour. But I will know if anything untoward happened."
Josiah nodded. "A father's intuition about the well-being of his daughter, is it?"
"Far more practical, and inscrutable," said Jack. "The bed will tell the tale if there is indeed a tale to be told."
"That rickety old thing? It's been broken more often than a banker's promises, and triced up as if by a drunken spider."
Jack smiled and touched his nose.
"Ah! You rigged the bed!"
"During one of my inspections of El Lobo just before they departed, I took the liberty of making a few adjustments. Anything over the weight of a man plus a sack of grain and pop goes the bedposts."

Briggs burst out in laughter at the thought of the bed collapsing at an inopportune moment. "And them with no way of knowing how it was tied up in the first place..."
"Plus a red herring or two to confuse things more. That's where the missing deck gun got to, in case you're wondering."
"I'm hoping it doesn't come to that, of course," chortled Briggs. "But it would be a fine test of their ingenuity."
"Hang their ingenuity. My intention was to give them something else to occupy their time," said Jack. The two men clinked their cups together in agreement.

"By the way, has there been any word of the parcel I sent to the Barbary Coast?" said Jack.
Josiah shook his head. "They should be on their way back by now. Those waters aren't what you'd call hospitable."
He took another sip before continuing. "Jack, I know it's not my place to question your motives, especially in personal matters—"
"Which has never stopped you before. Go on, my friend."
"When the Culley boy threatened Zara the way he did, there wasn't a man aboard who didn't want to have a few words with him, shall we say. A few of those words being 'shark bait" and the like. But we knew you'd sort him out in due time and keep Zara protected."
"I— I never quite expected you to go as far as you did with it. He's the governor's son, after all. Do you think it's wise?"
"Josiah, I could have killed him. Part of me wanted to. But then he'd never learn anything from his mistake."
"Isn't sending him off to a seraglio the same thing?"
"Not at all. Tristan will be well treated. Treated better than a slave, at any rate."
"So you didn't sell him to a sultan?"
"No. I didn't. It's not like I would get a decent price for him."
"You're going to have to fill in the map for me, Jack. You've got me lost."
"There is a particular sultan who owes me a favour or two. Remember when we convinced an East India company warship an entire Turkish fleet was bearing down on them?"
"When we were just six ships towing lighted rafts! How could I forget?"
"Tristan Culley is being delivered to that sultan to be a servant in the palace for no less than three years. After that, he's free to go."
"That's all fine and good," said Briggs. "But three years? What happens when he turns up here in Barbados lookin' for retribution?"
"He won't be in Barbados."
"How's that? The first place any man kept in irons wants to go once freed is home."
"And home he will go. To London Towne."
"Another favour called in?"
"Another favour," said Jack with a smile. "My having certain ties to the Admiralty, and those ties having their own to a lot of stuffy folk in white wigs, it means that in less than two year's time Governor Culley will be recalled to England. Much to his relief, I'm sure. And Tristan will be reunited with his father soon thereafter. The opera is always looking for a good contralto."
"Just one flaw in your plan," said Josiah. "Phillip has no love for Mother England. His heart be here, 'tween the waves of the Caribbean, same as you and me. Lenore will want to stay close to Daddy and even closer to high society, so marrying her means leaving Barbados and most likely the sea to boot. All the more incentive for him to keep his sights closer to friendly shores. If you catch my meaning."
Jack sat back in his chair. "Your meaning is caught, Master Briggs."
"How's that calculated risk playing out for you now?"
"In-laws? Us?"
"We've shared hard times and good fortune for a good many years. I reckon we could weather this as well."
Jack nodded agreement.
"Of course, it could all be a passing fancy on Zara's part, too. How likely is she to lose interest in something she's grown fond of?"
"She's still got that toy rabbit I picked up for her on the way to Wales."
Briggs' eyebrows went up in surprise. "Well, em... Probably a good thing we all get along so well."
"Then I suppose a toast is in order," said Jack. He hefted the bottle and noticed it was nearly empty.
"How about we finish the bottle, and save the toast for another day, eh? What say you?"
"Fair enough, says I," said Briggs as he drained his cup.
"Another day it is," said Jack.

Honour and Renee withdrew from the door of Jack's study.
"What did I tell you?" said Renee.
"Time for us to chat," said Honour. "And I know where the rest of Will's finest is kept."
"Lead on!"
Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?


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