Pirate Festival > Port of Call

BARATARIA

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Welsh Wench:
Reply author: Welsh Wench

Caesaire ran towards the dock to where she last docked the Shattered Dreams. A cluster of people were gathered around. She pushed her way through. There on the banks of the River, Pere Antoine was blessing the bodies that were covered with sheets.
"NO!" Caesaire screamed. "NO!"
Pere Antoine turned to her with sad eyes and said, "Oui, ma petite." He stiffly raised himself up from his knees and took her by the elbow away from the crowd.
Caesaire was trembling despite the warmness of the morning. She laid her hand on the priest and whispered, "All of them? All who were on board?"
Pere Antoine sadly nodded his head. She put her fist to her mouth to choke back the tears.
"Mon Dieu. Pierre....Jacques.....Lucien....mes amis. Mes amis....."
Pere Antoine held her and patted her on the back. "Perhaps, Caesaire, some spiritual guidance..."
She looked at him with a tear-stained face. "Non, Pere. NO! Do not give me a 'repent and sin no more, child' discourse."
She broke away from him and whispered, "I know who did this. And there will be le diable to pay."

She ran up St Peter Street to Bourbon, then to the stucco and brick small Creole establishment. From the outside it looked like a dwelling. She yanked the door open. Inside Dominique You and Pierre Lafitte looked up from some papers they were poring over.
"Where is he? OU EST JEAN LE CHIEN?!"
Dominque was startled. "Caesaire? What is wrong?"
The tears started flowing down her face. "My crew is dead. DEAD! And my ship is gone. Disappeared. Sometime during the night, the crew was killed and the ship was taken. And...PIERRE LAFITTE, WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING?"
Pierre had gotten up and headed for a door in the back. She ran to him.
"Do you think you are going to warn that dog of a brother of yours that he has a distraught woman in his receiving room? LET ME SAVE YOU THE TROUBLE!"
She pushed him aside and flung the door open.
Jean Lafitte sat at his mahogany desk, his shirt sleeves rolled up, a thin cigar in his mouth.
"Bon jour, cher. What brings you here on this fine morning?"
The smoke from the cigar wreathed his face in blue smoke.
She flung herself at him, beating him with her fists. "YOU KILLED THEM! YOU KILLED THEM AND THEN STOLE MY SHIP!"

He grabbed her by the wrists just as Dominique and Pierre burst forth. Pierre pulled her off Jean.
Jean dusted himself off and said coldly, "I don't know what you are talking about but I strongly advise you to get yourself under control. It would never do for you to become known as a pirate diva."
She broke herself away from Pierre's grasp. She could barely whisper, "Murderer. Thief."
She turned and ran out.
Dominique and Pierre looked at Jean. He just shrugged.
"She's overwrought. A woman thing."
They closed the door and went back to their business.

Caesaire walked back to her house on St Louis Street, her emotions in a whirlwind. As she entered, her father came into the foyer.
"Caesaire? What is wrong?"
She flung her hat down and turned her face to the wall, sobbing.
"Jean Lafitte has stolen my ship and killed my crew that was on watch."
Alarmed, Monsieur Trosclair said, "You know that for a fact?"
She nodded and wiped her tears with the sleeve of her blouse.
"Oui, Papa.C'est vrai."
He motioned to take her in his arms and she held her hand up. "Please, no false sympathy, Pere. You are secretly relieved that I will no longer be at sea and shall settle down to take my place in Creole Society."
He exhaled a sigh. "Ma chere, it is time you stopped this vagabond existence. If your mother...."
She yelled, "Don't you DARE bring the memory of my mother into this! You have repeatedly told me how she would be shamed by me. Well, that is not true. Mother loved me. She accepted me as I was, as only a mother can. And now she is dead."
Christophe Trosclair's mouth went into a grim line as he said with controlled fury, "I loved her too. She was my wife. It is about time you married and had children. Mon Dieu, all your friends are married. Except Solange and she is about to be engaged to your cousin Sebastian. You need to settle down with Drausin D'Estrehan. He has been courting you for a few years now."

She shook her head. "No. Not now. Drausin is a wonderful companion and a charming and successful man. Another time, another place...perhaps. But no, Pere. Something is lacking. The fire. And once I had that, I could never go back."
Monsieur Trosclair looked at his daughter and said, "If you insist on acting like an alleycat from behind the Cathedral, I shall thank you to please keep it there. Behind the church, off Holy Ground and out of the light of day."
She ran up the stairs but not before she flung over her shoulder, "You never did understand, Pere. You never did."

She flung her clothes off and pulled out of her armoire what she needed. She put on her black breeches that fit snugly on her hips and down her legs. A black shirt, and a waist cincher of black leather. She took a leather belt and attached her scabbard with the rapier she took as a prize when she and Jean attacked that Spanish Galleon off the coast of Cuba. She took it out and looked at it. Fine Toledo steel with a swept hilt in gold. It was just the right size. Jean had given it to her as a present after they had made love in celebration.
Her face flamed with embarrassment at how easily she had been fooled by him.
She put on her black boots and grabbed her tricorn with the red feathers trailing half-way down her back.

As she descended the stairs, Christophe demanded, "And where are you going dressed like that?"
She opened the front door and said, "To exact my revenge. And I'm asking help from the only man I can trust at this time."
And with that she slammed the door.


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts


“Isabelle?! She is coming here?!” The change that John witnessed in his captain’s mood was startling. Andre had gone from morose to happily excited in the literal blink of an eye. Never had he seen such a change overtake a man so quickly.

“Aye, that she is. But I wouldn’t be getting’ me hopes up yet, Captain.” John grinned. “The look on her face is anything but pleasant, and ye better see the way she‘s dressed first.”

“Getting my hopes up?” Andre Beaudouin’s mood changed yet again before John’s eyes, turning more somber and controlled. “I have no hopes to get up, Mon Ami. I am merely pleased that she has decided to visit with us again so soon. However, if she is perturbed as you say, perhaps this will not be as pleasant a call as I first assumed. Please go to greet the lady, and offer my apologies as I must make myself the more presentable.”

“Aye, Captain.” Hubbard saluted his friend with a grin before turning to leave.

“And wipe zat smirk off your face, before I toss your English arse into ze river!” Andre shot after the quartermaster’s retreating form, his accent thickening in his turmoil.

As the older man made his way to the top of Le Faucon de Mer’s gangplank he smiled at the changes he had seen in his friend. Never before had he seen Andre act in this way and it would do him good to at last find love in this life. He watched as Caesaire strode toward them, the determination in her stride was as evident as the clothing she wore. She could have easily made a member of their own crew in that getup, and John secretly hoped that her bearing wasn’t a forerunner to any displeasure with his captain. Andre would be crushed.

Caesaire stopped for a moment, a few yards from the magnificent fighting vessel. For a few moments the rage in her heart was replaced by softer emotions at the thought of seeing Andre again. The man was as breathtaking as his immaculate ship, and she felt the rise of the long crush she had held for him since childhood. Should she drop her ruse and tell him who she truly was? No. Not yet. She needed his aid now, and couldn’t be sure of his reaction if he learned the truth now. She would remain Isabelle Valcour for a while longer.

She pushed her feelings for Andre down for the moment, there would be plenty of time for that later. Once again she let her hatred of Jean Lafitte rise within her. Le chien jaloux malheureux would rue the day he dared to make a true enemy of her!

At the top of the gangplank she spotted John Hubbard, Etienne de Marigny, and Francois Loupe. A slight feeling of disappointment that Andre was not among them swept over her for a moment as she stopped at the foot of the gangplank.

“Permission to come aboard?” She smiled up at the trio, ignoring the few other pirates who periodically looked over the sides of the ship to see her.

“Permission granted, Mademoiselle Valcour, and welcome aboard Le Faucon de Mer.” John smiled warmly.

She hurried up to the waiting men. “Is Captain Beaudouin aboard? I must speak with him on a matter of high importance.”

“He’s here, Mum.” John smiled. “It’s just that he has been working with the crew this morn, and wished to freshen up a bit before greeting you himself.”

No sooner did the quartermaster fulfill his orders then the door to Andre’s cabin opened and Caesaire felt her breath catch at the sight. He had changed into a fresh white silk buccaneer shirt, whose billowing sleeves ruffled in the slight river breeze. The highly polished baldric cut a diagonal slash of black across his chest, it’s shining silver buckle glinting in the morning sunlight. His newly combed raven black hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail beneath the burgundy cavalier’s hat that rested at a jaunty angle on his head. A three inch wide black leather belt was strapped over the matching burgundy sash, it’s two knee length ends waving across the skin tight leather pants securely tucked into his knee high belled boots.

“Isabelle.” He crossed the short distance between them, sweeping the hat from his head, and bowing to lightly kiss the back of her fingers. “It is a pleasure to see you again so soon?”

She felt the warmth of his smile to her core, and again regretted her deception. “May we speak in privet, Andre?” She smiled warmly.

“But of course, Cheri.” He swept one ringed hand in the direction of his cabin door, then turned to his three friends. “Please see we are not disturbed, Monsieur de Marigny.” Then in a lower voice so that she could not hear. “And if the three of you don’t stop grinning like fools I’ll maroon you on the first spit of sand we come across!”

“Aye, aye, Mon Capitaine.” Etienne saluted, still grinning. Andre shot him a scowl for good measure before turning to open the door for Caesaire.

Andre quickly pulled one of his best leather cushioned chairs over to the front of his desk for her to sit in. “Rafraîchissements, Isabelle?”

“Mais oui, Andre.” She smiled. “After this morning I could use it.”

“Troubles, Cher?” He asked after handing her a crystal glass filled with his best Cognac. He removed his hat, setting it down to one side on the polished desk and sat across from her in his usual seat.

The genuine concern written across his face endeared him even more to her, but she had to set aside the feelings welling up within her. This would take a great amount of tact if she were to keep her secret. “Oui. Have you ever heard of the ship named The Shattered Dreams?” She asked.

“Les Rêves Brisés? Non, Isabelle. I cannot say that I have.” His brow furrowed.

Inwardly Caesaire breathed a sigh of relief. “The ship was mine. It was also the one that you may have heard was stolen last night.”

Andre Beaudouin’s Hazel eyes widened in surprise. “That was your ship, Cheri?” He swallowed a healthy gulp of his own drink before continuing. “No wonder the Spanish showed up on my door step this morning. They probably suspect that I was distracting you as I had your ship stolen, and her guards murdered. I swear to you, Isabelle, I had nothing to do with it!”

Caesaire nearly laughed out loud at the distress he was exhibiting. It was sweet beyond words to think she had made so much of an impression upon him. “Non, Cher.” She reassured him softly. “I know you would not do such a thing. I know full well who did this to me. I believe you know of him. Jean Lafitte.”

“Lafitte?!!” Andre bolted to his feet. “I will ‘ang zat chien from my yardarm by ‘is diseased bowls!!!” His accent grew heavy with his anger.

“Please, Andre, calm yourself.” She whispered to him, rising to embrace his trembling body. “I need your head clear if you are to help me recover my ship. Then together we can take our revenge against him.”

The moment he felt her arms around him Andre’s anger evaporated. Gently he gazed deeply into her blue eyes and stroked her cheek with the back of one finger. “As you wish, Isabelle.” He smiled. “Jean’s little prank on you has put us both in dire straights, but perhaps a friend of mine can help us both to, how they say, kill two birds with one stone?”

“Oh, Andre!” Caesaire almost jumped for joy. “Is this true?”

“Mais Oui, Cheri.” He grinned, putting his hat back on. “Let us go and see him now.”

As they made their way onto Saint Claude Avenue Caesaire felt the chill of dread run up her spine. She knew this area all too well and had fully guessed who Andre was leading her to. Her cousin Sebastian. There was nothing she could do about it now. Soon they would arrive at his office and her secret would be exposed to Andre. Mère de Dieu! How would he react to the news that she was none other than Caesaire Trosclair? Would the truth about her deception drive him from her? For the first time in years she prayed fervently that it would not. Not now when she was so close to making him her own.

Soon they arrived at the well kept Creole Townhouse with the sign that hung at the short walkway: Sebastian Trosclair, Attorney. Her heart sank as Andre turned to grin at her, and she fought the urge to run far away. All of her iron will was focused on keeping her panic from her face.

“Here we are, Cheri.” He smiled reassuringly. “A very powerful and well connected friend of mine since childhood. If there is any man who can help us, it is he.” Caesaire smiled warmly and nodded, not trusting herself to speak lest her voice give away her fear.

As they made their way onto the large pillared porch of the Townhouse she felt her panic rising with each step. This was worse than walking to the hangman. Andre reached up and rapped the large brass doorknocker loudly against it’s brass plate sending echoes through the house. Caesaire discreetly slipped behind him from view, and shut her eyes tightly in an attempt to make the nightmare go away.

“Andre!” The tall blond lawyer embraced his old friend warmly. “Is this a social visit, or have you gotten yourself into some more trouble which requires my aid?”

“A little of both, I’m afraid, Mon Frère de sang.” Andre grinned. “But I fear the large part of the trouble is not mine alone.” He moved to one side exposing the trembling form of Caesaire.

“Caesaire!” Sebastian shouted happily. “This is indeed a surprise. The three of us together again!”

“Bonjour, Cousin.” She smiled weakly.

“C-C-Caesaire??!!” Andre stammered open mouthed as the realization of how he knew her flooded his senses. “Little Caesaire Trosclair??!!! Mon Dieu!!!” He felt the world swim around him and Andre fell backward into the short hedges that lined Sebastian’s walkway.

“Andre!” Caesaire screamed and rushed to his side. “Are you alright, Mon Cher? I’m so sorry I deceived you, it was only a jest at first to see if you would remember me. Please do not be angry with me.”

Andre looked into her eyes, and smiled warmly. “Well, Cheri, at least now I know why I’ve felt I knew you so well. So much for my legendary memory, oui?”

The three laughed loudly as Sebastian and Caesaire helped Andre untangle himself from the shrubbery.



Welsh Wench:
Reply author: Welsh Wench


"More gumbo?"
Sebastian motioned to the soup tureen the servant girl held.
He had insisted that Caesaire and Andre join him for lunch. They were sitting in the brick courtyard, the soft fragrance of magnolias in the air. Sebastian had set a lunch of gumbo, fresh bread and crayfish etouffee.
Caesaire shook her head no. Andre eagerly nodded. Of all the things he missed while at sea, aside from the company of beautiful women, was the cuisine of the bayou countryside.
Caesaire laughed, "I'd know Minerva's cooking anywhere, Sebastian. No one could make gumbo like she could."
Sebastian smiled, "She will let no one in the kitchen when she makes the roux. Says it is a closely guarded secret. Although I do believe she has entrusted Lucille with the recipe."

The warm summer breeze flowed through the banana trees. Sebastian poured the chicory coffee in the teacups and handed them to Caesaire and Andre.
"Of course you will have some bread pudding, oui?"
Caesaire nodded happily. "Now that I shall have. With rum sauce?"
Sebastian looked at Andre with twinkling eyes. " Mais non, ma petite. You are still too little."
She playfully smacked her cousin on the arm.
"You are still teasing me, cousin!"

Sebastian took a sip of coffee and said, "How the two of you ended up on my front porch together has got to be one of the most fascinating stories. Caesaire, Uncle Christophe told us you were in Charleston at a finishing school. But I wasn't fooled. I heard stories that you had taken up with Jean Lafitte and were in Barataria for a time being."
Caesaire felt her face flame hot. She did not want Andre to know that she and Lafitte had been lovers at one time and she was living at his complex in Barataria for a while until she won a ship in a card game and decided to cut into his blackmarket trade.
She said, "It was a business arrangement. I helped him with his invoices and merchandise. Kind of a...consultant for his niceties that found their way into the parlours of the best Creole society homes. Certainly that was how I furnished my house on St Louis Street and...."
"YOUR house?"
"Oui. I bought Pere out. He wants to go back to France but he has been singing that song ever since I can remember. But he decided to give me my inheritance and Drausin D'Estrehan was kind enough to help me with the closing."
"Drausin? It all becomes too clear now! I had heard he was keeping company with a woman from a good Creole family and I had no idea that it was...OW!"
Caesaire had kicked him under the table.
Andre looked up from his bread pudding and said, "Problem, mon frere?"
Sebastian glared at Caesaire as she innocently took a sip from her teacup.
"Non! Nothing but a small problem I have had for a long time."
Andre nodded, "Aye. A cramp in the leg is no fun."
"Nor a pain in the...ah! But how did the two of you come to be at my front door together?"
Caesaire lowered her eyes while Andre smiled. "Votre cousine decided to play a prank on me. I had un soiree aboard Le Faucon de Mer and she managed an invitation."
"A prank?"
"Mais oui! It seems I had spent the evening being charmed by a Mademoiselle Isabelle Valcour, or that was the name she gave me."
Caesaire turned her innocent blue eyes on Andre. My, how he made her heart race! "I wanted to see if he would recognize me grown up."
Sebastian laughed heartily, "Ah! And I take it that it was unsuccessful, from the amount of leaves we had to pick off you, Andre!"
Andre chuckled, "I was half mad trying to figure out where I knew her from and...AHA! That is what drove me mad!"
Caesaire looked up. "What?"
"You are doing it now, cherie. Twirling that lock of hair around your finger. You did that as a child, as I recall. Mon Dieu, how you have grown up!"
He gave her a look that made her feel warm all over. Sebastian raised his eyebrow.
Caesaire and Andre?
After all these years?


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts


Andre sat back in the chair and stretched his bell booted legs out to one side. Leaning on his left elbow he crooked one finger around his chin, just below his lower lip. “An excellent repast, Mon Frere, as always. I fear though that your hospitality is not the reason your cousin and I have sought you out today.”

“I thought as much.” Sebastian grinned. “However, before we get to the crux of your problem, I’m afraid I have some papers which require you signature, Frere. A small matter of the transfer of the sugar cane plantation just outside of Nassau.”

“Ahhhh. Oui, the owners then have accepted my offer?” Andre smiled.

“Yes.” The blond Attorney grinned. “Your overseer will take possession in your name as soon as the papers are properly signed and registered with the Governor of the Bahamas. I would say you could expect to see a profit within the next three months. Sooner if your plan to use the bulk of your crop for the distillery goes as planed.”

“Sugar cane?” Caesaire interrupted, surprised. “But I thought you were a pirate, Cher.”

The two men looked at each other for a moment, then laughed heartily. “He is far worse than a pirate, cousin.” Sebastian chuckled. “Far worse. He’s a business man.”

Caesaire had reddened slightly and her cousin quickly continued. “One of the reasons that Andre and I were such good friends while we were growing up is that, although poor, he was as clever a person as I had ever met. Through me Andre has invested a large portion of his “acquired wealth” and owns several profitable enterprises.”

“And if you think I am a pirate, Cheri,” Andre spoke up with a merry twinkle in his eye, “you should see what your cousin charges me!”

This time she joined in the good natured laughter which followed. Secretly berating herself for underestimating Andre. Of course he would not have been as foolish as others of his profession and simply spent his gains as soon as he made port. Like herself, and Lafitte, Andre Baudouin looked to the future and made the most of what he plundered. While the two best friends were engrossed in the finalizing of Andre’s latest endeavor she sipped her coffee and eyed him with a growing, desire filled interest.

Drausin D'Estrehan was indeed a charming companion, and she did not regret one moment spent in his arms, but she also knew that something was lacking in their relationship. There was no fire, no real passion except for the quickly quenched moments they shared. What she was beginning to feel for Andre went far beyond such moments, beyond even the crush of a five year old little girl. Whether he knew it or not, Andre Baudouin would be hers.

Suddenly his voice cut through her reverie. “That then is the crux of both our problems, Frere. As long as Le Faucon de Mer is essentially dry docked neither of us can resolve our situations fâcheuses.”

Caesaire looked hopefully at her cousin as he sat back frowning. After a few moments of thought Sebastian smiled. “I believe something can be arranged. Recently our governor has asked me to help him in resolving a most delicate matter of his own. I am sure he can be persuaded to grant Le Faucon a special dispensation from the order.”

“Blackmail, Cousin?” Caesaire teased.

Sebastian shrugged. “If you wish, Little One. I prefer the term persuasive argument myself. Regardless you shall have leave to sail by tomorrow morning.”

“Then we will have much to do before then.” Andre rose, extending his hand to his oldest comrade. “I will, of course, see that you are well compensated on our return, Mon Frere.”

“Not this time, Andre.” Sebastian shook his hand. “Lafitte has attacked the house of Trosclair, and that is something that can not go unanswered. I wish the both of you luck.”

As Caesaire hugged her cousin goodbye he whispered to her. “You could not have made a better choice, Little One. Pirate or no, there are few men like Andre.”

“Why, Cousin, what ever do you mean?” She grinned as they parted, favoring him with a quick wink.


Reply author: Welsh Wench


Andre shook his best friend's hand and whispered to Sebastian, "Mon Dieu, how she has grown up!"
Sebastian whispered back, "If you don't treat her right, you shall answer to me, mon frere."
They hugged each other and Andre walked down the stairs to where Caesaire was waiting for him at the gate.
Sebastian shook his head. Andre Baudouin and cousin Caesaire? Will wonders never cease?

As he watched them walk down the street, a voice from behind him said, "Sebastian? Qui visitait?"
Sebastian turned to see his mother come outside to the garden.
"C'est Andre Baudouin, Maman."
"Andre! Sebastian, why did you not call me? You know Andre is like a son to me!"
Sebastian said, "Because he had a most delightful companion with him. I daresay, Maman, that our Andre has been stricken by Cupid's arrow. And this time he was not fast enough to dodge it."
"Mon Dieu! A woman has claimed his heart? Why did you not call me to meet her? I should like to see who this extraordinary woman is."
Sebatian could barely keep a straight face.
"Maman, she had the face of an angel and was very well-conversed. An intelligent woman of breeding."
Isabelle made the sign of the cross on her chest. "Ah, he has found a Creole woman to settle him down and he can give up this pirate's life!"
Sebastian rubbed his chin. "Oui, she is a woman of Creole blood, Maman. But as far as giving up a pirate's life, I daresay she would be more than willing to join him in that venture."
A confused look crossed Isabelle's face. "But you said she was a woman of breeding! Do I know this woman? She is from a good family, oui?"
Sebastian said, "Oui, Maman. From the best of New Orleans society. I am very surprised the two of them met. After all these years."
Isabelle impatiently tapped her foot and put her hands on her hips. "Sebastian Trosclair, if you don't tell me who this woman who has captured our Andre with her charm, I shall..."
"Maman, it is Caesaire."
"Caesaire? OUR Caesaire?"
"Oui. Our Caesaire."
Isabelle sat down suddenly on the chair. "Santa Maria! Caesaire Trosclair."

Caesaire and Andre walked down Royal Street. Caesaire had her arm lightly on Andre's crooked arm. One could not tell which one felt that fate had smiled kindly on. They were both lost in their own little world of good fortune.
Caesaire would glance at Andre's handsome face when she thought he wasn't looking. Andre would feel the looks of envy as they passed both gentlemen and privateers.
"Do you think you shall be ready to sail the morning after tomorrow, Isa---I mean, Caesaire?" He then blurted out, "Why did you not tell me who you were?"
She felt her face grow flushed. "Andre, you thought of me as a pesky little five year old who grew into a pesky eight year old. And by the time I turned twelve, my father sent me to St Ursuline's Convent. Not Baton Rouge or Charleston like he told everyone. He wanted the sisters to straighten me out."
"You mean...you were only a few blocks away all this time?"
She nodded. "Cloistered behind those walls only two blocks from the Cathedral."
"All those times I walked by the Convent, you may have been on the other side of the wall. Stucco and brick separating us."
She laughed, "Andre, you would continue to think of me as that little girl you were forced to endure all those summer afternoons. I know you and Sebastian were wanting to go swimming in the River but did not dare shed your clothes in front of la petite jeune fille!"
He laughed. "C'est vrai!"
She gave him a look and whispered, "And I am not la petite jeune fille anymore."
He laughed and said, "Are you saying you want to go swimming?"
As they rounded the corner on St Peter Street, they were engrossed in light-hearted conversation.
"Ooof! Excusez-moi, Mademoiselle...CAESAIRE?"

She was caught by the arms of the man she accIdently ran into.
"Mon Dieu! DRAUSIN!"

Welsh Wench:
Reply author: Blackjack Roberts
Drausin D'Estrehan stood open mouthed and stunned for a few moments. Of all the people he had never expected to encounter on St Peter Street, Caesaire Trosclair certainly topped the list. He quickly eyed the pirate whose arm she had been lightly holding. She, herself dressed in the clothing she wore as captain of The Shattered Dreams. He did not look like a member of her crew, but there was something familiar about the tall flamboyantly dressed buccaneer. New Orleans had long been known to be a city where piracy flourished.

“My dear Mademoiselle Trosclair.” He put on his official face. “What brings you so far into the city this time of the day?”

Caesaire quickly recovered from the shock of the sudden meeting with her lover. “Captain Beaudouin and I were just visiting my cousin, Monsieur D'Estrehan.”

Drausin’s brow wrinkled slightly. Beaudouin, Beaudouin….Andre Beaudouin. His brown eyes widened with realization. That is where he knew the man from. Captain of Le Faucon de Mer and rumored rival of Jean Lafitte himself. But, why would Caesaire be accompanied by him? Unless? He felt the rising heat of jealousy rise within him. Of course! Solange had told him of her intention to attend the soiree aboard his ship. An old childhood friend indeed!

“Caesaire, may I speak with you for a moment?” His voice held a flinty edge as he shot a glance at the Creole pirate. “In privet.”

“Non, Drausin, excusez-moi.” She smiled as graciously as she could at the moment. “Andre and I have pressing business that must be attended to.”

D'Estrehan’s temper broke at the rebuff and he roughly took her by the arm. “Andre? You are now on a first name basis? I am not one of your former playthings, Caesaire, to be easily discarded when you have found another!”

Several pairs of eyes turned in their direction at the sound of the raised voice, and Caesaire was keenly aware of the unwanted attention. “Drausin! Control yourself and unhand me this moment! This is neither the time, nor the place!” She hissed lowly.

“Non, Cheri!” Drausin continued, clearly beyond caring. “This is exactly the time and place! You will listen to…” His tirade suddenly stopped, and he looked down to find his wrist clamped in a viselike grip. A grip that belonged to Andre Beaudouin. Like a dash of ice water thrown into his face Drausin D'Estrehan felt his jealousy change to fear.

Andre leaned close to the distraught lawyer, his voice low and firm to keep the gathering crowd from hearing. His hazel eyes blazed with anger. “You will release her immediately, Monsieur, and you will honor her wishes, or by God I will gut you where you stand!”

Drausin released Caesaire’s arm without hesitation and Andre pulled the slightly built attorney even closer to him. “It is very bad manners to embarrass a lady like this in public, Monsieur. She will speak to you dans le privet when she is damn good and ready. Until then I would suggest you apologize and quite loudly.”

The attorney shivered involuntarily under the enraged gaze of the buccaneer. Drausin knew he was no match physically for the powerfully built sea farer. “Pardonnez-moi, Mademoiselle Trosclair.” He spoke loud enough for all to hear. “It was nothing, a misunderstanding. I will, of course, await your pleasure.”

“Think nothing of it, Monsieur D'Estrehan.” Caesaire favored him with a smile she did not feel. Her own anger welling up inside her. “I will be in touch shortly.” She leaned in close to him and whispered. “Drausin. If you ever lay hands on me like that again, I shall make a woman of you!” She glanced down at her whip for emphasis.

Placing her hand firmly in the crook of Andre’s arm she tossed her head and walked away down St Peter’s toward the docks. Drausin D'Estrehan felt his color change to bright crimson as the crowd they had gathered went about their business. Their low half murmured comments stinging him all the more.

“Perhaps I am no match for you in a fight, Andre Beaudouin.” He thought. “But there are other ways to match you. You will not take her from me without a fight. Caesaire Trosclair will be mine again.”

As they made their way back to Le Faucon de Mer Andre suddenly stopped. “Caesaire.” He spoke gently. “I would not have had that happen to you.”

“Andre, it was not your fault.” She began.

“Please, Cheri. Permit me to continue.” He smiled warmly. “I have no illusions as to your life before we met again. I have had my own share of lovers over the years. Your privet life is your own, and I have no desire to know of it. A woman has needs, the same as a man, and I make no judgments there. I suppose what I am trying to say is to me you are now, and will always be a lady.”

Caesaire felt a warmth in her heart spread through out her body at Andre’s gentile words of reassurance and she reached up to stroke his cheek. “Thank you, Cher.” She smiled. “However, I do believe it is time I changed attorneys. Do you think Sebastian could use another client?”


Reply author: Welsh Wench


Caesaire clung a bit tighter to Andre's offered arm. Andre smiled to himself as he looked down at the lithe form of the woman he knew as a child. She always had a charm. That was one reason why he tolerated her presence when she was tagging along with him and her cousin.
Andre thought back to that day when she was gone.

Sebastian came out of the house with a smug look on his face.
"She's gone."
Andre looked quizzically at his best friend. "Who is gone? Minerva?"
The cook had always been a favorite of theirs. She was always ready with a treat for them.
"Caesaire. She has been sent to Charleston. Some school to try to turn her into a lady."
"Where did you hear that?"
"Maman. She heard that and went over to Uncle Christophe's and told him he had no right to send her away. Uncle Christophe said it would be good for her as he couldn't raise her since Tante Clothilde died."
"Will she be back?"
Sebastian shrugged. "I suppose eventually she will be. But she's out of our hair now. Do you want to go fishing?"
Andre said, "Why not? We can cook them for lunch."
Sebastian laughed. "Provided we catch them, mon frere!"
Andre couldn't figure out why he felt out of sorts all day.
Like something was missing.
Something small and blonde.
He sighed.
He was going to miss being someone's hero.

Caesaire was lost in her own thoughts. That she was determined to be Andre Beaudouin's one and only was a given. And once Caesaire made up her mind, she always got what she wanted. At one time she had wanted Jean Lafitte. She thought back to the day she met him....

It had been a Sunday afternoon after Mass. She was supposed to spend the day in reflection of her penance for her sins committed during the previous six days. But what the nuns were not aware of was the fact that Caesaire would slip out of the convent and cross the courtyard under the shade of the trees when the coast was clear. She had carefully left the window unlatched so she could be back before the evening meal.
She had discovered that on Sunday afternoon, the slaves would congregate in what was known as Congo Square. The women would be dressed in the newest silks, gauze, muslins and percales while the men would beat the rhythms from their homelands. There would be singing and dancing with wild abandon, sometimes up to six hundred slaves enjoying what time they had off.
Caesaire felt the music penetrate her soul and before she knew it, her feet were tapping to the music and her body swaying to the beat.
It wasn't long before two of the slaves saw her enjoying the music. They pulled her into their dance circle, their faces grinning to see the blonde Creole girl become a part of their circle.
From that time on, Caesaire was hooked. And every Sunday, for almost a year, she would escape to the Square.

Then one day as Caesaire was heading back to the convent, she saw Sister Marie Josephine and Sister Marie Odile walking down St Phillips Street. If caught, she knew she would be punished and her good times would end. She saw a building built of brick and stucco with timbered frames. In desperation, she flung open the door and entered. Her eyes adjusted to the dark and she looked up into the eyes of Jean Lafitte.

Drausin D'Estrehan entered the tavern and sat at the mahogany bar.
"Aquavitae, s'il vous plait, Arnaud."
Arnaud set the drink down in front of Drausin.
"Trouble, mon ami?"
Drausin downed the drink and ran his fingers through his hair.
"Oui. A small package of trouble."
"Either it is a land deal gone sour or it is trouble a la femme."
Drausin held his glass aloft for a refill.
"It will take more to make me feel better, Arnaud."
"Care to talk, I am here."
Drausin's lip curled in derision.
"Two words. Andre Beaudouin."
Arnaud said in a low voice, "The captain of Le Faucon de Mer? That is no small package of trouble, ami. That is trouble you do not need. Is it a legal problem gone wrong? A shipment of goods held up on the docks?"
Darusin downed the whiskey and said, "Andre Beaudouin stole something that belongs to me."
Arnaud wiped off the bar and said, "But you are not in collusion with pirates--are you, Drausin?"
Drausin snapped, "Of course not! I am an upstanding citizen. You think I would consort with the likes of them?"
Arnaud leaned on the counter. "Then what problem do you have? No business dealings. It must be personal."
Drausin finished off his whiskey and slid his glass towards Arnaud.
"Have you ever heard of Caesaire Trosclair?"
"The daughter of Monsieur Christophe Trosclair who has the townhouse with the big wrought iron gate over on St Louis Street?"
Drausin accepted the next glass of whiskey and said, "Oui. The very same."
"I had heard she left the convent a few years ago. Fell in with some unsavory people. Rumoured to have fallen in with pirates and thieves. Namely Jean Lafitte."
Drausin nodded. "She consorted with him, ran away to sea and captained a ship named Shattered Dreams."
"Mon Dieu! That ship's crew was just murdered and the vessel disappeared!"
Drausin tossed off the rest of his drink and said, "I have lost her twice now. Once to the sea and now to Andre Beaudouin. Losing her once was enough. I shall be damned if I lose her again."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts

Anxiously Andre scanned the docks for the hundredth time, hoping beyond hope to see her hurrying along to make the tide. He had already delayed the morning launch, and several others trough out the day since the papers granting Le Faucon de Mer leave to set sail had arrived. Brought by none other than Lieutenant Guerrero himself. A bright point to the day, seeing that pig eat his own merde as he handed Andre the papers.

“You are free to set sail, Captain Beaudouin.” He had spoken with ice in his voice, and Andre could not help but to add insult to injury by laughing loudly. A laugh that quickly spread to the rest of the crew as the embarrassed official turned on his heel and stalked off up the dock. Francois swore he saw smoke coming from the man’s ears.

“And what would you say you see coming off of the captain, Mon Ami?” Etienne de Marigny asked as the two of them and the quartermaster watched him pace like a caged animal, stopping only long enough to stare at the head of the docks.

“Pure worry, Ami.” Francois Loupe returned. “Should we guess whom he is pacing for?”

“Nay, mates.” John Hubbard answered them all. “But he’ll not be able to wait much longer for her. If we miss this tide we lose all, and the captain can’t afford to let that happen.”

“Oui,” Etienne frowned. “Only the four of us know what is at stake this time. He cannot afford to have this prize slip through our fingers. Not even for her.”

The captain of Le Faucon de Mer took a long look at the waterline. In thirty minutes the tide would change, and all hope of intercepting the Galleon would go with it. As it was he couldn’t be sure they would arrive in time to catch her. He felt his disappointment change to something alien to his heart before Caesaire had reentered his life. Though it saddened him beyond expression he turned and shouted. “Weigh anchor, you scurvy dogs!”

As the sleek vessel slowly pulled out into the river he leaned against the rail, his eyes never leaving the dock. What could have happened to her? It would be at least a month before he would have the answer to that question, and he knew it would haunt him day and night until he knew. Was Lafitte responsible, or perhaps that smarmy little lawyer? It mattered not, either would rue the day they had heard the name of Andre Beaudouin should it prove so!

The frigate was nearly fifty yards from the docks when he caught sight of her. Caesaire virtually flew down the length of the pier, her arms waving high above her head, and the faint sound of her voice calling his name caused his heart to soar like his ships namesake. Before he could order a longboat to be launched for her Caesaire dove headlong from the end of the dock into the water, swimming for all she was worth towards them.

“Drop sail! Launch a longboat for us!” Andre shouted as loud as he could.

“Us, Mon Capitaine?” Francois asked, puzzled. In the next moment he found himself holding Andre’s hat and baldric as he watched in open mouthed shock. Andre had climbed onto the railing and dove over the side before anyone could stop him.

“Mon Dieu!” He gasped. “The man is insane!”

Etienne de Marigny and John Hubbard both laughed. “Oui, Mon frere.” Etienne wiped a joyful tear from his eye. “Is that not what amore is?” He turned and shouted. “Launch ze longboat! Captain overboard!”

Welsh Wench:
Reply author: Welsh Wench

Andre and Caesaire met halfway between his ship and the dock.
Caesaire gasped, "I was so afraid you would have sailed off without me and I would never have seen you again!"
Andre grabbed her by the shoulders and shook the water out of his eyes. "Cher, where WERE you? I thought for certain you had changed your mind. That you decided to...."
"NEVER! Andre, there is so much to tell you that I don't know where to...."
"Ah! Bon jour, jeunes amoureux! Lovely day for a swim, n'est-ce pas?"
The longboat pulled alongside them and Rene DuBois leaned over the side.
"Mon Capitaine, you are swimming with a young lady when you should be commanding your ship! "
Andre laughed, "Oui, but it is not just any young lady! It is the captain of the Shattered Dreams!"
Rene said, "Ah, well, be that as it may. I think we had better get the longboat moving before we have to row all the way to the Caribbean."

Andre pulled himself up into the boat and extended his arms to Caesaire. She climbed aboard. Andre looked at her in astonishment. She was dressed in a chemise and that was about it.
"Caesaire, where are your...clothes?"
Rene handed them both a blanket. Andre threw one over Caesaire. She drew it close to her.
"It's a long story, Andre."
"Then I shall hear it when we get on board. It is a good thing your trunks arrived late yesterday afternoon. They are safely stowed away in my cabin."
Caesaire began to shiver. Not only from the water, but Andre could sense something else.
Fear? Apprehension? He knew she would eventually tell him in her own time.

He remembered back to the time he and Sebastian dared her to swing across the bayou on the tree vine that stretched across the water and went to the other side. True, it hadn't been very wide to the bank but he remembered...

"Go ahead and do it! Or are you too much of a girl to try?"
Her little head tilted defiantly up and she bit her lip to keep it from trembling.
"Mais non! I am not afraid! I am NEVER afraid! Je suis un Trosclair! We are never afraid!"
Sebastian looked at Andre and smirked. "We shall see about that, n'est-ce pas, Andre?"
Andre just nodded. The little girl shut her eyes and took a deep breath. He didn't know why, but he felt his stomach start to sink. She was so little and delicate.

Wrapping her little hands around the vine she took a running jump and flew across the water. But being of light weight, she didn't have the momentum to carry her to the other side.
Andre and Sebastian watched her land in the water.
"Mon Dieu! Maman will kill me if anything happens to her!"
Sebastian and Andre both jumped in the water and dragged her to the shore. Andre remembered pounding her on the back until she coughed up the water she swallowed.
Relief flooded both the boys.
She sat there, coughing and gagging up the water until she had enough breath to say, "I almost made it and that counts for something, doesn't it?"
Reluctantly the boys nodded.
"Oui, Caesaire, we will grant you that."
They bought her a praline in exchange for her silence to Tante Isabelle.


Reply author: Welsh Wench


Andre helped her out of the longboat and up the ladder to Le Faucon de Mer. The crew stared open-mouthed at the woman in the wet chemise with the blanket wrapped around her. Their captain fared no better, water dripping from him and puddling at his feet.
"Back to work, you scurvy dogs! Haven't you ever seen a woman fished out of the water before?"
From behind the ranks, a voice called out, "Aye, but never a mermaid!"
Andre couldn't help but laugh loudly. Caesaire clutched the blanket closer to her.

Andre led the way to his cabin and opened the door. She stepped in and he closed the door behind them and said, "I shall leave you to change into dry clothes, cher. I'll be back in half an hour and we can tallk about what happened."
She nodded and said shyly, "Merci, Andre." She reached out and touched his hand. He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it.
"I shall see you anon."
He closed the door.

Caesaire dropped her wet chemise and wrapped herself in the towel on the wash stand. She washed up from the pitcher of fresh water and washed the River water out of her hair. Opening her trunk she got out a simple dress and laced it up. She picked one of Andre's shirts off the floor and the scent of him on the shirt thrilled her. A combination of bay rum and....Andre. A comforting, masculine smell. She hugged it to her body. Just then there was a knock at the door and she walked over to answer.
Andre was at the door with a bottle of wine and some fresh fruit and bread.
"I thought you may be hungry so I took the liberty of providing us with a light repast."
He set the plate down and she sat on the bed, tucking her legs under her. To Andre, she looked so much like that little girl who fell in the bayou that he chided himself for not recognizing her that first night at his soiree.

Andre pulled up one of the leather chairs. He opened the bottle of wine and handed her a glass. She took it gratefully and then said, "I know you are wondering about the untimely delay and the most unusual arrival to your vessel."
He smiled, "It did cross my mind. You always knew how to make your presence known, Caesaire."
She took a deep drink and said, "I can hardly believe this myself."
"Start wherever you like, cher."
Caesaire took a deep breath and said, "I was kidnapped."


Reply author: Welsh Wench

Andre almost overfilled his glass, so taken back by her statement.
"Kidnapped? What? Where? How? By whom? Are you hurt? Where are your clothes? And what..."
Caesaire silenced him with a soft touch to his lips with her finger.
"I shall try to explain it as best I remember."
She took a sip of her wine.
"You told me to be at the dock at dawn. So I left the house and headed down St Louis Street. I turned on Bourbon and was cutting through the alley next to the cathedral when all of a sudden, someone grabbed me from behind. A rag with something on it was put over my nose and mouth and the next thing I knew, I woke up in a warehouse office. Very dusty and dirty. My dress and all my personal effects--even my boots!--were gone! All I had on was my chemise."
She blushed at that. Andre could feel blinding anger rising up in him.
"Do you think he..they...well,...."
Caesaire shook her head no. "No, my dear Andre. My virtue was safe."
"Any idea who it may be, cher? I shall see that they pay for the indignity that you suffered."

Caesaire rubbed her temples and closed her eyes.
"Whatever it was gave me a headache. The warehouse was down by Desire Street. Abandoned. I kept banging on the door but it wouldn't open. But I heard noise out the door. There was someone posted guarding it."
"How did you escape?"
"I pretended to be bleeding. Screamed that I was bleeding to death on a piece of glass. This burly man unlocked and came in. I hid behind the door and crashed a metal bar on his skull. That will be a headache for HIM."
Andre could feel his anger rising. He said tightly, "Any idea if it was Jean Lafitte or Drausin D'Estrehan?"
She shook her head and yawned, "I have no idea. I waited with that metal bar to make sure no one else would come and then I ran. I was so afraid you would sail without me, Andre! And when I saw your ship sailing out, I thought for sure I would be too late. That was when I decided to try to swim."
Andre stroked her cheek and said softly, "Just like that little girl who couldn't quite make it to the other side of the bayou..."
She yawned and laid her head on his pillow. "Umm hmmmm...."
And she was sound asleep.
Andre covered her with a blanket and kissed her forehead.
"Rest well, ma petite cher...."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts

Andre closed the cabin door behind him, having taken care to lock it from the inside. On his desk he had left the only keys, and a note for Caesaire:

“Cheri;

Here you will find the only keys to my cabin. You will be quite safe, and comfortable here. Your trunks are next to the starboard wall, and you will find soap and water, as well as a small oil heater to heat it with in the door next to them. A tub is also in the small room should you wish to bathe.

Please to make yourself at home. I will be probably be on the quarter deck should you have need of me. If not I am bunking with my quartermaster, John Hubbard. Ask any of the crew and they will direct you to the proper quarters.

Rêves doux, Cheri;
Andre”

“Orders, Captain?”

Andre turned to find Etienne behind him. He placed a single ringed finger to his lips. “Our guest is sleeping. She has had a troubled time getting to us. Set course South by South east for that little island we discovered just above Cuba. Full sail, and our best speed, Monsieur de Marigny. There we will “repair” our forward mast and make for Antilla to await our prize. I shall be on the quarter deck should anyone need me.”

“Aye, aye, Mon Capitaine!” His first mate grinned, saluted, and turned to make certain that Andre’s orders were carried out. One of only four people aboard who knew of the secret shipment they meant to take, as well as Andre’s intentions for his share of the wealth. An intention that all four of them shared and would see become a reality should they be able to take this prize.

“Ah, Andre Beaudouin,” he thought as he watched while the crew unfurled all of Le Faucon de Mer’s sails, “you are without doubt the luckiest man I have ever known. Not only will our names be written in history should we take this ship, but you have at long last found amore as well. Puits fait, Mon ami. Puits fait.”

Andre glanced at the compass as the navigator adjusted Le Faucon’s course. Reveling in the pitch of her deck beneath his boots as she sliced through the waves with ease. Her polished deck gleamed in the sunlight as the occasional over spray of her bow deposited droplets of water there to glint like precious jewels. Almost as precious as the pearl which now slept in his quarters.

Even when he was younger she had fascinated him. The fearless little girl who had looked up to him as an older brother. He could never admit it to Sebastian back then, but he had never minded when she would tag along with them on their boyhood adventures. Having Caesaire with them had made him feel as if he were truly a part of the Trosclair family. Often he would find himself pretending that the petite blond was his own sister, and Sebastian his cousin.

Although he had gone along with the teasing to keep on Sebastian’s good side, it had left him feeling like a villain. He often would let Sebastian do all the talking when his mother scolded them for their ill treatment of Caesaire. Too ashamed to even look mama Isabelle in the eye he would stare out the window in a vain attempt to escape the sound of the little girl’s sobs. Tears he felt as keenly as if they were his own.

On the day she vanished from his life he remembered each and every time they had been cruel to her, and regretted each one. He had been too much of a coward to stand up for her then, as he knew he should have. Even to Sebastian. That night he had prayed for forgiveness and swore that if he ever saw his dreams come true he would make every one of those times up to her. If she ever came back he would never again fail to stand up for her and protect her. He would be the hero she had always thought him to be.


Welsh Wench:
Reply author: Welsh Wench

Caesaire stretched out on the bed with the down coverlet and snuggled deeper into the covers. She reached out and whispered, 'Andre...'
She woke up with a start and realized that she slept alone in that bed. Andre's shirt was crumpled next to her. She didn't realize she had taken the shirt to sleep with as she took a doll to bed with her as a child. She sat up and looked around. Judging from the darkness in the room, it was evening at the earliest. More probably towards night. She reached over and turned up the wick in the oil lamp. Andre had left it burning with a soft glow.
She smiled to herself. So considerate he is!

Caesaire sat up and stretched her arms above her head, yawning. There was a note propped up on the dresser. She walked over to it and read it. Then she saw the keys.
She didn't know whether to feel flattered or disappointed. Flattered that he thought enough of her to protect her. Disappointed for the same reason.

She walked into the small room and filled the copper tub with water and waited while it heated.
Andre's dresser was there.
And where there are dressers, there are drawers.
And where there are drawers, there are secrets.

She opened it quietly and saw a small cedar chest. Would it be wrong to open it?
Yes.
Did that stop Caesaire?
Of course not.
She's a woman.

Inside were a few keepsakes. But one really took her by surprise.
It was a heart crudely cut from red paper and embroidered with some lace. There was a child's scrawl on the heart.
It said five words.



I LOVE YOU
FROM
CAESAIRE

She felt the tears spring to her eyes as she touched the red heart that she gave with her own so many years ago.
Here we are, Andre.
You and I.
Will our hearts beat as one?

Caesaire went into the bathroom and tested the water. Just right. She saw that Andre had towels hanging up. Was there any creature comfort the man did not think of? Caesaire dropped her chemise and lowered herself into the hot water.
On a small table there was soap in a dish and some oil. She poured a bit into the tub and relished the feel of it on her skin. Sliding deeper into the hot water, she just soaked the turmoil of the kidnapping away.

The kidnapping. She reluctantly took her mind back there. Who was behind it? Jean Lafitte? Drausin D'Estrehan?
Did it really matter at this point?
Yes, it did.
Because it would determine how Caesaire, with Andre by her side, would get even with whoever hired the kidnapper.

Caesaire dried off and padded over to the trunks. She shook out a dress of black silk and stepped into it. The dress hugged her curves and where it dropped from her hips, it swirled out so the slightest of movements sent it into a gentle sway all its own.
She slipped on a pair of black boots in soft leather and gathered her hair up and pinned it at the nape of her neck. A few strands curled gently around her face. Fastening a chain of gold with a solitary emerald, which incidently was a gift from Lafitte, she glanced in the mirror and then deemed herself ready to present herself to Andre.
But not as Isabelle Valcour.
As Caesaire Trosclair, fully grown.
A woman in love.

The ship was quiet except for a minimum of crew. She spied him on the upperdeck, leaning against the rail. A circle of smoke wafted into the night breeze. She suddenly felt her breath catch as she whispered, "Bonsoir, Andre."


Reply author: Blackjack Roberts

Andre stood at the rear of his ship leaning on the rail where he had previously been fretting over his feelings for Caesaire after the party. He certainly was not fretting now, but at the time he had no idea that Mademoiselle “Isabelle Valcour” was in fact his long ago childhood friend. A friendship that had gone from brotherly love to something much deeper by the time she had turned twelve, just before she vanished.

He straightened up for a moment and removed a long, thin black tobacco cigar from the inside pocket of his burgundy colored leather jerkin. Leaning over he flipped the storm window open on one of the oil lanterns and inhaled deeply. Returning to his former position, he crossed his arms over the ornate railing, and happily exhaled a cloud of fragrant smoke, watching as it disappeared into the their leeway.

They were well underway now and all else would be left in the hands of Madame Fate, and good planning. Far more important to him was the fact that she was aboard with him. It was time to admit it. He had secretly longed for Caesaire to return to him. It had been the memory of loosing her that had kept him aloof to all others. In his secret heart he knew full well that he had fallen in love with her long ago, and had been heartbroken when he thought her father had sent her away from him before he had even the chance to tell her.

A contented smile graced his lips as he thought back to the day in February when she was six years old. Mama Isabelle had invited him to join with her family as they celebrated the day of Saint Valentine. He had bathed as well as he could that morning and dressed in the cleanest of his hand me down clothing his mother had acquired from doing the laundry of others. Gifts from her many satisfied customers, and as close as he would be to having new finery to wear.

Mama Isabelle had hugged him warmly when he arrived, carrying a small bouquet of wild flowers he had picked from the river banks.

“Andre, mon cher.” She had beamed, holding him at arms length to look at him. “You look quite the Creole gentleman. Please come in and enjoy yourself. Sebastian is in the back yard helping with the decoration.”

“Merci, Mama Isabelle.” He had grinned offering her the flowers he had held behind his back. “Pour vous.”

Isabelle Trosclair brought one hand to her lips, taking the flowers gently with the other. A small tear swam in the corner of one eye. Even in his poverty Andre Baudouin was every bit as much a gentleman as the most privileged of New Orleans. She leaned down to kiss his forehead. “Merci, Andre, merci. Now run along and see if Sebastian needs any help.” She smiled warmly as he had run off to obey her.

“Andre!” the small voice came from his right as he entered the large living room. He turned to find Caesaire standing shyly at one side of the curtained opening to the foyer. Quickly he looked around to see if Sebastian were near before kneeling on one knee in front of the petite little girl.

“Oui, Caesaire?” He smiled warmly to her, his voice soft.

“I-I have something for you.” She blushed slightly and turned to and fro as if uncomfortable. Then placed a small envelope into his hand, kissed him on the cheek and ran as fast as she could to seek her aunt.

Alone in the well furnished living room he opened the envelope and took out the red paper heart with the lace border and the scrawl of a child new to writing in the center. He could only guess how long she had worked on the valentine, and for the first time in his life he realized just how far her feelings for him truly went. Gently he placed the gift back in it’s envelope and hid it in his shirt. He had kept it secretly ever since.

The warm salt air mirrored his inner feelings. While Andre had never been one to give in to despair, he had from time to time felt slightly empty inside. There were times, especially when he was at sea for long periods, when he would idly wonder how his life would have been had Caesaire’s father not sent her away from him.

Andre had nearly worked up the courage to tell her of his own growing feelings for her when Sebastian had given him the news. His poor blood brother had been elated, and at times was more than a little puzzled by Andre’s brooding. Once he had even asked him if he missed her and Andre had lied through his teeth. The only lie he had ever told Sebastian.

He took the sweet rum soaked cigar from between his teeth and flicked the ash over the side, watching it disappear into Le Faucon’s wake. Now she was here with him, aboard his ship at a time when Andre was about to make another, more recent dream, come true. It seemed more than fitting. If their plan went as he hoped not only would he become one of the most powerful men in New Orleans, but he would have acquired the only woman he had ever dared to love in the bargain. Life was indeed good.

"Bonsoir, Andre." The soft sound of her voice raised his heartbeat. So lost was he in his remembrances that he had not even heard her approach. “It’s a lovely clear night, n'est pas?”

Before he could turn around to greet her she was by his side, the soft stroke of her hand down his back sent shivers of warmth through him. As he turned to her still leaning against the rail Caesaire saw the desire in his hazel eyes. It was not that she was unaccustomed to seeing desire in the eyes of the men who looked at her, but that there was more than just passion in Andre’s gaze. His desire was tempered by a tenderness she had never before seen in another’s eyes, except for his. It was a look she had not seen since she was twelve.

“Bonsoir, Cheri.” His voice held the same tone she had only heard him use when Sebastian was not around them. “The night is lovely, but I think it is not so lovely as you.”

“Merci, Cher.” She smiled gently reaching up to let her fingers trace his jaw line for a brief moment. Her stomach trembling with her rediscovered emotions for him. Slowly, Caesaire, she chided herself, slowly.

“And what are our plans for this voyage, Mon Capitaine?” She asked turning to gaze out upon the moonlit ocean. Lightening her voice and the mood in the air before her emotions consumed her.

Andre returned to his pervious position next to her. “We are bound for a small island a little above Cuba, Cheri.” He continued as warmly as before. “There we will change the forward mast for a broken one in the hold, and limp into port at Antilla for repairs.”

Caesaire smiled wryly. It was obvious that he had something extraordinary in mind. Why else replace a perfectly good mast with a broken one? She was even more pleased that he was reveling his plans to her. A clear sign that he trusted her with his secrets. She waited to see how far he would go.

“Once there we will await a Spanish galleon, the Pata del Tigre.” Andre continued without hesitation, and she felt the mood of before returning. “She carries a secret cargo of immense wealth, enough to make every man aboard wealthy for life. I intend to take her before she reaches Spain.”

“And then?” Caesaire asked huskily as she moved closer to him, placing one hand softly over his.

“We will return to New Orleans to solve the mystery of your missing ship, Cheri.” His own voice as deepened. “As well as to who kidnapped you. We will make them pay for their transgressions upon you.”

Without thinking she reached up and placing her hand against the back of his neck gently pulled his mouth to hers. The kiss was both tender and passionate, seeming to go on forever to them both. When they finally released the embrace her breath came in heated gasps. Andre simply pulled her close to him, more than contented to have her in his arms. He would leave anything more that may occur between them for her to decide when she was ready. He had waited for her for nearly twelve years, he could certainly wait a while longer.


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