Chapter Seventy

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The carriage drew up to a war machine refitted all in black. Mr. Banks followed his savior up the plank to discover a rather rough-looking crew, all heavily armed.

Feeling nervous about the glares coming his way, Mr. Banks picked up his step. "Uh, what did you say your name was?"

The man in the mask looked back at Mr. Banks with a lopsided grin. "I'm the Captain, of this vessel. That should suffice for now."

Mr. Banks noticed two rather ominous-looking men taking up position behind them. "You said you were a friend. So, what's with the added guards?"

"What I said, Mr. Banks is that I'm a friend of a friend. What happens next is totally up to you."

Mr. Banks gave the man a strange look as he opened the door to his cabin and waved him in.

"As requested," the Captain said upon entering the room. "Go easy on him. He looks like he's had a hard day."

Mr. Banks' eyes nearly bugged out of his head when a woman turned from the window and it was none other than Lady Bentley.

"Good day, Mr. Banks! Glad you can make it. Have a seat. We need to have a little chat."

"I'll not be ordered around by the likes of you," Mr. Banks said, straightening his back and drawing up to his fullest height.

But a heavy hand pressed him into a chair that suddenly appeared behind him. "I'd do as the Lady says, mate. My crew has become quite attached to the little lady and I doubt you would get from here to the plank without several bullet holes in you and perhaps one or two blades."

Captain McCullen sat on the corner of his desk.

"I know what you want, but I won't give him up not until I'm free of this country," Mr. Banks declared.

"I already know you've ordered him to be executed by noon. So, what good is your word to me?"

Banks looked nervous. "I would never kill one of the Queen's personal guards. I'd have no place to hide if I did. I was bluffing."

"That's something I expected you would have learned by now, Mr. Banks. You are a terrible liar but tell my friend here where you are holding Mr. McAllister and I'll have him check out the details. If they prove correct, Captain McCullen has agreed to get you out of the country. Lie to me and you leave me with no other choice but to dispatch you myself."

Mr. Banks sneered. "You would never kill me. You wouldn't want my blood on your hands."

Clara came up and sat next to Captain McCullen. She folded her arms over her chest and leaned in. "Do you really believe I've been with Mr. McAllister this long and my hands have remained clean? You saw what I did to your messenger boy at Whites. I assure you, as dainty and as lady-like as I may appear, yours wouldn't be the first life I've taken."

Mr. Banks paled.

"And if Benjamin dies, I will enjoy making that death slow and painful."

Captain McCullen turned and grinned at Clara. "You know you'd make an excellent pirate if you ever decided to give it a go."

Clara grinned back.

"Truth is, she doesn't have to get her hands dirty. I'd happily dispatch you for her. You see, she's my one and only and the man you have taken is my best friend of all time. And you are standing in the way of their happily ever after and I mean for her to get it."

"Aww," Clara said, "Benji is right, you are a poet."

"No love, I'm all pirate." Captain McCullen took off his mask and Mr. Banks shuddered in fear at his words. There wasn't a man alive who didn't know McCullen's reputation.

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