He’d been summoned. Summoned for an audience with the Commandant. No pirate ignored a summons, especially if the Commandant of the Confederation of Pirates happened to be your father. Captain Andre Dubois and his father had little or no contact in usual circumstances, but the summons could not be disregarded. So, even though he was the most feared pirate of the Caribbean, Andre pulled up anchor from lawless Port Royal and sailed to New Orleans where his father resided.
“Do you think he is finally retiring, Capitan?” queried Pedro de Gallo, Andre’s first mate, a short, bulky Spaniard of dubious descent with thinning hair and viciously pointed goatee. Handling the wheel fell most of the time to him, but this moment Andre gently hip-bumped him out of the way, taking control of his ship with a sigh of contentment marred only by the reminder of the upcoming visit.
The stiff wind threatened to unravel the plait he’d tied his dark, shoulder length hair into, while the sooty kohl he’d used around his eyes did a good job absorbing the setting sun’s glare. He adjusted course minutely with pitch-stained hands.
“Not a chance, Master G. Not a chance,” Andre scoffed, knowing that with his father, nothing would be as simple as retirement. “He may want a bigger percentage of our plunder,” he mused, knowing instinctively that idea was not the reason, either.
De Gallo glanced up at Andre, eyes narrowed. “From his own son?”
Tossing an amused glance at his first mate, Andre drawled, “But of course, mon ami. We make money. Le Commandant makes money off us. You should know that by now. No one gets rich except Le Commandant. We will just have to wait and see.” Andre frowned, even as his first mate excused himself to go below.
Le Commandant Louis Dubois’ private residence lay in the center of the Vieux Carre behind Madame Thibodaux’s brothel, separated by a lovely courtyard and trickling fountain. Andre first passed through the bordello, smiled engagingly to his favorites and raised interested brows to newcomers. Dressed for business in his weathered tricorn hat, stolen blue, British Navy officer’s coat, and over-the-knee, calf-skin boots, he reluctantly didn’t stop to chat up any of the whores. Perhaps he would have time after this blasted meeting with his father.
Dubois Senior’s aged servant, Francois, let Andre in with an arthritic nod, directed him into the Commandant’s wood furnished study. Louis himself sat behind a heavy desk, chair turned to look out at his private courtyard, no doubt in order to force Andre into speaking first. Andre recognized the power play.
His father spun his chair unhurriedly, a smile brightening his lined countenance as though surprised by Andre’s visit. His brown eyes sparkled as he cried, “Andre, mon Dieu. You’re here.”
He rose, headed around the desk even as Andre replied, “You summoned me, Papa. Of course I’m here. What do you want?” He couldn’t hide his irritation. After all, he and his crew could be plundering some unsuspecting Caribbean port, not paying homage to this old goat.
“Andy, Andy, you wound me. Perhaps I missed seeing my son, the only fruit of my loins, my heir--”
“Heir to what, Papa? Your debts? Your broken liaisons? This moldering old pile of rocks? Sorry, Father, but if that’s all, I’ll be leaving. I have to make my own fortune.” Andre swung about, intent on leaving, until Louis interjected, “I’m in a bind, Andy.”
Andre stopped. Straightened his shoulders with eyes closed. After mouthing a few choice swear words he pivoted and glared into his father’s eyes so like his own. Dropping his head back and staring at the wood-beamed ceiling, Andre sighed, “How much?”