Chapter Five

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1868, Fraysner's Harbour

Adelyn had never really kissed a boy before. The closest she'd ever come to it had been when she was 12 and her and Harlem had decided to give it a shot, but both had darted away soon after their noses brushed, rubbing their lips furiously despite the fact they'd never touched. Nik was the first man who's mouth had ever been on hers.

It was strange at first. He'd moved so quickly Adelyn wasn't sure how to react, and before she could so much as blink, he was there. She kept her eyes open and wide as Nik's mouth covered hers, moving his lips slowly in a way that reminded her of dull waves. It was a feeling she was completely foreign to—she felt like a dog learning a new trick, and failing.

Eventually, Adelyn followed his lead; she mimicked every movement he made. Her own eyes drifted closed, making her feel only a little less uncomfortable with her face so close to his. Nik's hand moved from the back of her neck down to the small of her waist, pulling her against him in a way that made her heard race. She felt as though this simple kiss held a kind of intimacy that certainly did not belong in the middle of a public street.

It felt like ages before Nik's hand pulled away, and he stepped back. Adelyn's cheeks heated, something that rarely happened to her, as his eyes found their way to hers. She swallowed, "What was that?"

"I believe they call it kissing," Nikolai said, grinning, "or maybe that's just a pirate term."

"I know what it was, I meant why." Adelyn said, shaking her head. Her thoughts felt jumbled and unorganised after so many had just run through her mind. His sudden move had left her questioning her right from her left.

"Why was that?" Nik said, his head cocking to the side. "I don't think that makes much sense."

A sudden anger surged in Adelyn's chest. She didn't like the vulnerability that had come with him kissing her senseless, and then teasing her afterwards. "Don't be a fool, Nik. Why did you kiss me? I never said I wanted that."

"Aye, but that pirate and his friend were still watching, and you turned around so quickly. It was the first thought that came to mind." He said, shrugging. After a moment, his lips twitched. Adelyn wondered if he was able to go a single minute without smiling. "Plus, you didn't exactly scream 'no'."

"I—" Adelyn stopped herself, realizing she had nothing to say. She'd done nothing to push the pirate away, and just as he said, she'd done nothing to object; Adelyn had let it happen.

Nik laughed, "Don't worry about it, women can rarely work up the self-restraint to push me away. It's a common thing, nothing to fret over."

"Are you always such a narcissist?"

"Only when I'm trying to impress pretty little thieves." Nik said, flashing a grin Adelyn could have drawn from memory.

There was something about Nik that seemed so happy and so sad all at the same time. Adelyn didn't really believe someone could be so gleeful so often. She'd heard plenty of stories of pirates, and rarely did they have happy endings. She wondered if Nik had a few pirate tales of his own hiding behind his smiles.

Silence hung between them, and Adelyn found her eyes drifting back to the back sails that rippled in the wind in the harbour. They might not have been Nik's, but she figured his must have looked darned similar.

Out at the horizon, the border between the ocean and the night sky had become nearly invisible. Adelyn couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. She was mesmerized, until the mark on her hand began to throb. She brought it up to her eyes, barely able to see it in the dark.

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