Chapter 3: Ship, Ahoy!

192K 5.9K 1.2K

The Pirate King may not have gotten me a pretty dress like Willie had joked, but he did leave me some other clean clothes that may not even be second-hand. Although clearly a man’s cut, they’re smaller than average and therefore, fit me well.

Unfortunately, I don’t get a new nightgown, so I end up sleeping in loose, black breeches and a frilly, white shirt. When I awake the next morning, they’re both a bit crumpled, but it soon becomes clear that’s not my biggest worry.

Although I’m still lying on a comfortable mattress surrounded by puffy pillows, I’m in a totally different room than the night before. Jumping out of bed, I run to the windows. An entire wall is lined with them and peeking through the crown glass, I see a foamy wake below.

I’m back on a ship and we’re at sea.

Pressing my forehead to the warm pane, I consider my options. One, I can crank open the window and jump to my most certain death. Two, I can keep a low profile, perhaps even gain the sympathy of a crew member or two, and attempt to escape at a better moment. Not feeling suicidal, I choose number two.

I remember the captain’s words from last night, and I know that I’m nothing more than an asset. He needs me – or rather, he needs Luciana – to get something. What that is, I don’t know. But until he achieves his goal and as long as he continues to believe that I am the daughter of Admiral Francisco Mercado, chief officer of the Fort of Portobelo, Panama, I am safe.

Kincade also obviously agrees that as long as we’re in the open waters, I’m not a flight risk because he's left the cabin unlocked. I peek into the empty hallway before shutting the door again to find my stocking and boots. Pulling them on, I’m happy to see that my knee’s returned to its original size. While it’s still a bit stiff, I have no trouble walking and I almost head out before realizing there’s something I’ve forgotten.

Although the captain has displayed chivalry towards me, I can’t expect his men to do the same. Twisting my hair into a knot, I cover my head with a colorful kerchief. I can’t hide my gender, but the less attention I attract to myself, the better.

Finally ready to tackle the unknown, I leave the room and walk past the mates’ quarters. Pushing open a door, I exit onto the main deck. The bright sunlight hurts my eyes, but I squint upwards at the sky. Apart from a few small clouds, the weather is clear and it leaves the rays unobstructed. I walk forward, enjoying the newfound warmth on my face.

“Hey! Wotchit!” someone yells as my boot connects with wood and water sloshes out of a bucket thanks to my inattentiveness.

Sidestepping around the puddle, I look down at a boy about my age kneeling in my shadow. I mumble a curt “sorry,” but he’s already gone back to scrubbing the knotty planks. Uttering the small word is enough to make me aware of my parched mouth, so I turn back toward the boy.

“Is there anything to drink around here?” I force a smile.

He doesn’t look up, but instead nods toward a large, upright barrel behind the door. “Over there.”

There’s a cup hooked to the side and after removing the container’s lid, I fill the vessel to the brim. I take a large swig, but instead of the sweet taste of fresh water, I get a mouthful of the vilest thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s what I imagine water tastes like after being used to wash soiled linens and left out in the sun for a week. I didn’t think it was possible, but it’s even worse than last night’s liquor.

My reflexes make me cough, but I’ve already swallowed the drink, so it ends up being a dry hacking, instead. “What the hell is this?” I hold up the cup.

The boy’s smiling at me with a spiteful glee. “Grog.”

I wipe my mouth with my sleeve, trying to get all remnants off me. “What’s grog?”

Plunder (Pirate King #1)| ✓Read this story for FREE!