We run up the stairs into the pitch black of night above. The wind unexpectedly blows through my hair, bringing with it the smell of burnt gunpowder. Cade grabs my hand and pulls me toward the bow.
"Stop right there!" someone yells from behind before a shot rings out.
I instinctively duck and Cade shoves me into the railing. The bullet hits the wooden side just a few feet from me, sending splinters flying.
"Jump!" he screams, all the while aiming into the space where our attacker is most likely located.
I have no time to ask questions, but the choice between getting shot by staying and not getting shot by jumping seems pretty clear.
As the sound of footsteps increases and men begin yelling around us, Cade fires his weapon. "Go, Ana. Now!"
I climb the rail and push myself off. It only takes me a few seconds to fall feet first into the ocean below and I'm not prepared for the impact.
The soles of my feet sting as my boot slams into the water's surface. My knees also immediately throb from the force.
I don't let myself sink, but begin to claw my way to the surface. I'm taking my first breath when someone lands in the water next to me with a large splash.
I'm hoping it's Cade, but while waiting for him to reappear, I glance back up at the ship. A gaggle of pirates has begun gathering by the railings, some with pistols drawn. Several are starting to climb overboard, while others are working on releasing the row boat.
"What are you waiting for?" Cade yells as his head breaks the surface. "Swim toward shore!"
I look in the direction he's begun heading and indeed, there are lights in the not too far distance. There are also silhouettes of several ships, meaning there's most likely a proper dock. Swimming as fast as I can, I ignore everything else and concentrate on making it to land. Even so, I fall behind my companion.
He's obviously a much stronger swimmer, and there's no use for him to slow for my benefit. There isn't anything he can do to help me until we're on shore, so – for now – I'm on my own.
I can occasionally hear our pursuers' yelling, meaning that they're not too far behind. I fear I'm slowing from my already insufficient pace. I'm not only tiring, but my wet clothes are also weighing me down.
Cade is heading toward a darker and more crowded spot in the harbor, perhaps hoping to lose them in the shadows.
We swim through the gap between two galleons. They ominously rock in the persistent waves, creaking and splashing non-stop. Taking our course parallel to shore, one large ship briefly conceals us from the open water.
We're moving farther away from the actual docks. The empty, rocky shoreline, however, is just about fifty feet away. Cade is already scaling the slippery boulders, but waits for me and offers his hand in assistance.
He holds on to me even after I step out of the water, and we begin to run hand-in-hand. I follow his lead, which takes us into dark, narrow alleyways amongst the cramped multi-story houses.
Rounding a corner, my wet boot slips on the slick cobblestones, but Cade catches me before I fall.
"We need to hurry, Ana," he admonishes as we set off again.
“I know, but why—“
He continues to drag me behind him. "Not now."
We zig-zag between the buildings, with my companion occasionally pulling on a door handle. He's looking for a place to hide, but everything that’s dark enough to be deserted is also locked.
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Plunder (Pirate King #1)| ✓Historical Fiction
He just wants her booty, but she'll end up stealing his heart. After pirates kidnap seventeen-year-old Ana in a case of mistaken identity, the orphaned housemaid prepares for the worst. Instead, playing the wholesome daughter of a Spanish admira...