|A Deal's A Deal
Author: Jacquleine Schaeffer PM
Charlotte Lawrence finds herself a bargaining chip in a conspiracy that spans the whole of the Caribbean, involving pirates, treasure, a traitorous brother, and...her own heart. Awww! A swashbuckling adventure.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 26 - Words: 65,518 - Reviews: 122 - Favs: 50 - Follows: 44 - Updated: 10-21-07 - Published: 11-12-06 - id: 2275285
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Hi there readers!
I began this story a mind-blowing three years ago. I actually hand-wrote most of it, which is pretty much monumental for me. I started it as a sophomore in high school (I'm a college freshman now) after being inspired by -- you guessed it -- Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, I recently re-discovered it and decided to revamp it and start posting it back up here, because as I read it, I forgot how much I enjoyed writing this piece. I hope you like it! Read and REVIEW!
Also since most of this story is already done, updates should more or less be very frequent, every few days or week or so. Thanks!
Atlantic Ocean, 76 Miles East of St. Kitt's Island
Charlotte was beginning to reckon her demise into insanity. Only thirteen, she thought as she looked over the horizon, that's what they'd say. Only thirteen and the poor girl lost her mind on the passage to the Caribbean. It had been more than a month. The trip had not exactly been disastrous, but then it had not been fun and games, either. Charlotte had had little time to prepare herself for the journey. It had all happened so soon – a letter had come in the middle of the night. Charlotte watched from her hidden perch at the top of the stairs as Henri Lawrence had read over the letter and become pale with sickness – or was it fear? Charlotte could not tell. At first she had thought that perhaps her brother Randall, who had traveled to St. Kitts months prior to run a separate branch of the company, had fallen ill or into danger. After her father assured her that Randall was most certainly fine, he began to pack and order provisions from the servants, throwing the Lawrence household into chaos. "It is nothing, dear," her father had said to ease her discomfort, or perhaps his own, leaning down to kiss her forehead, "I just feel that I need to be with my son, and you need to be with your half-brother. I will explain why when you are older." They had left days later. Though she was excited to start a new life on St. Kitts, she could not help but to feel anxious about her father's desperate need to come to the Caribbean for certain "business matters" when she knew perfectly well that he had been and still was quite successful in the Mother Country.Sighing, she turned and peered at her father directly behind her, sick to death of looking at the crystal blue ocean. He smiled gently and put a comforting hand on her shoulder like only a father can do. "Do not fret, my dear, I know the trip has been longer than we have expected, but I have been assured by the captain that we will reach port by nightfall." The girl said nothing, but smiled at her father in reply and turned back to look at the ocean, her large doe eyes scanning the clear horizon. The sea was like a disease that took one over; that was Charlotte's theory. Not only was it all that could be seen, but it invaded every other sense, too. She could hear the waves slapping against the side of the boat, she could smell the salt water as she breathed in deeply, and she could taste the salt in the air. She sighed again, breathing against the tight fabric of her dress. Her father gripped her shoulder slightly harder. She looked up at him once more; he wore a smile that seemed more for comfort than anything else. She still sensed something in his eyes. It was not exactly fear, but some form of worry that had been there for months now. She figured it had been ever since he had gotten the letter back in England.
Charlotte looked back to the horizon and spotted something in the distance. A mere speck of black. Charlotte blinked, but the black dot just got bigger and began to take form. It grew larger and closer until Charlotte realized it was a ship. A rather grand ship, she could tell, with ominous sails, struggling against the sea, coming closer. The ship bore the flag of a mere English merchant vessel much like her father's, as Charlotte could see as it came closer, but there was something unsettling about it. She looked back up at her father and could see the same feeling in his eyes. Then, as if it were magic, his face became as pale as newly laundered linen. When Charlotte followed his gaze, it fell on the Merchant ship. But now, rather than an English flag, in its place was a red flag with black detail of a triskelion of right arms bearing cutlasses. It was without a doubt a pirate flag. Charlotte gasped and swirled to see her father. There was unmistakable fear in his eyes.
The first gun sounded and from the pirate ship's forty guns came the smoke and thunder of a storm none could survive. Before the guns of the merchant ship could even be loaded the pirates succeeded in tearing down the sails and splintering the masts with their shot so that fleeing became impossible. Forced to throw anchor, the merchant ship finally began to fire as Charlotte's father pulled her to the side of the ship farthest from the pirates and bent down to her level. He reached into his shirt and pulled out an old, weathered sheet of paper.
"This is your only chance for survival," he said solemnly, handing her the dog-eared, yellowed document. Taking it from him with tears burning in her eyes, she stuffed it down the front of her dress and hugged her father for the last time. "Hide here," he demanded, and led Charlotte to a small hollow where she could easily fit and be out of sight. "Stay here," he whispered urgently, "do not say a word. The pirates will probably sink this ship. Once they leave, take a rowboat and flag down the first ship you see. It will happen soon. That is the best I can say and the only way you can survive. Make sure you keep that paper with you. Do not show it to a soul, Charlotte, do you understand?"
Charlotte nodded, tears burning at the corner of her large brown eyes. "I love you, dear."
"I love you, father," Charlotte whispered, a lump fighting at the base of her throat.
With that, Henri Lawrence kissed his daughter on the forehead for the last time, gave her a tight hug, and disappeared. Another round of gunshots rang out, and she shut her eyes tightly at the sound. She could no longer see but could hear the commotion about her. She listened to the steel swords clashing, the boots of the pirates tramping around on deck. She could hear the door to her father's cabin splintering as it was beaten down. It didn't take the pirates long to take the ship over. With cutlasses, boarding axes, belaying pins, and firearms in hand, the pirates soon covered the wooden decks of the merchant ship with the blood of the crew. Henri Lawrence fought with all the bravery endowed with God's greatest blessing, fatherhood. No matter what the cost, he must drive the attention of the pirates away from the water to ensure his daughter's escape. He could only hope, as he took a dead crewman's sword from his stiffening hand, that a friendlier vessel of the Americas would find her and take her to safety. As the fighting continued, everyone but Lawrence was killed and he had the feeling that they were saving him for last. He was right.
When the fighting had died down, the pirate captain sauntered on board. Everyone's attention was turned to him. He had eyes, as cool grey as the steel of his cutlass, framed with oiled curls; his skin was weathered like any seaman and there was a slight smell of rotting fish about him which he had tried to drown with rose oil before boarding.
His wore a doublet of black and silver that matched his dark eyes. He would have been attractive, or gave the idea of being such in his youth, if not for his teeth. His was the smile of the devil. It lacked not a single pearl and appeared to be stained yellow. He considered the sole survivor of his crew's work before he spoke.
"Well, if it isn't Henri Lawrence hisself. Owner of the West Main Shippin' Company, come all the way from jolly old England." The last three words were spoken with an unmistakable sneer, and they all had themselves a good chuckle. Lawrence was silent, his thoughts and prayers with his daughter. "Nothin' to say, Lawrence?"
"Captain Noah Pierce," he said, "I'm not surprised you had the nerve to attack one of my ships." Captain Pierce laughed like a drunken banshee, a laugh so cruel it managed to send shivers up Charlotte's spine. "
"Yes. I don't disappoint. And look where it's gotten me," Captain Pierce said with laughter in his eyes, "of course, if I had known it was goin' to bring so little booty, I wouldn't have bothered attackin' it. But this hasn't proven all bad." Captain Pierce pulled a pistol from his belt, and admired it proudly. "Yer shipping company was always trouble for me, with your damned escorts. I could never rob yer galleons, 'twas nearly impossible, and I nearly lost me ship when I did try."
"Until your deal," Lawrence said coolly, as he tried to stand as straight and strong as he could considering the wounds he attained during the battle he had braved. Only the captain's eyes moved as he said this, from the pistol to the prisoner. A flicker of surprise went through the dark orbs, but only for a second. He grinned widely.
"Ah, yes, my deal, my deal. Which I must say, has worked out well for me." Smoothly he brought his eyes to rest on the pistol once more. "How did you come to find out about it, anyway?"
"I shan't tell." Lawrence said firmly. "Was robbing this ship part of your deal as well?"
"As a matter of fact…" Pierce looked up from his pistol and pointed it at Lawrence's head. "I shan't tell." At this he shot Charlotte's father once, his death was swift. Hot tears flowed from Charlotte's eyes as she felt the pain of losing her father down to her core. Beneath the paper her father had given her just before they separated, her heart broke. Without thinking, she stood up and screamed for her father, immediately regretting her decision as several dozen pirates turned to look at her with evil curiosity.
"Look at what we have here." Pierce sauntered to Charlotte, replacing his gun in his belt. "And who might you be, young miss?"
Charlotte swallowed, peering up at the ominous Captain. "C-Charlotte Lawrence, as it please you." Charlotte automatically curtseyed and the Captain half-smiled. He turned to his crew.
"It appears to be dear Henri's daughter. I forgot about this one. Good thing she spoke up," Pierce said evilly, as if Charlotte was not there. He turned back to her. "Well, little missie, I'm Captain Noah Pierce…as it please you." He said the latter half of the statement in a high-pitched voice, curtseying in an exaggerated and mocking way. His comrades laughed uproariously at this.
"I know who you are." Charlotte said haughtily. "My father told me all about you."
Noah let out another hearty laugh. "He did now, did he?" he turned to his crew. "It seems I'm famous." Snickers rang through the crowd.
"He told me you were the worst pirate he'd ever had the experience of knowing. He said, in the past five years, you've only been able to rob four of his ships."
Pierce grimaced, trying to control his temper. He let the look of anger melt into a cold smile, leaning his tall frame down to meet Charlotte's short one.
"Well, Miss Lawrence, I expect you'll be comin' wiv us."
"I'd rather be dragged from the bottom of the ocean."
"And you won't make a fuss."
"You cannot tell me what I will and will not do!" the girl, though only thirteen, looked quite intimidating as she puffed out her chest and placed her hands on her hips. This caused the ever-amused Pierce to chuckle lightly. Without warning, he then lifted Charlotte up and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. She screamed in indignation and pounded her small fists on Captain Pierce's back.
"Let me down, I say! Let me down this instant!" Charlotte's incensed screams fell on deaf ears as Pierce turned back to his crew.
"Get on wiv it, the lot of ye!" Pierce barked. The crew immediately sprang back into action, looting what they could find, which turned out to be very little. "Search the hull," The Captain snapped, "then set up some kegs of gunpowder. We've punched too many 'oles in this vessel the take it over."
The rag tag crew nodded, dragging up several casks, strewing the powder about the deck, putting the barrels at random spots. Slowly, the group, using grappling hooks and loose ropes, swung back over to Pierce's ship, taking with them the little booty they had found. Pierce watched these activities carefully; ignoring the kicking and screaming Charlotte slung over his shoulder.
"Anything else, men?" Pierce demanded when the looting ceased. The crew shook their heads in unison and Pierce nodded curtly. "Very well, then, burn the lot."
With the last cruel remark the Captain took hold on a rope and swung over to his ship, the screaming Charlotte in tow. She could feel tears running down her cheeks as she caught one last glance at her father's body, still slumped over and motionless. Once over, Pierce dumped the girl on deck. The moment she realized she was free, she catapulted herself towards the water, thinking only of escape.
"Not today, little miss." Pierce said firmly, pulling back the struggling Charlotte by the collar. "You're comin' wiv me."
Charlotte screamed her protests as the remainder of the pirates leapt on board, almost cat-like. The last thing she saw before Pierce shut her in his cabin was her father's ship, engulfed in ghastly flames.
Once the door clicked shut, Pierce turned to look at the little girl. Charlotte immediately ran and curled in the corner, attempting to steady her breathing. The horror of everything was too much for her to handle, and she cursed herself for her inability to control her reactions, even at the death of her father. Her light brown hair was in disarray and her doe eyes were darting around the room, scanning everything but focusing on nothing. Pierce made his way slowly to her, scrutinizing her.
"What are you going to do to me?" she finally gasped out, timidly, shifting under the Captain's eye. Pierce let out a long laugh.
"Not what you think, miss." He held out a hand for Charlotte to take. She ignored it, and instead recoiled further. "How old are ye, girl?"
Charlotte paused, considering her answer. "Thirteen."
"See?" Pierce smiled. "Yer much too young fer me."
"Well." Charlotte said dryly, "At least you have some dignity."
The Captain let out another hearty laugh. "Miss Lawrence, I do believe you amuse me." Charlotte let out a snort and turned herself away from Pierce. "I hope we can be good friends."
The girl turned sharply to look back at him, an incredulous look on her face. "What?" he asked, grinning toothily, "Ye mine as well warm up to me; yer goin' to be here a long time." Pierce's smile melted quickly as a quiet knock was heard. "What is it?"
The door was torn open, and a crew member stuck his head in. "Enemy ship sighted, cap'n!"
Pierce drew his gaze away from Charlotte and looked at the mate. "Another pirate ship?"
The pirate shook his head. "Royal English Navy."
The Captain growled and stalked out of the room as for the second time that day Charlotte heard cannons. Only this time, the sound was not ominous, but a relief. Another boom was heard as Charlotte began to get up. Steadying herself on the trembling ship, she made her way towards the door. Locked.
Frowning, Charlotte put her hand to her forehead and paced the small cabin. Another boom shook the ship. Charlotte heard the vessel groan and felt it tip dangerously. The desk opposite her was nailed down but the drawers flew open, papers fluttering all over the cabin like snow.
Yelling was heard, and the sound of sword on sword. The invasion had begun; the soldiers were swarming the ship. Charlotte listened intently to the fighting outside of her little prison. She called for help but no one answered. Another boom was heard, and the ship tipped in the opposite direction, jerking quickly without warning. Charlotte screamed as she slid to the other end of the cabin, grabbing in vain at anything nailed down. She slammed her head on the desk, pain blinding her and shooting down her back and into her limbs. She felt the papers flutter about her. Floating in and out of consciousness, she felt the ship steady itself as some soldiers forced the door to the cabin open and sighted the girl. The last thing Charlotte remembered before lapsing into darkness completely was putting her hand over her heart where the paper her father had given her was, hidden safely away.