Chapter One "Packing and Arguing"

"You want to go where?" Prescott's mouth was hanging open and he could not force it to return to its normal position.


Captain Prescott Tarret stood, dumbfounded, as his little sister rushed back and forth from her wardrobe to a large trunk She was packing her trunks and preparing to sail for Tortuga? Of course, why not? It's not as though the most dangerous people in the Caribbean flock to that very spot. Lottie would be perfectly safe among the murderers, thieves, and pirates that . . . ah. So, that was it. Pirates.

Over a year ago, a buccaneer named Avery Pierce had blown into town and turned Prescott's dear baby sister from a law abiding proper citizen into a treasonous pirate saver. Granted, in saving Pierce's skin, Carlotta exposed a Spaniard for the sadistic bastard that he was, but, still, the complete breach of the law was somewhat troublesome for an officer in His Majesty's Navy, like Prescott. Not saying thathe hadn't bent the rules himself whena situation demanded forward thinking, but Lottie did not just bend the rules. She tied them into an intricate mess of knots and threw them in the garbage … all for a pirate she hardly knew.

"Lottie," Prescott started, "It's a big ocean. What makes you think he'll be there?"

His sister stopped her fevered activity and heramber eyes met his. "I have no idea who you're talking about."

Sure, she didn't. It had been over a year since Avery Pierce had been in Kingston. While the pirate hadbeen busy makingPrescott's life rather difficult, he had somehow managed to capture his sister's heart, though she refused to admit to that last part. When, the pirate had left, Prescott had been sure that he would return. Something about the way, Pierce continually risked his life for Lottie, made him believe that the pirate actually cared for her. But as far as he knew, Pierce had not set foot in Kingston in well over a year. Lottie had received letters, and a few packages containing jewelry, fabrics, exotic perfumes, and other trinkets from far off locales. However, gifts would not satisfy his sister, apparently, she had to see Avery Pierce again, and traveling to Tortuga was the means to achieving that end.



He sighed. "Why now?"

"What?" Lottie once again halted her actions.

"Why go traipsing across the ocean after Pierce, now?" he clarified.

She shook her head, chuckling softly. "Am I that transparent?"

"Yes," Prescott said, crossing his arms. "You didn't answer my question."

Lottie rolled her eyes. "It's almost the 11th," she said matter of factly, as though that should answer her big brother's every inquiry.

Prescott furrowed his brow. Almost the 11th? What was August 11th and what in the world did the date have to do with this impromptu trip? "Of course," he said. "But by that logic, it is also almost the 10th."

Lottie scowled, closing the lid of her trunk. "You're not going to let this alone are you?"

"Not until you explain yourself, no."

The lady bit her lip, sighed, then met Prescott's eyes. "August 11th is Avery's birthday."

Prescott raised an eyebrow. His birthday? "Good. Excellent. We'll draft a letter and send him warm wishes and our regards."

"No. I'm going to Tortuga," Lottie set back to work, starting to fill trunk number two. "It'll be a surprise."

Prescott envisioned the rowdy pirate haven his sister intended on visiting. If Pierce even happened to be there he would probably be surrounded by criminals, drunks, gamblers, and women making their living. The pirate had not made a return trip to Kingston, so he clearly did not wish to see Lottie again. To say he'd be surprised if she spontaneously showed up the last place she was expected was quite the understatement. "It certainly will."

"I'm going."

"You're not."


"How 'bout we go over to the book store or that new shop with all of those things from the orient? We can send him a gift." Prescott knew he was grasping at straws. Lottie clearly had her mind made up, and if he had not have dropped in for a visit this morning, she may have left without even telling him. Clever girl, she probably knew he would disapprove, and why shouldn't he? Tortuga was a robbers den, and the last place a Navy captain would like to send his baby sister..

Truth be told, he was not particularly concerned about the danger of the town. Ever since Don Cornado had tried to kill her, Lottie had been interested in learning how to defend herself. Prescott had taught her the basics of swordplay as well as the principles of a fist fight. He had no doubt that she practiced in her spare time and was most likely capable of holding her own.

What most worried Prescott was that he had misjudged Avery Pierce. He remembered discovering Lottie and the pirate in a cabin in the woods. Marines and Spanish soldiers stood outside waiting to haul Pierce back to prison. He remembered crossing the room to speak to Lottie, but Pierce stepped in front of him. The pirate was protecting Lottie from her own brother. In that instant, Prescott found himself respecting Avery Pierce. That had been the precise moment that he had decided to help the pirate, because he saw something trustworthy in Captain Avery's eyes. But now, after so much time had passed, Prescott found himself wondering if Pierce had entranced girls like Lottie all over the Caribbean. Who knows, the man could even have a wife and a family tucked away on some island. Unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.

The last thing Prescott wanted was to watch Lottie leave for Tortuga hopeful and optimistic only to return with a broken heart. He remembered when her husband, Chris, had died. She spent all of her time just waiting for him to reappear from around every corner. Even though Lottie's eldest brother had never really gotten along with her husband, Prescott had to admit that he had done the same thing himself, once or twice. When a man was lost at sea, there was always the hope that he had somehow survived. However, if Chris had survived, surely he would have come back to his wife. So, it was Prescott's sad duty, to tell his little sister that the man she loved would never be coming back. He did not know if he could bear to see that emptiness in her eyes again.


Carlotta felt Prescott watching her, scrutinizing her. She knew he did not want her to go to Tortuga to find Avery. She had planned on packing her bags and being on a ship before he even knew that she was gone. Not that she wanted to sneak away behind his back, but that certainly would be easier than arguing with him. He was her big brother, and he was only trying to protect her. There was no way he would let her just sail away bound for one of the most disreputable ports in the Caribbean, especially since he did not know if Avery would even be there waiting for her.

Maybe, he did not want her to find Avery. Carlotta had noticed his attitude towards the pirate change over the past few months. When Avery had first sailed away, Prescott said that he would come back. He almost seemed like he wanted her to see Avery again. But recently he had begun to slip back into his former views of pirates. Carlotta smiled sadly, her brother did not realize that Avery had been back to see her.

"Miss," Sarah interrupted hesitantly, "there's someone at the door."

"I already have company," Carlotta answered, gesturing to her brother, his new wife, Bridget, and Geoffrey Bellanger.

"Yes, Mum, but . . ."

"But what?"

"It's a priest. I couldn't send him away."

Carlotta rolled her eyes. The Christmas season always brought clergymen to her door, asking for donations. She did not usually mind, but it was Christmas Eve, and she had already given to both of the churches in Kingston. She did not want to appear miserly, but enough was enough. "Alright, show him to the study. Excuse me, this will only take a moment."

When Carlotta entered the study, she did not see any evidence of a man of God. Instead, she saw Avery Pierce sitting on the desk talking to Sarah. Clearing her throat loudly, her maid's head snapped up. "Sarah, he doesn't look like a priest to me," she chided, adopting a disapproving pose.

"I know, Miss," Sarah hurried across the room to stand by Carlotta. "It's Mr. Smith!"

"I know who it is."

"Isn't it exciting!"

"Very," Carlotta replied, her eyes captured by the sight of the intrepid pirate. "That will be all, Sarah."

Carlotta crossed the room. She saw a long brown robe slung over the back of one of the chairs. Sliding off the desk, Pierce stood in front of Carlotta, smiling mischievously. He looked exactly the same as she remembered. Long dark hair pulled into a pigtail at the base of his neck, the same deep, dark eyes, and that infuriatingly smug grin. He wore a light brown shirt, darker brown trousers, and a white and red sash tied around his waist. As Sarah would always say, he really was very handsome. "You know, my maid thinks we're having an affair," Carlotta said.

The smile on Avery's face widened. "Hate to make a liar of her."

Ignoring the tickle in her stomach that statement caused, Carlotta asked, "What are you doing here?"

"Got somethin' for ye," Avery said producing a small box covered with gold paper and tied with dark red ribbon, "tis Christmas, after all."

Carlotta took the box, tearing into the paper and throwing the bow aside like a small child who still believed in St. Nicholas. She removed the lid to reveal a necklace. The chain was silver, holding an oval, amber colored pendant. She turned the tiny jewel over in her hands. She had never seen anything like it.

"It's a tiger eye. When the shopkeeper told me the name, couldn't help but think of you," Avery said, gesturing for her to turn around so he could put it on for her. Carlotta closed her eyes as the pirate's fingers brushed against the back of her neck.

"You mean you actually bought it?" she teased.

The pirate chuckled softly. "Aye, but don't worry, I stole the money that paid for it."

The necklace was fastened around her neck, but she hadn't turned around. Avery's hands were resting on her shoulders, and she really did not want to break the contact. She nearly jumped out of her skin, when he leaned forward, his hair brushing against her cheek, and whispered in her ear.

"Like it?"

"It's beautiful, Avery."

"Like I said, couldn't help but think of you when I saw it."

"Lottie?" she heard Geoffrey' voice nearing the study.

"Merry Christmas, Carlotta."

With that, the pirate was gone.

"Lottie?" Prescott seemed to notice that his sister was lost in her own thoughts as he was staring at her with his arms crossed, like he was waiting for some kind of response.

"Oh, sorry. What were you saying."

He rolled his eyes. "I said, you can go, if you must, but I'm going with you."

"Prescott! I cannot bring the Royal Navy to Tortuga."

"That isn't what I said," he scolded softly. "I said, I'm going with you."

His sister smiled. "What will Bridget think of that?"

He pursed his lips. His wife would hate the thought of him leaving so soon. He had just returned from a three month voyage to the colonies. She would beg him to stay, then, she would probably cry. "Bridget won't mind at all," he said.

"No?" Carlotta did not believe him for a second.


Lottie shrugged. "You could always bring her along. T'would be a nice vacation for the two of you."

Prescott shot his sister a glare. "I'm going to go get my things," he said, holding up his index finger and pointing at her accusingly. "Do not leave without me."

"Wouldn't dream of it."


Well, I promised a sequel to "Captain's Prayer" if there was enough interest, and there absolutely was. Thank you all so much for your encouragement. I know this was a long time coming, but I hope all my dear reviewers are still around and ready for the next adventure. I'd love to know what you thought of this little teaser chapter, so please leave me a bit of feedback!