a novella by Adrian St Claire
I can remember running my fingers through her hair and feeling the curls that hid underneath her waves. Her hair was beautiful, the most striking thing about her, outclassed by no woman at land or at sea.
Something about the auburn locks, the way they shone like polished wood in the sun, they way they fell like dark black dresses in the moonlight. Only someone who knew her as intimately as I could would know about it, or so I liked to think.
And yet here she was again, the woman of my very dreams, standing before me, poised, with a cutlass extended in her hand, the very point nearly touching the tip of my nose. I stared up at her through confused brows in annoyance. How had she gotten aboard the Fortuna?
"De Saviola," she growled, looking feral.
"To what do I owe the honor?" I asked, leaning back in my chair, totally unafraid of the threat she currently held to my life and face. "My Lady," I added tersely when she didn't respond.
"You owe me the honor of vengeance," she nearly spat, her disgust for me evident by the look in her eyes.
"We agreed to have nothing to do with each other, by your own admission," I responded, holding up both of my hands in a submissive gesture. I didn't want to have to hurt her, even if she did have me at a disadvantage.
"Do you truly know nothing about women?" she couldn't help but ask me, her arm still extended. I tilted my head to the side and looked her first up and then down, making note of her trousers and dress shirt, although she did look rather dashing. She shook her head. "You know what I mean, Remy. You have no heart."
I leered at her, taking a second look at her proper menswear lustfully. Feral or not, I wanted her. "I'm a pirate, darling," I smiled down the length of her rapier. "I'm not supposed to."
She advanced on me, moving the sharp end of her weapon down until the steel bit at my neck dangerously sharp. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of seeing me wince. "Would you rather loose your head first, or arms and legs?"
I frowned, truly puzzled by the question, and she grinned, running the thin blade through my right arm, pinning me to my chair. The slice was agonizing, and I fought with myself to hide it. "Is..." I grimaced and took a deep breath, "That the best you can do?"
She tilted her head to the side and gave me a smile that assured me she was insane. "I want you to die, slowly, Ridolfa De Saviola. You deserve every moment it will take you to expire."
I looked up at her, knitting my eyebrows together, the picture of sorrow and repentance. "Did I leave you that unsatisfied, darling?"
She snarled, slapping me across the face with the back of her hand. "On the contrary, Remy. You left me quite sated." She rounded my chair, tiptoeing the tips of her fingers across the tops of my shoulders. The wooden floor beneath us lurched and moaned, but she hardly even noticed. "And then you ransacked my town and let your men kill everyone I've ever known."
"I'm sure you can get more slaves, your grace-" I retorted, our dance flirting on the line between menacing and polite. And we were definitely flirting.
She interrupted me by snatching her rapier from it's place pinning my arm, enlarging my wound in the process. I could hardly breath for the pain. With a flick of her wrist she swiped the sharp tip of the blade up and across my jaw, leaving me rightly gashed.
But on the downturn, when she should have flicked the blade back up and made due with my head, I lunged towards her, stepping down on the rapier with my right foot, and snatching her by the shoulders with the other, tackling her to the ground. Someone was bound to hear the shuffling and come around now. She fought beneath me for dominance, but I subdued her even with one arm, her thin arms and legs no match for my sea hardened muscle. Without the rapier she had no chance.
"Calm down, Elena," I said to her, my face close to hers. "Stop fighting me, darling." She struggled, and then acquiesced when I put the weapon to her own neck. "Now. Somehow you have managed to get aboard, and we are not turning back to Tarsus any time soon. So, the question is, will you cooperate or do I have to restrain you, again?"
Elena sighed and stopped struggling, turning her face away from me. "You should have killed me, too," she whispered. When she looked back up at me there were tears in her big green eyes, the tip of her nose already turning red. I wanted to kiss it like I had the night before when she was half asleep in my arms.
I looked at her crying without anything to say. I had made dozens of women cry before, for millions of reasons it seemed, but here, now, with the rapier in my one good arm to her throat, her tears hit me square in the chest. "You have something to live for." I told her, before standing up and helping her off the ground. It was easy to see from her defeated expression that she wasn't going to try to kill me again. I could feel the trickle of blood as it dripped from the slash on my face down my neck, staining my shirt. Elena reached out to touch it, looking apologetic.
"You're bleeding," she said to me, as if she cared. I looked down into her eyes and wondered if she did.
"So are you," I responded, touching a hand to her neck. "Can I trust you to behave in my quarters or will I have to put you in irons?"
She pursed her lips, obviously not exactly willing to be the submissive party. She hadn't wanted to be the night before, either. "I'll wait for you there," she agreed. I walked her quickly to my rooms near the stern of the Fortuna and locked her inside.