Author's Note: Hello all, sorry but I accidentally posted the unfinished version of this chapter as chapter five last week. So this chapter is finished and the REAL chapter five is posted.

Chapter Six – Calling a Truce

Ani sat there gazing at the stars. Out here at seas, she could see them even better than on the roof. Rylan was snoring softly his head resting against the wall of the crow's nest. He looked so innocent in sleep, too bad Ani knew that he wasn't innocent.

"You never really gave me a chance you know."

"A chance for what?" Ani looked at him skeptically. His eyes stayed shut, but it was now clear that he was definitely not asleep.

Rylan reached his arm out and wrapped it around Ani's waist. "A chance to do this."

He gingerly placed his lips against hers. The arm around her waist drew her close to his body. Ani felt her start to race against his chest, she could feel his beating in time with hers. Rylan pulled away and gazed into her eyes.

Ani didn't know what to say to him. There was nothing appropriate for her to say to break the silence. So she leaned into kiss him again.

"Nice try," Rylan winked at her and placed a finger on her lips. "You better be careful how you behave Lady Ani, you are in the company of a dastardly pirate. You never know what he'll do next."

Ani couldn't help but laugh. She gave a mock pout and made her eyes big. "That wasn't very nice. You shouldn't lead such an innocent girl such as myself on like that."

Rylan laughed and tried to pull her in closer. "I could do a lot worse than lead you on sweetheart, do you want to play that game with me?"

Ani laughed and disentangled herself from his arms. She stood up and looked out over the ocean, "I would, really. But I think it'll be more fun for you to catch me first."

Ani swung herself over the side of the crow's nest and scrambled down the rigging. Rylan shook his fist at her, trying very hard to keep a look of anger on his face. However every few seconds a little grin would break through.

6

Ryker heard laughter coming from the deck. High pitched giggling and low chuckling. A shriek and then what sounded like begging.

"What's to stop me from throwing you over board?"

Ryker rolled his eyes at his brother's attempts. He really had a thing or two to learn about women. "Rylan, give it a break will you? Some of us are trying to sleep."

Rylan turned around to see his brother leaning in the doorway of his quarters. "Aren't you gonna throw me back in the brig?"

"What so you can break out again and piss me off even more? Nope. But if you don't shut up, and make Ani shut up too I'll chain her up in my room which I'm assuming will not make either of you happy."

Ani shivered slightly. The thought of being chained up in his room creeped her out. He was not someone she felt she wanted to mix with. Rylan, pulled her body into him. A small gesture that brought her a large amount of comfort.

Rylan opened his mouth to argue with his brother, but was halted by Ryker raising his hand. "I don't want to hear it Rylan, at this point I don't really care what you two do. If she gets pregnant I'll dump you both off at the next port or better yet I'll take you home and you can explain to Mum why she has an illegitimate grandchild."

"That's not going to happen. And you leave Ani alone, or you'll have to mess with me."

"Oh and that proved to be such a threat yesterday when I had you thrown in the brig. Pick you battles wisely little Ry, because you know that I'll always win." Ryker laughed as he turned back to his room, shutting the door with a snap.

Rylan and Ani stood there and stared at the door. They were both thinking about what Ryker had said. Were they moving a little fast here? No that was ridiculous, they'd only kissed, really kissed once. They were just playing around.

Rylan looked at Ani and tried to apologize for what had happened. But the only thing he could think of was what lay hidden beneath those clothes. An image caught in his head of Ani in her skirt and blouse clinging to her, hair dripping from her fall into the river. He tried to shake the image but it just wouldn't move.

Ani blushed. She couldn't meet his eyes, they were surveying her body. She slipped away from his grip and backed away slightly.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…" Rylan tried to explain, he kicked himself in the head for leering at her.

Ani was glad that the leggings and shirt were slightly big for her, they hid her body quite well. Guilt washed over her. You led him on. This is your fault too Ani, he's only human. A human male at that.

"Ani, are you hungry?" Rylan asked after the awkward silence had gone on for too long.

Ani was about to decline when her stomach growled rather loudly. She laughed with Rylan as he led her down into the ship again towards the smell of food.

6

Ryker sat at his desk while Keefe hovered nearby. Brodie was leaning against the door and Rylan was lounging on the bed.

"So, I've figured out how we're going to get Raina back." Ryker told his companions proudly.

"Oh this'll be good, let's hear it," Rylan muttered from the bed.

"We're going to offer a trade."

Rylan laughed, oh that's great a trade. "We've already tried that, you know with gold. What could we possibly offer Desmon that will get him to hand Raina over?"

Three pairs of eyes looked at Rylan expectantly. Waiting for him to catch on to what they had already figured out.

"We are not giving him Ani!" Rylan yelled.

"I can't believe you! You're willing to keep a girl you've known for a total of ten days over getting your sister, who you've known and loved for sixteen years, back?" Ryker exploded.

"Mum wouldn't be too happy to hear that you were willing to trade an innocent girl into Desmon's hands just to get Raina back!"

"Ya, well I bet she wouldn't be too pleased with you either! You're the one who kidnapped Ani in the first place!"

"She was running away from home anyways! For all intents and purposes I helped her!"

Both men were standing now, faces red and breathing heavily. Keefe and Brodie stepped in between the door. They were trying to head off the impending fight before it got too far.

"Alright, there must be a better way. We'll keep thinking of something and find some way to get her back." Brodie told the brothers calmly.

"We'd better, because if that bastard even thinks of giving Ani to Desmon than I'll kill him!" Rylan yelled and stormed out of the room in search of Ani. Clearly she wasn't safe on her own anymore.

6

Ani was watching the clouds move in. They were dark and ominous and guaranteed a storm. She could feel the anxiety bubbling in her stomach. She had been caught out in a storm once with Neal and Rena when she was nine. It was definitely not an experience she wanted to endure on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

The sun had just disappeared behind the clouds when Rylan found her. He wrapped a protective arm around her and pulled her in close to him.

"Stay away from Ryker, he's in a pretty foul mood right now."

"Well maybe if you didn't constantly put him in one, we'd all get along better." Ani teased Rylan who clutched his heart in mock shock.

"I don't do it intentionally."

"Yes you do." Ani told him as she watched the waves begin to swell as the wind picked up.

The men on deck were running to tie things down so they wouldn't be swept overboard. Rylan let go of Ani to help Brodie tie down a cannon. The deck began to lurch and roll beneath her feet.

A wave swept over the deck and soaked everyone's feet. Ani was just making her way towards the stairway to below deck when the ship tipped sideways. She had nothing to grap onto and could feel herself beginning to slide down towards the rolling waves.

"ANI!" Rylan watched as Ani was getting pitched into the ocean, he was too far away to stop her.

A pair of arms wrapped around Ani as she was pitched overboard into the frigid water.

6

Ryker let go of the railing and wrapped his arms around the girl, knowing full well he was going to get thrown into the water because of it.

The sudden shock of the water knocked the air from his lungs as a wave crashed over them. When they surfaced the ship was almost a fifty yards away.

"Ani, can you swim?" Ryker yelled over the crash of the waves and thunder from above.

A wave crashed over them again filling Ani's mouth with water. The tow from the wave started to grab at their feet as it rolled over them. She coughed, trying to force air back into her lungs and the water out when they rose again.

"Not well," she managed trying to keep the panic from her voice.

Ryker had her afloat by one arm as he began to kick and pull with his free arm. He towed Ani through the waves, towards the ship that was getting further away every moment. It was one of those nightmares where you keep running but you never arrive to where you're going to.

6

Rylan tied a piece of rope around his waist. "When I tug three times, reel me in!"

Brodie, who held onto the other end of the rope, nodded. He watched as his friend dove into the fury of the waves. In the distance he could just make out the bobbing heads of Ani and Ryker. They were taking a beating from the waves.

6

All Ani could think about was how incredibly cold the water was. She could no longer feel her fingers or toes and the numbness was begin to creep up into her core. Ani could feel herself trembling uncontrollably but there was nothing she could do to take her mind off of the frigid waves. The only part of her that had any heat at all was the part covered by Ryker's arm.

"Stay with me Ani, keep your head up and your eyes open." Ryker called out over the waves.

It wasn't until he said keep your eyes open that she could feel her eyelids begin to droop. She began struggling to keep conscious. Head up. Eyes open. Head up. Eyes open. Head up. Eyes closed. No, its eyes open and head down Ani! Head down? But if I put my head down I'll be breathing in water.

Ryker felt Ani's body go limp in his arm. Cursing he rolled over onto his back to make sure that her head stayed above water. Using only his legs he was moving even slower in the crashing waves. It was almost as if the gods themselves heard his displeasure when the skies opened up and dumped a torrential downpour of rain on them.

"RYKER!" Ryker squinted through the downpour. It was dark, and raining, and there were waves cresting and falling. Ryker could just make out the shape of another body in the waves however he couldn't see the ship at all.

Rylan swam up beside his older brother and grabbed onto his arm. "Hold on, Brodie is going to tow us in!"