clanging of the ship's bell brought Morgan bolt upright in the berth, instantly
awake.Summer required a moment to rub
the sleep from her eyes, and in that moment, Wade had pulled on his breeches,
stamped his feet into his boots, and was out the cabin door.She dressed quickly and was not too far
behind, amazed at how easily her stomach churned with fresh panic.
The gun ports
were being opened as she reached the upper deck, the lashings were off the
cannon, and the cork tompions were removed from the iron muzzles.Bright sunlight revealed the recent damage on
deck and patches of new wood which were half complete.
Summer ran along
the quarterdeck, searching in the Chimera's wake for the reason why Wade and
Phillips and Mr. Monday were all up on the bridge, peering through
spyglasses. Mr. Monday was talking to
Morgan in a low voice; Morgan in turn
was cursing, holding his glass steady on some point in the distance.At first Summer saw nothing but blue sky and
dazzling turquoise water. Glare from the
sun was bouncing off the surface of the sea, blinding her unpractised eye, but from the look on Morgan's face, she knew
it had to be the Caledonia.
"Michael--?"She saw him by the rail and stepped up beside
She did not need
to hear his answer as a faint rumble, like distant thunder, reached the
Chimera. She saw them then. Two small sets of sails low on the horizon.
Gyrfalcon fell back during the night," Michael said. "Captain Bull
kept signalling that he was alright, that the sea was clear behind him, but
then...when the sun came up...he just turned away and..."
Summer felt the
deck tilt precariously and she had to grip the rail to keep from tumbling
back. The Chimera was tacking sharply
about.On Morgan's orders, Mr. Phillips
shouted for more sail and Summer dragged Michael over against the bulkhead to
stay out of the way as men rushed up from below to swarm into the rigging.
top speed it will take an hour or more to reach her," Morgan was saying between curses. "Can we squeeze out another knot or
fully rigged now," Mr. Phillips
said. "There isn't an empty yard
lighten her. Put some strong backs on
the winches and off-load those bloody crates of copper. Get some men in the stern and do the same
with the barrels of water. Dump
everything but the powder and shot if necessary, but I want three more knots
within the hour."
sir!" Mr. Phillips vaulted down the
ladder and disappeared below.
Monday, I'll kill Bull myself when I lay my hands on him. Why the hell didn't he signal?"
t'ink he givin' us a better chance to get away," Monday said. "Mebbe he know two ships woan make it."
tensed and he raised the glass again, sweeping it across the seascape. "Where the blood hell are we,
Island's over there," Monday said, pointing west to a barely
visible slash of purple low on the horizon.
Morgan took a
deep breath and expelled it on an oath. Bird
Island was a well known rendezvous
point for smugglers and privateers, and was regularly patrolled by British
revenue cutters. All they would need is
some gun-happy British taxman joining the fray.
the glass and turned to look down the length of his ship. She was battered and damaged, but she was
He saw Michael
and Summer as they moved out to the rail again. "You had better go below, both of you," he ordered harshly.
"Sir?" Michael looked up and frowned. "You said I was part of the crew now."
heading into a fight, boy. This is no
time to play games."
flushed. "I know it is not a game,
sir. But I recall you saying once that
every man on board your ship had to pull his own weight; there would be no special treatment for
anyone--including the governor's son. Well, sir, I am not the governor's son any longer. I am a full member of your crew. As such, I...I expect to be treated the
s-same way. You won't regret hiring me
on, sir. I vow you will not."
had narrowed during the brave speech, and now they widened in an expression
warning that he was dangerously close to the edge of his patience. "Hired
sir. I should expect to receive a share
in the prize when we capture the Caledonia."
blue eyes flicked to Summer. Instead of
finding support, he was met by a proud smile and a similar calm defiance.
Monday," he growled. "Take your new powder boy below and
explain what his duties will be."
leaped down onto the main deck and grabbed Michael by the scruff of the neck.
sir!" Michael cried. "You won't be sorry."
Cambridge, we put men to death for even looking pale on board my
ship," Wade said. "You may be sure I'll not be sorry about anything. Do we understand one another?"
but nodded and was led away by Mr. Monday.
you--" Morgan's attention shifted
back to Summer --"I will deal with
your peculiar sense of obligation when this is over."
wants to help. And so do I."
help me by going below and staying out of everyone's way." His voice softened when he saw how the
harshness of his words caused her to flinch. "You can help me by looking after Sarah and Roarke so I don't have
those two worries on my mind."
Captain," she said softly. "But only if you promise to come for me
when it's over."
always come for you, Summer."
"Is that a
last breath, it is, by God."
She smiled and
held his gaze until the last possible moment, breaking away only when another
rumble of thunder rolled across the deck.
was reeling under the amount of shot raking across her hull. The upper deck was caught in a terrible
deluge that rained iron and fragments of lead from exploding canisters of
grapeshot. The dead and dying were
strewn about the bloody planking, and the defenders had withdrawn to the
shielded lower gun deck where, incredibly enough, the crews were still
maintaining a steady reply to the Caledonia's
onslaught. The battle was two hours old,
already twice as long as Winfield had confidently predicted it would take to
destroy the privateer.
refused to leave the bridge of his ship. He roared as many oaths across the span of ocean separating the two ships
as his cannon hurled shot. Twice he had
to drag bodies away from the wildly spinning wheel and take control of the helm
himself. Five, six, ten shots from the
Royal Marine sharpshooters zinged close to his head, and three times his body
was thrown to the deck as eighteen pounds of iron blasted into the planking
around him. When the smoke cleared, he
merely threw his head back and bellowed louder for the insult, mocking the aim
of the British gunners, cursing their training, cursing their lack of nerve for
standing off and firing from the longest range their guns could reach.
bare-chested, and his skin shone from the rivulets of blood where flying
fragments of wood or iron had sliced into his flesh. His face streamed sweat; his beard glittered; both hands were burned raw from loading and
firing overheated cannon.
Stuart Roarke each time he heard the deep-throated explosions from the brace of
sixty-four-pound carronades his son-in-law had mounted in the stern and
bow. They had already worn a dent in the
Caledonia's arrogant striped hull, and had slashed her
masts and rigging so that the warship's maneuverability, which was lumbering at
best due to her size, had been vastly reduced. Like the bird she was named after, the Gyrfalcon made use of her
lightness and greater speed to sweep in and attack, fall back, and attack
again. Until the cracked mainmast had
been blown away, and until most of her sails had been ripped from the spars,
Bull had not stayed in position long enough for the British gunners to fix
their aim. They wasted two out of every
three shots and because they relied on their long guns, half their massive
firepower went unused.
decking Roarke had specially reinforced to withstand a pounding, the Caledonia
was catching every heavy shot the Gyrfalcon spat at her and was suffering
damage on all decks. Twice the sixty-four
pound balls smashed through the upper decking and sent the guns below tipping
out and into the sea.It did nothing to
impede the constant eruptions from the deadly broadsides, but it struck a proud
chord in Bull's heart to see the mighty panther feeling more than just the
annoying bite and scratch it had expected.
The Chimera came
in fast before the wind and reduced to fighting sail as she sidled into
position. Bull's crew cheered feverishly
as Wade commenced heavy fire from all of her guns. He did not attempt to run in close, but chose
to stay back in an attempt to lure the panther away from the wounded falcon. Winfield took the bait, and the
white-and-navy-clad officers on the Caledonia's bridge
could be seen re-directing the helmsman to bring her about and line her guns on
the new arrival.
twenty-fours were loaded and fired without a visible break in the clouds of
smoke. The Caledonia
met the challenge vigorously with her thirty-two pounders, heavier guns but not
as accurate against a fast-moving target. The Chimera cut in and out swiftly, frustrating the British gunlayers,
who worked furiously to correct their aim.
won some measure of success and Winfield praised his men as he saw Wade's
foresails hanging in tatters. He
continued to stalk the privateer instead of taking the sure kill against the
crippled Gyrfalcon, a decision which had his officers straining to keep their
tongues in check. But Winfield had seen
an opportunity to cross Wade's bow and deliver a broadside straight down her
throat, similar to the one that had so unnerved the gunners on the Northgate. He ordered every gun double-shotted and ran
up extra sail, bringing the Caledonia close enough he
could almost see into the gallery windows.
correctly predicted Winfield's intent and pulled sharply up into the wind,
ordering his headsails backed so that his ship glided to a near halt in the
water. Instead of ending up in front of
the Chimera as planned, Winfield found his broader, slower ship presented
head-on to Wade's port battery. The
privateer's gunners blasted the length of the Caledonia,
managing five scorching rounds before Winfield could correct his fatal
veered onto parallel courses, firing as fast as their guns could be swabbed,
loaded, and discharged. Wade sheered off
again and crossed behind the panther's stern, this time ordering chain-shot and
incendiaries up against the masts and rigging. Several shots slammed through
the gallery windows, shattering the elegant gilded trim and sending glittering
sprays of exploding glass out into the sea. Moments later, yellow tongues of fire snaked from the gaping wound,
along with clouds of black smoke. Similar destruction was wrought on deck and in the sails, the
incendiaries smashing open on impact to douse the canvas and spars in oil that
only needed a spark to catch fire.
The Gyrfalcon, meanwhile, had limped up to
cross the panther's bow and resumed pouring into her with the awesome power of
the carronades. With Wade passing along
the Caledonia's port side and Bull shearing along her
starboard beam, they caught the warship in a deadly crossfire that turned her
decks into shambles and blew away the braces and spars that held her sails
aloft. The yards gave and fell like axed
trees, dropping men and canvas into the sea. One of her heavy guns was blasted from its carriage and windmilled
across the breadth of the ship, carrying the bloody pieces of five men with it.
tacked away at the end of the run, giving the crew a chance to clear away the
smoke and debris. The Gyrfalcon followed
Wade's lead, peeling away from the Caledonia's wake and
ploughing drunkenly through the wash.
On board the
British ship, the crew frantically tried to mount fresh canvas while the
officers screamed for makeshift repairs. In the sudden lull of battle, all that could be heard was the hiss and
snap of fires, and the cries of the wounded.
the length of the maindeck, kicking and berating the gunners who were slumped
over with exhaustion. He shrieked at the
men lying dazed against the bulkheads. He barked hoarse curses at his midshipmen and ordered them to whip the
crew if necessary, to beat them into fighting form again.
Some of the men,
already discouraged, went below to the storerooms and broke into the kegs of
rum. Even the lowest gun deck had been
penetrated by American shot, and the British seamen--poorly fed and liberally
treated to the lash--were in no hurry to pull together just so they could die
at their guns. They had all heard the
story of the Northgate's defeat and for the first time, they began to believe
their own black panther would be next.
As for the
officers, they were appalled by the staggering losses they had sustained so
far.Eighty of her four-hundred-and-nine
man crew were dead or wounded.They had
expected to blow apart a pair of crippled privateers and instead were
hard-pressed to hold their own against two brilliantly commanded fighting
machines.The Gyrfalcon, despite being
sorely damaged, looked as unready to haul down her colors as she had when she
first thundered in on the attack.The
Chimera, sleek and powerful, could already be seen hoisting fresh sail and
preparing to commence another run.
was set. His face was ruddy, shiny with
sweat, and his eyes glittered like two shards of blue glass as he presided over
a hasty council of war on the afterdeck.
wounded will be seen to in due time. Another hour, no more, and they'll have a brace of prize ships in their
possession to take the sting of their cuts away."
artillery officer stepped forward. "Sir, the crews on my eighteens are being decimated. Another cross-fire like the last one and you
will have no upper battery to speak of. There is simply no protection;they are fully exposed. The
gunwales and rails are gone;most of the
carriages are either dangerously loose or knocked clean away."
rigging lines are hopelessly snarled--"
more lines, do we not?" Winfield
but with the steering sails gone--"
steerage, Mr. Turner and I need it now! Without it we might as well sit here and invite their shells aboard!"
are splicing, sir, but I need time--"
his hands into fists. "What about
the fires, Mr. Halpern? Surely you are
not going to tell me we have run short of buckets or water?"
midshipman stammered as he looked around the circle of gritty faces. "N-no sir. But the aftercabins are all ablaze, including
your own.I need more men to keep the
fires from spreading. The last rounds
they put to us carried some incendiaries."
nothing to respond with?" Bennett
demanded of his gunnery officers.
explosive shot, yes, sir. But the
mortars are gone."
"All of them?" Winfield could scarcely believe what he was
hearing about the condition of his fine black panther.
officer broke in again. "Whoever is
directing their fire knows the layout of our decks and where we have the
weakest defences. He's firing by
divisions and concentrating on the twenty-four pounders. There is no question that we are damaging
them in return, but it still remains that both privateers are managing five
rounds to every two of ours."
"Excuses!" Winfield screamed. "Do you hear what you are giving
but excuses! I want us in
close. I want us to take the battle to him
Ashton-Smythe saw the horror of the Northgate's last half hour replaying itself
before his eyes. "Wade cannot
afford to let you take the battle to him, and he knows it. He will keep you tight, he will keep you in a
cross-fire until you have nothing left to fight with. The time to make a move is now, when both of
his ships are tacking...we can peel off and make a run for Bird
"Run? You advise me...to run?"
wiped a bead of sweat off his cheek, only to find it was blood. "Your panther is on fire,
Commodore. Half of your guns are
useless; your wounded are drunk and
pleading for quarter. To continue the
battle will mean risking another third of your crew. Neither of Wade's ships is in condition to
give chase; he will use the respite as
we do, to affect repairs and limp home to fight another day."
God," Winfield sneered. "Glasse was right. You are a coward, sir. A gutless, spineless coward and a disgrace to
the uniform you wear."
looked down at his soiled uniform, at the filthy bandages on his arm and thigh,
then at the bloody shambles of the deck stretched out before them. "Call it cowardice if you will,
Commodore. I simply consider the lives I
can save are worth far more than a gold stripe and an admiral's berth."
flashed their hatred as Ashton-Smythe offered a curt salute and turned to leave
the bridge. Bennett reached down
suddenly, grabbing at the hilt of his saber and withdrew it from the sheath. He lunged forward, aiming between the
captain's shoulder blades, but one of the junior officers jumped out and pushed
Smythe clear as the point of the sword was driven deeply into the wood of the
bulkhead. Two more officers leaped forward,
wrestling the sword from Winfield's hands, while others placed themselves as a
shield between the Commodore and the stunned captain.
me!" Winfield demanded, shocked by
this further outrage against his command. "Unhand me at once or I will
have you all stripped of your ranks before the day is done!"
stared at one another aghast, none of them certain what to do next. To disobey was to mutiny; to release him was inviting possible murder. They all shared a deep respect for
Ashton-Smythe. He was a fine officer who
had simply found himself in an untenable position. They also shared a deep-rooted fear of the
naval judicial system. Mutiny in wartime
could only result in death, regardless of the provocation.
The Chimera and
the Gyrfalcon had completed their turns and were gathering headway to make
another pass at the Caledonia.
One by one the
anxious faces turned to Bennett Winfield. The two men pinning his arms loosened their grips and stepped
aside. The artillery officer took a step
forward and stood ramrod straight before him.
the wrinkles on his uniform smooth and glared a promise at each of the six
ashen faces. He delayed his answer long
enough that the first salvos were unleashed from the approaching privateers and
tore into the hull of his ship. He
barely flinched as a shower of splinters fell around their heads.
Turner. How long will you need to give
his lips. "An hour, sir. I can give you fighting tops and fores in an
crews on it now. Scavenge if you must,
but give me steerage! Captain Smythe,
since you have already had some practice at it, you may have the dubious privilege
of lowering the colors to half-mast and sending up a request for a parlay. We shall see exactly how warm the water
Mr. Monday was
set to roar for the gunners to fire a third volley, when he saw the Union Jack
flutter down the mast, joined by a white flag run quickly up to meet it. He spun on his heel and cupped his hands
around a shout to Morgan Wade, who had replaced a fallen gunner at one of the
barrel-shaped carronades. Wade fed the
hefty forty-two pound shot into the smoking muzzle, tamped it down flush
against the wadding, then gave the powder-man the thumbs-up signal before he
stepped the well-advised five feet away from the gun to brace for the explosion
His ears, like
those of the rest of the gun crew, were ringing from the repeated concussions
and he did not hear Mr. Monday's shout. It was one of the other men who tugged at his sleeve and pointed to
Monday first, then to the flags on the Caledonia's mast.
Wade leaped over
some debris to stand beside Mr. Monday. "What do you suppose he is up to now?"
Mr. Monday wiped
impatiently at a gash on his forehead that was sheeting blood down his temples
onto his neck. His hands were burned and
scraped, as were Wade's, and one of the gleaming white teeth that created his
fearsome grin had been broken off level with the purplish gums. He grinned anyway and shook his head to clear
the blood out of his ears.
maybe it will snow in the islands next week."
scowled and pointed to where the Gyrfalcon was drawing close up behind the Caledonia. She was moving sporadically under the windage
of two partially rigged masts. Bull had
also seen the flags and was having difficulty holding position as he waited for
a signal from Wade. He would either have
to commence his run or fall away and circle around for another pass.
Which could be
precisely what Winfield was hoping for.
gunners down, Mr. Monday, but keep them alert.Mr. Cambridge!"
sir?" Michael stepped forward, his
face and hands stained black from carrying gunpowder cartridges. His shirt was as black as his face, stiff
with grease and ash.
order to the helm. Tell Mr. Phillips to
signal Captain Bull to peel off and hold position on Winfield's flank."
sir!" he cried, and scampered off.
later, with all guns hissing quietly as they cooled, there was still no sign of
movement on the decks of the Caledonia. The Gyrfalcon had fallen back. Any man who was not working feverishly on
jury-rigging repairs was crouched by the cannon, quenching their thirst from
water buckets and eating biscuits while they had the chance.
flags burst out suddenly on the mast of the Caledonia. It was a request for safe passage for a gig
to approach the Chimera. A reply was run
up the Chimera's mast and minutes later a small boat rowed out from behind the
warship carrying four oarsmen and three uniformed officers.
the sweat and grime off his face and raked his fingers through his hair to
smooth it back. He donned a clean shirt
Michael brought him and was tucking it into his breeches when Mr. Phillips
appeared at the foot of the ladderway.
Winfield is requesting permission to come aboard. He has two of his officers with him."
them aboard, Jamie," Wade nodded.
stood inside the gangway, the plumes of his bicorne ruffling smartly in the
breeze. His face was without expression;
his hands were held at ease behind his back. One booted foot was poised slightly ahead of the other, hinting broadly
at impatience and disdain. The pale blue
eyes scanned the length and breadth of the Chimera, settling on the faces of
the sweaty gunners, noting damages, types of shot. He glanced up to examine the condition of the
sails and rigging lines, skimming over the men perched high in the yards
holding muskets at the ready. Lastly he
noted the Chimera's captain striding along the deck, as battered and bruised as
his ship, yet seemingly as invincible.
done a remarkable job of holding together," Winfield said, ignoring any need for
formalities. "Two battles in as
many days. Decatur
will be overjoyed."
been known, on occasion, to smile over lesser news."
away. "I understand my wife is
still on board. I should like to see her
and speak to her--alone if you don't mind."
depend a great deal on whether she wishes to see you," Morgan said, crossing his arms over his
chest. "And it definitely will not
I should like to see her, if only to assure myself she is still alive and well,
and to offer her the opportunity to return with me to the Caledonia."
curled at the side. "What makes
you think she would want to do that?"
you believe she would choose to die on board this ship?"
the spotless, clean-shaven, arrogant face for a long moment, then called
quietly over his shoulder. "Mr.
smartly forward. "Aye,
please deliver a request to your sister to join us in my cabin? Tell her Commodore Winfield...begs her
up at Wade and whispered. "Does she
the spark of anger in Winfield's eyes, and smiled. "Not if she doesn't want to, lad. Gentlemen--"he held out his arm as an invitation for the
rigid, white-lipped Englishmen to follow him to his cabin. "Mr. Monday, will you join us? Mr. Phillips...keep a sharp eye, sir. I want to know if anything on that ship
Once inside the
greatcabin, which was remarkably undamaged, Wade indicated seats for the officers
while he crossed over to his desk and settled into the leather chair. He took a cigar from the humidor and handed
the tin to Mr. Monday to pass to the officers. Winfield waved it away along with the offer of brandy.
it has become apparent, Wade, that we have the destruction of your ships within
appeared in a broad white slash. "I
was under the impression it was the other way around."
smirked."Come now. You really don't think you or your ships are
in any shape to continue, do you? I have
seen the condition of your deck. I have
come aboard in good faith to offer civilized terms of surrender. End it now, while you still have a crew able
to take advantage of His Majesty's generosity."
sampled your Majesty's generosity once before, and found it greatly
lacking. As to my crew, I imagine they
are in about the same condition as yours. My gunners estimate at least a third of your cannon have been silenced
and you've barely enough sail aloft to hold her steady."
"We will be
steady enough to finish you, Wade, make no mistake."
Morgan exhaled a
thin stream of smoke. "There is
another alternative, you know."
a tawny eyebrow.
little old fashioned, I grant you, but we would save a hell of a lot of
innocent lives. Just the two of us,
Winfield. Any method you choose."
glittered as he contemplated the proposal. He was an expert swordsman, and his reputation as a marksman had earned
him several accolades over the years. He
had participated in four duels, all to his credit.It would indeed be a pleasure to feel the
blade pierce into Wade's flesh, to kill him slowly so that he might savor the memory
for years to come.
The door to the
cabin opened suddenly, forestalling any answer. Summer stood there, her pale face surrounded by messy wisps of hair that
had worked free of the tail gathered at her nape. She was wearing a shirt and breeches but despite
the use of an apron in the surgery, there were spatters of blood on clothes, on
her skin, in her hair, even on the incongruously dainty green satin slippers
officers stood to attention instantly, but the commodore's rise was more
leisurely. His gaze moved slowly down
her body. "Summer. Thank God you are safe."
She dropped her
hand from the door latch and walked slowly toward him, stoppingclose enough so that when her hand came up
and struck the side of his face, there was no warning and no way to avoid the
for Michael," she spat. While Winfield's face was still turned away,
she moved aside and addressed Morgan. "You wanted to see me?"
enjoyed seeing that." Wade chuckled
and beckoned her closer. "The
commodore made the request. He seems to
think you are being held here against your will."
and slid onto Wade's lap. Her arms went
around his shoulders and her fingers sank into his hair as she kissed him hard
and full and deep on the mouth. When it
ended, she touched her forehead to his temple and turned her face toward the
three staring officers.
commodore," she said sweetly, "is mistaken."
with fury snapped at the other two officers. "Wait for me on deck."
with a hasty shuffle of chairs and boots and indirect glances at Summer and
"Madam," Bennett said crisply. "I have come to take you back to the Caledonia. The child as well."
you, Bennett," she said, twirling a
lock of Morgan's long black hair between her fingers. "We are quite happy where we are."
"Happy?You call this--" he waved a hand to indicate her dishevelled
hair, the blood on her clothes --"cause to celebrate?"
love with someone who loves me? Yes, I
celebrate it each and every day."
The angry flush
crept higher in Winfield's throat. "I recall a woman seated in an English garden who once told me she
did not want to leave the parties and jewels and happy flirtations behind for
what she referred to as some humid little island. If this is another whim of yours, Summer, I
guarantee the novelty will be a brief one."
"I am not
the same woman you met in England,
Bennett. I have grown up a great deal
you have grown up. You've given birth to
a bastard and become a bastard's whore."
Morgan's muscles bunch beneath her and she curled her fingers into his hair
with a tug, gaining his attention before he could leap to his feet. "No, please," she urged. "Let him say what he needs to say. Each vile word only proves I am exactly where I should be."
die on board this ship, madam," Bennett said.
"But by my
choice, no one else's."
child? And your brother? Will you play God with their lives as
temper flared. "If I have nothing
to go home to, Michael has even less, thanks to you and Father. You have managed to cheat him out of his
birthright. You have beaten him and
berated him, and I do not believe for an instant you would treat any of us any
differently if we did return with you. You are not worried about my life, or Sarah's life, or Michael's
future. Your only concern is your own
career and in salvaging your own reputation."
Bennett sat back
in the chair and laughed unexpectedly. It was a smooth, calculated laugh, and she had heard it often enough to
feel the hairs prickle upright across the back of her neck.
am, madam. To that end, I intend to do
everything in my power to see that you and your lover add to that reputation
immensely today. I have extended offers
to you both. I strongly recommend you
reconsider your answers before I return to the Caledonia. I will allow you your lives, the shell of one
ship, and an escort back to Bridgetown
as my prisoners. The alternative is
complete and absolute destruction with no quarter given to you or any of your
removed the cigar from between his teeth, the end of which had been ground to
pulp from the effort it had taken not to simply shoot the bastard where he
sat. "And if I tell you that you
can take your offers and go straight to hell with them?"
gain a moment's verbal gratification and nothing more," Winfield said evenly.
settle for that."
rose and tucked his bicorne under his arm. "You have heard my final offer, there will be no others forthcoming."
are hearing my final warning: Get the
hell off my ship while you still have skin on your back and are able to
The pale blue
eyes were like chips of ice as Bennett gave Summer and Morgan each a long,
parting stare. He pushed the chair out
of his way and strode to the door, yanking it wide as he went out into the
companionway. Wade crooked his head to
Mr. Monday to follow, then mashed out his cigar as if it was Winfield's head he
was grinding. Summer tightened her arms
around him and buried her face against his neck. The need for bravado drained from her body,
leaving her limp and trembling, and afraid.
quite a woman, you know," Wade
murmured, wrapping her tightly in his embrace. "If I had the time to show you how much I approve..."
don't," she said, forcing a
smile. "But do keep that thought
warm, sir, for I would like you to show me over and over and over again."
He kissed her hard and fast before leaving the
cabin. Summer remained standing by the
gallery windows, her body outlined in the glare, needing several minutes to
steady her knees enough to carry her back to her gruesome work below.