Take the Wind by Michelle L. Frazier

by Michelle L. Frazier

Disclaimers: This story depicts a loving relationship between two women. It falls into the Uber category because the character dynamic is based upon Xena & Gabrielle who belong to Renaissance Pictures/Universal-MCA. However, all the characters herein are mine. There is a mention of sexual violence, but only a mention, nothing graphic.


Captain! Ship, three points off the starboard bow! Came the cry from the crows nest.

Alex stepped away from the stern rail, pulling her glass from her pocket as she moved to the bow of the trim galley. Long legs sheathed in thigh high boots of black leather covered the distance with sure, smooth strides. Piercing eyes the color of the Caribbean scanned the horizon coming to rest on the dark speck the sailor was pointing too.

Its the Helios, she called out, the wind whipping the strands of her ebony hair around her face as she lowered the glass. One of Lord Connellys fat merchantman on its way back from the colonies.

The first mate was at her side now and she handed him the glass without looking. He was almost as tall as she, his long dark hair braided and pulled back from his face with a leather tie. A kerchief was tied about his head to keep the sun off.

What do you make of it, Mr. Davis?

The few men who are moving about do so with care, he answered, the lilting tones of his deep voice colored with laughter. They mustve had themselves a party last night.

Prime the guns, men! Prepare for battle!

The men of her ship were instantly in motion, moving with precision as they did just that.

Alex moved to her cabin and laid out her pistols, loading each one with quick efficient movements until all four were shoved into her belt, primed and ready. Her cutlass hung low on her left hip, a dagger at her right as she stepped from the cabin to join the waiting sailors on the deck.

Mr. Davis manned the small cannon mounted on the bow. It was light but in the hands of the skilled gunner it was deadly in its accuracy.

Alex took up a position at the bow, once again scanning the decks of the Helios with her glass. The men were up and about now, preparing for battle, their movements sluggish and clumsy.

They are the worse for drink but never underestimate them. She spoke to her crew from the foredeck, the low voice pitched to carry all the way to the stern without rising above a normal speaking tone. Desperate men take desperate chances. Keep your wits about you.

As soon as the Helios was within range Mr. Davis began firing, the wheel house of the other ship went up in splinters followed by the mainmast rigging.

Hard to starboard, Alex shouted and as the ship came about, Fire! and the deck of the Helios was pummeled with cannonballs.

Bring her about!

The Draco hove to and begin bearing down on the Helios again. They pulled alongside and began the process of grappling on as the crack of muskets and pistols filled the air, smoke billowing across the decks of both ships. With a ululating cry Alex grabbed a rope and swung across to the Helios, her cutlass spinning as she was met with resistance from the now desperate men. Her men lay about themselves shouting her name as a chant, quickly overpowering the demoralized men of the Helios. The battle was over in a matter of minutes, the surviving members of the crew stood roped together on the deck of the listing Helios.

Alex eyed her captives coldly from the poop deck, standing before them like a dark goddess of vengeance. The wind whipped her hair forward as the ice that was her eyes took in the sorry lot that had surrendered to the pirates superior force.

Captain! Mr. Davis voice boomed to her from the captains cabin. She looked down to see him holding a struggling figure by the collar. I found this one hiding under the captains bed. Must be the cabin boy.

Alex caught a glimpse of flashing green eyes as the small form slumped finally in defeat. In one fluid movement she vaulted the railing and landed lightly in front of her first mate. With a critical eye she took in the captive, noting the soft features, and beardless face. Loose fitting clothes gave away nothing as green eyes stared defiantly into hers. Alex reached forward slowly and ran a lazy finger up the captives torso from belt buckle to chin, not pausing as she felt the cloth band beneath the shirt. The green eyes widened with alarm as a gasp sprang unbidden from soft lips. The defiance was now replaced with fear and a tiny crack appeared in the ice that was Alexs heart. Why this one? What makes you so sure you have to keep her safe?

You need a new master, I need a cabin... boy, Alex stepped back, deliberately pausing to let the girl know her secret was out. You can take your chances with the rest here.... Alex indicated the bound captives with a slight inclination of her head. Or come with me.

Once the girl realized that her death was not one of the options at this point she looked upon the compelling figure before her. She saw cool aloofness and an aura of power which the pirate wore like a second skin, and as she found herself drowning in eyes as blue as the summer sky a flood of warmth washed over her.

Ill take my chances with you, the girl decided, her voice firm and low as she straightened her shoulders, drawing her chin up in a determined gesture that didnt quite make it as her head slammed back against Mr. Davis chest.

Put him in my cabin, she instructed the first mate and as he started to protest she stopped him with a raised brow. I believe well have no more trouble from this one. With that she turned the querying look to the girl and received a nod of affirmation.

Take what you will men, and be quick. This ship is sinking fast. Alex called out before turning on her heel and striding back to her own ship.

She stood on the rail, leaning against the ropes of the mainsail watching the progress of the pirates as they stripped the ship of everything worth taking, piling it on the maindeck of the Draco. When all her men were back aboard and the grappling lines were cut loose Alex pulled a dagger from her belt and sent it flying into the deck of the Helios, between the feet of the bound captives.

I suggest you get to the lifeboats quickly! With that she turned to face her own men. Take the wind and go!

Once they were well away from the Helios, Alex oversaw the division of the spoils, quickly and ruthlessly settling any disputes that arose. Alex claimed the little one as part of her captains share. When questioned about the cabin boy Alex assured them she would see personally to the boys education and indoctrinization into the ways of the crew of the Draco.

Casks of rum were broken out and the men proceeded to celebrate as a blood red sun sank below the horizon, painting the sea with its ghastly color.

Have dinner brought to my cabin, Mr. Davis. Alex instructed as she finally headed in that direction after sharing a few mugs with her men.

Captain, I know that your new cabin boy is no boy. How long do you think you can fool the men? Mr. Davis whispered against her ear.

Long enough to get her to Port Royale and out of rough hands. Alex stated, and strode away, closing the matter.

* * * * * *

Alex ducked into the gloom of her cabin, lighting the lantern that swung from the center of the room. The sight that greeted her widened the crack in her heart as the girl lay on the bed, curled up around a book, fast asleep. Alex studied the small figure and wondered at the age. Red gold hair was tied back in a pony tail, a kerchief covering her head. One softly rounded hip was discernible as she lay on her side, but the visible forearms were corded with wiry muscle.

With a sigh Alex hung her sword belt on its peg and dropped her empty pistols to the desk. The noise woke the girl and she looked around sleepily, her eyes settling immediately on Alex.

I... Im sorry, the girl muttered, sliding off the bed and holding out the book towards Alex.

Its okay, someone should get some use out of them, Alex shrugged, dropping to her chair and proceeding to clean her pistols.

Whats your name? the pirate questioned without raising her eyes from her task.

Gen, um, Genevieve Dubois. Shouldnt I be doing that? Genevieve pointed to the pistols.

Do you know how? Blue eyes met green and Genevieve nodded in ascent.

Then you can help, Alex pointed to another chair by the desk and the girl moved to it. She took up one of the pistols and removed the spent cap from beneath the hammer, dropping it into the bowl on the desk before retrieving a piece of the soft rag Alex was using. She wet it carefully from the bottle of cleaning fluid and proceeded to thread it through the cleaning rod, carefully swabbing out the barrel.

At that moment a knock sounded at the door and at Alexs curt Enter Mr. Davis entered, placing a tray of meat and fruit on the desk.

What are our plans for the morrow Captain?

As soon as the men are up and about enough head for Port Royale. Weve had some good hauls this past month. Theyre in need of some shore time to spend their loot and bed some whores. Alex instructed coldly.

Looks like you might need a whore yourself, Captain, Mr. Davis shot her a lascivious grin and wiggled his eyebrows at her.

Alex grabbed a mango from the tray and fired it at her first mate with a menacing grin. He caught it deftly and rubbed it on his shirt. Ah, thank you, Captain. I was hungry meself.

Get out of here, you letch. Alexs grin turned to one of genuine warmth now. Go, have some rum and keep the men from falling overboard.

Aye, Captain, he threw her a mocking salute and left.

Alex caught Genevieves look from the corner of her eye and turned to face the girl. Her mouth was hanging open in surprise and the pirate reached out and gently closed it. Youll catch flies.

Green eyes narrowed before a smile curved soft lips. I guess I shouldve remembered the stories. Genevieve grinned.

What stories?

The ones that say your thirst for blood is equal only to your thirst for beautiful women.

It was Alexs turn to let her jaw hang open in shock as she studied the girl with new eyes.

Where did you hear these stories?

From the sailors aboard the Helios. Some of them sounded like they were hoping to run into you. I kind of expected you to be bigger and bigger, Genevieve raised her hands above her head, then out from her chest to illustrate her point.

Alex burst out laughing, a hearty belly laugh that left her sides hurting and tears streaming from her eyes.

Eat, little one, Alex indicated the plate before her when she finally regained the capacity for speech. The pistols can wait.

Genevieve dug into the food with a relish reserved for the half starved and Alex looked on as she munched quietly on an orange.

Dont hurt yourself there. She grinned. Didnt they feed you aboard the Helios?

Cabin boys always get whats left and there was never much left, Genevieve shrugged apologetically around a mouthful of mango.

How did you wind up a cabin boy aboard the Helios? Dont tell me your thirst for adventure drove you to it. Youre very lucky your secret wasnt discovered.

My father and I were going to Kingston, his sister lives there and he wanted to see her before he died, Genevieve suddenly grew serious, a sad smile on her face. He was ill, he wasnt sure if he would make it. He convinced me I would have an easier time of it if I posed as his son in case something happened to him on the voyage. He died a week out of Boston. The first mate of the Helios pressed me into service. They stole everything I had and made me work in the galley.

A tear slid from the corner of Genevieves eye and she wiped it away impatiently with the back of her hand. She sat back in the chair, her appetite gone now. With a sigh she reached for the pistol she had been cleaning and picked up where shed left off.

Alex watched the emotions play across the girls face in silence remembering a father who had left her mother with two small children to raise, going off to seek his fortune elsewhere. She wondered what it was like to have a father who risked his life to deliver his child into safe hands. Alexs mind refused to wrap around the concept so she pushed it to the back of her mind to be examined at a later time. She poured out two mugs of port placing one in front of Genevieve before reaching for a pistol, joining Genevieve in her task.

For a while the only sounds were that of the mens revelry as they celebrated their victory, both women lost in their struggle with their own personal demons. As the level of Genevieves port lowered, so did her inhibitions and she began to tell Alex a story, an ancient Greek myth about a lost mariner, cursed to sail the seas for eternity. Alex listened enraptured as the girl unfolded the story and spoke with such eloquence that the pirate could picture the events in her head.

The storytelling was thirsty work and Alex kept Genevieves mug filled. Barely into the second tale Genevieves speech began to slur as she now stood in the center of the room, animated gestures punctuating certain points of the story. Alex continued to watch and listen as she wrapped the now cleaned and oiled pistols in oil rags and put them away.

As the motion of the ship and the amount of port shed consumed took their toll Genevieve stumbled in her pacing only to find Alex beside her, catching her and preventing a fall to the deck. Genevieve looked up at Alex with narrowed eyes.

I didnt even see you move.

Im not surprised, Alex smiled, attempting to steer her back towards the chair when the girl turned in the pirates arms, grasping her upper arms and staring deeply into eyes of cerulean blue.

By the gods, you are beautiful! Genevieve exclaimed and Alex pulled her head back in surprise at the girls outburst.

Uh huh, and you are drunk, Alex replied with a wry grimace, continuing to move the girl towards the chair, pushing her into it gently.

The girls hands were tangled now in the ties of Alexs shirt and the pirate found herself unable to pull away without ripping it, her face mere inches from the girls.

The pirates eyes opened wide in shock as Genevieve suddenly pressed her lips to Alexs in a tentative kiss. A low groan rumbled deep in her chest as desire knifed through her gut. With a concerted effort, Alex pulled away. So now your crimes include child molesting? Alex berated herself.

What do you think youre doing? Alexs face became a cool mask as she slammed the lid on her passion.

I thought it was obvious, I was trying to seduce you. Genevieve looked up, her eyes clouded with desire and Alex took a step backwards. This was not the look of a child.

Youre just a child. Alex said as much to herself as to Genevieve.

Im eighteen, well old enough to know what my bodys feeling. With that Genevieve moved forward pulling the pirates head down to hers, pressing her lips once more to the softness of Alexs. A low moan escaped Genevieves throat as Alexs lips parted beneath hers. The pirates tongue gently explored the warm softness.

Alex was brought abruptly back to earth as an incessant pounding at the door broke into her consciousness. With a concerted effort of will Alex pulled herself away, carefully disentangling Genevieves fingers from the laces of her shirt.

My god, what was I thinking? the pirate cursed herself as Genevieve stared at her in wide eyed wonder. Shes drunk, she doesnt know what shes doing.

Captain! Theres a storm coming in! the voice of Mr. Davis called to her through the closed door and she hurried to open it.

Are the men in any shape to handle it? she questioned, forcing him to back up as she exited the cabin and closed the door behind her.

Probably not, he indicated the prone figures strewn about the deck.

Alex looked at the night sky critically. The moon was still unobscured by clouds but she could see the darkness brewing off to the east and smelled the scent of rain on the wind as it blew in from that direction.

Theres an atoll just west of here where we can shelter from the storm.

Alex dragged him back into her cabin and laid out the chart, pointing to a small ring of islands.

Were here, that puts us about an hour from the atoll. The channel is clearly marked, we should be able to get through safely in the dark. The moon is bright but I dont know how long that will last. Muster all the men that can stand and steer west by southwest, and hurry.

She neednt have added the last as Mr. Davis sprinted to his task barking out the orders. Alex moved forward, lending her hand where she could. At one point she saw Genevieve poke her head out of the cabin but Alex was quickly in front of her, prepared to push her back inside. Genevieve tried to stand firm but the increased swaying of the ship caused her to clutch at her stomach. With a firm but gentle hand Alex led her back inside and handed her a bucket.

You see what you can do about securing things in here. Alex swept a hand around the cabin and left.

They reached the shelter of the cove just as the storm hit with full force and Alex breathed a sigh of relief. Rain fell in sheets but the islands blocked most of the fury of the wind and waves. Chains rattled loudly as the anchor dropped into the calmer waters.

When everything was secure and the men bedded down to wait out the storm Alex finally headed back to her cabin but was stopped as Mr. Davis laid a hand on her arm. She was soaked to the skin and impatient to be out of the rain and she glared at him, an eyebrow raised in silent query.

I saw the look on her face in there, I thought you wanted to keep her out of rough hands, he spoke quietly.

Its none of your business, she lashed out at him, the guilt she was feeling finding release in her angered outburst.

But your welfare is my business. If the men see weakness in you they will not hesitate to mutiny. Tread carefully Alexis and dont let your heart rule your head.

I have no heart, Mr. Davis. The men say so themselves. How could it ever interfere with my head? She spoke grimly, pulling away from him to continue on to her cabin.

Genevieve was sprawled across the bed, her head hanging over the side above the bucket. Alex inhaled the sharp stench of vomit but it seemed the girl had been careful in her illness. There were no traces anywhere else in the cabin and for that Alex was grateful. Everything that mightve moved around in the cabin was stowed away or tied down. Genevieve seemed to be sleeping peacefully now and Alex picked up the bucket, opening the window and dumping its contents into the water. She tied a rope to the bucket and lowered it into the water, letting it fill only a little before hauling it up, rinsing it before setting it beside the bed again.

Alex stripped out of her wet clothes laying them across a chair to dry before donning a loose fitting tunic that reached to mid-thigh and crawling into bed. Genevieve was oblivious as Alex turned her the right way in the bed so she could stretch her long frame out comfortably then fell immediately into an exhausted sleep.

* * * * * *

Alex awakened to sunlight streaming through the aft windows, and tried to ease her cramped muscles but found herself pinned to the bed by the weight of one small figure twined around her like an octopus. Alex reveled in the softness of Genevieves body pressing against hers, letting her mind wander to the interrupted kiss of the previous night. Youve been at sea too long, Alexis. Youve come down to seducing innocents. Youre losing it. Get away now while you still have a chance.... Just then Genevieve moved, her thigh suddenly pressing against Alexs center and she groaned, her body coming alive with the contact.

She reached out to touch the rich softness of the girls hair and paused, looking at her hand as if seeing it for the first time. She turned it over and saw the callus pattern on her palm, calluses built from wielding a cutlass. It looked normal enough, strong, long fingered and yet, how many lives had been cut short by that hand? How many men had fallen, fighting to hold on to what was rightfully theirs?

You shouldve run when you had the chance, Genevieve Dubois. Do you know what kind of monster youve chosen to sail with?

Hey, get off of me, she muttered, unsuccessfully trying to release herself from the death grip Genevieve had on Alexs shirt.

Oh, sorry, the girl murmured pulling away and rolling off the bed, regretting the motion instantly as a dull throb erupted in her head. With a moan of pain she sat back down, clutching her head in her hands.

Suddenly the sounds of angry voices were heard on the deck followed by the sounds of swords clashing. With a muttered curse Alex yanked on her clothes and boots, strapping on her cutlass before striding out the door and into the bright sunlight, Genevieve following close behind.

The source of the noise was obvious as two burly sailors stood nose to nose, cutlasses locked above their heads.

Whats the meaning of this? Alex barked, her voice commanding all eyes to turn her way. Mr. Bones, Mr. Bowden, you have a dispute? You know my rules.

Aye, Captain, both men spoke in unison.

What are her rules? Genevieve questioned of Mr. Davis, whom she found standing beside her.

In-fighting is punishable by twenty lashes each.

No matter who started it?

No matter who started it.

But thats not fair, Genevieve exclaimed, keeping her voice low, but Alex turned and faced her, the pirates face set in a hard mask.

It takes two to fight, Dubois, Alex informed her coldly before turning back to the men. Chain them to the mast.

Alex retrieved a whip from her cabin and calmly handed it to Mr. Davis. All the men lined the rails of the ship as the punishment was carried out. The captain took Genevieves arm and led her to the railing overlooking the main deck.

I would spare you this if I could but all the men are required to watch, Alex spoke to Genevieve in a low voice, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Genevieve had seen a whipping carried out on the Helios, the experience had been sickening. The other sailors had stood around jeering, further humiliating the subject of the first mates cat-o-nine. Bets were placed as to how many lashes the man would take before he passed out. The man had been whipped until his back was a bloody mass and he hung unconscious from the ropes binding his wrists. Genevieve had spent the rest of the afternoon clinging to the aft railing, pouring the contents of her stomach into the sea.

Now Genevieve noted that on this ship the usual cat-o-nine had been replaced with a long whip and the men watching were silent, almost reverent. Unlike the captain of the Helios who had fled to his cabin, Alex was not only in attendance but stood at a careful parade rest, hands clasped behind her back, eyes on the bare backs of the two men bound to the mast. Her face was an unreadable mask as Mr. Davis looked up to her, silently requesting permission to begin the punishment.

At Alexs silent nod Mr. Davis shook out the whip, swinging it carefully around his body a few times and then began abruptly. In a smooth rhythmic motion he opened lines of blood across the backs of the men, alternating from one to the other with each stroke, their screams of pain began almost immediately and Genevieve saw no jeering faces among the men gathered at the rails, only solemn silence.

Genevieve flinched as each blow landed, her knuckles on the rail were white and splinters of wood dug into her palms. A concerted effort of will kept her from falling to her knees as the mens screams of pain echoed in the calm waters of the atolls lagoon. It was over quickly, the men were still conscious as they were eased from their bindings and led into the hold.

Face streaming with silent tears Genevieve looked up at Alex, catching a glimpse of something that looked shockingly like pain before it quickly disappeared behind a dispassionate facade as the pirate turned on her heel and strode down the stairs to stand beside her first mate.

He looked at her and the look on his face shot through to Genevieves core. His eyes spoke of forgiveness, and the blonde woman frowned in puzzlement.

* * * * * *

We have repairs to make and this is as good a place as any. Mr. Davis, take a group of men, theres fresh water and fruit on that island. See what you can come up with. A roast pig would be a nice change for dinner.

Aye, Captain, Mr. Davis strode forward as Alex made her way back up to the wheel house to get a better view of the islands surrounding them.

The pounding in Genevieves head was lessening somewhat and she turned to stare up at the pirate who was so different from the woman she had spent the evening with. Gone was the lighthearted banter and gentle demeanor, replaced with a cold ruthlessness that spoke of command.

With a careful tread Genevieve made her way to stand beside Alex, waiting until the pirate acknowledged her with a raised brow.

What are my duties, Captain? Genevieve questioned, her eyes downcast to show the respect that was her station.

To serve me, you have no other duties other than your obligation to be at my side. It will make it easier for you to continue to hide your identity, Alex spoke in a barely audible whisper.

Come, I feel the need for a bath and I know just the place. Alexs voice was louder now, shaking off the pall that had settled on the ship.

* * * * * *

They landed the boat a short way from Mr. Davis and Alex headed off in the opposite direction from the supply detail. Genevieve followed behind carrying a duffel which Alex had packed for their expedition. The pirate spoke little as she cut her way through an overgrown path leading away from the beach.

Genevieve drew her breath in on a gasp as they suddenly emerged from the jungle into a small clearing at the base of a waterfall. The surrounding area was a riot of color against the gray background of a cliff which rose straight up from the edge of a small clear pool.

Alex took the duffel from Genevieve and tossed it down on a large flat rock at the waters edge. Her clothes soon followed and she stood on the edge of the rock a moment before diving into the pool.

Genevieve was still standing, frozen to the spot, stunned by the vision of Alexs naked form.

The pirates head emerged from the water a short time later and she turned to look questioningly at the girl.

Are you coming in or not?

Um,... Genevieve shook herself mentally and moved forward, stripping off her own clothes self-consciously, aware of the dark haired womans eyes following her every move.

She breathed a sigh of relief as she unwrapped the cloth band that covered her breasts and Alexs eyes widened in surprise. Howd she keep all that hidden? the pirate wondered.

Genevieve followed Alexs lead and dove into the water, coming up immediately sucking air into her lungs as the icy chill of the water hit her.

Holy Mother of God! Genevieves lips were blue as she shivered, heading immediately for shore.

Oh no you dont, Alex grabbed her by the shoulder and pulled her back. Just give it a few minutes, youll get used to it.

Not if it kills me first, Genevieve returned through chattering teeth but she could already feel her body adjusting to the temperature.

Alex moved to the edge of the pool and began pulling things out of the duffel. Finally finding what she was looking for, Alex handed a sliver of soap and a cloth to Genevieve and took one for herself.

Both women were silent as they scrubbed the sweat and grime from their bodies until Genevieve moved behind Alex and began scrubbing her back. The pirate relaxed into the gentle pressure of the girls attentions, allowing herself to close her eyes and give in to the sensation of the small hands on her skin.

Genevieve felt the pirate suddenly stiffen under her fingers, her whole body coiled like a spring as her eyes searched the surrounding jungle. A figure suddenly stepped forward from the undergrowth and the blonde felt the tension just as suddenly leave Alex as Mr. Davis waved to them and came up to the waters edge and squatted down. Dipping his hand into the clear water of the pool he brought it to his lips, drinking deeply before addressing the two women.

The men are off hunting, mind if I join you two for a bath? he grinned.

Alex swept a hand across the pond, Be my guest.

Genevieve gasped in shock, trying to keep Alexs body between herself and the first mate, fingers digging into the pirates shoulders.

Relax, Genevieve, he knows, Alex spoke quietly over her shoulder, gently loosening the death grip the blonde had on her.

Genevieve felt a tingle crawl up her spine as her name rolled off the pirates tongue for the first time but the small thrill was replaced by another gasp of shock as she looked up to see the first mates back as he stripped off his shirt in preparation for his bath. His back was a mass of whip scars, they spread across all of his back and disappeared into the waist band of his trousers.

Alex turned slightly to catch sight of Genevieves face and followed her eyes to see what had caused the sudden outburst. The cold mask dropped back over her face as she moved away from the blonde woman and took the soap from limp fingers. As a splash heralded Mr. Davis entry into the pool she turned and waited patiently for him to surface, he did so on a gasp.

Whoa, I think I have two knots in my throat, he grinned and Alex laughed out loud, tossing the soap to him and then the cloth.

It took Genevieve a moment to puzzle out that remark and as the answer came she flushed furiously, and ducked under the water to hide her embarrassment.

I think your friend is not so worldly as you, Captain, Mr. Davis commented, indicating Genevieve with a nod of his head.

Alex turned to see Genevieves back and noticed the tinge of red at the tips of the blondes ears. Perhaps she just didnt grow up with brothers.

Genevieve turned at that comment, a mischievous grin coloring her features as she sent a hand across the water catching Alex full in the face with a generous splash. A look of horror crossed her features as Alex rose menacingly from the water and faced the blonde. Genevieve swallowed convulsively but stood her ground.

Of course you know, this means war, Alex spoke in a low growl and lunged for the blonde, catching her about the waist she suddenly heaved the smaller woman out of the water, and threw her into a deeper part of the pool accompanied by a howl of outrage from Genevieve.

When the blonde didnt immediately surface Alexs frowned in consternation and headed for the spot where Genevieve had gone into the water. Suddenly her legs were caught in a fierce hold and she took in a lungfull of air just before she went under. Just as quickly she was released and she surfaced just after the blonde.

Congratulations, DuBois, youre the first one to count coupe on the captain, Mr. Davis was laughing heartily as he continued to scrub himself.

Genevieve and Alex looked at each other, an unspoken agreement lit both their faces in a menacing grin and they moved forward towards the oblivious first mate. He gave a shout of surprise as he was suddenly deluged with a shower of water as both women sent wave after wave of water his way. Their laughter rang through the area as Mr. Davis retaliated in kind until they all collapsed onto the rocks in the shallower part of the pool.

A loud rumble from Genevieves stomach finally broke the companionable silence and Mr. Davis reached for the bag hed tucked into the cool shade of a rock before entering the pool. A quick search produced a bunch of bananas and a few of mangos. Genevieve tucked into the food with the same relish shed exhibited the night before causing a look of disbelief on the first mates face as he reached into his bag this time bringing out a small packet of salted meat.

Where does she put it? he questioned of the captain.

I think they were starving her aboard the Helios, she spoke with a frown glancing at the blonde who looked at them both, realizing she was the object of their conversation.

She shrugged and grinned. Actually, this is normal.

That got a raised brow from Alex and a guffaw of laughter from Mr. Davis.

A woman after me own heart, he responded, handing across a chunk of meat for Genevieve.

After the meal Mr. Davis dressed and went off in search of the rest of the crew, glancing back once before disappearing into the undergrowth. Little one, do you realize what your presence has brought out in my captain? This is the first time Ive actually seen her laugh in the five years I have known her.

* * * * * *

It was late afternoon before they headed back to the beach, Alex maintaining a careful distance from the smaller woman once they cleared the trees. Genevieve once again carried the duffel with their now clean clothes, her assets concealed beneath the binding cloth.

A large fire pit had been dug in the sand, well up from the waters edge and a large pig was roasting over a makeshift spit, tended by a pudgy sailor.

Mr. Jones, I see well have the pleasure of your cooking tonight, Alex grinned, moving forward to examine his project more closely.

Aye, Captain, Mr. Davis gave me free rein, he smiled broadly, wiping his hands on a large piece of linen which was slung over one shoulder.

Ill be heading back to the ship now. Ill send someone out later with some rum if theres any left after last night, Alex turned on her heel, heading towards the boat with Genevieve close on her heels.

She felt the eyes which followed from the cover of the trees, but refrained from glancing over her shoulder until they were both settled in the boat and pulling away from shore. At that point Mr. Davis shadowy figure was standing next to Jones by the fire pit. He gave her a casual wave but the look on his face was brooding. A sudden sense of foreboding settled over Alexs shoulders like a cloak.

Once back in her cabin Alex sat back with her blades and a whetstone, proceeding to hone the weapons as Genevieve opened the windows to air out the cabin and the bedding. As she did so she began another story, a tale of the twelve labors of Hercules. The doorway to the main deck was open and Alex watched curiously as a few of the men found mending or rope braiding to do that would keep them close to her door. With a bemused smile the pirate realized that they were listening carefully to the story as Genevieve spun it out, reeling her audience in as the little blonde became aware of them.

On impulse, Alex gently pushed Genevieve out onto the main deck and indicated she should continue as the captain took up a seat on a convenient cask and continued her task. Taking their cue from the captain, the men continued their tasks trying to make as little noise as possible while still getting the work done.

As her tale came to a close with a flourish the men burst into applause and Genevieves face flushed with color at the unexpected tribute. She moved to stand beside Alex as the men continued with their tasks enthusiastically, the noise level returning to normal as ropes thumped to the deck and the men began their usual banter as they worked together to repair worn ropes and mend the sails that the previous nights storm had ripped.

When I was aboard the Helios, I wasnt allowed to tell stories except to the captain once he found out about my penchant for them. He always demanded tales of blood thirsty pirates being bested by the kings soldiers or wily merchantman captains or bawdy tales. Genevieve spoke quietly, searching the inscrutable features of the pirate captain before her.

You have a gift, a way of bringing the characters and events of your stories to life. These men are mostly former slaves. They have had so little joy in their lives. They follow me because they hit their former masters in the place it hurts most, their purses. If we profit from this, all the better.

The Helios was owned by Lord Connelly, one of the biggest slave holders in Jamaica. Genevieve suddenly made the connection.

Aye, the captain nodded. But the sailors aboard his ships are innocent victims, that pay for their loyalty with their lives. Alex set aside her cutlass, looking down at her hands and flexing them once before moving abruptly, taking her weapons and disappearing back into her cabin.

That one gesture spoke more than any words could and Genevieves eyes followed the stiff back of the pirate captain a new understanding coloring her features.

She was brought from her reverie by the sound of the long boat returning.

Dubois, tell the captain the feast will be ready in about an hour, Mr. Davis called as he bound over the rail and onto the deck. He quickly turned to the other men and began directing them in preparation for getting all the men to the island, and securing the casks of rum in the long boat.

Aye, sir, Genevieve acknowledged and headed for Alexs cabin. She knocked first and at the captains gruff Come! she entered to find the dark haired woman seated at the desk, the log book open before her and a quill in her hand.

She passed on Mr. Davis message which received a nod in acknowledgment. Genevieve stared at the impassive face a moment her heart lurching at the darkly beautiful woman before her. A vague flash of memory whispered through her mind from the previous night, she didnt remember much but that flash was enough to color her features with a pink flush as she remembered staring into those blue eyes at very close range. A warmth spread through her body as more flashes of memory asserted themselves. A burning question burst from her lips before she could stop it.

Why did you turn me down when I offered myself to you last night? It was out, she couldnt take it back so she faced the pirate squarely, waiting for the brush off she expected.

I didnt turn you down, we were interrupted. I must remember to thank Mr. Davis for his timely intervention, Alex looked up into Genevieves startled face and grimaced. You were drunk, I shouldnt have taken advantage of that.94"

One more weight to add to that pile of guilt she carries on her shoulders, Genevieve realized and moved forward until she was leaning on the desk staring the dark haired pirate in the eye.

Dont you dare diminish my part in this. Yes, I was drunk but I distinctly remember making the first move, she shot back, temper flaring at the cool aloofness on the pirates face.

Youre a romantic as well as an innocent, Alex frowned, moving forward to face the intense woman. It doesnt change what I am. A pirate who takes what she wants, no matter who stands in the way.

Captain, its time! Mr. Davis called from the door, pausing as he caught sight of the women poised across the desk from each other, looking like two lioness engaged in a battle of wills. He felt a pang of sympathy for Alex, the little blonde looked like she was holding her own. He made a mental note to have a chat with the cabin boy later.

The women turned away from each other simultaneously, the tension broken by the first mates entrance.

This isnt over, Genevieve promised as she stood back, reining in her emotions with a concerted effort of will as she followed behind the captain, trying to remember her station. Her eyes widened in shock as the full import of what had just transpired hit her. Uh, you idiot, she had every right to kill you on the spot. Shes the captain, youre a cabin boy, the lowest of the low. Then why didnt she put you in your place?

* * * * * *

Continue to Part 2 (the conclusion)

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