WORTH THE PRICE
Length: short story
Genre: historical, pirates
Publisher: self-published, previously published by Dreamspinner Press
Lieutenant Edward Moon has been chasing the infamous Captain O'Shea for longer than he can remember. When he falls into the pirate's hands, however, things take a turn he'd never imagined. Edward finds himself torn between his duty and a dangerous loyalty to O'Shea.
When the captain faces the gallows, Edward must take the hardest decision of his life -- obey his orders and let the man who holds his heart hang, or join the pirates' outlandish attempt to save their captain. But... will it be worth the price?
Available on Amazon.
Lieutenant Edward Moon sat on the floor, busy cursing himself.
The collar of his uniform jacket bit into his neck. His arms were twisted uncomfortably behind his back, securely tied. He snarled, jerking fruitlessly at the rope. He was such a moron. God damn it. He was screwed. The pirates were going to make him walk the plank, that was for sure. Why the hell hadn’t they just murdered him straightaway? There was no point in prolonging his torment.
He slammed his head back against the cabin wall in frustration. He knew very well who to blame. It was that bastard Commodore Orwell. He’d left Edward there. He’d left him, left him to be captured, even though they’d had plenty of time to rescue him and escape safely. Sure, Orwell was probably giving chase to the pirate ship now, acting all manly and heroic when he’d just proven he was nothing but a bloody coward. The Cassandra was way too light and fast for a heavy man-o’-war to capture. They must be heading to their hiding place, somewhere past the straits in the Atlantic. Edward had no illusions.
Maybe they’d be on time to fish his body out of the water before the sharks got to him, Edward considered bitterly.
They’d been chasing after the Cassandra for weeks. Captain O’Shea had been ransacking the Spanish Main for too long. Damn, he’d been chasing after O’Shea for longer than he could remember. The bloody man was a devil, relentless like the wildest storm. It had become an obsession for him. Capture the great James O’Shea. And he’d ended up here, tied like a pig ready for the slaughter, at the pirates’ mercy.
At least Marcus had managed to escape, Edward thought. He found comfort in that. He could take whatever the bastards would do to him, but he couldn’t bear the thought of Marcus, young, gentle Marcus, suffering. He abandoned himself against the wall, eyes closed. He would be brave. He would show them how a man died.
Something pricked his hand. He touched the object, felt its sharp tip scrape his fingertips—a sharp nail, protruding from the wall right by his bound hands. It was a long shot, but it was all he had. He could at least show that he wouldn’t go down without a fight, show them what Edward Moon was made of. He gritted his teeth and set to work, patiently rubbing the rope over the nail. Small fibers snapped. It would take bloody ages. He just had to hope the pirates were too busy fleeing to think about their prisoner.
He’d lost track of how much time had passed when he felt the rope snap. He worked frantically, tearing it off his wrists before attacking the knots that secured his ankles. He loosened them, was barely done kicking the rope off when the door opened and a man with long blond hair walked in.
Edward growled and charged.
He sprang onto the pirate, and they crashed back against the door, slamming it closed. The man reacted instantly—he blocked Edward’s fist, clung to the arm Edward was pressing against his throat. They grappled for a few frantic moments, gasping between gritted teeth, gauging each other’s strength. Edward caught a glimpse of steel-blue eyes staring straight at him from under a mess of pale blond locks. A jolt of surprise shook him, distracting him for the fraction of a second. That was Captain James O’Shea himself--
The captain was quick to take advantage. His boot collided with Edward’s knee with surgical precision. Edward’s leg gave out under him, sending him staggering back. In an instant the captain had unsheathed his sword. Edward stood very still, panting, eyes on the glistening tip a fraction of an inch from his throat.
Edward gritted his teeth. He would not. Be. Afraid. “So what you gonna do? Aren’t you going to call for help?”
James tilted his head to the side, an infuriating, smug grin on his lips. His pale blond hair fell down his chest in rebellious strands. “I don’t need to, Lieutenant Moon. I can kick your ass all on my own.”
“That’s pretty easy when you have a sword and your opponent is unarmed,” Edward snorted. He could feel himself grow flustered under those unrelenting blue eyes. “Just what I’d expect from pirate scum like you.”
The captain’s expression hardened. With a sharp flick of his wrist, he threw the cutlass on the floor. “Watch your mouth.”
Edward growled and lurched at him. The captain was swift to drop into a crouch to avoid Edward’s wild hook. He sprang back up in time to parry a cross and landed a liver punch that had Edward doubling over, sputtering and wheezing.
“So,” Edward rasped, trying to catch his breath. “What are you going to do with me? Murder me? Hang me from the mizzen and celebrate?”
“Your opinion of us is dreadful. And here I thought we were being perfect hosts,” the captain smirked, just a little breathless. “You’d better be more grateful for the hospitality, or I’ll throw you overboard.”
Edward charged again, snarling. It was useless. The captain dodged and slipped out of his grasp without apparent effort, and Edward’s fist grazed nothing but clothes. It was an odd, intoxicating dance that had him growling in frustration and something else entirely. Edward’s blood was boiling now, his head spun—he was drunk on the captain’s smell, salt and sweat, the glimpse of his strong teeth, the defiant gleam in his eyes. The candlelight smeared on his pale hair. James O’Shea, alive and breathing and impossibly close, after all the time he’d craved him, wanted him. And still Edward wanted more—he wanted.
Edward attacked again and again, relentless, until he finally managed to break past those alarmingly swift reflexes. He grabbed the captain’s wrist, twisted it hard. James gave a choked gasp as they slammed against the door. He laughed then, a wild, exciting laugh. Edward pinned his wrists against the hard wood, clutching them too hard, chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.
James wasn’t even trying to break free of his hold. He looked at Edward, his hair a luminous halo around his flushed face, teeth bared in that infuriating, smug grin.
“There are men dedicating their whole life to chase you,” Edward said. He wasn’t sure what possessed him. Now, only now he understood how it was possible to crave something so wildly as to lose one’s mind, how this man could have driven so many to madness and back. He could feel his self-control slip dangerously, predatory instincts springing unbidden. Maybe it was too late, he thought frantically. Maybe he’d been ensnared too. “Do you know that? All they want is to capture you. To… own you. You are a much-sought-after prey.”
“Am I?” the captain asked. His voice was rough, enticing.
“I’ve seen men driven to madness,” Edward said slowly. He was utterly spellbound. James’s scent, his warmth, were intoxicating. “Because of you.”
Their bodies were flush against each other. Edward could feel the captain shift, move his hips, rubbing against him. He felt James’s tense muscles, the hardness between his legs, and repressed a hiss. He found himself responding—he couldn’t help but move, grinding his hips against the captain’s. He couldn’t suppress a surge of exhilaration when that ripped a moan out of the pirate.
“What about you?” James rasped. Edward couldn’t look away from his lips. “You have captured me now. Are you mad too? Do you want to… own me?”
Edward’s blood burned, his thoughts scattered like ashes in the wind. He’d always thought those men were insane, spending their lives to desperately hunt someone down. But now, now that the person he’d hunted was trapped under him—fierce, defiant, beautiful—God help him, he understood. One lifetime in exchange for this seemed worth the price. He was going to die, he tried to tell himself. He was going to be killed by the pirates, and there was no sin in taking advantage of the hot, pliant body in his arms, in giving in to the fierce instincts that roared in his veins.
“Yes,” he growled, and surged to capture the pirate’s lips in a feral kiss.