The Doctor

El Lobo Del Mar

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Honour walked down the stairs from her room, her eyes scanning the crowd.

'Wall to wall pirates. It's going to be a late night, ' she thought.

As she reached the tavern main room, Kate sidled up to her and crossed her arms.

"Two ships ported today. That is why we are so busy."

"Which ones?"

"The Hades and another ship that I didn't get to find out. Hey, Malcolm! What was the name of that ship that ported?"

From the back the voice yelled out, "I can't remember. But something Spanish."

Kate turned to Honour and said, "Something Spanish."

Honour laughed, "Yes, I caught that. Damn. The Hades? That is a rough crowd."

"Don't I know it. But grin and bear it. The nicer you are, the more they spend. And the more they spend, the more they drink. "

Honour finished, "The more they drink, the sloppier they get. I love cleaning up the floor after."

Kate laughed. "It can be profitable to be a charwoman."

Honour raised her eyebrow. "Charwoman? Bite your tongue, Kate. Think of it more as a dividend. A bonus. A----"

"Fringe benefit?" Kate added.

Honour grimaced. "I wouldn't know. I haven't been laid since Corwin."

Kate gave her hand a squeeze. "You'll get over that, honey. You are just a bit gun-shy."

She sighed. "I get lonely, Kate. Really lonely. Sometimes I just want to...."

Her thought trailed off into the nether. And James Blake came unbidden to her mind.

Kate frowned. "Remember that vow you made? No slap and tickle till you have a ring on your finger?"

Honour's eyes skimmed the crowd. "You're right. But it doesn't make the nights any warmer."

"And you are dealing cards tonight?"

She sighed. "Yes. Amos thinks this crowd is ready to part with their money. And the more they drink, the more they gamble."

Kate added, "And the more they lose."

Honour shrugged, "I run a fair table. If they lose, they don't have the savvy."

She ran her fingers through her hair.

"Alright. Let's have a go at it."

She adjusted her bodice, arranging her assets just so.

She sighed. 'It's going to be a long night....'

Honour walked over to the table and flashed a smile.

"Gentlemen? And I use the term ever so loosely..."

Honour leaned forward ever so slightly to afford them a look and a promise of what lay beneath the silk gown.

"Now who is ready to play Bone-Ace?"

The men clamoured and dug deep in their pockets, throwing their ante on a pile in the center of the table. Honour's slender fingers gently stroked the deck of cards, The sensuous gesture was not lost on these men. She looked each one in the eyes, sizing up what she may have to deal with. Then she smiled.

"Shall we begin?"

Her fingers flew as she shuffled the cards and dealt them out.

"And we all know the rules of the game?"

One pirate grinned, "Ye be givin' th' winner a bit extra? Ye know...as a reward?"

The men guffawed at that.

Honour mentally rolled her eyes but she smiled, "Well, now, there is always that possibility. Do any of you captain a ship?"

The tall pirate with a cavalier hat pulled rakishly down leered, "I be a captain, aye, little lady. O' me own vessel."

With that the men erupted into laughter.

Honour smiled, "Yes, I am sure you are. And you frequently polish the shipwheel, I presume?"

With that the pirates filled the tavern with their bawdy laughter.

She gave them a dimpled smile and said, "Now then, shall we play a game and see what transpires later, gentlemen? Winner takes all."

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The sun was setting over the hills, setting the sky ablaze with reds and oranges. The first flickers of candlelight could be seen in a few windows.

"You've been awfully quiet, Josiah," said Jack as the two men walked up the lane to the Varlet and Vixen. "Thinking of ways to spend your share of the windfall?"

"Eh? Oh, sorry, Jack. Aye, it be one hell of a fortune we've got stowed away. Half of one of them chests would make a man's life easy for a few years, don't you reckon?"

Jack looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear their conversation. "No question," he replied. "With that kind of wealth, I could seriously consider taking Harkness' advice. You know, go out on top while I can still enjoy life, instead of wondering if this is finally the morning my neck gets stretched?"

"Speakin' of the Old Man, I wonder if he's still retired as it were?"

"I've wondered that myself. It's been years since I've heard anything about him. Almost like he disappeared entirely. Wouldn't it be something to see him once more, and tell him about all this?"

"He'd be proud of ye, Jack. Of that I've got no doubt. But I can't say as I see ye livin' the life of landed gentry or a gentleman farmer. The sea's in yer blood, mate. She'll always be first in that heart of yours, and don't ye doubt it!"

"Rest easy, Josiah! In all the years you've known me, how long has a woman ever kept my head turned? Two days? Three?"

"Five, but ye were too drunk to remember the first two days of it. So was she for that matter. So we'll call it three for sake of argument."

"Fair enough, my friend!" laughed Jack as he opened the tavern door. "Here. Quartermasters and philosophers first."

Jack and Briggs walked into the tavern. It took their eyes a few moments to adjust to the lighting provided by oil lamps and candles. The crowd this evening was a raucous one, filling the air with conversation and laughter. The Varlet and Vixen was cut above the rest of the dock taverns, but the crowd made it feel like any other ale house in St Lawrence.

In other words, Briggs and Jack felt right at home.

The little wench with the auburn hair came up to their table.

"What will it be, gents?"

"Irish whiskey, lass. We are celebrating our arrival in your fair port."

Kate laughed, "Oooh, fancy words! Most would say, 'Rum, wench!' but thanks for the respect! I'll get it for you now. You've set me in such a good mood, I won't even spit in it," she said with a wink.

As she walked off, Briggs' eyes followed her. "Not quite a redhead... but I'm willin' to overlook that."

Jack laughed, "She is a looker. You two would make a dandy couple!"

Briggs' face turned red which made Jack laugh all the more.

Suddenly, a commotion erupted from the gaming table in the back of the tavern.

"YOU'RE CHEATING!!"

The words reverberated around the room and a drunken voice uttered them.

Honour's face burned red with anger, "I am not! You just happen to be a poor player, Donovan, and a worse loser! And I can think of a few other things that you are terrible at! Beginning and ending in the bedroom."

Jack and Briggs turned to see a loud-mouthed sot squared off against a strikingly lovely young woman. She refused to back down even though he was head-and-shoulders taller.

Suddenly, the pirate hauled back and slapped her across the face. She put her hand up to her cheek in shock. Jack put down his cup, and stood to draw his pistol and intervene on her behalf. Josiah put a steadying hand on Jack's arm.

"Careful now, mate. Are ye sure ye want to be steppin' in to this squall?"

Before he could respond, Honour had recovered rapidly. She withdrew a ruby-inlaid dagger from where it had been nestled.

Quickly she pointed it at the lout and said, "You can either go with your face sliced horizontally or vertically. But I guarantee your nose will suffer."

Their faces were a few inches apart.

"B*tch!" he spat.

Still looking into his eyes, she threw the dagger down.

And nailed his foot in his leather boot. He let out a scream of pain. Jared was there in an instant. Honour said with disdain, "Take this detritus out of here and make sure he never comes back."

The patrons began cheering as he was escorted out of the tavern. Face first.

She turned to the pirates and said a bit too brightly, "Gentlemen? A fifteen minute recess. Next round on the house to allay the inconvenience of delaying your game."

The pirates ony heard 'next round on the house.'

She willed herself to keep from tearing up due to the blow Donovan struck. Memories of Jonas Corwin and that brutal night she spent with him came flooding back to her.

She walked over to the bar. Jack's eyes were locked on the captivating spitfire. He mentally took an inventory as was his custom when a woman of interest walked by. He could assess a woman's attributes and willingness to share them in a matter of a few minutes.

She was a petite woman. Jack guessed her age at no more than twenty. Though she toiled as a common tavern girl, there was nothing at all common about her. She had an almost regal bearing that spoke more of a woman of privileged upbringing than a commoner, her small stature doing nothing to repress her commanding presence and lion's heart. She wore her mane of long blond hair free, save for a small portion she kept tied back from her lovely face with a black velvet band. Even her clothing set her apart from the other serving girls. The long, puffy sleeves of her gauzy white blouse gave her dress an almost gown-like quality. Despite the impracticality of such an expensive garment in her line of work, it suited her perfectly. Coal black stays accentuated her womanly charms and slender waist. A matching black skirt, with a shorter green overskirt tucked into it and draped just so completed the picture. Jack quickly realized that her measured gait, that some might dismiss as a subdued strut, was due in large part to the leather boots she wore. No padding about in a pauper's cloth shoes for this jewel of a woman. His eyes surveyed her stunningly exquisite form, feasting on every delightful curve and line. Everything about her demanded attention, and she had Jack's fully. Men's heads turned as she walked by, their conversations trailing off into the aether until the voice of reason whispered to them that there was no point in trying to draw her attentions. This woman was out of reach for the average man. She had her standards, and they would not bend. She was unlike any woman Jack had encountered, and he knew at that moment he had to have her.

Pouring herself an ale, she sat down and put the cool tankard to her cheek to keep the bruising down. Her hand was shaking. The tavern keep looked concerned at her. "You alright, Honour, sweetheart?"

"I will be."

"Amos--your sword, please."

The barkeep drew his sword and she took the blade to look at her face in the reflection of steel.

'Wonderful', she thought. 'It will be a honey of a bruise.'

"Amos? Could you please let Kate finish up dealing tonight?"

He nodded solemnly.

"You just sit there and calm down, darlin'."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Oh hell and tarnation. I know that look," muttered Briggs.

"Please, Josiah. I'm just... admiring."

"My arse. Sizin' her up is more like it."

Jack shot him a pained expression. "You make me sound so uncouth."

"Oi, if the shoe fits..."

"Like you weren't with the serving girl?"

"That's different."

"How so?!"

"It was me doin' it," smiled Briggs.

Jack laughed and set his mug down on the table. "I think it's time I introduce myself to the young lady. You know, to make sure she's all right after that dust-up."

"I dunno, Jack. I think she be more than a handful, even for you!"

"Good thing I've got two hands, then." Jack gave his friend a wink as he started to walk her way. "Wish me luck!"

"Luck, nothin'! I'll hate auctionin' yer effects before the mast. But it'll be one hell of a wake!"

Honour heard soft laughter behind her. She turned and there he stood.

Captain Jack Wolfe.

His way of dressing wasn't pretentious. Far from it. But even with his eclectic choice of clothes, he cut a dashing figure. Over his white silk shirt, he wore a waistcoat of green brocade. Muted red linen breeches were tucked neatly into his well-worn brown leather boots. A wide belt served as a makeshift holster for an ornate Spanish pistol. Her eyes lingered on the elaborate weapon. It was the sort carried by noblemen or officers, and she couldn't help but wonder how he'd come by it. A cutlass peeking out from his dark blue frock coat completed the package. .

His hair was brown, thick and unruly, tied back with a burgundy scarf. He had arresting eyes. Eyes that peered into your soul and could see straight through to your heart, as if all your secrets were laid bare before him. They were light brown with flecks of green in them. As if Poseidon himself had bestowed them upon him. They looked like the kind of eyes that could change as the sea. From a pool of tranquility to a tempest in the wind of a mood.

His beard was neatly clipped and could barely contain the sardonic smile that graced his lips. A big plus was that he had white teeth. Not that they were white. But that he had them. And they were his own.

He wasn't a tall man, neither was he short. Average.

And that was about all that was average about him.

Jack Wolfe was no ordinary tar.

He was a captain.

A pirate captain.

From his very aura, you knew he was someone that commanded attention. Men sat up a little straighter in his presence. Women's breath came a little shallower. She wondered what he could do to your breath in a one-on-one situation. She shook her head out of her reverie, his voice intruding into her daydream.

She cooly said, "Think it was funny?"

"Not at all. I was just admiring your....spunk."

She closed her eyes against the pain and winced a bit.

"Let me see that," he said.

She gingerly took the tankard away from her face and he touched it.

"Aye! That renegade struck you fiercely, for sure!"

She said quietly, "Occupational hazard."

"You work here?"

"I don't exactly hang around here for my health."

"That ale won't help much with the pain."

He signaled to Amos.

"Whiskey. And keep it coming."

"I'm not sure of this..."

"Trust me."

"Your name, please. I don't drink with strangers."

"Captain Jack Wolfe of El Lobo del Mar. Ported this morning."

"Ah, the Spanish ship. But for someone Spanish you look awfully English to me."

She extended her hand and replied with the alias she took when she landed in Barbados, "Honour Bright. Tavern wench at your service."

He took her hand, kissed it and said, "Miss Bright, I do hope to see much more of you while I am in port..."

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He looked into her eyes, and marveled at their depth. Brilliant blue, like the sky after the passing of a summer storm, but tinged with sadness. Her face was delicate and defined, with high cheekbones and a softly radiant smile that he somehow felt the world did not witness nearly often enough. A glint of light drew his attention downward, where he spied the hilt of the ruby inlaid dagger she'd deftly used to defend herself earlier nestled securely in her ample cleavage. She caught his eyes lingering, and tipped his head back up by gently taking hold of his goatee.

"I am flattered, Captain Wolfe. But I do prefer that a gentleman looks at my eyes when we talk," she said with a bemused smile. He looked at her, and did something she never expected.

He blushed.

Honour gazed at Jack but there was pain in her eyes. The brute had struck her harder than she had thought.

She asked the handsome pirate, "Are you sure the whiskey will help better than the ale?"

He smiled disarmingly at her and said, "As sure as I am standing here, love."

Amos set two glasses of Irish whiskey in front of them. Jack motioned to Amos, "And keep the bottle here. Oh, hell! Make it two!" he winked.

Amos scowled, "You just get any thoughts and designs out of your head, scallawag! That little lass is like a daughter to me."

Jack raised his eyebrow. "A daughter, you say? Then why do you let her deal cards for the miscreants of that other ship? If she were my daughter--which she most certainly isn't--I would take a little more care to protect her than to let her get slapped by a brute like the one you pitched out of here."

Honour listened to the exchange. "Can the lass say something here? Amos does watch over me. It was a business proposition, fair and square."

Amos glared at Jack. "I've seen your kind in here before! And I'm keeping my eye on you, sir."

Honour sighed. "Excuse me, please, Captain Wolfe."

She took Amos aside and put her hands on her hips. "And what seems to be the problem, Amos? You never raised a fuss when I had a drink with anyone before."

He continued to polish the glass and said, "I don't like the way he is looking at you, Honour. Like you are fresh meat in a butcher shop."

She tossed her head and laughed, "He's handsome and charming."

Amos put his hands on the tavern counter and leaned towards Honour. "And that is what worries me, darlin'! It is like catnip to a cat, Miss Puss-in-Boots."

He ticked his fingers off.

"Handsome. Charming. A captain. The only thing that is missing is, 'Is he rich? Can he show Miss Bright a good time?' I know you, Missy. Three out of four and you wil be bidding me nighty-night with your hand on his arm, tossing your hair as you walk out that door."

She laughed. "Please don't worry, Amos. Have you ever known me not to hold my whiskey?"

He frowned, "Once or twice. The last time you almost got killed."

"Well, I am older and wiser now."

"Ha! Older by about two months."

She laid her hand on Amos' arm and said, "Please don't worry. I know better now. It's not like I am running off to marry him. He looks to be good conversation."

As she walked away, Amos muttered, 'Right. Good conversation. And then you be scrambling on the floor looking for your pantalets....'

She turned her attention back to Jack.

"So..you just made port?"

"Just this morning. I need to do a little..unloading."

"Really! And what could that be?"

She cupped her chin in her hand and gazed up at him from under long lashes.

Before he could answer, Jack felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked round to find Briggs smirking at him.

“Can I help you, Josiah?” he asked, quickly cutting his eyes over to Honour, then back again.

“A moment of yer time, Captain?” asked Briggs. He gave Honour a warm smile. “Ship's business, ma'am.”

Honour could tell from the gleam in the quartermaster's eye he was up to something. “By all means,” she said with a nod. “But not too long. I might get lonely.”

Jack took her hand and kissed it, keeping his eyes locked with hers the entire time. “I promise, I'll only be a moment.” Then he shot Briggs an impatient look, and the two men walked a short distance away from where Honour stood.

“Ship's business my arse!” Jack fumed.

Briggs' mischievous smile only got bigger. “Are ye sure you're feelin' all right, Jack? Ye ain't actin' at all like yer normal self.”

“What are you talking about?”

“In case ye didn't notice, that young lady don't look one bit Spanish.”

Jack burst out laughing. “Now, who was it had his head turned just this evening by a woman who isn't a redhead?”

“Not true!” protested Briggs. “Dependin' on the light, I could see some red.”

“Bollocks, and you know it! Fine, so this one's not Spanish. Nothing wrong with a little variety, yeah?”

“I think ye be in a generous mood tonight, too. Yer gonna have to teach this youngster the ropes from the look of things. Unless ye plan on playin’ nanny.”

“She’s not that young, Josiah.”

“I dunno. Ye usually throw the little ones back. What is it ye say about them? Too ‘clingy’?”

“I think I can handle the situation,” said Jack. “She works in a tavern, so she knows how all this works. It’s all just a bit of fun and company, then I move along. No harm, no foul.”

Briggs chuckled. “Well, don't worry. I know better than to try and talk sense with ye when a woman's involved. I'm goin' back to the ship for a bit of shut eye. Just don't expect me to leave a light burnin' for ye!”

The quartermaster turned and sauntered off, shaking his head and laughing to himself.

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Jack couldn't help but laugh himself as he walked back to where Honour waited patiently.

Is everything all right? she asked.

"Just fine, love. Couldn't be better, in fact, now that I'm in your company once more."

Honour's cheeks flushed pink. You flatter me, Captain.

I meant every word of it.

"What did you say the name of your ship was again?" she said, half-heartedly trying to change the subject to safer ground.

"El Lobo del Mar."

She put her finger to her lips and with a quick intake of breath, said, "El Lobo del Mar? Why, she is a legend in these waters! None is said to outrun her!"

Jack beamed with pride. "Aye, that would be my ship, love."

Her eyes grew wide.

"Captain 'Mad' Jack Wolfe!' I have heard of you!"

"You have?"

"Why, yes. It is said you never leave a ship unscathed."

He picked up his whiskey glass.

She twisted a strand of hair around her finger and added, "Or a woman unsatisfied."

Jack paused in mid-drink.

"Yes, well, there is that...."

She took a deep drink of the whiskey, reveling in the warmth going down. She was beginning to forget about the bruise on her cheek.

"My, my! " she said. "I hear bits and pieces of tavern gossip that echoes through this port. A Dutch merchant ship was overtaken a few days ago by--dare I say?--pirates. An agent for the VOC was at the magistrate's office filing a report on the burning of a vessel, the Stad Utrecht. Seems the crew were set adrift in a skiff and were rescued three days later by Portuguese fishermen.

Jack gave her a wide grin and said, "I wouldn't know a thing. You might say I was an almost completely innocent bystander."

Honour laughed and said, "That's good to hear! I wonder what booty the vessel was carrying?"

Jack leaned forward and poured another whiskey for Honour and himself. "Oh, I imagine the usual. Calico. Spices. Coffee. Wine. And twenty-four chests of gold and silver guilders."

"Tw-tw-twenty-four chests of guilders?"

Honour was astonished. Jack lit a pipe and took a deep draw on it.

"Now, did I say THAT?" he grinned.

She laughed and said, "I'm sorry. No, I didn't hear that at all! My, it is getting awfully warm in here."

Jack poured another whiskey. "I daresay you are beginning to feel better already."

She raised an eyebrow and said, "Indeed. I feel just fine. In more ways than one."

She leaned closer to him and ran her finger up and down his arm and whispered in a husky voice, "And I daresay I am going to feel alot better very soon. VERY soon."

Jack began to melt into her irresistible allure. The heat of her breath on his ear as she spoke the words 'VERY soon' made more than the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

But he had to be sure if her interest was in him or just what she could gain by a roll in the proverbial sack with him. He looked her squarely in the eyes.

"What be your aim in all of this, darling? I'm not some young seaman, ready to believe the enchanting words of a beautiful woman with honey on her tongue and gold in her eyes. Is it me or is it the prize I carried in?"

Honour stood up and leaned over the table.

"I suppose I could ask you the same thing. Is it me you are interested in or just my body for a night of pleasure? You know what? You are a bastard, Jack Wolfe. I may work tables in a tavern but I am not a cheap doxy here for you to have a night of fun. . If that is what you want, there are plenty of other wenches here with low standards."

She turned to leave and Jack grabbed her by the arm. Amusment glittered in his eyes.

"Hold on there, Miss Bright. I appreciate your honesty. And I meant no harm by it. I've been a cynic too long when it comes to matters of the...heart. So before you get your pantalets in a twist, sit down and let's have some meaningful conversation."

She sat down. Jack gave her a grin and said, "So how about another whiskey and then I take your clothes off?"

She stood up her face, flaming.

"How dare you..."

His face dropped in mock disappointment. "You don't like the whiskey?"

She burst out laughing. "You are still a bastard, Jack Wolfe. A dangerous, magnificent bastard but I like you."

He poured another glass and pushed it in her direction. "No need to drink and run then. Stay awhile and I promise to be witty and charming and mind my manners. Until you tell me otherwise. Then we can get naked together!"

She shook her head, laughing. "You are the kind of man a woman can't stay mad at."

"Does that mean yes to the naked?"

She shook her head. "It means yes to the whiskey."

"And then the clothes?"

She traced her finger around the rim of her glass and looked up at him with a twinkle in her eyes. "We shall see what transpires."

He took a drink of his whiskey and looked at her over the rim of his glass.

"Ah, you give me hope, Miss Bright!"

"And what if hope is all I give you?"

Jack leaned forward. "Oh before the night is over, you may just find out if those tavern stories really are true."

The back of his hand stroked her unbruised cheek. His finger ran down to the neckline of her chemise and ran across the edge of it.

She felt her breath stop and she had to will herself to breathe again.

"I'd be careful if I were you, Jack Wolfe. I am weaponed."

He reached in and took out her bodice dagger. She gasped at how fast he was able to retrieve it, and even more amazed that his fingers skimmed over her skin.

He studied it in the candlelight of the tavern table. Running his finger over the blade, he said, "Nice. You keep it sharp. Most women wouldn't even know what to do with it."

He turned it over in his hand. "Mother of pearl handle. Ruby in the hilt. Expensive. How did you come by it?"

Her face coloured. "It was a gift."

He deftly returned it to its nestled spot. But this time it seems he took his time.

"More whiskey, darling?"

She held out her glass and smiled. "I certainly hope you aren't planning on getting me drunk, Captain. Because it won't work."

"What won't work?"

"Oh, you figured a little liquid encouragement and you found a place to port for the night."

"Oh, you discovered my plan then."

She leaned forward, the whiskey starting to take its toll.

"I said you were a bastard and I meant it."

"I have no doubt."

She drew closer to him. "Gentlemen hold no fascination for me. Bastards, on the other hand...."

He could feel the heat rising off her and said, "Then prepare to be spellbound...."

Jack was beginning to feel like he was drawn into her web and at that point he wondered.

Was he the hunter?

Or the game?

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"You polish that tankard anymore and you will have nothing but a handle left."

Kate ambled over to where Amos was polishing and scowling.

She leaned against the counter and tucked her small towel into her waistband.

"There! There is the problem!"

He nodded towards the table where Honour sat with a handsome pirate.

"What, Honour and that honey of a pirate?"

Amos glared at Kate.

"Yes, Honour and Captain Charming over there. They've been at it for the last three hours."

"At....what?"

He continued to polish and slammed the tankard down.

"Whatever. I don't know. All I know is that he is up to no good."

"You can tell from over here?"

"I know his type. All flash. He's wining and dining her."

"But they aren't eating."

"Alright then, he's wining."

"It's whiskey."

Amos put his hands on the counter and leaned towards Kate.

"Are we getting into semantics now? She's about to fall back into her usual habits."

"And how can you tell?"

"Watch."

"Watch what?"

"Look at her. First she leans forward.....then the little tilt with the shoulder....followed by her taking a strand of her hair and twirling it around her finger...now she gives him that smile...and lowers her eyes....and repeat."

Kate was in awe.

"How do you know what she is going to do?"

Amos threw his dishrag down.

"Because young Missy over there has been following the same pattern ever since she has been here. Only the person sitting across from her changes."

"You need to get yourself a hobby, Amos!"

He folded his arms across his chest.

"And you are no better, Miss Kate! I saw you putting a little more swing in your backyard when that friend of his was here."

She gave him a wide-eyed look.

"What friend?"

"That tall pirate with the shaggy brown hair and blue eyes. Rugged-looking. Big shoulders. I saw you."

"And what did I happen to do?"

"Lean a little closer when you put his drink down. And I can smell the rosewater that you spritzed on not more than five minutes after they arrived!"

"It was a coincidence, Amos. I happened to brush up against that rose bush outside."

Amos gave a derisive laugh. "And if I believe that one, you have a nice waterfront lot to sell me over on Queen Street!"

"There IS no waterfront....oh. I see. Alright, so he took down my name and said he would be in tomorrow and maybe we could have dinner. Is it my fault he liked my....backyard?"

Amos shook his head. "Like herding cats you girls are. Especially you and Honour. Damn, if you weren't so attractive and bringing in the money, I would toss the two of you out of here."

"You wouldn't, Amos. You love us."

"Damn right I do. That is why I keep you two on. Birds of a feather, you two are. And that is why you struck up such a fast friendship."

"Honour will be alright, Amos. She is just lonely and that captain seems to be keeping her entertained."

Amos glared. "Oh, yeah? Well, who is entertaining who, I wonder? Just look!"

Kate looked over.

"What am I looking at?"

"Miss Bright just happens to be running her foot casually up and down that pirate's leg. No good can come of that."

Kate looked over and laughed.

"You are imagining things."

"Am I? Now watch him. First he pours her a drink....then one for him...tops hers off. Now he leans back and look!...his arm casually rests on the back of her chair...his finger slowly running on her arm....then he gives her that charming smile of his...doesn't even have a gold tooth in his head...and that Spanish pistol...you know how she is a pushover for a big pistol...."

Kate sighed. "She will be alright, Amos. She will drink herself blind and he will leave since he figures it isn't going to get him anywhere. Then you or I can make sure she gets to bed."

Amos scowled. "Something not right here. This one is flash, I tell you. Lots of gold coins and that smile. Like a cat with a canary. Playing with it until he goes in for the kill....."

Kate picked her towel up and headed towards the customers but said over her shoulder, "You worry too much, Amos."

He frowned. "Maybe....maybe...but this time I doubt it!"

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Honour stood up and said, "I can't believe the hour, Captain Wolfe. I really must call it a night. Much as I hate this night to end."

"You're not serious, are you? I mean, the sun isn't up yet. That's the true signal the night is over." He stood and stepped close to her. "But bedtime is always negotiable..."

She laughed and put her hands on his chest, giving him a soft push away. "The sun may not be up yet but you forget that I am a mere tavern wench and I have been on my feet since this morning."

Jack wrapped his hands around hers. Honour was surprised how gentle yet insistent he could be. "Fine. I'll carry you. The hour is late, by your own admission. And I would be remiss in my duties as a gentleman-- all right, I heard that giggle--to let you go home unattended. Where is your room? I promise to deliver you safely."

She snaked her arm around his neck and pulled him closer to her, whispering in his ear.

"You may be a knight in shining armour, Captain, but I have been able to hold my whis---whiskey fairly well and...."

"Hey, Honour! WE NEED MORE RUM!"

She snapped at the pirates at the table across the room.

"Can't you see that I am doo-offty? Off duty. That is what I meant. Get someone else to do it for you."

Jack looked over at the table of tarry lads and arched an eyebrow. "You lot are well done for. Quiet, or shift. There are other barmaids." He gave them a wink. "This one's busy!"

Jack turned to Honour. "And I mean that in the most respectful way, I promise. Just shutting the lads up."

Honour put a finger to his lips. "How about you shut up, and concentrate on escorting me home? Because really, I am not so think as you drunk I am. But yes, the Hades just pulled in and the girls always check to make sure they have their knickers when they leave here. The boys have been known to get excep---exceptionally firsky...FRISKY! I meant frisky."

"Well then, since I know the crew of the Hades and their exploits, allow me to offer my services in defence of your knickers, my dear! I shall pay special attention to them, even if they should end up on the floor with my assistance. Remember how you promised to get naked with me when we started drinking?"

She held up her finger and placed it softly to his lips. "Ah, that is where you are wrong, Captain. I never promised that. I said let's see who perspires...I mean what transpires...and I never promised to be your port. So you can just leave my pantalets out of this equation."

Jack pulled her close. "Equations? I was never very good at math. One plus one equals us. Nothing else much matters, yeah?"

"Nothing except the basic math. First you add the whiskey. Then you subtract my clothes. I'm not even getting into the division...."

"Or the multiplication. That we can toss out straight away. But I'm all for subtracting your clothes, mine too, then adding me to you." He shook his head. "What is with all the mathematics? Music! That's what we should be talking about. The beautiful music we could make together..."

She giggled, "I don't think any bawdy sea shanties fit me. And the only music I think you want to hear is the creak of bedsprings."

Jack traced his finger along her neckline, lingering near her cleavage. "Shanties? No. You're the type symphonies are written about. But not operas. God, I hate operas. Alot of fat Germans screaming bad love poems at one another."

She looked down at his finger and gently removed it.

"I am Welsh. And I prefer being the kind of woman nations go to war over."

"Funny, I own what some consider to be a warship. Who would you have me conquer in your name, fair Helen?"

Honour leaned over him and whispered, "Surprise me with a few apples of gold, noble Paris."

She stood slightly away from him. "I bet you didn't know I knew that, did you?"

Jack grinned. "I was hoping you did! You're obviously a woman of bearing and grace. What you're doing here... that's a mystery to me. You're out of place. Yet you fit in by commanding respect. And you get it. You've certainly gotten it from me."

She smiled and kissed him gently on the lips. "And now it is time I get back to my room. But yes, the way the Hades crew is all riled up, I really would appreciate it if you would see that I get safely to my room. It is just out the back door and up the stairs."

"Evasive to the end. I have to respect that. Enigmatic beauty is universally irresistible." He searched her eyes, but he was just as drunk as she was. "All right, enough philosophical drivel. Lead the way, my dear! And I shall guard you from anyone and anything. Excluding myself, of course."

She looked over and frowned. "I suppose I should say goodnight to Amos but he must be in the back...Kate?" she called out. "I'm leaving now. Remind Amos I have tomorrow off. I'll see him on Monday."

Kate gave her a wave.

"I really appre---appreciate this, Captain. We can go out the back way."

She opened the back door and into the hot sultry night.

And whatever else awaited.

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Honour breathed the salt air as she opened the door. She gathered up her hair in one hand and fanned herself.

"I swear, the nights keep getting hotter and hotter. I expect this in August, not June."

Jack slipped his hands around her waist and pulled her close. Honour thrilled as his lips found that one special place on her neck that made her knees weak.

"It can get even hotter," he breathed.

She began to feel herself being drawn into a situation that she knew where it would lead. This was how it started with James Blake.

And all the others.

She found herself with a shortness of breath that wasn't due to tight corsets. She turned her face away and whispered, "No.."

"Wait... what? No? Did I do something wrong? I thought..."

"You thought...what? That if you bought me a few drinks and paid attention to me, and flattered me, that I would be yours for a night? That you would add another notch to your baldric?"

"All right, fine. You saw through my very thin ploy. To a point. But I've never seen you as another notch in any of my clothing. No, there's something very, very different about you. Something... inescapable. I can't explain it, Honour Bright. But I'll never be able to get you out of my mind."

She laughed derisively. "That is what they all say. 'I've never met a girl like you, Honour.' 'I could spend the rest of my life with you, Honour...' Well, Captain, the translation is always the same. And this time I won't fall for it."

"I never said I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you, Honour," Jack said with a pained expression. "Merely that I find you enchanting. If you inferred more than that, well, that's on you, love."

She felt her eyes well up with tears.

"Fine. Then go. JUST GO! I can find my own way to my room."

She started towards the stairs.

"Honour, wait!" he said. "I didn't mean to upset you! It's just... I'm not some Johnny-come-lately. Yeah, I could do the smooth talking bit, but that's a disservice to you. It's trite and overdone, and that's not my style. I prefer up-front insincerity."

She stood there, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I--I'm sorry. Just too much...too much whiskey, Too many customers.... too much... life."

Jack walked to her and finished wiping a tear from her eye. "I promise, you'll be amazed at my staying power," he whispered with a disarming smile.

She shrugged and gave a little laugh. "You are intriguing, Captain."

With barely any hesitation, Jack kisses her. Deeply, searching... It was a kiss that had no indication of ending any time soon.

She found herself responding and when she broke free from it, she shook her head. "No, Jack."

"No? And why not? We're both consenting adults. The night is still young... All right, maybe not young, but of a consenting age as well." He quietly managed to manoeuvre her to where her back was against the stone wall. "As I was saying...." He kissed her once again, this time it was more insistent, more demanding.

She felt the cold stone against her back and she began to shiver. Not so much from the stones but from where Jack's hands were..... insistent and probing, and her heart began to race. But she found her hands against his chest, pushing him away.

"No... wait," she breathed. She adjusted her chemise and her skirt.

"Take me up to your room, ' he whispered. He pressed her even harder against the stones as his hands grew bolder.

"No, Jack..."

"Then come back to my ship...."

"NO!"

Jack lifted her chin to meet his eyes. "Damn it all! What will it take, woman?"

Her eyes met his.

"A wedding ring."

Jack stood there, not believing what he was hearing.

"A...a what? A wedding ring?"

She nodded. "I... I won't allow you to bed me until we are properly wed."

Jack looked her squarely in the eyes... and hiccuped. "A wedding ring."

"Yes," she said flatly. "Otherwise, you can forget about any stairway to heaven."

"Oh... I do like stairways." Jack took her by the hand and began marching down the alley toward the street. He paused only to snatch the flowers out of old lady Poggit's window garden.

He dragged Honour down the street in a hurry.

"Where are we going?"

"To make a right proper married woman of you."

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Her feet tried to keep up as Jack hurried her down the street.

"I've never had anyone wanting to marry me in such a hurry."

"It's not the wedding part I'm in a hurry to get to," replied Jack.

She stopped suddenly. "You like wedding cake and I don't know any bakers."

He turned to look at her. "Why... yes! Cake! I love cake," he said as he started walking again. "Can't get enough of it. We'll have to find a baker come morning!"

"But I can't get married in this skirt. It's not white. And I have no veil."

"And all I have is a big pistol. Come ON!"

She tried to smooth down her skirt.

He stopped and brushed the hair away from Honour's face, then touched her chin gently. She looked up into his eyes.

"Honour, you look beautiful. And this is just a ceremony, after all. A formality. Wouldn't you agree that what comes after the ceremony is most important?"

She nodded. "A house and a yard full of children and a dog..."

Jack swallowed hard. "Yes, well, I wasn't thinking quite that far into the future, but you've got the flavour of it."

"You don't like dogs?"

"More of a cat person, but dogs are fine. Can we keep walking?"

He grabbed her by the hand and yanked her down the street.

"You seem very determined, Cat-pain. Captain. That is what I meant."

"That I am. I thought you'd be flattered."

Honour did her best to keep up. "Flattered, and winded...You really like me then? It wasn't just the whiskey or..or.....wait a second."

She rearranged her flowers and looked down. "My boots. I don't have the right boots for a wedding."

He winced and took a deep breath before turning back to her. "Yes, I really do fancy you, and it's not just whiskey talking. Much. Anyway, I'd marry you barefoot if I had to!"

Honour smiled at him. "You're certainly easy to please."

"Darling, you have no idea how easy at this point."

She stopped and narrowed her eyes at him, putting her hands on her hips.

"You aren't doing this just so you can...you know---finish what you started in the alley. Are you?"

"Well, of course..."

"WHAT??"

"I mean, of course NOT," he said quickly. "But I wasn't the only one thinking about where this night might lead. In fact, you're the one who insisted we get married before sharing a bed. How do I know it's not you who are trying to take advantage of me?"

Her mouth dropped open and closed quickly. "I'll have you know, Captain, that I have had--I mean can have--any man--captain!--I want in this port. So don't be thinking you are the only James--gentleman!--around."

She tossed her head. "Any man would be proud to have me on his arm, I will have you know. Maybe this isn't such a good idea, Captain."

She bent forward to retie her boot lace, affording him a spectacular view of what he could lay claim to if he handled this just right.

"Honour, wait..."

She straightened up, only wobbling slightly as she locked him with the sternest gaze she could muster as he walked to her.

"You're right. And I'm sorry."

"For accusing me of coercing you into marrying me, or for being a bastard?"

Jack smiled disarmingly. "Both."

Her look faded from disapproval to one of mild distrust. "I'm listening."

"You're right. You're beautiful, and any man in his right mind would walk over broken glass to be with you and count himself lucky. Yet here I stand, making a mess of thing."

"Go on," she said.

"I should be counting myself the most fortunate bloke on earth by having you even considering marrying me. Now how stupid does that make me, getting you all upset?"

"Very."

"Enough helping from you, thanks."

He took a deep breath. "So I'm sorry. I do want to marry you, Honour Bright. And not just because of that kiss in the alleyway. That's the truth." He paused and held his hands out to the side, and began to slowly back away. "But I understand if you're having second thoughts..."

She shook her head. "I'm not having second thoughts. I just want to be sure you want ME. And not just a night."

She stood close to him, so close he could smell the jasmine that she wore.

She ran her finger down his chest and whispered, "You had better make it worth my while."

"Oh, I shall," he whispered in reply, and brought his lips close to hers. Honour was quick to block his kiss with her finger.

"Aaahhh, patience! Have you forgot where we were going?"

"How silly of me," he smiled. "No, I haven't forgotten."

He reached over and knocked on the heavy wooden door of one of the houses.

"What on earth are you doing?" she exclaimed.

"Magistrate's house. Told you it wasn't far!"

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Jack knocked on the door. No answer.

"Do you suppose no one is home?" Honour whispered.

"I could always break in and find out," said Jack with a mischievous smile.

She put her arm on his frock coat.

"What, and have me spend my weeding--wedding--night alone?"

Brushing a tendril of blond hair back from her face, he replied, "Not a chance, love. Maybe he's a heavy sleeper, yeah? Let's try again..."

Jack knocked on the heavy wooden door, much harder this time. Honour cringed at the loud sound.

"Shhh! You will wake up the entire port! Maybe this is a sign...maybe we aren't supposed to get married."

She stood close to Jack, her jasmine perfume filling the night air with every movement of her.

"We're getting married," he said with determination, "if I have to get myself ordained."

Honour began to speak, but was interrupted by the sound of an upstairs window opening.

"Oi!" came an angry man's voice. "Go away! It's the middle of the night!"

Honour grabbed Jack's coat and said softly, 'We had better go. There is always tomorrow and you can pick me up at the tavern....."

"And take the chance you'll sober up and reconsider? Not on your life, darling." He looked up at the man in the window. "You're the magistrate, right? We want to get married!"

"It'll wait!"

Jack pulled a small purse of coins from his pocket and jingled it loudly. Honour's eyes grew wide at the sound of what must have been a lot of money.

"No, I don't think it will. At least, this money won't."

"You--you're going to pay him off? I mean, isn't' that kind of like a dow--dow--you know, where the father pays the man to take his daughter off his hands? Is that my dow--dow---price?"

"A dowry? Heavens, no! This is a straight-up bribe, love. Besides, I'm the one who'd get paid the dowry. I think." He looked back up at the man. "What'll it be? A couple shillings in the morning, or an awful lot more tonight?"

The magistrate gritted his teeth. "I'll be right down," he growled before disappearing from the window.

"He's probably coming down to excommunicate me. He's mad. Maybe we should see him in the morning. What do you think? I mean, I am not in the mood to get scolded."

She started to slowly back away from the door.

"Don't worry, dear. He can't excommunicate you. He's just another civil servant." He turned back to the door, waiting for the magistrate to open it. "Of course, he could punch me right in the face. I'd rather be excommunicated, then."

"He's not allowed to hit you. And if that is the case, I can tell his wife about his gambling at the tavern."

She giggled. "Did I say that out loud?"

Jack grinned at her in surprise. "Oh, now I know I love you! We were meant for each other. I knew it!"

Honour giggled again, but her smile faded quickly. "What do you mean, 'now' you know? You didn't....?"

The door's deadbolt lock banged loudly as it was unlocked, and the door swung open. There stood the magistrate in his nightshirt and a robe. He had a lamp in his hand, and a scowl on his face.

Honour stood there with her most somber look on her face, trying to stay upright as she leaned on Jack.

"He looks fero--fero--fierce."

Jack slipped his arm around Honour's waist to steady her. Giving his most charming grin, he held the coin purse out for the magistrate. The magistrate took it and felt its weight, then slipped it into a pocket in his robe.

"Right!" the man said. "I'll be having your names."

"That much money, you could give us a smile," said Jack. Honour tried hard not to giggle.

"The money buys you the ceremony and my not calling the constable. Now, your names."

'Honour Bright."

The magistrate looked over his glasses at her. "You're joking," he said flatly.

"I am not!" she said indignantly.

"What kind of name is that?" he asked Jack.

"Um, Welsh?" shrugged Jack.

The magistrate sighed. "Fine, fine. You can be Honour Bright. I don't want to know how many consonants." He looked back to Jack. "And yours better not be 'Unbroken Bond'."

"John Michael Wolfe, your magisterialness. CAPTAIN John Michael Wolfe."

"Oh good. Another captain. I should have guessed. All right then, is there anyone here with objections to this man and woman being joined in holy matrimony? Anyone? Please? Anyone at all?"

The magistrate looked around, hoping someone-anyone--would come out of the shadows with a reason to let him get back into his warm bed.

He sighed.

"Yes, well...be that as it may...."

His jaw clenched, he opened a copy of the Book of Common Prayer and began to read. "I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, that ye confess it. For ye be well assured... Oh, never mind. You'll be lucky to remember this."

Honour hiccupped loudly as if to underscore his point.

He looked over his glasses at them.

"Yes, well, we can dispense with all the formality."

"Miss Bright, do you?"

She nodded.

"You sure about that?"

"I am."

He turned to Jack.

"I'd ask you the same question but the answer is pretty obvious you want her. Quickly."

"Let me tell you, mate..." started Jack.

"How 'bout you don't? Now, the ring please. You do have a ring to make this good and proper, right?"

Jack searched his frock frantically. Finally, he produced a gold trinket and offered it to her.

"What manner of wedding piece is this?"

She regarded the ungainly trinket of gold. It was an ugly thing; a disc of gold with arms reaching out.

Jack met her eyes. "Darling, I swear I'll get you an honest ring."

"You'd better," she warned.

"Anything you want. As you were saying, sir..."

"By the power vested in me....

"Emeralds."

"What?"

The magistrate rolled his eyes and began tapping his foot.

"I want emeralds in my wedding ring."

"Absolutely. Your Honor..."

"At least three," she added mischievously.

Yes, dear! Oh, looks at that. He's getting upset with us, darling."

"May I finish, please? I'd like to get back to bed," said the magistrate.

Jack turned to the magistrate. "I feel your pain, Sir."

"I pronounce you man and wife."

He retrieved a sheet of paper from a small desk just inside the door, scribbled a few words on it, and handed it to Jack.

"Now, kiss the bride and go away!" the man said, and he slammed the door.

The magistrate opened the door again and called out, "Mrs. Wolfe--try not to enjoy it too much. After all it IS Sunday morning."

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Honour fumbled for the key she kept hidden above the doorjamb. Jack took it out of her hand and put it in the keyhole. Then he drew his foot back and practically kicked the door open. He swept her up in his arms and carried her into the room, kicking the door shut with his foot.

Honour stood there with the moonlight streaming through the window. Jack drew her to him, winding her hair in his hand, his face only an inch from hers.

"And now you got what you wanted. A wedding band. Now it is my turn to get what I want."

He gave her skirt a quick tug and it fell to the floor.

Her breath caught in her throat as Jack moved his hand down her cheek and slowly down to her bodice lacings, his fingers finding their way under the lacings.

He tugged.

Nothing.

"Th-th-they seem to be knotted."

"It's a good thing I'm here. I'm quite good with knots." He deftly reached into his boot and produced a slender bone-handled dagger, its blade glinted in the dim light.

Her voice cracked as she whispered, 'No...no..."and backed against the wall.

"No, wait..." Jack didn't expect her fearful response. He looked at the knife in his hand and silently cursed himself. How could she know he meant no harm?

"Here," he said gently, and took her hand in his. Honour watched as he tenderly wrapped her fingers around the hilt. His eyes never left hers.

Jack covered her hand with his and gently placed the dagger under the bottom lacing. With a slow flick of the tip, the lacing gave way as if it were butter and one by one the lacings slowly cut away .

"I may not be good at lacing but I know the best way to un--"

The trepidation Honour had felt quickly turned to a building excitement as each lace yielded to the edge of the blade.

Each knot gave way and the garment fell away. Honour stood there in her chemise, shivering.

He took the marriage license out of his pocket and whispered in her ear, "The sword is mightier than the pen, it would seem."

He tossed the paper on the dresser.

Jack drew her to him and traced his finger along the edge of the chemise, his finger catching the edge. A whisper of softness and a promise to what lay underneath it.

"And now let's see if what I find is worthy of a gold band."

Her eyes were cast downward as he gently tugged the chemise down from her shoulders.

She put her arms around his neck and drew him close to her.

"Make love to me. Even if you tell me lies, I'll pretend to believe them and we can face the dawn and sort it out. But for tonight I will believe anything you tell me. Just love me. Love me strong and love me all night long. Just for tonight."

Jack stood back from her. The chemise drifted towards the floor, landing in a puddle of silk at her feet. He gazed at her curves. A smile slowly spread across his face as he whispered to himself, 'Well, damn. This is going to be a great night.....'

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The skies delivered a clap of thunder, waking Honour up. She lifted her head from her pillow to see sheets of rain hitting the windowpane. Honour groaned and pulled the blanket over her head. She couldn't understand why she felt so wonderful despite the pounding of her head from the hangover she had.

She rolled over in her bed and absent-mindedly stretched out. She felt....skin? A body? She opened one eye and....whaaat?

Snoring softly on the pillow beside her was a man. At least she was pretty sure it was a man. Wildly tousled brown hair obscured the person's face. She lifted the covers to make sure. Oh, yes, definitely a man...Then she looked down at the floor and saw a trail of clothes that led to the door. Next to her side of the bed was a puddle of silk. She kept looking from under the sheet...to the body next to her...to the discarded silk....back under the sheet and to the body again.

Honour tried to move as far as she could to the edge of the bed. She quietly leaned on her elbow, keeping the sheet up around her chin. Her head pounded from the whiskey and she rubbed her temples. The body rolled over and she looked upon the sleeping face.

It was the pirate from the tavern the night before.

Bits and pieces of the night before started to reconnect in her mind. She threw the covers back over her head. 'Gotta think...gotta think....Alright, so now do I say, 'Thank you very much, that is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done to me. It was great and very nice to have met you and if you are ever in port again...' I mean, it's not like I have never had company in my bed.'

She looked under the bed.

'Well, at least he has great boots too."

Honour tried to slip out of the bed as quietly as she could. But before she could escape, his arm was around her, preventing her from leaving. A little squeak escaped her but she quickly realized he was very much asleep. The more Honour tried to slip from the man's grasp, the tighter he held on.

Finally she quit struggling and lay looking up at the ceiling once more. She touched her silver necklace. 'I don't think I had better ask you for help on this one, Mother. You would probably say, 'Rhiannon, you got yourself into this one, better get out of this one yourself.'

She looked over at her bedmate who was still out cold. A determined look came over her face. Gently, she lifted the edge up on his pillow to partially cover his face, just enough to hopefully get him to move. And move he did. Out of reflex, he took his arm from around Honour to move the obstruction out of the way. She popped free from his grasp and landed on the floor with an unceremonious thump.

She scrambled to grab the sheet ever so carefully and wrap it around her. Sitting carefully in the chair, she stared at the handsome pirate. "Oh, please please let him be a captain...'

She looked over at the pile of clothes on the floor that belonged to him. Hers were strewn in a trail that not surprisingly led right to the bed. She could see his frock coat, and sword, and what looked to be the butt of an ornate Spanish pistol.

"Whew!" she breathed. "I think he's a captain, all right. A girl has to keep her standards."

She picked up her bodice and saw the lacings cut in little pieces. "I know there has to be a logical explanation....I just wish I knew what it was.'

Beside his breeches, she spied a bone-handled dagger. A smile slowly tugged at the corners of her mouth. 'Oh yeah, that's why....I can't remember when the pants came off...'

She traced her trail of clothes again, starting at the door and working toward the bed. Her mouth dropped open a little as she realized there was a good three feet between her chemise and her boots that were right beside the bed.

'I must have fallen face first in bed then...but something tells me I didn't exactly fall. Carried? Carried works...But how did my boots get off? And why last? A bodice is one thing, but if he so much as shortened a bootlace...'

Honour quickly inspected her boots to find the laces were indeed as she'd left them.

She looked at them. 'Oh crap. I broke a heel....Maybe I can guilt him into buying a new pair? It's worked before,' she mused. 'I wonder how his credit is...'

She crawled around the floor, looking for her pantelets.

'They have to be here somewhere...OW!'

Her knee landed on a button.

'These aren't mine...'

Honour found a silk shirt and held it up. Buttons were torn from it and it was ripped halfway up the back.

'Oh, Muir, what have you done?' Then she realized Muir was over at the tavern sleeping under the table to keep Amos company.

She picked up her chemise. The drawstring was missing. Her face turned crimson at the thought of Malcolm knocking at her door to see if she was alright.

"I heard noises. Are you alright? You aren't getting killed, are you?"

"No, Malcolm. It must have been in the alley."

She was wrapped in a sheet and her hair was tousled and her lipcolour smeared.

Honour bit her lip and wondered if you could actually die from it. The rush of blood out of your head...how can such a man have such stamina? And know all the right buttons to push?

And push them so perfectly.

She couldn't even remember his name.

As she passed the dresser, a piece of paper caught her eye.

She picked it up.

A marriage license.

Two names were on it.

John Michael Wolfe

Honour Bright

MARRIED?

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Honour stared in disbelief at the marriage certificate in her hand. At the bottom were their signatures, along with the wax seal of the magistrate making their union official.

'Add writing to the list of his talents,' she thought.

Memories of the previous night's activities came into focus for her. The whiskey, the dancing, the wedding, the...

"What have you gotten yourself into this time?" she asked herself aloud.

At her words, Jack stirred from his sleep. He reached for her side of the bed, but she wasn't there. The bed was still warm, though.

'She'll be back,' he thought. 'They always come back.'

A steady throbbing in his skull told him he was in for one serious hangover, so he didn't bother opening his eyes. Next he reached for the sheet, which Honour was using as a makeshift dressing gown.

"What the...?" he grumbled as he sat up.

He opened his eyes to find a glowing yet perturbed young woman before him. She held a crumpled piece of paper in her hand. He smiled, and tried to jog his memory as to her name.

"Good morning, my lovely!" he offered. "Don't tell me... Your name's Helen....no, Hannah...umm....Betsy?"

Her face reflected astonishment.

"You don't remember, do you? Read it! It's all there in official print!" she retorted as she threw the crumpled document in his face.

"It would be SO nice if you remembered the name of your wife. And I don't mean 'Mrs. Wolfe'."

He unfolded the document she'd so graciously presented him. "Blah, blah, blah, 'Holy Matrimony' , blah, blah, 'John Michael Wolfe and Honour Bright'..."

Jack looked at her suspiciously. "What kind of bloody name is 'Honour Bright'?"

She balled up the sheet and threw it at him.

"It's my name!"

Jack pulled the sheet from about his head and chuckled. “I do like this arrangement much better,” he said with a sly smile. Honour blushed as she tried half-heartedly to cover herself.

"The name! Ah, well, that makes all the difference in the world, love!” Jack continued. “Why don't you bring your lovely self back into bed, and we can discuss things further, yeah? 'Honour Bright' suits you. Honour Bright Wolfe, even more so. Now, what's it to be, darling wife? You, standing there unappreciated? Or here in this nice, warm bed, fully and repeatedly appreciated by me?"

Honour thought for a moment, and all things being equal, Jack Wolfe wasn't that disgusting. In fact, he had a certain allure. She got back into bed, and Jack threw the sheet back over them like a matador's cape.

She whispered, "You certainly don't give a woman a chance to think, do you, Jack?"

He laughed, "Faint heart never won fair lady, yeah?"

She looked at him warily, "Where do you get the 'lady' idea, pirate?"

He chuckled, "Woman, I have been wise to the ways and means of both doxies and damsels. And you, my dear, are no mere tavern wench."

She turned away and murmured, "You are mistaken."

He put his finger under her chin and turned her head so she couldn't tear her eyes away from him.

"I think not. You have all your teeth. They are white. You don't jump on your food and drink like you shall never see another morsel or another tankard again. Your dialect, Welsh though it may be, belies an educated gentry. You stood up for yourself against that brute yet not in a slatternly way. But as one with smarts and wits."

She jerked his hand away and said, "I said you are mistaken. My mother was a housemaid and my father was a stable hand. I am the result of too much ale and moonlight. Father was long gone by the time of my birth. Mother died when I was a child. I was raised in an orphanage. End of story."

Jack regarded her thoughtfully. Something didn't ring true about her story, but he had nothing more to go on but a hunch.

"Aye. If you say so, my wife. Wife! Ye gads! I now have one."

"You never had one before?"

He laughed. "Never got caught before. love. You?"

She looked away and pulled the sheet around her. "No."

Jack stood up and reached for his clothes. He pulled the shirt over his head.

Ripped. Damn!

As he put his boots on, he looked over at the woman who was now his dearly beloved. Her arms stretched over her head, the sheets swirling around her. Her hair laid in a tangle around her shoulders and her eyes reflected some sort of dreamy afterglow.

He gave her a grin and she put her hand up.

"Oh, no, you don't!" she protested.

“Suit yourself. It would have been magic.”

He laughed and took her in his arms, giving her a passionate kiss. Then he left the bed, headed towards the door.

She said indignantly, "And where do you think you are going?"

"Back to my ship."

She took the marriage license and threw it in his face again.

"Guess again. You think you can just...just....just....and then LEAVE?"

Jack shrugged. "Never been an issue before."

She said darkly, "You've never come up against Honour Bright."

He retorted, "And you have never tangled with Captain Jack Wolfe!"

Jack suddenly burst out laughing.

"Aye, and I do think I have taken on a tigress!"

She raised her eyebrow as she tucked the sheet up to her chin.

"Tigress?"

He kicked his boots off and with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "What's this old world coming to, Honour?"

"What do you mean?"

He drew the sheet back. "It's not right. The hunter got captured by the game."

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She slowly woke up, the twilight fading into shadows on the wall.

"Jack? Jack?" she whispered. He was sound asleep.

Honour rolled over and propped herself up on her elbow and stared at the sleeping man. What was it about him that made her want him so badly? Was it his rakish good looks? Charisma? The way he made her feel? She even liked way he smelled. She leaned close and drank in his scent. A smile touched her lips as she thought about how he smelled like spices. Old spices with a hint of leather and sweat. She had never had anyone set her on fire like this man did. Even Rhys never made her feel like this. So...wanton. So...wicked and with no shame.

Her face coloured at the thought of how much she enjoyed herself, and him. A giggle escaped her lips.

Then her convent upbringing kicked in and she wondered how hot the flames of hell would be. And if she had a chemise light enough for the heat and what boots she could wear.

And would Jack be there?

She marveled that even when he was sleeping, she could almost read his mind.

It was obvious he was a man of... well, action. If it was something he wanted, then sooner or later it would fall into his hands. And right now, in his hands is just where she wanted to be.

She sighed happily. The rest was pretty great, too.

She wondered how long it would take him to recoup his resources

She began to gently kiss his skin, first across his chest, then to his neck. Jack stirred, but didn't wake up. As she continued kissing him, her eyes strayed down his body which was covered only with the thin sheet. And her eyes went wide. He had clearly already recovered...

'This man must be automatic' she thought, and hastened over to her own side of the bed.

'Curiosity killed the cat', she thought to herself. 'And if that's true, then it must have been satisfaction that brought her back.'

Honour laid there staring at the ceiling and wondered how long she should let him sleep. He had a slight smile on his face. What was he thinking? And was she enough woman for him?

She turned to face him. Carefully, she studied his features. Crow's feet from squinting into the Caribbean sun were beginning to form at the corners of his eyes. Unlike so many sailors she'd seen, his face was not leathery. There was a softness to it she found appealing. Some mischievous something inside her made her take her finger and tickle the end of his nose.

He wrinkled his nose and snorted. She softly giggled, tracing her finger down to his mouth gently.

She traced the outline of his lips with her fingertip. Her thoughts drifted back to how these lips kissed her, caressed her, and made her feel like a woman.

She sighed and reached over for a blanket. Wrapping herself in it, she lit a candle that was on the dresser. The shadows immediately came to life.

She poured herself a glass of wine and sat in the chair, staring at her bed. She could scarcely believe nor comprehend the enormity of what she had done the previous night before.

She was a tavern wench yesterday. Today the bride of a pirate. She shook her head as if to clear it and achieve an understanding.

She drew the blanket around her and tucked her legs up under her. What a shock to wake up and find herself married. She looked over at her new husband sleeping in her bed. A wave of guilt swept over her. She felt disloyal to the memory of the only man she swore she would ever love. She ran her fingers through her hair, deep in thought.

Spying the marriage license that was crumpled on the floor, she bent to pick it up. Smoothing it out, she looked at it. It certainly looked legal. She hardly remembered filling it out. Damn whiskey!

The date was right. That early, early morning.

John Michael Wolfe.

Honour Bright.

She hardly knew the man who was now her husband. The only thing that she knew at this point was his name and his ship. Not where he was from. Not even his age. She did know one thing. He could really hold his whiskey. And he was good in....

She pushed that thought out of her mind. That doesn't count. Not really. All right, it does, but that's for another time.

She sat back and closed her eyes. A thought occurred to her and a smile came to her lips. A loophole in case she should need it.

Because when it all came down to it...

Who was Honour Bright?

It was the name she used when she had come to St. Lawrence. A name that no one would be able to trace back to Rhiannon Conaway Castlemaine. She took a sip of wine and thought back to that night she entered the tavern, eager to find a job. Amos, the tavern keeper, asked her, "And what be yer name, lassie?"

She blurted out the first thought in her head. It was a phrase she heard her father and her husband, who both sat on the House of Lords, utter.

'Honour Bright'.

An assurance of truth or fidelity. A cynical smile crossed her lips. Truth. Her whole existence since she came to St. Lawrence was a lie.

And fidelity?

The very reason she had to lie.

A wave of chill came over her. From the coolness of the room or the pang of her conscience, she couldn't tell. Did it really matter anymore?

Rhiannon Conaway Castlemaine was, in essence, dead.

Honour Bright took her place.

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She could hear Jack stir behind her.

"What a perfect night for staying in bed," he purred.

"Where else would I go in the middle of the night?" Honour rubbed her temples. "If only I could remember how I got here...."

"Does any of that really matter? I'm a bit fuzzy on where I'm at, but that's not stopping me from having a good time."

She looked at him hopefully. "You think I am a good time?"

"Calling you a 'good time' is damning with faint praise, love!"

She pulled back the blanket and slid back into bed. "If only I could remember where my pantalets got thrown....'

Jack put his arm around her and pulled her close. "Worry about them in the morning. You have no need for them right now."

She landed on top of him. He wound his hand in her hair, pulling her so close their lips were only inches apart.

"See?" he whispered. "Isn't this much better?"

Honour had to remember to keep breathing when she found herself unable to tear her gaze from his eyes.

"I don't know if it is better or not. I only have two times to compare."

"Oh, you do have a very good point, love! Very good indeed." He kissed her deeply, but stopped abruptly. "Let's start the comparison, shall we?"

She gazed into his eyes and said quietly, 'Oh, you mean I should compare you to the other captains I have had?"

"Well, I hadn't planned on anything as ambitions as that," he said with a surprised laugh. "I don't feel inclined toward sharing you, that's for sure. You make me feel very greedy. But as a captain, I am fully confident that I measure up. Although I have heard the quartermasters could give us a run for our money."

"Well, I consort with no one but captains. Not even quartermasters, Rhys."

Jack glanced to either side of the bed with his eyes. "Who's Rhys? Your husband?"

She realized the faux pas and covered it quickly. "I think you misunderstood. I have no husband."

She held up her hand. 'There are no lines on my finger to indicate a ring, now, is there, Captain?"

He ran his finger over hers where a wedding ring would have resided, then drew her hand to his lips. He kissed her ring finger, and gave her a devilish look.

"It's a good thing, too. With all the whiskey we had, I'm not sure I could deal with an angry husband tonight!"

She fixed her eyes on his.

"And you certainly aren't dressed for it."

She ran her finger from his lips down to his chest.

"Did anyone ever tell you that you talk to much, Captain?'

"Then, my dear, you're going to have to find a way to shut me up," he said with a wink.

She moved closer to him and whispered, 'Any preference?"

He shook his head slowly. "I play captain enough when my clothes are on. I'll let you surprise me."

"And can you serve under someone like me?"

"Aye, m'lady. That I can. And rigorously! And...I think you found the way to shut me up!"

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Jack reached under the bed and pulled the bottle of merlot he had filched on their way to the room. He pulled the cork out of the bottle wtih his teeth and spit it across the room.

"Wine, my dear?"

"On top of the whiskey? The top of my head hurts. Even my hair."

"Ah, all the more so. It's called '' hair o' the dog that bit ye!'

She frowned.

"If you are sure I will feel better..."

Jack poured her a glass and said, "I never lie about a good vintage. Now drink up like a good little girl."

Honour gently took the wine goblet out of Jack's hand, taking a sip. She gazed at him over therim. "Mmm....I don't think you need any more wine."

"Rest assured," he said with a sly smile. "The spirit is willing, and so is the flesh."

She smiled, "In the spirit of the occasion...."

Honour handed the wine back to Jack.

"What's this? I thought I was cut off for the night. Although..." He held it up to the candlelight behind Honour. "You seem to have gotten your fair share of it!"

"And it is community property, love. But see how it sparkles in the candlelight?"

"Community property," Jack echoed. "This sounds somewhat ominous, the way it rolled off your tongue."

She laughed as she ran her finger from his lips to his chest, 'It means what's yours is mine...and what is mine is yours....'

A huge, eager grin broke out on his face. "Well, that's not ominous at all..." He kissed her lips, teasingly at first, but quickly more insistent.

"And I take it what you want right now is mine..." she whispered.

"I'll be sharing what's mine in the process, so it evens out. Yes?"

"And if I am the recipient of yours, you had better make it the best you have to offer then."

"Oh, always," he said. "I'll make certain you get only my best. Which I'm afraid, unless I get rid of this wine glass, will be less than impressive."

She reached over and gently took the glass out of his hand. "Here..."

She hurled it against the fireplace shattering it into pieces.

"You celebrate an important occasion by drinking only once from a goblet and then smashing it . Because another occasion will never be worthy of it. I'll clean it up in the morning....'

"Oh, I do love the way you think. See? I appreciate you for your mind as well as your body."

Honour put her arms around Jack and rolled over with him over her.

"I don't mind that you appreciate my body, Jack. I really don't."

"Oh, good! Because I intend to show my appreciation for your body for the next several hours, at the least..."

"My goodness! Confident in your stamina, are you?"

"What can I say? You have me feeling especially... inspired."

She smiled, "And perspired. After all, it releases endorphins."

"Endorphins'? Why do we want to release a lot of bloody great fish?"

She giggled, "It's the chemical that makes you feel good. Like a wrung out towel."

"Oh, I do like that feeling...Let's see how many times we can feel that way!"

Honour pulled herself away from Jack. "You mean lots of little feeling that way or one big one?"

Jack got a very worried look on his face. "Oh, no, no, no, love. Not a lot of little ones. Several BIG ones."

Her face flushed. "I don't know if I can take it..."

"Then we'll spread them out. No sense being greedy and having them all at once," he said with a wink.

She frowned, "I don't know if we have that kind of time. Amos is expecting me at work tomorrow."

Jack shook his head. "I'll cover any expense he may be worried about, love. Plus more."

"Captain Wolfe, have you always been this insatiable? I'm startin to believe the stories really ARE true!"

Jack brought his face close to hers and looked deeply into her eyes. "Honour, every tavern story, every fable, every myth has at least a grain of truth at its centre."

She smiled seductively at him while she drew him close.

"Well, let's put that element of truth to the test, shall we, Captain Wolfe?"

"Like I said, I love the way you think!" he laughed.

She nibbled on his ear....: "Just love me..at least for tonight."

"Tonight is a good start. Maybe you'll even leave a few tavern stories behind of your own."

"Oh, I don't kiss and tell."

Honour felt his hand slide down her body and her breath caught in her throat. She could feel the heat of his breath on her neck, his teeth grazing that one spot that never failed to send thrills through her.

'So much for me falling asleep...' she thought.

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Honour laid in Jack's arms.."Oh... that was incredible...."

And with that she passed out.

Jack laid there with an unconscious Honour in his arms.

"I'm terribly flattered," he said softly. "But what do I do now?"

A tiny devil appeared in a puff of brimstone and sat on his shoulder. "You know what to do. Have your way with her!"

"Um, I just did," said Jack. "And vice-versa. Weren't you paying attention?"

A tiny angel appeared and sat on his other shoulder.

"Cover her, and hold her in your arms until morning. That is the chivalrous thing to do," said the angel.

"Right, I know YOU haven't been paying attention," said Jack.

"Go ahead," said the devil. "She's all yours!"

"Yeah, ye wee numpty!! I MARRIED her! Can you possibly get off script and come up with something original?" groused Jack.

The devil thought for a moment, then hung his tiny scarlet head. "I got nothin'," he said dolefully.

The angel played loudly on a tiny trumpet.

"Goodness triumphs again! You are indeed a good man!" he proclaimed.

Jack flicked the little angel off his shoulder disdainfully.

"Stow it, you little twit! She's passed out! Now get a grip, both of you! Bloody hell. Good and evil both on my shoulders, and they still don't get it!"

Jack pointed a finger and the devil and angel.

"You.... and especially YOU with the trumpet--- bugger off!" he hissed.

The diminutive agents looked at each other and shrugged.

"Fool! I'm ashamed to even associate with you!" the little red devil flung at Jack. Then both the devil and angel vanished with their respective scents.

Jack woke up with a start.

Honour stirred...

"What did you say, Jack?" she murmured.

Jack kissed her cheek. "Nothing, love. Just a bad dream featuring two clueless midgets. Go back to sleep."

Honour snuggled against him and drifted off again.

Honour hiccuped and threw her arm and leg around Jack. "Just love me....." and passed out again.

"You aren't even..." He kissed her, and realized she passed out again.

"... awake. Just lovely. Here I have this beautiful woman wrapped around me..."

Honour snored softly.

"...sexy as she is right now... Bugger!"

He looked at her face, and found himself marvelling at her features.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered. Jack kissed her lips gently, and pulled her closer against him.

"But just one thing I have to ask.... please, don't make me fall in love with you."

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The sun was rising as Honour woke up. She lifted her head from the pillow and groaned. Nothing to eat except a few apples she had in the room and the three bottles of wine Jack had grabbed on their way to her room.

Jack heard her stir and woke up. Smiling, he said, "Well, good morning to you too. How did you sleep?"

"For only having a few hours of sleep and the headache from the wine you gave me? I've felt better. Do you realize we have stayed inside this room for two days?"

Jack laughed, "Time flies when you are having fun, yeah?"

She reached out and grabbed her dressing gown..

"Where do you think you are going? Come back here."

"I'm getting some water, do you want some?"

Jack reached down by the bed and pulled out a bottle of whiskey.

"I've got what I need right here. Aqua vitae."

"Water of life."

He grinned. "You know your latin."

She shrugged. "I AM educated, you know. And your capacity for alot of things amazes me. Have you always been this insatiable?"

"Always."

She brushed her hair and looked at her face in the mirror. Was that a blush? Or a glow? She caught Jack gazing at her in the reflection. Turning to him, she said, "Jack, are you going to tell me about those twenty-four chests of guilders?"

His mind raced. They had both been pretty well on their way to an alcohol nirvana.

How did she remember it? Briggs' words came back to haunt him.

"And don't you let some tavern wench get ye to yappin, neither!”

He scrambled for coolness.

"I think you misunderstood me. The contents of the chests contained various sundry items. Some wine, some spices...a bit of coffee."

"But I thought you said 'guilders.'"

He shook his head. "No, I said, 'spilled dirt.' Soneone didn't close the lids tightly."

He affected a cough.

"You know...dust bunnies."

She frowned. He continued, "If I said guilders, would I be in this backwater port of St Lawrence? No. I'd be in Havana or Kingston. Or spending it in Port Royal."

She didn't say anything.

"Alright, come back to bed and I wil tell you a bedtime story."

She pointed out the window.

"It's daylight."

"Aye, but this is a bed and I can tell you a story about a chest."

She sighed and let the dressing gown go.

She got back under the sheet and folded her arms.

"This had better be worth my while."

"Oh, I promise you--hasn't it been so far?"

He reached for her once more, she put her hand on his chest and whispered.

"Not again. Not till you tell me this story about a chest."

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Jack redirected his hand from the curve of Honour's hip to the tenderness of her face.

"Fair enough, darling. Here's a story of a fabled treasure. A couple of years ago, I heard a fantastic legend about a race that disappeared from these parts hundreds of years ago, possibly longer. Their real name is forgotten. The fellow who told me about them only referred to them in a hushed voice as 'Les Anciens'. The Ancients. The story goes that they abandoned their empire for whatever reason – war, famine, disease, something – and they left behind only a few traces of their existence. One is a golden chest containing one of their most important treasures. It's protected by a mechanism that prevents it from being opened unless you have the knowledge and the key to reveal its secrets.

"The thing is, it's no fable. The Ancients existed, I'm certain of it. And so does that chest. A naturalist named Armand LaFourche stumbled across one of their ruined cities a few years back. Studied the whole thing top to bottom, and even managed to crack their language after a fashion. In a crypt beneath a crumbling temple, he found the chest. He was going to try and open it himself, only it stolen from him before he could try. Those in the know say he kept meticulous notes should the chest ever turn up again. I happen have a reliable lead on where the chest is now, and word is LaFourche's journal is on the market. Once I have both, which will be only a matter of time now, I'll be rich beyond my wildest dreams. And trust me, I have some wild dreams. So, what do you think of that little story?"

Honour bit her lip as she considered his tale.

"You do realise how outlandish it all sounds, don't you? I mean, if he's already got the information, why doesn't this Armand LaFork--"

"LaFourche."

"Whatever. Why doesn't HE go after the treasure himself?"

"I should have known better than to open this up for questions," Jack laughed as he began to kiss her neck. She took him by the chin and pulled his face up to meet hers before he could get any further.

She repeated, "Why isn't he going after the treasure himself?"

"Because," sighed Jack, "the man is a lunatic. Stark raving mad, he is. His obsession with the Ancients and having that chest, only to lose it again, drove him over the edge. He's in no shape to go chasing after it. Or, more importantly to me, demand a share from whoever opens it. The best he can manage is to sit in his garden on Martinique mumbling to himself."

"So we're sailing to Martinique?” she said enthusiastically. “I've always wanted to go there!"

Jack stroked her silky hair. "I'm afraid not, my darling. Not right away, at any rate. I have some business to attend to in Tobago. After that is wrapped up, we'll be Martinique bound to buy the journal."

He gently caressed her almost alabaster skin. "All that will be left is to procure the golden chest. And speaking of treasured chests..."

Honour jumped out of bed, dragging the sheet with her.

He sighed and propped himself up on his elbow. "You're getting shy now? That sheet does absolutely nothing for you, love."

Jack smiled at her and patted the place in bed next to him. She ignored him.

"Oh, come on, my sweet. Is this about that wedding ring, or lack of one? I swear upon my sainted mother's grave that I shall have a gold ring slipped on your finger before the end of the week. I just need to sort through some Spanish treasure on my ship and--"

She drew the sheet around her tighter. "You intend to give me...leftovers? From your ill-gotten gain?"

Jack couldn't help but laugh. "Consider it my salary from my job. Are you ready for a sail upon El Lobo del Mar? As I said, I need to meet with an associate, Cade Jennings, in Tobago. He's there setting up a fresh enterprise. He's a good sort, I think you will like him. Think of it as a honeymoon cruise. Combining business with pleasure, yeah?"

Honour climbed back into bed and wrapped her arms around him. "I heard Tobago IS lovely this time of year..." she whispered lustily. But she stopped, and a curious look came over her. She looked at him and asked, "Just how old are you, Jack?"

"Thirty-four. And you?"

She smiled as seductively as she knew how and said, "I turned nineteen in April."

Jack's head hit the wall with a thud. He started laughing and couldn't stop.

"What's so funny?" she asked.

He thought of what Briggs would say. 'Cradle robber' would be the kindest thing.

"Nothing, my sweet. Nothing at all. Now...where were we?....."

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Honour rolled over and opened her eyes. She hit Jack in the head with a pillow. "You let me sleep most of the morning away! "

"You had quite the busy night, darling. And morning, too. I thought you could use your rest."

She stood up, dragging the sheet with her. "I've had nothing to eat for almost two days now except a few apples and a handful of grapes."

Jack's brow knitted. "Well, that's no good at all! You need to keep your strength up, as do I. Fancy a bite to eat? Even if it means leaving this nice warm bed?"

She scrambled on the floor, muttering, "I know they are here...somewhere."

He leaned over the side of the bed, a look of bemusement on his face as he admired her form. "What on earth are you looking for?"

Her face flamed with embarrassment. "Oh...nothing."

Jack held up his finger, her pantalets draped on it.

"Is this what you were looking for?"

Honour gasped in surprise and grabbed the garment off his finger.

"Yes, thank you! Would you afford me a bit of privacy while I put them back on?"

"Not a chance, dove," he smiled wickedly.

She shrugged, "Then enjoy the show, mate."

Jack settled back on the bed, making a small production of fluffing up his pillow before reclining.

"You know I will! But I do prefer you with those trappings on the floor where they belong."

She threw them in his face.

"Fine then. I'll go without. But I need food."

He pulled the pantalets off his head and placed them on the bed.

"I'm just teasing, darling. My preferences aside, I'd rather not have to get you out of the gaol for public lewdness and indecency. If it will make you feel better, I'll turn my back."

"it will make me feel better. Turn your back."

As she grabbed them and let the sheet slip, she caught his gaze in the mirror.

"You cheated!

Well, yeah!" he laughed. "I'm a pirate, remember?"

"Put the pillow over your head," demanded Honour as she moved out of range of the mirror's reflection. "And do be quick. I'm hungry!"

Jack sighed and picked up the pillow. "As you wish, my dear."

She came out of the alcove of her room wearing her chemise. "The drawstring is missing. And the bodice lacings are cut into little pieces. My skirt is ripped. What the hell happened?"

"Oh, um, that might have been me," he said sheepishly. "You were hopelessly knotted, and I wasn't in a patient mood..."

He held up his shirt, which was torn up the back.

"And neither were you, from the look of things."

"I think you caught yours on a nail. That's it. You caught it on a nail."

She looked at her hands and held them up."Do you honestly think these hands could rip through your shirt?"

Jack got out of bed and walked to her. She gave him a wary look as he took her hands in his.

"These look like the hands of a woman capable of doing anything she puts her mind to," he said with a gentle smile.

Honour found herself blushing again. "You're still naked."

Jack looked down. "So I am !"

"I'm dressed, after a fashion," she said. "Shouldn't you be, too? My stomach is rumbling like an oncoming storm."

"Can we get Amos to send up some stew and bread?"

With me looking like this?" she asked. "Whatever will he think?"

"That you had one hell of a good night?"

Honour frowned and shook her head. "I may as well send you down naked, then."

"I like that idea less. Wait! I've got an idea..."

Jack picked up his belt and untied a thin leather lanyard from it. "This should work nicely!"

"What is that thing?"

"New lacing for your bodice, love!"

"But, it's too short."

"We improvise."

"You're mad, you know that?"

"Yeah," he grinned. "Ain't it great?"

"Would you at least put your pants on?" she said in exasperation. "At least be half dressed and mad."

"Oh, fine. Prude."

It's just that you are a....umm..uh..."

"Distraction?" he replied.

Her face turned bright red.

He ran his fingers through her golden tresses, and began to pull her into a kiss.

"Oh no, you don't!" she protested, her face flaming from embarrassment and a bit of desire. "Clothes, laces, food. In that order. I won't have you undressing me again without a meal."

"You drive a hard bargain, love."

"And you're a hard man--"

Jack's eyebrows went up. "Why, thank you!"

"-- TO DEAL WITH!" she yelped, and pushed him away from her. "Just get dressed, damn it!"

She opened up an armoire and pulled out a summer frock in sky blue. "This IS my room so I do have clothes here. Forget the bodice."

He held up his shirt. "All fine for you. But what about me?"

She opened up a drawer and pulled out a man's shirt. "Here. I sleep in this sometimes."

He sniffed it. "Smells like scotch. Whose is it?"

She grabbed it back. "It's mine. Do you want it or not?"

He grabbed it back and pulled it over his head.

"It fits. I'll take it. Smells familiar...."

Her mind went back to another place and time. She murmured, "What do you expect when you work in a tavern?"

No need to mention that the shirt belonged to James Blake.

And good whiskey was his vice.

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Honour and Jack emerged from the tavern and headed towards the small inn down the street.

"Do you realize this is the first time I have seen you in broad daylight?" she said.

He laughed and spread his arms. "And dost thou like what thou sees, fair maiden?"

She stood there with her hands on her hips, surveying him up and down. "You look taller in the dark."

"Horizontal or vertical?"

She blushed and slapped his chest. "You are a bad man, Captain Wolfe. But come on--I am starving!"

He turned her around and said, "No. No tavern. I have a better idea."

He marched her towards the dock.

"Where are we going? To the Sea Biscuit? They have wonderful cheesy...."

"You'll see!"

He led her to the dock and proudly pointed. "The best food I can think of is right in my cabin."

She put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. "Right. Now I see. You don't have to get out of bed to dine."

He laughed and put his arm around her waist, marching her towards the ship.

"There is roast pork there and fresh vegetables. And a wonderful outlaying of wine. And I also get to introduce you to my best friend."

"I met him. The bemused gentleman that was trying to talk some sense into you at the tavern. So it seems I am not your type."

"What do you mean? You are a female and you breathe."

"I caught the words 'not Spanish'. So you like them dusky and exotic."

He put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. "Why are you just now mentioning this?"

She started to speak. "Because...never mind."

"Because you were having too much fun to worry about details?"

From above, a voice yelled, " 'Bout time ye got yer arse back to the ship, Jack!"

Jack shielded his eyes. "Aye, Josiah. Permission to come aboard?"

The disembodied voice shouted back, "Since when did ye ask my permission on anything? But since ye did, ye have to say, "Briggs, may I?"

"Briggs, may I?"

The voice yelled back, "No."

"Sorry--coming on board anyways!"

Jack turned to Honour. "That would be Briggs."

"The gentleman I met last night."

"The very one."

"The one who tried to lure you back to the ship?"

"Briggs isn't subtle enough to lure, darling. He came right out and said keeping company with you wasn't a wise idea."

Honour stayed silent for a couple steps. "And was he right?"

"Maybe not," he said with a smile. "Of course, he'd never agree."

Jack and Honour appeared at the top of the deck after crossing the gangplank.

"Aye, I knew you would show up after the customary two days and....oh. Hello."

Briggs looked from Honour to Jack and then said, "Shall I fix the guest room up?" A crewman yelled, "Or the nursery?"

Briggs turned to the crewman. "Shush, Connors. She's not that young."

Honour felt her face flame red. Jack threw his head back and laughed, Grabbing her hand he held his and hers up.

"Look!"

"So..what am I supposed to be looking at?"

"Oh. Well....um..uh...there's supposed to be wedding rings there."

The pipe Briggs had been packing with tobacco clattered to the deck.

"Ye... ye what?"

"Mar-ried," said Jack slowly, emphasizing the syllables. "You know, when the minister says a lot of vow thingies and the man and woman say 'I do'. Ring a bell?"

Briggs snapped, "Aye, I've been there...remember?"

"Just making sure. And yes, I know this is a big surprise for you..."

"Damn straight it is," Briggs muttered.

"... as it was for us. Isn't that right, dear?"

Honour looked from Jack to Briggs and could feel the colour rising in her face. "Well...um..yes...especially when you don't remember doing it..I mean the getting married part. The rest...well, um...."

Briggs shook his head as if to clear away the confusion. "Married?? How... When did ye go off and do this?"

"A couple hours after you went back to the ship," said Jack. "And trust me, the magistrate was just as surprised as anyone when we woke him up."

"I knew I shouldn't have let ye out of my sight," Briggs grumbled.

Honour wasn't sure why the quartermaster was so dismayed, but she was sure of one thing; she didn't care for the gruff man much.

She edged closer to Jack and put her hand on his arm. She suddenly felt self-conscious, like a bug under a microscope.

Jack laughed, "Yeah, you could have been the best man. As it was...well, I was in a bit of a hurry."

Briggs took a deep breath and exhaled it through clenched teeth. Honour pressed ever closer to Jack as he fixed her in his gaze.

"If it's all the same to ye, little miss--"

Something sparked within Honour, and she found her voice. "That's MRS, Mister Briggs. MRS Jack Wolfe. Please get used to it."

Josiah blinked as if he'd been slapped. "Aye," he said quietly. "Aye, Mrs. Wolfe. I'll be sure to remember that. But if I might be havin' a word in private with your husband, I'd be right appreciative."

Jack turned to Honour and said,"Why don't you scoot to my cabin, darling? I'll be there shortly. I'll have the cook fix us a delightful lunch."

She looked back at Jack and frowned. "If you are sure..."

"Of course I am sure. Now scoot!" he said as he playfully slapped her bottom.

Honour jumped a little at the swat, and turned back to her husband. The frown was quickly turning to frustration. "Fine! I'll wait for you there. Just one question?"

"And what is that, my dove?"

"WHERE is your cabin? I've never been on this ship before." She folded her arms and looked at him expectantly. "And I certainly wouldn't know where a captain's cabin would be." All right, that was a fib. But he didn't need to know everything.

"You're right," said Jack with a smile. "That was thoughtless of me. Josiah, I'll be back after I show Honour to my - our cabin. You brood and get worked up for when I return in a couple minutes."

Jack guided her down the long, darkened companionway to his cabin, and opened the door. As Honour attempted to walk through the door, Jack grabbed her around the waist and said, "Oh, no you don't! I do believe it is my duty to carry you over the threshold, as it were."

She put her arms around him and gave a slight smile as he lifted her up.

“This, my love, is hallowed ground aboard ship. None dare enter save those I've given permission. Now it's our hallowed ground.”

He set Honour down and she took in the captain's quarters. The great cabin was spacious, about twenty-five feet wide and twelve feet deep. There was a large four-poster bed to starboard. The coverlet looked to be of a soft silk. Her eyebrow raised as she detected a woman's touch in the surroundings. Could it be that Jack had 'previous company' that had been a little deeper relationship?

A six-foot long oak dining table that could easily double as a meeting table was in the middle of the space. To the side was a generously wide desk, messy with charts and instruments. Obviously it was Jack's private space. On the forward bulkhead there was a massive bookcase, stuffed with all manner of books, maps, and charts. Two evenly spaced oil lamps hung from the overhead. Plenty of shuttered windows to provide light most of the time, whatever direction the ship was heading.

Jack took her hand and kissed it, then drew her close and kissed that one spot on her neck that always sent thrills through her body. "I shall not be long. Just long enough to get Briggs straightened."

"You mean straightened out?"

"Either one, love. I think you could tell he's pretty bent out of shape at the moment."

Honour's face clouded. "Yes, and I don't understand why he's so cross with me. He's never met me before! Is he always so gruff?"

Jack stroked her cheek. "He's not cross with you, darling. He's cross with me. I ran off and did something he thinks is wildly irresponsible, and this is his way of letting me know he doesn't approve."

"But... YOU'RE the captain. Doesn't your approval matter over his?"

"You tell HIM that, love!" laughed Jack as he blew her a kiss and closed the cabin door behind him.

He headed up to the quarterdeck where Briggs was standing at the rail looking off into the horizon. Jack leaned against the rail and crossed his arms.

"So, Josiah, are you not going to congratulate me on my nuptials?"

Briggs blasted, "Jack, what was in your head? Were ye so full of whiskey that ye weren't thinking?"

Jack's face turned a bit red as he said, "You want to know the truth, Josiah? She... wouldn't!"

"Wouldn't--what?"

Jack said, "She said we had to be married first."

Josiah looked dumbfounded. "A tavern wench that was a VIRGIN?"

At that Jack was a bit uncomfortable. "Well..um...I guess she wasn't after all. But she was serious and said she wouldn't until we were properly wed. So... well, I wed her."

"Ye married her. Ye married a wench just to bed her? JACK WOLFE? Just who was doin' the seducing, Captain? Her? Or you? Because what it is looking like, is that ye were roped in."

"Well, I wouldn't exactly say that...."

Josiah said darkly, "I should have stayed with ye, I should have. I saw the looks between ye. Just how much whiskey did ye drink, Jack?"

"Well, I think I quit counting after the third bottle... or was it the fourth?"

Briggs retorted, "I hope that little bit o' heaven on earth was worth it, Jack."

"What do you mean?"

Josiah said hotly, "I mean to say is she worth all that booty we took from the Dutch merchant ship? Dangnubbit, Jack! Twenty-seven chests of guilders..."

"Maybe she just wants the calico. You know, for dresses..." Jack interjected.

Josiah slammed his fist down on the rail. "If ye were a doxy, would ye want calico or guilders?"

Jack's jaw tightened as he said in a low voice, "Choose your words carefully, Mr. Briggs..."

"Think, Jack! THINK! Can ye buy guilders with calico? Because if ye had guilders, ye can buy all the calico ye want!"

"Well, somehow I can't see Honour wearing calico..."

Josiah added, "And the guilders may be the lesser of your troubles."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean to tell ye, that as yer dearly beloved, she may now be entitled to a share of the booty we take from here on out! And the ship! Community property, that's the law of old Mother England! Commonwealth, protectorate, or empire, it's all the same. Half be hers."

"She wouldn't do that..."

Josiah walked off but flung over his shoulder, "That's as maybe, but I'd put that relic of a crate under lock and key. And never -- EVER – tell your glowing bride about it."

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"Josiah, you worry far too much," Jack pandered. "There's more than enough baubles and nonesuch in my cabin to keep her from a crate marked 'Sundries'. I'd wager she's more interested in my desk than some ordinary box. I've not disclosed one bit of information what would make her wise to the Ancient's treasure. I even told her I'm still looking for the thing. Besides, if I can't open the bloody thing, how could she?"

"Aye, Jack. Maybe so," Briggs sighed. Josiah felt in his bones that Jack was making a grave mistake, but he'd not go against his captain and friend.

Jack drank in the salt air, and felt renewed by it.

"Josiah," he spoke in a low voice. "May I ask a favour?"

"Ask, and I'll grant."

"I'd appreciate it if, in the future, you address Honour with the respect she's due as my wife. She's convinced you're cross with her, and I know that's not the case. You're aggravated as hell with me, and she got the brunt of it."

Josiah coloured a bit. "Well, Jack, I'm just tryin' to look out for what's best for ye. I mean, seriously! You married her after what? Three hours, at best? What do you really know about her?"

Jack sighed chuckled and turned toward his friend. "I know she's a hell of a good time, that's sure enough! Look, Josiah... I'm not a young man any more. I'm over thirty, I'm on top of my game as a pirate, but what's next? If I slow down, I'll get overtaken by some young buck what fancies himself a better pirate. And he might be right. Maybe it's time to settle down and make babies rather than take ships and settlements."

Briggs' eyes darkened. "Captain Jack Wolfe," he said solemnly, "ye be the commander of this ship and crew! Aye, we've been friends for round about 15 years. And this is the first time I've heard ye talk of packin' it in. What's that woman done to ye?"

Jack shot him a wicked grin. "You really want me to answer that question? My friend, she can do things with her--"

"All right, that's quite enough!" Briggs laughed. "I get the idea. But really, Jack. How serious are ye about this dalliance?"

"It's just that, my friend. A dalliance. I've never been married before. Now I've got that under my belt. In more ways than one!"

Briggs snorted at the joke.

"We'll see what happens," continued Jack. "It all depends on how long she amuses me."

"Seein' ye walk up here, she's amusin' ye quite a bit! Can't recall the last time I seen a woman put that much steam in your stride."

"I dunno... you think she's a keeper?"

"Jack, me lad, I know ye too well. There ain't no such thing as a keeper! She is a lovely thing, though. Let her down easy, yeah?"

Jack chuckled, but gave no answer. "See to the crew, my friend. We'll set sail for Tobago come first light. I want to know how Jennings is coming along with the smuggling operation there. And let me know should we sight prize sail. I'd like some more swag in El Lobo's belly before we finish the next four day's travel. Just so people remember who I am. Oh! And have supper sent to my cabin. Have the cook do up something nice. We've still got a pig or two, right? Have that sent, and some potatoes."

"Aye, Jack. Consider it done!"

Jack clapped his friend on the shoulder and went below. He reached the door to his cabin, and hesitated.

"She really is a keeper. And I do enjoy her company..." he thought. He shook his head hard and shrugged off the thought.

He knocked twice, turned the knob and opened the door. Honour was sitting on the bed with a curious look on her face.

"Is everything all right, Jack?" she asked.

"Everything is wonderful! We're headed for Tobago, my darling. We'll set sail come the morning. If we're lucky we'll take a prize or two before we make landfall at my nest. For now, settle back. My crew are at your beck and call."

He sat on the bed beside her. "I've sent for food. Roast piglet and potatoes. We should have it within the couple hours or so. May I get you something to drink?"

Honour stood up quickly, just about knocking Jack off the bed. "Set sail? In the morning? I can't! I have to go back to my job as tavern wench. And I have no clothes with me. I left them in my room."

Jack said, "No, you don't. You're Mrs. Jack Wolfe now. You don't have to do anything about that tavern wench job. And as far as clothes...."

Jack walked over to the armoire and opened it. "There are plenty of clothes in here for you."

Honour's face turned red and she walked over to the armoire.

"Are you out of your mind?"

Jack looked surprised. "Is there a problem?"

"Problem? You want to know if there is a problem?"

She grabbed a dress and threw it on his head. He swatted at the silk that swirled around his shoulders.

Her face flamed. "You expect me to wear a dress that belonged to one of your--your----your--"

Jack ripped the silk away from his face and said, "Friends of the female persuasion?"

"More like one of the strumpets for hire! Look at this dress! Cheap! And the smell! Roses? Really? And cheap ones at that! And there's this one!"

She picked up one in a hideous purple. "She must have been eating without the use of any utensils!"

She shook the dress at him. "Besides her lack of taste, look how she dribbled food on this one!"

"Well, she was a wild one, that..."

Honour shot him a warning look.

Jack sighed heavily. "Hell, it's only clothes..."

She crossed her arms and said, "I refuse to wear any dress that belonged to another woman. Particularly one who..."

"You sound more like a noble woman than a tavern wench, love. Especially with the high and mighty bit."

She clammed up. No need for him to know what her background really was. It would only lead to questions.

Questions that she did not want to answer.

He put his arms around her and nuzzled her neck.

"Now, what would you REALLY like, my love? We have an hour before the roasted pig and I---"

"I want to go shopping."

"What?"

"Shopping. If I have to go to Tobago, I need new clothes. And there are a few things I want to pick up in my room."

"I'll go with you then."

She kissed him quickly and said, "Now, darling, you would just be bored out of your mind waiting for me to shop. I'll be back within the hour. The shopkeepers know my size."

"Really? How would they know your size unless you frequented them, you being a tavern maid and all?"

She felt her face getting red. "Well, some of them come into the tavern with their husbands. They have taken a liking to me. And being of a smaller size, they used me for their 'model' to try the dresses on."

She looked at him, hoping he bought the lie.

He sighed and said, "I can see that. How much do you need?"

She mentioned a modest sum. Jack gave her double and said, "Buy what your heart desires, love. Meanwhile, I shall look through the booty for that ring with three emeralds I promised."

She gave him a deep kiss and then smiled. "I shall be back with an hour. Then I shall be ravenous!"

She gave him a grin but closed the door before he could detain her further.

As she walked through the ship, she felt someone's eyes on her. She turned in time to see Briggs hurriedly looking back over the deck. His face was grim.

"Oh, well. Let Jack deal with him," she thought with a toss of her blonde mane.

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"Hello, Amos!"

He looked up.

"Well, look what the cat dragged in."

She poured herself an ale. Amos snatched it out of her hand and replaced it with a glass of milk.

"Hey!"

"I still think you are too young to drink that stuff. And if you are a good little girl, I'll let you have a chocolate torte."

"Alright. That's better. I'm sorry I didn't come in this morning but I have a good reason."

Amos crossed his arms.

"I'd love to hear YOUR side of the story. I already got a note he sent down."

"What do you mean?"

"How do you think that plate of fruit and cheese got to your room? You think the fruit fairy brought it?"

"Well...."

"Well nothing! He stopped Malcolm in the hall requesting a light repast. Mal peeked in and you were sound asleep."

"Now, wasn't that thoughtful of Jack...."

"He sent a note down telling me you were occupied and with it was a fifty-pound note to cover any 'inconvenience and loss of revenue' by your being 'indisposed.' So when does he ship out so we can get back to what passes for normal around here?"

"Well, that may be a problem..."

"What do you mean, 'a problem'? He's not leaving by the end of the week?"

She held up her hand.

"So what am I looking at?"

"Oh! We keep doing that. There is supposed to be a ring there."

"Come again?"

"We kind of got married Saturday night. Well, technically it was Sunday morning. Do you think it is a sin to...you know...on the Sabbath?"

Amos sat down with a thud.

"I don't believe it."

"What, that I got married or that I may have broken some sort of commandment? Would that be one of the ones that Moses forgot to pick up when he smashed the tablets?"

He shook his head.

"I knew I should have made Kate take that table."

She held her finger up. 'You forget--I wasn't serving, I was dealing. And that brute Donovan slapped me."

"Do you realize what you have done, MIssy? Who you have married?"

"I married Captain Jack Wolfe and----"

"No, you married Captain MAD Jack Wolfe. He's not mad as in angry, he's mad as in crazy.

It was Honour's turn to be surprised. "You know him?"

"Know him? Everyone knows him! He's a legend in the Caribbean. Rumoured to front alot of the smuggling operation and black market trade in these waters from a remote location. Some say St. Maarten, some say Antigua. Trinidad...Tobago..."

Honour cupped her chin in her hand. "You don't say. And now I am Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe. How about that!"

Amos' face darkened. "Heard he has his hands in a few sporting houses too."

"Amos, you run a sporting house. I was dealing, remember?"

"Not that kind of sporting. I'm talking cathouse."

Honour looked puzzled. "I don't take Jack for a pet type of person...."

Amos exhaled loudly and exploded, "He's a bordello fellow!"

Realization came over Honour.

"You mean....?"

"Yes, I do mean. So you had best get your little rudder back in this tavern, Missy. Just forget about this whole 'till death or whimsy do us part.'

She cut herself a piece of the chocolate torte and licked the knife.

Amos took it away from her and she made a face at him.

"Really, Amos, you think he's going to employ me? I'm his WIFE!"

Amos muttered, "Stranger things have happened. I've heard alot of stories."

"Well, tell me one."

Amos thought and then continued to mop the bar. "Just you never mind there. Before you become a tavern story yourself. But I think you already have. Getting married in less than three hours."

Honour picked up her plate and put it in the basin behind the bar.

"Please don't worry, Amos. I'll come back to visit regular. When we get back from Tobago. And then I can come back to work. Jack won't mind, I know it. Can I borrow Lucas and Samuel to help me with some of my trunks? I don't want to leave them here."

Amos nodded. "Best you pay them a bit extra. I know the size of your chest."

Honour stifled a giggle.

Amos frowned. "You know what I mean."

As Honour turned to walk up the stairs, Amos called out, "Get him to tell you the story of the nuns and the Mother Superior and see how well you sleep at night!"

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"Were you going to try to sneak away without saying goodbye to me?"

Honour turned around.

"Kate!"

"Amos told me."

Honour sighed. "I wanted to tell you myself."

Kate crossed her arms.

"Well?"

"Well...what?"

Kate leaned forward. "How is he?"

"He's fine."

"You know what I mean."

"Kate! Do you expect me to kiss and tell?"

"Yes. I do. You never held back before. You know....girl talk."

"This is different."

Kate brushed back Honour's hair and grinned.

"He's a biter, I see.

"More of a nibbler."

"Better not let Amos see those suckerbites on your neck then. You know how protective he is of us."

Honour opened up the armoire and began pulling out dresses.

"I just couldn't see leaving them behind. Some of them were really quite pricey."

Kate sat on the bed.

"Do you think you will have occasion to wear them? After all, you will be on a ship."

"We have to make port sometime. And I want to look my best. Do you want this lavender one?"

Kate took it. "You know I do. I always liked it."

Honour bent over and started flinging boots out. "Well, there are enough boots here to make a cobbler weep with joy."

She began folding the dresses up and putting them in trunks.

Kate looked over.

"What have we here?"

She picked up the remnants of her lacings.

"And this too?"

Kate held up the chemise with the drawstring out.

"Oooh, here it is. The drawstring. With teeth marks on it. What the heck was going on here anyways?"

Honour snatched it away from Kate.

"Just....alright! So he is a very impatient person!"

Kate laughed. "It sounds like it. And no one had seen you in three days but Malcolm heard your voice when he was in the hallway. You didn't know it but he put a piece of paper in the doorjamb to see when it would fall out."

"He didn't!"

"Yes, he did. He wanted to see how long before you surfaced."

Honour felt her face get red. "What do you expect? It was my wedding night."

"Nights. More than one."

Honour giggled. "Alright so we celebrated a bit longer than necessary. But we are going to Tobago for our honeymoon and then we will be back."

Kate looked out the casement window.

"It's best you are leaving now."

"What?"

"Look."

Honour joined Kate at the bedroom window.

"Is---is that who I think it is?"

Kate nodded. "The Golden Phoenix just pulled into port. And Captain Jonas Corwin will be coming into the town before the night falls."

Honour hastily threw her clothes into a trunk with speed. Her face was pale.

Kate said softly, "You are safe, sweetheart. After all, you married Mad Jack Wolfe."

"You know of him?"

"Honour, every tavern wench in St. Lawrence knows the tales. And you will be out of St. Lawrence by the time the sun reaches noon. I'll keep an eye on things and if Corwin starts asking questions, we will spread the rumour that you married a Spaniard and are now living in Cadiz. That should keep him at bay."

Honour hugged Kate.

"Thank you, Kate."

"'Thank you for...what?"

"For everything. If it wasn't for you, I would be dead by that bastard's sword."

Kate hugged her back. "You would have done the same for me. Keep in touch and visit often. And give that big quartermaster a nice warm kiss from me!"

Honour laughed. "I think he would rather get those regards from you."

Kate put her hand on the doorknob and said over her shoulder, "Find out if the Mother Superior story really did involve a whip, three monkeys and a piece of fruit."

Honour said, "Wait...what?" as Kate closed the door.

Suddenly the door opened again and Kate pointed to the curtain rod.

"You may want to take your pantalets down from there," and closed the door.

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Honour took one last look around the room. She had buried the two duffel bags deep in the bottom of one trunk and covered it with a black velvet cloak. Lucas came to the room and said, "Amos said ye be leavin' us, little lassie. I shall sorely miss ye."

She gave him a hug and said, "As I shall miss you, Lucas. But you never know what happens in this life. You never know where life will take you if you don't take chances. And working in this establishment dealing cards, I learned you have to know when to take a chance and lay your money down. Because the turn of the card can mean a fortune lost or found. Even in matters of the heart. "

He grinned and said, " 'eard ye bagged a big one, Missy. Ye be Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe, ye be!"

She laughed and said, "Honour Wolfe. Now there is a name with a certain panache!"

She looked under the bed one last time and pulled out a pair of boots. 'Wonder who they belong to?'

She shrugged and handed them to Lucas.

"Here, Lucas. Wear them in good health!"

She walked downstairs and Amos stood there with a woebegone look on his face. He faltered a bit as he said, "I am going to be missing you, Honour. A lot of good times here."

She gave him a hug and said, "Don't look so sad, Amos. I shall be back to work before too long. We may even someday buy a sugar plantation here."

"To raise little pirates?"

"Perish the thought, Amos! Perish the thought! But one more friend I need to take with me. He is the real reason I came back."

Amos reached behind the bar and pressed something into her hand.

"What's this?"

"That, little puss, is the fifty-pound note that your husband---Lord, I choke on that word!--gave to me. I want you to have it."

"Amos, no. I couldn't----"

He interrupted her. "You keep that money and you keep it hidden. If you ever get stranded somewhere, I want you to take that money and get passage back here to us."

She looked down at the note.

"Amos, that isn't---"

"Yes, it is. It will give me peace of mind knowing that you can at least come back here to your family."

Honour felt her eyes fill with tears. Whether it was the touching gesture of Amos or the enormity of what she did, she felt like she was going to cry at any minute.

Amos cleared his throat.

"Now you just consider it a little wedding present from me. Something you can use in the future if you need it. Like an annulment."

Honour threw her arms around Amos' neck and whispered, "Have I ever told you how much you mean to me, Amos? All of you?"

He disentangled her from his neck and said softly, "As we feel the same, darlin'. You keep yourself safe and keep your wits about you. And you save that money."

She tucked the note in what she considered the safest bank in the world.

"I'll be leaving now. If I see Kate, I just know I will be weeping."

"You taking the pooch, I assume?"

She smiled through her tears, "Yes. Can you imagine me without Muir? Or him without me?"

She went to the stable and whistled low. Her best friend came bounding out the door.

"Muir! You know I couldn't leave you behind!"

The wolf-dog that had been her constant companion jumped on her, running around her in circles.

"Are you ready for an adventure?"

He barked in affirmation.

She scratched him behind his ears.

"It's a big ship. Just as big as..."

Her voice trailed off as she looked to the harbour. She just couldn't quite bring herself to say the words that always stuck in her throat.

Neptune Rising.

Honour shook her head as if to clear the thought away. She had been so--occupied--that she had pushed the memory of Rhys Morgan down into her heart.

But seeing Muir excited about a sailing adventure brought back the memory of a dream unfulfilled.

She straightened up and said with determination, "Then let's get going! I'll introduce you to Jack. And you had better be on your best behaviour or I shall leave you with Amos. Not that you would mind. He spoils you rotten anyway."

She opened the door and headed back to the ship.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kate came into the tavern and sighed.

"Don't you be giving me that sad-eyed look, Missy."

She put her tray down.

"I won't. But it won't be the same without Honour here. But it is good she is leaving now and under the protection of Captain Wolfe. Guess who just pulled into port?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"No. You can't mistake that golden masthead. I imagine his crew and himself will be in here before nightfall. And she's gone back to Wales. Right, Amos?"

He nodded.

"Never to be seen again. At least that is the story for him."

"Think she is happy, Amos?"

He shrugged. "For the moment. She's got that glow---you know---it's good for the circulation."

Kate laughed and Amos said hotly, "I've been around, you know!"

He continued to wipe the tavern counter with his towel.

"I took a bit of insurance, you know."

"How so?"

"I gave her Wolfe's fifty-pound note for passage back."

"Amos!"

He looked serious. "There are stories about Wolfe. Short attention span. And then it is on to the next."

"But I don't think he has ever been married before?"

"So?"

"So he won't leave her stranded."

Amos put his hands on the bar. "What makes you so sure?"

"He loves her?"

Amos broke out in bitter laughter. "More like she is an amusing plaything for the moment. A munequita. But I took measures to bring her back. Let's hope she comes back the way she left us."

"What do you mean?"

Amos put his hands on the bar. "Let's hope she doesn't come back standing behind a wee bairn."

Kate looked at him with understanding.

"And if she is?"

Amos replied with determination, "I'll marry her myself."

Kate sighed. "Let's hope it never comes to that. Because hope is about all we can give her."

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Jack walked out onto the main deck with his arms full of the dresses Honour refused to wear. He was humming a tune as Briggs approached.

“Your wife went ashore a little while ago, in a real hurry. She was wearin' a smile, so I'm guessin' that means she'll be back. Here, what's all this ye be luggin' about?”

“Mrs. Wolfe disapproves of the current wardrobe choices,” Jack said with a laugh as he shoved the pile of dresses into Briggs' arms. “She's gone ashore to fetch her belongings and do some last minute shopping.”

Briggs spat out some lace that had found its way into his mouth. “What the devil is wrong with these here dresses?” he asked as he stuffed them into an empty barrel. “They look fine to me!”

“They're used, and they aren't hers,” smiled Jack.

Briggs thought for a moment. “Aye, that would be a problem, I suppose. So just like that, she's off on a shoppin' spree? You're bein' awfully solicitous of your new lady.”

“And why shouldn't I?” asked Jack. “She is my wife, after all.”

“It's goin' to take some gettin' used to that notion. For us, and every doxy in any port we drop anchor at!”

“More for the rest of the men, and cheaper for me,” chuckled Jack. “By the way, did those plans Cade was supposed to have delivered ever show up?”

“Aye, first thing this mornin'. They're waiting in your cabin. I swear, Jack, settin' up a smugglin' operation of this size right on the Spaniard's doorstep, it's an inspired bit of madness. Mendoza will go on a rampage if he ever finds out.”

“Our old friend Mendoza has enough to worry about. Spain has overextended herself in the New World, and every other nation is chipping away at her holdings,” Jack explained. “We have a good business arrangement with the governor of Barbados, and this will give us that much more merchandise to supply their needs. It will be even easier for us to hunt the entire passage between Barbados and Tobago now, and we'll have a veritable navy to do it with. I think Jennings is ready to take control of things now. He's a smart one, and loyal, at least to me.” He smiled broadly. “This might even free me up to pursue other things now.”

Briggs laughed. “Other things? As in that pretty new wife of your'n? What are ye plannin' to do, chase her about your plantation? Or are ye talkin' about all them tots ye're lookin' to raise?”

“Maybe both!” laughed Jack heartily. He clapped his friend on the shoulder. “Come on, let's get a look at those plans.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Honour reached the docks, Lucas in tow with two other men carrying her trunks.

"Missy, which ship is the one?"

She pointed to the largest one. "That one there. El Lobo del Mar."

She reached down and petted her companion since she was a young girl. "Muir, look! It's as grand a ship as the Neptune Rising."

The wolf-dog barked and she laughed.

Honour walked across the gangplank, the three men following her. As she led them down the companionway and towards the captain's cabin, she paused, hearing voices. All of a sudden, Honour felt out of place. Like a guest on her husband's ship. Quietly she knocked on the door.

"Come in."

She opened it and saw Jack and Briggs poring over huge sheets of papers and maps. Briggs looked up, his finger still on the map and pointing to a spit of land.

"..now he's set things up so we can..."

Jack had left Briggs in mid-thought as he crossed over to Honour, put his arms around her and kissed her warmly.

A loud, impatient sigh filled the room.

Jack looked over his shoulder and said, "Hold that thought, Josiah."

To Honour he asked, "Did you get everything you need?"

She smiled and said, "I surely did. I picked up only a few things and the seamstress had some dresses she had used as samples that fit me perfectly, so I struck a good bargain with her."

She did not want to reveal she had the dresses from her previous marriage. And if she had her way, Jack would never know about the past. Or who she really was.

A tavern wench named Honour Bright suited her just fine.

She slipped free from his embrace and said quietly, "I think your Mr. Briggs is eager to get back to whatever you were talking about. I'll just unpack."

She turned to Lucas and paid him in coins. "Thank you, Lucas. And thanks to Sam and Henry for helping."

Lucas gave her a grin and tipped his hat. "Aye, Missy. Barbados just ain't gonna be the same without ye."

After they had left, she opened the trunk and then opened the chest of drawers. Jack's things were already in there. She asked, "Dear, are you using these drawers?"

He smiled up at her and said, "Not at all. Just move my things over there."

The quartermaster couldn’t believe what he was hearing. No one was ever allowed to touch anything that belonged to Captain Jack Wolfe.

Briggs said tightly, "Now, as I was sayin’, Jack; the harbour will be protected to the east by--"

"Honour, darling, do you have enough space?"

She said, "I think so."

She walked over to the armoire and flung open the doors. Opening up one trunk, she began to shake out the clothes and hang them up. Jack watched her adoringly.

Briggs tapped a ruler loudly on the table. Jack tore his eyes away from his wife.

"Oh! Sorry, Briggs. Where were we?"

"As I was sayin’, is that we’ve got good protection on the harbour from--"

"Honour? Did you get anything to eat in port?"

She shook her head no. "I wanted to eat dinner with you."

He reached over to the wine rack. "I have a nice Madeira here for dinner and---"

Josiah rolled up the maps and gathered them up in his arms. "Tell ye what, Jack. We’ll talk about this when ye ain’t so... distracted," he said tersely. “I’ll take me leave so ye can get the lass settled in.”

Briggs let the door close loudly as he walked out. All he heard was Jack whispering and a woman's soft laughter.

Josiah stomped back to his quarters, maps and plans under his arm and him breathing fire.

“Damn! She's done bewitched ye, she has.”

Briggs was fit to be tied as he closed the door to his cabin. "Damn it all," he muttered. "Somethin’ this big and all his idea, ye think he’d at least have a passin’ interest about the bloody details. Bewitched for certain, he is!”

Briggs was used to Jack's exasperating style of playing things fast and loose to the end, but never like this. He looked at the stack of charts on his desk and sighed heavily. Reaching into his sea chest, he pulled out a bottle filled with rum and set about settling his nerves.

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