The Pirate's Lady
The Pirate's Lady
Captain Marco Dante was captured and sentenced to hang two years ago, but he escaped before his punishment was carried out. Now he's come back to the woman whose memory kept him alive those long months in prison. Arianne had been his grand passion, but he failed to see how much she meant to him until it was too late. Can he recapture her heart? Or has he lost her forever?
Arianne never imagined she’d see her notorious pirate lover again. Though her heart sings with joy at his return, she knows he hasn't come back for her but for the treasure he left behind. She agrees to help him find it, but can her heart withstand one more adventure with him?
The Pirate's Lady
“I’ve come for what’s mine.”
The voice came from behind. She hadn’t heard footsteps approach. The rolling waves crashing on the shore and the stars twinkling in a black velvet sky had lulled Arianne into a dreamy trance.
Her back stiffened at the sound of the voice. She tried to estimate how far away he stood from her position kneeling in the sand without turning to see. Only a few steps she reckoned. Her hand crept to the sword on her belt. She gripped the handle, comforted by the leather covering the sturdy carved wood. The blade was sharp and deadly.
“What makes you think to find it here?”
Now she heard it, what she should have been on guard for earlier; the crunch of sand under boot. He walked with slow, measured steps. She refused to leap to her feet to face him. He had caught her unawares. She’d not let it happen again.
“Because, Love, you are here.”
She inhaled sharply and held her breath for several long seconds.
She’d thought to never see him again. Indeed, she’d heard he’d been caught by the British and sentenced to hang. What was he doing here?
With the help of a moonlit sky, his black boots stepped into view. Her gaze traveled upward, from the muscled limbs covered by breeches to a waistcoat and long brown coat with a loosely-laced plain linen shirt peaking from beneath. His sword was strapped to his belt and along his wrists dangled bracelets of gold and silver. There were other weapons upon his person as well; two flintlocks maybe more, at least a half dozen daggers of various shapes and sizes, some hidden and some in plain view.
The jewelry on his hand sparkled in the moonlight. She spied the ring she had given him. A treasure obtained from her dearly departed father.
At last, she pulled her gaze to his face. Her heart pounded. Warm shivers danced along her skin.
Black hair hung to his shoulders, undone from a short queue. His strong chin still held the scar she remembered. His cheeks were clean shaven, a rarity since most often he was weeks at sea and keen to let his beard grow free.
. And then she focused on his eyes. Blue eyes the color of the ocean on a clear summer day met hers. The bluest she’d ever seen on a man. Her knees grew weak.
“Are you a ghost, Marco?”
“Nay, Love. Death has laid no claim to me yet.”
“You were to hang.”
“A few inmates sympathized with my dire circumstances and unfair treatment He smirked. “They rectified the matter by seeing fit to free me of that rat-infested horror of an English prison. I gave thanks by claiming them as my crew. We found a poor ship—without a captain the thing was—and set sail for Barbados.”
“Because my heart called me here.”
It wasn’t the cool night breeze that sent a prickling along her skin, but the sound of his voice calling to her. Always calling to her.
Her body betrayed her.
As much as she wanted to imagine his heart was hers for the taking, she knew better. It was not she he came back for. “Marco, I don’t have it.”
“Of course, you do.” He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes.
“It is hidden. Lost. Once you were captured, I dared not keep it any longer. I had to get rid of it.”
“Where did you take it?”
Arianne brushed back a lock of hair that waved in front of her face from the ocean breeze and tucked it behind her ear. “I entrusted it to a friend. A very dear friend. He promised to lose it for me so even I would never know where to find it.”
He sighed, his shoulders sagging for a moment before rallying again. He was not one to give up without a fight. She sighed too, knowing in her heart that she would help him in any battle, even if it meant her death.
At least, before…
“Where do we begin?” Without a word of question, he assumed she would help. Defiance sparked within her, a piece of her soul well hidden. She gazed up at him, daring to defy him.
“I cannot go with you.”
“You’ve been dead to me for two years, Marco.”
“Then you must be ecstatic to learn of your error.” The charming smile he used to get his own way would not work this time.
“I have a life here now.”
“There’s nothing for you here. Your place is by my side. In your heart, you know ’tis true.”
She looked away, turning her gaze to the ocean’s waves pounding the beach with hypnotic rhythm. A few moments ago, she sat here, mulling over her life’s misfortunes and attempting to reach a decision about her future.
Arianne shook her head. “I no longer travel your path. You sail without me, my friend.”
She pushed her bare toes into the grainy sand and stood, brushing the remaining sand that clung to her petticoats. In the silence of the crashing waves, she turned and walked away.
Inside, her heart bled. Yet, she deserved no better. Her life led to this heartache. That she walked away from this man now, after all this time only confirmed it.
“Arianne, you’re coming with me.”
His serious tone warned her of his intentions. She spun to face him, unsheathing her sword in time to block his attack. The sound of metal striking metal pierced the moonlit darkness. Her ears rang with the sound.
They stood, neither moving. She stared into his eyes. “You would take me by force?”
“Never by force,” his voice lowered to a growl. “You will come willingly.” And he smiled, that knowing one she hated.
She let out a howl of outrage and swung her sword. He easily blocked. They stepped a deadly dance of striking blades, until again they were trapped by heated gazes.
Her breathing was heavy, labored, filled with excitement. She looked at his lips, wanting to taste them but knowing she dared not. Her will was never strong around him. With one touch she might lose herself and want him again for forever. But that dream would never be achievable with Marco.
With him, she’d always be alone.
“Come with me, Arianne.”
She pushed away and again they danced. Her feet moved lightly as she sprang, her petticoats swirling with each movement though she hoped they would not entangle her legs. Her arm swung with lithe movements as she fought. She equaled him with skill and grace. Each time their swords clashed, the noise pierced her soul. That she fought him was a testament to her determination to escape his tyranny over her heart. She could not succumb to him again.
As they battled, a sheen of sweat appeared upon his brow. The exposed skin of his chest glistened in the moonlight. His arms flexed as he swung his sword. His grace, his power, his energy seduced her.
Her heart pounded. Her skin ached to touch his. The heat in her lower regions grew to a fiery inferno. She trembled.
Again, they locked blades.
They stood a moment, staring. His gaze burned into her soul. She licked the salty sweat from her upper lip, and his eyes followed the movement with utter fascination.
He pushed their swords away. With his free hand, he grabbed her shoulder, pulling her tight against his chest. Arianne tilted her head to look into his eyes. The blue depths called to her, like the ocean’s waves licking at her feet. The yearning to go to him was too great. She hadn’t the will to fight.
Purchase The Pirate's Lady
Follow Tricia on Twitter
Friend Tricia Schneider on Facebook