“Roselina!” Niall whisper-shouts, shaking me slightly. “Someone’s coming! I have to hide!”
I react rapidly upon hearing his words, indeed hearing a person walking down the set of creaking stairs. The blonde removes himself from beside me, shooting me a worried glance before returning to yesterday’s hiding place. I pretend I’m asleep when the pirate approaches the iron bars. As he unlocks it and pushes it open with a loud, rusty sound, I blink rapidly, faking I had just woken up. I even add a yawn for good measure.
The light from outside shines through the porthole, revealing the captain to be the intruder. He looks at me for a few moments before saying anything.
“Your clothes.” he states, looking at me up and down. I frown, glancing down at myself. “You need to change them. Wouldn’t want you getting sick and throwing up all over the place. Come.”
I sit unmoving, watching him as he turns to leave.
“One thing you’ll learn, Miss Aldrich, is that I absolutely loathe repeating myself,” he says between clenched teeth, without looking at me. “Therefore I strongly suggest you don’t toy with my patience because it is quite thin,” he threatens.
Shooting one last look in Niall’s direction, I stand up, shivering as my feet bathed in the small puddle of water, and hurry behind him.
I squint once we’re back on deck, the brightness of the morning mixed with the reflexion of the ocean blinding me momentarily. The ship buzzes with activity. A man wielding a mop rushes past us while a group of other men carry buckets towards the other side of the ship. People are doing things everywhere, and the air is lively and energetic.
There’s a man shouting orders to a smaller group of men. I look up and find a man on one of the rafters, reaching over to fix something. I grow dizzy from looking up at him, knowing how high he is and how easy it would be to fall. Surely he would break something if he did fall.
“Morning, captain,” A young lad greets with a wide smile. I can instantly tell he has a lot of energy; he has lively, green eyes and curly, thick brown hair. Though he’s slightly taller than the captain, he has a young face, and I wonder how old he is.
His eyes meet mine for a moment, and I quickly avert my gaze to my shoes.
The captain merely grunts and says, “Get back to work.” Then he tightly grasps onto my wrist and pulls me forcefully behind him. He takes long strides and doesn’t release his hold on my wrist. I have to practically run to keep up with him, and by the time we’re entering his quarters, I’m out of breath.
“Take off your clothes.” The captain says in a tone that leaves no room for argument. I glance down at my damp clothing, knowing fully well that I will get sick of I stay in them for too long. But he is in the room, and it’s highly improper to undress in front of a man’s eyes...even if he is a pirate.
“Leave the room.” I say quietly.
He freezes and looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “What?”
I lick my lips and glance at the door. My cheeks are burning, and I feel mortified just from the thought of this vile man seeing me undress. “I can’t undress in front of you.”
I shouldn’t have to explain why it’s improper to dress in front of a man, so I don’t bother doing it. I simply stare at him, not willing to move, and I can tell he’s getting irritated as the seconds pass by.
“I’m not a man of patience,” He says quietly, too quietly, and the sound of his tone makes me nervous. “Take off your clothes.”
“I’ll undress if you leave the room.”
I see a vein bulging in his neck, and his nostrils flare as he glowers furiously at me. He’s the captain of his ship, I mull, and he’s not used to having a captive that refuses to do what he says.
“You’re in no position to bargain with me. Undress right now, or I’ll tear your clothes apart myself.”
This isn’t just about the clothes, I realize. He isn’t angry because of the concept of me getting ill. No, this is a pride issue. He doesn’t like it when people disobey him, I can tell by the way he’s waiting for me to obey. But I won’t obey. This despicable man destroyed my town, but I won’t let him control me. I’d die before that happens.
The tension fills in the room. I glance at the door again, wondering if it’s locked, and his gaze follows mine.
It all happens in a few moments.
I quickly bolt for the door, and it opens easily with a loud thud. I’m running down the hall as quickly as I can, intending to get away from the captain. I know I can’t escape the ship - I know I’m trapped here, but it was a split-moment decision. I’m not sure if I’ll regret it or not, but I couldn’t just stand there with his eyes watching me as I undress. I shiver when I just think about it.
The hallways are narrow and confusing. I hear the captain shouting behind me, ordering his men to seize me. Because of this, I lengthen my strides and hope for any miracle to send my way - anything to help me out of this perilous situation.
I reach a small stairway and leap up the stairs, hitching the ends of my dress so I don’t trip over them. I have a moment where I meet gazes with the captain; he’s halfway down the hallway, and my heart plummets from the lethal look in his gaze.
This is a mistake, I realize. Once he catches me, I fear what will happen. But I can’t just stop now.
My breath hitches, and I unlatch the metal door and throw it open. I stumble onto the deck and am met with a furious gust of wind. I quickly close the door and take off running across the deck. I’ve forgotten how many people were out up here, however, and I nearly run into men in the midst of working.
Most of the men notice me last minute and stop what they’re doing in shock. They’re confused as to what I’m doing out here, running and flustered. They don’t know if they should seize me or stay away, since the captain made it clear to everyone on deck that they aren’t allowed to touch me.
“First one to catch her gets the day off!” The captain shouts angrily. Everyone automatically starts moving, trying to get their hands on me. I am now a prize, which doesn’t help the situation I’m in - at all.
Thinking quickly, I glance up the main mast and notice the numerous nets leading upwards to the small observation deck. It’s empty. Surely they won’t climb all at once.
I rapidly grasp the closest net and start climbing at fast as I can.
“All of you, stop moving!” The captain instructs from below as I keep climbing, my breath running thin.
Without looking down, I focus on getting my hands and feet higher each time, until I finally reach the small deck and haul myself on it.
Up here, the wind is much stronger, and I feel as though I may sway and fall off at any moment. I’m not even sure of where to go from here, but it’s better than down there.
“Roselina!” he growls. I lean my head on the mast, refusing to look down as I try to catch my breath. “If I have to send someone up to get you, you’re going to have to undress not only in front of me, but in front of the whole crew!!”
My blood runs cold. There’s a roar of cheers underneath me, and I feel sick. I know he’s not bluffing. My hands are shaking.
“You have ten seconds to choose!”
I have to go down alone. I have to. I peek over the side of the platform and wince when I see the whole mast is encircled by the pirates.
Pushing my pride aside, I take a deep breath and swing my leg back onto the nets. My fingers and feet ache as I will myself to climb back down, reddening as they grip the rough rope. I descend as slowly as I can to avoid friction.
“You’re excessively slow Roselina,” the captain remarks scornfully. “I’ll keep that in mind when you get undressed.”
“My fingers hurt!” I protest. “I can’t go any faster!”
“That is your problem darlin’. You’re the one who foolishly climbed up those nets.”
I grit my teeth, cheeks flaming as I pursue my descent. Once I’m closer to him, his revolting hands grab my upper arm tightly, and he pulls me off.
“Off to work, ya scurvy dogs!” the dark-haired man growls, tugging me to him. There’s a chorus of grunts, followed by another man’s shout.
“Ya heard the captain! This deck has to be sparkling by zenith!” I shoot a rapid glance at the brown-eyed man. He and the captain seem to be about the same age. I don’t have the time to dwell much on the thought, though, as I’m towed back into the captain’s quarters.
I stumble as I’m roughly shoved to the floor. I hear the door shut loudly, followed by the clear sound of a bolt being sealed shut.
“Show me your hands.”
I look up at him, confused.
“I’m beginning to think you have a death wish, Miss Aldrich,” he declares humorlessly. “Toying with me like that is very unwise.” I turn my hands towards him, and to my surprise, he inspects them. “You definitely are too delicate for this ship,” he continues, his thumb passing over the welts made by the ropes.
“Then let me go!” I say, pulling my hands back to myself.
He looks at me, uninterested.
“You haven’t filled your purpose yet.”
“And that is?”
“For me to know and you to find out,” he silences dryly. I gasp as he suddenly shoves me to the floor before straddling me. “And since you love disobeying me, I’ve decided not to be a gentleman about undressing you anymore.”
I shriek in fright as he slides his dagger easily right down the center of my chest, splitting my dress in half. I struggle, trying to cover myself as well as push him off my vulnerable body. The pirate easily holds me down, flipping me around and pinning my hands behind my back as he rips my soggy dress off me.
“No! Please!” I cry, attempting to roll into a ball but failing. Way too soon for my liking, I’m in my under garments. My cheeks are flaming red.
He pulls away, licking his lips and cocking his head sideways. I feel abused, lying at his feet without much to cover myself. The tears sting my eyes once more. I clench my fists, curling my body to keep myself as hidden as possible. I keep my head down as I hear him walk across the room and open what sounds like a door. Shuffling follows.
“Here.” I wince as he throws a bundle of material in front of me. “Put this on.”
Anxious to be dressed again, my fingers clench around the fabric, and I bring it to my chest. My eyes meet his underneath my lashes.
“You’re going to have to stand, darlin,’ if you want to get inside that dress,” he says out, looking at me pointedly. The fact that he’s right makes me nauseous.
His arms are crossed over his chest, eyes watching me closely, daring me to further disobey him. I can tell he’s beyond annoyed, and I know it’s a miracle he hasn’t laid a hand on me.
I bite back any comment that rises up my throat and stand on shaky legs. I’m still clutching onto the fabric, my cheeks blazing under his close stare. His eyes are powerful, his stare daunting. However, he isn’t staring at me in lust; he’s staring at me intensely, and I think this is all a pride issue. He doesn’t like the fact that I disobeyed him, and in return, he openly humiliated me in front of his entire crew to teach me a lesson.
I tear my gaze from his and let out a quiet sigh. I turn around, but a hand winds sharply in my hair and forces me back around. I wince loudly from the pain and nearly drop the fabric.
“Ah, no darlin’,” He coos mockingly. “Stay facing me.” He releases my hair and taps me on the cheek, his lips curled into a patronizing smirk. “Red suits you.”
I have never felt so degraded before. I know the situation can be so much worse; this pirate captain isn’t forcing his way with me, but he is making me feel like a child being berated for sticking their hand in the cookie jar. He’s humiliating and intimidating, and he infuriates and frightens me at the same time.
I have never necessarily been self conscious of my body. I’m not vain in the essence as to feeling far prettier than other girls my age. I know I’m not someone out of the ordinary, and I know I’m not considered beautiful. I’m not afraid to reveal myself entirely to this vile man because I’m ashamed; I don’t want to reveal myself to him because of who he is. It’s the fact that he’s expecting me to do it, and the concept alone disgusts me.
I have read stories about men like this, and these men were always the villains. In the end, they always end up losing what they worked so hard to gain. I silently remind myself of this as I eye the fabric, the anger only continuing to rise within me.
I clutch onto it tighter, raise my eyes to meet his squarely, and spit directly in his face.
“I refuse to undress in front of a man like you,” I snarl, growing instantly fearful by the look he returns.
His mouth is agape, and my saliva oozes down his chin. The spit landed right between his eyebrows, above his nose, and the sight could be considered humorless if not for who I spat on.
He releases a growl, too furious to utter words, and I back away just as he reaches for me. Clutching the fabric tighter to me, I quickly press myself against the wall, since he blocks me from the doorway--my only means of escape.
Sadly, spitting on him is another one of my rash mistakes. I don’t realize that I’m trapped in this room with him until it’s too late.
His hand clutches around my neck, squeezing tightly enough to cut off some of my air supply. I instantly think that this is the end, that he will choke the life out of me, so I mindlessly drop the fabric to the floor and stare him in the eyes as he seizes my life in his very grip.
“My patience is gone,” He snarls. “If you disobey me one time--just one more time, I promise you I will not hold back. I have been nothing but merciful to you. I could’ve stolen your innocence and had my way with you, but instead, I’ve treated you fairly. And this is how I’m repaid?”
I choke under his unrelenting grip, my fingers trying to pry his off of my sensitive skin, to no avail. I can’t bring myself to look away from his eyes. I’ve never seen eyes that were so dark and soulless.
“Is that what you want?” His voice lowers to a low murmur, edgy and dangerous. He leans closer, and our lips are merely inches from one another. I can taste his breath. He gently loosens his grip on my throat, letting one of his fingers drum against my skin. “Do you want me to take away your innocence, Miss Aldrich? You seem like you’re pure, but looks can be deceiving...who's to say you’re not a vixen underneath this innocent facade?”
I close my eyes as he leans even closer. I feel him breathing across my neck now, and his midsection presses against mine. My stomach plummets when I feel his hardness, and my cheeks blaze brighter than they ever had from the foreign sensation. I have never been this close to a man--ever. Especially so underdressed.
“I can destroy you. I can do things to you that would make you wish you were thrown overboard. I’d keep that in mind if I were you, Miss Aldrich.”
With that said, he releases me, and I collapse onto the ground, tears streaming down my face and choking on my own breath. My throat burns from the hold he had, and my lungs are on fire from lack of oxygen. It’s hard to believe that a moment ago, I was close to death. He could’ve killed me right then and there; he held my life in his hand.
The sound of a door slamming snaps me from my thoughts, and I find that I’m alone in the room again. Instead of relieving me, this makes me cry harder, because I know that sooner or later, he’s bound to return.
With a shaky sigh, I reach for the fabric to get dressed.
I’m left alone for a few hours to my thoughts.
The thoughts I have trouble me, and soon, I force myself to stare out the window and ponder over them. Instinctively, I reach up to touch my necklace, but find that it’s gone.
He has it.
I frown to myself and force myself not to start crying again. That necklace meant everything to me. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, and it always brought solace and consolation to me in my darkest times. It was almost as if it became part of me, and now that it’s gone, I feel like part of me is missing.
Pursing my lips to keep the tears at bay, I shakily sit on the bed and hug myself, taking a moment to look over the small room once again and finding nothing that can benefit me in my situation. No matter how hard I try to find a hole in the captain’s ploy, I come up fruitless. The hopelessness of the situation continues to bear down on me, and I feel it weighing heavily on my shoulders as I inevitably contemplate everything that’s happened so far.
Soon enough, I’m crying again, and I can’t help but feel pathetic because I’ve never cried this much in a short amount of time. I still don’t understand why I’m even here or what the captain wants with me or why he even wants my necklace, but he obviously needs me for something. And whatever that is, it cannot be good, since pirates are never known to have any good intentions.
I vaguely hear knocking at the door, but I quiet down my crying and stare at the door, waiting for it to swing open and the captain to step inside. But instead, the knocking continues.
“Oi, Zayn!” The door then opens, revealing the curly-haired boy I saw earlier on deck. He stops dead in his tracks upon noticing me. I instantly lower my gaze, not wanting him to see my vulnerable and wretched state. Instead, I stare down at his boots as he slowly steps into the room.
“Miss, are you okay?” He enquires softly.
I shakily wipe away some tears as I hesitate to reply. We’re silent for a few moments, and I hesitantly raise my gaze to meet his. I’m surprised to see genuine concern staring back at me.
“I’m Harry,” he starts, unsure. “I’m the cabin boy,” he continues, approaching me. I say nothing, looking at my feet. I flinch as he takes a seat beside me, not liking his closeness. He was a pirate, too, after all.
“Who is Zayn?” I ask finally, daring to look at him.
“Zayn? He’s the captain. But you can’t call him that,” Harry frowns. “If I had known you were here, I wouldn’t have called him by his surname. He doesn’t really like it.”
Zayn. It fits him.
“Why do you call him by his surname, then?” I question.
“We have… history together. I used to call him that all the time. It’s hard to correct the habit,’ he shrugs then pauses and looks at me. “What about you? What is your name?”
“Not important,” I sigh, digging my face into my hands. His manners remind me of Niall. Niall who’s hiding in the brig right now. A wave of emotion hits me.
“It’s more than alright if you don’t wish to tell me,” he speaks quickly, his hand rubbing my back in what is meant as a reassuring way.
I jump as the door opens brusquely, the captain stepping in, still looking annoyed.
“Harry? You were asking for me?” he starts, looking between the two of us. His eyes zero on the curly-haired boy’s hand on my back, then to my crying face. “Get your hands off her, Styles!” he booms. “I thought I was clear about not touching her!”
“Yes, Captain, but she started crying, and I only wanted to-”
“I don’t want to hear it! Get back on deck, I’ll take care of you in a few!’ he demands.
“Yes, Sir,” Harry quips in a timid voice, shooting me an apologetic glance before scrambling out of the room. He’s a clumsy person, because he nearly trips over his own legs racing out the door. Or perhaps he is that nervous around the captain. I can’t blame him. I can only imagine how the captain treats his crew members…
I think for a moment that the captain is going to speak with me. But he only glares at me for a few moments before turning to leave. My desperation grows, and soon, I speak without even thinking.
He freezes upon hearing his surname and looks over his shoulder, as if he’s unable to believe what I just said. “What did you just call me?”
I lick my lips timidly. “I want my necklace back.”
“Let me make something very clear to you.”
He towers over me, his gaze dark and dangerous, and my neck begins to throb as a painful reminder of what he did to me the last time I angered him. I go to back away, but he grabs my wrist and pulls me flush against him.
Part of me is confused because he seems like he’s about to kiss me. His eyes are even staring down at my lips, his head tilted, though his features are set in an ugly, irritated scowl.
“Don’t ever call me by that name.” He whispers. Gently, he runs his finger across my chin, almost caressing me, though his touch makes me shiver in fear. “Do I make myself clear?”
I feebly nod, and I feel my bottom lip trembling. “I-I want my necklace back.”
He stares at me in muted silence for a few moments before he mumbles, “This necklace holds significance to you.” It’s not a question; it’s an observation he voices aloud.
“It means everything to me.”
His lips twitch into a very small, conniving smirk, and his eyes gleam darkly. “What will you do to have it back?”
He leans even closer, and I back away because of how close our lips are. He tightens his grip on my wrist and snakes his other arm around my waist, bringing me even tighter against him. My cheeks are blazing again, and I feel dizzy; every inch of our bodies are pressed against one another, with only the fabric of our clothes as separation.
“How far will you go,” He murmurs, “to get it back?”
His tone is low and husky, and I instantly know what he’s referring to. I stare at him in stunned silence, unable to speak because of how appalled I am at his forward statement. I shouldn’t be surprised, of course, since he is a pirate. But still.
“You’re revolting,” I say through gritted teeth, wanting to spit on his cocky face but remembering what happened the last time.
His smirk widens, and a humorless chuckle escapes him as he abruptly releases me. I realize he is only playing with me, to gauge my reaction at what he said. He openly chuckles at my expression, and I feel embarrassed all over again, but I can’t do anything about it except let him laugh.
“Women are nothing but trouble,” he states, getting himself together and straightening his jacket. “No wonder they say having a woman on board is bad luck,” he ends to himself, shooting me one last look before leaving me alone in his cabin once again.