I’m woken up the next morning by the sound of a gun cocking and the wind howling against the window. The walls of the ship seem to be trembling under its wrath, and I search frantically in the darkness, feeling another presence in the room.
“Time to wake up, lass.”
I vaguely recognize the voice; it’s chirpy yet tinged with mischief, but I can’t put my finger on who it belongs to. But it comes directly from my right, and it’s much closer than I’d like.
“What’s happening?” I breathe, my hands clutching onto the blanket tightly, as if bracing myself. For what, I don’t know. Death is something I’ve become well acquainted with, as much as I hate to admit it, so I don’t know why I’m even afraid anymore, but I am.
A breathy chuckle is the response I get. After a few moments, my vision adjusts to the darkness, and I see the shape of the person standing next to the bed, aiming the pistol directly at my face. I can look up and try and see the person’s face, but I hesitate, unable to look away from the weapon of destruction.
He pulls the pistol away, and I exhale, my lungs burning; I hadn’t realized I had been holding my breath until I hear his footsteps walk around the bed, heading towards the window. For whatever reason, they open the window, and wind gusts into the room, hitting us both square in the face, but sunlight puts out the darkness until he closes it again, chuckling to himself.
It’s silent again, the fear embedding itself back in my stomach, until a candle is lit, and I see the face of Louis Tomlinson smirking back at me.
I relax on the bed, though I’m still wary. I remember our last encounter and know it would be foolish if I let my guard down around him.
“We’ve stopped at a port, for supplies,” he says. “And the captain gave me the most interesting job of watching you.”
I don’t quite know how to respond, but I see his face darkening in displeasure.
“Instead of being able to acquaint myself with the lovely wenches of the town,” he snaps, “I have to watch you. And though you’ve got a pretty face, your body isn’t appealing to me, lass. I’m not a happy man right now.”
We’ve stopped at a port? I glance at the window, wishing to see the lights and the figure of the town in the distance, but it’s closed tightly. I remember hearing the men talking about a storm the day before, which is why they were anxious to reach a port as soon as possible; we must’ve gotten there at the right time because who knows what the waves looked like right now.
“Look, I’m sorry you have to babysit me,” I say with indignation. “But did you have to do that?”
“Do what?” he’s feigning innocence, but his upper lip twitches, nearly breaking into his trademark smirk.
“You know what! I woke up with a pistol held to my face! How can you possibly find that funny?”
He barks out a laugh, and it reminds me of a hyena; though I’ve never heard a hyena before, his laugh is how I imagine it to sound.
“Darling, a corpse could be funny if placed in the right position,” he chuckles, throwing his head backwards.
My stomach coils unhealthily at his disgusting words.
“You’re sickening,” I tell him, getting off the bed.
“Wait until you get to see me skewer men like a brochette!” he replies. “Now that, is a sight.”
I shake my head, feeling slightly nauseous. The simple fact that he could talk about killing people like it was some kind of game made me feel like throwing up.
“When are the others going to be back?” I enquire, anxious to have some slightly saner company.
“They should be back before nightfall if everything goes well,” he shrugs, carelessly sitting at Zayn’s desk. “And judging by the sun, that’s in about two hours. You slept a long time.” He sets his dirty boots on the table, placing his arms behind his head. His steely gaze is fixed on me.
“Is everyone out?” I question, ignoring his comment. “Are we the only ones on the ship?”
“If you’re asking for loverboy, then darling I’m, sorry but he’s out with the others,” he says, playing with the pistol in his hands. “I believe the town’s butcher was looking for some fresh meat and was willing to pay lots. I think I heard the captain mumbling about trading him for a sack of gold or two--”
“Zayn didn’t take him to be killed by the butcher if that’s what you’re insinuating!” I snap. “Niall is valuable to him, even if he doesn’t like it.”
“Whatever you say Rosebud. I’m just telling you what pirates do...”
“Don’t call me that,” I shake my head.
There’s a loud noise as something big hits the deck. Louis bounds to his feet in a matter of seconds.
“You stay right here,” he instructs, pulling another pistol from his belt.
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Would you stop with your incessant questions woman?! I’m going to go find out, and I want you to be right here where I left you when I get back!” He snarls, heading towards the door. He shoots me once last glance before he steps out of the captain’s cabin.
There's another thump. My heart rate accelerates. I look around, my gaze shifting nervously from one place to another.
There’s the sound of wood cracking near the cabin’s door. Biting my lip, I keep my eyes fixed on the door, bracing myself for anything. The planks creak underneath my feet as I cautiously approach the door.
Hands shaking, I reach over for the doorknob.
I shriek loudly as it opens, revealing a laughing Louis. I furrow my eyebrows angrily, placing my hands on my hips and nearly stomping my foot.
“You’re not funny!” I deny, huffing in frustration whilst I attempt to calm my racing heart.
“I’m hilarious!” he chuckles, clutching his stomach. Highly unamused, I wait until he’s stopped laughing before I question him.
“What was the thumping sound?” I enquire, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Birds,” he shrugs, stepping back inside the captain’s quarters. “They bump into portholes and the mast every now and then,” he elaborates simply, pulling his pistol out of his belt. I watch uneasily as he begins playing with it carelessly.
I stare at him, unsure of whether or not birds actually do that or not. Louis is the kind of person who you can’t always take seriously; it’s difficult to understand if he’s joking or not. He’s surely a mystery.
“You’re so strange,” I say softly, not to be insulting, but merely stating an observation. Judging by the crooked grin on his face, he probably knows I’m right.
“And you, lass, are a squealer.”
“Ay,” he starts taking purposeful steps towards me, sheathing his gun back into his belt, eyes trained solely on me. Dark and conniving. “If you were in a life and death situation,” I begin backing up to maintain distance, until my back hits the wall, and I literally have nowhere else to go. And he keeps advancing, his smirk widening in amusement. “You wouldn’t go down with honor. You’d go down sniveling and crying, begging for your life. You’d be willing to do anything to prolong it. I can see it in your eyes; it’s as clear as day, lass. I’ve had enough experience it to see it with just a glance.”
He towers over me, and there’s something off in his eyes. I do believe Louis Tomlinson is insane; I have no question about that now.
I snort and frown up at him, deciding to put on a brave facade. “How can you possibly talk about honor? You have none.”
This, he laughs at. Loudly and without an ounce of hesitation. As if I didn’t just poke at his ego. “If there’s anything I like about you, it’s your fire. Now I can see why the captain--”
There’s an abrupt knocking―no, banging at the door, jarring us from our conversation. I’m relieved for the interruption because he heads for the door, giving me room to breathe. The banging doesn’t soften, and soon, it’s followed by a woman’s voice.
“Tomlinson? If you’re in there, I’ll swing ye across the head! Open the door right now!” Her voice is shrill and livid, but he doesn’t seem like it bothers him. He opens the door like it’s anyone, and a woman shoves her way into the room. Wearing a ragged dress that shows enough cleavage to entice any man, married or not, she has a lovely face, though it’s grimy with sweat and dirt. Her thick, dark hair is pulled from her face and pulled back into a messy bun, with long strands hanging in its chaotic wake. She’s not frail or tiny; she’s a little on the chubby side, and she glares up at Louis with her hands on her hips.
“Stella!” Louis cheers, his entire face brightening up a little too enthusiastically. “Ay, it’s great to--”
“Where the hell have ye been, hm?” she cuts him off sharply, seeing right through his enthusiasm.
“I’ve been here and there,” he replies.
“All the other men are out and about the town. How come you’re here with,” she glances my way, looks me up and down with obvious distaste, then gives him a skeptical stare, “her?”
“Captain’s orders,” he replies with a shrug, stepping in front of her, as if to block me from her view. I huff to myself and sit back on the bed, though I’m very grateful to have his attention off of me. Evidently the two have some kind of history; perhaps Louis is well acquainted with the women of this town, which explains the frustration he displayed when he woke me up brutally. Though he’s insane, there seems to be some kind of reason behind everything Louis does.
“Captain this, captain that,” Stella sighs loudly, then lowers her voice and murmurs something I can’t quite catch. Judging by how silent he’s gotten, I know she’s trying to rile him up, get him to go against captain’s orders. I lean back against the pillows and silently pray he’ll fall for the temptation. Maybe I’ll be left alone, or maybe he won’t fall for it. If anything, I hope he does with my every being. Just being in the same room as him results into constant nervousness. I can’t ever let my guard down, not even for a second.
When I look back at them, they’re locked in a heated kiss, with Louis pressing the woman back against the wall. My cheeks flush, and I look away, petrified. Are they really doing that here, in front of me? I shouldn’t be afraid. He is, after all, a pirate. Since when did he think twice about a thing called modesty?
The sound of the door hitting the wall makes me look back. Stella’s holding his wrist and is tugging him straight through the door. The last thing I hear is his laugh echoing down the hallway, then I’m left alone. With the door cracked open. For a moment, I’m shocked; this is too surreal, too ridiculous to be true. Did this really just happen?
My first thought is to go find Niall.
Straightening the folds on my dress, I huff decidedly and walk to the door where Louis and Stella had just disappeared. I grab the doorknob assuredly, twisting it. I pull the door open, and I’m shocked to fall face to face with Niall.
His hand presses on my mouth to silence my scream of surprise.
“Shhh,” he whispers, looking around rapidly before tugging me back inside Zayn’s quarters. “Jesus, I thought he’d never leave,” he mutters under his breath. “You have no idea how glad I was to tell that bimbo exactly where Louis was,” he trails on. I stare at him wide-eyed, my breathing still unsteady from the fright I just had once again. “You okay?” he adds, looking at me up and down with worried eyes.
“You scared me,” I breathe, pressing my palm against my heart. “That’s three times in the spite of an hour I’ve been terrorized. I don’t think I can take another scare,” I admit, exhaling slowly.
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes. He blinks once, then twice. “Wait, did you say three times? That pirate terrorized you?” he frowns, his whole body tensing.
“I believe he’s a bit psychotic,” I say slowly. “He plays with pistols, laughs about corpses, and I’m positive he has taken an unhealthy liking to scaring me.”
Another round of laughter comes from beyond the door, in the hallway. I faintly hear Stella saying Louis name. Then it grows silent again.
“We need to go now,” Niall whispers, eyes wide. He grabs my hand. “We don’t have much time. Once they--”
“Go? What are you talking about?”
“There aren’t many men on deck, either. Most of ‘em went into town. As for the others, I know their positions; there’s a perfect way out, if you go through the back. There’s a small section where they’re completely blind.” he says excitedly, hope brimming his eyes. When he notices my silence, he frowns a little in concern. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know…” I trail off, then sigh. “It seems risky.”
“Risky? Of course it sounds risky. We’ve been surrounded by risks the moment we got on board. But now’s our chance! We can’t just let it slip, right? When else are we going to stop at a port?” He shakes my hand a little, as if trying to catch my attention.
I can’t respond. I’m trying to think of what he means, I really am. But to me, is it worth the risk? I know what’ll happen if we get caught, and it won’t be pretty. Zayn’ll be seething. And then he’ll take it out on Niall to punish me.
“Hey,” Niall whispers, watching me closely with a softened gaze. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I say automatically, but then he gives me a doubtful look, one that puts a thick lump in my throat and makes tears brim my eyes. “Okay, I’m far from fine. I’m terrified, which is exactly why I think it’s too dangerous to do this right now.”
“I know you’re terrified. Nobody can blame you for it.” His hand tightens on mine, giving me a reassuring squeeze. It doesn’t make me feel better, though. “But don’t you think it’s worth to take the risk? These pirates―they’re corrupting you, breaking you down. You’re so strong, I just don’t think you know how capable you are because they’re making you believe that there’s no way out. Please, Roselina, think about this...we’ve got a chance. We need to take it.”
I bite down on my lower lip in deep consideration, a headache quickly approaching. He’s right, but he’s also wrong. And I hate that he’s wrong. I wish everything he said was right, but they’re not. We don’t know this is going to go as smoothly as he says. So far, everything we’ve done has only slapped us back in the face and gotten us into so much more trouble. I know now, for sure, that we can’t do it.
I won’t do it.
“It’s too risky,” I whisper, realizing it’s gotten eerily silent outside the door. “I don’t want us to get killed, Niall.”
He frowns deeply at this and evidently doesn’t know what to say. He wants to push the matter, but before he can say anything else, the door swings open with a loud thud, and Louis Tomlinson strides into the room with his pistol in hand.
“I hate to interrupt this precious moment,” he sing-songs. “But it’s time to go. Come on, loverboy. Time to get back where you belong.”
My eyes widen as Niall takes a defensive pose in front of me.
“Niall, please go―”
“Yes, please move,” Louis nods. “What would I tell the captain? That I accidently killed the sailing master because he was being stupid?” he frowns. “He’d confiscate all my pistols.”
“You scared her. Twice,” Niall states angrily.
“Yeah I did. Because her reaction is very amusing. Can’t a man have a little entertainment?”
“You had that bimbo a few minutes ago,” Niall retorts. I grab his arm and squeeze his bicep to warn him to watch his mouth.
Louis licks his lips, eyes twinkling.
“Yes, Stella is very… Entertaining indeed. Her chest is always begging for my full attention,” he trails on, smiling.
“You’re a vile, disgusting pirate,” Niall spits.
Louis pulls the hammer of his pistol.
“That I am. But there’s no need to act like a saint either, mate. I’ve seen you eyeing Rosebud.”
“It’s Roselina,” I stress, already annoyed by the nickname he’s given me.
“I’m not a blind fool. I’ve noticed how much you crave to have her full attention,” the pirate continues. “Always have to be touching her porcelain skin somehow,” he continues with a sorrowful sigh, motioning his hand, which was currently grazing my arm. Niall doesn’t say anything and Louis huffs. “Okay, loverboy, now I’m annoyed. Either you get back to the map room by yourself, or I shoot your foot, and you’ll have to hop your way over there. Not only that, but we’ll have to cut the foot off later this evening and replace it with a wooden leg to make sure you don’t get any infections. Believe me, I’ve seen this happen before, and it’s not pretty. I doubt there’s enough rum to numb the pain of an amputation,” he trails on.
“Go, Niall. Please,” I urge, horrified at the thought of witnessing him with a bloody foot followed by a wooden replacement. “I’ll be fine, okay? Just go,” I beg.
His eyes meet my pleading ones. His jaw unclenches, his defensive pose faltering. I’m taken off guard as he turns around and hugs me.
“We’ll find another way, okay?” he whispers in my ear before pulling away.
“Mate, that was the moment where you could grab her chest,” Louis points out. “For a second there, I thought I’d get a show.” Niall grits his teeth then rapidly strides out of the cabin, shooting me one last glance before disappearing in the small wooden corridor.
I glare at Louis. He scoffs and places his pistol back in his belt.
“Don’t you give me those eyes, Rosebud. I know you wouldn’t have minded an extra caress from Loverboy,” he chuckles. “Good thing he didn’t, though. Doubt the captain would’ve been too happy if he’d learned that a member of his crew, especially a new one, touched something that belonged to him.”
“I don’t belong to Zayn,” I snap. “And Niall would’ve never touched me in such a way without my consent and the proper privacy. Because oppositely to you, he has modesty.”
“Wait a couple weeks. I’m pretty sure that soon enough, Saint Niall won’t be so Saint. The life of a pirate can change anyone.”
“You don’t know that,” I disagree with a livid glare. “You think you know everything, don’t you?”
He laughs. “I hate to break it to you, but I know a bit more than you do, lass. Years of experience ahead of yours. Now, I wonder how I’m going to break this to the captain. I know he won’t be too pleased once he hears about loverboy.”
“Stop calling him that!” I snap, sitting back on the bed and burying my face in my hands. I think he’s starting to drive me insane. Is it possible for insanity to be contagious?
“He’s going to be furious, ay,” Louis continued with a smug grin, watching my distress in sick amusement.
I say nothing further. Part of me knows now after tonight, that there’s no arguing with Louis. He just throws everything back in your face with his cocky smirk. And he takes pleasure when he knows he’s winning, which, by the way, he’s always sure of.
And as if on cue, the door swings open without warning and reveals the devil himself, carrying some kind of parcel at his side. Judging immediately by the look on his face I can tell he’s exhausted.
“Ay, Captain,” Louis greets him, glancing at me with his knowing smirk. My blood runs cold, and I bury my face in the pillow, letting off a deep sigh.
“You’re relieved of your duty for the rest of the evening,” the captain replies gruffly. “How was she?”
I freeze, and I swear my heart stops beating. I can only imagine how angry he’s going to be once he hears I was with Niall. The worst thing though is that I know he’s going to give Niall the worst of it all, and there’s probably no way I can talk him out of it this time.
“Boring, capt’n,” Louis replies, and I can picture him rolling his eyes. He pauses, and I think this is when it’s going to happen. But instead, he says, “But no problems, ay. Unfortunately.”
The captain walks closer to the bed, his heavy footsteps loud and dragging. “Okay, well, off with you, mate. Be back before the moon rises, we’ll be gone by then.”
Louis’ footsteps echo down the hallway, and I hear the door quietly shut. I purse my lips, my mind whirling in confusion. Louis didn’t tell the captain--why? It doesn’t make sense. Why would he make a point to tell me then not do it?
The only thing I can think of is the simple fact that Louis is sadistic. He must’ve teased me to have me believe he’ll tell the captain, only aiming to work me up. I hope that’s the right conclusion because I can’t think of anything else.
“Hey,” Zayn murmurs, and I turn over on the bed, unable to meet his searching gaze. He sighs quietly. “Look at me when I’m speaking to you, Roselina.” The tone of his voice makes it clear he doesn’t have the patience for any nonsense right now. And when I look into his dark eyes, I can physically see the exhaustion. Normally he’d be stripping into his underclothes and getting ready for bed. What’s he doing?
In his hands still sits the parcel from earlier.
When he has my full attention, he licks his lips and sighs again. Then there’s an uncomfortable, heavy silence, and I realize he’s nervous. Of all things for the captain to be, I never thought nervous could be one of them. Why is he nervous?
“What’s wrong?” I ask finally, breaking through the silence.
“Nothing,” he replies curtly, his jaw clenching. Now he’s the one to avoid my gaze, and he pulls apart some of the wrapping on the parcel to reveal a dark, wooden box. “I just brought you something from town.”
He’s mumbling quietly, and I have to strain my ears to understand him. Sitting up on the bed, I watch as he pulls away more of the wrapping, fully revealing the wooden box. When he hands it to me, I shakily take it, wondering if there’s going to be a bloody ear or a pair of eyeballs waiting inside, stained in fresh blood. Surely he couldn’t have gotten me anything pleasant.
When I hesitate, he says, “Go on, open it. We haven’t got all night.”
Licking my lips, I begin pulling open the box. At first, all I notice is a deep blue color. It’s the first thing my eyes take in because it reminds me of the color in the ocean, during the sunset when the sun glistens overhead. The next thing I see is the pure gold; it’s a necklace, and it’s completely, utterly breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything like it. For a moment, I think I’m having some kind of strange dream, until I become fully aware of his heavy gaze.
“This is,” I whisper, “for me?”
He shifts on the bed and says, “Who else would it be for?”
“I don’t,” I pause, unable to take my eyes off of the necklace that’s probably worth more than my life. “I can’t accept this. It’s...too much.”
“You will accept it,” he says with a hint of irritation. “I got it for you. You should be thankful.”
My breath hitches in my throat. I cannot picture him walking along the market in search of any kind of jewelry. No, that’s not him. He’s a pirate. He didn’t buy this necklace―he stole it.
“I can’t accept this,” I repeat, a bit more firmly. “You didn’t buy it, did you? You stole it from someone. Do you have any idea how much this is worth?”
“Of course I do,” he hisses, eyes alit with unspeakable fury. “Because I bought it. You ungrateful wench―”
“I’m not ungrateful!” I cut him off. “I just know what you do! You steal from people, including lives! There’s no way you’d spend precious money on anyone; you’re way too selfish for that.” I know I’ve said far too much, especially from the look in his eyes, but this evening has been far too confusing, it’s all too much. I need space, I need freedom. I need to get away to where things make sense.
His hands clench into fists. He tears the box from my grasp and throws it against the wall. It lands heavily on the ground, and I flinch from the loud noise it makes, knowing that again, I crossed some kind of line. I should’ve just accepted his gift and acted grateful, but once again, I couldn’t hold my tongue.
“Are you purposely trying to make me angry?!” he snarls. “I thought I’d reward you for last night and temporarily replace the necklace I’ve taken from you. I thought you’d be grateful, but instead, you just have to assume the worst about me!”
“How could I do otherwise?!” I counter. “I’ve known you for a couple of days, and all you’ve done is claimed me as yours and threatened me repeatedly! You’ve even let your psychopath babysit me!” I retort. “You’re a pirate!”
Zayn lets out an annoyed yell before he storms out of his cabin, slamming the door behind him. I stand still, baffled by how he’d handled the situation.
Sighing deeply, I shake my head and proceed to follow him outside. A cold wind nips my skin as I reach the upper deck. I rub my arms in attempt to warm myself as my gaze trails over the ship, searching for the captain. It’s turns out harder than I thought as the ship was buzzing with activity, every man preparing the ship for its departure. The moon had already begun it’s ascension in the sky, their shadows lined with silver as they worked hastily.
I hear Zayn seconds later, barking orders by the helm.
Taking a deep breath, I clutch the sides of my dress and walk up the stairs leading to him.
“What are you doing here!” he snaps once I’m beside him, shooting me a murderous glance.
“You have no right to be angry after me.” I retort. His eyes become slits.
“Return to my cabin,” he responds dryly. “I’m not in the mood to deal with you right now. I’ve got more pressing matters to take care of,” he continues, his gaze locked on the men beneath him.
“I don’t want to return to your cabin―”
I stop breathing as he pulls his sword out and pushes me on the railing. I grab the wooden barrier fearfully, knowing I’d fall in the water if he pushed me. The captain’s breathing is unsteady as his gaze locks on mine, the cold metal of his sword grazing my neck.
“I decide what happens on this ship, darling,” he seethes lowly. “If I say you return to my cabin, you return to my cabin,” he snaps. “You’re a prisoner. My prisoner. I’ve sliced several of my crewmembers’ fingers for less arrogance. Don’t believe for a second that I won’t dare to mark your pretty skin with my sword.”
“I would! You said it yourself, Roselina: I’m a pirate,” he sneers, the tip of his sword sliding down the middle of my body. I stop breathing, my lower lip trembling. I notice the whole ship is quiet, the men listening to our discussion. “Go back to my cabin,” Zayn ends, his gaze drifting to my mouth before he sheaths his sword. “And all of ya get back to work!” He adds angrily to his crew. “This ship better be ready to sail before the moon is up!”