I wake for the fifth time that night from a horrific nightmare. I flinch in the cot, but Zayn’s arms instantly tighten in response around my waist, keeping me pressed firmly against him. His face is nuzzled into my neck from behind, and I feel his soft breathing behind me.
I gasp into the darkness of the room and feel like I can’t breathe. Tears stream down my face; no matter how hard I try, I can’t rid my mind of the image of Niall, bound by the hands, stepping onto the plank as Zayn’s men surround him, smirking and finding pleasure to his death. Niall takes small, hesitant steps, trying to prologue his life the best he can and hope for a miracle.
But there is no miracle.
Because in my nightmare, I watch with my own eyes as Niall stops at the very end of the plank. The sun shines at the light tips of his hair, and his legs tremble, even from a distance. I shoot forward and let out a cry, but Zayn cruelly grabs my forearm and keeps me from reaching Niall. I’m helpless.
Then he falls. There’s a splash, then silence as he’s swallowed by the ocean.
And that’s when I wake up. It’s like I have the same nightmare over and over, and nothing ever changes in them, no matter how many times I have them. Each time Zayn is able to hold back, and each time Niall dies.
Even now in my reality Zayn has a hold on me, and I know he won’t let me go. I have something he wants, both with my body and...something to do with my necklace. I’m not sure yet. I still have no idea what my necklace has for him; all I know is that he needs it.
I weep softly, trying to reign in my sobs to keep the monster behind me asleep. I pray to anyone out there who can help Niall. I don’t know what I can do. If I do nothing, he dies tomorrow morning, first thing― captain’s orders.
Can I stop it?
Fighting against Zayn does nothing but anger him and bind me down more. I stop crying as I rack my brain frantically for some kind of solution. I can hear the waves rocking against the boat through the open window, and I know that soon, the sun will start rising. Then Zayn will wake up, and Niall will walk the plank.
I angrily wipe away my tears and curl my hands into fists over and over. I think of all the stories I’ve read and how the heroes escape the perils they’re in. Most of the time, they fight. They never give in, and their determination and longing to survive is what keeps them alive in the end.
But what can I do in my situation? Zayn is far stronger than I am― I can’t hope to fight him physically. Each time I have, I’ve been locked up, and he’s threatened people I care about. Is there another way to fight him?
That’s when it hits me.
What if I give him what he wants?
The idea is morally wrong and degrading and would certainly make any proper woman blush. But am I even a proper woman anymore? And do the morals and etiquettes even apply on this god-forsaken ship?
My eyes travel over the dimness of the room, noting the obscured shapes of the things around us. I glance down at the floor beneath us and freeze when I notice what looks like a pile of thin rope.
I shuffle forward the tiniest bit to reach down and grab it, but Zayn’s arm tightens once again, locking me in place. I need to move forward a bit if I want to reach the rope, and if I reach the rope…
The idea brewing in my mind is dangerous and can backfire drastically. But I don’t have many options, and if it saves Niall, then so be it.
I lick my lips and feel my heart rate start to quicken within my chest. I’m terrified, but I’m beginning to get used to the frightful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I take a deep breath before slowly turning around in the arms of the captain, seeing his face as I do. Despite his rugged appearance and who he is at heart, he looks peaceful and innocent asleep.
His stubble is growing thicker after a few days of not shaving. For a few withering moments, I let my gaze wash over his face and can’t help but feel myself relaxing from how tranquil he looks, though part of me stays prepared, knowing how he truly is when he’s awake. I softly run my fingers over his cheek, feeling the roughness under the pads of my fingers, and he shuffles a little, his eyebrows furrowing when my touch registers to him.
A second passes, and his dark eyes open and look at me. They’re still hazy with sleep, but they’re getting more alert by the second.
“Good morning, Captain.” I whisper, allowing my finger to brush along his bottom lip as I pull it away.
He looks genuinely confused for a moment before his lips crane into a small, amused smirk. “What do you think you’re doing?” he enquires, eyebrow cocking up.
“Why captain, I’m only admiring you,” I say, my finger sliding down the length of his neck before descending to his upper chest.
His hand grasps mine tightly and stops my movement, surprising me.
“Darling, it’s bad form to mess with a man’s body if you’re not willing to let him return the action,” he drawls, his hand suddenly grabbing my waist and tugging me forwards.
My heart hammers in my chest as his gaze pierces right through mine. My breath hitches as his rough hands slide the length of my torso, his fingers ghosting over my skin. I shut my eyes as he caresses my cheek with the tip of his finger.
Okay, I need to do this.
Grabbing my courage with both hands, my hands wrap behind his neck. Using his surprise to my advantage, I pull him down and twist my body around so I can straddle him.
“Shhh,” I silence him, placing my finger over his lips. I’m shaking so badly inside I’m afraid I’m going to break and fail my plan. But weirdly, my calm exterior doesn’t reflect my nerve-wracked interior.
“Roselina,” he warns.
“Have I ever told you, Zayn, how much I love a man with power?” I continue, my features becoming slightly lustful.
“Don’t call me Zayn,” he states, but his voice holds no command whatsoever. It’s as if he’s melted under my touch. Still, there’s an intrigued look in his eyes.
“How about Captain Zayn hmm? The fearless, powerful captain of the seas?” I trail on, my hands skimming his built torso once more. He very noticeable gulps, his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously.
“What are you doing?” he repeats, completely disoriented by my behaviour. I smile and bend down to whisper in his ear.
“I’m yours Captain, aren’t I?” I speak softly, my hands reaching beside us to grab the rope. As soon as my fingers latch around the material, I pull back up slowly, keeping it out of his view.
I almost shriek in shock as his warm hand grabs the back of my neck, his eyes thin slits. But then he’s urging me down for a kiss, dumbfounding me. I have to kiss him back. I have to, or he’ll know something is up.
Knowing I have no other choice, I force myself to respond to his kiss.
“Of course you’re mine, Miss Aldrich,” he states, breaking the kiss. I fake a giggle and place the rope on the cot behind me before grabbing his hands. My fingers start tracing his numerous scars.
“How did you get these?” I question, truly curious but still acting as if I’m aroused.
“Fights. I’ve fought plenty and won them all,” he explains in disinterest. I nod, skimming a large one with the pad of my thumb. Taking a deep breath, I hastily reach behind me and wrap a piece of rope around his wrist. “What do you think you’re doing?” He asks, frowning.
I dig my head for an explanation.
“It’s a tradition where I come from to wrap rope around the wrist of the man who’ll bed you. It shows the trust both of them have for each other,” I lie, tying the rope to the cot.
“That’s bloody insane,” Zayn starts, shifting to sit up. Thinking quickly, I push him back down with a passionate kiss, my hands tangling in his hair. Automatically, he relaxes, his free hand knotting in my own mane of dark hair. Keeping one hand in his head, the other one reaches for the other piece of rope.
The Captain shifts, kissing along my jaw and to the inside of my neck.
Hurriedly, I tie a knot around his other wrist before attaching it to the cot. I pull myself off of him as soon as I’m finished.
For a few moments, nobody says anything.
Zayn looks flabbergasted, like he’s unable to comprehend what’s happening. His face narrows when he sees me on the other side of the room, and he says, “Come back over― ” when he reaches forward, the rope digs into his hands, and realization dawns on his face. His eyes seethe in dark coals, and if looks could kill, I’d be dead right now. “Oh, you little wench!”
Just the sound of his voice makes all the triumph I felt moments ago from succeeding wash away. He fights against the ropes - can he break out of them? They seemed fairly thin.
“Niall won’t walk the plank this morning.” I state coolly, crossing my arms defensively over my chest as he continues pushing against the ropes.
He growls, “He will walk the plank, and you will untie me― right now!”
After seeing him pull against them again to no avail, some of the fear drains, leaving nothing but smugness. I have him right where I need him, I can’t back down now.
“You’re in no position to tell me what to do, captain.” I spit his title sarcastically. “I’m not the one tied to a bedpost, now, am I?”
In a strange way, the situation is laughable. The almighty captain of the raging seas has been deceived by his own captive. Ironic, isn’t it? A smirk trails along my lips as my success weighs heavily on my shoulders. For once, seeing him fight helplessly makes me feel like I’m finally getting somewhere.
“Roselina,” He snarls through gritted teeth. A vein bulges in his neck, and his chest is heaving with fury.
“I’ll release you, if you call off your order.”
I sigh and rake a hand through my hair, creeping closer to the bed. Zayn stills completely upon my closer proximity, his eyes guarded and face wary. I crawl onto the bed and straddle his body once more, secretly enjoying my sense of power for once.
“All you have to do is call off the order,” I shrug and trail my hand down his chest again, watching how his jaw clenches from my mere touch.
“I will do no such thing. A captain doesn’t just call off his orders - that’s mutiny.”
I start pressing lingering kisses to his collarbone and push away the fabric of his shirt, revealing more of his bare skin. I’m met with more scars, but other than that, his body is immaculately built, and I can’t even deny the part of me who finds him extremely attractive, despite his monstrous personality.
“You’re the captain.” I mutter against his chin. “You’re the one who makes the commands. Surely you can cancel them?”
“He almost took you,” Zayn grits out. His eyes are tightly closed, and his entire body is tense, like he’s restraining himself.
“But he didn’t.” I bring my face to meet his, lightly cupping his chin to make him look at me. Finally, he opens his eyes, and I murmur, “Because I’m yours, aren’t I? You wouldn’t let him have me.”
“Never,” His voice is lower than usual, less commanding. He’s losing his vigor. I take notice of this and continue my touches over his body. Soon, he’s shirtless, and my heart skips a beat when I see a patch of dark hair trailing under his pants. I know what’s underneath, but I’ve never seen it in person before.
“So keep him. Use him to your benefit. Have him work around the ship.” I say.
“I can’t have people who are useless on board my ship,”
He hisses under his breath when I rock my hips against his. Our midsections are pressed against one another; the only thing separating us is the fabric of our clothing. I feel how much he wants me, and it’s straining against his garments. He wants me very clearly; my plan is working, but I have yet to succeed.
“He’s not useless,” I bite hard on my lower lip as I continue moving my hips, slower, against his. A bead of sweat rolls down the captain’s cheek, and his lips are parted slightly, releasing his ragged breathing. He’s doing everything he can to not give in, but I have the upper hand. I know it’s only a matter of time, and more persuasion.
Strangely, though, I start to feel what I suppose is pleasure as I continue to move against him. My body’s evidently responding to the touches, despite who the man is. For a moment, I start moving faster to reach my own gain until I remember why I’m doing this. Then I still completely on top of Zayn, and when I stop moving, he stares at me quizzically.
I sit up and force myself to maintain eye contact with him. “You have that curly-haired fellow just help around the ship. He’s useful, isn’t he?”
I start to slowly undo the buttons of my tunic and watch Zayn’s eyes grow darker by the second. I pull away my shirt, revealing my thin undergarment - as intimate as I hope to get in this situation, and raise the bottom a bit to show my skin.
“Call off your order.” I repeat.
I lean forward a little, stretching my arms over my head and revealing even more skin to his greedy eyes.
“Untie me, Roselina.” His voice is low and grave, no anger or desperation evident. I let out a short laugh before settling right back against his desire, which seems much more prominent than ever.
“You know my condition. All you have to do is agree.” I whisper. “And if you agree, you can have me.”
His eyes flash. “You’re mine whether you like it or not. I don’t need your permission for your touch!” I must’ve struck a soft spot, so before he starts moving, I quickly pull myself from the bed. He’s pushing against the ropes again, growling between his teeth and calling me names only pirates will know, but I have a feeling they aren’t good.
“Alright then,” I say curtly, keeping my tone dismissive as I grab my shirt and pull it back over my head. “I’ll take my leave.” I turn and head for the door, all the while hearing the bed groaning under the man’s thrashing. But as I grab the knob, it’s suddenly silent.
He sighs. “You like to negotiate? Fine. Let’s negotiate. But first, look at me. I don’t like talking to you while your back is facing me.”
Silently, I turn back to face him, making sure my face is unreadable. Or at least, I hope. “Yes?”
“I won’t have him walk the plank. But you won’t be seen near him, do you understand me?” He declares firmly.
My heart drops at the thought of never seeing Niall, but I mentally reassure myself that I’ll find a way. I nod at Zayn’s proposal. “Okay.”
“And each time you disobey me, there will be a form of punishment sent your way, but he will pay for it as well.” As soon as he sees my stricken face, he smirks, knowing he’s got me. I can’t ever disobey him again, knowing that when I do, Niall will receive the end of it, too. This isn’t fair! I never planned on him trying to negotiate back!
“This only works if you let him live. I don’t want any harm to come to him.” I press on.
“Your little infatuation with the lad is going to end very quickly.” Zayn says in a deadly whisper. “Because if it doesn’t, I will see to it that he does walk the plank, and no amount of persuasion will change that. Am I making myself clear?”
My mouth has suddenly gone dry. Even though I’ve accomplished what I wanted to, I also found some disadvantages. But I can’t say no. I’ve laid down my cards and played my part - I have a new set, and I can’t turn them away, because then I’ll be back to square one. It’s either accept or have nothing.
I swallow deeply and nod.
“Good. Now untie me. We have a bright day ahead of us.” Zayn says dryly, glancing at the window. I look at it and notice the small rays of sunshine beaming through. And as if on cue, I hear the distant voices of pirates waking and getting to their daily jobs.
I reluctantly step behind him to untie his knots, and I stumble a bit with the ones I created, having to work to actually free his wrists. I feel like crying right now, mostly because once again, I have no choice in what’s happening. But I’m glad I had a taste of power and freedom - it was certainly nice for a change.
“And by the way,” Zayn suddenly grasps my forearm and tugs me onto his lap, his arm wrapped firmly around my waist. He presses a kiss to my neck and whispers in my ear, “You’re going to continue what you were doing tonight, when we’re alone. I won’t forget it, darling.” He smirks against my skin as he tugs lightly on my chin, forcing me to face him. When I do, he kisses me, and it takes all the strength I have not to cry.