As the deafening sound of wood shattering and cannons blasting fill my ears, the thought of a clueless Niall in the brig terrorizes me.
My mind is racing as I try figuring out what I have to do. Do I listen to Zayn or not? I wince as another boom fills the air. He won’t even notice I’m gone.
Making up my mind determinedly, I hurry to the door and pull it open. I hear men shouting from above but shake it from my mind and rush down the hallway. In the midst of my panic, I forget which way to go to get to the brig. I have to stop and lean against the wall to take a few deep breaths and get my mind to think properly.
Then I hear footsteps pounding from behind me.
I quickly duck around the corner and shrink into the shadows, pressing my back firmly against the wall and holding my breath. Several men run past me, narrowly missing my smaller form hidden behind the corner, and I continue hearing their footsteps thundering down the hallway until there’s nothing but eerie silence.
My heart pounds relentlessly against my chest, and I swallow thickly before hesitantly peering around the corner to make sure the hallway is safe.
It’s just me.
Licking my lips, I run down the hallway, trying to stay as quiet as I can despite how fast I’m moving. All I can think of is Niall, being stuck in the brig, and I know I have to get him out of there. I can’t just leave him, not when we’re under attack.
I finally come to the door opening to the brig and throw it open, suddenly not caring how it clangs loudly against the wall. I nearly trip down the steep steps through the darkness until I come upon the lone candle hanging along the wall, the only source of light.
“Niall?” I call.
“Roselina?” He gasps, stepping out from his hiding place in the shadows. His light blue eyes are wide and frenzied. “What’s happening?”
“We’re under attack.” I say, my hands trembling as I see, to my relief, that the barred door is slightly ajar. I push it open and step inside, letting Niall hug me tightly. For a moment, the fear I felt earlier dissipates from being with Niall again. But the fear abruptly returns when I hear a loud booming noise sound from above. It sounds like there are explosions, and I know the noise comes from the cannons being fired.
“Won’t you get in trouble for coming down here?” Niall asks, frowning down at me.
I smile feebly. “Probably. Let’s just hope I―”
“Let the wench go,” Zayn’s voice menaces dangerously, his rifle pointed at Niall’s head. “Or you won’t live to see another day.” My arms constrict around Niall’s body and the captain’s eyes turn to slits. “Roselina, what are you doing?” he snaps.
I watch as he rapidly puts the pieces together, glaring at Niall’s arms encircling me and my head pressed against his chest.
“You’re the reason she wants to sleep in the brig!” he explodes. “How did you get on my ship?” He demands, advancing and pressing the barrel to Niall’s temple.
My heart is pounding loudly in my chest.
“Shut up, little wench!” He silences. I shriek as a loud boom echoes, shutting my eyes tightly. The sound of exploding wood fills my ear as yet another cannonball fires above us. Suddenly, a handful of men stampede down the stairs.
“There he is! The captain!”
I realise they’re from the attacking ship when they pull their swords out and jump on Zayn. As quick as a snake, Zayn pulls out his own sword while keeping his gun in the other hand. A bullet shoots in one of the men’s head, followed by the clashing of metal hitting metal¸ as the captain fights off the intruders. I feel sick all over, watching as lifeless bodies pile up and blood seeps onto the planks.
“Quick, Roselina! He’s distracted!” Niall urges in my ear, his hand grasping mine tightly as he skillfully pulls me past the fighting men and up the unsteady stairs leading to the upper decks.
“Roselina!” I hear Zayn’s angry growl before I’m running away from him, hand gripping Niall’s like a lifeboat.
“Niall, what are we going to do?” I whisper hurriedly as we hustle down a narrow corridor.
“Grab a lifeboat and get away. This distraction is perfect. I saw a small boat at the back of the ship. It’ll be perfect.” he responds, shooting me one quick glance before we’re storming up on deck.
When we climb on deck, the smell of gunpowder is heavy in the air, and I start coughing violently as I take a deep breath of it. The air is thick with dark smoke, and my eyes tear up as Niall tugs me behind him, moving swiftly in the vision of carnage all around us.
I find us running over bodies on the ground, and for a moment, I feel like I’m about to throw up when I see all of the blood that the bodies are laying in. They’re lying in their own pool of blood, and the strong is heavy in the air.
“Don’t look,” Niall whispers, gently tugging me along as my legs stumble. I feel as though my knees are giving in, and I hope I don’t faint because my head starts feeling dizzy. The world sways all around me, and it actually is, due to the waves rocking harshly against the ship.
Taking a rapid look around, I realise the other ship is retreating, members of the rival crew swinging back to their own ship as Zayn’s men chase them away ruthlessly. The crew starts throwing the inanimate bodies carelessly overboard, as if it was an everyday thing. Then it hits me. If the fight is over, that means they aren’t distracted anymore....Oh no.
“Ay, not so fast.” A familiar voice sounds in the midst of the smoke, and I open my mouth to talk to Niall, but a cold hand clamps around my forearm and tugs me harshly out of Niall’s unsuspecting grip. I’m face to face with a pair of cold, blue eyes, and its Tomlinson, the man I met on deck earlier. He has a twisted smirk along his face, and there are drops of blood on his cheeks, and even more on his tunic. My heart plummets from the sight of him. He looks like a monster.
“Let her go!” Niall snarls.
I try to pull myself from the pirate’s grip, but he only snickers in my ear and presses me back against his firm body.
“You bastard!” I growl, fighting furiously in his vice-like grip, my cheeks flushing from the sound of his malicious laughter. I’m sick and tired of being handled like a doll by these pirates. I grit my teeth and fight against the vile man with all I have, but he only holds me against him and continues laughing in my ear like my attempts of freeing myself amuses him.
“Feisty one, aren’t ya?” He sneers, his breath dangerously fanning over my ear. “I can see why the captain’s interested, although I wonder―”
“―that is no way to talk to a lady. Unhand her now.” Niall snarls, and his eyes are glaring at the pirate behind me. For a moment, I’m stunned from the ferocious look in his eyes. He doesn’t look like the cherry blonde I’ve come to know.
“Looks like you have more than one admirer.” Tomlinson observes in a low purr from behind. I look down at his hand pressed against my abdomen and see that his fingers are caked with blood. I feel hot tears making their way down my cheeks, knowing that he’s killed men, and now I’m in his grip.
And I can’t get out.
“N-Niall,” I resort to begging, my voice wavering and throat thick with an upcoming sob of terror as Tomlinson’s grip on me tightens. Then he aims a pistol at Niall, and Niall stiffens when he’s targeted by the ruthless pirate behind me.
“No,” I gasp. “Please don’t shoot him. I’ll do anything - don’t hurt him!”
“Louis. Stop. You’ve had your fun now.” A grave voice speaks behind us, and Louis groans and releases me. I turn to look over my shoulder, and my heart sinks when I find the Captain standing there with a pistol held loosely in his hand. His tunic is now also coated in blood, and in his other hand, he holds a long knife that glistens with crimson liquid. My mouth dries from the mere sight.
And I’m close to fainting when his dark eyes lock on mine.
“Come back to me,” He says and raises the gun to aim it at Niall, “or I’ll put a bullet between his eyes.”
Even though I’m terrified of his rugged appearance, I have no choice but to rush by his side in fear of Niall getting shot. Zayn seizes my arm tightly and tears his gaze away from mine, staring coldly at Niall, who stands there with his hands clenched at his sides.
“What do we do with him?” Louis asks and eyes Niall in disinterest, seeming to be bored with the situation now that it’s under the captain’s control.
“He walks the plank.” Zayn says simply, his voice emotionless and empty. “Tomorrow morning, first thing.”
“No!” I outburst as Niall’s face pales from the news. “No, you can’t do that!” I object, watching Louis hold both Niall’s arms behind his back easily.
I look up at Zayn, expecting him to explode at me or strike me across the face. But instead, he picks me up and swings me effortlessly over his broad shoulders and carries me below deck.
His strides are long and hasty, and my abdomen digs painfully against his shoulder bone. I barely have time to protest or pound my fists against my back before he tosses me on his bed in his quarters and slams his door shut, settling his furious gaze on me.
“Please don’t make him walk the plank,” I say, my mouth running on its own accord. “He’s done nothing to―”
I’m silenced when the captain leans over me on the bed and crushes his lips against mine. For a moment, I’m stunned into silence as he envelopes me in a shattering kiss, his arms spreading my thighs and lumbering body forcing itself in between. I start screaming and pushing against his chest, but I may as well be pushing against a brick wall because he doesn’t move. In fact, I feel him smirk against my lips as my fists pound feebly against him.
“He’s walking the plank,” Zayn rasps when he finally pulls away and smothers me in his powerful gaze suddenly alit with something I had never seen before in a man’s eyes, “because he tried taking away what is mine.”
“I’m not yours.” I seethe and try to sound indignant, except my voice wavers with fear. “I’ll never be yours.”
He full on smirks and tilts his head. It’s that moment when I realize I’m in a dragon’s den and seeing the aftermath of what he did to those men in the brig. It’s obvious that he killed them, because if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be here right now.
“You’re scared of me,” Zayn states, his eyes glinting in amusement. It’s only then I realise I’m shaking. I don’t respond. “You should be afraid. I’m not a man to be messed with, Roselina. As you witnessed today, I leave a trail of blood behind me.” he whispers, pressing himself even closer to me.
My heart lurches at his disgusting words.
“I wonder, little wench, what you’d be willing to do to save your ‘friend’s’ life,” he continues teasingly, his hand moving a strand of my hair behind my ear. I shudder, biting my lip as his face nears mine once more.
“Please.” My voice is barely above a whisper.
“Please what?” he purrs, his hand sliding lower down my chest. My breathing hitches.
“Stop touching me,” I say, throat tightening in fear.
“You’re a demanding little thing, aren’t ya?” he smiles, removing himself slowly. I flinch as he suddenly pulls out his sword, pointing it at me. “Undress.” he demands, tilting his head sideways.
“You ask I stop touching you, so that’s what I’m doing. Now it’s your turn to listen. Undress.” he repeats, the tip of his sword a hair away from my skin.
I stare at him in fear, unable to move.
“There’s blood all over your clothes, Miss Aldrich, and it doesn’t suit your innocence. Unless you wish to become impure, I suggest you remove your bloody clothes.” he snaps, all playfulness gone.
My fingers grab the bloodied fabric in hesitation. Only Zayn doesn’t wait. Rapidly, he spins me around and his sword slashes right through the lacing at the back of the corset, barely missing my skin.
I clutch the fabric over my skin, trying to hold the pieces over my body. Tears of embarrassment fill my eyes from feeling the hold of his intent gaze. I’m hoping he doesn’t push the pieces of clothing away, because if he does...I might just break.
“I can ravish you right now.” He whispers in a contradicting soothing voice. “I can strip any ounce of innocence you have left and leave you with nothing. And you can’t do a single thing about it, Miss Aldrich.”
“Don’t,” I choke out, my hands trembling as they clutch tighter onto the fabric over my body, hiding my private areas from his eyes. Shockingly, his eyes are on mine and aren’t looking down at my weakness.
He smirks again. “You shouldn’t be bashful, you know. Your body now belongs to me. Do you understand?” Teasingly, his finger lightly runs from my neck, closer to the area below and nearing my chest. I flinch away, and his smirk vanishes, his eyes narrowing down at me. “I asked you a question.”
I feel like screaming and kicking at him, but I know that if I do, it’ll only infuriate him. It’s frustrating and horrifying to know that no matter what I say or do, I can’t sway his mind. He’s dead set in what he tells me, and in a way, I have no choice but to be his or else…
“Roselina,” He growls softly, losing his patience from my lack of response.
I nod furtively. “Fine, yes.”
My jaw clenches, and my cheeks heat up from the smug look in his eyes. “You know what.”
He leans closer, his stubble brushing against my cheek as his voice whispers against my ear, “Say it. Out loud.”
I close my eyes. It’s my only way of escaping the tantalizing stare he’s giving me.
His cold fingers grip onto my chin. “Look at me.”
I feebly shake my head. I can’t look at him and say what he wants me to say. Looking at him will only make it more real. I don’t want to be his, but even I know that in this situation, my choices are very slim.
“Look at me right now,” He snarls in a heated whisper, “or I’ll bend you over my knee.”
My eyes snap open from his unexpected threat. His hold on my chin doesn’t loosen; in fact, he’s gripping me so hard that I feel like it’s going to leave a bruise in its wake.
Looking into his steel-like gaze, I know he isn’t bluffing. I know of men who do degrading things to their women to put them into their place, it isn’t uncommon. A woman is her man’s property.
But I don’t want to be this man’s property, and I don’t want him to do with me as he pleases.
But do I have a choice?
The answer makes me slump under his suffocating hold. I know what it is, yet I’m hesitating, prolonging my moment. But it’s inevitable.
“Okay,” I say in resignation. “I’m yours.”