Pride and Pirates: The Medallion (Book One)

True love are a dangerous pair of words. They have the power to bring life into one's life or take the very life of one away. Do you find true love or does it find you? And what happens when the two in love are unaware of the very love that captivates them?

When Cadence is forced to marry a man she does not know, to bind two powerful monarchs, the world she once knew is replaced by the clashing of swords, tales of the sea, and a handsome pirate earl who will stop at nothing to provide for his new bride. When tragedy strikes, and Cadence is held hostage, will her husband come through in saving her and their marriage, or will the dreaded pirate Thatcher tear apart the love they hardly knew with the Pirate Earl's Medallion?

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Author's note

I try to update as often as I can, but with a job and other responsibilities, be prepared to only see about a chapter a week. I truly appreciate you reading my work. Each of you is amazing, whether there are one of you or one million of you! :)
AA

1. Chapter One

The orange hues mixed well with the purple tones of the sunset. The pink filtered sky seemed to stretch on for miles. With not a cloud in sight, the sea was a never ending mass that connected to the painted horizon. The warm breeze was a dare to dive in and had he been aboard any other vessel besides Escapade Caspian would have taken the plunge. Instead, he sat, tied to a rickety, old chair on the upper deck across from Captain Rominark, a pirate who was losing his touch as a fearless rogue.

“Perhaps ye’ wish to be keelhauled? I’d bet ye’d answer me questions then, boy!” The pirate snapped his fingers in the air, summoning his first mate.

“Actually, wouldn’t I be dead?” Caspian hid the glimmer of sarcasm in his smile.

Rominark, whose mind had seen better days, turned his attention back to the young Pirate Earl sitting across from him. “What was that?”

“Well, if you keelhauled me than I’d most likely die and I wouldn’t be able to answer any of your stark questions.” Caspian’s voice held a hint of humor, but his expression was as serious as the old man seated in front of him.

Rominark turned to him with an unamused expression across his face. “Think yer funny, ay? The last Captain ‘board my ship thought so too, ‘til he found himself bein’ eatin’ ‘live by sharks!” The pirates breathe rank of rum and rotting teeth.

Caspian closed his eyes and thought of his ‘happy place’. It was the only way he could escape the putrid stench of the man who had ‘captured’ him. He was, in fact, there on purpose.

“That does sound quite exhilarating,” Caspian turned to one of the crewmen, “it’s an old and highly unoriginal form of torture, but doesn’t that sound exhilarating?” The man’s eyes roamed anywhere but Caspian’s direction.

From the corner of Caspian’s right eye he spotted the signal. The stolen treasure they had come to retrieve had been found and Caspian could now leave this distasteful mutt. Rominark was in the middle of another speech when Caspian interrupted.

“Excuse me, Captain?” He held up his hand as if to silence the old man.

Rominark’s eye twitched at the sudden formality coming from the man he had, at long last, captured. The older man cleared his throat. “Yes?” He questioned. Although confused, he straightened; pretending things were going according to plan.

“I fear my time has run short and I must leave, however, it has been quite the evening.”

“What ye be speakin’ of, boy?” Rominark’s anger was spreading through his veins as he stood to his feet.

“I’m afraid I’ve other business to attend to, so if you’ll please excuse me,” Caspian lifted his now free hands from the chair and dusted his clothes as if he’d never been tied up at all, “I must leave now.”

Captain Rominark had not the slightest clue as to what was happening. How had Caspian gotten free so easily and without his knowing? “How did ye . . .” he shook his thoughts away. “Ye think ye be leavin’ so easily? Yer a prisoner ‘board my ship and leavin’ is out of question! Get him!” He called to his crew.

One by one, pirate by pirate, a heard of men surrounded Caspian. “Anytime now, Flynn!” His first mate was around here somewhere with his sword and knives.

“Sorry,” Flynn yelled from the crow’s nest. “I’m coming!” Caspian and the others looked up and to their surprise Flynn, with a rope wrapped around his left wrist, jumped from the wooden platform and swung widely around, tossing the weapons to his Captain in the process. When he landed he caught his balance and turned quickly to the men now running towards him.

The fight broke out as swords clashed and men shouted. Caspian caught hold of his cutlass and grinned as he turned to the surprised men that surrounded him. Captain Rominark jumped from his chair and reached for his own cutlass only to shrink back when he found his weapon was missing.

“Me cutlass! Where’s me sword?” The old man yelled.

“That menace tied it up there, Cap’n!” One of the men shouted and pointed towards the crow’s nest. Caspian smiled as he spotted the sword hanging high and proud from the main mast. It swung to and throw and the men could only stare.

“Don’t just stand there, ye scuds! Fetch me weapon!” Rominark seemed to be on his last nerve as sweat began to form above his brows. His crew, running this way and that, were confused by their captain’s orders. Were they to fight the escaping prisoner or fetch their captain’s sword?

Caspian took this time to escape. He ran through the crowd of musty pirates and managed to reach Flynn in time to save his skin. His sword clashed with another as a large, burly man gnashed his teeth.

“Where would I be without you?” Caspian asked Flynn, a hint of sarcasm in his voice, knowing he had saved his friends life.

“You’d be tied right back in that chair without your weapons!” Flynn swung at a pirate and grinned as the sight of blood trickled the pirate’s linen shirt. The man yelled out in anger and swung his cutlass hard at Flynn.

“I untied myself. Beside the point, I just saved your hide and not a single thank you was given.” Caspian turned quickly and slashed through the belly of a mangy pirate who had tried sneaking up on him.

“Thank you,” Flynn ground out, rolling his eyes as his sword clashed with another.

The two fought fearlessly and soon the numbers were even. Men lied on the ground, wounded, but alive. That was one thing Caspian had pledged when he surrendered his life to the One who had saved him; he’d never take the life of another man again. That life was gone and his new life had just begun.

The two mates stood before Captain Rominark, swords pointing directly at him. “You’re done, Rom.” Caspian’s voice held an extraordinary authority. “Flynn, tie him up and the rest of the crew.” Flynn did as he was told and was surprised at how willing some of the men were. He had never seen such a gutless crew in all his life.

“Ye think ye won, Pirate Earl, but ye ain’t even dipped yer toe in the waters of battle! Ye ain’t no Pirate! Ye just been given the title from a father who ain’t here no more! Ye ain’t earned it like ye should!”

Although the words had hurt, Caspian smiled. “If catching the,” Caspian paused, glancing around at the whimsy crew, then he looked back to the old withering pirate that had once been his childhood fear, “great Captain Rominark isn’t worthy of such a title, I fear nothing ever will be.” Caspian bent down and stared Rominark in the eyes. “You are in my waters, Rominark, and I fear if you keep pestering me I may have to, what was it you threatened me with earlier? Oh, yes, I may just keelhaul you.”

The pirate’s eyes widened, not in fear, but in shock. “Ye be regrettin’ this, Caspian! Yer nothin’ but a young stag wonderin’ through the forest. Soon, and very soon, the wolf will attack and ye won’t see ‘em comin’!”

Caspian grinned at the man. “Well, then I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes open, won’t I?” Caspian spotted his ship sailing fast over the horizon. Soon his own crew was aboard Rominark’s ship and collecting all the pirate had stolen. “So long, Captain. I pray I never see the likes of you again in these waters.” As he and Flynn left, the curses from Rominark followed them. They boarded the Remington and both men entered the Captain’s Quarters. Flynn pulled out the medallion from his pocket and smiled. “We got it, Cas. We are one step closer.”

“Aye, one step closer.” Caspian took the medallion from his friend and smiled. It was the first thing he had to retrieve in order to start his next journey.

“What now? What’s the next step?”

“Now I find a bride. If I want to keep the title of Pirate Earl, I must wed, and that dear Flynn is an adventure all in itself.”

 

~~~~~~~

 

Cadence watched the waves roam freely across the sand on their private beach. Her father had always told her and her younger sister that without the sand the water would have no barrier. The tide would just rise and keep rising until the earth was flooded. The thought had scared her as a child but now the thought seemed almost exciting and she longed for excitement. Her father’s definition of excitement was far from hers. From piano lessons to voice lessons and dancing, she was stuck in a perfect world, feeling as imperfect as a flat chord in ‘Ava Maria’. She longed for adventure, longed to be taken away from this palace and into the real world. A world not surrounded by a wall that stood nearly ten men high. This beach was even surrounded by a wall of steel fencing. It allowed her only a glimpse of the shore. Yes, it kept sharks and other beasts out, but it also kept her in. Something she was growing ever so tired of.

Her father loved her, she knew that, but his protectiveness was nearly unbearable. She loved him, he knew that, but she’d love him more if he’d allow her the freedom she wanted; the freedom to dance, sing, and play in the ocean. The water seemed to call to her, whispering her name in the sound of the waves.

Her father allowed her and Callie an hour a day to go near the shore. They could swim, but only when they wore the protective cream that shielded them from the sun’s rays. Her skin was tanned, sun kissed in fact, unlike her sister’s that was a pastel cream, but her father dared not take any chances. She was in line for the crown after all, and after nearly losing his wife after Callie was born, her father decided he’d never take any chances. He’d never take them on his trips through town and he’d never, ever take them aboard a ship. Cadence, her mother and her sister were to stay deep within the palace walls. Forever.

Cadence rolled her eyes. When she became queen, she would go wherever she pleased. Fencing lessons were the only thing that kept her sanity reachable. She and Callie had begged their father to let them take fencing lessons. It was most improper for young women to know how to wield a sword, but so long as their cutlasses had a soft rubber tip, their father approved. Besides, fencing had run in the family for more than five generations. If they hadn’t learned, they would most certainly have felt out of place, or so they told their father. That was the key factor that won him over.

A warm, salty breeze fluttered over her and she smiled. Her heart tugged at her to take a dip in the warm sea, but she had already used up her hour of swim time. Perhaps her father wouldn’t catch her, but she didn’t want to risk the chance of her father finding out. He could take away her privileges.

She stood and wondered back to the deck that looked over the small enclosed beach. Walking up the steps she sighed and calmed her longing heart. Before entering the palace, she turned and stared intently at the pink and purple sky. It radiated colors onto the sea and her heart skipped a beat. “Someday, Cade. Someday that will all be yours.” She knew she was thinking out of line, for the sea belonged to the One, but she believed he had big plans for her and they involved the sea. Who knows, perhaps she would meet the Keeper of the Sea, the Pirate Earl, and he’d take her for a ride on his ship. She knew more about ships than most women her age were allowed. Their library held documents, books, and even diagrams of the massive vessels and she had studied them profusely. If the Pirate Earl ever let her sail, her knowledge would be quite impressive.

Cadence let out a soft, sensitive laugh. “Pirates, really Cade? You can dream, but the likes of them coming true are slim to none.” She could dream though, couldn’t she? After all, dreams were what gave humanity the push to go on, to research and invent.

She turned and walked inside, closing the door behind her, shutting herself off from the sea until tomorrow.

 

~~~~~~~

 

King Elliot’s frustration was growing immensely. Had she not just been born yesterday? His sweet, young daughter couldn’t be nearly as old as the letter read. Must he truly find a man suited for her? Was it possible to find a man worthy of his oldest daughter?

He studied the letter, reading it for the fifth time. It informed him of the Choosing, a celebration in which he would choose who was worthy enough to marry his Cadence. Again he questioned if any man was worthy to marry his daughter. Surely there was, but he wanted to think otherwise. He did think otherwise.

He glanced at the painted portrait of Cadence that hung next to her sister’s. “Dear one, you seemed to have slipped right through time’s hands. How is it you are nearly eighteen years of age? And how on earth am I to find a man suitable enough for your hand in marriage?” He paused, waiting for the portrait to somehow speak up and give him answers. He knew of course how mad he was acting, but a father’s heart doesn’t give up his baby girl that easily.

“It doesn’t seem possible, does it?” King Elliot turned to see his wife, the queen, standing in the doorway. He gave her a gentle grin but his eyes were sad.

“It was bound to happen sooner than later, my love. Our Cadence is blooming, is she not?” She motioned to the great window that overlooked the sea.

The king narrowed his eyes and looked out to see what his wife spoke of. There, just near the water’s edge, was his daughter, swaying in the rhythm of the tide. She had grown to be such a beautiful young woman. Her long blonde hair brought her green eyes to life. She had the same fiery spirit as her mother when his father had introduced them to each other years ago.

He watched as Cadence bent down and ran her fingers through the sand. He was King and although he was a busy king, he was a very watchful father over his girls. He had not missed the light in Cadence’s eyes whenever she took a glance at the sea. He knew her love for the waters and the adventure that came with them. That very thought sent his stomach churning. As overprotective as he was, he had good reasons to be. The kingdom was a peaceful place, but over the years there seemed to be more and more pirates roaming their waters. It had been his father’s idea to bring about the Keeper of the Seas. The Pirate Earl was created for the protection of the Kingdom’s waters. Miles and miles from shore, the distance did not matter, there the Pirate Earl would be, watching for any sign of trouble among the waters.

As his daughter stood tall, she left the beach and made her way back to the safety of the palace. It was another quality he admired about his daughter; her integrity and honesty. He was well aware of how she felt about her father’s rules, but she obeyed all of them. Yes, he knew she left the palace from time to time, but he always sent a guard for her, not to bring her back to the castle, but to look after her.

“She longs for more,” he whispered to his wife, who had made her way to his side.

“That she does, my love.” She placed her head on his shoulder. “What I know for certain is that we need not to worry about her. For whomever she marries will have his hands full in the least.”

“True, very true. But will he be able to contain her fiery spirit? Protect her from the evils that lie in waiting?”

“God will provide, Elliot. We will find a man worthy of our daughter and she will reign as the kingdom’s greatest queen.”

“You know, some days I feel it should be you ruling, Stazzia. You are so wise beyond your years.” He cupped her face.

“I have many years in practice,” she smiled. “Now, why don’t we go through some of our choices, shall we? Together?”

King Elliot nodded, grateful for such a loving woman by his side. “Together,” he answered.

 

~~~~~~~

 

Caspian lie on the bed in his quarters, starring at the medallion he held in his hands. It had been a long week. Captain Rominark was handed over to the royal guards and the treasures he had stolen were rewarded to and dispersed to all his crew members. Nearly a thousand pounds was found aboard the rogue’s ship and the Royal Family had agreed Caspian and his men keep it all, for to return it to the original owner’s would be nearly impossible.

“Approaching the docks, Cap’n,” Skunk, one of his father’s first crewmen, hollered. He was an old chap with hair as white as the sand in the Caribbean.

“Get ready to anchor!” Caspian’s voice was loud as he ordered the crew about. He was a worthy Captain, one chosen by his father, Leon de Corazon, the late Pirate Earl. Captain Leon was a great Captain and an even better father. His wife, Claire de Corazon, was known as the most beautiful woman on land and sea. She had come from nobility and that gave Leon the advantage. Together they ruled over the sea, catching pirates from here and there, bringing them to justice.

Their reign wouldn’t last forever; though many loved the fearless leaders, there were those that despised them. One haunting night, Remington was docked near Morre and the royal sea family visited the local inn. There was to be a party celebrating Caspian’s tenth birthday the next day, but others’ had a different plan. That night, poison was slipped into Claire’s drink. It wasn’t until the next morning, on Caspian’s birthday, that they realized what had happened. Leon was distraught, and Caspian never wanted to celebrate another birthday. He had lost his mother and a piece of him had left with her. He swore he’d find the culprit and bring them to justice, but his idea of justice was different from his father’s.

Caspian left Remington and devoted his life to piracy, hoping to find the man who murdered his mother in the process. It wasn’t until three years ago, when Caspian was eighteen, that word of his father’s illness reached him, that he came home. There he found Christ and his father found his son. The funeral was long and heart wrenching. Caspian was given the title of the Pirate Earl and he was sworn in to protect the land on sea. He pledged to stay committed to his promise and honor his father’s legacy.

“Cap’n, the deck is swabbed and the Captain’s Quarters are made up and ready.”

“Thank you, Flynn, let the crew know they have the night off. Keep Skunk and Hepp here to stand guard with a few others.

“Of course, anything else?” Flynn wiggled his eyebrows.

“Yes, stop doing that,” Caspian motioned to Flynn’s face. “You’ll scare away the women.”

The two left the docks and entered the town’s crowded streets. Caspian took one last glance at Remington and then made his way into his favorite place to eat, Katherine’s Dock.

 

~~~~~~~

 

“Oh come on, Callie, we won’t be gone long. Father is gone for the week and I am tired of being cooped up in this prison.”

“It’s a palace, Cade, and Father has strict rules. Remember when we went night swimming? Mother nearly passed out and Father had never been so red faced in his life!”

“It’s just this once.” Cadence tried to persuade her sister, but it was hopeless.

“No, I’m not going. Sorry, but I choose to actually obey Father’s wishes.”

With a heavy, exaggerated sigh, Cadence rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Fine, I guess I’ll go without you.”

“What? Are you mad? Going into the streets alone, unescorted, is strictly forbidden!”

“Well, then you can consider me a rule breaker. Father may be king but someday I will be queen and I am not about to stay here whimpering away about how much I’d rather be out there, then in here when I obviously have a choice! Now, are you in or are you out?” Cadence narrowed her eyes at her younger sister.

Callie took a deep breath and pleaded with her eyes one more time. With no luck, she sighed and shook her head. “You are infuriating at times, you know that?”

Cadence smiled widely and laughed. “Yes, I know and I’ll apologize later, but for now, let’s go!”

The two sisters traveled in silence, each wearing an oversized cloak and carrying their cutlass’ in their hidden sheaths. They traveled down the streets ignoring the flaunts and taunts of different men. As they neared the end of the street, Cadence’s eyes grew wide. The ship she had seen multiple times from their tower was docked in Everton.

“Brayson Stars, look, it’s the Remington!” Cadence nearly yelled.

“The Pirate Earl’s boat?” Callie questioned. She had heard more than she wanted about the Pirate Earl.

“No, the Pirate Earl’s ship . . . just look at it, Cal! It’s the size of the masquerade room,” both girls studied the ship.

“Wait, that mean’s he is here; he is in this very kingdom,” Callie’s voice was small and fragile, as if the thought scared her.

“You’re right, but where?” Cadence glanced around, ignoring her sister’s pleads to head back home. Her eyes scanned the area but she had never seen the Pirate Earl, let alone knew who he was. He could be anyone and anywhere in this town.

“Cadence, please, it’s time to go home. I have a feeling Father was right about keeping us safely tucked away in our home.” The younger sister eyed the area carefully; afraid any sudden movement would draw attention to them.

“Callie, we just got here. Let’s look around a little bit. There must be a reason he is docked here,” she thought out loud. “Maybe he’s on official business, perhaps he has come to see Father!” Cadence turned to her sister who looked paler than usual. “Callie, we’ll be fine, just stick together and . . . Callie?” Her sister was frozen; the look of fear caressed her face. Cadence turned around and she understood. Three men were staring them down and one was headed their way.

“We need to go home, Cadence. We need to leave now.” Callie breathed.

“Yes . . . let’s go.” Cadence agreed.

The two sisters stood and each reached inside their cloak, holding tightly to their cutlass’. They walked swiftly and quietly through the crowds. The stench of the townspeople was like nothing Cadence had ever smelled. She wondered if Father despised them going into town because he didn’t want them coming home smelling of raw fish and lye soap.

They slipped through the crowd and headed towards a small opening, hoping to catch some fresh air but instead a hand reached out and grabbed hold of Callie’s arm. The younger princess let out a shrill scream and tried to pull her arm but the man’s grip was too tight.

“Let her go!” Cadence yelled, pulling her cutlass from its sheath.

“Oh, no please, not me,” the man mocked, his teeth yellow and his breath rancid.

“In the name of the King let her go,” Cadence tried again, she feared for her sister’s life but she didn’t dare show it.

“In the name of the King?” The man mocked her once more. “Where is your king, miss? He sure ain’t around here, these is our parts of the streets.”

From the corner of her eye she spotted a man in the shadows reaching out to grab her. She sliced her sword through the air and hit hard on the man’s arm sending a shiver through her own. The man flinched but when he saw the sword was protected on the end by a small rubber ball he let out a loud laugh. “Ye think to hurt me with that; a puny, little, stick of a sword?”

“Let her go or I’ll make sure you never set foot in this town again!” Cadence threatened them. They only laughed in return sending a spark of anger through her body. “No? Fine.” She pinched off the rubber ball and readied herself. If he wanted a fight then she’d give him a fight. A sense of excitement raced through her as she readied her stance. The man narrowed his eyes and pulled out his own sword.

“You wanna tossle, let’s tossle!” Just as he was about to swing at her, another sword clashed against his.

All stood still.

“I believe that is enough,” the deep voice bellowed from behind Cadence. She turned and a man stood just beside her; shadows covered his face. A royal guard perhaps? Would they tell Father?

“Who are ye to say when I’ve had my share of . . .” The man’s voice cut off when the man stood out into the moonlight. “Caspian,” he whispered, fear sneaking across his face.

“Aye, and you’d better unhand my friend there or you’ll never see this night through.” His voice was deathly low, a warning to all else who dared try him. Cadence was mesmerized at the authority the man held.

“We was just playin’ with ‘er. We meant ‘er no harm,” another spoke.

“I suggest you find your ‘play’ elsewhere.” Caspian stabbed his sword in the ground and leaned on it with one hand.

The men left and Callie ran to Cadence, who pulled her into a tight hug. “I am so sorry! We never should have left! You were so right . . .” Callie wiped her tears and hugged her sister.

“I’m all right. Everything is fine, just a bit shaky,” the young girl whispered.

Callie pulled away and Cadence turned to the man who had saved them. “Thank you . . . Caspian.” She remembered the man saying his name. “This will not go unnoticed and we plan to pay you back.”

“No, no need. Any man in his right mind would have done the same thing. Save you, that is!” He placed his sword back into its sheath.

“Yes, right. Well, we should be going, it is getting late and –”

“Allow me to escort you back home,” his request was more of an order and Cadence stiffened.

“I thank you, but we know our way home from here.” She didn’t want anyone to know they were the hidden princess’. The last thing they needed was a large crowd following them home and blowing their cover.

“I insist,” Caspian smiled.

“I insist that you don’t,” she cleared her throat awkwardly when he tilted his head, smirking. “We live near the ocean and I’m sure you are on your way home as well. Thank you, again. Goodnight.” The young women turned to leave but Caspian was persistent.

“I see, well, I’m headed to the ocean as well, perhaps you’ll give me some company as I walk?”

Cadence glanced at Callie, furrowed her eyebrows and then turned to Caspian. “We are fine thank you. We do not need an escort home; we know the way. Please, leave us be.”

“Fine, I’ll just walk on my own,” he glanced around and then smiled, “here,” he took a few steps to the left and then continued walking in the direction they were going.

“You think you are so clever.”

“Aye, that I do,” he flashed a smile her way, causing her to blush.

“Just ignore him, Cade. He just wants to make sure we arrive home safely.” Callie tried.

“You should listen to your friend there; sister is she?”

“That is none of your concern, now please, move along,” swooshing her hand as if to shew a fly away, she gestured to him.

“I’m sorry, but my home is this way as well.” He must think he is so funny.

“Oh? How come I have never seen you around before?” Technically she hadn’t seen anyone around here before. She had never even left the palace.

“Because I don’t necessarily live here, I live there.” He pointed to the water’s edge where Remington was docked.

Cadence stopped midstride. She studied him and then titled her head. “You live aboard that ship?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Cadence, come on, just ignore him,” Callie spoke up, unable to get her sister’s attention.

“Aye. That I do.” Caspian answered Cadence.

“You actually sail with the Pirate Earl?” She asked, her curiosity beating her frustration.

“You could say that,” Caspian crossed his arms.

Cadence crossed her own arms, and studied his eyes. Even in the darkness you could see the sheer blue color. He was telling the truth. “You know him?”

“You could say that as well,” a hidden smiled fell on his lips.

“Cadence, let’s go!” Callie pulled on her sister’s arm but she remained still.

“Hold on, Callie, just wait a second.” She turned back to Caspian, biting the inside of her cheek. “You may walk us to our walk way, but no further.” She hurried to say, “But only because my Father would want it no other way.” Caspian grinned and nodded his approval.

 

~~~~~~~

 

As they neared the palace Caspian’s curiosity only grew. They were headed up the trail that led to the Palace. He had been on this trail many times to visit the King. They traded goods and there he collected his rewards for settling disputes between land and sea. Could it be that these two young women worked at the palace?

“What are you thinking,” Cadence asked.

Caspian held in his smile. He was amused at her curiosity. “We are on route to the palace. I’m curious to know if you live there.” He stated bluntly.

“Yes,” the younger one nodded. She had to be at most sixteen. He wondered how old Cadence was.

“I see; what do you do there?” He asked.

The oldest one, Cadence, smiled. “That is classified information, pirate.”

“Pirate? I am not a pirate –”

“You say ‘aye’ and you wear breeches and a linen shirt. Your sword hangs in its sheath at your hip and your ego is the size of the ship you sail on.” She raised a brow. “Obviously, you are a pirate.”

“But if I work with the Pirate Earl how can I be a pirate?” He questioned her.

“Well, perhaps you are lying . . .” she paused then stiffened as if connecting two thoughts. “That is far enough, thank you, Caspian, but we can manage from here.”

Caspian stilled and watched her intently. Did she feel threatened by him? Surely she knew that he wouldn’t harm her, especially since he had just saved their lives. “I am not a pirate, Cadence.” His voice was calm and seemed to put her at ease. “I only wanted to make sure you arrived home safely  . . .” he saw the way she frowned at him, “. . . and since I can see the palace walls from here, I assume I have done just that. Have a goodnight, my ladies; it was nice to meet you.” He then turned and walked away, confident that he had set the barrier between the two of them. If she thought for a moment that he had saved her just to woo her then she was out of mind. Caspian de Corazon was not a womanizer.

He made his way back to Remington and readied for bed. He couldn’t believe the nerve and bravery of that woman. She was quick minded and when she had drawn her sword . . . Caspian took a deep breath and shook her from his thoughts. He would set sail for Easton tomorrow and Cadence would be but a memory from the past. Besides, there were no women eligible by law to wed him other than the princess’ and that was out of question due to the King’s over-protectiveness. And to add to that, no one in the Kingdom had seen the princess’ since the days they were born.

 

~~~~~~~

 

As the two sisters reached the secret gates from which they had escaped, they snuck passed the guards and snuck up to their bedroom.

“Your highness’, welcome back.” The sisters stopped, frozen in their steps. Turning slowly they spotted their father’s most trusted guard, Phillip.

“Hello, and what are you doing up this late of hour?” Cadence asked, quickly changing from looking spooked, to looking concerned.

“I was about to ask you the same question, but instead, I’ll just ask how the docks were.” Callie shot a glance to Cadence and both girls eyes widened.

“We can explain –”

“There’s no need. I followed you there and back. You are lucky the pirate earl knows of the two men that nearly harmed you. He is taking care of them as we speak.” The guard crossed his arms. “What were you thinking?” He raised his whisper.

“I . . .”

“It was my idea,” Cadence interrupted her sister. “I made her come. If you tell father, tell him it’s my fault.” She dropped her shoulders in defeat.

Phillip uncrossed his arms and took a deep breath. “I wasn’t planning on telling your father any of this.” Cadence eyes shot to the guard. “But,” Phillip held up hand to stop her excitement, “if I ever find you two sneaking out to the docks again, I’ll personally escort you to your father so you can tell him yourself. Understood?”

“Yes,” both answered.

“Good, now get some sleep.” It was rare for a guard to order royalty, but Phillip was not just a guard, he was Father’s most favored guard, and Father’s brother.

The sisters entered their bedroom and shut the door quickly, breathing once they were out of ear shot from their uncle.

“That was terrifying!” Callie whispered as they both jumped on the bed, landing on their backs.

“Yeah, terrifying,” Cadence added.

“Don’t ever try to get me to go out there again, do you hear me? That was pure madness and we could have been kidnapped . . .” Callie gulped, “. . . or worse.”

“We are fine, Cal. Nothing happened to us, and we arrived back home safe and sound.”

“Oh, if Father ever found out . . .”

“He won’t, trust me, he won’t.” Cadence closed her eyes.

“What about Uncle Phillip? Do you think he’ll tell?”

“He said he wouldn’t. Besides, this is the same Uncle that taught us how to pick a lock. He won’t be telling anyone anything.” Her thoughts went to many memories she had with her uncle and had her sister not been frantically worrying, she would have smiled.

“And what about Caspian? Do you think he knows we are royalty?” Callie’s face paled once more.

“No, we never said anything about it . . . he only knows that we live here, no thanks to you.” She muttered. “For all he knows, we could be laundry maids.”

“So, Father won’t find out?” Callie asked once more.

“No, Father will not find out.”

“Good, because we’d never be allowed outside ever again, and our swimming privileges would be taken away forever and our fencing would end and . . .”

“Callie,” Cadence interrupted her sister, “it’s over and done. We’ll stay at the palace from now on unless Father says otherwise.”

“You are certain?”

“Yes, I am certain.” But deep inside Cadence knew she believed the opposite to be true. She had made a promise to herself long ago and that was a promise she intended to keep.

As she lay in bed that night her thoughts kept wondering to the man who had saved them. It wasn’t until now that Cadence remembered how ruggedly handsome he was. His voice was deep and held a certain authority she had never heard before. If she hadn’t been annoyed by his arrogant persistence, she may have been infatuated with the man, but she knew better. Besides, he worked for the Pirate Earl and that title was much more accommodating than some crewman. In the end, he was nothing but an arrogant privateer whose ego was higher than the water at high tide.

With that in mind, Cadence grinned and rolled over to her side. The last thought she had was the never ending, nagging feeling that something more awaited her.

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