Authors: Barbara Devlin
THE BLACK MORASS
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2016 Barbara C. Noyes
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Barbara Devlin
The Pirates of the Coast Badge is a registered trademark ® of Barbara Devlin.
Cover art by Lewellen Designs
BRETHREN OF THE COAST SERIES
Loving Lieutenant Douglas: A Brethren of the Coast Prequel
Enter the Brethren
My Lady, the Spy
The Most Unlikely Lady
Captain of Her Heart
The Lucky One
Love with an Improper Stranger
To Catch a Fallen Spy
PIRATES OF THE COAST
The Black Morass
KATHRYN LE VEQUE’S KINDLE WORLD OF DE WOLFE PACK
This book is dedicated to my dear friend Captain KD Rowell of the Fort Worth Police Department. In so many ways, she is the big sister I never had, and much like the familial characters in my books, she is unfailing in her support and encouragement.
While researching pirate culture for this book, I came across several scholarly articles that addressed the popular vernacular often associated with the genre and its larger than life buccaneers. To my surprise, I learned that most of the familiar clichés, such as ‘shiver me timbers’ and ‘argh, matey,’ derive from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Hollywood’s exaggerated productions of Stevenson’s book. In truth, the pedestrian colloquialisms have no basis in authenticity of the era. For that reason, I have omitted any reference to popular but disingenuous idioms. My decision should not be construed as a critique of Stevenson or other authors of the genre. Rather, I support an author’s poetic license as an essential component of their voice. As such, my choice reflects my unique vision for my work, and I hope you enjoy my tale.
THE BLACK MORASS
Virtue was a
highly overrated characteristic in his estimation. In truth, he ranked it in the miserable depths of humanity comprised of respectability and righteousness. For the strong and fearless, the glorified traits of honor and integrity functioned as an impenetrable barrier to the excitement of the worldly existence filled with violence and debauchery in which he once reveled on a daily basis. In exchange for societal approval, grown men surrendered their dignity, and their whore’s pipe, he would argue, to abide by a set of rules in which most had no say, and for what? High principles? Prestige? Indeed, such noble qualities sucked dry the marrow of life, leaving naught but the simple pleasures to enjoy, as the
rode the waves.
Sunshine glittered on the ocean, as a sea of precious diamonds, and a cool breeze sifted through his long black hair, as Jean Marc Cavalier directed the helmsman. Restless and yearning for stimulation, something to feed the hunger that gnawed at his harrowed soul, he approached with caution what appeared to be a burning schooner that he might offer aid, in accord with the pact he signed in a moment of weakness or perhaps insanity.
“No movement on deck, Cap’n.” Tyne, the bosun, lowered his spyglass. “Should we continue our advance?”
“We will maintain course and heading, just to be sure there are no survivors in need of rescue.” For some strange suspicion he could not quite shake, Jean Marc surmised all was not as it seemed, given the nearest vessel disappeared below the horizon before he could inquire after the circumstances of the misadventure. For a seaman, naught struck fear in the heart more than fire aboard ship, which could send an entire crew to Davy Jones’s locker. And he had given his word to perform meritorious deeds for a full year, in trade for an unconditional pardon. At the end of twelve months, Jean Marc and his men would be free of past crimes, beholden to none.
But at what price had he bartered his autonomy?
It was for that reason Jean Marc refused to sail past the doomed lady. And then he spied activity at the stern rail, on the quarterdeck. “Come about.”
“What is it?” Peering over his shoulder, Tyne narrowed his stare. “Is that a white flag?”
As they drew closer, Jean Marc smiled, and a familiar itch in his palms had him flexing his fingers. The lure of conquest burned bright in his loins, and he struggled with a craving for fresh meat, if only to reassert authority over his life. “It is a woman.” He laughed. “And she waves her undergarments.”
Perhaps fate smiled upon him, as the chit might be just the balm to ease his unrest and allow him to regain a measure of control. Obligated to the Crown, and no longer the master of his destiny, he thirsted for the power of ultimate domination, and nothing compared to the supremacy inherent in seduction.
“Bloody hell, she is a tasty bit o’ fluff.” Tyne licked his lips. “And a bottle of Jamaican rum says she is unspoiled, too.”
“I believe you are correct in your assertion,
.” That tempered Jean Marc’s ever-growing arousal, as he never claimed virgin’s blood, because he preferred experienced whores who knew what he wanted and gave it to him, without complaint or inconvenient emotional attachments. Then he got a good look at the boon, in question, as the
glided to a halt, and full-blown lust threatened to consume him. Maybe it was time to sample the tender flesh of an innocent. “Ahoy, dear lady. Jean Marc Cavalier, most definitely at your service.”
“Kind sir, I would be grateful for passage to Port Royal.” Behind her, the masts collapsed, and she shrieked. How he ached to make her squeal with enthusiasm, as he would wager she could scream much louder with the right inducement. “As you can see, my current accommodation is about to sink, and I am in dire need of new transportation.”
“Lower the plank.” He signaled the crew. “As I am certain we can strike a mutually beneficial bargain.” With a lush figure made for sin, and of that he could envision committing many with her, and alabaster skin he fully intended to explore in more intense inspection, once he got her alone, she presented a delightful distraction. “How is it your ship fell into such misfortune, and where is the crew?”
“They are dead.” Tears pooled in her vivid blue eyes, and she emitted a soft sob, but he cared not for her sad tale. “We were attacked by pirates, and I hid in the captain’s cabin, in a small compartment beneath a concealed floor panel, which he revealed he previously used for smuggling, thus I was spared.”
.” As the bow dipped below the surface of the water, he slipped an arm about her hips and whisked her aboard the
“Oh, do collect my bundles, as they hold irreplaceable personal items, including some of my mother’s keepsakes.” She pointed to two pillowcases, knotted at the opening. “Please, sir. I cannot lose them, and I shall ensure you are handsomely compensated, when I reach my destination, as I hail from a family of means.”
“Is that so? Then your every wish is my command.” And she would compensate him, all right, but not in the coin she proposed, as he had something else in mind for the delectable brown-haired wench. In seconds, Jean Marc jumped to the now high-pitched stern, grabbed the belongings, glanced into the waist of the doomed vessel, and discovered the remains of a massacre, which made no sense. At the very least, the sailors could have been sold into slavery, so why would anyone surrender such valuable cargo? A large crack in the boards indicated the ship yielded its last breath to the force of the ocean, and he took a running leap to safety. When he gained his footing, the woman flung herself at him and wept. “Now, now, none of that,