Skull and Dagger

Total Chapters: 16

The year is 1735, and a spirited young Elizabeth Summers is miserable at being sent sailing for England in order to keep her arranged marriage with nobleman Parker Abrahms. However, everything changes when her ship is attacked by William the Bloody and his murderous crew, and soon Elizabeth finds herself a not-so-unwilling captive. But how far will she be willing to go once she realizes that her true love is a thief and a pirate?

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Author’s Notes: Allow me explain the source of another of my bizarre story ideas. ~_^ I had a little bit of a cold over break (note how illness is a constant theme in my odd stories) and it suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to see the movie The Sea Hawk which I adored when I was a kid. And then, for some strange reason, I asked myself “What if Spike was a pirate?” And I could so see it. I kind of went “Argh! I’ve already got an AU. I can’t do another one.” But my Muse just thumbed her nose at this logical argument and dropped this entire story into my head. And it’s never a good idea to argue with one’s Muse. ~_^ So basically this whole story is done in the old pirate movie style, with just enough Kantayra-style sex to make it, er…gratifying. I hope you enjoy…

Chapter 1: Bon Voyage

“A toast!” Henry Summers, wealthy colonial sharecropper and soon to be British noble, announced.

“A toast!” The forty-nine landholders seated at the long, chestnut dinning table all arose, holding their wineglasses up high.

“To wise investments and a more prosperous tomorrow!” Henry proclaimed with a cultured smile.

Glasses clinked as the elite of North Carolina shared in his toast.

“Although perhaps not quite so prosperous as our host,” Daniel Stewart commented, nodding his head in Henry’s direction. “Tell me, how ever did you manage it? Married into the House of Lords – quite an amazing accomplishment, even for you.”

“Especially given your daughter’s, er…spirited tendencies,” Thomas Archer agreed.

Henry laughed. “I can assure you,” he began, “the Abrahms’ aren’t accepting my offer because of Elizabeth’s charming personality.”

“All about business then, is it?” Archer inquired.

“It is a shame that so many of our fatherland’s nobility have fallen into such hardship in recent years,” Henry agreed in a manner that indicated all too clearly that all he cared about the matter was how it had benefited him personally. “The Abrahms have indeed fallen upon hard times in recent years. And, if they’re eager to ally with the ample estates I’ve set up here in the colonies in order to rebuild their wealth, who am I to object?”

Stewart laughed. “Even though their son must endure a marriage with young Elizabeth?”

“From what I’ve heard, this Parker of theirs is quite the philanderer,” Henry said dismissively. “They’re glad to have him settled down…at least officially.”

“And Elizabeth is not so displeasing of countenance,” Archer joked lightly. “At least he’ll have that consolation after they’re wed.”

Henry raised his glass in agreement. “I figure she’ll be able to at least bare him a few good sons. Fair trade all around.”

“If he can break her in properly,” Stewart commented wryly. “You never quite managed that, did you, Summers?”

Henry hid his displeasure at what he considered to be the greatest failure of his life. Everything else in his work, his landholdings, his family, and his social circle had come off perfectly, expect for that stubborn daughter of his who just refused to bend to his as any proper lady of her standing should.

“It’s her husband’s task now,” he made light of the subject, unwilling to let anything mar this, the night of his crowning achievement. Marriage to nobility was indeed rare with colonial families these days. He had already received reports of the stir it was causing back in good, old England. But all that really mattered was that the Abrahms’ were desperate enough to go through with this arranged marriage. Thankfully, the recent piracy on the Atlantic had reduced the old Lord’s holdings to virtually nothing.

“May her husband reign her in better than her father has,” Stewart pressed the point a bit bitterly. After all, who wouldn’t be jealous of Henry’s recent success?

Henry gave him a tightlipped smile and raised his glass in agreement.

“To the taming of the screw,” Archer laughed, joining in the most recent toast as well, “provided she doesn’t pull another of those stunts of hers first…”

* * *

“Are you mad?” Anya demanded as Elizabeth slung herself over the edge of her balcony.

“Not yet,” Elizabeth retorted, “and as long as you continue to lower the rope, I’ll remain of good temper.” She grabbed hold of the makeshift rope she’d created through knotted bed-sheets and tested its strength once more.

Anya whispered a silent prayer that she would escape this latest adventure of her mistress’ concocting. “It’s really not so bad,” she informed the blond beauty even as she lowered the rope for her. “In fact, the company of a man can be most…enjoyable.”

“You’ve heard everything I have,” Elizabeth retorted. “This Parker Abrahms is nothing but a petty whore-mongerer!”

“Which will only make his that much more experienced in how to please you,” Anya countered.

Elizabeth gave her a dark long. “There is no way I’m going through with this idiotic plan of my father’s,” she insisted. She lowered herself further down the rope.

Anya winced when she felt the knots strain with Elizabeth’s weight. “You never know,” she called down as quietly as she could, “he could be the one to finally win your heart…”

“Some stuffy, inbred, British Lord?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Hardly.”

“You’d rather have some idle, flaccid landowner?” Anya retorted. “Or a dirty merchant?”

“Given the choices, I’d rather have nothing at all,” Elizabeth declared. “Lower me further.”

Anya let loose another coil, and Elizabeth fell another few feet. The sheet stretched out dangerously. “I don’t think it will hold,” she commented just as Elizabeth felt the rope give way.

Anya scrambled to hold it, but the knot slipped and, with a little screech, Elizabeth fell some fifteen feet to the ground…

* * *

…Coincidentally, just as Archer had finished his comment. The sound of her cry was easily heard by everyone at the dinner party, and they all turned to the window to watch in astonished disbelief as the young Elizabeth Summers came falling down from the sky, landing in an ungraceful heap on the far side of the lawn.

“Simmons!” Henry called out to his butler, but his need had already been anticipated.

In a matter of seconds, half a dozen footmen had rushed to their mistress’ side, breathing sighs of relief at discovering that she was uninjured. They attempted to extricate her from the tangled sheet, but her own wild thrashings only made the job more difficult.

Poor John got a hit in the nose for his troubles, and all the others winced in sympathy. Elizabeth Summers had an unfortunate tendency to go for the nose, and it wasn’t pretty when she did it.

“Is she all right?” Anya called down from the third story window where she and Elizabeth had been locked for the night in a hopeless attempt to keep the younger blond from attempting to escape.

“Fine,” Michael called up, giving her an eager smile. Anya was known for eagerly awarding men’s friendliness, and he wouldn’t mind one last shot at the blond before she sailed away to England tomorrow.

“Get off of me!” Elizabeth finally pulled herself free of the sheets and rose to her feet, fists ready to pummel any nose that got within ten feet of her.

The footmen warily back off into a circle around her.

“You fools!” Henry cried out from the dinning room window, watching the spectacle on the lawn with embarrassment. “Grab her!”

The six strong young men looked at each other nervously, gulping at the enraged expression on their Master’s daughter’s face.

“O-On three.” Michael’s voice was shaking. “One, two…”

Elizabeth tried to bolt, but valiant efforts on the parts of all the footmen finally got her arms and legs secured. The six of them dragged her, still struggling, back to the dinning room where her father awaited.

“Do I have to keep you in chains?” Henry hissed, snatching her from the servants and marching her off into the hallway where all his guests wouldn’t be able to gawk at the spectacle.

Elizabeth tried to pull free of his grasp, but it was like iron. “Not even that will get me on that ship tomorrow,” she retorted.

“You’ll be on that ship,” Henry insisted, “if I have to throw you over my shoulder and carry you myself!”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Elizabeth retorted. “It would sully your precious reputation to be seen in public like that.”

“It would sully my reputation more should this marriage not go through,” Henry retorted.

“I’ll never marry Parker,” Elizabeth insisted.

Henry’s eyes narrowed. “You stubborn little brat!” he hissed. “This is the greatest opportunity of my career! Do you have any idea what a noble endorsement will do for my shipping company?”

“You care for your businesses more than you do for your own flesh and blood!” Elizabeth accused.

“That is it!” Henry roared angrily. “You are my daughter and will obey my commands!”

“I will not!” Elizabeth retorted.

“Then I shall just have to make you…” Henry hissed angrily. “Simmons, get some rope!”

* * *

Fourteen hours later, Elizabeth sat in her small cabin aboard the ship, still tied firmly to one of her father’s sitting room chairs, narrowed eyes shooting daggers at everyone present except Anya. She continued to gnaw at the gag her father had resorted to when she’d refused to stop screaming bloody murder in protest to her restraints long past midnight.

Anya eyed the two footmen that guarded Elizabeth and gave her an apologetic smile when, once again, she assessed that she wouldn’t be able to overpower them and free her mistress.

Elizabeth nodded and her eyes softened, letting Anya know that she didn’t hold her responsible for her current predicament.

“At last!” Henry entered the room with a tall, slim man dressed in priestly clothing. “You set sail in minutes,” she informed Elizabeth with a victorious smile, indicating that the two footmen could depart.

The clergyman watched the spectacle of the rather small young woman hog-tied to a chair and guarded by several men in astonished – and somewhat horrified – disbelief. “Th-That is no proper way to transport a lady,” he began with a hesitant stutter.

“It’s the only way to transport this ‘lady’,” Henry retorted, finally removing the gag from Elizabeth’s mouth.

“I’ll never do it!” she exclaimed immediately. “Never!”

“Yes, yes.” Henry patted her cheek disinterestedly. Raising her had always been his wife’s job, and after her death Anya’s, so he felt no loss in her parting. In fact, he’d never really bothered to get to know her at all. “Although I can’t imagine how even you will manage to escape this ship while it’s at sea. And I have Father Giles’ assurance that he won’t release you until you’re well at sea…as well as making sure you don’t evade the Abrahms’ once you arrive in England.”

“Quite right,” Giles nodded, although he seemed a bit more nervous about his mission now that he had actually seen the situation. He hadn’t really believed that the young lady had been literally tied to a chair.

“You should be grateful,” Henry informed Elizabeth. “Without my contacts, you would never have found a man that would wed you. Now, can we not at least have a pleasant good-bye?”

“I will find a way to escape,” Elizabeth informed him coldly.

Henry let out a weary sigh. This whole family thing had always been strange to him. At least now, his terror of a daughter would be another man’s problem. “You will follow my instructions exactly,” he informed Giles.

The clergyman nodded. “T-To the very letter,” he agreed.

Henry nodded, satisfied. “Farewell, Elizabeth. It has been an…interesting experience…” And then he was gone.

Elizabeth and Anya exchanged a look and nodded.

Giles hadn’t even noticed, having been too busy settling himself down and leafing through his own personal notebook.

Anya carefully inched over to where a loose wooden plank rested against the wall. Still, Giles didn’t notice.

Slowly, she stepped up behind him, swinging the plank high and…

He fell to the ground unconscious with a thunk.

“Hurry!” Elizabeth exclaimed. “Untie me before we set sail!”

Anya produced a very unladylike knife from the folds of her skirt and proceeded to cut the ropes that bound Elizabeth. In a matter of seconds, she was freed.

“Let’s go.” She grabbed Anya’s hand and together they fled their cabin, racing up the stairs to the deck and seeing…

“God damn it!” Anya exhibited yet another of her unladylike tendencies.

Elizabeth’s heart sunk as she saw the distant shoreline. They must’ve set off only seconds after her father departed and had very favorable winds to carry them out this far already.

“I can’t swim that,” she commented with a forlorn sigh.

Anya nodded gravely. “So what do we do now?”

“Make a break for it once we get to England,” Elizabeth decided.

* * *

“I hope you know that watching over you prevented me from properly saying good-bye to several attractive young men,” Anya informed Elizabeth first thing in the morning on day four of their voyage, just as she had every other morning since they’d left. “You owe me for life.”

“Think of it this way,” Elizabeth teased back. “You’ve got every single sailor of this ship to choose from. We’re the only passengers aboard, so that means we’re the only women…”

Anya looked slightly cheered up at that before she slumped again. “I can’t,” she sighed. “I’ll be stuck with them for the entire rest of the voyage. What if they want more sex, and I don’t? I can’t deal with that kind of commitment!”

Elizabeth shook her head at the other woman’s insatiable appetite for the less fair sex – or, more appropriately, her appetite for just sampling as much as possible of it. For all Anya’s experience, she’d never once found a man that could hold her interest for more than a few weeks.

“Why did my father ever let you stay on as my companion?” Elizabeth wondered at Anya’s inappropriateness for the hundredth time.

“Because I was the only one you could stand,” Anya reminded her, “and he was sick of searching.”

Elizabeth laughed at that before shuddering. “I swear you were the only woman with a personality that father even let meet me.”

“That’s because I, er…convinced Simmons to add me to the list of candidates,” Anya said with a little wink.

Elizabeth laughed. “What would I ever do without you?” she gave her best friend a fond smile.

“You wouldn’t even get to hear about orgasms,” Anya informed her.

“I suppose that’s as close as I’ll ever get to one,” Elizabeth sighed.

Anya patted her shoulder reassuringly. “You could always check out all the muscular, sweaty sailors,” she suggested perkily.

Elizabeth grimaced slightly. “I can’t,” she began, “I—”

“Want it to be with someone you love,” Anya repeated out of rote memory. “How many times do I have to tell you that love is completely unnecessary to—”

“Good morning, ladies,” Giles stepped into the small dinning cabin.

Elizabeth and Anya both broke off their conversation with a little giggle. Giles was the true spirit of a clergyman: wise and fatherly (about allowing Elizabeth to cry onto his shoulder about her marriage and assuring her that everything would be all right), forgiving (about things like, say, being hit over the head by a wooden plank…although only after the two of them had apologized profusely and he’d heard their whole story), and, above all, completely and utterly mortified every time either of them mentioned “conjugal relations.” So, out of deference to the only other passenger aboard the trading ship, the two of them just barely managed to avoid discussing the subject in his presence.

“Feel up to breakfast today?” Elizabeth commented, surprised.

Giles nodded slowly, so as not to create any unnecessary motion, and the two women had to agree that he looked a bit less green today than he had the last three days.

“Sit down,” Anya offered brightly, gesturing to the only available chair.

Giles sat down in it, flinching slightly when the ship hit a larger wave and the cabin rocked gently. “Don’t let me interrupt your conversation,” he recovered his stomach and said politely.

Elizabeth and Anya exchanged a nervous look.

“Uh…we were just discussing what we’d do when we got to England,” Elizabeth came up with a plausible alternative.

“And how we’ll find attractive men to—”

Elizabeth slapped a hand over Anya’s mouth before she could finish. She loved Anya like a sister, but sometimes (well, actually all the time) she lacked any tact whatsoever.

“Ah,” Giles nodded, a delighted little glint in his eye, “planning your escape plan from that dreadful Abrahms fellow?”

A five-minute description of Parker’s fondness for working women was all it had taken to enlist Giles as a fellow conspirator. Even Anya had to admit that he was a rather enjoyable companion…for a man that she couldn’t have sex with, at least.

“I still think we should take over the ship and sail somewhere else,” Anya pouted slightly. “France, perhaps. Or South America!”

“And how exactly would we sail the ship then?” Giles repeated his criticism of her impulsive plan, amused rather than put off.

Anya pouted slightly.

“We’re going to have to sneak off,” Elizabeth decided. “It will be too risky to assume that the Abrahms’ won’t have someone waiting for me.”

“You could always stow away in—” Giles began.

He was cut off by a deafening blast that shook the entire ship. Plates and silverware clattered to the floor as the entire cabin rocked back and forth wildly.

“What’s happening?” Anya asked frantically, eyes wide as she clutched the table.

Giles ran to the porthole window, the fear in his system keeping the seasickness at bay for once. He could see nothing, however. “We shall have to go up above…” he began just as the door to the dinning cabin flung open.

“Pirates!” exclaimed the captain before he collapsed onto the floor, a dagger planted firmly in his back…

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