Blackheart: Chapter 15


Bagnebrest

 

The guard signaled down from the wall to open the first gate of the bagne. While the town was largely quiet, those few who loitered were generally a mix of the homeless, whores and soldiers. The slow and rusting sounds of chains grinding around pulleys echoed in the quiet cobbled streets. A drunk leaned against a wall, wrapped in a rough blanket his face shadowed by nightfall. Two whores wandered past him, drawing his eye. He watched them as they moved to the gates and began to flirt with the guards. His hackles went up when one of the guards reached out to lift one of the women’s skirts. A roughened hand shot out and gripped his knee. The cripple lounging against the wall on the ground below him, had appeared until now, to be asleep.

“Steady, lad. You don’t want to put them in any more danger.” Taylor spoke a very perfunctory and colloquial French. Useful in the streets, hopeless in the ballrooms. Christian slumped back, mumbling some incoherent, intoxicated and meaningless rant as he pulled out a weathered and beaten hip flask and threw down the contents. He wished he truly was drunk. Watching his wife flirt with another man set his teeth on edge. The fact that she was in mortal danger whilst doing so had his heart pumping hard. Despite his outward appearance, he was poised ready to close the distance in a few seconds and kill the men should they overstep his arbitrarily drawn bounds.

They watched without looking as the ladies laughed with the guards, enticing them to drink the wine they carried with them. The raffia bottle holder was passed from hand to hand, both guards drinking down liberal amounts as the girls draped themselves over their arms. When one of the men pulled Ana in for a kiss Taylor instinctively grabbed Christian again.

“Steady, lad, steady.” Ana pushed away from his body with laughter but the burly guard wrapped a thick arm around her shoulder, pulling her back against his body as he whispered something in her ear. Christian felt his heart lurch as Taylor continued to hold him back. A low growl echoed in his chest as he denied himself the pleasure of running headlong at the reprobate and knocking the teeth from his mouth. If, he indeed had any. The tension in Ana’s body was evident to him at this distance, as was the distaste on her face at what he imagined was the stale and rotten odor of the ogre’s breath upon her perfect neck. Just as his restraint was about to snap, Ana said something indecipherable to her captor who released her, the lust clearly emanating from his ugly face. She turned back toward the guard with smoky laughter and began to dance, singing a lewd ditty that had him wondering where she had learned the words. Her dance became more overtly sensual as drew them into her web. Christian’s body responded to the sultry tones of her voice as much as the flash of her booted ankles and the sway of her hips. Only, he wanted that dance, that song to himself, in the privacy of their room, not out here for everyone to see. The guards’ laughter became slow and sanguine as their bodies began to sag. Leila directed the fall of their bodies behind the wall and out of sight and Christian finally released the breath he had been holding at the same time as Taylor’s hand slackened its grip on his leg.

The signal was given, in a series of shouts, for the second gate to slide open. As it did, two of Christian’s men unobtrusively slipped into the role of external gate guards, acting as though nothing was amiss, as the two women hurried along the along the road and disappeared from sight where it narrowed into an alley, running uphill and away from the prison.

Christian slid through the shadows to the turn in the road, just as the wagon emerged through the gates. From the hidden shelter of a doorway, he watched the wagon approaching the bend. The road was rough and strewn with mud and slurry, delaying the wagon’s swaying progress. The agonizing wait heightening his anxiety and senses. Christian looked up the dark alley and silently urged the women to move further up the lane and out of sight. Once they were gone, he moved into position.

Covertly, he tried to make out the number of men in the wagon’s cell. Six silhouettes were shrouded in darkness as the wagon rolled along the waterfront road. The cell itself was open to the elements and he cursed at the thought of how quickly the French weather changed at this time of the year. He imagined that Ethan might not be in the best of health after months, if not years of incarceration and a slow and arduous journey in an open cage across the French countryside might well kill him.

In addition to those who now herded the wagon through the lane, other members of Christian’s crew had taken up strategic positions at various points in or near the vicinity of the prison. To the east of the lane, at the end of a dark path that wound between buildings, two men stood with enough horses waiting to whisk the crew and prisoners to freedom. Around a dark bend, out of sight of the jail and half way between it and the square, four men stood with guns and swords ready. They were under Christian’s orders not to fire the guns in the night lest they alert the cavalry guard who would be busy mounting their horses in the square. The women stepped through between them and into a hidden courtyard, where they slipped out of their skirts, rolling the materials into bundles, revealing the men’s clothing they wore underneath.

The imposter guards secured the outer gate of the prison in steely silence after the wagon disappeared from view, then hoisted the two unconscious men over their shoulders and followed as quickly, hugging the building as they went. They soon joined Taylor who made sure that no one unexpected followed them into the alley. Taylor glanced back at the prison walls and sent up a silent prayer that nothing had aroused their suspicions behind the great gated fortress.

In his hurry to move his men and their quarry beyond the gaze of the stone walls, he had failed to notice that they had almost caught up with the wagon’s progress. The rear wagon guard noticed though and the movement of those following behind had been enough to cause him to try to send up a warning shout.

Taylor watched in horror as the man registered their approach. He broke into a run, trying to stop the man from giving them away. At the moment that the guard had thrown his head back and cupped his thick lips, Christian slipped out of the door way to the side and clamped a heavy hand over the man’s mouth. Dragging him from the back of the wagon, he allowed the body to hit the ground before taking the man’s head in an iron grip and slamming it against a stone wall, knocking the guard unconscious. The driver had neither heard nor felt a thing as Christian leapt aboard the wagon. Holding one finger up to silence the prisoners, Christian scaled the outside of the cage and made his way toward driver’s blind side. At the same time, the wagon turned the bend and drove straight into the road block of Christian’s men.

“Sacre….” Before the man could make another sound, Christian wrapped an arm around the man’s neck and clamped a steely palm over his mouth.

“You will say nothing more, do you understand?” Christian hissed in French as the man who at first struggled, seemed to think better of it when one of the four crewmen leveled the barrel of his rifle at the man’s head. Fear stalled the driver’s response but Christian tightened his arm, choking the man slightly before eliciting a cooperative nod. Taylor arrived on the other side and pried the driver’s fingers from Christian’s arm before binding the man’s hands together with a short rope. He then slid a cloth around his head to gag him as Christian released his grip. Once he was secure, Taylor took out a pistol and using the handle, knocked the driver unconscious.

While Christian and Taylor disarmed the driver, Leila and Ana had sneaked in behind and made short work of the locks, releasing the cell door that held the prisoners captive. The men were all dressed in the garb of the prison, their colored hats denoting that they were destined to be imprisoned for life. There were eight men in total, each one tethered to another by the ankle. Taylor had rummaged through the pockets of the unconscious guard and located the keys to release them and handed it through the bars to the men to effect the final part of their release. The more able bodied scrambled out immediately, leaving a slumped form in the arms of a shadowy giant who, Ana felt, had a familiar form and stature to her husband. James Grey, she presumed.

“Leila.” James’ voice cracked. “You’re a sight for sore eyes. I knew you’d come for me.”

“Shut up, you imbecile. I didn’t come for you.” Leila hissed as she indicated the other weaker man who rested in his arms. Stepping back to allow Taylor the space to remove Ethan from the cage, her next words were directed to the others. “You need to follow us.”

A look passed between the prisoners but none of them hesitated, weak though they were, to heed her words. One of the larger crewmen went to Taylor’s side to relieve him of his burden, hoisting a very dehydrated and emaciated Ethan over his shoulder before turning back to Leila. The women took the lead, and not a man hesitated to follow as they moved the small rag tag group through the hidden pathway between the buildings, out to where the horses waited. Christian had brought four horses aboard the ship but it was Leila who had been able to provide the information about where to find more cattle. It was one of the benefits of being in a military port and one of the risks. No sooner had they stepped out from between the buildings than there was a flurry of activity as each of Christian’s men, mounted a horse and took one of the released prisoners up behind him. Within minutes they were flying over the cobbled roads to the eastern most wharf.

Taylor and Christian loaded the unconscious bodies of the three guards and the driver into the cage and locked it. Allowing enough time for the others to get a head start, the two men walked to either side of the team. When they judged that the others would have made it to where the horses were waiting, they slapped the wagon’s horses on the rump, urging the team on, knowing that they had less than ten minutes to get to the the rendezvous point. That was how long they had estimated it would take the wagon, now without a driver, to make its way through what remained of the narrow twisting lane, to the square. If they were lucky, it might take the horse guard another ten or fifteen minutes past that time, to slow the team, work out what had happened and find their direction. It was a vague hope.

The pair ran as fast as they could through the pathway. Christian’s heart clenched in his chest as he emerged from between the buildings to see that Ana had waited behind with the remaining horses. Her disobedience was causing him to have palpitations and he resolved, yet again, not to let her defiant actions go unpunished.

“What are you doing here? You should be half way back to the ship, by now.” Fear for her safety flooded his senses and caused her horse to rear up. She fought for control of the great stallion finally bringing the beast to heel. She would not chance a further argument with Christian for fear of what the horse might do. That pleasure could wait until they were safely back aboard the ship.

Placing his foot in the stirrup that she kicked free, he swung up behind her. To her surprise, he passed the foothold back to her and let her take the reigns. She nudged the horse urgently with her boots and within minutes they were charging at full gallop through the city streets toward the ship, her husband lightly gripping her waist for balance.

They heard the shout go up from the square and the sound of hooves pounding the cobbled streets as their pursuers rushed after them. They were galloping along the winding road of the waterline, searching for the distinctive cone roofline of the Tour Tanguy. Although there was some obvious confusion while the cavalry guard picked up their trail, Ana didn’t lose her nerve, steering the horse by the soft light of the moon. Christian kept an eye over his shoulder and tried not to show any panic as the guard began to close the distance between them.

Glancing over at Taylor, he saw the grim set of the other man’s mouth. A message passed between them and Taylor moved ahead, ensuring that the horses kept a sound footing as they negotiated the uneven terrain. Christian cursed the state of the French roads but Ana showed no pause as she fell in behind Taylor’s lead, keeping close to him on the trail. Nor did she give more than a quick glance behind her as she felt Christian take out his pistol and cock the hammer. Then he waited.

“Why don’t you shoot?” She was panting, breathless, frightened. Taking action helped calm her so his inaction was playing on her nerves.

“I have one shot and they aren’t within range. I can’t take the chance.” His left arm tightening around her waist was a comfort. Knowing he was taking aim at the shadows pursuing them was not. If he were aiming at them, then she was quite sure that they were aiming back. She dug in hard urging the great stallion to go faster as they headed down the slope toward the wharf.

The docks were mostly empty at this time of night as they thundered toward the ship, however, as a naval port, they had little doubt that pursuit ships would be mustered efficiently. The remainder of Christian’s crew was ready and waiting to cast off as soon as they were aboard. Christian had to admire his wife’s horsemanship as she deftly maneuvered the stallion across the walkway to the ship’s deck only pulling up at the last minute by sheer force of will and the assistance of waiting hands. A shot sounded in the night, a bullet ripping through air to left of them as the deck hands moved the last of the horses below deck. The armed contingent of Christian’s crew stood at the ready, taking careful aim. A yell rent the night air as one of the French guards went down.

Ana felt herself ripped from the saddle by Taylor who crouched protectively over her as they ran for the safety of the stairs. Once she had begun to descend he turned and raced back to Christian’s side where he took shelter behind the deck railing.

“Take the helm,” Christian yelled the instruction over the gunfire. “We will hold them off.” Taylor nodded and worked his way back to the bridge. The orders were being obeyed before they were given as the ship’s crew scrambled to get them away from the dock. The gunners had shifted the small canons into position and were causing the French guard to fall back. To the right of him, Christian saw James standing to take aim at a marksman who had taken up position forward of the line. His aim was true and the man went down but not before the guard had fired his shot, sending a ball straight into James’ shoulder. Not a sound came from him as he hit the deck.

Christian and one of the officers from the Ruby Queen, dragged James clear of the action. Another of the crew rushed over, relieving Christian of the burden.

“Take him down to my cabin.” Christian’s orders were swallowed by another round of gunfire. The ship was now out of range of the French guards but the canons were still meeting their mark. Christian stood and watched as the dock grew more distant. He knew it would not be long before ships were sent after them. However, they would be at full sail and hopefully, an hour out of the port before the French could scramble into pursuit. While Christian did not relish a battle at sea under any circumstances, he felt it would be infinitely easier than being caught on foreign soil.

Once they were clear of the heads, Christian went to his cabin to check on his cousin, leaving Taylor in charge of the helm. He arrived to find his best brandy being imbibed as Ana and the ship’s doctor tended to James’ injury.

“Merely a flesh wound.” James slurred from the chair.

“The ball passed clean through. The doctor is about to apply the needle,” Ana stated, as she cleaned and swabbed around the open wound. “The big baby wouldn’t permit the process while he was sober.”

The smile belied her tension. The most impressive part was watching her acting as though she did this every day. Christian shook his head in disbelief as he turned away and noticed Leila skulking by the door. The look of distaste announced that she still had little time for his cousin and Christian wasn’t so sure that the rebuff wasn’t well deserved. James peered down the bottle at the woman, with such elemental longing that Christian nearly felt the full force of it in his gut. So that was how it was, he thought ruefully.

“Where is Ethan?” Christian cast an eye around the room with concern. God help him, he hoped that his friend hadn’t been caught in the crossfire. The thought of losing him now after all these years of searching didn’t bare thinking about. Ana looked up from her ministrations, her eyes full of such concern that he stilled for a moment. Finally, she returned to her task with a small, almost imperceptible shake of her head. Tipping her head to the side, Leila indicated that Ethan was in the next room, the one reserved for Taylor. Crossing the floor quickly Christian kissed Ana gently on the cheek before making his way across the small corridor to the room that held his friend.

As he entered the small space, he thought it first empty. The dim light from the candle sconce cast eerie shadows that danced on the walls. When his eyes adjusted, Christian saw the outline of a form, huddled on the floor in the corner of the room. He approached slowly, not wanting to frighten the man.

“Ethan?” No response except the visible shaking of emaciated muscles. Christian crept closer, his hands in front of his body, palms up in supplication. He intuitively wanted to pose no threat. Slowly, the weary head rose and empty eyes looked at him. “Ethan, it’s me Christian Grey.”

A spark of recognition, the voice of the distant past reaching through his haze. “Christian?” The dry, hoarse voice croaked under the strain of speaking. A hand reached out, filthy and scarred with cuts and bruising. “Where? Where am I?”

“You’re safe aboard the Black Diamond, old friend.” Christian crossed to the water jug and poured a small tankard of fresh water, then he walked slowly back to the corner and lowered himself to be at level with Ethan. The eyes of his comrade appeared so lost and empty. A heavy beard covered his soiled skin, while his head was shaved, making him seem even more ragged and small.

“Black Diamond.” The husky whisper echoed off the walls.

“Yes, you’ve been lost to us for a long time. Here drink.” Christian held the pewter cup to his friends cracked and dry lips. The first few sips became a ravenous series of gulps before Ethan choked out a cough. Christian slapped him gently on the back, then rubbed in broad circles, soothing him until his breathing was back under control. “Do you know how long you were in Brest?”

“Brest? I… I don’t know. Months, I think.” That didn’t seem right to Christian, but then nothing about Ethan seemed right at this present time. He knew with certainty that he needed to get Ethan home and standing on English soil as soon as possible. God only knows what conditions he had been held in these past few years. The more he regarded the shadow of a man before him, the less likely he thought that any of the scurrilous reports of his actions in recent years could be true. Ethan looked like he might have gone ten rounds in a bout of fisticuffs but the reality was probably far worse.

“You’ve been gone for years, Ethan. Do you recall?” Ethan’s eyebrows drew into a frown, his lips a tight grim line as he appeared to be trying to remember where the time had gone.

“No. No, I don’t recall.” He drew his knees up closer to his chest and held his head in his hands. Everything about him had gone into a pose of self-protection and Christian suddenly felt as though he might not be helping the situation. His questions and demeanor might come across as unintentionally intimidating, however, he also knew, with some certainty, that his friend was, if not lying, unable to recall the truth.

“I’m going to bring you a hip bath, my friend. We’ll get you cleaned up and ready for home.” Christian went to stand up and leave, thinking to give the man some space to adjust to his freedom, when a gnarled hand grabbed his arm.

“Home? To England?” Ethan’s eyes suddenly burned brighter. More like the old Ethan. Christian nodded. “Haverstock. I must see Haverstock.”

“All in good time, my friend. I will send message as soon as we cross the channel. Haverstock will come to you, I’m sure.” He wasn’t sure, at all. Haverstock was a spymaster, and as such, he hardly ever set foot out of London. However, Christian would send Taylor back to London on the Ruby Queen to pass the message on to Ethan’s superior, with an open invitation to Trevelyan Grange.

Sailing through the night, the Black Diamond finally caught up with the Ruby Queen at the appointed rendezvous to the north of Guernsey. During the journey, Ethan had allowed himself to be bathed by Christian and shaved by Leila and now, with a change of clothing, resembled someone that Christian used to know. His friend was still painfully thin and his haunted green eyes lacked the luster and fire of the man he knew years ago. However, this more presentable Ethan was at least a start on the road to recovery and a welcome sight after all the years of wonder and worry.

Leila stood at the door, her face impassive as she took in the new and improved Ethan. Christian wondered what role the woman had really played in his friend’s rescue. It seemed that she was better informed than any of Haverstock’s network and Christian was confident that the person who stood in the doorway was a spy. Right now, he wondered which side she was really on but from the inscrutable set of her mouth, he thought perhaps she was, probably rightfully, on no one’s side but her own.

Nothing was said between them before she stepped out into the corridor, her boots echoing toward the stairs. Christian turned back to regard Ethan and found that his friend had retreated behind his eyes. Tucking a rough blanket around him, he prayed that Ethan’s dreams would be less haunted than his own. The feeling of dread at having to reveal the ghosts that haunted his own dreams to Ethan, had him hastily retreating from the room as he sought out the safety of Ana’s arms.

If Ana had ever thought that piracy and the high seas were romantic, she was being disavowed of that notion rather thoroughly. The danger lingered in the air and crackled in the silences around them. James, who she feared was to fall into a drunken stupor, had become quite sober in the aftermath of his repair, his eyes wary and anxious at every shout coming from deck. He had been settled into the hammock that had until now been Leila’s in the small alcove room outside the Captain’s cabin. Christian had sequestered himself in the next room with Ethan, attempting to deal with the fallout of the young man’s disorientation. Leila, who had hovered assisting where she could, seemed to have removed herself atop deck where apparently she claimed she felt more at ease. All of which left Ana to clean up the remains of the surgery that had taken place.

The door opened causing her to look up as Christian stepped inside. He was dishevelled and tired but beautifully defined in his shirtsleeves, having sloughed off his jacket the moment they had arrived back on board. Without hesitation she stepped into his arms, knowing that he needed to feel the warmth and comfort of her body, just as she needed his.

“God, Ana,” he choked out, before pressing his lips to hers. The desperation inside the kiss hit Ana full force and she found herself rushing to catch up with his ardor. His hands stroked the outline of her back as if he reassured himself that she was indeed safe. His lips were at once warm and soft yet hot and demanding as his tongue swept inside her mouth seeking her own. After a few passion-driven minutes he eased back to look into her eyes. Another reassurance that she was both real and unaffected by the evening’s events. “I was so…if you ever…my heart…”

His struggle to find words was endearing and she smiled. “You were frightened. So was I.”

He scowled. “I was damn terrified and I have a good mind to punish you for the risks you took.” Even though she was quite empathetic with his fear and anger, being punished was not on her list of activities for the remainder of the night. However, he was trembling in her arms so dramatically that her heart ached for him.

“Shhh…” she soothed, taking his face in her hands. “All went well and we are here. The worst is over.”

“Is it?” His eyes closed in anguish and she knew her words, while well-meant, were naive. They still had an ocean of danger to navigate before safety was theirs and even then, she suspected that the demons of hell would chase all of them for a while longer. Her hands slid down to his chest, seeking out the assurance of his heart beating hard in his chest. “God, I need you.”

Without hesitation, she pulled him back into the kiss, her hands reaching down and gripping his tight rounded buttocks like a harlot and pulling him firmly against her stomach. His firm erection pressed through the fabric making her moan into his mouth with lust. He picked her up to bring her heat level with his need and she wrapped her legs around his waist, hooking her booted feet behind his back. The devouring motions of his mouth as he teased and tasted, demanded her acquiescence and affirmed his own need for her, caused her to cling even tighter to him. She could do no more than grip his neck and shoulders as he walked her back against the wall.

Using the wall to support along with the sheer animal strength of his well-muscled thighs, he raised her arms above her head as his mouth moved to her neck, her jaw, her ear. His kisses were less the love play of a husband and more the sampling of a man at his last meal. He lowered and raised her as he thrust against her body, the rigid heat teasing her, enticing her. There was nothing gentle in this exchange, no tender ministrations. His hand grasped her breast, massaging, kneading. The rip of her shirt didn’t surprise her. With what little room for thought he would allow her, she understood that her clothes would be the victims in this battle.

The onslaught continued, his hands slipped down to her hips as he lowered his head to her breasts and continued to thrust against her, as he took great mouthfuls of flesh and sucked hard enough to leave red marks over her creamy skin. The intention to brand her was met with passion and understanding on her part. His need to claim was as great as her own and she all but held his head firm to her torso with each suckling bite, relishing his desire, feeling it flood through her veins, giving her strength. When his lips, tongue and teeth settled upon her areola, drawing in the puckered skin and the exquisitely hard nipple, she drew in her breath. When he bit and twisted she cried out and writhed in pain as a bolt of lightning hit firm in her lower belly, sending the tingle of sensation to her sex. He worked each nipple in turn, twisting it with his teeth and lips and then laving and soothing with his hot tongue. She squeezed the muscles of her hot, needy sex seeking out the edge but not being near enough to fall. As if he sensed her final desire, his large hand dived between the fabric of her trousers and stomach, pushing the overlarge waist down her hips until he could touch her moist, slick folds. One stroke of his long fingers was all it took and she cried out, her muscles pulsing around him.

No sooner had she started coming when he released the buttons on the placket of her trousers and dragged them fully down her legs. Then kneeling before her, he began to lap furiously at her folds, dragging his tongue through the pool of moisture and causing her to cry out with the sweet agony of her prolonged release. As he did so, he slipped the fingers of one hand into her warmth and pumped through the pulsing core while his other hand deftly removed one boot and the remainder of a trouser leg. Once the task was as complete as he needed it to be he stood and hoisted her up again whilst pressing his mouth against hers, forcing her, inviting her to taste herself on his tongue. Walking across the room, he moved, not to the bed but to the large table still covered in maps and rested her buttocks on the edge. Without releasing her tongue, he reached out and swept the debris onto the floor with his hand and lay her back.

Suddenly, he stepped back from her, removing the heat of his body. She lay there, her linen shirt ripped and rendered useless, hanging open to reveal the small bodice that no longer held her breasts in check. They, hot and heavy and stiff with the excitement of the lust reflected in his eyes, stood proud and heaving with each ragged breath. She was naked from the waist down except for the lower part of her left leg where the one remaining boot held her trousers in place. Neither of them cared much for her disarray. Christian swept his black shirt off with one swift tug over his head, then made short work of the placket, lowering his trousers to his knees and revealing his long, hard, jutting erection. Taking his cock in one hand, he stroked down its length as his other hand returned to her moist folds and in wonderously synchronised movements he pumped them both. Ana’s tongue snaked out and licked her lips, announcing her craving. She sat up and grasped his erection licking the cream around the head of his cock before engulfing his stiffness with her hot mouth. He groaned and she pulled, sucking hard up the length. It was more than he could take. He pushed her back and then turned her over so that she lay flat on her stomach across the table.

For a moment, Ana was unsure of what to do, of what she had done to end their play, when he leaned over her body, covering her with his tensely muscled torso.

“Hold on to the edge, little one.” The urgent words growled in her ear demanded her obedience. Her hands reached across the table and gripped the edge and then his body was gone but only for a moment. His hands pressed her legs wider, then lifting her hips slightly, he positioned himself at her entrance. With little more than a nudge of announcement, he thrust hard inside her, sheathing his cock with her wet heat until she could have sworn he was hitting her stomach. The shock of his angry thrust was replaced by the sweet fullness of having her man exactly where she needed him. She gripped harder as he began a leisurely pull out, preparing herself for what was to come.

“I want to fuck you hard, Ana.” Although his language shocked, it also titillated. His voice was tense, the words a plea and an apology. She had time for neither.

“Do it. Fuck me hard, Christian. Please.”

He needed no further invitation. His aching cock would allow him to do nothing other than push and pump and thrust into her, taking her with all the strength he had. She cried out with the onslaught as her stomach hit the edge of the table, painfully. Then she worked out that she could push back, should push back for all she was worth. He delighted in her pink and pert ass thrusting back up in the air at him, driving him on, meeting him pound for pound as he hammered his anger, his fear, his lust, his love and desire into this waif of a woman. Into this angel from heaven. Into his strong and beautiful and sensual wife. He had no doubt she could take all he had to give and so he gave and gave, his pelvis crashing into her buttocks, drawing out all the moisture and pleasure she could give him. The smacking and slapping sounds of their fucking, as bodies crashed repeatedly like pounding waves on the rocks, was accentuated by the rolling tumble of the ship, the creaking of wood and steel and their own heavy moans. She urged him on, hastening the rhythm, building the speed, driving him to the very precipice of his need and just as he was about to find that sweet release he reached for her hand and pulled both his and hers between her legs and with fingers combined tormented the juicy hard nub of clitoris until she too cried out her orgasm into the night.

“Ana! Oh, fuck, Ana!” Christian pounded and pounded on, his seed spilling and filling her in hot, steaming waves of pleasure and pain. She screamed of some deity or another before they both collapsed on the table, his weight a comfort to her, the only thing, she was sure, that held her to this earth. Their breathing came in hot pants, their sweat slickened bodies stuck together with the wetness of her shirt.

In the next room, his body wracked with feverish pain, James stared up at the ceiling wishing he was anywhere but here. He should be relieved that Ethan was safe, no thanks to his stupidity. He should be thankful that Christian had found something or someone who had convinced him to push past his fears of failing in this prolonged battle to release men and women who had so valiantly given their lives and safety for King and country. More importantly, he should be on his knees worshiping at her feet for not giving up even when he had so arrogantly told her she was wrong. Only he knew, that her persistence was about proving that she was right and nothing to do with any feelings she might harbor for him. Turning his head toward the wall and trying to shut out the sounds his cousin and his wife were making in their ecstasy, he didn’t see the shadows move at the door.

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