The Captain’s Rebel
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“What are you doing aboard my ship?”
I swallowed hard, my lip trembling as I fumbled for the words. I didn’t even know where to start, and my face burned as I tried to gather my thoughts. No matter how I told the story, it all seemed so ridiculous.
“Tell me!” he commanded.
“I’m searching for my fiancé.”
He took a step forward, his boots thudding hard on the floor. “Your fiancé.” He took another step, and I flinched. The ship rolled and tumbled beneath my feet, and I grasped onto the panels, my fingers digging into the polished oak planks.
“Are you mad?” His fists clenched at his sides, powerful and trembling.
“It would look that way, sir.” My eyes drilled into a tiny knot on the floor, willing myself to shrink in size so I could dive into it and scurry away like a little mouse. But his boots thundered forward, the small buckles making a sound like clinking chains.
“Are you in some sort of trouble? Is that it? Are you with child?” His voice softened, and I looked up, startled at the sudden change in his tone.
“Well, then?” he boomed.
I jumped, folding myself deeper into the corner of the room. What could I have possibly said to him in that moment? Telling Captain Grant that Johnny’s father had accused me of stealing, so I had to run away to consummate our marriage in order to clear my name and win back my homeland was perhaps not the best way to endear myself to him.
“There’s been…” I swallowed the lump in my throat. “There’s been trouble at home.”
Grant let out an exasperated sound, shaking his head and turning away with a curse. “You do understand you are aboard a ship with over seven hundred male sailors, correct? A woman has no place on a ship of the line bound for battle. I cannot guarantee your safety.”
“I know that, sir.”
“And due to the nature of our mission, I am in no position to turn us around.”
He shook his head, pacing the room. “You have endangered yourself and my men with your presence. I know officers who would hang you for treason against England for what you have done.”
“I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not English, then.” The words popped out before I could stop them, my latent nationalism waving a pitiful green flag in the dim light of the Captain’s chambers.
A muscle flickered in his jaw, and when he turned to me again, I nearly gasped at the rage in his bright eyes. All the blood drained from my face, and I bit my lip, willing my saucy tongue to hold still.
“You think this is some sort of game?” His eyes narrowed, and he pressed closer to me.
My courage fired back, and I straightened, raising my shoulders in a challenge.
His eyes flitted over me from head to toe, and he made a low sound in the back of his throat. “I should throw you overboard and let the fish eat at your rebel heart.”
“Better to die a rebel than live as a slave.”