So stats say that for a hundred views of Shades of Deception, I got seven reviews. Interestingly, that's a lot of views for the first days, but relatively few reviews. Perhaps it's just a guilty pleasure for readers? Ah. This amuses me to no end.

And now, my little intro for this semi-long fic. I hadn't planned on making a multi-chaptered fic in the near future, but this won't be very long. Probably around four or five parts at most. So that's good for me.

The setting is british-based. Because it's hard to find specific cultural info quickly, I only loosely based this off the british social organisation, which was closest to what I was looking for. However, there may be elements reminiscent of french structures and concepts. I guess this setting is more like a melting pot of many infos to make the alternate world global. Overall, don't concern yourselves too much with historical accuracy. It's a spin-off.


Warning: Some adult subjects, but come on. You've seen worse anyway. I'm overrating this. I tend to do that.

Onward, mates.

Part 1: Unfortunate Arrangements

The town hall was bright in the sunlight. All around, the city bustled, but when he entered the great foyer, with its large bay windows and winding stairs and large crystal chandelier and waxed marble floors and tidied carpets, all sound was muffled out. The heavy, dark and intricate wooden doors shut behind him, and in the midst of all the splendour, he couldn't help but smirk.

The valet, elegantly dressed with frills and a pale waistcoat, bowed in welcome once he was done securing the doors closed. With a self-important lilt, he said, "The lord will see you soon. Would you like to sit in the salon while you wait?"

He pressed his lips together, glancing at the other set of heavy, white double doors on his right. He took a breath, and smiled at the valet, who was waiting, chin held high, and said, "No. Thank you."

"I will see to it that Lord Harnian knows of your arrival."

He nodded, getting impatient with the uptight voice of the man. "Yes. You do that."

With a small tap of the foot and another bow, the valet eclipsed himself, an automaton.

Left to himself now, the visitor took a deep breath, and tugged at his high collar in irritation. He was not very patient by nature, and having to wait on others was something he despised, even if the others in question happened to be Lord Mayors of a nation's major city.

There was a long moment of silence, and even the air was still in the large entry hall. There was a series of footsteps, and some giggles that came from a hallway to his left. He held back a smile: finally, something interesting.

He turned his head, and, unexpectedly, was met with a beautiful, elegant young woman, blonde hair pulled up and baring her perfect, pale nape. Her handmaidens, who'd been giggling amid themselves, surrounded her. He'd thought to meet pretty servants, and instead was graced with this lovely vision. His eyes took in the breathtaking sight the fair-haired beauty made.

She wore one of the large, elegant waist dresses he saw only on the richest ladies—daughters of barons, governors' wives, and all of the often-bland female upper crust individuals.

His eyes roamed, evidently, for a brief fraction of a moment on the swell of her breast, forced up by the tight corset she wore, and onto the delicate hands she had clutching a laced fan, and the pale, fair, impeccable skin of her shoulder, and then up to her glorious visage.

And, to his surprise, she met his gaze with her own. Her eyes, piercing liquid blue gems set in a gentle, light pink, perfect featured face had him off his guard for a brief, very brief moment. Instinctively, he looked at her lips, and they were a dark, tempting, pink.

Before he could offer an appropriate greeting, she raised her eyes to the balcony. He followed her gaze.

The Lord Mayor Harnian came to lean stiffly against the railing, white rolls of hair bouncing on his shoulders as he smiled forcedly at his guest. His crinkled face and sharp eyes told the visitor not to meddle with his elderly self, and, the thought came almost instantly as the Lord Mayor glanced at the woman to his left, not to meddle with any of the household's ladies.

Evidently, the visitor decided, the gent of the old continent was not an amusing sort.

"Master Forster," Lord Harnian breathed, forcing a smile onto his face. "I've been expecting your visit."

The visitor smiled, bowing in greeting. He turned to the beautiful lady to his far side, ready to offer her a bow as well. She simply nodded stiffly, as though the arrival of the Lord Mayor had subdued all her initial hidden passion.

"Master Forster," the Lord called again, "I'd rather we not discuss this in front of my—" He interrupted himself and glanced at the young woman and her suddenly very quiet handmaidens. "Come into my office."

"Very well," the visitor nodded. He glanced one last time at the beautiful vision as she moved on into another hallway, and wondered what her relation to the Lord Mayor could be. Before he could ponder it any more, he focused on ascending the stairs and joining the Lord on the high balcony landing.

They nodded at each other in greeting, and Lord Harnian motioned at a set of double doors that, the visitor supposed, lead into the man's office. He stepped inside, and waited for the Lord Mayor to join him.

He took a spare second to glance around, taking in the heavyset desk and thick curtains. The whole place seemed heavy with self-importance. He did not take a seat. The lord walked in, and made his way to behind his desk. He gave a heavy breath and groan, and sat, as though the simple fact of walking around the large mansion's balcony was an exerting action.

There was short silence. The Lord Mayor did not offer his guest a seat. The young man did not expect him to. The elderly man pulled a seeing glass over his eye, reading some fine print on an official document.

"Link Forster, privateer," he mumbled, and it seemed the act of talking was exhausting too. "Hereby is accorded to the above named the right to—" He broke off his intelligible speech with a fading mumble. Then, he groaned after scanning the page. "… Well, you know what this is about."

The man's sharp eyes met with Link Forster's. The guest nodded.

"That, I do."

"Well then, enough twaddle talk. This is yours." The Lord Mayor rolled the document and handed it to Link. "The only addition to the list was according to your year-old request. Something or other about the Lune Empress."

Link did not hold back his smile. "Aye. I mean, yes. My thanks to you."

The Lord Mayor did not smile. He shot the young man a warning stare. "There are no other rights accorded. You must still abide to all the laws. No cockamamie decisions. We've enough to deal with in the case of Knil Drake, and should we hear of ill will on the part of the HMS Medallion, I can assure you there will be no regard whatsoever to your many years of effect."

Link Forster nodded with a faint smile. "Evidently."

"I'd suggest you bombard that foolish Drake's ship—"

"The HMS Hammer."

"Yes, that one. I'd suggest you rid the ocean waters of that troublesome cod, but my hands in the matter are tied. It seems no man is deemed strong enough to rid us of the famed Sea Devil—much less a man belonging to his home nation's fleet."

Link Forster did not answer. He waited.

"Although," the Lord Mayor said, "I would not be the kind to react if you accidentally shot a couple of your cannons in his direction upon meeting him."

Link smiled. Then, the Lord Mayor seemed to remember something. To one of the valets standing by the doors, he said, "Go fetch her."

Link frowned, and motioned to the door. "Shall I be on my way?"

"No, you stay. I've a request to make on your part."

The Lord Mayor fell quiet. The valet exited, and as he closed the door behind him, Link Forster asked, to fill in the silence, "I expect… your wife has been well?"

The Lord Mayor, apparently annoyed by the question, huffed. "Women. She's on the south coast, trying to heal from recurrent migraines. Or something or other. I'd not be surprised if she was entertaining one of her many lovers as she did."

Link Forster raised a brow, but asked nothing else. It seemed then that the Lord had not, as was the fashion, wed the young woman in the hall to be his bride. He thought of the fair-haired vision. It was just as well. He'd worried, a moment, that the poor-lucked beauty had been matched with a pathetic husband—the kind of man too old to satisfy a young woman's needs and desires.

The privateer held back a secret smile.

And then, he wondered what relation the beauty had with the Lord.

As he pondered this, the Lord Mayor began to speak again.

"As I was saying," he said tiredly, "I have a request." He interrupted himself. "I trust you've seen my niece."

Link Forster frowned. "As a matter of fact—"

"The young lady in the entrance hall."

Suddenly, it was as though Link had an illumination. "Ah," he said, hiding a note of appreciation. "I hadn't concluded that she was your niece. She looked…" He strove to find a word to describe her beauty, and then caught sight of the suspicious old man's eye. "… Healthy," he finished, a bit lamely, he admitted to himself.

"Hm," the Lord Harnian gruffly answered. "A pity she couldn't be more sickly of late. It'd have kept her out of city trouble."

"City trouble?" Link Forster couldn't help but be interested. So the girl had a devious side…? He was curious.

"I knew I ought to have forced her to leave with her aunt to the south. But she refused. Judicious, that. Of course, of late I finally figured out why. She ought to have been wed a long time ago, before the foolish idea of having a male friend would come along."

Male friend…?

"A lover?" Link Forster guessed. The Lord Mayor Harnian grimaced, as though the word was filth to his ears.

"Lovers." He spat. "Before marriage, of all things."

Link tried not to smile at the pure irony of the man's words.

"I see," Link acknowledged. "And you'd expect me to—?"

"A woman's thoughts are so easily changed. My certainty is that with a bout of new sceneries, she'll have a switch of heart. I'd been hoping you'd take her to the new continent."

As the words sunk in, Link couldn't help but furrow a brow suddenly. "You mean to ship her off to the new world?"

"I believe I've made myself clear." The Lord stood to go get a set of papers on a writing desk against the wall. He brought them back. "I've here the right of passage for one female passenger. Cost a fortune, that." He scanned the document, as though to find a specific sentence. With a grunt, he muttered as he read, "Safe passage to the waters of the nation's colonies…" He broke off with another mumble then looked up sharply at Link Forster. "All we need to add is the leave date. When do you plan to depart?"

Link Forster's head was full of questions, but he chose only one to ask. "Sir, allow me to ask. You wish to send your niece off to the New World on my privateering ship to keep her away from her lover. That much I've gathered. But why trust me above others with this precious cargo?"

The Lord Mayor did not smile. He shot Link a warning glare. "You were the only privateer available on this side of the ocean. All the others are in high season, I'm told."

Link Forster raised a brow, but said nothing. He took a respectful step back. Lord Harnian sat back down. "You will treat her as she deserves: a lord's niece, and a high standing lady. Of yet, none know of her shameful liaisons—perhaps a season or two on the new continent will clear her mind, teach her proper behaviour. As such, you will drop her off before returning to your usual… seafaring… mischief."

Link wished to speak, but the valet, who had returned from his earlier errand, interrupted them. The elegant servant bowed, for the umpteenth time, and held the door open, with a curt, "Her Ladyship, Miss Zelda Harnian."

And, again, Link's eyesight was graced with beauty incarnated. Her previously delicate features had been hardened to a sharp, harsh stare. She did not smile, she did not laugh, and it seemed to Link that heaven had been denied one of its many rights.

Before he could pursue any more of this uncharacteristic bout of poetry, the Lord Mayor Harnian spoke up. "Ah. Finally. There you are." He motioned for the young woman to step inside the office. She did so, but clearly she was not enthusiastic about it.

Glancing at Link, he said, "Zelda. This is Link Forster, a privateer." He shot her an obvious look, one Link Forster, from many years of careful human observation, had no trouble deciphering. It seemed Harnian's opinion of privateers was lower than civilly justified. "For lack of better transportation means, he'll be taking you to the new continent on his ship."

Zelda did not answer, but her eyes hardened. Link Forster felt a pang of sympathy for her, though he was, selfishly, not saddened to drag her away from her faceless lover. What sort of man, aside from himself, of course, could possibly deserve perfection personified?

"You will be leaving," the Lord Mayor continued, paused, then turned to Link. "When will your ship be ready for departure again?"

Link glanced from the Lord to the niece, and finally said, "I'd say we'll be ready to depart tomorrow morning. We've docked four days ago."

"And only now did I have time for our audience," mumbled the Lord, waving it off, and Link nodded, trying not to smile smugly. "Very well. In that case," he turned to his beautiful niece, "you will be ready and on the dock one hour prior."

For the first time, Link Forster heard the angel's voice. She retorted, with a wounded note, "As I have no other choice."

"You do not," declared the Mayor with a decisive lilt. "You will leave for Orley, in the New World. There, my sister Audrey Harnian will be your guardian. You will not disobey or disrespect her in any way. She is proving to be of immense kindness in letting you stay at her plantation for the upcoming months, and you will thank her on my behalf as well."

"Audrey Harnian!" The beauty exclaimed with an insulted cry. "Why must it be she? She is a crazed, old hag witch and employs those southern slaves—Uncle!"

But the Lord Mayor would not hear any of it. He stood slowly and barked, unpleasantly, "That is enough. You will not insult your relations in this way. Now leave. You are indisposing our guest, who also showed great kindness in taking you along."

"Oh, Uncle. I know only too well he was paid for the service. And, I suspect, so was the witch."

"You will address her as Aunt Audrey and show due respect to those who show you a kindness," the Lord ordered harshly. "Leave at once."

She did, with a huff and a strangled cry. The valet, apparently emotionless, opened and closed the door at her passage. Within seconds, the two men were left to themselves again.

"Forgive my niece," the Lord wheezed, blowing in a clear white handkerchief. "She's grown too old for this sort of fit. Any how, I've one last affair to treat of with you."

Link Forster nodded, waiting for the man to put his handkerchief away.

The Lord Mayor took a pouch of coins from his drawer. He placed it on the desk, and put his hand over it. "This money," he said, "is to ensure no harm comes to my niece. This is in return for your personal promise to protect her from outside dangers and, I'm aware, of the probable disrespect naval hands tend to offer female travellers."

Link did not respond. There was nothing to say, and he was not interested in defending the kindness of his crew.

"May I count on you, privateer?"

Link Forster glanced at the bag of coins as it jingled. He took a deep breath and said, "Keep the money. I've no need to be bought in the matter."

"You will take her to Orley before all other matters."

"I will."

The Lord Mayor seemed to breathe easily again. He sat back in his elegant chair. "Then," he said, "all is settled."

The stagecoach stank of horse. She detested the smell, though not the animals themselves. It seemed, only, that no one had perfumed the inside, and thus it was continuously scented with dung.

Alas, perhaps it was not really anyone's fault. She was feeling quite morbid at that moment in time, and certainly her mood did not lighten the atmosphere or her observations. In front of her, the house governess sat, looking rigid and trying her best to maintain her stature despite the many hiccups of the wagon.

The young lady wondered if the New World's roads had been better finished than with cobblestone. She wondered what sort of person could possibly choose to exile themselves in such a remote and different land. Criminals? Fallen doves?

Or perhaps women in love against their families' will. She knew her dearest friend Malon had suffered the same fate, for insulting the horrid man she'd been due to wed.

The lady wondered if indeed the new continent was half as terrible as the old house servants had said. Word ran fast, too fast, and she wished she could have gotten some positive light on the situation. As it was, there seemed to be no end to her upcoming misery.

Oh, but could a woman indeed not fall in love with the Baron Marth d'Altea? Truly, such dark hair and such a deep gaze could only be found on one's true love. And his gentle words and stubborn decisions made him such a strong party. If only he'd not been engaged.

"I can see," the governess in front of her suddenly said, "where your thoughts are headed, milady, and I do advise that you not let them persuade you of doing anything unwise."

The lady glanced at her and sighed, exasperated. Truly, could a woman not think for herself any longer?

"I'm afraid," she responded, "that should I decide to do anything rash, you'd be much too incapable of stopping me."

There were no other words between them. She did notice, however, that the governess, that hag, had grown very uncomfortable and edgy after that. While the lady congratulated herself on once again gaining the upper hand, she condemned her harsh words.

With a small, sad smile to herself, the lady feared she would never become the elegant, worldly host her mother had been. She feared she would be shunned, beyond the ocean, where life had not yet moved on to mundane affairs, where she'd be obliged to understand the way of the earth if she dared survive.

And, in the midst of it all, she feared her orthographic and mathematic skills would be disregarded as useless. Oh, how she'd have given herself a horsewhipping to escape this fate!

And how horrid would life with her aunt be; to live among slaves she could not free and governors' daughters who'd have no other worry in the world but to mock her. For it was true they'd no soiled reputation, while she'd had to cross an ocean to escape hers.

In fact, simply the prospect of the ocean crossing made the stagecoach travel feel like grand luxury. The Royal Navy might have approved the ship, but she knew what conditions were imposed onto the sailors. She knew—word went fast. Oh, to have to keep your head lowered so as not to hit your forehead on a beam and eat rotten food. What sort of man could accept such conditions—and then fight with cannons and kill other sailors and sink other vessels!

For she knew what privateers did. On the verge of piracy, the privateer ships were allowed by law of their own country to sink and pillage other nations' merchant ships, at times murdering the resistant crews.

The lady's thoughts went towards the memory of the privateer captain, whose eyes had betrayed far more intelligence than her Uncle seemed to have granted knowledge of. Was that sharp-eyed man truly the lawful murderer of so many people?

"You've far too morose a face, Missus Zelda," the old governess chided, for the tenth time. "Aren't you glad to discover new things?"

Not, the lady thought, when she was obliged to.

"I've heard," the governess continued without paying heed to the lady's distasted scowl, "that your aunt's plantation is a vast property on the edge of a prosperous city. Orley, Missus Zelda, is quite a nice bit of land. You oughtn't get too tired there, for sure."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that," Zelda Harnian mumbled.

The governess shot the lady a reproachful look. "Mind your words, Missus. Attitude like that is what'll get you in trouble on that dreadful ship of your Uncle's."

"It is not my Uncle's ship," Zelda Harnian corrected in annoyance. "It is her Majesty's ship, the Medallion, and its captain's name is Link Forster. The man himself is a low ranking officer who has been appointed to the frigate in his early days in hopes of training him for wartime—instead, he's been affected to the 6th rate ships because of his uncanny ability to understand other merchant movements. They upgraded him, but he kept command of his hundred and fifty men and two decks and two masts, for practicality."

"My lady," the governess said with a small amount of shock. "You do seem knowledgeable in the matter."

Know your enemies, the lady thought darkly. Her Uncle had assured her the captain would protect her honour, but she had noticed the shining glint in the man's eye—she preferred not to trust him, nor trust any of his crew.

The stagecoach halted on the stone docks. With an admiring hum, the governess leaned towards the window to admire the HMS Medallion. The lady too glanced at it,and had to suppressany sort of enthusiasm for the frigate.

It was, she unfortunately had to admit, a beautiful piece of boat. It looked well kept, and the heteroclite carvings on its body seemed taken from an immense variety of places—far eastern imperial dominions, southern tribal territories, northern and traditional regnant kingdoms, and new world autochthon lands—the artistry of which came to mingle in a strange piece of floating architecture.

Had the captain and his crew truly travelled the world, as the word said, and gathered decorative arts from each nation they'd visited?

Zelda Harnian's curiosity, to the lady's chagrin, was piqued.

The footman opened the door, and the governess went out first, looking both enchanted and anxious. Zelda Harnian considered that perhaps the woman wasn't so sad to see her go. Perhaps the old woman's eagerness reflected that of the whole household.

Zelda Harnian could not help but feel sadness. It was true she had found the city gent and manners constricting, but she had hoped they wouldn't be so glad to see her leave.

She grabbed hold of the door to keep her balance as she got off the stage. The footman, a middle-aged, thin sort of man, shot her a sad smile and offered her his gloved hand. With a small, apologetic smile, she accepted it.

Voice low, the footman said, nodding his head at the lady, "You shall be missed, Milady."

Heart swelling, Zelda Harnian shot him a thankful look. With those words, he had dissipated her doubts about the care of her household. Then, she let go of the man's hand, and felt the scrunch of parchment in her palm. With a curious glance at the footman, the only answer she obtained was a nod, and a soft goodbye.

"Come along now, Missus Zelda," the old governess harped. "Wouldn't want to hold the sailors back now, would we?"

The lady Zelda Harnian sighed, and glanced at the footman as he took her luggage from the stagecoach's back: a single trunk, with a bag. She was to purchase more dresses in the new world.

"When will I return?" She'd asked her Uncle, and he hadn't responded for a long moment.

Then, he'd carefully said, "We will send for you."

The Medallion's crew was moving along the deck and dock, double-checking the rigging, securing the cargo and goods, measuring the weather conditions. It was a beautiful day, and a dizzying display of enthusiasm. The lady clutched the piece of parchment tighter. She felt ill at the idea of leaving the old world.

The governess stood, looking up at the two-mast with an awestruck face. Truly, the lady thought, it was as though she'd never seen a warship before.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned. The governess moved forward with a sort of enthusiasm that Zelda Harnian found most depressing.

"Captain Forster!" The woman said with a sweet tinge that made the lady roll her eyes in her back. "We've been searching for you!"

The handsome captain smiled, and suddenly the Lady Zelda saw what it was that had made the old governess so candid. Why, he was deliberately spurring on the woman's fancy! His immaculate smile and eyes, down to his impeccable captain outfit and low rank decorations practically screamed that he was being accommodating—and the governess saw none of it. Indeed, she had taken hold of the young privateer's arm with a vigour that seemed to surprise him and was loudly mourning the Lady Zelda Harnian's departure.

"Oh, had I known it would be this way—but I asked the Lord Mayor to allow me to depart with our poor Miss Zelda, but he said he had much more need of my services here—"

With a raised brow, the privateer looked up at the lady. She simply pressed her lips tightly together, and avoided his gaze with a held back smile. His eyes, she thought, were unusually blue today—perhaps due to the bright morning sun. They were piercing.

"And trust me, I am," the governess was still saying, oblivious. "… Why, I haven't been this sad since the death of good lord Edward Harnian—"

This snapped Zelda Harnian's attention back to the moment. "Yes, governess," she curtly interrupted, "I'd pray you not to discuss my father's passing with the kindly captain." She shot the privateer a warning glare. "I'm quite sure he has other matters to attend."

"Absolutely not, I assure you," the captain Link Forster said, just as sweetly, "I've been expecting your arrival. And I was hoping to show you your quarters for the duration of the trip. Shall we?"

"As I've no choice," she said, for the umpteenth time, it seemed.

"Well then," he said, eyes sharp but speaking as though she happily acquiesced, "I suppose your footman shall come along with your luggage—he is sure to attest to the propriety of the arrangements, aye—yes?"

Though the lady noticed the slip-up, she said nothing. His eyes flashed in her direction, but quickly became masked again as he smiled at the old governess. The footman, carrying the lady's trunk and bag, followed them as they climbed the footbridge onto the frigate's main deck.

The crew was fast paced and so perfectly coordinated, it seemed near acrobatic. The lady glanced at the many sailors who were passing her by. They all sported eager looks and smiles, as though they couldn't wait to be out at sea again.

She overheard many conversations. One sailor, with a wide grin, was saying, "Can't wait to be back in me hometown. The wife's been pregnant for months now—methinks she'd be quite big already. 'Un I want ta be there when the kid is born."

"How much is 'at now?" His interlocutor asked. And the proud father smiled.

"Seven. Why, I'd be quite glad to see 'um all on the docks when we get home."

The lady listened with vague interest. Numerous children in families were not unusual, far from it, but they were rare in higher classes. The privateer captain was watching her. With a conversational tone, he said, "That's Benjamin Barolt. He was born in Harthrowe, south of here. He currently lives in the new continent, with his wife."

"And seven children," the lady said with annoyance. "I'd gathered."

The captain said nothing, but she avoided his steely blue gaze.

"Well," the governess said, as she still held on to the captain's arm. "Shall we see Miss Zelda's apartments?"

"Of course," the captain said, and his face returned to being sweeter than sweet. With a kindred though probably insincere smile at the governess, he led them towards the frigate's quarterdeck.

"These are my apartments," he said, and as the governess was about to ask an obvious question, he added, "I shall be sleeping in the decks with the crew. Thus, these apartments are yours for the trip's duration."

Zelda Harnian entered the area. Here was a large surface, divided into a large area and a cabin to the left. In the middle, and there she stood, was a short table and four chairs. Panelled windows showed the busy docks and bright ocean stretching into the distance. There were cabinets and trunks on both sides against walls, and a large weaved basket holding map scrolls, as well as a thick, elegant—likely stolen—carpet.

To the left was the bedchamber. It was a simple bed with plain utilitarian sheets and a thick, dark green cotton overlay. There were dark curtains in the windows, and a small side table. There was a tall, nailed library of books, two trunks of clothes, and a thin carpet.

"Oh my…" the governess said, and the privateer glanced at her with a mild, quickly dissimulated annoyance. "It is… quite bare indeed."

"I refuse to believe that I ought to be any more comfortable than my crewmen," he said instead. "Although I do hope you find it to your liking, Miss Harnian?"

She turned to him. She'd been examining some titles on his shelf. With a forced smile, she said, "I do, thank you."

The governess clapped her hands, and turned to the doorway. "Ah, but where is that footman? Oh, could he have gotten lost?" She turned back to Link Forster. "Captain, I do trust you will entertain Miss Zelda whilst I find our footman?"

Link Forster turned to the lady, who felt like rolling her eyes. "I do believe," he said, to Zelda Harnian's annoyance, "that I could very much ensure that our lady does not get bored."

"Splendid!" The governess exclaimed. "I shall be back, then. No foolish actions, dear," she added to the lady Zelda, who raised a brow but said nothing.

As soon as the old woman was gone, the privateer released a loud breath and slumped against the doorframe. The lady barely budged. He shot her a teasing smile, "Aye, and you do this every day, milady?"

"I've been taught to," she simply answered, returning her gaze to the bookshelf. Then, she remembered the paper she held in her hand, and almost took it open to read. She stopped, and feigned that nothing was on her mind. To no avail.

"And what is it that the footman gave you?" The captain-privateer asked. "A love note? Or perhaps a simple goodbye?"

She glared at him. "I fail to understand how that would be any of your business."

"I see," he said, though he didn't seem to care. "And do you intend to be this callous for the remainder of the voyage as well?"

"It is my right to treat others as I please. Whether you choose to approve of it or not does not regard me."

"My, temper," he continued. "It's no wonder your uncle is sending you away."

She turned to him with wordless indignation, and he smirked. Immediately, she turned back to the shelf. He sighed.

"The instant you'll drop that cold exterior, the instant I'll quit my cruel words. I swear, my lady, that I will match your heartlessness with my own, and should you ever tire of it, you shall have to be the first one to stop. This is my ship," he added, "and these are my rules. I force you not to abide to them—but you shall see soon enough that it is strongly recommended."

"Is that a threat?" She asked, internally seething.

He smiled handsomely. "Never to you, milady." His smirk broadened. "Rather… It's a promise."

So that's part one of four or five.

Review if you enjoyed. And don't be scared to review. I don't bite.

Check out my other fics if you have time and liked this.