A/N: Thankee muchly to Intrepid Bandicoot for scrutinizing this final draft for me!

When I first wrote Memories of May, the beginning of this entire multi-story saga, and Barbossa finally had a night of romance with Madeline, I wrote a companion piece called A Single Night of May, which was a way for me to explore that evening in a little more depth and detail.

So again, now that Barbossa and Madeline have reached a similar point in this journey, I opted to do the same thing, giving Madeline a chance, in her own refined style, to reflect on her relationship with Hector and to tastefully turn the heat up a little more under the M rating. As before, nothing terribly explicit, but definitely a bit more revealing, fun and naughty than what the good doctor normally shares with us.

Writing anything remotely romantic for Hector Barbossa and keeping it believable and in character is a challenge, so I hope you find I've accomplished that and that you enjoy the story!

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A Night of Rum and Roses ~*~

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For many years, nearly twelve, to be exact, I never thought that I would spend more than one night in the arms of Hector Barbossa.

I had left him little more than a day after our one night together, and stood on the shore of a small Caribbean island, watching the Rogue Wave disappear into the fading light and wondering exactly how soon it would be before it was feasible that I would see my pirate captain again.

I had no idea at that moment that it would be so very long, yet in later years, I had thought it would truly be never. That sort of thing occurs to you once you find out that the man you fell in love with is dead.

However, if there's one thing that was as true then as it is now, it's that the Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea is not your average man. Nor is he even your average pirate, for average pirates do not weave accords with goddesses of the ocean, nor do they survive not only one, but two voyages to the land of the dead.

And while I found Barbossa quite intriguing and fascinating in the month that I had spent in his company as a younger woman, it has taken me until now to appreciate just what a unique individual he is.

I don't mean to imply, in any way, that my paramour is anything close to perfect, nor do I intend for the reader to think that I do not recognize the difficulty inherent in being involved with such an infamous brigand. For often have I questioned just how and why I could be in love with a rogue like him, and indeed, it is not unusual for me to look back up the time I have spent with him and wonder how I have yet managed to still be alive.

But alive I am, and in love with him as well, and once again I am endeavoring to record those events that were significant to us both; certainly that would include the second night I spent intimately engaged with him.

Much had changed in the twelve years between our first and second romantic encounters, the least of which was that we were as many years older. In my estimation, the most obvious changes were apparent in myself –I was no longer a naïve young doctor more skilled in the ways of medicine than the ways of life and men. At the time I once more had the opportunity to be in Barbossa's company, I'd become the most experienced surgeon in the Caribbean, and had weathered the harsh scrutiny and discrimination that were accorded me due to the unique circumstance of me being a woman.

Those changes that Barbossa had undergone would not be apparent to the casual observer, or even to many of those who sailed with him, but to the men who had spent the longest time in his company, including Turk, Pintel and Ragetti, the new scars were there, buried deep below those apparent on the surface.

Despite the fact that I would not see him again for well over a decade, Barbossa had a profound influence upon my life, and perhaps it is part of the reason that I feel the way I do about him. One of my life's dreams, and in fact my crowning achievement thus far, sits atop the bluff of Port Royal next to Fort Charles, thanks to the gift he sent me. A pirate chest full of gold enabled me to build the small but much-needed hospital in that part of the Caribbean, and I overcame my guilt about using stolen treasure with the arguments for how much good I could do with what would come of me spending it.

To this day Barbossa insists that I earned every shilling as his ship's surgeon, a valuable albeit reluctant member of his crew. He laughs at me still, in his deep throaty chuckle, when I adamantly protest that I never did anything of the sort.

Two other gifts he gave me, although he never realized it until I gratefully told him so, many years later. The first he gave me the night he had me dragged aboard his ship, initiating a month-long voyage at sea, during which I learned to understand and live amongst a group of hardened criminals. Whenever the life I returned to in Jamaica became trying or difficult, I needed only to remind myself that if I could weather being kidnapped, dining with Pirate Lords, and outrunning His Majesty's navy, then I could certainly handle the obstacles I was currently facing.

The second additional gift from Barbossa came in the way of the last words he said to me before putting to sea once more. "Madeline," he'd said softly, "ye be a right sharp doctor, and the finest lady I've ever met. Don't ye let any man ever tell you any different."

And so I took his praise, his admiration and his advice, holding them dear, and over the next dozen years no man ever had the final say about what it was I would do with my life.

Except perhaps Barbossa himself.

The night he swept back into my world, something within me, which I thought had died, much the same way I believed he had, flared back to life, just as vibrant and strong as the rogue in the plumed hat who had invaded my bedroom and privacy. While I didn't know exactly what the consequences would be of me saving him from the gallows, I knew they would potentially be dire, yet within seconds I chose to ensure that he wouldn't hang, unknowingly binding my life and my fate to his the moment I spurred my horse past Simpson and out of the barn.

I have no regrets about saving him, although there are many who would take issue with me for aiding a pirate, and a Pirate Lord no less, but they can't entirely fault me for acting only to protect one of the people I hold most dear. I cannot completely explain, nor can I help the fact that I fell and fell hard for such a scoundrel.

Which would in turn explain why, on my second voyage with him, this time aboard his beloved and infamous Black Pearl, that I was in the candlelit room of a fine inn, halfway across the Caribbean, about to yield to him in the matter of intimate physical contact, despite being back in his company for just shy of two weeks.

I was standing close to him, once again wearing a dress that had no back, and lavender perfume as he'd requested, watching him laugh and cough at the same time, choking on the wine he'd taken a sip of just as I'd made a lighthearted comment acknowledging the fact that he was about to bed the Black Pearl's doctor, catching him off guard.

Genuine laughter, which is a rare thing from Barbossa, manages to transform him, softening for a moment his harsh features and sharp gaze into something surprisingly pleasant. At those moments when he lets his guard down, often solely in the company of myself, and of course, Turk, I'm sure that I catch fleeting glimpses of the adventuresome and carefree young man he was at one time, so many years before becoming one of the nine infamous Pirate Lords.

When the laughter passed, he stood there for a moment, so many things at once, as I've often said about him in the past. The same blackhearted rogue who had destroyed part of Port Royal two years before, was the same man who had saved my life from a vicious brute of a pirate. The same man who had, I was quite certain, at one time lustily bedded the whores of Tortuga, was the same man who had tenderly and passionately made love to me for an entire single night in our past. And the same man who was watching me at that moment; a scarred, hardened and weathered old pirate with desire in his eyes and lust in his soul, was the same man who had declared me his finest treasure, and had returned from the depths of Hell to find me.

Paradox, conundrum and a host of contradictions stood before me, but little of that mattered at that moment with the way he was looking at me. I recognized that the moment I'd promised him had come, and for some reason I became determined that he should know that I was there with him of my own free will and desire, and not because of some sense of obligation.

I smile when I think back upon that moment, for with the way that Barbossa had begun looking me over, I think the actual reasons I was standing there in a fairly revealing dress were beginning to matter less and less. He merely shrugs when I suggest as much to him now, but I've seen the hint of a smirk that plays upon his lips when he looks away.

I recall retrieving the wine I'd handed to him, and deciding that I would be the one to initiate any contact, reached up and caressed his face gently after setting the glass on the windowsill. He closed his eyes and sighed audibly, savoring the gesture of physical affection, a thing that had been all but absent from his life. Wanting to bestow more of the same tenderness on him, I placed both hands on his face, running my fingers along his beard and then through his graying auburn hair, which was, for a rare evening, unbound by plait or bandana.

I blame the excessive rum I'd had earlier in the evening for the silly thing I did next, for I have noted that when I've indulged in more than a judicious quantity of spirits, I develop a tendency to become flirtatious. It has never been my habit to behave in such a way, but my tolerance for the amount of strong drink my pirate companions can shrug off is nil, and Barbossa knew that well when he supplied me with two measures of a delicious concoction at the carnival in Port Calais that night.

Even at the time during which I write this, Barbossa insists that he merely meant for me to try something which I had not had before, but I have seen that spark of wickedness in his eyes often enough to recognize it, and I'm not sure who he thinks he is fooling. I might have completely believed that he meant in no way to compromise my inhibitions that night with alcohol, if he hadn't so very quickly put a second rum-laden drink in my hand.

Regardless of whether or not my slightly tipsy condition was his intent or not, nonetheless I foolishly decided to tease him at a time when I suspect it was not appropriate. I kissed him as we stood together, repeatedly and ever so lightly, mischievously avoiding letting him engage me in a deeper kiss.

"Careful, lass," he admonished me softly. "That be a dangerous game yer playin'."

Thanks to all the rum, I didn't recognize the edge to his words. "Is it?" I whispered, my voice full of contrived innocence. I'd been planning on tormenting him a bit longer, but evidently he'd had enough.

"I warned ye," he growled, irritated with me, and a small cry of surprise escaped my lips as my head jerked back slightly, anchored by the strong grip he had on a handful of my hair. The next thing I knew his mouth was pressed over mine possessively, and I was helpless against the way he held me. Apparently appeased by the way I yielded and kissed him back, he finally let go of my hair and broke from the kiss, leaving me quite breathless.

"Now, behave," he scolded me. "'Tis my intent to sail calmer waters this night, but if ye insist on tormentin' me that way, I'll not be responsible fer what happens."

While I know as sure as I breathe that Barbossa would never hurt me, of all people, I was sober enough to recognize the fact that by that point, having been twelve years without contact with a woman's flesh, and having waited the apparently excruciating three days I'd made him wait until my letter arrived and freed me from my engagement, he'd determined that as long as I possessed even a modicum of willingness, I was not about to escape from finding myself in his bed.

I confess that I possessed quite a bit more than a modicum of willingness, and once he'd finished his light scolding of me, I endeavored to atone for my faux pas by wrapping my arms around his neck and kissing him soundly, pressing myself tightly against him. He responded hungrily to my efforts, and with the escalating intensity of the way he kissed me over the next few moments, and the way his hands roamed over the bare skin of my back, I began strongly to suspect that our impending intimate encounter was going to end up being on the floor in front of the fireplace, only because that's where we already stood.

I'm not sure who was more surprised that he wrestled the moment back under control, him or me, but I followed him when he led me to the bedroom, where he said he had a gift for me.

It took me a moment to compose myself and wipe away the tears that came unbidden, once he'd handed me the single rose of coral pink that had been placed upon the bed we would share. To anyone else the gesture might simply have seemed sweet, but the message contained in that single flower spoke many words to me that I knew he couldn't say. I don't hold his silence in the matter against him; emotional discourse is certainly not something I would expect him to be comfortable with. He is a pirate, after all.

I wiped the last tear from my cheek and spoke to him where he'd sat down on the edge of the bed, apparently to hint that we should move things along.

"I suppose I've kept you waiting long enough," I said, smiling shyly at him as he pulled off the riding boots he'd still been wearing.

"Aye, lass, that be true," he said with an overly dramatic sigh, and I got the sense that he was being a bit playful as he lay down on his side, propped himself up on his elbow, and patted the bed in front of him.

It was the same gesture he'd made in our room in Tortuga, that night he'd put the original rose in my hair. "I suppose you're expecting that I have a sense of adventure," I said, echoing words he'd said that night. He recognized the reference immediately and cheerfully flirted back.

"I've not met a woman with a keener sense of adventure," he replied, giving me that roguish grin that I loved, "and I'd be more'n willin' to explore the limits of just how adventuresome ye'd be." He patted the bed again to indicate I should join him.

"Well," I said, taking a single step closer to the bed but no more, "if I were considering exploration, I'd want to be sure that I had a competent guide."

"Ah, I don't blame yeh, lass," he said, still amused, "but no finer navigator will ye find than meself, and I think yeh know well from our last voyage together, that ye'll not meet one with a steadier or more patient hand upon yer helm."

I know I blushed furiously at the innuendo in his arrogant comment, although he couldn't see the color rise in my cheeks in the candlelight. Still, I looked away a little, biting my lip, and he chuckled softly at my reaction.

"Come," he said gently, patting the bed for a third time, "ye need not fear a difficult journey. No matter how hard things get, I promise to guide ye expertly to yer destination."

At the sly smirk that spread across his face, I couldn't help but clap a hand over my mouth, appalled and amused simultaneously at his audacity. I recognized the fact that I was nowhere near ready to trade suggestive banter with a pirate and expect to keep up, but I determined that I was going to have the last word in the matter.

"May," he said, a bit more insistently when he saw me still hesitating.

I held up one finger in a silent plea for him to be patient a single moment longer, and he frowned as I reached behind my back with both hands, not realizing that I was untying the back of my dress.

"Madeline." He spoke my name a bit sternly, and his tone belied his impatience with me. But the scowl he wore became a puzzled frown after watching me for a moment, and he spoke again in a less annoyed manner.

"What is it yer doin'?" he asked, as I finished with the satin laces.

I'd like to say that I made the witty reply of, 'Parting from my dress,' or some such clever remark, but truth be told, I was too nervous to utter a single word. I'd never knowingly shed all my clothes in that manner in front of a man with his complete attention on me, and it took every ounce of courage that I had to stay calm and pursue the course I'd set myself upon.

Barbossa said nothing else, once he saw me begin to slide the dress off one shoulder, and apparently he discovered a small source of new-found patience as he realized that I would momentarily be sans clothing of any sort.

It took a lot for me to overcome my well-ingrained sense of propriety and slide my other arm out of the dress while I still clutched it to my chest, needing one more moment before I disrobed further. I sensed that he was about to speak, perhaps to voice his impatience with me again, but the sound of him saying my name softly brought my eyes to meet his.

"May lass," he said very gently, "do ye trust me?"

I managed a tiny nervous smile in return, and nodded, knowing my answer was the truth. Slowly, gradually, I let the silken fabric slip to my waist, my eyes never leaving his as I bared myself before him. I hesitated at that point, when his gaze left mine and wandered over my bare shoulders and breasts, and took a steadying breath before I began to slide the dress past my hips. His eyes traveled with the material as it slipped along my thighs, past my knees, and then pooled in a white satin ring at my feet. Already unclothed, it wasn't until I stepped away from contact with the discarded garment that my anxiety truly set in, as I self-consciously felt his appraising gaze upon me.

"Many years have I sailed," Barbossa said in a hushed way, "and many lands have I traveled to, but I've seen naught as lovely as ye be in the candlelight this moment, Madeline Gray."

I returned the subtle smile he gave me, relieved and flattered by his words and his admiring stare. When I took a step closer to the bed, Barbossa held up a hand in a restraining gesture, and I stayed put as he asked while he apparently drank in every inch of my exposed flesh. I know that I became hesitant for a moment, when the approving way he gazed upon me darkened, becoming more reminiscent of starving man gazing upon a feast.

I had the fleeting impression of feeling more like a sacrificial lamb than the goddess it was meant for, and he must have recognized the fact that he was staring at me with open and obvious hunger for what he'd been denied for well over a decade. Although no less intense, his gaze met mine with great emotion apparent in it, and he held out a hand in a silent gesture of beckoning.

So many things ran through my head as I crossed the few steps to the bed, foremost among them that there was no turning back. Not that I truly wanted to, but as thoughts of my forsaken fiancée flitted by, I was stung by a momentary pang of guilt. Never had I shared with Jonathan that which I was about to share with Barbossa, and never would I. In the world to which Jonathan belonged, propriety had forbidden it, and despite the fact that my passions and my affection for him would have led me to share his bed before we were married, he wouldn't hear of it. He longed for the same thing; it was only that he wished to keep my honor and his intact, and he wouldn't hear of anything more intimate than stolen private kisses until I had bound myself to him in matrimony.

But as I neared Barbossa, his steel blue gaze locked with mine, the same rules no longer applied. Despite the fact that I was far from what anyone might consider pirate material, I knew enough of his world that I understood there was no lack of respect or dishonor inherent in his intentions; he merely meant to seize life with both hands at that moment and to do so with me.

I sat on the edge of the bed, still meeting his intense gaze as he waited, apparently for some signal from me that I had entirely acquiesced. Taking a deep breath, I let it out slowly and reclined myself back upon the pillow, lying down next to him and offering myself to him completely.

I should have been prepared for what he did next, but I confess that I was not, and when he moved suddenly and yanked me against him, I gasped at both the abrupt gesture and the strength with which he'd grabbed me. He held me tightly and spoke, both his hands and his voice trembling with great emotion.

"Do ye know what thorns I've endured to have you?" he whispered in my ear. I understood his question immediately, recalling the words he'd spoken in Tortuga all those years ago. 'But he that dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose,' was what he'd said to me that night, insinuating that he found me desirable and wasn't afraid of the difficulties that were obviously inherent in a pirate wanting to be with a well-bred lady such as myself.

Obviously neither of us could have ever foreseen what he would go through in the years it took him to return to me, and I also understood his question to be his way of telling me how much he was in love with me; not an easy thing for a man like Barbossa to come right out and say.

"Yes," I said in earnest, wanting him to understand that my answer was for everything that question asked of me. I winced a bit when he released me abruptly, pulling back enough to yank his own shirt over his head and then grab me again, apparently impatient for more contact with my skin.

He crushed me to his chest, burying his face in my hair and inhaling the lavender perfume I was wearing for him, and I wrapped my arms around him tightly. The feel of him – hard, lean, and scarred, was simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, for I recalled vividly the way he'd felt in my arms our first night, but how precious little time I'd actually had to touch him.

He kissed my neck hungrily, causing a small sharp exhalation to escape my lips. "May," he said breathily near my ear, choosing to call me by the name he'd called me that night, before he kissed my neck hard again, causing me to moan softly. "May lass," he murmured again softly, "tell me yer mine."

He kissed my neck again mercilessly, and I would have fretted more about the fact that I realized he was going to bruise the delicate skin at my throat if it hadn't felt so good to have his lips caressing my flesh that way, and the fact that I'd already determined that I'd give him full command of the helm for the evening and would do nothing to reign in his desire or his affections.

"Tell me," he insisted, dropping his voice lower alluringly.

The emotions I felt at having him in my arms and my life again threatened to overcome me, but I steeled myself and gently stroked his long hair back from his face. "I'm yours, Hector," I said with great emotion. "There's nothing I've ever wanted more, my love. I will always be yours."

If ever I have doubts about the way Barbossa feels about me, I need only to think of the look in his eyes at that moment, and I know that my fears are unfounded. I closed my eyes after gazing into his for a long moment, and met him in a sensual, lingering kiss reminiscent of the first I'd ever shared with him as it deepened into something quite intense. When he broke away gently, I should have recognized that I was in trouble by the wicked gleam in those deep blue eyes.

"Mayhap," he said, withdrawing just enough to slide his hand up along my arm, "it be time fer a bit more exploration." His strong elegant fingers ran across my shoulder and then slid lower with a firm caress, causing both of us to moan softly at the feel of my breast under his hand.

I sensed from the hungry way he kissed me while he pressed his fingers into my flesh, that things were about to move along rather quickly, and I opted to assent rather than fight the rising tide. I think I surprised him, although in an agreeable way, when I reached down and began to untie his breeches.

"Ah, so there'd be that sense of adventure after all," he whispered softly in an amused manner.

"Did you ever doubt that I had one?" I asked, trying to sound less nervous than I was.

"Nay," he said, kissing my cheek and then the corner of my mouth as he waited for me to finish, "but ye'd best understand one thing."

"And what would that be?" I asked as I finished, tugging at his remaining clothes and sliding them low enough that he was able to kick them off. I ran my hand back over the extensive scars on his leg as I settled back into his embrace, thinking again briefly of the story he'd told me of the savage injuries he'd received from the beast that had bitten him.

"Ye've sailed into some deep waters, lass," he replied pointedly.

"Meaning?" I asked him softly, thinking I knew full well already what he was getting at.

He pinned me suddenly to the bed, causing me to gasp in surprise. Even in the shadowy flicker of candlelight I could tell he wore a subtle smirk. "Yer off the edge of the map, me beauty," he growled softly, sliding his strong hand behind my head to hold me in place, "here there be monsters."

"You don't scare me," I countered, although my cheeks felt very warm at that moment, as I wasn't entirely sure if he meant only himself or the way he was quite aroused, which was apparent from the way he pressed against me.

"Don't I?" he asked, shifting more of his body over mine. I was acutely aware of the fact that his weight pressing down against me was not in the least unpleasant. "Ye realize this monster intends to do ye harm?"

"I'm not afraid," I said, wishing I sounded more convinced.

"There'll be no turnin' back," he replied with dark humor. "No gallant navy officer will save you, and no besotted young Pirate Lord will come to yer rescue."

"Then how am I to escape?" I asked, bold enough to nervously tease just a little.

"Ye won't," he declared, staring into my eyes intently and dragging his long nails across the back of my neck slowly and then across my throat. "Ravenous this monster is...full of a craving for delicate female flesh..." He dragged his nails lightly downward over my breast and across my ribs. I gasped once when they crossed over my stomach and again louder as they passed lower, and he paused to savor my reaction. "'Tis his intent to devour ye this night," he snarled quietly, pressing his fingers deeper into the warmth below his hand and causing me to whimper softly, "meanin' to claim that which be rightfully his."

I had thought his words to be a means of wicked enticement at first, and had done nothing to lessen my surrender to his touch, but when his fingers pulled away from the delicate caresses he'd been administering and began pushing aside my thigh, I recognized the warning in them too late.

"Ten years," he whispered, meeting me with a dark look that I recognized as lust as he moved my leg aside. "Endlessly driven by thirst, mercilessly compelled by hunger, and consumed, Madeline...consumed by desire for a woman's flesh."

"A woman's flesh?" I asked, breathless at the velvet rumble of his voice and the unyielding feel of his body as he pressed down against me.

"Aye, lass," he replied, dropping his voice to an even lower enticing timbre, "but 'tis not the flesh of just any woman I would have."

"Then whose?" I barely managed to whisper, understanding only too well that he meant mine, and that we were about to be joined in the most intimate and carnal way.

"Yers," he whispered hoarsely, and he thrust against me roughly. The cry that escaped me was lost as he crushed his lips against mine, the same time he drove inside me. He kissed me mercilessly, moaning repeatedly against my mouth as my own muffled whimpers continued, each time he surged against me. He took me without hesitation, becoming breathless enough after a moment that he broke off the kiss, tightening his grasp on me as he lost himself in his lustful endeavor and the sensations of our mingled bodies.

Overwhelmed by his sudden passionate onslaught, I could do nothing but cling to him desperately, yielding to the ache of my desire and that of his forceful movements. I know I must have called his name aloud, gasping it once in a fervent cry that was a mixture of pain and pleasure, and he reined himself in, slightly winded and nuzzling my ear a little.

"I fear...causin' ye...harm," he panted, "but...by the Powers...lass...I want you..."

I silenced him tenderly with my fingers on his lips, for the inner battle he was waging between his concern for me and his need to slake the lust of twelve years was apparent, and I was determined not to fetter his fulfillment of that need.

"Don't stop," I said softly, kissing his lips, his cheek, and his throat. I wrapped my arms around him and pressed my lips to his ear and urgently whispered, "Take me."

I think the breathless longing in my words was clear to him, and he needed no further permission, understanding that my own need was great as well. One ravenous deep kiss later, he resumed pursuit of his release; his movements slow at first as he savored the feel of me underneath him, but gradually intensifying in tempo and force. Quickly his long-unsatisfied lust overwhelmed us both, and I think the sound of me calling his name with passionate abandon only served to feed the fire. His exertions became more untamed, and despite the feral and wanton way we were engaged, I could only cling to him tighter, trying to pull him closer and deeper.

After a few fleeting moments of passion, the desperation in the cries that I uttered did not go unheeded by Barbossa, and I buried my face in his neck, and my nails in the skin of his sweat-dampened back, drawing blood unknowingly, as he roughly sought long-overdue release for us both. Mercifully, with the intensity of the encounter, that moment drew near quickly, and soon he was calling my name between tattered breaths.

"Madeline," he moaned, redoubling his efforts and unaware of the small trickle of blood that ran across his back from under the nails of my right hand. "Madeline," he said again, wrapping me in his arms so tightly I could barely breathe. It didn't stop me from crying out again with the intensity of his last few thrusts, and that of my own carnal fulfillment, and as the shudders from his climax wracked his lithe, muscular frame, he buried his face in my hair and spoke my name one last time. "Madeline."

A very long moment passed as we lay still entwined, our heads pressed together, and our pulses beginning to return to normal. As the euphoria of our lovemaking began to subside, I started to take stock of our situation. My dear pirate, momentarily incapacitated by his own enthusiastic efforts, was still collapsed on top of me as I realized several things at once: there was blood smeared on my right hand, my neck was slightly crooked at an awkward angle from where my head had encountered that of the bed with the exuberance of our tryst, the pillows had been inadvertently cast to the floor, and we were both tangled in rumpled bedclothes as with each other. The matter that tore my attention away from all those things instantly was the sudden realization, which hit Barbossa at the exact same time, that I was aware of the smell of something burning.

Two seconds after our eyes met in mutual puzzlement, we realized the edge of the mattress was indeed on fire, set alight it seemed, by a toppling candle which I had inadvertently knocked over in the final throws of passion. I will say that our reactions to the tiny blaze near my shoulder were entirely different; Barbossa began to laugh heartily, while I began flailing and trying desperately to push him off me.

Seeing that I was truly starting to become alarmed, Barbossa calmly retrieved a wayward pillow and promptly snuffed out the small flame with it, all the while unmoved from where he still had me pinned. He tossed the slightly scorched pillow aside and dragged me along the bed a few inches, so that my head might not be pressed quite so uncomfortably against the headboard.

"'Tis my opinion, Doctor," he began softly, after slipping into position on his side next to me, yet holding me close, "that piratin' runs in yer veins after all."

I would have thought the comment unusual for sweet talk upon the pillow if I had been with anyone else but a Pirate Lord. "And what makes you say that?" I asked.

"Well, after sailin' on the Black Pearl and runnin' from the East India Trading Company and His Majesty's navy...on yer first night of shore leave ye've managed to overindulge in rum, dance with at least half a dozen dangerous criminals, and knowingly bed a wanted man, leaving a wake of destruction and blood behind yeh." He gestured about us to the widely strewn pillows and highly disheveled bedclothes dotted with a few smears of his blood from where I'd inadvertently buried my nails, and I felt my face get extremely warm.

"There's somethin' to be said fer pillagin' and burnin', aye, lass?" he continued, nodding at the scorch mark on the mattress as my face felt even hotter. "I may have to pass me admiration fer yer efforts on to yer uncle next time I see him."

I could hear the wicked mirth in his voice, and I scolded him, horrified at the thought. "You wouldn't dare."

"Ah, but I would...unless ye'd be inclined to reach some sort of agreement with me," he said slyly, and I knew I was in trouble again.

"A bargain?" I asked warily.

"Aye, lass."

I sighed, knowing I was unlikely to prevail in any deal struck with Barbossa. "What do you propose?"

He made it a point to look thoughtful for a moment, but I knew he'd already decided on the terms. "I swear never to tell yer uncle that ye got drunk and took yer clothes off with a pirate," he said, amused at the way I cringed, "if you agree to one thing."

"Which is?" I asked.

He leaned over me closer, meeting me with that mesmerizing blue gaze as he gently lifted my chin and dropped his voice to an enticing rumble. "Ye help me set the bed afire again, M'lady," he replied softly.

I admit I was disinclined to refuse his proposal, and I wrapped my arms around him and met him willingly in an endless, deep kiss to seal our accord.