Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended. This is just a tribute.


A big thank you to my lovely beta willowbae for all her help :)


Chapter 6.

Sharpshooter

Lady Renesmee spent the rest of the afternoon with the captain. They started with a long tour of the Rabbit, which she found very interesting. Towards the end of the tour, when the captain was leading her through the lower gun deck, Renesmee complimented him on his sword fighting. He glanced down at her with raised eyebrows.

"Did you watch me fence?"

He pretended to be surprised, but this was undermined by the fact that he was trying not to smile. She knew that he was teasing her. She gave his fingers a light squeeze and replied with an innocent air.

"No, I didn't. Miss Weber saw you and told me about it. She said that you put up a reasonable show."

His smile could no longer be suppressed and his face was illuminated by a wide grin. "I must remember to thank Miss Weber the next time I see her."

"I think that's a wonderful idea," said Renesmee, throwing him a mischievous glance from beneath her long lashes.

On catching sight of her expression, the captain narrowed his eyes and quickened his pace, swiftly leading her past the gunners, towards the stern. Before she knew it, he had pulled her behind a pillar, out of sight of the crew. She glanced up to discover him leaning over her with one arm resting against above her head and a roguish smile playing on his lips.

"Do you know what would be another wonderful idea?"

Lady Renesmee took a small step back and found that she had backed herself into the pillar. "I can't imagine," she evaded, peeping up at the captain.

"Can you not?" He lowered his dark head to ghost his lips along her throat. One of his hands remained on the pillar, while the other worked its way around her waist. He reached her jaw and murmured. "Do you want me to show you?"

She felt a little flustered and answered truthfully. "Um… I don't know."

The captain pulled back with a sudden laugh. "That wasn't quite the answer I was looking for."

Renesmee flushed and he swiftly lowered his head to kiss her. She needed no persuading and by the time he pulled away, she was feeling slightly breathless. The captain caught sight of her expression and offered her his arm, saying with a wicked smile.

"We should go outside and get some air, before you swoon."

She could think of no adequate response to this gibe and decided to ignore it. Luckily, the captain did not seem to expect a reply. He just took her dainty hand in his and led her up the steps to the lower deck. When they stepped into the bright sunshine he offered Renesmee his arm. As she took it, she returned to their earlier conversation, glancing at him with a curious expression.

"Jacob, where did you learn to fence?"

"My father taught me." He smiled and then added meditatively. "Your grandfather has a reputation as a skilled swordsman, has he not?"

"Yes." Renesmee nodded with enthusiasm. "He loves it. He is not as active as he once was, but he still takes a great interest in training up the younger men of the court. I think he would like to see you duel."

The captain understood the spirit of her statement, and this prevented him from pointing out that her grandfather would probably prefer to see him hang. Instead, he asked.

"Is it true that he also shoots?"

"Yes, he is a fine marksman." She glanced up and added modestly. "He even taught me to use a pistol."

The captain's eyebrows flew up in surprise, he had not expected this. "You know how to shoot?"

"Is that such a surprise?"

"Yes," he replied honestly. "You seemed so unsure when I handed you the dagger last night, I would not have expected you to know how to fire a gun."

Renesmee was slightly embarrassed to be reminded of her of her awkwardness at dinner and gave a small frown. "It seems to me that there is a world of difference between firing a hole through a wooden target and stabbing a man."

"That's a good point," the captain conceded with a short laugh.

As they strolled across the sunny deck, past the working crew, she tightened her hold on his arm and explained.

"My grandfather thought that it would be useful for me to know how to shoot, in case I was ever attacked while out riding." She glanced up at him and added ruefully. "Not that I think it would have made any real difference. I think if I was ever in that situation, I would be more likely to accidentally drop my pistol, than defend myself with it. I certainly can't imagine actually firing it at anyone!"

The captain's eyes gleamed with appreciation. "That would explain why you didn't try to shoot Paul when he discovered you on the Cruiser."

"Oh no," she replied naïvely. "I couldn't have shot him, even if I had wanted to. I left my pistol in Forkland."

"That's lucky for Paul…" he said in a dry tone, before adding wistfully. "But it's a shame."

Lady Renesmee was rather shocked by his heartless comment. "You're sorry that I didn't shoot one of your crew?"

He caught sight of her incredulous expression and smiled. "No, that's not quite what I meant – not that shooting Paul would have been a bad idea, there are a number of my men who probably would have thanked you for it – but I was actually thinking that it's a shame that you didn't bring your pistol, because I would love to see you shoot."

"Are you serious?" She asked in surprise.

"Absolutely. How else will I know if you're telling the truth?"

She rolled her eyes. "I could always fire another."

"That's true…"

The captain's thoughtful expression made her a trifle uneasy and she answered quickly. "I was only joking."

"So you don't think you could fire another?"

"Of course I could, but…"

"Well then." He turned swiftly. "What are we waiting for?"

"Jacob…!"

But it was too late; he was already pulling her along the deck in a purposeful manner. Before she could say another word, he had approached one of his crew.

"Collin, I want you to find Paul and send him to me."

The tall young man nodded instantly. "Yes, Captain." He quickly disappeared below deck.

Lady Renesmee listened to this exchange with some consternation. Was the captain playing a practical joke on her? He must have known that Paul was her least favourite member of the Rabbit's crew – after all they had discussed shooting him only moments earlier. She could not imagine what had possessed Jacob to send for him. She decided to make a discrete exit and gently began to ease her hand from the captain's arm.

He immediately noticed her withdrawal. "Where are you going?"

"Um…" She improvised. "I thought that you had some matter to attend to. I didn't want to be in the way."

He caught her hand in a light clasp and smiled. "Don't worry, you won't be. Anyway, this concerns you."

She pulled away from him. "No honestly… I'd really much rather go…"

Her nervousness surprised him and he stared at her with a thoughtful frown. "Are you afraid of Paul?"

"No." She coloured and disclaimed. "Of course not."

The captain was not fooled by her denial and gently recaptured her hand before she could retreat. Renesmee clung to his hand as he slipped his fingers through hers. When she glanced up she saw the warmth in his eyes.

"No one will hurt you, Renesmee." The captain gazed into her soft brown eyes and a hint of steel crept into his voice. "I would kill any man who tried."

He spoke quietly, but she noticed the change in his expression. The boyish charm, with which she had already become familiar, was replaced by a look of harsh determination. Renesmee could not doubt that the captain was telling the truth, and she shivered and instinctively drew closer to him, wrapping her hands around his muscular arm and resting her head against his shoulder.

He did not understand the reason for her sudden move, but it was only the fact that they were standing in the middle of the lower deck, where they could be observed by any number of his men, that stopped him from sweeping her into his arms and showing her that she never needed to be afraid, because she belonged to him. Displaying a superhuman level of restraint, he took a deep breath and smiled down at her, just as Paul appeared.

The master gunner caught sight of the captain and Lady de Cullen on the sunlit deck, and immediately approached them. He halted before the captain and spoke in a gruff voice.

"You wanted to see me, Captain?"

Lady Renesmee nervously eyed the huge man and edged a little nearer to the captain. She was thankful that Jacob was bigger than Paul, and apparently not in the least bit intimidated by him. The master gunner ignored her completely and kept his whole attention on his commander.

"I was wondering," asked the captain, casually. "Do we have any pistols on board that are suitable for a lady to use?"

Paul looked slightly confused and threw a suspicious glance in Renesmee's direction. But if he was hoping to be enlightened, he was looking to the wrong person. She was almost as surprised as he. The captain caught sight of their expressions and helpfully explained.

"Lady de Cullen wishes to shoot me and we need to find a weapon fit for the job." He then asked innocently. "Do you think you might have something?"

"I'll see what I can find, Captain," Paul replied in a dour voice.

"Thank you." The captain nodded affably and dismissed him.

Every member of the Rabbit's crew, including the master gunner, was accustomed to the fact that their captain was unpredictable. But no one doubted him, because he had never been known to make a poor decision. The ship and its crew had successfully survived a number of very dangerous skirmishes, and more often than not, it had been because of their commander's shrewd instincts.

So if the captain had decided to make a special pet of their hostage and put a loaded gun into her hands, then the master gunner was not going to question him. Although he did not entirely approve of the idea, Paul consoled himself with the knowledge that if Lady de Cullen did try to shoot anyone, she would probably miss.

It was with this thought in mind, that he went straight to the weapons store to find a suitable pistol for the young lady. Paul was known to be a hard and pugnacious man. Many of his shipmates were wary of him, but no one doubted his knowledge of firearms, or his ability to do his job. It was a matter of pride to him that every firearm on board was in good condition and well looked after, and every member of the crew knew that when Paul handed them a weapon, it would be clean and in perfect working order.

The master gunner quickly found what he was looking for, in the form of a small, but serviceable, pistol. It was taken in a raid several years earlier, but had hardly been used since then, since most of the crew preferred more powerful weapons. He also found some powder and ammunition. He shook his head at the thought of giving these things to Lady de Cullen, but then shrugged and gave the pistol one last inspection.

In the meantime, his commander was doing his best to persuade Lady Renesmee to actually fire it. As soon as Paul left the deck, she had turned to the captain in surprise.

"Jacob, are you serious? Why on earth did you ask him for a pistol?"

"I thought that you might enjoy some target practice," he replied. "And I was curious to see you shoot."

She smiled as she considered the idea, but then slowly shook her head. "I wouldn't mind, but I should probably return to my cabin. I've already been gone for too long. Miss Weber will be worrying what has become of me."

"Why don't we invite her on deck? The weather is fine, and then she won't have to worry. She could watch you practice too. Ben could go and ask her now."

This drew a reluctant laugh from Lady Renesmee. "Alright… you win. I'll shoot for you, but don't expect Miss Weber to watch. She hates guns." She gave the captain a shrewd glance and added. "But I don't want to practice alone, I'd feel too self-conscious. You must shoot with me."

He instantly agreed and called for Ben, instructing him to speak to Miss Weber and also to fetch one of his pistols from his cabin. Lady Renesmee politely asked Ben if he could also bring her walking coat and her riding gloves from her room.

"Miss Weber will be able to give them to you," she explained. "I don't think that she will want to come on deck herself."

Ben disappeared and the captain led Lady Renesmee to the quarterdeck, where they found Mr Call. Renesmee fell silent at the sight of him, but the captain seemed to feel no awkwardness, as he cheerfully explained to his slightly sceptical quartermaster what they were planning to do. By the time that Ben had reappeared with Miss Weber, and Paul had reappeared with the pistol, they had tied two makeshift wooden targets onto the rail, above the stern.

By assuming that her maid would not make an appearance, Lady Renesmee had underestimated her. However much Miss Weber disliked noisy gunfire, she was still keen to keep an eye on her lively young mistress. She had been a little worried by Renesmee's long absence, and was just about to go in search of her when Ben knocked on the cabin door. When she heard what Lady Renesmee was planning she was somewhat taken aback, and instantly resolved to discover what the girl was up to.

She arrived on deck, carrying the gloves and grey coat, and was relieved to see that nothing untoward was happening, everyone was going about their work as usual. Ben took Miss Weber onto the quarterdeck, where Lady Renesmee was waiting. Her mistress seemed to be surprised to see her, but took the coat and gloves with a smile.

"Thank you, Angela."

As she relinquished the items, Miss Weber spoke to Renesmee in an urgent under-voice. "What are you about, Miss Renesmee? Surely you don't intend to have a shooting contest with a common pirate. What would your grandfather say?"

Renesmee's expression became surprisingly belligerent. "I am not behaving improperly." She frowned. "This isn't a contest, it is merely target practice. And grandpa never has any objection to that."

Her maid was not sure that this was the kind of practice that the Duke would advocate, but she was reluctant to create a scene, so she nodded and remained on the quarterdeck to ensure that Renesmee behaved with the correct degree of maidenly decorum.

Lady Renesmee decided to ignore Miss Weber's obvious disapproval and pulled on her coat, buttoning it right up to her throat. This elegant garment was cut in a closefitting and military style. Combined with her neat hairstyle, it gave Renesmee a very business-like air. She pulled on her leather gloves and turned just in time to see the captain smiling at her approvingly.

"You look very smart."

She pulled a face. "I just want to stop the powder from singeing my dress."

He laughed and turned to see Paul crossing the quarterdeck, carrying a small pistol. "Good. Now we can get started."

Paul handed the weapon to the captain. "I haven't loaded it. I thought that you would prefer to do that."

Renesmee stepped towards them and glanced down at the gun. "That's quite alright; my grandfather always insisted that I load my own pistol. He said that it would stop me from blaming anyone else if it accidentally blew up."

These words did not entirely reassure the two men of her competency, but the captain still handed her the weapon without demur.

"There you are."

The captain watched Renesmee with a fond expression as she began to inspect the pistol. The master gunner frowned, Miss Weber narrowed her eyes thoughtfully, and Mr Call, who was standing nearby, gave a quiet sigh. Only Ben and the helmsman were untroubled by what they saw.

News had already spread through the ship that the captain and the beauty were having a shooting contest, and a number of the crew drifted onto the lower deck, curious to watch. The captain noticed their arrival, but did not bother to reprimand them. He was not a martinet and did not begrudge his men the entertainment.

Lady Renesmee was unaware of the growing audience; she was too busy loading her pistol. She was pleased to see that she had been given a reliable looking weapon. It was only when she was checking its sights that she heard someone placing a bet against her. She turned around in surprise and glanced towards the lower deck. At this point she realised just how many men were watching her and the implications of the comment hit home.

She frowned and lowered her pistol. "I'm sorry. I cannot…"

The captain was standing beside her and asked quietly. "What's wrong?"

"We can practice together." Renesmee met his eyes with a troubled expression. "But I cannot do so if there are wagers being laid on the result. It would not be proper for me to enter such a contest with you. I'm sorry…"

He smiled kindly. "Don't worry. It won't be a contest." And before she could say anything more, he had turned to address the crew over the balustrade. "I don't object to you watching, but if you know what's good for you, no bets will be laid."

He ignored the disgruntled murmur from the lower deck and turned back to Renesmee with complete confidence. "Shall we get started? Best of five?"

She gave him a reluctant smile. "Alright. But only if you shoot first."

He nodded and moved into position. The crew and the ladies fell silent. Mr Call gave the signal and the captain aimed and fired. He hit the target, just left of the bulls-eye. His reaction was modest, but Lady Renesmee heard the approving voices of the crew and congratulated him, before turning to her own target.

On the quartermaster's signal, she raised her pistol and fired. No one was surprised when she missed. She gave a thoughtful frown and when the captain tried to console her, she just shrugged and replied matter-of-factly.

"It throws to the right."

They both reloaded and fired again. The captain hit a perfect bulls-eye, and Lady Renesmee slightly over-compensated, firing her shot just left of the bull. The captain praised her, but she was sure that she heard the word 'lucky' coming from the lower deck. She did not trouble to look round and reloaded without concern.

The captain fired another round. He was a good shot, and it was no surprise when he hit another bulls-eye. However, it was a surprise to the crew of the Rabbit when Lady Renesmee followed suit, hitting the centre of her target with ease. Once she had learned the correct bearings of her pistol, she had no more trouble with it. And when the captain produced two more perfect shots, so did she.

By the time she put down her weapon, no one watching was in any doubt of her ability. She returned her pistol to the master gunner, who took it from her unsmilingly. She did not expect him to speak, let alone to give praise, so she was a rather surprised when he said.

"You did well, my Lady."

His expression remained severe, but somewhere underneath Renesmee could sense a grudging respect and she responded accordingly.

"Thank you for the pistol. I can see that you have kept it in perfect order."

He gave a brusque nod, but had she known it, there was nothing that could have pleased the master gunner more than her compliment. He left the quarterdeck with the pistol and she turned towards the captain, holding out her hand to thank him for the practice.

As they shook hands, she smiled. "Thank you. That was very interesting."

The captain gazed down at her, but unlike the master gunner, his admiration was completely unconcealed.

"Yes, it was." He smiled affectionately and joked. "I can see that you are wasting your talents. You should change identity and make your name as a bandit."

"Change my identity?"

"Of course." His irrepressible grin appeared. "It would not be good for Lady Renesmee's reputation to commit highway robbery, but Black Nessie could do whatever she pleased."

Renesmee raised her eyebrows in astonishment. "Nessie?"

Mr Call was standing close enough to hear this exchange and he approached the captain before they could drift into more dangerous territory.

"Should I order the men back to work, Captain?"

This caught his commander's attention and he turned away from the girl, and answered briskly. "Yes, of course. We need to prepare for our arrival in Sol Duc."

On hearing these words, Renesmee's smile faded. The captain had already told her of his intentions. She had known perfectly well that they would be separated that night, but she had pushed the knowledge to the very back of her mind and spent a happy afternoon immersed in the present. His comment was a sharp reminder that her future beckoned and Jacob would not be a part of it.

The quartermaster turned to issue some sharp orders to the crew, who instantly dispersed, and Renesmee lowered her eyes to hide her feelings. She knew that Miss Weber was watching her and this knowledge only succeeded in oppressing her spirits further. In her present mood, she was hardly up to the task of deflecting her maid's scrutiny.

The captain turned to Renesmee, just as Miss Weber approached. He did not notice the maid, all his attention was captured by the miserable look on Renesmee's face. It was lucky for both of them that Miss Weber was neatly intercepted by Ben.

"Miss Weber." The steward wore a very serious expression. "I was wondering if I might ask your opinion on a small matter regarding Lady de Cullen's dinner arrangements."

Miss Weber was instantly distracted. "Yes, of course you may." He offered her his arm, she glanced towards Renesmee. "I should probably see to this, Miss Renesmee."

She sounded a little doubtful. She wanted to help Ben, because she felt sure that he would not have asked for her opinion if it was not important, but she was reluctant to abandon Lady Renesmee on deck. Fortunately, the issue was decided when her mistress turned and replied firmly.

"Yes, of course, Angela. Don't worry about me. I can make my own way back to our cabin."

Much to Renesmee's relief, Ben wasted no time in leading Miss Weber below deck. The captain watched Renesmee the whole time, and as soon as Miss Weber disappeared from sight, he put a hand under her elbow. She kept her eyes down and he spoke gently.

"Nessie… what's wrong?"

His use of her 'bandit' name produced a small smile and she glanced up and met his eye. She gave him a reproachful look and whispered.

"You're going to leave me."

The captain's eyebrows snapped together, but Renesmee did not see the change in his expression. Her eyes had already flickered towards Mr Call and the helmsman, who were both standing nearby. The captain correctly assumed that she did not wish to say more with an audience. His brow was still lowered as he took Renesmee's gloved hand in his own and started walking towards the steps. When he passed the quartermaster, he spoke tersely.

"I'm going to escort Lady de Cullen to her cabin, I won't be long. In the meantime, set a course north of Port Angeles. You know where we're headed."

The quartermaster nodded. "Yes, Captain."

Without another word the captain left the quarterdeck with Renesmee in tow. Mr Call watched them disappear with a resigned expression. He had observed the captain's deep frown, and came to the conclusion that if Jacob was determined to play with fire, then he would have to live with the burns. So instead of worrying about his friend, the quartermaster turned his efforts to the business of sailing the Rabbit to shore without being detected.

Renesmee followed the captain below deck. He walked ahead of her, keeping a tight hold on her hand, but did not look back. She could sense that he was angry, although she was not entirely sure of the reason. Her instincts advised her to keep quiet. He took the stairs down to the lower gun deck and passed silently through the working crew.

She thought that he was taking her straight to her cabin and a lump appeared in her throat. She knew that the captain was needed on the quarterdeck, and realised that he was about to end the last of their time together by leaving her with Miss Weber. She wanted him to slow down, but her attempts to drag her feet failed as he inexorably led her on.

When they finally halted, she was surprised to discover that she was not at the door of her cabin, but standing outside the captain's own quarters. She did not raise any objection when he led her across the threshold. Once inside, Renesmee strolled towards the table and glanced around just as the captain locked the door behind them with a purposeful click.

He turned, and her breath caught in her throat when she saw his fierce expression. With two strides he crossed the room and yanked her into his arms.

"Do you think I want to leave you?" he demanded through clenched teeth. "Do you think I have a choice?"

"Jacob… I…"

His eye burned as he pulled her close. "I can't keep you here, any more than you can agree to stay." A note of desperation crept into his voice. "I love you, Renesmee; more than I ever thought was possible. But do you think that I can allow you to remain on this ship, when I know that if you do, it will destroy your reputation and ruin your life?"

He gave her no chance to reply, before crushing his mouth to hers in a kiss so hard that her lips felt bruised. She could feel the urgency, the edge of despair, in his move, because his feelings mirrored her own. Their lips parted and Renesmee only felt need, as her fingers clasped the front of his shirt. The captain felt the tremor of response run through her and deepened their kiss, as she slid her hands around his neck.

Her leather gloves were a restrictive barrier between her fingers and his skin, and she quickly stripped them off and cast them away, along with her coat. The captain did not pull away as she did this, but moved his lips down her throat until they reached the edge of her fichu. He swiftly unclasped her brooch and tore away the delicate lace scarf to reveal the smooth skin of her neckline and shoulders.

Renesmee gave a small gasp of surprise as the captain suddenly lifted her onto the table, lowering her back against the polished wooden surface. But her surprise was replaced by pleasure the moment he leaned forward, pressing his body against hers. She lifted her jaw, exposing more of her creamy white throat, and revelled in the feel of his lips as they scorched a trail across her bare skin.

Her desire was fuelled by the lurking pain of their imminent separation. The captain's body radiated heat and she instinctively pulled him closer, trying to soak up every bit of comfort that he now offered. In a bold move, she snaked her hands under his shirt and ran her fingers across his powerful back. This unexpected gesture acted like a touch-paper to him. He caught his breath and with one swift movement, removed his shirt, pulling it over his head and throwing it aside.

For a moment neither of them made a move. They just stared at each other, both breathing heavily, as the captain held himself above Renesmee, resting on his palms. Her eyes darkened as they raked across his muscular form. The strong body, which she had only imagined, was now revealed. His powerful arms and torso were covered by lustrous velvety skin, the perfection of which was only marred by a number of battle scars.

Renesmee lifted her hand, gently tracing the sensual curve of his mouth with her finger, before trailing it across his jaw and neck, and down over the smooth ridges of his chest. They both watched her hand as it made its way down his torso, gently exploring the feel of his skin and the hardened muscles beneath it, until she glanced up and looked him straight in the eye.

He dipped his head and softly brushed his lips against hers as she ran her hand around his waist, digging her fingers into his back. Lowering his weight onto one elbow, he raised his free hand to cradle her jaw, before leaning in and gently capturing her full lower lip between his, in a lingering kiss. She instantly wound her free arm around his neck, drawing him close as their lips moved in perfect unity.

The captain slipped his hand from her jaw, down over her silky throat and shoulders. When his fingers reached the rich velvet of her dress, they continued over her bodice, tracing the gentle curves of her form, making her arch her back imploringly.

"Jacob..."

His hand swept over the soft folds of her skirt and he clasped her tighter, kissing her with a fiery urgency. Renesmee could feel her own longing, her own desperate need for him, increase as she ran her hands across his firm back and breathed in his heady scent. She did not doubt that she belonged to this man. She had been his from the very first touch.

She gave a short gasp as he gathered up the layers of her skirt and petticoats, and slipped his hand under her knee, pinning her shapely leg against his strong thigh. Her feverish lips moved to the captain's jaw as his hand travelled up, following the line of her silk stockings, and she murmured.

"Jacob… I love you."

On hearing these words, the captain paused. He raised his head and took a long look at the girl beneath him. Her eyes were half closed, a heated flush mounted her cheeks and a few glossy curls had escaped and fallen over her brow in damp ringlets. His perfect woman, she was everything he had ever wanted, beautiful and brave, desirable in every way. And, by some miracle, she wanted him back. Renesmee had confessed her love. She was willing to give him everything.

The trusting way in which she spoke, brought the captain to his senses. Taking a steadying breath, he shook his head and slowly released her. As he pulled away and climbed to his feet, Renesmee's eyes flew open in surprise. She sat up quickly, searching his face.

"What's wrong?" There was an unmistakeable note of anxiety in her voice.

He looked down at her with regret. "I'm sorry… I can't."

As Renesmee heard these words, the light in her eyes was completely quenched. She bit her lip and her voice trembled. "I… I'm sorry…"

Her look of hurt rejection shocked him. He could hardly believe it; the most beautiful girl in the world actually thought that he did not want her. Before she could finish, the captain had caught her face between his hands. He gazed tenderly into her soft brown eyes and kissed her.

"My angel, I'm the one who should be sorry. I should never have brought you here." Sitting down beside her, he took her hand and spoke repentantly. "You're an innocent girl and you deserve better than this. You deserve better than me."

Lady Renesmee frowned and silently shook her head, but the captain continued. "I swore that I would take you to Sol Duc unharmed, and that included your honour…" She flushed and lowered her gaze, and he added in a low, tentative voice. "You know that I love you."

"Do you really…?" She sounded unsure and did not look up.

"Yes." He gently drew her into his arms. "More than anything, and far too much to take advantage of you now..." She nestled against him, wrapping one arm around his waist and pressing her cheek to his warm chest, and he sighed. "However much I want to."

This provoked a small chuckle from the girl of his dreams. "You're very restrained."

He pressed his lips to her hair and gave a rueful grin. "Let me take you back to your cabin, before that restraint starts to slip."

This exchange seemed to diffuse the tense atmosphere. They stood up and began to retrieve the garments that they had scattered across the floor. Renesmee found her fichu and cameo brooch lying under the table. The captain glanced at her as she inspected the torn lace.

"I'm sorry…" He looked a little shamefaced. "I ruined your scarf."

"I don't mind." She smiled and handed him the piece of lace, saying in a light tone. "There, you can keep it as a reminder of me."

"Thank you."

He took it from her with a smile, disguising the fact that his heart felt like a lump of lead in his chest. He had to leave her, he had no choice. So many people's safety depended upon returning Lady Renesmee to her family, including hers.

She pinned the brooch back onto her dress and pulled on her coat, buttoning it right to the top, to hide the missing fichu. Renesmee retrieved her gloves from the floor, just as the captain was turning his shirt the right way out. She stood up and stared admiringly at his handsome form.

"Jacob… you're beautiful."

He choked and threw her a startled glance, before quickly pulling on his shirt. "Um… thank you." He then added with a smile. "Though, I'm not sure that anyone else would agree with you."

If the captain was slightly embarrassed by her unexpected comment, then he was no less so than Renesmee herself. She could not imagine what had possessed her to say such a thing. Turning a fiery red, she suddenly became deeply engrossed in fastening the buttons on her gloves.

Once they had returned themselves to a state of perfect order, the captain unlocked his door and grinned.

"Shall we?"

Renesmee nodded and passed into the corridor, wearing an expression of extreme piety. The captain led her straight to her own cabin and stopped outside the door, gazing down at her with a look of regret.

"I have to go. They'll be waiting for me on deck."

"Of course," she replied stoically. "Everyone will be wondering what has happened to you." She stood on her tiptoes and pressed a small kiss to his lips, before asking quietly. "Is this goodbye, or will I see you again before I go?"

He caught her in his arms and hugged her tightly, whispering in her ear. "No, we'll see each other tonight. I'm taking you ashore. The quartermaster will stay with the ship while I'm gone."

"Good." She breathed a sigh of relief and held him close for a moment, before letting go and saying briskly. "I will see you tonight."

The captain cupped her face in his hands and gave her one final kiss. "Until then…"

He then turned and walking away with a firm step. Lady Renesmee rested her hand on the doorframe and watched him depart with a heavy heart. She gave herself an inward shake and opened the door to her cabin.

She was feeling rather preoccupied when she entered the room. She found Miss Weber sitting inside, drinking a cup of tea. Her maid caught sight of Renesmee's pensive face and put down her cup. She rose to her feet, stepping towards the girl with a serious expression. This caught Renesmee's attention.

"Angela, what's wrong?"

"I wish that I did not have to ask, but I must." Miss Weber sounded very grave. "Miss Renesmee, is there something between you and the captain?"


Author's notes:

Hello again. Before I say anything else, I have to apologise (a lot) for the slow update. I haven't forgotten about this story, I have just been putting a lot of my writing time into my canon story, but I am hoping that when I finish it I will have more chance to write about Pirate Jake.

So anyway, apart from that, thank you for all the really nice reviews and list additions, I really appreciated them, especially the messages which reminded me to keep working on this story (encouragement is good, ha ha). And a quick thanks to the reviewers I couldn't PM: Lissy, Daydreaming Viking Girl, Rach199, can't tell u, and 2cool4you.

Apart from that, I hope you're all well, I will try not to take so long with the next update.

And I've noticed that the links are finally working again on this site, so it is now possible to check out the map for the Olympic Ocean and the Black Pirate story banner on my profile page (all pirates need a good rope!)

Thank you for reading, Mad :)