DISCLAIMER: Ahoy me mateys, these characters be the property of Stephenie Meyer, but they boarded me ship and I took 'em hostage…

A/N: I'm back with a short story for ya'll. Started as a one shot, but as its approaching 10k, I've decided to break it down into shorter chapters, around 1k each. The purpose of this story is to wish my twi-sister and good friend, Holly R a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! *whispers* She has a thing for pirates…savvy? This is almost finished on my end and I will post a few chapters a day until it's all up (shouldn't take more than a few days).

Thank you to my pre-readers, Arc Morpheus, True English Rose, reyes139, HeartOfDarkess and a big thanks to JA Mash, not only for pre-reading but creating the gorgeous banner and character posters that accompany this tale. Those can be found in my FB group, TexasBella's Darlin's!

So strap on yer cutlasses and fasten yer breeches…

~Prologue~

~Seven Years Ago~

EPOV

The village was rife with giddiness. The Swan's were holding a celebration gathering to see off their children before they would all set sail in the morning for the New World where they were being given the opportunity to broaden their studies and make something of themselves.

I think I was the only one not happy about the news.

How could I be?

We had finally found a place we were welcomed and not spat upon for being gypsies. Carl and Madame E had taken an instant liking to Chief Swan and his wife and vice versa so we had settled in on the outskirts of the village. No one seemed concerned with our tents or late night bonfires and gay festivities.

We'd been living there about a month when I'd wandered from one such night of fun to find the Chief's ten year old daughter hiding in the trees and watching with wide eyes. I'd immediately admired her fearlessness and inquisitiveness and had invited her back to the party.

That had been the first night of our friendship. It had continued to grow over the next year as she taught me my letters and numbers and I taught her ways of surviving off the land.

We swam in the river when the weather was warm. We teamed up to take care of the younger children so the elders could get their daily chores done. We made up songs. We even shared an awkward first kiss just to see what it was like. We became something more than simple friends.

We became best friends.

And she hadn't told me she was leaving.

I'd had to learn from Madame E on the way to the gathering when I asked what all the commotion was for.

So, yeah, I wasn't happy and I refused to participate or say good bye to her.

She'd had other plans, of course. When I didn't show up, she sought me out. I should've known better than to go to 'our spot'.

She'd been breathless, her growing chest heaving, as she'd run into thicket of trees and straight into my arms. How I'd wanted to be angry with her, but when I saw the traces of old tears on her face paired with the new ones that were flowing, I could only gather her into my arms and hold her until she had cried herself out.

She'd finally explained that she hadn't known either. Both she and her brother were devastated that they were being shipped off and they didn't want to go, but they had no choice. Their education was a gift from King James and as such, could not be refused.

In explaining, she'd begun crying again and I only wanted to take away her pain. She was too beautiful to know such sorrow. Before I'd realized what was happening, my lips were upon hers and this time it wasn't awkward. It was passionate and full of desperation as the budding feelings within us bubbled to the surface and we poured our silent declarations into the kiss.

My hands made their way to her bodice of their own accord and when I took notice that they were filled with her firm flesh, only the material of her dress keeping me from feeling her heat, I'd reluctantly pulled away.

I knew we couldn't do this. I was six years her senior and while she was close to marrying age, she was not there yet and I would not defile her.

But I did commit myself to wait for her in exchange for her whispered promise to do the same. We said our final farewells that night, knowing we could not stand to do it again in the morning with witnesses afoot.

The next morning found me back in our spot so that I could not hear the commotion in the village. Ensuring, as well, that no one could bear witness to my unmanly tears.

It was a month later when word reached the village that their ship had gone down in a storm. A few of the crew, had managed to get away in one of the rowboats and carried the news back. They could only give an approximation of where the ship had sunk as the black night of the storm had left them uncertain of their exact location. The only other clue they could give was the mention of a possible island, seen in glimpses as the lightening had flashed in the sky.

The village, left without a leader, was at the mercy of the King and it only took a week before his soldiers appeared, demanding fealty. For our gypsy gang, it would be a cold day in hell before we followed them. We knew what fate awaited our kind at Court...the gallows.

I refused to believe she was gone. I was sure that I would have felt that in my heart. With that certainty, I pled my case to Carl and Madame E and convinced them that we had nowhere to go, but to sea.

And if we were going to sea, we might as well look for our friends.

Thus Redbeard Masen was born, so named for my rust colored facial hair, when I committed my first crime against the Kingdom and turned pirate.

By commandeering a ship, the Vanquish, from the King's fleet in the dead of night.

A/N: Would love to hear your thoughts if you feel like sharing them!