Chapter 1

1702

To Lydia Carrington, Anegada was home. It had been for the last nineteen years. Born in England, her parents moved to the small Caribbean island when she was two years old. Her two sisters Katherine and Margaret only knew a life there. Their father, Nathaniel, was in the British Royal Navy and was stationed there so long ago as an officer before being promoted to Commodore after only a few more years. He was in charge of three ships total, at least two of them always at sea. The girls' mother died in childbirth when Margret was born, and with their father being out at sea so often Lydia helped raise her two sisters. When they were younger, and their father would be home, he would tell them tales of pirates, most of them true. His stories fascinated the sisters, especially Lydia. As the girls grew up Lydia would read about pirates to her sisters when their father was away, fantastical tales about brave crews fighting sea monsters. This also led to Lydia wanting to know more about the monsters in the stories. Reading about those creatures eventually led to her reading about Greek mythology. Her private tutor did not endorse that type of reading for a lady, but her father didn't seem to mind and eventually half of the family's library was full of books about all the things that fascinated all three sisters throughout their childhood.

While their father was away so often Lydia also noticed something else about their home – no pirates had ever been seen near Anegada. She'd heard of some surrounding islands being attacked before, a few of those even being more populous than her home. It wasn't until she overheard some of the men who were directly under her father's command that she learned why. Most of the pirates knew that Commodore Carrington lived on Anegada, and that crossing his path would mean their death. At least until he wouldn't be there for an even longer amount of time than usual.

"Father, why must you go now?" Margaret asked him the morning he was to leave for England. "You'll be gone for so long. Will it be safe here?"

"Of course it will, dear," Nathaniel said to his youngest daughter. "Do not fret, any one of you. Once this business with the king is done, I will come straight home."

"We'll miss you, father," Lydia said, hugging him tightly. "Return safe to us, all right?"

"Always," he said with a smile. He placed a kiss on the top of his eldest daughter's head before embracing Katherine and Margret as well.

"What should we do it the island is ever under attack?" Katherine asked, concern evident in her voice.

"There will be no talk of potential attacks," Nathaniel said gently. "You will all be safe. This is no different than any other time I am away. I will just be gone a little longer than usual. But, if anything does happen in my absence, you know where to go."

Too soon the family finished saying goodbye and the sisters were watching their father's largest ship sail away. Their father and some of his best men would be hone for an undetermined amount of time, and while Lydia was more confident in the safety of their home, she could tell her younger sisters weren't as sure. All three of them prayed that their father would have a safe journey.

As the weeks passed, everything was calm on Anegada. It seemed Lydia's father had been right – pirates wouldn't go near the island. She watched the sea every day, curious about seeing any pirates. She'd seen pictures of pirate ships in books from her times with a private tutor and felt confident she would be able to identify one from their black flags. Most of the books she'd read about pirates were from her father – he learned quickly that she would learn about those things on her own by any means necessary if he tried to keep that information from her. One day, she found herself looking at the bookcase full of pirate lore and mythology. She hardly read them anymore since it was unbecoming of a grown woman to show interest in such a fantastical subject, but behind closed doors no harm was done. She sat in the parlor that was hardly used to try and read in peace.

"Lydia, what are you doing?" she heard Katherine ask from the entrance after some time. Lydia looked back at her as she entered the room and looked over Lydia's shoulder to see the book.

"Reading," Lydia answered, turning back to her book.

"That will bring bad luck, reading about pirates and such," Katherine warned. Lydia looked back to her and grinned.

"That's nonsense, sister. And if anything brought about bad luck, it would be talking or singing about pirates. Those are just superstitions." Lydia pulled on Katherine's arm until she finally sat down beside her. "You were just as interested in the exact same thing years ago."

"'Were' is the keyword, Lydia," Katherine said. "I have more important things to worry about."

"Like James Hutchins?" Lydia said before smirking. "Yes, I suppose if you don't want to end up an old spinster like me you should be more worried about marriage."

"Lydia!" Katherine chided, grinning and blushing. "You are not a spinster, and it is ridiculous to talk of marriage when the man hardly looks at me."

"Hardly looks at you? If he sees you out he barely looks away from you," Lydia responded with a small chuckle.

It was nearly nightfall when the sisters finished talking. Before going to sleep that night, Lydia helped the servants make sure the house was secure. If pirates were close to the island, they would eventually learn of the Commodore's extended absence and possibly try to attack the island if the crew were brave enough. It seemed that night was not the night, though, as the sisters all slept peacefully and woke the next morning to a bright sun shining on the island.

After another week or so, James Hutchins stopped by the Carrington house one morning to call on Katherine – Lydia wasn't the least bit surprised. James' father was also with him, since Nathaniel was not there, to act as supervisor for the two. John Hutchins was a portly man with dark hair, a stark contrast to his son's skinnier frame and wild red hair. With Katherine's auburn hair, Lydia knew that if the two ever married and had children there would be a small tribe of redheads in the village.

The Hutchins stayed for several hours, and Lydia would check on her sisters periodically to make sure things were going well. One of those times, she found Margaret listening in from one of the closed doors to the room.

"Margaret," she said from behind her youngest sister, causing Margaret to jump. "What are you doing?" Lydia smiled, but immediately noticed Margaret didn't look very happy. "What's wrong?"

"I just hope to find love one day like Katherine has," Margaret said with a sigh.

"I assure you that you will one day," Lydia tried to reassure her. "You're sixteen. I'm sure there's someone who is just as interested in you as James is with Katherine. And you have plenty of time to find a husband."

Margaret nodded before walking past Lydia, presumably to paint. Where Lydia loved reading, Katherine loved music and Margaret loved art. It was certainly a different upbringing that the girls had – their father wanted the three to do what made them happy, not what was expected of them as women.

As darkness fell that night, Lydia helped with the usual ritual of locking down the house. On the top floor, she looked out a window that overlooked the sea, and in the light from the sunset she could see something. When she saw it, she hoped it wasn't what her gut was telling her it was. All she knew was that it was a ship she did not recognize. What made the sight so strange was that it was on the side of the island opposite from the harbor. Ships rarely approached the island from that direction. She knew that if the ship made it to the harbor, nothing good would come of it.

That night Lydia couldn't sleep. She kept thinking about the ship she saw, wondering if it was coming to Anegada. Something about it made her worry, but she kept telling herself that it wasn't a pirate ship and that everyone on the island was perfectly safe. She fell asleep thinking about that ship and dreamt that it was a pirate ship.

Late into the night Lydia was jerked awake my Margaret. When she was fully awake she noticed that Margaret was terrified and hysterical about something.

"What's wrong?" Lydia asked as she got out of bed and put a robe over her nightgown.

"Katherine!" Margaret whispered in a trembling voice. "They've taken Katherine!"

"Who—" Lydia was cut off by the door being kicked open. Margaret let out an involuntary scream and the man who was standing there cackled.

"Good evening, ladies," he said with an evil grin, walking towards Margaret and Lydia. "I suspect ye to be the other two Carrington girls." Lydia stood in front of Margaret protectively, trying not to show her fear. She knew this man had to be a pirate just by the look of him. Even with so little light it was easy to see that his skin was leathery, like he'd been in the sin for too long, and his clothes were severely unkempt, from his wrinkled, no longer white shirt, to his stained and torn trousers. He and the sisters stood staring at each other for a moment before he suddenly ran towards them, making both girls jump. Three other men appeared behind the pirate and Lydia could feel Margaret's shaking get worse.

"What do you want with us?" Lydia asked in the bravest voice she could muster.

"What do we want with ye," the first pirate seemed to ponder the question before walking right up to the girls. "We're taking you hostage." Before Lydia could object, the other pirates were beginning to bind her and Margaret's hands behind them.

"You can't do this!" Lydia tried to argue as they were being dragged out of the house. "My father will have your head for this!"

"Aye he will, if he can figure out which one of ya is with whom, and where," the first pirate said in a slightly mocking tone. Lydia furrowed her brow and looked to her younger sister, who still looked terrified. The pirates started dragging them outside, and Lydia wished she could do something to free Margaret so at least one of them would be safe. Once they were outside, Lydia realized that someone must have heard the pirates breaking into their home. As she looked around, she noticed that no other homes or businesses had been touched. It wasn't completely abnormal, with them being related to one of the most powerful naval officers in the Caribbean, but it still seemed strange that no one else has been roused. The man dragging her along was beginning to hurt her arm from holding it so tightly as they approached the harbor.

"If you would be so kind, sir," Lydia said in a mocking tone, "I would prefer to keep the use of my arm."

"Oh, the captain will certainly like you," the man said with a bark of a laugh. "You're a fighter." Of the three sisters, that was true for Lydia. She was much more outspoken than both Katherine and Margaret. And she wasn't afraid of a pirate.

"I'm not afraid of a pirate," Lydia scowled, trying to free her arms from the man's grip. "You can't do anything to me. If you kill me or hurt me in any way, my father will have the heads of the entire crew."

"If he ever finds ya, ye mean," the pirate said, clearly mocking Lydia. She kept her mouth shut until they reached the pirate ship, unwilling to waste her energy on a pirate who probably had no ranking on the ship to begin with. When they were on deck after using a longboat to get there, the pirate practically threw Lydia down, making her land on her hands and knees. She was surrounded by the crew in a matter of seconds, and when it dawned on her that she was wearing only a nightgown and robe, her face turned crimson from embarrassment.

"You won't get away with this," she said to no one in particular once she got over her state of undress. The crew laughed simultaneously before one of them got down in her face.

"You just wait and see, girl," he said with a huge grin.

"And I'm not a girl!"

"Aye, that we can see!" This began another round of laughs and caused Lydia's face to redden again.

"I will be happy to watch every single one of you hang," she spat just before a very large pirate yanked her up to a standing position.

"I would suggest ye keep yer mouth shut before it gets ye into trouble," the first pirate said in a menacing tone.

"Once my father gets word of this he will come for me and my sisters."

"He may try, but he will not be able to find all three of you at once."

"I don't care what happens to me, as long as my sisters are safe. Kill me for all I care!" When Lydia said that, the first pirate got an evil glint in his eye.

"Do ye hear that, gents? She doesn't care if she dies!" He yelled with a malicious grin. "Fetch the cat o' nines! We'll show her if she really wants to die!" All the others cheered as one of them dragged Lydia to the main mast and untied her hands, only to tie them around the mast. Lydia dared not try to look behind her when she heard the rip of fabric and felt the damp night air on her bare back. She also wasn't expecting the first lash of the whip. She yelped involuntarily and drew her body closer to the mast, shutting her eyes tightly. For the next hits she tried to stay quiet, but it got harder the longer it went on. She was almost relieved when she heard a voice behind her. Almost.

"What's goin' on here!" the voice bellowed, loud footsteps approaching Lydia. "Ignacio, what's the meanin' of all this?" The man's brogue Scottish accent threw her off compared to the Spanish accent her captor had.

"Captain," the man who initially captured Lydia said, his voice quivering slightly. So the captain was a man to be feared. Lydia wondered if she could use that information to her advantage. It was hard to concentrate with her back throbbing, though. "She iin't cooperating. She doesn't care if she dies! So, we gave her a taste of her own medicine!"

"I told ye to bring me the girl and not harm her!" The captain yelled. The silence of the crew was enough for Lydia to be able to tell that the entire crew was afraid of this man. But when he untied her from the mast and she faced him, she felt no fear. No, as long as she was on the ship this man would protect her. She knew that just by looking at him. "Below decks, the lot of ya! It ain't proper for a lady to be so exposed in front of scoundrels like yourselves!" Without hesitation the crew ran below decks and a second later Lydia felt something around her. The captain put a blanket on her back gently, trying to make sure the cuts where she'd been flogged weren't aggravated.

She was beginning to feel faint from both the pain and blood loss as she was led into what she assumed were the captain's quarters; there was actually a bed in the room and a large table in the center with maps rolled up neatly on it.

"Sit," the pirate captain demanded, pushing Lydia down by her shoulder into a chair. She glared at the pirate captain before he faced her. "You'll have to let me take a look at yer back." Lydia hesitated at his words, still afraid of what this man might do to her despite the fact that he stopped her flogging. Finally, the captain walked up behind her and yanked the blanket away from Lydia, making her hiss from the pain and also cover her chest, the sleeves of her nightgown having fallen down when the blanket got moved and essentially exposing her.

"This'll hurt," he said in barely enough time for Lydia to brace herself for the sting of the alcohol on her back. She was not expecting him to clean her wounds, or that he knew anything about cleaning wounds. After sitting there for a few seconds, she felt a cloth being dabbed on her back, and her eyes shot open, not expecting to be treated well at all. She turned her head slightly, trying to see the pirate captain. He noticed her looking at him and sighed. "I'm not lookin' to return a dead girl to the Commodore," he said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"What does that mean?" Lydia said incredulously. "And, I'm not a girl," she finished through clenched teeth. For too long she had been called a girl; at 21 years old, she was not technically considered a girl anymore.

"Aye, I'm aware of that," the captain said, keeping the obvious tone in his voice. "But yer face still looks awfully childish for a woman who should be married by now."

"How do you know I'm not married?" Lydia said.

"Because ye just told me," the pirate said, nearly smirking. Lydia wasn't sure the man was capable of a smile that did not have malicious intent behind it. She also could've kicked herself for falling for the man's ruse. "I'm assuming you'll need something to wear, yes?"

"Unless I'm doomed to wear a ripped nightgown," Lydia stated sarcastically, wondering why this man was taking so long tending to her back.

"Nay, that not be the case woman," he responded, his tone turning sarcastic when he said "woman." "But you won't be getting clothes yet. I'm not finished with yer back." Slowly she helped to get a bandage wrapped around her chest, and when the cloth completely covered her, the captain forced her to stand, helping to keep her nightgown closed. At least he had the decency to let her keep some of her pride. A second later he pulled a chest out of seemingly nowhere and dragged it over to Lydia.

"Try to find something in there," he said, motioning to the now open chest. "You're a woman, I'm sure you can make yourself look decent." Lydia rummaged through the chest cautiously at first, and quickly realized she would not be finding a dress to wear, but only shirts, breeches, and vests. After some time, she finally found something that looked adequate and like it might fit her, and looked at the pirate captain cautiously. His back was turned to her, his intent fairly obvious; he wouldn't be leaving the room. Before putting the clothes on Lydia smelled them despite her better judgement, but she was surprised to find that they smelled clean. She cleared her throat when she was finally dressed, and the pirate captain turned around and nodded in approval.

Despite Lydia's distress, she was aware that she never learned the pirate captain's name.

"What is your name?" she asked, unsure of where her sudden bravery came from. Initially the pirate captain looked insulted she even asked, but soon relented.

"I am Captain Hector Bartolome, and my ship is the Morbid Gale," he answered with pride. Lydia vaguely recognized the name; if she wasn't mistaken, she'd heard her father say something about him once. When he suddenly started walking towards her, Lydia started backing away.

"Don't come near me," she said in as menacing of a tone as she could muster. This only made him laugh.

"I know yer scared of me," he said casually, continuing to walk towards her. "But I have no plans to harm ye. Ye do have my word on that. Other things," he paused then to look up and down her body. "Possibly, but I won't lay a violent hand on ye." Lydia could feel herself breathing harder again as she backed away from him as much as she could before running into a wall. He got right up in her face, a strange smile on his lips. "You'll be sleepin' here." He backed away from her suddenly. "Under my supervision. The brig is no place for a lady. I'm not a complete monster, though some men and women alike would say otherwise."

"Where are you taking me?" Lydia blurted out once she worked her way off the wall of the room. The captain grinned at her question.

"Port Royal."