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Her Gentleman Pirate (High Seas & High Stakes, Book 2) (Ebook)

Her Gentleman Pirate (High Seas & High Stakes, Book 2) (Ebook)

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Kidnapped by a smuggling pirate, Miss Arabella Hester is appalled by the circumstances that have befallen her. Imprisoned on a ship in the most scandalous of company, her reputation as a lady betrothed to a English Viscount is in tatters.

Captain Stephen Doherty aka Blackmore was left with little choice but to kidnap the daughter of Sir Ronald Hester, a man who’s payment for services rendered is long overdue. The ransom due on Arabella will settle her father’s debt, and allow Stephen to restore his family’s fortune.

Pursued across an ocean by those determined to restore a daughter to her rightful place, Arabella and Stephen navigate high seas and high emotions. But when their time is up, it remains to been seen whether this lady wishes to be caught by anyone other than her pirate...

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Valletta Harbor, Malta – 1819

“Take her aboard and place her in my cabin. And make sure you tie her up. Tight. She’s a bit of a hoyden this one, make no mistake.” A deep, rough voice said from behind her.
Lady Arabella Hester, normally a serene woman, growled. A most unladylike sound if ever there was one to be sure, but what was she to do with a dirty piece of cloth tied across her mouth? To be kidnapped was not something she’d ever thought to happen while visiting Malta with her papa, they had many friends, certainly no one that wished them ill, or so she thought…
She shivered as the night air pierced her thin shift, having been pulled from her bed. The lapping sound of water sounded beneath her feet, and Arabella knew she was at the docks. This was a rightful catastrophe!
The captain, bastard extraordinaire grinned and again Arabella was forced into an action beyond reprehensible. She spat on his old, sea-worn boot. He would pay for kidnapping her and possibly ruining her good name should anyone find out. Which no doubt was his aim or worse, to do unthinkable things to her that even she didn’t want to face right at this moment.
She tried to squirm free of her captor, standing too close against her back and then, like a sack of potatoes, was flung over the deckhands’ shoulders, carried unceremoniously onto the boat, off the main deck and supposedly toward the captain’s cabin.
The wooden ships interior oozed with the smell of unwashed men and stale air. Her nose twitched at the rank odor that wafted up from the man carrying her. Did these men have no pride? There was plenty of water about; one would think a wash every few days wouldn’t be so hard.
He threw her into a chair and her bottom roared in protest. She tried to rub her sore hide, before he wrenched her hands behind the chair and tied them firmly to the wood.
Arabella fought against the knots, landing at least one solid kick to the captor’s shin. He glared at her, but didn’t retaliate with violence. “You’ll all pay for this absurdity. My father and betrothed will not stand for such foolhardy actions. You will all hang.”
Her words only ventured a tighter knot about her ankles. She refused to cringe as the harsh rope bit into her flesh. She glared at the bulk of a man who strode off without a flicker of remorse. The door slammed shut and her imprisonment was complete.
Her eyes burned and she bit her lip to stop the tears from welling and falling over her lids. There wasn’t time for emotion. Crying couldn’t possibly help her situation. A gun would be handy, yes, but not a blabbering little fool that was threatening to come out and make it’s presence known. Arabella took a calming breath and fought to think clearly. Her father would look for her, chase down this pirate and ensure justice, she was sure of it. Her papa, a savvy business man knew everyone who traded on the seas. It would not be long before he found out who’d taken her and rescue her in turn. All she had to do was remain calm and dissuade her captors to do anything beyond forgiving.
She took in the room, which was large for a pirate vessel. Not that she’d ever been on one before to judge. It was also shockingly tidy and clean of dust and grime. It certainly smelt better in here than out in the other part of below decks. A large wooden bed sat against one wall, a desk that if she turned her head a little, could be seen behind her shoulder. Large windows ran the length of the ship’s stern. They would give a wonderful view of the ocean should she be able to see out of them, and only if she wanted to that was.
Not that she would want to see her island holiday home of Malta disappear over the horizon. At the thought of leaving a place that for the last three months had brought happiness to her and her papa after the passing of her mother, tore pain through her chest. Not to mention society would shun her after this ruination, even the limited London society in which she graced. Her life was just about to start. She was only twenty, it couldn’t be over already.
She pulled against her bonds with little luck.
Hurried footsteps sounded coming toward the door and her stomach knotted tighter than those about her ankles. The footsteps paused momentarily at the threshold, before the man she would remember for the rest of her days flung open the door, leaned against the wood and stared at her like a prized jewel.
And that was exactly what she was to him. Coin.
“You’ll hang for this, you bastard.” The vulgarity of her speech made her pause, but then she couldn’t regret it. If ever there was a time for swearing, this was it.
He laughed and slammed the door shut. “I very much hope you’re wrong, Miss Arabella.” He studied her a moment, his visage one of annoyance and contemplation. “I can call you Arabella, may I not? We are after all going to be spending some time with each other and I do hate standing on ceremony when there is really no need to. I’m Captain Blackmore, but you may call me Stephen.”
Arabella narrowed her eyes but refrained from replying. She needed to remain composed, talk herself out of this situation if possible, not annoy the man any more than he already was, having succumbed to such tactics as kidnapping.
“You see, my dear, I perceive no fun to be had at the end of a noose.” One side of his lips lifted in a cocky grin and she took a calming breath. “In any case, if you’re worried your virginity will be in tatters after I’m through with you, you’ll be sadly mistaken. You shall leave this ship in good time, hale and whole. I promise you that.” He rubbed his jaw and she noted he had lovely cheekbones for a pirate, before throwing the thought aside. “Your reputation may suffer though I’m afraid… Society can be so fickle, don’t you agree?”
A thread of peace flowed through her and his no-nonsense speech. Perhaps there was hope in talking this pirate out of his idea for her. “You need to think about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it to. And let me assure you, I am a lady and one who has done nothing to deserve this. And do not doubt that just because I am female I do not hold the lofty connections in which to sink this piece of rubble to the bottom of the ocean.” Arabella reminded herself she was supposed to be diplomatic, not demonic. “I don’t understand why you’ve chosen me as your victim. I’ve done nothing to you. I don’t even know you.” She stated. Perhaps somewhere deep inside this man, there was an honest soul.
He looked down at her over his nose, the gaze mocking. “You may not have done anything to me but someone close to you has. You, Miss Hester, are imperative to my plans. But,” he said, coming to stand not far from her, running an idle hand atop his chest of drawers as if to feel the smooth wood. “For now, all you need to know is that these quarters will be your home over the forthcoming weeks and you’ll share them with me. Do not try and escape for the only way to do so would be to swim. And I will not be bothered nor do I have the time to fish you out of the ocean should you choose to try your luck. Do you understand?”
She ground her teeth. The urge to tell this kidnapper what he could do with his threats almost overcame her sense of self-preservation. How dare he speak to her in such a way? Then, what was she thinking. Pirates, men who marched to their own illegal drum would never see reason. They only thought of themselves, and not what their actions meant for others. “You can go to hell. To do this to a woman who has in no way injured you makes your heart as black as this ship.” And his hair, which was strikingly long as well, and looked wind kissed. Arabella studied his features for a moment, his strong jaw, the severe cut of his cheekbones and blue intelligent eyes spoke of breeding and an affluent lifestyle. He looked as though he belonged in a London ballroom, dancing with the upper-ten-thousand, not here on a ship, kidnapping innocent women as a means to get what he wanted.
He shrugged, walking toward a wooden sideboard and pouring himself a brandy from the decanter. “I’m owed a debt that will be paid. You are worth a lot of blunt, so do be obliging, my dear. I hate conflict.”
Arabella fought against her ties to no avail. He watched her for a moment, a laughing light in his eyes, before turning and leaving her alone in the room.
The ship rocked, the ocean lulling her to a false sense of security.
These men were dangerous. Had in fact stolen her in the dead of night from a family friends estate in Valletta. Arabella looked about the room. What was it exactly that had happened to this pirate to ensure such wrath. It certainly wasn’t fair to drag her into his financial woes. But again, she’d been told of these men on their boat trip over to Malta, of how they operated and their lack of conscience.
She made one final effort to free herself and then gave up. It was no use and the sting about her wrists only told her to continue the fight would lead to severe scaring. Arabella shut her eyes, her body aching with the need to sleep. Having been bundled into a rough, hessian bag, thrown into a carriage and stowed on a ship’s deck had left her near exhausted.
After losing her mama to a wasting disease, they had needed to get away from London. Everything at home had reminded them both of what they’d loved and lost. With the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, each day on Malta had brought Arabella and her papa back to life. She’d become engaged to a man who would elevate their family, and it was a match that would’ve made her mama happy. Everything had been falling into place.
But no more. Society would shun her family once they found out about her abduction, another blow that her papa could not take. Tears fell onto her shift and she closed her eyes, blocking out the terrible situation she now found herself, but it was no use. No denying of her location could change where she now was.
Muffled sounds from the deck above floated through to her, calls to hoist the main sail, steer toward starboard gradually faded as sleep crept over her.
A welcome respite and one she hoped she would wake from only to find this nightmare was nothing but a figment of her imagination.

It was not.
Arabella woke with a start as the cabin door slammed against the wall. The pirate captain Blackmore strode in, walked to his dresser and started looking through other articles of clothing.
She blinked and her mouth popped open at the defined, enhancing muscles that accentuated his shoulders and perfect back. His skin was tanned and smooth and dripping with water as if he’d just bathed. From this distance, it looked supple yet flexed with months of tough work aboard a ship’s deck.
Illegal work…
He turned and her stomach twisted. The pirate’s front was even more defined if that was at all possible. He watched her under heavy eyelids as he pulled on the plain cotton shirt, tying it closed from the chest up. The silly shirt clung to his body and even with him clothed, it did little to hide his form.
Arabella shook herself free from the absurd thoughts running through her mind. Thoughts that included wondering what he looked like without his well-worn breeches on. Was his bottom as toned as his abdomen? Did he wear drawers under his breeches? “You’re doing your shirt up wrong. A man of your advanced age should know how to dress himself.”
He grinned and looked down at his lopsided tying. “I like doing things that are not proper.”
The way he accentuated the word proper with a look that spoke of endless nights of sin within his arms made her cheeks burn. She scoffed. “Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Arabella focused on anything in the room, so long as it was not this wet shirt, heathen before her. He was making her mind addled and as foggy as the moors in winter.
“By the way, to the lady who knows all regarding dressing, but has probably never dressed herself once in her life. I am nine and twenty, so not into my dotage quite yet.” He came and sat on the desk, his body looming over hers in the chair.
The smell of ocean wafted from his skin. Surprisingly it wasn’t an awful scent although she made a point of gasping for air. “Please move. You smell as rotten as your soul.”
“I shouldn’t stink at all. I’ve just bathed which I’m sure you’ve already surmised. You were after all, quite focused on me as I dressed.”
Arabella quickly glanced at him and cursed her foolishness as soon as she did so. She rolled her eyes, knowing too well she’d noticed such things, of how his cheeks were clean-shaven and smooth, his hair recently brushed. She fisted her hands against a scheming pirate she ached to slap. “You should’ve used soap; water is not enough in your case.”
He narrowed his eyes. “And you should know when to speak and when not to. As a reward for your insolent tongue, and the fact you’re so well versed in dressing, I’m going to allow you to assist me from now on. When you’ve learnt to behave and not try to escape of course.”
Arabella laughed, the sound dripping with sarcasm. “I will never help you dress and I will never stop trying to get away from you either. No matter what the risk may be to my life. You’re a fiend and one who will pay for this folly with his life. I promise you that.” Not that Arabella knew how she’d accomplish such a thing, but she would try none-the-less.
He shrugged, seemingly unperturbed. “There is no way out of this room unless you like to swim. So I need you to promise me that if I relent and remove your bonds, you will stay where you are and not cause any strife? You’re going to be with us for some weeks, Arabella. It would be best if you just accepted the fact you’re my prisoner until I deem that no longer necessary.”
Arabella glared. “Of course I’ll stay here,” she said, losing patience. “I don’t believe I would enjoy drowning.” She paused for breath. “But rest assured, at the first opportune moment, I will be gone.”
He grinned. “I do not doubt you will try.”
She gasped as he reached around her and slit the ropes free from her hands. His breath whispered against her cheek and shivers raced down her spine. He stood back and once more she could breathe.
He then cut the bonds about her ankles. “You may thank me now.” He stood and looked down at her like an errant child who refused to do as they were told. “You know, for a lady you lack manners.”
Arabella growled at his retreating back. Losing control of her temper, she stood, picked up the glass blotter from his desk and threw it at his head. She missed, her aim off by an embarrassingly large amount of feet.
He smiled as she reached for the ink jar, the gesture lighting up his eyes and drawing her in to his deep blue depths to flounder. Why couldn’t something on the man be awful and ugly?
No. Not Captain Blackmore it would seem.
“Please don’t throw any more of my things,” he said, grinning. “I’m quite fond of them and I’d hate to have to punish you.”
The jar smashed beside his head spilling ink down the wooden walls and splattering a little over his newly worn shirt. Arabella smirked. No one would dictate to her, especially a scoundrel kidnapper. “I do apologize, captain. My hand slipped.”

Main Tropes

  • Pirate Romance
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Regency Romance
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