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Hidden Treasure

(A Swishbuckling Tale)

by Bruce Rose

Copyright 2018 by Bruce Rose



License Notes

I wrote this book not you so don't try to pass it off as your own. Don't re-sell it, give it away, or repackage it and then try to re-sell it. That's what total dicks do. If you enjoyed this book and want to share it, please buy each person you want to share it with a copy. You see, selling books is how I fund my habits. Thank you for not only respecting my hard work but helping me pay for beer and condoms. Also, if you can't afford to buy books, you can always contact me (Bruce.Rose.Author@gmail.com) and I will give you a free copy in exchange for a review.

This novel is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and hardcore man-on-man action in this story are fictitious. I fabricated the whole thing. I'm a depraved liar who just wants to share my filthy fantasies with other like-minded perverts. Any resemblance to reality is entirely coincidental, not to mention incredibly unlikely. Still, if you happen to meet anyone in real life who resembles one of these characters, please, drop me a line: Bruce.Rose.Author@gmail.com



About This Story

Nothing is as it seems…

When Blane Blagden plunders his latest pirated ship, he claims the young female aboard as his prize only to discover the lust-inspiring woman is actually a cross-dressing man. Despite penetrating the disguise right away, Captain Blagden decides the only way to protect his treasure is to perpetrate another lie and demand his captive serve as his cabin boy.

A man pretending to be a woman pretending to be a boy…

Artist and poet Darran de Tourmatt prayed the pirates would be unwilling to defile an innocent. Unfortunately for him, they are. Or at least Captain Blagden is. The longer the captain keeps him close without claiming him, the more Darran wants to be defiled. But first, he'll have to admit to his masquerade.

But Darran isn't the only one with a secret…

An accidental spell reveals shocking truths, forcing the pair apart. Brokenhearted, Blagden vows to live out his life alone, but Darran is determined to bring them back together no matter what the cost. Just how far will Darran go for the sake of true love?

This high seas swishbuckling tale has been rated slow burn, mildly kinky, and heavy on the romance. 34,000 words or 136 pages.

A Note from the Author

Hey, it's fantasy time. Don't take anything you read here seriously. In the land of make believe, there aren't any STDs. In the real world, there are. Lots of them. So wear a condom out there, okay? And don't let someone you don't know tie you up. And don't take candy or drugs from strangers. And for fuck's sake, wear clean underwear in case you get into an accident! But seriously, be smart, be safe, and keep buying my books so I can buy more beer and condoms.



Dedication

To Errol Flynn. I would so do you. Just saying.


Also, to Trio, who helped me brainstorm titles and loved "swishbuckling" as much as me.


And to my RoseBuds.

You know who you are.

You know what you did.

Sorry about the awkward morning after.

It happens.





Chapter One

"Secure the main line," Captain Blagden bellowed into the rising storm. "And get those hooks into her. Get them deep!"

Before long, his crew had the sleek ship fastened to the side of the Myst Ryder.

"We got her, Captain!" his first mate cried.

"Good, me hearties. Now let's strip her before we send her to sleep at the bottom of the briny deep." Blagden swung down onto the tiny ship. The captain and crew had abandoned the craft, preferring to swim for the next nearest ship rather than defend this one. Blagden approved their wise decision. With ten stout steamers, why fight over one small sloop?

While his crew stripped the top and mid decks, he went down to the lowest of the low, and there he found the young lady. Quivering and shivering in the corner of the hull, she met his probing gaze with a defenseless dread that alternately quickened his heart and hardened his cock.

"Aye, me. A pretty one." Pretty indeed. Pale blond hair wisped around an angular face but the eyes… amber eyes held him enthralled. Innocent and afraid and convinced that death rode the next wave. "Calm the waters, child. I'm not going to kill you."

"No?" Hope and fear and something so alien Captain Blagden took a half step back. Not out of fear, but from respect.

"No, my lovely."

"Then you'll do other things." She pressed her hand tight to her chest, holding herself back from full-fledged terror. "Worse things."

"Worse than death?" Blagden knew he had a terrible reputation, most of it deserved, but he wasn't a monster. Well, he wasn't that kind of monster.

Her gaze darted down to his trousers.

"I've never forced anyone to my bed." Not that he wouldn't like to with this sweet slip, but even a pirate had a code.

"That's not what I've heard." She lifted her gaze back to his eyes.

"Don't know what you've heard, but if you come willingly to my ship, I promise no harm will come to you."

"No harm?" The pretty young one demanded, her nose lifting up then dropping, almost the way a horse would toss off a bridle.

"No harm at all."

"I will hold you to that." She offered out her hand.

"I'm sure you will." Captain Blagden lifted his arm for her to steady herself against. "Come. As my hostage, I will pamper you until I can sell you to the highest bidder."

"Bidder?" She grasped his arm. In that instant of contact, he knew she was not a she at all. She was a he. No more than a boy. Terrified and trapped, no escape but to hide in plain sight by pretending to be a woman. Captain Blagden felt for him, but he also wanted him. Just as he'd never forced anyone into his bed, he'd never made an issue over the sex of who he took there. Male or female, Captain Blagden had enjoyed both. To have one in the guise of another? An unusual treat he would thoroughly enjoy.

"One of your relatives will pay." He paused. "Won't they?"

He shook his head, his panic deepening.

"Don't worry, my pretty one." Captain Blagden clapped his hand over his captive's, forcing him to keep hold. "Someone will pay to save you from my evil clutches."

His prisoner opened his mouth to argue, but Blagden cut him off.

"There is only one rule you must abide above all others on my ship."

"Only one?" he asked, his voice trembling between high and low.

"You will do what I say when I say."

"And should you order me to walk the plank—"

"Would I order a gold coin to walk the plank?" Captain Blagden took great offense for surely the rumors didn't indicate he was a stupid man. "You are as valuable to me as the coins in my pocket."

"So you will not take advantage of me?"

"No more than I would take advantage of money." He laughed. "A sane man doesn't fuck a gold coin."

The vulgar term made his prisoner wince.

"Is that what you thought?" Captain Blagden lowered his lips to the young man's ear. "Did you think I was going to fuck you?"

"Isn't that what men like you do?"

"Some, perhaps. Not I." Captain Blagden forced his captive to walk tight against him as they moved toward the upper decks. "I intend to sell you."

Despite stumbling along in the long skirt, he came willingly until something occurred to him. He stopped moving and asked, "What if no one wants to buy me?"

"Someone will."

"No. No. What if—what if I won't tell you who I am?" He lifted his chin as if he'd won.

Captain Blagden almost let him win. Almost. He'd been an entertaining find in what had become a rather boring life. He used to ride the high seas and steal from powerful frigates, but now he was reduced to picking off the weak of the herd. Little ships that sailed in a collective of Navy ships. Government owned and operated. The big ones weren't worth dealing with, but they had little cling-ons he could rob almost with impunity. No one had made much of a fuss so far. If he wanted to, Captain Blagden could let this young man go. He could cast him adrift in the path of the other ships. They would find him and scoop him up to safety and he'd always have an entertaining tale to tell. But something about the young man's fearful yet hungry eyes compelled him to say, "No."

"No?"

"You either tell me who you are so I can ransom you, or I will claim you for my own."

"Claim me…"

"Do you need me to state the obvious?"

"I thought you would never force—"

"I never would. But I wouldn't make any effort to ransom you."

"Then that would mean…"

"If I couldn't sell you and I wouldn't force you, that would leave me no choice but to seduce you."

"Seduce me?"

Captain Blagden nodded.

The young man laughed. "Do your worst."

"Oh, my pretty, I don't think you should be so quick to—"

"I will never willingly submit to the likes of you." Up went that arrogant nose.

And up went Captain Blagden's cock. Come hell or high water, he would have this haughty boy whimpering in need while holding his own legs invitingly open.

Chapter Two

Darran de Tourmatt kept hold of the captain as he went up to the top of the ship, hoping against hope he would see small ships coming to his rescue from the party of larger ships. One look across the vast blue made his shoulders slump. They chugged on without him, seeming to take the storm with them.

"Tell me your name, my pretty." The captain breathed his request into Darran's ear, making him feel weak.

"I won't." Darran couldn't. Once the captain knew, he would realize he couldn't sell him.

"Then you leave me no choice."

"Please, I…" Darran considered telling him the truth but feared what the captain would do to him if he did. The stories he'd heard about pirates violating young men, turning them into vessels for their lusts only to cast them overboard when they no longer pleased. Darran shivered. He didn't want to die so young. More than anything, he'd just wanted to get away from his father's brutal fist and pinning thumb.

"You what?" The captain turned, blocking the way with his powerful body.

"I beg you to set my feet upon land."

"And in return?"

"Pardon?"

"How will you pay me for your passage?"

Darran had a small purse of coins and jewels tucked into the dress, but he needed those to start his new life. If the captain found them, he'd take them all, leaving him with nothing.

When Darran didn't answer, the captain took half a step closer. "There are ways you can pay. Ways that you might enjoy." He traced his finger down Darran's cheek, making him shiver, but not in fear, not fully. Some other feeling he dare not explore actually compelled him closer to this dangerous man.

"You promised." Darran caught himself and stepped back, almost tumbling down the steps they'd just come up. If not for the captain's quick grasp of his hand, he would have fallen, exposing himself as a man if not killing himself outright.

"Aye. So I did." He pulled Darran back to safety then tucked his hand against his arm as he moved to Darran's side. "Come along then, and we—wait. What shall I call you?"

Darran hadn't thought that far ahead.

"I will call you Masquerade."

"And what will I call you?"

A smile of such sultry lust twisted the captain's expressive mouth that Darran felt, as a woman, he should slap his face.

"You will call me Captain Blagden."

"No first name?"

"Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."

Darran shook his head, convinced the only way he'd be safe was to stay behind his mask.

"Then we will move on to the next point."

"Which is?"

"Your accommodations aboard the Myst Ryder."

The ship matched the name with gauzy sails and a sleek hull that could surely move upon the water the way the mist did.

"She's a beauty."

"You have an eye for ships?"

"I love ships." Darran had to pull himself back yet again. He struggled to find something his step-sister would say and fell back on, "Ships, the smaller ships, are quite fetching."

"Fetching. Yes. Fetching." Captain Blagden's tone held some meaning that Darran could not uncover. "Where are you from, my pretty?"

"Avenport."

"Only back there?" Captain Blagden pointed behind them.

Ashamed that his grand escape plan hadn't gotten him far before going awry, Darran grimaced as he glared down at his shoes.

"Well. I'm surprised they didn't come back for you."

"Perhaps they thought I made it onto one of the smaller boats." Or they didn't realize they had a stowaway.

"Aye." Captain Blagden patted Darran's hand with something close to commiseration. "Worry not, lovely one. We're stripping the ship of all that she holds, including your clothes."

Darran had tossed his small satchel overboard, afraid they would figure out who he was if he didn't. The only things he'd kept were the bag of loot and his diary. He'd tried to throw it over, he truly had, but the words held more value to him than the gold. In the end, he'd fashioned an inner pocket on the dress with pins, holding his only link to his past close to his heart.

Captain Blagden grasped one of the ropes tied to the plundered ship. "We must swing our way over."

Darran imagined his dress flying up, showing all and sundry the truth of his sex.

"Fear not. I shall help you."

"Help me?" Before he knew it, the captain wrapped the rope around one arm and his other arm around Darran's waist. "And now we fly!"

Darran clung to the man's shoulders but couldn't resist looking around as they swung between the two ships. For the first time in his life, he was flying. Brisk sea air, salty yet sweet, filled his lungs and stung his eyes. He reveled in it and took as deep a breath as he could. No one stood by telling him to act like a civilized gentleman rather than a heathen. His skirt flittered about his ankles but didn't rise up, allowing him an all too brief taste of true freedom. Sadly, they touched down on the other side and the feeling evaporated. Once again, he was just a runaway boy in a dress, bound to pay for a ride he couldn't afford with assets he didn't possess.

"Tears? 'Twas only a short jump, my lady. You were perfectly safe the entire time."

Unable to speak, Darran nodded. How could he tell anyone the truth in his soul? Certainly not this uncouth man, who only wanted to sell him to the highest bidder, or use him for his own vile needs.

Instead of pressing him for answers or berating him for tears—a kindness bestowed on him only because of the dress—Captain Blagden released the rope but kept his hold on Darran's waist. This close, Darran smelled the man's sweat, a touch of brandy, and some kind of exotic spice. In all, he found Blagden's essence oddly pleasing.

The captain moved across the deck with the sure foot of a lifetime sailor, something Darran admired and wished he possessed. Since the only shoes that would fit his feet were slippers, he had no grip upon the sea-scrubbed wood. Were it not for the captain, he would have fallen a dozen times over.

Down they went along a walkway into the center of the ship. Darkness widened his eyes and made him even more keenly aware of the man at his side. Somehow, shadow added to the curious feelings inside him, confusing and longing fear and freedom. A jolt against the ship pushed him into the nearest wall and caused the captain to press fully against him.

"Relax, my beauty. 'Tis only the ship falling away."

"The ship is falling?" Panic gripped him so tight he could barely breathe.

"Your ship. The crew is done with their plundering. They've released her from our grip."

A pang of sadness washed over him. The Sparrow had been a lovely sloop. Slow in the port, but well-crafted and quick in the wind. Now she would sink to the bottom, a home for deep sea creatures. If nothing else, Darran would immortalize her in a poem or perhaps an allegorical tale about things not always being as they seem. Or, given his current predicament, he should write about being content with one's lot in life. Had he stayed in Avenport—well, it was done now. No sense crying over what could not be changed.

When he looked up into the shadowed face of his captor, he had more pressing matters to worry about. Mainly, how to keep the beast from discovering the truth behind his masquerade.

Chapter Three

"This will be your room." Blagden opened his bedroom door, watching the emotions wash over the young man's face. Delight, surprise, then the shock of realization.

"This is your room."

"Now it is our room."

"I cannot share a room with you. Or any other man, for that matter. No chaperone, no privacy." He shook his head, making his curls, which had come loose from the pins during their swing between the boats, tumble around his face. "This is unacceptable."

Blagden wanted to applaud his performance. "Aye, 'tis a pity there is no other room." He pretended to consider. "I could put you in the crew quarters, I suppose. We lost Old Twinkle Toes during the plunder before this. Or was it the plunder before that? Ah, no matter. His bunk is available. A nice cozy bunk below with the crew."

"With the crew?" Masquerade's amber eyes widened.

"And the rats."

"Rats?" He clutched at his skirt, drawing it close so he could examine the floor around his feet.

"They don't come into my room."

"Clearly, they fear one of their own."

No doubt, a comment designed to put him in his place, but all it did was make him laugh. "The rats do fear me."

"And I fear I would be less safe with more men than just one."

"My room it is, then."

"But, surely, I should have my own room?"

"If I had one to give you, I would." Blagden meant what he said. Giving the boy his own room would prolong the game, but then again, the quicker he gave in, the sooner Blagden could hear his sweet voice begging for his cock. More than any sound in the world, that one would fill his heart with joy.

"But, surely, you understand a young woman's—a girl, really—her need for privacy?"

"I won't have any privacy either." And he enjoyed how he kept trying to lower his age as if appealing to some moral decency Blagden did not possess.

"But I have no interest in looking at you."

"Aye?" Blagden didn't quite believe that. "Then you won't mind if I change."

"Well, yes. I rather would mind."

"I thought you said you had no interest?" Blagden hung his sword near his bed then removed his vest and shirt. Despite the protests, Masquerade kept those amber eyes riveted to his every move.

"That doesn't mean it's proper for you to be nude near me."

"Nude?" Blagden chuckled. He'd only planned on stripping down to his trousers but now considered going naked. "Is that what you'd like to see?"

"No!" Masquerade pulled a fan from the side of the gown, flicked it open, and then worked it before his face, cooling the heat from reddened cheeks. Again, another good show, but it proved his point since the boy simply couldn't take his gaze from Blagden's form.

Taking pity on him, since this was only his first day, Blagden turned his back as he removed the rest of his clothing. Without giving anything away, he maneuvered himself so that he could use his shaving mirror to see behind him. He smiled. Masquerade had stopped fanning himself and now peered over the edge at Blagden's naked backside. Blagden flexed his buttocks. Masquerade's eyes widened and the fan slipped down, revealing that he nibbled on his bottom lip.

"How old did you say you were?"

"I didn't. But I'm only…thirteen summers."

"Thirteen? And those men left you behind? They should be hung from the highest yardarm and used for target practice."

"They didn't know—"

"What?" Blagden held a fresh pair of trousers as he turned around. They covered some but not all. He felt his semihard cock peeking out from between the legs as if it had to see the boy in a dress for itself.

"They didn't…" Masquerade's gaze dropped down from his hairy chest to his hips. He swallowed hard. "They didn't know I was there."

"You stowed away?" Alarm bells sounded in the back of his head. This game he played might not be wise. Only a man in trouble would stow away on a ship bound for the new world. "I think I should take you back to Avenport."

"What? No! No, you can't." Dropping his demure act, he stepped forward, close enough for Blagden to feel the heat of his body. "I can't go back."

"Why not?"

"I…I cannot say."

"You won't tell me your name. Can't tell me why you stowed away. I feel there is simply too much unknown with you." Blagden considered as he yanked on his billowy trousers. With quick and certain movements, he rolled up the legs so they hit just below his knee. In jest, he said, "Perhaps I should toss you overboard."

The boy's beautiful eyes went so wide the effect would have been comical under other circumstances, but not now when his fear was genuine. When he gasped and clutched at his chest, Blagden suspected some trick, but when Masquerade collapsed into his arms, he realized something else was wrong.

Lifting him up, amazed that he weighed so little, Blagden put the boy on his bed. It didn't take him long to grasp that the stays had crushed the breath from him. The poor boy must have bound them as tightly as he could to give himself a semblance of a woman's waist.

"Damn." Blagden worked them open and in the process discovered a leather-bound book. With his captive breathing easier, he moved to his desk and flipped through the pages.


He cannot keep me here and force me to follow in his corrupt footsteps. Mother may love him but I can barely tolerate my stepfather's existence. The closer I get to the age of consent, only a bare two months away, the more hungry his gaze. Twice I've caught him at my bathroom door, peering in the crack to watch me bathe. I fear that someday he will corner me and I will have no choice but to submit to his foul lusts.


Blagden cast his gaze on his captive. For the first time in ages, he felt ashamed. Not for the boy's lot in life, for woe befell all man and beast, but that by lusting after him, he'd only given him more of the same. In the boy's eyes, all men were horny beasts with their cocks on the forefront of everything they did. Sadly, that much was true, at least in most cases. But Blagden hadn't lied. He'd never forced another to his bed and he wouldn't start now. Given how terrified the boy must be, he probably ought not to even attempt to seduce him, at least not until he'd reached the age of consent. Even then, it might be better to simply let this boy, as filled with plunderable delicacies as he was, pass him by unmolested.

Pity. He could have given the boy so much pleasure, and taken as much, if not more, for himself.

As he flipped through the pages, searching in vain for the boy's name, he read snippets of poems and stories and found strikingly detailed drawings of ships in Avenport harbor. Such a talent should not be wasted. And such a sensitive boy should not be made to do anything against his will.

Sighing, Blagden closed the book and put it back in the crudely fashioned pocket. He put the stay back in place, though not so tight. Even though he wished to linger, just to watch him sleep, he left the boy there as he went in search of some way to make the next few months tolerable for them both.

Chapter Four

Darran woke with a gasp, clutching at his chest, feeling first for his journal—there, safe—and next for his clothing—there, still closed. The captain had not molested him when he'd passed out. For a moment, he felt keen disappointment then berated himself. He did not want that man's calloused hands on his body. Besides, once the captain realized he wasn't a she but actually a he, the captain's rage might compel him to make good on his threat to throw him overboard.

Even without the voluminous dress dragging him down, Darran would never make it back to shore. What seemed a small distance aboard a ship would be quite a different matter swimming. Worse, his stepfather certainly knew he was gone by now. He'd have a bounty on his head and his minions scouring the countryside.

Darran smiled. It would never cross the governor's mind to look for him at sea. Darran's fascination with all things nautical remained as deeply buried as his desire to fly. A pang of remorse struck him then. Just once in his life, he would enjoy telling one person, just one, the truth in his heart. He sighed. That time was far from now. A man like the captain would only laugh in his face, make him the subject of mockery and snickering jests. No. Darran would find a way off the Myst Ryder and then…well, then he would get himself a job on a ship. Not a ship like this, what with their desire for free and easy riches, but a true ship. One that carried vital cargo from port to port.

Imagining himself tanned from the sun and toned from his labors, he would lift a hand to shield his eyes as he scoured the waves for the first sight of land. His captain would praise him for his keen eye and unwavering sense of direction.

Darran closed his eyes, losing himself in the well-worn fantasy. But then, something new. In his daydreams, the captain he served had always been vague and insubstantial. Now he looked like Captain Blagden. Long black hair, wicked blue eyes, and a smile that made even old women blush. Darran shivered. He pushed the man from his dream, refusing to believe he could ever compromise his morals enough to work for a pirate, no matter how damnably attractive the man might be.

Into his mind's eye came the image of the man's cock.

Darran closed his eyes and did his best to push the picture away, but no matter how diligently he tried, it remained. Long, thick, hard enough to make the veins along the side stick out like a topographical map of the man's pleasure. Against his will, he imagined licking his way along that line, looking up into the captain's eyes as he did.

"No." He forced himself to sit up. He would not continue with such imaginings. No good could come from such thoughts. He had a goal, a plan, and nothing and no one was going to get in his way, especially not a swarthy pirate with perversion in his gaze and lust filling all the spaces of his heart.

Darran rose and examined the room. When he'd first entered, he'd been delighted by all the books. An entire row of them spanned the longest wall while others clung together in haphazard stacks. Lamps hung from chains, swaying gently from the motion of the ship, and curious items, exotic and almost otherworldly, popped out from various places around the interior.

A crystal ball so perfectly round and clear he swore if he stared too long into the center, he would see the future. Unable to handle knowing, he looked away toward a colorful pen, carved to resemble a feather. But it wasn't a feather. The stiff, scaly thing appeared to be made from a fish.

Or a dragon.

He grinned. Yes, he would believe it from a sea dragon, for that would make a fine tale. A cup held the pointed end of the pen along with ink. A fanciful language comprised of swirling lines decorated the side of the cup. Darran couldn't decipher the words. He'd never had a knack for languages. It appeared the captain did, though. Darran counted at least six different languages on various items in the room.

Papers and books littered the top of the desk, but he couldn't read any of them. Even if he could, he decided that he wouldn't. Snooping was rude. He turned to the maps of the world, pinned neatly to the walls of the cabin. Darran had always known the world was much bigger than he'd ever suspected, but the row of maps made him realize his head could not hold all that there was.

"I'm only an infinitesimal speck of dust on the marble of the world." Instead of saddening him, the thought gladdened. Losing a dot in such a vast place would be quite simple.

He turned his attention to the clothing hung from pegs near the bed. Simple items, made for movement. The most intriguing was a pocket-covered vest that would hold all the captain's instruments as he navigated the waves.

"A book in English!" Darran picked up the well-thumbed book, eager and excited to have something of interest to occupy his mind. He turned to the beginning.


In the velvet darkness, his hands touch me everywhere, probing my body for weakness, and finding plenty. His kisses burn across my flesh, making me silently beg for more, but he knew too well my craving and refused. I hungered for him, to feel him, to know him, but he denied me until tears burned my eyes.


Darran's brows rose as he continued to read about a bound woman ravished by an unseen man with strong hands and thick desires. He worried his bottom lip with his upper teeth as the hands got ever closer to her private parts. Inserting himself into the story came effortlessly, only in his version, when the captain found his manhood, he rejoiced rather than mourned.

When the door opened, he leaped to his feet and tossed the book back where he'd found it, hoping that his burning cheeks would not give him away. He need not have worried. If anything, his hard cock, poking against the skirt of his dress, would give things away. He threw himself back down on the bed then crossed his legs, fluffing up the skirt to hide his shame.

"I see you've recovered." The captain had an armful of fabric and several bulging satchels.

"Recovered? Oh. Yes. I felt faint when you—that is to say—I do not wish to see you that way again. I was quite overcome." With some curious feeling he dare not name.

"I apologize for my crude behavior."

Much to Darran's surprise, Captain Blagden did indeed look chagrined.

"I sought to test you, to see if you were, in fact, an innocent." His eyes met Darran's directly. "Clearly, you are."

"You won't test me again?" Darran half hoped he would. He would like to see him completely bare, with nothing in the way so that he might draw his likeness.

"Cross my heart and hope to die if my vow should ever prove a lie." Captain Blagden dragged one finger over his heart as he uttered the words. "I've brought fabric so that we can make a curtain."

"A curtain?" Darran tried to stand but his hard cock made him sit back down.

"Don't get up. You need to get your sea legs."

"Yes." Let him believe that rather than the truth. "I shall feel better in a few moments. I'm quite sure of that."

"I thought we could hang a curtain here, along this rafter, so that you could have one side of the room and I the other."

"Truly?"

"Truly."

Darran could not believe his luck. In fact, it sounded too good to be true so he didn't believe Captain Blagden for a second. Some trick must be at the bottom of this generous display. The captain would wait for him to get undressed and then he'd just wrench the fabric back and—and—there his mind came to a full stop. He didn't know what the captain would do with him once he discovered the truth. Not exactly. Something shameful that would make him feel dirty. Something that would hurt his body and his pride and then the man would just toss him over the side to feed the fishes.

"It's the best I can do." Instead of trying to convince him, the captain started hanging the fabric curtain. "I also brought you some other clothing. Something more comfortable than that stiff dress."

"What's wrong with my dress?" Had he noticed the stiff member pressing against the skirt?

"Nothing. It's quite…fetching. But it belongs on land." Captain Blagden pulled the fabric back to look directly at him. "Out here, you'll need something more appropriate, especially if you're to earn your passage."


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