Excerpt for Under Siege by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® at Smashwords


www.evernightpublishing.com




Copyright© 2018 Sandra Bunino



ISBN: 978-1-77339-680-4


Cover Artist: Jay Aheer


Editor: Karyn White



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.




DEDICATION


To lovers of adventure, high seas, and hidden treasure.



UNDER SIEGE


Pirates’ Bounty, 1


Sandra Bunino


Copyright © 2018


Chapter One


“Siege!” A hoarse voice rang through the galley.

John Siege’s glance bounced from his dented tin bowl of weak fishbone stew to the mess hall doorway. He craned his neck over the long rows of grunting men mindlessly slurping their grub. Heads swayed in unison as the ship listed back and forth. Pushing his bowl aside, he spotted a man he recognized as one of the captain’s officers throwing a glare his way.

“Aye,” John called out. The man stuck his thumb over his shoulder and disappeared into the darkness. Extending his arms over his head, John stretched his tired muscles. His entire body ached from his duties aboard The Black Devil. As the newest crewmember, John was charged with the back-breaking jobs of scrubbing decks and manning bilge pumps. Rolling his shoulders, he stepped over the wooden bench toward the door and followed the officer as he dashed down the hallway. “I seem to be at a disadvantage. You know my name, but I don’t know yours,” John called after the man.

“You can call me Crow,” the other man grumbled.

John chuckled, thinking the name suited his long nose and beady eyes. “May I ask where I’m being led then, Crow?”

Crow snorted. “Cap’n Waite wants to see ye.”

John picked up his pace to walk alongside Crow. “The captain? I didn’t think he even knew my name.” He’d only seen Captain Andreas Waite a couple times during his handful of days aboard The Black Devil. Just that morning the man’s commanding voice had interrupted his railing scrubbing chore. John had snuck a glance at the young captain’s strong jaw and broad shoulders through his sweat-stung eyes but returned his focus to the salty railings when the captain looked his way.

Crow turned his head but didn’t slow his step. “Cap’n knows everyone and everything on his ship, mate.”

John stayed in step with Crow as they snaked through dank corridors and up ladders to the high decks. John hadn’t been aboard the ship long enough to know his exact location, but, judging by the number of guards who’d let them pass he was being led to a part of the ship closed to the likes of lowly deckhands. Crow stopped at a scarred wooden door and knocked hard.

“Enter!” a crisp voice called from behind the door. Crow narrowed his eyes at John before grasping the doorknob. He pushed the heavy door and jerked his head, signaling John to enter.

John stepped inside. Out of habit, he searched the room for an escape route. Three small portholes dotted the far wall, framing the sea’s horizon. He’d have no luck shimmying through the openings as his broad shoulders barely fit through the narrow ship doorways. A slatted door swung lazily behind a dining table, teasing John’s hopes. Who was he kidding? His dagger was taken from him when he was brought aboard so he’d have little chance of surviving an escape anyway. He continued into the room until his eyes rested on the only other person present, Captain Andreas Waite.

“Captain Waite, sir,” John said, tipping his head. The captain’s apparent youth had surprised John when he first spotted him on deck the day of his arrival. If it wasn’t for the rich colors of his breeches against the pure white of his shirt, John wouldn’t have guessed the man sitting before him was the ship’s captain. His hair was about the same length as John’s, almost reaching his shoulders. But instead of dark brown like his own, Waite’s hair glistened with gold, framing stubbled cheekbones and a chiseled chin. The captain’s shirt strained against a ripped set of biceps as he took his seat at the head of a polished table with a plate of what looked to be some type of roasted bird before him. John inhaled the aroma of meat, something he hadn’t had the honor of smelling, let alone tasting, in far too long.

“Sit,” Waite said, signaling to the chair beside him. John fought the urge to slide into the seat directly across from the captain as a sign of being his equal instead of his subordinate. John removed his hat as a show of respect. His long hair tumbled to his shoulder in a mess of unruly waves.

“Hungry?” Waite asked.

John’s gaze flicked to Waite’s plate. “I just had a wonderful bowl of fishbone soup and some hardtack. It was quite pleasant but not overly filling,” he lied. Eating nothing but watery soup and stale biscuit for days was anything but pleasant. However, he wouldn’t give Captain Waite a reason to return him to the mess hall, or even worse, back to the dinghy John was floating on when they found him.

Waite reached for a brass bell in the center of the table. John couldn’t resist a glance at the corded muscles of his tanned arms. For a man who had at least a dozen men at his disposal to perform the strenuous chores of keeping the ship sailing, he had the form of someone who wasn’t afraid of hard work. Waite rang the bell, and the hinges on the slatted door squeaked as a hunched man stuck his head into the room. “Yes, Cap’n?”

“Bring me another hen, please, Cookie.”


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