homepage | biography | coming soon | links | contact

 

Pirates of London Book 1
Satan's Slave

Now Available from Whiskey Creek Press

CLICK HERE TO BUY

Pirates of London Book 1
Satan's Slave

A man with a wicked secret might do anything to get what he wants...

She's desirable, charming, and her spirited personality draws him like a moth to flame. She's also aristocratic and the toast of London, and her father disdains his suit. It seems Charles Somerset has fallen in love for the first time in his life, but with an unattainable woman...Or is she?

When Lady Caroline Kendrick is taken hostage by the infamous Satan, she is at first shocked, and then furious, to find out the notorious pirate is none other than the polished courtier who wooed her back in England. How dare he fool her--and all the rest of polite society--into thinking he is nothing but a handsome rake, when in truth he is living a double life. She's outraged by her status as his captive, and perhaps a bit intrigued over just what he intends to do with her...

REVIEWS:

COMING SOON


EXCERPT:

London, 1816

He entered the ballroom from the terrace doors, adjusting his cravat with a practiced hand. That he didn’t have a formal invitation stung his pride somewhat, but then again, the aristocratic host of the festivities disliked him intensely and the feeling was mutual.

Lord Tansley’s daughter on the other hand he liked all too well.

His gaze swept the room, skimming the melee of people chatting, dancing, drinking tepid champagne…and he found her, for her red-gold hair was unmistakable, as was the graceful symmetry of her profile. It was going to be a bit tricky to approach her and not have her father notice his presence, but then again, Charles was quite good at subterfuge.

Melting into the crowd, he bided his time, as inconspicuous as possible.

All he needed was an opportunity to get her alone for just a moment.

It came just after she’d completed a waltz with a particularly eligible young baron, the sight of them dancing together making him grind his teeth from where he hovered in the shadows.

And then…it happened.

Caroline smiled at the insipid bastard and obviously excused herself, heading for the hallway and no doubt the ladies’ retiring room.

It was all a matter of delicate timing. She slipped inside, he ducked into an advantageous doorway, and when she emerged, there was no one else in sight.

She was breathtaking in peach lutestring, her hair upswept in a simple chignon that emphasized the graceful column of her neck, her ivory shoulders and a hint of the upper curves of her bosom enough to draw a man’s eye.

It certainly drew his.

Fate could be cruel, but it could also be benevolent. He stepped out and said quietly, “Caro.”

Her startled gaze met his, her aquamarine eyes widening. “Charles…” she faltered. “I didn’t realize you were in attendance.”

“ Trust me,” he said sardonically, “I wasn’t invited. We both know how your father feels about me. Can I have a word?”

He saw it then. A stiffening of her shoulders and she looked away. “No,” she said succinctly.

And then she walked away in an imperious swirl of long skirts, leaving only a hint of rose perfume.

Damnation.

He’d truly lost her.


Chapter 1

The Caribbean, two months later

The commotion that had awakened her seemed to be getting worse. The sound of running footsteps echoed thunderously and there were shouts punctuated now and then by women screaming.

Good God, what is happening?

The man who burst into her stateroom was huge and bearded, with a wickedly curved sword he waved with what looked like skillful precision. Only dressed in a flimsy chemise, the gown she’d hurriedly pulled out of her trunk still lying on the bed, Lady Caroline Kendrick gasped, snatching up her dressing gown and clutching it to her chest. She ordered bitingly, “Get out.”

Dressed oddly in tan breeches and a red vest that bared his brawny arms, the big man smiled, revealing crooked teeth. His gaze ran over her, from the long loose tumble of her hair, to where the material of her robe didn’t quite cover her bare legs. “Oh yes, my lady, you’re the one all right.” He chuckled, his eyes small and gleaming in his dark face. “Hair like golden fire and as bright as a sunrise over a turquoise sea. Eyes blue as a summer sky. Come with me, beautiful one.”

Such poetic drivel from such an unlikely source rendered her speechless for a moment, but while the description might be flattering, the scimitar in his hand was hardly reassuring and his presence in the small space was intimidating.

“ Come with you?” She desperately clung to her poise, though it really wasn’t easy because to say she didn’t have the upper hand was a terrible understatement. The brute was about a foot taller than the average man, and about twice as wide. “I think not.”

To her surprise, the invader swept her a stately bow. “Satan has requested your presence.”

Satan. At the mention of the famous pirate’s name, Caroline experienced a quiver that was decidedly more fear than outrage. If half of what she’d heard about the blackguard was true that was terrifying enough to make her go cold.

Her father had objected to her journey to Jamaica on the grounds there was too much danger involved but she had insisted. Perhaps he had been right.

“ If you wish to rob me, do so and be on your way,” she said with credible dignity, considering she was clad only in her lacy shift. She nodded at the corner of the cabin, her personal possessions suddenly not important. “My jewels are in that chest.”

“ Oh aye, I’ll take your valuables, make no mistake, my fine lady, but first I need to deliver you abovedeck. I always follow orders.”

“ Don’t touch me.” She stepped back, bumping into the bed; panic flaring as he approached her with purpose. She wildly looked around for a weapon but there was nothing but the chamber pot, which she contemplated for a brief moment. But before she realized what was happening, Caroline found herself heaved face down over the giant’s shoulder, her head barely missing the top of the narrow doorway as she was hauled out of her cabin, bare legs dangling and her bottom up in the air. Too frightened to be mortified over the indignity of the position, she squirmed in protest, her long hair streaming down the back of the man holding her and obscuring her vision. His arm around the back of her knees, he carried her as easily as he would have a sack of meal, making absolutely no response to her furious objections or the pummel of her fists on his broad back.

When they gained the top deck and the warm tropical breeze washed over her thinly clad body, Caroline fell silent suddenly, her struggles ceasing as she saw through the veil of her disheveled hair the bound and gagged members of the ship’s crew sitting on the sea-worn boards, guarded by two rough-looking men with pistols. Other passengers huddled in a frightened group, most of them like her in various states of undress or nightclothes, since it was barely dawn.

“ Ah yes, Henricus, I see you have my prize. I would recognize that enticing backside anywhere. Set her down please.”

At the sound of the cool, familiar drawl, Caroline stiffened in disbelief. And when she was deposited with a flourish in a flurry of tangled hair and trembling limbs on the deck, she whirled around in confused apprehension. Her lips barely moved. “Charles?”

The man standing before her smiled. Not the polite charming smile she remembered from elegant London ballrooms and shadowed summer gardens, but a wickedly sensual curve of his well-shaped lips as his gaze deliberately traveled slowly up and down her half-nude body, examining every inch. “None other than. Surprised to see me, my dear?”

Shock held her speechless. It was Charles Somerset, she saw in numb immobility, but not at all the same well-dressed, well-mannered man she knew back in England. Instead a tall, arrogant-looking stranger stood before her, dressed in a loose white shirt open carelessly to show his strong neck and muscled chest, his attire completed by black tightly fitted breeches, and polished knee-high boots. His hair, dark and glossy, brushed his shoulders and a rakish stubble of black whiskers ran along his jaw. A very businesslike pistol was stuck in the belt slung around his lean waist and in his hand he held a sword similar to the one her abductor had brandished as he invaded her cabin.

But his eyes…those were the same, Caroline realized with a tremor. Dark as a moonless night and as intense as ever, long-lashed and yet starkly masculine. And the achingly handsome features of his face were unmistakable; high cheekbones, straight nose, firm lips…

They’d last seen each other two months ago and she’d thought he’d departed on one of his long journeys for the shipping company he’d started.

Not that it matters. She did her best to conquer her stunned surprise.

The sword dangled from his hand as if he only held it carelessly, but she had the impression there was leashed power behind his negligent pose, and honestly it fit him better than that of elegant courtier.

She’d never felt she really knew him, and when they’d last parted, it had not been a harmonious moment. She’d disdained him, and in retrospect, maybe that had been a mistake.

Not that he hadn’t fully deserved it. She squared her shoulders. “Why are you here?”

“ I belong here.”

“ I don’t understand,” she whispered, her hair, tugged by the capricious breeze, blowing softly across her shoulders. A second ship rocked next to their vessel and even her inexperienced eyes could see she was impressively armed with cannon and guns.

Charles lifted one ebony brow and said softly, “You will, sweet Caro…believe me, you will.” Then he turned and nodded to several of the men who crowded around him, openly staring at her in an unsettling way, though their faces were impassive. “Take her to the Tempest and lock her in my cabin. If the lady offers any resistance, tie her up.”

“ Aye, Captain.” One of them grabbed her by the arm.

Tie her up? Caroline jerked free, making the young man laugh. She demanded, “Captain? Does he mean you?”

“ Yes, indeed. Now go along and behave yourself like an obedient captive.”

“ Charles!” Caroline gasped in affront, feeling as if she’d fallen into some kind of farcical fantastic dream. “You are…kidnapping me?”

His smile showed a gleam of white teeth and he laughed lightly, standing with his long legs braced against the gentle movement of the ship on the swell of the sea. “See, Lady Caroline, I told you you’d understand.”

* * * *

He’d been generous with the crew and passengers of the Dove, but then again, he could afford to be since he’d gotten exactly what he wanted more than anything on this earth. Charles had ordered his men to take nothing but coin, leaving other valuables like jewelry and watches, and though his crew grumbled a little, they had obeyed as always, though he had no illusions. Their loyalty was born of both a respect for his famed sword arm and the recognition that when they sailed with him, they gained not only infamous legendary status but spoils unequaled by any other pirate ship sailing the seven seas. Fear and money were both powerful motivations.

Why did he still do it?

He was, he mused as he watched the mainsail being adjusted with narrowed eyes, a very wealthy man. In fact, he could have quit this dangerous second life a long time ago, but his restless nature had kept him from retiring both his sword and his sinful nickname. That and his obsession with the one woman he could not have; the gloriously beautiful daughter of the Marquess of Tansley, Lady Caroline Kendrick.

But now, she was his for the taking.

Turning on his heel, Charles nodded at his first mate, a burly Frenchman who bore hideous scars on his back from some long ago crime and intensely hated Bonaparte. Charles had never asked what happened, and Henricus had never offered an explanation, but it didn’t matter. They’d understood each other from their first meeting and that affinity had seen them through both danger and success. Henricus was both a friend and a fierce fighter, and Charles trusted him implicitly.

“ I’ll be in my cabin.” He smiled thinly. “Though I have my doubts over the lady’s welcome of my presence.”

“ Louis tied her to the chair.” Henricus grinned. “And it was his pleasure to do so, he mentioned. She has lovely ankles, I’m told.”

Everything about her was lovely and Charles was illogically annoyed anyone else had noticed—which made no sense since he’d ordered her bondage himself, and he was fully aware other men wanted her, which had precipitated his reckless kidnapping in the first place.

The news of her engagement in the Times had driven him first to a tavern where he’d done something he never did and indulged in too much drink, swilling blue ruin until the wee hours and stumbling home so drunk he was ill for two days.

Eventually the announcement of her upcoming marriage had led him back to the sea.

“ From now on, no one touches her but me.” Charles said the words with steely authority.

“ Good luck then, mon Capitan…for Louis said she was spitting mad like a treed cat when he left her.”

Considering that Caroline had lived a privileged, pampered existence and probably never had to do anything against her will in her life, Charles could believe it. Not that she was unintelligent or selfish, she was just the daughter of an autocratic, powerful man, used to having her way in all matters.

That was about to change. He said with a reckless grin, “I accept the luck then, Henri, but I have never shirked a battle.”

With a sparkle in his black eyes, his companion laughed, a booming sound that echoed over the deck. “Until later then, Satan, my friend.”

Thinking of all the months he’d spent courting and trying to win the incomparably lovely Caroline, Charles said with cynical conviction, “Yes, indeed.”

Minutes later, when he opened the door to the captain’s cabin, he found that Henricus was right, the woman in question was trussed to a sturdy chair with the tie to his own dressing gown, one of his inventive crew cutting it to pieces and using the silken cloth to bind his prisoner instead of a rough bit of rope. Her spectacular strawberry blond hair, gleaming and flowing over her slender shoulders, glimmered red-gold in the sunlight coming in the porthole, and her flawless alabaster skin was flushed with both anger and frustration. Caroline apparently had at least a little recovered from her shock over his identity being revealed as an infamous pirate for she glared at him, her aquamarine eyes full of resentful accusation.

“ You are a coward, a liar, and no gentleman,” she said flatly, her delicate features ablaze with emotion. Clad only in a lacy chemise, she looked delectable…and undeniably incensed. Her trunk had been brought in at his orders, Charles saw, and it sat in one corner of the cabin on the finely woven Oriental rug.

“ Perhaps the latter two,” Charles agreed, stepping inside and carefully latching the door shut behind him. “But forgive me if I refuse to agree to the first.”

“ Only a coward abducts a woman against her will.”

Her slim, shapely ankles were bound together, her fragile wrists looped to the back of the chair. Charles noted that she didn’t seem to be in any physical distress and decided it was prudent to not untie her at once in her current state of mind. “Or,” he corrected softly, “a man who is not perhaps a coward, but a frustrated lover who cannot think of another way to gain the woman he wants so desperately.”

Her fury seemed to abate a fraction, but her soft mouth set stubbornly. “You could have just about any woman—and have had—if the rumors are at all accurate, in England, Charles. Do not try to make me think you have been pining away for me alone, for I will not believe you.”

“ Whether or not I have been celibate is not the issue,” he said, just to taunt her, for the memory of her dancing and flirting and charming other men back in London still stung, not to mention her recent engagement. “But I most certainly can’t seem to forget you, so here you are. The invitation to visit Lady Lowell at her Jamaican plantation was made at my behest, for I knew you would pressure your father for permission. We share a passion for adventure, you and I.”

Her stare widened. “You…plotted all this?”

“ Oh, yes. Satan never leaves anything to chance—not if he can help it. How else is it I can move through the exalted circles of highest English society and still command the most daring pirate ship on these seas?” He strolled over to the sideboard and picked up the brandy decanter, pouring himself a measure into a crystal glass.

It was actually difficult to live such a volatile double life and he hadn’t entered into it lightly. Had it not been for his mother’s illness, he wouldn’t have ever contemplated such a course of action, but he’d been admittedly desperate when he realized how depleted the family fortunes were. Even then, he hadn’t set out to rob anyone, but to merely get back what was rightfully his from the man who had fleeced his father. Once Satan was born, he had thrived, effectively ruining his enemy and at that point, once his mission had been fulfilled, he’d discovered he liked the adventure of it. It was a lawless existence; he didn’t try to justify that even to himself, but he only targeted those merchant ships that he knew—through his social contacts in England—were deserving of a setback or two because of how they ran their business ventures at the expense of others.

The common people applauded Satan’s exploits…and the rich feared him. Were he ever caught he knew he would be executed without mercy. He’d been aware of that all along. There was a long list of powerful—ruthless—men who wanted his blood.

Caroline’s father was one of them.

She rasped, “You are insane.”

“ And you are…delicious.” He turned, letting his gaze travel insolently over her body, fastening on the luscious mounds of her quivering breasts. “And every inch of you is my prisoner and at my disposal.”

There was no mistaking his meaning or the way he examined her half-exposed curves with lascivious interest. It was deliberate, but truthfully, now that he had her at his mercy, he was more uncertain how to proceed than he’d anticipated. He expected at least some resistance to a seduction because her anger at his highhanded tactics was justified.

Thinly, she whispered, “You wouldn’t rape me, Charles. Whatever you are, pirate or gentleman, I know you would never force yourself on me.”

She was absolutely correct, but he wasn’t about to give an inch of the advantage he now held. He’d been the supplicant far too often. Their last meeting still stung.

It had fairly ripped his heart out of his chest, but he wasn’t about to admit it now.

Standing there in his comfortable cabin, arms crossed over his chest, Charles lifted one brow slowly. “I do not think, if my memory serves me well, that I will have to, now will I? Unless you were acting back in London when we both attended that fete given by Lord Hampshire, in which case, a career on the stage awaits you. I know well what it feels like to have a willing woman in my arms.”

“ I am sure you do.” Her voice was bitter. “Lady Hanover kindly provided me with a long list of your past amours when the rumor of your visit to my father to ask for my hand in marriage surfaced. Tell me, is there any woman in England you haven’t bedded?”

That was one mystery solved anyway. His carefully cultivated reputation as a libertine was to protect his identity as Satan, for no one would believe the charming rake Charles Somerset was a bloodthirsty pirate, but he hadn’t counted on falling in love, either. Most of the rumors of his past liaisons were either false or greatly exaggerated. It had become fashionable to have had an affair with his dashing social persona and he hadn’t refuted any of the gossip because it served his purposes so well.

Until Caroline.

“ You,” he said with a cynical smile.

No doubt he deserved the scathing look he received in response.

“ I want to know why you believed her without even asking me.” He said the words quietly for he’d wondered all along why Caroline had refused to see him after her father had declined granting permission for them to marry. The woman he knew, the one he’d fallen so madly in love with, had more spirit than to give up so easily.

She lifted her shapely chin. “Let’s say that between my father’s concerns and Lady Hanover’s condescending visit, I began to have severe doubts over your ability to be faithful. Give me one reason to think you wouldn’t simply lie to me. Obviously the infamous Satan is not the most trustworthy man on this earth.”

“ You didn’t know I was Satan then,” he objected.

“ I sensed you were lying to me in some way.” Her gaze was direct.

And he couldn’t deny it for she was absolutely correct. Deception had a price, and apparently he’d paid it. Lady Hanover’s vindictiveness was no doubt due to his polite refusal of her invitation into her bed. But, because he was considered a promiscuous courtier, she could say what she liked and be believed.

He could explain to Caroline he’d never been in love before her, but he doubted now was the time for declarations of undying devotion. Instead he smiled lazily. “How many names on the list, might I ask.”

“ Thirty-four.”

A gross exaggeration if there ever was one. Lady Hanover really had been in a spiteful mood.

Damn the woman.

“ My, my, I’ve been busy, haven’t I?” Rubbing his chin, relishing the fact he undoubtedly looked quite different unshaven and dressed so informally, he added in mock contemplation, “Just think, it could have been thirty-five. Do you remember at the Christmas ball when we found that little alcove and celebrated the season with a kiss that I still recall with amazing clarity? You were like melted wax against me, Caroline, and I resisted the temptation to lift your skirts only because I was certain your pompous father would accept my marriage proposal.” It was still galling to recall her father’s reasons for refusal of his suit. Lack of character, wanderlust, a propensity for cards and women…

None of which were really true, but it had been impossible for Charles to defend himself. Then with a hint of aristocratic disdain, the lofty Marquess of Tansley had pointed out the one flaw Charles could do nothing about; his lack of a title.

It had been difficult to admit that was true. His beautiful daughter could do better and the arrogant marquess didn’t know the half of it. Had he known, Charles would have hung from the gibbet long ago.

“ You wanted a virgin bride? How touching.”

He couldn’t help it, he flushed. If he admitted he’d had some romantic notions about their wedding night and initiating her into the art of pleasure when she was finally his bride and they were pledged to each other forever, he would lose control of this volatile situation. “I thought I did, but should have just fucked you when I had the chance.”

“ Don’t be crude,” she stammered hotly. “I would not have allowed you to…that is, Oh! To think, I once fancied myself in love with you!”

Narrowing his eyes, he replied, “You would have most certainly allowed it and we both know it. You will allow it now, for I am done with the niceties of proper courtship.”

CLICK HERE TO BUY

 

© 2007, Annabel Wolfe. All Rights Reserved.

Website Design by Wolfden Creations