“Chains suit you, Reece.”
The man looked up at her with raw rage blazing in his ice blue eyes. “You will pay for this, Natalie; mark my words.”
“You’re not in a position to be making threats,” she replied, a slow smile curving her lips. “Not when your crew waits below in the brig and your beloved ship is sinking down to the depths.”
He bared his teeth at her in a snarl.
Natalie stood back, admiring the sight before her. For years Captain Reece had been a thorn in her side. He always stole the best takes, leaving her raiding second rate vessels. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d fought him but finally, after all her failures, she’d succeeded. Reece Denworth, Lord of Merlton and privateer of the King’s Army, was completely at her mercy.
And how magnificent he looked on his knees with his wrists chained behind his back. His long black hair had fallen out of its customary queue to hang haphazardly around his chiseled face. Reece’s gaze pierced her with his fury as he strained against his bindings. His dark shirt hung open to his waist, giving Natalie an unhindered view of his sculpted bronze chest. Oh yes, this was a man she’d enjoy having in her power.
“You won through trickery,” he snarled.
“There are no rules between pirates. You should know this if you plan to sail in our waters. Perhaps one day you will thank me for teaching you a valuable lesson.”
“Never trust a woman in breeches?”
Natalie strode toward him, unsheathing her sword. She swung the tip under his chin and forced his head up with the flat of her blade. “You are not in a drawing room full of your fawning peers,” she told him coldly. “You are a prisoner on board my ship and it is I who decides not only your fate but those of your men. I’d advise you to treat me with some respect.”
His eyes still burned with anger but he held his tongue, perhaps aware the wrong word could cause him to lose it.
“Captain Nate, we should weigh anchor.”
Natalie glanced at her first mate, a seasoned sailor who’d seen more battles than she could imagine. James had been with her since she’d been a child fighting to survive life at sea.
“Aye, we should leave before his allies show up.”
“Then we need to deal with our guest.” James motioned one of the crew forward with a wave of his hand. A blond woman strode to their side and Natalie smiled at the choice. Alyssa was a capable hand who’d sailed with them for years. She was quick to follow orders and as loyal as they came. But best of all, she had no love for privateers.
“See to our prisoner for the captain,” James ordered.
Alyssa stared down at the kneeling lord with in disgust. “Where do you want to put him?” she asked. “In the brig with the rest?”
Another grin twisted Natalie’s lips. “My cabin,” she replied. “And Alyssa, we don’t want him escaping. Might as well tie him to the bed.”
The pirate grinned as she hauled the prisoner to his feet.
“You will regret this, Natalie,” Reece vowed.
“Not as much as you will regret the day you ever tried to best me,” she replied. Waving her hand in dismissal, several of her men latched onto Reece and forced him away.
Triumph surged in Natalie as she watched the proud man being led away to await her pleasure. Never in her life had she thought to win such a prize as this.
“Orders, Captain?” James asked.
“Weigh anchor. Rig the mizzen sail and all hands on deck. Let’s get out of here.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.”
Natalie moved to the helm and gripped with wheel with confidence. The sea might be calm all the way to the horizon but she still felt a storm brewing and couldn’t wait for it to break.
* * * *
Closing the door behind her, Natalie enjoyed the view awaiting her in her cabin.
Reece lay stretched out on the king-size bed—her one luxury aboard. Some clever hand, no doubt Alyssa, had stripped him of his shirt, leaving him only in his tight black breeches. Though his legs were unbound, his arms were chained through the strong headboard. His muscles strained as he fought to break free.
“My, Reece, this is quite a delicious sight,” she murmured as she moved farther into the room. At her desk she lit the lamp to chase back the gloom of the night. Her mouth went dry as the flickering glow bathed his body in golden light.
Reece jerked his arms. “What game are you playing, Natalie?” he demanded.
“Only the one you started,” she replied, shrugging out of her black vest. Natalie tossed the material over her desk chair as she moved closer to the bed. Staring down at him, she remembered the first time they’d met. Back then she’d had no idea the man she’d spied in the tavern was destined to be her enemy. An agent of the king sent to thwart her very livelihood.
“I never intended this.”
She laughed at his words. “Now that I believe,” she told him, stopping beside the bed. “If you had your way, our positions would be reversed and it would be me chained at your mercy.” She leaned down, her blond hair falling around his face like a curtain. “And we both know you’d show me none.”
Reece fought his bindings. “You know nothing.”
Natalie arched a brow. “I know what kind of man you are, my Lord,” she mocked him. “And it’s not a man who can survive in my world.”
“I’ve done all right these past years,” he snarled.
“And yet here you lie, captured by a woman. You’d best be careful else the king may take back his letters of marque.”
“I care nothing for your threats,” he snapped.
“No,” she murmured, her gaze running down his prone form. “You never did cower before a fight.” She’d often hated his blind confidence.
“Release me,” he demanded.
Her gaze swept back up to his. “Why would I ever do that?”
His eyes darkened but this time it wasn’t solely in anger. “Loosen my chains. You know how good we can be together. Don’t you want to feel that way again?”
Memory overtook her as she was pulled back to a less complicated time. A night when she’d thought she’d found a man she could trust. She’d followed him to his room at the inn. With his hands on her bare flesh, she’d had no time to think about who he really was or what it might mean to her future. The all consuming passion he inspired ensured her mind was clear of any lingering doubts. Desire rode her harder than she’d ever felt for any other man.
Yet all too soon she’d learned her lover was the king’s dog. A man who’d be all too happy to introduce her and her brethren to the hangman’s noose if it suited him.
“Perhaps I do,” she murmured, swinging a leg over his hips. “But I don’t need to release you to feel it.”
“Let me go,” he snarled, baring his teeth as he bucked beneath her.
Natalie ignored him. Instead she laid her hands against the waistband of his breeches. Reece froze under her touch.
“Mmm,” she whispered, running her hands up his hard chest. “Looks like your time at sea has chased the spoiled lord from your body.”
“You know nothing of me.”
She stilled, her hand pressed over the racing beat of his heart. “You’re right,” she agreed. “But you don’t know anything about me either. I’m not the same girl you thought to trick with your seduction all those years ago.”
“It wasn’t a trick.”
Natalie smiled bitterly. “Of course,” she murmured. “Just like every word you say is nothing but the truth.”
“Natalie, that night—”
She leaned forward and pressed her mouth to his, silencing his words. She didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. For she was afraid she might be stupid enough to believe his cunning lies, especially if they were caged in words of love.
Instead she concentrated on the feel of him. At first he lay unresponsive beneath her as she drew her lips teasingly over his. It only took a moment, however, until she felt him tilt his head to the side and seal their mouths more firmly. Natalie had to force herself not to smile. He may be enraged about his captivity aboard her ship but his desire was something he couldn’t ignore. Whatever came between them, their attraction had never died. Not even in the long years of solitude following that one unforgettable night.
The chains rattled as he pressed forward, trying to get closer to her.
He kissed her with renewed desperation, no doubt born out of both fury and passion. Natalie pressed a last lingering kiss to his lips before drawing back. She ran a hand through her long blonde hair, sending it tumbling down her back.
“Tell me, Reece. How do you want to spend this evening?” she asked, rolling her hips against the hard erection she felt straining against the laces of his breeches.
“Untie me,” he commanded through gritted teeth.
“No,” she replied easily. “You have only two choices, my Lord. Refuse me and I shall leave you be.”
“Or watch me strip for you and find out if the pleasure we felt all those years ago can be replicated.”
Natalie saw his hands clench, a telling sign of how tempting he must find her offer. Boldly she met the cool blue eyes watching her like a shark. She forced herself to hold perfectly still above him. If he pushed her away, she vowed she wouldn’t care. After all, what did a pirate queen have to fear from a mere man? He held no power over her.
Twice he opened his mouth to speak but both times he caught the words back before they could be voiced. Natalie waited with growing impatience. Did he want her or not?
“Strip.” The harsh word hung in the air between them. Natalie almost couldn’t believe he’d spoken aloud. When she realized he’d made his choice she smiled with true pleasure.
“Your wish is my command,” she murmured with gentle mockery.
His jaw clenched, both of them knowing he didn’t have the power to order her tonight. Natalie watched his apparent struggle with amusement. Would he give into his anger or hold himself in check, waiting for his reward?
She stood by the side of the bed, acutely aware of his burning gaze on her body.
Slowly, Natalie undid the buttons of her white blouse. She met his eyes as the clothes gaped to show her bound chest. Shrugging, she allowed the material to drop to the floor at her feet.
His eyes stared at her chest. Corsets were too constricting for the high seas so she had taken to binding her breasts. Without hesitation she reached for the beginning of the bindings and began unwinding the long cotton strip.
Reece’s hands fisted as the last piece of cotton fell away from her chest, leaving her full breasts bare to his hot stare.
Natalie had never been a little woman. She stood as tall as most men and had the ample curves to drive a pious man to sin. Standing before him clad only in her dark breeches she felt no shame at baring her body. After all, she wanted him panting with need.
Throwing a foot against the mattress, she bent forward to unlace her boot. She took her time drawing the footwear off. Dropping it to the floor, she repeated the process with her left foot. When both boots lie on the ground, she straightened. Her hands moved to her waistband. Natalie drew one finger alone the edge of her breeches, teasing him.
“Take it off,” he ordered, his voice rough with need.
“Say please,” she whispered. The lamp light flickered, casting shadows around the room. She knew with her back to the light her face would be shadowed and her expressive green eyes darkened. This time she would be the one in charge. Let him lie there wondering what she was thinking, desperate for a hint.
She couldn’t help grinning at the capitulation in his voice. Just this once, he was hers.
Natalie unlaced her breeches and pushed them down her hips. She shimmied out of the constricting material and kicked them behind her.
She stood before him naked and unabashed. The golden light hugged her curves as she crawled back onto the bed.
“Beautiful,” he murmured.
Natalie pressed her mouth against his navel. She drew her lips down to the waistband of his breeches and ran her tongue along the line of skin exposed.
“Christ,” he growled, arching off the bed.
“Let’s see how you compare to memory,” she told him, her fingers reaching for the bindings of his breeches.
He said nothing as she unlaced him and slipped the material down his legs. His proud cock burst free from the tight clothing, throbbing with need.
Natalie tossed his pants over the side of the bed and sat back to admire his naked form. He’d changed since their one night together. Now his body was lean and sculpted from his hard life at sea. The pale white skin she remembered had been replaced by sun bronzed flesh.
“My, my,” she murmured. Reaching out a hand, she ran a single finger along the length of his hard cock.
Reece twisted on the bed, fighting his bindings.
“Shall I stop?”
“Curse you,” he gasped.
“Is that a yes?”
“No.” Reece fixed her with a hard stare. “Don’t ever stop.”
She smiled as she curled her fingers around his cock. Reece groaned in pleasure, throwing his head back.
“So responsive,” she said as she pumped her fist against his flesh. As she moved, she watched his pleasure-glazed eyes. He shuddered with every skilled brush of her fingers, his breath coming in panting gasps. When the tip of his cock glistened with moisture she stopped, pulling her hand away.
“No,” he begged.
“Don’t worry,” she murmured. “I won’t leave you wanting.”
Straddling him, she took his cock in one hand and positioned it under her.
“You’re not ready,” he protested.
Natalie laughed at his words. “Darling, I’ve been wet from the moment you knelt before me in chains,” she confessed. “These past few hours have been hell. All I wanted to do was come here to you.”
Before he could reply she lowered herself. Natalie groaned as his stiff shaft entered her. When she rested fully against him, she was beyond words.
“Christ,” Reece swore, writhing beneath her.
She pressed her hands against his chest as she lifted her hips and impaled herself on him once more.
“Again,” he commanded.
Natalie was all too happy to comply. She pumped her hips down on him, straining for the elusive pleasure just beyond her reach.
Her hands rose to cup her breasts, flicking her fingers over her nipples. Reece watched her actions with heated intensity. She knew he ached to touch her but the risk of releasing him was too great.
Instead she took control, driving them both toward their mutual pleasure. Natalie rode him without hesitation. Every thrust spurred her closer to her climax.
“Natalie,” he begged, his hips arching up to meet her movements. “Please.”
“Come with me,” she murmured, slamming herself down on him once again.
With a last thrust, she stiffened as her orgasm crashed over her. She heard Reece’s guttural cry but didn’t have the energy to pay his release any mind. Instead she was consumed by the flood of pleasure swamping her. Her vision blurred as she fought to master the raw sensations flooding her body. Never had she felt pleasure this intense. At least, not since their last night together.
She collapsed on his heaving chest, struggling to clear her mind. Dimly she saw Reece’s hands fisted in his chains as his body twitched with the aftermath of his climax.
Natalie lifted herself off his chest so she could meet his eyes. Those were not the words she’d thought to hear.
“Why do you have to be so maddening?” he asked. “So goddamn addictive?”
Her lips twisted in a humorless smile.
“If I were a simple woman, you wouldn’t want me,” she replied, brushing her lips across his.
Reece’s hands jerked against his chains once more. “Release me, Natalie.”
Wishing she’d had longer to savor the afterglow, Natalie pushed off him. She grabbed her shirt and bindings from the floor. Turning her back on him, she quickly wrapped the long material around her breasts with practiced ease. It took little time to slip on the rest of her clothes and Natalie had to admit, despite the intimacy they’d just shared, getting dressed felt like putting on her armor for another battle.
“You’re my prisoner, Reece. Best get used to idea,” she told him, tucking in her shirt.
“For how long?” he asked, using the chains as leverage to hoist himself up into a sitting position.
She turned to face him, acutely aware of his nakedness as he sat before her.
“I am a privateer for the king. At the very least, when captured we are to be treated as prisoners of war.”
“When captured by a foreign nation,” she shot back. “I’m a pirate. I owe no one my allegiance and thus, their rules do not apply to me. I can do whatever the hell I damn well please with you.”
“To what end? You’ve caught me. What do you plan to do now?”
She looked away, knowing she had no answer for him. Had he been anyone else it would have been an easy question. They’d have eliminated any survivors when they took his ship. The enemy captain would have been executed with swift efficiency, ensuring there were none to come after her crew for vengeance. But Reece was different. He shouldn’t be; she knew it, but he was.
For years she’d warred against him. She’d plotted and planned for the day she could best him but now that it was here, the thought of hurting him seemed unbearable.
“You have to let me go eventually,” he told her, his voice low and seductive. “Why not just do so now? You have my word I won’t take revenge for this.”
Natalie laughed softly. “I sunk your ship and imprisoned your crew. No captain worth his salt would let such an insult go unpunished. No, you will stay here. You are a lord of the realm and you have made quite a large fortune for the crown. I’m sure they will want you back. I shall send word to Governor Modyford. We shall see if he will ransom you.”
“It is a foolish dream,” Reece snarled. “Privateers are not hard to come by. No one will ransom me.”
She strode to the side of the bed and bent down until their lips almost touched. “Then you will be mine to keep,” she snapped. “And I am not a lenient mistress.”
Spinning on her heel, she left him naked in her bed and stormed from her cabin.
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