Excerpt for William The Damned (The Vampire Pirate Saga: Book One) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Chapter Links

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Smashwords Edition: 11 January 2018

William the Damned: A Vampire Pirate first published in eBook on August 30, 2010

Text copyright © Lynette Ferreira

Interior Formatting & Design: BellaTrix Books

Cover Design: Marshmellow_Pillow

All rights reserved.

This edition is also available in

Paperback ISBN 9781546848677

Hard Cover ISBN 9780244061142

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Chapter One

THE SQUARE RIGGER, weighing ninety tonnes, glides across the still waters, towed along with the tides. The waves lap at its sides lazily, while seagulls swoop languidly onto its deck. The sun beats down upon it relentlessly.

Should another boat pass it, it would look like a ghost ship, with not a soul upon its deck. However, should the innocent passer-by, happen to board the ship and proceed down to its lower levels, a sight of great horror would await such a wretched person. For below the deck, there is a sight beyond belief, fifty men and women dead upon their backs.

Their eyes are closed and their hands twined together upon their chest. Here on the lowest deck, where not an inch of light manages to intrude, they lie dead.

SUSANNA BOARDS THE Majestic to travel from England to France. Betrothed to Lord Francois, her heart is heavy, but she knows she has no choice. Her father died and left them with nothing, so now her and her mother’s only salvation is for her to go to France and to marry Lord Francois.

Grace, her servant girl, walks behind her, lifting the back of her dress so it does not drag across the dirty deck. Although Susanna is sure the captain keeps it clean, many feet have trampled mud all over it, from down below on the docks.

The ship is not more than three times as long as it is wide, and Susanna crosses her chest shocked when she walks into her cabin. The cabin is hardly big enough for her to turn about in. There is a single bed pushed against the wall and an armoire against the wall opposite the bed. The space between these two items of furniture is just large enough for her to walk into, the wide expanse of her dress brushing along the sides. The small porthole is in the centre of the wall, and looking out of it, Susanna notices she is level with the water lapping against the side of the boat.

Grace starts to unpack the bags for the long voyage, and they manage to move around each other with great difficulty. Susanna decides to go up onto the deck, while Grace finishes her tasks.

Up on the deck Susanna leans against the railing, looking down with curiosity as she sees the crew untie the anchor, she hears the cries of men as they hoist the sails, and then sadly she watches the coast of England drift away from her. Her mother did not come to bid her farewell, as she has an urgent appointment with her solicitor, which she could not postpone.

When the captain learned Susanna would be travelling with him on the journey across the channel, he invited her for dinner, so when the time drew nearer to dinnertime, Grace helps Susanna to wash from the basin of lukewarm water.

Grace helps her into the heavy dress and then Grace pulls her dress in at the back, while Susanna feels as if she is going to faint. Seated on the little chair in front of the large oval mirror on the wall, Grace starts to brush her hair and tie it up behind her head in the latest style.

Susanna looks unseeing in the mirror and she thinks back to her mother, left behind in England. Her mother will join her within a week or two, so it makes the situation even more daunting for Susanna. The only person she knows, who she can turn to now, is Grace.

Susanna must go to a country where she has never been, to meet a man she has never met.

Uncertainty and fear almost overwhelm her, but then Grace leans across her and lightly touches her shoulder, smiling reassuringly at the reflection of Susanna in the mirror. Susanna returns her smile nervously.

Susanna glances at her own reflection one last time and she fleetingly notices her dark hair tied up into a chignon behind her head. The blue dress she is wearing compliments her clear, sapphire eyes and her naturally rosy cheeks and lips.

She takes a deep breath, as deep as her dress would allow, and then she walks out of the little cabin and along the narrow, dank passageway toward the captain’s great cabin, where he entertains and eats.

The decorations in the great cabin are lavish. A chandelier hangs low over the centre of the large wooden table. Presented in large silver dishes are an assortment of sweet and spicy meats, vegetables and potatoes. They eat from white china, exquisitely decorated with dainty blue Dutch windmills.

The captain is a burly, friendly and slightly effeminate man. He is the opposite of everything Susanna believed a sea captain was and she is pleasantly surprised.

They talk long into the night, about his seafaring adventures. Susanna has always found it easy to relate to strangers and because she is naturally inquisitive, people often share their most intimate secrets with her. She usually allows people to talk, while she listens attentively.

Later he takes her up on the deck. The moon is full, reflecting on the water and Susanna feels as if they are riding on a pathway straight toward the bursting moon. A wintry breeze flirts across her bare shoulders and she feels a chill down her spine.

The galleon suddenly jerks violently to the side, and Susanna hears men screaming and yelling fearfully and panic-stricken.

Surprised Susanna hears the clashing of sword against sword. A moment ago, everything was peaceful and quiet, but now pandemonium reigned upon the deck of The Majestic.

Through her shock, she hears the captain yell with certainty, “Pirates! Go to your room and lock the door. Do not come out until daybreak.”

Without hesitation, Susanna lifts her skirts in both her hands and her dainty feet run across the deck toward the stairway, when suddenly she runs into a wall.

She falters and hands grab onto her arms roughly. Susanna catches her breath loudly and a squeak pushes past the fear lodged in her throat. She looks up, into a face more beautiful than she had ever seen. The wind is playing in his light-coloured hair. His dark eyes look at her inquisitively, while his brows form a frown, creasing his forehead. A smile plays seductively across his lips and she sees with distress him lean down to her.

William looks down at Susanna, the fright and panic in her eyes excite him, and he leans down to her long neck. He can hear her blood rushing through her veins faster and faster, he can smell the sweet smell of her blood. He can imagine the taste of it, melting over his tongue.

Suddenly she steps away from him, while she hits her small fists against his chest. Quickly he wraps his arms around her waist, and pulls her closer to him and unexpectedly he decides to keep her, convincing himself she would serve well as dessert.

He lifts her squirming body without difficulty over his shoulder and then with unbelievable speed, which frightens Susanna even more, he jumps across to the other ship next to The Majestic.

Before she can resist, before she even knows what is happening before she can scream or close her eyes, she lands onto a huge, soft bed and then she hears a door slam shut.

Hesitantly she stands up and walks toward the door, feeling her way through the dark. The locked door resists her attempts of pulling and pushing at it.

Replacing the painful screaming and shouting from above, Susanna now hears whoops and shouts of joy. Susanna feels the boat rock as the pirates jump across from The Majestic onto the deck of the pirate ship, and a renewed trepidation takes hold of her heart, more powerful than earlier.

Her eyes have barely adjusted to the dark and the faint light from the porthole helps her to find a hiding place.

Cowering beside a cupboard in the corner, she hears the key turn in the lock and she whimpers once, softly.

The moonlight from the porthole turns him into a large, daunting shadow and as Susanna’s eyes rest on him, she involuntarily catches her breath. She feels herself shiver with panic.

Although it is dark inside the room, he walks directly toward Susanna and then he graciously holds out his hand to her.

Apprehensively she puts her hand into his and then she stands up from her crouching position. She decides she must be brave if he saw fear in her he might be provoked into harming her or be enticed even more to kill her. She must be courageous and convince him, somehow, to let her go.

Standing erect, she concentrates on keeping her breathing slow and natural, while William softly traces her bare shoulder with his hand, letting it trail up along and into the nape of her neck. He folds his hand around her neck and then gently drawing her closer to him, he touches his lips to hers.

Susanna wants to shout, she wants to fight and run away, but she feels she needs to bide her time. She has no doubt she will be able to escape, she could steal away during the night, steal a boat where it was stowed against the waist of the ship and then drift away toward the nearest shore. However, when his lips make contact with her lips, softly and caressingly, she feels a knot in her stomach, which she immediately dismisses as fear.

He smiles slowly, seductively. “I am William. Who do I have the pleasure of entertaining?”

Politely she says, not smiling, hiding the fear nestled in the hollow of her throat, “Pleased to meet you. I am Susanna.”

“Well, Susanna, tell me where your destination was going to be.”

Dismissively she replies, “I was on my way to France. Where is Grace, my servant girl?”

“I am sorry, but she most probably did not survive.” He does not look sorry.

Appalled Susanna stares up at him where she is still standing too close to him. She pushes away from him and he lets her go. He turns away from her and walks around the room lighting the gaslights.

Dismayed Susanna asks, “What do you mean – she did not survive?”

He laughs suddenly, a sadistic laugh. “If you have not noticed yet, we are pirates.”

“You do not take prisoners?”

He does not answer, but Susanna can hear him sneer. “You can sleep here in my cabin and I suggest you do not leave this room, ever.”

“Why can I not leave this room—ever?” Susanna asks. She cannot keep the hint of sarcasm hidden; she is trying hard not to offend him.

“My crew, even if I told them to let you be, might and most probably would not be able to resist.”

“They would not hesitate to kill me? This is preposterous. I am betrothed to Lord Francois from France and he would pay you a handsome price if you delivered me safely to him.”

William looks back at Susanna while he lights the last gaslight. A frown flashes across his face and he smirks. “Betrothed?” He looks at her amused, a small smile starting to play on his lips. “That is interesting. How sure are you he would pay for you?”

“I will make sure you get the money, once I am safely in France,” she insists. It feels as if she has convinced him. He is after all only a greedy pirate. It would be easy, surely, to buy his co-operation for the right amount of money. For the money, he would take her safely to France. She would have given him the money now if she had any, but now embarrassingly she would have to convince Francois to pay the amount, before she has ever met him. She hopes the amount of money this thug would want is not too great.

He walks to the door and dismissively he instructs her, “Dawn is upon us. You should sleep.”

William leaves the room and once again, Susanna hears the lock turn in the door. She is going to have to formulate an escape plan if she cannot convince him to take her to France.

Standing with her back against the door, she searches the room for something to barricade the door with. She notices the huge double bed in the centre of the room. A wooden writing desk, a heavy dressing table and the cupboard she was hiding next to earlier on.

She decides on the dressing table because it is the closest to the door. With great effort, she pushes it toward the door and then against it, making sure even if he unlocks the door he would be unable to get into the room again.

Exhausted she lays down onto the bed. The tied ribbons, which pull her dress in around her waist, are constricting her breathing and she is so unbelievably uncomfortable. If she untied it, though, she would never be able to tie it back up by herself again, so she leaves it.

She was only going to lie down for a moment to catch her breath, to calm her heaving chest, but her heavy eyelids drop closed from the continuous see-saw motion of the ship.

Not long after she falls asleep, William enters the room softly. He has come to tell her he has decided to take her to France. He smiles amused when he notices the dressing table wedged against the door, but with a quick shove, the table eases away effortlessly.

Walking across the room toward her silently, he sits down on the bed as he listens to her soft, deep breathing.

TWILIGHT WASHES THROUGH the room and Susanna stretches lazily when she opens her eyes. She looks around her and realises with shock she still had not woken from this frightening nightmare.

Her eyes run across every detail of the richly decorated room and then toward the door. With fright, she sees the dresser has moved away from the door and she chastises herself for sleeping so deeply. Someone had come into the room while she was sleeping and she can only be thankful she is still alive or that nothing dreadful happened to her.

Susanna gets up from the bed quickly and she walks toward the little porthole. Looking out of the salt-encrusted glass window, she sees she had slept right through the day. A multitude of orange hues colour the sky and a large yellow semi-circle hovers on the horizon before it slowly continues dipping into the dark water of the ocean.

Everything is silent and she can hear the gulls as she sees them circling the boat. She can hear every creak and scrape. She can hear the ocean licking against the hull of the boat.

When the sea swallows the last bit of yellow, her stomach announces loudly it is hungry. Susanna puts her hand across her stomach absent-minded.

He softly asks from behind her, “Are you hungry?”

Susanna jumps with fright, but answers obstinate, “No, I am fine. Thank you.” She is determined not to let him see her fear.

“I will go and look if we have anything in the kitchen. I cannot make any promises, but I will make a plan.”

Susanna turns around to him and notices he has a cotton waistcoat, drawers, stockings, linen shirt and a pair of shoes in his hands.

“What do you mean, you will make a plan? Do you and your crew not eat?”

He laughs cruelly. “No.”

Before Susanna can question him further, she hears the door swing open wider and then immediately a soft hissing sound. In a blur, William moves away from Susanna.

When Susanna sees him clearly again, he is standing in front of a beautiful woman with bright red hair tumbling over her shoulders, her skin so pale it is luminous. The woman bares her teeth at Susanna. Susanna notices with revulsion the two longer incisors protruding from between her lips and she hears William talking to this woman softly, barely audible and so fast, Susanna can only make out the words No and Mine.

In an instant, the woman turns from him angrily and then she disappears. One moment she is standing there and the next she is gone, just evaporated, magically, as if in a puff of smoke.

Susanna takes a deep breath, stepping backwards away from William. Her resolve not to show fear is for the moment forgotten. She says accusingly, “What did you do? Where is she?”

Looking back at Susanna, William smiles amused. “Nothing. She left the room.”

“No, I never saw her walk out. You made her disappear.”

Then he laughs a sound which shocks Susanna. The sound of his laughter is so unexpectedly musical and joyful, lighting his eyes with a million sparkles. He says, still laughing amused, “We just move very fast.”

Susanna frowns as she looks at him and then he steps closer to her again. He holds his hands out to her. “Here, put this on.”

She takes the clothes from William hesitantly. She would not want anyone to see her wearing this, but until he returns her to France, she would wear it, and keep her dress clean and safe for when she meets Lord Francois, not wanting him to meet her dishevelled when her entire future rests in his hands.

William smiles at her impishly and then he turns away from her. “I will go and see what there is for you to eat.”

Susanna suddenly remembers she wanted to ask him, why he never ate, but he is already out of the cabin. She hears the key turn in the lock and then she quickly unfastens the straps of her dress behind her back, which is not an easy task. Her arms bend back by the elbows and she works the bow until it falls down unfastened. She pushes her fingers through the criss-crossed straps and she feels her lungs automatically take deeper breaths. She cannot reach all the way to the top, but once she has the ribbons around her waist loosened, it is easier, somehow, to squirm out of the masses of material.

Eventually the dress drops to her ankles and then she puts on the white, billowing shirt, cotton waistcoat, drawers, stockings and shoes. She ties the rope which came with the drawers around her waist tightly so it can stay up around her hips.

William walks toward the kitchen area, an area they never use, because the crew of this ship does not need to eat human food, their needs are very basic. He remembers looting the captain’s cabin and the great cabin of the ship they pirated the night before and scooping up the heavy silver bowls. Some of them still had food in it. During the events which followed afterwards, he forgot he left the food on a cabinet in the kitchen, he also forgot her need to eat. He wonders why he would have put the silver bowls in the kitchen, instead of having them cleaned and added to their plunder. Did he decide then already he was not going to kill her? He admits reluctantly that there is something about her when he looks at her, something he could not explain.

Susanna is folding her dress neatly when she hears him coming back inside the cabin. She looks up at him after she puts the dress carefully onto the bed. She notices he has a silver bowl in his hands and she recognises it from the table of Captain John, from The Majestic.

“There is only enough for two days,” William says apologetically. He has captained this pirate ship for years, he is in a position of authority and now he is apologising to this frail, weak human. He feels incensed.

Susanna hardly hears him. She takes the bowl from him, smiling up at him thankfully and she sits down on the stool in front of the dressing table. She eats the sweet and spicy meats with her fingers, trying to eat with etiquette, but she is too hungry and she gulps down each mouthful.

William looks at her and he notices her hunger as well as the way she is scooping the food into her mouth. He is trying to fathom what it is about her that has him so interested in her. He has come across many, many women before, but the night before, when he went down to the lowest deck to sleep—only minutes before the sun rose—he could not fall asleep. Thoughts of her kept him awake and each time he closed his eyes, he saw her.

When the plate in front of her is empty, she looks up at William embarrassed. She notices him staring at her in deep thought, so she looks down at the floor, self-consciously.

Swiftly he steps closer to her, feeling irate. She is causing strange, unknown emotions within him. Roughly he pulls her up from her seated position by her arm. He demands, “Why were you on that ship?”

His voice is hard and accusing. Susanna sees a muscle in his jaw jut out, indicating he is biting down on the back of his teeth. She notices his fist hanging next to his side tighten and loosen. Frightened she tries to step away from him, but he pulls her closer to him. The arm which was hanging by his side comes up and folds around her waist, holding onto her tightly. He lets go of her hand and then his arm reaches across her hips. Before she can resist, he abruptly lifts her off the ground and holds her close to his body.

His lips are close to her lips and Susanna cannot help letting her eyes drift to the fullness of them. He smiles slowly when he sees her eyes move to his lips. Bringing his face forward and with a deep groan, he kisses her. When her lips part slightly under his own, his mind goes numb and it is only he and Susanna in the world, everything else falls away.

He lets her slide down against his body and he brings his one hand from behind her back forward and then he softly traces the form of her body over the shirt, upwards over her hips, over her middle, briefly touching the side of her breast. He holds his other arm tenderly, yet securely around her waist, reluctant to let her move away from him.

Susanna catches her breath. She cannot help it when she feels ecstatic. She knows she should be scared, but she convinces herself she is only returning his kiss so he would be convinced to take her to France. He will feel some kind of fondness for her and he will feel obliged to take her where she belongs.

He traces his hand tenderly over her shoulder and then holding her head closely to his, he kisses her more passionately and single-mindedly. Their tongues meet and at that moment William realises, he wants her more than he has ever wanted his life-giving blood. He needs her more than he needs to kill to survive.

Susanna feels her stomach plummet and she is not sure if it is from pleasure or panic, but still her arms creep up against his hard shoulders. She laces her fingers through his hair and shockingly she pulls herself closer to him.

He moves his hand from the back of her head and then a few moments later, her world tilts slightly when she feels his cool hand against her skin, caressing her middle and moving seductively upwards. William thinks amazed how soft she is, how warm and comforting.

His hand moves upward to her breast and as his fingers are about to reach up, to cup it, Susanna draws courage from deep within her and she pulls away from him reluctantly.

She could not allow this to happen. She could not go to Lord Francois as a tainted girl. Lord Francois expects her to be a virgin when he marries her because of the agreement between him and her mother. Her mother assured Lord Francois she was untouched and Susanna believed it should include her entire body.

William looks down at her, a frown across his brow. His eyes are broodingly dark as he looks deep into her eyes questioningly and then he moves away from her abruptly. He asks darkly, “So you are betrothed to Lord Francois from France?”

Susanna squares her shoulders and answers him defiantly, “Yes, I am.”

“Have you ever met him?”

“No, I have not. This will be the first time I will meet him. I hear he is very kind and well-mannered.”

“Yes, he loves the ladies,” William smirks and he starts to walk toward the door.

“Wait…” Susanna calls out. Then she adds softly, “Please.”

William looks at her questioningly and suddenly she feels childish, bringing the subject up again, but she takes a deep breath, and then she asks him, “You said you do not eat. How can you not eat?”

He looks at her, the frown deepening, the muscle in his jaw pronounced. “Have you heard of The Vampire?”

Susanna steps backwards, knocking the stool over which was standing between her and the dressing table. She topples and he grabs her. As his hand circles her arm, a soft, pleading, “Please, no,” escapes her lips as her arm comes up defensively to her neck.

She sees the hurt on his face as he lets her go abruptly. He turns away from her and he walks out of the room.

William walks up the few stairs toward the deck and then he walks to the railing. He holds onto it tightly and he stands there quietly staring up at the night sky. He was born many years ago, a half-blood. His father a Vampire and his mother a human, he was born with a lust for blood, but a curse of humanity. The same curse of kindness which stopped him from killing Susanna, the same feeling he now has that the stars would disappear from his sky if he lost her.

Charlotte comes to stand next to him. She whispers accusingly, “What are you going to do with her?”

William looks around making sure none of the other crew members are near and he whispers softly, despondently, “I do not know.”

“You know you cannot take her to France. She will tell. We have a good life here. We accumulate riches we might never have a need for and we feed regularly, never leaving survivors to testify the pirates attacking is bloodsucking vampires. The most feared creature.”

William looks at Charlotte and he smiles down at her reassuringly, although he feels uncertain. “Never leave any survivors.”

Chapter Two

SUSANNA SITS IN the cabin, almost too scared to breathe. William did not lock the door when he left and now she is not only scared of him but also the girl and an unknown amount of them on this pirate ship.

She hears footsteps outside the door and conflicting with how she feels, her heart betrays her by speeding up excitedly. The footsteps slow down, stop and then after a moment the feet walk past the door. Quickly she walks from next to the cupboard where she was crouching and she moves the dresser back against the door, straining against the heavy wooden table.

She contemplates going out and looking for a boat, but William’s warning echoes through her mind. She will wait until daylight because although she has never come face to face with a vampire before, she has heard all the rumours. Although vampires were rumoured to simply be mythical and only the poor really believed they existed, she has heard they do not appear in daylight. If she waited for sunrise, they would not be able to kill her and suck her dry from all her blood.

THE NEXT NIGHT as she wakes, she hears footsteps stop in front of her door. She berates herself for not waking during the day, for falling asleep in the first place. A perfect opportunity to escape is lost, yet again.

The key turns in the lock and then William pushes against the door. The table moves away smoothly. He is carrying a bowl of food and with a distant look in his eyes; he puts it down onto the dresser.

He says without looking at her, “This is the last of it, so I suggest you eat it sparingly.”

She moves her legs off the bed and her stomach growls loudly. Walking past him nervously, staying as far away from him as possible, she sits down on the chair in front of the dresser and although she knows she should eat slowly, she is ravished. Before she can stop herself, she has eaten all the potatoes in the silver bowl.

“We are anchoring tomorrow. I might be able to catch you something to eat,” William says from the other side of the cabin, where he is standing watching her thoughtfully.

It flashes through Susanna’s mind, that this could be her opportunity to escape. As soon as they are anchored and near land, she can jump off the ship and swim to shore. They will be sleeping during the day. She would not go to sleep. She would force herself to stay awake.

As if he can read her mind, he smirks. “Of course, you can try to escape, but this is a desolate island and not on any seafarer’s course. You might have to live here forever or until my return.”

He looks at her ominously and Susanna’s heart sinks. He sees the despondent look flash across her face and he steps closer to her. When he is standing in front of her, he asks softly, “Am I really that repulsive to you?”

“No,” she whispers, remembering his lips against hers, the emotions he awakened in her. Emotions she never knew she possessed. She remembers his cold hands tracing along her skin. How she wanted him to touch her and conflicting how scared she was of him.

He steps even closer to her and then touching her arm hesitantly, he whispers, “If I had the power, I would change everything.”

Susanna falls forwards into him, tears running down her cheeks. Surely, it could only be a sudden release of fear and panic. He seems different. Maybe her plan to be submissive worked and now the fondness he felt for her will get her to France.

He folds his arm tenderly around her shoulders and she leans into him. He does not know what to do; he has never had to deal with a woman crying from sadness rather than fear as he feels her flesh warm and yielding against him.

She looks up at him, her eyes bright with tears. She whispers hopeful, “Please tell me you will never hurt me?”

He smiles down at her and slowly he leans his head closer to hers. He kisses the tears on her cheeks away and he kisses her eyelids. She keeps her eyes closed and her lips slightly parted.

Although he told himself he would have more control over his feelings, he touches his lips to hers.

It has been three days since they attacked The Majestic and he can feel a stirring of hunger when he hears her blood rush through her veins. He fights the urge to move his lips from her lips, to let them trail across her jaw and then down her neck to where her blood pulses under her skin.

He does not want to kill her, although he never made her any promises, he knew he would never allow her to be hurt.

Moving away from her hastily, he leaves her standing there in the middle of the room. He walks out and up toward the deck, clenching his fists. His face contorted into an ugly mask as he tries to control his hunger as well as his emotions.

Susanna looks at the door. He left it standing open and she rushes to it. She slams it shut and then she shoves the dresser bit by bit toward the door.

While she heaves against the dressing table, she contemplates whenever she is with him, she strangely wants him to touch her. When he touches her, she has an undescribed yearning for him. She must escape. She must get away from here, as far and as quickly as possible.

Charlotte walks determinedly toward William when she sees him walk onto the deck. She is going to have to talk some sense into him. The fascination he has with this girl is ridiculous. She hisses softly, “It has been days since we last fed. Everybody can smell her and you will not be capable of keeping her a secret for much longer.”

“I know,” he answers her harshly.

She pulls him to her roughly, looking up at him pleadingly. “What is wrong with you, William? Kill her!”

He turns his head away from her and he looks out across the water pensively. He can see the island in the distance. They will reach it by morning, before first light.

Charlotte leans into him and she whispers close to his ear vehemently, “Kill her or I will.” Growling she turns away from him hurriedly and with speed and agility, she climbs up the mast.

He watches her as she climbs higher and higher. He knows her well. She will sit up there all night until her foul mood dissipates. Together they have captained this pirate vessel for more years than he cares to remember, and he knew she was right. He could not let Susanna return to France.

WHEN SUSANNA WAKES up, she immediately notices the late afternoon light streaming through the dull porthole. She jumps from the bed, excited she woke up before the sun set for the day. She stumbles across the room toward the little circle of yellow light.

Looking through the glass, Susanna notices the land mass a short distance away. She sees the small stretch of beach and the forest behind it. The sun is still high enough in the sky for her to escape immediately.

She walks to the door and then moving the dresser away from the door, she opens it slowly.

William had, in his haste to leave the room, forgotten to lock the door behind him and he did not return during the night while she was asleep either.

She opens the heavy wooden door wider and the soft scrape of the hinges blends with the creaking of the boat as it rocks gently on the water. Peering through the gap, she tries to listen for human noises, although she is certain there would be none. She opens the door even wider and then she squeezes through.

She is standing in a dark, narrow hallway and further on she notices a staircase. Cautiously she walks toward the staircase and then with relief she starts to climb the stairs, one by one, to the bright light of the afternoon sky.

When she gets onto the deck, she looks around. Everything is neat and tidy, a well-kept ship. At first glance, you would never realise the horror, which lay beneath the upper decks.

Susanna walks to the railing on the side where the beach is closest. They anchored the boat just beyond the point where the waves start rushing toward the shore.

She can swim a little, enough to keep herself afloat, so now she climbs onto the railings and without thinking twice, she jumps down into the water. The distance is great and she makes sure to keep her body straight so she does not fall awkwardly. She would not want to knock the wind out of her lungs, or worse, break something.

Susanna gasps as the cold water sucks her in and she is instantly grateful for the drawers and shirt she is wearing. It never occurred to her before that should she have jumped in wearing the dress, it would have dragged her down and she would have had to fight the dress to get back up to the surface again.

She pops up onto the surface of the water like a cork and then she rides the waves toward the shore.

When she reaches the shore, tired and out of breath, she turns to look back at the ship. She notices with debilitating panic the sun has dipped under the blue ocean and she recognises William on the deck of the ship staring directly at her. She can feel the malice radiating off him toward her and when she sees him dive from the ship into the water, she starts to run as fast as her legs can carry her into the forest behind her.

Branches hit against her arms and the wet stockings cling to her legs. Her breath is ragged and rasping over her lips, but she knows she cannot stop, she must continue running as fast as she possibly can.

Brutally she stops and jerks backwards when a hand folds over her arm. Her breath jolts in her throat and with despair and fear, her legs buckle under her.

William catches her and when she looks up at him, she sees the menacing sneer across his face. He laughs bitter, softly. “Did you really think you could run away from me?”

Hopelessness rushes through Susanna and William can see the misery on her face. He does not know what it is that has attracted him to this girl. He should just kill her here, kill her now, but something stops him. A feeling he cannot understand and cannot explain. Feeling as if he would defend her with his life.

Hearing Charlotte running through the underbrush toward them, he lets Susanna go. Harshly he says with a growl deep in his throat, “Go. Keep running. Do not stop.”

He lets her go and without looking back, Susanna runs away from him.

William watches her go. He feels hopeless.

As Charlotte breaks through the bushes, he asks her brusquely, “Why are you following me?” He sees hurt flash across her face for just the briefest moment of a second and he starts walking back toward the beach before she can answer his question. He feels her following slightly behind him.

Charlotte has loved him since she met him and she has given herself to him, physically and emotionally, repeatedly over the decades they have been together. All she wants is for him to love her as much as she loves him and sometimes she thought he did. Now she was not so sure anymore, she saw the confusion on his face. She noticed his despair and his sadness over the pathetic, weak girl she could hear running through the brush.

They walk in silence and when they reach the beach, the other crew-members are dragging the chests of loot they had stolen and plundered over the last two months while out at sea from the rowing boats onto the beach. They drag the chests effortlessly into the thick undergrowth of the trees which frame the small area of white pebble scattered beach.

It is almost midnight when they reach the rocky area where they come to hide their treasures. William puts his hand into a secret crevice along the side of the innocent looking mount of rocks. He pulls a lever and the biggest rock in front and slightly on top of the other mass, moves away slowly with a scrape and a groan.

William and Charlotte walk into the mouth of the large cave first, carrying with them a torch each. They do not need the torches to enable them to see in the night, but it always excites them and the crew when they see a million sparkles bouncing off the many, many tiny diamonds. It is electrifying the way the gold and silver glimmer in the glare of the firelight. It boosts their morale and makes it seem, for the shortest moment in time, as if their everlasting existence has a purpose after all.

They spend a few hours here, touching and burying themselves within the mountains of jewels and riches. William can feel Charlotte watching him intently, so he plays his part. He laughs jubilantly and touches the precious jewels reverently, but in his chest, he feels a deep heaviness.

When the first birdsong echoes through the night sky, they all groan almost as one and then they return to the beach hurriedly and then into the rowing boats.

A trace of crimson colours the horizon, when William moves away from the railing of the boat where he is standing. He looks at the beach one last time. His moan carries on the wind a melancholy, which fills the early morning murmur and he goes down to the lower decks.

Although he is as cold as steel, his heart betrays him with its hunger for Susanna, a hunger stronger even than his constant burning desire to feed.

SUSANNA RUNS UNTIL her every breath burns her chest. She struggles to take deep enough breaths to continue running and afraid she slows down and bends over double while gagging. She feels faint and the drawers and shirt she is wearing are hanging in shreds around her body.

Hearing the first birds before daybreak, she starts to run again. Slower this time, but still the branches and thorns slap against her painfully. Earlier in her panicked and frenzied dash, she felt nothing as the trees and bushes tore bits of flesh from her face and her arms, now she feels every sting.

She tries to run in a straight line and when the sky turns pale blue, she stumbles out of the forest and onto a small stretch of beach. She is hungry, thirsty and unbelievably tired.

Falling onto her hands and knees, she hangs her head as tears stream down her face from the immediate horror which fills her. She has run across the island and now the full impact of her situation hits her in the stomach, taking with it the little breath she managed between gasps of exhaustion.

She is really stuck here. What will she eat? What will she drink? Will she be here forever, or as William said until he returns? This time when he comes back, he might not be so kind toward her. He might be hungry and then he would take her into his arms. He would sink his teeth into her neck as he drinks her blood. Oddly, a warm sensation spreads through her body at the thought of him touching her, as he bites her flesh. Shaking her head, she berates herself for thinking thoughts which were plain and simply ridiculous. She is going to marry Lord Francois. She is not destined to be someone else’s meal.

When she has calmed down, her breath coming slower and easier, she looks up again and it is with surprised shock she sees the pirate ship to the side, behind a rugged cliff protruding into the ocean. A rowboat is pulled up onto the shore, half way in the water.

Susanna smiles slowly when she realises she must have run in a circle when she thought she was running across the island. She crawls down the beach on her hands and knees, because she doubts her legs would be able to carry her. She is so elated she does not feel the pebbles dig into her knees painfully. Believing William and his crew must have misjudged the time and they were caught by the rising of the sun, so now they had to hide somewhere on the island until nightfall. If she moved the boat quickly into the ocean, she could get away.

The tide is moving out, so she hurries to get into the boat. The sides are high and she stretches her one leg over. She is thankful once again, for the drawers and shirt she is wearing, and not a cumbersome dress. She pulls herself up and over the side of the rowboat and then she falls into the boat.

Banging her head loudly against the side and for a moment, she lays dazed on the bottom of the boat, staring up at the sky, watching the gulls swoop graciously through the air. The surrounding light dilates and subside and she hears a faint ringing in her ears.

After a while, which could have been hours or only minutes, she gets up, rubbing her head softly and then she takes an oar in each hand.

Although the tide is still on its way out, for every inch the tide pulls her out to the sea, the waves crashing into her, pushes her back toward the beach.

She rows with all her might; her arms are sore and painfully lame and the sun is high in the sky by the time she crashes violently through the last wave. She continues rowing toward the open ocean, unable to feel her arms, but continuing the motions of rowing.

When the seawater washes over her face and her arms, the scratches from the bushes and brambles burn like fire. Her legs and arms feel like lead and her eyelids start to droop.

Susanna drifts along on the tides of the ocean. She is unable to sit up, so she stays lying in the bottom of the boat.

On the odd times when she wakes, it is day and when she again opens her eyes, it is still day, the sun beating relentlessly down upon her.

When it rains and she feels the soft cooling moisture running across her skin, she just opens her mouth and lets the sweet rain moisten her lips and her tongue. Letting it run down her throat wonderfully, quenching the burning fire in her throat.

Chapter Three

WILLIAM WAKES UP as soon as he feels a shift in the air. He steps cautiously over the stirring bodies of his crew-members and then he climbs the ladder up to the upper decks. He walks out into the cool night and then looking at the island, he sees the row boat is gone. Turning away from the railing determined, he shouts orders to his first mate to hoist the anchor. Every night, as soon as the morning star appears in the pre-dawn sky they anchor the boat. It would not help to sail aimlessly across the waters of the sea and risk being shipwrecked.

When the anchor is raised, he steers the ship with the whisper of the wind behind them away from the breakers and toward the open sea.

In the early morning hours, a pirate with a customary eye patch across his left eye yells down from the mast where he is hanging with his legs across the rigging, “Ship ahoy.”

Eagerly everyone rushes to the side of the boat and they see the brightly lit galleon on the horizon. Silently William manoeuvres the boat until they glide in next the galleon quietly. Without a sound, they tie the ship to theirs with thick ropes and then with whoops and screams they jump across to the galleon.

Instant pandemonium erupts on the deck of the galleon and William sees the captain rushing to him, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The captain’s sword is held aloft and William prepares to defend himself. He does not need the sword to defend himself, but he enjoys amusing himself with these little distractions. The captain is faster than William anticipated and he feels the tip of the captain’s sword rip the scarlet red sash tied around his waist. The sash drops down to the deck and lands in a tangle at William’s boots. A laugh erupts from his throat and then he lunges forward. William steps around and then his mind is focused on the clash of sword against sword. It has been a long time since he has been challenged in this manner and by now, the crew has killed and devoured every crew member and passenger from the galleon. They have taken the jewels and treasures to the hull of the boat and now they sit in a large circle around the two men who are still fencing against each other. William can hear the laboured breath from the captain and he can see the fear in his eyes. The captain’s legs buckle under him from exhaustion, and then William releases him swiftly from his misery.

SUSANNA COMES UP from the darkness which surrounds her. Her lips are sore and tight and her skin burns. She opens her mouth to talk because she senses people around her. Her tongue feels too big for her mouth and it sticks to her palette.

“Mamma,” she croaks.

“Susanna. You are awake.”

She must be dreaming. It is without a doubt impossible her mum would be here, replying to her. She struggles to open her eyes. There in front of her, like an angel, is her mother’s face.

Susanna whimpers elated, “Mamma!” Tears run down the side of Susanna’s face involuntarily, cooling her burning flesh.

“Hush, Susanna. Do not talk. You must rest.”

“But how did I get here?” Susanna whispers hoarsely.

Her mother softly puts her fingers onto her lips, spreading fat over them gently. Susanna sighs at the instant relieve she feels from the fat on her burning, chapped lips.

Her eyelids drop again and she falls into a deep sleep. Contentment and the secure feeling of being safe, wrap itself around her.

Susanna dreams a dream with many small snippets interlaced on a repetitive spool and the one intertwines with the other. Her mother appears young and beautiful, as Susanna remembers her when she was a little girl. She sees her father walk in and then her parents are fighting. She sees her father slap her mother, because her mother accuses her father of taking a mistress, and he is spending all the money they have on lavishly spoiling this girl… William stands behind her and she senses his big, strong presence in the room, then he disappears into a shade of mist… Susanna is running through a dense forest, it is night and shadows attack her from the sky. Suddenly the red-haired woman on the ship appears and she bites Susanna viciously, Susanna screams in pain, but then it is William bending over her, and his caressing lips on her neck are sending shivers of pleasure through her body… Her mother stands in front of her crying despondently. She says incoherently that there is no money for them to keep their home, her father spent it all when he was alive. She has written a letter to Lord Francois, and he has promised to marry Susanna in exchange for an heir…

Susanna drifts in and out of sleep for what feels like days. Each time she opens her eyes briefly, she sees her mother sitting vigil next to her bed. She loves her mother so much and she knows of every sacrifice her mother had to make because of her unconditional love for Susanna. There is no doubt in Susanna’s mind she would do anything for her beloved mother, even marry a man she has never met.

When Susanna is well enough to get up from her sickbed and sit in the chair to have morning tea with her mother, she cannot believe how circumstances beyond her control had come together. Circumstances made her little boat drift around the vast waters of the ocean and into the path of the ship carrying her mother to France.

Her mother sits across from her, impeccably dressed as always, and maternally she says, “My sweet Susanna when we saw the little boat doper around on the water, I did not for one moment consider it might be you. Sheila and I were standing on the deck when we heard a huge commotion and I looked over. The crew was hooking a little row boat closer to the side of the ship and curiously, Sheila and I walked a little closer. Not too close, of course, and then when they eventually pulled the boat over the side of the ship, they lifted you out of it. I was so shocked when I barely recognised your face. What happened, child?”

“Oh, Mamma, it was horrific.” Susanna contemplates briefly telling her mother the whole story, but something catches in her throat and she considers the consequences for William. If she told the truth now, they might hunt William and kill him. Although all things considered this would be a good thing because he killed people to satisfy his own desires. He was a murderer, a dangerous animal. However, he was kind to her. He saved her by leaving the row boat for her and he rescued her by hiding her in his cabin before one of his crew members could get to her. She also felt a peculiar sadness when she thought of him, so she decides to make up a story. Nobody will know the truth anyway.

Susanna looks at the painting of a ship on a tumultuous sea, behind her mother’s head and she says hesitantly, “I was having dinner with the Captain. Captain John was his name. He was a pleasant man and I enjoyed his company, so later we walked up to the deck and I remember the moon was full when suddenly there were screams and shouts. The galleon had caught fire and then Captain John hurriedly helped me get into a boat. He and other men hoisted me down to the water and as the boat, I was on drifted away I watched the ship burn until there was nothing.” Susanna starts to cry. She does not know why tears are silently streaming down her cheeks now, she just feels unbelievably saddened.

Her mother leans forward, and then she gently lets her hand rest on top of Susanna’s. “Hush, my child. It is all over and you are safe now.”

They sit like this for a while and then Susanna asks, after she swallows the lump in her throat, changing the subject, “Did you finalise everything in England?”

Her mother sits back in her chair with a soft sigh. “I did. I anticipated it would take me much longer than it did. Your father really had no consideration of providing for us when he was living with that other girl. They will be selling the house to pay off all his debts.” Guiltily her mother continues, “I am sorry to expect you to now marry Lord Francois, but it is easier this way than having nowhere to go. When I say, we do not have two pennies to rub against each other, it is not an exaggeration.”

Susanna would rather have married for love. Imagine the bliss of spending the rest of your days with someone you could not wait to wake up with each morning. This choice is however not hers to make and it was made for her already. She can only hope Lord Francois will be pleased when he sees her and he does not change his mind.

Susanna replies, dutifully, “I look forward to marrying Lord Francois. It is not as if I will be the first girl ever to go into a pre-arranged marriage and I doubt I will be the last. Your marriage was arranged…”

Her mother interrupts her, “Yes, but you cannot compare every marriage with the union I had with your father. Your father never loved me, which is evident in our present situation.”

Susanna contemplates this would mean her father never loved her either. In a way, she supposes this to be the truth, although she never considered it before. He walked away from her and her mother many years ago. He paid maintenance to her mother, but Susanna never saw him. Sometimes she would wake late at night and she would hear him in the house, drunk and smashing heirlooms her mother refused to give to him, but Susanna was always too scared to leave her room.

She smiles encouragingly. “Mamma, we will be all right. Soon we will arrive in France, and then I will meet the charming Lord Francois, as everyone describes him. He will marry me and we will live happily ever after.”

Susanna’s mother laughs delighted, but even though Susanna smiles outwardly, her heart feels like the lump of sugar she is slowly stirring into her tea.

WHEN THEY ARRIVE at the coast of France, the scratches on her face and her arms have healed. However, when the weather was cold, the scars still made red blemishes on her skin, which Susanna hides with powder. She has put the weight she lost back on and her voluptuous curves were the same as when she left England all those weeks ago.

She feels good and although she has not told anyone about William, or what really happened to The Majestic, she is relieved it is over. However, when she looks up at the pale moon at night, she cannot help remembering, when the moon seemed so close she could reach up and touch it, she thought of William, but then quickly shoved him out of her mind. William is a monster and although she let him kiss her, it was only because she feared him and did not want him to get angry with her, to kill her.

When Susanna and her mother walk down from the ship on the long wooden gangplank to the docks, Susanna sees the carriage Francois had sent for them. The carriage is large and elaborately decorated. Four black, shiny horses stand before it, trampling restlessly, their heads bobbing up and down.

His footmen carry their baggage from the ship to the carriage. Susanna has no baggage because it was all lost with The Majestic. The footmen help Susanna and her mother into the carriage.

Sitting back in the plush chair, Susanna looks up at the bright azure sky and she welcomes her future with open arms.

They drive through the French countryside, past vineyards and peasant homes. At times, little children run along next to their carriage, waving friendly, laughing happy and calling up to them in French.

When they eventually drive along a narrow road through a dense forest, it suddenly appears before them. Susanna gasps at the splendour. The château is impressively large and sweeps across the immediate horizon. The many windows sparkle in the sunlight and the walls of the château are a soft yellow in colour. Beautiful manicured gardens and shrubs surround the house and from here, Susanna can see the rows and rows or grapevines trailing off into the distance.

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