(Formerly called ROGUES, revised and re-edited)
Three stories, one kind of hero, pirates anyone? Includes the short stories:
Angel-Fire: A short intro to the world of Captain Jack Stanton, an honourable man with a tarnished reputation. Stranded in Nassau, caught up in a pleasant interlude with a barmaid, Jack has a vision that will lead him to his past and his future, if he can survive to get back Tortuga to discover what it all means…
Storm-Singer: The Isle of Nyx has become the dread of all sailors who must dare the waters surrounding the mythical island. Local legends say a vampire prince resides in the ancient castle that can be seen from the harbor of the island. At his side is a powerful sorceress whose song can control and summon storms.
In a desperate attempt to end the eternal threat looming over them, the people of the Aurora Islands sacrifice their greatest treasure, the princess Sarita, entrusting her with the task of seducing and destroying the dark prince who has been plundering their wealth and their people for centuries?
The Phantom’s Lair: Upon her arrival in the pirate port of Tortuga where her father is acting as Governor, Katheryn Hollinsworth is determined to choose her own path, and follow her heart wherever it may take her. On the streets of Puerta de la Plata, she encounters the mythical buccaneer known as The Phantom, and very quickly loses her heart to the handsome rogue.
Jack Stanton is a man who has never fully come to terms with his past, and in the Governor's pretty daughter he finds a most unlikely champion. But when his past threatens her life, and any chance of a respectable future, The Phantom must face the demons of his past, and accept the dictates of his own reawakened heart...
“Relax, Jacques,” she purred softly as she rained kisses over his face and chest. “Let your mind accept the gift I have given you.”
Swept along on a tidal wave of sensuous excitement, Stanton struggled despite her pleas. He made a half-hearted grab for her when her soft lips trekked further downward, and she effortlessly slapped aside his attempt at restraint.
Jack’s hips rose from the bed, the reaction totally beyond his ability to control, if indeed he had truly wanted to stop the barrage of sexual delight pounding through his veins. He twisted, tried to pin her, but laughter met the awkward movement of his sluggish limbs.
Angelique pressed the expanse of his naked chest and pushing him onto his back as she straddled his hips and grinned down at him.
Stanton opened his mouth, but no coherent words passed his lips.
She lowered herself onto his straining erection and his body convulsed with new euphoria. When the surge of sensory pleasure threatened to suffocate him, his mind finally rose and found freedom.
Through a haze of smoke and mist, Jack’s beloved ship, The Scarlet Thorn, sailed away as he shouted obscenities and anything else his fertile imagination offered him. On Thorn’s quarterdeck, the newly appointed Captain DeBeaupre’s laughter rang out and taunted him. Gold, spinning wildly, glittering wickedly, always out of reach. Blood tinged the brilliance of the shining metal and Jack drew back from it. Engulfed in crimson, a skull grinned from the golden surface.
Was this part of the notorious curse that he’d been hearing about for years?
As quickly as the thought crystallized in his mind, it was lost to swirling mist again.
Slowly, the fog cleared and the Thorn, under attack and badly damaged, shrieked rage into his brain, echoing into a darkness that obscured everything.
“Breathe deeply, my love,” Angelique whispered, riding his bucking hips wildly as she held his wavering gaze. “Let my angel-fire bring forth your destiny,” she moaned, losing her hold on his gaze as her desire peaked and exploded.
The Phantom’s Lair:
Stanton stopped a few feet from the two people squared off against each other. The girl’s sword moved like a shimmering sliver of moonlight as she parried and feinted with careless grace, easily deflecting the less disciplined thrusts of her opponent’s blade. She was dressed like a buccaneer, but he sensed she was anything but what she appeared to be. She slipped on wet ground. The drunkard gained an advantage and made to deliver a fatal strike.
Cutlass drawn, Jack intercepted the other man’s sword on its downward arc. Sparks flew as the blades clashed, and Stanton circled until he stood between the woman and her attacker.
“Taking advantage of a lady when she’s down.” Jack shook his head in mock despair, while his mouth curved into a roguish smile. “That’s hardly fair play.”
“Stay outta this.” The sailor snarled in reckless fury. “It’s between me and the lady.” He tried to shove Stanton aside.
Jack pushed back and waited. The stumbling man to recovered and had a new target, as Jack had anticipated. He raised his weapon and edged closer to Stanton.
“Do you really think this wise, mate?” Jack smiled, enjoying himself now.
His opponent lunged.
Jack sidestepped and the other man hit the building and staggered. Jack tapped his shoulder with his sword. The man whirled, growling his fury, and attacked like a madman. Jack hadn’t calculated the ferocity of the other man’s anger, and he was nearly run through.
The swordplay began in earnest, and Stanton had no time to consider if he should have left this situation to the people involved. A few well-chosen steps gave him the advantage and he parried awkward thrusts with more ease as he drove the fellow backward. When he struck the man across the face with the hilt of his cutlass, he thought the contest over. Until a slash of fire tore up his arm and he had scant seconds to realize he’d been struck. Stanton’s annoyance went up another notch and he spun around, intent on ending the impromptu confrontation. The woman spared him further effort when she slammed the back of the sailor’s head with the butt of a pistol and he went down with a groan.
Jack looked at her, a quizzical tilt to his head.
“I didn’t think it necessary to kill a man simply for being stupid,” she explained with a flash of pearly-white teeth. “But I thank you for your assistance, sir.” She stepped closer and peered at her rescuer. He stepped back, sheathing his cutlass, with suspicion in his pale eyes.
“Do I know you?”
“I think not, m’lady.” Jack smiled.
Now that he could see her clearly in the torchlight, Jack knew they had never met. He wouldn’t have forgotten a woman as lovely as this one. The flicker of the torch flames found responding tongues of color in her long, tumbling mane, presently slipping from the leather thong she’d tied at her nape. The cloak she wore was open, and his sharp gaze took rapid stock of her clothes. His earlier opinion was confirmed in his sweeping appraisal as he inventoried silk shirt, close-fitting pants of heavy cotton, polished leather boots reaching her knees, and a wide belt from which hung the scabbard for her handcrafted sword.
“Jack Stanton.” She positioned the pistol at her hip. “You’re Captain Jack Stanton, aren’t you? The one they call The Phantom.”
Jack’s head tilted as he met her bold brown stare. What he saw there amused him. She was curious, and faintly excited by her discovery of his identity. “And you are?”
Magic thrummed in the icy pitch of the night air. Sorcery and song combined to create a powerful and potent spell, one that promised to be all Jaden had demanded.
Arrah contained her wrath, pushed it into the darkest corner of her soul, as she concentrated on the binding harmony she was weaving with the winds. Power surged within her, and she breathed in the sweet, pure essence of earth-force, captivated now by the mystical rapture that the music stirred and sent spiraling into the night.
Waves rose and battered the ebony shores of the Isle of Nyx, their crashing voice another rhythm of power in the enchantment. The winds coalesced, added their resonant wail to the sounds filling the air, and she shuddered, savage spirit attuned to the maelstrom of forces engulfing her. She shifted the tone of her song, weaving greater torrents of madness into the music, and the night darkened further.
With the blackness came vision.
She caught his unique scent, heard the whisper of silk moving rhythmically with each step he took toward her. She felt the power of his very presence long before his graceful hand came to rest at her shoulder.
“The Spectre is ready for launch.”
Jaden’s smooth, sensual voice caressed her, as silken and alluring as the power that vibrated within her body. His arms glided around her waist, and the soft, evocative stroke of his tongue on her neck made her tremble. His hands roamed freely over her, everywhere at once, lighting fire and hunger in her veins as he touched and explored familiar curves. She arched away from him, and he pulled her back against the solid steel of his body. When his mouth covered the throbbing pulse at her neck, her voice reached a new crescendo of furious power. She felt the sharp piercing of her skin then their thoughts merged and reached outward as he sought beyond the storm she’d conjured for him.
Long minutes later, he released his hold on her and turned her to face him, dark eyes glittering. He smiled, tenderness in the shift of his perfect features. She kissed his cheek, then bent her forehead to his chest, faintly aware of the stolen heartbeat that was hers, hearing the even cadence that was a flawless echo of each thump of life within her.
“How long will you need?” she asked, her earlier anger faded for the moment.
“We will return before dawn,” he replied with faint laughter in his rich tone.
“Is this treasure worth the risk you take, Jaden?” She wasn’t as certain as he appeared to be. An indefinable and worrisome element that remained out of her reach nagged at her.
“This treasure is far more than gold and jewels, Arrah,” he purred.
Startled, she met his gaze. “What did you see?”
Her eyes grew huge as he smiled down at her.
“Have faith.” He kissed her lips, a slow, erotic caress tasting faintly of blood and magic. “Wait for me.” He winked then vanished in an inky swirl of mist and silken cloak.