a new look.” Alex rolled his eyes. “Lord help us! The world must be coming to an end! Thought you said you’d never have short hair again after you left the navy.” Max just shrugged his shoulders again. “I got tired of it wrapping around my head. Besides, it grows fast. It will be long before you know it.” Max plopped his feet on the floor, rose up from his slouched position and leaned towards his friend. “Now what was so important that you had to disturb me from the company of Betty—Bertha—Anna—whatever her name?” “I thought her name was Angus—Lorene—Mary,” Alex countered. Max shot Alex a look that said, “Get on with it before I punch you in the mouth.” “Touchy this morning, aren’t you?” “Alex,” Max warned. “Alright, alright,” Alex replied as he held up his hands in a surrender pose. “As you know, one of my father’s ships was raided last week.” “Yeah . . . and ?” “Well, this particular vessel had a present I had purchased my mother for her birthday. That present happened to be one of the articles stolen from the ship. I have discovered that the group that conducted the raid is residing about a day’s ride inland from here.” “Okay?” Max questioned suspiciously. It was not unusual for them to track down individuals who stole from Emerald Shipping, Alex’s father’s business. In fact it had become a hobby of theirs. Pirates frequented these waters and took great delight in boarding merchant vessels and taking their cargo. So in order to better protect his inheritance, as well as his father’s lavish lifestyle, Alex had taken to pirating himself. He occasionally had to “plunder” his own father’s ships, just to keep the scent off who he really was . . . Nicholas Sinclair, the Governor’s son. “Well, as you know, my mother loves the latest fashion. I had happened to acquire, during one of our last business acquisitions, a rather fashionable bonnet from France and I—” Max held up his hand silencing Alex’s explanation. “Hold everything. You mean you are wanting me to tromp through that Godforsaken jungle,” Max protested as he pointed his figure towards the shore, “for a hat ?!” “Bonnet,” Alex corrected, “And no—” “Good.” “—I want you to watch Samuel.” “What time are we leaving to go get this bloody hat?” Max replied abruptly before Alex had even gotten Samuel’s name out. Samuel was Alex’s twelve-year-old son, who had become part of the crew about six months ago after his mother was murdered by the noble Commodore Andrew McClain. Max liked Samuel well enough when he had to only deal with him when they docked at Port Royal. He would keep him busy loading and unloading cargo. But since coming aboard, Samuel had been nothing but trouble in Max’s eyes. Too rambunctious to suite Max, too mischievous, too . . . Alex. Max said that only one Alex was enough for him to take. “Thought you’d see it my way. Glad that’s settled,” Alex replied agreeably. “I have already made arrangements. There are horses waiting for us at the livery. We leave within the hour.” “Can’t believe were going into that damn jungle for a stupid hat,” Max mumbled as he left the quarters.
Kristina had never been so mortified in her life! She had been forcefully stripped down—as in her clothing cut from her body—after which she was scrubbed until she changed colors and doused with lye, all the while with the two escorts watching. She attempted to cover her breasts with her hands, but the bonds made it impossible to cover both. A man poured a bucket of cold water over her head to rinse the lye from her flesh and a flimsy, musty smelling gown was forced over her body. She had attempted to give them a piece of her mind, but wound up with a moldy rag shoved into her mouth and tied. The women were marched into another room of the building and held there for two days while they awaited