Brazen Temptress

Brazen Temptress by Elizabeth Boyle Read Free Book Online

Book: Brazen Temptress by Elizabeth Boyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Boyle
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical
negotiations.
    In the time since she'd climbed down from her lookout post, he'd donned a tricorn hat and a black jacket, and now he stood in the bow, one hand clasped to a rope hanging from the side of the
Forgotten.
    This close, the unmistakable green of his eyes glowed with a strange intensity, like the sight of spring-fed meadows and trees after a long journey on the winter's gray seas. The shadowy cut of his jaw, bearing a day or two's worth of dark stubble, only accented the strong lines of his mouth and chin.
    Your destiny,
the wind and waves seemed to hush and whisper to her.
    She drew back from the railing, as much in shock as from an unfamiliar feeling of breathlessness.
    "My name is Captain de Ryes, and I have a business proposition for you."
    Captain de Ryes.
His name rolled silently over her tongue as she tried it out.
    Her father made a rude noise in the back of his throat. "I've heard of ye, but I have no time for yer kind of trouble."
    "I have no mind to make trouble for you or my ship," de Ryes said smoothly, his deep and slightly accented voice teasing Maureen's ears with a hint of something that made her want to blush.
    Blush?
What the devil was the matter with her?
    De Ryes continued his negotiations. "What I want is to expand my business opportunities. And I know you can help me."
    Maureen glanced at her father, then over the rail at de Ryes. He looked too young to be the trouble her father obviously thought him to be. Why, he couldn't be more than three and twenty, just a few years older than herself.
    "And just how could I be helping ye do that?"
    "I want to join the Alliance. And I want you to sponsor me."
    The statement stilled everyone aboard the
Forgotten.
    While it was common knowledge among the men aboard that the
Forgotten
sailed under the loosely held fraternity of the Alliance, few spoke of the connection. Known membership in the brotherhood — considered by most governments nothing more than a group of ruthless pirates — could leave a ship open for attack. That is why the captains who belonged kept the names of their members a closely held secret from the world outside their less than legal realm.
    While being publicly labeled a pirate would mean death to any captain and crew, for ships like the
Forgotten,
which sailed without the protection of a flag and navy, the Alliance was the better of two evils.
    The captains knew they could count on a fellow member to sail with them in protective convoy. They had trade agreements with less than honest customs agents and merchants, who ignored their lack of tax stamps and duty forms. When a fellow ship was in danger, a member of the Alliance offered immediate aid, no matter the peril. And if one captain obtained information about a particularly rich prize or convoy, he could count on his brethren to sail with him and share the profits without stealing him blind under the cover of night.
    Yes, some of the members were less than honest, perhaps even as ruthless as the pirates of old whom they had inherited the Alliance from, but membership was granted to few and open only to those they trusted.
    And now this handsome stranger wanted to join.
    Maureen let out the breath she'd been holding. The man certainly had iron in his anchor to sail up and ask to be let in the Alliance just like that. With hardly an introduction.
    "Did you hear me, sir?" he called out again. "I've a mind to join the Alliance."
    Captain Hawthorne laughed. Loud and hard. "The Alliance, you say. And what would I know about them thieves?"
    It was de Ryes's turn to laugh. "Because your hold is full of silks, provisions, and ammunitions taken from a Portuguese ship bound for Lisbon. The
Forgotten Lady,
the
Avenger,
and the
Scarlet Mistress
were seen dividing up her goods not five days ago." The man scratched his chin. "Or perhaps you didn't know that Captain Jacobsen and Captain Smyth were members when you offered to help them?"
    Maureen's hand slid to her knife. She could see other

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