â€œSo you really are a virgin?â€ the dark man on the three-legged stool asked her. The air in the tiny cabin was dense and heady; Lucinda inhaled deeply, allowing the salty, humid air to fill her small lungs. Her chest fluttered as she exhaled the moist breath in a slow sigh.
â€œY-yes, sir,â€ she stammered, taken aback by the sound of her own voice as it broke the extended silence between her captor and herself.
The man wiped his long fingers across the crackly sandpaper of his late afternoon beard. Sir James Morgan hadnâ€™t intended to end up with a virgin as his pet that dayâ€”the plan his brother, Henry, had proposed was to have a shockingly different outcome. James stroked his scruffy chin, pondering what he would do with the virgin bride he now possessed.
â€œDid John ever take any liberties, of any kind, with you my dear?â€ he finally asked. Lucinda, sitting on the hard wooden floor of the ship, pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged them against her. The floor swayed to and fro as the pirate ship, the Mayhem, began its journey away from Santo Domingo. James waited impatiently for her to answer his indelicate question; his dark eyes bored into her.
â€œEr, well, ahâ€¦no. No, sir, I mean, Mister Devore didnâ€™t care for me, I donâ€™t think. He never touched meâ€”not even a hand holding occurred between us. The marriage was to be a payment from my father.â€
James stood up and walked toward her, a lantern swinging from his right hand. â€œHow old are you?â€ he barked, his free hand reaching down to raise her chin up so he could see her better.
â€œEighteen, sir.â€ He forced her chin from side to side, examining her flawless alabaster skin. The lantern struck the ground with an abrupt thud as James squatted in front of Lucinda, his now-free right hand reaching up to grasp a fistful of her silken golden tresses.
â€œThe color of afternoon sunshine,â€ he muttered to himself.
As his fingers adored her innocent beauty, his mind wandered to earlier that day. â€œMy brother, the dreaded pirate Henry Morgan, planned to give you to the crew to do with as they pleased before throwing you overboard,â€ he informed her, his voice low and menacing. Lucinda shuddered against the harsh manâ€™s thumb as it pulled at her lower lip.
James examined her teeth, small and white, and continued softly, â€œHowever, he has given you to me to do with asÂ IÂ please.â€ His index finger slid over her pink tongue, her velvety mouth instinctively suckling it.