Authors: Darlene Marshall
The Pirate's Secret Baby
The room reeked of stale perfume, spilled liquor, hashish, the effluvia of multiple bodies and a hint of...donkey?
To be honest, it was possible, but not likely.
Robert St. Armand scratched his balls and sighed contentedly, an arm thrown over his eyes to block the sliver of sunlight daring to insert itself through the shuttered windows. Had there ever been a better morning? He thought not. He recalled other visits to Madame Olifiers's establishment, evenings of bacchanalian delights contributing to his near-legendary reputation, not just on tiny St. Martin, but throughout the entire Caribbean. It was well-known in certain circles a man could get nearly anything he desired at the exclusive brothel, even things he did not know he desired until they were offered to him.
Robert ceased his scratching. What
he desired last evening? For the life of him he could not remember who shared his bed (though the donkey was a slim possibility, at best). Was it Francine, that naughty minx whose round bottom was made for spanking? Raul, whose limpid eyes and soft curls reminded one of a most luscious faun? Francine and Raul?
Now, there was a vision!
He moved his hand up, resting it against the part of his anatomy risen like a bowsprit parting the waves. He felt a tad tender in that area. Even if he could not recall the details, he knew the evening's activities has been vigorous, prolonged, and one assumed, satisfying for all involved. He'd spent the last fortnight in the brothel as a favored customer and had a reputation to maintain.
"I'm surprised there's life in you yet, m'boy, after the night you've had," he murmured.
Still, his morning condition owed as much to nature's call as his desires. This required movement and eye-opening, two activities he'd hoped to avoid for a few hours more, but with a sigh he forced himself out of the bed and made use of the pot beneath.
It was a lengthy process given the amount of liquor he'd consumed the previous night, so when the door burst open he only glanced over his shoulder and said, "Be with you in a moment, love."
He'd registered that an unknown woman stood there, which was good because had it been an unknown man he would have gone for his sword. Considering his current activity, it would create a mess which Cornelia Olifiers would take out of his hide and his pocket.
Eventually he was drained and tottered back into bed, leaning up against the carved headboard to face his visitor.
"If you're here for my morning fuck, sweetheart, you'll have to come back later. I don't think I'm up to it right now," he said in French, glancing down. "Then again, like Lazarus I could be persuaded to rise from the dead for a pretty face and a skilled mouth."
"Are you Captain St. Armand?" she demanded in English.
He looked up, eyeing his visitor more closely. He wouldn't call her face pretty, but it was certainly colorful, that bright crimson in her cheeks, the white lines around her mouth, the narrowed gaze with a flash of green. The rest of her was neither colorful nor pretty. The woman wore a gray dress of uncertain styling, baggy where it should be fitted, resembling a sack. A white cap without a touch of lace to soften it covered her hair. Clearly she was not in the usual style of Cornelia's girls. Must be one of the specialty doxies, and he could guess what that specialty was.
"I did not request a mistress of discipline last night, did I?"
His brow furrowed as he thought, a painful process given the state of his head.
She advanced two steps closer, fists clenched by her sides.
"Get up, you...you reprobate!"
"No, seriously, sweetheart, you will have to find another customer." He looked at her critically. "Some men like the stern English governess act, but I think you would do better in a leather corset."
an English governess, you disgusting piece of offal, your daughter's governess!"
The combination of liquor and hashish and sex had left his brain like tapioca, but even so, a small part of what she said penetrated his consciousness.
"You are not here for my morning fuck?"
She grabbed the nearest object containing liquid and dumped it over his head. Fortunately for him, it was the dregs of the wine and not the chamber pot. Robert was too stunned to do anything but sit there, dripping, as the unknown woman turned on her heel and stomped out of the room.
* * * *
Lydia Burke leaned against the papered wall, her hand at her throat as she tried to catch her breath.
When Nanette told her of her darling captain, she had somehow formed an image of a grizzled sea-scoundrel, every bit of his dissolute life visible in his face. The reality was nothing like she'd envisioned.
Robert St. Armand was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen. He had a face and form made for sculpting in marble, the artist's hands lovingly carving out the long lines of his lithe frame, sleek muscles and shoulders broad enough to swing a cutlass or a dance partner with ease.
His face would have been too perfect, with those cheekbones sharp enough to reflect sunlight and a cleft chin, had his nose not been broken at some point. That small flaw did not detract, but rather made him look more human, more approachable, and therefore more dangerous to any woman with breath in her body.
Nonetheless, he was a disgusting piece of offal. Poor Mathilde! What kind of life could she have with a pirate who fornicated his way through the brothels of St. Martin, and possibly the brothels of every island in the Caribbean?
As if to punctuate her thoughts, one of the whores strolled by at that moment. When she saw at whose door Lydia stood, she winked.
"The captain is a mighty lover, is he not? No wonder you look pale! You should eat some oysters to restore your strength,
The woman's words restored color to Lydia's face. She smoothed down her faded muslin skirt.
"I am only a visitor here,
. I have no knowledge of Captain St. Armand's activities."
She snapped her jaws shut as the woman critically assessed her total appearance in a manner unique to Frenchwomen of any station. She wore a deep pink cotton wrapper, lovely against skin the color of rich caramels, her bare feet poking out beneath. She was abundantly curved and had a dimpled smile.
"You have good bones," she said. "With a bit of color in your face and a proper hair styling you might do well for yourself, if you decide to stay."
"Thank you, Miss--"
"I am Francine Dubois." The girl dropped a pert curtsey, holding her robe shut to keep herself covered.
"Thank you, Miss Dubois. I am Lydia Burke and I already have employment," Lydia said dryly. She pushed herself off of the wall as Francine gave her a Gallic shrug.
"This is a good house," she said. "Madame takes care of the girls, so if you find yourself not liking your house you should reconsider."
Lydia opened her mouth to correct the girl, then closed it. She was, after all, only trying to be helpful.
"Thank you for your advice. Can you direct me to Madame Olifiers?"
"She is in the parlor downstairs, the one with the windows that get morning light."
Lydia nodded and turned to leave. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Francine enter Captain St. Armand's room, exclaiming in French, "Captain Robby! You look so unhappy! And wet!"
A slight smile turned up the corner of Lydia's lips as she went to search out Madame.
Robert paused in the doorway of the morning room, plastering on a smile for the two women seated there. It never hurt to make a good entrance. Robert had sent Francine to get him hot water to wash off the wine and the remnants of their busy night and he took his time dressing. If he was going to face that harpy again he wanted to have all his weapons available to him, his wardrobe and good looks being every bit as useful in certain encounters as sword and pistols. He knew he looked more than adequate. He paid his tailor well to ensure he would, and his looking glass reassured him daily. The message he sent was that he was master of the notorious
, a captain whose reputation preceded him. His white linen shirt was unfastened at the neck, his coat of rich cobalt silk was his own design, the polished brass buttons drawing the eye to his shoulders and trim waist, while the diamond weighing down the lobe of his ear carried its own message of status and wealth. He seated himself at the breakfast table and poured a cup of coffee, remarking mildly, "
nurse used to warn me if I scowled like that my face would freeze in that position."