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Captain Jason Ashburn sat at his desk doing the ship's logs, and going over other paperwork.
All of a sudden there was a commotion outside his door. He stood up abruptly as the door was thrown open.
"What is the meaning of this?" his voice thundered as he watched his men throw a bundle of pink and white upon his cabin floor.
"Sorry to disturb you, captain! But we found this stow away in one of the ship's food pantries."
Jason came around his desk to stand in front of the bundle of fabric on the floor.
He looked at his men and sneered, "Is this how you treat a lady?"
His men chuckled. "Oh she is no lady, Cap't," his deckhand Jimmy responded.
"The mouth on that one is worse than me own mother's," responded Matthew, the cabin boy.
Jason turned back to the pile of fabric, as a sniffling sound emerged from it.
He reached his hand down to help her up.
All of a sudden his hand was thrust away.
"Don't you touch me, you cur!" came a sharp reply.
He watched as the pile of fabric unfolded it's self and scrambled to its feet.
When he finally got a good look at the lady, he felt his heart stutter in his chest.
Big luminous green eyes in a heart-shaped face, and olive skin tone that looked soft and smooth to the touch stared up at him in fury.
Her long wavy raven black hair tumbled around her shoulder and face.
The lady only came to about his shoulders in height, but she exuded pure rage for someone one so small.
Putting his hands on his hips and bringing himself to his full height he tried to look as intimidating as possible.
"Lady, would you like to explain to me why you chose to stow away on my ship?"
Glaring dagger at him she looked past him to his men.
"Not until you make your uncouth, neanderthal henchmen leave the room."
Jason's heard the muttering of his men in the background asking what she had just called them. One wondered what a neanderthal was and if it was a bad thing.
Jason tried to keep a straight face. He knew his men were not well educated so a lot of the words she had used they didn't understand.
"You may leave, gentlemen. I will take care of this matter from here on out!" he said in his most authoritative voice.
A round of grumbling and mutters of "Good luck, you're going to need it with that harridan."
Crossing his arms over his chest he stared the woman down.
"Well?" he barked after a few minutes of silence.
He watched as the woman turned, walked over, and took a seat at his dining table.
"I assure you, Sir, that I had no other option than to board your ship illegally."
"Explain in further detail, please. I could choose to have you horse whipped for your presumption if you don't."
He watched as her face crumple and her eyes fill with unshed tears.
She looked down at her hands fisted in her lap.
"Please don't!" came her quiet reply.
"I had no choice. I was robbed and all my possessions were taken, including my purse full of coin. I had no way to pay to get home. I sent my maid ahead of me, with a missive to the next port. I just ask that you get me there so I can go home. You will be paid for your trouble once we arrive."
Jason felt his eyebrow raise at the woman's story. Granted, she did look to be wearing finery, but for all he knew it could have been stolen.
"You do realize that payment is usually made before you board a ship, not after. I am afraid that your story does not sound very feasible, and I will have to have you punished for illegal boarding. Unless you can come up with some way to pay me before we get to the next port."
He watched her shoulders droop and a shudder runs through her body.
"I have only one thing that I can give you that is worth any value," she said with trepidation marring her voice.
Jason approached where she sat. Putting a finger under her chin, he tilted her face up to look at him square in the eye.
"If you think what you have to give is worth not getting flogged in front of all my men then I will leave you to consider your choices and be back shortly for your answer, Miss..."
"Lady Antonia Meria." She never dropped her gaze from his as she gave him her name.
"Very well, Lady Antonia. I will let you come to a decision and go retrieve some food for us. After all, I am not so heartless as to not feed you."
With that, he turned and left the cabin making his way to the kitchen below deck.
Meanwhile, Antonia sat in the cabin staring at the space that the captain had just been standing in.
She didn't know what to do. Should she give up her most valuable possession to this man?
He wasn't horrible looking after all.
He looked to be about six and two feet tall, broad-shouldered with a tapered waist and skin that had been kissed by the sun. His hair was long and a dark brown and pulled back into a queue.
But would he accept what she offered as a payment, and what would her family think if they ever found out?
But it would be preferable than being whipped for how long in front of a bunch of men she didn't know.
She knew it was within his rights as the captain of the ship to do with her as he saw fit. She didn't have to like it, though.
She had witnessed someone being whipped once, and it had been truly horrible. She had never wanted to experience it herself.
She knew she didn't have a lot of time to decide.
Coming to a quick decision, she figured she might as well prepare herself for when he came back.
Meanwhile, Captain Ashburn was in the kitchen talking to his cook, second mate John Hapford, and Paul Buttondown.
John was a stout man with a cheery disposition, who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. Paul was a Scottish gent who was not afraid to be blunt when he felt it necessary.
That is why Caption Ashburn had hired them, he knew he could always count on them being honest with him.
He needed that honestly now more than ever.
"What should I do with her?" he growled in exasperation.
"If I were you, I wouldn't lay a finger on the lass," came Paul's gruff response.
"I am sorry, Captain, but I have to agree with Paul," came John's response.
"How would it look on you if you beat a defenseless woman on your ship?"
"How would it look if I don't punish her? I would appear weak in front of my men. They would think a pair of pretty eyes will change my rules on board this ship."
Paul and John looked at each other with a grim realization that the captain was right. He had to keep order on the ship or the men could become unruly.
"Do what ya must to keep things running smoothly, but know I din't like it," replied Paul.
"It will be noted," Jason stated.
With that, he grabbed the platter of food and headed towards the door.
"Please bring the mulled wine shortly." He threw over his shoulder as he walked out the door.
Jason made his way carefully to the cabin, as he approached the door he took a deep breath.
Balancing the platter in one hand, he pushed the door open. He propped the door with his foot while he backed up into it, trying not to spill the food.
"I hope you have come to a decision, my lady?" He said this as he turned to look in her direction. The sight that met him nearly made him drop the food all over the floor.
For there in the middle of the room stood the most beautiful sight.
She was standing there in nothing but her sheer chamise, her ebony hair braided and pulled over her shoulder, a decidedly uncomfortable look on her face.
"I have decided. I will give you myself as payment."
Jason could do nothing but stand there speechless. He felt like a fish out of water.
Never in his wildest dreams did he think that this is what she meant, when she said she would give up something valuable to her.
Please feel free to leave a tip to encourage me to write the next chapter quicker, if you wish to know what happens next.