"Lucky Jack" Burrell's quest for revenge against Sophia Deford will have to wait until he discharges a debt. He has to help her find the fabled pirate treasure Garvey's Gold. Then he can wring her dainty neck.
For her part, Sophia has no intention of sharing anything with anyone. She will have all of Garvey's Gold, no matter how much Jack's lean-muscled body makes her want to get to know him just a little bit better before she gets rid of him.
As the two adversaries squabble their way across Florida following the clues on their treasure map, they know that before they're through they're either going to kiss each other, kill each other, or both. . .
Off the coast of Spanish Florida--1817
He held her gaze a moment longer, then his lips curled up. The smile made Sophia want to take a step back - all the way back to England - but she held her ground and donned the face that saw her through many a late-night game of cards.
"John Burrell, I presume? I have a letter for you."
"If you are John Burrell of St. Augustine, East Florida, I have a letter for you from England," she repeated, speaking slowly and distinctly. "It is with my belongings, and I will fetch it."
He stared at her, and she could see a host of expression in his green-tinged eye, none of it boding well for her.
"A letter," he said softly. "You have a letter for me you have brought all the way from England. Do you know, Miss Deford, in all the many daydreams I had over what I would do to you if we ever met again, your acting as postmistress did not enter into a single scenario? But that is neither here nor there. Right now, I have a ship to plunder."
"When you see the contents of your letter, you may feel more pleased about seeing me again," Sophia brazened out.
"I doubt that. I doubt that very much, Miss Deford."
"Crawford!" He called to a passing pirate. "Keep this woman under guard until I can deal with her. Do not let her out of your sight."
The sailor looked startled by these orders, but only said, "Aye, sir," and took up a stance next to Sophia as Burrell stalked off. When she started slipping closer to the passageway, Crawford said, "Please don't do that, miss. I don't want to hurt you, but I have my orders." He looked regretful, but he also looked as if he was willing to do whatever he was ordered to, and Sophia stood still. The sun beat down on her, exposed on the deck, as she watched the busy activity of the ship's cargo being stolen.
"May I at least go stand in the shade while your captain decides my fate? "
Crawford nodded, and took her arm to lead her over to a coiled cable shaded by an awning where she sat down to watch the activity unfolding around her.
The privateers attached bumpers to their ship and brought the Jade alongside the Primrose, and Burrell and his crew removed boxes, crates, and parcels with the efficiency of men who had done this task many times in the past. The last item to be brought above was a strongbox from Captain Starke's quarters, but when Starke protested, Jack Burrell only looked at him and said, "You have some of your cargo, Starke, and a ship. Do not push your luck."
Starke's protests subsided, but he still looked unhappy.
"There is one more piece of unfinished business I have to deal with, Captain Starke," Burrell said. He walked over to Sophia and leaning down, took her by the arm, pulling her to her feet. "Let us fetch this mysterious letter, Miss Deford."
"Here now," Starke protested. "Unhand that lady, Burrell!"
"This lady is an old acquaintance of mine, Captain Starke," Jack said, not taking his eye off of Sophia while he spoke.
Captain Starke started to protest again, but Sophia put her hand out.
"Let me go with him, Captain Starke. Burrell. . ."
Sophia looked at the pirate and then back at Captain Starke.
"Captain Burrell and I do know each other, Captain Starke. And as he says, we have unfinished business."
Burrell manacled his hand around her upper arm and pulled her alongside him, but preceded her down the ladder to the lower decks.
Sophia wished her ankles weren't on display before the pirate as she climbed down herself, but there was nothing for it. He waited at the bottom of the ladder, watching her.
And there was no patch over what appeared to be a perfectly fine eye.
"What happened to your eye?"
"My eye is none of your concern. Which cabin is yours?"
Sophia led him to her cabin and he followed her in, ducking his head beneath a deck that gave her plenty of clearance, but left him close to stooping.
"Where is this letter, Miss Deford?"
Sophia thought of stalling, but did not think it would accomplish much. She went to her small trunk, the one with her personal items, and under his watchful eye pulled out a document sealed with red wax. On its face was the same bold, black handwriting that covered her letter from Erasmus Tanner.
Burrell broke the seal, read the letter, ground out a string of words that would have earned him a clap on both ears from Annie Johnson, and then looked at Sophia.
"Give me the document Captain Tanner gave you, and I will let you go unharmed."
Sophia took a deep breath. Now was the point where she leapt into the unknown.
"I cannot do that. You can meet with me in Florida and we will talk there."
In a move so fast Sophia barely saw the gleam of metal, a knife whizzed past her ear and thudded into the bulkhead behind her. She locked her knees and hoped he was not carrying another knife.
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