David Fletcher needs a surgeon, stat! But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs must, and Captain Fletcher takes the prisoner back aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he'll be walking the plank.
Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation, Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if Charley can save the captain's brother, there will still be hell to pay--and maybe a plank to walk--when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott.
A war is raging on the world's oceans and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny.
1814--aboard the merchant ship Lady Jane
...Charley was washing her hands and smiling at Mrs. Denham as she held her new son to her breast, cooing down at him, when the cabin door slammed open and Captain Denham was shoved into the cabin, followed by the pirate.
"We have a son, Ronald," his sweet wife beamed at him, "Oh look, is he not beautiful?"
Like most newborns he was red and wrinkled and squished looking, but to Charley's eyes he also appeared beautiful, for she had helped bring him safely into the world.
"This is all very touching," the pirate said, "but I have waited long enough. Captain, your strongbox, quickly now, before harm comes to these innocents."
He motioned a pair of his crewmen into the cabin. They took Captain Denham's money and papers while the captain and Charley stood guard in front of the bunk, keeping Mrs. Denham and the baby safe. It was a gallant gesture, even though they each knew they could not stand against armed pirates.
"And now for our final business. Come with me, Doctor!"
Charley took a step back from the pirate, who was standing holding a pistol loosely at his side, but he stood between her and the door
"You cannot take Dr. Alcott prisoner, I will not stand for it!" Captain Denham said.
"Really?" the pirate drawled, and cocking his head to the side, looked down at the baby Mrs. Denham clutched to her chest.
"You would not harm a baby!" Charley said in outrage.
"You are correct, Dr. Alcott, I would not harm a baby." The pirate looked at her, his eyes intent behind his mask. He was tall and loomed over her as he smiled coldly and said, "That child can, however, grow up without a father. You choose, Doctor. Now. Either you come with me, or I will shoot the good captain here."
"Ronald!" Elizabeth Denham cried out.
Denham did not plead for his life, but Charley knew she had no choice, not really.
"That baby needs its father more than you need a doctor, Captain Denham. Mrs. Denham, remember what I said - plenty of beef broth, have the cook kill one of those chickens and make a rich soup for you, stay in your bunk and rest. Your milk will be in in a day or two. In the meantime, let the baby nurse as he will and it will help you recover."
She turned back to her captor, who was standing silent during this speech, radiating tension.
"Very well, pirate, I will come with you."
"How accommodating you are, Doctor."
Charley said nothing to this but buttoned her coat and brushed her short hair off her forehead.
"Take care of yourself, Mrs. Denham, Captain Denham. Thank you for all you have done for me."
"We will name him Charles!" Charley heard Mrs. Denham call out as the pirate took her by the upper arm to haul her from the cabin.
The cabin doors were smashed in, but Charley saw no injured crew, and when she was pushed up the ladder ahead of the pirate captain, she blinked in the bright sunlight. The Lady Jane was alone in the vast and empty sea, save for the vessel nearby, the one distinguished by the black flag flying over it.
The pirate took her arm again, Charley tried to shake him off, but she might as well have tried to shake the mainmast.
"I said I will come with you, you do not need to manhandle me."
He did not reply, and did not let go as he looked at a sailor standing at the rail.
"Did you find it?"
"Aye, Cap'n. We cleaned out the sick bay to the bulkheads."
He pulled her forward and Charley stumbled along with him to the rail. Charley did not know what her fate would be aboard the pirate s vessel, but she knew one other thing after listening to the men talk. Her captors were Americans...
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