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....Alexander had to keep from snickering at the oh-so-fashionable Miss Farnham. Her hair was a tangled mess, red paint was streaked and smeared on her face like a doxie after a particularly busy night, and her lucent eyes were narrowed as she waited for him to explain how she was going to eat raw fish.

He felt almost. . .he hesitated because it was so odd as to defy description . . . Then Miss Farnham's stomach growled in a most insistent fashion.

"Now, this is what we are going to do, Miss Farnham," Alexander said firmly. "Have you ever eaten oysters on the shell?"

"Then you know how it is done. You sip the oyster off its shell, taste it, chew a bit and then let it slide down your throat."

She looked down at the fish pieces on the bench.

"I generally eat my oysters off of fine china with a silver fork, a squeeze of lemon and plenty of champagne," Miss Farnham said.

He scooped up some of the fish in his hand and said, "Close your eyes, Miss Farnham."

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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!"

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Off the coast of Spanish Florida--1817

"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. . ."

"Captain. 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."

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Florida Territory--1820

"No, Marlowe, I will not hear another word about my 'blushing bride' until I've a drink in my hand!"

The door hit the library wall with a crash as Justin Stephen Charles Delerue, Fifth Earl Smithton, strode toward the cupboard where he'd seen his host stash some inferior brandy. A small smile on his face, Peter Marlowe followed his best friend. It wasn't often he got to see Justin discomforted. They'd been close since school days, when Smithton had taken exception to three older boys pushing Marlowe around and had decided to even the odds.

Smithton poured a generous serving of the brandy.

"Keep pouring," Marlowe said dryly, "you're going to need it."

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Florida Territory--1843

"Now what?" Rand muttered. He wasn't up to any practical jokes. He listened by the side of the shed and heard nothing for a few moments, then there was a muffled thud as something large fell to the ground, too big to be a raccoon. Rand walked over to the wood pile and grabbed a length of oak.

"Alright, mister, I don't know what you and the Iveys are up to, but I want you to come out real slow now."

There was no movement, but a muffled "snort" came from inside, and it occurred to him that maybe whoever was in there wasn't in there of his own free will.

Still clutching the impromptu club, Rand put his hand on the latch and pulled hard, banging the door against the shed. He blinked into the darkness as dust and chaff swirled around, then looked down.

And grinned.

"Dang! I know I ain't got sugar on the supply list, darlin', so maybe you'd like to tell me what you're doing in my shed?"

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Florida Territory--1822

"'Mishap', indeed!" Amanda said as the hatch closed behind the mate. She turned her attention to the pirate captain, who entered the cabin, set down the trunk and stood silently watching her, hands clasped behind his back. His looming presence made her uneasy, especially when she was flat on her back, so she pushed herself up to a seated position, leaning against the bulkhead.

"Please sit down, Captain Si--Captain Roberts." Once he was seated she continued to study him. His face, what could be seen of it behind his beard, was darkened to mahogany by the tropical sun and deep lines fanned out from the corners of his eyes. The gray eyes were resolute, and they weren't young eyes. Given his position as captain of a crew of scoundrels, she knew he'd seen much and probably done things she couldn't imagine, so nothing would be served by beating around the bush with this man. She clasped her hands together in her lap.

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