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Old 11-27-2017, 06:46 PM   #1
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Captive of Desire (closed for LiamHDunn)

Bristol, England – Autumn 1831

Raymond Massey closed the ledger and placed his quill beside it on his desk. Things were going well, but he knew that they might not always be this way. One error, one small problem with a cargo, could turn his entire world upside down and he could end up losing everything. He didn’t care so much for himself, he had started with nothing many years ago, long before he had met Suzanne. Now, he had to think of their daughter. He needed to give her a home, something stable, especially since the death of her mother.

Suzanne had been a loving wife and mother and was adored by them in return, even through the illness that tore through her body and left her lifeless in the early morning hours. Their small daughter had been inconsolable, but as the years had passed, she had begun to blossom again. Raymond couldn’t let anything else happen to her, and that is what fueled his decision.

Several weeks ago, a young privateer had come into the office and they had struck a deal whereby Raymond would sell his cargo whenever he was in Bristol, keeping the items far from the eyes of customs officers and, thereby, untaxed. For his part, he would keep ten percent of the profit. Carefully considering the offer, he accepted. Over the years, though, he had incrementally begun selling the contraband at a higher price, pocketing a piece of the price before taking his share. It meant that he would be keeping a different set of books from the ones the privateer would see, but it would be easy to pass through the watchful eye of the captain, and no one would be the wiser.

Seven Year’s Later

Traffic had slowed in Governor’s Square as the afternoon waned into the early evening hours. The Custom’s Office and many other offices and shops had closed by the time Raymond Massey had turned the placard announcing they, too, were closed. He had just stepped outside and turned to lock the door when he felt the presence of someone behind him and, turning, he saw the young captain that he had been doing business with for many a year.

Slowly, Raymond opened the door and held it for the captain to enter before he locked it behind them and went to find a lamp. His heart was pounding as it did each time the captain came to see him while in Bristol, his mind racing and wondering if this might be the time when he was found to be a thief.

*****
The darkness had closed in and enveloped them just like a fog on a winter’s night. It was late and lamps had already been lit to give a soft glow throughout the room where Charlotte sat listening closely to her father tell her of the visit he had from the captain with whom he had been doing business with for years.

Her hands were folded in her lap to keep them from shaking but, other than that, you would not have noticed the turmoil that was raging in her mind as she sought to understand this wild tail. Surely, Father was mistaken.

Charlotte sat on the settee with her mouth working as if to speak, though not a sound crossed her lips. Her father stood across the room near the window that looked out onto Market Street where they had lived since she was a baby. She was stunned by what her father had just told her, to say the least. This wasn’t something she had ever considered before. Her father – a thief. Fencing stolen goods for a privateer. Not just fencing them, but cheating the captain, as well. The man she loved and admired - a thief, a cheat, and a liar. And now he had been caught.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, you must believe me. When he first came to me, I refused. Shortly thereafter, he returned with an offer that I couldn’t turn aside. You mother was ill. I needed the money. You were so young.” He took another drink of brandy from the snifter in his hand. “Eventually, I became greedy. I admit it. There was so much coming in, surely he wouldn’t notice a few things missing. Or so I thought.”

Raymond turned to look at his daughter. She was a beautiful young woman now, twenty years old. He could see the shock on her face, the tears that filled her blue eyes and threatened to tumble down her cheeks. She looked just as her mother did when he had met her. What would Suzanne say if she were still here, to find out what a scoundrel her husband had become? He could say he had only done it to provide for young Charlotte, but he knew that he had liked the idea of working with Captain Pierce.

Striding across the room, he stood before his only child and looked at her with sorrow etched on his brow. “He has said that he wants recompense for all the money that I have stolen from him or he will have me thrown into Newgate Prison to await the next session, and then to be hanged! I don’t know what to do, Charlotte. I don’t have the money to pay him back.”

Charlotte closed her eyes and took a deep breath to try to clear her mind. She needed to think, but there were still so many unanswered questions. “Do you know exactly how much is owed? Did he give you a period of time to gather the money together?”

What did you do with the money, she wanted to ask, but there was no sense in knowing. What could she do to change things? Would it really help to know?
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Old 11-28-2017, 09:09 PM   #2
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Massey Commodities House – Merchant Square

"I paid good money, I shouldn't need to be turned from my bed to deal with this nonsense," Raymond Massey mumbled to himself as he crept down the back stairs from his living quarters. The oil lamp in his hand was more an affectation of habit. He knew his office floor intimately and could walk it blindfolded.

The weather had turned sour with the candle-lighting. The wind had picked up, driving heavy rain against the shop windows and howling through the eaves of the edifice that marked the life's achievement of Gentleman Raymond Massey. Massey had never had trouble sleeping through the worst weather, he had hired the finest tradesmen to construct his home and office. Its place on the corner of the Market Square was a comfort to his neighbors.

"Damned Carter," he cursed a tradesman nowhere in evidence as he moved from window to window, "Doesn't he know I'm the biggest toad in the puddle? I'll drive him out of business. I'll shame him, denounce the quality of his work. That's what I'll do!"

The loose shutter continued to bang relentlessly in the wind despite the fact that he could find not one loose, which was one annoyance to many.

"I'll exfluncticate him…" Massey's rage with the carpenter was losing steam as he finished his round of the lower floor windows. He paused. The banging did not. In truth, it became more thunderous, more persistent and it's source more obvious.

"Who's there?" Massey called as he approached the shop's rear door. "Be gone with you!" His voice was weak as he felt his limbs go faint. He knew who was to be found at his threshold, "We'll have none of this."

"Open the door, Massey," the voice growled over the howling of the wind. "I opine we have business to settle and I mean to see it done this night."

His visitor struck the door a heavy blow. Massey feared Charlotte would awaken.

"Yes. Yes. Be patient," Massey's mouth went dry as he approached the door.

Fishing the key from his pocket, he felt almost naked. He was not attired to receive such a man. He felt exposed, more so by the nightshirt he wore. The keys rattled as he tried to work the lock. When the latch fell, the door opened briskly, brushing Massey aside and nearly knocking him off his feet.

"You're a fair miserable host, Massey," Captain William Pierce snarled. He removed his cocked-hat, shook the rainwater from it, then knocked it against the oilskin duster that he wore.

"I… I..." Massey stammered.

"I mean to set sail in two days time, and I mean to have my money when I do," Pierce crossed the small room, turning to face the merchant. The flash of lightning that backlit him seemed nearly supernatural in its timing and only served to reinforce Massey's sense of dread. "I've enough money lost dealing with you, I can ill afford to spend more time waiting for you to make good on accounts."

"The sum, it isn't manageable, not in so short a time," Massey remained near the rear door, not bothering to lock it. Finding comfort in the path of flight it offered.

"You should have considered that when you stole from me!" Pierce raged, taking a bold step forward.

Massey became acutely aware of the sword and pistol the privateer carried.

"You owe me," Pierce paused, "You owe my crew… And I mean to have it before we leave port."

"Or what?" Massey felt a surge of courage. "You'll have me tossed into debtor's prison?" The old man laughed, feeling he'd finally found the out he needed. He had not come to be who he was by being an easy mark for a blackmailer. "How will you explain the nature of the debt? Cast a charge at me and you expose your own wrongdoing. And the king will look far less kindly on your betrayal than the courts will my debt to you."

Pierce measured the old man, his hand falling to the hilt of his blade as the old man continued.

"By all means, captain," Massey paced to his desk, the seat of his power at the heart of his kingdom, "Press your case. I'll see you hang for your crime even as my error is explained as simple misrepresentation on your part." Massey smiled self righteously.

"I fear you have misunderstood my intent, Massey," Pierce stalked toward him, "I intend no charge against you. Tis, not my way."

Massey's brow knit in confusion.

"I will have my money," Pierce stood so close to the old merchant that the water dripping from his duster began to moisten the old man's nightshirt. His voice was low, the tone ominous and dipped in resolve, "or I will have your life. And as we have no formal relationship, who will question my involvement?"

Pierce stood silent, his face inches from Massey. He watched the color drain from the old man's face.

"Eight hundred pounds..." Massey's voice was weak, "I simply don't have the funds available."

"And I simply won't trust you to gather them," Pierce absently caressed the grip of his sword.

"I..." Massey looked off into the darkness. He couldn't believe what he was about to say. The thought alone shamed him. But he had no doubt that Pierce would take his life. What would Charlotte do then? He looked to Pierce in utter resignation, "I have one thing you may find of such value."
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:18 PM   #3
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Charlotte was roused from sleep by the continued pounding on the door. She sat up wondering how she had overslept, but saw that it was still dark as pitch outside her window. Lighting the lamp next to her bed, she found her warm robe and slippers at the moment she heard voices.

Who on earth is here at this time of night? What kind of person would come out on a night such as this?

Holding her robe about her in one hand and taking the lamp in the other, she slipped quietly from her room and down the hall. At the top of the stairs, she stopped to listen to the voices. One was her father, of course. She had already assumed he was there, but she didn’t recognize the other voice. Moving slowly down the stairs, she made her way to the back where the voices seemed to become louder, more vehement.

Lowering the flame of the lamp so she wouldn’t be discovered listening intently around the corner from the open office door, Charlotte heard a voice say

"I will have my money, or I will have your life. And as we have no formal relationship, who will question my involvement?"

This must be the privateer coming to demand restitution!

She was so stunned that she almost missed her father tell him that he didn’t have 800 pounds but that he had something value that he might want. What was he talking about? He hadn’t mentioned that to her last night when he had told her about Captain Pierce and the money that he needed to pay back.

Angrily, she stepped into the room surprising both of them. Her blond hair unbound and her blues eyes flashing, she looked at the man in front of her father, his hand on the hilt of his sword. For one instance a thought formed in her mind that he was very handsome, but it fled as she remembered what he was doing here in the dark of night.

“You! How dare you come here making your demands undercover of night like the thief that you are! You have already been here within the last 12 hours, and here you are again as if the money has magically appeared while the banks are closed. Did you think we keep money in a sock hidden behind the books in the library?” Her scathing look went from him to her father who seemed to look almost defeated.

“If you had something of value, why didn’t you tell me last night? What else are you hiding from me, Father? What else will I find out as time passes? I don’t even know why I’m surprised to see you sneaking about the house in the dark, morning hours speaking to the likes of him,” her hand swept disdainfully towards the captain, “or why you ever bothered to do business of this sort with him to begin with.”

Again she looked at the captain, “You are nothing but a pirate, no matter what the Queen’s letters call you.”
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:26 PM   #4
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“Control the child,” Pierce snarled at the elder Massey. His gaze never left the old man, nor did his posture soften, “she has no voice in our dealings and I’ll only stand for so much of her hysterics.”

The old merchant looked to his daughter with pleading eyes, still acutely aware of the privateer’s proximity and his hand’s place on the grip of his blade. “Upstairs, Charlotte, I beg of you.”

Pierce stepped back from the old man, little more than a pace, serving more to give him room to draw the blade than any actual de-escalation of the atmosphere. While he never looked from her father, he addressed the younger Massey, “I may indeed be no better than a pirate, Miss Massey. I assure you that I would be readily convicted of piracy and much more in the courts of a great many of the Crown’s enemies. My crimes -my dealings with your father aside- have all been in the furtherance of England. Further, I committed those crimes whilst declaring my intention and allowing my prey every chance to defend themselves or escape my grasp.”

“Charlotte, upstairs this instant!” Massey moved little more than a half step toward his daughter before the sound of drawn steel rung loudly in the air.

Pierce placed the tip of the razor-edged blade at the center of the merchant’s chest. “Your father, on the other hand, steels by guile and subterfuge. Hiding his actions from those he claims to deal fairly with. I am a pirate. I accept that. But you’re father, Miss. Massey, is a thief, and you should know that I am hardly the only person he has defrauded.”

Almost imperceptibly, Pierce shifted his weight forward on the balls of his feet, his weight translating through the blade to prick the old man’s flesh just enough to draw a trickle of blood that stained the front of Massey’s nightshirt.

“Your daughter’s presence complicates things,” Pierce stepped back, sheathing the blade as he withdrew. “Massey. She is a witness I can ill afford.”

With the realization of his blood’s flow, Massey clutched his hand to his chest, as if he’d been run through. The girl cried out and started across the room.

Pierce fixed a glare on her, “Consider the choices her knowledge leaves me in seeking resolution, Massey..”

Pierce stalked to the back door. Opening it, he spun on his heel, “By sundown, Massey. I will have my money or the House of Massey will fade from the memory of all.”

Pierce stepped out into the storm, leaving the door open behind him.
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:28 PM   #5
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As he walked out the door, Charlotte ran to her father. She had been terrified that he would be run through with the sword and tears were already making their way down her face.

“He’s a coward to come here at night like this, instead of showing his face in the day.” She said with a bravado that she wasn’t feeling.

“Yes, yes, Charlotte. You shouldn’t have come down. It would have been best if you had remained in your bedchamber as most young ladies would.” Raymond admonished his daughter, completely forgetting what he had contemplated not an instant before she appeared in the doorway. “Since you’re here, lock the door and help me up the stairs.”

Taken aback by his brusque words, she locked the door hurriedly and placed the key into the pocket of her robe before taking the lamp in one hand and her father in the other. Not ten hours ago he was telling her that he had done all this because of his love for her and his need to provide a life for her but, after listening to the conversation he’d had with Captain Pierce, she was beginning to wonder. She didn’t like having doubts about the man she’d loved all her life, who had raised her on his own.

“I will be back in a moment with some linens and water to clean your wound,” she started as she felt him pull away from her and walk to his bed. “Why don’t you find another nightshirt while I’m gone.”

He simply nodded, lost in his own thoughts as she left the room. Night fall wasn’t much time and, even then, he doubted he could come up with 800 pounds. He would have to sell things, have others pay their debt to him, borrow, beg, and steal… which was had gotten him into this mess to begin with… but all that took time. It couldn’t be done is so short a time. He was shaking when Charlotte returned with a basin of warm water and some cloths to clean and bind his wound.

“I don’t think it went very deep, Father. I’m sure he didn’t mean to truly harm you, just to frighten you.” She spoke quietly. Not even she believed her words, she doubted he would either. “What are we going to do? What is this thing of value that you spoke of?”

Unsettled by her question, Raymond Massey lied once again. “’Twas nothing, Charlotte. I was just trying to buy myself more time to come up with a solution. Time. All I need is more time, but he has put me up against the wall on this one. Come the sun, I will be busy visiting…never mind. Go to your bed, you need your rest, as do I.”

Charlotte reluctantly returned to her room and the warmth of her bed. It wouldn’t be the storm outside that would keep her awake, but her own thoughts as she pondered all that she had learned since yesterday afternoon. She was surprised when she woke hours later, still no closer to a plan than she was earlier.
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Old 11-30-2017, 09:25 PM   #6
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Bristol – Water Front, the Mermaid’s Lyre

“And the old bastard fleeced you for eight hundred pounds,” Caleb Anders, captain of the Shade questioned, sipping his ale.

They were six in number, privateer captains gathered in the upper room of the Mermaid’s Lyre. The storm had past and sunrise was nearer than sunset as they listened to Pierce’s tale as well as his plan.

“That he did,” Pierce scowled.

“How did that quartermaster of yours miss it,” Moses Reading, captain of the Polaris asked as he knelt by the fire, poking the fire in the hearth.

“Massey was smart, he skimmed just a little from every consignment,” he wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his coat.

“Everyone of us have fenced goods through his warehouses,” Anders quipped.

Every head at the table bobbed as they considered how deep into their own pockets the old man might be.

“Aye, but no one has done business with him to the degree Pierce has,” Reading leaned back, resting the peg that had replaced his right leg beneath the knee on the table, scratching the back of his knee and thigh.

“What is it you’re asking us to do,” Thomas Horton, master of the Vengeance asked, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table.

“It’s not enough that he repays his debt to me, to all of us,” Piece answered, “I will see him driven from that cathedral to himself his built on the Square.”

“And how do you intend to see that done?” Reading asked.

“We see to it that not a single ton of cargo reaches his warehouses,” Pierce began, “We make it known to every captain sailing out of Bristol that any vessel who takes a cargo for Massey is marked. They’ll never make port with anything the carry for Massey.”

“Take English ships?” Reading asked, rising and casting Pierce and incredulous glare.

“Who here hasn’t taken an English ship, if we knew the prize was worth it and there was no risk of exposure?” Anders laughed, draining his stein.

Pierce emptied his mug and rapped it hard on the table, “Just the possibility that we might, that will be enough to keep all but the most desperate merchantmen from accepting cargo for Massey.”

“Could work,” Anders mused aloud.

“How does that get your crew paid?” Horton asked.

“I’ll see my men are made whole from my own takings,” Pierce stood, walking to the window and searching the docks until he could pick the Revenant from the darkness.

“So how does this get you paid?” Horton asked. “And what will it do to your reputation if you allow sunset to pass without payment?”

“He’s panicked, the involvement of his daughter… the possibility that I will take her life…,” Pierce turned to face the rest of the captains, “He’ll try to wring every schilling he can from every pocket he can pick and debt he can call. And when that fails, he’ll get desperate. And to make sure that he feels the pressure, I’ve tasked a party of men to follow him every moment of the day tomorrow, until sunset.”

“And what happens at sunset?” Anders questioned.

“We see what this bit of wealth the old bastard is hiding looks like,” Pierce answered, smiling ruthlessly.
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Old 12-02-2017, 03:43 PM   #7
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Massey Residence – Mid-Afternoon the Following Day

Sitting in a window seat overlooking the street, Charlotte put her book aside once again. She had been trying to occupy her time this afternoon while waiting for her father’s return. He’d been dressed and out of the house long before she’d risen and come down for breakfast. The note he left on the table near the entryway simply said that he would be out most of the afternoon and to leave the “closed” sign in the window of their business.

With a heavy sigh, she stood and left the sitting room. So far she had not received any answers to her questions. Things had gone from bad when he brought his problem to her, to worse when Captain Pierce’s menacing threats had struck fear in both their hearts.

How much worse could things be today?


Her mind made up, Charlotte headed to her father’s office to find some answers. She was sitting behind his desk with ledgers opened, scouring the details of transactions when she heard a key in the lock and looked up to see him entering, looking as beaten as any man she had ever seen.

“Father…” she started at the same time that he spoke.

“What are you doing here, Charlotte? If you’re looking for money, you’ll be just as disappointed as I am.” He hung his woolen outer coat on a peg in the stand near the door. “It seems that I am not the only man who would have trouble calling in debts in so short a time. I don’t know how he expected me to come up with that amount of money so suddenly. I cannot do it, Charlotte. I simply cannot.”

He looked so forlorn as she watched him come around the desk and take her hand. It looked so small and delicate in his and she stared at it as she tried to collect her thoughts. They had been given only until the sun was down, what would happen then? Would they be able to ask for more time?

“Did they say that could pay their debt soon, Father? How many days did they need?”

“It doesn’t matter, Charlotte, even if they paid me everything they owe, it still would not be enough. The only thing I can offer in good conscience is…” he paused and looked at her sorrowfully. He really didn’t want to say it, didn’t want the thought to cross his lips, making it binding. “There are few things of value that I have, Charlotte. One of them is the business that I’ve built up, and the other is… you.”

Standing quickly, Charlotte put her arms around her father’s waist as her cheek laid on his chest. She could hear in his voice that he was desolate at the thought of losing everything.

“But, if he takes the business, at least we still have each other.” Even as she said the words she knew how ridiculous they truly were. Without the business there was no home, no livelihood. Their closest relatives had emigrated to America, and they wouldn’t have the passage there anyway.

Pulling away, she walked around him, her skirts brushing against his legs as she left him standing there and ran to her room. The only thing of value she had was…

Herself.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:33 PM   #8
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Raymond Massey gently displaced the drapes at the window of his second-floor parlor, his eye pressed tight to the tiny slit of light as he spied on the activities in the market square below. There was little he enjoyed so much as standing on the balcony that opened off the parlor, looking down on the masses that teamed across the market square on most days. But today, he watched surreptitiously. Fearfully.

There were three of them, malingering across the square. They moved about casually, one sitting on a barrel, one crouched at the base of the wall, one leaning upon the lamp post. They mingled with one another; each standing or sitting in turn. The eyes of one always attentively watching the front door of the vaunted Massey Commodities House; cold, hard eyes. The eyes of men owed a considerable sum.

“Curse that man and his cutthroats!” Massey fumed as he turned from the window. “Curse him and curse the day I ever opined to do business with him.”
He snatched a crystal snifter and hurled it across the parlor. It shattered noisily.

Massey charged toward the door of the parlor and out into the hallway. Charlotte, alerted by the breaking glass, was stepping from her bedchamber as her father stormed past her and to the attic stairs. He took them with a vigor he had not known in sometimes; he would pay for his exuberance come the next morning. Nearly sprinting up the stairs, Massey flung the door open, invading the large attic space and making straight for the vantage point the dormer windows offered.

Bending low to peer out the window, shifting his posture to make out the far end of the alley behind his home, Massey knotted his fist, striking the rafter as he cursed, “Damn them! Damn them all!”

The men in the square were not alone. At least two more sat at the end of the alley.

“Father?” Charlotte questioned as she reached the attic.

“I fear he is serious, this Captain Pierce,” Massey nearly collapsed onto a cedar chest near the window. “He has men at both the front and the back. Lest we make haste from this place.”

Massey’s head hung low, his hands pressed against his face.

“Father,” Charlotte moved to his side, kneeling to wrap her arms around his shoulders. She pressed her face to his shoulder and sobbed.

Raymond took his daughter in his arms, holding her head to her shoulder, comforting her as best he could as his own tears continued to stream down his cheeks. Unashamedly, he cried as he gently stroked her hair.

When they were cried out, when all that was left was a hollow sorry, she pulled back from him. He brushed the tears from he cheek, the act of which only served to prolong his own sorrow. He looked at her with a desperate sorrow. It would be best, perhaps, to take both their lives, rather than what he considered. Rather than…
“What are we to do?” Charlotte asked.
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Old 12-11-2017, 07:06 PM   #9
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Even as she asked the question, she knew there was no answer that he could give that would appease Captain Pierce. If there were, he wouldn't be moving about the house looking from the windows or considering fleeing the house. Her heart sank further.

"Come, Father. There's no reason to stay up here in the draft. Let's refresh ourselves downstairs. I will make some tea and we can have it while we..." her voice drifted into a whisper, "...wait for him." There was no doubt in her mind that he would be showing soon.

They made their way down and she went to the kitchen to heat the water and put together a tray of cold roast beef, cheese, bread, and several slices of apple cake.
As she worked, she thought further of the idea that had entered her mind a short time ago. She was the only thing of value that he had. Everything else could be sold, but that would take time... and time wasn't something that was being offered to them.

Taking the tray into the parlor, she noticed her father still furtively looking through the curtains. "Have they not gone yet?" she asked as she placed it on the table in front of the settee and stepped back, ready to return to the kitchen to fetch the tea tray.

"No, of course not. I don't expect that they will. I'm simply waiting to see what will happen next. Whatever it is, Charlotte, it won't be good." Not bothering to turn to her, his reply was spoken in a hushed voice, one filled with resignation. How could he tell her he was waiting to see when he would arrive, if he even came to the front door. There was no way he could watch the back without going back to the attic.

She nodded and left the parlor without another word. Charlotte determined not to allow fear to overcome her. There was only one way out of this that she could think of. Father needed more time to gather the money needed, this might give him that time. Still, she knew that if she really thought about it, there would be no way to stop the fear from filling her with dread.

She had just gathered the tea things and was making her way back to the parlor when she heard a knock at the door in her father's office. With hands that trembled so hard the lid to the sugar bowl clattered, she entered the room. "I think he's here. At the office door." she whispered.

Raymond Massey turned pale and stood staring at his daughter. Then, as a second, louder pounding on the door came, he left the room. Charlotte didn't move at first, then rushed after her father.
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Old 12-18-2017, 06:11 PM   #10
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Raymond Massey hurried down the stairs, leaving his daughter in his wake, the sugar bowl still rattling on the tray in her hands. His own hands trembling, Massey paused at the base of the stairs. He watched the silhouette against the linen shade; it was no doubt Captain Pierce. The mantel clock showed that it was still several hours until sunset. Again the hammering at the door, forceful enough to rattle the glass panes. The captain had grown impatient.

“A moment, please.” Massey’s voice cracked as he cast his eyes about the room. He had no idea what he hoped to find. His search was one born of nervous apprehension. The term he favored over the more accurate fear.

At the door, Massey again paused, adjusting his frock coat and wiping his hand through his hair before fumbling for the key in his waistcoat pocket. He missed the keyhole twice before he was finally able to work the catch.

The key still in the door, he slowly opened it. The sun was low in the West, casting Captain Pierce in heavy shadows and blinding Massey. Averting his eyes, the older man greeted his less than welcome guest, “Captain, you are quite early.”

Pierce pushed past the older man and into the office, “I thought it best to watch you closely, Massey, lest you decide to flee rather than pay what is owed.”

“I assure you, captain, I am well above such acts” Massey could not help but react with his practiced offense at the suggestion he was dishonest.

Pierce set a withering gaze on the older man that made it clear he found the protestation less than convincing, “As you are well above cheating a partner? Or the King’s exchequer?”

Massey made a weak protest that amounted to little more than a stammered string of sounds which fell far short of actual words. Rather than look at Pierce, he looked to the stairs and his daughter, who had descended to the landing midway the rise.

“Do you have my money, Massey?” Pierce paced midway the office, watching both Massey and his daughter for any signs of treachery.

“I...” Massey started to respond, then stopped, looking at Charlotte wistfully, “I have had less success than I anticipated.”

“I imagine so,” Pierce turned to face the merchant. “My men tell me you left for but a few moments this morning, and not at all since noon.”

The weight of the moment bore on Massey, finally breaking his facade of control. His shoulders dropped, his hands fidgeted nervously. Pierce smiled the same self-satisfied smile that he typically reserved for the sight of a prize striking its' colors.

“I can offer you only two hundred pounds sterling, Captain,” Massey felt the anger as it washed over Pierce, a lethal contempt that could well result in the death of the old man and his daughter. “But I can offer you collateral, the sole thing of worth I have that can serve to assure you that I will see you repaid.”

“And what is this prize that I should find it worth trusting a dishonest man?” Pierce’s hand lay on the hilt of his blade.

Massey looked up to Charlotte before answering, “My daughter, as your hostage.”
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:25 PM   #11
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Standing on the landing watching them exchange words, Charlotte gasped when she heard her father utter that which she herself had been afraid to say. Though it was her own conclusion, to hear him offer her so quickly, without hesitation, brought tears to her eyes and she was sore tempted to run back up the stairs and lock herself away in her room.

But, Charlotte was made of stronger stuff and, as soon as she could get her wits about her, she composed herself and finished walking down the stairs to the office to stand beside her father. A part of her still trembled with anger at him, but that was no business of the captain. Later, when she was alone, she could allow herself the pleasure of tears and emotions.

The soft ticking of the office clock on the table in the corner as the only sound that was heard for what seemed like hours, it was perfectly timed to the blood pounding in her ears. When she finally spoke up, boldly looking the captain in the eye, her voice only held a slight tremor.

"I believe that my father has offered the thing dearest to him in the whole world, Captain Pierce. I'm not much, I suppose, but I doubt that my father would simply allow you to take me without trying to find a way to have me returned."

Are you so sure about that?

He was so quick to bring you up


She pushed away the niggling thoughts that started to crowd her mind, standing straighter and hoping that she face didn't give away the fear that she was fighting.
Beside her, she felt her father slump as if giving up, but she didn't turn to offer him support.

"What choice do you have, Captain?" she spoke again, her chin coming up.

What if he declined the offer?

What if he didn't?
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:37 PM   #12
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“I’m no slaver, Massey!” Pierce clutched the hilt of his blade. “But if you think to make such an outlandish proposal in hopes that I will withdraw my demand...” Pierce sneered at the merchant. “Then you have never been more mistaken.”

Pierce seized the young woman by the arm, his hand viselike at her elbow, and pulled her to his side.

“Please,” Massey plead, albeit weak and unconvincingly, “don’t hurt her?”

Pierce spun her on her heel, pulling her back against his chest, his hand on her bodice is a manner far to familiar for Charlotte’s liking.

“Take your hands from me, captain!” Charlotte was scandalized, by her father as well as the captain’s forward ways.

“Close your mouth, woman,” Pierce released his blade. He stabbed a thick finger into Massey’s frail, pigeon chest, “I’ll make you no such promise, Massey. Nor am I a fool, document your desire that I act as her guardian, sign and seal it and let us be done with this fool deed!”

Massey’s gaze met Charlotte’s, then fell to the floor as he turned to his desk. Opening the ledger, he drew the document the captain desired from its pages. To her horror, Charlotte could not deny that he had completed it well in advance of the captain’s arrival. He’d meant to offer her for some time.

Massey presented the document for Pierce’s review, “You can read?”

Pierce snarled as he snatched the letter from the old man’s hand. He read it, grumbling as he did, “Tis all in order.” Tucking it in his frock coat, Pierce mocked Charlotte, “Interesting how eagerly your father surrenders ‘that which is dearest to him’.”

Charlotte’s tears would not wait until she was alone.

Pierce lead her, drug her, to the office door, his hand on the latch, he turned to Massey, “Six month’s time, Massey; if for some reason you haven’t raised the funds owed by then, I’ll sail her to Beirut and put her on the block myself!”
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