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Troubled Waters Excerpt

Chapter 1

6th October 1714, St George Bermuda

The icy breeze rolling off the Atlantic nipped at Marie’s exposed skin, finding the chinks in her clothing with unerring accuracy. Shivering, she pulled her shawl tighter around her slender shoulders and, grasping a hooked pole, began closing the shutters. It was on nights like this, when the stars were brighter than diamonds winking through the cloudy patchwork above, that she wondered whether Jack was looking at the same stars. Marie sighed. He was likely halfway across the world. The change in season meant she felt his absence all the more keenly—without his large, warm body to wrap around her at night, the bed was cold and lonely. 

The final shutter dropped down with a decisive snap, and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Marie spun, bringing the pole around, ready to bury the hooked end in someone’s head. It met nothing but air.

Marie tightened her hands on the pole, her gaze scanning the darkness. Something was out there, and it wouldn’t be the first time the governor’s men had been sniffing around, spying on her, hoping to catch her in the act of…God knew what. They were waiting for an excuse to pounce—like they would ever catch her! Just a little more time, and with any luck, her and Jack would be free of the man, who showed far more interest in her person than she was comfortable with. Marie supposed she was something of a novelty, the illegitimate granddaughter of a French comte—she was a product of a youngest son, set to make his fortune privateering in the Spanish war of succession, and a Tortuga whore who became his woman. The pairing had blessed her with darker colouring and delicate European features, giving her an exotic air that sometimes attracted more attention that she cared for. Her father had nonetheless acknowledged her, and when her mother died, she had passed into his care.

Marie scurried back inside. A lone woman at night didn’t dawdle or dwell. She released the breath she’d been holding and lowered the bar across the door, nodding with satisfaction. That would keep out anyone bent on ill will. 

Her hands at the small of her back, she stretched her sore, tired muscles and on weary feet made her way to bed. Her flagging attention consumed with unlacing her dull outer dress, she passed through the portal and pushed the door closed as an afterthought. Strong hands clasped her waist, and a solid weight pinned her to the door. The hold shifted, and a rough hand covered her mouth, and the high-pitched scream died in her throat. She fought, fuelled by pure instinct, twisting her body but found her assailant’s grip unbreakable. Her teeth clicked behind the flat of his hand, trying to latch on to a finger, to provide a distraction while she frantically riffled through her skirts to reach the dagger strapped to her thigh. 

“Now why aren’t you abed like all good little wives should be?” Her husband’s familiar soft burr rumbled against her ear. 

Marie went slack in his grasp and stopped struggling, a loose tendril of dark hair hanging limply over her eyes. She was going to kill him for scaring her half to death!

Jack scratched his bristled chin over the top of her ear, and she shivered. The solid wall of his chest at her back, and her front flattened to the door, his great body curled around her, enveloping her with his heat. His manhood poked into her lower back, hard and eager. If he thought she would oblige him after scaring ten years off her life, he was in for a rude awakening! Her heart fluttered, mimicking a trapped bird beneath the generous swells of her breasts.

She was going to gut him.

She was going to tear his eyes out. 

He kissed the nape of her neck before migrating to the sensitive delicate hollow, just below her ear. 

She was going to—oh, sweet Jesus, do that again!

Nuzzling her skin, he nipped her ear—she regretted that she had ever admitted to being so sensitive there. Every time he sought it out with unerring accuracy of a consummate hunter. 

“Have you missed me, lass?” The teasing lilt of his voice threatened the last of her saintly patience. 

“You are despicable!” If she had her hands free, she would’ve taken a swing at him. 

His strong arms spun her around and silenced all protest with a kiss, and her resistance melted into a puddle at his feet. Marie broke off, fighting to regain her breath.

“What were you thinking?” She pulled him closer, her eyes widening as she realised a new fear. “You might have been seen!”

“I…was…careful,” he murmured against her mouth, ravaging it between words.

“The danger…” Marie half-heartedly began again, sucking in a breath when he scraped the blunt edge of his teeth over her throbbing pulse, and her knees threatened to buckle. 

“I don’t care; nothing keeps me from my wife.”

Never one to be an idle participant, Marie returned fire, delivering a playful bite. Jack drew back, ruefully rubbing the injured spot, and shot her an unrepentant grin.

“You’re a saucy lassie. Good thing I know just how to make you sweet again.”

Marie’s mouth dropped open, his arrogant words burning through the last of her patience. She took a swing to clout him a good one. Jack caught her wrist and tugged her to him, seemingly impervious to her glare. 

“Now, none of that, lassie.” Though his tone was teasing, a warning flashed in his dark eyes, and he reeled her back to him. “I have plans for us tonight, and they don’t involve imparting some husbandly discipline.” His arms looped behind her, his hands cupping the plump cheeks of her arse. 

Marie shivered, melting into his embrace. 

“Unless you’d enjoy your hot little arse bent over our bed while I ride you hard.” 

The lurid imagery enthralled her, and her quim slickened. Jack peered down at her and winked. Marie couldn’t contain the throaty chuckle, and she shook her head, the last of her ire vanishing. Jack was incorrigible, and their limited time together was too precious to waste with pointlessly heated words when they could be enjoying each other. His hand found her breast, leisurely circling the nipple with the roughened pad of his thumb before giving it a sharp pinch.

“Jack,” she mewled, thrusting her chest out as pleasure speared her core with a phantom thrust. 

Her clothes became too tight, too confining, and she yanked at the remaining laces at the front of her dress. Her hunger fed Jack’s; his fingers fumbled at their clothes. In that moment, there was nothing more important that being skin to skin with him. Her skirt rucked up between their pressed bodies, and icy air caressed and teased her dewy nether lips. Her awareness heightened by the heat radiating from his body. Jack’s hand slipped between them; he slid a finger into her tight sheath in one confident plunge. She gasped, her hips tilting in happy welcome. The heel of his palm ground over her nubbin, and Marie closed her eyes and lost herself to the sensations washing over her. Jack shot her a wolfish look, stirring his finger, and Marie bit down on her lower lip to stop her soft moans breaking free.

The hot, aching knot between her thighs intensified with every dizzying thrust of his fingers, and she raised her hips to grind her mound into his hand. Jack withdrew his fingers, and Marie squealed a desperate cry of protest.

“Please, Jack,” she breathed. She pawed at his shoulder. It was no secret to her husband that she enjoyed the slight nip of pain with her pleasure or that he was more than capable of tormenting her to the brink. 

His thumb caressed her cheek, the tender gesture at odds when paired with the large man in front of her. “What do you want, Marie?

“To feel you,” she panted with each rise and fall of her chest, the rough fabric of her dress abrading her sensitive nipples. “Skin to skin.”

Black fire lit Jack’s eyes, and with impatient fingers, he dispatched the rest of their clothing. Marie stood naked before him, and Jack circled her like a shark, drinking her in from every angle, and Marie returned the favour with her own bold stare, a saucy tilt to her head. His dark, masculine features were an indication of his Scottish heritage—he was magnificent, lithe muscle and sinew, and there wasn’t an inch of fat on his frame, a bronzed tan stopping decisively at his waist. There was strength in those compact muscles, years of working on ships and climbing rigging. And he was hers. A light dusting of dark hair swirled over his chest; another started at his navel and continued in an intriguing line that led to his proud, jutting cock.

She glided her fingers up and down his straining cock. Jack’s eyes slid shut.

“By God, Marie.” He hissed, dragging the edge of his teeth over her extended nipple, his hips softly thrusting into her palm. “That feels so good.” 

Marie redoubled her efforts, and Jack’s hot, work-roughened hand ran over her flanks, her back, her stomach, like he couldn’t go without touching her.

Her pirate husband delivered a gentle slap to her rear, the signal to release him, and Marie did so with great reluctance. Grasping her around the waist, he lifted her feet off the floor and pinned her to his hip. Jack stalked towards their bed with a purpose and dropped her upon the mattress, her dark hair falling across her face, and she scrambled onto all fours and, sending an impish smile over her shoulder, crawled for the opposite side. 

Jack grasped her ankle, and she was dragged back. “Behave and I’ll give you what we both want.” He chuckled, delivering two stinging slaps to her bottom. 

Her arse cheeks rippled, his handprints branded into her flesh in a primitive show of ownership. Marie’s core clenched on thin air, achingly empty. Before she found chance to draw breath into her lungs, Jack flipped her on to her back, her riotous locks curling about her shoulders. He fell over her, catching his weight on his palms. His knees gripped her hips, his body caging her and pressing her into the mattress, letting her know she was caught. She reached for him, but he snagged her wrists, one in each hand, and trapped them back either side of her head, his lips snaring hers in another drugging kiss. Marie duelled with his tongue, spreading her soft thighs, curling her slender calves around the back of his legs, drawing him closer. She needed him closer! Jack broke off from the kiss and guided his cock into Marie’s body. She hissed at the slight burning stretch as he forged forward. It had been so long. 

Jack froze above her, rising to properly see her face. “Marie, are you well?” Concern laced his voice.

Marie pasted on a watery smile. If he thought he’d hurt her he would stop, and that was the last thing she wanted. “You’ve been a long time at sea, husband.” 

His dark eyes turned velvety, the tension draining out of his muscles. He kissed her again, but instead of the lustful ravishing of before, his lips were soft and reverent. His large hands cradled her curvy hips. The bed creaking, he twisted them so she sat astride him.

“Jack?” she asked, unfamiliar with the position. Her husband usually liked being in control in bed. 

He grinned at her, the flash of gold in his ear catching her attention. “Move when you are ready, sweeting.” 

What? Her hands braced upon his chest, she wiggled, circling her hips. She was exposed to his gaze with nowhere to hide. Her breasts heaved with each laboured breath, and his gaze followed their movement. His thumb brushed her nubbin, and she ground her hips down, his cock jerking inside her, his large hands clasping her waist, and with the corners of his mouth curling upwards, he guided her onto her knees, his cock retreating with tantalising slowness.

“Oh…” Her head lolled, and a soft moan trailed out. 

He pulled her down and thrust up, Marie’s eyes snapping open. 

“Oh!” Slowly, she rose and fell, building up a gentle rhythm as old as time. 

Jack gathered the cream of her desire; his hand reached back, fingers trailing between the cheeks of her bottom, his thumb resting over her rosette. Marie froze, her muscles clenching, flexing her hands nervously on his torso. “Jaaac-k…” she trailed off uncertainly.

He backed off, his free hand rubbing her lower back. “Trust me, sweeting?”

She stared into his eyes and, capturing her lower lip between her teeth, gave a nod.

“Good girl.” 

His thumb returned, teasing her rear entrance and coating it with her juices. He breached her with his thumb and, gasping, Marie surged forward at the bite of pain.

“Breathe out, relax.” 

Relax? Was he jesting? Let’s see how relaxed he was with a thumb up his arse! Marie bit off the sharp retort and kept it firmly behind her teeth, fighting against the unfamiliar feeling. Jack plucked at her nubbin, making it tender and bombarding her with the contrasting sensations. Her hips bucked of their own accord, and his thumb sank deeper. She panted, though strangely, her quim heated and slickened.

“You like that, Marie?” 

She could hear the smile in his voice, the smug bastard. 

“Do you like having my thumb in your tight little arse?” 

Marie wiggled her hips experimentally. “It feels…strange.” Fuller.

He punched his hips up, and her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

He gritted his teeth. “I won’t last, Marie.” 

She lightly scratched his chest, grazing his flat nipples, and Jack bucked into her, hard. It was a frantic and wild coupling, driven by their long separation. Her back bowed, and she screamed, flying apart; her quim squeezed Jack’s hot length. Jack’s fingers dug into her hips and, working her up and down on his cock, he continued to thrust into her, forcing her to ride the crest of her release. The muscles in his thighs gave a tell-tale tensing. Groaning, he thrust into her, and his hot seed flooded her. Her delicate body trembled from aftershocks. The strength leached from her, Marie’s body sagged against his chest—she couldn’t move even if the house was on fire.

“Missed you,” he breathed and squeezed her to him, his lips brushing her temple. 

Marie snuggled closer to his warm body—she’d missed him, too. Her head rested on his chest, her dark hair blanketing their cooling skin. His fierce heartbeat slowed, the skin warm beneath her cheek, and she allowed her mind to wander. 

Some men were born dangerous, and people would instinctively sense it, giving them a choice—they either followed or got out of his way. Jack was just such a man. But heaven forbid if you were ever between Jack and his goal—he was a man you never wanted to cross. 

She’d met him when he’d returned home with her father as his first mate. Young, tall, and strong, Jack had seemed different from the rest of the driftwood crew, and she had tested her infamous temper upon him. She had come off the worst in the skirmish, with both her pride and bottom stinging. 

Her father had laughed, saying she had at last met her match. Marie’s lips curled—and so she had. That little tingle of fear teased and tantalised her, knowing she would never have the upper hand, but at the same time Jack tempered himself with gentleness. For her at least. 

She shivered, flexing the tips of her fingers. The attraction between them was a powerful, living, breathing thing. 

“I’m so happy you are back.”

Jack stiffened—it was only slight, but she had felt it. Frowning, she pushed herself up onto her elbow to better look at his face. 

“What is it?” she asked, unease tickling between her shoulder, an itch she couldn’t quite reach. “What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing, sweeting,’” he said with a careless smile, stroking the small of her back. 

Marie’s mouth dug down and, shrugging off his hand, she rolled away from him.

“Despite never being home, I can read you better than that, Jack,” she snapped caustically, lighting another candle in short, jerky movements. “So, tell me, what is wrong?”

Jack stretched and shifted up the bed, putting his back against the headboard. He raked a hand through his hair with an impatient sigh. 

“I’m putting back out to sea as soon as the ship is resupplied,” he admitted.

“No!” Marie inhaled, his words punching her in the stomach. 

His eyebrows disappeared into his dark shag of black hair. 

“I am serious, Jack, I need you to stay here.” Marie captured her lower lip, worrying the flesh between her teeth, and at last gave voice to her concerns. “I do not trust Governor Pulleine.” Fine, it wasn’t the whole truth, but it was close enough, surely? There was not a hint of commerce that happened without the governor taking a cut. The corrupt pig held Bermuda in a stranglehold. But soon they might have the chance to break free. Marie had been discreet in her enquiries to see if the planters would sell directly to them. But she feared she had not been discreet enough. Not only that, Pulleine had started to suggest that Jack was in debt to him and that he was sure they could make an arrangement to see the debt cleared. She fought a shudder, remembering the way he had looked at her—it had made her feel dirty and unclean. It was ridiculous; she knew with absolute certainty Jack had never taken money. The man had an independent streak that rivalled her own and would be damned before he danced to that pompous ass’s tune. The governor and his men were growing bolder, assuming she was here alone and without protection. It was why she always kept a knife on her and a pistol close. She needed Jack here, but if he was caught or killed… 

Then she would be alone and at their mercy, a fate too terrible to contemplate.

Jack scoffed, “I have an arrangement with Pulleine, you are safe here.” 

The idiot. 

Marie ground her teeth. Yes, they had an arrangement: the loot that Jack brought back, Pulleine purchased for a fraction of its worth. He put his seal on it and shipped it through legitimate channels, growing fat on the profits. But thanks to Marie’s careful handling, they had a way out. Now they had enough money to enter into a legitimate business: their own shipping company. Granted, it would be small to begin with, but one that could thrive, because who would be fool enough to attack a vessel commanded by a pirate crew? But the thick-eared man never heard her out!

Marie narrowed her gaze and spat back, “Only while you’re of use to him. You overestimate yourself, Jack.”

His dark eyes narrowed, black and shining in the low light, giving him the appearance of a fallen angel. After a tense moment in which Marie braced to feel the lash of his tongue, Jack’s face became blank and unreadable, as if carved from marble—he’d closed himself off from her.

“I will not have this argument again, Marie,” he said softly, swinging his legs over the narrow edge of the bed, presenting her with the cold, impenetrable wall of his back.

Marie swallowed her anger back down, determined to make him listen and see reason. 

“I need you here with me,” she begged. 

His face turned stony. He said nothing, and desperation clawed sharply at Marie’s gut. She had to make him understand.

“I watched my father dance at the end of a gibbet, I can’t watch you die, too. Why continue to take the risk?”

She reached for him, trying to bridge the distance between them, and the muscles in his back jumped, him flinching away from her, like her skin burned him. Pain knifed her chest, and she retracted her arm, blinking furiously. Fighting to get her emotions under control, she trembled. Jack rose and, stabbing his leg into his trousers, he began to dress in short, furious movements. 

“You knew who I was when we wed, Marie,” he bit out, his accent thickening. “I’m a pirate—I’ve always been a pirate and I always will be.” 

It was the same response whenever she tried to raise going legitimate. All of Marie’s good intentions flew out the window, the restraints holding her temper in check burning through. She tugged her shift over her head, tearing the hem in her anger.

“If you leave me now, I will not be here when you return!” she shouted the angry words at his back. Jack’s whole being stiffened, freezing in the action of reaching for the door. Marie bit the tip of her tongue, wishing she could recall those words—Jack did not respond well to threats.

He turned to face her. His smile gained a cruel edge, and the dark eyes of the Devil gleamed back. “You know better than to threaten me, Marie.”

He took a step towards her and, her stomach knotting, she backed up a step. But he kept on coming. The action of a predator, no, a wolf stalking its prey. Her back kissed the wall, and he leant over her, caging her from all sides to prevent any flight.

His strong forearm was anchored next to her head, and he inhaled, chest expanding to rub against her too-sensitive nipples, reminding her that just moments ago his lips had been locked on the reddened buds, demanding her complete surrender. 

Her senses were full of him, overwhelmed by his sheer, raw power that made his crew follow him and others fear him. Her breath came faster. 

He put his lips inches from hers. “If you run, there is nowhere you can go that I can’t find you. I will scour the oceans for you, and not you, the king’s navy, or the damned Devil himself will keep you from me.” 

His hand speared through her hair, and he gave it a gentle tug, forcing her face up to him. He devoured her mouth, plundering and taking—she loved it as much as she hated it, knowing it punishment for voicing her mutiny. Marie refused to be the submissive party, not this time. She poured her anger into the kiss, duelling for control. When Jack broke off, he was breathing heavily, revealing she wasn’t the only one affected, but her lips tingled and felt swollen.

Marie glared at him and sneered, “You forget, mon capitaine, that you wed a pirate captain’s daughter not a meek and mild woman!” She gave a haughty toss of her head, freeing her from his control.

Jack grinned, murmuring, “So I did.” 

He leant down to kiss her again, and Marie jerked her head aside. Jack hesitated for a moment, and then his lips brushed her cheek, his action tender and at odds with his previously rough treatment.

If he could temper his action, so could she, and the flames of her anger died back. Marie grasped his sleeve and tried once more, swallowing her considerable pride. “Stay”—Marie gazed up at him—“please, I’ve been talking to the planters—”

He cursed and turned away from her. “I do not have time for this, Marie.” 

Fury seized her. She was no lapdog to beg for scraps of his affection—or his attention! He’d taken the time to fuck her before he put out to sea again. A lead weight settled in her stomach, and she rubbed her arms—he’d made her feel used and soiled. A bitter taste burned the back of her throat. At least whores got paid for their services. Possessed by the Devil’s own temper, she strode towards the door and threw it open, smashing it into the wall. 

“Then go!” she shrieked, pointing through the portal, the hurt twisting up into hideous anger, ripping through her with the power of a typhoon. “Go be with your crew! Go fuck one of them for all I care! I don’t need you!” 

His image shimmered, and she blinked back tears. Jack’s face was a dark, furious mask, and Marie jerked her chin up, determined to hold her ground. He took a step towards her, and she sucked in a breath, waiting to see what he would do. Disappointment knifed her sharply when he spun on his heels and left, cursing under his breath. The door slammed shut behind him with a finality about it, like this part of her life was over. He’d left her, during a middle of a fight. He had left her! The words beat, each one a hollow, synchronised body blow in her mind. He had never walked out on her in a middle of a fight, never left with harsh words spoken between them. She stared at the boards of the door, any moment expecting it to open. Condensation slid down the window, and her breath misted. She hugged her arms tighter to her chest, waiting for him to come back to her. The sun rose, burning off the sea mist, revealing no ship lurking on the coast. The tears dampened her cheeks, and she covered her face with her hands and cried, her heart breaking. He wasn’t coming back.​


©2021 by Jane Burrelli

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