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The Key To Esmerelda

By @astrid_hartman

Chapter One

The chatter from the deck faded away to blissful silence as she made the journey into the hull, her boots clunking loudly against the wooden steps. She knew the way to the room well, for he hadn’t been the first one they’d captured in their search. But she was sure this time that he was the one, the one they’d been looking for all this time. And if he isn’t the one, Jep’ll have to walk the plank.

She began making her way deeper into the belly of The Lady Blue, going farther below deck. The smell of the sea was heavier here, the scent of dank wood and stale food nearly overpowering her senses. She had to squint in the dim light, the few oil lamps hanging in the hallways getting low. Note, get more candles at the next port. A quick left and a couple more rights and the fateful room was upon her.

She peeked through the round window in the door, looking at the boy tied up inside the room. The ship tipped a little to the right as a wave brushed against the outside of The Lady Blue. The ship lifted up in the front and plummeted down as it cut through the water. She smirked amusingly, easily keeping her balance. The boy, however, let out a frightened squeak as his bound body with blindfolded eyes went rolling a foot or so. She suppressed the urge to laugh at him, shaking her head as a smile pulled at her chapped lips.

She cleared her throat loudly, hoping to make her voice deeper. She wanted it to sound more like a man’s than a woman’s, thinking it would make her more intimidating. She saw the boy cringe and she couldn’t suppress the grin that parted her lips.

Opening the door and stepping inside, she made sure to slam it and laughed out loud when she saw the poor boy jump. This really is too much fun!

“Wh-what do you want, Sir?” Asked the boy, his voice clearly shaking as he sat up and attempted to push himself up against a wall for more support.

She didn’t say anything for a moment as she inhaled the smell of the old room. Aged beer and sea salt. At the thought, she licked her lips, turning her eyes back onto him.

“S-sir?” The boy asked, straining against his ties as he titled his head to catch any sound of her. “A-are you still there?” But she remained quiet, watching the boy with amusement as he became paranoid, his head moving from side-to-side rapidly, his eyes trying to see through any possible holes in the blindfold.

She could have watched him struggle all day but, she decided to end his paranoia. “Yes.” She said, her voice booming and echoing throughout the room. The boy flinched, pressing himself against the wall. “I am still here.”

“W-what do you want with me? Why have you taken me?” The last question was said with a bit more ferocity which of course made her smile as she stepped closer, the heel of her boot thunking against the floor. The boy squirmed, his breathing picking up as she saw his chest rising and falling faster. “Don-don’t come any closer!” He exclaimed, pressing himself harder against the wall.

At this exclamation she stopped, merely a few feet from him now as she leaned against the post in the middle of the room, the dim oil lamp swinging above her head. “Before we start asking silly questions,” she smirked, “let us get acquainted first.”

“Acquainted? Just tell me what you blasted pirates want!” The boy spat as he moved himself farther away from her, scooting across the worn floor.

She chuckled at him, taking another step forward. He froze, shivering, as she pulled out her pistol. She cocked the pistol, the clicking of the mechanism clearly heard throughout the empty room. “Now. Let’s try this again.” She said, an edge to her voice now that she had her gun in her hand.

She saw him swallow, his Adam’s apple bobbing slightly. She took another step forward. “Name.” She said coldly, pressing the gun against his temple. She heard the quick intake of breath that entered his lungs as a bead of sweat ran down the side of his face.

“Leo.” The boy said, his voice strained as he licked his lips.

“Last name.” She said, her voice louder, getting impatient with this game.

“Kingston.” He inhaled sharply again as she used the barrel of the gun to brush his dark, black bangs off his forehead.

“Sorry, you just looked a tad sweaty. Thought I’d help you with that.” She smirked, placing the barrel at his left temple again.

“T-thank you, Sir.” Her lips parted again into a grin when he called her Sir as she took the gun away. With a flourish, she undid his blindfold and did a mock curtsey before his surprised brown eyes.

“You are mistaken, Mr. Kingston, for I am no Sir. You are now a prisoner aboard The Lady Blue.” She gave him a wicked smile, pointing the pistol at him. “I am Esmerelda, but you can call me Captain.”

The first thing Leo thought was that she was beautiful. The only thing he could equate her to was an ice sculpture, beautiful to look at but too cold to touch. 

She towered over him, her long black hair swishing around a suntanned face. Her eyes were a bright green, pinning him to the spot. Emeralds, he thought, amused at his own pun. Another thing that surprised him was that she was wearing men’s clothing. Her leather boots were laced half way up her calf, her pant legs tucked inside. Her shirt billowed at the sleeves, strings tied across the chest to hide her modestly. His attention snapped up to her mouth, just now noticing that she was speaking to him. 

“—well do you?” Did he what? The captain took a step forward as Leo involuntarily flinched away from her.

“Sorry, I was distracted.” Silly boy! Why did he use that adjective? The captain smirked down at him, squatting so that they were now eye to eye.

“Were you now?” Her eyes were bright with flirtation. Leo’s conscious snapped at him for being so imbecilic, scolding himself for forgetting she was a pirate. He spat, the saliva landing squarely on her cheek. The captain roared, standing up so quick he almost missed the motion. Her boot came next, kicking him in the side. He gasped, crumbling against the wall of the ship.  

“You’re just like your brother.” She snarled, standing over him. “Now tell me about the map.” 

How did she know his brother? “What map?” Leo wheezed, still trying to get his breath back. 

The captain merely glared down at him. “Don’t lie to me, Leonardo.” She said his name as though he was some barnacle stuck to the side of her ship. 

“Lying? Why would I lie when I can’t even breathe?” He licked his lips, turning his head to look up at her. The pistol was so close to his face that Leo made himself cross-eyed looking at. 

“Again. What do you know about the map?” The captain pushed the pistol against his forehead. 

“As previously stated,” the prisoner hissed, not breaking eye contact with the emerald-eyed pirate, “I know don’t know anything about a map!” He could tell in her eyes that she did not believe him. The pistol was re-holstered in a second. He could feel the imprint the chamber had made against his skin. 

“Really?” She mused, walking around until she was right beside him. The captain pulled him away from the wall, pulling down the collar of his shirt. 

“Hey,” Leo made his voice husky, “if you woulda told me you were into the whole ******* thing, I wouldn’t have minded, Esmerelda.” Her laughter tickled his bare neck as she pulled the fabric further away. 

“I didn’t think it was possible for a Kingston to be flirtatious, you are most surprising.” She mused, running her hand over the back of his neck. “Ah! Here it is…” The captain brushed his hair away, completely exposing his skin. She pressed two fingers against the back of neck, where his spin connected with his neck. 

Leo gasped, arching his back as the captain seemed to be trying to make her fingers break the skin and go into his neck. “Wha-what are you doing?!” He tried to make his voice angry but it came out as a pained gasp. 

“Looking for the map, you incompetent boy.” The captain mumbled something under her breath, her fingers beginning to trace intricate patterns over his skin. Leo felt gooseflesh rise up over his arms at the feeling of her soft fingers. She let out an aggravated breath, straightening, letting him go. He nearly collapsed but instead fell against the wall of the ship. 

“What it the matter with you!” Leo shook his hair out of his eyes to glare up at her, rolling his now sore shoulders. 

“Me? Who we should be talking about is you! Where is the map? And I am not taking no for an answer. I know that you have it.” The captain loomed over him, grabbing him by the collar. 

“Even if I did have it, what makes you think I would tell you?” She hit him so hard, he almost saw stars.

“Because if you don’t tell me then you’ll never see the light of day again, you mangy mutt!” She let go of his collar, dragging him back to the post in the middle of the room. From a pocket in her coat, she tied him to it. The captain stepped back, admiring her tying job and the mess of a prisoner that she now had on her hands. “This way you’ll be able to get some sleep. You had better know about that map or else. Tomorrow, I wont be as forgiving.” The pirate hissed as she exited the room, giving the door a good slam.

She was forgiving today? was all Leo could wonder as his cheek began to throb with each heartbeat.

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