Port Royal was crawling with soldiers and officers and mercenaries and all manner of men out to make a quick name for themselves. Everywhere Tom and Hanson looked were the dark blue and gold coats of the Queen's navy and they were glad that they had dressed themselves up to look like merchants from the American colonies, Tom's tattoo covered by a neckcloth that itched him and made him sweat. He kept his blunderbuss tucked in a specially fashioned sling concealed under his arm and it gave him a small comfort as he edged through the streets, brushing past naval officers armed with muskets.
The last time they had been in Jamaica it had been a haven for villains of every persuasion with more drinking houses crammed into the 51 acres than seemed possible or indeed necessary. But now it was clear that word had reached London and Paris that the Caribbean protectorates were in need of policing and the real money was no longer in piracy but in apprehending said villains. The Crown was desperate to bring an end to lawlessness and they were willing to engage the assistance of almost anyone.
Within an hour or so of disembarking, Tom and his First Mate were well aware that they could trust no one in this heightened atmosphere. They skulked in the shadows of one of the most popular taverns and surveyed the drinking masses, noting the changes in dynamics caused by the overbearing presence of so many uniforms. The Black Orchid kept his eyes on the men coming and going. He was looking for one man in particular, one man he had been told was somewhere in Port Royal. A man he was keen to introduce himself to.
But Hanson had already spotted a person of interest. Across the crowded room his gaze had zeroed in on a pair of cool blue eyes that were staring back at him with alarm.
"Damnation!" he hissed, not tearing his eyes away from the achingly familiar face.
The Black Orchid followed his gaze and immediately flexed his muscles in reaction and stood, knocking his tankard over. "That double-crossing…"
But Dr. Ferris had already recovered from his paralyzing shock and had darted away and out of the tavern, with Hanson hot on his heels.
Hanson caught up with Grace by the docks and cornered her in a blind alley where he backed her against a wall behind some sacks of coffee beans. She had the sense to look frightened for once as he laid his hands on the wall on either side of her head and waited for some response.
"I was a fool to ever trust you," he eventually said when she had still said nothing.
"Don't say that, Joshua."
"Why not? What have you ever done to prove otherwise?"
She lifted her hand and tried to stroke his cheek but he jerked away.
"All you've done is use me and deceive me. Remember when you helped Lady Howard get away? Well straight after that the navy came after us. They almost caught us too. I could be dead now. And here you are in Port Royal when it's heaving with Pirate Hunters. Can't be a coincidence, can it?"
Her blue eyes stared back at him steadily but her lip trembled at his stony expression and the unfamiliar coldness in him.
"I would never betray you," she said softly.
"Never? Not for a large sum of money?"
"Not for all the money in the world." Now her eyes were filling with tears and her voice was breaking but he remained unmoved and unconvinced.
"Don't try that, Grace," he said harshly. "It won't work. Not any longer. I'm onto you."
One large tear spilled from her eye and rolled slowly down her cheek. Her lips parted softly as she was about to speak and despite himself he leaned closer towards her, his eyes drawn helplessly to her mouth. His groin pressed hard against her.
"I love you," she said so quietly he barely heard her.
"What did you say?" he asked, so close to her mouth now, his breath caressed her lips.
"I love you, Joshua!" she cried. "I've always loved you. I love you so desperately I can hardly stand it. I would never betray you. Never."
He looked into her face, deep into her eyes, and saw his Grace, the clever stubborn Grace, the Grace who was determined to protect herself and not be beholden to any man, the Grace who kept secrets, but the Grace he could trust and had always trusted. And he bent his head and kissed her so hard he pressed her into the wall, and she gasped and clung to his back, making his head spin with joy.
When Hanson came up for air, he managed to gasp out an important question before things got any more out of hand. "What are you doing in Port Royal?"
"It's a long story," she said, her hand playing with his neckcloth, a silky smile on her face.
He ran his finger along her full lips and murmured, " If you come to be bed with me, you will have all night to tell me."
Hanson trembled with excitement as he undid the bindings wrapped around Grace's chest. Only once before had he seen her without these bandages and it was so long ago now that he sometimes thought he had dreamt it. The memory of her perfect round breasts tipped with delicate pink buds had stayed with him through countless lonely nights since and here he was about to see them again, and he could hardly contain himself. His hands shook so badly he fumbled with the wrappings and his cock was so hard in his breeches it was painful. Grace just laughed softly at his agitation, and laid a cool hand on his bare shoulder, running it down his arm to feel his bicep bunch as he worked.
"You are so beautiful," she sighed.
"No, you are," he said reverently as he finally pulled the bindings away revealing her naked torso and feasting his eyes on the perfection of her bosom. His memory had not been wrong. Her skin was smooth and pale and flawless like alabaster. "So perfect!" he gasped and then gently took one nipple in his mouth, flicking it with his tongue and sucking on it until she was making breathy little moans and her nails were digging into his skin. His cock rose even harder and more rigid in the confines of his breeches but he was determined to take this slow. He moved to the other nipple and continued his attentive ministrations, this time making her arch her back and cry out his name. His hand trailed down her soft belly to her breeches where he pulled at the buttons and pushed his hand under the waistband. She was writhing now under his lips and his hand and he pulled his mouth from her nipple and kissed the skin of her breast slowly to calm her. It would be over too soon if they kept this frenzied pace up, but she grabbed his wrist and assertively pushed his hand further between her legs making an amused gasp burst from him.
"Touch me!" she cried.
So he did, pressing the heel of his hand between her legs, feeling the wetness that was already seeping through her thin drawers.
"Oh Joshua," she cried, desperately tugging at her breeches and drawers and pulling them down her legs as his fingers sank into her and his lips met hers in a hot tangle of tongues. "I need you inside me now," she gasped into his mouth as her hands delved into the back of his breeches and gripped his buttocks with a determined strength. His mind went blank as he struggled out of his breeches and spreading her legs found himself pressed against her heat, her hands urging him closer.
"Slow down Grace," he managed to gasp. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Now, Joshua, now!" she cried, gripping his backside, and he felt the head of his cock push inside her. He pressed his hands down on the bed and looked down at her, so lovely and perfect and his, and her back arched and her breasts heaved upwards and he gave a gentle surge forward and her heat closed around him as he entered her, sliding into her so easily he gave a great sigh of relief and he heard her hum with pleasure.
"Oh Grace," he said with tears pricking his eyes, his cock buried inside her soft warmth. Then he began to pull out and great shocks of pleasure shot down his spine and tightened his balls as he gasped and thrust back into her. She threw her head back as he began to quicken his pace, her hands running up and down his back as he slid in and out of her, the mounting pleasure making them both moan and cry until he could feel her orgasm build round him and with a huge effort he pulled out of her and released himself against her thigh while she continued to come round the fingers he thrust inside her.
"I am looking for a man," she said as he lay his head on her chest and she ran her fingers through his silky blonde locks.
"Well your search is over!" he said. "You've found one."
She laughed. "No, that's why I am in Port Royal. I have been looking for someone for a long time now and I think I am close to finding him. He killed my father, or at least he ordered his death."
Hanson sat up, serious now. "Is that why you have been travelling the Caribbean disguised as a man?"
"Partly, but also because it was the only way to learn more about medicine. My father taught me the methodology but I want to learn as much as I can."
"You are an unusual woman Grace Ferris." He said, smiling down at her, his hair curling over his shoulders, his skin glowing bronze in the candle light.
"And you are an unusual man, Joshua Hanson. I do hope you won't soon be a dead one."
"Who is this man you are looking for, Grace?" he asked suddenly, ignoring her comment.
"He is called Henry Lucas, and I think he may be in Port Royal."
Hanson's blue eyes widened. "What are the odds? That man is popular. Did you know he may be our pirate hunter?"
"That is not the only coincidence, Joshua. If we do not find him here, I think Letitia may know where he is."
"Yes, he was an associate of her husband's and I think he is now her protector."
"Well he didn't do a very good job of protecting her! Where is she now?"
"She returned to Barbados to see if there was anything left of her plantation."
Hanson thoughtfully ran his hand through his hair and just then there was a great pounding on the door. He leapt out of bed and pulling on his breeches wrenched the door open to find Tom standing there, looming over him in the dark corridor.
"Did you find the Doctor?" he asked and looking past him into the room added, "ah, I see you did, and I see you are in bed with him."
"Dr. Ferris is a woman, Tom," Hanson said patiently.
"I know that. In fact, I have always known that," Tom said even more patiently. "Do you take me for a complete fool?" and then he called, "Good evening Dr. Ferris, I do hope you are not planning on hoodwinking us again."
"I would not dream of it, Captain," Grace called, the sheet pulled up to her armpits.
"Come in," Hanson said. "Grace has some intelligence I think will be of interest to you."