Hanson opened the door of a little room above the tavern and ushered Letitia inside.
He had not said a word since he had grabbed her in the street but despite his silent urgency Letitia had gone with him willingly. Ever since she had left the confines of the Fort all her previous suspicion and anger had mysteriously evaporated and from the moment she had looked into Hanson's blue eyes she had only felt an overpowering relief. It was like going home and a strange passivity had overcome her. She knew she would do anything for this man and had no inclination to examine the reasons. So she blindly followed him up the narrow staircase and into the room.
She sat down on the unmade bed as he stood in the middle of the room and contemplated her with a guarded look, his blonde hair hanging over his forehead, his eyes raking over her body.
"You look different," he eventually said in a low voice. "Like a Lady."
"You haven't changed a bit," she said, taking in his broad shoulders in a loose linen shirt, the open neck revealing a tempting glimpse of his bronzed chest. "You still look like a Pirate." A very temptingly gorgeous one, she thought to herself, as she remembered how he looked naked and the feel of his silky smooth cock under her fingers. It had been too long since she had set eyes on her wild pirate kidnappers, and it was so good to see The Innocent's first mate again she had forgotten why she should hate him. She thought for the hundredth time that day of his Captain chained and hurting in a dark jail and tears suddenly came to her eyes.
"Have you seen Tom?" he asked.
She gulped down a sudden surge of guilt and looked away, unable to meet his penetrating gaze.
"Why would I have seen him?" she stammered.
"He went to Barbados to find you, and now he is a prisoner in Port Royal awaiting a hanging," he said calmly, " And here you are too. It's a strange coincidence."
Her eyes stayed fixed on the floor, her voice caught in her throat.
"By God Letitia," Hanson growled, "if you had anything to do with this I will not be answerable for my actions."
She looked up at him then and saw an untamed fury on his normally controlled face. He seemed to take her silence as a confession and he took a step towards her and a jolt of fear shot through Letitia, but just before he reached her, the door swung open and Grace burst into the room, a sheen of sweat on her pale forehead.
"Joshua!" she gasped as she rushed towards him. "What are you doing?"
Letitia had crossed her arms protectively around herself and she hugged herself tightly as Grace pulled Hanson away from her and held his face in her hands.
"Look at me Joshua," Grace said firmly, pulling his angry gaze away from the cowering Letitia.
Hanson's eyes cleared as he looked down at the anxious face of the little Doctor, and he swayed slightly as she gripped him.
"Letitia can help us," she said, and glancing at her friend added, "You can can't you?"
"Yes," Letitia surprised herself by whispering. "Yes, I think I can."
"Oh thank God," Grace cried and sat down beside her on the bed, peeling her hand away from her chest and grasping it tightly. "I didn't have time to tell you at the Fort," she said in a rush, "But Henry Lucas is an evil man, Letitia. You must not be afraid of Joshua and Tom. They have done nothing wrong. It is Lucas you must be afraid of."
"But they kidnapped me and burnt my house down," she said, glancing at Hanson who was now standing immobile in the middle of the room.
"I think you know that is a lie," said Grace.
Hanson suddenly seemed to come to his senses and he sat on the other side of Letitia and gently placed one of his hands on her back.
"The very first time we ever laid eyes on you was at Bella's house, Letitia. And that is the truth," he said softly. "Tom couldn't bear to leave you there. I knew it was wrong to take you, but he was under your spell from the very first moment he saw you."
"But that was not the first time," she said so quietly they barely heard her. "He stole into my bedroom, before I was attacked. He came to my house and he wanted my husband's debt repaid."
"Did he threaten you or attack you?" Grace asked.
"No," Letitia admitted and then blushed at the memory of what he had done.
"Well then," Grace said. "There is absolutely no evidence that it was him who attacked you that night. And it would have been totally out of character, you know that don't you?"
"Yes," Letitia said, knowing full well that the Black Orchid used far more gentle and pleasurably persuasive methods than bashing her over the head.
Hanson's hand stroked reassuringly over her back as Grace held her hand tightly, and Letitia admitted to herself that she trusted them both and felt safer, sitting here in a cheap rented room above a rowdy tavern, than she did in Fort Charles with Henry Lucas controlling her every move.
"I'm so sorry," she said as hot tears spilled from her eyes, and she buried her face in Hanson's warm neck and cried with great sobbing gasps as he held her tight.