"Henry Lucas," Grace said calmly, pressing her dagger against the pale skin of his neck. "I have waited a long time to kill you."
Hanson jabbed the gun into the back of the man's skull and beads of sweat started to form on their captive's high forehead. His breath came fast and ragged.
"You will pay for this," he snarled through gritted teeth, his eyes dark and terrified.
"I am sure we will," Grace said lightly, "But the fact of the matter is, we don't care."
Hanson laughed tightly and gave Lucas's skull another prod of his gun. "That's the thing about Pirates, Mr. Lucas," he said. "We are immoral scoundrels without conscience. We will kill at the drop of a hat, just for the fun of it!" He slowly stroked his gun over Lucas's cheek. "And we will do anything for money," he said much more quietly.
"Is that what you want? Money?" Lucas said, his eyes revealing the newfound hope.
"No," said Grace. "You are the pirate, Henry Lucas. You are the one who hunts down your fellow man. You are the one who kills for money." She pressed the dagger more firmly against the skin of his neck. "You are the one who rapes defenseless girls."
Hanson put a warning hand on her arm. They had to keep him unmarked.
"I have killed no-one," he said.
Grace took a deep breath, wanting so badly to break his skin, to slice the dagger deep until his blood drained from his body. Instead she leaned close to his ear and hissed, "What about my father?"
Lucas actually had the gall to laugh, a nasty little sound that made Grace's entire body tense. Hanson's hand returned to her arm and stayed there as she fought her instincts.
"I had nothing to do with your father's death," he said. "He was a foolish old man who got into debt. Some ruffians clearly thought they would teach him a lesson."
"Your ruffians," Grace said, her whole jaw tense with the effort of holding back. "And what about Lady Howard? You almost killed her."
"Letitia? Don't be ridiculous. She is my fiancée."
Hanson suddenly gripped a handful of hair and yanked his head backwards so he could see his face. "You told her it was us, you bastard. And I know for a fact it was not. We do not attack defenseless women."
Henry Lucas remained silent. He merely stared unblinking into Hanson's angry blue eyes.
"Why did you do it?" Hanson asked. "Tell me or by God, my wife will slash your throat and you will bleed to death like a stuck pig."
"I believe the robbers were after something known to be on the property," he said slowly.
Hanson gripped his hair tighter and snarled, "What were they after?"
"Apparently, Howard was in possession of some valuable jewels. Diamonds, I believe. When he died, they were not part of his will."
"Did they find these diamonds?"
Lucas coolly stared up at him. "What do you think? Now, if you are going to kill me can you please get on with it. You are testing my patience."
The nights were interminably long. Once total darkness engulfed the cell, Thomas was left alone to nothing but the sounds of scrabbling rats and dripping water, his head echoing with endlessly spiraling thoughts. He pictured Letitia asleep somewhere above him in a soft feather bed, her glossy curls spread on the pillow, tears glistening on her cheeks. If only he knew she was safe and protected and happy, then he could go to the gallows in peace. But as long as she stayed under Henry Lucas's control, he would toss and turn in this cell, anxious and tormented.
At some point in the night he must have fallen into a restless sleep, because he was awakened by the sound of footsteps and the rattling of the key in the door. He pulled himself upright and tensed in the dark. This was it. They had come for him. The gallows were beckoning.
A tall figure stood in the doorway, holding a lamp. Tom could not make out his face, but he recognised his lazy, refined voice as he said, "Get up."
Tom tried to push himself upright, but his legs did not seem to want to obey him. Days of being huddled in a cell and fed on nothing but stale bread would do this to a man, but he cursed his normally strong body for disobeying him at such a crucial moment.
Someone pushed past Henry Lucas and grabbing Tom under the arms heaved him upwards, propping him against the wall. Tom momentarily had a faceful of silky hair and a familiar scent assaulted his nostrils. It smelt like the sea.
"Hanson?" he croaked, hardly believing his own senses, but his first mate's face was indeed smiling at him in the gloom.
"Hello Captain," he grinned. "Long time, no see."
Someone pushed Henry Lucas into the cell so roughly he stumbled and fell against the wall and Hanson said, "Give me the gun, Grace. Wait for us by the dock."
Before Tom could even register her presence, she was gone. Hanson pointed the blunderbuss at the rigid Lucas and said, "Strip."
Tom shivered despite the fine wool frock coat he was wearing. It was a tight enough fit to keep him warm, he was much larger than Henry Lucas after all, but his entire body was trembling in the cool night breeze.
Hanson was pacing nervously and staring fixedly into the distance where they could just make out the high walls of Fort Charles. "Where the devil is she?" he muttered. Then at last, they could make out two small figures running towards them, lit by the moonlight.
Grace reached them first, gasping for air, bent down double until she could talk and when she lifted her head, Hanson saw the angry cut across her cheek and the swelling that had started around her eye.
"By God!" he cried taking gentle hold of her chin and examining what he could see of her face in the dark. "What happened?"
"I had a slight altercation with one of Lucas's ruffians. It's nothing," she gasped.
Gently kissing her on the forehead, Hanson said, "You are one hell of a woman, Dr. Ferris."
Tom barely noticed their touching exchange because his eyes were fixed on the woman who was still running towards them, her curls flying loose around her shoulders, her cheeks flushed with excitement.
She reached them and threw herself at him, landing heavily in his lap, her lips meeting his, her laughter sweet and uplifting.
"What about Lucas?" Grace was asking. "Did you kill him?"
"No. I am a man of my word, unfortunately," Hanson replied.
"We will never be free of him," Grace said darkly. "He will want revenge."
"I know my darling, but I am no murderer. Let him hunt us. We are very good at hiding," and he firmly kissed her.