Tom lay on the warm sand by the glowing fire, the familiar silhouette of 'The Innocent' visible in the distance and replied to The Bear's question.
"We must leave the Caribbean," he said. "We are wanted men and there will be no rest for us in these waters."
"'Tis a pity, my boy. Where will you go?"
"The Americas. I have a yearning to become a farmer," he laughed pulling Letitia more closely to him and smiling down at her.
"But first we have some diamonds to find!" Hanson's voice declared loudly out of the darkness.
Tom groaned and said for what felt like the hundredth time, "Are you asking to get caught?
"Don't tell me your incarceration has turned you into a coward?" Hanson asked throwing himself down into the sand.
"A coward? No, but I have responsibilities now," he said, kissing the top of Letitia's head, his hand wrapping tightly around her waist.
"You certainly do," she said, taking hold of his hand and moving it over her midriff.
Tom was surprised to feel a taught swelling under his palm. He looked into her eyes suddenly so full of emotion as he caressed her rounded flesh.
"Letitia," he exclaimed. "You are… Are you…?"
"Yes," she said with a shy smile, her eyes shining. "I am having a child."
"And it is…?"
"Of course it is yours, Tom!" she cried, kissing him and then added, "But I won't have that scum Henry Lucas finding my poor dead husband's diamonds. And let's face it, we could use the money."
Tom laughed and returned her kiss, his tongue finding its way between her lips, her hands clasping his biceps.
Hanson coughed loudly and said, "Have you thought of returning to England, Tom? Those diamonds would pay for the passage."
Tom reluctantly pulled away from Letitia's luscious lips. "I can hardly return when there is a ransom on my head."
"And there's nothing for us in England," Letitia said. "My house has been sold to pay off my husband's debts. I have no family. There is no reason for us to return."
"Have you not told her?" Hanson asked.
Tom glanced down at Letitia and shook his head wordlessly.
"Told me what?" she asked.
"My name is not Ashdown," he said quietly.
Letitia looked at Hanson for some explanation. The Black Orchid and his first mate exchanged looks and then Hanson said, "His title is Thomas, Earl of Chatham."
Letitia gave a surprised laugh but then saw that Hanson was entirely serious. "You are an Earl?" she asked.
"Yes. Apparently, for the last five years, since my father died, I have been a peer of the realm, and that baby growing inside you is my heir. My bastard heir, it is true, but that can be quickly rectified."
Letitia just stared at him, lost for words for once.
"I went to school with your husband, Lord Howard," he said. "Our fathers were close friends."
"But how on earth did you become a pirate?"
"That is a very long story," he said, "one that I am sure Hanson will enjoy telling you during the long evenings on our farm in the Carolinas."
Letitia continued to stare at him. "To think I once thought you had no breeding," she said quietly.
In a hushed voice, The Black Orchid replied, "I do not blame you for thinking so. I hardly behaved in a gentlemanly fashion."
Hanson was laughing. "I hope you do not find him less attractive now, Letitia. I know that you have grown to rather like your wicked pirate."
Letitia smiled as she gently stroked her lover's handsome face. "As long as he continues to shave his head and forgo a neckcloth, I think I can cope with him being an Earl." Her lips met his in a gentle kiss. "And do not even think of making me live in some vast stately home. I much prefer a ship's cabin or a beach."
And her wicked pirate promptly swept her up in his strong arms and carried her away to his cabin where he was happy to keep her for as long as she wanted.