The Highlander’s Pirate Lass

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Eliza leaned back in her chair, letting the bathing sheet slide to the floor. The damp dress clung to her lush curves that he saw above the table, encasing her slender arms. The neckline was low, and the stays pushed the rise of her breasts high as she inhaled.

“You do not know me well, Beck, but one thing I despise is not knowing things.” She paused as if considering her words carefully. “When Captain John saved me from Jandeau, I knew nothing, nothing at all about sailing or living on a ship. With Jandeau, I only learned how to hide very quietly in small spaces.”

Beck’s hands fisted on the table. If he’d known Eliza’s history with the pirate, he would have fired upon Jandeau anyway, blasting as many holes in his ship until Cullen joined them.

She cleared her throat, frowning at him as if he weren’t listening.

“I will kill him next time I see him,” he said, his words low.

A small smile returned, and she sat up straighter on the edge of the Highlander-sized chair. “Unless I kill him first,” she said. “Anyway…I asked Captain John to give me breeches like the lads he had training on the lines for the sails. I learned faster than all of them and was climbing up high into the topcastle of all the masts. After surviving Jandeau, heights did not frighten me, nothing did. So I learned everything I could, including how to slice a throat or gut someone who wishes me harm.”

Beck set his hands on the table across from her. “I have no doubt ye know everything about running a large ship and a crew.”

She nodded. “I do, but there are things in this world I know nothing about. I hate that.” She folded her hands before her on the table. In the large chair, she looked small, delicate. “And you seem like a proper sort of fellow. You could teach me things, so I won’t be ignorant.”

“Such as?” he asked, his breath momentarily stopping in his lungs.

Her hand flipped about again. “Like proper words and…things other women know in the world. So I will not come across as ignorant.”

What did he know about other things women of the world knew? “Lark will certainly help ye fit in, Eliza.”

She frowned. “I want you to teach me, like you did about the word fok being improper. You are honorable, clever, and will not mock me for my ignorance.”

“What are these things that other women know that ye want to know about?” he asked, watching her closely.

She leaned forward, but instead of answering him she took a drink of ale and sat back in the seat. “Well,” she started, “I know little about cooking and baking since Bart manned the galley on the ship and rarely let any of us in there.” She took a big breath, and Beck tried to ignore the rise of her flesh above her neckline. Bloody hell, she looked wild and free and utterly delicious sitting there in the firelight.

“And needlepoint,” she said, smiling brightly.

Beck cleared his throat. “Ye want me to teach ye to needlepoint?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

Her mouth opened, staring at him for a moment, and her brow raised. “Do you know how to needlepoint?”

“Nay.” He shook his head, dropping his hand back to the table. “But I could ask Lark to teach—”

“That is not what I need to learn.”

“What do ye need to learn then?” Her mind was tangled, and he couldn’t follow it. She wanted to learn proper ways of being a woman on land, and she wanted him to teach her.

She folded her hands on the table, her fingers weaving between one another. “I am a woman now, and the crew goes on and on about—” She stopped herself. “About tupping. As if it is the best thing in the world. ’Tis practically all they talk about, drinking too, but tupping the most.”

She was talking fast, and Beck held his breath.

“It shows up in jests and swearing and poems and songs.” She shook her head. “And I know nothing about it. Noooothingggg.” She strung out the word, her shoulders rounding for effect.

Holy Lord. Was she asking what he thought she was asking? He met her gaze, keeping his face neutral. “Ye want me…to teach ye about tupping?”

She straightened. “Aye,” she said with a gusty exhale. “Every little detail.”

His mouth dropped open like a fish caught on a line. What kindly, heroic thing had he done in life for God to grant him such a request from Eliza Wentworth? Did she understand what that meant? “But ye are a virgin, aren’t ye, lass?”

She frowned. “Of course, or I would already know.”

“There are a lot of things that can happen between a man and a woman, Eliza, things that your crew may talk about that go along with tupping, so ye could—”

“All of it. I want to know everything.” Her fingertips bit into the edge of the table.

“From me?” he asked slowly.

Her brows pinched together. “If you don’t want to touch me, you can explain with words.”

“Bloody hell, Eliza, I do.”

“You do what?”

“Want to touch ye, Eliza.” His hand went to his head. “If ye saw my jack under the table right now, ye would have no question about it.”

She ducked her head under the edge of the table. “’Tis covered,” she said, coming back up. Her lips were closed tight as if trying not to laugh. “Captain John said that if I ever want to learn about foking, I need to ask a man I trust, one who won’t rut on top of me only to sate his lust.”

“Ye are not saying this because ye want to gut me?”

She crossed her arms, resting her elbows on the table. “If you do not want—”

“Fok, Eliza, of course I do.”

She smiled broadly. “You said fok.” She nodded. “You teach me to do it, and I’ll teach you to talk like a true sailor.”

He couldn’t stop the deep chuckle from coming out. She looked so…happy, as if this had been weighing on her mind.

Hell, what would he teach her? Every little detail. She wanted to learn everything. He wasn’t celibate for sure. He’d had his share of lovely young widows and lasses who came to him without their maidenhood. But everything?

“What exactly do ye mean by every little detail?” he asked. Talking was keeping him seated and not lunging across the table like a randy lad who’d found his first willing lass. He made the gesture she’d used before, his finger sliding into the circle his other hand made. “Ye obviously know the basics of what goes together.”

She nodded. “Mistress Claire told me, and I’ve heard the act through her walls at the brothel. Lots of grunting and crying out and panting. It sounds like a lot of work.”

Beck stared at her without saying anything, his jack hard as granite under his kilt. The fire crackled in the grate, and the wind whistled around the eaves, coming down the chimney, making the flames dance. If he ripped the table away between them, that might make her pull her knife. Arse, get ahold of yourself.

He took a deep breath. “It can be…vigorous.”

“I get more than enough exercise on board a ship, climbing the lines and working alongside the crew. I should be fine.”

“Aye,” he said, his voice dropping to a rough murmur. “I think ye will do very fine, lass.” His tone brought her gaze to his, her smile fading.

“Should we start now?” she asked.

Aye. “Do ye have any specific questions first?” Because once they started, he would probably not be coherent enough to answer her questions with words.

“I want to know why it seems to consume everyone’s thoughts. And then there are specific acts they talk about.”

Good bloody hell. “Such as?”

“They talk about a woman swallowing or having a mouthful.” She scratched her chin. “Is there drinking or eating involved?”

Beck blinked. “Not…usually.”

“And they talk about riding a girl,” she said, looking across at him. “I might be strong for a woman, but I know I could not carry your weight about. And—”

“Wait,” he said and took a deep breath to rid himself of the scenes her words were creating in his mind. He pushed his chair back and stood, adjusting himself, although he knew there’d be no hiding his rigid jack tenting out his kilt. He walked around the table, and Eliza slid off her perch to stand before him.

She glanced down. “I see it now.”

He let out a chuckle on an exhale. Was God or the Devil jesting with him? At the moment he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was make Eliza Wentworth forget all about what she thought this would be like. She’d lived her life in different types of pain, and he wanted to open her world to pleasure.

No bastards. Aye, he knew that. He’d kept his control enough over the years, and he would with her.

Beck touched a curl that framed her face, sliding his finger along her soft cheek. He bent closer, his face near hers as he met her gaze, letting her see a bit of the lust that flamed through him. “Eliza, lass, are ye sure?”

She met his gaze fiercely. “Aye,” she answered, the single word coming a bit breathless. “I choose you, Beck Macquarie.