A Pirate’s Curse

MLGuida_APiratesCurseA Pirate’s Curse

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Awards *About the book * Excerpt

 

 

 

 

 

 

(awards)

 

Finalist in RomCon’s 2014 Readers’ Crown

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in the Paranormal Category

 

an All ERomance Best Seller

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A Pirate’s Curse finaled in the Romance Through The Ages Contest in the Legend category!

A Pirate’s Curse (formerly The Scourge of the Soaring Phoenix) recently finaled in The Hearts Through History Romance Writers in their Romance Through The Ages in the Legend, A Man for All Seasons Contest!

 

 

 

 

(about the book)

The date is 1671, high season for pirates in the Caribbean. As Hannah Knight reluctantly travels with her father to Port Royal to marry her betrothed, their ship is attacked. Dread turns to horror as she realizes these are no ordinary pirates. They are vampires bent on murdering them all and drinking human blood.

After her telekinetic powers fail to save them and their vessel, Hannah and her father jump ship, taking their chances with the sea. They are rescued by the dashing pirate, Kane O’Brien. Finding Hannah is not the cabin boy she resembles, but a lush, beautiful woman, tempts his appetites. Soon he finds his attraction to her both a blessing and a curse, because Kane has his own secrets. Every full moon, he turns into a vampire.

Fascinated by the honorable and bold Captain, Hannah has much to hide. Dare she share her secrets with him? Or will he condemn her as a witch? As the confrontation between good and evil approaches, Kane and Hannah must devise a plan to change their destinies. Only together can they defeat the malicious vampires, thwart a misogynist fiancé and escape the demon bent on their death and destruction.

 

(excerpt)

Chapter One

The ragtag sailing ship sped toward them in a thirty knot tailwind, the black flag flapping from the main mast. Pirates! Twenty-year-old Hannah’s stomach tightened as the rogue ship chased them.

“Miss,” Sally whispered. Hannah’s maid, and constant companion, bit her lip and stared, her eyes wide at the pursuing frigate. “What if they overtake us?”

“We haven’t lost yet, Sally.”

Hannah prayed they would be mistaken for cabin boys. She prayed the bindings restraining their breasts and their drooping breeches that hid their curves were convincing. She prayed they would escape her father’s warning of the rape and torture of female captives.

A cannonball sailed through the air and smashed into the Dolphin’s second mast, splintering wood.  Sally clutched Hannah’s arm, digging her fingers into her flesh, and screaming.

Large holes shattered and ripped the topsails of the Dutch flute ship. Fragments of wood crashed into the black sea, splashing water onto the portside. The smell of burning wood ignited a stream of heat down Hannah’s spine. She coughed and her eyes burned.

The pirate ship’s long gun fired. Canister shot flew through the air. A sailor shrieked. His face blackened and bloody, he twirled around on the deck and fell over the side into the dark ocean.

The frigate pursued the slower Dolphin through the black smoke. The flute sailed at twenty knots, her top speed, but the frigate skipped across the moonlight water, closing the gap fast. Cannons fired. Bar shot flew through the air, knocking three men into the water.

Screams of pain, cracks of guns, splitting of wood, filled Hannah’s ears.

“Hannah,” her father yelled. “Get below deck. Now.”

Ignoring her father’s order, she gripped the railing and waited, praying they could out maneuver the pirates.

“Make ready the guns,” the Dolphin’s boatswain, John Vane ordered. His brown hair had fallen loose from his queue and spilled over his broad shoulders. At over six feet tall John never had to repeat an order.

He unsheathed his cutlass, his hazel eyes trained upon the enemy.

Dolphin’s gunners were surprisingly synchronized. Men rammed cartridges down the cannon, packing the charge tight into the chamber. Other crewmen rolled the cannonball down the muzzle. Hemp rope was stuffed in to keep the cannonball from rolling out. After priming the cannons, the men waited for a rolling wave and John’s order.

“Fire,” he commanded.

The cannons roared, jolting the ship. Cannonballs hit the vast frigate’s haul, but she failed to veer away. Sweat pouring down his temples, her father, Captain Justin Knight, peered through his spyglass. “Damn! It didn’t even slow her down.”

Her father never swore. Biting her lip, Hannah gripped the railing, her arms shaking.

The crew held swords and pistols at the ready as the frigate grew closer. Hannah wished her father hadn’t forbidden her a weapon. She desperately desired the security of her own cutlass or sword or pike, even if she had no idea how to use one.

On the frigate, shipboard cannon returned fire, the loud boom racking her ears. She winced. Musket balls and lead pellets hurled through the air. Two crewmen staggered and fell on the deck, their blood staining the wet wood.

A chunk of burning timber crashed onto the deck beside her. Fire burst out, lighting up the midnight sky. Swelling smoke snaked around the ship. Men threw buckets of water onto the flames—to no avail. The roaring blaze quickly dissolved into steam. The crew was running out of water, out of buckets and out of time.

Grandmother’s voice whispered in Hannah’s mind. You can help them. Block out every sound. Concentrate my dear. Control your fear.

Although Grandmother had been dead over a year, her voice would echo in Hannah’s ear and push her to conjure up her power to move objects with her mind. She never saw Grandmother’s ghost, but her voice was real, clear, strong.  Her sisters didn’t possess the ability, didn’t want the ability and didn’t need to fight for their father’s love. Grandmother said Hannah was blessed. Blessed wasn’t what her father alleged.

“I can help.” Hannah stared at Sally as she removed her clinging fingers.

Sally nodded, her lower lip trembling. “But your father.”

“I know.” Hannah bit her lip and rubbed her shaking palms on her breeches. She’d be breaking her father’s most steadfast rule—never reveal her cursed power. Her backside ached and the welts had yet to fade from the last time she broke his rule. Chills rushed through her at defying him.

A wave rushed over the Dolphin, carrying away a sailor. He bobbed up and down screaming in the ocean.

Hannah blocked out the screams and sounds of cannon fire and stared at a rope. Her power swirled inside her, spreading tingles over her. One end of the rope flung into the sea, encircled the shrieking man and yanked him back on board.

Her father stormed across the deck. “You foolish girl, John would have saved him. I forbid you to use your power aboard my ship again. Or the next time, I swear I’ll sell you off as an indentured servant and send you to the Americas.”

He grabbed her arm and shook her. “Do you hear me?”

“Yes,” she murmured. Her grandparents and mother were dead. No one would stop him. What choice did she have but to obey?

He narrowed his eyes. “No, I think you need something to remember my warning.” He threw her up against the railing and thrashed her lower back. She cried out.

“Captain,” a male voice yelled.

“Don’t do it again,” her father hissed in her ear and stormed off.

Hannah rubbed her backside and blinked back tears. What choice did she have? She had to try and save their crew. Father would punish her again. If they survived…

She braced her shoulders and refused to give into her panic.

Ignore the fear. Ignore the fear. Ignore the fear.

Closing her eyes, Hannah inhaled and drew on her power. Her heart fluttered and her body prickled. Slowing her breath, she opened her eyes, blocked out the screams around her and faced the ocean, palms out. A blowing wind of energy left her hands. Hair swirled around her face and her shirt billowed and her breeches flapped. Using her power to dip into the ocean and create a steady stream of water, she spun the stream into a twirling funnel.

“The waves,” one of the crewmen yelled. “Blimey. Look out!”

Droplets of seawater fell onto her face and hands. The funnel splashed onto the deck, sucking up the flames. Steam coiled through the ship.  The crewmen stared at her owl-eyed. She half smiled. For once, her powers worked.

Wetness trickled out of her nose and into her mouth. She moistened her lips. There was no mistake—blood. Damn, a bloody nose. The wind died. Her hair fell limp across her shoulders and her overlarge shirt and breeches sagged onto her small frame.

The funnel waned into a tiny shower of rain and dissolved. As her power diminished, she dropped her aching arms to her side and caught her breath.

“Hannah.” Her father yelled her name like an expletive.

She jumped.

Her father approached, his pewter gray eyes narrowed. Wind blew his salt and pepper black hair around his scowling face. He grabbed her arm and bit his fingers into her flesh. She winced.

“What did I tell you about using your accursed power?”

“I…I…I wanted to help.”

His punishing scowl sent her blood thumping through her veins.

“We haven’t lost yet. Now…”

“She’s gonna break,” Spencer Billings, the rope maker cried.

Her father released her. The large main mast that gave the ship all its speed, snapped and swayed, tattered white sails swinging overhead. The ship rocked, dangerously from side to side, water sloshed up on the deck, crewmen slamming onto the portside rail.

Hannah froze. The ship was perishing.

Another cannonball crashed into the portside, the ship groaned and shuddered. Hannah bumped into her father’s stomach. He grabbed her arms, fear reflected in his eyes. “Use your damn powers.”

“But father, you said…”

“I know what I said!” He glared at her. “Use them dammit, or we are all dead.”

Sally put her hand on her shoulder. “I believe in you, Miss.”

Hannah nodded.

The broken mast and sails collapsed into the water. The dying ship groaned as it tilted sharply to the starboard side. The ship moaned and moaned and moaned. Hannah slipped on the canted deck and smashed into the mast. Stunned, she shook her head.

You can do this. Focus, my dear, focus.

Sweat trickled down her back. Hannah wiped her hot face on her sleeve. Despite the rising heat, she shivered as she crawled to her feet, clinging to the broken mast. If only Grandmother was there, offering her encouraging words, coaxing her on how to draw on her power. But Grandmother was dead.

Hannah pictured Grandmother standing next to her in her favorite green gown embroidered with gold and silver beads, bracelets dangling from her wrists. Long, white hair pulled into a soft bun. Her green eyes had always captivated her. In the sunlight, her eyes lightened and turned bluish-green while in the moonlight, her eyes darkened to an emerald.

“Believe in yourself, Hannah,” Grandmother had always said.

Holding onto Grandmother’s words, Hannah’s surging power sent sweeping tingles through her limbs. She held up her hands, palms facing the dangling broken mask, and sails floating in the black ocean. Her hair swept around her face and her energy flowed once again, her shirt and breeches rippling around her.

Energy swirled away, forming a whirlwind of air that spun around the mast. Bits of wood and splinters slammed back into the cracked mast. The wavering beam lifted away from the railing, dragging the sails out of the ocean.

Another cannonball crashed into the portside. Hannah jolted and fell flat onto the deck. Her concentration broke. The mast snapped, spun half away around and crashed onto the railing, splashing back into the water. A jagged crack split the middle of the ship, the bow dipping lower into the ocean. “No,” she half-choked.

Perspiration dripped down her forehead. Her heart pounded. With each beat, the tingling in her numb fingertips lessened as the power receded. She swiped trickling blood from her nose.

A strong hand yanked her off the deck and she gazed into her father’s menacing glare. “You failed. Again.”

Her lower lip trembled and she blinked back tears of failure and fear.

He shook his head and released her as if he couldn’t bear to touch her. The fire’s glow glistened off the heavy gold rings, adorning his fat clenched fingers.

“Capt’n, they’re here,” Spencer yelled. “’Tis the Fiery Damsel.”

“I can see, you half-wit,” her father shouted.

Hannah swallowed. The bowsprit, headed right for them, but rather than ramming them, the ship edged closer, coming parallel.

“Prepare to be boarded.” John bellowed.

Pirates waved swords over their heads and shook their fists.  “Prepare to die,” they jeered.

Crackling flames shined on their merciless faces. She gasped. Had she imagined it? Was the moonlight and fire playing tricks? She shook her head and stared again. No, it couldn’t be. No man had glowing red eyes.

The Dolphin’s crew drew their swords and aimed pistols. John yelled, “Death to pirates.”

“Damn it, Hannah,” her father clutched her arm. “We are all dead, thanks to you.”

Hannah slumped and hung her head. Why did her powers fail her when she needed them most?

“Hannah, they’re coming.” Sally clutched Hannah and pulled her towards the stern. “We have got to get out of here. Oh my Lord, what are they?”