Shiver Her Timbers by Alex Westmore
- Historical Adventure
- 85,000 Words
It’s been six years since Quinn started dressing as a man in order to sneak aboard the most notorious pirate ship ever to set sail upon the seven seas—and those years have definitely begun to take their toll.
Now Quinn must choose between continuing her high seas adventure or revealing a truth that could very well destroy both of her double lives and both of the women she’d give anything to protect. Is Quinn the woman she always thought she was, or has she become the pirate rogue she pretends to be? Will she choose love, honor, truth… or none of the above?
The stakes are higher than ever as Quinn, Grace, and the crew of the Malendroke come to the Queen’s rescue once more. And, this time, not everyone will get out alive.
Read an Excerpt
Quinn Gallagher expertly drove her short sword through the Englishman’s neck, then used her foot against his belly to push him off it. He was dead before he hit the ground, the third such pirate to feel the bite from her sword.
Hearing her pirate nom de plume, Quinn whirled around in time to prevent her head from being cleaved in two by a long sword already soiled with the blood of another. An ugly-ass man with a pockmarked face and eyes like a shark came at her, sword raised, hatred in his black eyes.
Their swords made a loud clang as they careened off each other. Her foe, a man nearly twice her size yet doubly slow, did not recover in time.
Knocking him off his feet with a leg sweep, Quinn rose, looked him in the eye, and then plunged her sword through his heart, killing him instantly. He dropped to his knees as she yanked it back out.
Glancing around the bloody deck of the English ship they’d boarded, Quinn saw an easy victory for her Irish. These English were too soft… too weak. They, like their landed brethren, did not understand nor did they appreciate the tenacity and determination of the Irish clans. They did not fully respect the grit and guts of Grace O’Malley and her crew. As a result, they were at this moment paying the highest price for underestimating the crew of the Malendroke.
Grace O’Malley, Scourge of the Seas, Queen of Connacht, Captain of Men, the list of titles went on. Grace O’Malley, captain of the Irish ship known as the Malendroke, was busy fighting off—not one, but two—English adversaries. She needed no help from her men to finish them both off. Few who met her ever forgot her or the manner in which she and her men fought.
Some called her Grainne, others Granuaile, and still others just called her dangerous because of all she had accomplished as a woman commanding a ship of two hundred men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Grace had been captaining the Malendroke for years and had garnered a fiercely loyal group of pirates who fought better than any on the high seas.
It was these men who were fighting now for more than just a toll for passing ships. No, these were men of the O’Faherty and O’Neill clans who had begun fighting for their way of life once Elizabeth had taken the throne in England eight years ago. Since her coronation, Elizabeth had started replacing the clans’ chieftains with English nobles and lords in what was called plantation.
That fact had never sat well with the Irish, so Grace and her pirates were fighting for more than booty and plunder. They were fighting now for tradition, for their families, for their way of life.
When the last Englishman was run through and tossed overboard, Quinn and the first mate, Innis, stood shoulder to shoulder surveying their prize.
The English ship had run aground near Grace’s home on Clare Island. Grace had declared war on any English ship that came into her sight ever since she’d had a run-in with young Francis Drake six years ago. He had done more than ruffle her feathers––he’d exposed talons she would use to tear the British ships apart piece by piece.
“Well now, lad, it would appear we have captured yet another one of Her Majesty’s royal piece-of-jackarse ships,” Innis said. “Either we’re gettin’ tougher, or they’re gettin’ softer.”
“Maybe a little of both. It’s almost become too easy.” Quinn motioned for the men to go below.
“Careful, Callaghan. When ya get overconfident is the moment a lesser man runs ya through.” Innis patted her shoulder and joined the men below to make sure whatever bounty sat in the hold didn’t make its way into a pocket or twelve.
As Quinn watched him descend the stairs, another man took his place by Quinn’s side. “Ya two work well together, laddie. Considerin’ the past between ya, I’m a wee bit surprised.”
Turning, Quinn nodded to Tavish McGee, a block of a Scot with shoulder-length flaming red hair and a full beard to match. In the sunlight, the gold strands looked silver as his beard, a tad lighter than his hair, revealed some aging.
“Took long enough, but the arse sorta grew on me.”
Tavish chuckled. “Tis hard fer a man to be replaced in the peckin’ order of things. I’m glad to see he finally came around even if he is an arsehole most of the time.”
“He’s a good sailor––faithful to Captain O’Malley. In the end, I suppose that’s all that matters.”
“Yer a better man than I, Callaghan. I’da tossed his arse overboard at night if he’d treated me the way he done ya.”
“We got past it.”
“He wasna none too nice to yer brother, either. How’s old Paddy these days?”
Patrick Callaghan, Quinn’s brother, had tried to join her as a pirate on this great ship, but the sea life hadn’t been for him. Quinn smiled, thinking of him. “Last time I went home, he was doing much better. The sea life was not for him. He finally got some color besides green back in his cheeks.”
Tavish laughed. “Och, aye. He was a fish outta water, that boy. Best thing that happened to him was to get offa the ship. I’m glad he’s doin’ better.”
They stood in silence as the men started bringing up chest after chest from the hold.
“Bloody hell… ” Tavish murmured as one chest led to ten and then to fourteen. “Did ya ken, Callaghan?”
They were joined by Connor, another of Quinn’s best friends on the ship. “This is quite a shipment, Callaghan. That bitch queen in England is gonna pitch a fit when she hears that we nicked this from her.”
“So,” Tavish butted in again, “the squatty Scot asked if ya knew there was this much on board. Didja?”
Quinn did not move, but stood with her hands behind her back as the last chest was hauled from the belly of the beast. It was far more than she had expected. “Not even remotely, Tavish. I knew she was sittin’ low, but I had no idea she was carryin’ this much coin.”
The men gathered around, as was their custom on the Malendroke, and waited to see if the wounds were worth the booty.
Oftentimes, they weren’t.
This was not one of those times.
“Callaghan, would ya like to do the honor?” Innis asked, placing his booted foot on top of one of the wooden chests. His worn boot had both fresh and dried blood on it.
“Absolutely!” Quinn raised her sword and the rest of the men followed suit. They had grown to love her in their six years together. The fact that the young Callaghan still didn’t grow a beard seemed to bother them not at all; they had stopped questioning it long ago. As long as she continued to drink, fight, and fuck like a man, that was really all that mattered.
“For Ireland!” Quinn shouted.
“For Ireland!” the men replied.
“For Captain O’Malley!” Quinn shouted louder.
“For Captain O’Malley!” came their echo.
“Be my guest, Innis. Let’s see what else these scalawags were transportin’ over our sea.”
The men quieted while Innis broke the lock and knelt down in front of the wooden chest. “For Eyre,” he whispered, opening the chest.
Nobody made a sound.
Inside the chest was a man’s head lying on top of gold and silver coins. The man’s hair was red. His face looked as if it had been beaten prior to being cut off.
Innis rose slowly. “It would appear,” he said, turning to the men, “that someone lost his head over a pile of gold.”
The men erupted in laughter and banged their swords on the deck.
Tavish was the only man on deck not celebrating as he ambled over to gaze down at the head in the chest.
Quinn joined him and looked alternately from the chest to Tavish and back again. Sensing his tenseness and ire, she held her sword up for silence.
The men slowly quieted down as Grace descended the steps. “Well, Callaghan? Are we richer than we were yesterday?”
Gently closing the lid, Tavish stepped away from the chest and muttered under his breath.
“Tavish?” Grace asked, stepping up to gaze down at the chest. “Mother of god. Do not be celebratin’ this, fellas.”
The crew silenced immediately.
Running his hand through his beard, Tavish stared out at the coastline. “Captain’s right. This is nothin’ to celebrate, laddies. We’ve got a Scottish head and English gold, and that can only mean one thing. Elizabeth is comin’ after us all.”
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