The Pirate's Booty by Alex Westmore
- Historical Adventure
- 95,000 Words
When Quinn Gallagher’s childhood friend is abducted from a dock in Ireland, she’ll do whatever it takes to come to the rescue—even if that means dressing as a man and joining the crew of one of the most notorious pirate captains the world has ever seen.
Quinn soon finds there is much to enjoy living as a man, in particular the company of other women. When she finds herself falling hard for Lady Fiona, a woman far above her own station, she is torn between revealing her true identity and continuing the façade of being a male pirate. Love is never easy, especially in the sixteenth century and especially under false pretenses.
Can Quinn live with one foot in two different worlds, or must she consign herself to either the lusty life of a pirate or the loveless life of a noble woman? Come sail the high seas in this exciting and erotic adventure with the fierce pirate Gallagher as your guide. You’re in for a wild ride and may even score some booty along the way.
Read an Excerpt
Quinn Gallagher had soft, creamy thighs pressed against her ears, so she didn’t hear the wooden door fracture as it blew open until it was too late.
“Think ya can just waltz in here and bed me woman, ya filthy cur?”
Before Quinn could lift her head from between the woman’s legs, the large, red-bearded man grabbed her by the back of her leather jerkin and flung her like a rag doll against the far wall. Her shoulders and head slammed hard into the wood.
The woman screamed and covered herself up with a sheet. “Sachin! No!”
“No?” the large man growled, ambling over to where a crumpled Quinn was slowly rising to her feet. “Ya let another man touch ya and think I’ll let him live?” Grabbing Quinn by the throat with one hand, he brought his meaty fist back. “And a pitiful excuse of a man he is.” As the giant glared at Quinn, his wife leapt on his back and started beating him about the head.
“Get off me, ya crazy bitch!” Releasing Quinn, he grabbed a handful of his wife’s hair and pulled her over his shoulder. She landed with a thump on the hard floor. As he cocked his fist once more, Quinn dove at him, burying her shoulder into his abdomen.
A “woof” sound escaped from his lungs as they crashed into the far wall, knocking frames down and sending candles crashing to the ground.
The two of them fell to the floor, with Quinn landing on top. In one swift motion, she pulled her boot dagger out and pressed it against his neck. “Twitch and I’ll make yer throat look like it’s smiling.”
Red Beard stopped struggling and glared hard into Quinn’s face. “Ya don’t got the stones.”
“Au contraire, my foul-smelling jackass. Do ya know who Captain Grace O’Malley is?”
“Of course I do. Don’t be daft. Everraone knows who she is.”
“Well ya see, she’s my captain, and if she hears that ya have abused this poor woman in enna way, we will return ta gut ya like a fish while we both stand and watch. Do ya understand what I am saying?”
He cursed, then nodded.
“Good. This is no idle threat.” Quinn nodded toward the woman, who was still cowering on the floor. “Had I known she was a wife, I would not have presumed myself upon her as I have. My apologies fer doing so. It won’t happen again. M’lady,” Quinn asked, not looking up from her adversary, “would ya be so kind as ta place the tip of my sword upon his brow?”
The woman scrambled to retrieve a sword from beside the bed and then placed the tip near Red Beard’s eye. Quinn quickly rose and jumped back, her dagger in front of her. “Now I shall take my leave. Mark my words, ya scurrilous lout: touch a hair on her head, and we will come fer ya. There is no place ya can run or hide that Grace O’Malley’s pirates won’t find ya and… what did I say we would do ta ya?”
“Gut me like a fish.” Every word was said with a slight growl.
“Ya’d do well ta remember that.” With that, Quinn grabbed her seaman’s jacket and bolted from the house, just in time to catch up with the rest of the crew as they made their way back to the ship.
“Callaghan!” one called out. “How are ya doin’, man? Collectin’ more wenches’ hearts?”
Quinn smiled and joined the men, none of whom had no idea she was a woman. “Never been better, Connor. Never been better.”
* * *
They headed back to a large galleon that was creaking and groaning as it gently bobbed in the water just off the pier. Some men were on their hands and knees scrubbing blood from the deck while others made various repairs to the masts and sails. There was always a task to be done on a ship of this size. At least two hundred men worked on board, and yet the labor never seemed to end. That’s what had surprised Quinn the most when she first forged her way onto the ship dressed as a man over a month ago. The work was as endless as the sea, and yet she had somehow managed to trade her noblewoman’s uncomfortable dresses for the more casual and relaxed pants and leather jerkin pirates so often wore.
She had never expected to enjoy being a pirate. It wasn’t as if she’d always longed to be one. No, she was here out of sheer desperation.
That first moment she had stood before Captain Grace O’Malley, queen of Connacht and chieftain of the O’Malley clan, Quinn had thought she might wet herself. Never had she met a more intimidating person—male or female—than this woman.
Standing taller than almost any man Quinn had ever met, red hair flowing about her like a lion’s mane, sizing Quinn up with eyes that looked like they were piercing her soul, Grace O’Malley was everything Quinn had heard about and more. She had a commanding presence that made you know that she was royalty, that she was a leader, that she demanded your respect or your head. She was, in a word, self-possessed, and Quinn hadn’t been at all certain if gaining access to the ship was the right thing to do.
She’d nearly fainted that first day when Grace O’Malley tilted her head this way and that before asking Quinn if she’d been weaned yet. She made a remark about Quinn’s soft skin and asked if she’d ever shaved. Grace had eyes like a hawk, and when they locked onto Quinn’s face, she felt as if this woman was seeing right through her.
But Quinn had needed this ship. She had needed the likes of this pirate queen who could get her where she needed to go without fear of being molested or badgered by men.
And the only way to do that was to become one of them.
No man wanted a woman on board a pirate ship––they were considered bad luck. And even though Grace commanded this vessel, the “no women” theory still applied for reasons Quinn was never quite sure of.
In the end, it hadn’t mattered. Grace accepted Quinn Gallagher as Kieran Callaghan and took her on as the lowliest member of the crew… meaning she did all the shite work.
That was a month ago, and so far being on a pirate ship was not at all what Quinn had expected.
She hadn’t anticipated such a familial environment where these men actually embraced each other and enjoyed each other’s somewhat robust company. While she had reveled in sparring with her brother Patrick when they were kids, she’d never really met people who seemed to so love being alive. She had constantly marveled at their ability to find the zest in their surroundings, and it was contagious.
Well, contagious for everyone but Patrick, who appeared ill suited for the ribaldry and revelry of the pirate lifestyle.
She also hadn’t expected to be in awe of Grace O’Malley’s commanding presence and the way she ordered men about. It was exhilarating to watch them scurry around, following her orders. In the elite world where Quinn Gallagher grew up, women were nothing more than chattel to be sealed away and treated with little more dignity than a prized horse. To watch this woman lead was awe-inspiring.
But most of all, Quinn hadn’t expected to fall in love with being a pirate.
That month had been an eye-opening experience for the two siblings who had grown up in manors with servants and privilege. As members of the newly formed noble class of Irish, they had never had to fight for anything, never had to wonder where their next meal was coming from, and never had to worry about someone running them through with a blade. All of this showed on Patrick. In the time they’d been on the ship, Patrick had lost weight, suffered three slash wounds, and wore a sickly green pallor whenever the seas became rough.
Which was almost always.
Still, Quinn wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything, as she had already seen more of the world in one month than she had in twenty-two years of living.
She loved it. Everything about it, from the simplicity of the salt air on her face to the hazards of swinging aboard another ship in order to plunder it—she loved it all. The camaraderie, the freedom, and the comfort of walking about unmolested by men was astounding to her.
She loved it.
And in the quiet nights that she lay in her bunk thinking about the promise she’d made and why she had donned male attire, Quinn never forgot the real reason for her duplicity.
As much as she loved being a pirate, she loved Shea even more. She needed to keep the promise she’d made to Shea long ago when they were children, a promise she was certain Shea would have kept for her.
“Daydreamin’ again, Callaghan?” Grace’s voice boomed from the prow where she oversaw the cleaning crew.
“Yes, ma—er, sir. No, sir. Uh… ” Quinn fought back a grin at her own slip-up. She’d not had the guts to ask anyone why they called Grace “sir,” but they all did it. So did she. After a while, it just seemed natural, but that didn’t mean Quinn still got it right every time.
Grace O’Malley threw her head back and belted out a laugh that carried across the ship. “Fer god’s sake, Callaghan, get yer arse back ta a tavern and enjoy some land time. I sent word we’d not be shoving off til mornin’. Ya have plenty more time ta bed plenty more wenches. Now, off with ya before I find some work fer ya ta do.”
Connor grabbed Quinn’s arm and yanked her toward the plank. “She doesn’t have ta tell me twice. Come on, Callaghan. Let’s go find some more tender, juicy snacks.”
Connor McBride was the first pirate Quinn had approached at the Ox Bow Tavern in Galway. He asked her if she could play cards, and she said she could, though she’d only ever watched Patrick play. At the end of the night, Quinn had won, and when she’d turned to Connor to give him her winnings, he’d offered to bring her to Grace.
They’d been friends ever since. Connor had showed her how to work a sail, how to shoot a bow, and how to avoid the grunt work the others hated doing.
As they left the ship, Quinn glanced over her shoulder and watched Grace shout out orders to the rest of the men.
Captain Grace O’Malley had changed Quinn’s life.
Now she wasn’t so sure she could ever go back to the old one.
Her old life. It felt so very far away and almost like a dream… and nightmare. She had never enjoyed the caging clothing noblewomen were forced to wear or the fact that women had so very little say in their lives. Yes, she was well cared for and wanted for nothing, but that could be said for the chickens or cows.
No, this was the life for her—and at this moment, as she gazed around her at the vibrant life and felt the hum from the pure joy of being alive, Quinn Gallagher was pretty certain she could never go back.
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