A woman disguised as a boy ends up on the pirate ship with the treasure map inked onto her back!
Excerpt from Tristan:
When Gavina heard a blade hit the floor, her eyes sprang back open. The pirate named Aaron had disarmed Birk and now held his sword to Birk’s throat.
“Can I kill him now, Tristan?” asked Aaron. “Can I?”
“Not yet. Lower your sword and stand away.” Tristan slowly walked over to Birk, his boot heels clicking against the wooden floor, the sound thundering in her ears as he walked right past her. He slowly bent down, picking up Birk’s sword, placing it on the table. None of the men even noticed Gavina silently crouching in the corner and she prayed they never would. “Tell me something, Birk,” said Tristan, resting his butt on the table next to the sword. “What’s the name of my ship? Now, think real hard, because you’re not going to want to get this wrong.”
“I – I dinna remember,” admitted the man.
“Give me an answer, because your life depends on it.” Tristan stood up right in front of the man now, looking and sounding very threatening. He was tall with wide shoulders, his presence filling the small room. Next to him, Birk looked tiny. “I’m waiting, Birk.”
“It’s . . . it’s . . .”
“Yes?” Tristan raised a brow.
“It’s the Sea Hawk.”
“Is it?” Tristan’s eyes flashed over to his brothers and they all smiled.
“Nay, mayhap it’s the . . . the . . . Condor,” said Birk nervously. “Aye, that’s yer ship’s name.”
“Are you sure?” Tristan’s voice remained calm and steady as he used his sleeve to shine the flat end of his sword that lay across his lap. Gavina wondered what kind of game he played with Birk. Whatever it was, it seemed to make the man very nervous.
“Nay, wait a minute,” squealed Birk, his voice raising an octave. “Just give me a minute to think. It’s the . . . the . . . Eagle.” He snapped his fingers in the air. “Aye, the name of yer ship is the Eagle.”
“Wrong for the third time, and the odds are not looking to be in your favor.” Tristan remained calm, slowly standing up with his sword clutched in his large fist. “Mayhap I should just tell you. It’s the Falcon,” said Tristan, leaning in closer when he revealed his ship’s name.
“Aye, of course it is. The Falcon. I kent it was a bird,” said Birk. “I promise ye I’ll never forget it again.”
“Don’t worry, because you won’t have to remember.”
“I willna?” Birk’s eyes flashed over to the brothers and back to Tristan. Then his attention was on his dead men lying sprawled across the floor. Slowly, he took a step backwards, looking very frightened. “Why no’?” he asked, his lips quivering as he forced a smile.
“Because, I’m going to kill you, that’s why.”
“B-but ye canna. I have the m-map memorized,” stuttered Birk, his palms going up in the air as if he were trying to make an invisible wall between him and the pirate. “If ye kill me ye’ll never find the treasure.”
“Not true.” Tristan smiled and Birk frowned. “You see, it’s clear to me that if you cannot even remember the name of my damned ship, then you don’t have the map memorized either. That means you’ve got a hidden copy of it somewhere. You stole what was supposed to be mine, and I cannot let you get away with it.”
“Nay, ye’ve got it wrong.” Birk seemed desperate now. “I didna ken it was yer map when I stole it from the old hag. And I dinna have a copy. Ye’ve got to believe me.” Then he slowly lowered his hands and his spine stiffened. His chin lifted as he boldly continued. “Besides, even if I did have a copy of the map, I’d never tell ye where I hid it.”
“I know that. So, I guess I’ll just have to find it myself. Search the room, boys,” Tristan told the two others that were with him.
“With pleasure, starting with Birk.” Aaron reached out and ripped open Birk’s shirt, searching him for a copy of the map.
“Get away. I told you I dinna have it.” Birk pushed him, and Aaron stumbled.
“You’ll die for that, Birk.” With his sword drawn, Aaron lunged at Birk, but Tristan held him back.
“Wait, little brother.”
“What for?” grumbled Aaron. “Let me kill the sneaky bastard.”
“Let’s find that copy of the map first. Search every corner. He couldn’t have hidden it far. He’d never let it out of his sight.”
Gavina whimpered, covering her mouth, but it was too late. They’d heard her.
“Who’s there?” Tristan’s head snapped around and he peered into the far corner. “Come out here into the light where I can see you.” He lifted his blade, leading his way across the room.
Gavina shook with fear, unable to even move. These were the cutthroat pirates that Birk had told her about. Things had gone from bad to worse ever since she set foot in the tavern, and it looked as if her life were over now unless she could somehow escape.
“I said, get out here!” Tristan shouted, reaching out and yanking her to her feet. Her body crashed into his, her cheek momentarily resting up against his bare skin poking through his opened shirt. She pushed away, daring to look up into the eyes of the pirate devil.