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Her Navy Man
There’s only smooth sailing for Mia Winthrop in the commanding arms of her husband. Even his strict discipline for mutiny can’t stem the tides. Not when he works pain and pleasure like a wheel and rudder to master her heart. But in England that might not be enough to sustain her in the rough waters of British society and the sharks trolling there.
His Pirate Wife
Devin Winthrop returned home a hero because of his wife. But as the past rises up to swamp them, he must keep the pirate in her below board. What it takes to hold the helm as others take shots broadside at his wife, his marriage, and his career, may be more than any ship’s captain can endure. When the cannon goes silent and the smoke clears, only one ship can remain.
Sink or Swim
Mia and Devin will do all they can to not let the life they have sink. But as the waters darken and churn they must use everything they know about keeping the bow up, the ballasts level and the sails full, or they won’t only lose the battle, they’ll lose each other.
Publisher’s Note: This historical romance includes steamy scenes of domestic discipline and explicit encounters.
Portsmouth, England 1827
With a heavy sigh Mia Winthrop lifted her hand and jerked at the ribbons of her bonnet. Tossing the hat aside she reached for the fastenings of her cloak. “Mr. Hong?” she called out and tried reaching the buttons of the dress herself. “Mr. Hong?” panic edged her voice. She was running out of time to get this right. The Iron Rose would dock in a little more than an hour. Every sailor on board dressed to the nines. The ship itself was freshly painted and polished. But Mia looked a mess. Hearing a sound at the door and without looking she said, “Mr. Hong, please hurry. I can’t wear this. Help me change.”
“I still don’t understand that language, Mia.” Mia spun around at the sound of Captain Devin Winthrop’s voice. The man was Adonis in his best uniform, cut to fit his lean and muscled form.
“I thought you were Hong Chin, I need to change,” Mia said, trying to reach the buttons at her back.
“Change? Mia, you look beautiful and…” He gestured around the cabin to the eleven other dresses Mia already tried on that morning. “What might you have left to try on?” Her husband crossed the cabin to her. “You’re beautiful and what you have on is perfect.” He reached out and straightened the velvet bow tied under her breasts. Maybe the brush of his knuckle was an accident, but given how his eyes shone she didn’t think so.
“You have to say that,” she pouted as she stepped into his touch.
He chuckled. “I do, but I don’t have to lie about it like other men.” He lifted his fingers to the swell of her tits at the top of her neckline. “You’re perfect.”
“For a pirate or a wife?” She tipped her head to the side and closed her eyes as his fingers drifted up her neck, then around it.
“Aye, a perfect pirate wife,” he said then drew her closer as he bent to kiss her lips.
It was a brief act, but Mia felt it warm her and when she stepped closer to Devin she felt what it did to him. “Have we any time at all, Captain?” she asked. “I need to undress and change into something that won’t embarrass you.”
“I beg your pardon?” Devin snapped back. “What did you say?”
“I don’t want to be an embarrassment. This is your homecoming and I—” the wind was knocked out of her when Devin set his foot on the bench and yanked her over his knee. “Devin no,” she cried as his palm landed hard in the center of her ass.
“What did you say, Mia?” he asked, even as he bent and pulled the hem of her skirts clear up her back. “Say it to me again.”
“Captain, please. I want this to be well done. I don’t want to embarrass… ow!” she cried out when his palm smacked down again.
“Try again, Mia mine,” he said and rubbed his hand over the spot he just struck.
“Devin,” she sighed and tried to clench her thighs together.
“Tell me Mia,” he ordered as he scratched his fingers down the back of her left leg then up the inside and down the inside right and back up the back of the same. “Tell me.”
“Devin,” Mia called again and gave up trying to hide the fact she was wet and ready for him. “Please?” she begged as she lay draped upside down over his thigh.
His hand landed again, jolting her, and sending a rippling ache through her. “I expect an answer, pirate,” he said and again rubbed her ass softly.
“Captain, please I need to change and…” It was always a balance with her husband. She could push enough that he’d give her only what she wanted. A pain that led to pleasure. Or she could push too much and receive real pain. Real pain is what followed when Devin leaned forward and lifted the batten from the wall hook, snapping it down on her ass.
Mia screeched and tried to wiggle down, but Devin held her over his knee. “Devin? That hurt.”
“Did it? It was meant to. Now tell me again what you should’ve said.” He didn’t sound all too angry, though he often didn’t when he made the decision her acts required a proper spanking. “I’m waiting, Mia,” he threatened and backed that by using the wood slat to rub her ass.
She wasn’t quite ready to give up, but she might get what she wanted faster and time was short. “I meant to say that I want to make this the best homecoming for you. I want to make you proud. This dress won’t do that.”
“Way to find a headwind, pirate,” Devin said with a laugh, and Mia heard the slat hit the bench right before his hand cracked down. The powerful surge pushed her a little higher. “Spread your legs, Mia. Show me how you like me to do this.”
“Devin.” She loved and hated when he made her do these things. But she knew love floated because she always did them. She shifted her hips and spread her legs as wide as she could.
“Look at you. So beautiful,” he said, placing a finger between her folds and drawing it up to her ass then down to the throbbing nub that waited for what she knew came next. “My little pirate, what is it you like again? This?” He gently rubbed her clit and Mia shivered as she tried to push down on his finger. “No, that’s not it at all. Was it this?” he asked, and gave the swelling bud a flick. Again, it wasn’t enough to push as high as she needed, but it was too much she couldn’t come down.
“Captain, please,” she begged, and reached out to find something to hold. His hip and the leg she was over was all she found. “Please, Captain.”
“Say my name, Mia.” His fingers flicked at her a little harder and he reached over her back then under his own leg with his other hand. Pushing through the material. “Say my name, be a good wife.”
“Devin,” she released his name on a long sigh and waited. A few heartbeats and she felt him chuckle right before his left fingers pinched down and his right shoved well up into her channel. Mia cried out, clenched down and let Devin work her until the currents pulled her under. She cried out, held on, and rode the wave.
“You couldn’t embarrass me if you tried, Mia,” Devin said as she gasped for breath. “I knew what you were when I wed you.” He put his hands around her waist and dropped both his foot and her to the floor.
“Captain, you thought me to be a pirate and a whore,” Mia said stepping into his embrace as the ship rocked hard. Those first days after her papa forced them to wed weren’t easy sailing. They’d weathered a few storms as they learned to ride the seas together.
“And spoiled and willful and,” he said then reached for the bulkhead as the ship rocked again, “and still perfect.”
Mia huffed and slapped his arm. “I’m not sure, Captain, I care for your opinions of my person,” she said and then grabbed him tight as the ship rocked again. They must have entered the breakwaters at the mouth of the harbor.
“Really?” he said reaching for the bonnet she’d tossed aside.
“Really. I’m not spoiled,” she told him as he made to set the hat on her head. His hardy laughter rang out.
“I beg your pardon. You are correct. You’re not at all spoiled,” he said bending to kiss her softly then going back to tying the ribbons of the bonnet under her chin.
She was spoiled, though not in the manner that made the insult hurtful. She’d earned her place as captain in Papa’s fleet. It wasn’t given to her like some toy or pretty jewel. And she knew now when Devin called her spoiled, he didn’t mean it like that. She was spoiled, a little. Her papa spoiled her, the crews on his ships spoiled her and in his own way her husband spoiled her, too. Only he had a limit as to the amount of rot he tolerated.
“I forgive you,” she sighed as he stepped around her and retrieved her cloak from the floor.
He set it over her shoulders then came around to do the fastenings. “Such a forgiving little wench I have for a wife,” he said and chuckled again.
“If we still have time perhaps I might show you the naughty whore you wed,” Mia said trying to smile innocently while she did. That her husband liked her willingness in bed, praised her and thanked her for it regularly, only made her want to spend more time there. He’d told her once he thought it sad men had to seek out mistresses, lovers, and whores after marriage. He believed himself the luckiest man in the world to have a wife who’d be everything to him and who enjoyed those roles she played.
“Mia,” he growled, “do you know what you do to me?”
“Aye, I can see it right there,” she said pointing to his crotch where his pants budged. She made to place her hand over it, but he grabbed it and brought it to his chest instead.
“No, Mia,” he said pressing a hand over hers as she felt the beat of his heart. “This,” he patted her hand, “is what you do to me.” She smiled up at him. For all the rough seas they’d sailed, figuratively and literally, Devin never left her feeling unsafe or unprotected. He was her anchor and compass and she the wind in his sails. “Damn I’m a lucky man,” he said again as he placed one more kiss on her lips.
“Aye, Captain,” she said. Then she heard the bell ring out.
“I think we need to go topside,” he told her putting his hand at the small of her back and ushering her out. “The winds are calm enough Mia, but it’s cold. Keep your coat about you and don’t stand in the spray if you can help it.”
“I don’t like your island, Captain,” Mia said and followed him to the helm. Leaving behind the only home she knew in the Caribbean was hard. The warm sun and bright blue waters were a stark contrast to the cold fog and black waters of this port.
“Give it a chance Mia,” Devin said taking the wheel from Mr. Quiggly. “It isn’t always like this. It’s after all November. Winter anywhere is less than welcoming.”
Mia shrugged and gave the quartermaster a smile as he stepped off the helm to join the crew around the deck. Even in this early morning Mia could see a crowd forming along the docks. They were arriving with more fanfare than Mia thought. But then her husband and his crew were heroes.
They’d captured a slave ship, though it was Mia who served that ship justice. And they’d caught a real pirate ship as well as discovered the tactics being used to put victims in the path of said ship. It was still a hard point with Mia that Devin denied her any satisfaction with that incident. The pirate ship and its victim the Pied Piper were worked by at least two of the men responsible for the attack on Mia’s home. An attack that killed her mother and infant brother.
Mia wanted badly to make the men tell her who’d sent them to attack the peaceful port, and she wanted to use any method in her means to do it. Devin ended her attempt before it began, and they left for England before Mia even heard if the men were at least convicted of piracy and hanged. She’d hear eventually, but she didn’t know if she’d be happy with what she heard.
“Haul in the sails,” Devin called out and the crew made fast work as only the mainsails were up. One didn’t speed through port, according to Devin. Mia laughed and told him he’d never had to get cargo to market in time. “Man the ship,” he called out and every member of the crew took position either along the rails or in the rigging. Mia shook her head. Navy customs sometimes seemed so silly.
They were different kinds of captains who sailed differently. Devin straight on by the compass the entire voyage and Mia against the current when she could. Still, she knew as she stepped up behind him and leaned in feeling his hand reaching back for her, they could chart a course and reach port together like no two other captains on the same ship because they each knew when to let the other command.
“Here come the lines,” came a call from the water. Mia watched as the ropes from the assist boats uncoiled midair and landed on deck.
“Hey,” Mr. Brinks yelled back. “Watch the brightworks now,” he warned then used his coat sleeve to polish off a scratch in the brass along the rail created by the roughhewn rope.
“Lieutenant Coventon,” Devin called down and his officer swiveled about. “Come take the helm man.”
“Really, sir?” the man asked before nearly running down the deck.
“See Mia, even a stiff stem like Jonah can become a boy at Christmas, with the right gift.” Devin said to her. Then to the lieutenant he said, “Aye, man. If you’re going to captain someday, you’ll need to be able to bring her into port and dock her.”
Mia barely suppressed her laugh as the man, who at first detested her being on this ship but was now a strong ally, stepped up and took the wheel with a smile. “Captain, Mrs. Winthrop,” he greeted and then waited for them to step back.
“Don’t over work the wheel, let the assist boat do the work,” Mia cautioned.
“Mia,” Devin warned, reminding her it wasn’t her place.
“Thank you, Mrs. Winthrop. I’ll remember that,” Lieutenant Coventon said and smiled at her.
“See, he’ll make a fine captain, he knows how to go with the wind,” Mia told Devin as she winked at the lieutenant.
“Mia,” Devin warned again taking her hand and pulling her off the bridge. He led her portside and together they watched the smaller crafts working the large vessel up against the docks.
Mia scanned the crowd again. She wasn’t used to such receptions. Merchant ships came and went with little acknowledgement from anyone. Lifting her hand to her collar she rubbed at the tightness. “There are a lot of people, Captain,” she said and stepped closer to him.
“They’re not all here for us, Mia,” he said and squeezed her hand. “Other ships are in port. That one looks to have just docked.”
Mia took a deep breath. “Not to spoil it for you, Captain, but I do hope they’re all here for them not us.”
“Stop thinking like a pirate, pirate,” Devin said and put his arm around her waist. “No one is going to leap from the crowd, clasp you in irons and drag you to the gallows.”
“Aye, only my husband puts me in chains and ties me up with ropes,” Mia replied knowing one was a complaint and the other praise. She yelped when Devin dropped his arm and delivered a smack to her stern.
“Careful pirate,” he said as he squeezed her left ass cheek. Mia pressed her lips together to stop the moan, but then her eyes caught sight of yet a third ship being shoved into the docks.
“Captain,” she said and pointed. “Someone better call out or those ships are going to collide.”
“God save us,” Devin swore and headed for the bow, “Look ahead and haul back,” he yelled and pointed to where the two ships were about to collide. “Haul back,” he yelled again, and Mia saw the men at the docks who’d been loosely holding the lines start looking at what was about to happen. They snapped to and soon ten men were on the lines pulling aft on the ship. The ship hit the docks but continued forward towards the ship in front. More men grabbed the lines and pulled.
“Heave, men,” one man called out. Mia assumed that was the dock master. “Heave.” And with a groan the ship came to a stop, its stem almost touching the stern on the other ship on which the crew were, standing and yelling curses at both the dock crew and the ship’s captain.
Mia breathed a sigh of relief, turned to the man at their helm and yelled, “Don’t be like them, Lieutenant. Bad sailors the lot of them.” The warning made the entire crew of the Iron Rose laugh.
They laughed more when Coventon snapped to attention, tossed her a salute, and yelled back, “Aye, aye, Mrs. Captain.”
“Mrs. Captain,” Mia pondered out loud as Devin came back to her. “I could like that.”
“I couldn’t,” he growled, then shook his head and resumed his place at her side. “They almost put that stem right up the stern,” he complained, and Mia wondered if he was too accustomed to the smooth way the ports were handled in the Caribbean.
“Not at all pleasant to have happen when its two ships, but,” Mia lowered her voice and set her hand on his chest, “I think we might show them how that’s properly done.” She didn’t miss the wry smile on his face.
A few minutes later their ship bumped against the docks and came to a standstill. The anchor was dropped and mooring lines tossed out. Devin waited until the last line was tied off before turning to look over the ship and crew. “Welcome home men. God kept us and saved us.”
The crew turned to face him saluted and then broke into cheers. Cups of rum were passed around and the men congratulated each other. Shouts about their good captain rang out and then the bell sounded and everyone turned to see Mr. Quiggly with his hand on the rope. “Our Captain,” the man said and raised a cup. “But also our heart—Mia.”
“Our heart—Mia,” the crew called out and raised their cups.
“Oh,” Mia gasped.
“It’s a little late for mutiny, Mia,” Devin teased as he retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. “Unless you plan to commandeer my ship and run back to Cartagena.”
Mia dabbed her eyes and shook her head. Becoming part of the crew took effort and she wasn’t always certain she gained their acceptance. Now, though, she knew. “Mr. Quiggly,” Mia called and snagging the old seadog, tossed her arms around his neck. “You gibfaced flapdoodle. I think I might love you.”
“Ah missus,” the man said, patting her back. “It was good sport having you on board, but I don’t have the captain’s fortitude to take your love.”
Mia pulled back and gasped then along with her husband and anyone close enough to hear the exchange burst out laughing.
“Shall we go ashore, Mrs. Winthrop?” Devin asked, holding out his arm.
“Aye, Captain Winthrop,” Mia said, hooking her arm through his and taking the first steps in this leg of the journey.