Surrounded by black faces. In a sea of men who did not speak. Broken men. Seated with the living dead. Why the hell had that phrase came into his head? It seemed now like a threat that grew heavier. A choking blanket thrown over his fighting-proud spirit. Crushing him. Drowning him in a sea of human despair.
He’d escaped death .. by the skin of his teeth. A monstrous death. Thanks to his shipmates. Yet still that sentence hung over him. If the nerves got to his mates and they rebelled .. they’d drag him to the mast. He had been isolated .. stuck on the slave-benches .. no one, nothing to relieve his own aching nerves. Crushing misery front, back, on both sides, surrounded by gloom.
The shuffling of his mates down into the hold had stopped. Quiet. His shipmates cramped together down in a stinking blackness below. For him, sun, light, air. The flap of sea breezes in the sails. A quiet before the storm.
An end that was heralded by the snap of a whip. Slave-masters bawling. Yelling. A sting bit across Mitchell’s back. The slaves reached quickly for the oars. Mitchell hauled back hard in unison with them. Muscles groaning. Body straining. Whiplashed back screaming. Pulling on the oars. Rowing off into a lifetime of slavery.
“What you reckon, Hassan?”
Mitchell had forced his head up. Turning it with effort to look. Hassan, the corsair’s lieutenant. The one who had taken Mitchell’s own belt to his back. The captain spotted he had his victim’s attention.
“Think this infidel’s ever taken it up its pig arse?”
Mitchell raised his head at the blasphemous thought and growled.
“No?” smirked the pirate back in his face. “That an answer, slave? Never?”
Mitchell kept his head up and scowled. With fury.
“WHAT? That a virgin arse?”
The corsair laughed. Mocking. Sadistic.
“What you say, Zidan?”
He addressed the other of his lieutenants seated with him.
“We’ve netted us a virgin arse.”
Mitchell looked the length of the table top. The captain and his pair of lieutenants at the far end. Eyes laughing at him.
“First time for everything.”
Mitchell’s look flared back with anger.
“Don’t. You. Damn. Well. Dare!”
But before the words were out, before he heard the second lieutenant chortle, Mitchell knew the captain would. He could. And .. the way Mitchell was laid out .. there was not a snowball’s chance in hell Mitchell was going to be able to do anything about it. At first, when they had got him down on the table like this, he’d assumed it was his sentence being carried out. His heart had sunk. They’d sent for him. Back to being whipped out of his skin.
But this news .. THAT debauched question .. what they were planning to do to him? Was that any better? Than being whipped to death? This was madness. This was gut-wrenching. Sickening. How the hell had he finished up in this mess?
Fetched from his slave bench, every indifferent eye on him as he’d been shoved along, Mitchell had been forced stand at the end of the captain’s table. He glared into the pirate’s face, nervous but putting on the brave act. Seemingly undaunted as his wrists were bound. A hand on his neck forced his chest down to the table top. Mitchell had to lift his head to keep up his hostile eye contact .. to keep up his stalwart performance .. the brave marine you couldn’t intimidate. Letting them stretch his arms out in front of him .. securing them down with a strap. And pulled tight. Pinning his arms out in front of him. Chest flattened on the table top. For good measure he’d felt another strap pulled tight across his waist, pinning him down there too .. bent at the waist, torso secured on his front over the tabletop in the corsair’s cabin.
“Did I hear right? ”
Mitchell glared at the sniggering lieutenant. His face had put on a look of mock amazement.
“Don’t you dare? The pig said that?”
Zidan had his mouth opened wide. As if he’d never heard anything so shocking.
“It challenged you, Rais. You hear it? Did it challenge you?”
The man was chortling.
“It DARED you.”
At the far end of the table, though, the pirate’s stare said the captain did not share the joke. The eyes narrowed. He didn’t tolerate insolence.
“Let’s see this cherry arse,” he growled.
Mitchell felt his temper snap.
“I’ll have you for this,” Mitchell snarled. “I’ll have your heathen hide!”
The captain growled back with his glare. But then he snorted and laughed. With contempt.
“And just how you plan on doing that? Pig?”
At the touch of a hand on his waistband, Mitchell cursed out. His leg kicked out backwards. With satisfaction he felt a foot make contact. But bare footed it did little harm. A hand was searching underneath for the fastening. Doggedly Mitchell pressed his waist into the edge of the table. Stopping them from getting his pants off. Tenaciously fighting back as best he could.
A hand twisted in his hair, yanked his head back. Pulling his torso up by the hair .. up high .. lifting his chest off the tabletop. Pain in his scalp brought tears to his eyes. Then, unexpectedly, the hand in his hair slammed his head down. Smacking his face into the table, shocking him.
Ears ringing, Mitchell shook his head, lifted his eyes and glared back at the pirate. Seeing the gloating satisfaction on his cruel face. Then he found out why. A hand stroked at his backside. Mitchell was shocked to find his britches had been peeled off. Exposed. Mitchell seethed, his pants had been yanked down his thighs. They were gloating over his virgin arse.
Mitchell sought out that captain he had warned. A cruel smile lit up the corsair’s face. Mitchell remembered his smirk, And how you plan on stopping this? Pig!