Home > The Other Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #3)(4)

The Other Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #3)(4)
Author: Julia Quinn

“Ah, there you are,” Andrew said, motioning for him to follow. Green was the most senior member of his crew, having joined one day earlier than Brown. The pair had been bickering like old women ever since.

“Sir!” Green said again, running along the deck to catch up with him.

“Talk as we walk,” Andrew said, turning his back to him as he strode toward the staircase that led to his cabin. “I need to secure some things in my cabin.”

“But sir, I need to tell you—”

“And what the hell happened with my brandy?” Andrew asked, taking the steps two at a time. “Pinsley said you came aboard with a sack. A sack,” he added, shaking his head.

“Right,” Green said, making a strange sound.

Andrew turned around. “Are you quite all right?”

Green gulped. “The thing is—”

“Did you just gulp?”

“No, sir, I—”

Andrew turned away, getting back to business. “You should see Flanders about that throat. He’s got some kind of concoction to cure it. Tastes like the devil, but it works, I can attest to that.”

“Sir,” Green said, following him down the hall.

“Brown’s aboard?” Andrew asked, grasping the handle to his door.

“Yes, sir, but sir—”

“Good, then we’ll be ready to sail right on schedule.”

“Sir!” Green practically cried out, wedging himself between Andrew and the door.

“What is it , Green?” Andrew asked with forced patience.

Green opened his mouth, but whatever it was he wanted to say, he clearly lacked the words to do so.

Andrew placed both his hands under Green’s arms, lifted him up, and set him aside.

“Before you go in there . . .” Green said in a strangled voice.

Andrew pushed open the door.

And found a woman lying on his bed, bound, gagged, and looking as if she’d shoot flames from her eyes were it anatomically possible.

Andrew stared at her for a full second, idly taking in her thick chestnut hair and greenish-brown eyes. He let his gaze wander down to the rest of her—she was a woman, after all—and smiled.

“A present?” he murmured. “For me?”

If she got out of this alive, Poppy decided, she was going to kill every damn man on the ship.

Starting with Green.

No, Brown.

No, definitely Green. Brown might have let her go if she’d had a chance to talk him into it, but Green deserved nothing less than a permanent pox on his house.

And that of his every last descendant.

Hmmph. That assumed the odious man could find a woman willing to procreate with him, which Poppy sincerely doubted was possible. In fact, she thought rather viciously, it was going to be physically im possible by the time she got through with him. Four brothers taught a woman a great deal about how to fight dirty, and if she ever managed to get her ankles unbound, she was going to plant her knee right in his—

Click .

She looked up. Someone was coming in.

“Before you go in there . . .” she heard a familiar voice say.

The door swung open, revealing not Green, and not Brown, but a man at least a dozen years younger, and so blindingly handsome that Poppy was quite certain her mouth would have dropped open if she hadn’t been gagged.

His hair was a rich warm brown, sun-streaked with gold and pulled into a devilish queue at the back of his neck. His face was quite simply perfect, with full, finely molded lips that tipped up at the corners, leaving him with an expression of permanent mischief. And his eyes were blue, so vividly so that she could discern their color from across the room.

Those eyes traveled the length of her, from head to toe, and then back again. It was quite the most intimate perusal Poppy had ever been subjected to, and, damn it all, she felt herself blush.

“A present?” he murmured, his lips curving ever so slightly. “For me?”

“Mmmph grrmph shmmph!” Poppy grunted, struggling against her bindings.

“Er, this is what I was trying to tell you about,” Green said, sliding into the room beside the mysterious stranger.

“This?” the other man murmured, his voice silky smooth.

“Her,” Green amended, the single syllable hanging heavy in the air, as if she were Bloody Mary crossed with Medusa.

Poppy glared at him and growled.

“My, my,” the younger man said, quirking a brow. “I scarcely know what to say. Not in my usual fashion, but fetching nonetheless.”

Poppy watched him warily as he came farther into the cabin. He’d uttered barely a handful of words, but it was enough to know that he was no lowborn sailor. He spoke like an aristocrat, and he moved like one too. She knew the sort. She’d spent the last two years trying (but not really trying) to get one to marry her.

The man turned to Green. “Any particular reason she’s lying on my bed?”

“She found the cave, Captain.”

“Was she looking for the cave?”

“Don’t know, sir. I didn’t ask. I think it was an accident.”

The captain regarded her with an unsettlingly even expression before turning back to Green and asking, “What do you propose we do with her?”

“I don’t know, Captain. We couldn’t just leave her there. It was still full of our haul from the last voyage. If we let her go, she’d’ve just told someone about it.”

“Or taken it for herself,” the captain said thoughtfully.

Poppy grunted at the insult. As if she were unprincipled enough to resort to stealing.

The captain looked at her with an arched brow. “She seems to have an opinion about that,” he said.

“She has a great many opinions,” Green said darkly.

“Is that so?”

“We took her gag off while we were waiting for you,” Green explained. “Had to put it back on after a minute. Less, really.”

“That bad, eh?”

Green nodded. “Got me in the back of the head with her hands too.”

Poppy grunted with satisfaction.

The captain turned back to her, looking almost impressed. “Should’ve bound her hands in back,” he said.

“I wasn’t going to untie her long enough to redo it,” Green muttered, rubbing his head.

The captain nodded thoughtfully.

“We didn’t have time to unload the cave,” Green continued. “And besides, no one’s ever found it before. It’s valuable even without anything in it. Who knows what we might need to hide there.”

The captain shrugged. “It’s worthless now,” he said, crossing his powerful arms. “Unless, of course, we kill her.”

Poppy gasped, the sound audible even over the gag.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said, rather offhandedly. “We’ve never killed anyone who didn’t need killing, and never a woman. Although,” he added, idly rubbing his chin, “there have been one or two . . .” He looked up, blinding her with a smile. “Well, never you mind.”

“Actually, sir,” Green said, stepping forward.


“There was that one in Spain. Málaga?”

The captain looked at him blankly until his memory was jogged. “Oh, that one. Well, that doesn’t count. I’m not even sure she was female.”

Poppy’s eyes widened. Who were these people?

And then, just when she thought the two of them might sit down for a leisurely drink, the captain snapped open his pocket watch with precise, almost military movements, and said, “We’re to sail in less than two hours. Do we even know who she is?”

Green shook his head. “She wouldn’t say.”

“Where’s Brown? Does he know?”

“No, sir,” came the answer from Brown himself, standing in the doorway.

“Oh, there you are,” the captain said. “Green and I were just discussing this unexpected development.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“It’s not your fault,” the captain said. “You did the right thing. But we do have to ascertain her identity. She’s finely dressed,” he added, motioning to Poppy’s blue walking dress. “Someone will be missing her.”

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