Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Hitler Wanted to Kill the Jews

Adolph Hitler wanted to kill Jews because taking that stand gave him power.  When human beings work together, there is a lot of power in their combined efforts. To get many people to work together, it is very useful to make them afraid of something, for them to have a common enemy.  I wish to point out that Gypsies and homosexuals also died in the Holocaust. 

German did not just suddenly wake up and decide to kill Jewish people, to want to annex land from other countries. 

To really understand why one group of people does anything with or to another group of people, you have to understand the history of both groups. 

The Jews are an ancient ethnic group. The Romans thought the Jews were ancient enough to have earned respect when the Germans were still struggling to get out of the Iron Age. At that point in history the Jews had a country of their own. 

The Romans fought with Germanic Tribes and with the Jews. Sometimes they even lost to both. 
When the Emperor Hadrian drove the Jewish people out of Israel for their rebellion against Rome, they traveled to all parts of the world that they could get to.  They did not integrate with the populations where they found new homes though, but instead retained their own language, customs, and religion. 
For much of Europe's history, most of the European population could not read. Stories about the past were told, retold, and embellished hundred of thousands of times. Much of Europe's population also identified as Christian. (It was illegal and a capital crime not to.. meaning they'd kill you if you weren't Christian.) So having a large population within a population that thwarted the larger population's customs caused a lot of friction. One of the stories that was told commonly was that the Jews had killed Jesus. It was very conveniently forgotten that Jesus was a Jew. Most of images of Jesus that were painted in Europe depict him as a causation, which is unlikely. If he had not been Jewish, the would have had no claim at all to being the Jewish Messiah, though that's the stuff of a different answer. 

So while there was historically a great deal of friction between Jewish and Christian populations in Europe, the Jews were tolerated in large part because of a small technical matter of a financial nature. 
The Catholic Church was the dominate authority on religious matters from Charlemagne until Henry VIII and even after Henry on the continent. The Catholic Church forbade lending money at interest. There is a very great deal of money to be made lending money at interest. Any culture functioning above agricultural subsistence level needs a way to borrow money. Europe used the Jews as their bank.

So twenty years after WWII, while most of Germany was still in economic ruin, the Jews had money, they had physically different traits, such as darker skin, cultural differences in language and religion, so it was very easy to motivate a majority of the democratic Germany to see this nearly defenseless population as a danger, an evil. 

And that's why Hitler wanted to kill the Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Young adult guidelines

Man.. I posted this to a list, but it got rejected because I didn't trim the post. Good lordy... because digital screen space is EXPENSIVE.. for goodness sakes. And rules are rules.... I understand that trimming can be in important politeness, but google trims for me.. so I guess it's not such a big issue for me. I don't know if I want to hang out with such nit picky people.

What I'd said:

Just my opinion, and all, and to start with... I really don't like the label "young adult". I mean... exactly what is a young adult? Are we talking someone whose still a kid, but we'll call them adult to flatter them? Or are we talking about an adult who hasn't figured out how to file their own taxes yet? Does a person come with a cut off date?

"Oh, I'm so sorry, you've currently accumulated enough experience points that you no longer count as young. From this point forward, continued accumulation of points will be represented as 'life lines' and the color silver. Accumulation of additional points is non-negotiable, but you may be able to purchase avatar upgrades in the market place."  >.<

That being ranted about, I think that books aimed at persons with minimal life experience, who are doing their best to mimic independence while surviving all the stunts they're going to warn their kids about, I think those books should have realistic endings, kind of moralizing, while yet validating for the reader.

Real life, aside from death, is a continual story that doesn't usually end in HEA or HFN... it's all part of the stream.

I seriously don't think I could ever do a story where birth is assisted with teeth, however sharp or where some arrogant Harry Stew gets to throw around Zeus' lightening bolt. I think there is serious value in respecting where a person is along the time line of life. Even though I think the time line should be potentially infinite. I'm first in line for those telomere treatments when they come out!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hadrian Essay

Because Fire Rained From the Sky
Nix Winter
History 302
Professor Carey
October 22th, 2010
Publius Aelius Hadrianus (117-138) was born on January 24th, 76.
  It was probably cold the day in Rome. January is often cold, even though cold is a subjective term. Being born in the month of Janus could have been taken as an omen, but omens like weather leave different impressions on those that experience them. January is named for the God Janus, the door between worlds, between winter and spring. The baby that would become Hadrian would preside over the deification of the last effective pagan god and walk with the Empire as it embraced a value shift as great as that from Republic to Empire - that of Empire to Congregation.
While the Historia Augusta asserts that Hadrian was born in Rome, other sources hadn't been as sure of that fact.
 Herbert W. Benario, professor emeritus at Emory University, does not accept Rome as Hadrian's birth place without question.
 There are other possible locations, but the Historia Augusta lists Rome as Hadrian's birth place. It is entirely possible that Rome was Hadrian's birth place. The location of Hadrian's birth matters because a person's status in the religious hierarchy, their relation to myth, and meaning in people's lives drew validity from the accepted birth place, among other things. A Jewish carpenter named Jesus might well have been a heroic figure, a miracle worker, and a prophet of God, but he won't have been the Messiah if he'd been born in Athens. The Historia Augusta declares that Hadrian was born in Rome, as a good Roman emperor made God should have been, but the point of view of the author lines up rather well with aristocratic Senatorial culture in Rome, with pagan values.
 Later writers would focus on Hadrian and the important people in his life through the lens of a different value system.   Hadrian strode through his life loyal to his own reason and passions, just outside the norms for both Pagan culture and Christian culture.
Early in Hadrian's life, in 79, when he was three years old, Vesuvius swallowed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pliney the Younger wrote, "Soon ash was falling on the ships, hotter and thicker as they drew nearer; soon there were lumps of pumice and rocks, scorched and shattered by fire."
  At three years old, fire rained from the sky and swallowed a popular Roman town. Small children don't have the ability to care about disasters in far away places, but small children grow into adults who remember adult's fearful words about fire raining from the sky and the death of heroic Roman generals. No where in Pliny the Younger's letter are the wishes or will of the gods discussed. His letter gives an excellent description of the eruption and of human behavior in a very secular tone. He wrote, "I believed that the whole world was perishing as wretchedly as me and this was a great consolation to me in my mortality."
Other settlements were rebuilt after the eruption, but both Pompeii and Herculaneum remained buried, visited only by clandestine tunnelers.
 Rome was not known for abandoning property, not trying to fix and improve things. Survivors of Pompeii and Herculaneum carried fantastic stories that could easily have contributed to fears of hell, of the gods' failure to protect. Looters crawling through the buried cities would have found human shaped bubbles, time frozen over and humans tell stories. The level of taboo and fear surrounding these lost cities and those that died there could have fueled the growing Christian movement. If there was a Christian population in Pompeii, it was not substantial.

Whatever stories were told about Pompeii and Vesuvius, life in the empire continued. At eighteen, in the year 94, Hadrian began his political career.
  Before becoming emperor he was a military tribune with three legions, tribune of the people, quaestor principis, praetor, a commander, governor, consul, served as archon in Athens, and comes with Trajan.
 Accomplishment and effort graced his life.  August 11, 117 saw him proclaimed emperor of Rome. His reign would last twenty-one years. Whatever the nightmares of his childhood, Hadrian confronted the world with the same Roman humanity that took Pliny the Elder towards Pompeii and not away to safety. 
As time brought change to the people of the Roman Empire, the practical and willful life that Hadrian lead did not sustain tradition, even though through his efforts the administration and borders of the Roman Empire became more secure.
  He carefully released lands that the Empire  did not have the power to hold.
  With the Edict of the Praetor he stabilized private law until the sixth century. Such a shift brings law more inline with modern concepts, with both law and God being unchanging. This was a shift from each new Praetor having to renew the law and the gods having the moods and appetites of mortals. 
Hadrian's deft administration and relationship with the military contributed to peace in the empire during his reign and leave strong impression of his personality and values. He shared hardships with his troops, addressed them with a presence that gave them confidence and boosted their moral.
 Roman military made or broke many emperors. They were not tolerant of incompetence. Hadrian was particularly competent.  Dio states:
In fine, both by his example and by his precepts he so trained and disciplined the whole military force throughout the entire empire that even today the methods then introduced by him are the soldiers' law of campaigning.  This best explains why he lived for the most part at peace with foreign nations; for as they saw his state of preparation and were themselves not only free from aggression but received money besides, they made no uprising.
War did color Hadrian's reign, even if he did not seek out wars, the war with Judea erupted in any case. Religion fueled the war with Judea. Simon Bar Kokhba, a name which means "Son of the Star", obviously drew on Messianic tradition to validate his authority.  Being the son of the star, to a person of non-Jewish religion could express hints of the rising Greek mystery traditions as well. To be successful a religious movement or even a military campaign must attract the greatest number of supporters. Whatever else Rome was during its history, it was also very violent. Those that did not relinquish their cultural identities and rights where they conflicted with Rome faced the weight of the consequences of losing to the greatest military the world had seen to that point. Rome did not invite a voluntary consensus and collaboration with other cultures. Rome took what it wished, granted dispensation when it wished, and liquidated resources at it's convenience, both physical and living. 
While the Bar Kokhba revolt initially proved successful, giving the rebels enough time to strive to legitimize their own authority, as shown by a Roman coin showing Hadrian's profile with the rebel's symbol imprinted over Hadrian's face, the weight of Rome's victory is still felt today. One aspect of Roman victory is that the province suffered a name change. What had been Judea became Syria-Palestinia. The city of Jerusalem became Aelia Capitolina.  The Temple of Solomon, destroyed in 71 under Vespasian and Titus, would be rebuilt as a Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. The struggle to assert dominance of social norms cost many Roman and Jewish lives, but with victory would come the stabilization of the world, the affirmation of world view, in addition to control of material resources.
The Jewish population that survived the direct conflict and avoided being sold into slavery disbursed into the world. Just like survivors of Pompeii, survivors spread and talked about their experience. The challenge to the Roman world view had been a spectacular volcanic eruption. The challenge to Jewish world view was the Romans. Each group worked towards finding equilibrium and comfort within a dangerous and unpredictable world. The disaster of Vesuvius could even have been an affirmation of the Jewish world view that saw unbelievers, sinners, those that displeased a monotheistic god as being punished, a world view that would be internalized by the rising Christian movement. 
The Emperor Hadrian had a lover. His lover's name was Antinous. Love also provides solutions to life's difficulties. Fear, hurt, community, hope, all of human emotions are nurtured and cared for with love. When love and relationships fail a person, religion is the closest proxy. When the gods fail, new gods emerge. Pliny the Younger's description of Vesuvius' eruption is observational, talking about color, density, duration.  His descriptions of people's behavior is universal. In a disaster of that scale, a parent calling for a child, a husband for his wife, these are behaviors that are as human in 79 as they would be in 2010. What is descriptions lack is preemptive problem solving via supplication of the god(s). What the Pompeiian diaspora and the Jewish Diaspora had in common was a fear of overwhelming and uncontrollable disaster and the very human need to solve the problem by negotiation with a higher power. 
While the Emperor Hadrian could not have been ignorant of the eruption of Vesuvius and the psychological trauma that caused, and he took a personal interest in reshaping the world view of Judea, the challenge to his own world view came with the death of his lover.  On October 24th  130, Antinous' body was found on the bank of the Nile. He had drown.  The recovery of his body coincided with the traditional celebration of Osiris' death. While Hadrian's autobiography has not survived, references to it point to Hadrian's belief that the death was accidental. Whatever the actual cause of death, the impact of Antinous' death on Hadrian caused a grievous psychological trauma as evidenced by the length that the emperor went to to resolve his grief. Antinous became the last pagan god, but a god who lived in Olympus, but still touched the more personal Greek Mystery religions. 
Religions are groups of people who compete for members, for status and to provide their members with proofs of the validity of the group's beliefs. The Christian Saint, Justin Martyr (103–165), writes, "And it is not out of place, we think, to mention here Antinous, who was alive but lately, and whom all were prompt, through fear, to worship as a god, though they knew both who he was and what was his origin."
 Justin would have been twenty-seven when Antinous died and was deified. While the First Apology was written between 150 and 160, Justin would have been an adult during the rise of Antinous' cult.
  Justin's opinion was written years after the Bar Kokhba rebellion, but it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that his opinions formed earlier in his life and reflected opinions of other members of his group, as he came to be a respected and referenced member of his social group.  Roman perception had difficulty distinguishing Christians from those of Jewish faith. As recently as 95 Clemens and Domitilla were condemned for "Jewish ways", but it is unclear if they were practicing Judaism or Christianity. 
  It is without doubt that Christianity had roots in Judaism and that the Bar KoKhba rebellion's leader, Simone Bar Kokhba (132-135 reign), claimed messianic powers. The elements of struggle between Judaism,  Christianity, and other religious options such as the worship of Antinous generated a powerful dynamic.
Hadrian's reign did not include great wars of conquest. He seems to have valued peace and discipline above triumphal processions, building cities above destroying them. When the Bar Kokhba revolt erupted in 132, Antinous had been a god for nearly two years.  Less than a year after his death, a delegation had already approached Hadrian for permission to conduct worship of Antinous in Thessaloniki.
   That the cult of Antinous became deeply important to Hadrian is evidenced by the number of sculptures of Antinous at Hadrian's Tivoli villa, the small temple buildings at the entrance to his villa that were found in 2000, and the inscription on the Pincio obelisk, "The god who is there, he rests in this place, which belongs to the Lord of Prosperity, [the ruler] of Rome". 

The changes in religion and values that would sweep through the Empire stirred in the sentiment directed towards Antinous, both from supporters and detractors. Hadrian's power to create his lost love into a god is a deeply human behavior, drawing the lines of what religion has always done for individual humans, but on a grand scale that invited the participation of all humanity. The terribly violent suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt, possibly with Hadrian actually going to Judea personally, bringing maybe as many as thirteen legions into Judea, could represent an emotional investment on the part of Hadrian to suppress religion and values that competed with the rising cult of his lover. 

Emperors and messiahs are both people attempting to solve problems, either problems on a societal scale or problems on a more intimate level. When cherished solutions conflict with the solutions of other groups violence often results. It would be hard not to argue, even with the Diaspora, that Christianity and Judaism proved to be very enduring solutions for many people through the ages. There is a bust of Hadrian, discovered in 1995, where the traditional image of Medusa on his breast plate has been replaced by a very slightly smiling Antinous. In America, in 2010, the view point of many writers is observational and rational, more like Pliny the Younger than Saint Justin Martyr. It is not possible to know with certainty a great many motivations and or private thoughts of historical figures.  Often an individual will believe what brings them comfort will bring comfort and safety to others. The greatest cruelties can be committed while trying to help the victims that the oppressors are in the process of trying to save. There is nothing in Hadrian's preserved record to indicate that he was not well intended and reasonable.  On July 10, 138 Publius Aelius Hadrianus left the world of mortals, politics, and religious strife. A coin was showing Hadrian being lifted to heaven on the back of a great eagle was minted.
 On his arrival, perhaps he was greeted by Antinous, Sabina, and Trajan. 
Benario, Herbert W.  "De Imperatoribus Romanis." (accessed October 21, 2010).
Berry, Joanne. The Complete Pompeii. London: Thames & Hudson, 2007. 
Birley,  Anthony R.  Hadrian the Restless Emperor. London: Routledge, 1997.
Gilliver, Catherine. Caesar's Gallic Wars, 58-50 BC Essential Histories. New York: Taylor & Francis Routledge, 2003.
Goldsworthy, Adrian. Roman Warfare.  London: Phoenix, 2000.
Johnstone, Ronald L. Religion in Society: A Sociology of Religion 8th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007.
Kirby, Peter.  "Justin  Martyr - First Apology." Early Christian Writings. http:// (accessed October 22, 2010).
Lendering, Jona. "Historia Augusta." (accessed October 21, 2010).
Marchel Le Glay, Jean-Louis Voisin, Yann Le Bohec, David Cherry, Donald G. Kyle, and Eleni Manokarkai. A History of Rome. West Susex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
Opper, Thorsten.  Hadrian Empire & Conflict. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.
Ratchnevsky, Paul and Thomas Nivison Haining. Genghis Khan: his life and legacy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1991.
Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew.  "Pompeii: Portents of Disaster." BBC. (accessed October 21, 2010).
Walsh, P.G., trans. Complete Letters: Pliny the Younger. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dark Rain

Dark Rain
by Nix Winter
copyright 2009
The word carries so much weight, and well, no weight at all these days. In the simplest meaning, a depression is just a slight indent in a surface. So if I have a cake not quite ready to come out of the oven, and I touch it too soon, it could fall just a little.  It could become a depressed cake. Yet, a depressed human is so very much more intense. 
Here I sit at my desk. The sky is gray outside my windows and there are lovely green trees, so many that the sky is almost hidden away by the green reaching life. Raindrops didn't get through my window, but little bits of rain cling to the edges of my eyes anyway. I'm not a cake, but depression is so much more than a slight indentation. Depression is knowing I love the rain. I know I love writing. I love the music that's playing. I love my cat. That love and happiness might as well be the trees outside my window for how much I feel it in this moment. Inside, I drip with a dark and endless promise of rain. 
I've tried medications. I'm not alone in that. There is a rumor or urban legend or maybe it's true, that if you test London's water, after it's been through the treatment plants, it still has detectable levels of a well known antidepressant. It doesn't matter if it's true or not.  What matters is that so many people are willing to believe that it is true. Medications work really well for some people. For some people, like me, they came with some unacceptable side effects. Just so you know, I'm not above medication or some crazy thing. I like my pain killers when I have a headache. I like science. I like chemistry. 
What has worked for me though is something a therapist told me along time ago, with a little bit of modification.  Just while writing this article, the dark hiss of despair has let go of me. It gets easier with practice. I can see the beautiful trees outside my window now and feel happiness in their beauty.  My secret is 'HALT', and strong hold on hope. 'HALT' means that I try not to get to hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  I really do have control over all those things. Hungry is helped more as I age by making sure I pick healthy food, because, honestly, one can self medicate to unhealthy proportions with this one! Angry has been the hardest for me because anger was so taboo to me. Unexpressed anger turns like a hungry tsunami on me, drawing back like it's going to be all silent and forgiving, then crashing down on me in a wave of sorrow like I'll never see the surface again. Lonely... well, did I mention the cat? I'm kind and friendly to most people. I've learned it's not about what other people do for me – it's about what I do for other people. Tired is also another hard one for me. I've found I have to be firm with myself and the world and demand my safe and private space, my room, where I can respect myself and sleep through the night. Boundaries are another subject I learned about a long time ago and just took too long to put into practice. The last little secret ingredient is hope. When the dispair that used to cripple me grabs hold, I hold onto hope. The promise that the darkness has let me go before, and it always will let go. I will always find the trees beautiful again. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rambling Thoughts on the Iraqi War

My Thoughts on the Iraqi War
by Nix Winter
This is just my thoughts. I've been studying history and I'm aware that a proper historian should use more formal language that I'm about to, use lots of foot notes to support what they're going to say. This is just an opinion piece. The opinion and experience I'm about to talk about is mine. 
You know what war sucks.
During the combat operations in Iraq, I lived in California, Michigan, and Washington. None of those places got hit by missiles. There were deaths by gunshot, but they were, as far as I know, done by Americans on other Americans. In those three states, where I was living, no human being died by having rocks thrown at them because they wanted to control their own sexuality, or were controlled by their own sexuality. Point of that thought is, no one killed anyone else by throwing rocks at them.
I don't think anyone got stoned in Iraq. Maybe fewer people got stoned in Afghanistan because we were there. 
I guess that matters to be me because throwing stones at someone until they die is a really stupid thing to do. 
For what it's worth, I think killing people in any way because of sexual passion and the acts that come from it, as long as they are between consenting adults, is a dumb fucking thing to do. 
War is bad. Sex is good. 
Back to the Iraqi War...
Now, I know this is going to seem unlikely, but when we were in the midst of "Shock and Awe" I was calling bullshit. Saddam Hussein was trying to comply with UN requests. He hauled those questionable missiles out and destroyed them. 
I wonder how it would have been different if we'd gone to him and said, "Look. We'll give you a house in Arizona. The climate is kinda similar. You get to keep your kids. You don't die, we'll give you couple million USD, and you let us have your country?"
Completely flippant and unreasonable speculation.
What we did was roll in a bunch of military, shoot a bunch of people (even if they were shooting at us first), fucked up a lot of infrastructure, created a refugee flood. The Kurds got what they wanted though, and I'm glad about that. I felt really bad for them in the Iran-Iraqi War.  Horrible things were said about what was happing to them during that war, at least in the church I was going to at the time.  That same church also ranted a lot about how the Soviets were oppressing the Christians in Afghanistan. Today... I want to know if there are many Christians in Afghanistan. I'm not very rational about it, but maybe the Tailiban stones them too.... 
If I had a choice between the Taliban and the Soviet Communists... I'll go with the Soviets, thought I'm pretty sure neither one of them would be okay with me.  I just can't see a pink haired, gender confused, intellectual historian and anarchist getting over real well in either system. I'd trust the Soviets to shot me or work me to death, not just throw stones at me.  It's a practical technology thing, I guess.
Obama is speaking on CNN.. I guess he was at Fort Brag today.  Iraq has an opportunity and America is more secure. 
Today is the day that major combat operations is over. 
Legal speak.
I love President Obama's legal speak. He's intelligent and articulate. I actually saw some commentator that he should speak in smaller sentences so people can understand him and his words won't get twisted around. 
Someone should have said that to the people who were writing the bible. 
*claps hands to face* 
I look back over the last decade and I just stand here in this moment in time.. going ... oh my god. 
In that case, god stands in for all that is valuable, sacred, and true. 
So many people have died. Our own country is deeply divided. 
I'm sure there are a lot of very religious people out there who fear people like me.  There are people who seriously believe that hate speech at dead soldier's funerals is an act of worship to their god. 
Shia and Sunni Muslims have killed the hell out of each other. 
A human being ruled by fear and driven  by a belief that they are right is a terrifying creature. 
What have I learned about life from the Iraq war? Where bombs have not fallen in my cities? 
I have learned that bombs have fallen in my cities. 
Bagdad is my city. 
People are my kin. 
Where ever you live in the world, I'm your sibling. 
My sibs, please... don't freaking kill people!
Don't be afraid. We're all in this together.
If we're going to have peace, we have to do it ourselves.

My Thoughts Comparing the French and American Revolutions

Note from Nix: I'm feeling very keenly aware that I don't have a very professional voice yet. I'm working on it, but these are my thoughts on the contrast of the French and American Revolutions
The differences between the French and American Revolutions happened a long time before either event became conspicuous. The American's, under the English, had the Magna Carta, which had limited the power of the king, enshrined the rights of the countries free people. 1 1215 is far away from 1793. 
I think the more frightened a person, or group of persons is, the more aggressive their response to potentially life threatening situations is. The Reformation and the wars that came with it, was both physically and psychologically very threatening. Catholics and the various Protestant groups did very bad things to each other.  The physical threats were part of life. War was common. Death was common. The main psychological insulation against being overwhelmed by fear, grief, and rage responses, was the order provided by religion. Loss and fear, grief that is refreshed so frequently with war and disease, all of that is balanced by the believe in God's love and God's plan for mankind.
Deist, Atheist, Christian, explorer of the esoteric, all of them, in moments of distress could at least subconsciously fall back on society's affirmation of God's love and God's plan. It's like here in Seattle, I can find familiarity and comfort in my lights, in the endless drone of CNN, the timeliness of my buses, just the structure and order of my nice secular world with its coffee and blackberries - so many little normal things tell me that I'm okay, that I'm safe and the world is where it belongs. 
The Americans were on a different continent, far from everything their parents or grandparents had ever known. Jamestown was founded in 1606, chartered by King James, the same guy who commissioned the King's James Bible. 2  Now that would be some serious affirmation of the right to be. It was 187 years from the founding of Jamestown till Louis XVI lost his head to the guillotine.3  One hundred and eighty-seven years is a long time to flourish and see that life works just fine without a king or monarch being obvious in daily life. 
I can imagine the difference between the French and Americans like families. The Americans were teenagers from a poor family where they had to work for everything, where the parents were far away and occasionally sent home snotty letters, but really were far away and didn't look so powerful, weren't really that bad, might even be a little off their rocker. Poor King George III wasn't actually all that sane and ended up having a Regent, which gave rise to Regency England.4  George II hadn't seemed very popular and maybe not very English, in either case, he was very far from New York. 5  To me, both Georges seem like the kind of parent you go to university and complain about, but you still send home a birthday card and you don't have a whole lot of guilt about leaving home over.  That lack of guilt makes for less animosity. Less animosity means less aggression and negative emotion. They weren't that worth getting worked up over. We threw their tea in the water, told them what they could do with themselves, and we felt good about ourselves for doing it. 
The French household was different. Louis XIV would have been like having a parent that was a combination of Bill Gates and .... I can't even think of anyone who might be beautiful enough to compare to Louis XIV. He gave stability after the wars of the Reformation. He created pride and power in France. I imagine that the power of Louis XIV would be as if the adulation people gave to President Obama the day he won the American Presidency had lasted a whole reign. Louis XIV reigned for seventy-two years, longer than the life expectancy of his subjects. Life expectancy from birth in France in 1750 was 26 years.7 So you could have one generation born under XIV, to parents awed by his majesty, that generation grow, raise children, that generation have children. If you allow for breeding to start in the early teens, some families could have more than three generations under XIV.  Family members tell each other stories. Myths form. XIV was a magnificent king. I can easily see how he'd almost be a demi-god in people's imaginations. 
Under that brilliance, one will put up with a great deal of unpleasantness that one might not otherwise accept. 
Louis XV was as humble and charitable as his grandfather was brilliant and vibrant.  He was called "Louis XV le Bien-Amie" which translated to English means Louis XV the Beloved. 8 I admit that I have a bit of fear over people claiming Christianity. I'm possibly a transexual, certainly an atheist, demonstrably apostate, all things that at various times under Christian rule could have gotten me killed, sometimes in very unpleasant ways. I do truly believe that only secular rule based on reason protects both my life and my liberty. So when I say that I am utterly in awe of Louis XV's Christian morals and behavior that's a very intense admission from me. From what I've read, and I'm going to cite things much more throughly in my essay, but he cared for the sick, accepted people on their talents, not their gender or social class, forgave people who hurt him, asked people directly and gently for what he wanted, made every attempt to avoid war, put his belief in his god above his own personal pride and even his own well-being. He was promiscuous in somewhat stunning and even unsettling ways, though I have not seen anything that would have been unexpected for a wealthy and powerful man of his time, except for perhaps treating women as if they were intellectually able to be responsible for themselves. He ruled for sixty-four years. 
Then we have Louis XIV who is demonstrably more average than either the the Sun King or Louis le Bien-Amie. I can well imagine the nobles being older siblings in my imaginary family that was France. In the imaginary American family, the older siblings and the younger were both just as poor and in need of self-reliance. In my imaginary families, in France, the older siblings had been utterly depowered under the Sun King, and henpecked and even taxed under Louis le Bien-Amie. In both cases, they were overshadowed by strikingly powerful and dangerous men.  Louis XVI was neither a brilliant statesman, nor a cunning man devoted to god and the love of his people. He was a twenty-year-old man being told he was the owner of a property more powerful than Microsoft is to us now. If Bill Gates had a son, and he was told, he was now the richest man in his known world, and he could do anything he wanted, could he please try to be a new Sun King?  We won't be surprised if he failed. 
And the sibling rivalry, bent around Enlightenment ideals... having come through the reign of Louis XIV where country was his personal bonsai tree and the nobles were pretty leaves to be used as he saw fit, then a gentle and loving king who very quietly let flourish ideas of equality the Christian God's love for every person, which in itself applied a huge force to culture... bursting free of that you have both the Second and Third estate, the older and younger siblings in this imagery family of mine, bursting free. Now they have a parent that can't supply the order of either of the previous parents. He has not the devious and seemingly gentle political maneuvering of le Bien-Amie or the brilliant and ostentatious power of the Sun King. He gave it ago. He had financial reforms that what would have been good for the family planned. Louis XVI's first financial minister, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727-1781), had a plan. 9 The older sibling wasn't buying it though. He'd had enough of being told what to do. The financial reforms failed. The parent threw up his hands. He didn't know what to do.  Social order suddenly went into free fall. 
In America, when that free fall hit, people thought... "I need firewood. Who will milk the cow?" The parent had been gone for a long time. 
In France the younger sibling thought... "You beat me! You stole from me! You made fun of me! You took everything for yourself!"
And the older sibling thought, "You should be grateful for everything I have done for you!     I'm going to tell Dad! You're a stupid little kid! What do you know?"
The parent actually tried to run away.10 Probably justified as there was a serious concern that the kids were going to burn down the house!  
There had never been a Magna Carta in France.  It's all well land good for a college age person to recognize that they need to pay the rent, buy the bread, write the essay, but it's a very frightening transition from child to adult. It's frightening for an adult to let a child grow into a peer, rather than a satellite. If that dynamic is unpleasant at the family level, how frightening and terrifying would it be on a country level where there is real starvation and real death?  Suppressed rage at perceived injustice, the fight for survival roared to a voracious fire, consuming and destroying everything.  A fire, once started, burns until it runs out of fuel. It wasn't like the younger siblings in France could just thumb their nose at the older, walk off a little to the west and start a new farm. 

I also gave some thought to the differences in diet between the two populations as well. When I took the Washington State Mixologist permit, we learned that even a small amount of alcohol can affect the way the brain interprets data. If a person has a history of repressed resentments and they have wine with breakfast, they're going to be more likely to act on that resentment than if they had had tea. 
1"Magna Carta Preserved Argon Gas," Livescience,
2 "Rediscovery," Preservation Virginia,
5 "George II,", KingsandQueensoftheUnitedKingdom/TheHanoverians/GeorgeII.aspx .
6 "Louis XIV," Louis,
7 Robert William Fogel, The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 2
8 Delormel, La Convalescence de Louis le Bien-Aime. Ode Irreguliere  au Roy (Paris: Delormel, 1744. 1
9 "Louise XVI," Washington State University, .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why we don't have much Deism.

I think Diderot was a Deist only through inertia. 
People used to think that there couldn't really be any empty space. I'm not talking about air and other physical things, but just no empty space at all. This substance called Aether was thought up. People went to great lengths to prove it!  The modern website, Esoteric Science asks, "How could light be a wave without something to wave?"1
No one has ever been able to prove the existence of Aether.2 No one needs Aether to use any of the functional theories we have about the world. Flip the light switch and on come the lights, even without proving aether. 
The human mind wants there to be something there where aether ought to be. Some of us want it so badly that even though we don't need it and we can't prove it, we suspect everyone else is just wrong and it is really there. 
I believe Diderot was a Deist because of our need to put things in big empty places. We don't know exactly how the universe came into being. We have more ideas now than he did in his time, but we still don't have still don't have incontrovertible proof, if there is such a thing as incontrovertible truth. 
Deism didn't catch on for the same reasons aether faded away from the majority of scientific thought. It's just filling a hole, just a variable waiting to be defined. Many modern thinkers define that variable with either a well defined Creator or with a scientific  theory. 
1. "Aether," Esoteric Science,
2. "Aether Theory," University of Arkansas, Theory.htm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Misbegotten Lace - Complete story

Misbegotten Lace
Nix Winter
This story is a work of fiction. The events, character, and worlds presented within do not represent any person, living or dead. 
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Copyright Nix Winter 2010.
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Note from Nix: 
This is a fantasy story. Very little attempt was made to be historically accurate. I wanted to work with concepts of BDSM, sex, gender identity. It's a pirate bodice ripper... just wickedly playful!
The backgammon board sat between them. Sunlight filled the room. Twins, a boy and a girl, in their early twenties, blond as the sunlight, leaned over the table. This sitting room linked their staterooms.  He sat with his elbows on the ivory inlaid table, chin in his hands, blond curls around his face, blue eyes staring at the board.
"I'm sure you cheat," he said. He had a sweet voice, light and more innocent than was fashionable in a man about to attain his majority. Blue eyes, like a fine spring English sky, watched his sister, as if waiting for her confession. 
She leaned back in her chair, beautiful yellow silk draping over her perfectly, a low enough cut bodice cupping creamy, shapely breasts. Her hair was every bit as golden and silky as his was, only just a little longer.  "I'm not the one who was caught with loaded dice in my possession."
He rolled his eyes. "Yes, but we both know they weren't mine. We both know quiet well whose dice they were."
"But you're a good brother and you'd never tell," she said, smiling. "As it happens, I'm not cheating. You're just losing naturally. It does happen, you know."
"Witch," he complained affectionately as he picked the dice back up. "Now you should conjure up the winds, make us get safely home."  He rolled a pair of sixes and smirked happily as he moved his tokens.
"I don't see why I would want to do that. Grandmother is hardly going to be anything close to pleased with either of us. You're homosexual and I'm pregnant and she has a perfect cure for both of us."
"Marriage," they said in unison, looking just slightly green at the idea.
"I'd fling myself overboard, but I can hardly say I'm homosexual if I've never had sex. Just looking does not really do the job. One has to go a little farther than that." He gave her belly a pointed stare.
"Umgh. I would think," she patted her still flat belly, "that this would be proof that I'm not homosexual. Don't kid yourself, Lanie. You are a man's man, and not the way that Papa is. Honey, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I don't think there's anything wrong with being pregnant either. I don't need some man's guidance or his money."
"Just how do you expect to live then? Grandmother is going to beat those thoughts out of your head, and beat me just to be sure they haven't gotten to me too."
Genevieve leaned back in her seat, arms across her chest. "The truth is the truth. It will go worse for me when if I were to get home and my baby were born there."
"Oh Genni," Lancelot leaned back, a hand over his mouth. "You told Father that American, Hastings, was the father. He was the father, wasn't he?"
She templed her fingers, spread her legs, elbows on her knees, as she leaned forward, giving him the serious look. This look had preceded most of their adventures, most of their disasters. 
Lancelot leaned back in his chair, as if he could keep whatever was about to splash from hitting him.  "What have you done?"
"I'm a bit of a pirate," she whispered, real concern for her brother's opinion on her face. "I knew the combination to Father's safe."
"Oh god, what have you done? He'll be after us."
"He won't," Genevieve said. "I only took the money in the back and he had ever so much of it. I bought a ship."
"That's a lot of money! He will notice!" Lancelot rose, pacing. 
"Even if he does," she said, a dark edge in her voice, "I left him a not explaining to him why he shouldn't mention the loss. I'm not going back to England, Lanie."
He grabbed the back of his chair, staring at her, utterly stricken. "Where will we be going?"
"We're not going, Lanie. We're trading."
"Excuse me?"
"Listen to me, my love," she said, leaning back again in her chair. "I want to sail. I want my own ship. I want to be the captain of a merchant ship. The father of my child is Justice Whitecrane.  Lancelot St. Chevalier can do that. He can sail for his father. He can marry Justice's sister."
Lancelot's mouth dropped open, then snapped shut again.. "What an adventurous life you've planned for me."
"I've made arrangements for you, Lanie."
"Why thank you so much," he snapped, more speechless than not. 
"There is a gentleman," she started, continuing even after he refused to look at her. "His name is Sebastian Baker. He's not a peer, and grandmother will be displeased, but he has already pressed for Genevieve's hand in marriage. He's very wealthy, very attractive, very gentle. We knew him before we left for the West Indies. I do remember you smiling at him as a boy. He was only five years our senior," she said, voice glittering as if there were something vital hidden in there that she just wasn't about to share. "It's perfect. He will secure his place in the business world, with the connections that father can give him, live with completely propriety, and yet have the hand of the boy he's dreamed of for a decade."
"That's such a lovely plan," he snapped, resenting what he wasn't being told, but knowing the best way to find her secrets was to discover them himself,  "Except that I am a man and you are a woman!   I think people will notice. I don't want to be a woman! Do you really want to be a man? Swaggering around and spitting on things?"
She grinned, knowing she'd already won her point. "Actually, I rather like swaggering and spitting. And you, my dear brother, enjoy water colors and pretty flowers, comparing cake, and reading novels on the lanai. Keep your face clean shaven, smile a lot. You'll pass just fine."
"You insult me," he hissed, arms across his chest.
"Come now, you remember Sebastian? He had dark hair, deep colored eyes, blue like the color of sunset? Can you honestly tell me that you won't enjoy strolling Hyde Park with Sebastian as he whispers in your ear and tells you how much he desires to press his manhood between your sweet cheeks? You can have a little cross dressing to have the life you want. Lanie, I love you. I want you to be happy. Homosexuality is illegal in London. You would not survive going to jail and I wouldn't survive your death. Just try this plan. If it doesn't work for you, write me, and we'll arrange for you to have your name back and I shall just pick another."
"I don't know how to live as a woman."
"Yes, you do," she chided. "You've been my best friend and more often than not my best maid. You know how to do my hair, just how to do my dresses."
"I have no breasts." 
"As if I'm all that well endowed? Then you shall have to be more modest than I have been, but after you lose the baby, I'm sure you'll find ways of explaining the personality change."
"You want to go live such a dangerous life. What if I never see you again?"
"My dear," Genevieve said, rising to hold out her arms for him, a tolerant smile on her face. "As your brother I shall write you very often. I shall come to see you. You could be so much more of everything, if only you were not pretending to be that which are not."
"And what am I, Genni?"
"You are a gentle, sweet man, who desires to love and lead a life filled with art and poetry. You are all the good things that I shall never be." She hugged him fiercely. 
"You are all the brave and courageous things that I wish I could be," he whispered, ashamed. 
"Courage, like tea, comes in many flavors!" She reached to the top of her head and lifted her hair off like it was nothing more than a wig. This she plopped onto his head. "There, my dear. You've got my hair. All my clothes fit you. Maybe I'll drop by and leave you with a spawn now and then."
He grabbed her by the arms, the wig of her hair going askew on his head. "This is crazy! What have you done to your hair? You can not possibly be serious! How could you keep this from me?"
She grinned, joyful. "Every time I thought about telling you, I thought about what you're saying right now, and I felt much better about keeping it from you."
"You're just... unspeakable," he said, his hold on her arms turning gentle, yet firm, as if he could hold onto her forever. 
"Sebastian has sent you letters. This was his idea. I think it's a brilliant idea. He's going to meet us when we dock in two days, in Charleston. I'll depart as you, and he'll continue back to England. You'll know by the time you get there if you can marry him or not. If you want to, maybe you both can live in the New World." 
"I thought you said he was pressing Grandmother for 'my' hand."
"He is! Through his solicitor. It's easier if it's a done deal by the time you get there," she smiled, hands on her hips now, hair short and boyish around her face. The yellow silk didn't matter. He could see her as a captain, even a bit of a pirate.
"What are you going to do when one day I am more interested in my own interests than in yours?"
"Nonsense," she said, dismissing both the idea that he would or that that was what she was doing now. "Let's trade clothes, rooms. Try calling me Lanie?"
"Oh, I don't think that suits you," he said. "I think you'd be more of a Lance."
"I like it!" She shoved him then, both hands on his back into her room. "And you? Genni doesn't suit you either. Those were our childhood names anyway. I'll be Lance and you can be Eve."
"That's not funny," he said, moving to peer out the round ship's window, ignoring his sister's rummaging though her closet. "There are two ships on the horizon." He picked up the small pair of 'opera' glasses that his sister had custom made and peered out the window again. "They're flying Spanish colors, but they look French to me."
"Get out of those clothes, Eve."
"My name is not Eve," he said. "Those ships worry me."
"Fine, just don't worry. I had this dress done just for you."
"Have you thought about what will happen if this does work and Sebastian... excites me at an inopportune time?"
"Um," she said, lips twisting as she tried not to laugh. "Don't worry. Skirts are too full for such a sight to be visible, unless you're sitting. I suppose you'll have to have firm undergarments made."
"You're utterly horrible!"
She laughed, and his heart gave way. He'd worried about her marrying, her life being drawn into line with a proper husband. He'd worried that she'd have faded away like an orchid dragged back to England.  "You'll be careful? You'll send me the child, even if he is darker?"
Standing there, new blue gown held up, she hugged the gown close and sighed, biting her lip a little. "I'll send you the child, unless Justice is desperate to keep it. I will always do my best. I just... I just can't be what they want me to be."
"I shall expect many letters," he said firmly as he undid the cuffs of his shirt. This wasn't a great adventure, but neither was it really the end of the world. In the end, she was right. He would have his water colors and his garden. She would have her ship and her swagger.  "If you die in this venture, I shall be very full of wrath."
Words slipped around on her tongue, but she closed her mouth before they got out. After a moment, she shook threw the gown on the bed, and grabbed up a petticoat, a pair of fluffy bloomers. "Don't think about it being women's clothes. Think about how good silk feels on your skin."
"Oh that's so easy for you to say," he complained, moving behind the narrow little changing screen. He threw his shirt over at her, then his pants.  "If we get caught, you can blame it on me. I'll be dead of mortification anyway." 
"We will not get caught," she said firmly, her voice dropping a little, to a splendid mimic of his. "My name is Lance Saint Chevalier."
He tried the same, letting his voice go just a little higher. "Then I must be Genevieve Saint Chevalier."
The undergarments were not all that uncomfortable, really, and he let himself imagine coming down the gang plank, the handsome Sebastian waiting for him, knowing his secret, wanting him all the more because of it. 
"You did that so well!" She tossed the gown over changing screen. "Hurry up so I can do up the laces and give me your boots."
"Really? My boots are in my room."  He stuck his foot out, showing the embroidered blue satin shoes he wore. "I don't know that my boots will fit you." 
"They do," she said, sounding much too confident for his tastes. He peered out from behind the changing screen. Her wig on his head and he tucked at his own hair, making sure it was under the cap and what wasn't was hidden by the ringlets of the wig.  His shoes, which had felt so masculine only moments before, now felt right at home with the long blue gown. He tugged at the laces of the dress, trying to lace it up. The bodice seemed to be designed to flatten a chest, but had soft curves built into it. 
Seeing himself in the mirror, he saw his sister, perfectly, only looking more comfortable in her skin. Her cheeks were flushed, lips darker. He forgot about the laces and reached to touch his own face. He could see his fingers moving over his cheeks, feel his fingers, but it looked like Genevieve touching her cheeks. "This is unnerving."
"Yes," she said, standing in the door way, wearing his coat, his leather belt. Her hair was actually longer than he'd thought when she first pulled the wig off, not as curly as he thought of her hair as being - more like his own hair.  She was indeed wearing his boots. It was like looking at himself. "Come, let's finish our game."
"I feel... overcome," he said softly.
"Come on then," she said, moving to take his arm, to place his hand on her arm. "I'll make you some tea. You'll see. It will all settle perfectly."
"I'm only doing this for you! To keep you out of a horrid marriage, away from Grandmother's cane."
"The possibility of being kissed by Sebastian in public has nothing whatsoever to do with it," she said, straight faced. 
"There might be that," he admitted letting her sit him down in the chair that had been hers.
"Now you're winning," she pointed out, wiggling an eyebrow. 
"My manhood lays shriveled in a nest of lace and linen. I'm not sure that counts as winning," he complained, sitting with his knees together, hands instinctively more graceful, genteel as he reached for the dice. 
"Your manhood," she said respectfully, "is wrapped as the most delicate of gifts, to be unwrapped by a man you know you want. You are sneaking under the eyes of watchful matrons, stealing their authority so that you may live your own life."
"Be that as it may," he said, remembering that he'd rolled double sixes and it was really 'his' turn. He handed the dice over. "It's your turn and just exactly how shall I enjoy my cigars?"
She took the dice, smiled wickedly. "If you smoked cigars, the bedroom might be a good choice. Or the garden. Honey, I don't think you'll be much of a society pigeon. You have always been private. Irritated Father to death."
"Everything about me irritated Father. He'll like me much better now."
"He'll like me better too," Genni said.
They looked at each other, a moment of seriousness passing between them, maybe wondering why they hadn't bothered to do this before. 
A hurried and urgent knock on the door sent Lancelot pale, but Genevieve rose and strode to the door as if she'd been a man her whole life. She opened the door decisively and said, "Yes?"
"Sir, the ship is being stalked by unknown vessels and Captain believes we shall be cut off by a third vessel ahead of us. He requests you join us on deck with whatever pistols you may possess, Sir."
"Yes, of course," Genevieve said with a voice so close to her twin's that he could barely believe he'd just said that. 
As soon as she closed the door, he rose to his feet, hands made into fists. "I don't own any pistols."
"I do," she said, giving him a wink. "And I know how to fire them."
"Genni! Have you actually shot someone? You haven't, have you?"
"Don't be a puppy," she said, giving a genuinely stern look. "Do you remember last year, when Father accused you of dueling?"
"You didn't! Did you kill someone?" He pressed his hands to his cheeks, beside himself.
"Not at all," she said, returning from her room with a pair of pistols in her hands, and a bag of balls at her waist. "He didn't die. He was much nicer to you afterwards."
"Oh good lord! 'I' shot Uncle Ben." Lancelot staggered back to sink into the chair. "What else have 'I' done?"
"You are apparently quite good in bed as well. I was completely sure that Father would dismiss the idea that you were homosexual, after the governor's daughter."
Lancelot held his head with both hands. "How on Earth?"
She smiled gently. "When we get through this I can demonstrate the technique for you, Lanie."
"Oh hardly, no, not really, I don't think so," he said holding up his hands. 
"My dear brother," she said, coming close to hug him and kiss his forehead. "You're entirely too sweet and innocent. Sebastian is a bit of a bad boy.  You're going to have to be a bit more worldly to hold him you know."
"No, actually, I don't know. How do you know?"
"He was on the island last year," she said. "Now don't fuss. I'm not stealing your man."
"Hardly," he said, blond eyebrows arching up. 
"Stay here. Read his letters. You'll see for yourself. He's utterly smitten with you."
Lancelot looked away, arms across his chest. 
In some very real sense, Lancelot strode from the room. His  pride felt as if it had taken a ball to the heart. 
The ship shuddered under the evil intentions and actions of their attackers and soon nerves drove him to Genevieve's room, in search of those letters. If those letters had been written for him, he had every right to read them.  Sebastian had been in his thoughts many times over. The man was taller than Lancelot, with long dark hair, dark violet eyes and a smile which had always suggested the edge of wicked thoughts, dangerous desires to Lancelot. True, they'd been very young when they'd seen each other, but at least for Lancelot, Sebastian had been with his thoughts grown into adulthood. 
Violence pitched the ship and Lancelot barely caught himself, half tripping on the dress. He looked back to his room and considered changing back into some of his own clothes, but he hardly wanted to out his sister. There couldn't very well be two 'Lancelots' running around. 
Heart in his throat, he focused on searching through his sister's trunk. The letters were not hard to find though and he clutched their fawn colored parchment being to his chest.  A shiver went through him! There were so many things he'd thought of, but only knew through secretly read naughty books! He told himself that he was not that innocent! He wasn't!
He stared through across the sitting room into his room, feeling it draw farther away, that this was truly the right path. He didn't belong there. 
Then a cannon ball tore through the ship's wall, through his chest of drawers, over his bed, and out the other side, leaving a trail of smoke and destruction.
His breath caught and he held the letters even tighter. Angry, he shoved them down into the tightly drawn corset, and made for the door. He WAS a man! He'd help in what ways he could. 
The door though refused to open. He tugged, twisted, and like a mental cannon ball, he understood that his sister had locked him in. She hadn't wanted a second Lancelot either, perhaps. So he ran back into his old room and out the whole the cannon ball had torn. Up the stairs and onto a deck filled with black smoke and vile scents. Blood, bile, and things he certainly had no ready name for, and he froze. 
A man with less than a mouthful of teeth ran by him, grinning demonically.  Lancelot covered his mouth with his hand, eyes very wide. 
"Lanie!" Genevieve yelled at him over the battle. "The Marie Kate is going down! Do not let them take you! I've made arrangements for you!"
"Just what do you suggest I do?!" He strode out onto the deck, as if authority alone might provide some solution.
He did and she fired over his head. Hot blood splattered. It   slipped hot through his hair below the wig, which he didn't have on quite right, ran down the back of his neck, cooled into his thin silk gown, and Lancelot screamed.
She grabbed him by the bodice and jerked him to his feet. "The ship is sinking. I'm leading a party to take their wounded schooner! For God's sake, Lanie! Get out of that dress! You cannot swim in it! You'll go right to the bottom!"
"My clothes are gone!"
"Your soul will be gone if you don't have quick wits. There are worse things than being caught in your petticoats. I would know!"
"This can't be happening!"
"It is happening, Lanie. Stay alive! I will be back for you! Sebastian will kill me if I let anything happen to you!"
"I'll come with you! To the other ship!" He peeled at the gown. "I can help!"
"Dear Heart! You cry when pigs get slaughtered! I'm going onto their ship and I'm going to kill them to the last man! How dare real pirates attack me!"
"You can't kill people to take their ship!"
"Explain that to the pirates who are attacking us! I'll be back for you!"
Just barely holding onto the gown, the letters from Sebastian in one hand, he watched his twin dive overboard - wearing his last pair of pants. 
A strong hand touched the back of his neck, and he froze, blue eyes wide. Rude fingers combed into his hair, taking a firm hold as his captor pulled him back. "Well, now, what have we here? Mistress Saint Chevalier? Or Mister Saint Chevalier?"
"Unhand me!" Lancelot demanded. The ship lurched throwing him back into his captor. 
The man kissed his neck, wet and hot, while keeping a strong hold in Lancelot's hair. He screamed, struggling angrily, until the man's kisses moved up to his ear. In a dark, rum tinted voice, he said, "Still not sure, but you taste delicious, so it hardly matters. I bet your ass is tight either way!"
"Unhand me," Lancelot growled. The hand holding his gown opened and he twisted to strike his captor with the full power of his fury. The gown dropped, leaving him in lacy edged corset, a sheer chemise, and frilly bloomers, with tall white stockings. 
His slap left a bright red handprint on the face of his attacker, and a smile. "I fear we must be leaving this ship now, Mister Saint Chevalier." He shifted Lancelot to his shoulder without so much as a struggle. 
"Put me down! I demand you listen to me!"
The man leapt to the railing, one hand holding a rope as the ship rocked, another arm over Lance's kicking legs, he laughed. "I have very little choice in that at the moment, my fair laddie. You're screaming in my ear. Arms across your chest, dearie, try to hit heels first."
"What?" Lancelot gasped, clinging now, even as the powerful pirate peeled him off and sent him towards the debris filled dark waters. He screamed all the way down. His sister's words echoed back at him... 'All the way to the bottom.'
When he woke, he lay on a dry soft bedding, dried lace pulling at his thighs as he rolled over. He murmured softly and snuggled down into the pillow. Such strange dreams. Sebastian and pirates! He imagined Sebastian pressing him against a wall, kissing him passionately. He smiled, pressed his face into the pillow, his hips into the bed, which, honestly, felt much thinner than his bed should have been. The pillow, as well, felt off. It smelled masculine, a little salty, strange, exciting. It wasn't his pillow. His pillow smelled of lavender. He opened one eye, then the other, peering over the fluffy pillow in his arms to the green eyes watching him. 
This strange man in his bedroom had dark sandy hair, golden streaks from the sun, sun darkened skin, and intense green eyes. A golden earring hung from his ear. He squatted at eye level, one hand laying over the other, chin on his hands, just watching with this hungry smile on his face. 
French accent, a voice deep and seductive as the rhythm of the sea, he licked a rosy lip and leaned forward just a little, "Hello there, Beautiful."
Lance gasped shooting up in bed, the pillow coming with him, covering what he could of the corset he still wore, the letters he could feel indenting his skin. "Who are you and where am I?"
The man stood, tight leather pants covering powerful legs, doing little at all to make polite the size of the man's personal endowments. He wore a clean and flowing white shirt, which, Lance felt fairly sure had been his at one time. So very like a man wearing another man's shirt, this man bowed gracefully, courtly. "I am Viscount Aimé Driant, however, I'd be best pleased by being addressed as Captain Fox. As I have not yet unwrapped my gift, I am slightly unsure if you are Genevieve or Lancelot. You, my dear, send mixed signals."
"Hardly," Lancelot said, drawing the covers around himself. "Any idiot would be able to tell that I am Lancelot."
Fox snorted, arms across his chest. "I think you underestimate your beauty, my darling. St. Chevalier did not say how incredibly lovely you were."
Lancelot blinked, bit his lip. "Exactly what are you saying?"
"We need to talk your sister into coming to visit us. You see, she has some of my money, Lanie. I want my money back and until I get it, I'm going to amuse myself with your lovely virtues."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Lance said, legs crossed, pillow held very tightly. 
"Now that I might believe, but you see, I cannot be letting her get away with my money. She told me that if I took her off the ship taking her back to England, I'd get my money."  Fox pulled a chair the front of the table to the bed and sat down. "You are not really to blame for her behavior. Though, it was quite unexpectedly naughty of you to be there in her skirts, not to mention the lacy unmentionables. I'm going to be really good to you while you're my 'guest'."
Lance swallowed, hoping his sister never fell into the clutches of this man. The man was quite obviously very dangerous.  The fluttering in his stomach was anxiety, certainly. "Perhaps we could start with some clothes?"
"Oh, but I like what you're wearing, dearie," Fox said, reaching to tug the protective pillow from Lance's arms. "I have a feeling that you want me to take advantage of you. Have you ever had a nice hard cock in that sweet little ass of yours?"
Lance's cheeks flamed brighter than fire and he was sure he'd  been sunk, if he were a ship. He'd have liked to have faded right through the bed, back into the wall, and when his cock did start to harden at the man's rough words, he grabbed up a blanket and pulled that around himself to hid the betraying reaction. 
"There is nothing at all wrong with being what you really are," Fox said, smiling victoriously. "There is something wrong with hiding hiding yourself, especially from yourself. I think I shall have to spank you!"
"I am not a child!" Lance squeaked, scooting farther away. 
Fox reached under the blanket and grabbed his leg, tugging him back, pulling a long slender leg from under the cover of the obviously stolen velvet blanket. "Look at this leg! I'd say you shaved, but no," he ran a calloused hand up Lance's leg, pausing to hold his knee, fingers pressing the sensitive spot behind his knee for a moment. "You just are very blond. Are you that blond elsewhere, my pet?"
"I am not your pet!"
"Oh, yes you are!" Fox growled, drawing his captive closer. An exploring hand slipped under the bloomers that Lance wore. The next hand grabbed his ass and squeezed. "You want me to want to do wicked things to you!"
Lance lunged off the bed. Fox kept hold of his ankle, so the lunge did not him very far. 
"Oh no I do not!" Lance growled. "I require you to release me this instant! I shall have nothing to do with you!"
Fox pulled him back, hand over hand, until his strong hands slid under the bloomers that Lance wore. "Imagine, my pet, that you are held captive by pirates and we are going to ravish you. I'm going to slide my cock into your tender little ass, and you will probably scream in outrage, but imagine, how much you could learn and experience while we have you, so that when your Sebastian ransoms you, you will not be the blushing little virgin prig."
"I don't need Sebastian or anyone else to rescue me!" Lance said, determined. 
"And what have we here," Fox said, triumphant, as his hand closed around Lance's hard cock. Lance gasped, a shivering flood of sensation rippling through him. 
"I do believe it is my guest's hard dick," Fox purred, voice deep and silky. 
Lance struggled, blush turning his cheeks a bright red. Fox held him with one hand, stroking his captive's cock with the other. Lance dug the heels of his hands into the bed, trying to gain some leverage. It did him no good.
Fox shifted, both hands grabbing Lance's legs and flipping him over onto his belly. Just as quickly he jerked down the bloomers, revealing smooth creamy ass cheeks. He gave one a good smack, leaving a red print. Lance yelped, reaching for the end of the bed to crawl away. Another smack hit his bottom, but he only fought harder. 
"You are a dirty pet," Fox said, "I shall have to see that you are cleaned up before I put you to good use."
Twisting, Lance came back with a rather solid punch to Fox' jaw, knocking the pirate back. "I may be covered in smoke and salt, but I am not a pirate! I am not about to rape my prisoner!"
Fox laughed, one hand rubbing his jaw. "I am a pirate, but I'm not lying at the moment." 
Bloomers around Lance's thighs still, he looked down to find himself still quite hard. He covered himself with both hands, blush bright on his checks. "A man's body does many things, without consent."
With a wink, Fox crossed his arms. "So your own body is raping you? Or perhaps you fancy raping me?"
"Never!" Lance snarled. "I would never consent to sexual relations with you!"
"Is that so?"  Fox smirked, taking a step back from the bed. 
Lance pulled his bloomers up over his hard cock, willing it to go away with all his might, even as his skin tingled with longing for the rude man's hands. 
Fox peeled his own shirt off, revealing sun goldened torso, lined stomach, smooth skin, except for a silvery scar that ran along his ribs. He ran a hand over his pants, his own cock, which was obviously also hard and not small, not polite in the least. "Tell me that you don't at least imagine having this moving inside you?"
"Hardly," Lance said, looking away, indignation twisting his face. "I would never, not even a little."
"You wanted me at your father's last ball. I saw you watching me." Fox sat down in the chair he'd brought closer and rubbed the heel of his hand against the bulge in his pants. "I want you. I want to fuck you quite a lot, actually."
"That could not possibly have been you!" Lance tried to study the man, without really looking at him. Blue eyes roamed over Fox' body, really unsuccessful at hiding his interest in the body of his captor. It was only the body. That was it. 
"You are such a little liar!"
Lance steadily pulled the velvet blanket back, covering himself as he could. "I have no reason to lie to you."
"We are two men here, are we not?"
Pretty much covered with the velvet blanket, blue eyes bore into Fox, but Lance agreed. "We are."
"However it happened, our cocks are both hard. Can we admit to that?"
"Perhaps," Lance allowed.
"I wager that I can find my release sooner than you can."
"Why would I care?"
"Because getting off would feel good.  We can certainly agree to that as well, can we not?"
Lance felt like he was being lead along the merry way. "I have a fiance and I do not chose to share intimate experiences with anyone else."
Fox tilted his head, pursed his lips. "Well, perhaps just a glass of port together and we can then discuss the matter of your sister's reparations." 
"What could my sister owe you," Lance demanded, eyes narrowed. "You leave my sister alone!"
"You should consider the mess she's left you in," Fox pointed out. He rose, strode across the room to a cabinet from which he took a heavy crystal decanter and a couple of glasses. "Come, let us drink like gentlemen."
Under the cover of the blanket, Lance straightened out his clothes. Fox moved with a powerful grace, a tight power to him that did touch something in Lance. He shivered, licked his upper lip slightly. "Yes, fine. A drink between gentlemen."
Fox nodded, poured them each a tall glass of the thick dark sweetness. He brought Lance's to him, holding it out with a charming smile. "To working out our differences."
"Here, here!" Lance said, taking the glass. How he'd manage to drink the whole thing, he wasn't sure. 
Fox tipped his glass back and drank it. Lance's eyes went wide. He wasn't about to be out done, not by this braggart pirate, in any case! It took him what felt like forever to put away the whole glass, but then he wiped his lips with the back of his hand and glared. 
Smiling innocently, Fox held out the decanter. "Another?"
"Oh," Lancelot hedged.
"Come now, surely you can out drink your sister?"
"Well, of course," he said, suddenly feeling like he absolutely could! He held out his glass. 
It was the beginning of a very interesting, if not memorable, night. 
It was as though dawn opened, pulling the curtains back on on an over-bright and rancorous play, that Lancelot was not entirely sure he wished to attend. He groaned in protest and the throbbing pain in his head encouraged him to protest fate louder, promising him that the slightest sound would have his brain leaking out his ears. 
Fox brushed his fingers over Lance's lips. The pretty pirate  murmured appreciation in some words that Lancelot thought might actually have been English, if his brain were working, but it wasn't so he chalked the words up to garbled nonsense of a madman. Obviously he'd been poisoned by the pirate.
"Someone doesn't drink very often," Fox whispered in his ear. "Hangover cure sex now?"
 "Hardly," Lancelot snapped. "Out! Get out!"
Fox' eyes went wide. "This is room! This is my ship!"
Lancelot shifted, pulling the blanket around his body, naked body as he realized it. His nose twitched. "If you would do me the honor."
Fox, also naked, but much less concerned about it, climbed out of his bed and grabbed his pants. "I like you better drunk, Mister Saint Chevalier. We have things to discuss. Crow left some fresh clothing on my desk. The crew will be wanting to meet you as well."
"We are not Greek and this is not a Roman orgy," Lancelot pointed out piously.
"No, we're pirates and you're pretty." Fox gave him a wink and left him on his own for a moment. 
 Sebastian Baker managed the largest export of cotton in the Carolinas. He owned twenty-three ships and he managed them with a firm and cunningly effective hand. There were very few dangerous risks in Sebastian Baker's life. His head managed his life, except where Lancelot Saint Chevalier was concerned. They'd both been boys when they met. Not a single impropriety had passed between them, yet, Sebastian had thought of little else in his free time. 
Of course, he'd had the letters, the small paintings, from Lancelot's sister. Almost from the moment the young twins had arrived in the West Indies, he'd received letters from her. She'd sworn it was her brother who loved, but was too shy to speak on his own behalf.  Now, Sebastian was never one to countenance a coward, but nothing in the younger man had struck Sebastian as cowardly. 
He'd hired men to watch, to study the young Mister Saint Chevalier. Cover paintings were delivered. Subterfuge was used to obtain copies of letters written, journals kept secretly, and with every word, every nuance that Sebastian had gained, he'd lost more of his heart. Without ever having had a direct conversation, he'd lost his heart and soul to a poetic and gentle man who might as well not even know he'd existed. He'd built two gardens for Lancelot, one on his plantation in the Carolinas and one on his London estate. 
He'd paid an enormous bribe in the form of gifts to the Grand Dame of the Saint Chevalier family. Now he had 'Genevieve's' hand in marriage. He'd set aside three brand new ships as a gift to his new 'brother-in-law'.  In two days he would sail for London and he'd still be ahead of his betrothed. He had so much to explain, so much he felt he should make up for. The knock on his door was crisp, business like.
He was neatly dressed in a gray brocade, polished black shoes, hair neatly pulled into a ponytail. Dark violet eyes looked up from the letter he was reading. "Come."
"Mister Baker, there is a messenger," his secretary said solemnly. "He has brought a token." The man held up a woman's stocking, as if it were the grimmest of signs. 
"Send him in," Sebastian said, anger rising, closing his throat. He did not like having his plans go amiss. He set his letters into the mother-of-pearl inlaid letter box and leaned back, calm as a viper. 
The man, obviously not from the landed class, swaggered into the room. He pulled a wooden paint box from inside his jacket pocket and tossed this on Sebastian's desk. "Just so we know who we're talking about here," the man said, a thick Spanish accent darkening his English. "If I don't make it back to where I'm supposed to be, we'll sell your 'woman' off. Got me?" 
"Name your figure, sir," Sebastian said, words clipped.
The man wrinkled his nose, glanced at the very fine crystal decanter of brandy. 
Sebastian arched an eyebrow, templed his fingers. "I'm not a patient nor forgiving man. You can certainly make it back to your people with nine fingers."
The man muttered, pulled his hat from his head and named a figure. 
It was an exorbitant figure, one that Sebastian probably could not raise in the time given. "That is a very lot of money for a slip of a girl whose father will not even pay for her release."
"I think m'captain has grown fond of 'her'."
Sebastian's fingers parted and closed one pairing at a time as he considered. The stocking could have come from anywhere, but the water color box had been on the ship headed back to England. He'd sent it as a gift.  He opened the box and pulled the unused brush free. His smile could have killed a smarter man. With the brush between his fingers, he rolled it back and forth, a seemingly calm gaze sorting through the man before him, as the man became increasingly nervous. 
"Please tell Mistress Saint Chevalier that I do not mind paying, but I will not be robbed. I will have Lancelot brought to me safely or I shall take the affront personally. Am I quiet clear?"
"But how did you know?" The man stammered. 
Sebastian set the brush back in the small oak box of water colors. "That need not concern you. The well being of my 'lady' is, however, quiet my concern. Mistress Saint Chevalier has over reached herself. You might consider a new employer."
"I'd much rather work for a man, a great man, such as yer self."
"Such a wise choice. Where is my 'lady'?"
"Well, you see, Captain Fox, he was supposed to bring, uh, yer 'lady' round, but he ain't come. E'was just supposed to keep the package quiet in da cabin." The man looked again at the brandy. 
"Help yourself," Sebastian said, motioning generously towards the brandy. "Where do you think this Captain Fox might be now?"
"There was a man at the Lady's Garter," Sebastian's guest said. He filled a tumbler with brandy and took it like a shot.  "Who said he saw the Hare in Tortuga, but that can't be. There is no way that Fox would betray Captain Saint Chevalier. She'll kill'em dead when she catches him." 
"Yet she's here in Charleston, extorting me, not chasing the kidnapping pirate?"
"We need funds, you see? It costs to go chasin after people and Fox ain't never going to hurt Lanie. They probably just close as two peas in a pod. Really close, if you know what I mean."
"You will not impugn my beloved's honor. You will not speak his name."
"Okay, how you like it."
"Sir?" The secretary had to have been standing there with his hand on the door. 
"Please see that our guest finds suitable accommodations. Also, send word to Mason that I shall need him to find and detain the bird I was worried about. Word to Captain Closson that I will be taking the Apollo out."
The Apollo was a first class ship of the line, well armed, well stocked, with an agile and willing crew. 
"Yer'll never catch them."
Sebastian stood, grace and power in his movements. He picked up the little box of water colors, slipping it into an inside pocket. "Oh, you might be surprised what a bit of gold and a firm resolve will do. I have played with pirates before. Pirating can be an excellent way to rise from one class to another," he said, walking around the desk, towards his door, every bit the gentleman, a dark and deadly stallion. "If one has the wits."
His guest swayed slightly, confusion in his eyes. He dropped the glass. It hit the carpet with a thud, rolled without breaking. The rough man looked up at Sebastian, a hand clutching his chest.
Charles crossed his arms, glaring at the dark stain on the carpet. "I'll see he stays, even after he wakes?"
"Thank you, Charles," Sebastian said, and then to his guest who was barely keeping his feet, "Just so you know, it's quiet rude to ask twice for another man's brandy."
The Apollo left with the evening tide.  Sebastian leaned against the bow, sea spray in his face, the forgotten pirate in his heart, stronger than it had been in years. 
Lancelot had lost track of how many days he'd been in Fox' company. Not a whole season, but definitely more than a month. A very great many things had changed. He was fairly sure that he'd had sex with every member of Fox' crew. Shy and circumspect had ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. 
"Are you sure this what you want to do" Fox asked, a thumb running over Lance's lower lip. "I do not like putting you in danger."
Crow rested his cheek on Lancelot's shoulder, an arm going around his chest. "It's too risky.  Our Stallion cannot go get killed. Get hung for being a pirate." 
Lancelot felt taller than he'd been before. He patted Crow's hand, then caught the slender hand and drew it to his lips, kissing the back of his knuckles. "It is the best plan. I am not a pirate and you will not be either. There is little reason for any of us to be hung."
It was true, he'd had sex with the crew. One at at time, sometimes more than one at a time, and Lance had swallowed them whole. Hungry for experience, for all the sensations he'd denied himself, hungry for the power he'd not believed he could have, he first moved from being a captive to being crew to being almost a co-captain, and then he'd had a plan to save them all.  Sex was not a sin anymore. 
"I don't know that it will work," Fox said, grinding teeth. "Remind me again just how this benefits us?"
Motioning with two fingers, Lance drew Fox in until he could catch the bigger man's shirt, and pull him physically in for a kiss. "You sir, are a known pirate. Your letter of marque has been revoked and unless another is reissued, you shall be at risk of your neck in any civilized port. Once it is reissued, you can pick up a cargo and return to England, taking me with you."
"If we have a letter of marque," Crow said, biting Lance's shoulder gently. "We should just take someone else's cargo."
Lance turned enough to be press a hand gently to Crow's cheek, smiling at him indulgently. "Your neck is entirely too pretty to be attached to your head sometimes, my dear Crow.  The reason you can't take someone else's cargo is that it's dangerous, dirty, and it will get you hung, deservedly."
"Wanting to bang your ass will get me hung," Crow pointed out, reasonably for all he could see.
"Yes, but that's an injustice. Killing people and taking their cargo is also an injustice."
"Making me wear skirts and live in a house is injustice too," Crow said, pouting.
"That's practical necessity and goes right along with not getting hung."
"Fox will make a vile husband," Crow complained, looking at his lover, daring him to say otherwise.
Lance took a step back, catching Crow's hand and drawing it up to kiss the back of the pretty man's hand. "That's not true, and I expect it is entirely for you that he has accepted my plan. You will make a lovely Viscountess Driant."
"I don't think I'll like France. Too much land."
Fox pressed his fingers to his forehead. "This can't work. I can't marry him and settle down."
Lance caught Fox' hand and put Crow's hand in the Captain's. "It's not as if you would or won't marry each other. Your souls are already entwined and it's simply a matter how well you take care of each other. The laws of men exist so that we know what we must do to live well with others. There is plenty of room within the law to be as happy as we can be."
"Not enough room," Fox muttered, but he hadn't let go of Crow's hand. 
"It can be and it will." Lance promised. Lance stepped back from both of them for a moment. He wore a gown of russet velvet, golden lace laying around his shoulders, throat, a fashionable wig framing his face. He wore dark gloves that went to his elbows, and his sister's identity like rose petals wear soft. 
"I know the governor. I know that I can encourage him to sign anything I want him to," Lance said, his voice lifting, softening, taking on hints of delicate sweetness, that Lance himself didn't have anymore, if he'd ever had it at all. 
Fox smirked. Still holding Crow's hand, he reached out and tucked a bit of blond wisp back into the wig. "I must say, you and your sister are the most interesting people to know. If you see her again, you tell her that she owes me and she knows what she owes me. Neither one of you are the most practical with your plans."
"I'm sure things just went wrong," Lance said. That his sister might have betrayed him was the most uncomfortable of pages in this adventure of his. "She surely trusted me to take care of myself."
Fox laughed. "You make me think there good people in the world, Lancelot Saint Chevalier. It has been my honor to provide you transport to Tortuga. Try not to be taken by pirates again. Not everyone will be as stirred by your pretty face and wicked wit as my Crow has been."
Lance pulled the hood of his cloak up, casting his face into shadow. "Fox, don't be stupid. I'll be back before dawn." With that he turned and strode down the gang plank. A carriage waited to take him to the Governor's residence.  If Genni thought one needed to be a man to get things done, he would show her. Skirts could be very powerful!
"The little horse is going to run away and leave us, just as I was getting used to his worm," Crow said, slightly sing song, leaning against Fox. 
"I don't know, Crow," Fox said, holding his lover close. "I believe he means to return to us. The best laid plans though.... I do believe his sister has underestimated him."
"Stallion is smart," Crow said. "You should punish me for saying you'd make a poor husband. Make me practice wearing a dress."
Fox grinned. With the side of his hand he lifted Crow's chin, kissed him tenderly, small little kisses that grew into a deeper possession. Lovingly he said, "Yes, I think I should. You've been a very bad Crow."
"Uh uh," Crow agreed. Fox squatted and shifted his slender lover over his shoulder carrying him and his mock struggles and cries back to the Captain's quarters. 
Before, Lancelot would never have tried, never have even dreamed up such a scheme. Just a few days, since he'd been caught in a gown and bloomers, on a sinking ship, his life in utter shambles, but he'd found his way. He'd learned things about his body, about other people's bodies that he didn't think he could have imagined before leaving with his sister for England. Father had spoken of education making a man, but Lancelot was quite sure that this wasn't what his father had meant. Genni had very much opened a strange book for them.
He was worried about her as well. Genni was reckless. She'd offered Fox money, a great deal more money than Father had had in his safe. Such a large source of money was either fictitious or dangerous, and probably both. If he could make a strong alliance with the crew of the Hare, some bond with the governor, then maybe he could find his sister. Over the course of their lives, it had been she protecting him most of the time. Now, he wanted to protect her, and his niece or nephew. 
The carriage pulled up at the side entrance for the governor's mansion. He footman hopped down ran to the door, knocking, explaining. He then ran back and offered his hand to Lance, helping him down. Lance had had time to get his mind around the grace and elegance that was womanhood, the power that lay like the dark silver of the moon internally. Head held high, he disappeared into the governor's mansion. 
Up several flights of stairs, servant's stairs, he was lead to a lush room, where the rather large man who was governor sat in a thick leather chair by the fire. The man was balding and wearing only a long muslin night shirt, knee high white silk stockings. "Well, if it isn't Mister Saint Chevalier. I must say, you are nearly as fetching in a gown as your sister, perhaps more so."
"I hope it is not that obvious," Lance said, "I rather had plans to sully my sister's name."
"No, not at all," the governor said, motioning to a seat. "It's just that I am well aware of where Mistress Saint Chevalier is and it is not my bedroom in the late hours of the night.   I shall get straight to the point. I will give you whatever you've come to ask for, within reason, but I have never had a man before. I mean to take you right here on my desk, bent over it, skirts lifted, and I want you held down by a couple of my servants. It may please me to see them fuck you as well. It would not hurt my feelings at all if you were to play the virgin in this, the shy innocent, who cannot believe that I am about to shove my cock up your tight little ass." 
Lance ran a finger over his lower lip, down his chin, all the way down to disappear into his bodice. "I want a letter of marque for the captain and crew of the Hare."
"Impossible, but I am still going to have you over my desk. This part of the house is empty this time of night. I want to hear you scream."
"Complete pardons." Lancelot negotiated.
"Done. If you mean to make honest men out of them, I shall even give them a cargo to deliver for me, paid at reasonable rates."
"Acceptable. Where is my sister?"
"Are you going to kick and scream as I fuck you? Maybe you'll visit me another time?"
"I will kick and scream and cry," Lance said, nodding. "I might visit, but I cannot promise."
"I will see my servants riding you tonight then, and I will spank you."
Lance grinned. "I've learned so many things about myself these last few weeks. I rather like being spanked."
"You can call me Sir for the rest of the evening, little miss" the governor said, smirking. "I shall tell you about your sister, after I have had my way with you. I want you innocent and quite frightened of my cock." 
"Won't have it any other way," Lance smirked. "Letter of Pardon, first."
Lancelot slipped into character. It was easy, as this was also his favorite story. He pulled a lace handkerchief from 'her' sleeve. "Please, Sir. I'm a virgin. I'm saving myself for my husband."
The governor purred, a sound like a growl at the back of his throat. "Now you have to have a husband to give yourself to, don't you. If I don't get my way with you, I'll see that your husband rots in my dungeon. You'd do anything for his freedom, won't you?"
"Yes, Sir," Lancelot said, pressing his knees together. 
"Stand up." The governor demanded, motioning for two of his servants to come closer. "There's no place to run now and you can scream all you want."
Lancelot gasped, backed away from the servants closing in on him. He held his gloved hands close, eyes wide. "Please! Please let me go!"
Strong hands grabbed his arms, a taller and powerful man on either side of him. He struggled, tears rolling down his cheeks. "No! I must save my virginity!"
"I'll keep it safe," the governor growled. "Take him to the table! Hold him down." 
The servants dragged him to a table that looked very like a second desk with a padded edge. He pulled back, but they easily bent him over the table, held him down, one holding each arm out to the side.  He wiggled, his velvet draped ass swaying. 
"No boys, you want a piece of this tight little slut, don't you?"
"I'm no slut!" Lancelot yelled, not caring if it were true or not. 
"Yes, Sir," both the servants said. 
"I'll shove my cock in his mouth if you want, Sir," the shorter one offered.
"Perhaps," the governor gloated. 
Big fingers brushed against Lancelot's smooth legs as the big man pulled his skirts up. Lancelot wore stockings held up with a garter belt. White silk pantaloons covered the garter belt and he cried out indignantly as those large hands pulled his pantaloons down, revealing a creamy white ass.  The silk cloth fell down around his ankles and he cried, struggling, his ass vulnerable and exposed. 
The first swat came as a surprise and he yelped at the red stinging mark it left behind. "Please, Sir! Please! Please don't touch me!"
"I'll do anything I want with you, pretty boy.  You're my slut now." The governor spread his cheeks, studying the tight pink pucker hidden there. "OH you do look like a virgin! I bet you scream when my thick cock finds it's home in that tight little hole! You've never been taken before?"
"No Sir," Lancelot lied, but it was a lie he enjoyed. He looked back over his shoulder, his tear streak face conveying fear and submission all at once. "Please Sir!"
"You've been a very bad little slut," the governor decided. He opened up one of the draws and pulled out a bullet shaped golden object. "This is the first punishment you will receive." 
The tip was cool against Lancelot's entrance, hard and slick. It slipped into him even as he tried to keep himself tight against it. Once inside, it began to melt, filling him with a warm heat and a powerful need to be touched. "Ahhh!!!! Please! Finger me! Get it out! What is it?"
"Something I bought from Bombay," the governor said, pleased. "It's said to make the tightest, most proper gentleman beg to be fucked. But you're a naughty little pirate slut, so you'll have to wait through your spanking."
"No Sir," Lancelot cried, ass wiggling, body trying very hard to expel the rapidly melting bolus. "I'm a virgin, Sir!"
Also from the drawer came a dark wood paddle covered in thick leather. "You want me don't you, virgin boy. You want my cock!" 
The second smack came down hard. Lancelot was already hard and the herbed oil only made him needier. He gasped, his ass burning. "Please Sir! I'll do anything you say. Please Sir!"
More paddles fell, reddening his cheeks, his thighs, stinging and burning as he cried and struggled, helpless in his captor's pleasure. 
"Say it! Say you want my cock because you know you do!"
"Yes, Sir! I want your cock! I want your cock deep in me!"
"I knew you did. You're my slut! Say it!"
"I am your slut, Sir!"
"Now I'm going to ram you and you're going to suck off my Alfred, aren't you?" The governor ran gentle hands over the slender welt lines where paddle smacks had overlapped. 
"Yes, Sir. I'll suck Alfred. Please fuck me! I want you to fuck me!"
"That's my boy," the governor said, as he unlaced his pants. His cock was thick, hard, easily more than enough to fill Lancelot completely. "Now you're a good boy. Give me your hands." 
Both servants let go and Lancelot offered his wrists to the governor, who bound them lightly. Alfred had already opened his pants and moved closer to Lancelot's face. The table was narrow enough that Lancelot could be fucked at both ends. 
"God, you're beautiful," the governor said, spreading Lancelot's cheeks again. "Don't take his mouth until I'm deep in him. I want to hear what he thinks of my cock. I bet it's the biggest cock he's ever had."
Lancelot struggled more, trying to slide out of the governor's hands. "Please, Sir, please! Please don't take my virginity" 
"It's already mine," the governor growled, pressing his cock forward into the tight slick heat of his guest. "God!"
"Owwww! Oh! Please! You're too big! Please, Sir! I can't take you! You're too big for me!"
"You're just perfect," the governor decided, his hips pressed right up to Lancelot's tender ass, his cock buried deep within him. "Fuck his mouth now! So all he can do is moan as I use him!"
Alfred was more than willing to bury himself deep in Lancelot's mouth, moving fast, in, out, deeper, hands pushing the wig off so he could get a good hold of golden blond hair. "Ahhhh!"
Lancelot groaned, moaning as he sucked. His entrance sucked at the cock using him, making little sounds as air escaped, embarrassing human sounds. The other servant moved under the desk and began sucking Lancelot, licking, stroking him.  The governor found his release first, laying over Lancelot, possessing him even after proof of his passion leaked from Lancelot's body. "You're beautiful."
Lancelot was about to reach his own peak though, crying out, torn between sensations of his used entrance, the hardness in his mouth and the mouth on his hardness. He cried out, stiffening as he  both gave and received. 
"That's my beautiful one," the governor purred. "So wonderful.  If you want to stay in Tortuga, I'll give you anything you want, everything you could want."
"I can't," Lancelot apologized. "I have to find my sister and... I have plans in England."
"Such plans," the governor said wistfully. "Very well then, to business." He pulled Lancelot's pantaloons up efficiently, then knocked his skirts down. "Come, then." 
The servants bowed politely, completely subservient and respectful now. Lancelot straightened himself up, touched his cheeks with the handkerchief.  "You are a splendid host, Sir."
"I'm glad you think so. Would you care for a brandy? A rum?"
"A brandy would be lovely."
The governor sat back down in his chair, his pants hastily laced up and nothing at all hiding the satisfied glow to him.  "Your sister is in Port Royal. It seems she not only had a taste for my beloved Melinda, but she went after Corwin MacMurray's wife. He wasn't very happy to find his wife in bed with you, and even less so to find his wife in bed with your sister. I fear your sister may be hung for it."
"That's outrageous," Lancelot gasped. 
"Quite probably," the governor said with a smirk. "I'd leave it to her to solve though. Going there is likely only to get you sent to the scaffold as well and that would be a great sorrow." 
Another servant knocked, was admitted. He carried a letter of pardon for each of the Hare's crew, names provided with an earlier letter of audience request.  The governor quickly signed and sealed each one. They were then put in a single box and offered. 
"I thank you sir," Lancelot said, taking the box. 
"Now listen to me, Lancelot. You may be the patron saint of pleasure, but these men you're with, no matter how they may seem like your friends, you must not trust them. Let me send the letters of pardon with one of my servants and I'll provide you passage back to England."
Lancelot let a servant settle his cloak around his shoulders. He hid the box of letters within the dark folds. "That will not be necessary. I thank you for your concern, however."
"You are every bit as willful as your sister."
"Oh, probably more so for having started so late in life. I bid you good health and prosperity," Lancelot said with a polite bow before he took his leave. 
As the door closed, the governor leaned back, a wistful smile on his face. 
Alfred bent close to his ear. "Should he be detained? He is exactly what the sultan seeks."
"No," the governor said. "He trusts his friends. Let his fate ride on whether that was a good choice or not."
Alfred pressed his fingers to his eyebrow. "Oh, but the reward from the sultan."
"We will find another."
"Yes, my lord."
Fox paced the deck. Tortuga was usually a favorite destination. He should have left as soon as Lancelot was off his deck, with the very next tide, he should have taken his leave. The pretty little blond would, without doubt, run to the governor, complain that he had been abducted, used most vilely, and now needed rescue from the wicked pirates. That would be a reasonable thing to do. That Lancelot was obviously a sorcerer who cast a spell on the whole crew would be hard to prove, but Fox was sure it would be true and he'd know it's truth even more when he was hanged because of it. He'd left Crow in heavy bondage. If they were arrested, he'd claim that his dark haired lover was simply another captive. 
The last thing in all the world he expected to see was the carriage Lancelot had hired. Dawn was just about upon them, but the running lights of the carriage were clear. He leaned on the railing, mouth having fallen open.  
A footman leapt down from the back and opened the door to the carriage. He held up his hand and Lancelot emerged, an impossible russet silk saint. Fox ran down the gang plank to Lancelot's side. 
"You came back."
"Of course I did," Lancelot said, looking up at his pirate captain. "I have pardons for every member of the crew."
"Holy Mary, Mother of God."
"Exactly," Lancelot said, smiling. "You are now a law abiding French viscount."
"Mon Dieu."
"Come." Lancelot swished passed and up the gang plank. "We set sail for Port Royal."
Fox followed Lancelot back up the gang plank, still slightly in shock. 
They'd found a room for him, such as it was. He had a table, a small window, and he could lock his door from the inside. Drafty and damp, he still felt like it was more than he'd had in his father's house. His letters from Sebastian lay before him on the probably stolen table. The salt water had not been kind to them, but they were dry now and they'd survived. 
He traced a finger over the elegant letters, imagining a voice to go with the words.
"My Dearest Artist,
Your name to me, while as precious as sunlight, I keep from my pen for fear of risking the bonds which I hope to achieve. I fear I know you far better than you can know me, for I have been as the night, watching you ever as my morning, from beyond the boundaries that a man must not cross without invitation.  Allow me please, my weaknesses, for in your light, I have become a better man.
Yours Alone,
But there was so much to know about the author of the letters. How neatly he crossed his t's, how even and pure the letters were, the sweet word choices, and Lance felt that he knew this dark haired man he'd dreamed of. 
Now there were things to know about that had nothing to do with watercolors and flowers in a garden. One last task needed resolving before he could seek Sebastian out, in any case. 
He needed to get Genni out of the Port Royal dungeons, in a legal, or at least a safe way and he really didn't know how to do that. He'd never actually been in a dungeon and Crow's description of them made him quite glad that was a truth. He'd just gotten the crew of the Hare pardoned. If he'd been thinking clearly, he'd have rescued his sister, and then got them pardoned... though that would hardly have worked, as he hadn't known where his sister was before that... evening. 
The idea of Genni being hanged poisoned his heart. They had always protected each other.  The world wasn't a fairy tale though and just being brave and dashing wasn't always enough. Lancelot shifted the barrel he'd been sitting on back in front of the makeshift table and sat down. Before this adventure had begun, he'd had nothing except limits. 
Must not let anyone catch on to the idea that he fancied men. Must not disappoint father. Must not let Genni get in trouble. There had been so many musts. Then there had been a brush with death, dark sea water, Fox' strong arms, and so many sensations, so many new wonderful experiences, and he was not the same man he'd been when he still owned his own boots. For several days anything had seemed possible. Maybe it was that when Fox took him overboard there had seemed nothing left to lose at all. Death had been so ... Imminent.  Death was obviously not quite that imminent.
There had been entirely too much adventure. The possibility of a life with Sebastian seemed somehow obtainable and now he'd know just what to do with his beautiful merchant when he got him. He had everything all taken care of. 
Except his sister was in the most secure dungeon for impersonating him with the governor's wife. It's not like Genni didn't already have a lover or ten, or she couldn't seduce the governor's daughter, or better yet, his son, but please all saints, let her be dressed as herself  if she set about seducing any man anywhere.  Truth be told he was a little put out with her for leaving him in her skirts, to be taken hostage by her cohorts, as collateral for her debt. Yes, he was a little put out.
His conversation with Fox and Crow when he'd moved out of their room had touched on the impact of believing his life to at a rather final end.  The effect of being relatively certain his life was not going to ending the very near future had nearly as dramatic results. Although, he would be hard pressed to define one hundred and thirty-five sexual partners in the first week since losing his virginity as anything less than dramatic. 
Trying to decide, well, it felt more dramatic, as he tried to decide how, or if, he should save his sister. That felt gigantic compared even with being to an orgy with pirates and politicians. He folded up Sebastian's letters. Genni had worked on this plan for years. The plan really did have his best interest at heart. He closed his eyes, tapped the folded packet of letters against his forehead. 
Even if he wanted to save her, he didn't know how. She was the one who broke into places, stole things, came up with plans, and in general offered offense to God. He smacked his face with the folded letters again. He offered his own offense to God. He did not understand how he could be how he was and God could have made him, yet his existence was an offense. 
If he'd been born a woman, nothing about his desires, aside from the recent one hundred and thirty-five scandalous encounters, caused any challenge to his faith. He sighed. God did not make mistakes. To ask God to change what God had done, seemed particularly impertinent. It was clear that he was a woman and had always been meant to be a woman. Perhaps his physical appearance was the real test from God or simply a gift in that he and Sebastian were meant for each other. 
There had been a maid in the house he'd grown up in. Every time she'd come to a difficult choice, she'd asked God to give her a sign. She said that God promised to do that, that his promise was in the bible. It was a book he'd always meant to read. 
Genni probably had everything in hand, in any case.  He couldn't imagine a dungeon that could hold Genni, and really that was his issue.  If she was in a dungeon that she couldn't get out of, then he couldn't imagine how to get her out. 
What he really needed was a sign from God.
At that precise moment a canon ball ripped through his wall and knocked down his door. 
Lancelot screamed, clutched his letters to his chest as he scrambled away from the hole. At least, this time, he was wearing pants, boots, and a decent shirt.  Was that a sign that he should die because he desired men? 
Or was it a sign that he was spared even though he desired men?
He stood there for another moment. The floor leaned as the Hare was brought hard to port. He staggered and realized quite vividly that he wanted to live! He wanted to see Sebastian and ask him face-to-face if love could be possible between them!  He was alive because God wanted him to be! The test of his faith was to see if he could continue to love God and accept himself the way God made him! 
He shoved the letters inside his shirt and picked his way gingerly across the ruined door, towards the deck.  Smoke and glittering ash floated on the air. Both ships fired full broadsides at each other. Lancelot stood there on the deck, numb. Paper is made of wood. Ships are made of wood. There were only two little floating wooden boats in the vast expanse of blue, as far as Lancelot could see.  Life, which had been so carefully negotiated from God and Fate, was about to be rudely snatched back!
"Stop!" He screamed. "That's a ship of His Majesty's Royal Navy!"
Fox glared through the smoke. "Get below! They fired on us first!"
"We must surrender! It's a misunderstanding!  You've been pardoned!"
"As if a piece of paper bought with an hour's time spent with your ass really changes the world?" Fox lowered his hand toward lighting the canon again. 
Lancelot rushed him. They collided.   Fox growled, enraged! He caught a fist full of Lancelot's hair and smacked his face against the deck. "Stay down, fool!"
"I will not!" Lancelot rolled away as Fox grabbed for him, leapt back to his feet as he peeled his shirt off. Letters tucked in  his waistband, he ran, white shirt waving above his head. "Hold your fire!"
Canon fire stopped as he ran, flimsy white fluttering above his head. Smoke cleared.  Across from him, his mirror image pointed a pistol right at him. His mouth dropped open. "Genni!"
It had been on his tongue to say how happy he was! She looked right at him and yelled fired.
Crow tackled him about the same time the pistol ball seared across his fist, ripping his shirt from his grip to send it fluttering into the smoke. "Silly Stallion! The Wasp likes it if you're dead."
"That's not possible," Lancelot screamed.  "Genni loves me! She's my sister!"
"Aint saying she don't," Crow said. "Saying she about shot you, pretty pretty Stallion."
"But she's pregnant," Lancelot said, as if that had anything to do with anything.
The strangest look came over Crow's face. "Are you sure?"
"Father's physician was sure enough. She couldn't have bribed that old man with anything in this world."
Crow jumped to his feet. "Fox! My baby! The Wasp has my baby!"
Fox stared, then tamped out the fuse he'd just lit. 
Their captain didn't need to speak his commands. Grappling hooks were thrown.  The tide of battle turned. To Lancelot battles were as mysterious as the floating forms of clouds. The obviously pirate inclined crew of the navy frigate, which should scuttled the sloop easily enough, gave into an energetic rout. Fox' crew surged forward, taking the ship like the efficient predators that they were. 
The only one with nothing to do was Lancelot. He sat where Crow had left him, blood running over his hand.   The ball that had cut across his knuckles could have hit him right between the eyes. It hurt, both his scraped knuckles and that Genni had actually shot him. Genni was a very good shot.  There had been so many lies that he didn't know what to believe. He knew his father disapproved of him enough to disown him and really, going back to  England to marry some poor unsuspecting girl won't have an outcome that made that relationship improved.  Genni had tried to shoot him with unmistakable intent. If God did want him to live, perhaps it was in the same category of actions as hurricanes and the black plague. 
"Genni?" He looked up to find her standing above him, blood and soot on her cheeks, a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other. "You shot me!"
"You can't surrender by running through a battle waving your shirt over your head, idiot. I won't have gotten your hand if Crow hadn't gotten involved!" She went to one knee. "Are you hurt? Have they hurt you?"
"Why did you shoot me?"
She shoved her pistol under the belt across her chest and reached out to touch his face. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shoot you, but I can't very well have Fox surrendering, when I mean to sink him, now can I?"
"Why would you do that? How did you get out of the dungeon?"
"How do I always get out of tight spots? Lanie, come back to the Archangel with me."
"I will not let you hurt Fox."
She rolled her eyes. "You can't be serious. He's a pirate."
"He's been pardoned!"  
"By what god? Lanie, come now, before they realize I'm  not below decks on the Archangel."
He grabbed her pistol with his bloody hand and scrambled back on his hands and knees. "Call your ship off! Whatever debt you owe to Fox, just pay him! I will pay him. What do you owe him? I'll take the debt."
She snorted. "Oh, I'm sure you'd do a much better job than I of paying that debt, but it won't be possible. You want my child, do you not? I promised you that you could raise the child. I want you to be the one to raise my child."
He pressed a hand to a knee has he rose, pistol still pointed at her. "Of course, Genni, you know I love your baby already. I don't care what shade of skin the child may have. You said that Justice might wish to raise his own child though."
A pistol in either hand, Crow emerged from the smoke. "What's Justice got to do with my child? Crow's child will be pale like a proper Frenchie."
Lancelot wished he could hold a gun believably with his left hand. His fingers felt like they'd been dipped in hell sauce. "Crow! We are not discussing your baby."
"Yes," Crow said, eyes deadly and serious, much more coherent than Lancelot had ever seen them. "We are."
Gennie took a step back, towards the railing. "If I told you there was a loving father, you'd understand when I couldn't give you the baby," Genni explained, her sword still at the ready.
A strong wind blew away more of the smoke, revealing Fox, a sword in either hand, baring Genni's retreat into the ocean or back to her ship. "Useful lie. You were supposed to join us, accompany us back to France. Your brother would have been given safely to his betrothed and you would have had the ships I had promised you. All you had to do was give me the child you didn't even want."
"Crow wants," Crow said viciously. 
"Well, obviously," Genni said to both of them. "I just hadn't expected Lancelot to be so ... accepting. When he asked for the child, I," she paused, glancing at Lancelot and then back to Crow and Fox, "I realized that he would want a baby too, that I loved my baby and I wanted my brother to raise him. The child would be better off with him, than with the two of you."
"Is Crow's baby!"
"Is it true, Genni? Is Crow the father?"
"Yes," Genni spat, "But I am the other father. I want my child to be happy, safe."
"The child will be heir to the Driant fortune," Fox said, "If you want to give your brother a child, you should try bedding Sebastian."
Genni's mouth drew into a dangerously angry line. "I am not, nor will I ever be a baby factory! Do you realize I've thrown up more times in the last three months than I have in my entire life?  A child in the belly is worse than a whole keg of ale! There is this child and then no more! I shall keep only women in my bed in the future. So you see my problem? Lancelot and Sebastian will be better parents. You," she pointed at Crow, "Don't even speak like an adult."
"But is Crow's baby!" Crow eyes glittered with tears and he chewed at the edge of his lip. 
"And for heaven's tits! My brother is more of a man than you!"
"Enough," Lancelot snapped. He handed the pistol back to Genni, butt first. "Fox and Crow are good men. I trust them with my life and I will trust them with the life of your child. They are pardoned and now they are law abiding men. Crow obviously longs to parent and you," he glared at Genni, "obviously wanted whatever it was you were paid."
Genni bit her lip. "But!"
"No," Lancelot said firmly. "Viscount Driant, will you honor your original bargain with Mistress Saint Chevalier?"
"But of course. I shall see her brother safely delivered to his fiance and provide her with a fleet of three ships to sail under the Driant family flag. She will be a he, and Captain Saint Chevalier."
"Will you perhaps allow me the honor of being a god mother to the child?"
"I would be deeply honored, would we not, Crow?"
"Lanie is the godmother!" Crow lowered his pistol as well, if a little reluctantly. There was a strong possiblity that he really wanted to shoot Genevieve Saint Chevalier in the foot, or the leg, something non-lethal. Behind him, the lovely Royal Navy frigate tipped to an unpleasant angle and continued a rather rapid decent into the depths. 
He turned back to Genni. "What of the money you stole from Father? If you  had ships already, why?"
Genni lifted her chin, defiant. "Just deserts." 
"Fair enough," Lancelot agreed. "I shall be wanting half of it. For my dowery."
"I gave it to Emmanuelle. She wished to return to Spain."
"Who is Emmanuelle?" Lancelot demanded. 
"Wasn't she married to the Governor of Port Royal."
"Technically," Genni allowed, "but she had experiences which made her unsuited to his continued company."
Lancelot sighed. Suddenly aware that he was standing on the deck only half clothed, he blushed and braced his hands on his hips. "Well, then it's settled then. Genni, honor your arrangement with Fox and Crow. Do not shoot me ever again and we shall consider that it never happened. Fox do not under estimate the value of my ass ever again. Crow, let us retire to Fox' cabin and make tea."
"Tea!" Crow said cheerfully.
"Put those swords away. Get those men out of the water, please. It would be very helpful if we set sail for Charleston. I'm quite tired of being on a ship."
Fox and Genni watched Crow and Lanie walk away arm in arm. 
"He's quite a killer you know, when he focuses on a task." Fox said as he sheathed his swords.
"I assume you mean Crow. Lanie wouldn't eat meat if he could get away with it. He's so changed though. What did you to do him?"
Fox grinned, a glittering smile. "Oh, what didn't we to do him. He's a bit of a masochist, if you must know."
"Really," she said, shaking her head vigorously, "I don't want to know. I shall imagine him always pure and happily sitting in a garden somewhere. Lanie would have made such a wonderful parent."
"Maybe you're carrying twins. It runs in your family."
"I'd never let them be separated."
"Who'd have thought a mothering instinct would show itself in you." He smirked down at her. "Jacques, get those men out of the water and below, secure. I don't wish to lose my ship."
Her nose twitched, but she sheathed her swords. "You've sunk my ship."
"You shouldn't have fired on me. Crow is very skilled at scuttling ships."
She grunted, but didn't disagree. "Maybe you'll name the baby Lancelot if it's a boy?"
"He will have my father's name, Henri. You're a fearless fighter. You can't seriously be frightened of giving birth more than once?"
"Just you try being pregnant and see how you like it."
"If I could, I'd leave that to Crow." 
"If I could, I'd leave it to Crow too."  
They leaned on the railing, two men accepting what fate had brought to them. 
The Apollo reached England without even catching a glimpse of either the Hare, or the stolen frigate.  Sebastian took great care to put about the reliable rumor that the frigate had not actually been stolen, but a simple misunderstanding. The ship had been on an extremely urgent rescue mission. That was all. 
He accepted great expense to see to reputations. Genevieve Saint Chevalier was a sweet and charitable lady whose chastity was not even remotely in question. Lancelot Saint Chevalier had sparred no effort to protect his sister and had taken honorable work with the Viscount Driant and could in no way be associated with any sort of disrespectful behavior. Madam Saint Chevalier approved. In fact, she approved so much that she failed to notice anything at all odd about Mister Baker. Mister Baker approved of this. 
It was a lovely day when the Hare docked in London.  Sebastian stepped out of his carriage as the gang plank was lifted into place. The most beautiful young lady stepped to the edge, one foot still in the ship, one foot on the plank that was most definitely leading towards England. Pale yellow lawn caught the air, outlining her slender form. She ducked her head for a moment and Sebastian's heart raced. His artist. 
He took a step towards the plank, held out his hand. He smiled. 
Blue eyes caught his and they stared at each other for a moment. The beautiful woman made her way towards him, a hand out. The yellow silk glove seemed to transmit heat between their hands as they caught onto each other. The dock, the endless chatter of the ocean, the whole raging dynamic that was London turned to a whisper as they looked into each other's eyes. 
"Lancelot," Sebastian greeted him.
Sebastian drew Lancelot's hand to his lips, but his eyes never left Lancelot's. "Welcome to England, my lady."
Lancelot smiled brilliantly. 
Maybe there was freedom in marriage after all.  
Other books by Nix Winter:
The Pet
Kai Stubborn
The House of Silver Oak
and many others!