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K.J. Jackson

My Captain, My Earl, A Hold Your Breath Novel 3 (EBOOK)

My Captain, My Earl, A Hold Your Breath Novel 3 (EBOOK)

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Can love survive the ultimate betrayal?

One destined to live life on the seas.
As captain of the Windrunner, Katalin Dewitt has one mission in life. Serve the ship. The ship that has been her home her entire life. The ship that is the key to keeping her father safe from certain death.

She never expected to take pity on an injured deckhand from an enemy ship and allow him onto the Windrunner. And she certainly never expected to allow him into her life.

One determined to make his way home.
Bound, gagged, and held captive on one ship after another for two long years, Jason Christopherson had long since given up hope of ever getting back to land, much less to his beloved England.

He never expected to land on a pirate ship, bound for land. And he certainly never expected to fall in love with his new captain, threatening the one thing he needed most in life—to return home.

Neither expected to fall in love. Neither expected to be torn apart by a brutal betrayal...


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Caribbean Waters
October, 1818

She pondered the inert body on the cabin floor. The battle was over, or at least it would be in short order. They had put up half-hearted resistance, the crew of the Rosewater, but she could still hear remnant clangs of steel against steel above deck.

She hadn’t wanted to attack in daylight, but the ship had spotted them and made a run for it, and they were too close to the island of Saba. Too close to chance the Rosewater slipping away to safety. She wasn’t about to let that happen. Not with her father’s life on the line.

The cleanest of Katalin Dewitt’s dirty fingernails slid under the red bandana covering her head, scratching the sweat at her temple as she contemplated the figure sprawled on the floor. Now she had to figure out what to do with the body.

She shoved the toe of her boot into his ribcage. No movement. But his chest swelled with a shallow breath under the rag of a white linen shirt he wore.

Telling, the man had taken up arms against his own ship. Or more correctly, he had used a mop handle against his own crew, at least until he could get his hands on a cutlass. And he knew what to do with that blade once it was in his hand.

The man could fight. Fight well. Mop handle or sword, he inflicted damage quite well. Almost too well for him to be useful to her.

Katalin closed the door to the captain’s quarters, stepping over the man and sitting down on the curved wooden chair by his head. She adjusted the cutlass at her waist as her eyes swept over him. A bushy, scraggly brown beard covered the lower half of his face. He was woefully unkempt, but big, and she could see lean muscles through his thin shirt. Strong.

The man might be useful as another deckhand now that she was about to set Roland on to captain his own ship. She would have to send a good third of her crew with him to handle the Rosewater.

Roland had rightly earned his own ship from the years under her father, but her father had never allowed it to happen. But Roland deserved it and knew it, and Katalin knew that would only mean trouble in the future.

For the most part, Roland had kept his discontent in check, but Katalin recognized that it was festering and growing. Soon enough, the man’s discontent would replace his loyalty.

Time to give Roland what he deserved and cut him to the winds.

She ticked off the list of the men she would send with Roland as she watched a trail of blood trickle along the cheekbone of the man on her floor. The gash on his temple would need to be sewn if he was to become part of the crew—she couldn’t have that wound splitting open time and again.

Taking a deep breath, she leaned forward, watching him as she balanced her elbows on her thighs and took off her bandana, scratching free the hair that had been in matted braids for weeks now. Hiding her hair was easier than having the crew stare at it, but she was going to have a devil of a time untangling it when they got to land.

The man jerked, shaking the wood planks under her feet, but his eyes remained closed. Katalin wondered if it had been a mistake to have the man dragged down into the cabin.

He obviously wanted off of his ship—he couldn’t wait to jump onto the Windrunner—but that meant very little. And the last time she took on a man into the crew that hadn’t met her father’s approval, it had not gone well. That sailor had lasted only a month before the crew had taken care of him themselves.

The sounds of clashing steel from above petered out. Standing, she tied her bandana back into place and gave the man one last glance. She had to get up on deck to talk to Roland. The stitching would have to wait.


Katalin didn’t want him on her bed, but she also didn’t want to sit on the floor and sew him up, much less do it with him in a hammock. She was hoping he would remain passed out until the stitching was done—she didn’t need him flopping about—but at the first poke of the needle, he roused. Three more pokes, and he groaned as his eyes opened and he rolled away from her onto his side, tearing the needle from her hand.

Sighing, she pulled his shoulder, trying to shift him onto his back. He was surprisingly solid, and strong, against her hand.

She grabbed with both hands, rising up as she pushed down on his thick shoulder. He fell to his back, the needle half in and out of his temple. His unfocused green eyes searched, then found her face.

“What the hell…” His voice came out thick and gravelly, like sharp rocks were ripping through his throat.

“I had hoped ye sleep through it, matey.” Katalin pinched the needle and yanked it free from the skin. “But ye didn’t. So no caterwaulin’.”

“What?” His eyebrow arched up toward the slice on his temple as he tried to look up.

Her hand went on his forehead, stilling it. “Yer temple. It be sliced. Ye need to be still fer the next five stitches. Can ye do it?”

His eyes dropped to her face. “Aye.”

She nodded and quickly pushed his brown hair out of the way and set needle back to skin. True to his word, he didn’t flinch once as she closed the wound. But she did feel his eyes pinning her as she worked on his temple.

Katalin leaned in, biting off the thread, and then pulled away, sitting straight as she arched her back, her eyes running down his body. “Is that it? Any more gaping wounds?”

He shook his head silently.

“Good. That’s not me favorite thing to be doin’.” She set the needle and thread down in a wooden box nailed to the small round table next to her.

“I will not become a pirate.”

His words cut into the thick salt air, making Katalin’s head spin toward him.

“What ye say?”

“I will not become a pirate.”

She laughed. “Admirable one, ain’t ye? No worries on that, matey, no one is asking you to be one.”



“Then why fix my wound?” He sat up. “I would like to speak to the captain of this vessel.”

Katalin set each of her palms on the breeches covering her knees, spreading her legs wide as she leaned forward, blocking his movement from the bed. Her eyes narrowed at him. “Ye be speakin’ to the captain.”

He looked over her shoulder and around the cabin. His eyes landed on her, confused.

“Ye don’t understand words, boy? I am the captain.”

He guffawed. “No.”

Katalin rolled her eyes. She rarely had to admit to captaining the Windrunner to anyone new. And in the unfortunate instances where she had to, the reaction was always the same. Aghast. Scorn. Faces scrunched in derision. “Yes. And ye can get past it this very moment, matey, for the fact of it ain’t goin’ to change no matter how long ye look at me like that.”

“But you are a woman.”

“That be true.”

“Ludicrous…” he muttered, his voice trailing off. Long seconds passed before the disbelief lining his face melted off, wariness taking root. “What do you want of me? Why sew my wound?”

“It is simple. Serve the ship. That is all. I would like the extra help, now that Roland and a good slice of the crew took on the Rosewater. Ye look strong. Healthy save for that gash. I be likin’ yer help on deck, but the crew will survive fine without it. Serve the ship, and I will get ye to port, and then ye are free to make yer way as ye wish from there.”


“I can skim the northern coast of the island we will be passing later today, and ye are free to swim to shore. The current in these waters will carry ye close to the land, so even with yer injury, ye should be able to make the swim fine.”

“What is on the island?”

She shrugged. “A small settlement. They don’t take kindly to pirates. But ye are not one, so ye should be fine.”

She could tell he was seriously contemplating his options.

He scratched the back of his neck. “And what would I do on this ship?”

Katalin leaned back in her chair, crossing her ankle onto her knee. “Ye are strong. I have seen that. It be useful. Ye would do whatever is necessary as deemed by the crew.”

“I have lived that life on the last ship I was on, woman, and I did not take kindly to it.”

In a flash, her foot stomped down, and she jerked forward, her face in his. “I do believe ye misunderstand yer very precarious position right now, boy. This is not a passenger ship. This is a vessel for swiftness and attacking, and I be happy to deposit ye down with the rowboat we be affording the survivors from the last ship ye were aboard. I be quite positive they be rippin’ ye apart and eatin’ ye before their boat makes land, but that is not me concern.”

Her ear craned to the small round window above his head as the sounds of a small ruckus and splashing filtered into the cabin. Her mouth took on a hard line, but she sat back, resuming her earlier relaxed posture. “That said, I have no intentions of attacking another ship on this voyage. The Rosewater was the only one we be after, and now that be done. I am done. We be headin’ to port. So make yer decision, boy, and make it swift. I be needed on deck.”

She stared at him, watching his anger rise at her words.

It was clear this one had too much pride. Too much entitlement in life. He was damn lucky she was giving him this opportunity. No wonder he had taken up steel so quickly against his last mates. He thought he deserved better.

Clearly this was a mistake. He would do her, the crew no good. She needed to go check on that rowboat to see if she could still toss him aboard.

Katalin stood, pushing her cutlass further back around her waist. Setting the wooden chair to its spot in front of the wide desk, she went to the door. She was a step out of the cabin, her path blocked by Chomper the goat, before the man’s words made her pause.

“I will stay aboard.”

She rubbed Chomper’s black ear before she turned back to him. “I already made me decision, boy. Yer off.”

He swung his legs off the bed, but did not stand. “I apologize. The gash on my head has made my thoughts fuzzy. I meant no disrespect to your leadership on this vessel. You are a woman captain, and it is an unusual sight, but that does not mean I should have shown disrespect. I do wish to stay aboard, if you will allow it. I believe I can be of help to the crew, and to you, the captain. I am capable of following orders.”

Katalin’s head cocked at the man. That was unexpected. He spoke with more grace and humility than she imagined existed in the word. Peculiar. Not the slightest trace of sarcasm on his face or in his tone.

She stepped back into the cabin.

“Ye just saved yerself from the rowboat, matey.” She went over to the edge of the desk, grabbing a green apple from the basket she had fixed to the desk long ago. She took a bite, still eyeing his large frame. He swallowed the mass of her bed, even with his bare feet on the wood planks of the floor. “I be Captain Kat. What be yer name?”


“Jason? That won’t do.”


She took another bite of the apple, chewing slowly as she watched him wait patiently. “Two syllables. None aboard have that luxury. We already have a Jay in the crew, so Jase it is.” She turned to leave once more, but then looked at him over her shoulder. “Ye can rest on the bed for a spell before we put ye to scrubbin’.”

She walked out, Chomper turning and following her.

“Captain Kat?”

She stopped and popped her head back into the opening. “Aye?”

“Captain Kat has three syllables.”

Her cheek cracked in a half smile. “Yes, but I be the captain, and I make the rules, Jase.”

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