Swept Away Saga #1
Thick, dark mud squelched beneath my feet and I felt a thrill go through me, determination taking even stronger root in my chest. So far, so good. I’d made it to the bottom of the pit without anyone catching me. How long would it take to dig to the treasure? Thirty minutes? Hours? All I knew was that I didn’t have time to waste—not if I was going to beat McCrery to his prize.
Unhooking from the ropes I’d rappelled in on, I felt around for the bag I’d also carefully lowered down. The dark canvas brushed against my fingers and I quickly pulled out a green glow stick, breaking and shaking it to activate the light. Suddenly, the area around me was visible and I took in the excavation site that should have been my father’s.
The walls were reinforced with metal beams, some small tools leaning against them. The ground underneath me was soggy and obviously hard to work through, covered in sludge. Glancing up, a deep sigh brushed past my lips as I stared at the faraway sky. It was now or never.
Reaching into my bag, I pulled out the only remaining item besides more glow sticks. The collapsible shovel felt strangely heavy in my hands as I brought it to its full size, like it was unwilling to do what we’d come to perform.
The metal tip dove into the muck, sliding through with some hesitancy. When I pulled it back up, I dumped the pile into the waiting suspended box, luckily already emptied by the crew. With each load I dropped into the case, my heart beat faster and faster, partly out of fear of being caught, but mostly out of excitement for what I was about to see.
It took almost an hour to clear the dirt down to the top of the “vault” as the news had called it, by which time I’d shed my sweater and was in a full on sweat from the amount of work. My white tank top was striped with filth and sticking to my skin, but I couldn’t find a moment to care. With the timber finally cleared, I set to prying it apart, hacking at the wood until it broke. It was loud business, but graciously quick, the lumber already rotted from centuries of being buried.
Breaking another glow stick, I tossed it into the cavity, almost shrieking as it landed next to what appeared to be a skull. The way it was laying suggested that the rest of the skeleton was here as well, buried under years of mud and muck. The skull wasn’t really what held my interest, as amazing a find as it was. No, it was the piece of gold next to it, bright and shiny as the day it was made.
Gingerly, I dropped myself down into the box, wishing the glow stick lit more than just the immediate area, and began feeling around the mud surrounding the find, hoping to come across some type of container still hidden. Why would there be only a skeleton here and no treasure? Finally, I hit on something harder than the ground, but softer than rock. Excitedly, I dropped to my knees and began feeling around with my hands, unearthing the front of a wooden package—a treasure chest.
Awe filled me as I wiped my fingers over the front of it, feeling the gold lock on the front, an elaborate “O” engraved on the pieces. It appeared to be a type of puzzle lock, only revealing the design when it was put together correctly. I’d never seen anything like it in person before. In the middle of the lock was a very clear cross—the cross of the Knights Templar.
“He was right!” I laughed, not able to fully believe my dad had been right about one of the world’s greatest mysteries. All those years I’d wished he would just leave it alone and he’d been right. “If only he was here to see it.”
A moment of sadness overtook me as I examined the legacy I’d been left. As the mourning turned to anger, I grabbed the box in front of me, accidentally pulling the entire front off it. Inside, an old jar sat, a lid screwed onto the top. “How about this, McCrery,” I muttered. “I’m going to find out what’s here first.” Taking the jar, I twisted the top off, wanting nothing more than to know exactly what was hidden here in the Templar’s treasure. Suddenly, a cracking sound from above brought me right back, my eyes desperately trying to find the culprit of the noise. If I was caught . . .
Nothing greeted my straining eyes and I turned back to the jar, hurriedly trying to see inside. It looked like it would fit in my canvas bag, if not I would have to risk tying the ropes around it and carrying it up with me in its fragile state.
Sweat clung to me, as I started looking for other things that might be hidden here, dripping in my eyes and causing me to rub muck across my face whenever I tried to wipe it away. Even with all of the added moisture, I still felt the first drop of water hit me.
It was like a gentle kiss, brushing through my hair and spreading across my scalp as I looked up in alarm, knowing there were no rain clouds in the sky. The mechanism holding back the floodwaters was coming apart, shaking against the sides, the gates leaking the salty liquid down the walls in silent advancement. With a shock, I realized that the water was already starting to pool in the bottom of the vault, dripping through the opening I’d hacked.
Frantically, I dropped the jar, stepping on the skull in my haste as I jumped up, grabbing the edges of the opening and squirming my way out of the vault. With a deafening crack, the floodgates above burst open and a torrent of water rained down on me. Cold seeped through my skin, filling my lungs with its sudden force, twisting around my hands and stealing the rope I’d climbed in on. Desperate, I tried to reach for it, but the need for air had me swimming for the surface instead.
It was like trying to swim straight up a waterfall, which was essentially what I was doing. My chest burned, begging me to take a breath, but I couldn’t get to the surface. Finally, my head broke the rapidly rising waterline and I sucked in all the air I could manage before I was pushed back under.
Reaching for something, anything, I could grab and pull myself up on, my hands brushed over the muddy walls, nails digging into the pit that was killing me. The water pushed in every direction, confusing me when it came to knowing up from down. I felt like I was being sucked through a stone wall, my jeans ripping open on a jagged rock that cut through my leg. The salt stung the wound as I flailed, my eyes going dark and lungs about to burst as I slipped further and further from the surface.
“Is he dead?”
“It’s not a he, you dolt! Can’t ya see her breasts?”
“I’ve never seen a lady in trousers before, savvy? What do ye reckon? Is she a castaway?”
“If she is, she’s shark bait, for sure. See the cut on her leg?”
“Aye, her legs are about all I can look at, besides her bosom!”
My head was pounding and it felt like I was about to vomit everything I’d ever eaten in my life. But even through the pain haze, the tone of the men’s voices was setting off alarms in my mind. I wasn’t safe, not around them at least.
“What’s amiss over here? Why aren’t you scallywags on board yet?”
“It’s O’Rourke,” one of the men close to me muttered. “Leave it to the Old Salt to spoil our fun. Imagine if she’s a whore? Wouldn’t that be lucky?”
“Doesn’t matter if she’s a whore or not, I’ll take her to my bed!”
The men hooted with laughter and I decided I’d played dead long enough.
“You’ll take me to bed if you want to lose an appendage!” I growled, rolling over and stumbling to my feet.
“Blow me down!” the man closest to me exclaimed, skittering away.
Reeling, I grabbed my head with one hand and my injured leg with the other. Standing had not been the best plan. I couldn’t run away even if I wanted. Everything around me was spinning out of control as I tried to stagger away from the group.
“Ha! The lassie’s three sheets to the wind,” one of the men snorted.
“What are you talking about?” I asked in confusion, feeling like rolling over and dying in that moment. My thoughts felt muddied as I tried to remember the last thing I’d been doing.
“I asked what’s going on over here?”
Vaguely, I was aware of another man joining the group, but I was too preoccupied with keeping my feet and clearing my vision to try and see all of them just yet.
“We found the woman passed out on the shore, Quartermaster. We didn’t—ah—quite know what to do with her.”
“Oh, aye? I know ye lot, and ye know that I don’t stand for rape among the crew. Now leave the lass be!”
The man’s voice was gruff and had an accent that I couldn’t place at the moment, but it was obvious that he carried the authority over the other men.
“Aye,” came the mumbled responses.
Unable to keep it together anymore, I fell to the ground—which was sand, I suddenly noticed— and cradled my face in both hands.
“Are you okay, mistress?”
It was the authoritative man, his voice soft and much nearer to me than before.
“Uh,” I choked out. “I think so. My head hurts pretty bad. And my leg.”
“Aye, you’ve a nasty cut. Do ye mind tellin’ me what happened to ye?”
“I think . . . I drowned,” I answered truthfully. Slowly, memories began coming back to me, of water choking the life out of me, of being swept along an underground tunnel that led from the pit to the sea. I’d lost consciousness before making it out, but, apparently, I’d made it out alive.
Gingerly, I raised my head, blinking several times in the bright sunlight. As everything cleared, I took in the sounds of waves on the shore, the breeze brushing past me, and a marine smell. My vision cleared after a moment longer and I saw the ocean in front of me, the sandy beach flowing seamlessly into it, and a giant ship anchored not far off, sails pulled in, along with a rowboat making its way to her hull.
“Wow,” I said, shocked. “I’ve never seen a ship like that out here except for reenactments! Are they doing one today? I didn’t even know they did them anymore, to be honest.” Turning to look at my companion, I laughed as I took in his outfit. “Are you one of the performers?”
Wearing a white, collared shirt, with a red, button jacket open over the top of it, the tails of the coat hung down over his black pants, which were tucked into his leather boots. A thick belt, holding a pistol and sword, was buckled around his waist. Tan skin and short, dark hair finished the look, granting him an air of a time long ago.
“You did a great job,” I said appreciatively. “I’ve never seen such work put into a costume before.”
“Costume?” he asked in a puzzled tone, the look on his face matching. “I’ve no idea what ye’re talking about, woman.”
“Oh! You must be a—what do they call it—a method actor! That’s why all of you were talking like that, right? That’s awesome! Good for you guys!”
Yeah. Go ahead and compliment his job choice while you bleed to death. Grimacing slightly, I adjusted my leg, trying to assess the damage. He continued to stare, a blank expression on his features.
Laughing, I watched the man’s face. He truly was amazing at his craft, my words seeming to mean absolutely nothing to him.
A much older man came ambling down the shore towards us, clothed in the same manner as the man next to me, a stream of curse words flying from his mouth as he adjusted his privates. Behind him, another man strode furiously, his grey coat flapping in the breeze.
“Yes, Captain?” The man next to me turned, stepping ever so slightly in front of me.
“Explain to me why Mr. Oswald is now demanding that we pay him twice the amount for his wine?” The Captain huffed, his bloodshot eyes about to pop out of his head. Even from this distance, I could smell the alcohol on him, as well as the stink that only comes from not bathing for a very, very long time. His white wig sat precariously on his head, revealing several patches of ratted gray hair.
“It’s the same price ye’ve paid for the last year!” Mr. Oswald argued, stopping a few feet away to wag a finger in the Captain’s face.
“Yes, O’Rourke,” the Captain growled. “Mr. Oswald says you’ve been paying twice as much for a year, and that ye’re the one who brokered the deal.”
“Yes, sir,” O’Rourke confirmed. “That is our current deal.”
“And why,” the Captain glowered, “did ye agree to do such a thing?”
“Mr. Oswald, ah, came across some questionable activity of yourself last year. I took care of matters myself.”
“Christ, boy, do ye not know how to be a pirate?”
Turning decidedly, the Captain pulled the gun from his waistband and pointed it at Mr. Oswald.
“No, wait!’ O’Rourke yelled, raising a hand to stop him.
The shot rang out loud and clear and I jumped, clapping a hand to my mouth. Mr. Oswald just stared at the two of them, dumfounded, as a bright red stain began to move across his shirt. As if in slow motion, his body crumpled underneath him and he fell to the ground with a silent thud.
“There. Now there’s no blackmail and we’ve got a whole store of free wine. See how that works, boy?”
“Yes, Captain,” O’Rourke said stiffly, his tone suggesting he didn’t particularly like being called that.
“May God have mercy on his soul,” the Captain said.
“May he indeed,” I muttered, still looking at what was very obviously a real dead body.
“Who are you?” The Captain barked and I jumped again, my mind not accepting the things around me. Maybe I really had died? Or was in a coma and dreaming?
“Ach, just a lassie walking on the beach, Captain. Nothing to worry about.”
“Aye? Bring her along then, will ye? I could use some good company among you lot.”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Argh!” O’Rourke stated in distaste. “It’s frightful bad luck to bring a woman aboard, Captain.”
“Avast ye,” the Captain said seriously. “Ye take her aboard or I’ll bring the cat o’ nine tails against ye myself. Savvy?”
“Aye, Captain.” The growl left his barely moving lips as O’Rourke turned and grabbed my arm, hauling me to my feet.
“Good, good. You go out now, I’ll join ye after a quick drink.” The captain turned away from us then and began to hobble back from where he came. Apparently, there was civilization somewhere, close enough for him to walk to at least.
“Well, lass,” O’Rourke stated, following the captain with his gaze as well. “I’m afraid ye’re going to have to come with me.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, trying to wrench away from him.
“Ye heard the Captain. Apparently, ye’re going to become part of our pirate crew.”
“Like hell I am!” I grunted, kicking him with the foot of my injured leg.
“Ouch!” he hollered. “Would you stop that?”
“Let go of me,” I yelled, pulling against him as hard as I could.
“It’s for . . . your . . . own . . . good!” With a massive grumble, he grabbed me around the waist with his free hand and hauled me over his shoulder.
Pain seared through the cut on my leg and I cried out, punching him in the back. “Put me down!”
“Be quiet!” he commanded harshly. “I’m trying to help ye, ye witch!”
“I’m not a witch!” I replied vehemently, struggling harder, kicking my good leg against his front, without much success.
“Argh!” he yelled in a very pirate like fashion.
“Oh, shut up,” I half laughed back. “You’re not fooling anyone with that pirate jargon. Put me down.”
“Trust me. The last thing you want to do is walk on that leg. By the looks of it, I’d say yer lucky yer not feeding the fishes as we speak. The sea took a good bit of blood from you. And as for fooling, well, I’d say I’m doing a fine job convincing you that I’m anything but what I clearly am. Ye’d think ye’d never seen a buccaneer before, and ye livin’ here of all places!”
“I don’t live here,” I answered, finally going limp as another wave of exhaustion swept over me. “I don’t even know where ‘here’ is.”
“Is that so?” he asked in a non-believing tone. We’d made it to the waterline by then and a rowboat was waiting, another man in costume standing by, oars in hand.
“Look,” I sighed. “I told you. I almost drowned. One minute I’m trying to get my head above water and the next thing I know, I’m lying on this beach being verbally assaulted by you and your mates. I appreciate that you’re all dedicated to the show, but I’m really freaked out by the murder we just nonchalantly witnessed—now would be a good time to tell me that was all special effects, by the way—and the fact that you’re still carrying me and refusing to give up the act is very upsetting.”
He set me down in the boat, giving me a stern warning look that I took to mean not to move, and then took a seat in front of me, picking up his own pair of oars.
“Well, you are on the beautiful shores of Acadia. The island you woke on is a favorite of the Captain’s for meetings and such.”
Nodding as he spoke, I stared at the island we were leaving. It was covered in oak trees, appearing to be completely separate from the mainland next to it. Acadia. So I was in the same place I’d been, it just looked . . . different.
“We’ll get you on board and have a look at that leg,” O’Rourke was saying, our extra rower apparently just along for the ride. “I think we have a crate somewhere with clothes more befitting of a lady.”
“What, no Spanish gold for you and your crew?” I joked.
“I don’t follow?”
“Isn’t that what pirates do? Rob ships of their gold?”
A loud, hearty laugh broke from his mouth and his green eyes sparkled as he watched me, obviously entertained by what I’d said. “Wouldn’t that be grand, aye?” he asked his partner, who was also laughing. “We take what goods we can get, lassie. Sugar, tea, booze, silks. It’s a rare day that ye find a vessel laden down with Spanish gold.”
“Could ye imagine?” the other man finally said. “A whole ship’s worth of gold. I’d buy me own island down south and never leave. All the women and rum ye could want.”
“It’s a dream,” O’Rourke nodded.
“Toss down Jacob’s Ladder,” the other man yelled as we came up next to the ship.
“Are ye all right to climb aboard?” O’Rourke asked skeptically.
“I’m fine,” I snarled, grabbing the bottom rung of the rope ladder that’d been thrown down to us.
Grunting, I attempted to pull myself up, my body weak from my nighttime ordeal, and failed miserably. Ignoring the outright laughs from behind, I tried again, successfully making it up one rung. It took longer than I was willing to admit, but I finally made it up the side of the ship, fresh blood slowly leaking from my wound, and stumbled onto the deck.
“It’s the whore!”
Immediately, I was greeted by a mass of men in varying states of disarray. Some of their clothing was torn and dirty, a great many of them were missing teeth, the stench was enough to kill a cow, and I was pretty sure I saw a peg leg in there somewhere.
“Back off,” O’Rourke ordered, coming aboard behind me. “She’s for the Captain only!”
Cries of disapproval rang out, but the crew disbanded, going back to whatever they’d been doing before we arrived. Some were playing cards, while others drank happily from a barrel.
“Come on,” O’Rourke stated, beckoning for me to follow him. “Let’s get your leg fixed up right, aye?”
He led me across the deck of the ship, moving slow enough for me to keep up. He was right—walking really was the last thing I wanted to do right now. Finally, we went up a staircase and through a door, into what I assumed to be the Captain’s Quarter’s. It was a hall, though, leading back into the ship, with two rooms in front of us, the smaller of which we entered.
“Here, lassie,” he said, motioning for me to sit on the bed built into the far wall.
“Stop calling me that,” I mumbled, more annoyed with the pain I was feeling than anything else. “I’m not a dog.”
“Aye? I hadn’t noticed.”
“Ha ha,” I replied dryly.
“Lassie doesn’t mean dog, ye know,” he suddenly said seriously, opening a cupboard on the wall across from me. “It only means “young girl.” Surely ye’ve been called that before?”
“Not exactly,” I muttered. “I can’t be that much younger than you. I’m only twenty-three. What are you, twenty-four?”
“I was born in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and seventy.”
Laughing loudly, I rolled my eyes and smiled smugly. “Right. That makes you how old?”
“Five and twenty,” he answered, staring at me quizzically, a spool of thread and a needle in his hands. “Did ye perhaps hit yer head during yer accident?”
I didn’t answer. My brain refused to accept what he was saying to me, and with good reason. There was absolutely no way it was sixteen ninety-five. No way. This was a prank, or some weird dream I was having. Maybe I had hit my head and this was my way of coping with what was happening to me. Maybe, right at this moment, I was still drowning, and my oxygen-deprived brain was trying to give me something to make it feel better.
Remaining silent, I became semi aware of him making preparations to sew up my leg. He didn’t really seem to know what to do with my jeans, so he just pushed them aside, shooting me a look that was suspicious at best. A grubby cloth was used to wipe it somewhat clean. It was only as he lowered the needle to begin the stitching that I suddenly felt the need to say something.
“Hold the needle in a flame first,” I blurted out.
He froze, looking at me in surprise. “Why?”
“It’ll help kill the germs,” I explained, silently wondering if the world knew what germs were in the seventeen century.
That was a big nope.
“Just do it,” I sighed. “It’ll help me feel better.”
Giving me another odd look, he drove the needle down into my leg sharply, ignoring my request and causing a quick gasp to flee from my lips. Thankfully, he’d anchored his legs against mine, sitting on a stool in front of me, and was able to keep me steady. “Why are you helping me?” I asked as he worked. “To get me ready for your Captain?”
“Ach, no!” he exclaimed. “I’d as soon as leave ye alone on the island than have your bad luck on deck.”
“Then why did you bring me out here?” I asked in surprise.
“Your leg needed tending.”
“Good guy pirate, huh?” I wrinkled my nose at him, feeling like I was being held captive more than being assisted. “So you’ll be taking me back to shore when you’re done then?”
“No.” He finished the stitches and tied off the string, releasing my leg.
“What do you mean no?” I demanded, standing up shakily.
“Ye heard the captain. I’m not one to disobey a direct order.”
“Uh, no, I’d like for you to take me back. Right now!”
“I will do no such thing,” he replied coolly. “Ye’re going to stay here and that’s final.”
Panic flooded me and I looked around anxiously. I had to return to the island and figure out how to get home. Whether that meant waking up, or actually having to travel through time—again—I needed to do it right away. There was no telling where I’d get carted off to if I stayed here.
“Please?” I asked, a slight hint of begging to my tone. “Don’t make me stay.” Maybe I could appeal to his nice side.
“No such luck, lassie. Yer on board for a while, I’m afraid.”
Suddenly, white-hot rage and fear filled me and I reached out, slapping him hard across the face. “Take me back this instant,” I demanded.
“Listen here,” he said angrily, grabbing me by the wrists. “Do ye not understand what I’m trying to do for ye?”
“I’ll not be served up like some dinner dish to your Captain!” I screamed. “Let go of me!”
“Stop shouting!” he yelled back. “I’ve half a mind to teach ye a lesson and take ye here myself!”
“Do it,” I dared him. “Then you can always remember what a monster you are!”
Face burning with rage, he shoved me back, stinging my leg as I fell onto the bed. “Stupid woman!” he scolded, his voice going very quiet. “The Captain was so drunk, ye might be lucky and he’ll forget yer even here! If I were ye, I’d pray that be the case. He’s not kind to his women. He beats them something fierce, one almost to death since I’ve been under his command.”
My mouth gaped like a fish as I stared at him, trying to find words to express what I was feeling. “You brought me aboard a ship not only to be raped, but beaten as well? What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Argh!” he groaned in anger and frustration. “A pox on ye, ye witch! I’m trying to help ye!”
“By locking me in his room to wait for him? How is he going to forget I’m here then, huh?”
“This is my room, ye fool! I’m tryin’ to hide ye!”
“I’d much rather go back to the island, if you don’t mind,” I said in a clipped tone. “Thank you for your help, and the medical assistance, but I’d rather not risk a beating.”
“I’d just as soon beat ye myself,” he replied snidely. “Yer not to leave this room until I say.”
“Watch me,” I shot back.
“Woman!” Looking as if he were about to explode from anger, I was sure my snotty smile was driving him further into the red. With a sudden decisiveness, he moved forward and very strongly pressed his palm against my wound.
“Ow!” I cried, scrambling back further onto the bed to get away from him.
“Stay here,” he said sternly. Turning on his heel, he marched right out the door, slamming it shut behind him. After a second, I heard the turning of the lock and knew I was trapped in this nightmare.
From Kamery Solomon, #1 bestselling genre author and creator of the bestselling series The God Chronicles, comes SWEPT AWAY, a time travel romance fraught with danger and secrets on the high seas!
“Amazing! The best way I can think to describe it is Pirates of the Caribbean meets Outlander! There is action, adventure, romance and so much more! You will not be disappointed!”
~Heather Garrison, Amazon Customer
“Kamery Solomon never disappoints a reader in her ability to tell a great story. She has proven she's not a one trick pony and capable of writing across genres. Highly recommend reading any and all of her books.”
~Lisa Markson, The Paranormal Bookworm
“This book has so many twists and turns that will keep you reading all night long. I love the characters and the mystery. The author does a fantastic job weaving every part in this story that will leave you wanting more. I highly recommend!”
~Laura Collins, Amazon Customer
“I was pulled in right away and I did not want to put the book down, nor did I want the story to end . . . a must read!”
~Holly Copper, Amazon Customer
“Marvelous, wonderful, awe-inspiring; these are just a few words to describe just a fraction of the awesomeness that is this book.”
~Julie Engle, Amazon Customer
“This is a book I will read time and time again.”
~Angie Angelich, Bookeepsie
Get ready to be Swept Away!