CHAPTER 7: Mutiny
I wanted to hate him. God help me, I wanted more than anything to despise Wolf, but the man had buried his roots deep under my skin, and there was no going back to life before him. Divorce was out of the question. God was clear on the subject, after all. I couldn’t escape, even if I wanted to. There was no way off of this ship, other than being keelhauled like a common mutineer, but Wolf loved me too much to do such a thing.
At least I had hoped so.
It had been two months since our huge fight, and while I was still angry at him over it, I had done my best to leave the rage behind me. God would never want me to harbor hate towards my husband, so I did my best to be a good Christian, regardless of how he treated me in the past. We haven’t fought since, but that’s only because I did my best to keep him calm. Like a petulant child, I gave him anything he wanted for fear of his ever looming temperament that could crumble into rage any moment.
After the last time he lost his temper, I no longer felt arousal when he bullied me. To my horror, I was afraid of my man. I was afraid of how dark his temper could go, and I never wanted to see that side of him ever again. Soon, he noticed the change in me, and how the heat was gone from my touch. My man could tell I was despondent and emotionally distressed. All the same, he felt powerless to stop it.
As he rightfully should, if I’m being completely honest. There was no stopping myself, even if I wanted to. I was slowly falling out of lust with Wolf, and there was nothing that either of us could do. I fantasized about running from him, getting away and rejoining the service. I wanted to be a nun again, appointed to a new abbey; one far, far from the ocean.
Most of all, I wanted my life to have meaning again. I just wanted to be more than a pirate’s wench. Wolf may have married me, but I had the haunting suspicion that I would never be anything more to him than a concubine in his ownership. All the same, I still couldn’t imagine actually leaving him. He was too deep ingrained into my flesh and blood.
Truly, Wolf Renauld was in my bones, and there was no getting him out.
That morning, he woke me up with gentle kisses as the sun came up over a calm, blue ocean. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing him back. There was no fire in my touch, and I was very much going through the motions of keeping him happy. Sure, I still loved him. He was still my man in every sense of the world. I just couldn’t feel lust like I had before. Not for him, or any other man.
Especially O’Doyle. I found myself suddenly disinterested in him after the public spectacle, knowing the danger I was in. All it would take was one wrong move, and I’d be dead. I simply didn’t have the luxury to even find him attractive, let alone a desirable partner. My sex drive was dead, but at least I could still perform my duties as a wife.
It was my ability to play the part well that kept me safe. I was sure of it. That day, I did as was expected of me. Normally, my man would accept this at face value, but not today. Wolf pulled back, pausing in words and action. I couldn’t see his face to know his feelings, but I was growing nervous, all the same.
“What’s wrong, my darling?” I asked softly, my hands exploring his chest and shoulders.
He remained silent, so I repeated myself, but before I could finish the sentence, Wolf interrupted me. “Do you still love me?”
I paused, shocked by the question. “What on earth would motivate you to ask me such a thing?”
“Just answer me, Vita. Do you still love me?”
The following events happened so quickly that I still can’t make proper sense of them, even after all these years. It felt like it was over in the blink of an eye, but the terror of it all still gives me nightmares to this day. The memory has faded over time, but I can still vividly recall that dreadful horror of what I heard that day as freshly as if it had only just happened.
Before I could answer his question, I heard the door open with force, slamming against the wall adjacent to it, nearly snapping the hinges. Wolf screamed and I could hear him being grabbed by what sounded like an angry mob. He fought loud and hard, but when he cried out the words “O’Doyle, no!” I felt my heart drop into my gut, and immediately knew what was going on.
This was a mutiny.
My man yelled for his life as they forcefully dragged him away from my side, the quarters door slamming shut behind them. I heard them in the distance using the stairs that lead down into the brig, so at least I knew that they weren’t going to kill him. At least not yet. If they wanted him dead, he’d surely be dead by now.
All I could do was stay there on the bed, the sheet wrapped around me for some semblance of modesty. Surely they’d never listen to me if I begged them for mercy on behalf of Wolf. In fact, I was sure they’d turn on me for it, and I’d end up with the same fate as my man. I had to be careful what I said or did, or surely I’d be executed alongside Wolf.
After he was detained, I heard the men loudly celebrating outside as O’Doyle’s familiar footsteps quickly approached, stopping only inches from the bed. His voice was soft, gentle, and so very loving as he sat down on the mattress next to me.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Vita. It had to be done. He had lost his way.”
My voice was shrill, shaking, and filled with fear. “Are you going to kill me?”
O’Doyle laughed. “No! NO! Of course not. In fact, I’d like for you to stay, if it would please you. If you’d not rather, however, we’ll happily take you to the nearest convent we can find. I’d think that would be a shame, though. To be fair, I’d wager you’d be one of us by now. More so one of us than you are a nun now, I’d say.”
I sat there, shaking. “What are you going to do with Wolf?”
His voice was so matter of fact when he answered me; “The men want to keelhaul him, but I think marooning is more suitable. What do you think?”
All I could do was break down in tears.
It was his answer to my tears that made my blood run cold. “You could just stay here with me, Mrs. Vita. Would you like that?”
No! I thought to myself. I was so tired; I was tired of men, of ships, of pirates, of love… I was even tired of the sea, as beautiful as it was. I wanted to go home, but my home no longer existed. Everything I had, everything I was, has been stolen from me, and I had no idea what to do about it. I didn’t even have Wolf anymore. I was alone, truly alone, for the first time since my parents died. Except this time, there would be no nuns to come rescue me. No help was on the way this time.
I didn’t say any of this to O’Doyle. Not a word. I had no idea of knowing what kind of man he truly was. Would he be the type to kill me the moment I rejected him? I had no idea. It was a risk I didn’t want to take. My next words have been a great shame of mine, even to this day. My words and actions from here forth were an act of pure cowardice.
With a breaking voice, I shamefully whispered: “Whatever you say. Just please, please don’t hurt me.” I’ll end up regretting my choice of words for the rest of my life, chastising myself for being a coward for many years to come.
It felt vulgar to discuss terms with O’Doyle right then, as I could hear my husband being beaten in the brig below. My instincts were to beg for my beloved Wolf’s life, and to ask that whatever fate befalls him to befall me as well. However, deep down, I knew that was a ridiculous notion. Regardless of my feelings of Wolf, I was still that man’s victim! I felt foolish for being so tempted to speak up for him.
The now former Captain Wolf Renauld simply was unworthy of that sacrifice, especially after what he had done to me. I loved him like no other, and yet I was still violated, humiliated and abused on his whim. No more, I said to myself.
No longer would this man be a source of my pain, I repeated silently, but I didn’t believe a word of it. My love for dear Wolf might have been fading, but my loyalty was still perfectly intact. Yes, he was unworthy of my sacrifice, but I couldn’t just let him die. I had to think of something quickly. My mind kept jumping back and forth between wanting to leave him to his fate, and possibly trying to save him from this mutiny.
The beating below deck stopped, and I heard the attackers close his cell, before coming back up the old wooden steps that lead to the brig. “Mr. O’Doyle,” I started, but was interrupted, being instructed to call him Isiah. “Isiah,” I corrected, “Must you kill Wolf? Can’t we just drop him off a port, and leave him there? Or maroon him in a way where he’ll have a sporting chance at survival? Fiend or not, that man is husband, and God is clear on this. I must honor him, and should at least try to save him. It’s my role as his wife.”
O’Doyle’s face dropped. My words had clearly upset him, but despite the chaos of mutiny around us, he remained calm and collected. “Well, my dearest Vita, the men and I will discuss it, and I’ll relay what you’ve said to them during deliberation. Does that suit, darling?”
It took everything I had to suppress a groan of frustration.
“Isiah, please, listen to me. I’ll sink down in a pit of despair and mourning should Wolf die. One I doubt I’d ever come back from. Not because I lost him, but because I failed him as a wife. Truth be told, I failed as a nun. God help me, I can’t fail as a wife, too.” A tear escaped from the corner of eye, and he caught it with a single finger, wiping it away.
The ‘actual’ truth be told, my tears were fake. I was lying, proving to myself I had actually failed as a nun in the worst way imaginable. Sinning had become far too easy for me, but in the pit of my self disappointment, I pushed forward with the deception.
“Please, help me. I promise to be yours after he’s left at port. I’ve failed him, but I swear, I’ll do my best to never fail you. Just give me this one thing. Please.”
My new Captain grunted in dissatisfaction, “What about the monstrosities he has committed against you? The cruelty? The violations of your trust and virtue? Does any of that mean anything to you?”
“My vows are clear on this, kind Sir. You know of my vows, and exactly why I need to honor them. It’s not our place to question the will of our maker.”
O’Doyle listened carefully before getting up, barking to the men that it was time to have a crew meeting. Everyone rounded up on deck while I stayed behind in the Captain’s quarters. While they were up there, I took the moment to sneak down into the brig to see my husband, for what I feared would be the last time.
Though I couldn’t see, as usual, I could feel his gaze on my skin, breaking my flesh out in goosebumps. The hay crunched from under Wolf as he stood up in his cell, a pained groan escaping his lips.
“Are you okay, my love?” I asked softly, trying to avoid being heard by anyone passing by the stairwell’s entrance above.
“Have you come to break me out?” my husband groaned loudly, pain etched into every word that came out of his mouth.
“They’re having a meeting now to decide what to do with you. I’ve spoken on your behalf. The best case scenario, you’ll be left near a port city. I’ll come find you as quickly as I can escape. We can run away together, and god willing, finally have our happily ever after.”
“And worst case scenario?” Wolf inquired in a jaded tone; one which told me that he already knew the answer to his question, long before even asking it.
“Some want to keelhaul you. Others want to maroon you. Hopefully, they’ll listen to me instead.”
Wolf growled deeply under his breath in a barely contained fury, “And where will you be when they’re delivering my punishment?”
I sucked in a breath of terror at this question. “Well, he wants me to stay with him. I agreed, but I want to be with you. I won’t let him touch me. I swear it. Only you. Please, believe me.”
My husband’s tone gave me chills, “So, he’s claimed you, has he? How do I know he hasn’t touched you already?” His breathing was heavy with hate and filled with a flame that threatened to burn me to the bone.
Behind me, I heard the unmistakable echo of O’Doyle’s footsteps as he carefully descended down the stairs. I tensed up, scared of what the new Captain’s reaction would be to seeing me down there, talking to his prisoner. And worse, what if he was coming to deliver word that the execution would, in fact, commence?
God help us all, I thought to myself, muttering a quick prayer to my Maker, begging Him to deliver Wolf from death’s door.
When he reached the bottom, O’Doyle let out a little laugh. He was clearly not shocked to see me there. Not in the least. In fact, he seemed oddly entertained by it. I felt his palm press softly to my cheek, gently cupping my face in his rough, calloused hand. I tried to flinch backwards, but was firmly held in place by his soft but firm grip.
“My dear, I’ll never understand your fascination with this man. I know that you’re saying goodbye, but I’ll never understand why, after the way he’s treated you.”
“Don’t touch her!” Wolf bellowed in rage, shaking the bars of the cell that held him in a desperate bit to reach the man who stole his ship, crew, and woman, all in one fatal move.
O’Doyle chuckled slightly. “Why wouldn’t I touch her? She’s agreed to be my woman. Come here, my pet,” he said, as I felt his arm wrap around my waist, pulling me to him.
“Isiah, no. Don’t.”
“What? He should see how a real man treats a lady.” I could feel O’Doyle’s lips approach mine, but I pulled away.
Thinking quickly, I said “Please, don’t be like him. This is something Wolf would do. Don’t use me to hurt him, please. I beg you.” I kept my voice submissive, and as I recoiled from his touch, the new Captain’s tone shifted. No longer boastful, he became apologetic and contrite before allowing me to wiggle away from his invasive touch.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Vita. You’re right.” I could tell that my words hit a real nerve.
Keeping the sober tone, I shamed him further with: “May I please complete my goodbyes in peace? It’s clear how you’ve all voted, so allow a future widow the dignity of a tasteful parting, if you don’t mind?”
The new Captain sighed, defeated. “Very well, but first, I want to say my peace. Wolf, you’ve never deserved her. She’s always been too good for you. I would have never tortured her like you have. Even now, I’m jealous how much she loves you, and yet, I’ll never hurt her for it. That’s where we’re different. All you care about is conquesting her. I just want to see her happy.”
O’Doyle then ascended back up the stairs, and once out of view, I ran to the bars of Wolf’s cell, tears pouring down my face. I reached my hand inside in order to comfort my condemned love, but was quickly met with his iron-like grip, as it wrapped violently around my throat. I tried to pull away from his hold, but Wolf had me pinned in place, completely unable to breath. He then reached into my hair with his free hand and ripped out one of the small metal pins that held my hair out of my eyes.
As I struggled to breathe, I could hear my husband getting to work, picking the lock to his cell. He was muttering, his voice dripping with a murderous rage: “You bitch. You fucking whore. You let him touch you. I told you, no man is allowed to lay hands on you. You betrayed me, right to my face! YOU SLUT!”
I tried to wiggle out of his grip, but before I could, he opened the cell door, and had thrown me to the ground.
My begging filled the brig as I tried to appeal to his common sense: “My darling husband, please, you saw me trying to stop him! I don’t want him! Only you!”
O’Doyle was clearly a good man for a pirate, but I didn’t love him. I wanted my unhinged, violent, unpredictable monster, and I had no idea why. He was soulless, cruel, jealous and abusive, but I hungered for him so badly, I feared I’d die with him. None of this mattered to Wolf, who then climbed on top of me, his hands back around my throat. I didn’t fight back. Instead, I offered my throat to him, to Wolf’s immediate shock.
Desperately, I managed to squeak out: “Please, kill me. Or if you’re smart, use me as a hostage to get off this ship, but please take me with you. We can have a long, happy life together, but you must play your cards right!” I was hysterical, “If you want to leave me, just kill me now. You’d be saving me from O’Doyle! I don’t want that man. I swear it. I only want you. Please, I’m offering you my throat. Do with me as you wish, my Lord! I love you. Only you!”
Wolf scoffed, and sounded suspicious of our ability to pull this off. “And how do you suppose we get off this ship?” he inquired as he put his hands down from my neck.
“The dinghy used to get to shore, naturally. We steal it, and we’re home free. I overhead the men. We’re about 60 miles north off the coast of the last place we stopped at. I say we row away, and start a new life. Just you and me. If you don’t want to do that, at least don’t leave me here. I beg you. I don’t want to be O’Doyle’s slave. No, I want to be your wife, please.”
He laughed darkly, “You’re such a lying whore. You’re going to turn on me the moment you get a chance. I remain unfooled, little liar.” His voice was like broken glass in my ears as he spat his rage at me, “You let him lay hands on you. You didn’t fight him the way you should have. Since you’re mine to do with as I please, it would be my pleasure to use you as a hostage, and kill you after you’ve served your usefulness. Now, come here.”
I was lifted to my feet by my hair, screaming in pain loud enough to be heard from the deck. Pushed upstairs like a rag doll, I could hear the crew scrambling to save me, but their effort was answered with my husband threatening to kill me should they fail to back away quick enough. Keeping his hand on my throat, my back was pressed forcefully against his chest, and I was dragged helplessly to the deck above.
O’Doyle came running, loudly drawing his sword.
The rest happened so quickly that I’m, to this day, still lost on the exact sequence of events. I was at a severe disadvantage with not being able to see, and all ll I could do was stand back, listen in, and pray for holy intervention as the men fought to the death.
Nothing short would have been able to stop the bloodshed that was to befall the Celeste that day.
I could hear O’Doyle mocking Wolf as he painfully restrained me in his vice like grip. As he told the disgraced former captain that he stood no chance of escape, my husband responded by wrapping his hand around my neck tighter, cutting off my air supply again.
Horrified, O’Doyle commanded Wolf to let me go, but I only felt his hand squeeze even tighter still, making my eyes bulge and tongue protrude from between my lips as I struggled to breathe. Painfully, I felt myself being thrown to the deck floor, pushed aside like a rag doll as a fight ensued only feet away from me.
I flinched in horror at the graphic sounds emanating from the fight. Swords clashed violently as O’Doyle screamed after being struck. I then heard Wolf let out a deafening roar of pain, followed by silence for a moment. A mere second later, I could hear the crew converging like a pack of wild jackals, violently attacking their former leader with a terrible vengeance.
Wolf put up a good fight, but it became clear the moment he lost. I was forced to listen to him being stabbed over and over, before his body hit the ship’s deck with a bone chilling thud. Even, they didn’t stop. The violence continued, stabs turning into kicks and punches, punishing him for daring to escape. When they finally stopped, I could still hear Wolf breathing, but it was clear he was near the end.
The sound of Wolf’s blood bubbling from his lungs and out of his mouth was nightmare inducing, and for once, I was thankful to be blind. Should I have seen that happen with my own eyes, no doubt it would have driven me insane. His traitor crew was celebrating their successful mutiny around us as my Wolf struggled to speak. I fell to my feet to get closer to him, feeling around desperately until I found Wolf’s body. Then, holding him tightly, I wept, listening closely to what he had to say.
Wolf Reynauld’s last words were “I love you.”
His death rattle was nearly drowned out by the jeering and cheering of the treacherous crew who had murdered him.
O’Doyle gave me a few minutes alone with Wolf before I was pulled away, sobbing uncontrollably into the cabin boy’s arms. With a loud splash of the water below, I knew that my beloved, my villainous lover was truly gone forever. I was allowed to cry for a week without being bothered. O’Doyle even left me to sleep in the Captain’s quarters to allow me privacy as I mourned alone.
Though I mourned as any wife would, a large part of me was thankful to be free of the abuse and degradation of our marriage. Once the first week of my widowhood was over, O’Doyle knocked on the door, and respectfully only entered when I summoned him in. I was terrified he was going to begin trying to court me.
To my horror, I was correct.
Though kind, and very warm and romantic in nature, I still felt a certain level of contempt for the man who rescued me. Yes, he saved me, but at what cost? They didn’t have to murder Wolf to do so. They chose to. It was an act of maliciousness that I couldn’t ignore.
As a former nun, I couldn’t abide the cruelty administered to my late husband, but I had little choice but to endure it. Even still, I tolerated the attention of the new Captain, but only for the sake of self preservation. I was only of value to him for my sexuality, and yet again, I was reduced to nothing but the Captain’s spoiled little pet. A well treated slave was still a slave, nonetheless.
Two weeks into our so called courtship, O’Doyle moved into the Captain’s quarters with me. Naturally, I was expected to share the bed with him; the very same one bed that I shared with Wolf. This fact alone made it hard for me to sleep at night. I hated lying there next to my husband’s killer, but being in Wolf and I’s marital bed made it somehow much worse.
The first time we made love, O’Doyle was tender, sweet, and respectful. It was nice, I suppose. Not that I was paying much attention. The Captain, an older man, didn’t have the vigour and vitality of my dearly departed husband. Wolf would shake me to my core, even as I hated him for doing it, whereas O’Doyle left me ready for a nap, even before we began.
Bless him, he tried so hard to be romantic, but his initial attempts at seduction had left a lot to be desired. He certainly treated me well, I suppose. That night, I was given the best dinner I’ve had since I first arrived on the Celeste; a curry made with preserved lamb and pilfered seasonings. I rejected it for hardtack, however, simply because I was feeling contrary, upset by the way my life had turned out.
Though annoyed, my new Captain didn’t question my arbitrary brattiness. I think he knew that I was being difficult on purpose, and yet he didn’t correct me. Wolf would have bent me over his knee by then, but O’Doyle did nothing at all. I was so confused. Though I hated the abuse I suffered at the hands of my husband, I found that I hated the empty kindness of O’Doyle just as much. One was too much. The other was not enough.
All I wanted was something in between.
After dinner, O’Doyle stood up, and walked across the room. I heard the door’s lock loudly click, securing us in the Captain’s quarters for our first night alone. I realised then that he was making his first move, and my blood ran cold. God help me, I didn’t want this, but I wasn’t given much of a choice. I was in no position to reject the advances of the man who could kill me and have me replaced in a fortnight, should he command it.
I put on my finest performance, doing exactly what was expected of me. When O’Doyle kissed me, I kissed him back passionately, matching his intensity. My body writhed under him as he entered me, and my legs wrapped around his hips, pulling him deeper inside. He pumped and sweated and panted on top of me like a dog. Though I wasn’t being raped, this farce felt just as bad of a violation.
The tears burned my eyes, but I refused to let them fall. I couldn’t allow O’Doyle to know the turmoil he inflicted on me, especially right then, as he was taking me as his own. This wasn’t about pleasure, but self preservation. I might have felt broken, but even at my most torn apart inside, I still wanted to live.
I felt O’Doyle ready to finish, and I begged him to pull out. I knew very little about sex, but I heard once that if he were to dump his seed in me, I’d get pregnant. This seemed to offend him. Mid coitus, his temperament changed suddenly, and he grunted obscenely before cumming inside me. Wheezing in my ear, his words chilled me to the bone:
“You know I live to spoil you, but never tell me what to do with my property.” Once O’Doyle fell asleep, I rolled to my side, sobbing as silently as I could into my pillow. This was the same situation as Wolf, just with a different man. Damn it all, I wasn’t any better off than I was before.
Something had to give.