The voice was deep, cultured and totally unfamiliar. Cassandra kept her eyes on her cards, the brim of her hat keeping whoever it was from being able to see her face.
“Captain?” the voice prompted, sounding a little irritated.
“Dereca, if he bothers me one more time before I finish this hand, gut him.” Cassandra laid two cards down on the table in front of her and smiled as she heard the hiss of her first mate’s dagger as it came out of its sheath. Two more cards were slid across the table to her.
“I call you,” the man across from her said, laying two queens and three jacks on the rough surface of the table. Cassandra laid down the three cards in her hand: two fives and an ace. The man grinned and reached for the pile of coins in the center of the table, then froze as her pistol came up over the edge of the table.
“Not yet,” she reminded him. He watched as she flipped over the first card, another ace. Her fingers lingered over the last card, and she smiled. “Double or nothing?”
The smile never left her face as she flipped the last card. He looked at the five and spat angrily to his left. Then he tossed his pouch on the table and stalked angrily away. Cassandra slid her pistol back into her belt, making sure she could pull it quickly again, and nodded at Dereca. Her first mate nudged their foreign visitor into the chair recently vacated and positioned herself behind him, her dagger gleaming in the torchlight.
Now that he was seated, she could see that he was noble, despite the tattered cloak and worn clothes. His boots were expensive; even through the dirt on them, she could see the high craftsmanship that went into them. And he wore a sword at his side.
“To what does a poor merchant sailor owe this pleasure?” she asked him, picking up a gold coin and running her finger idly across the top of it. Her other hand hung down casually near her side.
“You are Captain Cassandra Hobbes?” he asked. “Formerly of Castillion?”
Interesting, she mused, raising an eyebrow under the brim of her hat. Not many knew that little tidbit, but she wasn’t going to admit that to him. “I am Captain Hobbes.”
“I have a message for you.”