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Fell in Love with a Pirate
“Vinny, tell us more please!” Pippa, the youngest of the girls that had crowded around their favorite friend, squealed. Elvina hated her name, everybody called her Vinny.
Vinny pretended to think seriously about her answer to the small girls. “I don’t know,” she looked heavenward and tapped her finger on her chin. “Miss Clarisse did say that it was time for bed.” The stern Miss Clarisse had told the orphaned girls that it was past their bed time but Vinny always thought rules were made to be broken. “I guess I can tell one more story.” She smiled at the little ones’ sighs of relief. “Which shall it be tonight?”
An immediate list of stories flew at the older girl. “I want to hear about Alexander Rose.” Little Melissa timidly raised her hand. Everyone went silent and looked at Vinny. She knew that every time she told the girls this story they went to bed with chills, but it was Vinny’s favorite.
“Do you all want to hear this one then? About terrible Captain Alexander Rose?” Elvina looked around at their solemnly nodding heads. She rose up from her rocking chair and scooped up Melissa. Whoever picked the story got to sit in Vinny’s lap. The girls considered it a treat. Vinny went back to her chair and sat with the girl on her lap.
“Well now, let’s see where I should start…” she looked at the girls on the floor, dressed in night clothes and swathed in blankets.
“Okay. For those of you who have never heard of Alexander Rose, consider yourself lucky. His looks could stop a lead of ten thousand mules and just by sailing he scares off sharks and the likes.” She dropped her voice down to a whisper for a thematic effect and caused the girls to crane their necks forward. “Some say that his hair is made up of the tentacles of the octopus that he killed when he was two. It hangs long, past his shoulders, to the middle of his back—”
“But I thought his hair was black? How can it be black if it’s from an octopus?” Dana was always forgetting parts of the story and always had questions.
“He had it dyed, Dana. Don’t interrupt. His eyes are pits filled with black coals that can lead to your death if you just take one glance. His mother was a prostitute from the Spanish Mainland who was enticed by a demon, and lo, ere came little Alexander Rose.” She drew a breath. “When the baby was born of course, the demon father left and his foolish mortal mother was left alone with a baby no one would help her raise, but she did try. As little Alexander grew older he began to do wicked awful things. He would slice open lost pets and use their blood to try to contact his father, he would be seen talking as if he was in deep conversation, but when you took a second look, no body would be there.” She shook her head and felt Melissa tremble.
“I can stop if you want me to?”
They all wanted her to continue. She shrugged. “He never made contact with his father, but some of his father’s demon friends took pity upon him. They taught Alexander how to wield a blade good and proper. Taught him to steal. Taught him to be wicked.
“He moved away from his mother, as all men do, and bought many ships with his plundered money. He bought so many that whenever he attacked, you couldn’t tell it was him ‘till it was too late.” A candle danced in the dimly lit room, casting shadows over the girls and making them huddle closer together. “Soon enough, young Alexander Rose and his dirty crew became the most infamous men in the entire world. If they get to your town, they’ll take unlucky women and children abroad and they’ll never be seen again. As for the men of these women and children, they’ll go abroad too, but after about a week, they come back in a small rowboat. But they come back dead, the boat moving of its own accord.”
Someone rushed into the door. All heads turned, expecting to be reprimanded by Miss Clarisse. Instead it was one of the girls closest to Elvina’s age, Monica. “You’d better hurry up! Miss Clarisse is coming to make sure everyone is asleep!” she ran back into the older girl’s room.
“Finish the story, please!” the girls asked even as they eyed the door. Elvina had been told not to tell stories so late at night, more specifically she had been asked not to tell this particular one. If Miss Clarisse came in, it would ruin her chance of going to the Charity Ball. The upper crust types held a ball for all who were to poor to go to regular ones. Miss Clarisse saw it as a chance to marry off some of the girls under her care.
“You know how the story goes. In the end Alexander Rose became thieving, conniving, and bloodthirsty:—” she waited for them to say their favorite part.
“Pirate.” They all whispered as one.
“Ok! Now get into bed. If any of you cost me the Ball I will personally send Alexander Rose an invitation to pay you a personal visit. Now scoot!” They all jumped up and leaped for their beds. Vinny blew out the candle and peeped into the hallway.
Miss Clarisse was going into the nursery to check on the infants. Elvina snuck across the hall and made a mad dash for her room. She entered the threshold as soon as Miss Clarisse stepped out of the nursery. Fortunately Miss Clarisse wasn’t paying attention.
Elvina’s bed was four down from the door but she would never make it. Monica, whose bed was number three jumped in Vinny’s bed and Vinny jumped in her bed. All of the girls, who were already awake, let out sighs of relief.
Miss Clarisse opened the door and was surprised to find everything in order. She closed the door and was about to move on to the younger girls when she thought that she had seen something amiss in the young ladies’ room. She went back and stood right at Vinny’s bed.
The girl’s back was to her and all she could see was a mass of thick hair. In sleep, or in a pretense of sleep, the girl turned…
…And it was indeed Elvina. In her false sleep, Elvina smiled at a supposedly pleasant dream. But that smile was for her victory at evading Miss Clarisse.
The head of the orphanage leaned down to the sleeping girl. “I know you’re not sleeping, dear. I know you’ve done something and you are very lucky I didn’t catch you.” Vinny’s smile grew wider. Miss Clarisse stopped at Monica’s bed and bent down. Monica wasn’t going to be cute and smile in the woman’s face. She was content to keep her eyes shut and not move. “And I know you helped her, Monica.” Then she walked out.
Every girl flipped back her covers and crowded around Vinny. Everyone loved her stories. The older girls just didn’t like the pirate tales. “Do tell us a story, Vinny!” Fiona hopped on Elvina’s bed. “Yes! Tell us a story!”
“What shall I tell you a story about?” she asked.
“What were you telling the little ones?” Jessica had her back against Monica’s bed.
“Alexander Rose,” Vinny said dreamily. Vinny thought it would be a great adventure to meet a pirate. And one such as Alexander Rose.
One of the girls scoffed. “Why do you fill their heads with that rubbish? One day they’re all going to think like you and want to interview him!”
Vinny gave a small smile but shook her head. “No, they just like thinking themselves brave and they like being entertained. They would positively die of fright if they met a real pirate.”
“Let’s get to the story,” Monica complained. “This talk of pirates is rather dreary. What do you say to a tale about a beautiful princess, eh Vinny?” she looked across at Elvina.
“Of course.” Elvina sighed and told them what they wanted to hear. During the story some of the girl’s drifted back to their beds to listen and ended up falling asleep. By the time she was at the end of the story only Monica was listening, and just barely.
“Goodnight, Monica.” Vinny rolled over.
“Aren’t you excited, Vinny?” Monica asked, half sleep. “The ball is tomorrow. Some of us could get engaged! How do you fancy that?”
“It is very pleasant.” Vinny said, now tired herself.
“Queue up, in order now.” Miss Clarisse was organizing all of the eligible girls who would shortly be attending the ball into some semblance of a line. There were twelve girls in all. They all glowed and were polished and shined in new clothes that made them all look exquisite. “The carriages should be here any moment now,” she muttered and looked up and down the cobblestone streets.
“I heard that Viktor Marshall shall be there,” Jessica grinned from ear to ear. Her red hair was pinned up very elegantly. The women Miss Clarisse had paid to come dress the girls did outstanding jobs.
“He shall notice you and fall madly in love with you then!” Vinny declared.
Jessica blushed. “More stories, Vinny.”
Elvina’s own hair was low and swept to the side in a pearl clasp. It hung over the front of her shoulder in many swoops and swirls. It was simple and that was how she liked it, and no amount of professional women could make her change her mind.
“They are here! They are here!” Miss Clarisse cried. “Girls look alive! They’re here!” Two large carriages bounced in front of the orphanage and four footmen emerged to help load the giggling young ladies, and Miss Clarisse, inside.
“Vinny! Vinny wait!” Pippa came running out of the doors, followed by some other young girls and caretakers.
Vinny politely stepped out of the carriage to see what was so urgent.
“We all made this for you, it’s for good luck!” she proudly presented Vinny with a necklace made of beautiful tiny rocks.
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you. Thank you! Who’s going to help me put it on?”
“You’re really going to wear it, Vinny?” They asked. “To the ball with all of your fine things?”
“Of course! A pretty thing like this should be admired.” She lowered her head down so they could reach and put on her necklace.
“Vinny! We need to go.” Miss Clarisse had been patient so far but Elvina was holding everyone up.
Vinny gave everyone quick hugs and got in the carriage. “I promise I’ll tell you a story when I get back! Anything you like!” she called out from the moving carriage.
“Vinny! Get your head back in here! That is no way for a lady to behave. I hope you don’t act like that at the ball.” Miss Clarisse said.
Vinny thought that it was just her luck that she had ended in the same carriage as Miss Clarisse.
“Here we are ladies,” the footmen unloaded the girls. They walked in two single file lines up the stairs and into the hall. Their eyes were rushing to take in everything at once.
First, they were greeted by their host. An older woman with black hair that was pulled into a bun so tight, it seemed like her face was being stretched. Besides that interesting detail, she was a very pretty woman, or was at one time.
Then they were shown a table where they received their dance cards. Only three dances. Vinny thought that was disappointing. What if she still felt like dancing at the conclusion of the three?
“Mingle, girls, mingle.” Miss Clarisse whispered in a singsong way. Everyone quickly dispersed.
Soon many girls had their cards full and were gossiping in corners. Vinny had one dance left and didn’t know who she wanted it for. She looked around.
“May I inquire the fair lady’s name?” A handsome gent with strawberry blond hair and steely blue eyes looked at Vinny.
Miss Clarisse had warned her about giving her preferred name over her given one. “Elvina Pennington,” she smiled daintily like she was taught.
“Edward Marshall,” he kissed her gloved hand.
“Would you happen to be in relation to Viktor Marshall?” she remembered what Jessica had said.
Edward nodded. “He’s my brother. Over there talking to the young lady.” Vinny looked over and saw Jessica talking to Viktor. She immediately saw the resemblance between the two.
“I was hoping you had one more dance left?” he asked.
“I do,” she gave him her card to sign and expected him to go away. He did not. He began to talk about his job and his home. And to Vinny, it seemed like he wanted to talk about every thought that passed through his mind.
After a while Vinny started to notice she was getting hostile glares from unfamiliar girls and looks of surprise from her own friends.
“Mr. Marshall, I’m terribly sorry but my first dance is due.” She said when he paused for air. Vinny went to stand next to Monica.
“Why is everyone looking at me like that?”
“Because Edward Marshall is one of the most desirable men in the entire world!” she said it as if it were a crime not to know.
Vinny gave Edward a second look. He was handsome indeed, but the most desirable, she thought not. “How many dances do you have left?”
“One is left for me. You?”
“All full, I need to go find my partner,” she left her friend to go seek out her partner. She ate some, trying to prolong her dance with Mr. Marshall. She danced her second dance and finally had to dance with the talkative man.
“I’ve been asking around about you,” He had his hand around her waist and was leading her into the fast paced dance.
“Oh, really?” Vinny feigned interest.
“Yes, and I’m proud to say that you have earned a good, clean report.” He smiled at her.
Elvina gave an uncertain smile. They danced more until the song was over. “Miss Pennington,” Edward held her hand as they stood in a secluded corner. “I have only known you these few hours, and I hope you feel the way I do,” he gave a nervous smile. “But, I would like to propose an engagement. I have never met one as beautiful as you, and I would love you so much if you would do me the honor,” he looked into Elvina’s dark brown eyes.
Elvina thought that he was speaking in jest. This was like a story she told the older girls. She didn’t know anything about this man and here he was asking for her hand!
“Of course, if you need time to converse with Miss Clarisse, I would understand…” he added quickly.
Vinny gave a tight smile and nodded. She quickly went to seek out Miss Clarisse.
“There you are, Vinny! We were just about to leave. Aye me! No proposals this time. But I do think Jessica and a few of the other girls might have suitors. Why, Vinny, are you ill?”
“I— um, Miss Clarisse,”
“Spit it out, girl!”
“I’ve gotten a proposal.”
Miss Clarisse stared at Vinny. Her most mischievous charge. “This is no time for games, dear.”
Vinny shook her head. “This is no game. Mr. Edward Marshall just asked for my hand.”
“Elvina Pennington, if you are lying, so help me God—”
“It’s the God honest truth.”
The corners of Miss Clarisse’s mouth finally started to turn upward. “Oh, dear girl! When is the wedding?”
“I haven’t said yes,”
“Why the blazes not?” Miss Clarisse rounded on her.
“Well, I’ve only just met him, Miss Clarisse.”
“Mr. Marshall is one of the most esteemed men in all of London, it was fortunate that he even decided to even make an appearance at this ball,”
“So you want me to tell him yes, then?” Vinny asked meekly.
Miss Clarisse gave her an icy look.
“I suppose so.” Vinny headed back to a patiently waiting Edward. He immediately took her hand.
“Your answer?” He whispered hopefully.
She didn’t know where the reply came from, but some little voice inside of her said some form of yes and Edward Marshall happened to hear. Vinny felt as if she had just sealed her doom as her fiancé grabbed her in a ferocious embrace and swung her around. By now they had attracted the attention of many. This was a very inappropriate scene to be demonstrated in public.
Edward led Vinny to the center of the room. “Ladies and gentlemen!” he cried, though he needed not to cry loud for many people were already looking. “I am so pleased with the turnout of this evening. I was fortunate enough to fall in love with an amazing woman. I have proposed, and she has accepted,” Older men and women smiled at the news, many a young female gave looks of intense hostility. “You all are invited to our wedding as soon as we ourselves figure out the details. That is all.” He winked at the audience and kissed Vinny’s cheek. “I think your Miss Clarisse is waiting for you,” he indicated to the now patiently waiting woman and her band of girls.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” She turned to join her friends.
Edward grabbed her arm. “My love, I have not a ring to mark our union but take this,” he presented her with a large ring that was silver and set with a ruby stone. It was absurdly large for any of her fingers. Edward helped her affix it to the necklace she was wearing.
“Thank you,” she smiled demurely.
“Elvina, may I impose so much as to ask a kiss?”
Startled, Vinny looked up at him. She wanted dearly to say no. It wasn’t as if Edward Marshall was bad looking. In actuality, he was rather handsome. The problem was that Vinny didn’t know him. She was unsure of how to answer his question, so instead she just smiled more.
Mr. Marshall took it as a yes and cupped her chin. He brought their faces together and he kissed his fiancé.
While the other girls gushed over Elvina’s luck on the ride home, Elvina herself sat sullenly quiet. No one took notice. Vinny was thinking of running away. She could join the theater. But that would be a disgrace. But to blazes with disgrace! She’d been disgraced enough tonight! Noblemen were supposed to behave uncommonly well. They did not go about proposing to innocent orphans!
She could become a fishing woman who worked only to stay alive. She did not want to marry Edward Marshall. She did not even know the man! He did not know her, yet he was calling her affectionate names like, my love. Bah!
“Did you hear me?” Tiffany had poked Vinny to get her attention.
“I’m sorry Tiff, I’m just a little overwhelmed right now.”
“Well, I certainly would be as well if one of the most eligible bachelors in London had just proposed to me.” Then she took in her friend’s dour expression. “Vinny, only you would be able to find something negative in this situation.” The carriage stopped and the girls were helped down by the footmen.
“Ladies! We have a busy time ahead of us.” Miss Clarisse announced as they made their ways inside. She grabbed Elvina’s arm and patted it motherly. The only thing that Miss Clarisse had done motherly concerning Vinny was chastise her. Frequently. “One of our own is engaged! I am so excited! I fairly expected the event to turn out so wonderful! I hope you all sleep well and have very merry dreams.” She flounced off to her room.
“You’d think she was the one who just got proposed to.” Vinny commented as she and her friends tiptoed to their room, so as not to wake the younger girls. Once they out on their nightgowns, they all snuggled down into bed.
“Vinny, you have the best luck.” Monica whispered.
Vinny rubbed her eyes sleepily. “I would gladly trade with Monica.”
“Girls!” All of the older girls sat up in their beds as the door to their room flung open. Miss Clarisse stood breathless in her nightgown, hair loose and hanging free. Vinny thought she actually looked quite pretty.
“Miss Clarisse, you do look quite fetching. You should go about like that more often.” She suggested.
However, Miss Clarisse, like she so often did around Elvina, feigned deafness. “A runner has just delivered this letter!” Vinny craned to look at the fancy piece of parchment that her mistress was waving around. “Elvina dear, at the request of Lady Marshall, you will be staying at the Marshall’s Cara Deem manor. A carriage will be by mid-afternoon to pick you up and bring you round.”
For the first time in her life, or maybe second if you counted Lord Marshall’s proposal, Elvina was speechless.
“Vinny your life is so romantic!” the girls called. And Miss Clarisse didn’t even tell them to hush. “Do write to us Vinny!” and “We’re coming to the wedding of course?”
“Ladies! Who would like to help me pack Elvina’s things?” Everyone wanted to help, everyone except Elvina. Vinny, fortunately had managed to slip out of the room and into the young girls’ room. She went to the bed that used to be hers when she was small and nudged the girl sleeping in it.
“Pip,” she whispered. Pippa rolled over. “Is it time for breakfast?” Vinny suppressed a laugh. Pippa was Vinny’s favorite girl out of all of the young ones. She was the perfect model of what Elvina herself had been like. “No, it is still dark. Scoot over.”
Pippa moved her body as much as she could to let Elvina lie next to her. “Are the big girls being weird again?”
Vinny snuggled into the little girl. “Something like that. I have to leave Pip.”
Pippa turned around to face Vinny. “What?”
Vinny nodded. “I got proposed to. Now his grandmother wishes me to live with them, starting tomorrow.”
“But you can’t leave!” she exclaimed. Vinny put a finger to her lips.
“Not so loud.” Elvina whispered.
“Who’s gonna tell us stories now?”
“I’m leaving that to you Pippa. You know them as good as anybody. You’ve got to look after this place while I’m gone, okay?”
Pip looked on the verge of tears but she nodded dutifully. “Okay.”
Vinny kissed the top of Pippa’s head. “That’s my girl.”
“Vinny? The man you’re marrying. Is he rich?”
The question did not take Vinny by surprise. When you were an orphan, marrying rich was often a big priority, even to the very young. “I imagine he is. Jessica wished to marry his brother.” She laughed halfheartedly.
“Oh,” Pip began timidly. “Well, I was thinking, that maybe, once you’re married, you might want to get a kid. A girl.” She hesitated. “Maybe you could adopt me.”
“I think,” Vinny kissed the girl’s cheek. “That is a wonderful idea.”
“Really!” It took away Elvina’s entire foul mood to see Pippa so happy.
“Really. Now let’s get some sleep while we can. I have a big day tomorrow.”
When Vinny woke the next morning, the little warm body she had gone to sleep with was gone. In fact, all of the other warm bodies that had been in the room were gone. Elvina groaned and went to her room.
“About time you woke up!” Fiona and Jessica were dressed and looking very peachy.
“Miss Clarisse said we were to let you sleep as long as you could until it was time to go.” Fiona said enviously. Obviously, they’d had to wake at their normal time.
“We picked out your dress.” Monica gushed. They presented Vinny with a dark blue dress with beautiful light blue lace trimmings.
“Hello, Elvina dear! Sit quickly! I will freshen up your hair.” Elvina sat while Miss Clarisse salvaged the work from the previous night. “Shame dear, you should learn to sleep more lightly.” Elvina bit her tongue. It was not wise to insult a woman holding hot curlers in your hair. Accidents could happen.
“Dress!” Miss Clarisse called once she was satisfied with her charge’s hair. In a whirl of movement, Monica, Jessica and Fiona all managed to get Elvina into the gorgeous dress. Fiona presented Elvina with a dark blue pair of earbobs. “I want you to have these.”
“Oh Fee, I couldn’t.” It was hard accepting and giving gifts for the girls. No one ever had much and everyone always felt guilty.
“No. I was going to give them to you for your birthday anyway.” Fiona pushed the bobs back at Vinny who reluctantly took them and put them on.
“I will cherish them always.” Vinny flung her arms around the other girl’s neck.
“The carriage is here!” Melissa and Pippa poked there heads in. Melissa’s face told everyone that she had obviously been crying. But Pippa’s face was set and stiff. It was an odd expression for one so young to have.
“Where are the other girls?” Elvina asked Miss Clarisse.
Miss Clarisse looked away guiltily. “I had Mr. and Mrs. Edmine run them to the park for and ice treat.” The Edmines were a nice elderly couple who kept the ground of the orphanage. They often helped with some of the girls whenever Miss Clarisse needed it. “I though it best if they were not here to see you go. But those two refused to leave.” She pointed at Pippa, who stuck out her chin and Melissa, whose eyes shed silent tears.
Elvina wanted to be angry with her mistress but even she saw the logic in the decision.
“The driver has loaded your things.” Monica said breathlessly.
“Come, Elvina. Tardiness is impolite.” Miss Clarisse took Vinny’s hand in hers and walked briskly to the awaiting carriage.
“Goodbye Vinny!” All of her friends called. She turned and blew them kisses and even as she climbed into the coach, she waved and didn’t care that it was not ladylike to stick your head out of the window and call, “I love you all my pets! Cause hell while I’m gone Pip!” While the carriage was driving away.
But her moment of happiness and good tidings was short lived as she bounced further and further away from her home. Soon she was very sober and serious. The driver kept going and it seemed as if the ride would never end when he finally rolled to a stop.
“Here we are, miss.” He picked up her things and began waling into the largest manor that Vinny had seen in her life.
When she and the driver got to the door they were greeted by a small group of people. One of them was unfortunately, Edward Marshall.
His face brightened when he saw her. And it was probably her imagination, but he also breathed a sigh of relief.
“Miss Pennington!” Edward Marshall stepped forward and offered her his arm. “I must say you look absolutely splendid!”
“You are too kind.” She smiled.
“Let me introduce you to my family. This lovely creature is my grandmother, Beatrix Ackert.” He introduced Vinny to a very prim and fierce looking. The woman’s mouth was set into such a thin line that Vinny was uncertain if she had any lips at all.
“How do you do?” Vinny offered her most polite smile and finest curtsy but all the woman did was nod tersely.
“This, as you may know, is my brother, Viktor Marshall.” He indicated to an older version of himself. Indeed the brothers looked very similar, but Viktor Marshall seemed more clam and reserved than his brother.
“Mr. Marshall.” Elvina curtsied.
“Miss Pennington.” He gave a polite bow.
“Come, I shall give you a tour of the manor.” Edward said cheerfully. The odd Mrs. Ackert excused herself and left Elvina alone with her fiancé and future brother-in-law.
“I too, must excuse myself. Miss Pennington, I shall not see you again for some time I’m afraid. Business calls me away.”
“It was a pleasure meeting you.” She smiled politely and he bowed before exiting.
“That’s my brother for you,” Edward said with a disappointed voice. “There is a pretty woman about and all he can think of is business.”
Elvina felt her face grow hot. Surely this was not how girls spent their seasons. Orphan or otherwise. Elvina was under the impression that she was supposed to be chaperoned wherever she went with Edward. And she thought it particularly odd that she was expected to live with her fiancé. Was there to be no courtship?
Mr. Marshall chattered the entire tour. He talked about his horses. His grandmother and his late parents. And how, wasn’t it a coincidence, he was an orphan too! Although, Elvina thought to herself, he was indeed the most privileged orphan that she had ever seen. He rarely mentioned his brother. “And my word! Isn’t your birthday next month?”
How had he known about her birthday? “It is.” Elvina confirmed uncertainly.
“Eighteen!” he mused.
“Yes, how did you know?” she asked curiously.
He winked. “I have my sources, love.”
Edward pulled her along and showed her the various rooms in the manor. “And this is your room.” He opened the door to a decent sized room. The walls were the palest green and had winding and curling vines etched into them. The large bed took up most of the room but Elvina didn’t mind, she had never had her own room anyway.
“But I can’t imagine you spending much time in there!” he leaned down to her ear. “Seeing as how we’re getting married tomorrow.”
Did she hear wrong? “Beg your pardon?” To Elvina it sounded like he said they were to get marries on the morrow.
He trailed a hand down the back of her neck and made her shiver. “Sir, I appreciate your offer and the extension to stay in your house but I barely know you. We should postpone any wedding decisions and become familiar with one another.” Vinny said quickly. How absurd! Married tomorrow!
“I agree,” Edward nodded. Vinny relaxed. “We should get to know each other.” And then he pulled her to him and covered her mouth with his. Elvina was so shocked that it took her a moment to react. Well, it was partially shock, and partially that Edward Marshall was a splendid kisser. She was fully prepared to push him away when one arm snaked around her waist and pressed their bodies together.
But no matter how good it felt, Elvina knew it was wrong. “Mr. Marshall,” she said breathlessly, pushing him away at the same time. “Stop.” She said more firmly. She took two steps back and put a good bit of distance between the two of them.
“What’s the problem my dear?” he asked genuinely.
Elvina’s eyes flashed. “The problem is that I cannot marry you tomorrow! And you cannot touch me like that. It is indecent.” He stepped towards her and she stepped back and was met with the wall. Where was that Ackert woman?
“I am sorry, but everything is already arranged for tomorrow. I am very eager to marry you.” He wrapped his arms around Elvina and she noticed exactly how eager he was.
“Sir.” Elvina was starting to wonder what she had gotten herself into. “I will not marry you at all if this is what is to be expected of your behavior.”
“Do you know that I am one of the most eligible bachelors in London? Do you know how many ladies would do anything to be in your position right now?”
“Well, why don’t you go and ask on of them? I won’t mind.”
“No! You are exactly who I want.” He hugged her tight and Elvina really did start to worry.
“But, you don’t know anything about me.” She protested.
“I know more that you think I do.”
Elvina highly doubted that but she didn’t say so aloud. “I don’t know anything about you!”
“Here is your chance to get to know me.” He put his lips on her skin, the delicate place where neck and shoulder meet.
Whatever she had been about to object to faded from her mind. She exhaled sharply and he brought his mouth back to hers and pried open her lips with a flick of his tongue. She felt like she could barely stand or support her own weight. But the tongue that was trying to work its way into her mouth knocked her back to her senses.
She shoved Edward Marshall back and braced herself against the wall. “Stop that! Listen closely Mr. Marshall. I will not tomorrow, nor will I ever marry you. I don’t know what you’re playing at, but I am going back home.”
“I’m afraid that’s no longer an option.” Elvina jumped at the cold voice. Mrs. Ackert was standing very primly at the end of the hall. “My grandson is in desperate need of a wife. And you are conveniently here. There will be a marriage ceremony tomorrow.”
Vinny stared at the woman. Obviously, she thought, I am in the mad house. The driver must have taken a wrong turn. “Excuse me madam but you cannot force me to marry him. And you certainly cannot force me to stay here. Good day to both of you.” Vinny pushed off of the wall and was glad that her legs didn’t collapse under her. But even though they were fully functional, she still did not make it very far.
“Actually, we can. I’m sorry it had to be this way darling. I tried to make it easy for you.” Edward locked his hands around her wrist and pulled her into the light green room. He slammed the door and Vinny could hear a clicking sound that she knew to be a lock.
“Miss Pennington, I shall send up a few maids in the morning to prepare you for the wedding.” Elvina heard the old woman cackle.
She went to go sit on the bed. “Oh, dear.” She sighed. She would not cry. She would not. She had gotten herself into this mess, and she would get herself out.
And get herself out she did! By nightfall Elvina had stripped the mattress of its bedding and tied them together to make a strong rope. She tossed them out of the three story high window and proceeded to climb down. It wasn’t really hard actually. She had had plenty of practice sneaking back into her old home.
Once she was close enough to the ground she let herself fall. “So long mad house.” She saluted the manor and started to run towards the town. Only there was no town close by. Apparently the manor was on the very outskirts of the city and there was nothing but trees all around.
She let out a reigned sigh. “I’d rather face whatever is in there then go back to that crazy house again.” She told herself and started walking into the thick woods. And it seemed, not an hour later that she got her wish.
“Look what we got here George,” a deep grumbling, disembodied voice said.
“Are you going to show yourselves or am I going to stand out here all night playing children’s games?” she yelled out to the darkness.
At first only silence met them. “I think she’s challengin’ us, mate.” Came an amazed voice.
“I think you’re right Stewy.”
All was quiet again. “Perhaps they’ve left.” Vinny whispered to herself.
“Have we?” The men had appeared so suddenly in front of Her that she jumped.
“Evenin’ lass, would you be so kind as to take my hand and come us?” He grinned and offered a grimy hand.
Elvina shook her head. “I don’t think that’s right or proper. It’s dark, maybe you could be gentleman and hail me a coach?”
“Lass, seeing as how I’m the one with a weapon, and you’re the one in a dress, I’d advise you to shut your mouth, it’s moving too much,”
“Let’s go.” The man who had seized her arm growled.
“Do you lads know where you’re going?” despite her fear, Vinny had a certain feeling that they were lost.
“Shut up,” Someone called to her. “We know where we’re going,”
Vinny ducked her head. “Where are you taking me?” she asked meekly. When no one answered her she asked, “Who is your bandit leader?”
“Excuse me, lass?” They had all stopped and looked at her.
“Never mind.” She stared at the ground.
“Finally! She is silent!” They all had a laugh. Elvina looked around.
“I don’t suppose anyone is up for a rest?” They all stopped laughing and continued on. “I suppose not then,” Vinny muttered to herself.
“What are we waiting for?” Vinny and her escorts where at the marina. There was no ship. No vessel of any sort waiting for them. These were top grade bandits.
“Her,” They nodded to an approaching ship.
“So, so um you’ve been paid then. Um, I don’t know of anyone who would want me, erm, I’m sure you have the wrong girl…”
“I thought we told you to stop talking,”
Another one shook his mane of hair. “Can’t you tell the difference? Before she was just talking to talk, now she’s talking ‘cause she’s scared.” They all leered at her. It was true, she was terrified, but she didn’t want it to show in front of these… scoundrels!
The ship that came up was the Naiad. Vinny had never seen a ship like it in all her life but judged it the most beautiful in the world.
A smaller boat departed and made its way to Vinny and the bandits.
“Let’s go lass,” the same man had not let go of her arm since he grabbed it from the start. He dragged her into the boat. They all piled in and were rowed to the Naiad.
“Welcome aboard the Naiad Miss Pennington! You are out of our hair, for the time being, so go below deck, pick a room and stay there.” They all left without a second glance. The ship was quickly turning away from the only home Vinny had ever known.
Now she finally realized the dire inconvenience of the situation. She was being kidnapped. She was being kidnapped!
“Out of the way, wench,” someone walked by her and elbowed her hard in the shoulder. Vinny decided to take the advice of going to find a room.
Below the stern she found a room with double wooden doors. She chose this one and closed the door behind her. She surveyed the room and noticed it was slightly bigger than she would have thought for a ship.
She walked in and sat on the feather bed. She hoped Tiffany’s help would be able to find her.
The rocking of the boat made her feel sick. Someone knocked on the door.
When Elvina didn’t answer the door opened anyway. “Have they kidnapped you as well?” Was what Vinny asked. It was a girl from the party. One of the ones who gave her dirty looks. Now the girl had an odd sneer on her face.
“Kidnapped me?” she came in and closed the door and sat as prettily as possible on the bed next to Vinny. “Oh no, dear. I’ve helped them kidnap you.” She smiled thinly.
None of this made sense to Elvina. Why would anyone want to kidnap her?
“I’m Cynthea, by the way,” the girl pretended not to notice Vinny’s distress and offered a hand.
Vinny ignored it. “Who are you?”
Cynthea retracted her hand. “Why, dear, I’ve just told you. Are you really so dim?”
“”No, I mean, I don’t even know you. I’m not popular, I don’t upset people, I’m not married to a duke, and I’m not a princess. Why am I being kidnapped?” Vinny yelled and startled Cynthea.
“Does it matter why? It should only matter that you are being kidnapped. You could die,” the girl smiled in pleasure at the thought.
Vinny looked at the girl in disgust. “What do you get out of this?”
“For your information, they are going to deliver me to a husband. He’s a prince, you know.” She said dreamily.
Vinny could not believe her ears. “Get out! Get out right now!” Vinny yelled at her. She picked up a silver embedded mirror and hurled it at Cynthea’s head. The girl ducked just in time and slipped out of the room.
Who would want to kidnap her? Vinny asked herself for the hundredth time. The Naiad was slowing. Vinny thought they were going to claim whatever reward someone had offered for her. In a weird way she hoped it was a fair price.
Vinny eased herself out into the narrow and empty corridor to see what the stop was about.
As she emerged from below deck the first thing she noticed was that they were actually at a dock, where they had to actually pay.
“This way, miss,” One of the men who had escorted her here was now escorting Cynthea to shore to her new husband.
“He’s going to love all of the sons I bear him,” she muttered absently.
“I’m sure they’ll all be handsome ones, miss,” he responded. “Watch your step there.”
Vinny was secretly wishing every child born from Cynthea had leprosy. She watched them go amongst the commoners and was happy to see that Cynthea did not like that. She was delivered to a servant woman who took her firmly by the wrist and led her to her new home.
The seaman came back aboard the ship and sailed off again. He bumped into Vinny on his stroll on deck. At first he looked at her as if he couldn’t place her, but then he broke out in a grin. “If it isn’t Miss Pennington herself. I’m Stewy! How do ya do?” he stuck out a hairy arm.
Elvina looked at him oddly. “How do I do? You kidnap me and take me away from my friends and my home and you want to know how I am?” she yelled. Stewy’s grin had dropped along with his hand. They both were attracting the attention of most of the crew.
“Well, you ain’t hurt, are you?” he peered at her.
Vinny gaped at him. “I demand to speak with you’re captain, now!” she yelled.
Everyone laughed. “He’s not here at present. We’re on our way to pick him up now.”
“What do you mean not here?” Vinny exclaimed. “Isn’t this his ship?”
“Well, yeah, he had some business to attend to.” The man named George said.
Vinny saw this as an opportunity to take her chance. “You all are fine with this? What kind of captain abandons his crew?” she asked.
Most of the men bristled, the others looked amused. “Does he pay you well? How many of you can call him your friend?”
“I think it’s time you went back to your room, Miss Pennington.” They formed a group behind her and followed when she walked back below deck. She didn’t think they all would escort her, she actually didn’t think anyone was going to escort her.
“This is her room?” Someone asked incredulously.
Stewy nodded. “This ought to be interesting,” they murmured. Elvina gave them a last look and went into her room. It was only after she had thrown herself onto the posh bed and taken three two hour long naps that she realized she was famished.
Someone had brought her a tray of meat cakes, sweet cakes and juices. She devoured all and looked around for something, anything, to do.
“So my crew, did the London rendezvous go well? What’s the surprise that you…” the deep voice trailed off as he opened the door and saw Elvina sitting on his bed.
Elvina’s mouth dropped open. “Alexander Rose…” she whispered.
Elvina thought her own eyes had to be playing tricks on her. All of the stories she had told others about the infamous, terrifying Alexander Rose. She wanted to stare into his eyes to fully absorb him but legend said that his gaze could kill. She saw the tan skin that marked his mother’s descent. His hair was waist long but Vinny couldn’t see any octopus tentacles and he was a lot younger than she had always depicted him.
“You’re pirates…” she whispered again.
“Who is this?” Came Alexander’s voice. Vinny could hear the Spanish accent in his voice.
“The London girl, sir,” George smiled.
“Yes, I know that,” he snapped. “Why is she in here?” Alexander asked.
“She picked it herself,” they grinned evilly.
“And not one of you bothered to point her out to a more,” he looked at Vinny. “Convenient room?”
They all looked right to burst out laughing. “No, sir! All rooms are full.”
Alexander Rose looked at her. “Leave,” he commanded.
The crew began to file out, Vinny headed out after them. “Not you.” Alexander held her arm. Impulsively she drew back in fear. Then chastised herself. This was what she’d always wanted, right? To sail side by side with this very pirate?
I think we need to have a talk.” He said closing the door. “Sit down, please,” he gestured to a chair and they both sat.
For a while he studied her, not saying anything. She was a pretty little thing. Wide brown eyes and a decent body. Vinny risked a glance up at him and as soon as she met his eyes she looked back down at her lap. Funny, he thought, she hadn’t struck him as timid.
Alexander Rose craned forward and came into Elvina’s line of view. “What is your name?”
“Elvina Pennington.” Her voice shook with a little tremor. Alexander couldn’t help but grin.
“I am Capitán Ale—”
“I know who you are.”
“Are you afraid of me, Miss Pennington?”
“A little,” she answered truthfully.
“Only a little?” he gave a half laugh. “Why is that?”
“Because you are a pirate. You’re gaze alone can kill a man, your hair is said to be made from an octopus you killed when you were but a lad! You are one of the most feared pirates alive,” she exclaimed.
Alexander nodded. “You failed to mention that I am the child of a demon and an enticing Hispanic harlot, that my father’s demon friends nurtured me in their dark arts, and that I converse with spirits not present. And plenty more stories that I’m sure are floating around minds as naïve as your own.”
Elvina bristled but said naught.
“I want to know why you are just a little afraid, when I am sitting close enough to reach out and… touch you,” to prove his point he stretched out his hand and let it linger by her ear, just out of her line of vision. He put his hand back down. “When most strong men would simply sit themselves down and weep like children from just being on my ship.”
“First of all, I was kidnapped. Kidnapped! Something no one seems to understand around here. Second, I’ve spent half my life telling tales about you and the other half listening to them. To be honest, I always thought a pirate life was a bit intriguing, but I’ve been kidnapped and let me inform you, it’s not the best feeling in the world.”
“Where did you get this?” he unashamedly reached out and fingered the ring that Edward had given to her. Edward! She’d almost forgotten about him.
She took it off of the necklace and handed it to Alexander. “It’s my, um, well I suppose it’s my engagement ring,”
Elvina found herself looking at him while he was looking at her ring. It was so surreal, he roamed her dreams, walked through her mind, and now here he was flesh and blood. Did he bleed? “Well he proposed to me after one night. And then he tried to force me to marry him. Our wedding is supposed to be tomorrow. I guess I will just have to miss it.”
“The clever man,” Rose whispered. “Señorita Pennington, your, Mr. Marshall didn’t propose to you because he fell in love. Your, Mr. Mar—”
“Pardon me, but he is not my anything.” She interrupted. She dropped her gaze back down as he lifted his up.
“I am sorry. My apologies. But, he was forewarned that my men were coming to take collateral from him. He told them to take his fiancé. My men aren’t fools; they knew he would tell them to take something in hopes of them not taking it. So they kidnapped you. But when this arrangement was made, Mr. Marshall didn’t have a fiancé.” He paused. “Do you see where I am going?”
Elvina got it. Most girls would cry or feel self pity a being used in such a way. But Elvina did not. She was actually thinking more of thanking Mr. Marshall. She was on a pirate ship after all, with Alexander Rose!
“But Mr. Marshall dug into your past a little and discovered your origins and decided you were worth keeping after all.”
“What could he have possibly found about me? No, wait, I don’t want to know.” If Edward had found her parents she didn’t want to have anything to do with them.
She felt him looking at her. “Now you know why. But what difference does that knowledge make? Are you still not afraid?”
“Knowledge can be a very powerful thing. I am partially afraid, any sane person would be,” she answered.
He admired her for her courage. Not many women would trust themselves around him. “Well then, there are a set of clothes through that door there, change. We are preparing to make land.” He stood abruptly and left.
Elvina had mixed emotions about everything. Fear, confusion, betrayal, hurt… It all added up to one thing: excitement. She changed into breeches and a longed sleeved tunic but left her necklace on. She wrapped her hair several times into a bun. She was wearing pirate clothes! She twirled around and looked down at herself.
“If you are finished playing ‘Miss Prissy’ we would like to go now,” Alexander had startled her. He had crept in and was casually leaning against the door frame as if he’d been there the whole time.
“I’m sorry to have delayed you, captain,” He was looking for a scared or embarrassed response, but Vinny wasn’t giving it up.
She silently followed him on deck and onto the jetty. He surprised Vinny by actually paying to anchor his boat.
He looked over and saw her astonished look. “What?”
“You’re pir—” she began. Two of the men from the boat clamped hands over her mouth.
“We try not to announce our affairs to the world!” They hissed at her.
“Besides, we don’t like to call ourselves that word anyway,” Alexander said. He was also looking around to see if anyone was looking or listening.
“Oh, really? Then what do you like to call yourselves?” Everyone had finally removed their grimy hands from Vinny’s mouth.
“Entrepreneurs,” they said proudly.
“Where are we going?” Vinny and the ‘entrepreneurs’ were strolling down the streets. It was only three of Alexander’s men not including Alexander himself. They walked with Elvina in the middle, their meaning was clear; she was not a regular hostage, but she wasn’t going anywhere on her own. She was too vital to their plans for that.
“Won’t people recognize you?” she whispered to the captain.
“Not really. People don’t expect for someone like me to show up out of the pretty blue and ruin their lives.” He winked his dark eyes.
“You’re going to ruin people’s lives?”
“Only a little.”
Elvina looked at him with unease. The cold that had taken this town was not yet unbearable but it made the hairs on her arms and neck stand straight. The pirates didn’t seem to mind it.
“Whose house is this?” Elvina asked. They had come to a small house on the outskirts of the town. The nearest neighbor seemed to be a mile or two away, most of the house’s surroundings was just brown, knee-high, sharp grass that they had to trudge through to get to the front door.
“See, didn’t we tell you she talks too much?” A man Vinny had known to be called O.W. complained. “She’ll be the death of us,”
“I just wanted to know whose house this was,” Vinny said, offended. “What are we doing here?”
Alexander Rose ignored both Vinny and O.W. by knocking on the door.
The door opened almost immediately as if the person who opened it was about to head out anyway.
“Hello, we are here to see Señor Fairclothe,” Alexander gave a polite nod to the boy who had answered the door. Probably Mr. Fairclothe’s son.
Whoever he was, he immediately closed the door in their faces. And the group heard his footsteps echoing through the house.
Alexander let out a huge sigh and massaged his temples. “I had hoped this wouldn’t be difficult,” he said to himself.
“What would you like us to do?” A man with ebony colored skin, and pearly white teeth known as Desmond asked.
“Open the door,” he said with authority. Desmond tried the door, and of course, it was locked. “Kick it down.”
Desmond raised his foot.
“No, wait!” Vinny cried. They all looked at her with agitation. “I mean, you can’t kick down someone’s door down just because you feel like it,”
Desmond flashed his white teeth at her. “Watch me,” and he kicked down the Fairclothe’s door.
“It’s still wrong,” she grumbled under her breath. She proceeded to follow the pirates in the house but Alexander stopped her. “No, you just… stay here please, and well… please just stay here and don’t make a sound please.” He walked in.
The third man, Walker grinned evilly at Vinny. “Yes, stay here, please” he mocked Alexander’s Spanish accent. “Stay here and don’t say a word please, or it’s to the gallows!”
Vinny glared at him. It had really angered her that she had to wait outside like a child. She stamped her foot in frustration.
Vinny walked around the house and found a place to sit. It was a promontory stone that stuck out from the ground at an odd angle.
“You had to leave too, huh?” a voice from above startled her so much she fell from her promontory rock. She stood up abruptly and glared at the boy who answered the door.
“I chose to leave, thank you,” she said stiffly. She looked at the boy; he was obviously a few years older than she. Vinny noticed that their hair was remarkably the same color. The darkest of brown with bronze and the lightest of browns streaking here and there.
The boy nodded in understanding. “So what’s someone like you, doing throwing in leagues with men like them?”
“What do you mean? Am I not suit to run with pirates?” she glared at him and immediately regretted it when she saw the astonished look on the Fairclothe’s boy’s face.
“So it’s true. They are pirates! I knew they looked odd to be tax collectors.” He turned toward his house and started walking with a determined look on his face.
“I didn’t mean they were pirates! I only meant, um, oh bother!” Vinny knew they would all be cross at her. She ran after the Fairclothe boy and jumped on his back. She didn’t even bother to think of how undignified it was as they fell to the ground.
“Please! Don’t say anything!” she begged as she wrestled the boy.
They both knew that he wasn’t using his full strength, if any at all. He could toss Vinny in a heartbeat.
“Are you mad? Those are pirates! Pirates in there with my uncle! They could kill him! Get off of me!”
Vinny had gotten hold of the boy’s hair and was pulling it up from the roots. “Alexander!” she yelled. “Alexander, I need help!” she hollered. She flipped the boy onto his stomach and dug her knee into his back.
Vinny had this half fantasy of Alexander Rose running out, cutlass in hand, ready to fight. But no, that was not what happened.
Desmond and O.W. came sauntering out of the house as if they had all the time in the world.
“I thought you needed help,” Desmond asked.
“Yeah, it looks like you’re just flirting to me,” O.W. smiled knowingly.
Vinny immediately jumped off the boy’s back. He took off for the house as soon as he was free.
“Wonder where he’s going in such a hurry,” Desmond asked.
Elvina shrugged. “Probably to warn his uncle,”
“Warn his uncle what?” O.W. said slowly.
“He’s probably going to warn his uncle that you all are pirates.” She dusted herself off.
O.W. and Desmond looked at each other and then at Vinny, and then at the house. “Stay here!” Desmond yelled and took off.
“This time we mean it!” O.W. also yelled and followed his friend.
“Serves you lot right!” Vinny stuck out her tongue the way that little Dana had often done and sat on the grass.
She soon heard yelling and gunfire coming from the direction of the house.
Walker, Desmond, and O.W. came rushing out of the house with Alexander right behind them.
Vinny looked up at them as they came running her way. “Elvina get up!” Alexander yelled at her. His hair was flapping in every direction. “Get up!”
Vinny quickly got up and ran along with the pirates. “I told you she would get us in trouble!” O.W. breathed easy, even at the pace he was running. Vinny had the feeling that they did a lot of running.
A gun shot whizzed by her head. The Fairclothe’s were gaining. “Elvina! Go that way, we’ll find you!” Alexander ordered. They kept running while Vinny was more than happy to stop. She went in the general direction that Alexander had pointed in.
“Oh, excuse me, sir!” she had accidentally bumped into a militant.
“Are you okay, Miss?” he asked.
Elvina thought. “No! Oh, it’s so good I ran into you! There are pirates here! They were after my beau! It was awful!”
“Where did they go?” the redcoat got a nasty look on his face.
“That way,” she pointed in a false direction. The man blew his whistle in a distinct pattern and was joined by several fierce looking comrades. They all took off with blood on their minds.
Alexander appeared behind her. “I heard what you just did,”
“Well don’t waste your breath saying thanks or anything,” Vinny said sarcastically.
Alexander looked at her incredulously. “You were the reason we were running in the first place!”
“Well it wouldn’t have happened if you’d let me come in with you in the first place.” She said sourly.
He sighed. “Let’s go,” he grabbed her wrist and they ran to the dock. Elvina was out of breath, she wasn’t used to this much exercise.
“You are lucky we got what we needed,” O.W. sneered at her. Elvina looked away as everyone chastised or mocked her for her folly. Alexander had gone now and wasn’t there to defend her against harsh words.
She feigned trauma and quietly excused herself to her room where she quickly laid on the bed. “What ever am I going to do?” she asked herself.
“There isn’t much you can do,” came the Spanish tinted voice.
Alexander dropped from his perch on the ceiling and looked up at Vinny from the floor.
“Oh, I didn’t know you were in here,” Vinny mumbled and looked away.
“I know you didn’t.” he said. He propped his hands behind his neck to get a better view at Elvina. “May I ask you a question, Señorita Elvina?”
“Of course,” she said primly.
“You act as if you are not afraid, but you do not look me in the eyes. Why?”
Vinny felt uncomfortable. “I don’t know, it’s just… stories, that I used to tell about you.”
“Stories? About me? I think I would very much like to hear one of your stories, Elvina.” He said it as a demand, and what sane person would deny this man anything? But what sane person also told horror stories to the very person they were about?
“You would like to hear a story, about yourself?” Elvina asked slowly.
“Yes, you can start now.” When Elvina risked a glance over at him she saw that his eyes were closed.
She took a deep breath and began. “Um, you, I mean Alexander Rose had looks that could stop a lead of ten thousand mules and just by sailing he scares off sharks and sea creatures,” she paused for a brief moment to see if he was going to rage at her. He didn’t. “People say that his hair is made up of the tentacles of the octopus that he killed when he was two. It hangs long, past his shoulders, to the middle of his back, he had the tentacles dyed.” She added quickly incase he was like Dana and wanted to interrupt.
“His eyes are like pits of black coals that can lead to your death if you just take one glance,”
Now came the part that she didn’t want to say. Vinny went quiet.
“I know that can’t be all,” Alexander said from his position on the floor.
“Um, no it’s not. But I—”
“Finish. It cannot be anything I haven’t heard before.”
“His mother was a prostitute from the Spanish Mainland who was enticed by a demon. And little Alexander Rose was born. When the baby was born, the demon father left and his foolish mortal mother was left alone with a baby no one would help her raise, but she did try,” Vinny said softly.
She looked over at Alexander again. The little smile he had was gone, and he appeared as if he were sleep. But Vinny knew he wasn’t. “As little Alexander grew older he began to do horrible things. He would slice open lost pets and use their blood to try to contact his father. He would be seen talking as if he were in deep conversation, but when you took a second look, no body would be there.”
“He never made contact with his father, but some of his father’s demon friends took pity upon him. They taught Alexander how to wield a blade and bow and to steal. He moved away from his mother, as all men do, and bought many ships with his plundered money. He bought so many that whenever he attacked, you couldn’t tell it was him ‘till it was too late. Soon enough, young Alexander Rose and his dirty crew became the most infamous men in the entire world. If they get to your town, they’ll take unlucky women and children abroad and they’ll never be seen again. As for the men of these women and children, they’ll go abroad too, but after about a week, they come back in a little rowboat. But they come back dead, the boat moving by itself.” She was glad to have finished and was also glad that Alexander had fallen asleep. She lay back down on the bed and closed her eyes.
“Would you like to hear my version?” his quiet voice shook her out of her half sleep. She wasn’t sure, but he went on talking anyway. “First, as far as my looks are concerned, they might be powerful enough to stop young ladies, but not sharks. Although, I’ve never really tried to move mules with my face, I don’t think it would work. Second, my hair is long because I like my hair long. Not because I had octopus arms woven into it. Do you know how bad the smell would be? And at age two I had enough trouble figuring out my letters, I don’t see how I would have had time to go octopus hunting. As for my eyes… so that’s why you will not look at me. Believe me, if I wanted you dead, I would not need my eyes to do it for me. And my mother. She may have had many male ‘friends’ before me but she was not a prostitute. I killed one cat only because the thing was injured from a dog, I gave it a mercy swipe and someone just happened to see. I never used pet’s blood to summon my, my father.” He said. “My father, I never knew him.
“Sometimes I think that he is, or was, possibly a demon,”
“What makes you think that he was?” Vinny’s curiosity took hold and she heard Alexander Rose stand up. She sat cross-legged on the bed.
“Watch,” he whispered. He held out his index and middle finger together and slowly, drew invisible designs in the air.
He had Vinny’s full attention. Her eyes were rapt to his fingers. He brought them closer to her face. He stopped moving his fingers and held out his palm. “Draw a circle,” Vinny traced a circle on his outstretched hand with her finger.
Alexander blew softly on his hand, as if blowing Vinny a kiss. Elvina looked at him, wondering what was to happen next.
“Look,” he whispered again. Vinny looked and sure enough, the air where Alexander’s fingers had been began to turn red, then pink. It coiled like smoke. The pink mist wound itself into letters that spelled out: ELVINA.
Vinny gasped. “It’s… it’s magic!” she gasped and inconsequently she looked up at him.
“Ah, and you are not dead,” he said quietly with an ironic smile.
Elvina managed to return it. He waved his hand and the smoke vanished.
“I don’t usually show that to passengers, especially the crew, they are all superstitious.” He laughed. “Well, I should go and make sure they aren’t wrecking my ship,”
“What were you doing today? At the Fairclothe’s?” Vinny asked.
Alexander Rose turned and looked her. “You really want to know?” He raised his dark eyebrows.
“That’s why I asked,” Vinny said dryly.
“Excuse me, señorita. As you have repeatedly pointed out, you have been kidnapped. Usually the victim’s only concern is how they are going to escape.”
“Usually? There have been other hostages?” Vinny asked, missing his entire point.
“I can’t discuss important plans. The crew would have me murdered,” he said, but a smiled played at the corners of his mouth. “But now we must sleep, we have some other people to visit,” he pulled out some blankets and a pillow and situated himself on the floor.
“Um, have you not a room?” Vinny asked, eyeing him.
“Oh, yes. This is it. My devil crew thought it would be humorous. But please, you take the bed,” he rolled over on his side.
Vinny, with her new knowledge, lay uneasily down on the bed. This was his bed, where he slept while aboard the Naiad.
Vinny dozed with a small smile on her face. Before she could completely nap, though she had to ask something. “Alexander?”
“Yes?” He didn’t even sound tired.
“Are you going to kill me?” The long pause that ensued worried her. She wanted desperately to say no without a doubt.
“No, Elvina, despite how much you talk, we plan to keep you for a while.”
“You can call me Vinny, I hate Elvina,” she said, unsure whether to be satisfied or not with his answer.
“Vinny,” his accent changed the pronunciation so it sounded like ‘Veeny’. “Would you mind if I kissed you goodnight?”
“I beg your pardon?” Vinny squeaked.
There was a shuffling on the floor and Alexander propped up by the side of her bed. “A kiss?” his eyes glinted in the dark light and he suddenly looked very dangerous to Elvina.
“I think not, sir. I barely know you.”
Alexander smiled dastardly and went back to his makeshift bed. “Another night perhaps.”
“Elvina, wake,” Vinny opened her eyes to the captain’s face. He still used her full name even though she told him that she hated it. “I have an idea. Change back into wha