After my first fitting with Madam Pearson, Phineas took me to an Inn down the street for lunch. We were shown into a private parlor with mountains of different food offerings. I made myself a plate of different delicacies, enjoying each individual flavor. After eating a diet of only coconuts and then a week of porridge, salted meats, potatoes, and stale bread this was a meal fit for royalty.
Phineas made a small plate of rice with beans and some sort of red sauce with seafood and placed it in front of me. Here, try this. Some local delicacies… be careful it can be rather spicy. I took a taste of the dish and my mouth was exploding with flavor. Phineas what right when he said it had a spice, my mouth felt like it was burning, but I enjoyed it.
I didn’t have to voice my reaction to the food, once I went back for more it was clear that I liked it. After a few more bites my mouth was really starting to burn, I desperately needed water. I started coughing and reached for my cup of water, only to find it empty. My eyes went wide as searched the room for some liquid to tame the flames on my tongue. I had been so distracted that I hadn’t heard anyone enter the room.
“Here, let me help you miss.”, a woman’s voice said from my left.
I turned to find a beautiful young lady pouring wine into a cup for me. She came closer to me and handed me the cup.
“Wine will dull the spices better than water, water makes it burn even worse if you can imagine it.”, she said and turned towards Phineas to fill up his cup.
I took a gulp of the wine and felt my taste buds instantly start to cool. Once I drank my fill I set my cup down on the table and took a moment to study the woman before me. She was very slender but had perky breasts that drew a lot of attention. Her face was heart shaped and her dark brown hair was up in a messy bun. Her skin was a warm vanilla that brought out the warm brown color of her eyes. She moved with grace and confidence. She was clearly a woman who helped men explore their fantasies.
“Thank you miss Grace, it seems you have saved my fiancé from the torture of Caribbean spices.”, Phineas spoke before taking a large gulp of his own cup.
The woman turned to me and eyed me up and down before saying, “So this is the fiancé that everyone has been talking about. A pleasure to make your acquaintance Miss Ashton, you are a very very lucky woman.”, she went down in a small courtesy then turned towards Phineas and spoke in a sultry voice, “The bath you asked to have drawn up is in the next room. Please let me know if there is any other way I may assist you.”, she finished by resting her hand lightly on his shoulder.
Her words and her actions enraged me. She was coming on to my fiancé right in front of me, just who did she think she was? I could feel fire burning in the pit of my body, rage and anger were starting to cloud over my senses. There was something buried in my body in my anger, fighting to get out. But it felt dangerous, so I fought to contain myself and spoke with gritted teeth.
“Excuse me miss, but I believe you misunderstand your place. If you would kindly remember, Captain Tucker is an engaged man now, to me I might add. He will no longer be requiring your, oh what shall I call it, services…”
She gasped and pulled her hand back from Phineas’ shoulder, clearly not expecting me to hold my ground so fiercely, “I am sorry Miss Ashton, I did not mean to offend you.”, she looked towards the ground and spoke again, “I apologize. Please Miss Ashton if there is anything I may get for you do not hesitate to ask.”
She cowered out of the room with a tray of dirty dishes and the door clicked shut behind her. Once she was gone Phineas started to chuckle.
“Well well you certainly put her into her place.”, he said and took another bite of his food.
There was still anger built inside me, but not just anger, jealousy. He clearly had a past with lots of women before me, and I was not happy about it. I stood in place with my arms crossed over my chest, sending imaginary daggers from my eyes into the back of his head.
He turned towards me and took in my rigged stance, “What is it?”
I spat out with fire, “You have been with her, haven’t you?”
His eyes widened in fear, and I knew the truth right there, “What?”
“Phineas tell me the truth.”
His eyes turned to glass, clearly fearing what my reaction would be to his response, “Yes, I have.”
I knew it! I knew it was all too good to be true, this god of a man could never fully be mine. I spun to the right and walked to the window and looked out into the warm tropical view, cursing its majestic beauty when I felt so much rage within my soul.
“Bloody Hell! How many others have there been? It seems as though everyone has had a piece of the infamous Captain Phineas Tucker. It seems there would hardly be any left over for me, the woman who is only destined to be your wife.”, the pain hit my chest like lightning. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I felt afraid again, afraid for my uncertain future.
Suddenly a pair of large golden hands were on my arms, the touch took away all my dark thoughts and left my heart filled with love again. Just one touch from him and he pulled away all the bad inside my soul.
He spoke softly into my ear, “Coraline, I am so sorry that I have hurt you. I never thought my past actions would cause you to feel this pain.”, he spun me to face him and pulled my chin up with his fingers to look into his eyes, “I have had relations with a number of women, many who inhabit this island. I was so alone for a long time, and I had started to think that you would never come to me, that everything my mother had promised me was just a lie. I fell into a dark place. But then, you appeared and have turned my world upside down. You have been the shining light in my darkness.”
He kissed my tears away from my cheeks and pulled me into a tight embrace, “I promise to you that I will never hurt you like that again. You are the only woman that I will ever love, ever touch, ever hold. I promise to be forever faithful to you, you are my destiny Cora, no one else will ever matter to me more than you. You are goddess of the sea and are therefore the goddess of my heart.”
My tears started to dry and left my face stinging. I raised my head and let his lips caress mine for a sweet kiss. I knew he loved me, that he would die for me and cross the world for me if need be. The past was the past and I needed to find the strength within me to push my jealous feelings away and out of my soul.
“Now what do you say to a bath? I dare say it has been a while since I have had a proper cleansing.”, he said with a seductive smile and led me to the door at the back of the room.
Once inside I was presented with the largest tub that I have ever seen. You could fit probably 6 people in it. The water was topped with pink frothy bubbles that were producing a sweet floral scent. I suddenly felt very dirty and was longing to soak in the bubbles. If Phineas hadn’t begun to unlace my bodice I would probably have forgotten to take my clothing off before jumping into the water.
We must have spent over an hour in the warm silky bubbles, taking turns washing the other and making love slowly in the water. I took my time to wash every inch of his long dark hair and comb out all the tangles, he in turn washed my braids and coated them in a sweet oil that he had acquired from Lekan. The water was beginning to cool and the bubbles had all faded away. We helped one another dry and dress.
As I was lacing up my boots I asked, “So the town seems to be very adoring towards you. I know why the ladies praise you, but what about all the men and children?”
Phineas was styling his hair in the vanity to pull it back out of his face, “Oh I have just helped a lot of them out in many situations. The East India Trading company has been taxing the people here more and more and making it harder for the town to thrive. I do my part and find ways to pay the taxes, or to convince the British to leave families alone, at least temporarily.”
My heart was touched with the kindness this man held in his heart, “So you fight for the people, you protect them. You really were born to be a protector.”, I came behind him and placed my hands on his shoulders, “I think you will be a good protector and ruler for the ocean in our future. Whenever we learn what that really means.”
He smiled, and his happiness could be seen in his eyes, “That brings me to our next order of business.” He stood and put on his Green Velvet jacket and matching hat, “We have a Voodoo man to visit.”
My eyebrows were drawn together in confusion, “Voodoo?