When I found my way back to the beach I found nearly 80 men, all busy with different tasks. Some men were busy cooking over large fires, others were busy setting up tents and shelter, most men were busy pulling large wooden crates out of the small boats from the ship. They were bringing their treasures on shore to store them in that big hole in the middle of the jungle. I was surprised how orderly and organized everything was, these men seemed like professionals. Captain Tucker must really be a good leader to have this many pirates working in such an organized manner.
I made my way out of the shadows of the jungle and onto the beach. As soon as the sunlight hit my pink pale skin all working stopped and every head was turned towards me. I was quickly missing the little shelter that the jungle was giving me only moments before. After what felt like hours, Captain Tucker came out of a tent and followed the gaze of his men towards me. His eyes widened for a long second before he cleared his throat and instructed the men to work.
Once the men turned their attention back to their jobs the Captain made his way across the sand towards me. Once he was a couple meters away he stopped and took in my new attire. I could see his eyes searching up and down my body, drinking in my appearance. I felt my skin flush under his gaze and quickly turned my eyes out towards the water. Captain Tucker sensed my embarrassment and reached out a hand to me.
“Miss Ashton, you made a fantastic choice with your wardrobe, simply breathtaking.”, he said while bowing slightly and brought my hand to his lips to brush a light kiss over my fingers.
Butterflies filled my stomach and froze me in place. I just stood there, staring into his captivating emerald eyes. I wondered if he knew how powerful those irises really were. He stood back up straight and offered me his arm.
“I have a meal prepared for you in my private tent. Please enjoy your privacy and eat your fill. I bet you are famished.”, he led me to his tent and pushed aside the opening to let me in.
It was fairly large. The tent held a cot covered with furs and blankets, on the opposite corner there was a table large enough to seat four people. The table held some candles and a warm plate filled with steaming food. The smell made my stomach start to grumble. The Capitan started to chuckle at the noise and I felt myself getting red again.
“No need to be embarrassed here my lady, you are after all, in the presence of pirates.”, he led me to the table and pulled out a chair for me, “Please enjoy Miss Ashton, and let me know if you require anything else.”
He went to leave the tent and I called out to him before he was out of sight, “Wait!”
He turned back towards me with a questioning stare, “Is everything alright Miss Ashton?”
I was dazed again, whenever I saw those eyes I was lost. I quickly closed my eyes shut and to regain my focus before speaking.
“Thank you, Captain, I will be forever grateful for your kindness and generosity. I only hope there is some way I can return your kindness.”, I said with a calm and steady voice, at least that’s how I tried to sound. I probably sounded like a naive little girl.
But I was surprised by the look the Captain gave me in response to my statement. His eyes held the same lustful look that most men sent my way, but he seemed more genuine. Like there was something longing from inside of him, something more than just sexual desire. His eyes were burning into mine, creating a tingling feeling inside my body.
Captain Tucker brought his lips up in a seductive smile and said, “Well, Miss Ashton, I am sure that we will find something suitable as repayment. But for now, please, eat up and get some rest. I will come back shortly to make sure you have all you need.”
He tucked out of the tent and I was alone to enjoy my hot meal in peace. I ate every last scrap on my plate. My stomach was stuffed to the brim, and I was uncomfortably full. After the meal I was suddenly very tired, everything was catching up to me, and I was drained. There was a small lounge chair covered in furs behind the dining table, I decided to lay down and rest my eyes for a while.
“Cora….Cora. Follow your heart, follow the sea.”
When I woke I could see that it was completely dark outside now. There were candles lit all around the tent. I could hear the men outside singing songs and laughing at jokes, they were clearly celebrating and enjoying themselves. I sat up and was startled when I heard a deep voice.
“Ah, Miss Ashton. I hope the men didn’t wake you, they can be quite loud at times.”, Captain Tucker said just before putting a bite of his food into his mouth. He was sitting at the dining table. The light from the candles was casting enchanting shadows over his face, the light reflected off of his green eyes and made them dace in the flames. It was captivating.
I straightened out my skirts and sat up straight in the lounge chair. Suppressing a small yawn I replied to the Captain, “They didn’t wake me, I was having a strange dream. But no matter.”
I studied the Capitan while he was eating for a moment then spoke again, “Please, don’t feel like you have to watch me all the time. I will find suitable sleeping arrangements and let you enjoy your privacy.”
I stood up and went to make my way to the exit of the tent, but the Captain was too quick for me. He had his fingers wrapped around my arm and was pulling me away from the exit before I could even let out my breath.
“Miss Ashton, I would highly advise against that notion. I promised to keep you safe, and if you leave this tent tonight I do not know that I can keep that promise. My men are loyal to me, but when men drink too much their minds get clouded with wickedness.”, he spun me around and led me to the dining table to take a seat, “Please, Miss Ashton. I would like you to take my bed, I will sleep on the lounge chair and make sure no men come wandering in during the night.”
I was extremely grateful for the Captain, and I knew he was right. But I couldn’t help wondering why he was protecting me, why did he care what the men did to me? Then I thought about the fact that he would be sleeping in the same room with me. I had slept in the same room with my father when I was a child, but never in my life had I slept in the same room with any man as an adult. I had to wonder; could I trust him? Would he try to seduce me? Strangely, a part of me was starting to think that wouldn’t be a bad thing…
WHOA! What has gotten into me? I had never experienced thoughts like this about anyone before. I can’t really be lusting after someone, this had to be a side affect of the shock from the last few days. But I couldn’t stop looking into his eyes, and he seemed to always be looking back into mine. I felt a connection, but I could also just be imagining that. He was probably just very suspicious of me and keeping a close eye on me. After all, now I knew where he hid his treasure…not like I would ever be able to find this island again in my life.
Captain Tucker finished his meal and set aside his plate. Neither of us had spoken a word while he ate. He sat back in his seat and eyed me up and down, taking his damn time about it too. I was getting anxious under his hot stare.
Then he broke the silence, “You have such a unique hair texture, it doesn’t match your skin tone at all.”
I was extremely embarrassed by his words, but also confused. What did he mean for my skin color? I knew everything about me was different for a typical English lady, even my pale pink skin, but the way he said it made it seem like he had seen the texture before. I had never met anyone with a similar texture to mine. No one has ever been able to tame the thick wild locks that billowed out abound my head. The white strands would frizz out in all directions. It had its own devilish will, and I could never tame it. So, I always wore my hair up and in as tight a knot as possible to hide the monstrosity.
I tried to be polite, but also defensive, “Excuse me Captain Tucker, but what exactly do you mean for my skin color?”
His eyes widened, “I am sorry Miss Ashton, I am always too honest for my own good. But I did not mean any offense. I have met many men and woman who have the same hair texture that you have, but none of them have ever had your white hair color, of course. The color you most definitely got from your father, but he had soft straight white hair.”, his eyes were staring at my face and my body, examining every inch.
I could see he was is deep thought while taking in the details. I felt as though he was studying me, and I suddenly felt angry and uncomfortable. Was this man insulting me? Why the devil is he staring at me like that? He mentioned he met many people with my hair texture, I wondered who he was speaking of.
“Captain Tucker! Why are you studying me so intently? Surely this is not the gentlemanly way to act towards a lady.”, I snapped at him with a sharp tone.
He seemed amused and slightly surprised by my response. He chucked slightly and asked, “I am sorry to be so bold Miss Ashton, but I dare say I feel very interested in you. You are the daughter to one of the greatest men I ever had the pleasure of knowing. I have always held your father very close to my heart. He left immediately after the earthquake and we never heard a word from him.”, he studied my face again then continued, “But I guess it makes sense that he went home to England and found a wife for himself. What of your mother Miss Ashton?”
I was taken aback by the Captains question. He seemed to think that my mother was in England. I thought he knew my father well, wouldn’t he have known my mother then too? She died in the earthquake that he was just speaking of. I was born there; wouldn’t he know known about me before now? I was beyond confused. Maybe he didn’t really know my father at all and was playing a big trick on me.
I replied flatly, confusion showing in my voice, “My mother was not in England. She is dead, she was killed in the earthquake.”
My eyes never left the Captains, I concentrated on his face to look for any signs of him lying to me. He looked genuinely surprised by my answer, or he was just a very good liar.
“The earthquake the sunk Port Royal? Your mother was there?”, he asked, but he also seemed to be putting thoughts together in his head.
He stood up and came around the table towards me. He placed his fingers on the bottom of my jaw and tilted my head so I was looking up at him. His eyes studied my skin and features very closely. Then he ran his thumb across my wide lips and across my cheek. Normally I would never let anyone touch me like this, but I didn’t want him to stop. He brought his other hand up to my hair and ran a few loose stands through his fingers.
His touch was starting to make my insides feel hot, and part of me never wanted it to stop. My breathing started to get heavy and I let my eyes close shut for a moment and let my head relax into his hand on my cheek. I opened my eyes and got lost in his glowing emeralds.
Captain Tucker let out a quiet sigh and spoke with a sensual voice, “Astonishing, your beauty is extraordinary Miss Ashton. It is no wonder my men are convinced that you are an enchantress from the sea, sent here to seduce and kill us all.”, he laughed then dropped his hand from my head and sat back down in his chair.
So that’s what the men think of me, some mythical legend who has come to kill them all. I was suddenly very happy that Captain Tucker would be sleeping close tonight. Now more than ever I was scared that the crew might come to kill me to prevent me from killing them. I just hope that he would protect me too. Please God, don’t let these pirates kill me.
Captain Tucker broke me from my inner thoughts. “Tell me Miss Ashton, what do you know of your mother?”
His question was a little intrusive, but I decided that if I wanted to gain his trust as well then, I may as well just tell the truth. And the truth was, I knew absolutely nothing of my mother. Just that she died in Port Royal when the city sunk.
“My father never told me anything about her. He always refused to talk about her. All I know, is that I was born in Port Royal, and my mother died there when the city sank.”
“I see.” Captain Tucker brought his wine goblet to his lips and took a deep drink. He seemed a little put off for a moment, but then straightened up and stated, “Well Miss Ashton I think maybe we should each get some rest. Please make yourself comfortable on the bed, I will be just there on the lounge.”
I nodded in agreement and made my way to the bed. Under normal circumstances I would sleep in my chemise or a knight dress, but with a man sleeping in the room I decided to just sleep in my dress. I sat down on the bed and watched Captain Tucker slip his jacket off and hang it over the back of the lounge. He made his way around the room and blew out a few candles, leaving a few burning to create a dim glow within the tent.
Before he laid down to sleep I mustered up the courage and asked, “Captain Tucker?”
“Yes Miss Ashton?”, he asked.
“You said you knew people who had similar hair to mine. Would you possibly know any tricks to taming it?”, I knew it was a long shot, but the humidity in this region was making my hair turn into a giant fluffy mess.
Captain Tucker looked at me for a moment with slight amusement in his eyes, “I have a few crewmen who would have those answers for you Miss Ashton. I will introduce you tomorrow. For now, please get some rest Miss Ashton.”
I nodded my head in thanks and positioned myself so I was facing away from the Captain. I didn’t want him to be able to study my face more while I was sleeping. Then I thought back to his comments. He said he had men in his crew with the same type of hair? I was curious about these men, I felt like there was something that the Captain has pieced together that he wasn’t yet sharing with me. I pushed it out of my mind and let sleep take over my body.