“Welcome aboard the Esmeralda, Miss Cora.”, Captain Tucker said as he helped me climb up the side of the ship from the rope ladder hanging down towards the sea.
When I stepped on board I was caught by surprise. I had expected the pirate ship to be unkempt, but it was quite the opposite. The deck was clean and tidy, not at all what I expected from a pirate ship. The crew was busy getting the ship ready to cast off. It would be nearly a four day voyage to Nassau from the island.
Captain Tucker offered me his elbow, “Would you like a tour around the ship Cora?”
I placed my hand in the crook of his arm. Ever since that morning when the Captains blue stone ring touched my skin I had been even more drawn to him than I was before. I could always sense his location, even if he was many meters away. I could feel the warmth of his flesh even when we weren’t touching. I felt a constant draw to him and sometimes felt myself being tugged into his direction. Any thoughts I had would always bring me back to him. His chiseled face with his neatly groomed facial hair and smoldering emerald eyes were always in my mind. What has gotten into me?
But I could feel that Captain Tucker could sense these feelings too. Whenever I looked in his direction he was always already looking at me. He had always made sure to keep a steady eye on me the last few days, but now he was acting even more protective of me than before. Lekan could see it too, I found him constantly studying me and the Captain.
Captain Tucker gave me a tour of the ship, he showed me the galley and the sleeping quarters for the men, followed by the storage deck on the very bottom of the ship. We made our way back towards the middle deck and the Captain led me to his private quarters. The room was quite large, nearly three times the size of my father’s private quarters on the Lignum Vitae. On the right side of the room there was a large dark mahogany table covered with maps and documents. The middle of the room contained the lounge chair that had been in the Captains tent on the island, surrounded by various other mismatched chairs. In the left corner of the room there was a large circular bed, covered in deep green velvet blankets and pillows. The walls were stained with a deep brown, making the room appear rather dark. The entire back wall of the room was covered in windows.
I made my way to the windows and looked out into the horizon. I looked out to the open sea and felt a mix of emotions. Just seven days ago I was caught in the largest storm I had ever seen and lost my father forever to the wrath of that storm. Just seven days ago I should have died on the Lignum Vitae, my father’s most favored ship. Yet, here I was, aboard anther ship, the Esmeralda, about to cast out into the waves that stole my father from me.
But…something about looking out into the vast ocean also made me feel peace, like I was home again. The ocean was pulling at me, both my body and soul were being seduced by the mysteries of the sea. I wanted to explore all of her depths and see everything she had to offer.
But those were not the only mysteries that I felt the need to explore. Just as strong as my pull towards the ocean, was my pull to the mysterious and devilishly handsome man that stood at the other end of the room behind me. I felt as if my heart was being tugged out of my chest towards his direction. But I was doing everything in my power to stop myself showing those feelings to him.
Ever since I touched that stone around his finger, my mind wouldn’t stop daydreaming about Captain Tucker, even when he was standing directly in front of me. I imagined being in his arms, touching his sun kissed skin, and I longed to feel his lips brush over mine. I never, ever have had any sort of feelings like this. I have never longed to be with someone, to touch them, and share all of myself. I usually did all I could to run away from men. With the exception of my father, I did not much care for much male company.
Though I will also have to exclude Captain Tucker and his men, I was growing very fond of the men. These men showed me respect and would actually listen to what I had to say. They shared similar interests to my own. They were free, everything that I had always longed for in my life.
All my life I felt trapped inside of my body, trapped with questions of the unknown. And now, even though I had even more questions than I did before, I felt as if I was on the right path. I don’t know where this path will take me, but one thing I surely know is that it somehow involves the ocean.
And Captain Phineas Tucker. I know he must be involved with my future, but first I need answers. And I feel like I might get some of those answers from Captain Tucker. He has been staring at me with longing in his eyes all day. I know it has to do with the stone, but something about his look makes me feel like he knows what is really going on with everything. When the ring touched my skin, he didn’t look nearly as surprised as I had.
I kept my gaze on the water, but I could suddenly feel the Captain right beside me. The right side of my body started to feel warm and slightly fuzzy.
“Cora.”, he spoke.
I turned my head towards him and we locked eyes. I could see the desire building up as he looked at me. Strong butterflies started to build deep in my belly.
He cleared his throat briefly, keeping his eyes locked with mine, “You may take my bed for the remainder of your journey with us. I will take the lounge until I am able to find something more suitable to sleep on.”
When he finished his eyes were staring longingly at my lips. It made me wonder what it would be like to have his lips on mine and on other parts of my skin. Then I looked towards the entrance of the room and realized that the door was closed, and we were alone in Captain Tucker’s private quarters.
“Thank you, Captain, but I feel horrible for making you sleep on that lounge for so many nights. Please, I will take the lounge and you must take your bed. It is the least I could do for everything you have done for me thus far.”, I replied, honestly feeling horrible for taking his bed away for so long.
Then he took a step towards me, shrinking the distance between us, “Or, we could both sleep in the bed.”, his eyes were smoldering into mine, “And I told you Cora, when we are alone call me Phineas.”
My cheeks quickly went red, “B-both of us? Wh-why I-I don’t think that would be appropriate Captain.”
He licked his lips, just inches away from my face, “Call me Phineas.”
The butterflies were in my throat now, causing me to speak in a whisper, “Phineas.”
The moment I spoke his name, he closed the distance between us and placed his lips on mine in a soft kiss. It felt warm and inviting, it felt good. This was my first kiss, and it was everything and more than I had ever imagined it to be.
Phineas briefly broke away and looked into my eyes, “I have been wanting to do that all day. Cora, we have much to discuss.”
I was speechless. His lips felt so amazing on mine, I wanted them back where they were. My chest was swelling with emotion and the pull to the Phineas was much stronger now, I needed more. My body was begging for more. My desire created a surge of courage in me and I grabbed the back of his neck with my hand and pulled him back to my lips.
This time he kept the kiss going, urging my lips to open and let his tongue slide against mine. The feeling of his tongue in my mouth made me hungry with passion. I pushed my body as tightly against his as I could and dared to let my tongue dance in his mouth. Phineas grabbed my waist in his hands and pulled me into him then wrapped his strong arms around me. I slid my hands under his jacket and ran my hands up and down his muscular back.
He growled and nibbled lightly on my lower lip, sending a wave of pleasure down my body. I couldn’t help but moan. The pull to him was pushing me to go forward, I wouldn’t be able to stop if he hadn’t pulled away and held me slightly away from him.
“Cora, we must stop.”, he said in a pleading tone.
“But why? Why do we have to stop? I don’t want to.”, I said trying to pull him towards me again. I could see how hard he was trying to hold himself back, I just didn’t understand why.
He laughed at me, “Just moments ago you were telling me that it would not be appropriate to share my bed, now you can not take your hands off of me.”
He was right, what the devil was wrong with me? I know it wasn’t right for an unwed lady to act this way… but I didn’t care. My soul was telling me that I needed him.
“Cora, please. We must talk before we go any further. I need you to know what this means.”. Phineas kept his firm grip on me.
I was so confused, but I knew that he had more information to what was happening, and I needed to know. I tried to fight my desires and keep my composure. He could feel my gain of control and loosened his grip on my arms. He slid his hands down my arms and took my hands into his.
“Cora, love. You have to understand this is hard for me too, I want nothing more than to rip all of your clothes off and take you here and now.”, he hesitated, trying to fight his desires, “Though I am a pirate I am still a gentleman, and I cannot just take your maidenhood without first explaining what happened to us today.”
He was right. I still had my maidenhood in-tact. But still that didn’t seem to matter to me anymore, not with him standing in front of me.
“Then please Phineas, tell me. Because I feel like I will lose control any second, I don’t have control over my body. I need you, I don’t know why but I just do and that is the only thing I am sure of right now.”
His eyes softened at my words, “Aye lass, just let me explain.”
He took me over to the edge of the bed and we both took a seat. I was anxious for him to tell me the truth of what was happening, the silence felt like it was going on forever, I just wanted to jump on him and throw him on the bed and feel his hard body against mine.
“Now Cora, I can’t tell you all of the answers that you seek. But I can tell you the few things that I do know. I grew up always thinking that my mother died in during my childbirth. My father raised me in Port Royal. He was Admiral to the Royal Navy; your father was stationed under him. After the Earthquake and Port Royal sank beneath the waves, my father showed me my truth. My mother had not actually died, but she is a sea goddess. She is in command of all of the various mammals living in the sea.”
The name came to my lips without a second thought, “Sedna.”
Phineas’ eyes widened in surprise, “How did you know her name?”
I shook my head slightly, I was taken a back by my own words, “When I was younger I had an imaginary friend who lived in the sea. Her name was Sedna. I always thought she had just come from my imagination. But she is real? And, and she is your…. mother?”
“Yes…”, he studied my eyes closely, “Cora this is remarkable…she must have known that it was you, all this time.”, he said, his shoulders gently shaking with laughter.
“That what was me? What do you mean Phineas?”
He lifted his hand to me, the one with the blue stone ring on his finger, “My mother gave me this ring. She said that it would connect me with the one who I was destined to be with. Once it was placed on my finger, I have never been able to take it off. The only one who can take it off is the one whom I am to spend my life with. It is intended to be a wedding ring to my wife.”
My eyes met his for a moment and then looked at the ring. I touched it with my finger and the clouded blue stone started to glow. I gasped and pulled my hand away, the glow slowly faded away from the stone.
“It is made from coral. And it is the exact same shade of your eyes.”, Phineas spoke and lifted my chin, so he could look into my eyes, “The name ‘Coraline’, If I am not mistaken, means ‘coral’.”
I nodded, “It does.”, I wanted to say more, but I couldn’t find the words at first. Everything he just said was way beyond what I could have imagined. But it also felt right, I knew he was telling the truth. I could sense that Phineas was waiting for me to speak my mind, or to ask any questions that I had.
“So…. What you’re saying is that I am to be your wife?”
“And you are a sea God? Does your crew know?”
His eyebrows drew together, “No, well Lekan knows everything, but none of the crew know and they can not know. If they knew, they most likely would not trust me as Captain. We would have a mutiny on our hands. Pirates are very superstitious, and my men are no exception. As for what I am. I am not a god, at least not yet. I do have some power, I can breathe under water. But my true powers will not come to me until it is my time. I don’t know when that will be, that is just what my mother shared with me.”
Then he took my hands and placed a kiss over each knuckle before saying, “But you Cora, you are destined to be something more entirely. I think the voice in your dreams was telling you your truth. I believe you are to become Kraljica a Teku, Queen of the Sea.”
“Wh-WHAT?”, I was shocked, my mouth hanging open, “I can not be Queen of the Sea. My father didn’t have any special sea powers, and my mother, well I don’t know anything about her. Except that she may have been African. How can any of this be true?”
“Cora, I think your father did have some lineage that came from the sea. His eyes, like yours, are a sign of someone who has the blood of the Gods in them.”, Phineas said, trying to convince me.
I wondered, “Like how your eyes are the most magnificent shade of emerald green that I have ever seen? They look like magic.”
“And so, do yours Cora. Like crystals shining in the sunlight.”
He was right, everything he had said was right. I could feel it in my blood. The more I learned of the truth, the more I felt the magic growing in my body.
I narrowed my eyes to the Captain and gave him a seductive look, “So, now that I know the truth am I allowed to touch you? When am I to be your wife?”
Phineas gulped, “Well, did you not say the other day that you will be eighteen next month? We will not be able to wed until then. I remember my mother saying that the bond can only take place after the eighteenth birthday.”
My shoulders slumped, “So I won’t be able to touch you until then? That’s nearly four weeks away! Just being this far away from you right now feels like torture.”
He laughed at me, pity showing on his face. “My dear Cora, I did not say that you could not touch me. I would not be able to hold myself back from touching your sweet pale skin. Since the moment I saw you swimming in the shallows of the island I have been dreaming of touching your skin.”
He traced his thumb along my lips and along my jaw and said, “But I do think we should at least be properly engaged before we copulate, don’t you agree?”
He took the opportunity to bend down on one knee in front of me, “Miss Coraline Lignum Ashton, I know we have not known one another long and being a pirate, I am not in the profession to properly court a lady. But given the circumstances I believe we can toss all the typical rules out the window. Would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”
Phineas held his right hand up to me, it was shining from the passion in his proposal. I had known this man for only five days now, and he was asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. And not just spend my life with him, but possibly also as Queen of the Sea. I was not completely sure about the Queen part, but I knew accepting his hand was the right thing to do. Every fiber in my body was screaming yes!
“Captain Phineas Tucker, I will gladly become your wife.”, I took his hand and gently removed the glowing coral ring from his fingers, “Though I have only known you for a few days, I know in my heart that a life by your side is where I am meant to be. I feel it in my soul and in my core.”
I took the ring and slid it onto my left ring finger. For a moment the ring glowed a mix of green and blue before it faded. The ring was different now. Before it had been purely made up of ice blue coral, now the very top of the ring had a faint green sheen to it. I felt whole, the tugging in my body subsided and was replaced with warmth in my heart.
Phineas stood up and pulled me into his arms, swinging me around in a circle, “I am the happiest man in the world. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever set eyes on. I promise to be a loving and loyal husband to you Cora.”