|09-30-2005, 07:43 PM||#1|
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On the rising tide chapter 4
** Disclaimer: the following is a work of fiction and in no way meant to be mistaken for reality. Inspired by real people, but purely and completely false and written without the consent of any of those people. No offense is intended to anyone. It’s all meant in good fun.__________________
On the rising tide Chapter 4
Carra could hear the activity above deck, and if she had been thinking clearly, she might have recognized the urgency in the sounds. She was not thinking clearly, however. She was cradled in a hammock, replaying in her mind the events of the night before. She was not certain how long she had been below, hiding in the cargo hold, before she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
She had hoped, though she realized it was a foolish one, that Larry had come looking for her. Instead, she looked up to see the new man, Bono, looking back at her from just a few feet away. He leaned one shoulder against the wall and crossed one booted foot over the other, his arms folded over his chest.
“I don’t know him well, but when it comes to you, I have to say, the man’s an eejit.” Bono told her, smirking slightly when he said it. Carra wiped her cheeks with the back of her sleeve and chuckled.
“I think I’m the eejit.” She told him softly. Bono shook his head and squatted down beside her, so his face was just an inch or two higher than her own. He shook his head, reaching out and slipping a finger under her chin.
“You are no eejit.” He told her, tilting her chin up so that she would meet his eyes. “You are a lovely, magnificent creature. Any man who could receive your kiss and simply walk away must have a heart of stone.” Carra blinked at him in surprise, her soft lips parting slightly.
“Perhaps he does.” She finally said, turning her face away from his touch.
“I know that what I have to offer is not what you want…” Bono whispered in her ear, one thick hand pushing her hair aside gently. He nuzzled the side of her face and as he spoke again, his lips brushed her cheek. “But if my arms would provide you comfort, they are open to you.” Carra’s heart pounded so hard against her ribs it was nearly painful. She felt sparks when his lips touched her skin, and she could not deny the temptation.
She had turned to him, his hand sliding up her cheek and into her curly red hair, with her eyes already closed in submission. His lips found hers eagerly, hungrily, and her blood seemed to boil. The feeling of being desired was intoxicating. Especially in the wake of such a rejection as she had suffered. His tongue slid over the smooth, sensitive skin of her lower lip and into her mouth, the sweet violation stirring something deep inside of her.
Her hand found the knot in the small strip of leather which had bound his hair at the nape of his neck and pulled it loose. His dark silky hair spilled loose around her hand and she sighed as she buried both hands in it. He lowered himself to sit on the cold, hard floor beside her, pulling her up against him so that their bodies touch from head to toe. For several long, breathless moments she indulged in his deep, mind numbing kisses. She finally let her head fall back against her shoulders, and as his mouth found the soft underside of her chin and then her sensitive throat, her mind returned to her with a vengeance.
Bono murmured sweet sentiments against her skin, compliments about her beauty and how holding her made him feel. Carra’s hands splayed out over his broad chest, his shirt open nearly to the waist, and the feeling of his coarse chest hair reminded her once more of how Larry’s smooth chest had felt not so long ago above deck.
“Wait…” She tried to say, her voice barely a whisper at first as his hand slid up along her belly. “Wait.” She said again, her voice gaining a little volume this time. She caught his hand in her own, and immediately he slid his fingers between hers in a sweet gesture. She swallowed hard over the lump of indecision in her throat.
“We can’t.” She said, though her tone was far from convincing. Bono leaned back slightly, so that he could look into her eyes. His beautiful blue eyes were vexed, she could tell, though she was not certain if it was concern for her or irritation at her objection. All the more reason she must stop this seduction, she told herself.
“This is a mistake. I’m sorry.” She said, pulling away from his touch and rising to pace the floor. She was suddenly very cold without the heat of his body against hers, and so she wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing her hands up and down along her arms.
“He is a lucky man, to have the love and loyalty of a woman he treats so poorly.” Bono told her from his seat on the floor. He bent one knee and rested his arm on it as he watched her pace in silence.
“I’m not an easy woman to love.” She told him, and Bono scowled at her.
“Whoever made you believe that is either cruel or stupid. Perhaps both.” He told her. She shook her head in disbelief.
“Your words are sweet but they will not serve your purpose of convincing me to bed you despite the fact I’ve already told you no.” She told him, and Bono grinned at her deviously.
“I never expected you to bed me, luv.” He told her with a laugh. “Edge and I were concerned for you, after that display on deck. We thought you could use someone to comfort you, is all.”
“Edge?” Carra asked, her brows drawing down as she frowned at the grinning man.
“Aye, I said you could use a shoulder to cry on and he agreed. Then he dared me to be the one to offer it, since he expected you would gut the man what tried to touch you.” He informed her, his blue eyes dancing with mischief.
“So you feel rather accomplished then, that you not only survived but nearly seduced me as well?” She asked, trying to hide any hint of humor in her voice. She wanted to be irritated with the man, not amused by him.
“I’m just glad to see you smile.” He told her as he rose to stand, reaching out to her with one of his broad hands. She hesitantly allowed him to take her own hand in his and raise it to his lips.
“It was a rakish way of achieving it.” She told him. “But I suppose I do feel a bit better.”
“And if you would like to wound me, for the sake of your reputation, I offer you my cheek willingly.” He teased, turning his face to one side, bracing for her slap.
“If I were to wound you for such an indiscretion, I would not be aiming for your face.” She teased, laughter escaping her throat as he, too laughed out loud. The had returned to the crew’s cabin after that. She could feel Edge’s curious eyes watching them both, and so patted Bono firmly on his hindquarters as she passed by him on the way to her own bunk. She’d heard the men whispering to each other even before her eyes had closed.
“Carra! Carra, how is it that you can sleep through this ruckus?” She was stirred from her thoughts at the sound of her fathers voice. Her eyes snapped open and she quickly swung out of her hammock and found her feet.
“What’s happening?” She asked, hurrying to her fathers side.
“There’s a storm brewing. It looks to be a violent one. Captain wants all hands on deck.” Paul told her, his eyes scanning her face suspiciously. Did her uncharacteristic laziness have anything to do with whatever had caused Larry his sleeplessness the night before? He pushed the thought from his mind, making a mental note to look into it after the storm had passed.
Carra hurried above, cold rain carried by a fierce wind slapping her hard in the face immediately. Larry was shouting orders to the men, who scurried around the deck trying to secure anything loose. The sails were full and they moved rapidly for it, but the waves were coming at them from the port side and trying to push them off course to the east.
The ship rocked violently as another large wave rolled, lapping over the gunwale and drenching anyone on deck. The rain bit into their skin like icy, needle sharp teeth. Carra hurried to help as she had plenty of times in her past, all thoughts of anything but survival disappearing from her mind. Several sailors were knocked down and washed across the deck, and she could hear Larry calling for lifelines to be worn.
“Carra!” She heard him call, and turned to face him, the force of the wind causing her to take a step backwards. In several broad strides, Larry had closed the distance between them. “Get below deck!” He screamed to be heard over the sound of the wind and the rain.
“No!” She objected, shaking her head violently.
“It isn’t safe for you up here! Get below with the new men and operate the bilge pumps!” He ordered, pointing animatedly to the stairs.
“You need those with experience up here!” She told him stubbornly, and for a moment she thought he was going to grab hold of her and drag her below deck himself. Before he could even try it there was a deafening crack, followed by a sickening splintering noise. They looked up to see the crosstree on the mizzenmast had snapped and was dangling precariously. Edge was clinging to the mizzenmast with his hands, but his feet could find no place to hold and the wind and rain were making it hard to hold on.
“Hold fast!” Carra called, turning to see who was closest to help him down. Adam was the closest, but Larry still doubted the man’s knowledge and ability as a sailor, and so he was moving to Edge’s aid without ordering Adam to do so. Before he had reached the mizzenmast, though, Adam had shed his boots and begun to climb.
“Hold fast!” Carra called again, watching with her heart beating wildly as Edge’s hands slipped by an inch. He clutched the remnants of the sail and struggled to keep from falling. She could not tell if he even realized help was on it’s way. She doubted he was aware of anything but the desperate need to hold on.
She held her breath as Adam came level to him, reaching out and grabbing for the man’s legs. For a horrific moment she thought Adam would fall and take Edge along with him. Then Adam had Edge’s foot in his hand, guiding it back to the rope ladder and buying them both a moment. Adam did not even pause to catch his breath, but continued to climb until he could reach out from the opposite crosstree and grab Edge by the hands, swinging him free of the damaged crosstree to the relative safety of the mast itself. The duo clung to the mast for a moment, catching their breath, before finally beginning their descent.
“Well done.” Larry told Adam with a nod and a sharp pat on the back. “Get below with Carra, have her see to those wounds!” He told Edge, and Carra grudgingly agreed to follow his order.
“Where’s Bono?” He asked as Carra tried to examine the wounds.
“he’s below, manning the bilge pumps.” She told him. “Hold still!” She ordered when he started to move toward the bilge.
“I’m not injured.” He told her, but Carra refused to step aside. With a sigh, Edge consented to her examination. She soon was satisfied that all he had suffered were several lacerations from the splintering wood and some severe scrapes where the rope had bitten into his skin. None of his injuries was life threatening, and nothing seemed to have been broken.
“May I go now?” He asked, his green eyes shimmering in the low light in the corridor.
“Why are you so desperate to check on your mate?” She asked him.
“Because he is like a brother to me, and because I have promised myself that I will not see him come to harm.” He replied, and she could tell he was deathly serious.
“You really believe in his cause that much?” She asked, the ship rocking violently to the side and nearly knocking them both over. They braced themselves in the tiny corridor as Edge replied.
“I believe in him. I believe in a better future.” He agreed. Carra stared at him for a moment, believing that this man would go to the gates of hell, if that was where Bono took them.
“I’m glad you’re all right.” Carra finally told him, stepping aside and letting him move on. Edge nodded at her and hurried on his way, eager to see with his own two eyes that Bono had not found his way into danger. Carra moved back above deck, pausing in the doorway as her eyes caught sigh of Larry climbing over the gunwale near the stern, holding to the rain slicked ropes as he tried to see something below the waterline. Her heart nearly stopped as a wave surged up and swallowed him. She was moving forward into the waves path before she could think. The sea water in her eyes and mouth made her choke and gag, and blinded her as she pressed forward.
As the ship balanced out and she managed to wipe the stinging water from her eyes she saw him. He was standing in the same place, still holding fast to the ropes, his clothes clinging to his skin, his hair glued down to his scalp and cheeks. What made her stop in her tracks, though, was not the condition of his clothes. It was the smile on his face, the laughter in his voice as a triumphant shout sounded from his lungs. She had been sure he was lost, struggling for life in the icy waves, and he was having a high old time. Playing at cheating death.
She was seeing red, ready to call him every vile name in her vocabulary. Yet, when his eyes found her standing there and he smiled at her she could not find the anger in her heart. She rolled her eyes at him and turned on her heel, moving to check on her father. Even as she moved across to the quarterdeck, she could already feel the change in the wind. The worst of the storm had passed, and God had kept the crew relatively safe and whole. For that she thanked him with all her heart.
As they rode the remainder of the storm out, the main concern was drying out and warming the men who had been soaked through. Dripping clothes were exchanged for merely damp ones, the cook had the galley heated to blazing as sailors came in for tea and the chance to warm themselves for a moment. By nightfall, any injuries had been treated and the crew was as warm and dry as they could be under the circumstances.
Only a handful of men were needed to keep the ship on course and sailing smoothly now that the skies were clear again. The others were gathered in the crew quarters, hanging the discarded clothing up to dry and resting weary muscles. All of those not working were gathered there, including Larry. On an evening such as that, it seemed, no one really wanted to be alone.
“So tell me, Adam, where does a man such as yourself learn how to handle himself the way you did today?” Larry asked, leaning against a beam in the center of the long, narrow cabin with hammocks three high on either side of the aisle.
“I’m not sure how to take that question.” Adam replied, arching an eyebrow at Larry as he began to strip out of the heavy, damp clothes for which he did not have a change. “But if you’re referring to the incident with Edge, I knew what to do because it’s not my first time aboard a ship in stormy seas.”
“You alluded to that once before, though you never elaborated as to this experience.”
“My father is a military man. A commodore.” He told them, sliding out of the last stitch of clothing and draping it over the line on which the other clothes had been hung to dry. Carra let out a surprised gasp as he walked past her bunk without concern for modesty, hers or his own, and climbed into the hammock below hers. Most of the men laughed but Adam was completely unfazed, as if it had not even occurred to him to cover himself. Larry frowned at the display but did not say anything as he wanted Adam to continue on the same subject.
“Your father commands a fleet of the kings military ships?” Larry asked, not certain whether or not to be impressed. Either his father was a blimey bastard who had wronged his Irish kin or an impressive seaman. Both, most likely.
“Indeed. So, you see, I’ve done my time at sea.” Adam told him, yawning loudly.
“So why are you yourself are not a soldier?” Larry prodded. Adam chuckled at the thought of it.
“I’ve never been particularly fond of rules and regulations.” Adam explained.
“Well, whatever the reason you came to be here with us, I am grateful.” Edge said, interrupting before Larry could start an argument with the man who had saved his life hours before. Larry nodded in understanding and fell silent. There would be time to question Adam’s loyalties another day. Tonight he deserved to rest comfortably. Finn brushed past Larry, huddled in his damp tunic and breeches, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders and clutched tightly at his throat.
“And how did you fare in the storm today?” Edge asked as the boy climbed into his hammock across from Adam’s.
“Fine.” He replied quietly, his teeth threatening to chatter.
“Why don’t you change your clothes? You’ll catch your death in that damp.” Edge urged, and the boy shook his head vehemently.
“I’m fine. I just need to sleep.” He said on a hoarse whisper.
“Leave him be.” Adam mumbled as he drifted off to sleep.
“He fared better than I did, today.” Bono told them as he prepared to settle in for the night. “He only lost his stomach once.” He joked, trying to make the boy feel less embarrassed about the fear he’d felt in the storm.
“It wasn’t the storm is was the cooking.” Finn joked, to everyone’s surprise.
“You’ll make a fine sailor someday soon.” Larry told him. “I hope you’ll be with the aingeal for a very long time.”
“What about you, Adam? Will you be staying with us once we get to Madrid?” Finn asked softly, glancing across at the man who half hidden in the bunk across the way.
“I don’t know that I’m welcome. My brother paid my way only as far as Spain.” Adam replied.
“You’ve earned your keep.” Larry told him. “There would be a place for you if you wished to stay.”
“Perhaps I will. The food could be better, but I rather enjoy the company.” Adam informed them. “What about you two? Bono and Edge?”
“We’ll be with the aingeal until she returns to Dublin.” Edge told them. “But I doubt I will be ready to sail out too quickly after that. I’m to be married when I get home.”
“Married? Aren’t you a bit young?” Larry asked, and Edge chuckled.
“What greater purpose is there for a man but to marry and have a family?” He replied.
“What’s this lass like?” Carra asked, speaking up for the first time that evening.
“She’s …” Edge sighed as he tried to find the words to describe the woman who would be his bride. “You know the feeling you get, when you’re coming home after a long journey? You’re nearly there, walking up over the hill and you can see it. Your cozy little house, the sunset turning the sky pink and red behind it. The air is fresh and the sea birds are calling in the distance. As you draw near you are greeted by the smell of roses and the a sweet voice lifted in song inside the house.”
Edge paused to consider the scene and let it all sink into their imaginations.
“That is what I feel every time I think of my Molly.” He told them, and Carra bit her trembling lip, her heart ached so to be loved with such fervor. Everyone fell silent in the wake of his declaration of love, possibly all considering the people in their own lives and the way they felt about them.
“Well, you’ve all earned a good nights sleep.” Larry said finally. “I will see you all in the morning.” With this he turned and left, nodding to some of the others as they wished him a good night. Paul was close behind, having agreed to keep watch over the men on deck that night. Soon enough, the only sounds were the creaks and groans of the ship itself and the gentle sound of the water lapping against the hull. It was a perfect lullaby for the weary sailors.
|09-30-2005, 08:25 PM||#3|
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Hammond, Indiana, USA
Local Time: 03:29 AM
I just want to say how much I am loving this story. I usually don't like AU, but this one is good.
Plus, the idea of Larry as a captain! Yummy!
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