|10-06-2005, 06:22 PM||#1|
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On the rising tide chapter 6
** 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 6
“There he is.” Edge told the others, nodding at Adam as he descended the stairs that morning.
“Adam, I take back every time I called you English. You may have a fancy accent and polished manners, but you know how to drink like an Irishman.” Bono greeted him with a wide, boyish grin, and Adam forced a small smile. “And it looks like you’re feeling it.” Bono added with a laugh.
“Nothing a little drink won’t fix.” Adam said, eyeing the whiskey bottles behind the bar. He looked around and saw no sign of the pub owner before slipping behind the bar and pouring himself a drink.
“Finn’s still a-bed?” Larry asked with a frown. “He was first to retire and last to rise. I hope the lad isn’t getting lazy on me.”
“He’s not feeling well.” Adam was quick to inform him, moving round the bar to the table where the men had gathered to wait.
“He didn’t even have a drink. I hope it isn’t serious?” Edge said, looking toward the stairs.
“I’m fine.” They heard the boy say as he hurried down the stairs. He was pulling his cap on over his shaggy blonde curls as he descended, and tucking in the tails of his shirt as he approached them. “I was just very tired, I’m not ill.” He added, shooting a glance at Adam that scolded him for saying such a thing.
“Fine, then. The aingeal needs a thorough cleaning and there are several repairs to be made. We’ll go back and start seeing that done, then I have to meet with some of the merchants who have goods to ship.” Larry announced, rising from his seat and leading the way back to his ship.
“Good morning!” Paul called from the deck of the aingeal as he saw the group approaching. “Are you all well rested and ready for a hard days work?” He asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve never put in a hard days work before.” Adam replied with a smirk, drawing deeply from the cigarette between his lips.
“It’ll either make a better man of you or kill you outright, Lord Clayton.” Larry joked, patting him sharply on the back and making Adam jump a little in surprise.
“Do you think he is more hopeful for one outcome or the other?” Bono whispered to Adam as Larry continued on his way below deck to his cabin.
“I would not place a wager on it.” Adam replied with a grin.
Larry hurried toward his personal quarters, telling himself he was merely anxious to get to work on the contracts he needed to have signed and finalized that day. They needed to be done before they could begin the process of loading cargo as soon as possible. He was not, he told himself, looking for her.
It would make no sense at all for him to be anxious to see Carra, when it had been less than twenty four hours since they had parted company. So why, he wondered, was his heart feeling so heavy when he reached his cabin without seeing any sign of her? He ignored the question as best he could and began gathering the documents he would need for his meetings.
Larry stopped and stood completely still, his eyes the only part of him that moved as he scanned the room for what he had just heard. He strained to hear the sound again, or any other sounds which were unusual or out of place, but heard nothing but the normal creaking and groaning of the ship. His eyes found nothing out of place either, so he turned back to his task.
Larry’s head snapped up and he looked quickly from one side of the room to the other. Nothing. He stepped slowly, cautiously around the desk and began searching in between and under things. He even lifted the cover of his foot locker and peeked inside. He was certain he had heard something this time.
“Looking for me?” He heard Carra’s sonorous voice asking from the doorway. He was down on one knee, peering under the desk, his back to her. He glanced over his shoulder at her, ready to make some sort of comment about knowing she was coming and so he was looking for someplace to hide. The words disappeared from his mind before they ever formed on his lips, though, when he saw her.
Well, Not her, necessarily, but what she was holding in her arms. Cradled like a baby, she held a young black cat.
“What the fuck is that doing here?” Larry demanded, rising and spinning to face her, though he did not advance. He actually retreated a step, so that the backs of his legs made contact with the desk.
“He’s our newest crew member!” Carra told him with a smile, looking down lovingly at the black fuzzball with the wide blue eyes. “He’s going to take care of our rodent problem.”
“No! No bloody way. Get that cat off my ship!” Larry ordered, pointing at the cat and gesturing animatedly as he talked.
“You say cat as if it’s a foul word.” Carra laughed, scratching the animal’s belly distractedly.
“Carra, I’m serious!” Larry told her, raising his voice slightly to emphasize. “Where the fuck did you get it, anyway?” He asked, seeing she wasn’t making an immediate retreat toward the docks.
“I went ashore for a bit last night. I found him out prowling just a few streets from the docks.” She replied, now wiggling her fingers playfully at the cat and then avoiding it’s razor sharp claws as it swung it’s paws at her.
“You went ashore? By yourself?” Larry asked, his mouth hanging open in shock and disbelief. “Carra, what were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I was bored and that my father did not need me to be here.” She informed him coolly. “Ow!” She yelped when the cat managed to sink it’s claws into her hand because she was paying more attention to Larry than she was the cat.
“Jaysus, Carra, it’s a bloody wonder you’ve managed to live to see the age of twenty three! You can’t go wandering about near the docks, you’ll get yourself murdered or…” Larry stopped short, his mouth snapping shut, as if he couldn’t stand to even think about it let alone say the word. He ran a hand over his face and then through his hair, obviously agitated.
“But I didn’t, did I?” She told him, defiantly holding her head high, her chin thrust out. “I can take care of myself!” She added, her green eyes flashing in the low light coming through the cabins one porthole.
“You were lucky, Carra. Do you have any idea…” Larry stopped short once more, his face turning an ever darkening shade of red.
“If you think I’m so helpless, in so much danger, then maybe you should take me with you next time. Keep an eye on me, make sure I behave myself in a way that you think suits me.” She told him, her voice cold enough to freeze the humidity in the room.
“Or maybe, if you fancy yourself a real sailor, you’ll listen to your captain for once!” Larry retorted, moving toward her a little each time he spoke. “And for fuck’s sake, Carra, you don’t have a clue about the place we stayed. You don’t belong in that sort of place.” He added, his silver eyes catching hers for a brief moment before looking away.
“You say that I don’t belong here, and now I don’t belong there. Tell me, Larry. Where do you think I belong?” She asked him, her voice softer now, as was her tone.
“What?” He asked, frowning at her.
“Where do I belong?” She asked again, staring at him and waiting for an answer.
“I… you… I’m not going to be throwing you off the aingeal, if that’s what you want to know. But Carra, you do not belong in the public houses or walking the streets alone in a place like this.” He told her, his own voice lowering a bit in response to hers.
“There should be nowhere that you go that I cannot go, Larry Mullen jr.!” She told him, and he could see now that she was trembling. Her voice was shaking. But why? Was it barely restrained anger? Was she holding back tears of righteous indignation? “If you think I don’t know why you go off without me… I’m not stupid.”
“What? What are you talking about? I didn’t want you to go because it wouldn’t be safe for you.” Larry told her, watching as the cat squirmed in her arms and tried to claw it’s way up her shirt. She sat the animal down and it bounded off toward the galley.
“I’m not an eejit, Larry. Nor am I child. I know about the type of women at these places. I don’t understand why you…” She started, and when she paused, he saw the tears she was trying to blink back beginning to gather on her eyelashes.
~Women? What was she…? Fuck!~ It hit Larry like a ton of bricks. She was jealous because she thought he’d paid a woman to … He let out an indignant snort. So that’s what she thought of him. It stung as badly as if she’d slapped him across the face. Maybe worse.
“What I do off this ship is none of your business.” He told her, knowing that she would rather have heard a denial. She would have been relieved to hear him say that he did not want any other woman, let alone one who had sold her body to countless lonely sailors. He wasn’t about to let her know that even when he had been with other women, he had been unable to keep Carra from his thoughts. He wasn’t going to let her know that he’d never met a woman who he didn’t compare to her. Not one woman had ever come close to measuring up to her in his eyes.
“And neither is what I do yours. The least you can do for me is show me a little respect.” She told him, the muscles in her jaw flexing as she gnashed her teeth. She turned on her heel and stormed off, leaving Larry with the strong urge to punch something.
Larry turned to see the animal peeking in the door to his cabin, looking around nervously. He scowled down at it suspiciously, blaming it for the entire conversation.
“Oh no you don’t!” He told it, taking a broom and using it to shoo the animal back out into the hallway. ~Bloody animal, anyway~.
Respect? She thought he didn’t show her any respect? If he didn’t show her any respect, he’d have acted on his baser instincts by now and taken her to his bed. There had been countless nights when he’d damn near done it. He respected her too much, if anything. It was his respect for her and admiration of her strength which had kept him from treating her like some harlot. He wouldn’t treat her as a woman who was useful only for one thing, to be forgotten until his body demanded release again.
Did she really have no clue what she was risking when she did things like going ashore alone? Or was she trying to get under his skin? Larry sat for a moment to ponder the question. Why was she so concerned about what he did anyway? He’d made it clear to her that he was her captain and nothing more. Did she know, despite everything he’d done and said? Could she really see through him so easily? Did she know how much he wanted her?
As much as he felt for Carra, though, he wanted something different. He wanted a family; a wife and children. He wanted a small house in the country where he could return between voyages. A place where his wife would be waiting for him with the children and perhaps a family dog. Someplace, someONE he could call home.
Carra would never be that woman. She would not want to stay behind when he went to sea. And children? The idea of Carra raising his children made Larry laugh. The woman did not have a motherly instinct in her body, as far as he could tell. No, Carra was the opposite of what he wanted for his life. He wanted a woman to stay at home, a mother, and a family dog. Carra was a wanderer, not the motherly sort. Now on top of that, she had a fucking cat. He hated cats.
More even than his own desires, she deserved someone who could care for her the way she deserved. She dreamt of things so far out of his reach, Larry could barely imagine them existing, let alone being able to have them for himself. She wanted to own her own ship. She had ideas for the way she would run an entire fleet of ships. She talked about having a home in the country, with a lovely garden outside. She wanted the world, and he couldn’t offer her anything close to it. What did he have? An ancient ship which he had inherited from his father. A crew of misfits whom he could not even afford to pay.
There was no doubt in his mind that she was better off without him acting on the whims of his heart. And still, he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Still, he wanted to be where she was, to see her, to talk to her. It didn’t make any sense at all. Larry wanted things in his life to be simple and forthright. Like the ship itself, he knew when there were repairs to be made and he made them. He knew how to navigate the open sea, how to survive a storm. He could see and reason and understand what he needed and wanted to do when it came to the ship. There was no hope of that when it came to Carra.
“Stop looking at me like that!” Fiona hissed at Adam, glancing around to make sure no one had heard. Adam’s eyes rounded and he glanced around as well, surprised at her objection.
“Like what?” He asked, reaching out to take the heavy bucket out of her hands.
“And stop that, too! Why are you acting this way?” She huffed, stepping around him, still lugging the heavy bucket of caulking material.
“What way? I’m just trying to help.” Adam told her, turning and jogging to catch up with her pace.
“No, you’re trying to do my chores for me.” Fiona corrected, obviously out of breath from the daunting task but unwilling to pass the duty on to Adam. “You’re treating me like a girl.” She added, obviously disgusted and irritated at the fact.
“No, I’m not, I just… thought you needed help with some of the more difficult tasks.” Adam retorted, his eyebrows drawing downwards as his face tightened into a pout that Fiona would have found cute if she weren’t so mad at him.
“You wouldn’t have done it yesterday. You wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for…” Fiona’s face flushed such a deep shade of red it was nearly purple at the very thought of what had passed between them that morning. It was all her fault, too. Her rampant curiosity added to a simple crush on Adam had led to something which was taking her fate back out of her control. “..For how you saw me this morning.”
“I’m sorry if it just doesn’t seem right to me to let a lady do such hard labor.” Adam told her matter-of-factly.
“You aren’t letting a lady do hard labor. You’re letting Finn do what he was told to do by the first mate.” She told him seriously.
“It’s Finn!” Fiona snapped, surprising even herself with the volume of her voice. “Just, please, forget all about this morning. Forget everything you know about me at all and think of me as Finn.” She asked him, lowering her voice to a whisper so as not to draw any more attention to them.
“What is it you’re running from? What frightens you so much that it would drive you to deny everything about yourself?” Adam asked her, his deep blue eyes searching her face for the truth. Fiona cursed the part of her that had the strange urge to swoon under his gaze. She squared her shoulders, despite the way her muscles ached from holding the bucket, and she looked back into his eyes.
“Do you really believe it would help you to know? Or would it make it worse? Would you be able to support my guise or would you feel the urge to save me from what has brought me to be here, now?” She asked him. Part of her wanted to tell him. She did trust him, and she wanted someone to talk to about it. Yet she was not sure if Adam could handle the truth. How could a privileged man like himself understand what it was like to be the daughter of a tyrant, a gambler, a loser?
“I need to know.” He told her, smacking his lips between sentences as he thought about it. “I don’t think I can force myself to pretend you’re something you’re not. But maybe, if I understand why you think you need to do it, I can accept it.”
“All right.” She agreed with a sigh, finally giving in to her bodies complaints and set the bucket down. She stretched her sore arms and continued. “I’ll do the best I can to explain, but in my own time. Will you do your best to stop behaving as if I’m some helpless blueblood lady who can’t wipe her own nose?” Laughter danced in Adam’s eyes, but he managed to retrain his amusement behind a smile.
“I will do my best.” He told her, taking the handle on the bucket and beginning to walk away.
“You’re not starting off well.” She told him, trying to sound irritated despite the fact that she found him terribly cute at the moment.
“I’m a slow learner.” He replied, grinning at her over his shoulder. She shook her head at him and moved to follow, but gave up fighting for the bucket.
“My father is not a wealthy man.” She started as Adam led the way below deck to the main hold, all the way down to the lowest level below the water line. The main seam, known to sailors as ‘the devil’, ran along the bottom of the ship from bow to stern, and it needed to be recaulked before they set sail again.
“What does he do?” Adam inquired gently.
“Nothing much. He certainly holds no titles. He has worked many different jobs, none for long. He spends his wages on a bottle and then disappears inside it as long as it will last. When he sobers up, he comes home and terrorizes my mother for awhile. Then he always repents, weeps and begs her forgiveness. He promises he will learn to be a better man and leaves in search of someone who will employ him.” She told him.
“So you left because your father was hurting you?” Adam asked, concern flashing in his eyes, even in the darkness of the cargo hold.
“No. I mean, he would hurt us, sometimes.” She informed him casually. “But it was never so severe that we feared for our lives.”
“By we, you mean you and your mother?”
“And my little sisters.” Fiona informed him with a nod.
“So it must have taken something serious to make you leave them behind.” Adam mused. “Unless Bono, Edge and Larry are all women dressed up like men as well.” He teased, and her hysterical laughter at the thought drove him to a fit of laughing as well.
“Larry is… *heh heh* far prettier than my mother and sisters.” She joked through laughter so violent that it brought tears to her eyes. Adam doubled over, his arm clutching his gut as he laughed, driven on more by her amusement than her words even. Finally, they sighed with relief as the laughter subsided.
“No, I am alone in my flight.” She said, her hazel eyes shimmering with tears unspent from her laughing jag. Or, perhaps, they were tears of loneliness at the truth of her words. Adam chose to act on the possibility it was the latter of the two.
“No, Fiona. You are not alone. I’m here.” He told her gently, wanting to reach out to her again. Fiona shook her head dismissively and turned her attention to the task of caulking.
“So what happened to drive you out?” Adam asked, resigning himself to the task of watching over her and aiding her by handing her equipment when she needed it.
“There were some men attempting to collect a debt from my father. He owed them more than he could pay. More, maybe, than we owned. My mother overheard him late one night, begging for time. They had met him outside the door of our very house, and they were going to kill him.” She paused here, reaching up to rub at the corner of her eye with the back of her hand. Adam wasn’t sure if it was a simple itch or if she were fighting tears again. This time he stayed quiet.
“She heard him – he offered them a deal. If they spared his life, they could have his eldest daughter. To use themselves, as a slave, or to sell. The men weren’t convinced, but then he assured them that she was unspoiled. In the right brothel, he told them, they could auction this daughters virginity for easily as much as he owed them.”
“No.” Adam breathed the word, barely realizing that he had said it. “Men have threatened my life for the sake of a rumor that I had taken their daughters innocence. What kind of man… what kind of father!?!” Adam wondered aloud.
“So, my mother woke me from my slumber, smuggled me out through the window and told me to hide in the stables of the Murphy’s. That’s one of the families for whom my mother and I would launder their clothing and linens. She came to me the next day with this plan.” Fiona finished her story, acting as if Adam were not even there to hear it. He could only imagine how it must hurt her to think about.
“And you were not worried for your sisters?” Adam asked, though he wished immediately that he could take it back.
“Some. Of course I worry, a bit.” She replied coolly. “But the sister closest to my age had a wealthy suitor. My father, I don’t believe, would have taken her from that. He may have tried to rob or extort or blackmail the money from the man, but he wouldn’t sell Penny. Lily is only eight. She has a few years yet before he is likely to try something so horrible to her.” She paused for a moment, her eyes staring forward blankly as her mind drifted off along a path it had not yet had time to explore.
“But by then, he’ll likely be dead.” She said, the realization hitting her like a kick to the chest. “Because this scheme to sell me was his last hope. He is likely dead already. Murdered because I fled.” She murmured. Suddenly she was cold. It was cold in the cargo hold, but she was even colder. She felt numb and tired, and Adam could see it settling on her. He hurried to draw her into his arms, and she did not fight him.
“No, Fiona. Not because of you.” He told her softly. “Because of the things which he had done. It was his own debt to settle, and not yours. A man with any honor would have taken death over even considering such a thing being done to his daughter.” Adam’s massive hands splayed out over her back, rubbing up and down from her shoulders to her lower back soothingly. Fiona let her head droop forward, resting it on Adam’s shoulder.
“He may have had no honor, but he was my father.” She muttered, finally facing the reality of what might have played out at home in the months she had been gone.
Adam bit his tongue to keep from telling her she deserved better. Her father deserved to rot in a special chamber in hell for treating her this way, but he could not say that to her. She had a heart so forgiving and so loyal that she would push Adam away for suggesting such a thing. That was the last thing he wanted, to be pushed away. So he held back the foul words he had about the man and held fast to the girl who was so strong that even now, with her heart shattered, she would not allow herself to weep.
“What have you named him?” Edge asked Carra as he watched her dragging a piece of twine on the deck for the cat to chase.
“I haven’t decided yet.” She informed him, laughing out loud as the cat tried to stop short when she yanked the string suddenly straight up into the air. The cat’s front end had the idea, but it’s rear end kept sliding on the surface of the freshly swabbed deck, sending the animal head over heels.
“He reminds me of you.” Edge said to Bono, nudging him playfully on the shoulder.
“He is very cute, isn’t he?” Carra retorted, winking at Bono who shot a smug smile at Edge.
“I don’t think you should bother giving it a name, Carra. You know Larry isn’t going to allow you to keep it.” Paul said with a sigh of resignation. He didn’t know why Carra went to such great lengths to get Larry all riled up.
“He doesn’t need to know he’s here.” She said.
“A fine idea. Until we’re out in the deep waters and the cat decides to drag the carcass of some vermin it’s caught above deck to show it’s prize off and Larry tosses the poor creature overboard.” Paul argued.
“He wouldn’t dare!” Carra gasped, looking up at her father in horror.
“He’s strict, yes. Serious as well, but I can’t believe he’s so cruel as do that.” Edge said, watching as the father and daughter stared at each other in a silent battle of wills.
“Lardence.” Bono announced, as if he hadn’t even heard the final bits of the conversation. Perhaps, Edge thought, he hadn’t. He gotten down on his hands and knees and was eye to eye with the cat, staring it down.
“Excuse me?” Carra asked, one eyebrow arching up as she peered down at the sight of them.
“You should name him Lardence. L – A – R – D – E – N – C – E.” Bono informed her, still staring into the cat’s inscrutable gaze.
“I love it!” Carra exclaimed with a laugh, clapping her hands together. Paul pressed his hand to his forehead as if his head hurt. The cat turned to look up at Carra and Bono smiled victoriously. He sat cross legged on the deck and dragged the newly named ‘Lardence’ onto his lap and started stroking the cat’s soft black hair.
“What is that cat still doing here?” Larry’s voice demanded as he ascended the gangway.
“I told you, he’s not going anywhere.” Carra said defiantly.
“It’s not an option.” Larry told her, the muscles in his jaw flexing nearly as blatantly as the muscles in his arms. “If you don’t remove it, I will!”
“If Lardence goes, I go as well.” She told him.
“Who?” Larry demanded, his silver eyes as dark as storm clouds.
“Lardence. That’s what we’ve named the cat.” She informed him. Paul watched with wide eyes as the scene played out, while Bono and Edge both fought the urge to laugh. It was a good thing Bono had his back to Edge, as if they had looked at one another in that moment, neither one of them could have kept a straight face.
“I suppose I’ll have to use the room I just bought for you for the night myself then.” He told her, stepping around her and heading for the stairs.
“What?” She asked, completely baffled by this change of subject.
“I arranged my accounts today, settled with the merchants for whom we’ll be shipping, and I had enough money left that I arranged rooms for you all at a decent inn. I thought you would all appreciate a good meal, a bath and a real bed.” He informed her from the doorway to the stair. “But I highly doubt they will allow you to keep a cat in your room.”
“Oh.” Was all that she could say, because she was taken so completely by surprise.
“I’ll stay here for the night. I had a bed, bath and warm meal last night, I can watch the ship and keep an eye on your cat tonight.” Bono told her, still holding the now purring animal. “You go ahead. You deserve it, especially after how hard you worked today.”
“Are you sure?” Carra asked, smiling at him when he nodded. “Thank you.” She said, looking first at him and then at Larry as she said it.
“I thank you, too.” Larry told Bono, grinning playfully as he added, “I was afraid she wasn’t going to bathe for another month and I wasn’t sure I could survive the odor.” Carra gasped in offense, swinging at Larry’s shoulder, but he avoided her attack swiftly, dashing down the stairs with a chuckle.
“I would call you an ass, but I’m afraid I would insult the animal!” she called after him, and she heard him laugh again, the sound drifting up to her from the darkness. This was the side of Larry which held her heart.
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