Chapter XXIV

The week passed quickly, though Donovan soon learned that she didn't do well with nothing to occupy her time. Much as she and Hannah enjoyed making love together, there was only so much real world intimacy their bodies could handle before begging for mercy. So that left them a lot of hours in the day to fill.

They took walks along the beach every day, and Donovan took Hannah to Mills and Rowe for her journal. Hannah spent time every day trying to adjust to writing with a quill as opposed to using a pen or her computer. It was a frustratingly slow process, but Donovan worked patiently with her every day, and gradually, Hannah was getting the hang of it.

Donovan made a few repairs to the small cottage, fortifying it for the coming winter. She added interior shutters, and caulked all the cracks and crevices. Then she spent an entire morning walking on the roof, making sure all the shingles were good and tight. Surprisingly, Donovan was quite adept with a needle and thread as well, and spent part of each day sewing what she referred to as 'cozies' for the windows and doors. And she was doing her very best to figure out a way to add a bathing room and water closet.

Hannah meanwhile was not having an easy go of things. She never realized how accustomed to modern conveniences she was until they were no longer there. Suddenly something as simple as making a cup of coffee or trying to bathe was a chore that took a tremendous amount of work and effort. Even writing was difficult. Had it not been for the fact that Donovan was home, Hannah would have cried in despair. As it was, she dreaded the day Donovan returned to the yards for work.

Donovan noticed Hannah's edginess, and chalked it up to the new surroundings. She wasn't far off; she simply did not know how to fix what was wrong, especially since she wasn't entirely sure what the problem was. Hannah was loving and attentive whenever she knew Donovan was nearby, but Donovan caught her muttering invectives to herself on more than one occasion when Hannah was unaware of her presence.

When Monday morning rolled around, Hannah saw Donovan off to the shipyards with a well packed lunch and a kiss. Then she went back to the cottage determined to do her best to make a comfortable home for Donovan and herself.

It wasn't so bad at first. Hannah was gradually adjusting to the need to keep the fire stoked, and learning how much wood was enough, and figuring out just how long it actually took to make coffee. She was learning to have a real affinity for tea because of it.

She secretly sort of enjoyed the handle pump, recognizing it as a form of progress, and able to relate it to similar exercises she enjoyed in her gym at home. She tried not to get off on that tangent, though because she found it depressed her and she was not going to saddle Donovan with a depressed, weepy woman.

She doted on Donovan when she stepped through the door, feeling for all the world that Donovan was her only contact with any type of reality. Donovan encouraged her to get out and make friends, and they did visit the Admiral and Elizabeth occasionally, but Hannah found herself reluctant to leave the cottage for any length of time alone. They were so many mistakes she could inadvertently make here, and so many things she needed to do at the cottage that she went out sparingly.

Hannah did manage to make a few friends in her wanderings, though, and she was fascinated with seeing what was for her living history. But it also made her homesick for 'civilization', which in turn made her depressed again. It was becoming a vicious, bitter cycle.

Concerned with what she felt was Hannah's unease, Donovan went to Elizabeth for some advice.

"Captain Scott... Donovan... you have to realize that women are completely different beings from men. We are diametrical opposites, and it is sometimes a wonder that the institute of marriage continues to survive."

Donovan couldn't correct her, so she simply nodded and let Elizabeth continue.

"You have to realize that EVERYTHING has changed for Hannah. She had blossomed from a girl into the flower of womanhood. Her body is changing again, and she is learning things, physical things, about herself and you. What is pleasurable; what is not. You see, Captain," here Elizabeth leaned forward conspiratorially. "Women are taught from an early age that sex is for procreation only. That we are not supposed to enjoy it. Let me tell you the secret behind my long and happy marriage, Donovan. My husband cares about me... inside and outside of the bedroom. He sees to my pleasure as well as his own, and he always makes it a point to notice things around the house and compliment me on them."

"Ma'am," Donovan pleaded, holding up her hands to keep Elizabeth from elaborating any more. There were some things NO ONE needed to know about their commanding officer.

"I am sorry, Captain. I do not mean to make you uncomfortable. But I think it is important that you understand this clearly. You also have to realize that Hannah is now many, many miles from what has been her home all her life. Everything is different here, and she is still trying to settle in and make a proper home for you. She does not have many friends that I am aware of, aside from myself and a few of the shopkeepers."

"Give her some time, Donovan. She is making a lot of difficult adjustments. Just love and support her the best that you can."

"Thank you Elizabeth. I will do my very best."

"I know you will, Captain. I have seen the two of you together. What you have is special... nurture it, and it will turn out all right in the end.


Hannah didn't understand her reticence to get out among people. She'd been granted an opportunity historians would have killed for. Donovan had tried to encourage her, but still she hesitated. In her heart, she acknowledged that it was more than simply fear of exposing her differences to them. But she wasn't sure if it was the lack of modernity that would depress her further or the chance that she might find more to like here that was keeping her apart.

Hannah was ashamed of her weakness, but couldn't seem to find a way past the homesickness that was plaguing her. So she threw herself into every task and focused her attentions on Donovan. Donovan didn't begrudge Hannah's attention, and she made an extra effort to seem appreciative of it.

Hannah managed to do a credible job finishing up the cozies, and Donovan was quick to praise her efforts. It was especially pleasing since she really did not care for sewing or mending, and had to take special pains to complete them properly.

Things settled down for the next couple weeks, and Donovan felt herself relaxing slightly. She was still good to compliment Hannah sincerely on whatever task she has assumed for the day, but she no longer felt the need to walk on eggshells. If their bedroom activity was any indication, there never had been a problem. It was the one place Hannah was completely free and open with her.

Hannah had been fierce and wild or tender and soft by turn, and Donovan had responded eagerly to each and every prospect afforded her. Sometimes she led and sometimes she followed, but always they loved one another with deep and sincere passion.

One month after they had wed, however, Donovan was forced to stay late at the yard, and everything came to a head.


It started when Hannah got up, bloated and miserable. Donovan offered to stay home, but Hannah refused, knowing however badly she wanted her Captain home, the ship and crew needed her there if they were going to get back to sea early. Hannah had stopped by the yard on occasion and had seen the massive amount of repair and refit work the Maiden was receiving. She appreciated the need, and yet she resented it as well, because every new job meant longer they had to stay here.

On this day, however, Donovan was torn between the need to stay and comfort Hannah and the need to be at the shipyard supervising the refit. They were installing a new boom and Donovan knew it was going to be a chore. But when Hannah shooed her out the door with her lunch and a kiss, she took it as a good sign, and headed cheerfully toward the dock yard.

Hannah decided to lay back down for a bit, hoping the cramping would ease. She fell asleep quickly, and it was almost noon before she stirred again.

The first thing she noticed was the fact that it was chilly in the house, and realized immediately that she'd forgotten to stoke the fire and it had gone completely out. She sighed and bit her lip, and moved to relight the flame, knowing she needed to do that before anything else was possible.

Three skinned knuckles and two burnt fingers later, Hannah finally had a small flame burning in the stove. She sighed with relief and stuffed the box with wood, knowing it would catch fairly quickly. Her next step was to fill a pot with water for heating. This could have gone better, since she barked her skinned knuckles on the cabinet while she removed the pot, but thankfully she didn't smash them or worse.

She finished embroidering a table cover, not completely satisfied with how it turned out, but well-pleased with the fact that she was learning a new skill. She couldn't wait to show Donovan when she got home from work today.

Hannah smiled when her thoughts turned to Donovan. She couldn't ask for a more thoughtful lover. Donovan was so good to notice all of Hannah's efforts, and kind enough not to mention the less-than-stellar ones, thinking wryly of some of her earliest cooking and sewing attempts. She was getting better, though, and Donovan was quick to encourage her and praise her efforts.

Her attention was drawn out of her thoughts by the rumbling of the stove which was literally jumping with the heat. Hannah jumped up and quickly closed most of the vents, and opened the firebox to spread the fire out a bit. It took some patience and a lot of effort on her part, but she managed to bring the fire under control without any mishaps, and she was quite proud of that fact. Even better, the heat had caused her water to boil much faster, and she filled a tub with the water, intent on soaking for a bit. Suddenly things were looking up.

Hannah slipped into the warm tub with a sigh of relief. The warmth helped ease the nagging ache in her belly, and she turned her thoughts back to Donovan. She treasured their time together and she knew Donovan did as well. Hannah simply wished there was more of it. She smiled. Donovan had been supportive of her and she determined more than ever to show Donovan her unwavering support in return.

She clutched the ring she still wore around her neck. Hannah hadn't realized that she would not be given an opportunity to place a ring on Donovan's finger, and she hadn't seemed to find the right time to do it since the ceremony. Maybe tonight, she thought. It was their one month anniversary, and she had made some nice plans for them to celebrate. The house was clean, the table set with flowers and candles; all she had to do was take care when preparing dinner.

Gradually Hannah's water cooled and she bathed quickly and changed into one of the comfortable outfits Satosh had created for her. It was one of the most flattering, and Hannah felt attractive as well as relaxed when she wore it. She carefully emptied the tub, and turned her attention to preparing a special meal for Donovan.

The time for Donovan to come home came and went. The candles burned down, and despite Hannah's best efforts the meal overcooked and dried out as she valiantly tried to keep it warm. Finally, she closed all the vents and stoked the fire, then she grabbed the new overcoat Donovan had gotten for her, and walked calmly out the door.


When Donovan walked through the door much later that evening, she sensed something awry immediately. There was no sound in the bedroom, and it was obvious Hannah was not in their small living area. It was also chilly in the house, something Hannah didn't tolerate well at all. It had become something of a joke between them, since given the option Hannah would keep it as warm as the tropics. Secretly, Donovan would have been happy to have it that warm as well, but she knew there was no way to feasibly maintain it in this part of the world.

Donovan hung her hat and cloak on their hook and went straight to the bedroom, then cursed herself for not lighting a candle first when she kicked the corner of the bed.

Still cursing, Donovan stumbled out of the bedroom and over to the table where to candles sputtered trying to remain lit. Even as she watched, one candle went out, and Donovan carefully picked up the second one. She noticed then the remains of what would have been a feast had she been home on time and winced. Donovan took a second look at everything, noticing the newly embroidered tablecloth and the fresh wildflowers and felt like crying. Hannah had planned a special evening for them, and she had, however inadvertently, ruined it by not being at home on time.

Donovan bit her lip, thinking long and hard about where Hannah might go. Then she donned her hat and cloak and lit a lantern, walking out into the crisp, clear night to find her Angel.


Donovan thought long and hard about the possibility of Hannah going to Elizabeth's but summarily rejected it... primarily because Hannah just didn't socialize much here. I think it is time we talk about these things. Just supporting her has not been enough. I need to know what she is thinking, feeling. Why she has changed so much.

Having given up the idea that Hannah would go to one of her only friends here, Donovan headed down the stretch of beach they loved to walk on. She walked slowly, not wanting to miss Hannah in her haste.

She was nearing the end of the tract of beach they normally frequented, and was beginning to despair of actually finding her. She was torn between anger and hurt, and Donovan was just ready to give up when she heard a gentle voice call her name.


"Hannah?" Donovan swung the lantern in a wide arc searching for her heart's desire. Even knowing she was nearby, Donovan still nearly missed Hannah's small form in the darkness.

Hannah sat in the shadow of a dune, mostly out of the wind, but still able to see the waves come crashing onto the shore. It had helped restore her balance, and she felt more normal than she had in a while. Knowing, *realizing* that some things were constant regardless of the time and place had proven very soothing, and Hannah felt she had finally put her problems into perspective.

"Hannah?" Donovan called again. Hannah was swaddled in her coat, and the only thing actually visible in the bare light was her eyes. She didn't realize Donovan couldn't see her.

"Donovan, love. I'm right here. Look to your left, by the dune."

Donovan peered into the darkness, scrambling to Hannah's side when she found her and almost dropping the lantern in her haste. She set the lamp to one side and immediately wrapped her arms around Hannah's small body, murmuring love and apologies into the covered head now neatly tucked beneath her chin. Hannah greedily absorbed the love and warmth, until she became aware of the mumbled words being spoken in her ear. Then she pushed away from Donovan just slightly, and looked into her sad eyes.

"Donovan, sweetheart? What are you apologizing for? You didn't do anything wrong."

"You went to such effort to make a special meal, and I completely missed it. I...."

"Shh," Hannah said, putting her fingers to Donovan's lips, and taking a moment to be distracted by their softness. "It took me a while, but I realized when I came out here tonight that I have been grossly unfair to you. I know you don't understand what I am going through, and until tonight, I'm not sure I did either. But I think I have figured it out, and I'd like to share if you're willing to listen."

"Absolutely, Hannah. I was hoping we could talk about this. I mean, I have been wracking my brain to figure out what I could do differently...."

"You don't need to do a thing differently, love. You have been wonderful and supportive of me, and I know it hasn't been easy. I haven't been easy to live with in the last month, and I apologize. It's not your fault this isn't the cinch I thought it would be."

"Cinch? Like for a saddle?" Donovan was honestly confused, and it showed.

"No, love. Cinch as in easy. But that is a prime example of what I mean."

Donovan turned them so she was leaning with her back to the dune, and Hannah was cradled between her legs in front of her. She wrapped her long arms around Hannah's slim waist, and sighed in soundless contentment when Hannah leaned her body back into Donovan's own. "I am not sure I understand you, beloved."

"I know, and I am not making this any clearer. Let me start from the beginning and see if that helps."

"You see, Donovan, I fully expected to have an easy adjustment to living here in this time with you. I mean, I read all about it. I understood what the times were like. And even given the rather rough time I had at your cottage on the island, I chalked it up to nerves. I mean, how hard could it be to live here, really? I did okay on the island, and I did pretty well on the boat. How hard could dry land be, right?"

"I should have caught a clue when we were in the cottage on the island. Book smart doesn't always translate into practical smart, and I was getting kicked in my practical butt. You can't just pick up the phone and say you'll be late; I can't just flip a switch for coffee; I can't simply flush the toilet or run a hot bath. The harder I tried, the worse I seemed to fail, and you were always so tolerant and understanding about the whole situation, and that almost made it worse sometimes. The only time I felt on an even keel was when we were alone together, and it just isn't feasible for you to be around all the time. And it certainly isn't practical for us to spend ALL our time together in bed, as attractive as the possibility sounds sometimes."

"Is that the reason you have not gone out much at all since we have been here? Is that why you have been missing from my dreams? Are you that uncomfortable in my world?"

Donovan held her breath, not wanting to hear, but needing to know. Hannah frowned slightly.

"I have been there waiting for you, love. Maybe my depression kept us apart?" She tapped a short nailed finger against her teeth, and Donovan swallowed her words when it became obvious Hannah was working through something.

"Let me start over, love. Because I don't want any more misunderstandings between us, all right?" Donovan nodded and Hannah continued. "It doesn't make much sense I'm afraid. But I am uncomfortable with the fact that I can't function here like I think I ought to be able to. I am having a harder time adjusting than I expected to and that depresses me, especially when you really have been too understanding for words."

"I'm afraid if I go out among people I will embarrass myself or you, since, as Elizabeth inadvertently reminded me, I stick out here. With my speech and attitude and mannerisms. It's apparent to everyone that I am different. The fact that I can't seem to do the simplest things simply frustrates me more, and it all becomes one huge, vicious cycle." She paused and tilted her head back at Donovan. "Does that make any sense at all to you?"

Donovan sat silently for a few minutes, processing everything Hannah had said and hopefully translating it correctly into something she understood. "Do you want me to become less understanding?" she finally asked. "Elizabeth said it was important... that I notice things and compliment you on them. But if it is making you uncomfortable...."

"No, love, no! To be very selfish, I need that from you. It reminds me that I am making some progress here, and given enough time, I can make this work for me and for us." She swallowed and looked away from Donovan, who could feel her unease, but remained silent, waiting. Finally Hannah spoke again, very faintly.

"I think it boils down to the fact that I want you to need me... need you to need me, like I need you. And a lot of times lately I seem to have been coming up short in that department."

"Not at all, beloved. Elizabeth was correct in pointing out one thing to me... this IS a major adjustment for you, and I have been amazed at how well you do seem to be adapting to what for you is a completely unnatural environment. You always manage to have a hot meal ready for me when I come home, and I have had a lot less burned ones than I managed myself when I was learning to cook." Donovan smiled to take away the sting of her words, and Hannah returned it, understanding exactly what was being said.

"I know I miss many of your attempts to do things during the day, but I do appreciate your efforts on my behalf. I am glad you are here with me, and would sooner have us working through your frustrations than for me to be without you or let you suffer through the aggravation alone. We are married, Hannah; husband and wife in the eyes of the world and...." Donovan cocked her head in thought. "What was the word you use in your world, Angel?"


"Yes, partners. We are partners in every sense of the word. If you have a burden, share it with me and let me help you. If you have joy, share it also, that I can celebrate with you as well. We are one together, beloved. Do not shut me out... let me do my part."

Donovan felt the sobs shake Hannah's small frame, and she cradled her close in silence for long moments before speaking. "Tears, Hannah? I did not mean...."

Fingers at her lips stilled Donovan's voice and she waited for Hannah to speak. "That was beautiful, love. I didn't mean to be so selfish, but I see now that by not sharing my misery as well as my joy that you were being shut out. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that. You deserve better than that."

Subtly, Donovan shifted Hannah in her arms until she was cradling her in her lap. "I got precisely what I deserved, Hannah. My dreams came true when I got you."

Hannah wrapped her arms around Donovan's neck and pulled her in firmly until their lips met passionately. Only when they needed air did she pull back, and then she whispered, "I love you," and cuddled tightly into Donovan's chest.

"I love you, too, Angel. I want you to remember that the next time things seem hard. Come to me and let me help; just like I will come to you."

They sat quietly for a time, unmindful of the steadily dropping temperature. Instead they focused on the warmth the returning stability to their relationship brought and were content. When Hannah fidgeted and shifted lightly, Donovan looked at her expectantly. Hannah cleared throat.



"I was wondering something."

"What is that, Angel?"

"Well, Jack gave me something, and I've been meaning to give it to you, but the time never seemed right and I didn't have a chance at our ceremony and well, I was wondering...?" She broke off her ramble, not sure she was going about this the right way.

"You were wondering what, beloved?" Donovan was intrigued. She'd never seen Hannah quite as flustered as she was right at this very moment, and she found it endearingly cute.

"Would you unfasten my necklace, Donovan?"

Perplexed, yet charmed by the simple request, Donovan complied, handing the two ends forward into Hannah's hands. She couldn't see what Hannah did, but almost immediately the two ends came back to her.

"Would you put it on me again, please?"

Donovan's curiosity was burning brightly now, but she obey, then sat quietly waiting for Hannah's next words, noting that her eyes stayed riveted to the hands in her lap and whatever she held in them.

"Do you remember the bag that you found in the carriage on the way to the ship?" Donovan nodded and Hannah continued. "Yes, well you said it was addressed to me, and it was. From Jack. He gave me a lovely supply of chocolate...." She snuck a peek at Donovan. "I still have some, by the way." She was charmed by the bright smile she got for that.

"Anyway, it also had an envelope in it with my name on it." Donovan nodded. She remembered that as well. It was the reason she'd been sure the bag was Hannah's.

"Right. So anyhow, in the envelope was a note from my father... and, um, my mother's wedding ring. He said...." She shivered, and Donovan wrapped her arms tighter. Hannah felt the light brush of a kiss across the top of her cloak and smiled tremulously. "He said that he hoped I or the one that I loved would wear her ring. So I was wondering...." She took Donovan's left hand in her own and held the ring up. "Would you be willing to wear my ring? I know you may not be able to with being a sea captain, but maybe we could put it on a chain for your neck or... OH!"

Donovan slipped her finger through the ring, amazed at the way it fit like it was made for her. Donovan stared at it a long time, or so it seemed to Hannah, before she turned her attention back to Hannah. "It is beautiful, my love, and the sentiment behind it leaves me speechless. I will wear it proudly." She tipped her head slightly and sealed the promise with a kiss.

Eventually they pulled away and Hannah looked into Donovan's eyes. "Captain Scott?"

"Yes, Mrs. Scott?" said with formality but a teasing grin and a twinkle in her eye belied the seriousness of the reply.

"Would you be so kind as to take me home and make wild, passionate love to me for the rest of the night?"

Donovan shifted so quickly Hannah would have fallen had it not been for lightning fast reflexes on Donovan's part. "I believe, madam, that is the best offer I have had all day."

Hannah rose and put her hands on her hips, eyebrow arched in mock annoyance. "I believe, Captain, that had better be the ONLY offer you've had all day. You're taken... and you're mine."

"Body and soul, beloved. Body and soul."

Donovan stood and brushed the sand from herself and then Hannah, then she grabbed the lantern and gave it to Hannah to hold so she could scoop Hannah into her arms.

"Donovan put me down! It is too far for you to carry me all the way to the cottage through the sand! Please, love," she said on a softer note. "I don't want you to hurt yourself." Donovan pouted, and Hannah chuckled, nearly upsetting them both when the pout became mock indignation. Hannah bit her lips, and aimed for a compromise.

"How 'bout this? We'll walk together back to the cottage and you can carry me across the threshold into the bedroom. BUT... I'll hold the lamp."

Donovan ducked her head and stole a quick kiss before gently setting Hannah on her feet. "I believe I can accept that as an equitable arrangement." She offered her arm gallantly and took the lantern from Hannah. "Allow me the honor of lighting your way, m'lady."

"You already do love, in every way that matters."

Donovan heard the sexy undertone in Hannah's voice and without warning took the smaller hand in her own and began loping down the beach at a run. She had to taper her steps to match Hannah's own stride and accommodate their laughter, but her intent was perfectly clear.

And when they arrived back at the cottage, she was happy to show Hannah just how focused she was... several times.


"So why were you so late getting in last night, love? Or can you say?" It was just before dawn, and Hannah and Donovan were in the small living space trying to restart the fire. Actually, Donovan was relighting the fire, and Hannah was cleaning up the remains of their ruined evening meal. Neither had been a top priority when they'd arrived home the night before.

"We had difficulties getting the boom in place and balanced. That took the majority of the daylight, and the crew and I had to scramble to get the rest of the day's work done."

"What's the rush?"

"The rains are due any day, and we want to have the outer repairs as soon as possible before they come. Then we can move indoors and do the interior work."

"Makes sense."

Donovan was finally satisfied that the flame had caught, and after adding more wood, caught Hannah's robe tie between her fingers and tugged gently. She smiled rakishly when Hannah stood in the circle of her arms.

"Thank you, beloved. I do try that on occasion. Besides, the men are already complaining about the weather here. I think we will be ready to go out again sooner than expected." Donovan paused and allowed herself to be distracted by the warm hands and nails that were scratching slow circles on her back. "Now, what do you say to my staying home with you today?"

Hannah's green eyes were filled with exasperation as they gazed up into blue. "Donovan, last time I checked, I didn't have STUPID tattooed on my forehead." Donovan's own forehead crinkled in confused thought as she tried to figure what that statement had to do with anything.

"Sweetheart," Hannah said, moving her hands to grasp Donovan's face on both sides. "Of course I would love to have you stay home with me today. Even though I feel so much better about things after last night's talk and all, I still miss you when you're gone. So of course I want you here. Thing is... can you stay?"

"I not only can," Donovan said. "I will. We have something we need to do later on this morning, but I am open to suggestions for right now if you have any."

"Hmm," Hannah answered thoughtfully while her hands were busy untying the closures on Donovan's robe. "I think," she said, sliding her hands up the smooth skin of Donovan's torso to her broad shoulders, and pushing her robe to the floor. "We could probably... oh, God," feeling Donovan's strong hands return the favor. "Find some... thing... oh, sweet Jesus, love!" Hannah forgot what she was saying when Donovan's hands found her breasts, and Hannah pulled her in to a deep, passionate kiss.

Donovan smiled into the kiss, loving the influence her touch had on Hannah. Then moaning herself when she felt Hannah's hands trace down her back and around the front of her thighs.

"Oh, Hannah...." Donovan murmured before finding her lips captured once more.

"You... me... bed... now."

Donovan slid her hands around until they rested on Hannah's waist, then gently lifted, not at all surprised when Hannah's legs wrapped around her waist. She stood still for a long moment as they absorbed the renewed sensation of skin on skin. Then she edged the three steps it took to reach the bedroom door.

Hannah caught her hand on the doorframe, and Donovan pulled up short, a frown crossing her face. "I thought you wanted...?"

Hannah smiled, cupping Donovan's face tenderly. "I do. I just wanted you to know something first." A dark brow rose and Hannah traced it gently. "You make my life worth living."

Donovan's face softened, and she crossed to the bed, laying Hannah down tenderly on the bed. "As you do mine, beloved," running her hands along Hannah's naked body from toes to shoulders. She stopped along the way to tease and taste, delighting in the shivers and moans she was drawing from deep within Hannah's chest.

When she reached Hannah's lips, Donovan was drawn into another fiery kiss, and thoughts of teasing flew out of her mind. "I love you, Mrs. Scott," she murmured before beginning her assault in earnest. Hannah's answer lost as she wrapped her hands in Donovan's hair, and abandoned herself to the feelings Donovan was stirring in her.

Neither of them noticed the sun come up.

Chapter XXV

"So where are we going?" Hannah asked as they made their way down the street. Donovan had been surprised at the number of merchants that greeted her and Hannah by name. Obviously in her few excursions into the marketplace, Hannah had made a good impression. Donovan patted the hand tucked into the crook of her arm and returned the greetings as they strolled through the market towards the lumber mill.

Arriving, Hannah looked at Donovan perplexed. "Um, honey?"

"Yes, beloved?"

"Um, not that I mind the walk and everything, but what are we doing here? I thought you'd finished the repair work on the house."

"I have," Donovan replied, taking her hand and helping her up the steps. "This is for a new project."

"A new project?" Hannah echoed. "Isn't it getting late in the year to be starting something new?"

"Yeeees," Donovan drawled. "But once I get the walls and roof up, the rest will follow fairly quickly. John and a few of the crew have volunteered to help me get the basics done."

"And may I ask what it is you are building?"

"You may ask." Hannah waited, but Donovan was not forthcoming with any further information. Hannah raised a blonde brow in mute question.

"It is a surprise, Angel. One I promise you will like."

"You promise, huh?"

"Yes, I promise."

"Okey dokey, then," Hannah replied and waited for Donovan to conclude her business with the lumber merchant. Then they headed back the way they'd come.

The lumber wagon was at the cottage being unloaded when they arrived. Donovan tipped the driver and his man, and sent them on their way as soon as they were finished. Then she began digging holes for the posts, and Hannah went to start lunch.

It was nothing fancy, but by the time Hannah got things ready and went to get Donovan, the Captain already had a rough outline of a room that was about four feet wide and it looked like it was going to run the length of the cottage. Hannah cocked an eyebrow at the speed at which Donovan was working but knew better than to ask, so she simply called her in for lunch.

By the time the sun set, Donovan had the posts in place for the room that did run the length of their small home. Hannah's curiosity was piqued, but she kept her suspicions to herself. She'd wait to see if she was right.

The following day was cloudy, and Donovan held her breath, hoping for the rain to hold off just a little longer. If they could get the mortar poured and the roof on, the rest would be easy. It was Sunday, the crews' day off, and she was expecting John and a few of the other men to show up sometime in the early part of the morning to help her. She's spoken to them a couple weeks before when she'd originally ordered the lumber.

Donovan was quite surprised however, when she opened the door to John's knock just after dawn, and saw her entire crew standing behind her first mate.


"They volunteered, Captain. We all figured you were doing this for Miss Han... Mrs. Scott, and she was so kind to us on the trip back that everyone wanted a chance to do something nice for her in return."

"Donovan? Who's at the door, love?" Hannah came up behind Donovan and stuck her head under Donovan's outstretched arm. "Oh," she said, a bit startled to see the entire crew staring shyly back at her. "Mr. Merryweather, gentlemen. What an unexpected surprise," glancing down at the robe she was still wearing.

"Beg pardon for intruding so early, Miss Ha... Mrs. Scott. The weather looked so poorly this morning we decided to get over here quickly to help the Captain get finished with... his project." Donovan had given them specific instructions on the room's secrecy, and Merryweather was quick to remember them at her warning glare.

"Well, I'm glad to see you all again. If you will excuse me, though, I need to get dressed and put the coffee on to boil for you gentlemen. Donovan, could I see you a moment before you start working, please?"

The crew didn't say a word, but Donovan could feel their gleeful trepidation on her behalf. They were not stupid men by any means, and they moved around to the side of the building without any prompting. Donovan spoke to Merryweather, who was the only one who remained.

"You know what needs to be done, Mr. Merryweather?"

"Aye, sir. Apologies for arriving so unexpectedly. We did not think about Miss Ha... Mrs. Scott's feelings or what kind of trouble it might present for you."

"It is all right, John. I...."

"Donovan?" Hannah called.

Donovan looked back towards Hannah, then at John with a resigned look on her face. "I'll be out shortly," she whispered. "You know what to do to get them started."

"Aye, sir. We will take care of things."

She shut the door carefully behind him, and turned to where Hannah stood in the bedroom doorway, dressed and waiting. Donovan walked slowly towards Hannah, with the gate of a man on his way to be executed. True, she had been quite surprised by the earliness of the hour and the number of men who had arrived, but she couldn't find it in her heart to blame them for their eagerness. Hannah had shown all of them unfailing kindness, and it was natural that they'd want to do the same in return. She probably should have given Hannah a little more warning about the crew coming to help though.

"I am sorry, beloved. I...."

"Donovan, I don't mind that the crew is here, and I appreciate that they are gonna help you finish this project. If it turns out to be what I expect it to be, I'm sure I'll be thrilled that all of them showed up on our doorstep at dawn this morning. It would have been nice to have had a little warning about their presence before I peeked out the door at them in my robe, though." Her tone, while not ugly or demanding did have a hint of scolding in it. "It's improper for me to be seen not fully dressed."

Donovan dropped her head, and looked at Hannah through her dark lashes. "I did not expect the entire crew to show up and certainly not this early. I thought it would be John and perhaps half a dozen men later this morning. However, I should have mentioned their coming to you last night, and for that I apologize."

Hannah leaned into Donovan's strong body and forced the blue eyes to meet her own. "No worries, love. You go on out and do your Captain thing and I'll see what I can come up with for lunch for these guys. Looks like our roast will be turning to stew."

"I love you, Hannah."

"I know you do. And I love you back. Now go help the crew so ya'll can get finished before it starts storming." Thunder rumbled ominously, and Hannah smacked Donovan lightly on the butt. "Go on. You don't wanna be out in this getting sick."

Donovan kissed her and hurried out the door, hoping the weather would hold back for just a few more hours.

Hannah turned her attention to her larder, looking to see what she had to turn her roast into stew. Another knock on the door startled her, and when Hannah opened it, Cookie was standing in front of her with an armload of groceries.


"Sorry it took me a little longer to get here than it did the rest of the crew, lass. I needed to get enough together to feed this bunch." She grabbed him by the elbow and ushered him inside.

"Come in! Come in! Let's see what you've got and what I've got and see what we can come up with between us. I have a feeling they're all gonna be cold and wet before all is said and done."

"I would be inclined to agree, lass. Let me get the rest of the foodstuffs before the bottom drops. Be right back."

It was midmorning, and dinner was well underway when the first drops of rain fell lazily from the darkened sky. It only took minutes for it to become a downpour, and Hannah fully expected Donovan and the crew to come running inside to get out of the pelting rain. Instead, she heard the frenzied noise of more rapid work.

Hannah went to the small window on the 'living' side of the house, only to realize she really couldn't see anything that would be helpful. There was a scream, a holler, then a loud thunk against the side of the house hard enough to make the front window shudder. Heedless of the weather, both Hannah and Cookie dashed out the door.

The roof was on and at least one short wall was up, because neither of them could see anything. As quickly as they dared in the slick mud, they moved around to the long side of the addition. Here the wall and the roof were only partially completed and the crew was struggling to finish the roof. However, it would only support a very few of them at once so it was slow going, especially since the rain made it slippery and dangerous.

The men who were working on the walls stared at Hannah as she stomped into the room to stand under the bit of roof that was finished. She put her hands on her hips and glared up at Donovan who settling another beam into place. Hannah waited calmly until the lumber was in place, then she bellowed, "DONOVAN SCOTT!!!" The crew averted their gazes at the sheer fury the small woman was emitting.

Donovan looked down into the sparking green eyes and understood immediately she was in a world of trouble. "Yes, dear?"

Hannah opened her lips to rail at Donovan, then took a deep breath and asked sweetly, "Do you think I could speak to you privately for a moment, Captain?"

Donovan nodded and turned to John, who was her partner on this side of the roof. "I will send someone up to help you when I get down, John." She glanced at Hannah again. "I have a feeling this may take a while and we need to at least finish the roof today."

"Do not worry, sir. We will take care of the roof. You go take care of your wife."

Donovan nodded, and motioned to one of the men to join her near the ladder. She slid down and they conversed briefly before he went up to take her place. Then she walked over to the sheltered corner where Hannah waited. Then they stood dripping in the dirt at one another for long moments before Donovan spoke.

"Are you all right, beloved? Why are you out here in the rain? You could catch your death...."

"And so could you," Hannah shot back, shivering. Even though they were dry and relatively sheltered from the wind, the temperature was quite chilly, and the cold was making her teeth chatter. Donovan slipped out of her heavy oilskin coat, and wrapped it around Hannah's body. Hannah sank into the warmth with a sigh of relief.

"No, Angel. Mr. Merryweather brought our rain gear just on the off chance it would be needed." She motioned to her dry body. "See? It has done its work very well. I am dry and warm, except for my hair and face. Even my hands remain warm from the constant work." She waited a beat then continued. "We should be done with the roof and a majority of the walls by dinner. After that we will finish the walls and lay the floor. We will be under cover then, so it so move along at a bit faster pace."

"You're that determined to finish today then?"

"With as much as we can be, yes." Donovan answered. "Once we get the roof on, the rest will be considerably easier."

"I just don't want you... or anyone, for that matter, to end up sick or hurt from this. A bathroom is not worth someone dying for, love."

"I understand your concern, Hannah. That is why we... wait a moment... how did you know it was a bathing room? It was supposed to be a surprise!"

Hannah put her hands on Donovan's chest, despite the fact that her crew was standing around trying not to stare at the two of them. To their credit, they did keep working, just at a much slower speed than they had been previously. Hannah lowered her voice farther and leaned in, greedily absorbing the warmth Donovan seemed to have in abundance.

"It was a surprise, love... it took me a while to figure out. It was the only thing I could come up with that made any sort of sense. I will admit to being selfishly pleased by the whole idea."

Donovan grinned. "I was hoping you would feel that way."

Hannah slid out of the oilskin, and shivered when the cold air hit her wet body. "Here," easing the coat around Donovan's shoulders. Let me go back inside and change before I get sick." She looked at Cookie. "I hope we can get him dried out."

"Let him stand at the stove for a bit; he will be fine."

Hannah started to leave when firm hands at her waist stopped all movement. She looked back at Donovan who stood casually, possessively behind her wearing a rakish grin. "No kiss goodbye?"

"I didn't think...."

"Do not think so much," Donovan teased. "This is one of those times thinking is highly overrated."

She realized Donovan stood between her and the rest of the room, and the men were at least trying not to stare in their direction. Hannah didn't answer, but applied herself wholeheartedly to the task at hand. She felt a languid warmth steal through her bones, and sighed softly when they parted. She licked her lips before opening her eyes.

"You are really good at that, you know."

Donovan grinned and nipped Hannah's nose. "I have a wonderful practice partner." That got her a grin in return. "Now go inside before you get chilled again." Hannah nodded and scooted out the nearest wall opening. Donovan watched her go, and a thought occurred to her. She took Cookie aside and whispered something to him. He nodded and picked up a saw and ran through the downpour back to the house.

By the end of the day, the long room was complete, and a corner of the living area wall had a hole that would soon hold a door. The crew had finished just around sundown and Hannah and Cookie had given them all a second hot meal and warm cookies before they had left to return to their lodgings.

"That was a nice thing you did, beloved," Donovan commented as she stepped out of the bedroom drying her hair. She'd been glad to slip into a sweater too, and came out now in her sock feet and set her boots near the fire.

"What, love?" Hannah asked as she snuggled up with Donovan on the small couch. Each of the men had washed his cup, bowl and spoon as he finished and packed it away in Cookie's box. Then they had gently accepted Hannah's hand as she thanked them all personally, and taken the cookies she'd offered before they slowly, surely made their way out of her home.

"Providing us with that coffee break, cooking for everyone on short notice, but especially for the cookies. I think you took everyone back to their boyhood with that gesture."

"Well, it was so nice of them all to come out here on what was supposed to have been their day off that I just wanted to do something nice. Cookie helped me, ya know. He gave me a few tips for the stove as well. I didn't realize until today that he always tended the kitchen fires on the ship. I just mixed ingredients."

"I know. I also know the cookies were entirely your idea as he made it a point to tell me that... several times."

"Well, it was little enough to do for them. Maybe we could do something for Thanks... I mean Christmas. I keep forgetting ya'll don't have Thanksgiving here." The last was mumbled under her breath so low Donovan nearly missed it.

"We do have a harvest celebration, though," Donovan said, having caught Hannah's words and understanding the meaning behind them. "We can talk about it and decide later." She yawned. "Right now I just want to hold you and rest a bit before bed."

Hannah shook her head. "Uh uh. C'mon, love. Let's go to bed properly. It's been a long day for both of us, and I'm beat."

Moments later, gentle snoring could be heard coming from both sides of their bed.


After talking things out with Donovan, Hannah finally felt comfortable enough to venture out a little more. She found that people were ready to welcome her with open arms. Donovan accompanied her as often as she could, and Elizabeth was always happy to welcome Hannah into her home when she felt a little overwhelmed.

Gradually, but faster than she'd expected, Hannah settled into the mid-eighteenth century life. And she made preparations to spend the winter.

Slowly, Donovan was converting the new room into a bathing room. It wasn't as modern as her efforts on the island, and certainly not nearly what Hannah was used to, but they were both thankful for small comforts. It was nice to have a full-sized tub, and they both appreciated not having to go outside to use the facilities in the freezing rain. Donovan was still working on the flushing system for their toilet, but they were both pleased with her hard work.

In addition, Hannah had set up a laundry area on one end, and when she had chance to show it to Elizabeth, she found herself the object of much envy. And suddenly there were several among the wives who were anxious to make her acquaintance and were glad to find they were welcome.

For it all, Hannah always made sure they were gone and dinner was ready when Donovan came home. The evenings were their time, and Donovan encouraged Hannah to talk about her day much as she shared her own. Donovan found herself learning as much about the world around her as Hannah was. Hannah was introducing her to a world she herself spent very little time in, and she found to her amazement that she was enjoying it. And they spent many hours together educating Donovan on all the technologies and lifestyle nuances she would experience in Hannah's world.

By the same token, Hannah was fascinated when Donovan spoke of her work. It was almost as though they were completely rebuilding the ship, and she couldn't wait to see all the work they'd done on the Maiden. Still, for all their efforts, it would be at least April before they would be able to sail for warmer waters.

Hannah was of two minds about the news when Donovan told her. One the one hand, it meant that they would be here through the winter. Not necessarily bad news, since they had been preparing for such an outcome since they'd arrived, and they were quite snug in their little nest. But it was a little disappointing to know that they would be wintering in the cold, especially with the warm waters of the Caribbean awaiting them. On the other hand, the news that Donovan would be home more was most welcome.

With that in mind and knowing that many of the men under her command had no real families to go home to, Donovan extended an invitation to her crew on behalf of herself and Hannah for the men to join them in celebrating the holidays.

Most of the crew was overjoyed with the invitation and accepted with alacrity. They missed Hannah's special treats, and truth be told, were a bit jealous of their Captain everyday around lunchtime when she unpacked whatever goodies Hannah had prepared for her.

Hannah was thrilled by the enthusiastic acceptance of their invitation and began preparing her menu. She realized almost immediately she would need assistance in making it a special time for the men, and went to Elizabeth for advice.


"Come in, my dear," Elizabeth beckoned when she saw who stood on her doorstep. "This is a most pleasant surprise as I didn't expect to see you for a few days. I understand you are hosting a holiday meal in your home for your husband's crew."

"Yes, we are. That's actually why I'm here. I need your help."

"Whatever I can do to help, Hannah. It has been such a joy watching you come out of your shell these last few months. I will tell you that you and Donovan have caused quite a stir among the wives here." Elizabeth watched Hannah's brows rise in question and patted her hand. "It is a good thing, dear. They needed stirring out of their complacency. Now, what can I do to help?"

So it was decided that Elizabeth would share her dishes and her stove in exchange for a few of Hannah's recipes, and an invitation to join them. They two discussed actually moving the get together to Elizabeth's home, but it was decided that would make things much too awkward for everyone.

Once everything was arranged, Hannah made her way home, where a surprise of a different sort awaited her.


Hannah didn't know whether to be thrilled or dismayed by the fact that Margaret Scott was standing outside her door when she arrived home from Elizabeth's. She sent a silent plea to Donovan for help before her good manners came to the fore and she graciously greeted the woman who would rather not be her mother-in-law.

Hannah opened the door and turned to her unexpected visitor. "Won't you please come in, Mrs. Scott? I was just gonna prepare myself a bite of lunch and a spot of tea. You're welcome to join me."

"Thank you," came the quiet answer and Margaret followed Hannah indoors.

"Please, have a seat and make yourself at home. I need to hang up my things, and I'll be right back."

Hannah left Margaret staring after her in surprise. It only took her a moment, and Hannah returned to find that Margaret hadn't moved from her spot. Hannah crossed to the stove and added more wood, pushing the kettle closer to the center to catch the heat faster. The she removed the bread from its place and began cutting slices.

Slowly Margaret's eyes took in everything, and she lifted her coat from her body and hung it on a peg by the door. Then she walked over to the kitchen side of the house, and noted the difficulty Hannah was having slicing the bread evenly. It was a difficult task for one with no experience, and Hannah was very new to this particular skill.

"May I?" Margaret asked, indicating the loaf. Hannah nodded dumbly, still trying to figure out exactly why Margaret was here. Ernst had been to visit them several times, but he had always been alone, and neither woman felt comfortable pressing him for details about his wife. He had relayed bits about her, but nothing concrete. Nothing that would give Hannah any indication of why the woman was standing in her kitchen area cutting bread like they did this together every day.

Hannah watched her cut for a moment, then turned to get out her skillet and butter. It wasn't toast like she was used to, but it was buttered toast. She place it near the edge of the stove, having learned the hard way how quickly a fire could start with bread and butter if it was too near the heat. Then Hannah set the table, and moved back to the small counter where Margaret had buttered the bread.

Carefully, she toasted each piece to a golden brown color, setting each piece on a saucer and covering it with a napkin. Then she poured the boiling water into the teapot, and set it to steep on the table. Without a word she motioned Margaret to join her, and they sat down to their simple repast.

"I apologize for the simple fare," Hannah said after a few moments of silence. "This is usually what I fix at midday when I am home alone. I'm not fond of cooking for just myself."

"Actually, I did much the same thing before Ernst was home all the time. It was easier, and generally it was all I could manage after breakfast," Margaret confided agreeably. Hannah wondered if she had slipped a dimension somewhere, things were so peculiar. Then Margaret's voice caught her attention again. "Besides, I like the flavor you have added to the bread; it is different and intriguing."

"Thank you, Margaret. I find it is more fun both to make and to eat if I spice it up a little when I make it. Oh, it doesn't get spiced every time, and even the spices change each loaf. But it's a nice change of pace."

"You have the most unusual speech pattern...." Margaret scrunched up her forehead trying to place it, but didn't continue speaking so as not to appear rude.

Hannah blushed and smiled. "A lot of folks have mentioned that. I think the fact that I come from the United States has a lot to do with it. The fact that I come from the Southern part of those same United States just makes the difference that much more pronounced."

"I suppose it does," Margaret replied. "It is unique and quite charming actually. No wonder Donovan was taken with you, aside from everything else. I know the first time I heard Ernst's brogue, I nearly swooned."

Hannah chuckled, and blushed again. "I can imagine. I did the same with Donovan."

Margaret looked up then, and caught the sincerity of the remark in gentle green eyes. "May I ask you something? I know I have no right, but I am trying to understand."

Hannah returned the gaze, and saw the honest plea in the eyes facing her. She nodded, then added, "Though I reserve the right to decline to answer if I am uncomfortable with the question."

"Fair enough," Margaret stated. She played with the bread crumbs on her plate. "How could you love my daughter like you do?" She looked up and saw the swiftly building anger and held up her hand. "Wait, please. I am trying to understand how one woman could be attracted to another woman in any sense other than as kin or in friendship. It goes against everything I have ever been taught."

Hannah drew a deep breath, knowing her relationship with this woman, and Donovan's relationship with her mother was riding on her answer. She folded her hands together and leaned her mouth on them, contemplating her answer seriously for a long moment.

"Mrs. Scott, I think you are coming at this from the wrong angle. You are stuck on the fact that we are both women. But we got to know one another as people first. The fact that we were both women never figured into the equation. When we fell in love, it was much the same thing... the fact that we are women is secondary to the fact that we are two people genuinely in love with each other. I like the person that Donovan is, and I fell in love with that person. She completes me in ways that no one else ever has or ever could."

"As Hannah does for me, Mother," Donovan spoke quietly from the doorway. She had been so silent and they were so engrossed in their conversation, neither woman had heard her enter the small cottage. Now she pushed away from the door where she and Ernst had stopped and walked towards the table.

"We are two whole parts of another separate whole. Together we are most complete."

Hannah took the hand that Donovan held out to her and pulled the taller woman closer. Donovan's arm automatically slid around Hannah's shoulders and Hannah leaned into the unconscious support Donovan offered. "Mrs. Scott... Margaret, I want you to think about something else. I know you are unhappy with the path Donovan has chosen in her life, but she is happiest at sea, captaining her own vessel. To do that in this society, she has to carry the pretext that she is a man. For Captain Donovan Scott to take a wife was not unusual and was in fact a celebrated event. Would you rather she be alone for the rest of her life?"

"I... do.... I never... I...."

"Think about it, Margaret. And you and Ernst join us for Christmas with the crew of the Maiden."

Margaret blinked the tears from her eyes. Hannah had given her a lot to think about and had done so without attacking or accusing; simply laying out the facts as she saw them. Maybe it was time to do some rethinking of the woman herself.

"Thank you, Hannah. You have returned intolerance and ignorance with graciousness and understanding. And you have given me a lot to think about. It is very possible I completely misjudged you and your motives, and I ask for your forgiveness in doing so."

"Absolutely," Hannah responded.

"I still need time to think about things. This is so different... goes against everything I have ever believed. But I would not see Donovan alone if given the choice, and it is apparent even to me that you two are bound by something deeper than love and marriage. It reminds me of a story I heard as a girl. There is something familiar...."

Margaret gazed off into space for a few minutes and no one disturbed the silence. Without warning she shook herself and returned to the present with a brisk nod. "I will have to look through some of the old journals...." Here Donovan smiled. She had grown up learning to read by those journals, and they held many fascinating tales and myths of her people in them.

"Now if you will excuse us," nodding to her still silent husband, "I think we will leave the two of you for a bit. But I would like to accept your invitation to dinner?" looking to Ernst for confirmation. When he nodded, Margaret smiled and returned her attention to Hannah. "Yes, we would love to join you. What can I bring?"

The abrupt change in attitude left Hannah was too stunned to speak and not really knowing the woman she wouldn't have known what to suggest anyway. Donovan stepped smoothly into the breech. "Raspberry tarts? I have not had those in so long, and they would be quite the treat for everyone."

Margaret smiled. Raspberry tarts had always been a particular weakness for Donovan and she was glad to do this much for her daughter. "I believe I can manage that. But we need to catch the afternoon train home if I am to have this ready in the next few days."

She rose and Ernst helped her on with her coat. He hadn't said a word, but he was much pleased at Margaret's attempt. It had taken him months of talk and subtle effort for Margaret to realize the mistake she had been making, and Hannah had vindicated his faith in her beautifully. They left without further adieu, and Donovan and Hannah just stared at one another for a long moment. Then Donovan wrapped her arms around Hannah, and they moved to cuddle together on the couch and ponder the abrupt turn of events.


The holiday came and went with no disasters or further surprises. The house was full to bursting with painfully scrubbed sailors, the Admiral and his family, Margaret and Ernst and Hannah and Donovan. There was a lot of talk and laughter shared among the group, and though Margaret did not actively participate, she did observe Donovan and Hannah diligently, and at one point she and Elizabeth sat together in deep conversation. When all was said and done, everyone had a most enjoyable day.


Time passed slowly... slower than most of them wanted it to, at any rate. Most of the Maiden's crew was ready for warmer weather and blue-green seas, not the dark gray of the North Atlantic. Still the time passed pleasantly enough beyond trying to stay warm in the bitter weather. Hannah and Donovan accepted the extra time together gladly and counted it among their blessings.

Work on the Maiden was completed, and as the weather began to clear, the crew started taking her out for short test runs. Hannah secretly hated these as she wasn't allowed on board and it meant one or two days at a time where she and Donovan were separated, and neither of them cared for that. Still they met one another in their dreamscape to talk and snuggle and were happy for the ability to still share that way.

Finally, though, the day in April came when it was time for the Maiden to return to her duty in the Caribbean.

Hannah came back from her shopping in the market to find Donovan packing her sea bag. Her eyes sparkled until she saw the look of despair covering Donovan's face.

"What is it, love?"

Donovan sank to the bed. "I could not obtain permission to take you home. I thought they would make an exception because of my service record, and you have made such a good impression on everyone here. I never dreamed the Admiralty would refuse."

Hannah sat on Donovan's lap wrapping her arms around the Captain's strong neck and feeling Donovan's hands come to rest neatly on her own waist. Hannah removed an arm when it became clear Donovan would not meet her eyes and tilted up her chin til their eyes met.

"I cannot do this Hannah," Donovan said sadly. "It took too much to find you. I cannot just give you up for months on end. I will give up my commission and we will go home together."

"Donovan, love... you need to stop a minute and start thinking outside the box." Hannah blew out an exasperated breath at Donovan's furrowed brow as she tried to communicate what she meant to Donovan in terms she could understand. "Surely Naval ships aren't the only things that leave out of the port."

"Of course not. Passenger liners go... out...." Donovan looked at Hannah in amazement. "Passenger ships leave from the port all the time; some bound for the Colonies and others bound for India and the East. We could book you passage...."

"... then I could check in and leave. We still need to figure a way to get me to the Maiden but...."

Donovan caught her lips in a deep fiery kiss. "I can do that. You leave that to me."

Hannah couldn't answer as Donovan's lips began moving down the side of her neck and her hands started wandering over Hannah's bodice, popping buttons along her way. Hannah shivered as the shirt fell open, and Donovan pushed it to the floor before picking them both up off the bed and laying Hannah down gently beneath her. Then she resumed her tender removal of Hannah's clothing, whispering, "Later," before applying herself wholeheartedly to the task at hand.


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