Chapter VIII


Hannah awoke just as the sun completed its rise over the horizon feeling oddly refreshed, though she looked around her room in confusion with sleepily blinking green eyes. I don't remember coming to bed last night. She sat up and glanced down at herself as the sheet slid down her naked torso. And I certainly don't remember getting undressed. Hannah slid from the bed and stood up stretching, noting that the house was still eerily quiet. Well, either Jack is down at the beach or he didn't get home last night. Surely he didn't....


Hannah shook her head, knowing that Jack would never presume to put her to bed like that. He would simply have awakened her and coaxed her to do it herself. She frowned... it bothered her that she didn't remember what happened. I didn't dream either. Hmm....


She turned toward the mirror and regarded her reflection solemnly. She viewed herself critically, wondering not for the first time how Blue Eyes... how Donovan saw her. Did she find her attractive, beautiful? Or was Hannah too muscular, too short, too.... The blonde head fell back in frustration and the eyes closed. This is ridiculous, and is getting me nowhere fast. There is a perfectly good reason she didn't make it last night. Why not give the woman a chance to explain before you start making assumptions and accusations?


With a nod to herself, Hannah snatched up her robe and up her robe and tied it off. "Let me go start the coffee and then we'll see if I can think a little more clearly."


Flipping the switch on the already prepped pot, Hannah glanced out the patio doors toward the beach, but didn't see any movement. She shrugged and headed in to the bathroom, content that the coffee would be ready when she got out of the shower.


Fifteen minutes later, she stepped out of the bedroom dressed in shorts and a tank top feeling much better. She walked the few steps to the kitchen, stopping short when she saw a cup of coffee sitting ready on the counter. Before she could think about it though, she heard the toilet flush and moments later saw Jack's head pop out of the hallway. They greeted one another with smiles.


"You nearly gave me a heart attack, ya know," Hannah commented to him as she pulled back from their hug. "When did you get in?"


Jack handed her the mug of coffee he'd left fixed on the counter for her and looked at the clock. "Oh about fifteen minutes ago, I guess. You started the shower just as I passed the bathroom door."


"How'd your trip go?"


He shook his head and frowned. "Not well. I'm gonna be spending a lot of time going back and forth in the next few weeks. Pisses me off too, I'll tell ya, because we're supposed to be getting some quality time in together. The timing on this just stinks."


She grabbed the fruit bowl from the fridge and set out two bowls and spoons. Then she seated herself at the bar and motioned for him to do the same. "Can you share?" She helped herself to some fruit and passed him the container. "Or would you prefer not to?"


He scooped a portion of the fruit into the bowl in front of him and spooned some into his mouth, nodding his agreement. "I can share," he said after he swallowed, "but it really won't make much sense."


Jack took another bite and chewed thoughtfully. "Something peculiar is happening to the weather currents suddenly. Something that has no logic behind it, and it seems to be affecting other things as well."


"Like what?" Hannah asked as she continued to eat.


"Like fishing... or any water sport. And attitudes. People are acting more bizarre than they usually do, even for tourists," he added with a smile.


"Bizarre how?"


"Um, well... there was the group of nuns that went gambling in the casino. And the seniors' group that went sunbathing naked. We've had the same group of people doing that particular tour for fourteen years, and they have NEVER been nude sunbathing... especially on a public beach. Then of course there were the college kids that decided to have a prayer meeting in the middle of the road. That particular fraternity has had more overnights in the drunk tank than any other single group of people that have visited the islands."


By now, Hannah's eyebrows were in her hairline. "Okay, Uncle Jack. I think I am getting the picture." She poured them each a second cup of coffee. "What exactly can you do about it though?"


"I'm not sure, but the Triangle and its effects are my areas of expertise. I think if we can figure out the 'why', fixing the problem should be fairly easy." He studied his empty bowl before he looked up to catch her gaze. "Unfortunately, even with my state-of-the-art office, a lot of the equipment is at a research lab on the big island. So it means a lot of back and forthing for me."


"Wouldn't it be easier for you just to stay there? I mean...."


Jack looked into Hannah's face squarely. "Yeah, it would, but that's not right. It's not fair to you that...." He stopped speaking when she covered his lips.


"You go and you do what you need to. It will probably go faster if you just stay there and get it done." She arched a brow at him. "Won't it?" At his nod, she continued. "I've been thinking about your offer... about moving here on a more permanent basis. That idea is becoming more and more appealing the longer I stay here." She smiled when she felt his lips twitch in a grin under her fingertips. She moved them.


"You mean that?"


"Yeah, I do. It would be nice to be near family again."


"And you're sure about being alone for the next couple weeks? Cause I don't know how long this will take."


"Will you be here for the Pirates' Ball?"


"Oh yes!" came the adamant reply. "There are some things that one just does not miss on this island. That would be at the top of the list."


"Go then, with my blessing. Just call me once in a while, will ya? Let me know how things are going?"


"You got it, sweetheart. With any luck this will take less time than I imagined."


"That would be nice."


"All right," he said standing up and taking their dishes to the sink. "Let me go and get done so I can get back." He leaned over and kissed her cheek. "You're a good niece Hannah, and a good friend. I'm glad you're here."


She smiled back at him. "Me too, Uncle Jack. Me too."




Within an hour, Jack was showered, shaved and repacked. "I still feel bad about leaving you here alone, Hannah."


"I'm not alone, Uncle Jack, and so many of your friends are becoming mine as well. So it's not a bad thing. Now I'll see you on the twenty-fifth if not before, right?"


"Yep, though I will try to make it home for the weekend... if I don't get caught up in things." He scratched the back of his neck absently.


"Happens a lot, hmm?" Hannah teased gently.


"Yeah... it's gotten me into trouble more than once."


"Just don't forget to call me once in a while, and you'll be fine."


A horn sounded and he moved to the door. "Thanks for calling Harry to pick me up. I'll call you tonight when I get settled in."


"Have fun, Jack. I haven't seen you this excited about a project in years."


It was quiet once he left, and Hannah turned her attention to the day outside. She was debating with herself on whether or not she wanted to go see if she could find Donovan. She still hadn't decided if she was more concerned, angry or upset when Donovan appeared at the end of the path, waiting hesitantly to see what sort of reception she was going to receive.


Hannah stood looking at her for a long moment, and Donovan cocked her head slightly in supplication. The blonde stepped off the patio and moved down the path towards the Captain. Donovan stood stock still, not sure of her welcome.


Hannah stood looking into contrite blue eyes for a minute before reaching out and taking Donovan's hand in her own. "We need to talk, I think." The dark head simply nodded in agreement and Donovan allowed Hannah to lead her to the porch.


"Have a seat," Hannah offered. "I'll get us something to drink."


Donovan glance around at the house she had only til now seen in the darkness. It was nothing spectacular, though she found the use of the natural rock very clever. The patio and several of the seats thereon seemed to be carved from it. She noted the amount of glass windows, and figured that Jack must be a very wealthy man to have used it so lavishly. It had taken her almost a year's wages to buy all the glass she had used in her own cottage, and they were nowhere near the size of the sheet that served as the door that Hannah re-emerged from.


Hannah was relieved of the tray as she stepped across the threshold, and she had to smile at the gallantness of her intrepid companion. Donovan set the glasses down on the rough hewn wooden table very cautiously, and Hannah felt more than heard the sigh of relief she emitted when the chore was complete.


Hannah smiled and spoke softly. "I take my tea unsweetened, but perhaps you like sugar... or... something in yours?"


Donovan shook her head. "Unsweetened is fine. I like to taste the tea."


Hannah nodded and poured a glass. She handed it to Donovan, who accepted it with widened eyes. "What?" she questioned, looking around for a problem.


"You use ice so liberally?"


"Um, yes. It's the best way to drink iced tea that I know of." Hannah realized that it was probably not that common on the rest of the island. "It's just how we always had it growing up."


Donovan took a tentative sip. "That is very cold," was her comment before taking a larger swallow. "I like this." And she gave Hannah a big grin. A grin which faded when it was not returned. "Hannah?" she queried.


"What happened to you last night, Donovan? No word, no note, nothing. And I know you weren't home because I went down to check."


Donovan scowled. "Waitaminute. What do you mean... no note or anything? I sent my cabin boy Harold over with specific instructions to give you flowers and a note personally. To put them directly into your hands. You mean to tell me he did not do that??" The Captain stood up full of ire, and started to stomp away. Hannah placed a calming hand on Donovan's forearm, and she halted in her tracks.


"I am sorry, Hannah. I do not blame you for being upset with me. I need to go take care of Harold. My crew knows the penalty for disobedience. I need to find out what happened before I set his punishment."


"Hold on a minute, Donovan." Hannah tugged on Donovan's arm and pulled the tall woman back down into the seat beside her. "I found some flowers at the end of the path after moonrise last night... but there was no note. They may have been there earlier and I just didn't notice them. I don't know... it's hard to say at this point what happened. Maybe he left the note and it blew away."


"Maybe. But his directions were to give them TO you... not leave them in the path or on the porch. He disobeyed a direct order, and will have to be disciplined accordingly."


"In the meantime, that does not tell me where you were last night." Hannah paused, realizing just how possessive she sounded. She continued in a quieter voice, "I was worried."


Contrite blue eyes glanced down before rising to meet green. "I am sorry to have worried you," Donovan said quietly. "We had an emergency last night, and it had to be dealt with immediately."


Hannah waited, but when no more information was forthcoming, she asked, "Can you share with me? I'd like to understand."


Donovan sighed soundlessly. She trusted Hannah not to betray her, but she was still unsure what the woman's reaction would be to the reality of what they did. "We had to take care of some merchants who were stealing from the tribes here again. They think they can because they have money, but it is not right. So we do not let them."


Truth, as far as it went, just none of the gorier details. That was something Donovan hoped she never had to share.


Hannah thought about that for a while. "That makes sense," she said at last. "They shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of these people and their culture just because they think they can."


Donovan nodded with agreement and sighed with relief. She was glad that Hannah agreed in principle, even if she didn't understand the practice behind it. "I am sorry to have missed dinner with you last night. Do you think we could try again?"


Hannah looked at Donovan, gauging the sincerity in her eyes. "I think we could. I think I can make steak salad and twice baked potatoes from what was supposed to be dinner last night."


"Twice baked potatoes?"


"Go with me on this. It's wonderful... trust me."


"I do." And with those words, Hannah felt her hurt feelings melt away into the warmth of belonging. She gave Donovan a dazzling smile. "What would you like to do today?"


"What I would like to do, and what I am going to do are two entirely different things." The leer she cast in Hannah's direction caused a distinct warming of her whole body with the implications. "I must go speak with Harold first. I cannot let such impudence go unpunished. It is bad for morale, and it is bad for discipline."


Hannah thought about this then nodded her slow agreement. "May I go with you? I won't interfere, but I don't want to give up the day with you." She hesitated then tilted her head and added, "Please?"


Donovan smiled. There was no way she could resist that much adorable thrown directly at her. Truth be told, she didn't really want to. "I think we could do that. It is quite a walk, though. And um, you probably do not want to go dressed like that."


Hannah looked down at her shorts and tank top, then at Donovan's linen trousers and shirt, and her brow furrowed. Donovan caught the look and hastened to explain. "*I* like it, not as much as your native garb," she said with wiggling eyebrows. That got her a smack on her abs. "Oof!" she mock coughed. "Pay a woman a compliment and she beats you black and blue." Hannah snorted.


"Anyway," Donovan continued, "Like I was saying, *I* like it. But I do not want men leering at you. That is my privilege," she said casting another leer in Hannah's direction for emphasis. "My men would probably be the best behaved, but I see no reason to throw temptation deliberately at them. The others I cannot control and I am not sure the world is ready for the consequences."


Hannah caught the burning faraway look in Donovan's eyes, and she shivered at the intensity the Captain was emitting in roiling waves. She took a breath to speak and Donovan turned, her gaze softening as soon as their eyes met. Hannah smiled, relived when Donovan returned the look and reached for her. Hannah pulled the strong hand to her waist and lifted her own hand up to stroke Donovan's smooth face.


"I can see your point, but I don't have much else. Especially since the alternative of going native is probably not a good option. Unless...." She tapered off and Donovan raised a dark brow in question.


"Unless...?" she prompted.


"Uh... wait here a minute. I'll be right back."


Hannah disappeared into the house and Donovan resumed her seat, closing her eyes and frowning slightly as images from the previous evening assaulted her senses. She focused her thoughts and her breathing toward nothingness, and she almost didn't hear Hannah return.


For her part, Hannah stood at the closed door for a long moment just admiring the beauty of the woman who sat on the patio. When she pushed the door aside, Hannah felt and saw those piercing blue eyes turn her way, and she flushed under the frank admiration there. Donovan smiled in true appreciation.


"You are beautiful."


She reached out her hands to Hannah, who accepted them without thought. Donovan looked the smaller woman up and down and nodded her head in approval. She reached a tentative hand out to touch the dark green material, and sighed when she made contact with silk. More and more she was starting to realize the gulf that existed between herself and Hannah. While her family was by no means destitute, and was in fact titled and well-respected, the luxuries she had seen Hannah take for granted were well beyond her means. The thought caused her to withdraw just slightly.


Hannah caught Donovan's hand before it could slide was from her completely. "I don't like that look," she stated frankly. "What are you thinking? Is the outfit not going to work?"


Donovan turned away so her face was to the sea. "It is nothing," she muttered. Hannah wasn't having any of that and moved into her line of sight to confront her.


"No," Hannah said so firmly that Donovan's eyes tracked to her automatically. "No, something is bothering you and I want to know what it is." She paused. "If we are going to be together, love, we're going to have to be honest with one another."


Donovan looked into earnest eyes. "All right, but let us walk... it takes awhile to get to the port from here, and I need to take care of this now."


"Then this outfit is okay?"


The outfit is perfect, though it does not do you justice." She smiled at Hannah's blush. "Come. Walk with me, Angel." She extended a hand that Hannah accepted immediately. With a smile, the two women headed down the path to the beach.


Somewhat to Hannah's surprise, they turned east towards Donovan's cottage. She started to speak, but held her tongue when Donovan's fingers touched her lips. Instead, she licked the appendages and smirked at the growl the action drew from the depths of Donovan's chest.


When they reached the path to the cottage, Donovan turned and pulled Hannah with her. They walked until they reached the steps, and Donovan moved the smaller woman to stand in front of them as they both faced the small home.


"Take a good look," she whispered into the nearby ear. Hannah had to focus on the sight in front of her rather than the feeling of being locked in Donovan's strong embrace. Donovan realized when Hannah's attention shifted from her to the house and she waited a few minutes.


"Now, I want you to think about something... hush and let me finish." Donovan waited for the blonde head to nod compliance before she continued. "I have seen how you live, Hannah. You use glass for your doors and wear yards of silk and use ice so liberally. I cannot provide that for you, much as I would like to." She sighed and took a seat on the stone step she herself had built. "The glass you see in these windows took me almost a year's salary to buy. The two silk shirts I have I only wear on special occasions to keep them from wearing out. I live comfortably, but have nowhere near the means to support you as you have become accustomed to." She looked down at the ground now. "I thought you should know."


Hannah knelt down in front of Donovan, raising her head until their eyes met. "Donovan, do you think so little of me that you believe I would put material possessions before what we share... what we have shared for twenty years?"


"No," came the instant response. "No... I, um... no, not... not really, but, um... I, uh... I wanted you to know the truth upfront. I do not want you to think I am taking advantage of your wealth."


Hannah laughed out loud at this statement, and moved to sit in Donovan's lap. The Captain was surprised but pleased at the action and welcomed Hannah with open arms. "Honey, I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm really not wealthy. Comfortable, like you. Besides, we're partners, right?" She waited for Donovan to process her words and watched the dark head nod agreement. "Right, and that means we share. What's mine is yours, all right?"


"All right," Donovan said emphatically.


Hannah started to get up then sat back down rather abruptly. "Oh, and one more thing...." She caught Donovan's chin in her hand and made sure she had her attention. "I want you to understand this if you don't understand anything else, okay?"


"Okay," Donovan answered.


"If all we had was a blanket for shelter, I would be happy as long as we were sheltered together." She stared deep into trusting eyes and willed Donovan to believe. "Now, are we clear on this?"


Donovan kept the gaze up for another long moment before she pulled Hannah's lips to meet her own. "Yes ma'am," she whispered against Hannah's mouth. "We are clear."


Hannah had no opportunity to reply as Donovan took possession of her lips and claimed the very air that she breathed. When they separated, Donovan rose and brought Hannah up with her. "Come," she said on a breathless note. "If we stay here much longer I will not be responsible for what happens to your virtue, and I really need to get to the ship."


Hannah flushed at the brazenness of Donovan's comment, then made one of her own. "You keep kissing me like that and my virtue won't be a problem. I'll make sure there isn't any left."


Donovan's ears turned bright red as she led the way down the path back towards the beach.


"You know, when I was a child there were a lot of nights I did not see your eyes in my dream," Donovan stated quietly moving the conversation into different waters.


Hannah waited silently, knowing there was more.


"On those nights, I was in a meadow very similar to the one here. As a matter of fact, that meadow is the main reason I decided to build here." She sighed. "It was a wonderful place... full of wildflowers and shady trees...."


A gasp. "And a cave that was perfect for exploring on rainy days."


Donovan's head swung abruptly towards Hannah, and her eyes widened. "How did you...?"


"Because I was there. It was generally just the two of us, though there were a few times that I was there alone. We ran and laughed and played together. It was my favorite dream, next to seeing your eyes."


"Waitaminute... that was YOU?? That was us... together?? How come... why didn't we recognize each other?"


"I dunno," Hannah answered slowly. "I don't remember ever seeing your eyes there. I don't think the time was right. We were children together, becoming friends, and making memories without realizing their importance to us until right now."


"So in our dreams we got to grow up together. We got to be friends." Donovan's smile was blinding and Hannah returned it wholeheartedly. She wrapped her arms around the tall woman and squeezed tightly.


"Yeah, we did. And I think that is wonderful. All my most cherished dreams.... You have always been a part of them... a part of my life."


Donovan returned the embraced, leaning down to steal a kiss. "I am just glad that our dreams have finally become reality. The dreams were wonderful, but reality is so much nicer."


Hannah turned in Donovan's arms and laced her hands behind the dark head. "It certainly is, and it's only gonna get better." She urged Donovan's head lower, until they were a mere hairsbreadth apart.


"You sure about that, beloved?" the Captain asked. The tickle of warm breath across Hannah's lips started a tingling sensation a lot lower, and she pulled Donovan's mouth into her own.


"Uh huh," she mumbled, and it was the last coherent thought for quite a few minutes. When they separated, Hannah looked down at Donovan's hands that had crept completely up under her top and were now resting considerably higher then her waist. She looked into Donovan's eyes and grinned at the blush that crossed her face.


"Oh, um...." The Captain began to slide her hands away from Hannah's body, when strong arms locked them in place. She looked at Hannah in shocked confusion.


"Don't move them on my account," came the sultry whisper from Hannah's lips.


Donovan cleared her throat. "I am moving them on mine, because I do not want our first time to be in the sand on the beach."


Hannah thought about that and nodded, tying the fastener she'd loosened on Donovan's blouse. "I agree with you on that. Sand is just not my idea of romantic."


Donovan chuckled. "No, not really. It *sounds* romantic I know. But if you spend anytime at all on the beach naked, you learn the fallacy of that idea pretty quickly." She reached for Hannah's hand to start their journey back to the ship, and was surprised when Hannah froze, standing still with her hands on her hips, green eyes glaring slits.


"Um, Hannah?"


"Do I want to know how you know about being on the beach naked?" Her tone was sharp and biting, but she couldn't seem to help it. The sudden surge of jealously she felt was overwhelming.


"It is how I go swimming when I am out here, and the first couple times I just dropped into the sand without thinking about it," was Donovan's quiet response.


"Oh, uh...." Hannah dropped her gaze. "Sorry, I'm not real sure where that came from."


Donovan lifted Hannah's chin until their eyes met. "It is okay. It is actually a little flattering for me. I have never had someone get jealous about me before."


Now Hannah's look turned to one of disbelief. She clasped Donovan's face in her hands and stared hard at her.

"You're kidding me right? God, Donovan, you're gorgeous." Donovan blushed at the compliment, but maintained eye contact with Hannah.


"Thank you, Angel. But you are the first person to get close enough to say so. I have always been a bit of a loner. The friends I have would not think to comment on something like that. It would not occur to them."


"Well then," Hannah answered, "I'll make sure to tell you every single day for the rest of our lives."


Donovan had no response to make, so she extended her hand to Hannah once again. When Hannah accepted, she was pulled firmly into Donovan's body. "I love you," Donovan whispered, running her fingers lightly along Hannah's smooth cheekbone. That got her a blinding smile in return.


"I love you too." Their lips met in an exchange that was as much an affirmation of their love as it was of their passion. They broke apart and their foreheads met for a long moment.


"C'mon," Hannah said. "We're not making much progress here."


"No, we certainly are not," Donovan agreed laughingly. She pulled on their linked hands and began jogging down the beach. Hannah squealed and ran to keep up.




It took them about half an hour of jogging and walking before they came around the bend in the island that led to the port. Hannah slowed and Donovan took three steps before she realized that Hannah had come to a full stop. She turned and saw the astonished expression and moved swiftly back to Hannah's side. "Angel?"


Hannah's mouth moved soundlessly for a minute before her arm rose and she pointed. "Donovan, that's a British Man o' War."


Donovan turned and glanced proudly at her ship. "Yes ma'am. It certainly is. She is the finest ship in the fleet." Her focus reverted back to Hannah when she felt the small hand clutch at her arm. "Hannah?"


"Donovan," the blonde woman whispered. She swallowed twice, trying valiantly to speak normally. It didn't help. "Donovan," she tried again. What year is it?"


Confusion crossed the tanned features, but she answered the question anyway. "It is the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-five."


She caught Hannah as she crumpled before her body touched the sand.




Chapter IX


"Captain!!" the blonde man called when he saw the tall woman staggering through the sand towards them. He wondered briefly about the green bundle in her arms, but not enough to question it at the moment. Instead he shouted at the crew.


"Mr. MacKensie, Mr. Trilby, see if you can assist the captain." The two men moved down towards the gangplank. Trilby stopped and did an about face, snatching up a litter to make carrying the bundle easier.


MacKensie reached Donovan and gave her a salute that she acknowledged with a nod of her head. Trilby was close behind him, and nudged him with the pallet. Mac turned with a growl, then took the end of the travois. Between them they spread the litter to accept the Captain's burden. Their eyes widened with their first glance at the beautiful woman Donovan carried, then they moved away out of respect.


Donovan smiled. She knew she could count on her men, at least most of them, being gentlemen around Hannah. The few she was worried about... well, those she would take care of if and when the need arose, though she hoped it never did.


She laid Hannah tenderly on the pallet and took the small hand in her own as she accompanied the litter to the ship. The men did not speak, but there was no need. As soon as they reached the deck, Donovan resumed her hold on Hannah and took her below decks to her own quarters. The priest was waiting there for them.


He examined Hannah carefully, under Donovan's watchful gaze. Satisfied, he moved to his Captain's side and spoke in hushed tones.


"I canna find a problem, Cap'n. There's no physical reason for her condition."


"Thank you, Father." She hesitated and he waited. "Could shock or surprise do this, do you think?"


"Aye, sir. I b'lieve it could, if the shock was profound enough."


Donovan sat down in the chair and ran her hands through her dark hair. Then she brought her clasped hands to her lips and let them rest there as she reviewed the last two days detail by detail, searching for the missing clue that would explain Hannah's reaction to the date. She never even noticed when the priest slipped out the door.




There was a cool breeze blowing around her, scented with the smells of wet oak and sea water. The platform she felt under her was rolling gently. The screech of gulls could be heard nearby and Hannah spent several moments just processing the sounds and smells before green eyes opened mere slits.


There was a porthole above her head that was open, letting in both the breeze and enough light to allow her to observe her surroundings. She eased up on her elbows and took a good look around the small cabin.


It was a neat room, though sparsely furnished. The small cot she lay upon was long and obviously made for a single individual. There was a desk with a very old world map tacked to the wall above it, and several ancient navigation tools upon it. Across from the bed was a long cabinet, and two smaller ones. Underneath the cabinets sat Donovan in the room's only chair, sharp blue eyes focused intently on Hannah.


Hannah gasped and sat bolt upright, clutching her head in her hands. Donovan knelt by her side instantly, glad beyond measure that Hannah did not flinch or try to pull away from her touch.


Hannah leaned into the strong body trying to get her bearings. The hands that caressed her back were soothing and familiar, as was the scent she breathed deeply into her lungs. Donovan continued the light touches, feeling Hannah gradually relax beneath them. Eventually, Hannah felt steady enough to push away slightly so she could look into Donovan's eyes.


Donovan cupped her face gently. "Are you all right, love? You scared me."


Hannah shook her head slightly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I think I had a blonde moment." She ran a shaky hand through her blonde mane and chuckled nervously.


"How so, Angel?" Donovan was more than a little concerned. It was very apparent that whatever had happened, it had shaken Hannah badly.


"I must have misunderstood you earlier, Donovan. I don't know why, but I imagined you said it was eighteen fifty-five."


Donovan's brow creased. "You did not imagine anything, Hannah. That is what I said. It is June sixteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-five."


Hannah's hand came up to cover her mouth, and she spent several minutes trying to breathe without hyperventilating. "Donovan, love. That's not possible."


"Um, Hannah... not only is it possible, it is also the truth. Did you hit your head? I thought I caught you before you hit anything but...." She reached her hands towards Hannah's head, only to find them captured in Hannah's.


"My head is fine sweetheart. Except for the fact that I seem to have crossed into the twilight zone, I mean."


"Twilight zone?" from Donovan, her brows frowning at the unknown reference.


Hannah looked up into clear blue eyes and saw nothing but honest confusion and frustration at the situation that she was having difficulty understanding. She gasped.


"This isn't a joke is it? You're not just toying with me about the date are you?"


"No, Hannah, I am not. Why would I?"


Hannah brought their joined hands to her lips. "Let me see if I can make this make sense for you, 'cause my mind is still spinning." Donovan nodded and squeezed Hannah's fingers.


"Okay. Right here, right now it is the middle of the nineteenth century. It is eighteen fifty-five." Donovan nodded again, wondering where this was leading. "Donovan, I am from the twenty-first century. I will not even be born for more than one hundred years."


Donovan looked deep into her eyes, seeing a truth there that belied the ludicrousness of the statement. "You're serious." A flat statement. The blonde head nodded.


"Oh boy. Though now Harold's statement makes a lot more sense."


Hannah's eyebrow rose in question. "How so? What did he say?"


For answer, Donovan went to the door and signaled a crew member. With a few muttered words to the man, he scurried off and she closed the door. Donovan resumed her seat after moving the chair next to the bed. Within two minutes, a light knock was heard, and in her best Captain's voice, she bade the person to enter.


The door opened and a small lad of about eleven crossed the threshold and stood at attention. "Stand at ease, Harold," Donovan said quietly, and the boy visibly relaxed, though not without several darting glances at the woman in the bed. He waited silently for his Captain to speak.


"Harold, I want you to tell your story to Miss Reilly here. I want you to tell her exactly what you told me earlier."


The youth nodded and swallowed nervously. "Aye, sir." He swallowed again. "Um, after I left you yesterday, I went west, like ya said. I went forever, seemed like, til I saw the town comin' into view, and I knew I musta missed the path. So I headed back t'other way, til I got to your house again." He stopped and cleared his throat. "It was nigh unto dark by now, and I knew I was gonna be in terrible trouble if I didn't find the house, so I started back west, and this time I counted off my steps. When I got to where a mile was, I started looking for the pathway that shoulda been there. T'wasn't nothing there that I could see in the dark, but then the moon lit up a path that led me to the tiniest nitch in the woods. I pushed through the brambles til I come to a clearing that held that rock formation ya spoke of. I never did see no house ma'am, so I laid the flowers on the note and left them at the end of the path."


He looked at Hannah directly for the first time. "I'm sorry ma'am. I dinna know what else to do. I couldn't find ya, cause there was nothing there like the Cap'n said. And I had to get back here." He turned and faced Donovan. "I'm sorry sir. I was gonna tell ya this mornin', but you was gone when I got up."


Donovan nodded. "That will be all for now, Harold. We will discuss your punishment later."


He came to attention. "Aye, sir." He turned and nodded at Hannah. "Ma'am" was all he said, respectfully. Then he slipped out the door before Donovan changed her mind.


Hannah sat quietly absorbing the information he had given them, then finally nodded. "It makes perfect sense, if anything in this whole scenario can."


"What do you mean?" Donovan asked. Her head was beginning to ache trying to wrap her mind around what Hannah was telling her, and what she was slowly trying to accept as the truth of their situation.


"We, you and I can cross time. We have done so for years in our dreams and now that we are physically in the same place, we can also physically cross to share the same time. But no one else would necessarily be able to do that. We've never had others in our dreams. There is no reason why anyone else would need to cross time like that."


Donovan nodded, impressed with her logic, and waiting to see if she would continue. She didn't have long to wait.


"I need to check the journals. It is entirely possible that our answer lies there."




"Donovan, my father and Jack spent their entire lives studying the Triangle. Now that I think about it... now that we have actually met, it occurs to me that what little bit I've read of the journal ties in to us." She shrugged. "It's worth a shot."


Donovan studied Hannah a moment more, then nodded briskly. "Very well." She ran a large hand through Hannah's hair. "How do you feel?"


"Honestly? Physically, I am fine. The rest of me is kinda overwhelmed at the moment."


Donovan gave her a shaky, crooked grin. "We are in agreement there, Angel." She blew out a breath with force enough to lift her bangs. "Would you like to rest a while longer or would you like a tour?"


"I think I would like a tour, Cap'n," Hannah replied with a grin. Donovan rose and smoothed her linen trousers before extending a hand to help Hannah to her feet. "Can I ask you a question first?" Donovan's brow rose and she nodded. "Is there a reason that Harold referred to you as sir? Surely he knows...." Hannah let her thoughts trail into silence.


Donovan put her arms around Hannah's waist and pulled the smaller woman into her so Hannah's back was to her chest. "All the men under my command know I am a woman, Hannah, and they afford me whatever privacy they can because of it. When we are not acting in an official capacity, we are more like family than a captain and crew. However, I *am* still the Captain, and as such I am given the respect due my position, and it is easier for everyone to keep things straight for me to be referred to as sir. It causes less confusion than trying to switch back and forth."


Hannah looked at her confusedly. "Huh?"


Donovan motioned around the tiny cabin, and opened the tall closet. Inside hung a Naval dress uniform complete with sword and plumed hat, and several less ornate uniforms as well. "This is the Captain's cabin on a British Naval vessel... commanded by a man as law and tradition dictates."


Donovan turned Hannah in her arms then and watched as the confusion cleared from green eyes and Hannah's brow rose. "Oh, okay. I gotcha. That way they don't get their sirs and ma'ams mixed up, especially in public."


"Precisely. It is a practice that has served us well."


"I will try to remember that, Captain, sir," Hannah said seriously.


"Hannah, I will be happy to hear you call me Donovan for the rest of my days."


"Oh, I think I can work with that scenario," Hannah said, before reaching up and placing a tender kiss on Donovan's lips. "Now show me your boat."


"Ship, Angel. She is a ship, and the proudest of the fleet." They left the cabin with Hannah's light laughter trailing behind them.




Donovan took her time showing Hannah around until she noticed the rocking and rolling of the vessel below decks was causing the blonde woman to turn the shade of her eyes. With a muffled curse, she hastened to get Hannah back above deck and into the fresh air and sunshine.


"Are you all right, Hannah?" Donovan asked solicitously as she rubbed the woman's heaving back. They had barely made it to the railing before everything became too much and Hannah proceeded to lose her breakfast.


The blonde head nodded. "Yes, love. I think everything just finally caught up with me and the motion of the bo... ship made it all come to a head." She chuckled despite herself. "So to speak."


"Well, I think maybe I should take you home, or maybe into town to get something to eat?"


"Maybe just off the ship for a while?" Hannah said piteously. "I think I would just like to feel stable again for a few minutes."


"I think we can arrange that. Mr. Merryweather!" Donovan called, and Hannah stood amazed at the instant change in her companion's voice and demeanor.


"Aye, sir."


"I am very pleased with the progress. You and the rest of the crew make sure you get some shore time while we are here. I will be back later in the week. I would like my books dropped off at the cottage."


"Aye, sir. What of Harold?"


"I am still considering his punishment. I will let you know when I have decided."


"Aye, sir, I'll have your books delivered to the cottage this afternoon. And if I may be so bold, Captain, congratulations. I am glad to see you've found your dream at last."


Ice blue eyes pinned him in place for a long moment and for the first time since their very first fight, John Merryweather was afraid he had stepped where angels feared to tread. That fear melted into a nothing when the blue eyes warmed and Donovan smiled at him.


"Thank you, John," the Captain answered quietly, shocking him with her use of his first name. "I have, though we will have to discuss how you knew of my dreams later."


He nodded and lowered his eyes. "Aye, sir. At your convenience."


"Very well then, Mr. Merryweather. Carry on. I will see you before the end of the week."


The man saluted sharply and Donovan returned the salute before she and Hannah headed down the gangplank to the dock. When they reached the end of the short pier, Donovan tucked Hannah's hand into the crook of her elbow and covered it with her hand. Then she smiled down into sparkling eyes.


"Better, Angel?"


Hannah nodded briskly, still adjusting to the lightning changes in Donovan's deportment. She was amazed at the sheer presence Donovan exuded in her ship's captain persona. So very different from the private person Hannah felt she knew so much better.


Slowly they strolled in the direction of town, and Hannah's first thought was one of amazement at how very similar it was to the one of her own time. There was a trading post that Hannah could see resembled the general store, and the beach area had several canoes and small boats. There was what appeared to be a communal meeting house, and a large pit close to it.


"Where do the sailors stay?" Hannah asked, motioning back to the ship. "I don't see a hot... an inn."


"We are the only ship that stays here longer than overnight anymore, and my men stay on the ship or sleep on the beach. Mostly they stay on the beach, glad just to be on dry land."


"Did there used to be an inn for them? When the other ships came?"


Donovan scratched the back of her neck. "Um, no. We stepped in before that became a possibility. We stumbled on this little island about six years ago."


Hannah was quiet for a bit. They continued walking around the small village, noting the numerous small homes set back in the trees. Donovan took Hannah into the trading post, and she was pleasantly surprised by both its size and the variety of goods available there. Hannah spied what she was looking for along the back wall and clasped Donovan's hand in her own and moved to where the material was stacked on the shelves.


"Captain Scott!" Donovan turned at the hail, and her face broke out in a smile. She opened her arms and the small woman embraced her in a crushing hug. The growl she heard at her back made her smile broaden perceptibly. Donovan loosened her hold on the young native, and the other woman gave her three swift, hard kisses.


Donovan moved completely out of the embrace, and stepped back to wrap herself possessively around Hannah. She felt the blonde woman's struggle with her jealousy, and whispered, "I love you, Hannah." Donovan felt Hannah relax back against her and kissed her ear when Hannah's hands came up to tangle in her own.


The other woman watched the proceedings with interest. She'd never seen the Captain so alive, and she squashed down the jealousy she felt for the blonde woman to rejoice in Donovan's happiness. She extended a hand toward Hannah who naturally reached back.


"How do you do? I am Satosh Nairoah."


"Hannah Reilly. It's nice to meet you." Amazing how easy it was to be gracious to this woman when she was enveloped in Donovan's arms.


"It is a pleasure to meet the woman who brings such joy to Captain Scott's face. I have never seen her so happy." She and Hannah shared a laugh over the deep flush that covered Donovan's skin. "What can I do for you today?"


Hannah hesitated, not sure what Satosh's position was. Donovan sensed the problem and answered the unspoken question.


"Satosh's family operates the trading post. Her father Debendra is the tribe's shaman."


"It is true. So how can I help you, Hannah?"


Hannah looked down at the silk pajamas she was wearing. "I was looking at the material. I need a few more clothes than I originally thought I would. I just... um... I'm not sure.... I can't sew."


"That is not a problem," Donovan said quickly. "Satosh does work that can rival the finest seamstresses on the continent. She does most of my sewing and that of my men."


Hannah felt the jealousy flare again and wondered why she felt that way. Donovan hadn't given her a reason to think there was a need for it. Then she recognized the expression on Satosh's face. Before she could compose herself to comment, the young native woman spoke up.


"I would be most pleased to help you if you wish, Hannah." She motioned to Donovan. "My father wishes to speak to you. Hannah and I can handle this alone."


Donovan gazed into Hannah's eyes for a very long moment before she nodded. "I will be right outside. Call me if you need me."


"I always need you," Hannah confirmed instantly. "But you go on. Satosh and I will be fine."


Donovan brushed a light kiss across Hannah's lips and squeezed her tenderly before letting her go and walking back to the front of the store and out the door. Hannah and Satosh regarded one another for a silent moment, before the blonde decided to lay all the cards on the table.


"You love her," Hannah stated. Satosh held her eyes briefly before she nodded and dropped them to the floor.


"From the moment she rescued me from slavers three years ago." She stepped behind the counter and began lifting down bolts of cloth.


"But you never told her... why?" Hannah started sorting through the bolts, laying those she liked to one side.


Satosh turned from the shelves then and faced Hannah eye to eye. "I knew she was not meant for me, nor I for her. She told Da that her destiny and mine followed different paths. You already owned her heart."


"As she owned mine."


Satosh nodded. "I can see what is between you. It is hard to accept such blunt truth, but I have known it in my heart always. Confronting it face to face is a little different."


Hannah reached out then and covered Satosh's hand with her own. "You will find someone, Satosh."


The younger woman smiled crookedly with tears in her eyes. "You sound like my mother."


"Hannah chuckled. "Listen to her. I've been told they know *everything*."


Satosh laughed now and added, "Or they like to think they do anyway. It is scary how they seem to know the minute you decide to misbehave." She caught the melancholy in Hannah's eyes. "Hannah? Have I said something to upset you?"


Hannah shook her head. "No, no... I just... I never knew my mother. She died giving birth to me."


Satosh reached over and squeezed her hands gently. "Then I shall introduce you to mine. She will adopt you much like she did Captain Scott, I expect."


"I'd like that."


Silence fell for several moments as they continued to sort through the material. Satosh restored the ones Hannah did not want to the shelves and then turned back to the stack that was left. "Do you have any ideas on how you would like these made up?"


Hannah thought about it seriously for a bit, knowing she was going to have to fit into clothing and styles of which she had no concept. "I dunno, really. Something along the lines of what Donovan has, I guess. Maybe a dress or two?" She shrugged slim shoulders. "What do you suggest?"


Satosh took a long moment to look Hannah up and down thoroughly. "Undress for me please."


Hannah's brows shot to her hairline. "Excuse me?"


"I need to measure you. I know what to do for you. So remove your clothing please so I can get your measurements and get started."


Hannah looked around at the wide open store. Even though the two of them were alone at the moment, she was not about to chance taking off her clothing where just anyone could walk in and see her. "Um, Satosh... I can't do that here. What if someone walks in?"


The native woman had already turned her attention to the material on the counter, separating it into piles for trousers, shirts and dresses. "What? Oh, I beg your pardon. Come with me." She drew Hannah into a small alcove off the dry goods area. "Let me know when you are ready for me. It will not take us but a few moments."


Hannah ran her hands through her hair, wondering when her life had turned so completely upside down. Then she visualized Donovan's face and relaxed. This will work. It has to.


Satosh was all business when she came back into the changing room. She mumbled to herself, and made notes on a small piece of paper with a stubby little pencil. When she was done, she left without a word and Hannah proceeded to redress herself before stepping back into the store.


"Do you know when Captain Scott is leaving?"


"Not exactly. After the Ball, but...."


"That gives me about ten days. I will ask Mama and Tri to help me."


"Oh, I don't want to put you out or anything."


"It will be our pleasure. Obviously you are in great need. And despite myself and the place you hold in Donovan's heart, I find that I like you, Hannah Reilly."


"I'm glad, Satosh. It would be nice to have another friend." She paused then forged ahead, her curiosity getting the better of her. "Um, can I ask you something?"


"Certainly," Satosh replied. "I can always refuse to answer."


Hannah chuckled. "Good point. I was just wondering about your English. It is perfect... much better than mine. Where did you learn to speak it so well?"


"Captain Scott. Four years ago, the village nursed her and her men back to health after they came into port with a terrible sickness. I do not think my father knows to this day what it was or where it came from. In return, she offered to teach us to read and write English to better enable us to deal with the merchants who came here. It gave us a great advantage in dealing with them, as we could understand them, and they did not know it."


Satosh paused in thought then continued. "It made me angry at first to be learning this odd language. Why did we need it, I thought. I didn't want to be bothered with most of the men that came here, nor did I want their trade. Of course, I was still a child then, and most arrogant."


"Did you feel the same way about Donovan and her crew?"


"No. I was angry at them for introducing the language and forcing its use upon my people. But to their credit, they all learned to speak mine fluently as well. It was the slavers who made me see differently. Because if I had understood their language, I would have known what they were up to."


"So after that...."


"After that, I made sure we ALL learned to speak this odd English language. Come... let us go find my mother, so I can introduce you. It is almost time for lunch, so we will find Da and Donovan wherever she is."


"You sound sure."


"You have not tasted my mother's cooking. Trust me... they will be there."


The two walked out the front door and Satosh closed it firmly behind them. Hannah looked at her. "You don't lock it?"


"There is no need. The door is closed. They know that we are not opened for business." Without another word, Satosh led the way to a cot not far from the trading post. Hannah shook her head in amazement, dreading the day that that sort of trust would disappear from this world and followed without another word.


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