Disclaimer: None needed for this story. All the characters are mine as well as the storyline.
Content warning: This story depicts an intimate relationship between two women. If this offends you, you are under 18 or it is illegal in your state please scoot. There are lots of great stories on the net that do not depict this kind of relationship and may be better suited to your tastes.
Violence: Couldn't be avoided but not graphic.
Comments: I love feedback so please drop me a line with any comments or suggestions you may have. firstname.lastname@example.org
Late April in England was usually a dismal time. Mother Nature could never quite decide how she was feeling in that particular month. The days would fluctuate from warm to cold and always the rain. It was amazing how this odd combination of weather always brought forth an explosion of new life. It turned the countryside into a kaleidoscope of color.
It was this natural wonder that a young girl was pondering as she looked out her bedroom window. The view out of her bedroom window was that of lush green grass that extended for about half and acre with an orchard in the distance. She smiled to herself remembering afternoons spent there in her "secret place" dreaming of places filled with adventure and exciting and interesting people.
Her thoughts were disturbed by a knock at the door. "Come in."
The door opened and a dark head poked in. "Ianna have you seen my cameo? The one Father gave me for my birthday."
"Oh yes, I borrowed it. Here you are." Replied the girl crossing over to the dresser and handing over the requested item.
"Thanks" replied the dark haired girl and took possession of the cameo.
"Isn't it exciting?" began the girl enthusiastically. "We've never been to France! Do you think we'll get to go to Paris? Oh and won't Ranger be ever so happy to see you?"
The dark haired girl's brow creased as she noticed her sister's less than enthusiastic reaction. "Ianna what's wrong?"
Ianna turned and looked out her window, "Nothing Genna, its just...its nothing just a slight case of nerves."
Genna contemplated her sister for a moment. "That might work with the rest of them but not with me. What is it?"
Ianna sighed, "I just don't know. I know I should be excited, after all, I haven't seen Ranger in almost two years. He writes faithfully and he's one of my dearest friends..."
"But?" asked Genna seating herself on Ianna's bed.
"I just don't think I love him the way he loves me." She said a little bewildered.
"Why that's silly! I remember when we were all little, the two of you were always talking about the things you would do when you wed. You were betrothed right before he left to take his commission."
"I know Genna, but we were children. I had no idea father would do this. Once it happened what could I do? I know Ranger loves me and the last thing I want to do is hurt him but I..." tears welled in the girl's eyes.
Genna sighed, not knowing how to comfort her older sister. She stood and placed a comforting hand on Ianna's shoulder. "I'm sorry this upsets you so. Perhaps you can speak to father. You have no lack of suitors Ianna. They flock to you like bees to honey."
Ianna chuckled weakly, "They do not Genna."
Genna stood in front of her sister and held her at arm's length. In truth Ianna was beautiful. She was of average height with strawberry blond hair that went just past her shoulders. At the moment it was done in a French twist which was very becoming. She had a dazzling smile, and she possessed the most beautiful green eyes Genna had ever seen. Add to that a striking figure and a wonderful personality as well and Ianna could have any man she wanted.
"Oh but they do. It's always amazed me how you never notice but believe me its true. I'm certain Ranger would be crushed but father may be persuaded to find you another betrothed."
Ianna let out an exasperated breath, "That's just it; HE would find me a husband. It wouldn't matter how I felt about him so long as he was from a proper family and he could benefit from it in some way later."
Genna was taken aback a bit. She hadn't seen her older sister express her feelings so openly in a long time. In truth, when they were children Ianna was given to many such outbursts. However, their father had made it clear to them, especially Ianna, that such behavior would not be tolerated. The strong willed girl had suffered many a reprimand and a number of physical disciplines that Genna preferred to not dwell upon.
Their mother had passed, died in child birth when they were very little. Complications had taken their mother's life and the life of their baby brother. The sole responsibility of their upbringing had fallen on his shoulders. Not an easy task to raise two daughters without a woman's influence.
"Ianna please, you know father..."
"I'm seventeen years old Genna. When do I get to live my own life? When do I get to do what I want to do? My entire life has been planned for me since birth it seems. I'm not even allowed to have my own opinions. And dreams, what are those? I've forgotten Genna what it was like to dream." Finished Ianna.
"But if you marry you can be out of here and away from him. Surely that's something to be hopeful for." Said Genna hopefully.
"And spend my life playing the role of the dutiful wife with a man I don't love? I want to be in love Genna. I want to look at some one and feel as though I can't live without them. What's more I want them to look at me and feel the same way. I want to tremble from their slightest touch, smile or expression. I want them to fill that space inside me that no one else can fill. I want to feel whole. I want to find the other half of my soul."
Genna was speechless for a moment. "Really Ianna, I do believe you've been reading those romance novels of yours again. Be careful father doesn't catch you. You know he would not approve."
Ianna chuckled coldly, "And when has father ever approved of anything I do?"
Genna sighed know the truth of her sister's words. "I wish I knew of a way to help you. I really do. I know it's awful for you. It always has been. Who knows, perhaps this trip to France will bring you what you've longed for."
Ianna looked at her sister lovingly and squeezed her hand. "I do hope so Genna I really do."
That night as she laid in bed she allowed herself the tiniest glimmer or hope. Perhaps her sister was right. Maybe the trip would be more eventful than she thought it would. With that thought in mind she drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow was another day.
To some the sea meant calm. It soothed some and called others to her with an irresistible force. Those that heeded her often served her for the rest of their lives contentedly. Ianna stood on the deck of the large sailing vessel, the Destiny was her name. They had left port in England a week before and were on their way to France. The weather had been wonderful so far and the Captain assured them they were making excellent time. Not excellent enough, for to Ianna, the only allure the sea held for her was in watching the ships from the harbor.
She'd never traveled on a large vessel before. In fact she couldn't ever remember being out of England. She had no idea the movement of the ship would cause her such distress. Sea sickness is what it was called and by the second day she was certain she was going to die. The only relief seemed to be in standing on the deck. The breeze helped to ease her symptoms and return some color to her pale cheeks.
The ships crew had seen the young girl's distress and offered all sorts of helpful suggestions but none seemed to have any effect. During one of her outings out on the deck the captain's first officer caught sight of her. It was evening and she was standing by the rail with her face turned up towards the sky.
He approached her quietly and she startled when he spoke. "Good evening, Miss McClarrin."
"Oh" she said turning suddenly.
"I'm so sorry Miss I didn't mean to startle you. I only wanted to see how you were faring today." He said quickly.
"It's alright Mr. LaSalle. Please don't distress yourself. I simply didn't hear your approach. I'm feeling better today thank you for your concern."
He smiled, "That is certainly good to hear. You are getting your sea legs as they say. You're becoming accustomed to the movement of the ocean."
"Ugh, I'm trying my best not to think of the movement of the ocean least I have a relapse." She said turning to face the water once again.
"Once again my apologies Miss. How about a change of subject?" He looked to the sky and continued. "Our navigator is happy tonight with all these stars out."
Ianna looked up and regarded the stars for a moment, "You know Mr. LaSalle I always wondered how seamen managed to navigate by using the stars."
"Oh, well perhaps I can enlighten you on the subject. Of course in these times we use the compass but there are those like our navigator that prefer to use the sun and the stars, only using the compass when there is bad whether." He began.
"Why is that?" asked the young girl curiously.
"Because he doesn't trust modern technology as he calls it. He says the sun and the stars have existed forever and who is he to question their accuracy."
"And what is your opinion on the subject Mr. LaSalle? He seems to have a valid point."
"Well, quite honestly, he's the best navigator I've ever seen. Though I don't think that diminishes the compass in any way. I think it's a wonderful invention. He's just extremely good at what he does."
Ianna smiled, "That was a very diplomatic answer, well done."
He returned the smile, "Thank you Miss McClarrin. Now if you'll notice up there."
Ianna followed his gaze as he pointed up, "If you'll take notice of that large star. That's the North Star. It's the most important star in the heavens."
Ianna listened closely as he explained and pointed out the different constellations and their importance in navigating. They didn't notice some one standing behind them.
"Ah there you are my dear."
LaSalle turned first. Ianna hesitated and she could feel the color draining from her face. LaSalle turned to Ianna concerned, "Are you alright Miss McClarrin?"
"Yes I'm fine, please let me present my father." She stated turning towards her father.
He was a man of average height with graying dark hair. He was dressed in a fine dark blue suit with a grey shirt and blue waist coat. His eyes were dark and had great depth. If one took the time to look closer great cruelty could also be found in them. This is what Ianna saw every time she looked at him. To the young Mr. LaSalle he only saw the wisdom acquired from a lifetime of experience.
He held out a hand, "James LaSalle sir, first mate, a pleasure to meet you."
"Hogan McClarrin, the pleasure is mine Mr. LaSalle." He turned to Ianna and continued. "I've been searching everywhere for you, your...sister was concerned. It seems you've been gone for quite some time."
"I'm sorry father I came up on deck for some air. I was feeling ill." She explained quickly.
LaSalle stepped forward, "I'm sorry sir in Miss McClarrin's defense I'm afraid it's my fault she was detained so long. I saw her here and came to inquire as to her state of health and then engaged her in conversation. I should not have kept her so long as she has not been feeling well of late."
Hogan smiled at the young man, "Think nothing of it. Come my dear I'm sure your sister will have worked herself into a frenzy with worry." He took Ianna's arm and led her back in the direction of their cabin.
Once out of sight of the young first mate Hogan's demeanor changed. His face took on a hardened appearance and his grip on Ianna's arm became like a vice. He shoved her hard into the first secluded alcove he found.
"What did you think you were doing?" He hissed at her through gritted teeth.
Ianna's heart was pounding. She looked around to no avail, there was no escape. There never was. "I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't feeling well. I needed some air."
"And was the young Mister LaSalle helping you make sure the air was fresh?" He scoffed.
"He was showing me how the sailors used the stars to navigate." She stammered.
"Enough! I'll not have any daughter of mine throwing her self at every man on the ship! You will confine yourself to our cabin for the remainder of the journey. And you will confine yourself Ianna because believe me there are many places where bruises don't show." He finished.
He gabbed her arm again and pulled her closer to him, "Do I make myself clear."
Ianna dropped her gaze and spoke in a whisper, "Yes sir."
She allowed herself to be led to their cabin. Her only thoughts were on how she was going to be able to endure the confinement. It would only be a few more days but the thought of not being able to have a moment to herself was almost unbearable to the young girl.
Perhaps her sister was right. If she married Ranger she would be away from it all. She would be away from him. Ranger was kind and very sweet and he did lover her. Perhaps he would allow her to pursue some of her interests. It would surely be better than her present situation at any rate.
The next two days found Ianna on her most perfect behavior. Her father seemed pleased. So much so that he allowed her to go up on deck but only in the presence of her family. Ianna stood by the rail and squinted her eyes against the sun. She could make out a shape in the distance, or at least she thought she could.
After a few moments the figure became clearer more distinct. It was a ship. "Genna!"
Ianna called to her sister. "Come here."
Genna joined her sister at the rail and Ianna pointed. "Look"
Genna looked out across the water and saw what her sister was indicating. Then she noticed something else. As it got closer she noticed there seemed to be smoke rising from it. Then they heard to lookout shout out a warning.
All the passengers went to the rail as the Captain took a look with his spy glass.
"Looks like they're in trouble. Set course to intercept." He told his first mate.
Within minutes the crew had scrambled and were on an intercept course with the ship. Then the look out called out again. "Another ship sir!"
The Captain looked to see that indeed another ship was out in the distance and it appeared that it too was on an intercept course with the first ship.
As they neared they could see the smoke billowing from the deck and the ships crew worked hard to catch every bit of wind into the sails. Finally they were within boarding distance and ropes were thrown to the crew of the other vessel. Once the ships were steadied a platform was placed between the two vessels.
Several of the distressed ships occupants crossed over and some the Destiny's crew crossed over to help assess the situation and help in any way they could. By the time anyone realized what was happening it was too late. A barrel of water was poured on deck putting out a well contained if smokey fire.
Those that had crossed aboard to the Destiny suddenly brandished weapons and grabbed hostages from among the passengers present, Ianna was included among them. There was a laugh from the other ship as a figure stepped through the smoke. He was tall with dark hair that reached his shoulders. He had a well trimmed beard and very dark eyes. He had a commanding presence and was very well built. Strong arms which led to powerful wrists. He crossed the platform onto the ship with supreme confidence.
"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Hogan.
The man looked at Hogan and smiled, "You my dear sir have just been boarded. I would strongly suggest you adopt a more respectful tone or I may find myself offended. We wouldn't want that now would we?"
Hogan found himself pinned by an icy stare and said no more.
Turing to the passengers the man spoke. "You have the honor of being in the presence of the legendary Santiago. I have no wish to harm any of you nice people. We will however relieve you of your possessions then be on our way. Full cooperation is mandatory of course. If any one would like to play the hero, be my guest. However, I promise you that all those that my men hold captive will be killed. Do I have everyone's understanding in the matter?"
More of his men crossed over and began their work. Ianna looked on in wonder. Santiago the name echoed in her mind. She remembered hearing people talk about him. He was, for lack of a better word, a pirate. One of great renowned if she remembered the conversation correctly. So this is what a pirate looks like. She surprised herself by the realization that she was not very impressed.
Her attention was drawn by a commotion and two men running towards Santiago. "Sir! Ship ahoy!"
Santiago went over to the rail and was handed a spy glass. He cursed under his breath. His men should have noticed the ship before this. He turned to one of his men. "Probably coming to aide in the rescue. Make nice, get everyone settled and maybe we can turn this into a double score."
He turned to the captain, "You will welcome them and make them feel at ease until we are in position to overtake them. Signal them in any way and she dies."
He pulled out a pistol and aimed it strait at Ianna, "Do I make myself clear?"
The captain swallowed hard and nodded.
They scrambled to get into position as the ship neared. Finally they were with in earshot and they were hailed by the newcomer.
"Ahoy there Destiny! Are you in need of some assistance?"
The captain hesitated for a second then proceeded. "Aye, we came to assist a ship in distress!"
"Aye, 'tis why we came. We saw the smoke. Can we assist in any way?" asked the mate of the other ship.
"Yes, any hand would be welcome, we um, were able to contain the fire."
The ship maneuvered into position and dropped its platform. Several men came aboard and were greeted by the captain. Santiago's men struck and subdued the men. Several more crossed over the platform to secure the other vessel. Santiago was very pleased; he clapped one of his men on the back and laughed. His laughter was cut short however by the appearance of one of his men landing hard on the deck.
He looked up to see more than thirty men swinging over to the Destiny all brandishing weapons. He looked to the platform to see some one approaching. Recognition crossed his face and his lips formed a feral grin.
Ianna watched eyes wide as the scene played out. Descending the platform was a woman. She was tall with long black hair held in place by a red scarf. She wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled half way up her arms and black britches. Around her waist was a red sash that matched her scarf and on belt around her waist she could see a cutlass. Ianna thought her heart had stopped. She watched as the woman walked slowly down the platform with catlike grace and approached Santiago. She half smiled but her expression was one of intensity.
She looked around and gestured towards Santiago's men. Her gaze fell for an instant on Ianna and for a moment their eyes met. The hesitation on the woman's part was imperceptible but to Ianna that second lasted an eternity. She looked into eyes the color of lapis lazuli and her breath caught.
Santiago met her half way, "Pillar, to what I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"I was in the neighborhood. I thought I would drop in." She said looking absently around. "Leave these people alone Santiago. You've scared them enough for one day I think."
He looked at her and laughed, "Are you serious? This is worth a nice price. Since when do you object to making a living? Tell you what, give us a hand and I'll share the booty with you. Just like old times."
Pillar smiled, "Yes, old times. Those times are over they have been for along time. Now leave these people alone. I won't tell you again."
Santiago lost his smile and his good humor. His hand flinched and in an instant he found the point of Pillar's sword pressed against his throat.
"I would not do anything rash." She told him coldly then motioned with her head behind him. He turned slowly and saw his crew had been subdued by Pillar's men.
The rage was evident in his face. "You should kill me Pillar. I won't forget this."
"You always said I was unforgettable. Now get your men out of here. Oh and before you go...Rodrigo! Are we happy?"
A voice came from Santiago's ship, "Oh si Capitan we are very happy!"
"Excellent, take the good Capitan Santiago to his cabin and see to his comfort. Rodrigo, liberate him of his cargo."
He backed away from the woman's sword slowly then turned and crossed the deck. When he reached the platform leading back to his ship he turned. "This isn't over Pillar count on it. I will hunt you down like the bitch you are and kill you."
Pillar stood on the deck of the Destiny making sure Santiago did indeed leave. She could hear the relieved voices behind her and turned to see the ship's captain in conversation with another man. As she approached they stopped their conversation.
"Where are you headed?" she asked.
The captain remained silent and she continued, "Well, where ever you are headed you should be on your way. Don not linger in these waters, as you can see there is danger here."
She turned to walk away but was stopped by Hogan. "I say, wait a moment. You can't just leave us out hear at the mercy of that brigand. Would you be so kind as to escort us, we are on our way to France."
"Mr. McClarrin", the captain began but was interrupted.
"Now sir please, this woman saved us all and your vessel. I merely wish to secure our safety for the rest of the passage."
"But Mr. McClarrin..." the captain tried again.
"Hmm France did you say? I think safe passage could be arranged for you, for a price that is."
The Captain covered his face with his hand. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Once their business was concluded Hogan turned to the distraught captain. "I'm sorry sir but have you lost your mind? Have you no idea who you have just paid to escort us?"
When Hogan gave no indication of answering so he continued, "That's Pillar Montenegro, the bloodiest cutthroat this side of the pacific. She makes Santiago look like a choirboy. Now we're stuck with her until we get to France."
Hogan smiled, "Relax man it's only a couple of more days. Besides, if she's the best then we won't have to worry about that brigand." He patted the captain on the arm and walked away.
Ianna stood by the rail breathing in the salt air and letting out a sigh of relief that they had all escaped without injury. Her thoughts drifted momentarily to their rescuer and she felt butterflies tickle her stomach and she looked down in wonder. Just the thought of her made her lose her breath. She couldn't understand what was bringing about this reaction but she did know she liked it.
She was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't notice Pillar's men just behind her transferring the last of the cargo from Santiago's ship that was left on the deck of the Destiny. She also didn't notice one of the hands lose his footing and struggle desperately to balance his load. She was broken from her spell by her sister shouting her name.
"Ianna look out!" Shouted Genna desperately.
She turned to see nothing but a blur and a flash of white. She felt a hard impact around her waist as she was knocked to the ground. She was still for a moment then opened her eyes to find them staring into a sea of blue. To her shock she found she was sprawled half way on top of Pillar.
Pillar was supervising the last of the cargo to be put aboard her ship. She had noticed a young woman standing at the rail. To her surprise, she found her gaze drawn repeatedly to her. She smiled to herself, what are you thinking huh Pillar? Then she caught sight of one of her crew struggling with a crate and she bolted in that direction. She reached the girl and managed to get her out of the way just as the crate would have fallen on her.
"Umph" she grunted as she half turned in the air to allow the girl to fall mostly on her instead of the deck. The girl's upper body was on hers and she was holding her firmly about the waist, possibly a little too firmly. She looked down at the blond head resting on her chest and she caught the scent of lavender. Her mouth went dry and she felt her heartbeat quicken. Then the girl stirred and looked up directly into Pillar's eyes. Dios mió. She was captivated. No other word could describe it. She opened her mouth to speak but speech eluded her.
Ianna froze for a moment unable to break the contact between them then the sounds of scurrying and voices invaded. She blinked and broke their eye contact rolling off her rescuer. Pillar blinked several times and stood quickly helping the girl to her feet.
Ianna straightened her dress and began to babble helplessly, "Oh my God, I am so sorry. Please excuse me for landing on you. You must be squished."
"No worries Señorita I am fine. I should be asking if you are alright. I am sorry I could not be more gentle but I had to move fast." Replied Pillar.
"Ianna!" Ianna turned to see her sister running towards her.
"Are you alright?" asked Genna concerned.
"Yes I'm fine." She answered as she saw her father come into view.
She knew the look in his eye and she immediately withdrew into herself. Pillar watched the people approach and noted the slight change the girl's demeanor.
"Ianna, are you alright?" he father asked.
"Yes father I'm fine, thank you."
He turned to Pillar, "Thank you Captain for your fast action. My daughter sometimes doesn't think before she steps. I hope you received no injury to yourself in doing your kind deed."
Pillar regarded him for a moment, "No not at all. It was not the Señoritas fault. My man is to blame for his clumsiness. And I assure you I came to no harm."
"Thank you again Captain, I'm truly grateful for your help." Said Ianna.
Pillar turned to Ianna and hesitated a second as their eyes made contact again. "It was my pleasure Señorita. Um we have not been properly introduced I am Pillar Montenegro." She said with a slight nod and looked over to Ianna's father.
He regarded Pillar for a moment knowing she was waiting for him to make the introduction as was proper for a young lady of her station.
"Allow me to present both my daughters. This is Genna my youngest daughter and Ianna my oldest."
Pillar nodded to both women, "Ianna?"
"Yes Ianna McClarrin." Added Ianna.
"Well, Señorita McClarrin, rest assured that you are not to blame for this mishap. I will deal with my man presently." Stated Pillar with sincerity.
She nodded her head towards Hogan then at Genna and finally at Ianna, then took her leave. Ianna's gaze followed her until her father began to speak. "Watch yourself or you'll find yourself confined to the cabin again."
"Yes father, I'm sorry. I'll be more careful." Stated the girl quietly.
Pillar found her first mate, "Rodrigo! A moment please."
Rodrigo sighed knowing he would have to deal with his captain's wrath with regard to the incident which had just occurred. "Si Capitan."
"Who was that clumsy fool?" she asked sternly
"Um... he was one of the new boys, Rafael."
Pillar thought a moment, "Rafael, he's been with us less than a month hasn't he?"
Pillar looked up and caught sight of Ianna across the deck. She looked a bit pale as her father left her and she found herself wondering what could be wrong.
"Capitan?" Asked Rodrigo bringing Pillar back to the problem at hand.
"Um...yes, Rafael...make sure you have a talk with him. He needs to be more careful handling the cargo. His clumsiness could cost us money in the future." Said Pillar quickly.
Rodrigo furrowed his brow, "Is that all you wish me to tell him?" he asked surprised.
"Yes." Replied Pillar letting her gaze wander once again.
This time he followed her gaze and saw the source of her distraction. He rolled his eyes and let out a sigh. Not again. He thought to himself.
Rodrigo had served on Pillar's ship for more than five years. They had seen many adventures together and had profited well from their dealings. He was her first mate and the only person she trusted.
Indeed he loved his Captain and would willingly give his life for her. They also had a close friendship that afforded him the ability to be able to speak to her about sensitive matters.
"Pillar, not again please."
She turned to him a bit puzzled than realization hit her. She laughed, "Oh Rodrigo, do not trouble yourself. I am merely admiring the scenery. No harm in that."
"No, no harm in that at all. She seems like a nice Senorita Pillar..."
"What are you saying Rodrigo? I think I should be insulted." Her tone was playful but his words were not lost on her or their meaning. He was right after all. Ianna was a young lady of society. She wasn't of the class where Pillar's usual conquests fared from.
"Don not worry old friend, I have no plans for the Senorita." She slapped him playfully on the shoulder. "Let's get this finished so we can be on our way."
With that he took his leave and Pillar let out a long breath. She turned her attention once again the young girl across the deck and she felt her heartbeat quicken.
Ianna was finally alone again. It took, what seemed like forever for her to convince her sister she was indeed fine. Her father on the other hand, once he saw for himself she was alright, took his leave rather quickly. She knew once she returned to the cabin she would surely pay for what he considered to be her clumsiness.
She would try and delay that as long as possible. She knew he wouldn't cause a scene up on deck and though the accident wasn't her fault she knew he had convinced himself that it was. It was kind of Pillar to explain to her father but it would do little good. Pillar? She stopped for a moment considering her use of her rescuer's name with such familiarity. Even if it was just in thought.
She smiled to herself as she heard Pillar's voice speak her name. She loved the inflection put on it by her accent. Clearly Pillar was Spanish but her English was excellent and her manners more than adequate. She chuckled as the term educated pirate formed on her lips.
She looked across the deck and saw Pillar engaged in conversation with a rugged looking fellow Pillar had referred to as Rodrigo. She knew she was staring but she couldn't help it. It was like she had no will of her own. She felt her heart beat begin to race and her breath came short. She looked away and faced the ocean letting the breeze calm her.
She held tight to the rail. "What in heaven is wrong with me?" She said as she tried to take deep breaths. She felt slightly light headed and wondered if perhaps she wasn't coming down with something. She closed her eyes and saw Pillar's face, "God, she's beautiful."
Beautiful? "God, Ianna you are definitely not well. Maybe you've gotten too much air for one day." She thought to herself.
She decided to go below and lay down for a while. Perhaps all the excitement had finally caught up to her. Yes that was it. First the boarding by Santiago then the appearance of Captain Montenegro, and finally the accident on deck. That was more excitement in one afternoon than she had had in her entire young life. It was only natural that it be too much for her sensibilities. Perhaps in the evening she would be feeling better.
Ianna had indeed paid the price for her ‘clumsiness' when she returned to the cabin. Her original reason for wanting to lie down was forgotten replaced by a new one. She lay very still and tried not to think of how she was feeling at the moment. After a short while she heard familiar footsteps.
Genna had heard her father reprimanding Ianna and as usual had been reduced to tears by it. She always wondered why it was that he treated her thusly. Ianna was smart, witty, had a generous spirit and was beautiful. Her manners were impeccable, a daughter to be proud of. So why did he treat her with such contempt?
Genna entered Ianna's room as she had on many occasions. She sat at Ianna's bed side and stroked the girl's hair gently.
"Hey, are you alright?"
Ianna sniffled then replied, "As well as can be expected I suppose."
Genna's eyes filled with tears. "Don't trouble yourself for me Genna. Please, we both know better."
"Oh Ianna, why does he treat you this way? You didn't do anything wrong." Asked Genna.
"I know, not even with the help of Captain Montenegro."
"It was nice of her to explain what happened." Continued Genna.
Ianna grew quiet and Genna became concerned. She decided not to press her on what was on her mind giving her time to organize her thoughts.
"I'll come get you for dinner just rest for a bit. Didn't you say you were feeling a bit ill when you got back?"
"Yes, the talk with father sort of made me forget about that."
"Well take it easy for an hour or so." Suggested Genna. "I'm sorry it always has to be this way for you." With that she stood and left Ianna alone with her thoughts.
"Yes, so am I."
Dinner had been an extremely uneventful fair. The only thing that held any interest to her was the fact that Captain Montenegro had opted to dine with the guests as well. She also over heard her father in conversation with the Destiny's Captain. They would reach port by tomorrow afternoon if the winds held up. The thought of being on dry land again was very appealing.
Hogan opted to make it an early evening meaning he decided to forego his evening walk on the deck. Which meant everyone else's deck time was also cancelled. Ianna lay in bed that night thinking about her trip and its events. She also reflected on her life thus far and what direction it was taking. Her heart was beating so hard she feared her sister could hear it from her bed.
She sat up in bed and looked at her sleeping sister. She rose quietly and dressed. Her mind was a whirlwind of thought and she needed to clear her mind if she hoped to get any sleep at all. She also knew if her father caught her she would be sorry. She thought about it for a moment and thought I already am as she slipped out the door.
The night air felt refreshing against her face and she turned her face up to it gratefully. She found a secluded spot and looked up at the stars. She recalled her conversation with First mate LaSalle a few nights before and made mental notes of the different constellations. She was startled when she heard soft footsteps behind her and turned suddenly.
"Oh!" exclaimed the girl then realized who the footsteps belonged to.
"Perdón Senorita, I did not mean to startle you. I saw some movement over here and decided to see what it was." Said Pillar graciously.
"Oh, no don't trouble yourself Captain, I just needed some air." Replied Ianna.
Pillar narrowed her eyes a bit. "Is it not a bit late for the Senorita to be unescorted on the deck?"
Ianna smiled nervously, "Perhaps it is, I didn't think about it. I couldn't sleep so I came out here for a few minutes."
Now it was Pillar's turn to smile, "No need for explanations Senorita. One should never need an excuse to look at the stars."
Ianna chuckled and turned back toward the water and looked up. Pillar joined her at the rail and took the opportunity to gaze at the stars as well. She gazed down for a moment and noticed Ianna's shawl had slipped a little off her shoulders. She almost reached out to fix it but caught herself.
Without looking directly at the young girl she simply said, "There is a chill in the air tonight."
Ianna adjusted her shawl, "It's not so bad." She replied looking over at Pillar.
She was quite striking. At least Ianna thought so. She had a very strong profile that to Ianna represented strength of character. She wasn't expecting for Pillar to choose that moment to turn her way. In the moonlight her eyes looked colorless and she was slightly mesmerized by the affect.
Pillar was caught off guard as well. She wasn't expecting to be left breathless. Dios mió, what is it about this woman that makes me feel completely swept away? She quickly dismissed the thought and turned back towards the rail.
"So, Senorita McClarrin, do you often come out to gaze at the stars?"
Ianna smiled, turning her attention back to the stars. "It's a habit I've acquired lately actually. Mr. LaSalle was kind enough to teach me a bit about the constellations and navigation."
Pillar raised and eyebrow, "Really? Well it never hurts to learn new skills."
"Do you know how to navigate using the stars?"
"Yes of course. It would not be practical in my line of work not to possess that skill." She answered with a half smile.
"In your line of work?" This time it was Ianna's turn t raise an eyebrow.
"Yes of course, you know I am in how do they say? Acquisitions." Replied Pillar with a chuckle.
Ianna couldn't help but chuckle herself and it drew Pillar's attention her way again. She looked at the young girl a moment then ever so slightly closed the distance between them. Ianna was unaware of the fact that she had done the same thing. Pillar opened her mouth to speak when a sudden gust of wind came across the water and Ianna lost possession of her shawl. She was about to go retrieve it when Pillar stopped her.
"Allow me Señorita."
Before Ianna could protest she was off. It only took but a moment to retrieve the item in question. She handed it to Ianna and was thanked with a smile that lit up the young girl's face. Pillar was about to comment on it when she noticed something odd. The dress Ianna wore hung off the shoulders and on her upper arm just above the sleeve she noticed a mark.
Her brow furrowed as she realized it was a bruise. Ianna noticed the expression, "What is it Captain?"
"Senorita, you mentioned a few days ago that you had not been injured." Stated Pillar concerned.
Ianna was confused, "I was not injured Captain Montenegro I assure you I was quite fine."
"Forgive my boldness Senorita, then if you please what is this?" Asked Pillar rubbing the bruise in question lightly with her thumb.
Ianna looked down; she hadn't even noticed the bruise. It had been dark and the lamp was very dim so as not to wake her sister or anyone else.
"Oh, that wasn't your fault." She stated honestly.
Pillar still had her thumb on the bruise and moved the sleeve of Ianna's dress slightly. She noticed the bruise was larger than she had at first thought. Ianna noticed Pillar's expression.
"Excuse me Captain, but it's late and I must be getting back. It was nice talking with you. It's a pity we didn't get more of an opportunity to talk."
She turned to go but was stopped by Pillar. "Wait, Senorita McClarrin..."
Ianna turned to face Pillar once more. "You mean to say you enjoyed our time together this evening?"
Ianna was puzzled, "Why yes of course."
Pillar reached down and grabbed Ianna's hand and raised it slowly to her lips kissing it softly, "Buenas noches senorita. It was my most sincere pleasure to have met you during this journey. I hope our paths shall cross again."
Pillar released Ianna's hand and turned to go. Ianna stood there for a moment and watched her go. She looked down in her hand in wonder fascinated by the tingle she felt on her skin.
Hours later Pillar was again standing by the rail. This time though she wasn't looking up at the stars but at the rising sun. She had barely even noticed the passage of time and Rodrigo was growing a little concerned. He stood and watched her a bit. He had observed the little scene play out between her and Ianna.
He approached her quietly and joined her at the rail. She looked over him and raised an eyebrow. "Morning Rodrigo."
"Buenos días Capitan. How are you fairing this morning?"
"Very well Rodrigo and yourself?"
"Very well Capitan. We should be off of here later today I should think."
"Yes...we may as well get some supplies while in port."
Rodrigo's brow creased, "Do you think that is wise? I mean I would not stay in port too long lest the local authorities find out who you are."
Pillar was starting to feel annoyance creeping up on her though she wasn't entirely clear as to why.
"I'm perfectly aware of the risk Rodrigo. I myself have no intention of roaming the streets. I leave the provisioning of the ship to you. I will be safely aboard my ship if that's what's worrying you."
Rodrigo blinked several times, then let out a long breath. "Bueno Capitan if you are done may I have my hand back before you bite it completely off?"
As much as she wanted to she couldn't keep the smile from appearing on her face. "Ay, Rodrigo I am sorry. I didn't mean to bite."
They both chuckled and Rodrigo felt slightly relieved. He cleared his throat, "Um I saw you with the Senorita last night."
Pillar smirked, "Did you now?"
"We were only talking Rodrigo...about the stars." She added with a sideways glance.
"Who are you trying to convince Pillar, me or yourself?" he said seriously.
"She's in trouble Rodrigo. Some one hurts her. I saw a large bruise on her arm it was fresh."
"Oh well, that means nothing, she probably got it from..."
She turned to him quickly, "No, I asked her. She admitted it was from something else though she would not say what. She got nervous when I asked about it and decided to retire suddenly. They were fresh bruises Rodrigo."
He thought for a moment, "Even if it's true, and some one is hurting her, how does that concern us? I mean she seems like a decent young lady and it would be a shame if that were the case. But what can we do?"
Pillar folded her arms on her chest and stared out over the water. "Yes, it would be a shame indeed."
"Capitan I don't know if like that tone. It usually means we're going to get into...something. I still get sore when it rains from the last time you had that tone. Why can't we just sail down to islands for a time and relax?"
Pillar took a deep breath and arched her eyebrow. "Rodrigo you really must learn to express your feelings. It's bad to keep things all inside like that."
She gave him a smile and turned to go below. Rodrigo let his gaze follow her and a smiled formed on his lips. "Well, we always have room for one more."
Mid afternoon of the following day found the Destiny safely in port. All the passengers had disembarked safely and the crew was busy unloading cargo and passenger belongings.
Upon their arrival Hogan had settled with Pillar and thanked her for the safe escort. She took her leave of him and the captain and went to a nice quiet place to await the arrival of her ship. She could see it as it approached. There was an empty berth beside the Destiny and that's where her ship was headed.
She couldn't help but glance over at the Destiny's passengers. Most of which were still on the dock. This included Ianna and her family. Pillar watched as they were greeted by two men. One was older, about Hogan's age. From his attire she could tell he was a man of means. Just behind him was a younger man. She judged him to be no more than 20. He wore the uniform of the French army and from what she could tell he was an officer.
She watched quietly as he approached Ianna with a wide grin and open arms. He took her in his arms and hugged her energetically lifting her off the ground slightly. Once he'd let her down he greeted the rest of her family and took her hand and placed it inside his elbow.
Pillar smiled to herself. Ah Pillar she has a sweetheart. She felt a sting from that thought, though she didn't know why. It threw off her relatively good mood. She decided to turn her attention to her approaching ship. She suddenly felt the need to leave this place.
Ianna stood at the dock with her family and looked around curiously. Though she wasn't excited about the reasons for the trip, she had always wanted to see France. Ranger had written so many wonderful things about it, especially Paris. She was hopeful that they would be able to see it. The dock was busy with activity and semi-crowded with family and friends greeting or waiting to greet passengers.
Her attention was called to her left as she heard some one call her father's name. She smiled as she saw Ranger and his father approaching. Ranger caught sight of Ianna and made a bee line straight for her. Ianna went to him and gave him a heartfelt hug. Her eyes opened wide as she felt herself being lifted off the ground.
"Hey! Ranger put me down this instant!" She said laughing.
He complied and went over to say hello to the rest of her family. His father turned in her direction and smiled.
"Hogan! Surely this cannot be Ianna!" He said and made his way to her.
"Look at you! Hogan you must be proud indeed. She has grown into a beautiful young woman. Come here at once young lady, or are you too grown to say hello to your uncle Beaumont?"
Ianna chuckled, "No of course not. How are you Uncle Beau? Its god to see you." She gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
She stood by Ranger holding his arm as Genna began to ask him a million questions. She let the conversation flow past her as she caught sight of a familiar figure further down the dock. She hadn't been able to say good bye before they disembarked and she half considered going over to do it now. Then her attention was drawn elsewhere as she heard a name spoken.
"Yes this Santiago boarded us and was about to pirate us when another ship appeared. This one captained by a Captain Montenegro." Hogan was recounting the tale of their journey to his old friend.
"Montenegro? Pillar Montenegro?" Asked Beaumont curiously.
"Yes the very one. Thought we were in for it then but she literally muscled him out. Took his cargo to boot. He was not amused I'll tell you that."
"No, no I would imagine not." Said Beaumont pensively.
"In fact that's her ship there, the one just docking there." Said Hogan pointing to the ship next to the Destiny.
"I see...one moment if you please mon ami. I will only be a moment."
Ianna's head turned to watch Beaumont walking away from her father and approach a Jean Darm. Her brows creased and as she noticed their subtle looks towards Pillar's ship. She felt a nervousness form in the pit of her stomach accompanied by a sense of urgency. She looked over but did not see Pillar. She wasn't sure whether to be relieved or panic.
"Maybe they're leaving now." She thought to herself.
A thought which quickly faded as she saw several men get off the ship and head towards the town. She caught sight of Rodrigo and wanted nothing more than to go over to him and encourage them to leave quickly. But what reason could she give? There was none that could legitimize her going over there. She glanced casually to where her father was standing and saw that Beaumont had finished his conversation with the official. The officer had left, no doubt to get reinforcements.
"Ranger lets go look at that ship there." She pointed to Pillar's ship. "The mast has a design I want to get a better look at."
"Alright, you coming Genna?"
Genna was about to happily agree when she felt Ianna's hand squeeze her wrist out of Ranger's line of vision. They exchanged glances and Ianna shifted her gaze quickly to her father then back.
"No, um, I'll stay here if its ok with you guys." And she made her way over to her father.
Ranger was every bit the gentleman and escorted Ianna to the ship. The mast did indeed have an interesting design on it. It seemed to be a cat of some kind. It looked ferocious yet graceful. She did not recognize what kind it was though and her curious nature took over.
"Ranger, what animal is that?" She asked him pointing towards the mast.
He looked up "Oh, that my dear Ianna is a Panther."
"Panther?" she asked curiously.
"Yes, I saw one at the zoological society in Paris. They are large black cats. Very ferocious, or so I'm told. They are beautiful though. They have shiny black coats and light eyes. Very intense looking creatures."
Ianna took in all the information then casually looked over and saw Rodrigo. She looked back and saw her sister looking in her direction. Ianna indicated towards Ranger with her eyes and her sister caught the signal.
"Ranger." She called causing him to turn around.
Rodrigo looked up casually and saw Ranger and Ianna. His brow furrowed when he looked at Ianna and saw the look of urgency on her face.
"Go see what she wants. You know how she is. I'll wait for you here?" She encouraged good naturedly.
Ranger looked around a little unsure, "I don't know, why don't you come back with me?"
"I wanted to see the other side, go on I'll be fine no doubt you'll only be gone a moment." She added sweetly.
They heard Genna call Ranger again and they both rolled their eyes. "Ok I'll be right back."
Ianna waited for him to trot away and turned to Rodrigo. He couldn't help but approach her. "Señorita, is everything alright."
"No, you must get out of here quickly." She stated glancing over to where her family was. Her father and Beaumont were surveying the loading of their luggage and Genna was keeping Ranger busy. "There is danger for you here. You must leave."
Rodrigo smiled, "Do not worry Señorita; we will not be staying long."
She saw a group in the distance and her sense of urgency sky rocketed. "No you must leave now! The authorities are on their way as we speak. They will be here at any moment look."
He looked in the direction she'd indicated and his eyes opened wide, "Madre de Dios, Senorita I believe it is time you left." He ran towards the ship, "Capitan!" He ran like a man possessed and began shouting orders to the men.
Pillar came out on deck to find a whirlwind of commotion. "Rodrigo!"
"Capitan we must make haste, the authorities are on the way." She said urgently.
Pillar went over to the rail to survey the situation. She saw the group of armed officials approaching, "It's going to be close." She said to herself. Then she shifted her gaze and saw Ianna. What is she doing there? They were about to pull up the gangplank when they saw two of their men that had gone ashore running full speed to the dock. If they waited there would be no time.
"Rodrigo! Get the ropes but do not leave until they are aboard!"
"But we have no time!" He said urgently.
"I'm not leaving any one behind just to save myself." With that she took the pistol from his belt and went over the side.
"Pillar!" He yelled as he ran to the rail and looked over the side only to see Pillar sliding down one of the ropes headed straight for the dock.
Ianna watched as the officers approached and prayed silently that they would be away in time. Once the ship was in motion there was little they could do. As they got nearer she heard her name called out, "Ianna!" She looked to see Ranger starting to run her way. She saw her sister grab hold of their father's arm as she looked up. She was about to turn and follow her gaze when she was grabbed from behind.
The grip was like a vice and at first she struggled against it. "Be still Senorita I promise no harm will come to you." Upon hearing Pillar's voice she ceased her struggle and tried to stay as alert as possible. She felt something cold placed against her head and she stiffened.
"Ah, ah, that is far enough Caballero. Your intent is noble but your actions foolish, do not force me to do something we would all regret." She spoke coolly and it made Ianna shiver.
"Let her go! You'll not leave here with her that I promise you." Said Ranger and took a step forward.
Pillar smiled and pulled the hammer back on the pistol she held to Ianna's head. "You should not make promises you cannot keep."
He stopped and they regarded each other for a moment, "If we are permitted to leave peacefully you have my word no harm will come to the Senorita."
She began to back towards the gangplank. The officers arrived and drew their weapons.
"Stand down you fools! That's my fiancé she's holding."
"But Sir..." the captain of the guard began.
Ranger drew his sword, "The first man who fires gets run through! She will release her if you let her leave peacefully."
"Sir you can't honestly believe..." continued the captain.
"She gave me her word." He said seriously.
"And you take the word of a cutthroat like her?"
"It's no concern of yours what I believe." He finished, walking towards the gangplank.
He was about 20 feet from the gangplank when he heard a voice come from the ship. "That is far enough Señor."
Ranger looked up to find three muskets pointed at him and stopped his advance. He sheathed his sword and held his hands away from his body. He looked up and saw Ianna and her abductor were almost to the top.
Pillar had surveyed the situation on the way up and saw all the roped had been undone and the sails were billowing anxious to be set free. She released Ianna and she turned to face Pillar.
"I am sorry Senorita, but as promised you are free to go and believe me no harm would have come to you by my hand." She showed Ianna the pistol and she clearly saw there was no ball in it.
"Its not loaded." Stated Ianna simply.
"Ianna!" yelled Ranger from the dock.
Ianna turned toward the gangplank and looked down at her fiancé. She also saw the officers within close proximity. She looked back at Pillar and their eyes met.
"We must leave Capitan." Rodrigo hissed in Pillar's ear.
"Raise anchor." She ordered as she broke the contact. "Go Señorita." She encouraged.
She took two steps then startled when a shot rang out. She didn't know where the shot had come from but suddenly she was grabbed around the waist and thrown to the ground.
"Vamonos!" She heard Pillar yell and the deck was ablaze with movement. The gangplank was raised and men worked furiously to finish raising the anchor. From her vantage point there wasn't much Ianna could see. She was being held flat against the deck and felt the movement as the wind caught the sails and the ship began to leave port.
Oh my God. What am I going to do? She tried to move but was held firmly in place. After a few minutes she felt the pressure on her back ease and she tried to sit up. When she felt no resistance she did indeed sit up and took a good look around.
Pillar was on her knees in front of the girl. "I apologize Señorita but I did not want to risk you getting hurt. I thought it best to stay down until we were out of range. Here..."
She stood and extended her hands to Ianna to help her up. Ianna accepted the help and stood easily. She looked back and saw the dock in the distance. For an instant she was worried, then it was replaced by a sense of relief that shocked her. She looked to Pillar who was standing close by.
Pillar stepped a little closer, "I am sorry. I did not at any point intend for this to happen. I only wanted to get my ship and crew out of there safely."
Ianna began to reply when Rodrigo came running up to Pillar. "What course Capitan?" he asked then looked over at Ianna. "And..."
"Just put some distance between us and them for now." Answered Pillar. She looked over at Ianna, "Rodrigo, un momento if you will." She motioned Rodrigo over to one side then turned to Ianna. "Please remain here Señorita. I will only be a moment."
Ianna nodded and turned towards the rail. She looked again towards the dock. She knew she should be frightened even outraged that this pirate had dared put her hands on her and taken her away from her family. But that wasn't the truth of it, and she knew it. She didn't see Pillar as a pirate though she knew very well that's what she was. She found it strange that instead of outrage and fear she felt an odd sense of relief.
Pillar joined Rodrigo and he looked at her seriously. "Capitan, we have a big problem. We could be charged with kidnapping. We would not be safe in any port with that kind of charge on our heads."
"I realize that Rodrigo, but what did you want me to do? I could not let her go down the gang plank with shots being fired. She might have been hit. And speaking of that, it wasn't one of our men that fired first was it?" she asked seriously.
"No Capitan, I would have shot him myself. I do not know why they fired but rest assured it wasn't one of us that began it."
"Very well, in any case I doubt we will be able to sort it out any time soon. In the mean time set a course for the Canarias. We could all use some rest I think and we have a cargo to unload do we not?" she said with a smile.
"Si Capitan, but what of the Señorita? We cannot take her with us."
"What would you suggest? We're too far out to let her go alone in one of the life boats. Would you like to turn back and drop her off with apologies to her family and fiancé? I'm sure they would gladly haul us off to the gallows if we did that. Let us get to the Canarias first, that will give me time to figure it out."
Rodrigo reluctantly agreed and turned to go when he was stopped by a hand on his arm. He turned back to Pillar. "One more thing Rodrigo, tell the men...hands off. If anyone of them even looks in her direction I will personally throw them over the side. Understood?"
"Si Capitan, I will see to it personally. Oh and I will see that she is made comfortable."
He took his leave and Pillar returned to where Ianna was patiently waiting for her to return. She followed Ianna's gaze towards the fading dock. She must be terrified. Pillar was at a loss as to what to say. Nothing she could come up with could ever come close to how she felt about this unfortunate mishap.
She cleared he throat to speak but was interrupted by Ianna. "I know you didn't mean for this to happen Captain. And I appreciate your quick action a few minutes ago, you undoubtedly saved my life."
Pillar looked into Ianna's eyes for a long moment. There were things she wanted to say but felt it best to leave them unsaid. Instead she broke the spell between them, "Do not fear Senorita I'm sure that a solution will present itself. Unfortunately it escapes me at the moment."
She smiled and caught sight of Rodrigo as he reappeared on deck, she motioned to him and he approached them. "Señorita, Rodrigo will see to your comfort. If you should require anything please do not hesitate to seek out either Rodrigo or myself. If you'd be so kind as to follow him he will show you to your quarters and please do not fear, you are safe here. If you will excuse me."
Ianna's gaze followed Pillar and Rodrigo had to clear his throat to get her attention. She blinked and could feel a blush start on her cheeks as she turned to look at the first mate. The blush did not go unnoticed and he smiled. "Please Senorita if you please, I will take you to your quarters."
"My quarters?" She asked a little puzzled.
"Si Senorita, I promised the Capitan I would see to your comfort. It would not do for a cultured young lady to be sleeping out on the deck would it?" He said chuckling and gesturing towards the deck with his hands.
Ianna returned the smile, "No I suppose not."
He gallantly gestured for her to proceed and she did so.
Ranger instinctively ducked when he heard the first shot ring out. Then, a glance at the gang plank nearly sent him into a panic as he saw it being raised. He took a step towards it when he was grabbed from behind and forced to the ground.
"Stay down Mon Sur!" Said a gruff voice.
"Victor! Let me up! Ianna is on that ship! They're pulling away!" Pleaded Ranger emphatically.
"That may be so Mon Sur but your safety is my highest priority not the Madame Moselle."
Ranger struggled to no avail. He watched helplessly as the gang plank was raised and the ship left port. It seemed like an eternity before he as allowed up. He ran over to the Captain of the guard.
He pulled his sword and all guns were trained on him. He showed no concern. "I told you to stand down! Why did you fire!?"
"We returned the fire after we were fired upon sir. We did not fire first!"
Ranger's eyes narrowed as he tried to remember every detail, "They did not fire on you! They were about to let Ianna go! She was about to come down the gang plank.! Why would they fire!?"
"I do not know Mon Sur. Who knows what goes on in the minds of brigands such as those?"
Ranger was about to pursue the conversation further when she heard his name called.
He turned to see his father and Ianna's Father and sister approaching.
"Ranger! Are you alright!?" asked Beaumont with deep concern.
"Yes father I'm fine. They have Ianna." He informed them.
"No..." Beaumont turned to the Captain. "Mon Capitan I wish charges to be brought against those criminals. Kidnapping, theft, piracy..."
"Father wait..." interrupted Ranger.
Beaumont turned to his son, "We must take action quickly if we have any hope of getting Ianna back. Who knows where they are headed or what they will do to her?"
"I think they'll let her off at the nearest safe port." He answered.
"What makes you think that?" Asked Hogan.
"I don't know. I can't really explain it except that they were about to release her. I saw her about to come down the gang plank safely just as the woman had said. She gave me her word Ianna would be returned safely and she was about to do just that."
Hogan was about to protest but Ranger continued, "When the shots were fired I saw her be pulled down to safety. Not the actions of some one who had no concern for her safety."
Beaumont was silent for a moment then addressed his son, "And when did you become so insightful in the ways of human nature?"
"Father please..." implored Ranger.
"Very well, Captain no charges will be filed at this present time. What is the nearest safe port?" He asked.
He thought for a moment then it was Victor who spoke. "The Canary Islands Mon Sur. It is a safe port for that type of sort. I would wager they are headed there or some similar place."
"Very well, Victor I leave the arrangements to you. I trust you to bring our Ianna to us safely." Said Beaumont fully expecting everyone to be in agreement.
"I'm going with him." Stated Ranger in a very definite tone.
"No, Ranger you will remain here. Victor will deal with this situation." Replied Beaumont in as definite a tone.
"No Father, I am going with him to get Ianna. After such an ordeal she should have a friendly face to accompany her. I will not be swayed father."
Beaumont let out a sigh, "Very well then, if you feel you must I will not deny you the opportunity to play hero to your fiancé. Now let us go we have much to do."
He turned to Victor as the others turned to go. "This changes my plan only slightly. You know what to do. Ensure that you speak to that fool Santiago. He will pay for losing my cargo to that wench. Get it back Victor by any means you feel necessary."
He turned towards his carriage then stopped, "Oh make sure Ranger comes to no harm Mon Ami. He may do something reckless in pursuit of the girl. If feasible rescue her he seems to be very fond of her."
Victor nodded in understanding and followed Beaumont to the coach.
Ianna looked around the cabin. It was a nice size with comfortable furnishings. She thought of Ranger and her sister. They must be frantic with worry. Try as she might she simply could not imagine her father caring one way or the other.
Her attention was drawn to a writing desk tucked neatly in a corner. She approached it and opened one of the drawers to find writing supplies. She smiled to herself and removed the items. She settled herself on the chair and opened the inkwell. She opened a thin case and removed a finely tipped ivory quill. She examined it for a moment marveling at the intricate design carved into it.
She dipped the quill in the ink and began writing.
10th April 1701
What have I gotten myself into this time? Here I am, all alone on a pirate's ship full of brigands and cut throats. Being taken to...I'm not even sure where. If I had any sense I'd be scared out of my wits. Obviously I have no sense what so ever because in stead of frightened I feel quite safe.
I find myself wondering what will happen next. Captain Montenegro assured me I would be safe here and I believe her. It's strange because I feel more at ease here than I ever felt in the safety and comfort of my own home. No doubt father will see this as being my fault. I dare not dwell upon the consequences of that. I still have bruises form the last time.
Perhaps it would be better if I never went back. Foolish Ianna of course you will go back. You have a family and betrothed waiting for you. You have to fulfill your obligations. Right? Of course you do. This is simply an unfortunate mishap. Wrong place at the wrong time some might say. I'll just make the best of the situation until I'm returned safe and sound. Captain Montenegro will make sure of that.
Captain Montenegro...she is a very unique woman in my opinion. Never mind the fact that she is a woman, a captain and...ok lets face it, a pirate. She also has great presence and from the few times we have spoken she appears to be well educated as well. She has a well bred quality about her that would surprise anyone.
I laugh to my self as the phrase breeding, brains and beauty comes to mind. Though in the social circles I am accustomed to brains not being required and are in fact discouraged. No doubt the fine captain would turn the peerage on its ear. Oh the mischievous glee that thought invokes. But if that is so I wonder how it is she came to be who she is. It's quite clear she is a person of high renoun in her chosen profession.
It is a story I would like to hear. Perhaps she would be willing to share it with me. I do not know how long this journey will be or where we are headed but I shall treat it as an adventure. It may be the only one I ever have. It will be a story I can tell my grand children when I am old and grey.
Her writing was interrupted by a soft knock at the door.
The door opened and Pillar stood in the door way with her hand firmly on the door handle.
Ianna smiled and stood to greet her. "Please come in Captain." She said gesturing towards the sitting area.
Pillar hesitated and considered the request but politely declined. "I am sorry Señorita but I only have a moment. I merely wished to make sure that you were settled. Is there anything you require?"
Ianna thought for a moment, "No Captain I do not require anything. Thank you for the hospitality." She answered sweetly.
Pillar half grinned, "The pleasure is mine, however I wish the circumstances could have been a bit less forced."
"Please do not distress yourself Captain the circumstances could not have been more perfect considering death or serious injury was my other option." She replied gracefully.
This elicited a genuine smile from Pillar, "Your point is well made Señorita. I shall take my leave then." She turned to go then stopped and turned back to Ianna. "I almost forgot. I know it has a long and frightening day for you. Most likely you have not eaten since breakfast would you care to join me for dinner this evening?"
Ianna smiled, "Yes Captain I would like that very much."
"Bueno I will send some one for you around seven." She finished and left closing the door quietly behind her.
Ianna stood there for a moment just staring at the closed door. Her mind was trying to wrap itself around something she could tell. But what it was she could not determine and it bothered her.
She turned back towards the desk and looked at the clock that was mounted on the wall above it. "Three o'clock." She said to herself. Her stomach growled and she let out a sigh as she took her seat the desk again.
She stared at the paper a long time before she began writing again.
I just had a visit from Captain Montenegro. She wanted to make sure I was comfortable and to invite me to share dinner with her. Both were very kind gestures on her part. She could have just had something sent to me here.
I will admit I find the idea very appealing. I am anxious to engage her in conversation. She seems an interesting person and it is not often I have the opportunity to exercise my mind. She must have many stories to tell also. I want to learn all I can about her.
She was interrupted again by another knock at the door.
This time it was Rodrigo who poked his head in the door as it opened. Ianna smiled, "Hello Rodrigo."
"Ah Señorita, is everything to your liking?" He asked from a respectable distance.
"Yes Rodrigo thank you." She replied politely.
"The Capitán told me you would be joining her for dinner this evening." He began.
"Yes she invited me to share dinner with her."
"Bueno I thought then perhaps you would like the opportunity to freshen up before then."
Ianna hadn't even considered the possibility, "Well yes of course but I don't see how..."
"Un momento Señorita." He interrupted and disappeared.
Ianna's brow furrowed and she wondered what his sudden departure could possibly mean. After a few minutes she heard a commotion outside her cabin. She saw Rodrigo reappear in the door way and this time he entered though he was walking backwards.
"Ok si that's it this way. Slowly now..."
Ianna watched as two other men appeared with a heavy burden. They placed their burden down with twin sighs of relief. Rodrigo herded them quickly to the door when he noticed they were looking at Ianna.
"The water will be here shortly it is being heated Señorita." Said the first mate.
"Rodrigo you should not have gone to so much trouble on my account. I would have made due with the water basin." She said giggling.
"It was no trouble believe me. I will return shortly." He said simply.
Ianna watched him disappear once again and found it difficult to keep the smile off her face.
Ranger sat quietly in the carriage. Genna watched him pensively. He hadn't spoken since they'd begun their journey home. She looked across from her and observed her father and Beaumont engaged in conversation.
"Do not worry Mon Ami, we will get Ianna back. If Ranger is correct in his assumption then no harm will come to her in any case." Said Beaumont sympathetically.
Hogan regarded his friend, "Thank you Beau. I'm sorry to have to put you to such trouble. That girl will be the death of me."
Ranger looked up at this statement. "Forgive me for saying so Mon Sur McClarrin but it was not Ianna's fault she was taken. It was mine. Had I followed my first instinct and not left her alone this would not have happened."
"Poor boy, do not set the blame for this on your shoulders. It was her foolish whim to see that damned ship that caused this." Said Hogan.
Ranger narrowed his eyes a bit, "I did not consider it to be selfish whim, simply natural curiosity. I myself also wanted to see the mast of the ship."
"Ranger! You forget your manners. We have not seen Hogan and his family in two years. He is my dearest friend and out guest, I will not see you sit there and disrespect him in such a manner!" reprimanded Beaumont.
Ranger took a deep breath and looked over at Genna. "Sorry father. My apologies Mon Sur McClarrin, I am merely distraught about what happened. I am concerned for Ianna's safety." The last sentence spoken with direct eye contact with Hogan.
"That is understandable" began Beaumont, "Ah to be so young and in love. To have such passion and conviction." With a smile to Hogan he continued, "Would that I could see the world through his eyes no doubt it would seem a far different lace." He concluded with a touch of regret.
He looked out of the carriage window and let out a long breath, "Ah home at last." He turned to Hogan. "Let us get you and Genna settled in and comfortable, afterwards come to the drawing room and we will make plans to get Ianna back. Do not worry; it will all be over soon."
Ianna surveyed her appearance in the mirror. She grimaced a bit not happy with what she saw. She wished she'd had a different dress to change into and perhaps some combs for her hair. She held it up in the style she would have preferred and turned her head from side to side to check the effect.
She nodded a little to herself then let her hair down and sighed. "No help for it" she said to herself. "This will have to do." She looked up to the clock then back to her reflection. After a moment she smiled to herself, "Ianna, what are you doing? You're acting like...I don't even know what you're acting like." She told her reflection.
There was a soft knock at the door and she turned away from the mirror. "Come in."
Rodrigo appeared, "Are you ready Señorita?"
Ianna smiled at him sweetly, "As ready as I can be I suppose. Shall we go?"
He was about to motion for her to proceed when suddenly remembered, "Oh I almost forgot the Capitan asked me to give this to you."
He handed Ianna a small parcel. Ianna took it curiously then looked at Rodrigo. "She wanted to show her appreciation for accepting her dinner invitation." He explained.
"Oh but she didn't have to do that. I am honored that she would want me to share her company." She said quickly.
"Nonsense Señorita, please accept the gift. She would be offended if you refused."
Ianna smiled, "Very well then."
She opened the parcel slowly and her breath caught when she saw what it contained. There were two wooden combs caved in the form of doves. "They're beautiful." she said softly as she ran he fingers over the surface.
Rodrigo smiled warmly, "Si Señorita that they are. Would you like a moment to..."
"Just give me a moment." She said walking back to the mirror.
It only took a moment for her to arrange her hair in the style she desired. Now much happier with what she saw in the mirror she turned once again to Rodrigo.
"Well, what do you think?" she asked the man with a grin.
The man smiled back, "Most becoming Señorita. If it will not offend... you look very lovely indeed. Now, should we go?"
Ianna stepped forward and took the elbow offered to her. "No offense taken Rodrigo, I'm not accustomed to such compliments though, I will admit."
Rodrigo pondered this as he led her to the Captain's room. "And I am not in the habit of giving them."
Ianna felt a slight blush on her cheeks and simply smiled politely. They walked along in silence for a few minutes and finally Rodrigo stopped at a door. He knocked lightly and they heard a voice from within bid them to enter.
The captain's cabin was larger than her own. It was well kept and held the air of that of a sea captain. Ianna noted that the cabin actually had two sections. The section they were presently in was like a sitting room of sorts. There was a large desk in one of the corners with an assortment of papers on it. And to the right of it was a door way which led to the other section of the cabin. No doubt the captain's sleeping quarters.
She took note of the walls and of several paintings. Two were of seascapes and the third was a portrait of a woman. She wanted to get a closer look at all of them but thought better of it. "It can wait until later." She thought to herself. Her attention was quickly drawn to the room's occupant.
"Good evening Senorita McClarrin. Thank you for joining me, please come in and make your self at home." She turned to Rodrigo. "Gracias Rodrigo. Hold a steady course; I would like to make the best time possible to the Canarias."
"Si capitán. Have a good meal." He said as he let himself out.
Ianna watched as Pillar gave Rodrigo his instructions and was disturbed by the fact that she was having trouble breathing. A condition which worsened slightly as Rodrigo took his leave and Pillar approached her.
"Come Señorita; let us sit down to our meal. I know I am hungry and you must be starved as well. It has been a long and eventful day."
Ianna felt her stomach growl as the scent of food hit her senses. She smiled politely and took Pillar's outstretched hand and allowed herself to be lead to the table. Pillar graciously pulled a chair out for Ianna and she accepted. Ianna watched as Pillar lifted the lid from the plate in front of her.
"I hope the meal is to your liking. I had no reference as to what to tell them to prepare. But the cook is excellent. I can assure you he keeps the crew very happy." Said Pillar as she took her own seat.
Ianna looked down at her plate as she reached for her napkin. She also took note of the place settings and saw that they were perfect.
"I'm sure I'll not be disappointed Captain. It smells wonderful and as you correctly deduced I am starving. I must thank you once again for the invitation and for the gift." She added bringing a hand up to touch one of the combs.
"Please think nothing of it, Senorita McClarrin. I wished to apologize for the unfortunate circumstances." Stated Pillar simply.
"As I said before Captain, it was not your fault. I have determined to make the best of the situation and treat the entire matter as one grand adventure." Finished Ianna with a sweep of her hand.
Pillar smiled, "I doubt anyone else would see it as such. I am glad that you are not too distressed by the entire affair." Pillar grabbed her napkin then added a final thought. "They look beautiful on you. I knew they would."
Ianna turned her gaze to her food. She knew she was blushing and she was at a loss as to how to respond. She took a deep breath and treaded carefully. She lifted her gaze to meet Pillar's.
"Thank you Captain." She giggled a little nervously. "I was just telling Rodrigo how unaccustomed I am to receiving compliments of that nature."
Pillar's brows knit together for a moment. "But surely Señorita you must be used to such compliments. A lovely young lady such as your self must get tired of hearing them."
Ianna watched as Pillar stood to pour them some wine. "Actually no, I'm really not accustomed to it. In fact the only people who have paid me such compliments are my sister, she doesn't count, Ranger, Rodrigo and...you."
Pillar resumed her seat and pondered this. "I find that hard to believe. But if you insist then I shall not doubt your word. At least we are all of the same opinion." She tipped her glass towards Ianna and half smiled.
This gave Ianna butterflies in her stomach and she wondered why. They spent some time enjoying their meal. Ianna was pleasantly surprised, the food was in fact delicious, a fact that she reiterated several times during the meal.
"My compliments to your chef captain, the food is excellent." Said Ianna taking a sip from her glass.
This coaxed a genuine smile from Pillar. "Well Senorita McClarrin I am glad you approved of the menu."
She stood and crossed over to Ianna's chair. She pulled it out so Ianna could stand. "I know you have had a long day. If you would like to retire it would be my pleasure to escort you back to your cabin."
Ianna thought for a moment, "If you don't mind I'm so full from the meal, would it be an imposition if I let the food settle for a bit?"
"No of course not Senorita. Would you care to relax in the seating area? I would offer you a walk on deck but the weather looked a bit unsteady. I would not want you to catch a chill. On top of everything else that simply would not do."
Ianna smiled graciously and took a seat at on a surprisingly comfortable couch. She looked around and was surprised when she suddenly found a glass being held out to her. She accepted it and took a small sip. She was not accustomed to drinking and was taking her time with her wine. The last thing she wanted to do was let it go to her head and end up embarrassing herself.
Pillar took a seat in a high back chair opposite the couch. They sat in an uncomfortable silence for a moment then Ianna stood and approached one of the paintings. It was the portrait she had noticed earlier. Upon closer inspection she could appreciate the beauty of the painting as well as the subject.
It was a young woman with raven locks and a pair of beautiful blue eyes. At first she was puzzled by the familiarity of them she looked over at Pillar who simply smiled.
"She's lovely. Is she a relations of yours captain? I note a resemblance." She asked casually.
"Yes she is very lovely. And yes she is a relation of mine. She is my mother in fact." Pillar stood and walked over to where Ianna was. "It was done when she was but sixteen years old. Just before she married my father."
"She has beautiful eyes."
"Yes she does. I was lucky to have inherited them from her."
Ianna looked up at Pillar and was pinned by those very same eyes. She was positive at that moment that if she lived to be 100 she would never see a more beautiful sight.
Pillar moved closer still. Closer than the dictates of their short acquaintance could allow and she knew it. But she couldn't resist. Finally, her will won over and she stepped back and looked up at the painting.
"It was a gift to my father on the eve of their wedding." Said Pillar.
Ianna regarded the painting and noted the noble air about the subject. Then she reflected on Pillar's manners and once again the term educated pirate ran through her mind.
"Were they happy together?" Asked Ianna.
"Oh yes, they were very happy. My father died when I was very young but I remember him well enough to remember there was always laughter. He was full of energy and he loved my mother and me very much." Said Pillar wistfully.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to bring up sad memories." Said Ianna reaching out a hand to Pillar's arm.
Pillar smiled slightly and patted Ianna's hand. "Not at all Señorita, they are happy memories. There are times when I miss him very much but I always try and remember the laughter and then it is not so bad."
Ianna still had her hand on Pillar's arm and became aware of the fact that Pillar was holding her hand. They must have realized it in the same moment because they let go simultaneously. Ianna quickly searched for something to say.
"Is your mother still alive then?" She asked curiously.
"Oh si Señorita. She is alive and well and living in Valencia."
"I always wanted to see Spain." Said Ianna wistfully. "I've read such wonderful stories. I always wanted to know if any of them were true."
Pillar led Ianna back to the couch and this time instead of choosing the high back chair, chose to sit next to Ianna instead. Ianna had found her voice at last and engaged Pillar on a number of topics.
Finally, Pillar stretched, "It is getting late."
At first Ianna was going to protest then found herself quickly stifling a yawn. "I'm afraid you're right Captain. As much as I hate to admit it, I am tired."
Pillar held the door open for Ianna and they stepped out into the hall. Pillar hesitantly offered Ianna her arm not sure if she would take it. She had taken Rodrigo's but after all he was a man and that was the proper way of doing things. She had no inclination as to what Ianna would think of being formally escorted by another woman.
She was rewarded when she felt a hand firmly tucked under her elbow. She looked down at it quickly just to make sure she wasn't wrong. They walked in silence back to Ianna's cabin and Pillar opened the door to allow her to enter. Pillar remained in the doorway while Ianna lit a lamp.
"Thank you Captain for a delightful evening and a delicious dinner." Said Ianna as she returned to the door way.
"The pleasure was mine Señorita. I do however have one simple request." Said Pillar seriously.
For some odd reason Ianna felt her heart pounding as she took a step closer. "Yes Captain."
"Well it is simply that, we will be traveling together for a little while until we get to our destination. Could I impose on you to call me Pillar?"
Ianna smiled, "Only if you'll call me Ianna."
Pillar smiled and it lit up her face causing her clear blue eyes to sparkle. Ianna blinked as she tried to remember how to breathe. Pillar reached for the door handle.
"Bueno, on that note I will leave you then. I know it has been a long day for you. Rodrigo will make sure breakfast is brought to you in the morning." Pillar turned to go then stopped and turned back to Ianna. She stepped forward and took Ianna's hand and kissed the back of it gently. "Buenas noches Ianna."
"Good night Pillar." Said Ianna quietly and she stood there as the door closed leaving her alone in her room in a very loud silence.
She stood looking at the door for a few minutes. She kept replaying the good night in her mind. She decided she definitely liked the way her name rolled off Pillar's lips.
With a sigh she set to the task of getting ready for bed but not before letting a very wide grin find its place on her lips.
Pillar walked back down the hall to her room. She entered and leaned against the door for a few moments. Finally she let out a long sigh and pushed off deciding she needed a drink. She walked over to a well stocked cabinet and took out a bottle of fine scotch that she'd been saving. She poured some into a glass and took a seat in her high back chair.
Try as she might she couldn't get Ianna out of her mind. Ianna was beautiful of that there was no doubt. But she was also very intelligent and had a very pleasing sense of humor. She was sensitive and caring also. She was just so...prefect. She had challenged Pillar on several points during the course of their conversation, and had made several excellent points. Two of which Pillar had conceded not being able to satisfactorily defend her position. That had never happened before.
The girl possessed a superior intellect that fascinated Pillar. She loved to exercise her mind, a pass time she seldom got the opportunity to indulge in. However, with Ianna she had the feeling she would be able to that quite often. It was refreshing.
She sat quietly and reflected over the evenings events. Dinner had been more than pleasant. It took all of her self control not to do something she would deeply regret later. She reached up and touched her lips still feeling the tingle from brief contact with Ianna's hand. What is wrong with me? She asked herself.
There was a knock on her door and she shook her head a bit to try and dispel the feeling of light headedness that had come over her. "Yes?" She answered.
The door opened and Rodrigo let himself in. "Ah Pillar, your evening is concluded I see." He looked at the remains of the meal. "I shall have some one in to take this away for you."
He opened the door and whispered to some one apparently waiting for him on the other side. Then he opened the door wider to allow the person to enter. It was one of the younger boys. Pillar watched him as he entered tentatively. He couldn't be more than fifteen and she smiled to herself briefly remembering herself at that age.
Rodrigo crossed over to where Pillar was as the boy got to work on clearing the table. "Would you like a drink?" asked Pillar as she stood to retrieve another glass.
Rodrigo accepted the glass and took a seat. "So, how is the Senorita fairing? It must be very trying for her."
"She seems to be doing quite well. She apparently has every confidence that things will turn out well." Answered Pillar with a smile.
"Well at least the two of you seem to get on well." He said giving Pillar a sideways glance.
Pillar caught the glance but ignored the implication. "Yes, she's a very intelligent young lady. We sat and spoke at length on several subjects. It was most refreshing."
"Oh I am quite certain of that. Whenever I entertain a beautiful woman I always spend as much time as possible cultivating her mind." Said Rodrigo with a chuckle.
Pillar smiled, "Oh make no mistake, her beauty did not go unnoticed by this watchful eye."
"If it had you would not be the Capitan I know and love. If you want my honest opinion Pillar, the Senorita...she is very special no?"
Pillar stood to pour herself another drink, "Si my friend she is very special indeed. Her fiancé is most fortunate."
Rodrigo frowned a bit, "Fiancé? She is to marry?"
Pillar nodded slowly. "Yes, he was there this morning, the one who followed us to the ship."
Rodrigo frowned a moment then his eyes showed recognition, "The Lieutenant! Pillar why do you always have to pick the least convenient of circumstances? They'll hang us this time for sure."
"Por favor Rodrigo why must you be so dramatic? It was an unfortunate event. It will be over as soon as we get to the Canarias. Ianna will be safe and will return home to her family and fiancé. We in turn will continue to sail the oceans causing as much mischief as possible."
"Ianna?" Rodrigo asked amused. "Before dinner she was Señorita McClarrin. A few hours later she's Ianna? Pillar..." He said with a warning tone.
"I know Rodrigo, do not worry. As I said she has a fiancé. Trust me she has no interest in me other than as her merciful captor. So please, ease your mind." Pillar stood and stretched. "Now go, I need to get some sleep."
Rodrigo set down his glass and stood. "Good night Pillar sleep well."
"Thank you Rodrigo. Oh I almost forgot; please make sure she gets breakfast."
Rodrigo smiled, "The instructions have already been given."
Pillar smiled back, "Thank you. Oh do you think we have any attire that might suit her? She can hardly spend the next two weeks in the same dress, lovely though it is."
He thought for a moment, "I cannot say for sure. But I shall look into it."
With that he gave her a final wave and left for the evening.
The next few days were spent rather uneventfully. Rodrigo did his best to produce suitable attire for Ianna but after an extensive search he found none. Especially after it became clear that Ianna was determined to try and be of use on the ship. A notion, which at first had seemed ridiculous, but she was a determined young lady, and not adverse to manual labor. A fact which Pillar learned on their second day of travel.
It had been around mid morning and Pillar was at the wheel enjoying the warm breeze and the good weather. The winds had been favorable and she had actually been considering the possibility that they might arrive ahead of schedule.
Her attention was drawn to a rare sight on the forward deck, a woman. She watched as Ianna walked over to the rail and turned her head up to the sky with her eyes closed. Pillar felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth until she noticed several crew members looking in the girl's direction whispering amongst them selves.
"Now there's a sight not seen in a long time." Whispered one of the men.
"Aye, that be a fine piece of distraction that is." Said a second.
The first crew member ran his eyes over her form appreciatively. "Easy on the eye and a fine form. This is one trip she'll not soon forget." He finished as a wicked grim crossed his face.
Pillar waited a moment to see what their intentions were. Finally, at the encouragement of his companions, one of the men stepped forward and headed in Ianna's direction. She made a move to go and intercept him when Rodrigo appeared.
He stood in front of the crew member a motioned him back to his comrades. "Is this what you all get paid for? To catch sun on deck and watch the ladies?"
"Come on Rodrigo we were just planning a little diversion. Where's the harm in that?"
"The harm is looking right at you. Look behind you." Stated the first mate simply.
Pillar watched as he spoke to them then gestured in her direction. All three men turned around to see Pillar giving them an icy stare that touched them to the core.
They looked back as Rodrigo spoke again. "Did I not give specific instructions that this Senorita was to be left alone? The Capitan will surely take the head of the one who even thinks about touching her. My advice to you is to think of her as a temporary part of the crew and be on your way."
They didn't need much more encouragement than that. They quickly left the area to go about their assigned duties. Rodrigo looked up at Pillar and gave her a wink. Pillar motioned with her head for him to take the wheel. Once relieved she went down to join Ianna at the rail.
Ianna turned as she heard the footsteps approach then broke into a wide grin when she saw Pillar approaching. Pillar returned the smile as she greeted her, "Buenos días Ianna. Did you sleep well?"
"Oh yes I slept quite well. Good morning to you too Pillar. It's a gorgeous day out." Replied Ianna.
"Si, the weather is most favorable. The winds are also in our favor we are making excellent time. If conditions remain constant we will reach our destination early."
This knowledge filled Ianna with a sense of regret. Though she couldn't understand why, after all, any normal respectable young lady of station would want this horrible ordeal to over as soon as possible. Right?
The problem was, it wasn't an ordeal at all. She had been treated well, with kindness and dignity and more importantly respect. Though her interactions had been limited to Pillar and Rodrigo she found she enjoyed their company. They were smart witty and she felt as thought they actually enjoyed her company.
They actually listened when she spoke. That was something she had always desperately wanted and never received. Her sister listened to her of course but that was all. She was not unintelligent she knew. But an intelligent woman was viewed more as nuisance where she came from.
Pillar cleared her throat to get Ianna's attention, "Ianna, if it would not offend you I would request that you not roam around the ship unaccompanied. Some of my crew are...how do you say? Less than honorable and I would not want there to be an unfortunate event."
"I understand." Answered Ianna to Pillar's relief. "However." Oh oh "You cannot expect me to stay cooped up in the cabin for the duration of the journey. I would go simply mad."
Pillar opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted as Ianna continued. "I have a proposition for you captain. Make me one of the crew."
Pillar's eyes opened wide and Ianna smiled, "Just until we reach our destination. If I work as part of the crew I think that would make me much less interesting. Don't you agree?"
"Ianna you cannot be serious. You are a distinguished young lady of society. I cannot allow you to be a common deckhand." She protested.
"And why on earth not? I think you'll find that I'm not totally incapable. A little instruction is all I require. Besides it would make me feel better about accepting the free passage." She argued.
"Free passage? It is not as if you stowed away on the ship. You...we were being shot at. It was the only course of action I could think of to keep the ship and crew safe." Pillar retorted placing her hands on her hips.
"I have no aversion to hard work Pillar. I am perfectly capable of doing my share. Or am I wrong in assuming that I am not a prisoner. Tell me Pillar, am I your guest or your captive?" Asked Ianna as anger tinged her voice and she closed some of the distance between them.
Pillar looked down and saw the anger in the girl's eyes. She let out a long breath, "You are my guest Ianna, never my captive."
She saw the girl's expression soften then and felt relieved. I am the captive. She thought for a long moment then turned her attention to the water. She has spirit. No one else save Rodrigo would have questioned me on that matter. Who are you kidding Pillar? On any matter.
"Very well Ianna, if you insist. I remember your interest in the stars. How would like to learn to navigate?" Asked the tall woman.
Ianna couldn't keep the smile from her lips. "That would be fascinating. When do I begin?"
"How does after the noon meal strike you? It is almost that time and I will have time after to start your lessons."
Ianna couldn't contain her excitement. "Thank you!" She said ecstatically and threw her arms around Pillar in a hug.
Pillar was caught off guard. She knew the reaction would be positive but she wasn't expecting such a physical display. She hesitantly wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and patted her on the back. She looked self consciously around and decided to break the embrace.
"Um why do you not get ready for the noon meal? I will join you and explain to you some of the duties with which you will be assigned." She said, trying to sound as captainly as she could.
"Alright." Said Ianna excitedly and turned to go. Then she stopped and turned back to Pillar. She opened her mouth to ask a question but Pillar spoke first.
"I will come for you if you like. Would you like to eat in my quarters or if not we could make some other arrangement." Said Pillar smiling.
"Oh no, no that would be fine. I shall go and get ready." She finished and went below.
Pillar let her gaze linger at the empty place created by Ianna's absence. She felt a touch wistful and all she could think of was how good it felt to have the young girl in her arms. She closed her eyes a moment and inhaled deeply remembering the scent on lilac that had touched her nose during their brief embrace. She walked back up to the wheel wondering why her body literally ached.
When she finally looked up she saw Rodrigo staring at her with his arms folded on his chest. "Pillar..."
"Yes, yes I know. Were you able to find her anything to wear?" Asked Pillar quickly hoping her first mate would not pursue his former line of thought.
"Unfortunately there was nothing suitable." He replied honestly.
"Well, she has just become a temporary member of the crew. I'm sure you'll think of something." Said Pillar taking command of the wheel once again.
"A temp...and just how did she manage that?" He asked eyes wide.
"She wants to work for her passage. An admirable trait I thought." She answered looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
"Si Pillar is true but what does a young lady of her class and station know about working on a ship?" She asked curiously.
"About as much as I did on my first voyage." She said turning and meeting his gaze.
"You've had years to hone your skills she has but a few days." He continued.
"True, and I promised I would teach her to navigate. I will teach her all I can in the time we have. She expects this to be, in her own words, a grand adventure. I want to help make that expectation come true."
"Why Pillar?" He asked softly.
She turned her gaze to the sea, "I don't know."
Ianna sat at the desk in her room. She held the tip of the quill between her teeth as she stared at the empty page. She took a deep breath and set the quill in motion.
11th April 1701
Where do I begin? Since last night I feel like so much has happened. Dinner with Pillar was a most enjoyable event. I must say the food and company were excellent. I was right about Pillar. There is a definite mystery there. Her manners and grace definitely speak of society. I dare say I am almost positive of it.
She is a very guarded person and says little about herself personally. Though that does not make her unfriendly in any way, she is very witty, gracious and most intelligent. We spoke about so many things. It was wonderful! I was able to speak my mind freely on any subject I wished and actually be heard. I don't have the words to be able to describe how that feels.
Oh and I am to be made a member of the crew today. Well...ok not really but Pillar has agreed to let me work for my passage. She is going to teach me to navigate. I can hardly contain my excitement.
I know it's silly of me to go on and on about these things. In a week or two it will all be over and I'll return to my life safe and sound. I will marry Ranger have children and be a dutiful wife living the average life a commissioned soldier lives. Nothing will have changed except that I will have the memories of this time to remind me...Of what Ianna?
Of the fact that there is more to life than what I have been taught to believe. That not everything is what it seems to be. That a woman's role is not limited by the ideas of men. That a woman can be cultured and sophisticated while at the same time be strong and intelligent.
That my heart races uncontrollably every time Pillar looks at me and the thought of this journey coming to an end fills me with an indescribable desperation for exactly the opposite. That every time I look into her eyes I feel as if I've known her all my life. That being in her arms was the safest warmest place I've ever known.
She was writing feverishly, her breath was short and was extremely startled when an unexpected knock rattled her door. She literally squealed and dropped the quill. The door opened and Rodrigo poked his head in cautiously.
"Senorita, is everything alright? I am sorry I did not wait for your reply but I thought you might be in distress." He said letting himself in.
Ianna was blushing furiously. She wondered a moment if it was due to feeling foolish about squealing like a little girl or what she had just written.
"No Rodrigo I'm fine. I was just lost in thought. I wasn't expecting anyone." She tried to smile but was still in the process of trying to calm her heartbeat.
"Bueno, I did not mean to disturb you I only wished to drop this off for you." She stated placing a bundle on the table.
Ianna looked at the bundle curiously. "What is it?" she asked.
"Pillar informed me you would be a temporary part of the crew. I thought well..." he left the sentence unfinished and Ianna noticed Rodrigo was capable of blushing as well.
She walked over to the bundle and undid the tie. She laid open the bundle to find a set of clothes. Her brow furrowed as she realized they were men's clothes. She held up a shirt and looked at Rodrigo.
"Well you see Senorita I thought it might be better if..."
"I blended in with the rest of the crew."
"Si exactamente." He said relieved that she understood.
"I'm sorry I didn't realize, of course I must be causing a bit of a distraction. I'm sorry to be so much trouble." She said sincerely.
"Oh not at all." He said turning towards the door. "I was merely concerned for your safety. I would not like anything to happen you."
"Well thank you Rodrigo I really appreciate your concern." She said as he reached to the door handle and opened it.
Rodrigo hesitated in the doorway for a moment then turned his head, "I do not think Pillar would want anything to happen to you either. Hasta luego senorita." And he was gone.
Ianna looked at the closed door and chuckled, "That was an odd thing to say as an afterthought."
She turned to the bundle on the table and let out a long breath. "Well, I did ask to be part of the crew.
Genna was up early as usual and readied herself for the new day. She had spent a fitful night unable to sleep worried about her sister. The foremost thought in her mind being the hope that she was safe, Ranger seemed to feel that she was but how could anyone know for sure?
She had not spent much time interacting with Captain Montenegro and in fact had only seen her close up once at which time they were formally introduced. But during that brief meeting she seemed to be very gracious and well mannered. She had also observed Ianna engaged in conversation with her several times during the remainder of their journey. Something their father frowned upon she knew but he would not dare make a scene, after all, the Captain had taken responsibility for their safe passage.
All in all she was hesitantly optimistic that her sister was fairing well. She made her way downstairs and her attention was drawn to voices coming from the study. The doors to the study were closed but not completely and she could just make out the figures within. She was about to knock as she recognized the voice of her Uncle Beaumont but stopped as she heard the anger in the voices.
"Victor, are all the preparations made?" Asked Beaumont.
"Wei Mon Sur. We will be leaving at dawn tomorrow." Answered Victor.
"Have you located Santiago?"
"Wei, it was not difficult. I expressed to him your disappointment in his having the cargo stolen personally. In fact I was able to persuade him to come along to help us retrieve it." Answered Victor with a wicked smile.
Beaumont smiled in return, "Excellent, but do not forget Mon Ami, this is supposed to be a rescue mission. Make sure Ranger suspects nothing. I love my son but he inherited several traits from his mother I have no use for."
"And those would be Mon Sur?" asked Victor curiously.
"Compassion and a high sense of chivalry not to mention a good heart, all of those are but hindrances in our chosen profession. He would cause a problem for us if he knew the true purpose for the voyage so take care he is a very resourceful boy." He warned.
"It will be no problem. He is focused on his desire to rescue the girl. He will notice little else." Assured Victor.
Genna couldn't believe what she was hearing. She backed away from the door slowly her mind racing in a thousand directions when she was stopped suddenly by a solid form behind her. She jumped turning quickly just barely hold in the scream that threatened to escape.
"Hey what are you doing?" asked Ranger chuckling.
Genna looked at him for a moment trying to let her senses calm down before answering. "Ranger you're terrible sneaking up on defenseless women like that."
He laughed, "Hmm I wasn't the one that was sneaking."
"I wasn't sneaking, I was going to say good morning to your father but he was busy. I decided to go look for you instead." She explained reasonably.
He was about to retort when the study doors opened.
"What are you two doing out here?" asked Beaumont an amused look on his face.
"Morning father, we came to bid you a good day." Answered Ranger. "Are the preparations ready?" he asked.
"Yes everything is ready you will be leaving in the morning. Is that soon enough for you?"
"Actually no but it will have to do." Ranger looked passed his father and saw Victor. "Morning Victor." He said a little stiffly.
"Morning Mon Sur."
"Well I guess we'll be on our way." Said Ranger gesturing to Genna.
Genna waved and followed Ranger towards the garden.
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Genna wondered if she should tell Ranger about what she had heard. Would he even believe her? It was his father after all. She was halted suddenly by a hand at her arm.
"Hey you ok?" asked Ranger concerned.
Genna looked up at him and was about to speak but decided not to.
"Hey don't worry Genna I'll bring her back. I'm sure she's fine." He said reassuringly.
"I know you will. How can you be sure she's alright though?" she asked
"I don't know, call it a feeling." He answered resuming their walk.
"Ranger...please...be careful. I want to see you and Ianna safely back." She said very seriously.
"We'll be back before you know it safe and sound." He assured her.
"I hope so Ranger. I really do hope so."
Beaumont and Victor stood at window looking out over the garden. Both men were pensive.
"Do you think she heard anything?" asked the older man seriously.
"Hard to say. It does not appear as though she went running to him with any pressing news. I will keep an eye on her if wish until our departure." Commented Victor.
"Do that Mon Ami. I will not let my plans be disrupted any further. Make no mistake Victor secure the cargo at all costs." He turned to go and spotted Hogan coming down the stairs. He waved to him in greeting and smiled turning back to Victor for a moment. "Make sure this is the last cargo Montenegro seizes...ever."
Victor watched as Beaumont went to greet Hogan then turned back to the window and regarded Ranger. He had known the boy since the day he was born. He'd looked out for him always at his employer's request. But he posed a potential threat to the operation and he could not afford any obstacles. In a perfect world they would retrieve the girl and the cargo and return home. But Victor was well aware that this was not a perfect world. He was prepared to do what he must to achieve his goal.
He would take great pleasure in disposing of that brigand. Make no mistake he would attend to that personally. He knew her reputation and he would not trust that task to anyone but himself. He let a feral grin grace his lips as he thought about killing Pillar Montenegro. Yes I am very much looking forward to seeing my sword stained with her blood. As well as the blood of anyone who stands in my way.
Continued in Part 2
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