Spanish Eyes by MaryG Part 2

For Disclaimers see Part 1

Pillar stood at the desk in her quarters. She was looking over several of the star charts in her possession. She hadn't used any of them in quite some time and wanted to start the young girl off on the right foot. She had no idea if Ianna would take to the lessons but she had a feeling that if the young girl was even half as intelligent as she suspected then she would do just fine.

She had just turned her attention to another chart when there was nock at her door. She bid the person enter without looking. Out of the corner of her eye she saw boots and trousers and directed the crewman to set the noon meal on the table.

"Just set in on the table please and please send Rodrigo to me." She said without looking up.

Her brow furrowed a bit when she didn't detect any movement from the crew member.

"Is there a problem? Were my instructions not clear enough for you?" She asked in a firm tone still not looking up from her charts.

She waited a few moments and when she still detected no movement straightened her self to her full height. She took a deep breath and could feel anger beginning to rise.

"I do not know what game you think you are playing. But I assure you, it is a dangerous one."

"And just how dangerous a game am I playing?"

Pillar turned quickly towards the sound of the voice. She was dumb struck. She looked the crew member up and down and try as she might she simply could not find her voice. Her senses were assaulted by a sudden giggle from the crew member causing her to blink and break the spell.

"Good afternoon Captain, Navigator Ianna McClarrin reporting for duty." Said Ianna with a very serious expression and her best attempt at standing at attention, which, Pillar noted, wasn't half bad.

Pillar cocked her head to one side and placed her hands on her hips. "And just what do think you are doing?" She asked with a smile.

Ianna opened her mouth to answer but didn't get the opportunity. "Where did you get those clothes?" continued Pillar.

Ianna smiled broadly, "Not what you expected?"

Pillar raised a dark eyebrow causing Ianna to giggle as she continued. "Rodrigo thought this would be less distracting to the men."

Pillar considered this for a moment. The outfit was not entirely unbecoming. Ianna wore a pair of dark brown britches with a white shirt tucked neatly in the waist, the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. The boots she wore were a lighter brown than the britches and complimented them nicely.

Pillar smiled, "I must remember to compliment Rodrigo on his fashion sense. Here turn around let me see you." She finished, making a twirling gesture with her finger.

Ianna complied holding her arms out and turning around slowly so Pillar could get the full effect. She had tied her hair back with a leather tie. An effect she found she liked when she looked in the mirror to survey her new look.

"Well, no it was not what I was expecting but it is not an unpleasant surprise. Rodrigo was probably right this attire would probably be less distracting to the men. A pity it has the opposite affect on me.

She approached Ianna and reached back to give her pony tail a playful tug. "This is a good idea. It gets windy up on the deck. It would not do to have such lovely hair flying this way and that."

Ianna felt a tingle travel up her spine as Pillar let her hair fall through her fingers. She felt her breathing quicken and suddenly became afraid that in this close proximity Pillar would notice.

"I'm glad you approve." Said Ianna looking up at the taller woman's profile.

Pillar could feel Ianna's gaze and willed herself not to look down in those beautiful green eyes. She should not have approached Ianna in such a familiar manner to begin with. It did not matter that Ianna didn't seem to mind. She dropped her hand and walked back over to her desk.

"Come Ianna let me show you how to read a star chart." Said Pillar as she motioned the smaller woman over to her.

Ianna had spent a very restless night. She wasn't troubled by anything in particular she was simply too excited to sleep. Her day had gone supremely well and it was topped off by having dinner yet again with Pillar.

For the second time in as many days Pillar had escorted the girl to her room after a pleasant evening of dinner and conversation. Also for the second time in as many days Pillar had graciously said goodnight by kissing Ianna's hand.

Ianna was quickly becoming aware of the fact that she would, in all likelihood, never tire of the gesture. It made her tingle all over remembering it. The way Pillar would turn her eyes up to meet hers as she placed her lips ever so softly on her knuckles. It was literally breath taking.

It was this thought that kept Ianna awake this night. Ianna may have had what some considered a sheltered life but she was not a fool. She had taken full advantage of the custom of being seen and not heard. She spent many a formal occasion sitting quietly and listening to the conversations of others.

She was well aware of the fact that there were many people who chose to share intimate relationships with those of the same sex. Though she did not spend any time trying to figure out the mechanics of it, since she really did have no knowledge or point of reference in that matter. But the relationship aspect of it had always intrigued her somewhat. Her mind had no difficulty whatsoever accepting the notion.

She had read enough novels to know that true love was such a rare and wondrous gift. She believed that every soul had a mate and the vessel that carried that mate was just a matter of circumstance. If one was lucky enough to find their soul mate they would be foolish to let them go simply because of something so superficial.

Ianna let out a sigh and sat up. She knew she would never be able to get back to sleep. Instead she got out of bed and lit the lamp by her desk. She decided to write for a while hoping that doing so would help clear her mind. She simply had too much Pillar on her mind. She sat at her desk and smiled a bit. She wasn't sure that was necessarily a bad thing.

12 April, 1701

Good morning, welcome to day three of my journey. I am up early today. Finding it difficult to sleep I decided I might as well get up write to try and clear my mind.

Yesterday was a busy day. I learned so much. Pillar showed me how to use a star chart. At first I couldn't make sense of it all. All those dots looked the same and I doubted I would ever be able to tell one from with the other with any certainty. But as Pillar began to explain it I started to see the patterns in those dots.

She explained the relationship between the positioning of the constellations and the points on the compass. It was quite fascinating actually. She promised to continue my lessons today. I am going to learn how set the course of the ship today. I can hardly wait. Perhaps that is why sleep eluded me last night.

I must remember to thank Rodrigo for the clothes. I felt very comfortable in the ones he secured for me and I believe the crew, well at least some of the crew, is beginning to grow accustomed to my presence on board the ship. I received several encouraging smiles from Navigator Mendez. He even joked that he should be careful or he might find himself replaced. It made me blush terribly but the compliment was well received none the less.

It's so strange being here. I feel so...accepted. That is definitely something very new for me. I know my time here is limited but I find myself wishing that it wasn't. A foolish folly of mine to be sure, but I gain more and more confidence everyday. I look forward to my lessons and grow curious as to how skilled I could actually become. But try as I might to convince myself I know that is only a small part of the reason.

At any rate...I must go ready myself for the day.

The next few days passed with out incident. Ianna continued with her studies and to no ones surprise the young girl was doing extremely well. She had begun to learn how to plot courses and squealed with delight when Pillar gave her a test course to plot out and she did it correctly on the first try.

Rodrigo did his best to keep his eye on Ianna. The crew, in his opinion was adjusting well to Ianna's presence. To his relief there had been no further incidents. He had heard the occasional comment fly by but that was to be expected. He also noticed that the comments were changing. He heard some directed towards Ianna that were most favorable. Others still, were directed towards the girl and Pillar as some speculated as to the nature of their relationship.

Rodrigo knew Pillar well enough to have no doubt of the fact that she was growing to care for this lovely Señorita. She could see in both her treatment of the girl and in the way she looked at her when she thought no one was looking. He sighed to himself. He had done his best to discourage Pillar from pursuing the girl and she had assured him that was not her intention. But he knew the attraction was growing and in all honesty how long could he reasonably expect Pillar to not act on her feelings. Especially when the object of her affection wanted the same thing she did. Even if Pillar refused to see it not to mention Ianna as well. They could not, or would not, see beyond their own feelings. Too concerned with what the other would think.

In truth he had not seen Pillar this happy in a long time. When she was with Ianna she smiled quite often and did not care if the crew saw her. He noticed she was also kinder to the crew. Not that she had ever been unkind but she was firm. She would tolerate nothing less but absolute respect for her command and that involved a certain level of intimidation. That was something Pillar was very skilled at.

The crew had also seen her skill in battle and that helped to encourage discipline and loyalty if not out right fear. There wasn't one member of the crew that wanted to face the end of her sword. Her skill with a blade was legendary he had not seen her skill rivaled by anyone as far back as his memory could reach.

In truth, when he saw the pair together it warmed his heart. They complimented each other well. When they were together it was like they had known each other their entire lives. He smiled to himself as he reflected on that. He chuckled a bit thinking about the fact that each of them was oblivious.

Perhaps it was for the best, the girl was already promised to some one else. A captain in the French army with a fine career ahead of him. Not to mention that fact that she was from a prominent family; which would no doubt scour the seven seas in search of her. Yes it was best they arrive at the Canarias, send word to her family and move on.

Pillar would go on with her life as she always did. He folded his arms on his chest and looked out at the ocean. He was so lost in thought that he did not hear the yells of warning thrown in his direction. His world turned upside down as he tumbled backwards and was thrown over the rail. His body hit the water painfully a thousand needles hitting him at once stealing the breath from his body.

He felt himself being tossed endlessly around. He knew he was under water but his senses were fuzzy and his limbs felt so heavy. Try as he might he could not get his body to obey his commands. His lungs were beginning to feel the strain from their need for air. The fuzziness grew and he knew he was at the edge of consciousness. He barely felt the hand that grabbed his shirt and pulled. He rose until his head cleared the water and he took a large gulp of desperately needed air just as his consciousness left him.

Ianna was bent over a chart plotting the course Pillar had given. She looked up to find Pillar looking up at the clouds. They had come in suddenly and were darkening as the day progressed. She went over to join the captain concerned about the worried look on her face.

"Pillar, is everything alright?" she asked quietly.

Pillar tuned and gave Ianna a smile. "Si, everything is fine. I was only concerned about the clouds. They look angry."

"Hmm, I never of clouds as looking angry before, but now that you mention it I guess they do." Agreed Ianna taking another look at the sky. "Do you think we'll get a storm?" she asked a little concerned.

"Well, I will not lie to you and say no. There will be some bad weather but how bad depends on where we are when the storm arrives. Let us see if we can adjust the course and avoid the worst of it." Replied Pillar.

As they turned to return to the charts their attention was drawn to a sudden commotion on deck. Both women stepped out to see several crew members pointing up and two were hauling a rope. They followed the rope and saw the trouble. One of the elevated pulleys was caught and they were trying to free it before it could damage the sail.

Pillar headed in their direction shouting instructions. She was about to take control of the rope when they heard a snap. The pulley uncaught and swung down headed right for Ianna. Pillar knew she would never reach her in time and fear gripped her chest as she shouted. "IANNA!"

Ianna had seen the pulley come lose and ducked. It passed over her and she turned her head to follow its flight. She stood and ran as she saw its next intended target. "RODRIGO!" She yelled still running in his direction.

The pulley struck Rodrigo on the side of head tossing him over the rail. Ianna didn't think she simply reacted. When she reached the rail she never stopped. She felt a sting on her arm as she impacted with the pulley while jumping over the rail.

It wasn't until she was in the air that she realized the height from which she had jumped. She flayed her arms as she flew through the air at the last moment she tucked them close to her body and hit the water. She held her breath and opened her eyes when her decent stopped.

She looked up to find the surface of the water far above her head. She looked around adjusting her vision and began to head for the surface as fast as she could. Her lungs were straining by the time she hit the surface and took a moment to take in few lung fulls of air. She treaded water and looked around, she saw no sign of Rodrigo. She had the ship to her back and had a general idea of where to swim. She dove under just as the wind carried her name to her ears.

She saw something in the distance and swam for it like a woman possessed. She swam harder when she realized it was Rodrigo. She grabbed him by the shirt and headed up. She heard his gasps for air as they broke the surface. It was difficult to tread water and hold the man at the same time but she did her best. The ship was at some distance away and she wasn't sure if she could make it with the unconscious man in tow.

She saw a lifeboat go over the edge and was filled with relief. She tried to relax as much as possible and conserve her energy as she kept up the steady treading. She saw Pillar's unmistakable form climb in the boat with two other men and the boat slowly began to descend.

Pillar looked on in a panic as the brief relief she felt upon seeing Ianna duck the pulley quickly faded when she saw the girl go over the side. She ran over to the rail in time to see the girl hit the water. All the color drained from her face and she turned to her right catching sight of Mendez.

"Stop the ship! Lower the anchor and the sails!" She shouted the orders at the shocked crewmen. "Now! Move! Stop this ship or I will run you all through!"

The orders were carried out in a blaze of speed that surprised even Pillar.

"Get a life boat ready!" She shouted.

She looked over the rail and saw Ianna surface. "IANNA!"

She almost went over the rail herself, years of discipline keeping her from doing it. She saw the girl go under once again and swore that if that lifeboat did not arrive in seconds she start cutting off appendages.

No sooner had she finished the thought when the men began to prepare the boat for lowering. "Mendez, Rafael, come with me."

As she positioned herself at the head of the boat she looked out in the distance and saw Ianna surface again. To her surprise she had Rodrigo with her. It seemed like an eternity by the time the life boat finally hit the water. Mendez and Rafael each took an oar and began to row.

Ianna turned toward the direction the lifeboat was in. It was still some distance away but she could see Pillar. She appeared to be giving instructions when she turned suddenly catching sight of Ianna. Ianna could see the serious look on Pillars face and wondered if she would be angry with her about this. A nervous knot began to tie itself up in her stomach.

She watched the boat as it neared. She was beginning to tire and it was becoming more difficult to keep herself and the unconscious Rodrigo above water. She was also becoming aware of a pain in her right arm. It was a dull ache at the moment but there was a severe stinging sensation and the water around her was beginning to gain a red tint.

Her breaths were coming in gasps and she coughed up seawater as she went under unexpectedly and resurfaced. She looked towards the life boat when she heard her name called.

"Ianna! Look at me! Do not take your eyes off me! We are almost there!" Instructed Pillar.

Pillar had seen the girl go under and also noticed the color of the water. She had no idea who the injured party was but it didn't matter. Her focus was to get them both out of the water as quickly as possible.

When the life boat finally reached them Ianna felt a huge sense of relief. Mendez and Rafael reached down and grabbed the unconscious Rodrigo. Once Ianna was free of her burden she reached up and grabbed Pillar's extended arm. Pillar pulled the girl into the boat with little difficulty. She did not release the girl until she was comfortably positioned with her head n her lap.

It wasn't until that moment that Ianna realized how tired she was. She was a little light headed and wanted nothing more than to curl up exactly where she was. She tried to sit up but Pillar held her gently in place.

"Stay there Ianna, we will be back aboard soon." Said Pillar smoothing the wet hair out of the girl's eyes.

"Is Rodrigo alright?" Asked Ianna concerned.

Pillar looked over at Mendez who gave her a slight nod after checking the man over briefly. "He is fine, only unconscious. He will live to see another day thanks to you." Answered Pillar.

Ianna thought for a moment and was about to speak when Pillar continued, "You know, that was an incredibly foolish thing to do."

Ianna averted her gaze unable to meet Pillar's. "Yes, I am sorry. I don't know what came over me. When I saw him go over the side I just…"

Pillar placed a finger on the girls jaw and gently turned the girls face so that their eyes could meet. "Had it not been for you he would have drowned. Do not apologize. It is through the success of their foolish or if you prefer impulsive actions that heroes are born."

"Heroes…" Ianna stared up at Pillar in wonder.

"Si Senorita, heroes…" Pillar stopped speaking when she noticed blood on the floor of the life boat. She wondered for a moment where it had come from then noticed the stain on Ianna's right shirt sleeve. She remembered the blood in the water but thought it had been Rodrigo's.

She shifted and lifted the girl's arm slightly noticing the rip in the sleeve. "Ow." Said the girl looking over at her arm. "I think that happened when I went over the side but I'm not sure everything was happening so fast.

Pillar remained silent as she examined Ianna's arm. She had a deep gash in the upper part of the right arm that need tending. It was bleeding freely and while there was no danger of Ianna bleeding to death she did appear somewhat pale and that concerned Pillar.

"Rafael, give me your shirt." It wasn't a request.

Rafael looked down at himself then at Mendez, and back to Pillar.

"Rafael! Give me your shirt! I'm not going to ask you again."

The young man jumped at the sudden raise in volume and quickly stripped off his shirt. Pillar grabbed it and promptly ripped it earning a wince from Rafael. Ianna saw his reaction and looked up to catch Pillar's gaze. "Pillar, be nice…please."

Pillar stopped for a moment then continued to tend Ianna's wound. "I will replace it for you Rafael."

"Si Capitan, gracias." Said the young man resuming his seat and claiming his oar.

Ianna smiled "Thank you Pillar..." her speech was abruptly cut off by a hiss of pain as Pillar applied pressure to the wound.

"I am sorry Ianna but the pressure will stop the bleeding, or at least slow it until the ship's doctor can tend it."

Ianna reached over, took Pillar's hand and gave it a little squeeze in gratitude. Pillar looked down and gave her an almost imperceptible wink and they waited patiently as the men rowed the life boat back to the ship.

After a vehement protest by Ianna, Pillar finally convinced her to remain on the life boat with Rodrigo while it was hoisted back up to the deck. The rope ladder Mendez and Rafael had used to was not an option. Rodrigo was still unconscious and Ianna could not make the climb due to her injury. The only option left was to wait.

Pillar reluctantly left Ianna and her first mate and made the climb. She waited as patiently as the circumstances would allow on the deck while the ship made its slow but steady progress upward. The ship's doctor had already been alerted and was waiting in his rooms for the patients to be brought in.

The life boat settled on to the deck with a thump and the men clustered around quickly to help. Two large crew members lifted Rodrigo out of the boat and headed for the doctors rooms. A path was cleared for Pillar at her command and she helped Ianna out of the boat careful not to aggravate her injury.

"Thank you." Said Ianna quietly as Pillar gave her a supportive arm. When her feet touched the deck her knees threatened to buckle and she waited a moment before she took a step and stumbled right into Pillar's arms. Pillar wasted no time in scooping up the smaller woman.

"Out of my way!" She ordered and made her way below.

She felt her heart racing as she traversed the corridor that led to the doctor's rooms. There were several men clustered out side including the ones that had carried Rodrigo in. One of the men noticed the captain's approach and motioned the others out of the way. One jumped forward and opened the door to allow the captain entrance.

She placed Ianna gently on one of the berths and stepped back looking on anxiously as the doctor turned his attention to the new arrival. The men were huddled in the doorway with worried expressions as they watched the doctor work.

"What happened?" asked the doctor seriously.

Pillar let out a long breath, "There was an accident on deck. Rodrigo was thrown overboard and she went after him." Pillar explained.

"They were both thrown?"

"No, Rodrigo was thrown and she jumped in after him." She clarified hastily. "She has a bad wound on her arm I believe she has lost a lot of blood." She said indicating the injured arm.

The doctor took in the amount of blood on the makeshift bandage. He ripped the sleeve from shoulder to elbow and removed the bandage. He cleaned the wound and prepared to stitch it up. Pillar eased up next to the doctor and placed a hand on his shoulder. "If you would please, do what you can to minimize the scar. I would hate to see her marked."

"I will do what I can." He assured her.

Pillar moved over to the door and approached the men. One of them spoke up concern on his face, "Will they be alright Capitan?"

"I'm sure they will be fine. They are receiving the best care this side of the Atlantic." Just as she finished her statement she heard a groan come from her first mate. She went over to him and smiled when she saw him open his eyes.

"Ugh…" said the man as he tried to sit up.

"Take it easy my friend. You were out of it for quite a while." Said Pillar easing him back down. Other than a very nasty looking bruise on his cheekbone and a cut on his temple he didn't seem to be in bad shape. No doubt he swallowed quite I bit of water but that was not fatal. No doubt in a day or so he would be his old self.

Rodrigo ran a hand over his face and winced, "What happened? I remember being on deck then I was falling."

"There was a pulley caught, when it freed it swung, you were in the way." Explained Pillar.

"Ah, is that why my face feels like it was beaten with an…" his comment was cut off by a groan coming from somewhere near by. He turned his head to the left to see the doctor at work on another patient. His brow furrowed. He was about to ask who it was when the doctor turned to address Pillar clearing his field of vision.

His heart stopped when he saw Ianna and the doctor's bloody hands. He tried to sit up and Pillar placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "It is alright my friend. She will be fine, only lost a little too much blood I think. Am I mistaken doctor?"

"No you are correct Capitan, but if you wish me to minimize the scar I am going to need a hand she's coming around."

Pillar moved over to where Ianna was. She was beginning to stir and her forehead wrinkled as the pain was making itself known. Pillar looked towards the door. "Return to your duties, I will send word with a full report now go all of you."

The men filed out and Pillar returned her attention to Ianna. She smoothed the hair from her eyes and leaned in close. "Ianna…Ianna amor can you hear me?" Asked Pillar quietly. Pale lashes fluttered open very slowly.

"Pillar…what happened?" asked Ianna quietly.

Pillar took Ianna's hand remaining in close proximity. "Listen to me. The doctor has to finish his work. He is almost done but you have to stay very still."

Ianna could feel the burning and the pain was worse than anything she had ever felt. She clenched her jaw and nodded closing her eyes. Pillar looked up at the doctor and gave him a nod. As he resumed his work Pillar gave Ianna soft words of encouragement. Ianna squeezed Pillars hand and felt warmth on her face as Pillar wiped away the soundless tears that escaped out of the corners of her eyes. Finally it was over and Ianna let out the breath which seemed she'd been holding for an eternity.

The doctor dressed the wound and gave instructions that she should rest for a couple of hours before trying to get up and to drink fluids to help with the blood loss. Pillar thanked him and he left the room.

Pillar moved around to the other side and looked at the bandage satisfied with the doctor's work. She also couldn't help but notice what looked to be fading bruises. They were turning yellow indicating they were far from fresh but the size of the bruised area surprised Pillar. Almost the entire upper arm was or had been bruised. Her expression flickered anger for just a second before she turned her attention to Ianna. She would not ask her about it at this moment but she would at a later date. Of that she was certain.

"Will some one please tell me what happened?" Asked Rodrigo a little exasperated.

"It is simple Rodrigo." Began Pillar turning towards her first mate. "It is as I said, you were thrown overboard."

"Yes, that explains my injury. But what of the Senorita?" He asked concerned.

"She sustained her injury when she jumped overboard after you. Or a least that is when we think she was injured." Finished Pillar.

Rodrigo was dumbstruck. He didn't know what to say. After a few moments of blinking and shifting his gaze between the two women. "She jumped in after me?" He asked.

"She did indeed. Saved you from an early burial at sea." Answered Pillar with the slightest hint of pride in her voice.

Rodrigo couldn't believe that this petite, proper young lady had risked her life for him by jumping overboard to save him. He knew he was forever in her debt and the only words he could think of seemed, to him, to fall far very short of the emotion that he wished to convey. "Thank you Senorita. I will not forget your kindness or your bravery."

Ianna blushed, she wasn't used to being the center of attention or to receiving such compliments. The pain in her arm subsided to a dull ache, uncomfortable but not unbearable. In fact all things considered she didn't feel that bad except that she really needed to get out of her wet clothes. She tried to sit up only to be gently reprimanded by Pillar.

"Ah, ah. Did the Doctor not say you were to rest for a couple of hours before attempting to move?"

"Yes he did, but I fear that if I do not get out of these wet clothes I will catch my death of cold." She stated simply.

Pillar thought for a moment and decided she was right. She could catch a chill and be miserable for the remainder of their journey. She looked over at Rodrigo who had managed to sit up.

"Rodrigo let me accompany you to your room while Ianna gets out of those clothes. I will pick you up something for her to change into on the way back." She finished turning towards Ianna.

She helped Rodrigo to his feet and to his surprise, for a man who had almost drowned, he didn't feel that bad. His throat felt a bit raw and his lungs felt strained but other than that and a headache he felt alright. He would be back on duty tomorrow he was certain.

As they stepped out into the passage they noticed two of the men waiting outside the door. One was Rafael and the other Antonio, the secondary navigator. Pillar turned to them. "Antonio tell Mendez to get the ship moving. Tell him to set a course to try and avoid the storm clouds."

"Si Capitan." He replied and left to carry out his orders.

Rafael approached slowly, "Rodrigo it is good to see you are doing well."

"Thank you Rafael." Replied Rodrigo sincerely.

"Is that what brings you here Rafael or do you have some other business?" Asked Pillar.

"Well no…but…you see…"

Pillar rolled her eyes trying to hold on to her patience. Rafael could see the frustration on his captain's face and tried again.

"The men Capitan Montenegro, they wanted to know if the Senorita was alright. There has been much talk and they think it was a very brave thing she did. Some even said they did not think they could have done it. So…"

"So they sent you down for word on her condition." She finished for him.

"Si Capitan that was the idea." He said seriously.

"Bueno, tell the men she is fine. Just a minor wound nothing more."

"Oh that is good to hear, I will tell them, they will be very pleased." He said enthusiastically and turned to go.

"Rafael!" Pillar called out stopping the boy in his tracks.

He turned quickly and addressed Pillar, "Si Capitan?"

"When you are done informing the men return here. I will be detained no longer than I must but I would not like the Senorita to be unprotected for so long. I place her safety in your hands until I return." She said trying not to smile.

Rafael stood as straight as he could puffing out his chest. "Si Capitan, do not fear. No harm will come to her while she is in my charge."

"There is no doubt in my mind. Carry on." She finished and turned to go.

As they made their way through the passage Rodrigo chuckled. "He was very excited no?"

Pillar simply smiled. "I know she is in no danger. If the men are really that concerned they will not do anything foolish. I believe she has enough protectors now to discourage those that have less than honorable intentions."

"Then why post the boy for her protection?" He asked curiously.

"I liked his show of concern and…well, you can never be too careful." She said as they arrived at his cabin.

He pondered this as they entered. "I suppose you are right." Pillar turned to go and he stopped her momentarily. "Pillar…She is very special no?"

"That she is my friend." She answered a bit wistfully.

"You have grown to care for her." Not a question.

"Yes I have." she answered honestly.

"Does she return the feelings?" he asked, testing the waters a bit.

"I…no. She is having the adventure of a lifetime. I am merely a part of that. I believe she cares for me of course, as a friend and perhaps protector on this voyage. But it is no more than that." Right?

"Bueno, perhaps you are right." He stated feeling no need to push it further. "I am going to rest for a while. Oh, I did not have time to procure but one set of clothes for her." He informed.

"Oh I am sure I can find something for her to wear. Do not trouble yourself over it. Get some rest my friend I will look in on you later."

Ianna sat up slowly. She was tired and her arm ached but overall she felt fine. She sat on the edge of the berth for a moment in quiet stillness. She reflected on her act of bravery.Stupidity is more like it, she thought to herself. "You could have been killed." She scolded herself. Nonetheless a smile snuck its way onto her lips. "I did do that didn't I?" She chuckled and shook her head. "I bet they were surprised. Ianna McClarrin, the proper young lady from a respectable English family, loving daughter, sister and betrothed. Having the time of my life on a ship full of cut throats and brigands."

It amazed her how comfortable she actually was with the idea. Though she knew she shouldn't be. She had just about stopped being concerned with what was and wasn't proper. There were two things she knew for certain, first she liked being here.

Secondly, she enjoyed the time she spent with Pillar. She knew her feelings for Pillar were growing as the days went on. But in what direction that was leading her she did not know. Pillar was very kind, at least to her, polite, more chivalrous than most men she had encountered, beautiful and oh so charming.

But all those things in no way indicated that Pillar's feelings for Ianna ran any deeper than that of friendship. At least that she was sure of. They had spent enough time together for her to be able to recognize genuine affection. She had never had a friend se felt this comfortable with and she was reluctant to allow herself to think that she might lose her in just a few short days.

In the strangest of places and under the oddest circumstances she knew she'd found something. Though, she was unclear as to what it was exactly, she was determined to stay until she found out. Whatever it was had wrapped itself around her heart and was refusing to let go. Not the worst of circumstances she mused.

The shivers she was experiencing disturbed her from her thoughts and decided that was enough speculation for the moment. She stood carefully and looked around. She spied a blanket on the other side of the room and retrieved it. She removed her shirt and examined it, looking grimly at the torn sleeve. She let it drop on the floor and set to the task of removing her boots.

She didn't put much thought into the task for if she had she surely would have opted to sit before making the attempt. She had bent over and undid the laces but was having difficulty removing the boot. She braced her left leg on her right knee and took a good hold of the boot. She tried to work it free but had no success. Her arm was beginning to throb and she was far from amused. She bit her bottom lip and gave it one more pull.

The boot came off suddenly throwing her off balance. She dropped the boot and flayed her arms in an attempt to keep her balance. She let out a squeal as she realized that she was headed for the floor. She shut her eyes tight and waited for the impact.

Rafael stood guard at Ianna's door. He exuded the pride he felt at being chosen for this important duty. No one would be allowed entrance except for the Doctor and the Captain. He was prepared to offer his life if need be. Perhaps if he did well he would be chosen for tasks of equal importance in the future. It was not easy to rise through the ranks on a ship of this size. He was determined to make a memorable impression.

He startled when he heard a sound of distress come from the room. He turned quickly and entered the room. Upon seeing Ianna on the floor he rushed over to her not realizing she was topless.

"Señorita! Please allow me…madre de dios!" Rafael stopped dead as he was leaning over to help Ianna up.

Ianna didn't think it was possible to turn that red so fast and she looked at the young man in wonder. She didn't know what to say at first but recovered quickly and reached for the blanket. She covered her self as best she could as Rafael turned his back to her and began stuttering. "I, I, I…you sounded…I mean…you fell."

"Its alright, I fell when I was trying to take off my boot. It was my fault I should have sat down. Can you give me a hand please? I'll see if I can manage to get the other one off without making a fool of myself." She said with a chuckle.

He turned his head to ensure that she was indeed decent and only turned around when he was certain that she was. "Si Senorita, please be careful. Are you sure you did not injure yourself further? I can get the Medico. The Capitan would kill me if she knew I had allowed you to be injured further."

Ianna stood easily with his help and sat on the pallet wrapping the blanket more securely around herself. "Don't be silly, I'm fine. I'm only sorry to have caused you such embarrassment; you performed your duty admirably. Rest assured I will tell Captain Montenegro of your gallantry."

Rafael couldn't help but smile. It was the first time he had seen Ianna this close for an extended period of time and he was captivated by the girl. She was beautiful and he could tell she had a good heart as well. No wonder the Capitan was so taken with her. He had observed the two of them together on several occasions and the fondness seemed to be mutual.

He had not been on the ship for very long but he had heard numerous stories from the crew about Captain Montenegro. He thought he would be terrified of her but instead grew to have enormous respect for her and her abilities as tactician, captain, and in battle.

"Gracias, Senorita. I would not want her to think I did not do my duty. If you require anything at all I will be right out side the door." He said formally and turned towards the door then stopped. "Senorita, will you be staying on after we get to the Canarias? I think it would be very good if you did."

"Why is that?" asked Ianna curiously.

"I think the Capitan would miss you very much if you chose not to stay." He said simply and let himself out.

Ianna turned her attention to her other boot as she thought about what the young man had just said. Was it even her choice? She knew her thoughts had been heading in that direction more and more with each passing day.

After a quick trip to her quarters, a check on the weather and their course Pillar headed back down to the sick room. As she rounded a corner she saw Rafael engaged in conversation with two other crew members. She moved into the shadows and advanced close enough to hear what was being said.

"He, he Rafael thinks he can take us." Chuckled one of the men.

Rafael looked at the men and took a deep breath. "I do not know if I can take you or not. But I have been charged with the Senorita's safety and I will not allow any harm to come to her."

The men laughed. "You hear that Omar? He will not allow…"

Omar scratched his chin thoughtfully. "If it will make you feel any better we have no wish to harm her in fact the complete opposite if she is cooperative." He said as a sneer claimed his features.

Another deep breath by the young man. "Get back to your duties. The Senorita is resting after having her injuries treated. It was a brave thing she did today and deserves better than to have the two of you sniffing around here like dogs in heat."

Omar raised an eyebrow. "Did you hear that Montalvo? He called us dogs."

Montalvo looked from Omar to Rafael. "Perhaps he forgets one thing, dogs have teeth. They tend to bite when they are being denied what they crave." He finished as he pulled out a knife.

Rafael eyed the knife carefully, trying to keep an eye on both men. "Capitan Montenegro would not be pleased to return and find you both here. Why not do yourselves a favor and simply return to your duties?"

Montalvo spat on the floor "Oh yes the mighty Capitan. Why should she get to have all the fun? Just because she has laid claim to the girl doesn't mean we cannot have the leftovers."

He let out a startled yelp when a hand grabbed him suddenly by the collar. Omar turned quickly and froze as he saw who the assailant was.

Pillar turned Montalvo around, wrapped both hands in his shirt and slammed him against the wall. He dropped the knife out of sheer terror. "You talk way to much Montalvo. I'm very…very…tired of hearing your voice." Said Pillar drawing out the words slowly.

His eyes opened wide as he looked into ice cold blue eyes. He was going to die here, of that he was certain. "Listen to me very carefully Montalvo because I am only going to say this once. If you dare to so much as look in Ianna's direction ever again I will kill you. Understand?"

The tone was low and rich and it touched him to the core. In truth, he almost wet himself he was so terrified. Speech eluded him and he could only nod. She turned her head towards Omar still maintaining a hold on Montalvo. "Omar! Did I make myself clear?"

"Si Capitan." He replied.

"Then get back to work. When we get to the Canarias you can find yourselves another ship. I do not want to see either of you for the remainder of the journey or I may not wait until we get there to get you off my ship. Dismissed!"

The men hurried off bumping into one another in their haste. Pillar turned to Rafael who quickly stood at attention when she did so. "Good work Rafael." She said giving him a pat on the shoulder as she passed him.

When she entered the room she was glad to see that Ianna was resting comfortably. She crossed the room and stood by Ianna's berth. The girl was dozing peacefully and she simply didn't have the heart to wake her. Instead she sat in a nearby chair and simply watched the young girl sleep. She looked so young, like a little girl. Her face free of the stress from the last few days.

She remembered the bruises on Ianna's arm and a dark cloud began to settle over her. She reached out and unconsciously moved the hair out of the young girl's eyes. "How could anyone have hurt you this way?" She whispered. "You are so beautiful and intelligent. You have a generous spirit and a heart of gold. You could not have deserved any of what happened to you." She finished quietly.

Ranger stood on the deck his gaze focused on the horizon. He was not pleased with the progress they had made so far and there was an impending storm threatening to impede their progress further. He would not be happy until he had Ianna safely in his arms and away from danger. That included victor.

He had known the man as long as he could remember. Victor had always been there. He had never been unkind to him growing up. In fact the complete opposite was true. He had no real reason to dislike him except that he did not like the capacity in which he served his father.

Over the years he had learned that Victor was a very dangerous man capable of many things. Whenever his father needed something done that no one else could do, it was Victor he called upon. Ranger shuddered a bit as he hesitated to think of the kinds of things his father might have Victor do.

Ranger was no fool. He knew of his father's dealings and how his fortune had been made. It was one of the reasons he took his commission. He wanted nothing more than to be away from it. He had a good career that would provide nicely for himself and Ianna. He would settle them in a little place of their own where Ianna could feel safe.

He couldn't remember a time when he didn't love Ianna. Ever since they were children she was the one he wanted to be with for the rest of his life. He had seen the way Hogan treated her and he had decided at a young age he would take her away from all that. They had been best friends as children and when she accepted his offer of marriage, well he simply didn't have the words to describe it.

He never understood why Hogan treated her in that way. She had always been bright, loving, well mannered and sincere. He leaned on the rail in deep recollection of all the different times Ianna had been reprimanded for things that made no sense. It was like he was always looking for an excuse to scold or punish her. He would get so angry with Hogan for making Ianna cry.

Things were different now he wasn't a boy any longer, he was a man. Hogan, however, was still his father's best friend and he would have to tolerate his presence, but no more than that. He would give him no more than common courtesy out of respect for his father. In truth he disliked Hogan more than he did Victor and he didn't believe for one moment her was genuinely concerned for Ianna's welfare.

He turned and surveyed the deck then headed below. He wanted to ask Victor about the weather and for an estimate of travel time. As he rounded the corner entering the corridor that led to Victor's quarters, his attention was drawn to the sound of robust laughter. Curious he proceeded forward and stopped as he heard Victor's angry voice.

"Lower your voice fool. Why do you always insist on drawing unwanted attention?" asked Victor.

"Victor please, you are always so glum. But then again I suppose you should be. Do you honestly believe you can defeat Pillar?" Asked the other man.

"What I believe is of no consequence. I have been ordered to kill her and the deed will be done. I have never failed Mon Sur Dupre and I will not start now." Replied Victor.

Ranger felt his heart beat begin to quicken as he continued to listen.

"Bueno, I suppose it is always good to have goals." Replied the man giving Victor a sound thump on the shoulder.

"Touch me like that again Santiago and you will sure draw back a stump." Said Victor in a tone that drained all the Blood from Santiago's face.

Ranger stopped breathing for a moment. Santiago? That was the man that almost pirated the Destiny. His mind was racing furiously. He knew the truth of situation but he refused to believe it. Montenegro had taken his cargo and now he was on this ship being quite friendly with Victor. Why? It was his father's cargo. Ianna was simply a convenient excuse for him to retrieve it.

Ranger struggled for a moment with his emotions. He didn't want to believe that. His father loved Ianna like a daughter. Or at least he always seemed to. He knew his father was involved in many things but something like this was too much for him accept. He refused to believe it. But then, why would the man be here at all?

He turned slowly and walked off, still dumbstruck by this new realization. As he turned the corner the door to Victor's cabin opened.

"What is it Victor?" asked Santiago.

Victor was silent for a long moment as he stood in the door way and considered the passage. His eyes narrowed and the corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly.

"It was nothing, probably just some vermin sniffing about where they shouldn't." He replied going back inside and shutting the door behind him.

Continued in part 3

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