“I’m sorry, Captain, for my part in this subterfuge.”
It was evening of the same day, the day Sophie had her ship, her crew, and her captaincy removed from her command.
The Jade Princess dropped anchor for the night somewhere at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico after a rather lethargic sail; the captain had not seemed to be in any hurry, nor had he sought out her company. She had been left to her own devices, and this is where she’d spent most of her time, on the quarterdeck, watching where they’d been. Sophie had no interest in where they were going. Why should she? She no longer was in charge; it was not her ship, no longer her charted journey. She was simply extra baggage; not a crew member, nor a leader. A nobody. On somebody else’s ship.
Turning at the sound of his voice, Sophie leaned back casually on the rail to face Limey, her former first mate, as he stood maybe ten feet away from her in the dim light of the deck lanterns, twisting with large hands the cap he oft times wore to shield his scalp from the Caribbean sun.
She met his shadowed gaze with a challenging one of her own, not easily able to forgive him his part in the beaching of her ship and crew. But Limey’s tortured expression tugged at her. He displayed abject misery through his expression and his behavior till Sophie glanced sideways out to the moonlit sea, turning her profile to him as she replied with a question.
“Would you do things differently if you had it to do over?” She held her breath.
An uncomfortable silence. Sophie turned her face squarely toward him, letting the moon illuminate her watchful expression.
Limey didn’t flinch, even as he replied lowly, “No. I believe this is the best way to protect you, and that is what I swore to do a year ago; protect you. That does not mean I approve of how it was executed. I would have preferred to discuss it openly with you, Captain. But it was not my call. I cannot guard you with my life if I am thrown in the brig for insubordination.”
Oh, Mon Dieu! How had she ever managed to end up with such a champion, a straight arrow, a person who would lay down his very life for her? She’d been truly blessed, and Sophie knew instinctively that how she responded in the next few minutes would show Limey exactly how much she valued his fealty.
Taking two hesitant steps forward, placing herself closer in the moonlight where her former first mate stood, Sophie looked up into Limey’s worried face and said softly, “Then I accept your apology, Limey. If you feel this is the right thing to do, then I will abide by the decision. You have never steered me wrong; in this I am sure. I will swallow my pride and be thankful I have you, and McFarlane, and Cook on board to help keep me safe.”
She hazarded a smile, tilting her head back to gaze into Limey’s face, anxiously awaiting his response. With his features half obscured in shadow, Sophie was hard put to discern how Limey felt, but she sensed his eyes on her, knew when he took a half-step toward her and allowed herself a moment of self-pity by meeting him half-way and moving into his hesitant embrace.
He was so solid; so warm, so dependable. Just the feel of Limey’s arms around her eased Sophie’s discomfiture over the entire situation. He smelled of sea salt and tar, and that unique scent she associated with just Limey. It invited her to burrow deep into his body, to lay her cheek against his chest and sigh, to feel the scratchy wool vest he wore over his loose shirt against her face as she closed her eyes.
Oh, what exquisite torture! What sublime pain! To have the object of his desire here, folded into his arms and against his heart at last! Limey closed his eyes tight against the outside world, content to savor the feel of Sophie, all her soft curves and strong muscles, however long it lasted. For it would not last forever; this Limey knew. Sophie was a married woman; an honorable married woman and therefore remaining with him would never happen.
|Johnny Depp||as Andre Dubois|
|Rachel Weisz (from The Mummy)||as Sophie Bellard Dubois|
|Hector Elizondo (portly)||as Pedro de Gallo|
|Leonardo DiCaprio (from Titanic)||as Limey|
|Keith Richards||as Louis Dubois|