Question: John is emotionally damaged. Are you attracted to guys with a dark side like John?
My indignant sputtering on his behalf wrenched a smile out of him . . . a smile I recognized all too well from some special moments we’d shared in his bedroom the night before.
“So you do still care about me,” he said. He slipped an arm around my waist. “I wasn’t sure. You never answered my question.”
“What question?” I asked. What was wrong with boys? They got romantic at the weirdest times. “What are you even talking about?”
“You know what I’m—what’s that?” He sprang away from me as quickly as he’d pulled me towards him. At the same time, I felt something reverberate at my waist.
“Oh,” I said, pulling my mobile phone from the sash of my dress. “It’s nothing. I have my cell set on vibrate. I keep getting these text alerts about the storm back in Isla Huesos.”
I turned the phone off and tucked it away again.
"No,” John said. He pointed at the whip on my hip. “Why are you still carrying that?”
I looked down at it. “Oh. I don’t know. To keep it out of the hands of children, I suppose.” I laughed to show him I was joking, although I wasn’t, really. My cousin Alex really was a child, in many ways.
John didn’t laugh, however.
“That whip was my father’s,” he said, his face carefully devoid of emotion. “He used to use it on the ship when he. . .” He seemed to want to say something, but decided better of it. “Well, he used to use it quite often. I have no idea how your cousin found it. I thought it went down with the Liberty along with everything else belonging to my father.”
“Oh, John,” I said, softly, touching the side of his face. “I’m so sorry. I’ll get rid of it. You’ll never have to see it again.”
“No,” he said, and managed a smile, though it seemed to me one wracked with the pain of memories best forgotten. “If it’s turned up, I’m sure it’s for a good reason. Everything that’s ever turned up from the ship has always turned out to have done so for good reason, like the spyglass and your necklace.”
As he spoke, he’d reached out to tug my diamond from the bodice of my dress, with the confident proprietariness of a lover. But when the grape sized stone tumbled into his hand, the smile faded. The diamond was the color of onyx.
My heart gave a sickening lurch, the kind it gives when you hear the siren to an emergency services vehicle going down your street, and you realize the reason it’s so loud is because it’s stopped in front of your house. It’s your house that’s on fire, someone you love that’s sick or in trouble or hurt.
Normally? The same forces that decided to put me in charge, John had replied when I’d asked who was steering the boats.
Who was steering them now?
No wonder my diamond had turned black. It had nothing to do with the weather.