She nodded.

"And you did nothing?" he asked. She couldn't tell if that was an accusation or not.

"I stopped them a few times but I could not draw unnecessary attention to myself. I could not do anything more even if I wanted to. I cannot fight so many men by myself and it would have only brought Mrs Gregory and Basil trouble."

He scratched his neck like what he was about to say was making him uncomfortable. "Did that... ever happen to you? Is that how you know?"

She shook her head vigorously. "No. I saw them take many other girls there. That never happened to me but I have seen it happen before, a few times." She pulled her legs closer to her chest. Damn, now she was thinking of those things again.

"You would have been around fifteen at the time since Mrs Gregory said you were there three years ago. Someone that young should never see something like that, no one should ever see something like that. It should have been stopped years ago." She could tell he was trying to keep his voice steady, at least for her sake.

"The soldiers have authority. There is only so much a normal person, much less a fifteen year old, could do." She paused and turned her head away from him. "There is a reason I fight so much in public. I do not fight because I like to. Rarely step foot in town, keep a low profile for the most part, defeat or kill the strongest men in town if that didn't work, create a bad reputation for yourself and they tend to leave you alone, at least long enough so that you can disappear from that area. The shock makes for a perfect escape opportunity and I never stayed anywhere for very long. Of course if you take it too far like I did, you end up making enemies with everyone and find yourself on the way to be hanged for a crime you did not commit." She sighed. "This is why I did not want to go back there."

Eli sat down in front of her. "That was my fault. I didn't notice you weren't with us until we had almost reached the ship. You were badly injured. I should have been paying more attention." He stretched his hand towards her face and she pulled back her head. His hand fell. "You don't have to be so afraid of me. What you saw is reserved for enemies and enemies only. I would never do something like that to my crewmates. I can promise you one thing. When you are on this ship you will never have to worry about your safety." Strange words. The last time someone made a promise like that she ended up with broken ribs and stowed away on a ship. She wasn't inclined to believe him, but his face looked sincere.

"I am not a member of this crew. My deal with the Captain is that I leave once Benji is rescued."

"Why would you make a deal like that? I thought you wanted to stay."

"Then you are mistaken. I must use what I have to get what I want. I am just using you to help me accomplish my goal. I will leave once it has been completed." Hailie turned her head from him. "I do not want to stay here. I do not like being on a ship. Everywhere is too small and crowded. I cannot breathe."

"I can take you up to the main deck." He stood up and held out his hands. He was Elijah Trent and she was an injured teenaged girl, she would lose within seconds if they were to fight, but he was also the Eli who came to get her and she wanted to believe Eli would not harm her, he'd promised that even before now. She looked at them for a few seconds before she reached out to take his hand. The sleeve of her shirt prevented her from straightening her arm fully.

"Whose shirt am I wearing?" It was a button down shirt. She ran a hand through her hair. "Did someone give me a bath while I was asleep?" She felt much more comfortable now that she was clean.

"Celeste and Shen must have cleaned you up. You were pretty dirty. Don't make a face like that. Celeste was a doctor and Shen helps her all the time. They're used to this. Though that doesn't really make it more comfortable," he said scratching his neck.

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