Chapter 43

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"The town looks... different, busier," Hailie said.

"You're right," the Captain said coming up behind her. "I haven't been here in a while but this is definitely an improvement."

She wouldn't call it an improvement per se. More people meant more crowds and more noise, and more angry people who want to pick fights. The only good thing about crowds, was how easier it was to blend in and hide should those angry people want to fight.

Hailie hadn't come out of the cargo hold until those people had left. She heard that Candace had asked for her but she hadn't come up. They had disappeared into the crowd by the time Hailie had come on the deck.

The Port that used to be a Dock, was filled with ships. Men shouted from one end to another. The paint on the building surrounding was so bright that it hurt her eyes. People were smiling in the streets and looking so happy that it was nauseating, and that was only the small part she could see from on deck. This was not the town she remembered.

"Eli, please buy it," Lilly begged.

"Why do you even want that?" he asked.

Her mouth hung open. "I already told you why. I haven't even seen one in ages."

"Would that even survive on a ship?"

"I want to at least try."

He sighed. "Okay. I'll look for a rose plant while I'm there. But I can't promise I'll find any."

She threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. "Thank you."

"Yes, yes. Your gratitude is so strong I will die from suffocation," Eli said pointing to his neck. Lilly released him with the wide smile still on her face. "Hailie, is there anything you want apart from what is on the list you gave me?"

She shook her head. "No. I wrote down everything we need."

"That was not the question," he said.

"Captain, here's the list. Stick to it this time. No more, no less," Kendra said. She handed the folded paper to him. "If you're not clear to him he'd spend out all our money," she said to Hailie.

"Aren't you going?" Hailie asked.

"No. I'm wanted in this area." Kendra smiled. "That was one hell of a night."

"You still haven't told me what happened," Eli said.

Kendra rested a hand on his shoulder and looked up at his face. "You're still too young to hear that story."

"I'm wanted in this area as well but I'm sure it's for a completely different reason than Kendra," Celeste said.

"You haven't told me that," Shen said.

"The mayor may have fallen asleep after a visit from his doctor and his house cleaned out by the time he woke up, and all his possessions left floating in the bay. Also the Head Sargent has some... secrets he wouldn't want leaking out. Of course I heard them from his own mouth after the effects of some very strong painkillers, but he blames me for giving then to him after he grabbed it from my desk and drank it himself, but he doesn't remember that so there's trouble there. It was actually a combination of what I gave him and what he took, but I didn't try to stop him. His ramblings amused me. And then--," Celeste said.

Shen held his hands over his ears. "I'm honestly afraid to hear any more. If I do, I'd never let you touch me again."

"I thought you were already aware of all of this," she said.

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