Chapter 73

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It had been hours since they'd left, long enough to have dinner and then lose track of time, and it still hadn't yet sunken in that they were gone. It was so sudden and so quick. They'd left after Mr. Morris had told her to call him if she should change her mind, and then said something else quickly to the Captain.

Hailie climbed up the steps to the poop deck, cigarette in her mouth. He wouldn't smell it at the speed they were going.

Eli had a bottle in one hand. The other was on the wheel.

"You need to stop that," he said.

"Do not tell me what to do," she said. "Let it go Eli."

"Never." He took another swig from the bottle. An idea clicked in her head.

"I will stop smoking if you stop drinking."

He gave a slight chuckle. "You must be joking. Are you trying to strike a deal with me?"

"Yes. I will stop smoking when you stop drinking."

He didn't answer. Just as she expected. She smiled inwardly. Eli was obviously a heavy drinker and at the speed he was finishing those bottles he wasn't going to stop anytime soon. She could smoke in peace.

"How long are you going to be here?" she asked.

Eli looked up at the moon. "A few more hours? Why?"

Because he looked tired, but he wasn't going to sleep. It reminded her of when one of her brothers had a nightmare. The next night they would do everything to stay awake so they wouldn't have another one.

She went towards the rails behind him. She took up one of the ropes and tied it around her waist then lied down and wrapped her legs around the rail so she wouldn't slip. She flicked the butt of the cigarette into the water. The sky was perfectly clear that night. She was almost sure she'd never seen so many stars.

A dark shape came over her.

"What are you doing?" Eli asked.

"Trying to look at the stars but you are blocking me. Move."

He bent down and pinched her nose. "Don't lie to me."

She hit his hand away. "You were the one who said I can go anywhere and sleep anywhere I want. Are you taking that back now?" She scowled. "It is because I already gave up Mr. Morris' offer, is it not? You have no reason to keep your promises anymore."

Eli rolled his eyes and stood up. "Fine. Stay there if you want."

He most likely knew exactly why she was staying there, but it didn't really matter as long as it was effective. Eli wasn't someone who liked being alone. That much she knew.

*************

Hailie woke up back in the hammock. Her first thought was that she hadn't gone to sleep there. Her second thought was that Eli must have carried her down. Her third thought was that she should have woken up when he did. Wasted opportunity.

She tried to sit up but couldn't from the weight on her stomach. She looked down. Bottles. Plenty bottles. She glanced over the side of the hammock. More bottles. Alcohol.

"Gordon, why am I covered in bottles of alcohol?" she asked, hoping it didn't mean what she thought it meant.

"That was our deal, wasn't it?" Eli said. He picked up one of the bottles and put it in her hand. "I stop, you stop."

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