7 - Kindness

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Getting back to the cabin, Nora realised how cold she was. Even though it was late summer, the evenings got cold as the sun went down, and her dress weren't particularly thick. Not wanting to show it though, she only wrapped her arms around herself, and hoped that the lack of wind would warm her up a bit. James didn't say a word about it, as he walked behind her. It was dark below deck, with only a few oil lamps as light sources. And with Nora not being familiar with ships, she tripped now and then. She never hit the floor though, as James swiftly grabbed her every time she started to stumble. As soon as she was on her feet again, he let go however, to Nora's content. She really couldn't figure him out. One minute he was ordering her kidnapping, fighting with his men on deck, drawing blood from people who ought to be his friends. And then the next minute, he's stopping Belmore from hitting her, prevented Nora from falling and made sure that she didn't have to be scared of him. These sudden changes of character gave her whiplash and she just couldn't wrap her head around who James Haddock actually was. There was still a part about him that intrigued her, that longed to know him better. But seeing what he was capable of, some of the intrigue had subdued. One thing Nora knew for sure however, was that she needed to thread lightly when it came to James. Something told her that he was more intelligent that he let other people know.

Well inside the cabin, Nora leaned against the wall, furthest away from James. As a response she got a raised eyebrow, but he didn't argue with her. Instead he walked over to the big desk and sat down before he started rummaging through all the papers and maps that laid spread out. When he was deeply concentrated in one of the maps, Nora dared to study him. In the dim light from the candles, the blood wasn't noticeable anymore, making him look more human. His brows were in a deep frown, his jaw clenched and he looked very tired. Suddenly he didn't look like a monster at all, but rather just a man. Now and then he sighed and rubbed his jaw, as if it hurt. Perhaps one of the men had managed to get in a hit or two. Knowing that he wasn't as invincible as he had seemed during the fight, Nora felt a little less terrified of him. But she stayed put nonetheless, still on her guard. Outside the small windows everything was dark. The waves couldn't be seen anymore, only heard. Somehow it soothed her, and Nora felt quite tired. All the commotion, stress and fear had taken its toll on her body, and soon she found herself sitting on the floor, eyes getting heavy. As the waves crashed against the ship outside the cabin, and James studied his maps, she slowly fell asleep.

Waking up, Nora was first confused about where she was and what was happening. She was moving forward, but she wasn't walking on her own. Instead she was off the ground, strong arms holding her up, leaning her towards a broad chest. For a second, Nora wondered if it was a dream. If she was having a nice dream about her Prince Charming. Looking up under fluttering eyelids, her dream quickly crashed however as she stared up at James face. He wasn't looking at her, but instead kept his gaze forward as he crossed the room. It was not until he reached the bed that he stopped as he slowly put her down on it. As Nora realised what was happening, she quickly crawled away from his arms and pressed herself against the wall.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She gasped as she stared at James. Expecting him to grab her again, she put her legs out in front of her, ready to kick him if he got too close. But James only rolled his eyes and stood up straight.

"Oh, relax. I was just putting you down so you wouldn't have to sleep on the floor. But I can always put you back if you want." Nora continued to stare at him, confused as to why he would be kind to her. She was his prisoner. Prisoners usually ended up in a cell somewhere, not in a soft bed.

"Who's bed is this?" Nora thought she already knew the answer, but she needed to hear it from him. James sighed once and pinched his nose with his index finger and thumb.

"It's my bed. But don't worry, love. I'm not going to touch you. I might be a pirate, but I am no rapist. Have plenty of other fetishes to entertain." The last sentence he said with a wink, but Nora didn't find it funny. Flashes of her friends laying on the ground, raped and dead, wouldn't leave her mind.

"Why should I believe you? You're the Captain, aren't you supposed to be the worst one of them all? I saw what your so called crew did to the women back there. For all I know, pirate and rapist are the same thing." Nora spat out her words, feeling anger boil inside her. This twofaced game that James was playing was not going to work on her. He would not lure her in with a false sense of security. She knew who he was. And she would never forget it.

"I can't speak for the crew, love. Only for me. I might be their Captain, but I don't decide what they do or do not do once they're off my ship."

"Then you're no better than them", she snorted, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Perhaps not, but I do know that you don't have to fear me. I am true to my words, and I won't harm you. No one will." It was hard for Nora to listen to the poison that came out of his mouth. Everything he said was a lie, she was convinced of it. Why would it be the truth? Why would he care even the slightest what happened to her? If she got slapped around a bit on the way to the man who wanted to buy her, who would even notice? Three months was a long time, and a lot of bruises would have time to heal. And Nora didn't believe for a second that the pirates would show restraint. They didn't have a self controlling bone in their miserable bodies.

"I don't believe you."

"Guess only time will have to convince you then." With those words James turned on his heal and walked away from the bed. In one swift motion he dragged his shirt over his head, throwing it on the floor, before walking over to the wash basin. Filling the basin with water he started to wash his face and arms, getting rid of the dried blood and salt. Nora didn't want to look, but couldn't help herself from studying his strong back. Toned muscles moved under his tanned skin as he continued to wash himself. In the gleam of the candles, Nora could see a few scars on his back. A few of them newer, more red, whilst other ones were older in a pale pink.

Looking around the cabin, trying to distract herself from the sight before her, Nora noticed that James was made himself very comfortable. His sword and revolver hanging on a hook on the wall, a bottle of whiskey on the desk by the maps and the way he threw clothes on the floor.

"Is this your cabin?" Nora asked carefully, afraid of the answer. James didn't answer at once, still with his head in water. Soon he turned to her however, drying his face off with a rag.

"Yes", he said, meeting her gaze as she sat curled up on the bed.

"Why am I in it?"

"It is the only place on the ship where I trust my men not to try anything with you." His words left her speechless. Nora had wanted to say something snotty, to prove a point regarding their earlier conversation. But the one who had proven a point was James. Suddenly Nora felt awfully confused. These small acts of kindness made her interest in his character grow. But she didn't want to be intrigued by him, she wanted to hate him. To sink the shaving knife into his chest and watch him die. But another part of her wanted to know him. Wanted to understand who he was. This ruthless murderer who still seemed to show kindness where he didn't need to. Nora needed to know why. To her, he had become a mystery, a riddle that she needed to solve. And with three moths left on this ship, she was determined to find out who James Haddock actually was.

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