Chapter Fifteen - Of Pocket-Books and Pistols

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"Don't make me do this, Adalé," Annemarie pleaded. "There must be another way."

But Adalé stood firm. "There is no other way. You have to decide."

"I... I can't."

Adalé shook her head. "You need to choose. One or the other. Make your choice."

"But how could I possibly choose between the two halves of my heart?"

The two women stood in front of a bookcase, a bookcase with only one spot remaining at the coveted eye-level shelf. In her hands, Annemarie held copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea clutched close to her chest. Only one would fit.

Adalé looked away from Annemarie to prevent the captain from seeing her roll her eyes. They had been standing there debating on the placement of books for almost half an hour, and Adalé's patience was nearly gone. But she did think being forced to make decisions would be good for the captain, even if they took up most of Adalé's morning.

She composed herself, took a deep breath, and whirled back around to face Annemarie. "Choose, now!" she shouted.

Annemarie startled. "Twenty Thousand Leagues!"

Adalé smiled, satisfied. "Finally. Now, put it on the shelf."

Annemarie looked down at the books in her arms in horror, her pink lips parting. "I didn't mean it," she said. "I still can't decide."

"You made your choice; no going back," Adalé said, taking the larger of the two books from Annemarie's arms and fitting it into the gap in the row of books on the shelf. "Accept your decision and move on."

"You are cruel," Annemarie said, putting the other book on the shelf below.

"I'm helpful," corrected Adalé, grinning. "If you want to be more of a captain, you need to learn to make decisions."

"Oh, but what if I make the wrong one?" she asked, wringing her hands and bouncing up and down nervously.

Adalé shrugged. "Then you don't worry about it and deal with it later."

"I do not think I know how not to worry."

"That's next lesson. I'm done for the day," she said, walking away from bookshelf with her hands behind her head. "Don't you dare move those books around," she said as she started down the spiral staircase.

Annemarie pulled her hand away from the shelf, tucked it behind her back, and smiled sheepishly at her. "I won't."

"Good. A captain sticks to her decisions!" she shouted as she skipped down. She headed to the kitchen to brew a fresh pot of tea; the shifting local times were starting to wear her down, and she had never been a morning person to begin with (though Annemarie never seemed to sleep). Once she had poured herself a cup, she poured a second, and went to bring it to the bridge.

She pushed down on the handle and opened one of the bridge's double doors with her hip. "Good morning," she said, yawning, to Kwale, who stood at the controls. She passed her the cup. "I brought you tea."

"Thank you very much," Kwale said, her eyes crinkling as she smiled.

"Did you bring me any?" asked a voice from the lower level.

Adalé peered over the balcony. It was Laurent, sitting sideways in one of the armchairs with a pad of paper in his lap. Spread out on the floor beside him were sheets and sheets of blackened paper. "I didn't bring one for you; you'll have to get it yourself."

"I am much too busy for that," he said, and returned to sighing over his pieces of paper.

"Are you still working on that, then?" she asked.

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