Chapter Nineteen

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Vivid light scalding my eyelids woke me from a dead sleep the next morning.

The wide window at the ship's bow let in the too bright morning light and it struck me directly.

Cradling my head—which felt as heavy as an anvil—I grabbed blindly for the pillow to shield myself, elbowing something in the process which let out an annoyed grunt.

"Sorry," I mumbled, then groaned at the thrum of pain in my skull. "Shh..."

Dark stirred underneath me, dislodging me from my formerly comfortable sleep spot. I climbed over him and touched my toes to the floor, one arm pressed over my eyes while I wandered over to basin of fresh water. I poured a cup and drank it back greedily. It didn't help the thunderous booming in my head, but it helped me feel a bit more human.

"Hey," Dark growled from the bunk. "Come back here."

I looked back to see him flipped onto his stomach, one arm hanging to the floor. With a chuckle I padded back over, stopping just out of his reach.

"I had too much rum last night," I complained. "Tallera gave me something that should help. It's in my bunk."

Dark's hand caught my wrist when I turned away. "Mmm, wait," he protested, trying to tug me back to the bed. His tousled hair and sleepy smile were almost sweet enough to convince me, but the splitting headache won out.

Easily breaking his hold, I patted his hand and placed it back under the blanket. "Get some more sleep. I'll be back later."

More awake, he flipped over and propped himself up on his elbows, watching me hunt for my clothes. I grinned at the sight of his bare chest and arms on display.

"Can I have another kiss before you go?"

I snorted. "I think you've had plenty," I teased.

Dark snickered. He closed his eyes and a slow smile spread across his face.

"What are you doing?" I asked, yanking my shirt on over my head.

"Making do with my imagination," he replied with a chuckle. "I have a very good memory."

I picked up a discarded cork from his desk and threw it at him, smirking when it hit him square in the forehead.

"You're a cruel woman," he muttered, diving back under the safety of the covers.

A smile curled my mouth and I fastened my belt around my hips. I crept out, letting the door click behind me as I made my way belowdecks. The men were still out or were dead asleep in their bunks and hammocks, so I moved as softly as possible to my hidey hole. Before I could slip past the corner, someone moved on the other side, colliding with me.

"Oof." I righted myself, looking up to see who had been lurking in my bunk. My surprise showed on my face. "Elias?"

With a guilty flinch, he tried to push past me, but I seized his arm and held tight. "What were you doing in my bunk?" I asked sternly.

I didn't want to outright accuse him of anything nefarious, but he knew as well as the others not to trespass in my sleeping area. Unless he'd simply been looking for me, but then why go inside?

Again, Elias tried to shake loose, but I skipped in front of him and blocked the way. His gaze darted to the sleeping crewmen in their bunks then back to my face, then quickly away.

"Elias."

"Please don't tell the captain," he pleaded, staring at my boots. "I wasn't thinking."

"Why did you go in?"

"I was...I was looking for you," he said, lifting his gaze to meet mine. "I needed to tell you something."

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