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My Very Own Pirate

Erica has a boring job and bad taste in men. Her only adventures come from her books about the ocean, sailing, and pirates. But an idle wish in the middle of a dramatic storm brings her exactly the right kind of man, and he’s ready to take her on adventures she never could have imagined.

Age Rating: 18+

 

My Very Own Pirate by B. Heather Mantler is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

The app has received recognition from BBC, Forbes and The Guardian for being the hottest app for explosive new Romance novels.
Ali Albazaz, Founder and CEO of Inkitt, on BBC The Five-Month-Old Storytelling App Galatea Is Already A Multimillion-Dollar Business Paulo Coelho tells readers: buy my book after you've read it – if you liked it

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

1

ERICA

I slammed down the receiver on the telephone. I stood there a moment in anger before starting to pace in frustration. What was with guys and not listening to me?

I had seen Jerry at the fancy restaurant with the woman. I could tell that the woman had not been any relation of Jerry’s. No one acted like that toward a relation unless they had serious issues.

I wished I had had the courage to confront Jerry at the restaurant. Then I won’t be dealing with his disbelief that the relationship was over.

I had told him that fact three times before I started yelling it in his ear.

The phone started to ring again. I didn’t stop pacing the living room of my apartment to answer it. I knew exactly who it was and dealing with him was pointless because he wasn’t going to listen to me.

What was it with my choice in men? It was like I had this self-destructive part of me that didn’t want me to be happy in a relationship.

It is true that Jerry was far more charming than the rest of them, but apparently, that equaled out to serial dater.

The phone hadn’t stopped ringing. It kept saying, I know you’re home, pick up. I would have picked it up, but I knew the only person who would be calling me was Jerry.

My parents were dead and I didn’t have any other close family. I wasn’t important enough at work to warrant evening phone calls. And a telemarketer would have given up by now and moved on.

No, it had to be Jerry and his inability to realize that the relationship was over. At least I hadn’t given him more than a dozen dates, I thought.

My frustration turned to tiredness and I collapsed onto the couch. I felt the tears of self-pity well up in my eyes. I blinked them back. They didn’t help in this matter.

The phone stopped ringing. I sighed in relief and hoped for a peaceful evening. The phone started to ring again. I groaned as I pressed my face into a cushion to muffle the scream.

There was someone banging at the door. I lifted her face and listened. I was pretty sure it couldn’t be Jerry, but in case it was I was trying to remember if I had locked the door on my way in.

“Answer the damn phone already,” the voice yelling through the door was that of the older woman who lived in the apartment below my apartment.

The woman who was always complaining about something I did and any sound coming from any other apartment was my fault.

The manager also believed the woman and I was about two warnings away from being kicked out. I froze as if it would make the world go away.

The pounding on the door stopped and I could hear the woman leaving, probably to go tell the manager.

The phone continued to ring, but I didn’t move. I hoped that if I let the phone stop on its own the woman downstairs would think I had gone out.

The ringing seemed to go on forever as I sat there as still as possible and tried not to breathe too loudly. I didn’t want to make any noise that would indicate I was home.

I was even scared to put the cushion down. Minutes passed like hours. The clock on the wall ticked the seconds away, but since I could not see it the clock was more a mental torment than helpful.

The ringing stopped just as I could hear some shuffling outside my door. The woman from downstairs was back and the building manager was with her.

“I don’t hear any phone,” the manager could be heard muffled through the door.

“It was making a racket just a moment ago,” the woman replied, “Aren’t you going to do anything about it.”

“She obviously isn’t home to pick it up,” the manager said, “I’m sure she would’a picked it up if she was home.”

“She was making a racket not that long ago,” the woman said, “She’s in there.”

“There aren't any lights on,” the manager said, “And you told me that she didn’t answer your knock. Must’a been someone on either side of you that you heard making noise.”

“It was her,” the woman said, “And that phone is making it hard for me to rest.”

“I can’t do anything about her phone,” the manager said, “If she ain’t home she can’t do anything about her phone.

And if the phone is making too much noise, just do what you always do and turn up your game show.”

“I want her out,” the woman’s voice got louder.

“She ain’t done nothing,” the manager said.

“Her phone is not letting me rest,” the woman shouted.

“And you’re disturbing the rest of my tenants with your screams,” the manager shouted back. “If you don’t back off, I’ll have to raise your rent to what everybody else has to pay.”

“You can’t do that,” the woman screamed.

“I can and I will if you don’t leave off,” the manager shouted, “She ain’t making any noise. Her phone is silent and she ain’t home. Now, go back to your flipping apartment so I can have my peace.”

“You can’t talk to me like that,” the woman screamed.

“That ain’t all I can do,” the manager shouted back. There were footsteps of him leaving. The woman stayed where she was for half a second before it sounded like she followed him.

She started screaming at him, but the sound moved off.

The sound was just about gone and I was starting to relax when the phone started to ring again. I jumped at the first ring and quickly got to my feet.

I searched around the couch and the end table until I found the phone jack. I pulled it out and sat there on the floor in the silence it gave me.

I breathed a sigh of relief then the thought of whether I locked the door came to me.

If Jerry couldn’t get me on the phone he might show up on my doorstep. I got to my feet in a hurry and went to the door. I checked the locks and found that they were all unlocked.

I locked everything before going back to the living room and sinking down on the couch.

It was starting to get dark and I hadn’t turned any lights on or even finished closing the curtains.

I lay down on the couch with my feet tucked in as if I was scared that someone would look into my fourth-floor apartment window and see me.

I laid my head down on the cushion and hoped the world would just leave me alone for the night. My stomach growled, but there wasn’t anything in my kitchen that didn’t require cooking.

I couldn’t cook now. The woman downstairs would be back on her couch soon and would report any sound she heard in my apartment.

And then there was the possibility that Jerry might show up. He would keep knocking and begging through the door if he thought I was home.

So, I let my stomach growl and didn’t move. I closed my eyes, but sleep wasn’t coming to me with so many worries in my mind. Jerry was going to be a problem, with his lack of listening skills.

The woman downstairs might successfully get me evicted, though I couldn’t think of any reason the woman has a problem with her. I had never done anything to the woman.

Fortunately, work was fine. My latest project was going great. If everything continued as it had then I would be finished it a week earlier than projected.

I heard a sound outside the window. I held my breath as I listened. Then I heard it again and again. It was rain hitting the window. I exhaled and started to breathe normally again.

At first, it was just a few raindrops, but it quickly turned into a downpour. I closed my eyes again and let the rain be a lullaby to me.

My father had been a ship captain, whether it was his own boat or other people's. He didn't care as long as he could feel the water under his feet.

My mother had loved the ocean and was more than willing to move aboard a ship. My mother had called my father the gentleman pirate, but I knew my father hadn’t been a pirate.

I had spent the first six years of my life on a boat. I had loved it, even the loneliness was easier to deal with when I was on the ocean.

If my parents hadn’t gone out on the stormy night to rescue the people who were sending out a distress signal, then they would probably still be alive today. But they had gone out and they had been lost in the storm.

The rescue crews found the boat that sent out the distress signal, but no one was still alive. My parent’s boat had been attached to it at some point, but it looked like the rope had broken.

The boat was never found, but a few pieces belonging to it were.

I had hoped for years that my parents would turn up, but instead, I was sent to live with my aunt, who lived miles from any body of water and refused to learn how to swim.

I had learned to accept this fate, but sometimes during stormy nights, I longed for the ocean.

The sound of the rain almost drowned out the knocking at the door, but I still heard it. The knocking stopped as the person on the other side waited for an answer. I didn’t move. The knocking came again.

“Erica,” Jerry’s voice came through the door as he knocked again, “Erica, please open the door. We need to talk. I know you are there, please just open the door so we can talk.”

Jerry kept knocking and talking through the door. I removed the cushion from under my head and rested my ear against the couch.

I put the cushion on top of the other ear and pressed down so I couldn’t hear Jerry anymore. His words oozed their usual honey, but I could now hear the lies and the manipulation.

I wasn’t going to open the door for a guy who was going to lie to me and manipulate me just so he could go out with multiple girls at once. I knew I deserved better than that.

At least that told me why I had agreed to go out with him to start with. With many of the other guys I dated, the answer wasn’t so easy to figure out.

Maybe I am moving up in the dating world. I am no longer dating the slug trail, I am now up to dating the slug.

A flash of light filled the room. I removed the cushion so I could see more clearly. A boom of thunder rolled overhead. The rain was coming down harder than it had been before.

Another flash of lightning filled the room.

It lit up the room and showed the chairs, end tables, the coffee table, the bookcase full of books about anything that floats on water, and the picture of my parents that hung on the wall across the room from the couch.

The picture looked the same as it always did, but the lightning had lit it up and I thought I had seen something that could not be there.

It seemed as if my parents were telling me that I was in a bad position and needed to find a way out.

I got up off the couch and softly padded over to the picture. I gently touched each of my parent’s faces.

“I wish I had my own gentleman pirate,” I whispered.

A loud roll of thunder came as the room lit up lightning. I turned to the window. I felt blind and deaf as the thunder and lightning continued. I wondered if this was how my parents felt before they disappeared.

The thunder and lightning ended and the air was silent and still. There wasn’t anyone knocking at the door and there was no blaring televisions. Just the sounds of rain hitting the window.

I walked to the window and looked out. The whole neighborhood was blackness stretching out before me. There were no streetlights, or lights from other buildings, or even from cars going past on the street below.

I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes. Thunder went overhead. Then there was a flash of lightning I could see with my eyes closed. The rain continued as hard as ever.

The thunder and lightning were now drifting farther away. I was sure I could smell the sea air and feel the rolling of the waves beneath me. I was sure I was on a boat somewhere at sea and I was happy there.

I woke up to blinding sunlight coming through my window. With the curtain still open, it poured in and lit up the room with its warm and friendly glow. I sat up and pulled the curtain all the way open.

The sunlight was bright to my eyes, but I somehow felt better than I had the night before. Perhaps the storm had refreshed me, as it always did.

Storms were rare in this part of the world, but when one did come through I felt better afterward.

I went into the kitchen and opened the curtains in there as well. It filled the kitchen with a brightness that bounced off the cream-colored walls to get into all the dark corners.

The stove clock and the microwave both flashed a time that didn’t look correct. I didn’t do anything about them at that moment. Instead, I went into my bedroom.

I left the curtain closed as I stripped off my wrinkled clothes from yesterday.

There was a man in the next building who had a telescope on his balcony and I didn’t feel like giving him a show today. I went into the bathroom and stepped into the shower.

When I was finished I toweled off and found some casual clothes. It was Saturday and I wasn’t needed at work today.

I went back to the kitchen. The clocks were still flashing as if to remind me the power had gone out and they needed to be reset.

I looked at the stove clock for a minute before deciding I would do something different today and go out for breakfast. I almost never went out alone and found it uncomfortable those times when I did.

But this morning I could not think of any reason not to go out for breakfast.

I went into the living room and picked up my purse off the table near the door. I checked through it to make sure I had everything before slipping on a pair of sandals. I unlocked the door and looked out.

Jerry wasn’t there and neither was the woman from the apartment below mine. The manager wasn’t in sight either. I stepped into the hallway and locked the door behind me.

I took the stairs and went out the front door without meeting anyone.

I looked around once I was outside the apartment building. Jerry wasn’t waiting for me and I didn’t see his car parked anywhere near the building.

I was relieved at that and started down the street toward the family-style restaurant at the end of the street.

The restaurant was crowded when I arrived. There were even a few people waiting outside on the sidewalk. Most of them were groups of four or more. They let me past and into the restaurant.

The hostess stood behind a counter and was directing a couple of servers who stopped to speak with her. She noticed I was coming in past groups of people sitting on seats waiting to be given a table.

“How many in your group?” the hostess asked.

“Just one,” I answered.

“Okay,” the hostess said. The hostess pointed to something under the counter for the server who stood beside her.

“This way,” the server said as she picked up a menu. I followed her into the restaurant proper. We passed several tables full of people.

We went along an area between two rows of tables to a raised area that was open and had several placed around in a circle.

Most of the tables up here were for two or four people. The tables that had four chairs were full, but only one of the tables with two chairs had been taken.

He had his back to me as I followed the server into the area. The server picked a table at the end of the area. I sat down in the chair that faced the rest of the area and had my back to the wall.

The server placed the menu in front of me before pulling out her pad and pencil.

“What can I get for you to drink today?” the server asked.

“Coffee, please,” I answered.

“Okay,” the server said, “I will be back in just a minute.” She left me alone, but she checked on some of the other customers on her way out of the area.

I ignored everyone else as I opened my menu and looked at the choices. There were all the standard options for breakfast like pancakes, waffles, and bacon and eggs.

There were also the options like breakfast wraps, fruit salads, and even yogurt and granola. I looked them over and studied the pictures of each meal option. I finally decided on the bacon and eggs.

Bacon and eggs were always delicious but tasted best when someone else made them.

I closed her menu as the server came back with a pot of coffee in one hand and a plate of creamers in the other. She set the plate of the creamers in the center of the table.

She turned over the cup that was on the table and poured the coffee into it.

“Have you decided what you want?” the server asked.

“Yes,” I answered, “I will have the bacon and eggs.”

“White or whole-wheat toast?” the server asked as she set down the coffee pot and pulled out her pad.

“White,” I asked.

“How would you like the eggs cooked?” the server asked.

“Sunny side up,” I answered.

“Anything else?” the server asked.

“Orange juice,” I answered.

“Okay, anything else?” the server asked.

“No, that is everything, thank you,” I said. The server noted it all on the pad before putting the pad away.

“Okay,” the server smiled as she picked up the coffee pot. I watched her as the server walked away. The server stopped at the man’s table to offer him a refill.

He accepted it. The server refilled his cup before moving along.

The man caught my attention. He had black hair that came to his shoulder and hung in clumps of curls. It looked clean, but like it had not been brushed out. His eyes were hazel with thick eyebrows.

His nose matched his face in size and shape. His lips were on the thin side, but it may have been the mustache. The mustache and beard were only around his lips and were carefully groomed.

The beard did hang down a bit in a way not fashionable by anyone I had met, but it seemed to fit him. He was either olive-skinned by nature or was deeply tanned.

The man was wearing a black rain jacket over a white shirt. I could see the work boots and blue jeans under the table.

Even under the clothing, I could tell the man was built as if he had a job where he did a lot of physical labor. The shoulders and arms both looked thick with muscle, but he was not heavy like some bikers look.

The hands that sat on the table looked rough and calloused even from a distance.

The man did not appear to notice I was staring at him. He was busy reading the paper spread out on the table and eating breakfast. He had ordered the bacon and eggs, but he received them before I had sat down.

The man projected an energy of confidence even while relaxing over breakfast. That energy drew my eyes back to the man time and time again even though I was trying not to stare.

I wanted to go over and introduce myself. I wanted to know his name and find out more about him. However, I just stayed in my seat and tried not to stare at him for fear he would notice and not be happy about it.

A man who looked that good couldn’t be available. He probably had a girlfriend and several women who irritated him by hanging around hoping he would look in their direction.

I wasn’t a groupie of any guy and I definitely wasn’t into trying to steal other people’s boyfriends. I would just admire from a distance and hope that someday I could find a guy who treated me well.

At this moment it didn’t look like I was ever going to find that guy.

In fact, at that moment I saw Jerry come up the stairs from the lower section of the restaurant. At the top, he headed in the direction of my table.

I wanted to find some way to escape Jerry, but my back was to the wall and any way out would involve going past Jerry.

Jerry sat down in the chair across from me. I felt his knees brush mine and I pulled my legs back as far as I could from him.

“I knocked on your door last night,” Jerry said, “But you didn’t answer.”

“I went out,” I replied curtly.

“You should have told me while we were on the phone,” Jerry said, “We could have gone out together.”

“Because we are not together,” I said, “I told you that I had no interest in seeing you ever again.”

“That is a little extreme,” Jerry said, “That wasn’t what you were saying two days ago. We can talk about whatever is bothering you and sort this out.”

“I don’t want to sort it out,” I raised the volume of my voice without thinking about where I was, “I want you to go away and leave me alone.”

“This isn’t like you at all,” Jerry said.

“You don’t know what I am like,” I was close to screeching, “I want you to leave me alone.”

“Now, Erica, I’m sure,” Jerry started.

“I believe the lass asked you to leave her alone,” the voice was deep with a thick accent to the words. I looked up to see the man standing behind Jerry’s chair. Jerry stood up and turned to the man.

“This is a private conversation,” Jerry said getting in the man’s face, “And is none of your business.”

I couldn’t tell when the man was sitting, but now I could see he was over six feet and a little wider than Jerry.

Jerry looked almost like a child compared to the man, but Jerry didn’t appear to have noticed this fact.

“You are poking your nose where it doesn’t belong,” Jerry said, taking another step forward as if he could force the man to back off.

The man didn’t move and Jerry found himself just closer to the man than he was comfortable. Jerry didn’t back down. He probably thought it would show weakness and wouldn’t get the man to go away.

“She asked you to leave,” the man answered, “I heard it from where I was sitting. I would be suggesting that you leave now.”

“You can suggest whatever you want, I don't have to listen to you,” Jerry shouted in the man’s face.

I wanted to slide under the table and disappear. I could not get up and leave because the guys were standing in the way. Also, if I tried Jerry would go with me and I would not be able to get rid of him.

But everyone in the section was looking at the guys as well as several people who had stood up and were looking over from the other section. Several servers were also standing there.

One of them had left to get the manager, probably, but everyone else just stayed and stared. Jerry didn’t seem to care that he was making a scene in the middle of a restaurant.

The man appeared to be aware of the crowd and not worrying about them.

“All I say is that you are bothering the lass and should leave,” the man said. He was calm in the face of Jerry’s anger. I realized his accent was Irish.

“And I told you it isn’t any of your business,” Jerry shouted.

“You’re disturbing everyone else,” the man said, “And the lass obviously has no interest in your attentions.”

Jerry lifted his arm, pulled his fist back, and let the punch fly. The man caught Jerry’s wrist before the fist connected. The man twisted the arm around so he had it pinned to Jerry’s back and Jerry was facing me.

Jerry looked like he was in pain. I didn’t do anything to stop the man and help Jerry. The man twisted Jerry’s arm a little more to get Jerry to move. They turned around and the man directed Jerry toward the stairs.

They went down them with everyone’s eyes following them. No-one turned to look at me.

I set my hands on the table in an effort to get them to stop shaking. Jerry would probably wait outside the restaurant and waylay me when I left.

The fear and uncertainty of yesterday evening were coming back to me as if the storm never happened. My thought of going out to breakfast had been a bad idea.

Jerry must have been farther up the street or he was using a different car. There was no other way for him to know where I was.

I took a sip of coffee and just about spilled some on myself. I set the cup down and tried to force myself to relax.

The man came back up the stairs and into the section. He walked as if he didn’t have a worry in the world and there was no rush. He sat down at his table and went back to his newspaper.

He didn’t appear to notice I was staring at him trying to get up the nerve to go over and talk to him. I felt like I was frozen in my seat. I should go over there and thank him, but I wasn’t sure what to say.

He had made Jerry look like the slug that he was. He had been a gentleman. And I was being rude by not going over and thanking him for his help.

I pushed my chair back and slowly got to my feet. I walked the short distance to the man’s table. I hoped my shaking knees weren’t obvious.

He looked up at me once I reached his table. I found his hazel eyes so enchanting I almost forgot what I was going to say.

“I wanted to thank you for your help in dealing with Jerry,” I said.

“Someone needed to deal with the cur,” the man said, “A lady like yourself shouldn’t be stuck with such a problem.”

“He was my boyfriend until last night when I broke up with him,” I said, “He hasn’t seemed to grasp that I’m not interested in being with him.”

“Then he most definitely needed the lesson,” the man said.

“Thank you for your help in getting him to leave me alone,” I said. I smiled at the man before starting to turn around to go back to my own table.

“Perhaps ye would be willing to grant me your company,” the man said, “I’ve been in town only a short time and haven’t found anyone to sit and speak with.”

“Certainly, I’ll join you,” I said, “Just let me get my coffee cup.”

“As you wish,” the man said. I went back to my table and picked up my coffee cup. I took it back to the man’s table and set it down on the table before sitting in the chair opposite from him.

“I’m Erica Gardner,” I said.

“Casey Boyd,” the man answered.

“What are you in town for?” I asked.

“I’m here to see a man about a boat,” Casey answered.

“What kind of boat?” I asked. I knew the ocean was only an hour down the road, but I never had the car to get there or the boat when I arrived.

I had thought about getting both, but never truly had the money to afford either.

“A sailing ship,” Casey answered, “But the man has up and gone missing. I can’t find him anywhere. I’m going to be searching all in hopes he’ll turn up. Only got a couple of days before I’m needed back.”

“It is the weekend and I have time,” I said, “Maybe I can help.”

“Help would be greatly appreciated,” Casey said.

“Where were you supposed to meet him?” I asked.

“His house,” Casey answered, “But I went to the neighborhood as I had done before and the house be gone. There be a new one in its place, but the woman who answered the door didn’t know the man nor where he be.”

“Likely he moved,” I said, “When did you last speak to him?”

“A year and a bit,” Casey answered.

“Then any changes to his address should be in the phone book,” I said.

The server arrived with my meal. She stopped at Casey’s table and set the plate and glass in front of me before taking Casey’s empty plate.

“Can I get you anything else?” the server asked.

“No, thank you,” I answered.

“And you?” the server looked at Casey, “A refill maybe?”

“I’m fine,” Casey answered.

“Very well,” the server said. She moved off.

“That sounds easy to search for him,” Casey said.

“We’ll have to see if he is in the phone book,” I said, “Some people aren’t necessarily in there, or they have cell phones.”

Casey nodded, but I felt like he hadn’t understood what I had just said. I started to eat my breakfast.

“What is your job?” Casey asked.

“I work as a clerk at an insurance company,” I answered.

“Paperwork,” Casey said.

“Yes,” I said.

“Do you find your work interesting?” Casey asked.

“Not really, but it pays well enough for me,” I answered.

“You must have a hobby that interests you,” Casey said.

“I spend a lot of time reading,” I replied.

“On what subject?” Casey asked.

“Sailing,” I answered, “And other things that have to do with the ocean.”

“Dreaming of sailin’?” Casey asked.

“Somewhat,” I answered, “Also my parents used to own a boat and I lived with them on it until I was six. I miss the ocean, so I read books about it.”

“Isn’t far, why not go visit?” Casey asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered, “I’ve thought about it, but just haven’t gotten there.”

“The ocean is better than any books,” Casey said, “The smell of the air, the rocking of the boat, the wildlife, the freedom, the water. All those things that make the sea a great place to be can’t be found in a book.”

“Someday I’ll get back there,” I said.

“You can come visit my ship,” Casey said.

“Thank you for the offer,” I said, “I’ll think about it.”

“Where do ye find a phone book?” Casey asked.

“The restaurant might have one they will let us look through,” I said.

“I will go check,” Casey said. He stood up and went toward the stairs. I ate as I watched him go.

I had introduced myself without embarrassing myself and he had willingly invited me to sit with him. And I was going to help him find the person he was looking for.

That likely meant I would not be walking out of the restaurant alone, but with Casey. If I was with Casey then Jerry wasn’t likely to bother me.

I would still have to watch out for him apparently, but he wouldn’t bother me this time. This might actually turn into a good day after all.

Casey came back with the phone book in his hand. He sat back down in his chair and set the phone book on the table. He pushed it towards me.

I moved my plate over enough that I had room for both the plate as well as the book.

“What is the man’s name?” I asked.

“Black Henry,” Casey answered.

“Are those his first and last names?” I asked looking up at Casey.

“Henry McGlint,” Casey answered.

“Okay,” I said. I flipped through the phone book until I reached the M’s. I went down the rows until I found McGlint. There were three entries under McGlint. One J. McGlint, one Laura McGlint, and one H. R. McGlint.

“What was the address Henry McGlint was living before?” I asked.

“Bering Crescent,” Casey answered.

I looked at the entries, none of them were on Bering Crescent.

“We can try these entries,” I said, “We can start with the H. R. McGlint.”

“You know where these places are?” Casey asked.

“I think I know where two of them are,” I said, “But I would have to find a map to figure out where the third one is. I have a map back at my apartment that we can use.”

“This sounds like a good start,” Casey said.

I finished the few bites of my breakfast. I wrote the addresses on a napkin before closing the phone book.

The server came past. She delivered plates to one of the other tables in the section before stopping at the table with Casey and me.

“Anything else that I can get either of you?” the server asked as she picked up my plate.

“The bill,” Casey answered.

“For me as well,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll be right back with those,” the server said. She headed for the stairs.

The server came back a minute later. She gave Casey his bill and me mine.

“You can pay at the front counter,” the server said before leaving us. Casey picked up his bill and looked it over. I dug into my purse and pulled out a tip for the server then I picked up my bill.

I didn’t look at it before getting up. Casey got up and led the way out of the section. We went through the next section to the front counter. There was no line up so Casey was immediately helped by the hostess.

I waited behind him. When Casey was done paying he stepped out of the way, but didn’t leave. I stepped forward and paid my bill.

I was finished as soon as the debit machine printed the receipt. The hostess gave me the receipt with a smile.

“Come back again,” the hostess said.

“Thank you,” I replied as I took the receipt and put it into my purse. I turned from the front counter and Casey moved to leave. I followed him outside.

When they were outside, I looked around, but couldn’t see Jerry anywhere. I was relieved because none of the vehicles looked familiar either.

“Which way to your apartment?” Casey asked. He had stopped and turned to me.

“This way,” I said before leading the way back down the street to my apartment building. Casey kept up with me.

“How can you live in such a cramped space as an apartment?” Casey asked, “Especially after living on a boat.”

“I lived in a house nowhere near water for thirteen years between living on the boat and where I am now,” I answered, “So, I got used to smaller spaces.

When I moved out from the house the only thing I could afford was an apartment and that is all I’ve been able to pay for since.”

“Then your job doesn’t pay you enough,” Casey said, “An apartment is too small for human souls. It stunts the growth and energy of people. A house is bad enough, but an apartment is horrible.”

“But when money is tight it can be the only option,” I said. Casey shook his head but didn’t say anything else.

We reached the apartment building and I let us in with my key. I led the way up the stairs to the fourth floor. We went down the hallway.

Standing outside my door with the woman from the apartment below and she didn’t look happy.

“Your phone rang all night,” the woman accused me and stared me down.

“I’m sorry about that,” I said, “I was not home to get it.”

“You were making noise,” the woman said, “I could hear you.”

“It must have been someone else you heard,” I said, “I wasn’t home last night. I was home briefly in the evening, but went out.”

“You were home and your phone disturbed my sleep,” the woman said, “If it happens again I will get you evicted.”

“I am sorry your sleep was disturbed,” I said as I took out my key. The woman started to move past me and found herself in front of Casey.

“Hello,” the woman said, “I don’t believe we have met.” The woman smiled up at Casey and touched her hair to make sure it was in place. The look she was giving Casey made my stomach churn.

“I am Casey,” Casey said, “It is nice to meet you, mégère.”

“It is nice to meet you too,” the woman said as her smile got brighter.

“You’ll have to excuse us, mégère, we have business to attend to,” Casey said.

“Of course,” the woman said, “If you need any help I’m in 319.” The woman gave Casey a suggestive smile before moving past him.

I unlocked the door and opened the door to my apartment. Casey followed me inside the apartment.

“See what I mean about apartments and energy?” Casey asked, “People like that are never good.”

“That’s the happiest I have ever seen her,” I said as I went through the stack of papers on the bookcase.

“I don’t believe we need her help,” Casey said, “Do you have the map? I wish to remove myself from this place as soon as possible.”

“It should be right here,” I said as I continued to go through the stack of papers. Casey looked around the living room and stepped into the kitchen.

I heard him move through the kitchen to the bedroom. A moment later he stepped through the doorway from the kitchen to the entryway.

“Small,” Casey said, “But not much furniture.”

“Don’t need much,” I answered. I found the map as the second to last piece of paper in the pile.

“Provides a little more space, but still too cramped,” Casey said.

“Here is the map,” I said, “We can go now.”

“Right,” Casey said. He headed for the door and I followed him. We left the apartment. I locked up behind us. We went down the stairs and left the apartment building.

“Which way?” Casey asked.

“That way,” I answered, pointing across the street to the left.

“Okay,” Casey said. He took my hand before stepping into the street. I wasn’t sure that this was a good idea, but I was being pulled along by Casey, who was strong enough I could not get free.

Casey dodged the traffic as he pulled me with him. We didn’t go straight across, but exactly the direction I had pointed.

When we reached the other side of the street, Casey let go of my hand but continued on. I took a deep breath and followed him. We went down to the corner and went around it.

We went down that street. As we passed other streets off this one, Casey would glance at me to make sure we weren’t supposed to turn off. I shook my head and we would continue.

The street before the intersection that signaled the end of the street, I nodded that we should turn left. We went along this street until I signaled we should turn right on to another street about halfway down this one.

This time I didn’t signal until we were at the crosswalk so we didn’t cross in the middle of the street, which was good because this street was busier than the last one. We went across the street and straight down the next one.

We continued this. Casey set the pace fast and I would indicate which way we should when he glanced at me.

We took several lefts and several rights until we reached a neighborhood of individual houses rather than tall office buildings.

“This is better,” Casey commented as he looked around, “You can at least see there is a sky here. How much farther?”

“Two streets over,” I answered as I stopped to catch my breath, “A street called Spruce.”

“Okay,” Casey said. He started again. I hurried to catch up to him. I was wishing I hadn’t stopped my morning runs.

I would have had no problem keeping up with Casey if I had kept going, but my schedule had gotten busier and I decided I didn’t have time.

When we reached Spruce Street, Casey slowed down to a more reasonable pace for me.

“Which house is it?” Casey asked.

“1874,” I answered as I scanned the house numbers as we walked. Casey followed me but didn’t seem to be looking at the house numbers.

We found the house halfway down the street. It was painted a dark blue with white trim. The placement of windows indicated there were two stories and a basement.

The front lawn was all grass except for a flower bed beside the path that went from the front door to the edge of the driveway. There were no other trees or shrubs in the front yard.

There was no garage or carport. The driveway just ended at a white fence stretched across the driveway and headed back to encase the backyard. In the driveway was a large silver sedan. It looked to be in good condition.

Casey headed up the driveway and I followed after a small hesitation. There were no signs of life as we went along the path to the door of the house. Casey knocked on the door.

We waited several minutes, but no one came to the door. I looked and found the doorbell. I pressed it once and we heard it chime inside the house. A moment later we could hear movement from inside the house.

The footsteps came closer until they arrived at the door and it opened. The woman standing there was five-six with black hair, chocolate skin, and a compassionate face. She was wearing blue nursing scrubs.

“Yes?” the woman asked.

“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey said, “Is this his address?”

“I am sorry, but the only person living here is Humbert McGlint,” the woman answered, “He doesn’t have any relatives by the name of Henry that I know about.”

“We have the wrong address then,” Casey said, “Sorry to disturb you.”

“Sorry, I can’t help you,” the woman said before closing the door.

Casey and I went down the path to the driveway and down the driveway to the road.

“Where is the next one?” Casey asked.

“The far side of this neighbourhood,” I answered as I took out the map. I flipped through until I found the right page. I studied the map until I found both streets.

“Which way?” Casey asked.

“That way,” I answered pointing down the street the way they had come. I put away the map. Casey waited until I was ready before going off. I followed him and tried to keep pace with him.

When they reached the end of the street, Casey looked to me for which way we should go. I pointed him in the right direction and we continued.

As we went I started dropping behind because Casey’s pace was too fast and I was getting tired. Casey would usually end up waiting for me at the end of the street for me to point out which way to go next.

We continued this way until we reached the street we wanted.

“This is the correct street,” I said with a little bit of gasping.

“Which house is it?” Casey asked as he slowed down.

“2583,” I answered as I followed him down the street. I looked at the house numbers and noticed this time so did Casey.

We were just about to the end of the street when I saw the correct house.

“There it is,” I said pointing to the house.

This house was two stories, but the second story looked to have one window under a peaked roof. There were no basement windows and no other obvious signs that there was a basement.

The house was painted white with red trim. There was a garage back in the yard and was included in the fence. The driveway was gravel and the front path went straight from the curb.

There were five large conifers in the front yard and each had a base empty of grass. The rest of the yard had grass that looked to be in need of cutting. There were two windows on either side of the door.

One was a living room window based on its size and the other was a kitchen window based on the curtains that could be seen. Under each window was a box of pink and white flowers.

Casey headed up the path to the house and I followed. We went up the three steps to the door. Casey found the doorbell and rang it. Nothing could be heard from inside. Casey and I waited.

Casey was just about to ring the doorbell again when the door opened. The woman who opened it was probably in her sixties. Her hair was not yet completely white, but it was headed in that direction.

She was thin without being skinny. She was wearing a purple blouse and black pants with black shoes.

“Can I help you with something?” the woman asked. Her voice sounded younger than she looked.

“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey answered, “We were wondering if he lived here.”

“I’m Laura McGlint,” the woman said, “But I don’t know of any Henry McGlint. My husband was Walter McGlint, but he’s been dead for several years. No one else lives here.”

“Thank you for your time,” Casey said, “We are sorry we disturbed you.”

“It’s all right,” Laura said, “I hope you find the man you are looking for.”

“Thank you,” Casey said. Laura closed the door as Casey and I headed back down the path.

“That is two of the three,” Casey said, “Where is the third one?”

“I need to look,” I said as I took out the map. I flipped through until I found the correct page, where I studied it looking for the street. Finally, I found it.

“Where is it?” Casey asked.

“Across town,” I answered, “We need to catch a bus to get there. The bus stop was a couple of streets back.” I glanced at my watch. “And we should be there about the time that the next bus arrives.”

“Very well,” Casey said. I put the map away before Casey started back the way we had come. I hurried to keep up with him.

We went back to the street where I had seen the bus stop. I directed Casey to the bus stop, where I sat down on the bench and Casey stayed standing.

“I’m sorry about going so fast,” Casey said, “But I’m in a mighty hurry to get this done.”

“I know you said you only had a couple of days,” I said, “It is okay, I can handle a little bit of speed. I should exercise more, but I can’t seem to find the time. I might get out of breath, but I will keep up.”

“If I start to push too fast, tell me and I’ll slow down for you,” Casey said.

“I’ll be okay,” I said.

“What do we do if this last house isn’t the one?” Casey asked.

“Then we can look on the internet and see if we can find him that way,” I answered.

“I’ve been too long at sea,” Casey said, “What’s the internet?”

“It connects pretty much all computers together and you can look up information on it that others have put up,” I answered, “All of it exists in cyberspace.”

“That is confusing,” Casey said, “What is cyberspace?”

“I’m not very good at explaining it,” I answered, “But it is all digital and does not exist in physical space.

All the information is stored on computer servers at various points all over the world. It is hard to describe it.”

“Perhaps I will understand better when you show me,” Casey said.

“Perhaps,” I said.

The bus came around the corner and headed for the bus stop. I dug into my purse for the bus fare. By the time the bus stopped in front of us I had it in my hand and had closed my purse.

The door of the bus opened as I stood up. Two people got off before Casey and I got on. I put the fare into the box before moving to the closest seats on the bus.

Casey sat down beside me. Once we were both seated the driver closed the door and got the bus moving.

The bus was about half full of people with older people towards the front and young towards the back. Casey and I were the only ones in their age range. There were about three conversations going.

Two older ladies near the front, a young couple at the back and the loudest being a teenager on his cellphone complaining about the ridiculous rules his parents set for him, like coming home every night.

Casey watched all the people on the bus with interest and didn’t speak to me. I watched out the window so I could tell when our stop was coming.

The bus stopped several times to let people off and more people to get back on. The same structure remained as far as age and places to sit were concerned. There still weren’t any passengers of Casey and my age.

The conversations switched, but there always seemed to be two older ladies, a young couple in the back and someone on their cell phone; although it wasn’t the same person from when Casey and I came on.

The bus went through the neighbourhood of houses to the city center to another neighbourhood of houses to outlet malls to another neighbourhood where they had more space for parks and yards and green space.

The bus stopped in front of a park with a metal fence near the curb and a playground just beyond that. I stood up once the bus stopped and Casey did the same.

The driver opened the doors and I went down the stairs and off the bus with Casey following me. There was a group of people waiting at the stop and they got on once Casey and I were clear of the door.

I waited until the bus had closed the door and moved on before looking around for the street I was looking for. Casey waited for me somewhat impatiently.

The street went along one side of the road with all the houses facing the street. Several other streets went off this one perpendicular to it.

“There,” I pointed at the one across the street and to the right of where we were. Casey took my hand before starting across.

I matched his pace this time because I could see cars coming from both directions and wanted to be out of the street before they arrived.

We reached the other side of the street safely and walked along the sidewalk to the street we wanted.

We went down this one at Casey’s pace while I checked the house numbers for the one they wanted. We reached a four-way intersection and stopped briefly as Casey made sure there weren’t any vehicles to hit us when we crossed.

We continued along the street with Casey setting the pace and me looking at house numbers. We reached another four-way intersection and went straight through to continue down the street.

Halfway between that intersection and the next one, I stopped. Casey stopped as well and looked at the house.

“Is this the next place?” Casey asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

This house was larger than the other two. The white fence went all the way around the front lawn and the house to go around the back yard.

The driveway was to one side of it all and led to a garage that wasn’t attached to the house or even the fence.

Half of the house was painted a faded blue and the other half was painted a brighter green with an obvious place where someone took a break from painting.

The ladder was set up still and there was a can of paint sitting on the front step. The trim was taped to avoid being painted by accident.

Scattered around the grass that needed cutting, were kids' toys. The door was open and even from the street, the sound of children’s voices could be heard.

“This is not Henry’s house,” Casey said, “He doesn’t have children and he has no family with children.”

Before I could say anything a dog came racing around the house to the fence and started barking at them. The dog was a black and brown German shepherd.

Casey and I backed away from the fence a few feet. A man appeared in the doorway of the house and came outside.

“Rock, sit,” the man called. The German Shepherd sat down and was silent.

“I’m sorry he is bothering you,” the man said as he walked over to the fence. He looked to be in his thirties and his clothes were jeans and tee shirt stained with green paint.

Both had other stains on them as well as a few holes.

“It is okay,” Casey said.

“Is there something I can help you with?” the man asked.

“We are looking for a Henry McGlint,” Casey said.

“Never heard of him,” the man said, “Me and my family have lived here for ten years and I haven’t heard of anyone by that name. We are McGlints, but don’t have any family members by that name.”

“We thought we would try,” Casey said, “We will have to try some other way to find him. We are sorry we disturbed you.”

“Good luck on your search,” the man said. He went back toward the house, but the German Shepherd stayed and watched them through the fence. Casey and I headed back the way we had come.

We reached the street with the bus stop, but I didn’t cross the street to go back to it.

“Should we not cross?” Casey asked.

“If we are picked up there it will take us farther out and not back to the city center which is where we need to go,” I answered, “So, we need to go down this side of the street until we find another bus stop.”

“Okay,” Casey said. He didn’t say anything for a while as we walked. We crossed several streets before he spoke again.

“I am sorry if I am taking up your day,” Casey said, “You probably had other plans.”

“I didn’t have any other plans,” I said, “I hadn’t really thought about what I would do today before I offered to help you.”

“No one else to meet with and talk to?” Casey asked.

“Not really,” I answered, “Aside from a very bad choice in boyfriend, I don’t talk to many people outside of work.”

“How did you meet your bad choice in a boyfriend?” Casey asked.

“A co-worker introduced us at a work function,” I answered.

“Perhaps you need to find boyfriends outside of work-related events,” Casey said.

“I know I should go out and meet people,” I answered, “But either I’m too tired or the people I meet don’t share my interests.

When your main interest is the sea, very few people in the city have an interest in it as well, and those people have no experience on a real boat.

It has cut many a conversation short to be brought up. And I am not really interested in much else.”

“You need a boat,” Casey said, “Get away from the bad energy of the city.”

“I can’t really afford that right now,” I said.

“Come with me on mine,” Casey said.

“I will have to think about it,” I said.

“It is a beautiful sailing ship,” Casey enticed, “We travel all over the world and visit amazing places full of things you would never believe if you don’t see them with your own eyes.

You can stand on deck and feel the air blow past you. You can feel the waves move the ship. And the freedom of standing on deck without being able to see anything but the horizon.

The blue water reflects back the light as you look down and see dolphins.”

I was just about to the point of closing my eyes to visualize it all in my head when I saw the bus stop.

“There is the bus stop,” I said pointing to the bench ahead of them.

“All you have to do is say yes and then you can come and sail for a while,” Casey said.

“It is very tempting,” I said, “But I still need to think about it.”

“Okay,” Casey said.

We reached the bus stop and I sat down on the bench while Casey continued to stand.

“Me and my crew stop in at the port regularly,” Casey said, “But only when we need supplies we can’t get anywhere else. That is why I have to find Black Henry. He has something I can’t get anywhere else.

He was part of my crew for several years. If he hadn’t fallen in love with that lassie then he might still be sailing with me and my crew. He only stays because she won’t leave.

I’ve seen the longing in his eyes when we start talking about the sea. The wistfulness in his tone when he talks about the ship and being aboard is always there for long moments when I visit.

But he promised the woman that he loved her and she came before the sea. She accepted it and he has been wishing to be back at sea ever since.

I swore a long time ago that any woman I fell for would have to love the sea and be willing to live aboard the ship. Not that it matters much at the moment since there hasn’t been a woman in my life in a long while.”

Before I could say anything the bus turned the corner and came towards us. I dug into my purse for more change. I had just enough for the fare back into the city center. The bus pulled up to the curb and stopped.

I stood up and Casey followed me onto the bus. I put the money in the box and we went to sit down. The closest seats were taken so we moved to the next row.

Once we were seated the driver closed the doors and got the bus moving.

This bus had older people to the front and younger people to the back, but there were also a few who looked like university students who were sitting in between the two groups.

This bus was quiet with only one conversation going and that was a group of young people at the back.

The bus took us all through the neighbourhood to the outlet malls, through another residential area, and then to the city center. The bus stopped frequently along all that.

More people came on the bus than got off until they reached the city center where more people started to get off at the stops than were getting on.

The bus stopped on a street of independent shops and I got up. Casey got up and followed me off the bus. We got off the bus and I started off the street. Casey followed me.

“Where we be headed?” Casey asked.

“A computer café,” I answered, “It is just around the corner.”

“Okay,” Casey said, but let Erica lead the way.

They went down the street and around the corner. I went into the third building on this street. This building was much shorter than the rest of them at only two stories and only one business.

There were several windows and a door on the first level. The frequency of windows was cut in half for the second story.

What could be seen of the brick exterior was painted a purplish-grey and there were a dozen different stickers and signs on the glass in the door.

I opened the door and stepped inside. Inside there was a low-level hum, but no loud conversations.

The interior was dim compared to the sunlight outside and it was much colder with the air conditioner blowing full blast.

There were tables and desks anywhere that one could be crammed in and all of them had a desktop computer on them. Some of the computers were in use.

Near the back of the shop was a computer-free counter and a man standing behind it. I went to the counter.

“How long?” the man asked when I reached the counter.

“Fifteen minutes,” I answered.

“Four dollars,” the man said. I dug into my purse and pulled out a five-dollar bill. I gave it to the man and he gave me a dollar back. I went to one of the computers along the wall and sat down in the chair in front of it.

Casey moved the chair from the next computer to be next to mine and sat down on it. I turned the computer on and waited for it to start up. It took a minute before everything came up and I could start using it.

I clicked on the internet icon and the internet came up in a window. I went to a search engine and typed in Henry McGlint. The list of results came up.

“Here is a website for a Black Henry McGlint’s shop,” I said, “The shop sells parts for sailing ships.”

“That’ll be him,” Casey said. I clicked on the link.

“Where he be?” Casey asked.

“It says here he lives on a boat at the port,” I said, “It gives the pier number and the name of the boat.” I wrote down the information.

“So, I came all the way to the city and now have to go back to the port,” Casey said.

“Well, I’m sorry about that,” I said.

“Nothing you can do,” Casey said, “But perhaps you have an interest in lunch before I go as a thank you for helping me.”

“Sure, lunch sounds good,” I said as I closed down the window and shut down the computer.

We left the computer café and went down the street to a pizza place. The restaurant looked similar to all the other buildings around it.

It had multiple stories and a staircase to one side of the building going up to the second floor. There were more windows on the first level and a sign over the door identifying it.

The interior was simply tables and chairs equal distance apart in an open area with a counter in front of an area that looked to be the kitchen.

There were several things to prevent customers from actually seeing into the kitchen itself. The restaurant was about a quarter full.

The sign inside the door asked us to seat ourselves, so we went to a table in the middle of the open area. As soon as we were seated the server came over with the menus and a pitcher of water.

She gave each of us a menu.

“Today’s special is two for one on medium-sized pizzas,” the server said as she filled the two water glasses on the table, “Anything I can get you to start with?”

“Water is fine for now,” Casey answered.

“Okay,” the server said, “I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.” The server moved on, while Casey and I opened their menus.

We studied the menus for several minutes as we thought about what we wanted to eat.

“What looks good to you?” Casey asked once I had some time to think.

“The vegetarian pizza looks good,” I said.

“I thought the seafood one looked good,” Casey said, “A small of each?”

“Okay,” I said as I closed her menu. Casey set his menu down on the table in front of him.

Before he could say anything the server came back to their table.

“What can I get for you today?” the server asked as she took out her pad and pencil.

“Two small pizzas,” Casey answered, “One seafood pizza and one vegetarian pizza.”

“Okay,” the server said, “Anything else?”

“No, that is it,” Casey answered.

“Okay,” the server took the menus and went off to take the order to the kitchen.

“I am surprised to find out Henry is living on a boat,” Casey said, “His wife was always set against the sea and boats.”

“Since it sounds like he has a shop on a houseboat,” I said, “Perhaps they came to a compromise.”

“I am sure he appreciates the compromise,” Casey said, “He has been homesick for the sea. I offered him a chance to come aboard the ship for a little bit, and he had to think about it for a long time before he turned me down.

He wanted to, but he also didn’t want to leave his wife alone for that length of time.”

“He must really love her,” I said.

“It was a dark day on my ship the day they met,” Casey said, “I don’t begrudge her, but sometimes it would be nice to have him aboard. Then I wouldn’t have to keep coming back here.”

“Well, I appreciate you were here this time,” I said, “Otherwise Jerry would still be bothering me.”

“If you come with me on my ship then you’ll be too far away for him to bother you again,” Casey said.

“I will think about it,” I said.

“There is a limited time for you to think about,” Casey said, “After lunch, I have to get back to the port. Once I am gone so will the offer be.”

“I know,” I said.

“You want to be near the sea,” Casey said, “I can see that in your eyes. You miss the water and the feeling of being on a boat. What could be better than going aboard my ship?

You don’t have to stay aboard permanently, you could leave the next time we are at port.

The other option you seem to have given yourself is a boring job, a questionable social life, and an ex-boyfriend who doesn’t want to leave you alone.”

“I will give you my answer after lunch is over,” I said.

“Okay,” Casey said. He backed off on that subject and instead asked me about one of the articles in the paper he had read this morning.

I willingly talked about the subject, even though I only knew about it through what other people had told me.

Ten minutes later the server brought our pizzas out. We continued to talk as we ate.

I found myself laughing about a story that had come to Casey’s mind when we talked about other news pieces. He continued to tell funny stories about his crew throughout the meal.

I relaxed and enjoyed them because he was telling them to try and encourage me to sail with him. I told him a few stories about work, but they weren’t as funny because he didn’t understand the mindset of an office worker.

Somehow him not knowing anything about cubicles made me want to spend time with him.

I did find a story from when my parents were still alive to tell and that one went over a lot better. Casey found it funny because he could understand it.

When we had finished eating, the server arrived and took our plates. She came back with the bill. Casey paid the bill before he and I left the restaurant. We were still talking and laughing as we walked out.

We walked back toward the street my apartment building was on.

I was paying more attention to Casey as we walked than my surroundings, so when we reached my apartment building I hadn’t looked around for Jerry and was surprised to find him standing outside the building waiting for me.

Jerry didn’t appear to be worried about Casey at all as he stood there with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Where have you been?” Jerry demanded.

“I told you yesterday and I told you this morning, our relationship is over,” I said, “That means I don’t want to see you again and you should go away.”

“I told you this morning you should leave her alone,” Casey said.

“I don’t have to listen to you,” Jerry told Casey, “But you’ll listen to me.” Jerry pulled out a hunting knife and gestured for Casey and me to go into the alleyway between the apartment building and the next building.

Casey and I moved into the alleyway ahead of Jerry without any comment or opposition. We had gone only a few steps out of the street when Casey turned around and disarmed Jerry at a speed faster than Jerry could react.

While Jerry was still in shock from losing his weapon Casey slammed him against the building. Jerry banged his head causing him to lose consciousness before collapsing to the concrete.

I had turned around when I heard the scuffle to find Casey standing over Jerry.

“Let’s go,” Casey said as he took my arm.

“Is he dead?” I asked as I let Casey pull me along. We were headed to the opposite end of the alleyway.

“No,” Casey answered, “But he is not going to be happy when he wakes up.”

I didn’t say anything as we reached the other end of the alleyway. We exited out onto the street. No one paid any attention to us as we walked down the street.

Casey seemed to know where he was going so I let him lead the way.

 

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2

ERICA

I sat down in the bus seat beside Casey. He had bought the tickets for the two of us and we had waited an hour for the bus to arrive. Now we had just boarded.

I hadn’t said yes to Casey’s invitation, but it didn’t look like I had much chance to say no. Jerry would wake up and probably look for me. I hadn’t thought Jerry had been dangerous until he had pulled out that knife.

Now I was worried about what he might do, so I was going to go with Casey on the bus to the port. I could still decide whether I wanted to go on the ship.

Casey didn’t say much as the bus started and pulled out of the station. He hadn’t said much since we left the alleyway, but I sensed it had less to do with attacking Jerry and more to do with my mood.

I didn’t seem talkative at the moment so he didn’t talk. It felt nice to be with a guy who didn’t feel the need to fill the air when I was already having trouble with an event that just happened.

I wondered how I could have picked a guy that was so wrong. I didn’t remember any of the warning signs suggesting Jerry was abusive, but apparently I missed something.

Most guys would have left her alone after the phone call last night. The rest would have left me alone after the altercation at the restaurant.

But Jerry had been in that small percentage who couldn’t leave things alone even after all that. It scared me and I didn’t want to be close enough he could get at me again.

He would probably try phoning me again and then the lady downstairs would complain, which would probably result in me being evicted. Maybe going with Casey on his ship would be good for me.

I would be a sea, which was where I had dreamed of being for a very long time. I would be away from Jerry and whatever he had thought up for revenge.

I would also be away from the lady living below me and out from under the constant threat of eviction. Those would be nice.

But even if I didn’t want to go with Casey, I could at least start over closer to the port where I was far more likely to get to go back to sea.

I closed my eyes and pictured the sea as I last remembered seeing it. The waves had been calm and there wasn’t much of a breeze. There had been pieces of debris lining the shore.

The sand had been soft. It all looked peaceful after the storm the night before.

It looked like no one could have truly been lost, but they had. I had sat down on the beach and stared out at the water. I had prayed for my parents to come home, but they hadn’t.

CASEY

Casey looked down. Erica had relaxed and resting her head against his shoulder. Her eyes closed and her breathing was evening out. She looked beautiful to him.

Her brown hair was loose to frame her face and the eyes that were a vivid blue were closed. The stress that had been on her face all day was gone. Her lips the perfect shade of pink to be kissable.

He would have kissed her several times already today, but she seemed like she would have gotten upset with him over doing such a thing.

Casey couldn’t understand why such a woman would let herself be attached to a cur like that. And the thought that the cur could take on Captain Bloody Boyd was just plain foolish.

But then the cur didn’t know who Casey was and Casey hadn’t killed him because Casey knew he needed to be able to come back as needed. Also, Casey figured Erica would have been upset with him for killing someone.

She had taken the fact that he had knocked out the cur quite well, but the thought had come to her that Casey had killed him. The look in her eyes was more than enough to stop Casey from doing anything more to the git.

Erica hadn’t said anything after that, but Casey had seen the incident had scared her. She had said nothing about it when he had taken her to the bus station and bought her a ticket.

Before the incident, she would have said something. Casey did have the cur to thank for that. She had been hesitant to come with him before that and he guessed she wasn’t going to come if he had given her time to think things over.

She felt comfortable in the rut she had dug for herself. The job paid enough she could read about the ocean, which meant she never found the drive to be everything she could be.

Casey would try and show her that she could be so much more than a clerk.

Now she would come on his ship. She would come on board to see what it looked like and then she would stay because there was no way off until the next storm. Casey figured on taking her with him when he visited Black Henry.

Black Henry would talk to her and suggest she go on the ship. She would say she was thinking about it. Black Henry would tell her about all the places Casey could take her.

She would get that dreamy look in her eyes again and she would say she was thinking about it.

Casey couldn’t understand how someone with such dreams squashed them to live a meaningless existence. She could die and no one would remember her. That wasn’t the proper way to live a life.

One should use their life to give themselves purpose and to make sure they would be remembered by someone. Even if there were only two people at the gravesite.

Casey put his arm around Erica and she snuggled closer to him in her sleep. He sighed at the physical reaction that brought and stared out the window.

It was going to be a long bus ride, even without the suffocation of being stuck in such a small space.

ERICA

I woke up to the bus stopping and opened my eyes as I tried to straighten up. I found Casey’s arm wrapped around me. He took it back once he noticed I was awake.

I felt the warmth leave and just about asked for it back, but the bus had stopped at the bus station and it was time to gather ourselves together and leave the bus.

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and then smoothed my hair back before standing up. Casey stood up once I had and we moved toward the front of the bus.

“Have a good time,” the bus driver wished everyone as they disembarked.

“Thank you,” were the replies.

I followed the person in front of me down the steps and off the bus. Casey was right behind me. Most of the group went into the bus station to wait on the luggage to be unloaded.

Casey and I moved away from the bus station toward the road.

The bus station was just outside the village that held the port and was about a ten-minute walk to the village.

The walk was uphill for the last five minutes and Casey and I ended up standing at the top of a hill looking down at the village.

The village was about three blocks across and six blocks long. The main street was filled with tourist shops. The streets off that one were mostly houses with the occasional commercial property mixed in.

The block surrounding the docks were warehouses to store what came off the ships until it could be transported to its official destinations.

There were a few cars moving along the main street and some trucks that had their own route around the traffic on the main street, but other than that there were very few vehicles. Most people were walking or cycling.

The taxi with the people from the bus station had passed shortly before the hill and the people had already been let out on the main street.

And beyond the docks was the vastness of the ocean. It was a gorgeous shade of blue stretching on forever.

Casey and I went down the hill and into the village. We reached the main street and followed it along to the docks area.

Casey took my hand because there were enough people that it would have been easy to get separated. We reached the docks and found most of the people stayed on the main street and this area was much less busy.

The docks off the main street were mostly passenger craft. To the left, most of the docks held cargo ships. To the right were mostly what could be classified as assorted others.

Casey and I turned right and followed the shoreline. I was watching the pier numbers as we walked past. I was watching from the number where Henry’s boathouse was supposed to be attached to.

We were just about halfway down the row of piers when I saw the number.

“There is it,” I released Casey’s hand to point to the number.

“What boat are we looking for?” Casey asked as we headed down the pier.

“The Spanish Fox,” I answered. Casey gave me a questioning look. I shrugged in response. I don’t know why Henry named his boat after a knot.

We continued down the pier. There were a variety of houseboats tied to the pier. Some were large and some looked barely big enough for one person to live in. Halfway down the pier, we found the Spanish Fox.

The boat was two levels. The top one looked like a house with garden planters under the windows and lacy curtains in the windows. The bottom level looked like someone’s garage.

There was a large door in the side with a smaller door beside it. There were no windows on the bottom level except one high up in the bigger door. The gangplank attached the houseboat to the pier.

“Ahoy,” Casey called.

A moment passed and then the smaller door opened. The man who stepped out wore jeans and a tee-shirt with work boots. His hair and beard were black and stood straight out in all directions.

His face was tanned and wrinkled like a man who spent time at sea. He squinted out between the lines in his face and when he smiled at the sight of Casey his eyes seemed to disappear altogether.

“Ahoy there,” Henry said, “Come aboard.” His accent was closer to an American one. Casey went up the gangplank and Erica followed him.

“I was expecting you shortly after the storm,” Henry told Casey as he led the way into the houseboat.

Inside there was plenty of light to see the work tables covered with tools and the pieces of whatever had been made at the table. There was a little bit of grease and a lot of wood shavings.

There was a door along the right wall that must have led to the upper level.

“I thought you were still in the city,” Casey answered.

“Would be, but some knothead came and decided to burn it down,” Henry replied. He pulled another two chairs from the stack in the corner and put them close to the one already sitting beside one work table.

Casey and Erica sat down in these chairs while Henry sat down in the one chair.

“What happened?” Casey asked.

“This scug comes by with an offer on the house,” Henry said, “He wants to tear down the whole row to build something else. I tell him the house isn’t for sale and he goes away.

Most of the street told him the same thing when he knocked on their doors. He comes back the next night and tries to burn the houses down. Two of the houses were lost and the rest just needed repairs.

The man then gets captured and put in prison for his sins. I look at Isa and ask whether she really wants the house back the way it was. She thought about it.

We got the money from the insurance company.

We were thinking about plans when someone else comes along and wants to buy a house in the neighbourhood and are going to knock whatever house they buy down to build their dream house anyway.

The other house was already being rebuilt, so we sold them the lot for a little more than the insurance payment was. I found this boat for sale and Isa said maybe. We came and toured it.

I got Isa from a maybe to as long as it don’t move. So we moved in here and we’re happier for it. I left a message for ye at the Popping Parrot.”

“The Popping Parrot was closed when I went through the first time,” Casey said, “Something about the owner being forced to go visiting.

I went straight into the city after that thinkin’ it wouldn’t be too much of a problem to find you.”

“But I weren’t there,” Henry said.

“No, you weren’t,” Casey said, “I met Erica there and she helped me find you.”

“Nice to meet you, Erica,” Henry said as he held out a large, but fairly clean, hand to her.

“Nice to meet you too,” Erica shook his hand. His grip was firm, but brief.

“I’m surprised you came this far with him,” Henry said, indicating Casey.

“I was having my own problems and he helped me out with them,” Erica replied.

“You going on board ship with him?” Henry asked.

“He has invited me,” I answered, “But I haven’t decided whether I will or not.”

“You came this far,” Henry said, “Why not go the extra little bit? It might be fun.”

“It has been a long time since I have been on board a ship,” I told him, “And I am not sure I am ready yet.”

“Storm?” Henry asked.

“I wasn’t on the boat at the time, but my parents were,” I replied, “They didn’t come back.”

“Sorry to hear it,” Henry said, “Tis always hard to lose someone to the locker. I lost many a mate to it and some of them were good men.

But the best way to keep fear from ruling your life is to keep living and let the fear find its own way. You step aboard the ship and you’ll feel like you’re home before the fear gets you.

You keep the feeling of home in your heart then the fear can’t stop you from doing anything.”

“I’m still thinking about it,” Erica said, “And I still have some time before I have to make a decision.”

“I remember this one young feller,” Henry started. He was interrupted before he could get any farther by the door behind us opening. Casey and Erica looked over their shoulders.

A woman came out of the door, but didn’t close it behind her. The stairs going up were visible through the doorway. The woman was about the same height as Henry, but she was half his size in width.

Her blonde hair curled down her back to her elbows and looked like it should have been featured in a shampoo ad. She was wearing just enough makeup to enhance her looks without taking anything away by being too heavy.

She was wearing a pair of tight jeans with a white blouse open a button farther than most people would and she was barefoot.

“Hello Casey,” the woman said as she looked at Casey and then she turned to Erica, “I’m Isabelle McGlint.” She offered Erica a hand with perfectly done nails.

“Erica Gardner,” Erica shook her hand. Her grip was softer than her husband’s, but she held on for longer.

“Are you lecturing her?” Isabelle turned to her husband and put her hand on her hips.

“Of course not,” Henry answered, “I was just starting a tale about a fella who I worked with.”

“I wouldn’t worry about telling tales,” Isabelle said, “You have business with Casey you have to work out. Erica can come up stairs with me and we can have a cup of tea while you two work things out.”

“Very well,” Henry said.

I stood up and followed Isabelle through the door and up the stairs. I closed the door behind me as Casey and Henry switched to whatever business they needed to discuss.

At the top of the stairs was a kitchen big enough to be in a house rather than a boat. There were cupboards on either wall and a table in the middle.

At the far end was a doorway and on each side of the doorway was the fridge and stove. Isabelle busied herself making the tea while I sat down in one of the chairs at the table.

“You aren’t the first woman Casey has met in the city,” Isabelle said, “He and Henry are both lovers of women and charmers when they want to be.

Henry has stopped chasing women to settle with me, but Casey doesn’t seem to have any good luck in finding a woman who will stay with him.

The last one he was head of heels in love with and she had agreed to go with him on his ship, but they got as far as the village.

He made the mistake of stopping in at the Popping Parrot and she fell for a man there before Casey finished leaving his message with the bartender. She was out of there so fast Casey almost missed seeing her leave.

There was another one, who did go with Casey, but apparently fell for a man at the first port they stopped at. But that one Casey convinced her to go and Henry helped him.

If they had let her stay here he wouldn’t have been as heartbroken. Henry figured he must have spent the week drunk after both of them left.

I don’t know where he picked you up or what your motivation is, but both of them are likely to try and convince you to go with Casey. You should think very hard about it before you go.”

The kettle boiled and Isabelle got up and poured the hot water into the teapot. She brought the tea pot over to the table where she had already set the cups.

“Strong or weak?” Isabelle asked.

“Between the two,” I answered. Isabelle nodded and left the teapot alone.

“I don’t mean to sound bossy or a know-it-all,” Isabelle said, “But they will try to wear you down even if it isn’t in your best interest or Casey’s best interests to go on board that boat.”

“I figured Casey was trying to do that,” I said, “And with how Henry’s story started it sounded like it was along those same lines.”

“Casey wants you along because he has fallen into lust with you and he hopes it will turn into the real thing,” Isabelle said.

“Henry is just sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and Casey is letting him in hopes it helps his cause.”

“He assumed it was fear keeping me off ships,” I said, “But I think it is more uncertainty.”

“Uncertainty about what?” Isabelle asked.

“About leaving the comfort of the life I built around me,” I answered, “I want to get back on a ship, but it would mean I would have to leave the comfort.”

“Does that mean you are actually going to go with Casey?” Isabelle asked.

“I’m thinking about it,” I answered, “Some issues came up with the comfortable life I had built for myself that have nothing to do with Casey, but he helped me out.

I may not be able to go back to my comfortable life, but it isn’t his fault. So, if I can’t go back then my only option is forward, isn’t it?”

“But is going with Casey forward?” Isabelle asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered, “But if it doesn’t work out with Casey then I haven’t lost anything, but time.”

“And maybe break both your hearts,” Isabelle said as she poured both cups of tea.

“Casey apparently just needs a week of being drunk to get over a woman,” I said, “And I’ve suffered heart break before without it killing me. It also might give me a place to start, which I don’t have now.”

“Somehow, I think you might be suitable for going with Casey,” Isabelle said before taking a sip from her tea cup to hide her smile.

I took a sip of tea, but didn’t feel quite as confident as I seemed to sound about the whole situation. It was almost like I was thinking out loud and had made up my mind to go with Casey.

It is true that I wanted to be on board a ship again and I wanted to see what Casey’s ship looked like. However, was I truly ready to go with him?

“How did you meet Henry?” I asked.

“I was here on vacation with my sister,” Isabelle said, “She always wanted to see the ocean and her boss paid for her to come to the village as a business trip. She wanted me along to keep her company.

I had just been fired from my last job and I hadn’t been able to find another one, so I figured I might as well go along with her. She had an activity planned for each day we were here.

She finished the work she needed to do the first day and didn’t have to worry about any of it disturbing the rest of her plans. After the first day of wandering all the tourist shops on the main street, I was bored.

I decided she could do all these activities on her own. She shrugged and went out to do just that.

“She must have found a group of tourists to go with because she never seemed to be lonely for the rest of the trip. I spent the first day sitting in the hotel room watching television.

The second day I went out and found the Popping Parrot. There were guys around to dance with and people interesting to talk to. The third day of visiting the Popping Parrot, Henry walked in.

He was the best looking man I had seen in my life. He saw me and seemed to have similar feelings. After he got himself a drink, he came over and asked me to dance.

The rest of the guys in the bar were highly disappointed when it appeared we had found our matches. They moved off and didn’t hit on me or anything as I continued to go there and visit with Henry.

The day before my sister and I were supposed to leave, Henry got down on one knee and begged me to marry him. He even had a ring to offer.”

Isabelle held out her hand to show me her rings. One was a modern gold band with some diamonds in it, but the other was a gold ring with two sapphires on either side of an emerald.

“I couldn’t refuse,” Isabelle said, “He continued to charm me as we prepared for the wedding. My sister met him and declared him unfit for anything aside from being homeless.

She went home and that was the last time I talked to her. I invited her to the wedding, but she refused. I think she was jealous. She was also going on trips in an effort to find Mr. Right and I found him first.

As far as I know she is still single, but men don’t feel the need to marry her because she is willing to give them anything they want without any commitment.

Anyway, Henry and I married here about a month after he asked me. I had found a temporary job and found a place with cheap rent. I don’t know where he stayed, but Casey wasn’t around and neither was the ship.

Henry never did explain how he got left behind. We got married, but couldn’t find any place here to live. That and my job was only temporary. We moved to the city and he left word with the bartender at the Popping Parrot.

It was a couple months later I found out about Casey and Henry’s love of the sea. I never cared for boats and water, but I married a man who would rather be at sea.

He is much happier since we bought this house boat and I am willing to live here as long as the boat doesn’t move from the dock. In all it is an acceptable compromise.”

“I lived on a boat with my parents back when I was six,” I said, “I enjoyed it, but then they died and I haven’t been on a boat since. But that was so long ago.

The years between then and now I lived in a city and had terrible choices in boyfriends. Could going with Casey be any worse than that?”

“I guess we each have to find our way and what works for us,” Isabelle said, “I thought it might be a good idea to warn you about Casey and Henry before they convinced you to do something you didn’t really want to do.”

“I appreciate the warning, but I think I’ll be fine,” I said.

“You do seem to have a handle on what is going on,” Isabelle said, “I hope you make the right decision for you.”

“I hope so too,” I said.

The sounds of Casey and Henry coming up the stars could be heard. They arrived at the top and came into the kitchen.

“Would either of you like some tea?” Isabelle offered.

“No, thank you,” Casey answered.

“No,” Henry said.

“Did you finish your business?” Isabelle asked as she poured another cup of tea for herself.

“Yes,” Henry said, “He’s got his part and I got my money. All the business is done.”

“Well, it was nice talking to you,” Isabelle turned to me and held out her hand.

“I was very nice to meet you,” I replied as I reached out and shook her hand. Once the handshake was over I stood up.

“Keep out of trouble,” Isabelle said, turning to Casey.

“Always try to,” Casey answered.

“But only a few times seem to succeed,” Isabelle replied, “I will see you the next time you are through.”

“See you then,” Casey replied. It seemed like he would have tipped his hat, but he was not wearing one. He turned and headed back down the stairs.

I followed him and after a moment Henry followed him. At the bottom Casey and I continued to the door of the garage. Henry followed us that far, but didn’t step out the door.

“See you,” Henry called.

“Bye,” Casey called before we went down the gangplank. We continued along the pier and Henry watched us go until we went around a large boat and couldn’t see him.

“I know you probably want to get back to your ship,” I said, “But I was wondering if we could get supper in the village.”

“We can certainly do that,” Casey said.

He directed us back toward the main street. When we reached it he took my hand again, but there weren't as many people out walking around and so it was easier to keep track of each other.

Neither of us let go. Casey led the way to a restaurant in the middle of the buildings on the left side of the street. It was called Mama’s Place.

The outside matched the rest of the buildings on the street with the brick exterior and plenty of windows, but difficulty seeing inside. We stepped through the door and into the cool interior.

There was a front counter and a sign asking us to wait to be seated. Behind the counter were sections cordoned off by wood walls about five feet in height.

Each section had a handful of booths built into the wooden walls and a couple of tables sandwiched in the centre of the area between booths.

The color scheme of the place consists of wood and dark red cloth with decorations made up of pieces of wood from ship wrecks. The place was about half full and had the sound level of such.

The hostess smiled at us.

“For two?” she asked as she picked up two menus.

“Yes,” Casey answered.

“Right this way,” the hostess said as she turned toward the restaurant. We followed her as she led the way to a booth in the middle section.

We sat down across the booth from each other as the hostess placed the menus in front us.

“Your server will be Melody,” the hostess said, ’She’ll be right with you.” The hostess left us to go back to the front desk.

Casey and I opened our menus and studied the contents. Most of what was served was seafood dishes, but there were a few other things on the menu.

Casey glanced over the menu before setting it open on the table in front of him. He had obviously been here before and knew what he wanted. I studied the menu more closely.

I finally decided on what I wanted, so I put my menu down on the table.

“Decided?” Casey asked.

“Yes,” I answered.

Just then the server showed up.

“I’m Melody,” she smiled at us, “What can I get for you?”

“I will have the pan seared halibut,” Casey said, “Skip the salad. And a dark ale to drink.”

“Okay,” the server turned to me.

“I will have the lasagna,” I said, “And water to drink.”

“Okay,” the server finished writing that all down, “I’ll bring your drinks to you in just a minute.” She took the menus and went off.

Casey didn’t say anything and I didn’t feel the need to fill the space with anything. There was a card on the table beside the salt and pepper shakers.

I picked it up and looked at it. The card had a picture of a damaged row boat beside a battered pier. Under the picture was a story.

In 1905 a storm hit the coast with such force that several piers and at least one building was washed into the sea. A dozen people were injured and one was lost to the sea.

The boats not beached were retrieved with help from the sea itself, but none of them were sunk. The clean-up took a week and everyone helped out.

On the second day of clean up, Mrs. Kendall found an unfamiliar row boat on the shore. Inside was a man, whom she at first thought was dead, but soon realized he was alive.

She quickly got help and the man was taken to the building where the injured were being treated.

No one in the village recognized the man. It was suggested he came off a ship that sank off the coast during the storm, but there was no other debris from a ship and there were no ships due to come in.

His clothes were strange to the people, while his skin was a white sailor. There were no clues in the row boat itself and there was nothing else in the row boat.

When the man woke up he was confused and lost. He spoke in a strange dialect and it took several minutes before he was understood. He thought the people dressed strange and spoke weird.

He was also unfamiliar with certain things that were normal to the people. He was asked several questions and according to him the year was 1651.

At first people thought he was crazy until someone realized he spoke and dressed like someone from 1651.

No one was sure how he got to 1905, but the man was out in his rowboat every time a storm came in with the hope it would take him back to his own time.

He died in the winter of 1908 after getting sick in spring of1907. He spent the years he was healthy trying to get home and the year he was sick talking about home.

When he died someone sent a letter to the village in Scotland that was his home. They received a letter back saying there was a space in the cemetery to bury him beside his wife and the family had always wondered where he had gone.

His body was sent there and that is where he rests in peace.

I put the card back and looked around. Casey seemed to be watching me without openingly staring.

“Interesting story,” I commented. Casey nodded like he knew something that wasn’t in the card and he wasn’t going to tell me. I sat back and looked at Casey.

He didn’t make eye contact as he looked at the table and then at the wood pieces near the ceiling.

The server arrived with their drinks. She put the dark ale in front of Casey and the water in front of me. Then the server left. I took a sip of my drink.

“How long before you have to get back to your ship?” I asked.

“Tomorrow morning,” Casey answered, “But I was hoping to get back there sooner. Have you made your decision yet?”

“I’m still thinking about it,” I answered, “I’ll give you the answer when the bill arrives. Until then I don’t want to hear about going on board the ship.”

“Those terms are satisfactory,” Casey said.

“Good,” I said.

“What would you like to talk about instead?” Casey asked after taking a drink of his dark ale.

“Why did you become a sailor?” I asked.

“There weren’t many other options at the time,” Casey answered.

“So, the freedom and the ocean didn’t attract you?” I asked.

“I didn’t know about any of those the first time I ever set foot on a ship” Casey answered, “After I had been on board then I found out about those things and I couldn’t get enough of them.

I signed up for the next ship leaving and continued to do so until I had enough experience to get my own ship. Once I had that I didn’t think I needed anything else in this world.”

“So, what is your plan for your life? Is it just to continue sailing?” I asked

“It sounds so simple when said like that,” Casey said, “But I have never found peace anywhere else, despite visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world.

A little bit of time on land and a lot of time at sea is the only way to live as far as I am concerned.”

“And you wouldn’t stay on land if you fell in love?” I asked.

“No, I wouldn’t stay on land for anybody,” Casey answered, “And anyone who loves me will understand that.”

I nodded but didn’t say much since the server arrived at that moment with our food. We didn’t say anything as we ate the first few bites.

“Did you ever have plans for your future?” Casey was half finished in food before he spoke.

“Not really,” I answered, “I thought about going back to the sea, but those were indefinite plans; the kind that are thoughts more than actions.

Like any other thoughts about traveling, it was easier to dream than do. Any plans for the future I made were like dreams.”

“Which is fine if you never intend to live,” Casey said.

“I lived,” I replied.

“You worked at a job you didn’t really like, but you were comfortable,” Casey said, “You read about the ocean rather than taking the hour long bus ride to see if for yourself.

I wouldn’t consider that living. I call that existing and no one should settle for merely existing when they could be out there living.”

“I know what your suggestion in the matter is already,” I said.

“Even if you don’t take my suggestion doesn’t mean you have to go back to existing,” Casey said, “You can start living any time you want to. You love the ocean, why not live here in closer proximity?

It is better than living in the city and far away from it all. Whenever you talk about the ocean your eyes light up and you are more animated than you are any other time of the day.

If that is how you feel about the ocean then anything other than being near it is foolishness. You can find a place here and you can find everything you need here.”

I didn’t respond to that because I truly didn’t know what to say. If I didn’t go with Casey, what would I do? Even if I could go back to my apartment I didn’t really want to.

My job was as boring as Casey kept suggesting and hardly kept my attention, but I had kept it to keep money coming in. Except the money wasn’t enough to actually move on to other things though.

I had just enough in my bank account to pay next month’s rent and go grocery shopping. It wasn’t enough to get another apartment, or replace any of the stuff I left behind.

I would have to start with nothing and figure out what to do from there.

But if I did go with Casey on his ship, what would I do there? According to his stories he has a full crew and most, if not all, were men. Isabelle said Casey was looking for a lover and had chosen me.

But one can’t go on board a ship with the only thoughts being as a passenger and the captain’s lover. I suppose there are women who would, especially with how good looking Casey is, but it just doesn’t seem right to me.

Casey isn’t thinking about any of that, even though he is encouraging me to become who I want to be. The first time a guy has ever said that to me.

Most of the guys I dated are more concerned about themselves and how I act when I am around them. Casey just wants me to be myself. Which is a point in his favour, but that doesn’t answer the question of what do I want to do.

My mom spent time on ships where she was the only female. She wasn’t sleeping with the captain on any of them until my dad bought his own boat and then the only people who spent time on board were them.

The men accepted her because she was there for a reason and had a purpose on the boat. I would lack that.

Casey seemed to have slowed down his meal as if to give me more time to think. I could have told him it wouldn’t have done any good, but he seemed to take uprooting and making life altering decisions in stride.

But then again he had done this before. He has convinced women to give up their lives to go sail with him. Isabelle said it was because he fell in love with them.

Can a person really fall in love in such a short amount of time? Did he really love me? Was it lust instead and if it was lust how soon would it wear off? When it did wear off what would happen to me?

I could be out in the middle of the ocean in a relationship that had lost its luster and still have to see the guy every day because there was nowhere else for me to go.

What did Isabelle say about her sister? That her sister gave guys everything they wanted so they didn’t have to make the commitment. I didn’t really want to go there.

How did I feel about Casey? When I saw him this morning I was attracted to him before he helped get rid of Jerry. I could have walked away at any point during the day, but I kept helping him.

Having his arm around me on the bus had felt good. There were certain sensations when he held my hand, definitely pointing toward lust.

I don’t really remember any of these feelings when any of the guys I’ve dated recently, but then I mostly started dating them because they seemed interesting to talk to.

Casey was interesting to talk to, but he listened as well as spoke. He had an interest in me rather than just talking about himself.

Somehow it seemed to me that sometimes he was a gentleman with all the qualities of such and sometimes he was a pirate with other qualities.

He was charming, but a little toward his own ends. He had shown little things suggesting he cared, but he kept saying the sea was his first love.

I had asked for a gentleman pirate last night during the thick of the storm, maybe this was the answer to my request.

So, I guess I could turn him down and start looking for a job here in the village as of tomorrow morning. Or I could accept his invitation and figure out what I want to do while sailing around with him.

He said it was possible to come back if it didn’t work out, or he could leave me somewhere I wanted to be left.

I finished my meal and so had Casey. The server had taken out plates and said she would be back with the bill.

Casey looked like he was about to ask what my answer was as he leaned forward and put his elbows on the table.

“So, what is the rest of the story?” I asked, picking up the card.

“Why do you think I know the answer to that?” Casey asked.

“Because you were watching my reaction to reading it,” I answered.

“Perhaps I thought the story was interesting and I wanted to see if you found it interesting as well,” Casey said.

“Because then you would have said something about the story and we would have discussed it for a couple minutes,” I answered, “What else is there to the story?”

“I read the story on my first visit here,” Casey said, “And I thought it was interesting so I went to the museum to see if there was anything more to the story.”

“And there was,” I said.

“That is a brief outline of what happened,” Casey said, “They don’t mention the sailor’s son, or how the man affected the history of the whole village.

Mrs. Kendall more than just found a row boat with a man inside, she found a man named Edward Kelps.”

The bill arrived and Casey paid it without stopping his story.

“Edward Kelps was a very knowledgeable man for a sailor,” Casey continued, “He also happened to be on the run from a group of pirates whom he stole the treasure from.

The row boat was found to be empty, but Edward himself was loaded down with enough gold to buy the village.

The people of the village didn’t remove his clothes because they didn’t see any need to do so and they assumed he just happened to weigh that much.”

We got out of the booth and headed out of the restaurant. I pointed us in the direction of the next street, which is where all the hotels, hostels, and other such places to stay were.

“Edward Kelps was quite accepting of his rowboat washing up on the shore,” Casey said, “The village needed help in cleaning up and he joined one of the crews helping.

The other problem was the village could not afford to buy supplies to rebuild some of the buildings and were looking at putting the buildings together with debris from the shore.

Edward stepped in and paid for whatever supplies they needed. The people were grateful to him. He also paid for some other buildings to be built. The people of the village were extremely grateful to him for the help.

They let him build the Popping Parrot, which he ran himself. He ran it like all the taverns he had come across. There was lots of rum and one of two girls who rented rooms in the back.

Edward Kelps did start to get home sick and wanted to leave, but he didn’t know how. It wasn’t like he could just get into his rowboat and row all the way home. He couldn’t get on any kind of boat and get home as far as he knew.

But he did try to go home in some storms with his rowboat. He figured if he arrived in a storm then that was how he had to leave. He survived the storms despite the severity of each of them.

Finally he decided he was here to stay. He built himself a small house near the water and picked a lady among the people of the village that he liked to live with him.

She gave him two children, a boy and a girl. He never did get to meet the girl because she was born after he died.”

I saw a hotel that didn’t look too expensive without looking cheap. I started toward it and Casey followed along because he was too engrossed in telling me the story that he wasn’t paying attention.

“His death wasn’t as simple as the card suggests either,” Casey said, “The spring of 1907 there was another large storm. Edward Kelps had sent the woman and his son farther up the hill from his small house near the shore.

His house survived as did all the rest of the buildings. There was not as much damage from this storm. No buildings were destroyed, piers didn’t get pieces scattered along the shore, and no one was lost to the sea.

There were some difficulties rescuing several ships that had their mooring line snap. Edward was out there looking at the damage when this long boat was rowed into shore.

In the long boat were a handful of pirates from the sixteen five something. They were not the same ones Edward had been hiding from in the first place, but these were just as bad.

They landed and Edward charged at them. He managed to take out the group, but he was hit in the shoulder and then ended up in the surf.

The people of the village heard the sounds of combat and went to see what was happening. They managed to fish him out before he drowned, but he never got better from the wound.

His woman took over running the Popping Parrot as she could with being pregnant. She had to hire someone to help out, but the tavern was making enough money that she could afford it.

She could also afford to build a bigger house farther from the shore. Whatever was left of the treasure was also hers. His line still runs the Popping Parrot.

The line just isn’t Kelps because she gave the children her last name. And that is some of what happened with Edward Kelps.”

“Interesting,” I said,

“You don’t believe it,” Casey said.

“The traveling through time is the part I have the most problems with,” I replied.

“There have been more than a few curious things that have happened during storms,” Casey said.

“I am aware of storms at sea doing things,” I said.

“Why are we here?” Casey asked looking up the stairs of the hotel I had picked.

“Because I am tired and want to get some sleep,” I answered, “And you said you didn’t have to be back to your boat until tomorrow.”

“Before the fog burns off,” Casey said.

“We’ll set an alarm,” I said.

“Very well,” Casey said as he allowed me to tug him up the stairs by the hand. We went inside to the front counter.

The hotel had a room free we could have. Casey didn’t have a credit card so I gave them mine. It wasn’t like there was much else owing on the card.

The front desk clerk gave the key card to Casey and we were told the room was 514, which meant the fourteenth room on the fifth floor. The elevators were just beyond the front desk. We went up to the fifth floor and got off the elevator.

It was still supper hour so it was quiet in the hallways. We reached the room and Casey opened the door with the card key.

I stepped in first and he followed with the door closing behind him. The room contained a bed, a desk, a chair, a night stand, a dresser with a television on it, and a bathroom just right from the door.

“You will have to make one decision tonight,” Casey said as he looked around the room.

“What decision is that?” I asked looking at him instead of the room.

“Whether ye really want me?” Casey answered as he turned to me. He raised his eyebrow and I took a step towards him.

 

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