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Started by Welsh Wench, July 10, 2011, 09:42:33 PM

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Welsh Wench

"Where are you two off to?"
Zara adjusted her hat and Phillip slipped on his coat.
"It's such a beautiful autumn day Zara and I thought we would go for a ride over by that meadow."
Zara jiggled a burlap bag. "There are a lot of black walnut trees, Uncle Will. We thought we would pick a bag and bring them home to Mrs Avery. She will love to put them in butter cookies."
"Uh huh. Just be home before dark."
Phillip took Zara by the arm. "You do realize, Will, that I am considered an adult. And Zara is ALMOST an adult."
With that she gave him a withering look and then smiled sweetly at Will. "No need to fret. We will be home by dinner."
"And watch out for Pefflys. They aren't in season."
Zara gave Will a quick kiss on the cheek.
"I know. And they are like oysters. It is not safe to eat them if the month has an 'R' in it."
Phillip corrected her. "No, darling, it is the other way around. If the month has an 'R' in it, it is safe to eat them."
She frowned. "Are you sure?"
"No matter, we aren't eating them."
She shuddered. "I don't like them anyways. Slimy things. Like Pefflys."
With that, Phillp took her by the shoulders and turned her around. "Say goodbye, Zara.."
"Goodbye, Zara."
"Smart arse."

"Is this the place?" Zara asked.
"It is. I discovered it a few weeks ago."
The place was a small field surrounded by trees. Charred remains of a fire scarred a bit of the field but the grass was growing back over it.
"Looks like there used to be a cottage here. Probably belonged to a caretaker. See that pile of rocks?"
Zara nodded.
"Must have been where the chimney was."
Philip jumped down from his horse and walked over to Zara. He held his hand out.
"I am perfectly capable of dismounting, Captain Briggs."
"Suit yourself."
"Are you ready for this? I mean, is it quiet enough? You don't think anyone will come here and interrupt us, do you?"
Phillip shook his head. "No footprints or smashed down vegetation. I think it will suit our purpose."

He smiled at her and gently untied her cloak, hanging it on the branch of a tree.
He then removed his coat and threw it over the horse.
"Are you ready?"
"I am,' she breathed deeply. He took a few steps away from her and drew his sword.
"Then...en garde!"
She smiled and drew hers too.
Zara thrust her sword and Phillip parried. The attack went back and forth for a few minutes and then Phillip took a lunge. Zara leaped back, spun around and thrust her sword, Phillip followed with a thrust and she parried.
"You are good, darling!"
"I learned quickly!"
They kept up their choreographed fencing for the better part of an hour.
Sitting down on her cloak, Phillip opened up a bottle of wine and cut off a piece of cheese, popping it into Zara's mouth.
"I have to ask...where did you learn to fight so well?"
Zara took a sip of wine.
"I learned from the best."
"Ah. Your father?"
"No. Guess again."
"Your mother?"
"Wrong again."
"Well, now you have me stumped."
"You won't believe it."
"Try me."
"Uncle Josie."

She nodded. "There was no one better in a swordfight, my father said, than Josiah Briggs. While you were out sailing the seven seas, I asked him to teach me. Uncle Josie told me that while my father was light on his feet in a sword fight, he was always a bit reckless. Your father had the finesse and patience that was needed to..shall we say? Drive home his point."
Phillip said, "I heard about the mutiny the two of them put down. Jack and Father put that mutiny down in one evening. With a bit of help from your mother."
"Really? They never told me."
"Guess that is one secret I shouldn't have told."
Phillip helped Zara up and stood back.
"En garde!"
Zara stood there as her bodice lacings came apart with one stroke of the sword.
She stood there with her mouth open.
Phillip reached over and drew her to him.
"I guess that is one move 'Uncle Josie' never thought of," as the lacings fell to the ground.
She drew him into a kiss.
"Yes, love?"
"You owe me some lacings."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Phillip walked down the stairs and caught sight of Will.
"Ah, there you are, Phillip! I just am laying out the finishing touches on the ball I had planned for next week. I am sure Zara will want a new dress."
Phillip cleared his throat. "I am afraid we won't be able to make it, Will."
"Nonsense! If you are worried about the Peffly's...."
"That's not it. We are going home next week."
"You are....what? Leaving?"
Phillip handed Will the note from Jack. He scanned it and handed it back to him.
"Well.. I guess that's that."
"Will, you knew the time would come when we would have to leave."
"Yes, but I didn't expect it so soon. I thought for sure you would be here another six months."
Phillip shook his head. "The....problem....has been removed so it is safe to take Zara back. She misses her mother and we need to get another shipment of molasses together for you."
"El Lobo is ready?"
"She will be. Davis will be here by the end of the week and the ship has been fitted with new sails and a new masthead. I had the other one stowed away."
"Do you plan on telling Jack what happened with Tranquillo?"
"All in due time."
"Uh huh. A sanitized version, no doubt."
"It depends on Jack's reaction and his mood."
"But he needs to know you poked Diego Mendoza in the eye."
"And your engagement?"
"I'm working on it."
"Better figure it out soon. Hell hath no fury. You know the rest."

Just then Zara came down the stairs. "From the look on your face, I am guessing Phillip told you we are headed to Barbados."
Will nodded. "I wish I could say 'good riddance' but Dilcey and I have gotten used to having the two of you here."
She hugged Will. "I can't tell you what it means to me—to us---the hospitality that you have shown us, Will."
"It was never a dull moment with you here, Zara. A duel....and your marriage. Marriage! I can't get used to thinking of you as a married woman. You will still be that little girl who climbed up on my lap and gave me a cookie."
"And you gave me a ring. See? I still have it." She held up her right hand.
"And I see an enormous emerald on the left."
"I plan to put it away until I can figure out how to tell Mama and Da."
"You had better think of a way pretty quick. Because the two of you won't be able to keep your hands off each other."
Phillip added, "And I have to figure out a way to tell Renee and Father."
Will smirked, "Josiah may be in the dark but I am betting Renee will take one look at your faces and figure it out. I have never met a woman as shrewd and insightful as her."

Zara picked up her shawl. "Phillip and I want to do a last bit of shopping before we sail. There's a pewter shop down the way. Phillip? You are ready?"
"As ready as I ever will be to see you spend my money."
"Then we shall be off. See you at dinner, Will."

Will watched them leave. Dilcey came into the room.
"Will? What's the matter?"
He turned his back to her. "Nothing, darling. Just got something in my eye, that's all."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Captain Jack Wolfe

Back in Barbados--

Josiah walked up to the massive oak door around back. Not because he was a back door tradesman, but family. Jack always regarded his closest friends as earning the right to come in the back way. Close to Mrs Avery's scones and tarts, he always said. And Jack's house always had an open-door policy. As he mounted the stairs, the sea breeze ruffled his hair. Life was good, he contemplated. Good friends, one he regarded closer than a brother. A beautiful healthy woman to love him. And a son that would make any man proud.
'The son...' he thought. Renee's fanciful suppositions rankled him. 'No, not possible. Phillip was a man of honour. A man betrothed to a woman of high society with the possibility of an important career....'
He wouldn't throw his chances on...Josiah shook his head as if to clear it. Renee always had a wild imagination. And regarded Phillip as the son she never had made their relationship all the more special. Because he was a child of choice, not by accident. Accident....babies....good grief, Briggs! Snap out of it!
He shifted the papers to his other arm and knocked. Honour of all people answered the door, a baby on her hip and a streak of flour on her face.
"Josiah! Come in!"
He smiled when he saw her. "What on earth are you up to, Honour?"
"Oh...just helping Mrs Avery roll out some dough. The baby was in her cradle in the kitchen and I just picked her up when you knocked. But you don't have to knock, Josiah. You are family. Next time just walk in. Promise?"
He gave her shoulders a squeeze. "I promise. the man of the house around?"
"He's just finishing up with an invoice with Eli. Go right in."
Josiah made his way down the hall to Jack's study and de facto business office. In many ways, it felt like his many walks to the great cabin aboard El Lobo. The door was open, but he felt the need to knock anyway.
"Master Briggs! Since when did we begin standing on pretence? Make your way in, you scoundrel! You know where everything is," called Jack.
Josiah chuckled as he stepped into the expansive library Jack called a study. Eli was sitting in a chair across from Jack's desk, but for a change, the young man seemed relaxed. But presently he gathered up his papers and hat.
"Much obliged, Cap'n Wolfe."
"Eli, how many timed must I ask you to just call me Jack?"
"At least once more, Cap'n. As you'll always be my Cap'n."
"On your way, Mister Meredith. All my best to your family."
Eli paused to acknowledge Briggs before he left the room. And Briggs couldn't help but notice the large brown bottle of rum on Jack's desk.
"Josiah!" said Jack. "What brings you round this fine day? Let me pour you a gulper, like old times."
As Jack poured the rum, Briggs said, "I recall it was me pouring you a gulper, you being captain and all."
"Again with the pretences. Here. Courtesy of Will Harkness himself."
Josiah knocked the cup back and found himself gasping for air. "What in blazes is that?!" he managed to croak out.
"Rum, of course," said Jack. "Unless you've lost your taste for it."
"My taste be just fine. But I'd sooner fuel a lamp with that than drink it."
"Suit yourself. So, what's on your mind, my friend?"
Josiah plopped into a chair and tried to formulate his words as the rum's effect began to work its ways with him.
"Well, Jack, Renee and I were talking..."
"Good man. Communication is the key to a happy marriage."
"No, I mean, we were talking about Phillip. More to the point, Phillip and Zara."
Jack's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe either of us is properly drunk enough to continue this conversation."
Briggs handed over his cup. "Aye, that be true enough."
Jack poured them each a portion, which was quickly knocked back by both men. After a few moments of shuddering and head shaking, Jack said, "All right. What are your carbuncles? I mean, concerns?"
"None that you haven't had yourself on a sleepless night."
"Worse. Being a grandparent."

Jack froze. After a few moments, he managed to blink. "I'm not sure, but really hoping... Is Lenore Culley in the family way?"
"Not that I've heard of," said Josiah.
"You've discovered you have another child besides Phillip, yes?"
"Not as such, no."
Jack refilled their cups, and drained his straight away. "Wait! Stella Maris. I know Phillip has taken particular interest in her. Lovely young woman. Word is she has an impressive... work ethic."
Josiah gulped down his cup of rum and held it out for a refill. "I'm beginning to take a shine to this rotgut rum."
"Once your throat goes numb, it's smooth sailing."
"Aye. Jack, how long have we known each other?"
"Over twenty years, I reckon. And I've lost count of the number of times you've saved my life."
"That many?"
"It seems like more, some days."
"But I returned the favour at least--"
"Well, you are the more cautious one."
"A good thing, or we'd both be dead."
"But we never would have had that time in Aruba."
Josiah let out a hearty laugh. "How you managed to find such gorgeous triplets..."
"It was easier than putting together that Dutch payroll ship caper, but not by much."

Josiah stared into his empty cup. "May the Powers help me, but I need a refill."
Jack emptied the last of the bottle into his friend's cup. "No worries, mate. I've got plenty more where this came from."
"I think my liver just screamed."
"It's been through Tortuga more than a few times. Nothing should make your liver utter a peep."
"Good point. Now back to grandchildren--"
"And I tried so hard to steer the conversation away from that subject."
Josiah shook his head. "Surely you've seen how Zara acts around Phillip, now she's a, well, young woman."
"They're friends," said Jack with a shrug. "She would offer him biscuits- sorry, what do they call them here? Cookies? She'd pester him endlessly about them."
"Jack, my best friend. As a pirate, you're a visionary. But when it comes to your own daughter, you're damned near blind as a bat."

Jack opened another bottle, filling Briggs' cup and downing a few swigs right away.
"My Zara and your Phillip? Who put this notion in your head?"
"Who do you think? Renee. She broached the subject the day they set sail."
"Renee knows how to read people better than most people can read a book. Has she mentioned this to anyone else?"
"You know she's the soul of discretion," said Josiah.
"Of course. We need to keep this quiet. Honour doesn't need to have this hanging over her head. I'll just play dumb."
"Aye, you're good at that."
"You're a secretive person."
"And good at playing dumb."
"Finish your damned drink."
"I'm not sure about people anymore. They're responsible for some pretty nutty stuff. Individuals I'm crazy about, though." ~ Opus

Welsh Wench

"Well, good morning to you!"
"Jack! Come, sit with me and have a cup of coffee. I am sure you are here to see Josiah. But he's not here. He's off seeing if some furniture I ordered has arrived on that ship that came in last night."
"Ordering furniture and having Josiah see to it? My, any more domesticated and you can put him outside at night like a cat!"
She laughed as she set a small bottle of brandy next to his coffee mug.
"Ah, Renee—a woman after my heart. You know just what I like!"
She laughed and said, "Let's not go there. We are ancient history!"
"So what did you order?"
"One item I am anxious to get is a vargueno."
"A var—what?"
"It's Spanish and--"
"Renee, you know Spain is our sworn enemy. Why would you want anything like that in your house? And exactly WHAT is a vargueno?"
"It's a writing desk about so high. It's rectangular and it has a drop down front so I can write on it and it has lots of little drawers and nooks and crannies and a padlock and---"
Jack held up his hand. "Enough. I get it. And it is so like you. Full of little secrets you only let a few be privy to."
"Jack, darling we are ALL full of little secrets. Present company included."

He poured a generous dash of brandy into his coffee.
"We've come a long way, Pip. Look at us now! Me a prosperous plantation owner and you—YOU!--a madame!"
She retorted, "It wasn't always this way, I may remind you! I just kind of fell into dabbling in the pleasurable company trade."
"True. Winning the deed to a brothel was a stroke of fortune."
"I remember when we first met. You had your nose buried in a book."
"Which I shared with you."
"You opened up a whole new world for me, Jack. And for that I am forever grateful."
"Do you ever think about the weird turns our lives have taken, Pip?"
She nodded. "I guess we have Will Harkness to thank for that."
"If he hadn't taken the Laura Ann, I would probably have stayed a merchant sailor, caught scurvy—or something worse!-- and be dead by now. And you—YOU!--would be a farmer's wife with a dozen kids."
She shuddered, "Perish the thought! I got the best son a mother could ask for and I didn't have the snotty noses or the dirty nappies to go along with it."
"Phillip was blessed the day he arrived at your door in search of his father."
"And look at you—giving up the sea for a life of domesticity. You always said you couldn't see giving it up for a yard full of mewling children."
"Pardon me, but my children DON'T mewl!"
"Those were your words, not mine, ducks."

Renee leaned back and closed her eyes, savoring the smell of the brandy mixed with her coffee.
"Do you ever wonder, Jack, what would have happened if it had"
He leaned back, too. "I do, Pip. But you know what? We were too alike. We would have combusted. And then there would be no friendship."
She opened her eyes and looked at him. "You were my first love, you know."
"I know, darling. But first loves are not always made to last. It's like trying on a coat and realizing that it looks great and feels great but then you start taking a good look at the workmanship and realize it would fall apart really soon. It was not long-lasting. So you discard it and find one that works."
"As you did with Honour."

"It was colpo di fulmine. The thunderbolt, as Italians call it.  It's when you are hit by a lightning strike that is so powerful and intense, it can't be denied. No matter how hard we try to think it didn't hit us.  It's beautiful and messy, like cracking a treasure chest open and spilling your soul out for the world to see. It turns a person inside out, and there's no going back from it. Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed."

She nodded. "If anyone knows about treasure chests, it is you, Jack."
"Honour certainly changed my life. When I first saw her, I couldn't take my eyes off her. My heart caught in my throat and I would do anything to possess her."
"Including getting married."
He laughed, "Well, that was the only way I could talk her into bed."
She took a drink of her coffee and smiled.
"It was different with Josiah and me. We were like two trees growing side by side that eventually became intertwined so tightly, there was no separating us. Once we were together, I knew I found the part of me that was missing. Like a puzzle piece. It was comfortable and it fit just right. And I got a son—the family—that I never knew I was longing for."
"You've been a wonderful mother to Phillip."
"He's my heart and soul. I am forever grateful to Anne. She birthed him and I have to think she steered him in my direction and gave us her blessing. Alright, so she was fifteen years in taking her time—but it all worked out. I love Josiah more and more each day."

Renee put out another flask of brandy, leaving the coffee behind.
"The children will be home soon. Children! I know Phillip is a grown man, but Zara will always be a lovely child to me. I've known her since she was a year old."
Jack smiled, "I can't wait to see her. Honour is busy fixing her room up."
Renee hesitated and then plunged right in.
"Jack—what if Zara has...changed. I mean, she's been away for almost six months."
"And what is your point?"
"She's not the little girl who used to sit on your lap and pretend to hold the moon in her hands."
"I know that."
"You'll always be her father, Jack. And she will always be what you consider your little girl. But have you ever entertained the idea that she needs...maybe, a different kind of love?"
Jack took a drink of brandy.
"She's too young, Renee."
"How old is she, Jack?"
"How old was Honour when she was married to Madoc?
"And before that, there was Rhys Morgan. She was—what? Fifteen? Sixteen?"
"Renee, I don't like the direction this is leading."
She shrugged. "All I am saying, Jack, is that she has been away and on her own basically for the last six months. She has been under the care of a dashing and—I say this in all honesty—a very handsome man."
"You aren't saying that Phillip is taking advantage of my girl, are you?"
"Not in the least. Phillip is honorable. But I am saying that she is a grown woman and if I may be frank, I've seen the way she looks at Phillip."
"What are you saying?"
"I mean, the sidelong glances and the opportunity to be near him. If I may be so bold, Jack, I would say she is in love with him."
"But she has her studies! She's studying to be a cartographer. I want all my daughters to have a trade that they don't have to depend on any man for their existence."

Renee felt herself getting a bit hot under the collar.
"Are you trying to say, Jack Wolfe, that my Phillip isn't good enough for her?"
"Calm down, Renee. Not at all. I mean, there is an age difference---"
"Oh, stuff it, Wolfe! There is fourteen years between you and Honour."
"And she's known him all her life—he's like a big brother to her--"
"Would you prefer she end up with a governor or a diplomat? Someone who would bore her to death?"
"Certainly not, Renee—it's just that--"
"You aren't ready to let go."
"I guess that is it."
"Well, let me tell YOU something, Jack Wolfe! If those two end up together, I will be ecstatic over it. Am I the only one who can see that those two were made in heaven for each other?"
Jack sighed and picked up his pipe.
"I guess I am not just ready to give her up to someone. She's more like me than the rest of the brood. All the more reason why I worry about her."
"She's not reckless, Jack."
He stood up and reached for his hat. "No, she's not. But if I find out they've been dallying—and I will!--I will see that Phillip makes an honest woman of her."

"Don't be in such a hurry to leave. I almost forgot to tell you what one of the girls—Monique--told me in passing yesterday. It seems Governor Culley has just now started to notice his son is not around."
"Just now? He's not very observant."
"Well, it seems Tristan comes and goes as he pleases and he was going to go to Havana for a few months. He was due back about three weeks ago. He's been making a few inquiries and someone told him that he had been keeping company with a one Zara Wolfe. It's also been noticed that Zara has disappeared around the same time."
"We let the word get around that Zara had planned to go abroad to study her cartography. Paris is where I figuratively sent her."
"One rumour has it that she was in the family way and was sent away to have her baby and give it up for adoption."
"That's bollocks!"
"I am just repeating what I hear. And I hear plenty. You know that a lot of men can't keep their mouths shut when they are between the sheets. And Monique is an expert at extracting information. There is another rumour she heard too."
"I suppose it can't be any worse than that one."
"It depends on how you look at it. There's talk she ran away with Tristan and is secretly married to him, that she went to Havana with him."
"That's a load of shiner bock. There is no way I would have let Zara a thousand miles near Havana. Not with Mendoza still breathing."
"I heard from a captain that the Mendoza empire is being run by his son Tranquillo. Very handsome—and just as ruthless."
"That the son he had with Mercedes?"
"One of them. Tranquillo is the eldest. From what I hear he is smart. And also a pirate hunter."
Jack stood up and this time he did put his hat on.
"Then I say it is a good thing I am not a pirate anymore!"
Renee frowned. "Just watch your back. Between Culley and Mendoza's son, I think some scores may be waiting to be settled."
Jack kissed the top of Renee's head.
"Duly noted, my love. See you and Josiah Tuesday for dinner!"

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

"Zara, what ARE you doing?
"I'm trying to close this trunk and it's not shutting."
Phillip gently brushed her aside. "Let me try."
He kept pushing it down and it kept popping up.
"What the HELL do you have in here?"
"Oh...a little this...a little that...."
"More like a BIG this, a BIG that."
He reached in. "Silk...lace....what's this?"
She snatched it away. "It is a new nightdress....and thank you very much for ruining the surprise. It was for our first night at sea."
Philllip said under his breath, "I don't know why you bother, it doesn't stay on long enough for me to notice."
"Did you say something?"
"Hmm? No.. Nothing."
"So where can we put some of this? Should I get a few crates and--"

Zara stopped in mid-sentence.
"Did you hear that?"
"The voices. I know that accent anywhere. That voice..."
She ran to the stair landing. "I don't believe it! He's here! They're HERE!"
"Who? What are you talking about?"
The voices came from the parlour off the main staircase. Zara gathered up her skirt and slid down the bannister. She casually approached the couple. The man's back was to her but the woman turned around with a look of astonishment on her face. Zara put her finger to her lips.
She affected the voice of a three year old.
"Are ye dancin'?"
The man replied without even turning around. "Are ye askin'?'
"I'm askin.'"
He turned around, a smile wreathing his face.
"Then I'm dancin'!"

"Uncle Thomas! Aunt Elspeth!"
"Aye, there's my wee bonnie lassie!" Thomas Wolfe held his arms out, embracing her in such a bear hug Zara felt her face getting squished against his shirt.
Elspeth tapped Thomas on the shoulder and said, "Out of the way, ye numpty! Give Aunt Elspeth a turn!"
She hugged Zara and then held her at arm's length, exclaiming,  "You get prettier every time I see you. And that Wolfe chestnut hair! But you have your mother's eyes."
Zara looked from one to another.
"What on earth are you doing here?"
Thomas smiled. "You are looking at the new representative of distribution for MacGregor and Sons."
"Your father contacted me and said the distillery was getting too big for Rafferty and Flannery to handle and they were more into the distilling process. You do know they brought the boys into it, don't you?"
Zara shook her head. "I haven't heard but then I have been away and news from home consists of 'I hope you are behaving yourself' and 'don't cause any trouble for Uncle Will since he doesn't know how to handle children'. Of which I am not. But what about the admiralty, Uncle Thomas?"
"Oh...that. Elspeth got a bit tired of waiting for her man to come home so in the interest of peace and harmony, I resigned from the Royal Navy. I still get to be known as Admiral Wolfe."
Elspeth shook her head. "Don't blame it all on me. Yes, I wanted my man home but I think he was getting homesick. We gave up the life in London, you know."
"I know. You relocated to Scotland."
"Well, I wanted to be near my children. Even though they are grown."
"And how are my cousins? I know, they are more like my step-cousins but I love them just the same."
"They are all fine. Constantly asking if we had heard from you and wishing you would come to Scotland for a visit. They love hearing the story of you and Thomas at the ceilidh."
Thomas put his arm around her. "And—aside from Elspeth—a finer partner I never had."
Zara gave a slight pout. "And dumped for Elspeth, I recall." Then she laughed.

Just then Will came into the room, followed by Dilcey who was carrying a tray with goblets and a decanter.
"He's my new liason between MacGregor and Sons"
He poured brandy and handed it all around.
Just then Phillip came into the room.
Thomas came over and clapped Phillip on the shoulder. "Why, if it isn't Captain Briggs, Jr!"
Phillip laughed and shook Thomas' hand.
"Good to see you again, Admiral."
"Jack told us you had been assigned as bodyguard to our Zara because of the...trouble in Babados."
Elspeth took a small amount of brandy and said, "Aggie was worried sick about the...situation. But when she heard the story, she puffed herself up with pride and said, "That Zara! Always getting into a fix and always finding a way to get herself out in the most amusing ways!"
"Phillip has been a most attentive bodyguard, I must say," Will said. "Always making sure she is well cared for and safe."
Phillip took a sip of his brandy. "It's been a pleasure...and a full time job. Zara? Did you say you wanted to go into town and look at china?...I mean the new silks that came on the ship that sailed in yesterday?"
She put her glass down, "Ooh, yes I did! Uncle Thomas? Aunt Elspeth? Shall I see you at dinner?"
"Most certainly, sweetheart. We are staying at Will's."
She picked up her hat. "Well, then I shall see you later. Phillip? Shall we go?"
As they walked out, Zara took Phillip's offered arm and they whispered something.

Elspeth turned to Will and said, "Alright, Will Harkness...exactly what is going on here?"
Will raised an eyebrow. "Going on? What do you mean, Mrs. Admiral?"
She shook her finger at him. "Enough of that! You know better—just call me Elspeth."
With a twinkle in his eye, Will said, "Alright, Elspeth. What do you mean?"
She enumerated on her fingers.
"One—the way she looks at him. Two—looking for china? Whatever for? Three—attentive bodyguard? Whose body is he guarding? Four—she's glowing. Never saw that look on someone that wasn't being rogered roundly—and frequently. And five—the real dead giveway."
"What's that?"
Elspeth held up her hand and wiggled her fingers.
"She forgot to take off the ring on her left hand, ring finger."

Thomas stood back with his mouth open.
"Thomas, darling, please close your mouth. You don't want any flies making a landing."
Thomas put his brandy down and crossed his arms, facing Will.
"She's right, Will. What IS going on around here?"
Dilcey and Will exchanged glances.
"More brandy, Admiral?"
"Don't mind if I do."
Elspeth stamped her foot. "You take one sip of that before we get answers, Thomas, and you'll be bedding down in the barn."
Will nodded at Dilcey and she said, "Please don't be too harsh with them about this. They secretly married a few weeks ago."
'WHAT?" Both Elspeth and Thomas exclaimed.
"Does her mother know? Does Jack know?"
Will said, "Not yet. And we were sworn to secrecy. They don't know how they are going to break the news to Jack and Honour."
Thomas sighed, "Well, Jack has always thought highly of Phillip and Briggs was always his second in command when it came to pranks and schemes."
Elspeth shook her head. "Pranks and schemes, yes. Holy matrimony? That's a pretty big scheme. Are you sure it is legitimate and not just a fabrication to bed down together?"
Dilcey explained, "I chanced upon the marriage certificate when I was putting something away in Zara's dresser drawer."
Will added, "Let's not be naive. Those two were together on that ship for over two months. Nothing to do. So...they found something to do. Then there was the sneaking into Zara's room..."
Dilcey shot Will a warning glance. "I don't think they need to hear the...incidents. They made it legal.  A spur of the moment decision on Phillip's part but he shows no signs of regret."
" A buttered biscuit did him in."
"WHAT?" they both said in unison.

Dilcey rolled her eyes at Will. "You make it sound so bawdy, darling. He wanted Zara across the breakfast table forever and ever."
Elspeth got out her handkerchief.
"I think I am going to cry."
Thomas put his arm around her shoulder. "Elspeth, it isn't as bad as that. Phillip is a good lad."
She turned around and smacked him in the chest.
"When are you ever going to learn these are tears of happiness?"

Dilcey poured more brandy and said,"I think you should wait and let them tell you. They tried to keep it a secret from us but, well...."
Will gave a laugh, "The whispers and the door creaking at night and the giggling...they couldn't keep away from each other. I finally caught Phillip coming out of her room and they confessed. The reason they wanted to keep it secret is that they felt Jack and Honour and Renee and Josiah should be told first. Preferably together so Josiah could keep Jack from running Phillip through."
Elspeth shook her head. "I think Jack will be thrilled beyond the moon that he has Phillip for a son in law."
Thomas added, "He just isn't quite ready to hand her over yet."
Will swirled his brandy. "The person that will be ecstatic over it will be Renee. She's always wanted the best for Phillip and I know she will feel he couldn't do better than Zara."
Elspeth held up her hand. "Wait! Isn't Phillip engaged to that governor's daughter?"
Will nodded, "A small complication to be dealt with when they get back to Barbados. Thomas reached for a slice of cheese, "Thank God we will be in Scotland when that fire gets stoked!


Zara picked up some teacups. "What do you think of this, Phillip?"
He looked over and frowned, "Good grief, that can't hold a thimbleful of ale."
"Tea, darling. Or coffee."
"What about tankards?"
"Oh, Phillip, that is so....tavernish. We can buy some goblets."
"You can't drink ale or whiskey from a goblet."
"Oh. Well, we can worry about that when we get home."
"I think tankards will be the least of our worries when we get home."
"Why? What do you mean?"
"We have to decide where we are going to live."
"With Mama and Da."
"Oh, no! We need a place of our own. I'll check into that land on the other side of the meadow."
Zara put down the china cups. "Maybe Mama and Da will be the least of our problems."
"You mean....her?"
"Yes. Her. Have you forgotten the problem you need to fix?"
"I'm working on it."
"You'd better work on it fast. Don't we leave by next week?"
"I have a few months on the ship to think about it."


Thomas and Elspeth were already seated at the dinner table with Will and Darcy when Phillip and Zara entered the room.
"So sorry we are late. Time got away from us," Zara said.
"And Zara takes forever to freshen up and change her clothes."
They both exchanged subtle glances.
Elspeth gave a small smile, "Well, you have a nice healthy glow about you, dear. It must be the fresh pine air."
"Maybe. But I do so miss the ocean. I really can't wait to get back. Not that Uncle Will and Darcy haven't been the best hosts. There are just a few people who are a bit high class for us. Or think they are."
Will poured wine out of his cut-glass carafe."I was thinking of having a masked ball in a few days. Sort of a welcome to you, Thomas, and a send-off to Zara and Phillip. Damn, I am going to miss them!"
Phillip shook his head. "I'm not sure, Will. What about uninvited guests?"
"I wouldn't worry about that. No invitation, no entry."
Elspeth looked from one to the other. "What is this? A problem?"
Zara sighed, "Just a young man that wouldn't go away. "
Phillip and Zara exchanged looks and Zara nodded imperceptively.
"There is something we need to tell you. But it can't go further than here."
Elspeth took the ladle and spooned some soup into her bowl.
"You mean the fact that you are married?"
Zara exclaimed, "Uncle Will! You TOLD them?"
Before he could reply, Elspeth calmly said, "Don't blame them. If you want to keep a secret, that wedding band should have stayed in the dresser drawer."
"Oh." Zara said in a small voice.

"Yes. Oh. That about sums it up, young lady," Thomas said.
There was a silence and Phillip said quietly, "You could have at least said congratulations."
"How about 'congratulations and nice knowing you' after Jack gets through with you?"
Thomas turned to Will, "I really don't see how you let this happen, Will. Zara is only seventeen."
"I had no control over what they did in their spare time. I must point out they are both of consenting age in Virginia."
"But you were responsible--"
"STOP! Enough is enough! Thomas, this is really none of your business."
Elspeth turned to Zara and Phillip and smiled sweetly, "Congratulations, darlings. Now, let's eat!"


Zara threw her dress onto the chair and looked at herself in the full length mirror.
"Phillip? Am I getting fat?"
"Hmm? No, what makes you say that?"
"I just feel I am getting fat around the middle."
"I'm just teasing you. What are you reading?"
"This? is just a small handbook on Virginia laws I found in the shelves in Will's library."
She came behind him and put her arms around his neck, kissing him on the cheek.
"And what is so interesting that you make it take precedent over me?"
He thumbed through the pages, a frown on his face.
"Zara? How old are you really?"
She hedged a bit. "Nineteen?"
"For someone who is nineteen, you look awful seventeen to me."
"You didn't know how old I am?"
"I sort of...forgot. Maybe because you act so much more mature."
She sat down and sighed. "Alright. But I will be eighteen in March."
"Zara, that is a good six months away."
"So? What difference does it make? I am already—how shall I say?--unvirginated?"
"It's a technical term."
She narrowed her eyes. "Phillip, are you trying to look for loopholes to get out of this marriage?"
He threw the book across the room.
"No. We may have a slight problem. According to Virginia law, you need your parents' permission to marry if you are under eighteen."
"Wouldn't Vicar Vickers have known the law?"
Phillip grimaced, "Vicar Vickers hardly knew his own name."
"You mean Andy."
"Yes. Andy."
Wouldn't Uncle Will know?"
"Will has an aversion to marriage. He wouldn't know the age of consent if it bit him in the arse. Now, laws on dueling, that is his specialty."
Zara walked over and resolutely picked up the book. She marched over to the fire and threw it in. Dusting her hands off, she declared, "Not a problem anymore."

"Alright, there has to be a loophole. I do believe the age of consent in marriage in Barbados is sixteen. Since that is our residence...."
"I have another idea."
"Get me pregnant. Then they HAVE to recognize it is legal so the baby will be legitimate."
Phillip jumped up and backed away. "Oh, no! NO, NO, NO!!"
She leaned on one elbow on the bed. "It's not a bad idea."
"It's crazy."
"Crazy or not, it would be fun trying, darling."
"You just keep looking pretty, Zara, and leave the thinking to me."
"For all you know, I could be with child now."
"You want to have me run through?"
"Da would never do that."
"Of course not. Honour would have the dubious pleasure of that."
She sighed. "Alright, scrap that idea. But you will have to revisit the idea someday."
She crooked her finger, beckoning him to her. That smile...the soft glow of the candles....and the chemise hitting the wall after she flung it.
He grinned.
"Oh, you saucy vixen!"
"Oh, you varlet!"

Thomas and Elspeth walked by Zara's room arm in arm on their way to their  own quarters.
The giggling of Zara and the low voices left no doubt.
Thomas sighed. "I still see her as that little lass dancing with me at the ceilidh."
She kissed him and said, "What's meant to be will always find a way, love. Look at us!"
He kissed her back as she opened the door.
"Yes....look at us!"

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

"The whole idea is ridiculous! Let's just pack our things and say 'adios', Phillip complained.
"I think it shall be fun. And after all, it's only for one evening so don't be such a party pooper, Phillip."
Phillip picked up the mask and frowned. "Will actually expects me to wear this—this THING?--all evening? I'll suffocate!"
Zara twisted her hair up and let a few tendrils fall around her face. She tied her mask on and looked in the mirror. It covered most of her face and had an elaborate headress of pearls and feathers.
"You look like a bird."
She stuck her tongue out at her husband.
"A very pretty bird—but a bird nonetheless. Honestly, Zara! Do you think your father would go along with this? Or my father? No. Of course not. They would die laughing if they saw me in this."
"Well, then, we shant tell them. Phillip, we leave for Barbados the day after tomorrow. You will never have to see these Virginians again. And before you know it, we will be sunning ourselves on the upper deck of El Lobo and talking of our future."

Zara picked up her dress and held it up to her.
"I can't believe that Dilcey was able to get the seamstress to make the dress so fast."
"That's because there isn't much there."
"I'm going to slip it on and see how it fits."
She threw her chemise on the bed and shimmied into her dress.
"Now lace the back up, please, like a good husband you are."
"With my foot planted on your backside and pulling the laces like reins on a horse?"
"Whatever works."

After about five minutes and Zara demanding, 'Pull it tighter!', she turned around.
The dress was of a burgundy velvet that plunged the neckline down while pushing her assets up.
"What do you think, Phillip?"
He threw her mask down and pulled her towards him.
"I think I don't want to let you out of this room."
"Then I take it you approve?"
"I'm not going to let you out of my sight."
"Thank you. That's all I needed to hear. Now what about your outfit?"
Phillip sighed. "This is awful. Something a dandy would wear. Stockings? Shoes with silver buckles? And these breeches. Satin? Seriously, Zara—SATIN? What is Thomas going to wear?"
"Uncle Thomas no doubt will wear his admiralty garb. It's fancy enough."
"Yes. Without all the shimmer," Phillip said darkly.
She put her arms around him. "It's only one evening."
He pulled her bodice top down a bit so he could peer down it.
"Oh. So it really IS all  you. I thought with all that fluff you might have stuffed some padding in there."
She smacked his hand. "You of all people should know I don't have the need to stuff—just a bit of fluffing. Now unlace me and let's get to bed."
"Why, it shall be my pleasure. With or without the flick of a dagger?"
"Without. I don't want to have to hunt for new---"
He let her lacings go and she gave out a gasp. "I didn't realize I was oxygen deprived!"
He grinned. "That's nothing! Wait till I take your breath away!"
She giggled as he picked her up and carried her to the bed.
"Just as long as I get it back when it's all over."
"All that and with a smile, too."


Phillip and Zara looked over the bannister and over to the ballroom below. The y were dressed in their new clothes. Phillip kept tugging on his lace cuffs.
"This is ridiculous! All I want is a silk shirt. I prefer to go barefoot as opposed to wearing these---these---shoes. And they hurt my feet."
"Phillip, would you please stop complaining?" She kept trying to breathe in her laced up dress.
"Zara, can you honestly tell me you want to spend the next six hours with these people?"
"But Uncle Will will be disappointed if we don't show up."
He ran his finger over the mask.
"Not if he doesn't know."
Phillip walked over to the window on the landing.
"Such a nice night, too. Full moon, the soft breeze, the smell of pine...."
He grabbed Zara's hand and said, "I have an idea. Will hasn't seen these fancy duds, has he?"
"Not that I know."
"And the masks hide our identities, right?"
"I suppose so."
"Come with me."

He led her down the back stairs to the kitchen.
He led her to the pantry.
"Hold out your hands."
Phillip reached into the larder and took some jars and some bread and then over to the cool bin and picked out some cheese and loaded Zara down with it.
He grabbed a basket and opened it.
"Here. Dump all the stuff in this."
He reached over to the wine rack and grabbed a couple bottles of wine."
She whispered, "Phillip, what on earth are you planning?"
"One last picnic before we leave. Would you rather waltz around and fend off the nancy-boys who think you are available? You're a married woman now! Now take off your shoes."
Quietly they removed them and shoved them in a corner of the pantry.
Phillip took her hand and whispered, "Let's go!"
They slipped out the back door and headed towards the stable.
"We aren't taking horses out, are we?"
"Of course not. I want to pick up a blanket."
They walked a few hundred feet from the house. All the lights were blazing and the music could be heard. Couples were out on the veranda.
Phillip led the way to a small copse of trees and spread the blanket down.
"Now sit, Mrs. Briggs! We are going to have a picnic and we probably will have a better time out here than in that stuffy ballroom. Tomorrow we will tell Will and Dilcey what a wonderful time we had."
"And we won't be lying because we are going to have a wonderful time!"
He took a cherry and popped it into her mouth."
"Loosen those laces. Oh, don't look at me like that! I don't have any ulterior motives out here. I just think you need to breathe and relax."
She unlaced and gave a big sigh of relief. Phillip took off the lace cravat. The wind caught it and it landed in the treetops. They both laughed and Phillip poured the wine.
"We leave for Barbados in two days but tonight it is just for us. A  goodbye to Virginia."
"And good riddance to the Virginians. Will and Dilcey excepted."
They intertwined their arms and drank their glass of wine.
"What shall we drink to, Zara?"
"How us!"
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Zara looked around the room as Phillip latched the last of their trunks.
"Well, I guess that is it," he said.
Zara walked over the window and looked out over the hills and the pine trees, with a view of the river. She let the lace curtains fall back.
"It is such a lovely view. But I don't have many fond memories of it outside of Uncle Will's house. Except for that one day."
Phillip put his arms around Zara and leaned her into him."The day we went to Suffolk and came home a married couple?"
She closed her eyes and smiled. "Yes. That day. I will never forget it. But let's talk about how we are going to handle the announcement to our parents—and how you are going to unhandle your problem fiancee—once we get on the ship. We will have lots of time to figure it out."
"I'll go downstairs and see about getting these trunks sent to the ship."

Zara was checking the drawers and under the bed to make sure she left nothing behind when there was a knock at the door.
"Come in."
Dilcey came in and said, "I wanted a private word with you before you leave, Zara."
Her eyes filled with tears as she blurted out, "Oh, how I am going to miss you!"
Zara felt the tears well up in her eyes too.  "Oh, Dilcey! You have been a rock to me the whole time I have been here. I don't know what I would have done without you here."
Dilcey blew her nose and sat down on the bed with Zara.
"I knew I could never take the place of your mother but I tried to watch over you."
"You gave me a shoulder to lean on and a woman to confide in. My mother couldn't have done a better job."
"I never wanted to take her place. But I could see that you were lonely and homesick."
Zara smiled. "You were the keeper of Phillip and my secrets and for that I will be eternally grateful."
Dilcey reached into her pocket and drew out a small box with a pink ribbon attached.
"Here. This is for you."
'Oh, Dilcey! You didn't have to!"
"Zara, in the few months you have been here, you have been like a daughter to me. As I never had one, I imagine if I did, she would have been just like you. Getting into all sorts of trouble and being able to jump out and land on her feet. I'll never forget the day you got caught in that monsoon and came home a disaster!"
"And then Andrew Peffly had the nerve to ask me out again. And proposed. Or at least that was his first intention. As for the other....well, I guess he learned you don't mess with Zara Wolfe unless she wants to be messed with!"
"And then the duel...."
Zara's eyes took on a faraway look. "I was never so scared in my life. Not even the incident with Tristan Culley could compare to that. How I almost lost Phillip."
"Go ahead and open the box."

Zara opened it and inside was a bracelet of braided gold.
She gasped, "Oh, Dilcey, it's just beautiful!"
Dilcey helped her clasp it on. "It was a gift from my first husband. His grandfather had a farm in Ireland and digging one day, he found a hoard of gold. Coins and some jewelry. It was from the Viking era and he told no one about it. He kept it and gifted my grandmother with it through the years. My sister and I ended up inheriting  most of it. These earrings I am always wearing is part of it. But as I said, you have been like a daughter to me and I want you to have it. And when you wear it, maybe you will think of me and the times in Virginia won't seem so unpleasant."
Zara reached out and hugged Dilcey. "Oh, how I wish you could come to Barbados and live!"
Dilcey laughed through her tears. "I would love to---but who would take care of Captain Harkness? Lord knows, he needs looking after!"
"And you do it so well! He's so in love with you, you know."
"I know."
"Do you think you would ever get married?"
"Oh heavens no! Why spoil a good thing!"
They both laughed.
"Marriage suits you, Zara. And you couldn't have picked a finer man."
She nodded. "I know. One problem."
"What is that?"
She sighed. "How am I going to tell my parents?"
Dilcey hugged her and said, "Don't be too surprised if they already have figured it out."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Will Harkness stood on the dock with Zara and Phillip.
"I guess this is it. You are sailing with first light so no more evening dinners together. I think it is practical that you spend the night on board. No tearful goodbyes. Just....nice and clean."
Zara put her arms around Will and gave him a hug. She whispered through her tears, "I will miss you so much, Uncle Will. Thank you for putting up with me. I know I haven't been the easiest house guest you have had."
He stepped back and put her hands on her shoulders and feigned a stern expression.
"No, you haven't. But you were a hell of a lot of fun, my sweetness. But there were moments when I wanted to send you to your room without any supper. Especially when you were the cause of a duel that could have ended badly."
She smiled bravely, "But you were and Dilcey were the first to know we got married."
"And how do you think that will go over with your parents? Both of yours."
"We are working on it, Uncle Will. Lots of time to figure it out."

Will turned to Phillip. "A word in private, if you please, Captain Briggs."
The two men walked over the far end of the deck.
"Phillip, as much as I think of Zara as a granddaughter, I always regarded you as the son I wish I had. And now I feel I am in a position to give you some advice."
Phillip leaned against the post. "I'm listening."
"Be very careful on the voyage home. Stick to established trade routes. Clap on more sail if you have to but don't stress the masts. I want to see that young lady reach home safely. I know you can do it. But don't get yourself into another predicament and you know which one I mean. Watch your back and steer clear of Havana."
"I understand. I am anxious to get back and settle matters between Lenore and myself."
"I don't envy you telling a fiancee you have wife."
Phillip extended his hand. "Thank you for everything, Will. I won't forget your hospitality."
Will's voice began to crack. "I think we are well beyond a handshake."
The two men hugged and Will patted Phillip on the back.
"Go now. I won't look back. Give my love to that gorgeous stepmother of yours."
But Will had already walked briskly off.


Zara and Phillip stood on the deck that evening and looked to the shore of Virginia. El Lobo del Mar looked as proud as could be, outfitted with new sails and a figurehead of Poseidon with a trident held high.
Zara smiled, "No snarling wolf?"
Phillip laughed, "It is residing in the hold wrapped in flannel and protected with oil cloth. There is no way I was going to sail off with the old sea wolf advertising who we are. Not after the encounter with the Tranquillo Mendoza."
Zara became quiet. "Are you going to tell Da the truth or are we going to make up a fanciful story on why a Greek god is in place where his beloved wolf used to be?"

Phillip sighed. "I am going to have to tell him. I have a feeling there may be some repercussions down the line with the death of Diego's firstborn."
She gazed out over the water lapping the shore.
Tentatively she said, "Phillip? I will ask you this one time and never again. Was my dagger the cause of his death or was that shot you fired? Tell me the truth now."
Phillip took her hand. "I swear, Zara, that my shot killed him."
She gave a sigh of relief. "Thank God. If you don't mind, I want to unpack a few things in our cabin." She smiled happily, "OUR cabin! That sounds so nice! Oh..hello, Davis!"
Davis tipped his hat. "Well, hello to you too, Miss Zara!"
As she scampered off, Davis said to Phillip, "Nice lie you told her."
"As far as the three of us are concerned, Davis, my shot DID kill him. Her dagger missed every vital organ."
"Oh. Especially the one where his heart was supposed to be?"
"Yeah. That one."
"So. You officially moved her into your cabin that has now become 'OUR' cabin?"
"That's the one."
"Have ye not considered what Mad Jack will do when he finds out you took advantage of his young daughter?"
"He will understand when I tell him."
"Are we talking about the same Mad Jack Wolfe?"
Phillip smiled, "He won't kill me, Davis."
"And what makes you so sure?"
"Because he would make his little girl a widow. See you on the quarterdeck in an hour!"
Davis dropped his pipe. "Well....I'll be damned."
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

"Hmmm?" he said sleepily.
"How many more days till we get home?"
"One less than the answer I gave you yesterday. And two more from the day before. And three before that and can you please let me get back to sleep?"
Zara sat up in the bed and hugged her knees. In a small voice, she said, "I'm scared."
Phillip rolled over and rubbed his eyes.
"And what are you scared of?"
She started to cry.
"Everything. Telling Mama and Da. Telling Aunt Renee and Uncle Josie. And you telling that dragon you are engaged to. And where will we live? I don't even know how to cook."
Phillip put his arms around her and drew her close to him.
"One day at a time, sweetness. Knowing our respective maternal parents, your mama and Renee will be planning a welcome home party. Maybe we can announce our marriage then. After all, my father will be there to keep Jack from killing me. You know how he hates bloodshed."
"Da would never do that."
"You're right. I think your mother is the one I will have to worry about."
"I just have these nightmares about Lenore. She's coming at me with a pistol or a dagger or tries to choke me."
He chuckled. "She wouldn't. That would require effort and Lenore will never lift a finger. Don't borrow trouble, Zara. I suppose we could temporarily live with your parents. As soon as we get back, I will see about that property down the road."
"The one with the big wraparound verandah? With the portico attached?"
"That's the one."

"Oh, I love that one! It's been sitting empty since right before we left. Monsieur and Madame Fonteneau died last winter and the heirs don't want to bother with it. It is right across from Aunt Megan and Uncle Daffyd. And just down the lane from Mama and Da."
"Yes, my love?"
"Can I please get some sleep now?"
She smiled and threw her chemise over her head and tossed it on the floor.
"Most certainly."
He sighed and then laughed. "Mrs. Briggs, you are insatiable."
She drew him close and smiled contentedly. "Mrs. Briggs. I do like the sound of that."
"Let's see how much your parents like the sound of that."
She put her finger to his lips and whispered, "Let's worry about that later."
He brushed her hair back off her neck and kissed her.
"Much later..."


El Lobo del Mar pulled into port a week earlier than Phillip had originally planned.
Zara stood on the deck and pointed excitedly at the marketplace on the wharf.
"Oh, look, Phillip! It still looks the same! Seamus' tavern....the silk trader...."
He sighed, "Worry about shopping later. We have to figure out when to tell you parents and mine."
Zara frowned, "I guess we have to play it by ear. Maybe we can wait a few days."
"A few days? That means we have to stay at our respective parents'."
Zara put her arm in his. "We can't just spring it on them out of the blue. Da especially."
A voice from behind them said, "Don't be surprised if Jack has already sussed it out."
They turned. "Davis? How do you figure?"
He chuckled as he walked off. "You forgot about the bed and the ropes...and the cannon!
Oh, by the way....the gangplank is down. Please tell your father in law I will be by in two days to give him the run down on the trade we picked up and exported."
He walked off, whistling a tune.
"Sounds more like a funeral dirge," Philip said.
Zara put her arms around Phillp and whispered, "This will have to do until we can figure everything out."

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench


The back door swung open as Phillip and Zara walked through Jack's door.
"Hello? Anyone home?"
Honour dropped the spoon that she was stirring batter with.
"I don't believe it!" She rushed to Zara and embraced her tightly.
Jack hurried through the French doors off the verandah. "Why didn't you send a note? I would have sent a carriage down for you!"
Phillip and Zara looked at each other. "We wanted to surprise you."Well, you most certainly did! Welcome home!"
Honour stood back with her arms on Zara's shoulders. "Let me look at you! My goodness, you look positively glowing! The Caribbean sun worked its magic on you right quick enough!"
Jack looked quickly over to Phillip but he didn't notice.
"Oh, Mama! The adventures we have had!"
Phillip added, "Captain Harkness sends his warm regards. He was the consummate host. Now that I have delivered Zara to you in one piece, I supposed I should go over to tell Da and Renee we are back."
Honour smiled through her tears, "No need. They will be here for dinner in a half hour! Oh they will be so surprised!"

"Surprise? What sur---OH MY GOODNESS!" Renee rushed over to Phillip and enveloped him in a bear hug.
"Josie? JOSIE! Get in here right now!"
Josiah came through the door and dropped his pipe.
"Why didn't you tell us you were ported?"
Phillip clasped his father after Renee reluctantly let him go. "We wanted to surprise you. By the time I got word to you we were docked, I just grabbed the nearest cart and here we are!"
Renee hugged Zara and whispered, "My dear, you are positively radiant! Although I can't possibly imagine why," she said with a raised eyebrow.
Zara looked down at her boots. "Well, it was a lot of fun in Virginia but I really did miss the sun and the beach and I got homesick."
"Uh huh. Yes, that must be the reason."
Jack turned to Phillip. "And how is El Lobo del Mar?"
Honour looked at him and smiled, "You mean your first love?"
Jack laughed, "No, maybe fourth or fifth on my list now."
Phillip said, "We had to make a few modifications to it. They are temporary and I will  discuss everything over some brandy later."

Zara walked over and picked up her baby sister. "My, how you have grown, my little pumpkin!"
She gave the baby a hug and she tugged on Zara's nose and laughed.
Renee continued to observe Zara, noticing all the little changes in her. More grown up, more...worldly wise? Renee knew more about the ways between men and women that most people needed a lifetime to know. All the subtle nuances. Zara gave off the air—very indiscernible—as a young woman who was totally satisfied in a way that Renee knew from her stock and trace. She glanced over at Phillip who had cast a glance at Zara holding a baby and tugged a bit on his collar.
'So---I really need to get Phillip alone and find out what is going on. And something is. Jack and Honour are too close to notice but I will bet what I thought all along is true.'

"So where is your luggage?" Honour asked.
"Still on the ship. We were in such a hurry to surprise you. Davis said he will be by in two days' time to talk to you about the swag—um, cargo—that we picked up."
Renee casually said, "I suppose Josie can go down and arrange to pick up your things. He can drop off Zara's things and then yours, Phillip. I got your room ready three days ago. I am sure you can't wait to get settled back and into your own bed."
Phillip felt a slight flush on his face. "Yes. Yes, back to my old room."
Zara glanced at Phillip with a look that showed slight dismay. She hadn't realized how much she would miss waking up to Phillip even for one day. She rocked back and forth with her baby sister in her arms. Phillip all of a sudden got a twinge of what life with Zara would be like. He could only hope it hadn't started in that direction so soon. The parents needed to get over one shock before another one set in. After all, Zara was only seventeen.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

The dinner was full of lively conversation on all that had transpired while Phillip and Zara were gone. They likewise had only told the upbeat parts of their trip—for now. Time enough to dicuss Mendoza...the duel....and the hasty wedding offiiciated by Vicar Victor Vickers. Better known as Andy.
Everyone headed towards the verandah and the cognac that Jack had been saving.
Renee grabbed Phillip's arm as they were walking through the French doors.
She whispered, 'You and I need to have a chat, son."
"What do you mean?"
"You know EXACTLY what I mean!"
Phillip and Zara sat on the porch swing together. Jack poured a bit of brandy for Zara but said, "Just a little bit for you, Zara. After all, you are still a young girl!"
As the evening wound down, Josiah stood up and said, "I hate to break up this party, but I think it's about time we went home. I am sure Phillip and Zara are tired and want to get to their own beds and relax. And I do believe I saw Honour stifle a yawn or two."
Renee nodded, "Yes, why don't you all come over to our house tomorrow night for dinner?  I saw some lovely scallops in from the fishermen and we can also have clam chowder. I know how Phillip and Zara must have missed fresh seafood."
Zara laughed, "We didn't go without. Uncle Will does have some coastal property in Virginia so we did have quite a few lobsters. But Dilcey also showed me  how to make what is called johnnycakes and I would love to make them for a breakfast this weekend with all of you. I became quite domesticated on this trip!"

As the three of them got up to leave, Phillip and Zara exchanged a disappointed look. He took her hand in his and kissed it.
"Miss Zara, I must say I had the time of my life. You certainly were a most congenial companion.  You get a good night's sleep and I will see you tomorrow."
Zara gave him a lingering, crestfallen look as she said softly, "Goodnight, Phillip. Sleep well."
The exchange was lost on everyone save one.
Renee, the ever observant step-mother.


Josiah stood up and stretched, "I think it is about time I get to bed. Jack and I are going to go over the ship and see if there are any repairs needed."
Phillip jumped up quickly, "I'll meet you down there bright and early."
"No need, Phillip. Jack mentioned he knows exactly what to look for."
"No 'buts' Phillip. You sleep in. If there are any questions, Jack will ask."
Phillip gulped and nodded. "As you wish."
Josiah took Renee's hand. "Coming to bed, darling?"
She shook her head, "No, I am too keyed up with all the surprises and conversations. I will be up in a bit, love."
Josiah clapped Phillip on the shoulder and said, "Goodnight, son. Damn, it's good to have you home!"
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Phillip stood up and said to Renee, "I think I will get to bed, too. Lots to do tomorrow..."
Renee stood up too and shoved him back down in the chair.
"Oh, no you don't! You and I are going to have a little chat."
"But I told you everything that happened. Well, most everything."
"'Most' being the key word. It's just you and I, Phillip. And time for a little plain talk. Now, you tell me the truth. Did Zara Wolfe come back the way she left?"
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"Bollocks! You know damn well what I am talking about! I am hoping you at least cleared port."
Phillip looked down at the snifter of brandy that Renee had just poured.
Renee said softly, "Phillip, I am not surprised. I expected it. And I think in the back of his mind, Jack expected it too. Oh, he won't admit it. Especially to Honour. In his eyes, Zara is still his little girl. But if the inevitable were to happen, I think Jack it rather be you than the riff-raff she was socializing with. Who is now disappeared from this town. But that is a conversation for tomorrow."
Phillip sighed, "I didn't mean for it to happen, Renee. We had trouble. Tranquillo Mendoza attempted to attack our ship and to make a long story short, I killed him. I will tell the story to Jack tomorrow over brandy because he will want to know why his snarling wolf is replaced with another masthead. The wolf is safely in the hold."
"Tranquillo Mendoza? He's taken over for his father?"
"Yes, and the blood vendetta is still strong. Maybe even more so now."
"So, what happened?"
"He intended to take Zara back to Havana to become his—well, let's just say he was going to get even with Jack Wolfe in the worst way possible."
"Hand me that bottle of brandy." Renee poured herself another snifter and topped off Phillip's.
Phillip continued, "I am going to tell you something that only Davis and I know. I don't want Jack and Honour nor Father to know. But Zara thrust her dagger into Tranquillo at the exact moment I shot him. You might say we killed him together. But Zara is not to know that she did it. She thinks she missed and just wounded him."
Renee sat there with her mouth open but no words would come out.
Phillip took a deep drink of his brandy.
"She was shaken to the core and had nightmares. She was afraid to go to sleep so I laid down next to her to comfort her.  One thing led to another and.....well, I had quite a bit to drink and Zara had a few brandies to steady her nerves. At that point there was no going back."

Renee continued to stare at him. "Lord have mercy, Phillip. Jack may just skewer you."
Phillip smiled, "What I am about to tell you again is in strictest confidence, Renee. He won'd do that."
"And how do you know?"
"Because he won't make Zara Briggs a widow."
Renee dropped her snifter and it crashed in pieces.
From upstairs was heard, "Renee? Everything alright?"
She picked up the shards and replied, "Oh, yes,darling. I just had butterfingers. I will be up pretty soon."
She smiled slightly and said to herself, 'So I was right all along. Too bad I didn't wager a bet with Josie.'

Phillip said hurriedly, "This wasn't an impulse, Renee—alright, so yes it was. I couldn't see anyone else sitting across from me at breakfast and anyone else in my bed."
Renee gave him a hug and kissed his cheek. "I really can't tell you how happy I am that Zara is my daughter in law. Only you have a problem."
"What's that? I am sure I can make Jack and Honour see how happy Zara and I are."
She shook her head. "No. Your problem is a wife....and a fiance!"

"So when did you get married?"
"Right after the duel."
"I keep forgetting you all weren't in the loop about things."
Renee shook her head. "A duel. From the looks of things, you came out the winner. Was the other man dead?"
"No, Will and I fixed it so he just got winged. It's a long story, Renee."
"Seems there are a lot of gaps in the stories coming out. Can you give it to us in chronological sequence?"
"I am sure by dinner tomorrow night we can fill in the blanks."
"So again—when did you get married?"
"Last month. We were out riding and stopped for cheese biscuits and ale. I had grown so accustomed to Zara being with me. This wasn't an impulse, Renee—alright, so yes, it was. I couldn't see anyone else sitting across from me at breakfast and anyone else in my bed.
We got married by a Vicar Victor Vickers."
Renee burst out laughing. "You have got to be kidding!"
"It's legal. Barely. Vicar Vickers—his friends call him Andy—was relatively drunk but we made sure we had the license signed and sealed. It's in my luggage. Proof it really did happen."

Renee gave him a hug and kissed his cheek. "I really can't tell you how happy I am that Zara is my daughter in law. Only you have a problem."
"What's that? I am sure I can make Jack and Honour see how happy Zara and I are."
She shook her head. "No. Your problem is a wife....and a fiance!"

Renee opened the bedroom door to find Josiah examining the soles of his boots.
"I don't know what happens, Renee. It seems like every year I need a new pair of boots and I hate breaking in new ones."
Renee laughed and hummed a tune. "What are you so cheery about, darling wife?"
Renee smiled, "Oh, just glad to have the children home. That's all. Safe and sound."
Josiah frowned slightly. "Is that all?"
"That's all."
"And I guess your premonitions about Zara and Phillip didn't come to fruition?"
She picked her words carefully. "As we say, 'you can't get a coconut every time.'"
"Well, I for one am relieved Zara and Phillip behaved themselves. And if they hadn't, Jack devised a way to find out if there was anything he should be upset about."
Renee's head shot up. "What do you mean?"
Josiah put his boots down. "Damn! I liked these boots so much. Maybe I should go see the cobbler about getting new soles put on."
Renee said with mock patience, "Just what do you mean about Jack's way of finding out"
Josiah laughed, "He rigged the underside of the bed with his own special knots. The ones no one else can figure out. And he had left a cannon under the left side corner. He used it to prop up the bed when it collapsed on him and Honour when...well, you know what I mean.

Renee bit her fingernail. "Yes, well....that was pretty ingenious. But would it really matter that much to Jack?"
"She's still his little girl, sweetheart."
"She'll always be his little girl. But one day she's going to need a different kind of love. And the day Jack realizes it, the better for all concerned."

Josiah put his boots under the bed. "I suppose. I also suppose we should start bracing ourselves for being kin to Governor Culley. Good Lord, I just can't envision Phillip married to her. She's so....vanilla. Not much fire in that one."
Renee slipped into her dressing gown. "I wouldn't be surprised if Phillip ends up breaking it off with Lenore."
She drew the covers down and slipped into bed next to Josiah. He put his arm around her and drew her close.
"I just hope that Phillip finds the love of his life. Like I have."
"Do you believe everyone has that one true soulmate and there is no other for you?"
Josiah shook his head. "No, I believe you can have several true loves. Anne was something special. And I know you aren't jealous of her."
"I think we would have been friends. Oh, how I would have loved to sit across from her at a table, share a cup of coffee and tell her how wonderful Phillip turned out and how proud she would be of him. I honestly feel that Anne also gave me the gift of a son that she gifted you with."
"She would have liked you, Renee. I do believe she has given us her blessing."
Renee leaned over and kissed Josiah. She hesitantly said, "And I do believe that Phillip will find that true love too. As soon as he breaks off with that little harpy."
Josiah sighed, "Whatever happens, Renee, we need to support his decisions."
"Oh, I think that will be easy, Josie my love. You never know what the future will hold."
He drew back. "Do you still entertain fanciful notions of Phillip and Zara? She's a wonderful girl and would be a handful for Phillip. But she's still so young."
"She's seventeen, Josiah. Her mother was married at that age. But I wouldn't worry about it. Not at all."
He yawned. "I need to get up early tomorrow. Jack wants to inspect the ship tomorrow. Go over it inch by inch."
Renee sat up quickly. "All over?"
He laughed, "Especially the captain's cabin."
Renee laid back against the pillows and murmured, "Of course. The cabin."
She blew out the candle and thought, "Bollocks. All hell with break loose, for sure."
In the dark, Josiah said, "You got awfully quiet, darling. A penny for your thoughts?"
"They aren't worth a penny, love."
'No, not a penny,' she thought. 'But maybe a twenty pound note sterling.'
She drew the blanket up and said, "Get a good night's sleep, Josie."
"You too, love. Sweet dreams."
'Oh yes, Josiah. You will need all your strength for tomorrow.'

Zara came downstairs holding her baby sister. Honour and Mrs. Avery were busy making dishes for the dinner that night.
"She started to fuss, so I picked her up and played with her for a while. Babies are such fun!"
Honour looked up, bemused. "Yes, well, they are. Till they start teething. Then you pour two glasses of whiskey. One to dab on their teeth and one for you."
"That's a lot of food you are making there, Mama."
"Oh. Well, Renee and Josiah are coming over."
"Really! Is Phillip coming with them?"
"Oh yes. It's your welcome home dinner and your father wants to talk to Phillip."
Zara grew wary. "Oh? What about?" She still jiggled the baby on her hip.
"I suppose he wants the details and accounting on the ship and all its activities. He was in a pensive mood when he came home. I know he was wondering why the snarling wolf masthead was in the storage hold and replaced with Poseidon."
"Oh, that. Phillip felt it would be easier for us to go through the shipping lanes than advertise who it really was."
"Good thinking. There are still some who can remember when El Lobo del Mar was a fierce pirate ship and may want to take it and go down in infamy as the one who destroyed it."
Zara put the baby in the playpen that was in the corner of the kitchen.
"What time are the Briggs coming over?"
"Oh, in about an hour and----"
Zara flew up the stairs.
Mrs. Avery looked over. "Now what do ye s'pose that was all about?"
Honour shrugged. "Who knows? Zara has always been unpredictable."


Zara soaked in the tub with her bubbles and when she was done, she smoothed on her creams and ointments. She hummed as she looked in her armoire for something to wear.
She pulled out a pink voile dress. No...too frilly. I need to look enticing. But not too....after all the parents are there. She pulled out a lovely fuchsia gown with just a touch of lace down the front and pearl buttons. Yes! This will do!
Zara combed her hair out and twisted it up in the back, securing it with combs. She drew a few tendrils out and wrapped them around her fingers for curls.
The sounds of a carriage drew her attention to the window and her breath caught in her throat.
Phillip! My husband! She was still trying to get used to the word. She heard the door open and the lively conversations that drifted up. Da seems relaxed now.
She pinched her cheeks and bit her lips for colour, then applied coloured pomade to her lips. A spritz of honeysuckle perfume that she purchased in Virginia and she was ready to go down to greet her husband. The one no one knew about, she thought.

Zara scampered down the stairs and caught Phillip's eye as she entered the room. A smile broke out on his face and she returned it with a grin.
"How nice to see you all cleaned up, Phillip."
"And you look as lovely as ever, Zara."
Jack watched the exchange and said to himself, 'Nothing out of the ordinary there...'
Renee hugged Zara. "You look as pretty as ever, dear."
Josiah and Jack walked over to the buffet and poured wine for everyone.
"A toast, if I may," Jack said.
"To the safe return of Phillip and Zara. They left as friends and came back still speaking to one another!"
Everyone laughed and Mrs Avery announced dinner was ready.
"Zara? You can sit over there next to Phillip. Renee? Josiah? Your usual places. It seems strange to have the other children out and about but the girls are at Megan's and the boys are doing some sort of externship with Duckie. He's teaching them about herbs and what can heal what. I swear, he has ambitions for those boys to become doctors!"
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench


After dinner, Jack stood up and said, "Brandies on the verandah. Such a lovely night and I want to hear all about your adventures in Virginia. Don't leave anything out!"
Renee started coughing.
"You alright, Renee?"
"Oh, yes, you know what they say. Tales as old as time and all that."
Honour had put the baby to bed and settled into the porch. Phillip and Zara sat together on the porch swing. They were careful to keep a small respectable distance between them.
Jack lit his pipe, inhaling deeply.
"Alright. Start at the beginning."

After the sanitized versions of their adventures had been told, it was well past midnight.
"I think it is about time we get going, Renee," Josiah said.
"Quite right! I swear I have never laughed so hard in all my life! We will be talking about this for years to come!"
Jack took Phillip aside and said, "I want to thank you for taking such good care of my girl."
Phillip inwardly winced but said graciously, "It was the least I could do, Jack. She's a handful—but a delightful one. Zara can never be ignored—or explained!" 
Jack shook his head. "She's an enigma, that one. I know she has given Honour quite a few sleepless nights. But nothing like that fiasco with Tristan Culley."
"Have you heard anything about him?"
"Just a few rumours. The most plausible one has him in Havana having the time of his life."
"But we both know better, don't we?"
"I'm sure he is having the time of his life in Morocco or somewhere in the Middle East."
"Let's just hope he stays there."

Phillip walked over to where Zara was standing, after saying goodbye to Josiah and Renee.
"Phillip? Are you coming? The carriage driver is getting impatient. I am sure he wants to get to bed."
"In a minute, Renee."
He took Zara's hand and kissed it. "Goodnight, Zara. Pleasant dreams."
Then he whispered, "Give me an hour."
She nodded and touched his arm. "Thank you for taking care of me these past few months, Phillip. You were most delightful company."
He sighed, "Coming, Mother."
All that could be heard was Renee chuckling, "Mother. Who would have guessed...."Zara unlaced her dress and hung it in the armoire. She walked over to the window and stood looking out in the direction of Renee's house. She sighed deeply.
'My first night back in Barbados and I have to spend it alone. Married...but alone.'
There was a knock on the door.
"May I come in?" Honour stood there. "It's been so long, darling. I know you are tired but I just wanted to make sure you are settled in. To see for myself you are really back instead of pinching myself to reassure myself it isn't a dream."
Zara smiled and walked over to her mother. "Yes, I am really back. Oh, mama, I missed you so much!"
Honour hugged her daughter and then put her hands on Zara's shoulders. Stepping away, she said, "But you seem so much more mature than when you left. I sent off a young girl and you came back a woman!"
Zara could feel a blush begin to creep up her neck. "Mama, I am the same person I was when I left. Maybe a bit wiser and I promise you I will not act foolishly with the young men in this town."
Honour sat down on the bed. "And Phillip? He was good to you on the trip? He took good care of you?"
Zara picked her words carefully. "Oh, yes, Mama. He made sure I was well taken care of and that I wanted for nothing."
"And how did your studies go? The cartography and the astronomy?"
"There were plenty of evenings that we sat on the upper deck of the ship and Phillip would point out the stars and the constellations, telling me how to read the position of the ship in relation to the stars."
"Well, I am glad you saw stars."
"Oh, I most certainly did, Mama. Just about every night. And when we got to Uncle Will's, there was plenty of horseback riding. Phillip wouldn't let me go riding by myself. He pointed out the different foliage and the names of all the flowers. So different from Barbados. The forests smelled of pine. And the grass! It was so soft!"
She hurriedly corrected herself. "I meant on the bare feet. On Uncle Will's lawn. After all, it was summer there."

Honour stood up. "I am sure you are wanting to get some sleep. I know how hard it is to sleep in that cabin sometimes and you are back in your own bed."
"Goodnight, Mama."
Honour kissed Zara's cheek. "Goodnight, sweetheart."
As the door closed, Zara went back to the window and looked up at the moon.
"Oh, Mama, you have no idea how hard it was to sleep in that cabin."
She sighed, and got into bed. Her fingers traced the pillow next to hers.
"Damn!" she said as she blew the candle out.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Zara tossed and turned the better part of an hour and then gave up. Just as she was dozing off, she heard pebbles striking her window. She rushed over and opened the casement very carefully, lest it rattle.
Under the eaves, she heard a voice, "It took them forever to get to bed. I had to sneak out."
"Wait a minute."
Zara opened her door and crept down the hall to Jack and Honour's room. She put her ear to the door but heard nothing. Coast was clear.
"Meet me at the side door. By the wine cellar."
She hastily put on a dressing gown and was careful to avoid the fourth and second stair that had a creak in it.
Opening the door, she saw Phillip standing there in a dark cloak.
"How on earth did you get here?"
"I stabled my horse in the last stall. The groom had already gone to bed. I will be gone before he realizes he has one extra horse there."
She put her finger to  his lips and took his hand.
"Quiet, now. And watch for that second---"
They both stood there frozen in silence but there was no sound of anyone.
"Alright! Quickly!"
Zara opened her door and then shut it quietly behind them as they went in.
They stood there not saying a word. There was no need to.
She put her arms around Phillip's neck and kissed him. He untied the ribbon that held the front of her gown and watched it float to the floor.
"Oh, Phillip!" He put his hand over her mouth and whispered, "Quiet now. This isn't the woods in Virginia."
She couldn't help but laugh softly. "Oooh, that was a fond memory," she whispered back. "How long can you stay?"
"I'll have to be gone by daybreak. I'd rather not run into your father."
"You don't have to worry about that. Mama and Da—well, let's just say Da will put a smile on her face."
"How do you know?"
"Does the day end in 'y'?'
Phillip ran his hands gently down Zara's curves. She breathed, "Enough talk, Phillip."
Somehow they made it to Zara's bed and spent the night making love.

Zara sat at Seamus' tavern with her books spread out but she wasn't concentrating on them. Her eyes gazed over the water and she was lost in thought.
"Miss Zara? You alright?"
"Oh, yes, Seamus. Just taking it all in."
"The place hasn't been the same since you and Captain Briggs left. And the air is a lot clearer without that Culley scoundrel. I wonder if he is in Havana like they say."
"I am sure he is. But I for one am glad to be rid of him."
"Get you anything, Miss Zara?"
"Zara"I'll have tea and lemon. Oh and that lemon muffin over there."

Suddenly behind her, someone put their hands over her eyes. Zara jumped a mile.
"Oh! It's you!"
"Yes, it's me. Your husband. What has you so jumpy?"
"Oh, just reliving some past ghosts."
"Well, that ghost is long gone. But not the only thing."
She sighed. "I know. I keep playing a conversation in my mind. 'Oh, Mama and Da? I'd like to introduce you to my husband. I do believe you know him."
Phillip signaled to Seamus for an ale.
"Don't hate me, but Renee forced it out of me."
"She thought the worst. Like we were fornicating all over Virginia."
"Well.....maybe for a while. Till you made an honest woman of me."
"Do you think that will count with your father?"
"Da doesn't have much room to talk and from what I gather, neither does mama. Those two were a wild pair. I mean, who gets married in the middle of the night when you are drunk to the world?"
"At least I married you in the daytime."
"Yes, but mama insisted on a wedding band before."
"From what my father told me, they didn't surface for three days."
"So when do we tell them? Over drinks in the parlour? Over the main course? Dessert? On the verandah with brandies and cigars?"
Zara ran her finger over the rim of her teacup.
"I think over brandies on the verandah. It will be night and in the dark there is a chance Da will miss."
"Miss what?"
"His aim with his pistol."
"Surely you jest."
She laughed, "Surely I do. Frankly, I think Da will be relieved I married you. He always had the highest regard for you and you both are so like-minded."

Phillip stood up. "I suppose I had better go."
"But we are going to walk over by the docks. Da has that new sloop. He said he needed a smaller ship to puddle jump between islands. It is totally seaworthy though. Just needs a smaller crew. He won it in a poker game. Mama wasn't too happy about it. I heard her in the parlour. She said she never could change a Wolfe. But in the end he promised it was just for local stuff. He told her she could name it. So where are you headed off to?"
He took a deep drink of his ale and then signalled for a whiskey and drank it in one gulp.
Zara raised her eyebrow. "..and? Where to?"
He put his hat on his head.
"I've delayed the inevitable. It's time I saw Lenore."
"What will you tell her?"
He shrugged.
"I don't know. I'm making this up as I go along."

Zara stood up and grabbed Phillip by his coat tails.
"Are you out of your mind, Phillip? News like this needs to be broken to three out of four of our parents. Lenore can wait a day or two. She probably doesn't even know you are back. Snobby socialites don't exactly hang around the docks of Bridgetown."
He sighed and sat down. "You're right. I can deal with that tomorrow. Or the next day."
"Tomorrow. The sooner that viper knows you are no longer available, the better."
"I suppose so. I know she is expecting an announcement as soon as I came back."
"Yes. There will be an announcement, alright. 'Captain and Mrs. John Wolfe announce the marriage of their daughter Zara Jane to Captain Phillip Briggs."
"You are pretty fast with that 'captain'. I am on dry land. I was only the acting captain on the ship."
She kissed his cheek. "You are still the captain to me. The captain of my heart."
"Now who's all sentimental?"

They walked together towards the Wolfe house. "I was sent to fetch you anyways. Your father said if you had your nose in a book, you lost track of time."
He reached over and carried her books.
"So we spring the news to them when Da and Uncle Josiah are lighting up their pipes. Maybe Da will end up telling Mama so I don't have to see the look of disappointment on her face."
"You think she will be disappointed you married me?"
"No. Disappointed she can't plan a proper wedding. Something she never had."
"She never had it but did they ever become a legend in St Lawrence!"

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....