Jack made his way through the forest taking a route she was not aware was even there. She had traveled to the alcove quite often when she wanted to get away, but always went the same way from town. She was surprised to find how familiar he was with the layout of the land and how quickly he got them back to the beach using a different path. They had one close call when they thought they may have heard the other two men who were looking for her, but after hiding in the brush and listening intently, the men moved in the opposite direction.
It wasn't long before Jack was leading her aboard the Black Pearl. She'd heard stories about this ship. It was as legendary as it's captain. Some of the stories were so outrageous she dared not believe them, but one could never be certain with pirates.
Jack made no attempt at conversation as he led her down some stairs leading to a series of rooms. Entering one, she realized they were probably entering his quarters and she hesitated at the door. There was a large desk with various maps, an inkwell, and a stack of books one side of the room. A large bookcase filled with other books and various knick-knacks was behind it. On the other side was a chest of drawers and a large bed that looked incredibly comfortable and inviting. She realized suddenly how very tired she was. Had circumstances been different, she would have fancied a nap.
Jack's voice broke into her thoughts. "I told you, I mean you no harm, love. Come in. Have a seat and I'll pour us a drink."
He gestured towards one of two chairs in front of his desk. She approached tentatively and sat down. After pouring each of them some of his beloved rum, he handed her a glass and moved the other chair so it was facing her before sitting down.
"So how about we start with introductions since I have yet to learn your name."
She hesitated and Jack offered her another charming smile. She felt her resolve weaken.
"My name is Celeste."
"Celeste," Jack repeated as he picked up her hand to give it a kiss that warmed her to her toes. She would have to be on guard with this one, for sure. "That is a beautiful name for a beautiful woman. I am honored to officially make your acquaintance. And do you have a last name?"
"For another time," she said before taking a sip of her rum which caused his curiosity to peak again. Not wanting to tell her last name must mean she did indeed have something to hide but he wasn't giving up so easily.
"Come now," he urged. "What harm could come from me knowing your last name…..Unless you have something to hide."
Fire flashed behind her eyes telling him everything he needed to know.
"I want to help you, darlin' Celeste," Jack said. "I can't do that unless I understand what's going on and why those men were looking for you."
When she still didn't answer, Jack's eyes softened. "Please?"
Celeste let go of his hand and stood up and began to pace. "You don't understand. Telling you my last name, Captain Sparrow, will tell you everything you need to know."
Now he really was intrigued. Not only because of the way she put an emphasis on his last name, but also because it must mean the secret she held would be familiar to him. He continued to watch her but said nothing. Celeste felt his eyes boring into her and despite what she'd heard about him, she wanted to trust him. She was tired of carrying her burden alone. And truth be known, he could be the one person in the seven seas who may be able to help her.
"Mancuso," she whispered.
Jack's brows furrowed and he sat up straighter. Had he heard correctly? "Say again?" he asked.
"Mancuso. My name is Celestial Alessandra Mancuso."
Jack stood up in disbelief. "Mancuso," he repeated. "As in Captain Giancarlo Mancuso?"
She shook her head. "Yes, Giancarlo Mancuso…The man who knew your father well…he is….or was…..my father."
Jack was stunned. Giancarlo and his father had been shipmates as young men who had eventually parted ways amicably and started their own separate pirating adventures. Every now and again, their paths would cross, however. They had always remained friends which was rare for pirates since competition and the constant search for bigger and better treasure was always on the horizon.
As a child, Jack had met Captain Mancuso several times but had never heard tell of a daughter.
"So you obviously know about your father's connection to my father. Now, I am curious…..How is it I never heard about you?" he asked.
"My father and mother never married, but she was the one true love of his life" she began. "When he found out about me, he wanted me protected and insisted that my mother keep my identity secret so I would not be found out by others who may kidnap me. She is Irish and went by the name 'O'Shea'. I was raised as Celeste O'Shea.
Jack understood completely. If he had children….esecially daughters…protecting them would be of utmost importance. He had a lot of enemies as did every other pirate lord sailing the seas which is why the lifestyle was not necessarily conducive to having a family of one's own. Occasionally, it did happen, however, and measures had to be taken to protect them.
"I understand that," he stated. "I would do the same if ever in that circumstance myself. So tell me…. how did you come to using your father's name?"
She looked away again. "He came to see me six months ago. Said it may be the last time he saw me and wanted me to have something that would secure my well being for the rest of my life."
Jack perked up a bit more. "And what would that 'something' be?"
Celeste didn't answer right away. Instead she turned her back to Jack and walked towards one of the windows in his room that overlooked the dock into St. Croix. From that vantage point, one could see if anyone was approaching the boat from nearly every angle. She had to admire his foresight.
She felt him come up behind her before feeling his hand on her shoulder. "Tell me what happened." He demanded….and the soft timber of his voice melted her inside.
She knew it was risky…..Jack Sparrow was one of the most notorious pirates to sail the seas and was always on the hunt for his next treasure no matter what he had to do to attain it…..but something in her heart seemed to be whispering that she could trust him. Indeed, she felt it as deep as her soul. Perhaps it was because she knew their fathers had always been close friends. In fact, she remembered a time when she was only sixteen years old when her father had told her to always trust the "Sparrows".
That was eighteen years ago…and now….here she was…..faced with a Sparrow and wondering whether or not to trust him.
Celeste reached up to touch Jack's hand on her shoulder but kept her gaze on the water.
"Have you ever heard the name McGalliard?" she asked quietly.
"Heard of him?" Jack said as he turned her around to look at him. "Damn near every pirate on the seas has heard of McGalliard's treasure, Love. But to my knowledge, no one has even the first clue as to it's whereabouts."
Celeste's eyes implored him, "Can I trust you?" she asked as she started to finger a locket around her neck.
Jack felt something inside of him stir. The search of treasure had been his life…..but for the first time, he felt as if something else was more important. This feeling of truly caring about someone else's safety was unfamiliar territory for him.
No, he wasn't an entirely cold-hearted bastard. He had helped others when it suited his purpose…Young William and Elizabeth were perfect examples of that….Also, saving his sweet Angelica from certain doom when her father was willing to give up her life in order to save his own. The very thought of it still made him cringe.
Jack had a good heart even though many would not know that to be true.
Joshamee Gibbs was the one person who knew ALL of Jack's secrets and had been a loyal friend. Jack would trust Gibbs with anything….but this feeling stirring inside of him in Celeste's presence was different and unfamiliar.
His expression grew serious as he took her face gently into his hands. "You can trust me, sweetheart."
Celeste looked into his eyes…and for whatever reason, she found that she wanted to do so.
"Okay….so my mother," she began. "Ummmm….she was an 'O'Shea' by birth…..However…."
She paused and Jack asked the question. "However 'what'"?
"However, my grandmother…,,was a McGalliard."
Jack's eyebrows shot up again as he put his arms around her waist to pull her closer lest she try to get away. "Your mother was related to Seamus McGalliard? -The notorious Viking with enough treasure to make the English and Spanish treasure seekers green with envy?"
"Yes," she answered. "Seamus McGalliard was my great-grandfather."
"And your mother told your father where it be hidden?" Jack asked trying not to showcase the incredible excitement churning in his belly at the thought of finding such a treasure. It would make him a bona fide legend.
It could also put them all in incredible danger, he thought with consternation, but he would worry about that later. For now, he had to know whether Celeste truly held the secrets of finding McGalliard's treasure.
Celeste tried to pull away but Jack held her fast leaving her no choice but to face him and tell the truth.
"No…..No one knows for sure where it's hidden, so my mother only gave him what she had…which was a puzzle to how it could be found."
"I love puzzles!" Jack said with a big smile on his face. "Where is this puzzle…..and where do we start?"
"Jack," she said…..and he sensed her unease.
"I swear to you on my life," he began. "I will not betray you…..or cheat you…but if we find this treasure, we will never want for anything again."
Celeste looked skeptical and Jack's brows furrowed again with uncertainty.
"What are you thinking?" he asked of her.
"I don't care about treasure, Captain Sparrow."
"If we are hunting treasure together…..and considering that our father's were such good friends…I think we should drop formalities, don't you? PLEASE…..call me 'Jack'", he said.
"Fine…..I don't care about treasure, Jack. Some things are more important."
Jack smiled at her again and she felt it all the way to her core. "I couldn't agree with you more, sweet Celeste. BUT treasure does make it a wee bit more interesting…..Don't you agree?"
She couldn't help but grin at his childish exuberance.
"Tell me more about this puzzle."
Celeste moved to pick up her bag and withdraw what looked to be a metal cylinder. She held it out to Jack who took it from her eagerly. His brows furrowed in concentration as he looked at the various dials on the cylinder.
"I've heard of these before," he said. "You must turn each column until a clue or picture appears. Correct?"
She shook head. "Yes. The only problem is I have no idea where to even begin. I don't know what kind of clues to look for or even where to begin."
Jack gave her a disarming smile. "Well, then it's fortunate you've found me, my dear. We'll do it together."
He set the puzzle down on his desk and turned back to her. "So I am assuming that the men who were after you this afternoon know about this?"
"I guess so. I mean, that's the only thing that makes sense. The only thing my father told me before he left was that I needed to come to St. Croix and look for someone named Edmund Weatherby."
"Well that is a distinctly English name," Jack quipped. "Who is he?"
"He owns a bookstore on the island but apparently is an expert at decoding ancient writings and manuscripts. My father thought he might be able to help me decipher it."
Something wasn't making sense to Jack so before going any further, he needed to get it answered.
"But why? Why did your father give this to you? Why now? Why not continue searching for this treasure himself? It's every pirate's dream."
Celeste turned away and dropped her head. Jack heard her sniff and watched as she reached a hand up to wipe her eyes.
Was she crying?
"What is it, love?" he asked softly. "What happened to Giancarlo?"
She didn't answer so Jack put a hand on her shoulder once again. "Celeste."
She turned around to look at him with tear filled eyes and he felt his heart twist.
"He told me he was dying," she said. "I have no idea how he knew…..but he knew he was dying. He told me he had wanted to find the treasure for me. Said it was the one good thing he wanted to do in his life…..but time was running out. He gave it to me with the hope that I would somehow find it."
She huffed in frustration. "But why would he think I could ever do anything so grand as finding a treasure that men have searched for for decades? I'm just a …."
"YOU are a pirates' daughter," Jack interrupted. "Never underestimate what's in your blood, Celeste."
She still looked doubtful until he gave her yet another of his damned charming smiles. "And you have me! So what say you we got to meet this Edmund Weatherby and have a chat."
"I've already talked to him."
"But he hasn't talked to me," Jack said with a certain gleam in his eyes before holding a hand out to her. "Come. Let's go find Mr. Weatherby."