Revenge of the Fox

Chapter 39 – Last Chapter

"Ahoy the Garnet," Markson called as the small boat approached the newly renamed ship.

"Richard," called Annamaria, tossing over the rope ladder. "What are you doing here?"

"A romantic assignation," Markson said blithely, climbing the ladder.

"You're using my ship for a romantic assignation?" Annamaria asked with raised eyebrows. "Rather cheeky of you, don't you think?"

"Since you're the one who wanted me to become involved with the girl," Markson retorted, "I hardly thought you'd object."

"Definitely cheeky," she stated firmly. "Use your own damn ship."

"My ship is up in Baltimore still only half built," Markson pointed out. "And I'd like to see Commodore Norrington's face if I asked him if I could use the Dauntless to meet a woman."

Despite herself, Annamaria laughed. "I don't think he'd appreciate it much." She shook her head. "Why can't you just call on her at Will and Elizabeth's?"

He shrugged. "I've done that. It feels all wrong – too formal. Tea and scones and polite conversation. I have to see her here again, where we began this."

It was Anna's turn to shrug. "I suppose. I don't have a full crew yet, so the cabin you slept in on the way back from New Providence is empty if you'd like some privacy."

Markson grinned. "You make a dreadful chaperone."

She smiled back at him. "Too right."

"Ahoy the Garnet," called a voice from below. Markson and Annamaria looked over to see Will rowing closer.

"And what are you doing here?" Annamaria demanded.

Will stowed the oars and put out his hand to help Jeannine to the rope ladder. "Escorting a lady."

Anna shook her head. "And here I was thinking romantic assignations were supposed to be secret."

Markson assisted Jeannine over the rail, and then leaned over to wave Will off. "You'll see her safely home, Richard, won't you?" Will called as he got the oars back out.

"On my honor," Markson replied.

--

Dawn was barely peeking over the horizon when Jeannine crept cautiously into the house through the kitchen door. Removing her shoes, she slipped through the darkened rooms toward the stairs and up to the second floor. While she knew that her hosts knew perfectly well where she'd been, she preferred not to wake them. However, when she eased open the door to her room she saw that Elizabeth was sitting at the dressing table, wide-awake and waiting for her.

"What are you doing awake?" Jeannine whispered.

"I heard Richard's horse in the street," Elizabeth replied. "Spent the whole night with him, did you?"

"Obviously," Jeannine said dryly. She moved behind the screen and began unlacing her bodice.

"So are you going to tell me about it or not?"

Jeannine poked her head around the screen. "Why do you need to hear about my love life? Don't you have your own husband?"

"That isn't what I meant and you know it," replied Elizabeth, torn between annoyance and amusement.

Jeannine relented, coming out from behind the screen and putting her dressing gown on. "We agreed to be sensible about this. We've hardly known each other for more than a few weeks. He's off to Baltimore in a few days, and he won't be back for a month at least."

Elizabeth looked skeptical. "It took you the whole night to come to this conclusion?"

'No," Jeannine admitted with a rueful smile. "We didn't start talking about it until we got in the boat to come back to shore."

"And?"

"And," Jeannine answered, sitting down on the bed. "I promised to still be here when he came back, and we'd take it from there. Satisfied?"

Elizabeth looked smug. "Now that he's been promoted, he'll be able to afford to marry."

"Don't get ahead of yourself, Elizabeth. I don't want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. I want to be sure this is right."

Not looking at all chastised, Elizabeth rose and moved toward the door. "Well, it must have seemed right enough to have spent the entire night with the man – not talking."

"Good night, Elizabeth," said Jeannine firmly.

"Good night, Jeannine," she answered with a knowing smile.

--

The anchor was raised, and the sooty black sails were unfurled to catch the wind. Slowly, the Black Pearl began to ease from the harbor, picking up speed as she neared the open sea. Gwen stood at the rail, looking back at Port Royal. She'd miss her friends there; she always did. However, this was where she belonged. Odd to not have Annamaria aboard, but it was time for Anna to fly alone. She closed her eyes and felt the wind caress her face. Then she felt her hair tumble down around her shoulders, and the wind whip it into disarray. Spinning around, she saw Jack standing there, a lascivious grin on his face and a pile of hairpins in his hand. She hadn't even heard him come up behind her. Drat the man! If he'd done this to her once, he'd done it a hundred times. She narrowed her eyes and glared at him. "Are you so fond of rats' nests that you like my hair to look like one?"

"Hmmmm," he murmured provocatively. "Perhaps we should go below and I can comb it out for you." He smoothed the tangled locks from her face and bent his head to kiss her.

Gwen abandoned all pretense of anger and wound her arms around his neck. "Mmmm," she murmured. "Perhaps we should."

THE END

Authors Notes – Wow, this one has been a long one. The characters ended up doing completely different things than I had originally intended – does that happen to everyone else? Thank you everyone for sticking with me! I truly intended this to be the last one as well, but I got another idea a little while back, and well, you know. It'll probably take me several weeks to get enough written to start posting, however. If you like, leave me your email addresses when you review (notice how smoothly I snuck that in! () and I'll let you know when I begin posting.