"Will I ever see you again?" Joe asked, caressing her hands, unable to look her in the eye.

Paca's eyes were filled with tears, though she was trying not to cry. "I don't know." She pulled a hand away to wipe her cheeks with a handkerchief.

"Hurry, Paca." It was Tom. He had come to see her off. "Captain Aguilar is getting anxious to set sail."

She nodded at him, sniffling. "If you are ever in my country, please find me." With that, she threw her arms around him. "Te quiero, Joe," she murmured into his shoulder.

"I love you too," he said softly, stroking her hair. "Go."

She stepped onto the gangplank carefully, holding Tom's hand. Before continuing, she turned to him and said, "Thank you for your kindness, Tom." He nodded, watching her walk across.

Joe stood still, his eyes on the ship until it was out of sight. He had never met anyone quite like her and would miss her terribly. Someone squeezed his shoulder. "C'mon, mate." He turned and, with a last glance at the faint sails on the horizon, followed the crewman down to the berth deck.


Paca's hands shook as she uncorked the bottle and unrolled the parchment. "It's from him," she murmured.