Epilogue

Elizabeth stood on the deck of the Bonny Lass and watched her crew finish the final preparations for their journey. Not far away, anchored nearby, was the Black Pearl. She could see Jack standing up near the helm of the ship, looking out to see with his spyglass. She remembered a time, long ago, when she had checked the compass and had turned to see him doing that same thing. She smiled. Back then she had been horrified at the direction her thoughts were taking.

But now?

Now she was just fine with it.

The compass she no longer had, however. She had given it back to Jack. No matter what she thought in her mind, the compass pointed only one place. She was content with it now. Jack was able to get their heading from it and they were preparing to shove off together.

They had discussed what to do about the Bonny Lass and their interest in traveling together…for a time at least. Both knew that this could be a temporary arrangement, that perhaps someday they would part ways for a time. Freedom at all costs. Right now this was what they both wanted and they would allow it to play out as it would. Elizabeth was to captain the Bonny Lass, just as planned, and the two ships would travel together in search of the Fountain of Youth.

At one point they had both been chained…he to his mast, she to an island. Now they were free and part of that freedom included not chaining each other again.

"We're ready to shove off, cap'n." Bradshaw. He was now her First Mate and most trusted advisor. He was a solid man with a good head on his shoulders and he made a very good First Mate. The entire crew had shaped up a bit and although they still needed a bit of work, having them work side by side with the more experienced crew of the Black Pearl would help get them completely into shape.

She turned to smile at Bradshaw. "Excellent." She stepped away from him and moved close to the rail, waiting for Jack to finish his words with his own crew.

Finally Jack walked to the same spot on his ship and looked across at her. Only thirty feet or so separated the two of them, close enough for her to see the huge grin on his face.

"Ready to shove off, love?" he shouted across to her.

She smiled back at him. "Aye!" She paused, took in another deep breath, and closed her eyes briefly, reveling in the excitement of leaving on a new adventure. Opening her eyes, she shouted over to Jack. "Take what ya can!"

"Give nothing back!" he shouted back to her. They turned away from each simultaneously, coats whipping out around them. Orders were shouted from each captain to their individual crews. Men jumped into action.

The two ships drew up anchor and set sail. The two captains, each standing at the fore of their respective ships, smiled in relief as they set out upon the sea in search of the famed Fountain of Youth.

Elizabeth felt the salty air hit her face as her ship picked up speed, finally understanding what the word freedom really meant.