"There's a nice breeze off the ocean tonight Commodore."
James cleared his throat a bit nervously before answering, "Yes…hem….a nice breeze….. off the ocean…….yes."
With a bit of a humor-laced tone, "You seem nervous Commodore."
James looked up from where he had been staring intently at the top of the patio wall at the person standing next to him, standing a bit too close for James' comfort as a matter of fact. His eyes returned to the top of the wall as he cleared his throat nervously once again and answered, "I do not feel there is any reason for me to be nervous," and then after a short pause and another glance at the person said uncertainly, "Is there?"
A soft laugh preceded the reply, "Well I guess that would depend on what sort of thing makes you nervous Commodore. Since conversation is all we are engaging in right now I would think you would have no reason for nervousness…. yet."
James straightened a bit, his hands clasp securely behind his back as he glanced quickly to the person and away just as fast.
"Would you care for some more punch Commodore?"
Still mulling over what had just been said James answered absently, "What? Oh yes punch, that would be fine."
James caught the ghost of a smile on the lady's face as she turned in a swirl of white petticoats and dark green satin to go fetch the punch.
"Good Lord James, what have you gotten yourself into?" he thought to himself with a ghost of a smile on his own face. The last thing he would have ever thought of as he prepared for this evening was that he would meet someone like Miss Rose Davenport. He was expecting the normal slew of irksome Mothers with their dreary unwed Daughters that were always throwing themselves at him at one of these events, that went without saying. And he had become very adept at avoiding interacting with them any more than was absolutely necessary. But Miss Davenport was very much unexpected. He had been standing by the punch table with Gillette and Groves when Governor Swann had come over to introduce Lord Davenport, currently in the area on business, and his daughter Rose. James had to admit he had been a bit enthralled from that very moment. She was not your normal preening, fluttery, frivolous, and babbling female he routinely met at these occasions. She was a breath of fresh air. She offered her hand to him, but unlike most of the women he was obliged to meet, she didn't giggle and squirm about as he performed the obligatory touch of lips to back of hand, she in fact met his gaze with a steady self-assured one of her own. And when she spoke it was in a clear confident tone. "Commodore, it is a pleasure to meet you."
"Commodore, would you mind terribly if Miss Davenport stood here with you for a bit? Lord Davenport and I have some business to discuss and I would feel better if I knew she was in capable hands." Governor Swann said, and not waiting for an answer took Lord Davenport by the arm and headed off towards his study.
Rose let out a little laugh as she watched her Father and Governor Swann walk off, and turning to James said, "I am perfectly capable of looking after myself Commodore, if you wish I can meander around and amuse myself."
James had been so caught up in staring at her he didn't realize until Theodore nudged him in the ribs a couple of times that he had been spoken to. "Ah…ah… yes…..no….I mean no… Miss Davenport you are more than welcome to stand here with me….er us…. that is." He then mentally kicked himself in the arse for sounding like such a dolt.
"Thank you Commodore," she said with a smile.
James was nudged in the ribs a couple of times by Andrew this time, "Oh…oh my pleasure Miss Davenport." And receiving several rib nudges from both sides now looked from one man to the other with a "What?" look on his face before realizing both men were head nodding towards the punch bowl. "Oh….Miss Davenport would you care for some punch?"
"I would love some punch Commodore." She said with a bit of a wider grin on her face, for she unlike the Commodore, had caught the nudging and head nodding right off.
It had only been a short time after that he found himself being escorted out on the patio by Miss Davenport much to the approval of Gillette and Groves.
He heard her coming back with the punch and turned as she stepped up next to him, offering one of the cups to him.
"Thank you Miss Davenport."
"Please Commodore, call me Rose."
"Very well…...Rose." James said although the name did not come out a smoothly as he would have hoped.
She took him by the arm and began to move to the far end of the patio away from the others who were also occupying the patio.
"So Commodore tell me, is being the protector of Port Royal all you thought it would be?"
"It is a great responsibility Miss Daven…"
She interrupted with a, "Please Commodore, do call me Rose."
"…..Rose. It is also the sort of position to which I have aspired during most of my naval career."
"So you are happy then?"
James hesitated before he answered, "I have achieved a goal in my career."
"But are you happy Commodore?"
James did not answer for he was not sure he truly knew the answer. His personal happiness had never been a goal he had set for himself.
She laughed as she studied the Commodore pondering what his reply should or could be, "Let's move on shall we Commodore? You can think that over and let me know later."
He looked at her and saw she was not having sport with him; her expression was a kind gentle one as she met his gaze.
She took his arm once again and steered him to the steps leading down into the garden and on towards a stone bench a few yards down one of the paths.
She sat down and patted the seat next to him. He stood there looking from her to the seat considering what he should do. Propriety said this was highly inappropriate, to be here alone with a person of the opposite gender unchaperoned and all, but he did want to sit, to sit next to her. After a short debate with himself he chose to take the offered seat.
She laughed again, a soft melodic sound James found himself enthralled with and definitely wanting to hear again and again.
"Now isn't this much better than that stuffy old party going on inside?"
Rose said leaning towards him conspiratorially.
"Indeed, I do believe it is. Although I am sure my absence will soon be noticed and I will be required to return." James said, a bit of disappointment in his tone.
"Well I would think some important matter that required your immediate attention could pop up at any moment Commodore and prohibit you from returning." Rose said with a smile, leaning in even closer to him as she spoke.
He caught the scent of her perfume as she spoke, and his mind was busy trying to figure out just what flower she smelled like as he answered, not grasping the meaning of her words. "I would doubt anything of such a serious nature would make its self known so quickly." He said absently as he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, savoring the aroma and the mere presence of her that was invading his senses.
As she laughed lightly in his ear he realized what he had been doing and instantly snapped back to his stiff Commodorely self.
"Miss Davenport I sincerely apologize for my lax manners." He said with a horrified expression.
"Well there is certainly no need to apologize. I would suspect that was the first time in a long time you did anything purely for yourself. And it is not a crime to enjoy yourself once and a while. You really should try doing it more often." She laid her hand on his arm as she continued, "And Commodore, it's Rose."
To Be Continued
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