A.N - This is it, guys. The end. I'm so sad to see this go. I sat down to write it and the chapter was determined to wrap up the story, so I followed it down its path of ridiculous cheese. If it was up to me, I'm sure Paul would have charged along again. But, I'm happy with this story.
Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed throughout all of this! I love how much you guys seemed to like this story.
I have another one in the works too. Just need to sort out a plot. xD
Hope you like this!
She took him. She had smiled widely, nodding frantically and gestured excitedly for Adam to get on with it. Adam, happy for the couple, had begun immediately, stumbling over vows and phrases he knew should appear in a wedding service, but unaware of what order they actually appeared in.
Not that it mattered. He'd said the all-important words. Jesse de Silva, former captain of the Savage Devil, was married. Tied down at last. And he wouldn't have it any other way.
He'd pushed the simple wedding band he had kept in the captain's chambers – a parting gift, from his dear Madre – onto Susannah's long and elegant ring finger, loving the sight of the sun shining warmly off the shimmering ring: a symbol of endless love. Following that, Adam announced them husband and wife, and bid that Jesse kiss his bride – a request that he obliged all too eagerly, to the cheers of the sailors on the boat.
So now, Jesse's arm was wrapped around Susannah's waist where it wanted to remain. Her hand lay tastefully at her side, suspended just so the sun caught her new ring, proudly showing off her status as Mrs De Silva.
"Capt – er, Jesse?" Adam stumbled over the unfamiliar term addressing his former captain, who merely smiled at his uncertainty. "Can I speak to you?"
Nodding – Jesse would do anything for this man; he united him with his querida forever, after all – he unwound his arm and followed the captain dutifully, glancing back to find Susannah now staring out over the glittering ocean.
"Yes, Captain?" Jesse's smile refused to leave his face.
"Whilst I appreciate this honour," Captain McTavish began awkwardly, eyes darting around the crowd. "I cannot accept the captaincy that was bestowed upon me."
Jesse's eyebrow rose. "Oh, and why not?"
"Well," Adam ducked his head and shuffled his feet. "I can't be that far away from CeeCee for so long. I think I may be destined to remain on land. You are the true Captain, Jesse. So, I wanted to give the honour back to you."
Jesse considered the man's words, glancing first at the Captain's hat then back at Susannah, staring with longing at the sea. His heart swelled with love. If he took this, both of his passions would be together with him always: his wife and the sea.
Smiling at the former captain, Jesse's arm extended, offering his arm in a pact of agreement between the two as Adam's hand instantly clasped Jesse's and the two men shook heartily. "I accept."
Night was drawing in over the grand ship. The sun was setting, throwing shades of pinks and purples across the deck as the faint glitter of stars speckled the murky ocean depths. Susannah stood absorbing the scene silently and completely oblivious to everything but the calm tranquillity that was wrapped around her.
There had been a manic of activity and bustle earlier, men readying the ship for sail as new recruits charged aboard with the intention of replacing the fallen men. Now, however, the deck was empty. The men were occupying the taverns for their final night before the months of solitude that would follow their departure - no girl in sight.
"I'm going to miss this, you know." Susannah sighed, not even having to turn her head to acknowledge the man standing behind her.
"And what's that, querida?" Her husband replied, walking behind her to capture her in his arms.
"Everything." Her eyes sparkled as her appreciation for what she was talking about grew within her. "The sun, the sea, the night time scattered across the shimmering waves like a mirror. The sailing." Her eyelids lowered as her eyelashes fanned out and Susannah stared intently on the deck on which she stood. "You."
"Me?" He repeated, placing a finger below her chin and forcing her emerald eyes to shine at him. "Am I going somewhere?"
She smiled at him kindly, shaking her head. "You're Captain again, Jesse. You'll sail with these men at dawn, and I shall be left behind."
Jesse's eyes darkened, his grip tightening as anger and panic grew within him. Was she regretting the marriage? Did she already wish to be separated from him? Is there another man on land she'd prefer to be with?
"Why?" He demanded, fear sharpening his tone.
Sensing his distress, she reached up and kissed him languidly, pouring so much emotion into that one kiss that tears pooled in her eyes when she stepped backwards.
"I'm a lady," she told him matter-of-factly, as if he didn't know. "There is no place on a ship for a lady."
"Don't be ridiculous, querida!" He would have laughed, had the situation not been so serious. In fact, he did laugh. Just the thought that Susannah …
She scowled at him.
"Well," she muttered. "I see our separation will hurt you deeply."
"I'm sorry, querida. Truly, I am." He gasped out between laughter. "It's just that … you thought …"
Turning her back to him, she again looked out at the water, fingers delicately twisting the band she now wore.
"Susannah," he whispered, arms wrapping around her once again and pinning her to the side of the boat. "You're not just a woman; you're my woman. And I'll be damned if this ship leaves without you on it. You love the water almost as much as I do. It would be a crime to keep you from it."
"But, the other men –" In spite of her protests, a smile spread across her lips.
"The other men will listen to their captain," he ordered, his voice full of authority. "And they will keep their eyes off you. Or they'll have me to answer to."
Laughing, Susannah turned around, only to have her breath literally kissed out of her by her husband. Wasting no time, her hands rose to wrap in his gorgeous, curly hair, pulling his lips firmly against his own.
"I love you, Mrs de Silva," Jesse whispered into her neck in between kisses. "I would never leave you behind. Never. I'm not risking another Baron coming along and sweeping you off your feet."
"Would never happen," his wife assured him, eyes twinkling with mirth as she kissed his lips happily. "I love you, Captain. You're stuck with me."
He smiled, his grin wide and brilliant in the darkening night as he held his wife close to him, so close that he could feel the soothing pounding of her heart as it beat against his chest.