"James? James!" I raised my voice slightly, not caring how unladylike I sounded as I attempted to regain my fiancé's attention. James broke out of his trance and looked up at me, his eyes slightly confused.
"What?" he asked after a moment.
I sighed. "You haven't heard a word I've said, have you?"
James' cheeks became tinged pink in embarrassment when he realized that he had indeed stopped paying attention to me…again. "I'm sorry, Elizabeth," he said quietly, putting a hand to his forehead as though trying to relieve a headache. As usual, I could read his thoughts all too well.
"James, please, forget about Captain Sparrow and focus on our wedding." James appeared a bit surprised. Was it really so surprising that I knew my fiancé so well? The subject of pirates was the only thing that could cause James to be distracted from me. James may dote on me endlessly, but he also had a love of protecting the innocent, and in doing so, hunting pirates. "I know that you're thinking about him commandeering that Royal Navy ship."
"Not just any ship of the fleet," James said, getting to his feet and pacing the parlor floor. "The Interceptor; the fastest ship in the Caribbean, and likely the entire ocean." He sighed heavily. "And now it's in the hands of a pirate."
I silently watched James continue pacing for a few minutes before he finally stopped before the window, looking at the sea in the distance. James had spent most of his life attempting to rid the world of piracy, believing that every man who sailed under a pirate flag deserved to be hung. Though I didn't agree that pirates were a disease to be wiped out, I understood how James must have been feeling about the situation. It was only his first month as a Commodore, and the fastest ship in the Royal Navy, which was under his command, had been stolen by a pirate. I got up from the divan and walked up behind him.
"You'll find him, James," I said quietly, taking his hand in mine.
James shook his head. "If we knew where he was going, we would have a chance. But with a ship like that…" He trailed off, continuing to gaze out the window.
"You'll find him," I repeated. Still doubtful, James shook his head sadly. "I have faith in you, Commodore," I said with a grin. James squeezed my hand, turning toward me and smiling softly. He reached up with his other hand and caressed my cheek. My heart began pounding as he slowly moved closer to me.
"Commodore Norrington, Lieutenant Gillette to see you, sir."
James closed his eyes and sighed in what seemed to be irritation. I bit my lip and took a step back as my fiancé turned to the butler and a young Lieutenant standing in the doorway. The butler gave a small bow before leaving the room.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" James said, clearly annoyed that we had been interrupted. I was not sure how I felt—I had never kissed a man before, save my father on the cheek, and once, a long time back, on Will Turner's cheek as well. James wasn't one to force himself on a woman, for which I was very grateful. Half of me was relieved that Lieutenant Gillette had interrupted, while the other half was disappointed.
Gillette seemed to realize what he had just interfered with, and seemed quite abashed. "You ordered that if any leads about Captain Sparrow's whereabouts were found, you were to be told immediately, sir," he said apologetically.
James instantly brightened. "You have news of Sparrow's location, then?"
"We think we do, Commodore." Gillette stepped forward further into the room, now reasonably sure that he was not about to be reprimanded for interrupting the two of us. "It seems that Captain Sparrow spoke with two Royal Navy soldiers before he commandeered the Interceptor. According to them, Sparrow said that he intended to commandeer a ship and pick up a crew in Tortuga." He paused and appeared to be trying to form the rest of the sentence in his mind. "And…now I don't remember the exact quote sir, but he also said that he would 'raid, pillage, and plunder his filthy guts out' or something to that effect." I couldn't help but smirk slightly at the sound of that phrase.
"Why did these soldiers not come forward before Sparrow commandeered the ship?" James asked.
Gillette shifted nervously. "Apparently they thought he was joking, sir."
"And now?" James said with great frustration. "Tortuga, he said?"
"That's what Murtogg and Mullroy say he said, yes, sir," Gillette said with a nod.
James turned quickly to me. "Elizabeth, I'm afraid I'll have to rush out again."
"Are you going to Tortuga?"
James nodded as he put on his hat. "Forgive me for running off like this," he said, kissing my hand.
"If you let me go with you." I bit my lip as James stared at me in shock.
"Come…to Tortuga? Why ever would you want to visit that horrid place?" Without waiting for an answer, James said, "Out of the question. The sea and that pirate port are no places for a young woman, particularly my beloved fiancé." He gently stroked my cheek. "Don't worry. I'll be back as soon as we can reclaim the Interceptor." He kissed my forehead before leaving with Lieutenant Gillette.
I unceremoniously flopped down onto the divan. It seemed our wedding plans would never be complete, and I would never have the chance to do anything adventurous.
O O O
My eyes fluttered open. It was dark, and I was lying in my bed. I blinked, as little difference as it made in the darkness. Why had I woken up in the middle of the night? I closed my eyes to go back to sleep, but then I heard a faint cry. My eyes flew open and I sat up in bed. I heard shouting coming from somewhere outside.
I slid out of bed, feeling my way to the window in the dark. My hand found the latch on the shades and I pulled them back.
The first thing that my mind registered was "fire." The town was ablaze, flames reaching up to the sky. "Oh my God!" I exclaimed, putting a hand over my mouth in horror. Was there a mob? A fight? But surely the entire town would not be aflame…
A few men carrying torches and cutlasses were running up the road to our mansion. "Pirates!" I gasped, backing away from the window and running as quickly as I could from my room. My hearted pounded with excitement and fear as I raced down the stairs in the foyer. I heard someone knock on the front door. "Don't!" I shouted to the butler as I saw him going to the door. "Don't open it!"
Apparently it didn't matter whether or not the butler opened it or not, for as soon as I called to him, the door suddenly burst open and a pirate aimed a pistol at the butler's chest. I was unable to look away as the man fired his weapon at the butler's heart. A scream escaped my throat as I watched the butler fall to the ground, dead.
Unfortunately, my scream attracted the attention of a few of the pirates, including the one who had just murdered the butler. "Oh, God!" I ran back up the stairs, followed by two pirates, both filthy and quite frightening.
I shrieked as I ran into someone, and was thankful that it was my maid, Estrella. "Miss Swann!" she exclaimed. I locked the door I had just come through. "They've come to kidnap you!"
I blinked. "What?" Why would pirates want to kidnap me?
"You're the governor's daughter!" she explained.
Horror shot through my body, and I abruptly decided that meeting pirates was not the fairy tale I had made it out to be. The pirates banged on the door. "Listen, they haven't seen you. Hide, and first chance you get, run to the fort." I pushed Estrella behind a dressing screen and then ran to my room. I heard the door being forced through.
Then I heard Estrella scream.
"Shame, that—she's quite a looker," I heard one of the men say.
These were not like the pirates in my fantasies at all. I didn't want to believe it, but I didn't have much choice—Estrella was dead.
I desperately looked for something I could use as a weapon. But it was my bedchamber, why would I have anything dangerous in here? I could hear the pirates just outside my door as I hid. I was going to die.
"We got it!"
I peered from my hiding place behind my bed. What were they talking about?
"Come on, let's get out of 'ere."
"Yeah, the sooner this bloody curse is lifted, the better…"
The pirates' voices faded.
There were several minutes of silence, during which I remained in hiding, fearing that it was a trap. Then I heard footsteps enter my room. I stopped breathing, praying that they would not find me.
"Elizabeth?" a shaking voice asked. "Elizabeth, are you in here?"
I peeked out from my hiding place. "Father!" In moments, I was in his arms. "Oh, Papa, you're all right!"
"Elizabeth, thank God you're alive. When I saw Estrella, I feared the worst." My father fell silent, embracing me tightly. At least we had survived. We were all right.
I silently cursed Captain Jack Sparrow. If he had not commandeered the Interceptor, James would have been here, along with more British troops. They could have helped protect Port Royal from those scoundrels. But, then again, perhaps James would have been killed if he had been here. From what I had seen, the town had been struck hard. Dozens had doubtless been slaughtered there and their shops burned to the ground.
A horrid thought suddenly struck me.