Two years later
"No, no, no! A ship approaching at that angle would never be properly positioned to rake his adversary's ship." Edward was stabbing a finger into the laminated map being held by a frightened-looking P.A.
I gripped the rail and tried to concentrate on the script revisions I'd just been handed. They wanted to change the order of a couple of scenes in Lisbon. Some detail about the chronology was sticking in my head, but I just couldn't put my finger on it. I tried to block out Edward's voice, gearing up for one of his trademark rants about historical accuracy, so I could flip through my master timeline bible and find the fact that was eluding me.
"Chelsea," I called, looking back over my shoulder for my research assistant.
"Yes, Professor Swan?" she was there in a second, pulling her baseball cap down to shield her pale skin from the relentless Spanish sun.
"Chelsea, how many times have I told you? It's just Bella."
"Right, Professor Swan. Did you need something?"
I sighed and gave up. There was no hope for it. The girl was terrified of me. "I need that binder with the Prince John stuff in it. I think I left it in my office below deck."
"Sure thing!" she chirped before sprinting away. I watched her go and then spent a minute looking around myself. The deck of our boat, one of several in the production flotilla, was teeming with people. Consultants like me and Edward, assistant directors, cinematographers, special effects personnel, and an army of P.A.s. I could scarcely believe that we were here, just two short years after our first trip to Portugal.
My discovery in Maria's library was only the tip of my research iceberg. Once I'd laid out the bare bones of my discovery to Kate back at the publishing house, I was summarily ordered back to Portugal to track down every last scrap of information. I took a semester's leave of absence from teaching my classes and Edward and I essentially moved in with Maria for several months while I finished documenting the archives. It was hard work, but wonderful. I missed Belgrano and I missed seeing Maria every day.
Side trips were involved, to England to research Julia Swithburne, and to Brazil, to learn the details of Fernando's death. I was right. Julia died unmarried, living with her brother the Admiral, her whole life.
I spent the next summer back home in Seattle writing the book. I may have been scared to death at first, but there really wasn't any reason to be. Or maybe it was just that such a spectacular story had been dropped into my lap, which made it easy. Regardless, I wanted to do justice to Fernando and Julia, so I threw myself into writing. For several long months, I lived at my laptop. And I lived with Edward. I was keeping such long hours that the only way I ever saw him was to work at his place. Eventually I quit leaving and just like that, we were cohabitating.
Through it all, Edward was my unsung partner in the process, helping me research all my theories and suppositions, bouncing ideas around with me, or just listening to me think out loud. It was my name on the cover, but it was a labor of love by both of us. The book was ours, not mine.
The night after I typed the last paragraph, Edward surprised me with a candlelit dinner in our apartment to celebrate. Over our second bottle of champagne, he surprised me with a ring. After some nonsensical babbling, and a few tears (which I blamed on my stressed-out, sleep-deprived state), I said yes. Then he pounced on me and kissed me all over my face. Then there might have been some amazing sex on the floor of our dining room.
The book was released in November, in time for the holiday season. My camera phone picture of Fernando and Julia's letters, still bundled together and tied with a string, ended up being the cover artwork. Kate made sure the story of the undiscovered letters found its way into a few of the right media outlets and then things really blew up in my face.
The book sold. By the truckload. Then it sold out. Completely. Another printing was ordered before we'd even reached Christmas. Then the media stuff started. Never in my life had I wished more that this had been Edward's discovery instead of mine. Edward was born for television. He knew how to smile and schmooze and banter. I had to remind myself not to fidget, to smile now and then, and try and look at least a little happy to be there. Mostly, I had to remind myself to throttle Little Napoleon. Nobody liked her.
But I really didn't have to try too hard. The story sold itself. It succeeded on numerous fronts. The history buffs loved it for the same reasons Edward and I did. PBS and the History Channel both ran hour-long specials about it. Casual readers loved the story of Fernando and Julia, star-crossed lovers doomed by war. The entire country of Portugal went insane for the story. Dom Fernando Amaral was a new national hero. They declared a festival day in his honor and his face was printed on postage stamps.
Next, the movie rights were optioned. There was a long negotiation period, which I mostly stayed clear of, but it led us here, to the deck of this boat off the coast of Cadiz in Spain. In the distance was a flotilla of recreated early nineteenth-century battle ships, positioned to represent Nelson's British Navy and Napoleon's Franco-Spanish fleet as they reenacted the Battle of Trafalgar. And Edward, the naval historian for the movie, was currently berating one of the assistant directors about the historical inaccuracy of the position of one of the ships. God, I loved him.
The harried assistant director in question departed below deck to consult with some special effects person and Edward stomped over to me.
"Broadside!" he shouted, waving his arms in the air. "They wanted to put them broadside! 'But the shot is so much more dynamic if we can shoot along the length of both boats at the same time'." Edward rolled his eyes as he mimicked the crew person. "If Nelson lines up broadside to the French, then it's not the Trafalgar Action anymore! It's just some ordinary old naval battle!"
"Did you tell them they were crazy and uninformed?"
"In slightly more colorful language, yes. He went off to reset the shot."
"See? It'll be fine."
"How about you? Any ugliness in the script revisions?"
"Oh, you know, the usual. 'Can we have that scene with Prince John and Fernando happen a year later?' Sure. Fernando is dead by then, but I'm sure no one will notice that part."
Edward laughed and slipped his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder. "It's a whole new world, huh?"
I snorted. "You could say that. I miss the library, where facts are facts and the quality of the light doesn't mean shit."
He kissed my shoulder and squeezed. I sighed, letting myself relax into his chest.
"Tell me this is worth it, Edward."
He pointed over my right shoulder, to the south, and to a cluster of five ships set apart from the others. The Portuguese ships. "It's worth it."
"Promise that we never have to work on another movie ever again."
"We never have to work on another movie ever again. We'll go back home and never leave the library."
I nudged him in the ribs. "You still have to finish your dissertation, anyway."
He scoffed. "I'll get to it. I have to finish the book first."
I wouldn't shut up to Kate about Edward's contributions to my research and in the end, he wound up with a book deal, too. Of course he did. There was a time in my life when his ridiculous good fortune would have made me rage, but that was a long time ago. Now, the good things that happened to him happened to me, too. That's how partnerships worked.
"Hey, we only have a few more weeks left for this on-location stuff. What do you say we sneak in a little vacation when we get back to dry land?"
"We still have all the court location stuff to do in Budapest," I protested. Hungary was standing in for early nineteenth-century Portugal, for mysterious movie reasons I would never understand.
"I looked at the schedule. We have about four days before we need to be in Budapest."
"That's not enough time to go anyplace, Edward."
"It's enough time to go to Belgrano," he said softly, just behind my ear.
"Oh," I breathed. "That sounds nice."
"You know what also sounds nice? Marrying you on Maria's back terrace."
"Let's get married at Belgrano."
"Are you backing out, Swan?" he challenged, digging his fingers under my ribs. I laughed and twisted away.
"No, not at all. But we're American and that's Portugal. I'm sure there's paperwork we need. And procedures to follow or something."
"We happen to be working on an international film crew. They have all kinds of legal types that live to get the proper documentation in place. And it just so happens, I know the chick who wrote the book they're basing this movie on."
"You do, huh? You think she'd do you a favor?"
"If I promise to return it. In hot, naked ways."
I turned in his arms until I was facing him and linked my hands behind his neck. "I'll make you a deal. You get the paperwork and I'll marry you at Belgrano."
Edward's smile was wide. "Buy yourself a dress in Cadiz, Bee Girl, because you're getting married next month."
I smiled back at him, not at all displeased by that prospect.
"What a crazy life, Edward," I said, overwhelmed for just a moment by where we were and what we were doing.
"Yeah, crazy. But you know what? I wouldn't change a thing."
"You think I would? Being with you, loving you, has been the biggest adventure of my life. All this," I waved a hand at the historic naval battle being staged around us, "is just another great story to tell one day."
Edward beamed down at me, the Spanish sun turning his hair and eyes crazy-beautiful colors. "And we both know, you tell one hell of a story."
"We do. We tell an amazing story."
He leaned down and kissed me, soft and lingering. "I want to tell it with you forever."
Lengthy historical A/N:
I did a LOT of research for this, but I'm no historian, so go easy on me if I got some things wrong. Also, I played pretty fast and loose with history when it suited the story. :)
Things that are real:
Prince John VI of Portugal- Acted as regent 1799-1816 and ruled as King John VI 1816- 1826.
The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373- Although Portugal's reasons for trying to uphold it probably had more to do with money and less with honor, as I depicted here.
The Trafalgar Action, which took place on October 21, 1805. However, there were no Portuguese ships there.
The Portuguese royal family's exile in Brazil- Portugal fell to Napoleon in 1807 and the royal family, with about 1,500 subjects, fled to their colony in Brazil, under British naval protection. They remained there until 1821.
The Portuguese National Archives, which is really called Torre de Tomba and it really is a concrete block of a building.
Palacete Chafariz d'el Rei- Their hotel in Lisbon. You can google it. It's really pretty.
Things I made up:
The Portuguese involvement in the Trafalgar action. That win was all England and Admiral Nelson, to Edward's eternal relief.
Dom Fernando Amaral and his entire family, including Maria and Sofia the dog.
Admiral Swithburne and his sister, Julia.
Belgrano, although it is based on Quinta de Ribafria, which is real. You can google it for pictures. It's beautiful.