CHAPTER 17

Jared sits meekly in front of me. Jared, meek. How the times are a'changing, indeed.
"You know, Jacky, before you start lecturing," Jared says before I can begin my usual gab, "remember that you are far from the perfect lady."
My mind immediately jumps to Flaco Jiminez and Jean-Paul and Randall and Jared himself, even, and I reflect that, although I can act the part damned well, and although I do try very hard, I am not a lady at heart and should never act holier-than-thou.
"You're right, Jared," says I softly. "So I won't talk to you like a schoolmarm. I just want to make sure of some things, is all. Your intentions, like."
Jared snorts. "My intentions? Jacky, I believe you're overestimating my feelings. I still want you to open a brothel, damnit—you…" He trails off and shakes his head. "You think I'm some cunning and ravishing gentleman, don't you? One who has his heart set on a beautiful blonde-haired lady. And you can't wait to form me into the perfect man to win her over, can't you?"
"Jared, I—"
"Your Jaimy? He's a gentleman—a bleeding proper nob who puts his napkin on his lap and prolly demands you to use a nuptial sheet—"
"Watch it, Jared," I growl warningly. But no, he goes on.
"And he talks in his bleeding bloody English and his boots are always shined—that's a gentleman. That's the kind of man any Lawson Peabody girl'd fall for. And then the lady and the gentleman could get married all fine and proper, and leave their children with a governess, and have tea parties every Sunday."
"Jared, you don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't you get it, Jacky?" he tells me, all low and serious. "You're turning into that. You're going to be that girl, with that boring and meaningless life. And I know you aren't happy."
Before I can say anything, anything at all, Jared stands up and near charges out the room without any glances back.
Well.

I intend to catch up with him, I do, but as I walk toward the door, a breeze flutters through my open window…a salty breeze very much like the ones that drifted through my Captain's quarters. I shut my eyes and lean on the sill. There, girl, you're back. The planks are rocking underfoot, the sea spray is scattering in your face, the waves are crashing against the hull. There.
The breeze dies all too soon, and I start slowly away from the window to my desk, because I'm needin' to write a letter.

Jacky Faber-Fletcher
My dark little room
November 2, 1808

My Jaimy Fletcher
Dusting and cleaning and working downstairs

Jaimy,
You know, it was different venturing on land during a port visit. You go here and there, but it's all temporary. There's always new things to do when you get back on board the ship…new places to go…
And it scares me now, Jaimy, it really does, because…well, we're here for good, aren't we? The business opens tomorrow, and who knows if a baby'll come soon, and then what?
I used to have this rhyme, like, when I first started out sailing. I wanted to see a Bombay Rat and a Cathay Cat and a Kangaroo, and all these different places. And hey, I've seen my Bombay Rat, came damned near close to spotting a kangaroo, and I s'pose sailing on a Chinese junk with a fearsome pirate just about ties with seeing a Cathay Cat.
I've fought in battles both on land and sea, I've escaped slavery, I've traveled America's frontier; I've danced ballet, commanded ships, nearly caused international incidents in a number of places; I've been whipped, tortured, depressed, scared half out of my wits, left for dead, imprisoned, Raptured, and nearly ravished on a number of occasions. I've been to Ireland and the Caribbean and Spain and India and China and France and everywhere, really, or damned near close.
I've done all these things and met all these people and I've fallen in love with you along the way, Jaimy; and on one hand, I'm the luckiest girl in the world, really. But on the other hand, I'm very unlucky, because I've fallen madly for something that I suppose can never last forever—that being adventure, dear boy. And I feel as though my adventure is coming to a close.
I don't know. Sometimes…the truth is, sometimes I'm fixin' to run away, I think. But then I think of Higgins and Amy and Jared and all my dear friends, and I couldn't leave them. Or you. Especially you, dear boy. I…

…If I ever run, run with me.

Jacky

I fold up the letter and place it where I know Jaimy will find it.

Later on in the evening, as I'm getting ready for bed, I feel a man's arms around my waist and lips pressed up against my neck, and I turn around to find Jaimy with my letter in his hands.
"I'm sorry," I whisper before he can say anything. "I was missing the sea and everything, and…I don't…"
"Shhh…" He presses his finger to my lips and then his own lips to mine, and mmm, Jaimy, you're in a good mood, eh?
"You know what we never did?" he asks me. Hm...
"Well, there is a certain, uh, thing I've been meaning to try—"
"No—I mean, yes, but no. That isn't what I'm talking about," he laughs. And then he takes my face in his hands and looks me dead in the eye.
"Jacky Fletcher, we've never had a proper honeymoon," he says lowly. "So let's take the Nancy B. out. Anywhere."
Anywhere?
"Jaimy, but…the tavern opens tomorrow, and—"
"It's ours, Jacky, we can do with it what we please." He runs his hands down my back and starts whispering in my ear, but those whispers ain't just sweet nothings, no.
"Be ready tomorrow morning," he says, "and we'll set off. I do miss Havana and Kingston—"
"But that's a British port!"
"So we'll wave the American colors. Or the Pirate flag. Whichever you prefer. Or we'll go to Africa. Or Spain or Ireland, even."
"Higgins?" I ask between breaths—breaths that are getting a lot shorter and heavier as Jaimy keeps moving his hands and lips about.
"We would need someone to watch the ship while we're off adventuring, would we not?" he smiles, and it is settled. He'll alert Higgins.
We leave in the morning.
Running with me, Jaimy boy? Oh, yes, indeed