Hi! So this is a story about Jim Hawkins and the bold Carlotta, but will he find that her bravery is just a face which, pretty as it may be, must be tested? Please review and tell me what you think!

Chapter 1

Sighing, Carlotta (otherwise known as Scarlett or Lottie) pulled her chemise over her head and tugged blearily as her long, mane of caramel-hued hair clung to one of the straps, she could hear Silver singing downstairs in the kitchen amidst a cacophony of clattering plates and she knuckled her eyes to remove the weariness as she knew she had to join him. The sun creeping in through the window created fuzzy speckles in her tired eyes making her blink rapidly; like a cat Carlotta yawned and stretched then swung herself out of bed completely. She slipped one of her simpler dresses over her head and smoothed it over her shapely hips, subtly shuffling the neckline down until her breasts peeked out like half-moons – just the right amount of cleavage to appeal to the customers but not so much as would get her into trouble. Slipping on her dainty shoes Carlotta regarded herself in her full length mirror then puckered her cherry red lips light-heartedly at her reflection before pattering downstairs, not even bothering to comb out her honey colored ringlets.

"Morning." She greeted Silver breezily as she hopped up to sit on one of the wooden counter tops, dangling her feet over the side. The man turned from the sink where he'd been washing dishes and clasped his crutch with a strong hand, swinging it playfully at her,

"Get out o' that! How many times have I told ye not to sit on those?" He remonstrated, never losing the signature twinkle in his eyes. Carlotta laughed and lowered herself on to the floor where she caught sight of the red and white striped dish towel hanging from the side of the cupboard, she tilted her head quizzically – then what was John using to dry the dishes? She turned round with her hand on her hip and burst out laughing as she realized he'd been using his bandana of the same pattern that was normally wrapped around his head. He looked perplexed, then as it dawned on him he laughed the hearty laugh he was famous for as he wrung his bandana out in the sink.

"Well if I ain't a lubber and all!" Silver chuckled, inwardly resolving to hang up his hat and the towel in different places next time.

"What are my duties today?" Carlotta asked as she seized the real dish towel and began drying the crockery John had washed.

"You'll be watching the inn -"

"Long John!" She complained plaintively and all traces of mirth were wiped from his eyes like chalk from a blackboard.

"Ye'll do as you're damn well told, by Jove. I've got business elsewhere so you watch the inn and do a good job." He growled, crashing down the plate he'd been cleaning with enough force to make her jump.

"There's someone comin' to see me about the voyage I told ye about today so make him comfortable til I get back. Tom'll be in to help out later." The man tossed over his shoulder as he lurched out of the kitchen, stripping off his apron as he went and leaving Carlotta to slump against the counter and blow a wayward ringlet out of her face with relief. Boy did he have a temper!

With her second sigh of the day Lottie smoothed the skirt of her dress down and tucked the rebellious ringlet behind her ear as she made her way into the inn. Soon it would be filled with men and women from all walks of life – some she knew and some she didn't and some she didn't want to – but right now, with the chairs atop the tables and not a soul but her in the place it was blissfully quiet. Moving with the ease of someone well practiced Lottie began unstacking the chairs and laying them out at the tables dotted round the spacious room, it was tedious but strangely relaxing and it was nice to do it without Long John or one of his friends watching her and making snide comments. So she wasn't very strong – so what? Hadn't held her back so far. And she had a mean slap on her when the need arose. No sooner had Carlotta finished laying the room out and settled herself behind the bar with a dust cloth, ready to wage war with the table-top, when Tom loped in the door and grinned at her.

"Mornin'" He grunted, his eyes raking her full figure as they always did – Lottie resisted the urge to throw the cloth at him.

"Good morning to you too, Tom." She replied in as civil a tone as she could muster.

"Nothin' good about it so far." Tom countered, wondering if he had the audacity to ask her to improve it...but no, he'd been on the receiving end on one of her formidable slaps before. He settled for a slow wink and growled inwardly as her lips tightened and she became absorbed in dusting the counter behind which she barricaded herself – she was the biggest Goddamn tease he knew.

The two sat in charged silence, punctured with the occasional candid remark from Carlotta and the odd grunt from Tom, until the first few customers began to trickle in.

As the day went on the inn began to fill with people, mostly sailors and tradesmen from the dock, and most of them were at least familiar to Carlotta. She greeted them as she always did – a smile and a wink for the men and a bobbed head for the women who, as a whole, she liked much less. The exception to her dislike of women was in the shape of an old widow called Mrs. Myers with whom Carlotta had become firm friends. That woman now entered the inn, wrapping her shawl around her to evade the chill of the afternoon breeze and smiling affectionately when she saw her young friend wave at her.

"Lottie, my dear!" She exclaimed, perching on a discarded chair near the bar. "How have you been keeping?"
"Fine Mrs. Myers, just fine – Long John's keeping me bogged down with work though – I think he's worried that I might actually have fun if he gave me any free time, or – heaven forbid – meet a boy!" Lottie complained, throwing up her hands.

"You have fun enough," The old woman pointed out. "And as for meeting a boy – when the time comes you will meet him, a pretty thing like you! Of course you will. Ah, I was pretty once..." Mrs. Myers trailed off into silence and Carlotta laid a comforting hand over the other woman's wrinkled one. Her love had been a sailor and she had run off to sea to be with him, away from her wealthy family and her despised betrothed, she had told her young friend the story many times and Lottie knew it well, had been completely taken with the romance of it all.

The door opened and Lottie straightened up, watching as an unfamiliar face appeared peeking nervously round the door, seemingly establishing whether or not he had the right place. The face was a handsome one and it belonged to a youth around her own age, his brown eyes showed resolve and he set his jaw as he strode towards her, sure of himself for all that he was not yet grown.

"My name is Jim Hawkins. I'm looking for Long John Silver."