Chapter Sixteen:: That November Day
I have no idea what's going on but shouting rouses me from my sleep. I moan, it's still dark. For a minute I think I'm back on the Lorelei Lee but the shouting isn't sailors, it's a clamour downstairs. I roll over and reach for Jared but he's not there, instantly I push myself up onto my elbows and look around, quickly finding him pulling on his trousers in the dark.
"What's going on?" I mumble, still half asleep, it's can't be more than two in the morning.
"I don't know. Stay here." He says, grabs one of his shirts from where he left it last night and leaves the room before he's even put it on.
I turn over, drop onto my stomach and heave a sigh, still tired, but then my mind starts working and I turn over onto my back and stare up at the dark ceiling- wide awake now. I listen to the muffled voices below. I hear a woman wail and more muffled voices. I wait. I debate going for my shiv or pistol, just in case, but I just wait... a funny feeling worming it's way into my gut.
Jared returns a little while later, and I can see from his silhouette in the doorway that his shoulders look heavy. Something is wrong. I don't question him. Instead I wait for him to get back into bed, but he doesn't. He just lays down on top the covers without removing his shirt or trousers. I frown. What's wrong husband? I slid over to him and lay my hand on his chest. He lets out a sigh and doesn't touch my hand.
"We're not going to the Palace."
"Something wrong?" I ask.
"The Princess is dead."
My breath slows. "Princess Amelia?"
"Aye, about an hour ago." Jared tell me. "They say the King wont see anyone. Sorry Puss, but the trip's over."
I'm silent, looking off into the dark corner of the room. Sure I'm disappointed I wont get to meet the King anymore but I'm sad for the King. He must be devastated.
"She was his favourite." I whisper turning onto my back, sliding my hand off his chest to lay on my stomach. It's not much but I can feel a slight swell, like I've tried to push my stomach out myself. It isn't much but it's not perfectly flat either, no one would notice but feelin' it... I do.
Jared sees this and moves over closer to me, sliding his own hand under mine, his fingers tracing the shape of my little belly. My skin tingles as he does, making me want to close my eyes and smile but I don't allow myself. I just frown and stare at the ceiling.
"Stop worrying Puss." he tells me.
"I'm not, I'm just thinkin'." I frown.
"Whatever your doing, it's enough. I don't like the way your nose is wrinkled." Jared says with his cocky grin and flicks the end of my nose playfully with his finger.
"Jared!" I protest, struggling not to smile. "I'm not playing."
I force a frown as I look at him then, his face looking pale in the dull moonlight peaking through the curtains. He looks as handsome as ever, which makes my annoyance wain and he knows this too because he come in for a kiss. As his lips meet mine I don't kiss him back, I just lay there, he pulls back and looks me in the eye.
"What do you want me to do Puss?" He asks with a hint of annoyance.
"I what you to be serious." I reply, frowning at him.
"It's two o'clock in the bloody morning!"
"I don't care. Be serious or don't talk to me." I growl and turn over onto my side, away from him.
"Puss." Jared warns.
"Don't talk to me." I hiss. "Leave me alone."
I hear Jared groan and feel him turn over, away from me too. The room is suddenly quiet. I stare at the wall and listen to the clock's pendulum swing back and forth with each second's tick. Each tick echoing in my mind, making my feel guilt worm into my gut but I stay quiet until I feel a sob buildin' in my chest. I don't know why, maybe just cause I'm tired or because we're arguing again but I ball my fist at my mouth and try to fight the threat back but one escapes. It sounds louder in the silent room than it was but it causes Jared to turn.
I sniff and swallow hard. "I'm fine." I tell him but my voice is unsteady.
Jared moves in right close behind me, putting his arm around me as he puts his face to my neck. As he does, another sob escapes and I quickly wipe my face, smearing the tears I turn over quickly and face him. Jared slips his hand around the small of my back and pulls me in even closer to him, allowing me to burry my face in his well muscled chest and put my arms around him. Jared doesn't say anything about this, he just holds me and waits for me to fall asleep. And in moments, I do.
_ . _ . _
Later on, I wake in Jared's arms still. He's already awake and greets me with a light kiss. In apology or just good morning? I sigh, feeling much better now, I give him a smile. I don't care. I'll take it. He grins back at me, clearly pleased with my better humour and gives me love bites up and down my neck until I protest with a laugh and a squirm. Pleased, he pulls back and gives me a hot look of amusement.
"Remember Humacao?" He asks intensely.
Our honeymoon he means. I can't help but smile. Oh boy do I. I curl my toes and stretch, my eyes never leaving his.
"How could I forget?" I ask, resting my hands above my head on my pillow. "Those nights on the beach... remember?"
Jared grins and leans overtop me, looking like his certain lusty self as he thinks back to those days.
"Mmm. I remember a particular night we counted scars." Jared says, trailing his finger across the powder burns along my right eye.
Mmm is right. I smile. That was a particularly good night. As I remember you have a few scars of your own. Unable to help myself I snake my hands up Jared's strong forearms to his shoulders where my finger traces a particular scar on his left shoulder blade.
"One." I smile, my eyes never leaving his.
Jared grins, completely game for another round. It's a good morning.
When we've had our morning fun and my stomach begins to voice it's opinions Jared chuckles and promises me breakfast in bed. I don't protest, I love to be spoilt. So he heads off to the kitchen to procure us a little breakfast as I wash up and try and make myself a little more presentable for his return.
He comes back a few minutes later with two mugs of tea and a plate of fruit, toast and bacon. Mmm. We jump back onto our bed and fall too, enjoying breakfast immensely.
"I'll have to ask Higgins to make this a regular thing." I say bacon in one hand and my tea in the other.
Jared grins at me and kisses my neck. "I for one would love the looks of envy."
I have to laugh at him. I don't believe his apparent view of me and men in the least. I'm not that desirable, a scrawny thing like me?
Whatever the case I let it lay and we talk about our plans for this day. After several minutes of intent debating it's decided we'll go to the Home and see how things are there. I need to speak to grandfather about the Fletchers anyway and I'd like to see Mairead and Ian again, as well as check on the children Wilhelmina said weren't well. I smile at Jared. I'd also like to introduce them all to my handsome husband and give them our news. We told Higgins late last night, unable to help myself and he advised us to share it with grandfather should we find time to visit him, so we shall.
Once we finished our breakfast we dress, me in my jaunty new riding habit of maroon and cream and Jared in his full black Captain's uniform. I love him in it, but I realize as I watch him slide his pistol into the hidden pocket of his jacket, that he does not have many outfits for such occasions. I powder my nose and make a quick decision to take advantage of the opportunity London provides and get us both some new outfits. Just in case.
In short duration we're on our way, through the quiet streets towards my old neighbourhood. Walking arm in arm, dressed up like we are I must confess we make a handsome couple. We meet only a few people on the streets, as Jared had expected we might, exchanging the news or scurrying about. It would have been comical if it had been for any reason besides what it was but I feel at home even on these quiet streets. This is London after all.
We reach my old neighbourhood in no time. I point out things I remember, stories Jared may not have heard, and I expand on the characters Amy wrote about. I tell him about Charlie and Hugh the Grand, about Polly and the other kids who I lived with. Then we come to the Blackfriars Bridge. And although it's in bad repair, I show him my old kip. I tell him about the days and nights spent there, the time I nursed a baby under that bridge we found and about Muck comin' 'round for our poor little bodies.
Jared listens to every word I say, smirking at how easily my cockney accent comes back to me. Jared's read the books about me life just like everyone else in the world it seems but as he looks from me to the old kip and crumbling old bridge I know he's surprised.
"It's a little different than what Amy wrote." I tell him, sensing his thoughts.
Jared grins at me and slips his hand around my waist. "A lot is different from what your friend wrote."
I nod, it's true, then reach my face up and give him a quick kiss, but always eager Jared pulls me in close and he kisses me again, under the bridge next to my old kip. My knees feel weak as he does, my mind jumping from the past and the present. When he pulls back finally I smile. Who'd a think, little scrapper, we'd be back here, kissing such a handsome sailor under the same bridge you slept as a kid?