Part the Two Hundred Fifteenth: The Night of the Spectacular
The room was silent when Hope finished her tale.
The silence only mildly surprised her. It was the second time that Charity held her tongue like a figurehead.
She was getting used to the rapt attention she had shown her. The last time Charity was this quiet around her had been after the fight, as they set out for the Little Plate Fleet after her first evening with Samuel.
She wasn’t sure if it was hearing his name again that had struck her dumb…
“And now it’s late,” Hope said. “Of all things I’ve done, the last one I’d expect to tire me so was spinning yarns. I’ve never felt this tired aboard the Gale, no matter what I’d done before.”
The only response to her declaration was the sound of carousing from the streets of Port Royal below. The loud cries and shrieks of desire pursued and sated lapped against the windows like a misting rain, as vibrant as the light was dim now that the sun had gone down.
Charity said nothing as she looked out the window, staring into the darkness.
“Almost like old times,” Hope continued. “Tired by sunset, and off to bed soon after. Though this time, there’s the real thing before us. Remember how our hammocks would bump together when the seas were rough?”
Charity didn’t answer.
“Right, well. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to retire. I could certainly use the rest.”
With no comment or reaction from Charity, she used the ewer and basin to clean herself and slipped into the bed.
The last thing she saw before putting out the candle was Charity staring at the fire. “I shall endeavor to leave you as much room as possible,” Hope told her before she shifted in the bed to starboard and rolled on her side.
The touch of an actual bed, the first she’d laid on in recent memory, made Hope drowsier than a whole bottle of fine wine. Her mind relaxed easily, and decided to find somewhere else to be far afield, calling for her body soon thereafter.
When the summons came, Hope found both parts of herself in a fine hall. She marveled at the gilded ceilings and high French-style windows that let in glorious golden sunlight as the servants danced around her, offering her trays of biskets and perfumed trinkets that all tickled her fancy.
Then the hall changed, as though a set for a Duke’s Company’s spectacular, becoming vividly adorned for a grand ball. Entering the hall as the musicians started to play was Samuel, in such finery that a duke would feel ashamed.
Wordlessly, he took her hand, and she waited for the dance. The musicians surprised her with a chaconne, which seemed intimate performed in the hall.
Slowly, Samuel drew her closer, staring at her eyes. Boldly, she spun into him, his arms now enwrapping her. She adjusted him over her back like a cloak, then slowly encouraged his hands to go where she wanted them…
She started to hum with each touch, guiding his fingers to where they’d do the most good…
…until she realized that his hands were too thin to really be his…
…followed by the realization that she was no longer really asleep…
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