A brutal fantasy tale of piracy, friendship, romance and revenge on the high seas…
Jack smiled at her. “Thanks Mary,” he said softly.
Mary looked suddenly shy. “I done nothing.”
“You had my back.”
She mumbled something and Jack put his hand over hers where it was busily pleating the stained tablecloth.
“What’s that you say?”
“I said I’ll always have your back. If you want.”
He looked at her soberly for a couple of heartbeats.
“Do you know what you are offering?”
“I’m offering to have your back.” She sounded irritable and glared at him, but he noticed she was making no effort to remove her hand from his grasp.
“Mary. Mary. Mary. In the world of the dwarf offering to have someone’s back is tantamount to an offer of marriage…”
She looked at him in dawning horror. He laughed, but it wasn’t a sound of mockery or even real amusement. It was more complex than that. Almost of its own volition Mary’s hand turned underneath his and their fingers meshed.
She swallowed once, before finally finding enough voice to reply. “And what if it is an offer?”
He looked at their joined hands. “I say why would we not give it a try. Unless you object to being handfast to a man whose head just about reaches your waist.”
“I give up noticing that years ago. So. Shall we?”
“Indeed we shall, Mary mine. Indeed we shall.”
Something hot danced in his eyes and Mary blushed again. This time he picked up her hand and kissed it. “Eat,” he said fondly.
“I better. There’s plenty of me to keep up.”
One of the bunkhouse ‘housekeepers’ sidled up to Jack. “That knife really poisoned?”
The wizened little man nodded briskly and took a thick wad of oily cloth from one of his capacious pockets. Picking the knife up in the soiled cloth he threw both items into the heart of the roaring log fire. The flames around the bundle leapt and danced – green and lilac and fiercely hot. The housekeeper grinned sourly.
“I’ll get the girl out to swab the deck,” he muttered before disappearing.
The girl turned out to be wrinkled and toothless and probably about a hundred years old, but she mopped with brisk efficiency and caught the small coin Jack threw her with practiced skill.
“Seawater grog,” she said, “they hasn’t made the poison what can live in that.”
Jack and Mary finished their meal without further interruption. As they walked back along the mole to where their ships were berthed side by side, Mary asked the question that was right at the front of her mind.
“Did you know that was a Jinje from the start?”
“Soon as I turned around and looked at it. My dwarf half sees runes.”
“But you never turned around until that wowzer tapped your shoulder. Why not?”
It was Jack’s turn to blush. “I have always been taught it ain’t polite to be staring at somebody else when you are having supper with a girl. And besides, I was looking at you. Who else do I need to look at?”
Mary absorbed that for a moment, then she sighed a contented sort of a sigh. “That’s all right then.”
In Jack’s cabin it was warm and dark, and what the two pirates did to seal their pact is nobody’s business but theirs. Although we did hear that the parrot covered his eyes with his wings and muttered darkly throughout.
There will be more from Bony Mary and her crew next week…