Through the curling flames rising from the ship, he caught sight of a familiar dark head of hair and a broad, confident grin.
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Through the curling flames rising from the ship, he caught sight of a familiar dark head of hair and a broad, confident grin. “Oh, no. Tell me that is not who I think it is,” he pleaded with his first mate.
“How did he get over there?” the mate asked.
“How did he get out of the brig?”
“No idea, but that is definitely your brother, Captain.”
“JAMES! Get your ass back here,” he ordered at a level of a bull-roaring shout.
“In a minute... I just need to find someone -” He looked around, ran down the burning deck and grabbed a dishevelled crewman who tried to fight him off. “- and here he is!” He tossed the slight but struggling crewman over his shoulder, grabbed a rope, walked down a fallen mast and jumped down onto the deck of their ship.
“Disengage!” the captain ordered.
Grappling hooks and ropes were disengaged and the ships pushed apart before the fire could spread to their vessel.
The crewman, when dropped to their feet, turned out to be a woman. She turned and tried to punch her rescuer in the head. He fought her off and pinioned her arms behind her back. “May I introduce you to my wife.”
“A loving relationship,” said the first mate dryly.
“Wife?” the captain checked.
“She was drunk, but lucky I remembered the ceremony!”
She spat at him.
“Right. So the alleged treasure that the Mariana carried is-,” the captain waved a hand at her, “-her?”
“You always were the smart one, brother.”
“Uh, huh.” He gave her a more intense look and then he snatched the hat from her head so he could see her face more clearly. “Are you kidding me?”
“Isn't she beautiful?” James asked no-one in particular.
The she in question still looked very angry but the first mate suddenly recognised her as well and started to laugh.
“How dare you!” she snarled at him.
“Oh, I do apologise... your highness.”
The captain rolled his eyes. “The missing princess,” he sighed. “I should have known you would have something to do with this.”
“Hey!” his brother protested, “I didn't kidnap her, she ran away. I just found her and ...” He grinned rascally.
“Oh, good god. Please tell me we do not have to explain to the King that you consummated the marriage.”
He elbowed his brother in the side. “Of course I did... not that she was... you know-”
“Hey,” she interrupted, “That was the horse riding.”
“Sure it was, darling.”
She tried to hit him again but he easily ducked her blows.
“Your highness, you may have my quarters,” the captain offered.
She straightened her shoulders, tucked her hair behind her ear and tried to look like royalty. “Thank you, captain. I will take you up on your kind offer.” She ignored her alleged husband.
The captain gestured at the mate. “Please escort her, Jones.” He lowered his voice and pressed a key into his hand. “And lock her in.”
James grinned at him and folded his arms. “Not going to lock me in there with her?” he said, after she had gone below decks.
“Definitely not.” He gave him a second look. “And don’t think I will lock you in the brig again, either. No idea how you got out in the first place.”
He laughed. “Just as well. You wouldn't want to be accused of injuring the princess.”
He shook his head. “I don’t even want to think about it. I suppose it is good that you knew where she was.”
“Oh... I see. She was exactly where you left her.”
He clapped his brother on the back. “One day, you will be the death of me.”
“But not today. Today I earn you the thanks of a grateful monarch.”
They both laughed as they headed for the helm.
© AM Gray 2014