Water was filling up fast, faster than I could pour out of the little dingy I was floating on. All around me: nothing but water and it was rising and I was falling and suddenly a hand was reaching out to me, trying to pull me up but I just kept sinking. I had to grab that hand; that mysterious hand that promised to save me if I just trusted. I jumped.
I gasped, sitting up in bed. I wasn’t drowning but I was close. I was still on the ship. I was still in the captain’s bed while he slept across the room. I still wasn’t home. Outside thunder and lightning disturbed the darkness of the ocean, rocking the ship gently back and forth. In some ways I found it soothing but mostly it was a constant reminder that whether I was in Hell or Between, I wasn’t back home, with Aiden. This Aiden was trapped below while I slept here in luxury.
"What's wrong?" I jumped when I heard Eagan’s voice over the waves. He looked at me with such concern from his spot in the corner and in his rumpled clothes he looked so…
Stop it. I scolded myself. I looked down at the thin shift that felt absolutely see-through and instinctively drew up the covers. “Nothing, just…” I debated for one second on whether or not I should tell him about my dream and decided against it. “The storm. I’m not used to being at sea so long.”
I looked out the window, trying to ignore the way he was looking at me as he sat up fully in his make-shift bed. I curled my knees under me as I watched the storm. "How did you come to be here?"
I almost laughed, "You took me prisoner."
"I mean, who were you before you were married to Aiden?"
I looked at him then, the words tumbling from my mouth before I could stop them. "I'm American."
He cocked an eyebrow in amusement and my heart skipped a beat. "I figured that from your accent."
"I grew up on the coast.” I explained, getting lost in my own story. “I didn't expect to fall in love with Scotland but the moment I stepped foot I was in love.” I smiled to myself. “Or maybe it was just Aiden. We haven't been married long but...” My paused, all the sweet sentiment gone. If this story was real, I hated the ending that was planned for me. “I can't imagine my life without him."
"Well you're going to have to.” He snapped, startling me. “He'll be gone a long time and who knows what can happen on the high-seas." That hit my heart harder than I realized and I looked at him, trying desperately to hide it. From the panicked, regretful look on his face I figured it didn’t work. "Sorry."
I melted. "Why do you do that?"
"One minute you're so cruel and the next you're...” Don’t say wonderful, don’t say wonderful “not?"
Was he smiling at me? Why was he smiling? "The storm didn't wake you did it?" His voice was so gentle; soothing almost. I had to tell him something.
"It...” I looked back out the window. Chicken “is it usually this bad?"
He shook his head, standing slowly and walking over to me like the earth wasn’t moving beneath us. "No. It's usually worse."
"I can't imagine living this life." Don’t look at him. I stared at the window.
"You get used to it." The bed dipped by my side and I just knew he was sitting beside me, staring at me with those eyes that would entrance any woman. Except you, right? Right?
I sensed his touch before he held my chin and turned my head away from the storm. "It wasn't the rain that woke you up is it?"
Who was I kidding? I surrendered. "I had a dream. I was...drowning. Water everywhere."
He nodded like he knew exactly what I was talking about. I didn’t even know what I was talking about. "That tends to happen out at sea. You should get some rest."
"I don't wanna sleep.” I confessed quietly and I knew it was true. “I don't wanna close my eyes. I just want this nightmare to be over."
"It will soon, lass."
He stared at me with a frightening intensity and my arms relaxed, letting the blanket fall just a little bit. He tilted my chin just a little higher and my heart pounded with it. He leaned in just a little more and maybe I did, too, because our lips were so close. Just an inch more and I could kiss him. Part of me was screaming What are you doing? Aiden is downstairs. But the rest of me whispered It’d be good. It’d be so good. Oh my god. I pulled away, my mouth open as I tried to breathe normally.
"Good night, Captain." Without looking, without breathing, without waiting for his response, I gathered the blanket and curled on my side, facing away from him. I stared at the wall until I felt the bed dip again as he stood. His eyes burnt a hole through my neck before he sighed and I bit my lip to keep from crying. What I had I just done? Almost done.
He returned to his bed and lay for a long time before his breathing evened out with the dying storm.
I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
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