Dead Parrot Encounter

It was known as just Tiliva. Whether that was the shadow or the island, who could say? The waters were warm and the color of aquamarines. The skies were sapphire and cloudless. The black sands of Smugglers Cove were backed by cliff face and coconut trees, and were now days used for a different sort of rendezvous since the island had been taken over by pirates; one crew at a time.

Legend didn't name the Captain that started the tradition of Tilvia's role as neutral ground, but all observed it. Deals could be made, crews arranged, supplies stocked, hot baths for those inclined, real food eaten, good drink shared, warm companionship to be had, and rumors traded. There was a code, and all followed it willingly.

The port was no busier then usual when The Right Bastard sailed into port at sunset. He recognized a few of the other ships. Some were obviously in for repair. The Damnation appeared to have limped into port by the grace of the sea gods, while The Lusty Wench - an unfamiliar vessel - stood tall and proud in the water.

The tavern - by far the largest establishment on the island, was alive with noise and laughter. It was too early for brawling and heavy drinking, but the dinner hour was at hand and Jonas could see the women who lived on the island moving in clusters towards the tavern; though a few of them were watching the approach of his vessel with interest.

The Right Bastard slowly slipped into the port, like Casanova sliding between the silken sheets of a wanton young things bed.

Jonas, dressed in his deep blue captains jacket stared across the dock at the ships berthed there. The Lusty Wench held his gaze for a long moment before he barked orders to his crew in a deep voice. Soon, two groups left The Bastard; the first, a group of five going to secure rum and food for the rest of the crew. The second was but three men, lead by the scruffy bearded captain himself, Jonas.

With a grin half concealed by his beard, Jonas quietly joked with his quartermaster and first mate while they headed toward the tavern. They had been at sea for a while now, a little rum or whiskey would fit their mood well. The rest of the crew would get a chance for a little shore leave eventually, but only after Jonas had given the place a good once over.

With his hand on the hilt of his saber, Jonas pushed open the swinging doors of the tavern and led the way in with a smile. Jonas loudly spoke to himself and anyone who cared listen. "I hope there's room for a few more bastards in this stinking hell hole."

"Only quality bastards in tha Dead Parrot, ya salty scum!" came a good natured enough reply from the area of the bar that ran along the full length of one long wall. Laughter met the statement and lovely wench wearing someone's liberated hat met them from the side.

"Will ya be needin' accom'dations for the night, lads?" she asked with a saucy smile.

"Aye Lass, two rooms. On for me and one for poor Harry here." Jonas pat the back of the stocky but powerfully built man to his right. "His most recent wife just left him and he's feelin a bit peckish. So I'm paying for him tonight. As for the other bastard, he's on his own."

Harry rolled his eyes. "She may have married another man Jonas, but she's still my wife. You know how they are that island."

Jonas grinned. "So? You're still down a half of a woman. I think you need a good wench to remind you what you've lost."

Harry shook his head and pointed at an empty table. The three men made their way over and took a seat.

"Bring us three mugs o' rum, lass." Jonas said with a smile to the fine girl.

Giving Harry a wink, she pivoted away. "See what I can do," she said before heading to the bar to do just that.

Before the woman shouldered her way through the crowd, she was stopped by another woman; hair bleached pale gold by the sun, skin tanned but still soft. She was dressed like the other woman; tight bodice, off the shoulder blouse, skirt just above her ankles. Like any number of the others in the tavern, she was barefoot. A gold toe ring and ankle bracelet glinted in the light.

They shared a laugh, and then parted ways. One continuing to the bar, and the other moving through the dining area, pausing at the occasional table to speak to the occupants, smiling and laughing all the while as she made her way towards tables by the windows. She was clearly at ease with the almost all male crowd, and many seemed to know her well enough for one to laugh when she stole his mug..

The original woman swooped in about that time, setting down mugs of rum - and a bowl of orange, lemon and lime quarters. "There ya are, me hearties," she said cheerfully. "Now, if it's supper ya be wantin', Cook says it's fish or fowl. Either callin' to ya?"

Looking away from his casual observation of this intriguing golden haired woman, Jonas nodded and answerd, "Fowl for me and blacken it's hide if you will."

Harry piped up with an order of fish. The other sailor paused for a moment in thought before answering in a very French accent, "Fowl, ma cherie. Charred very well."

Jonas nodded back to his first mate. "Good choice."

She nodded agreeably. "Aye. If ya be needin' anything more, the name's Liz. Just give a holler."

Giving the serving wenches swinging hips a good look as she walks away, Jonas sighed and took a bite out of a section of lime. Juice sprayed and he winced from the burst of sour. For a pirate his teeth gleam like porcelain.

"Well boys, there's a bordello round here somewhere. I think I'd rather the crew just get some chits for their pleasure than make 'em carry their money around."

Harry nodded. "I know the place, Madam Celeste's. The red head with the huge tracts of land."

"Aye, that's the one."

Jonas found his eyes moving around the room, working toward the cheeky woman with the golden hair.

The cheeky woman had parked herself at a table by the window. There's no glass, but there is a very large bird of white and grey perched on the ledge, eating pieces of something from the woman's fingers. Judging by the people around her, this is not a usual occurrence. Not that there aren't more then a few giving the large bird wary looks, and well they should. From what he can see, it's over four feet long from head to tail with talons that look as if they could tear out a man's throat.

As if feeling the weight of his gaze, the woman turned bright cinnamon eyes in his direction. She smiled languidly as her gaze raked over what she could see of him, ending in brief eye contact before she turned away to feed the bird an orange.

Jonas met her glance with a gaze akin to seer trying to divine omens from the waves.

As his shipmates chatted around him, Jonas sat quietly watching the woman feeding the powerful bird. He had seen great sea eagles like that before, circling high in cold places where seals are in abundance. Places very far away from these warm waters. Perhaps not even in this world at all.

Jonas stood and walked over near her table. His companions watched, quizzical looks on their faces. Taking a seat next to a rather soused looking fellow with a patch, Jonas spook to the strange woman.

"It's been a very long time since I've sailed near where the sea eagles roost. Such noble beasts, I would never expect to see one fed by hand. Did you raise it from a chick?"

She wiped her fingers on the hand towel on the table and laughed as she stroked the bird's chest feathers. "I am afraid you are mistaken," she said with a trace of a Portuguese type accent that wasn't terribly out of place among the diverse clientele of The Dead Parrot "This is a Harpy Eagle. He hails from neotropical places from what I understand."

The great bird leveled Jonas with a withering glare and snapped his wings out to their full span of six feet before launching himself from the ledge. He glided out from under the outside awning before flapping once and taking to the air and treetops.

She watched until he was out of sight before smiling up at Jonas. "So," she leaned back in her chair, one arm draped over the back. An action that proudly displayed her tanned cleavage. "Is there something I can do for you?"

Jonas smiled and looked down for a moment as if embarrassed that he made a mistake. He shook off the feeling and looked back up, taking in the splendid sight revealed. "Still, a very impressive creature and a surprising display. I was just curious about someone who had possibly sailed in such far away places. A professional interest you might say."
He sat back and chuckled.

"Not that you wouldn't be worthy of attention for your other gifts."

She smirked good naturedly. "And how," she said as she leaned forward, crossing her arms on the table, "Do you know what my other gifts might be, hmm?"

He watched her speak with a smile, answering after taking a drink from his mug of rum.
"Some treasures are made to be hidden, and some are meant to be displayed. I see you have courage from the way you handle that bird. You're a beautiful woman. You seem to be fairly cagey. I wouldn't know more than that. What else would I need to know to be interested?"

"Not even that much," she chuckled. The woman sat back in her chair and ran a fingertip around the rim of her mug. "And living among this lot…," a sweep of her hand indicated the tavern's great room, "…a person has to be cagey to get by."

Her eyes went back to him then. "And you, my very tall friend, are very easy on the eyes yourself." She paused a moment and held out her hand. When he took it, it was not the soft hand of a lady, but the hand of a woman who wasn't afraid of work; a hand that was no stranger to ropes, rigging, or straps. Her grip was firm and her nails short but cared for. "I am Juliana."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Juliana. You can call me Jonas."

Jonas's hand gripped hers firmly, callous sliding on callous. Jonas looked as if he was considering something important. Thoughts of sweaty lust and strategy dueled across a chessboard in his head.

"Do you serve aboard one of these ships or are you looking for work?"

Her eyebrow arched in surprise and she released his hand to take up her drink. "Not many crews care for a woman among them," she said after a beat. "Some superstition older then all of us." Then she gave him a sly smile. "Just what position are you offering me, Jonas?"

With a completely straight face, the bearded sailor answers, "Of the top of my head, I think I've got several positions under me that you would fit perfectly." He takes a drink of rum and then continues with a wink and a smile.

"Beyond those, if you are capable I've been looking for savvy cutter to make a navigator. And I don't hold anything thing against women on board a boat, long as they don't try to turn the men into their toys."

She threw her head back and laughed. "Aye, you're a cheeky one, Captain. It is Captain, yes? I would hope so if you're the one doing the hiring."

Liz came by to drop off Jonas' chicken and Juliana's steak - something he hadn't been offered he noted. She also left a new bottle of rum on the table in front of the sun bleached blonde.

"Captain Bonnet," Liz grinned at Juliana's curious look. Juliana winced, and Liz left with a laugh while Juliana eyed the bottle.

She lifted her eyes to Jonas then. "It seems to me," said she with a rather inviting smile. "That you might care to …. check the rigging before you seriously offer me a job…"

"Yes, Captain it is. My ship is// The Right Bastard. She used to be //Righteous but she's since fallen. Nature of the business I suppose." Jonas looked at the bottle of rum for a moment as it's delivered, then took a long simmering look at Juliana as she finishes her last statement.

"The rigging. Yes, that would be the prudent thing to do. You never know when a storm might blow in and shake things to the breaking point. I need to make sure you're ship shape and your hatches are properly battened down."

She laughed. "Oh, you're good."

The drunk man sitting next to Jonas stood up and let loose a ripping burp before staggering and muttering. "Screwwin! Stop beatin around it you bloody… I'm not going to… Where the hell am I?" The drunk slumped back in his chair and resumes his eating.

Juliana grinned and shook her head. "He'll be like this until his ship leaves port."

Jonas looked at the man for a moment, then turned back, a big fat grin on his face. "Food first then? If the inspection takes a while I'm going to need the energy."

She fluttered her eyelashes coyly. "And a bath." Flashing him a smile, she bent to the task of eating.

"Right. I went for a long swim this morning myself. A dirty pirate is too easy to smell coming."
Jonas set about tearing into his blackened chicken. It was decent he decided. Could have used a little more pepper, but that wasn't the easiest thing to scrape up in this kind of place. He eventually gave a glance back to his officers who seemed both amused and understanding, each man giving him a playful salute when he raised his mug to them.

"Are you saying you aren't a dirty pirate?" she asked with a pout of completely feigned disappointment. "Pity."

Jonas chuckled around his food, having to finish his bite before answering.
"Hmmm. I prefer to keep the quality of being filthy a state of mind rather than a matter of hygiene." He took another drink and then waved toward Liz for a fresh cup.

"Which is the way it should be," Juliana declared grandly

"I require the same from my crew, as much a matter of discipline as anything else. I don't talk about it much though, cleanest pirates in the sea won't pull much weight 'round here."

"Thank ye lass." Jonas said to Liz when she brought a fresh mug and collected the old.

"Forgive my business talk, but I've been thinking of plying in warmer waters for a while. Would you know how active the law has been round here recently?"

"The question should be how effectual they are around here," she shrugged. Juliana picked up the bottle of rum delivered earlier, checked the wax around the cork carefully, and then picked up a knife to cut through the red seal. "Which is spotty at best. I mean, they still can't find this place."

She uncorked the bottle with her pearly whites and refilled her own mug. "And you're still taking a bath."

"Maybe someone important is on the take." Jonas said between skillfully pulling strips of blackened chicken free. He apparently knew how to eat with a fork and a knife though it looked like he was trying to not look like a dandy.

"Aye, I suppose I can take a bath." Jonas said, smiling. "Though I love the smell of the ocean more than any perfume."

"Bathing in it tends to give one the lovely undertone of O'de Fish," she smiled while expertly cutting her steak into bite sized pieces with a pair of thin knives. She proceeded to eat with one of those instead of the two pronged fork sitting by her plate.

She chewed thoughtfully on a slice of roasted turnip before adding; "If someone is on the take, I would suspect it was the Governor of Navosa. He's on oily bugger."

"Ahh. Good for him. Nothing wrong with a little grift to keep the damn trading companies on their toes. As for the smell of the ocean," he sighed, "Maybe I'm just a sentimental fool. Of course, you want to smell something really fine, find yourself some Ambergris. To me it smells like all the good parts of the ocean, minus the dead fish."

He chuckles. "Not that I mind either way."

She smiled and leaned forward just enough for him to have an excellent view of the cleavage. "Did I mention we were sharing that bath?" she purred.

The corner of his mouth twitches and curls up into a hungry little smile that he shares with her. His gray blue eyes trace the beautiful view, then dance back up to meet hers.

Jonas answered slowly, his voice stretching out the syllables sensuously, especially in the very last word.

"No mention, but ever did I feel there was the desire."

Her smile turned invitingly sensuous as a movement over his shoulder caught her attention for an instant. Then she rose from her seat and reached across the table to grab a handful of his shirt and tugged it as if to pull him up. "Kiss me."

Jonas makes the tiniest of nods to her, little more than a twitch but certainly a signal of recognition of some kind.

Standing up confidently, He pulls her close with his left arm and twists his head so their noses don't crush as the embrace. He kisses Juliana passionately; just the slightest touch of his tongue upon her lips and his right hand drifts low, cupping a nice handful of her left cheek.

Jonas keeps up the kiss for a long, warm moment, though he holds her loosely enough that if she needs to make a sudden movement she can slide in any direction.

The noise level in the tavern dropped suddenly when one of her arms snaked around his neck and her fingers curled in his hair; dropped enough that when she parted her lips to deepen the kiss, he could clearly hear the growl of a man behind him. The hand between them had inched down to her waist where he felt it curl again as her fingers wrapped around something hidden.

Sound dropped again as a man's heavy booted feet stomped out of the building. It wasn't until the door slammed that things picked back up. She pulled back then, looking decidedly heated with her eyes dilated and her cheeks flushed. Her eyes flicked towards the door before she looked back to Jonas.

"Well," she said breathlessly. "That was… " she cleared her throat softly. "Surprisingly … invigorating."

"I'm glad I didn't disappoint you." Jonas answered, looking slightly drunk from the pleasurable exchange. You certainly made it worthwhile for me."

He turned for a moment to look at his fellow sailors, one of whom had already stood up and walked over to the tavern door to look outside. Harry, the stocky Quartermaster, just sat there smiling and eating his fish.

"Do you think he's the type to make trouble?" Jonas asked quietly, keeping quite close to her.

"He has been more of an annoyance to me then anything else," she replied after a moment, still looking flustered. Juliana extracted herself gently and retook her seat and a healthy drink from her mug before continuing. "He won't make trouble here if he wants to be welcomed back."

"Right. Hopefully he remembers that fact." Jonas nodded and sat back down, opting for a drink of rum to calm the shocking rush of blood pouring through in veins. He looked around the room noting that a good portion of the room was looking over toward them. Jonas winked at a watching grizzled looking fellow with a hook who then promptly guffawed and went back to drinking.

"I think we made a good show." he said with a chuckle.

She huffed a laugh and blew a kiss to the table full of sailors she had stolen a drink from earlier. They played catch with the invisible kiss before falling to laughing.

"They must be bored. They usually don't bat an eye at folks kissing in the middle of dinner. Mind, they may just not be as drunk as usual."

"Ahh. There's only one way to solve that problem." Jonas said, standing up again. He walked over to the bar and rang the bell conspicuously hanging near the kegs. "You dogs are too damn dry. Have a round on me." He tossed an appropriate amount of coinage on the bar near where Liz stood, and then walked back to his seat. The drunk next to him grinned happily, mumbling something that might be a thank you or might be plain gibberish.

"I think my new friend here must have drank their share." Jonas said to Juliana with a grin.

She laughed lightly and pushed her plate to one side. "Possibly." She tilted her hand to one side and smiled. "I do not recall seeing you around here before. How did you find the place?"

"It's not surprising. I haven't sailed these warmer waters for a while. I've been sailing up north, much colder territory. Not really even getting trouble much, just looking for some odd things I like to collect. When we sailed back this way, I seemed to remember a nice little port friendly to those in need."

He took a drink of rum.

"And so I just went looking, that's exactly how I found it. I'm good at that kind of thing."

She leaned forward, elbow on the table and fist under her chin. He had her undivided attention. "Really… Must make for a very successful career on the high seas."

"Oh, I'm exactly as successful as I want to be." Jonas answered back, an amused grin on his face for a moment.

"I'm not a fool who lives only for plunder and greed. I have other things that I enjoy; the wind, the waves, a wild storm ripping through the sky. No one on my crew is want for adventure, I can assure.you."

Juliana's forefinger traced seemingly random patterns on the tabletop as she listened. "You paint a tempting picture, Captain," she said with a ghost of a smile. "Perhaps I will have to give serious consideration to your job offer."

"Just don't let your consideration get in the way of anything else you might like to experience." he said with a wink.

"How long have you been a sailor anyway?"

She sat back again, laughing. "I have spent my life on or by the sea. My father had a fleet under his command. A privateer for his Queen; a pirate to her enemies." Her smile faded as she looked out the window towards the ships at port. "He died at sea the way he wanted. After that I disbanded the fleet; gave the ships to the Captains who had served him loyally. Except for two. The one he named for my mother and the one he named for me."

The look on Jonas's face changed to surprise for a short moment, then he nodded and seemed to accept her words.

"I knew there was something very special about you. So you have two ships, a Captain twice over then?"

She chuckled and ran her hand through her hair to brush it back from her face as her attention moved back to him. "Not really. The Wind Rose is in dry dock and well cared for until I need her. A reserve, if you will."

Jonas nodded and listened carefully as Juliana spoke.

"Aye. It's good to see you carry on some degree of your fathers work." He looked toward the docks for a moment, contemplating the ships resting there. "The Lusty Wench is your ship then? It's got some fine lines to it. Not quite as fine as your own… lines, mind you. I think I can see you at the wheel now, hair blowing in the wind, sun blazing down on the deck. You've got a lucky crew."

"They don't always think so," she laughed, then nodded towards her ship's direction. "Aye, that's her. Named for my mother - or so my father always said. We put in here for supplies mostly. That, and a hot bath. Don't get many of those at sea."

She smiled and quirked an eyebrow. "Speaking of baths; mine is calling to me. You finished eating?"

"Very finished." Jonas said. There really wasn't much left on his plate to eat anyway. "Seems I'm still hungry though." He said as he stood, glancing Juliana's way.

He turned to his two watching men and gave a quick order. "Keep 'em happy and out of trouble Harry." Harry silently nodded back and gave Jonas a thumbs up sign.

Juliana didn't say a word, but she did catch a few eyes of some of the men in the dining area as she stood. Commands were silently and unobtrusively given, but they were there all the same. She reached into the folds of her skirt and produced a handful of coin which she tossed onto the table.

She gave him a smile and headed for the stairs.

With a nod, Jonas followed behind Juliana enjoying the view going up the stairs. "So how long did you plan on stringing me along?" he said from behind her with a smile.

She paused and looked over her shoulder. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, that you were interested in joining my crew." Jonas answered with a chuckle.

"Who said I wasn't," she challenged. "While I pretty much grew up on a ship, it would be vain of me to believe I knew everything there was to know. Don't you think?" Then with a toss of her hair she continued up to the landing and made a right down the hall.

"A very unusual and admirable attitude." Jonas said, following along. "A Captain who still wants to learn things. There aren't many pirates leaders who would be open minded enough to think or admit that."

"Well, I am an unusual and admirable woman," she replied with a smirk in her voice.

Juliana stopped at a room near the end and fished the key out of her bodice. She opened the door and stepped inside, holding it open for him to enter. The room was simple with scrubbed wooden walls, exotic carpets from far flung places on the floors, windows with their shutters thrown open to the evening air. The bed was nothing fancy, though the mattress looked to be much better then one would expect to find. The wardrobe stood next to another door that was opened to reveal a separate bath room. Hurricane lanterns were turned low and provided soft light to augment the setting sun that glinted off the crystal decanter and glasses sitting on the small table under the window.

Moving to the table, Julian started unarming herself, pulling various sized blades from her person and tossing them on the table. After finding out she followed his profession, the daggers probably weren't a surprise. But the musket holstered on her shin may have been. Nothing in the way she walked had given it away.

"Oh dear, I hope all of those curves and points don't come piling out onto that table. I've been making some plans for them." Jonas quipped with a chuckle as he hung his own belt and saber on a convenient peg. He took off his captain’s jacket and folded it neatly. From under one white sleeve he removed a well balanced looking dagger and leather sheath. He smiled at the pile of weapons on her table.

"Not quite all," she promised.

Over his head he pulled his nearly glowing white cotton puffy shirt off. It was obvious that Jonas went shirtless on deck his share of the time, for the man's lean chest was nearly as tanned as his arms and face. For a pirate, his body was nearly without scar or mark, the only exception being two beautiful tattoos on each of his forearms. On the right, a striking Ouroboros like design of a long and slender shark biting its own tail. On his left arm was a beautiful and elaborate green unicorn standing rampant.

He pulled off his boots while standing, hopping slightly as he yanked each one off. In each boot sat a nondescript but effective looking dagger.

He paused for a moment, "I hope they've got a big bathtub here. We're going to be a bit cramped otherwise."

"I wouldn’t worry about that," Juliana smiled. She tossed her bodice over the footboard and walked over to him as her skirt dropped to the floor, leaving her in her white shift. She touched the unicorn tattoo while admiring it.

"Green?"

Jonas happily allowed her to examine the tattoo, while he looked back at her hair and face. "It seemed the best compromise at the time. If you don't know, white is simply a terrible color to try to ink. At least with green it shows well."

He took her off hand and gave it a little kiss, holding it there for a long moment as if tasting her.

"If there's anything you wanted inked, I'd be quite proud to put a piece of art upon your own masterpiece of a body."

She smiled up at him through her lashes. "That's sweet. But I can't imagine anything I would care to have permanently engraved on my person." She studied the horned equine a moment more. "A unicorn seems an odd choice. What does it mean to you?"

Jonas gave Juliana's fingers one more kiss, then gently let her hand go. "You might say it's a very elaborate string tied 'round my finger. So I won't get lost in the endless seas and forget where I come from."

Her eyebrow twitched and she dropped her hand from his arm as she looked up at him. "You come from a unicorn? What an interesting Faith you must follow."

Jonas laughed. "No, that's not it, Well…" He smiled. "Maybe it is. Does it matter? Would you hold it against a man that he's descended from a magical horse? It might be a good thing down in certain places."

He grinned wickedly. "You're not going to get all prudish on me, are you?"

She snorted and turned away. Juliana went over to the ledge of the window and poured two glasses of brandy. "Bath. Before it gets cold."

"A cold bath, now that would be a real sin." Jonas nonchalantly removed his pants and walked his bare form over to the window next to Juliana. "Where is this mythological hot bath?"

Oh, even better without clothes. She gestured with her glass towards the other door. "Right through there." Juliana handed him a glass. "I'll get the towels."

Taking the offered brandy, Jonas nodded and walked over to the indicated door He opened said door slowly, looking in and sizing up the room. As the forces of Chaos didn’t jump out a grab him by the jewels, he spotted the tub. "There she is."

She watched him leave, sighed to herself, and then gave the signal out the open window to the dangerous bird watching from the top of a coconut tree. The great white avian glided towards the docks on powerful wings, and his mistress turned to wrap up the scene and get some space from things to think.

The room was not overly large, and the hammered brass tub took up a good third of it. Clearly the woman liked her baths.

He left the door open and grabbed a sponge from a nearby table. He tossed the sponge into the tub and then followed it in, sinking into the hot water and sighing with pleasure.

"Not cold at all." He said to Juliana when she comes in.

Juliana had replaced her shift with a towel and piled her hair on top of her head in a loose bun. She sipped her drink and smiled. "Of course it isn't. It was all just a great ploy to get you naked."

"Strange." Jonas says, looking up at the ceiling as if contemplating some great and imponderable mystery. "I had planned on that exact end as well. I must be slipping to fall for your trap so easily. Shameful of me."

He smiled, dipping his head under the water and rising back up, looking like some angry and aroused god of the sea. Brushing his long hair back, he watched Juliana. "Looks like you've got me where you want me."

"Not quite…" she smirked. She dropped her towel then, revealing a wiry frame with the tan lines one would expect of a woman who spent significant time on the sea. There were no tattoos or other body modifications, and other then the ankle bracelet and a fine gold chain around her neck holding a ruby eyed snake, she was bare as the day she was born.

With an very appreciative smile, Jonas shifted around in the warm water. He leaned back against the sloped back of his side of the copper tub and watched Juliana.

"So you like snakes? Pretty things, and dangerous too. It fits you perfectly, I'm sure." He slowly wiped his shoulder down with the sponge he found in the bathtub. "I think this water is getting warmer by the minute. You better get in before it boils away."

She laughed and had just set one foot in the tub when there came a pounding on her bedroom door and shouting in a language he didn't understand. She cursed colorfully and glared in that general direction.

"Let me see what this is about," she grumbled. As she bent down to scoop up the towel, she planted a firm and fiery kiss on him.

Jonas matched Juliana's kiss with a wanting fire of his own for that all too brief moment. When she walked away to the door and the annoying interruption, he growled like a wolf whose dinner was just pulled away from its plate.

He stared at the door and Juliana's ever so fine legs, hoping that this interruption was something minor.

She disappeared through the door and into the bedroom. He could hear the soft voices; urgent, irritated, controlled. The door closed and Juliana could be heard moving about the other room quickly.

Several moments later, she returned, dressed in a pair of fitted black leggings and a puffy sleeved shirt, cinched at the waist with a wide belt. She slipped a rapier into the scabbard at her hip as she walked over to him.

"My profound apologies, Jonas," she said unhappily. "But I have to go." She bent down again for another toe curling kiss, smiling when she pulled away. "You can keep the room as long as you need. It's mine even when I'm not here."

Reciprocating and enjoying the final kiss for as long as he could, Jonas breathed deeply, sighing and shaking his head as Juliana pulled away.

"There better be some blood spilled for this interruption." Jonas said with a wicked grin. He splashed more water onto his face then raised his hand and waved goodbye to her. "You can tell me what was up next time, beautiful. Go kick some ass."

She laughed and tugged her shirt into place. "I am certain we will run into each other again. For all the size of the world, those in our line of work always end up here."

Juliana gave him a smile full of smolder and promise. "And when we do, a cold bath is the last thing you will need to worry about."

The long blast of a horn reminded her of what was going on, and she gave him a jaunty salute and quickly left.

He smiled sadly as Juliana walked out, looking down at the water in the tub and trying his best to relax.

"Damn it." Jonas growled. "What the hell am I going to do with this?"

A few minutes consideration later, Jonas yelled, "Liz! I need some help toweling off in here…"


After dealing with an annoying pirate Captain that thought her skeleton crew was easy pickings while in port, Juliana tossed a sputtering Bonnet into the drink herself and scowled as she straightened her clothes. She gave the order to weigh anchor with a frown. She didn't really want to leave, but Mick's last word from home was that his wife would be giving birth around the time they were due home. Which was just over a week from now.

Dammit

From the deck of The Lusty Wench, Juliana watched the island recede until it was lost on the horizon. It was a puzzling development. One she wasn’t sure she trusted. Something just felt …off.

I'm probably just imagining things. It's been a long trip.

Dionysos shrieked from his perch at the top of the main mast. He was ready to get back to the sea too.

The Captain turned on her heel and surveyed the crew going about their tasks.

“Gentlemen – and I use that term loosely – let’s go home.” She grinned widely and their response and fisted a hand on her hip. “Now that yer not all smellin’ o’ dead fish an’ brine, yer ladies’ll be pleased ta see ya!”

She threw back her head and laughed with the rest of them. Then she sauntered towards her quarters; there were future adventures to plot.


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