When Jaime woke to Elias kissing her she was certain she was dreaming still. After the long months of searching she finally found him.
But what kind of man had he become? A pirate, who only hours ago, she had despised — who only a week ago had murdered every man aboard her vessel and had sunk the ship to the bottom of the ocean.
Yet he held her like Elias. He kissed her like her husband — perhaps more desperately, as the long absence would have dictated. Was he still the gentle peace-loving man she had married?
She gingerly brushed a black curl behind his ear. His eyes opened groggily, not from sleep, which she suspected he hadn't done in a week, but from the lack of it. He smiled and propped himself up on an elbow.
“What troubles you mi amor?” he asked, lacing his fingers with hers.
“You are alive and in my arms. What could trouble me?”
“Yet your brow is knit in worry.” He smoothed her forehead with his thumb. “Tell me, love, what causes you so much concern?”
Jaime allowed her gaze to wander to her hand, interwoven with his. After all this time he could still read her like a book. But he had changed. She wanted to know how much but couldn't bring herself to voice the question.
“May I venture a guess?”
“It is my beard.” A teasing glint lit his dark eyes. “I will cut it off immediately.” He rose as if to leave their bed.
“It is your beard,” Jaime replied. “And all you have become. You killed Amin. How many others?”
Elias froze and stared at his hands, as though he could see the blood dripping from them in that moment.
“Amin,” he repeated and returned his gaze to hers. “I am sorry for him.”
“You offer no explanation? No reason for such a life?”
“It is not the life I would have chosen. But here I am. And I am responsible for these men and our actions. No explanation will relieve me of the guilt.”
“Perhaps a confession then,” she said. “To ease your conscience.” She lifted her hand to caress his rough face. He was still the man she had married. A man not willing to make excuses. A man who stood for truth, even if truth condemned him.
“Yes. Most certainly I will confess to you. I would tell you first, however, now that I have found you, we will leave this life behind. Return to our daughter and live out the lives we intended for ourselves.”
Emotion choked her. That was all she ever wanted. Life with Elias and Elisabeth, in peace, safe from her father's interference.
~Pirate's Ransom (in progress)