C2 Chapter 1-2
“… And he was never heard from again.”
“That can’t be the ending! How did he escape?”
“It’s just a story, Peter,” Diane replied, kissing the child on the forehead as the book snapped shut. “Get some sleep.”
“But Mad Eye Morley was the greatest pirate to live!” Peter exclaimed, leaping upright and flailing his pudgy arms about in an invisible sword fight. “He can’t just be stranded on some island!”
“Shh. That’s enough,” Diane hushed, her thin pale lips quivering in a vain attempt not to smile. She tucked the child in one last time before lifting herself from the bed and headed for the door.
“… Them bloody traitors,” the child muttered under his breath. He flipped his body away from the door and pulled the sheet close to his chin. “I’d have the lot of ‘em walk the plank!”
Diane’s back slumped against the thin batten door as it closed behind her. Her long slender fingers ran along the frail smooth skin of her face and through the auburn curls of her hair. Her emerald eyes widened and her cheeks flushed pink. Her lips twirled and her soft giggle filled the dimly lit room.
“That boy and his imagination.”
Diane’s smile grew larger as the words danced in her ears. “He’s a good kid,” she said, making her way across the creaky floorboards and taking a seat next to her father in the parlor. “Probably gets these grand ideas from his pop.”
“Bah,” the old man snorted, a puff of creamy white smoke exploding from his nostrils, the cloud hovering in the stale salt-filled air. A thin straight-paneled dublin bobbed between the man’s weathered lips, the small ember illuminating each craggy wrinkle upon his face. “Most likely got them from those stories you keep reading him.”
“The same stories you read to me,” Diane corrected.
“Is that so?” A twinkle formed in the man’s eye as he looked at his daughter with admiration. He ran the tip of his finger along the chiseled edge of his pipe, puffing along in thought. “It’s about time you had a youngin’ of your own, wouldn’t you say?”
“What?” The syllable exploded from Diane’s lips as her brow narrowed in confusion at the odd statement.
Her father’s eyes softened at the response. He lowered the pipe from his lips and offered a grin. “All I’m suggesting is that it is time to start thinking of your own interests. Time is a fickle beast that waits for no one.”
Diane shifted in her seat, finding her chair rather uncomfortable with this particular conversation. “Where is this coming from? I thought you needed my help with Peter.”
The old man’s grin faded, his gaze turning firm. He bit back his lip in protest. His fingers danced about the bowl of his pipe as he contemplated his next words carefully.. “I appreciate everything you have done for the boy. But he is no longer a bae and you are not his mother. It is time to think of yourself.”
“I have thought for myself!” Diane huffed, the tension in her voice raising. “He will be home soon.”
“I know,” the man’s words fell silent, his attention falling back to the dublin balanced in his hand, the ember now faded to a soft cinder. He brought the rod back to his lips, fanning the flame with two fingers in a vain effort to breathe life back to the dying flame.
Two sharp raps on wood broke the unnerving tension that had filled the room. “Were we expecting company?” Diane asked, glancing at her father in confusion.
“I don’t believe so,” the old man said, hoisting himself from his chair with a grunt. “It’s a bit late for company.” He placed the smoldering pipe atop the mantle before hobbling over to the door, his cane clipping across the hard floor as he shuffled along. Frost filled the room as the man opened the door to reveal two men in uniform standing outside. “Can I help you, gentlemen?”
“Is this the home of Miss Diane Seegar?” the stout man of the pair asked. He lowered the scarlet cavalier from atop his head and clutched it close to his chest, his fingers dancing uneasily along the brim.
“Aye. I’m her father. What business do you have with her?”
“I’m sorry to report, sir,” the man on the right interjected. His nose twitched furiously with discomfort as he reached into the breast pocket of his coat and pulled a waxed envelope from within. “The Ivory Lilly is no more.”
“What is this you speak of? No more?”
“Pirates!” the stout man enthusiastically proclaimed, his voice echoing throughout the still night. Realizing the level of enthusiasm was higher than intended, his face ripened to that of a burgundy tomato.
“Yes,” his comrade continued, shooting a glance of disapproval at his embarrassed partner. “Pirates attacked the ship. They took the cargo the crew was transporting from the East. The Ivory Lilly was not much of a vessel. Bastards sank it as they left.” The man’s hands trembled as he handed the father the sealed parchment. His lips quivered in fear as the following words stuttered to escape. “They left no survivors.”
“I see.” The color faded from the old man’s eyes as the words fell from his lips. He clutched the parchment close to his chest, his thumb slowly tracing the still wet wax of the delicate seal. He nodded his respects as he backed slowly inside the small cottage.
“Thank you,” his voice broke as the door swung shut.
“What was that about?” Diane asked before the old man could turn. “What did they want?”
“I’m so sorry, darling.” The man’s cane quivered in his hands as he hobbled towards his daughter. “I’m so sorry.”