Elle stumbled forward onto the beach on hands and knees, just as a wave crashed against her. She fell forward onto her stomach, gasping for air as she tried to catch her breath. Her muscles screamed, her shoulders and arms trembling uncontrollably from the excruciating swim. Her legs cramped, needles of pain crawling over her calves when she tried to stretch her legs. But she had made it, she was alive.
She rolled onto her back with a groan, her whole body protesting. Staring up at the starry sky, Elle pushed the damp hair that clung to her cheeks out of her face, bringing herself up onto her elbows. She looked out at the water which shimmered in the moonlight, and in the distance she could make out the silhouette of the Revenge, and she sighed with relief when she realized that it was moving away.
Her relief was quickly replaced by guilt when she thought of Thomas. She had left him behind. She shook her head, unable to believe her own selfishness. She should have fought harder, insisted that he come with her, or refused to go at all. But his fear for her had fed into her own anxiety, and though he was just a child, she trusted his words. If she had stayed, something terrible would have happened. Elias was a ticking time bomb, and Thomas didn't want her to be there when he exploded.
"I'll see you again, sweetheart," Elle murmured, as she watched the ship move further and further away.
Elle got to her feet slowly, her legs so weak that she thought she would fall over. A wave came up and rushed past her legs up to the knee, and she stepped back cautiously, knowing that another one like that would knock her down if she wasn't careful.
Her whole body trembled as she moved, not only from exhaustion but also from the air that brushed over her damp skin and soaked clothes. She needed to get warm, but knew that she couldn't risk starting a signal fire while the Revenge was still so close. If she could see the light shining from the windows of the ship, then they would surely see a fire on the beach.
Movement in the water caught Elle's attention, and she turned just as something black bobbed up out of the water before disappearing below the surface. She hoped that it had been her imagination, but then she saw it again. Only this time it didn't go back underit altered its course and headed straight towards her, cutting a path through the water with surprising speed.
Elle couldn't tear her eyes away. She knew she should turn and run, but she couldn't seem to get her legs to move. She was paralyzed, whether by fear or curiosity or both, she couldn't say. Deep down she knew what she was seeing, knew that it was a person swimming towards her through the water, but she just couldn't believe it. How had he known that she escaped?
As he swam closer, the moonlight made it easier for Elle to make out his face. His hair clung to his forehead, his muscled arms digging into the water with determination. And his eyes were locked on her.
She shook her head, not wanting to believe it. On shaky legs she took several steps back, and he yelled something at her, she knew not because she could hear him over the roar of the sea but because she saw his mouth open wide as he placed a hand beside it.
That was all it took to break through the fear that was creeping up on her. If he caught her, he would be furious. And she didn't want to find out what her punishment would be.
She turned on her heel, and on wobbly legs she ran across the beach towards the trees.
Elias opened the door to his cabin, expecting to find Elle sulking like a child after what he had said to her. Not that he cared. After all, it was her fault that he had gotten so angry.
Her disgust with him had been clear when her eyes met his, and he couldn't understand where it stemmed from. How could she ignore the passion that crackled between them? He certainly couldn't. Even now his thoughts were consumed with images of her beautiful face and fair skin, those wide sparkling eyes meeting his after their kiss.
When Elias didn't spot Elle anywhere in the room, he got the strangest feeling in his gut. His gaze settled on his cabin boy, bent over cleaning up the broken dishes and silverware scattered across the floor.
"Where is she?" Elias grated, slamming the door.
The boy jumped up, clearly startled. He touched the front pocket of his breeches lightly then clasped his hands quickly behind his back, offering a weak smile.
"She said she needed some fresh air," the boy said in a rush.
Elias eyed the boy suspiciously. He hadn't seen Elle on deck, although he had been so consumed by his own thoughts that perhaps he had not noticed her.
"Very well." Elias glared down at the boy then turned towards his desk, taking a seat and looking over his charts. "Go fetch her and tell her I wish to speak with her."
The cabin boy swallowed hard, his eyes darting to the floor. "Right away sir."
He rushed from the room, Elias glaring after him. The boy was up to no good, he knew it. He was probably stealing biscuits from the kitchen again, and would need to be punished once more. Elias would deal with it later.
He looked down at his charts, determining that they would reach Tearny in two days time, as long as the weather was in their favor. Elias sat back in his chair, and that's when he felt a light breeze on his neck. He turned towards the window, frowning when he saw that it was opened slightly.
The boy knew better then to touch the windows without permission, especially after the last time when his carelessness had sent Elias' charts and papers flying everywhere, rain pouring in through the window during a particularly bad storm. Elias had throttled the boy for it.
Elias pulled the window closed, latching it in place. Why would the boy disobey him? He certainly should have known that he would be severely punished for being careless once again. Unless Elle had opened it, but why would she do
Elias turned to his desk, his hands trembling when realization hit him. The boys behavior. The open window. He slammed his fists down hard on the table, then rushed into the passageway.
"Weigh anchor!" He roared, climbing the companionway.
This was the last straw. Elle had tried his patience one time too many. She would pay.
Elle glanced over her shoulder and saw Elias rise up out of the water, his hair dripping water around his shoulders and down his face, his arms streaked with water. He rubbed a hand down his face then fixed his eyes on her. He looked so intimidating, standing there with the moonlight glittering off his damp skin, drops of water clinging to the dark dusting of hair across his broad chest, his lips parted slightly as he watched her.
Something was different. He didn't look angry. In fact, he looked relieved to see her. But she didn't slow down, certain that it was some kind of trick to make her hesitate long enough to give him the upper hand.
Elias frowned at her, then started running, his arms pumping as he barreled across the sand.
Elle quickened her pace as she leapt through the small break between the large palm leaves, but the jungles vegetation was so thick that she had no choice but to slow down.
"Elle!" Elias called behind her. He didn't sound enraged, he sounded concerned. Elle hesitated, looking back to see how close he was. She couldn't see anything in the dark, save for the few slants of moonlight which shinned down through the canopy of the trees above.
But she could hear the rustle of leaves and snap of twigs. He was close.
She shivered, turning and continued on her path. The brush thinned slightly and she was able to runwhich meant that he could too. He would be faster, already having an advantage because he wore shoes while she wore none.
Just as the thought occurred to her she stepped on something sharp, and she cried out. Her ankle twisted awkwardly and she tumbled forward down an embankment, rolling several times before finally landing on her back. Her shirt rolled up, rocks and twigs digging painfully into her skin as she went, before she landed in a heap on her side at the bottom.
She scrambled to her feet, her eyes searching the line of palms at the top of the steep embankment. When she didn't see Elias appear, she let out a sigh of relief, then looked down to assess her injuries.
There was a small gash on the inside of her foot left by whatever she had stepped on. Her back was on fire, and she lifted her shirt and turned, looking down. She could see small scratches on her lower back, but they weren't deep enough to concern her.
"Elle," Elias called from above her.
Elle looked up warily just as Elias walked sideways down the embankment, soil and debris coming loose beneath his feet.
"Stay there," he ordered, casting her a warning glance.
Like hell I will! She thought, turning to run. She went several steps before she realized that all that lay before her was a thirty foot high wall of rock. She looked around, her heart sinking when she realized that the embankment was steep on either side, and Elias was coming towards her using the only route out. Her panic mounted when she realized that she was trapped.
He was nearly to the bottom of the embankment, and Elle wondered what he was going to do when he got his hands on her. Determined not to find out, she looked around for something she could use as a weapon, deciding that she would fight him off as best she could. She did not want to go back to that ship with him. She would rather die.
She bent over and picked up a small rock and threw it at Elias. It hit him on the side of the head.
"Ouch, dammit!" He shouted, touching the spot and looking at his fingers. "What the hell was that for?"
She waited for him to get angry, preparing herself for his cruel words, half expecting him to charge at her. Instead, he gave her an amused smile, looking at her as though she could do no wrong.
Elle frowned, wondering if he had swallowed a bit of sea water.
She squatted down to pick up another rock, but Elias was fast. He grabbed her around the waist and hauled her to her feet, turning her to face him.
She had every intention of slapping him, but his wide grin and sparkling eyes made her hesitate. He was looking at her in a way that he never had, as though she was someone to love rather than something to possess.
"I thought I'd lost you," he breathed, his arm wrapped firmly around her, holding her to him. "If anything had happened to you, I" he let out a shaky breath.
She looked into his eyes, just as his hand came up to her face and he ran his fingers lightly along her jaw, sending a shiver through her. And that's when she knew.
"Mias?" Elle asked, bewildered.
He smiled, running his thumb over her bottom lip. "Yes, sweetness?"
Her heart leapt, and she threw her arms around him, burying her face against his neck. He laughed, wrapping his arms tightly around her, lifting her against him so that she had to come up on her toes.
"You came for me," she said against his warm skin, unable to hide the wonder in her voice. She held onto him as though her life depended on it, afraid that it was all just a dream.
He pulled away from her, pushing a few strands of her damp hair behind her ear. "Of course I did. I'll never let anyone hurt you, Elle. I will always protect you."
Elle ran her fingers through his hair, pushing the dripping strands back from his face, and he grinned.
"I'm sorry I ran from you," Elle said, touching his hand where it rested against the side of her face. "I thought you were" She shivered, biting down on her lip.
Mias' eyed her with concern. "Did he hurt you?"
Elle hesitated, looking away. She wanted to tell him everything, but she didn't want to spoil their first moment back together with talk of Elias. She wanted to forget everything that had happened on that ship, save for the few precious moments she had spent with Thomas. But she didn't need to say anything Elle's silence was enough to send Mias into a rage.
Mias let go of her, raking his hands through his hair. "I'll kill him," he grated, his hands fisted at his sides. "Tell me what he did."
Elle shook her head, not wanting to reveal what had happened. She just wanted to get as far away from Elias and his ship as she could, and forget all about his cruel hands and disgusting kisses.
Mias' eyes softened when he looked at her face, and he took her in his arms. "Tell me, sweetness."
"No," Elle whispered. "Please, Mias. I don't want to talk about it. About him. You're here now, with me. That's all that matters."
Her cheeks heated at her admonition and she glanced away. She had just made herself vulnerable by sharing with him how she felt, and it scared the hell out of her. She didn't even know if Mias shared her feelings, but there was no turning back now, it was all out in the open. She couldn't bring herself to look at him, afraid of what she might see in his eyes.
Mias tucked his finger under her chin, tilting her face up to his. She couldn't help but laugh when she saw that damn cocky grin on his face.
"I think I've earned a kiss for my efforts," Mias whispered, brushing his knuckles against her cheek. "I have traveled very far to find you, sweetness. Across the land and sea, just for you. And with that obnoxious little fawn, no less."
Elle's smile brightened even more. "Abernos is with you?"
"On the ship," Mias murmured, his gaze falling to her lips.
Elle took Mias' hand and turned towards the embankment. "Then we should go! He's probably waiting for us. I can't wait to see him, poor dear. He's probably terrified. He can't swim, you know."
Mias tugged her hand and pulled her against him, looking down into her face. "I'm not leaving without my kiss." Mias said playfully, twirling a strand of her hair around his fingers.
Elle let out a shaky breath, unable to keep from staring at Mias' lips. He wrapped his arms around her waist, crushing her against his chest. Her heartbeat quickened as he lowered his lips to hers. But instead of the fierce demanding kiss that she had expected, his lips were feather light against hers, teasing her senses. His hands trailed up and down her back slowly, sending little shivers of pleasure through her. Warmth flooded in her belly when his kiss became more passionate, and she parted her lips slightly, just as eager to give in to her desire as he was.
A jolt of electricity shot through her when his tongue met hers, and she shivered against him with a little moan, pulling him closer, needing more of him. She buried her fingers in his hair, loving the feel of the smooth tresses between her fingers, loving everything about this moment here, with him. She felt Mias' lips turn up against hers as laughter rumbled in his chest before he consumed her lips once more.
"You're so beautiful," he breathed, kissing along her jaw, nipping at her ear playfully. "So passionate."
Elle let out a sigh of contentment as his kisses and hands left trails of heat across her skin.
"Mias," she breathed.
His lips captured hers once more, playing, stroking, caressing. His warm body pressed against hers felt so right, and the walls that she had so carefully put into place around her heart were crumbling away. She could make no sense of it, couldn't understand how this man, this man she barely even knew, could affect her so profoundly. She was falling hard, and she knew it.
Elle broke the kiss suddenly, resting her forehead against his chest, unable to resist running her hands over his smooth skin. "We must stop."
Mias let out a shaky breath."Why?" Mias growled, frustration evident in his voice.
"We have to get off of this island Mias," Elle said, looking up at him. His eyes were still dark with lust, his desire for her causing her breath to catch in her throat.
"Elias may have discovered that I'm gone," Elle went on. "And if he has, I'm sure he will search here first. He may be mad, but he is no fool. He'll figure out that I came here."
Elle shivered as she imagined the look in his eyes if he ever found her again. She didn't even want to imagine what he would do to her if he caught her.
"Don't be frightened, Elle," Mias said, then leaning down and kissed her softly on the side of her mouth, hugging her close. "I will never let him hurt you again."
Elle wrapped her arms tightly around him, enjoying the safety of his strong arms. He ran his fingers lightly across the back of her neck, making Elle shiver against him.
Mias pulled away from her, flashing her a devilish grin. "Let's go before I say to hell with Elias and take you right here."
"Mias!" Elle laughed, as heat crawled up her neck and over her cheeks at his blatant remark.
"I love seeing your cheeks flushed from my words," he breathed, nuzzling his lips against hers. "Next time they redden so deeply, it will be from the heat of our lovemaking."
Elle gasped, the images his words produced making her tremble. "Can't you think of anything besides
"Not when you're around, sweetness," Mias growled. And with that he lifted her into his arms and strode towards the embankment, climbing it with ease.
Elle didn't protest, instead she wrapped her arms around his shoulders with a soft laugh and let him carry her. Her foot was on fire, and though she could put her weight on it she didn't think traipsing through the jungle on an open cut was a good idea. But deep down she knew that foot injury or not, she would still want Mias to carry her this way.
Elle focused her attention on the arms that held her, and the glimmer of Mias' eyes when they locked with hers. She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder, letting his warmth take away the chill of the cool night air.
Elle was safe as long as Mias had her, she felt it in the depths of her soul. And she hoped that he would never let her go.
Mias couldn't imagine anything feeling as good as having Elle in his arms, her fingers locked behind his neck, her head resting against his shoulder.
"I can walk from here, you know," Elle said when he stepped onto the beach.
"I know," Mias said. "But setting you back on your feet sounds like far too great an effort. I think you're just fine where you are."
Elle laughed, her hand stroking his hair lightly. "You're so full of it."
Mias set her on her feet, unable to take his hands from her waist. He looked deep into her eyes, and the way she looked up at him made his heart swell. The hole that had been forming in his chest since he lost her was so full that he thought it might spill over.
He had never felt anything like it before. One moment he wanted to ravish her lips and her body, the next he wanted to hold her in his arms just to feel her warmth against him.
No longer was he driven by lust and desire, a new and far more profound feeling drove his thoughts. He wanted to laugh with her, wanted to coax that little smile and sweet giggle from her lips. He wanted to know her dreams and her desires. He wanted to know what frightened her so that he could crush that fear and protect her from it. He wanted to learn every curve and plane of her body and commit it to memory. He wanted to give her everything she desired, even his heart. Only now was he beginning to realize that she had it all along.
"What are you thinking?" Elle asked, searching his eyes.
Mias smiled, running his fingers through her hair. "I have so much I want to tell you, Elle. I"
"Well, well," Elias sneered. "Isn't this a surprise."
Mias' snapped his head up to find Elias walking towards them, his lips twisted in disgust as he watched them.
Elle dug her fingers into Mias' arms at the sound of Elias' voice, looking up at him with wide eyes. She was terrified, her hands trembling where she held onto him. Mias felt hot anger bubbling up inside him when he saw how pale her face had become. He vowed then and there, that he would never be the cause of such fear, and he would kill anyone who dared frighten her so. Especially Elias.
Mias pulled Elle behind him as he turned to face his brother. Not surprisingly, Elias wasn't alone. Two burly men stood behind him, looking eager for a fight. He was never one to fight fair, always sending others to do his dirty work.
"You're in a great deal of trouble, dearest." Elias said with such menace that it made Mias' skin crawl. He put his arm behind him, pulling Elle close to his back.
"Mias," she breathed, her warm breath ghosting across his skin.
"It's alright," he murmured.
"How sweet," Elias said, pulling the blade from his belt and holding it up so he could gaze at it in the moonlight. "Now step away from him, dearest, and you won't be harmed."
"No," Elle said without hesitation, her voice strong.
Elias' nostrils flared, and he turned to his men, giving a tight nod.
The two men rushed at them and Mias pushed Elle out of the way quickly. She landed on her side in the sand just as one of the men bent forward and threw himself against Mias' chest, lifting him off his feet and forcing him down onto his back. With no time to draw on his power, Mias slammed his fist into the man's nose. The man rolled onto his back and howled in pain as blood poured out from between his fingers.
Mias leapt to his feet just as the other man launched at him. He swung his meaty fist at Mias' head, and Mias ducked and punched the man in the side. The man buckled over and Mias brought his knee up against his head with a crack. The man fell onto his back, his face smeared with blood.
"MIAS!" Elle screamed. Mias turned to see that Elias had her by the hair, a dagger pressed to her throat.
Elle had been so busy watching Mias, she hadn't noticed Elias creeping up beside her until it was too late. Now, with the cold blade digging into her skin, she couldn't believe how stupid she had been. She should have run, should have paid more attention to what was happening instead of standing there like a fool, watching Mias. But it had all happened so quickly.
Mias looked horrified, his eyes darting from her face, to Elias'. She could see him trying to come up with a plan, her own face mirroring his look helplessness.
"Let her go," Mias said evenly, his hands in tight fists at his sides.
Elias clucked his tongue. "I don't think you're in any position to be making demands, brother."
He pressed the blade harder against Elle's throat and she cried out. Mias took a step forward, his face twisted with rage.
"You hurt her, Elias and I swear I'll"
"You'll what?" Elias sneered. "Kill me? She'll be dead before she hits the ground if you so much as look at me the wrong way."
Elias let go of her hair and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her back against him. "Tell him you want me. And only me." Elias breathed against her ear.
Disgusted, Elle tried to turn her head away. Elias pressed the blade harder against her, and Elle bit her lip against the pain.
"Say it," Elias said through clenched teeth.
She glanced back towards Mias and screamed, just as one of the men rush at him and knock him to the ground.
Mias raised his feet and pushed the man back, sending him sprawling on his face. Mias raised his hand and an emerald glow spread out from his palm to the tips of his fingers, his face a mask of fury.
"Do that, brother," Elias shouted. "And she is dead."
Mias glared at Elias, his chest heaving. The light in his hand faded and he dropped it to his side, casting Elle a look of pure anguish.
The burly man rose to his feet and picked up a rope that had fallen in the sand during the struggle, taking Mias' hands and tying them behind his back, forcing him to his knees.
"Let her go, Elias. She has nothing to do with this."
Elias lowered the knife once he saw that Mias was secure. Elle reached up and touched her neck, shuddering when she saw the streak of blood on her fingers.
"She has everything to do with this," Elias said, grabbing Elle by the arm and pulling her along beside him. "After all, she is to be my wife."
Mias bared his teeth, struggling against the man who held him by the shoulders.
Elias laughed, then looked at Elle. "Didn't you tell him of our plans, dearest? Didn't you tell him about our night together, and how after just one kiss we knew that we were destined to be together?"
Elle shook her head, and looked pleadingly at Mias, who's whole body trembled with rage.
"That's not what happened!" Elle cried.
"I know," Mias' gaze met hers, his eyes softening.
Elias clucked his tongue, and yanked her chin roughly so that she was forced to look at him. "Why are you lying, dearest? You didn't push me away when I came to you, remember? As I recall you could barely contain your desire for me, so eager to seek out pleasure from my capable lips."
Elle glared up at him, at his cruel lips and soulless eyes, and something snapped. She couldn't stand having him near her any longer. Couldn't stand the way he looked at her, the way he spoke to her, the way he kissed her. She yanked her arm free of his grasp, not caring about the consequences, and spit in his face.
Elias stared at her for several seconds, then wiped the back of his hands across his face. He tilted his head as he stared at her, his lips twisting.
His hand shot up suddenly and landed on the side of her face with such force that her head whipped to the side. She staggered away from him, raising her hand to touch the sting on her cheek. She was too shocked too move, too shocked to even breathe. She could hear Mias yelling but it seemed far away. The world around her was oddly quiet. The only thing Elle was aware of was the throbbing in her cheek.
"ELIAS YOU BASTARD!" Mias roared. "I'LL KILL YOU FOR THAT!"
"I doubt it," Elias said casually, wiping his hands on a handkerchief before stuffing it into his pocket. "I am sorry, dearest," Elias said, his lips set in a grim line. "But I did it for your own good."
Elle could only stare at him, unable to manage even a cry or a curse. He had slapped her. Hard. She had never been slapped before, not even when she sassed her mum as a teenager. She felt sick, confused, angry.
She looked at Mias, his features pained as he watched her, and he shook his head as if in apology.
"I'm alright," She murmured, more to herself then to him. She thought that if she said the words out loud it would make them true. It didn't.
"I hate to interrupt this touching moment," Elias muttered, pulling his dagger from his belt. "But I do have places to go, people to meet, wedding plans to make."
Elle watched in horror as Elias grabbed Mias by the hair and urged him to his feet.
"For years I have waited for this moment," Elias hissed, his blade pressed against Mias' throat. Mias gritted his teeth against the pain. "Goodbye, Mias."
"NO!" Elle screamed, clinging to Elias arm. "Please, Elias. Don't do this!"
Elias yanked his arm from her grasp, looking at her with disgust. "This is none of your concern, dearest. Once he is out of the way we can be married without fear of him ever coming after us."
"Elias please," Elle begged. "He's your brother! Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
Elias lowered the blade and tapped it against his chin, as if considering her words.
"Not a damn thing." Elias spat.
He turned on Mias again, and Elle grabbed his arm. "Elias please! I'll do anything you want! I'll marry you! I'll behave! I'll do anything you ask, only please let him live! PLEASE! PLEASE!"
Tears were streaming down her cheeks but she didn't care. She looked at Mias, and when she saw the warm smile on his face she cried even more. There was nothing but love for her in those eyes. And she was never going to see it again.
"A very moving display," Elias said dryly. "Restrain her."
The burly man with the broken nose took up a position behind Elle, not meeting her angry gaze. She had met him on the ship that very afternoon, and he had told her about his wife and three daughters waiting for him in Tearny. He had told her that he wanted to save up enough to get them far away from the vile island town, with tears in his eyes no less.
Now, he held her by the elbows from behind, his hands rough and cold against her skin.
"Look away, Elle," Mias said softly, his eyes sad as he watched her. "I do not wish you to remember me this way."
Elle shook her head, her whole body shaking, her stomach clenched in agony.
This can't be happening, Elle's mind screamed. This can't be it!
Elle refused to look away, as Elias placed his hand on the back of his Mias' neck and stared into his eyes.
"I'll see you in hell," Elias grated, plunging the knife deep into Mias stomach.
"NO!" Elle screamed, struggling against the man's hold.
Mias' bared his teeth in anguish, his features straining. Elias yanked the knife out quickly, the blade smeared with blood which he wiped on his pant leg with a look of disdain. Mias doubled over, falling to his knees in the sand.
"MIAS!" Elle cried, fighting the arms that held her, needing desperately to hold him one last time.
Mias looked up at her, his lips parting slightly as he tried to form words. He fell onto his side, staring up at her, his hands still bound behind his back.
"I love you, Elle," He breathed. His eyes closed slowly, and his whole body went limp.
"M-mias," Elle whispered, her throat closing up on her. She couldn't breathe. Her knees buckled and the hands that held her let go. She fell to the ground, gripping at the sand beneath her hands desperately.
"I didn't get to tell him," she murmured, staring over at Mias lifeless body.
She couldn't stop shaking, couldn't stop sobbing. She felt as though a knife was twisting in her heart, the realization that he was gone making her whole body numb. She willed him to open his eyes, to look at her the way he had when he held her in his arms. She dug her fingernails deep into her palms as she watched Mias, his face oddly pale, blood pouring from his wound and pooling in the sand.
She crawled towards him, needing to touch his face one last time, to tell him how she felt about him, to kiss him goodbye.
Elias grabbed her, bringing her to her feet, and she fought him wildly. Scratching, kicking, biting.
She could not let him take this from her.
Elias couldn't keep from laughing. The little hellion was going crazy, fighting him with her little claws, screaming incoherently in his face, kicking at his legs.
"I HAVE TO TELL HIM!" Elle screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I HAVE TO!"
Elias lifted her off her feet and flung her over his shoulder, heading towards the beach where the dinghy sat waiting, Gibbs and Peterson following close behind.
Elle pounded on his back and screamed like a banshee, which only made Elias laugh harder.
He couldn't understand what was wrong with him, but he couldn't wipe the grin off his face or keep the laughter from escaping his lips.
He felt almost giddy, his hands still trembling after he had plunged the knife deep into his brother, the shocked look on his face so satisfying that Elias wished he could relive the moment every day for the rest of his life.
He felt a twinge of jealousy when he realized that Elle certainly would.
She was limp on his shoulder now, saying his brother's name over and over again between sobs.
"Now that this unpleasantness is behind us, dearest we can discuss more pressing issues." Elias said, as he stepped into the dinghy and sat her down beside him. "Would you prefer a bouquet of white roses on our wedding day," Elias asked. "Or red?"
Gibbs climbed in and took hold of the oars, Peterson pushing them off from the beach before leaping into the boat.
Elle looked straight ahead, her eyes swimming with tears, her skin holding a waxy sheen in the moonlight.
Elias shrugged and looked up at the stars." It's such a perfect night," Elias murmured as Gibb's rowed them towards the Revenge. "Such a perfect night, indeed."
Abernos clung to the side of the little boat as it dipped forward into another wave.
"Can you at least try to avoid the big ones?" He groaned, leaning over the side and dry heaving. He couldn't understand why he was still getting sick, there was nothing left in him!
Mr. Weller laughed, slapping Abernos on the back. "You'll be fine, lad. Just need to get your sea legs is all."
Abernos smiled weakly, relief washing over him when the little boat came to a halt as a wave pushed it forward onto the beach.
Mr. Weller and the other two sailors leapt out into the water, pulling the boat further up onto the shore so that the tide wouldn't pull it away, stranding them.
Abernos gripped the side of the boat with trembling hands, climbing over the side carefully as he tried to avoid the water. When his hooves made contact with the damp sand, he wanted to get on his hands and knees and kiss the steady ground.
"Right then," Abernos said, clapping his hands together. "Mias and Elle must be around here somewhere, probably been waiting for us to come and pick them up."
"I'm sure they didn't mind the time alone," Mr. Weller laughed, nudging Abernos in the side with his bony elbow.
The other sailors laughed, exchanging knowing glances. Abernos toyed with the edge of his shirt, embarrassed when an image of Mias and Elle in their underwear flashed through mind.
"Yes, well," Abernos cleared his throat. "Needless to say, we should prob"
"What's that?" Mr. Weller said, clapping his hand on Abernos' shoulder so abruptly it made him jump. "Did you hear it?"
Abernos' ears perked up, and he listened. Then he heard it too. "It's coming from over there!"
Abernos ran along the beach, the other sailors close behind. He spotted a crumpled form in the sand, and his heart sank. Something had gone terribly wrong.
"Mias!" Abernos cried as he knelt beside him. Mr. Weller pulled a knife from his boot and cut the rope that bound Mias' hands behind his back.
Abernos turned him onto his back slowly, eliciting a groan from the wounded man.
"Mias what happened?" Abernos asked, pulling his shirt over his head and pressing it against the wound that was oozing far too much blood.
"Elle," Mias rasped. "He has Elle."
Abernos felt ill. How could this have happened? He tried to push away images of Elle coming to harm at the hands of Elias, focusing his attention on helping Mias.
"There there, Mias," Abernos said, trying to sound reassuring. "We'll find her again. You just rest now, you'll need your strength."
"Alright lads," Mr. Weller said, his voice commanding. "We need to lift him easy, get him back on the ship so the doc can look him over."
Abernos stepped out of the way so the two sailors could lift Mias.
Mias cried out as they carried him along the beach to the small dinghy that waited, his brow dotted with sweat.
"Easy, now lads," Mr. Weller said as they eased him down into the boat. Abernos sat beside him, keeping his shirt pressed against the wound. The shirt was already soaked through with blood. Abernos looked at Mr. Weller, who didn't look optimistic.
"Row like you never have before, lads," Mr. Weller shouted as they pushed off and each of the sailors took an oar up in their hands. "Not only does his life depend on it, but the life of a young lady as well."
Abernos stared down into Mias' face, which was twisted in pain.
"You hang on," Abernos said, his voice trembling. "She needs you. Elle needs you."
Abernos repeated the words over and over, so consumed with worry over Mias' injuries and Elle's fate that he didn't even realize that he was no longer seasick.