An American Encounter
By Skihee :)

Chapter 10 The Wedding Night!

This Chapter is rated R. Younger readers be advised.

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When they entered the gun deck, the men were already seated at tables with squares covered with food. At the far end, the table at the bulkhead was prepared for the married couple. On the wall behind was hung the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. Pamela grinned and scanned the faces to locate Styles. Finding him, she nodded and received a wink in return.

 

"A toast!" said Oldroyd, "To the happy couple!"

 

"Kiss her! Kiss her! Every time there's a toast ye've got to kiss her!" someone shouted.

 

 

Horatio leaned in for a light kiss and received a general positive response from the audience.

 

 

"All right, gentlemen, let them sit down!" called Matthews.

 

Horatio escorted her to the table and was surprisingly pleased with the two flags. The newly weds sat next to each other facing into the room. Jenkins appeared with two plates containing slices of chicken, carrots, potatoes, and pease pudding. Cook followed with a bottle of white wine.

"It's a feast! Thank you, gentlemen!" pronounced Hornblower.

 

"It looks delicious, Mr. Cook, Mr. Jenkins! I am overcome by your thoughtfulness!" commented Pamela.

 

"Let me know if you require anythin' else," said Cook, beaming and pouring the wine.

 

 

The meal continued with the occasional toast offered. One of the younger lads, completing his meal, began to play a pipe for entertainment.

At four bells, the second dog watch was required and the first entered. They took seats and meals were provided. Hornblower nodded a welcome. He and Pamela drank wine and nibbled at the desert of dried fruits and cheese.

 

Several of the men offered a song to serenade the couple. Full and comfortable, Pamela leaned against Horatio, absently resting her hand on his thigh. Horatio took a long, deep breath. He kissed her forehead and she turned to give him a glowing smile.

 

"Here's to a long and fruitful marriage!" Starns toasted.

Hornblower leaned to kiss her, and kiss her he did, until the men started to cat call and whistle.

 

Pamela laughingly broke off the kiss. "What are you doing?"

 

"Keep your hand on my leg and you may find out, my lady!" he whispered.

 

"I think you have had enough wine, sir!"

 

"Indeed!" He stood with a waver, feeling the further effects of the alcohol, and offered her assistance to exit the table. Stopping amidst the group, he bowed slightly and said, "Thank you, gentlemen, for all your well wishes." He took a step back from Pamela, holding her right hand, like two circus performers.

 

"Yes, thank you one and all," she curtsied low, smiling warmly.

 

Matthews snagged Hornblower and whispered, "Don't ferget to carry er over the threshold, sir!"

 

"I'll remember, Mr. Matthews."

 

The two thanked Cook and Jenkins again for the meals and exited up the companion to the main deck.

 

The night was cool and crisp. Horatio pulled her forward and to the side. He glanced checking for privacy, then placed his left arm around her shoulder, his right arm around her waist, and found her lips with his. He kissed her as he had never kissed her before. The desire was growing within to possess her fully, taking her mouth eagerly with hightened passion. Finally, he snuggled into her hair breathing in the clean, fresh smell.

 

"Pamela?" he sighed.

 

"Hmm?" she was barely audible, feeling faint in his arms.

 

"I'm going to check in with the watch. Wait here for me?" he whispered.

 

"Yes." She staggered with the release.

 

"Are you all right?" he asked, holding her arm.

 

She blinked and took a breath. "Yes, yes!"

 

He looked back several times as he strode to the stairs, the night air increasing his sobriety.

Oldroyd held the second dog watch. Questioning him, Hornblower received the information for the log. South on the larboard tack with fair winds. The sail reefed at the change of watch, making the most of the breezes. Hornblower gave Oldroyd instructions to call him no matter what the circumstances, and that the next man on watch would receive the same directions. Oldroyd assured the captain he would pass the word to request him, if needs be.

 

Pamela waited, breathing in the salt air, gazing up at the brilliance above. A shooting star streamed across the night sky, bringing a gasp of delight. She heard steps behind and turned with a smile.

 

"You look happy!" he commented.

 

"I am!"

Taking her hand, they descended the stairs. The corridor was dimly lit. He embraced her with that same force used on deck. Scooping his bride into his arms, he carried her to the captain's cabin. They passed over the threshold as one and he reached to bolt the door, clutching her waist.

 

"I love you."

 

He bent toward the parted lips. Gently kissing, eyes closed, his hands slipped slowly along sides, upwards and back. He found the buttons of the dress with narrow adept fingers whilst concentrating on the tender mouth. Anticipation increased as each button succumbed to his fingertips. The seams and taut binding of the corset brought a sensual awareness to the nerve endings of each long finger. The scarf gave way to a gentle tug, and the material slipped slowly and softly away. Gliding a hand lightly over the rounded shoulder, he eased the sleeve down. Goose bumps arose. He descended from lips, to narrow throat, to soft shoulder.

A warmth against his ear, followed by soft heated breath caused chills to descend his frame. Brushing his lips back to the heated throat, the sudden suction of soft skin elicited a cry. The sound increased desire and a cascade of goose flesh retreated with rising heat. The dress fell to the floor. Panting, he surveyed the front closures of the corset. The mounds of softness strained against the bonds. Slowly raising his eyes to meet hers, a faint smile of dogged determination appeared.

Hands on his chest pushed the topcoat away. Quick thin fingers addressed the last of the anchor buttons of his waistcoat.

Reaching, he pulled the ribbons and combs from long tresses.

A warm hand pressed his chest unexpectedly. Both aware of the pounding of his heart, eyes met. He placed his hand over hers. Squeezing it tightly, he lifted the palm to his lips, and savored the view of her red parted ones. She stepped closer, rising on tiptoe, canting waiting lips. The stiff corset pressed into his chest with the force of his embrace. Hands slipped down the tight seams to the rounded bottom. She moaned, leaving the kiss, to speak hot breath into his ear.

"Pleasure me, Horatio." She kissed his cheek. "Do not make me wait longer." Mouths rejoined.

 

He pulled the strings of her front laced corset and she unbuttoned his trousers. Reaching the waist of her corset, he slid his hands inside the slip. It fell, joining the dress on the floor.

She tugged at his shirt, letting the material run against the muscled torso, first one side, then the other. Leaning against his chest, she ran her hands under the shirt, sliding them around and sinking fingernails into the rippled muscle over the shoulder blades.

 

He cried out and kissed her fiercely, pressing mouths intensely to the point of pain. She pushed trailing fingernails down till thumbs could hook trousers and continue the descent over tense buttocks. He moaned deeply, ceased the kiss, and taking her cheek in his palm, rubbed a rough thumb over heated lips, staring into liquid brown pools.

 

"Tell me you want me."

 

"I want you," she whispered.

 

Panting, he placed his hand on the rising chest, slipping the rough palm lower, watching her expression as it descended over the soft firm flesh.

Her eyes closed and her countenance flinched with the agony of waiting and the delight of his touch. She wrapped one leg around his and pressed. "Horatio!" she pleaded.

 

He lowered them both to the floor while she hung onto the muscular shoulders. The joining was quick, breath catching a frantic moan.

 

"I won't last, Horatio!"

 

He raised up to see her face.

 

"Don't watch me!" she begged.

 

"I want to see you!"

She bit her lip and moaned, reaching climax, fighting to view her lover. A crimson rash deepened the skin tone.

 

A brief smile crossed, before his own features contorted in ecstasy and his body convulsed.

 

"Dear God!" he moaned. Lowering with loss of strength, he felt the warm soft body beneath. Panting, he kissed her ear. "I love you!" He pushed his arms underneath her shoulders and squeezed. Pressing a warmed cheek with a kiss, he released the hold and studied her countenance, spying a single tear running her temple.

 

"Have I hurt you?" he asked anxiously.

 

"No, my love."

 

"Are you sure?"

 

"I'm sure."

 

He searched her expression.

 

"What are you doing?" she smiled.

 

"Remembering how beautiful you were when...."

 

"Horatio!" She placed her fingers over his lips. "You embarrass me!"

 

He grinned under her fingertips until she laughed and dropped her hand onto her forehead. "What? What are you grinning about?"

 

"I think I shall embarrass you again," he said with a devilish rise of his brow.

 

"Is that a promise?"

 

"It is a certainty, madam! Only, I think another location might be more suitable."

 

"I do not complain."

 

"A willing wife, have I. My life is fulfilled! With but a deck for a bed, she is mine!"

 

"Oh you!" She tickled his sides. He lowered laughing and rolled in a moment, taking her with him.

She laughed and supported her upper body.

 

Horatio took advantage of the view and grinned. "I think I like this!"

 

She gave a defiant look and remained steady.

 

With parted lips, he placed his palm underneath the hanging corset.

 

She bent to see the hand upon her, then felt a light touch on her chin. He lifted it and raised to place his lips to hers. In a moment, he easily flipped them back as before.

He sighed, looking at the room dimly lit by the ceiling lantern. "The men made some changes in here, I see."

 

She followed his gaze to take in more of the cabin. "So, this is what all that banging was about!"

 

"Hold on to me. Come on." He lifted them both. Stepping back on a trouser leg, he watched her eyes as he freed his legs, then pulled off his waistcoat and shirt in one effort. She inhaled deeply. His broad shoulders squared, the pectoral muscles firm and twitching, his upper arms bulging with strength, the narrow waist, strong thighs descending to calf and arched foot. He was magnificent! An Adonis, a David'! He stepped forward and knelt on one knee, pulling the neckerchief tucked in her stocking, gently and slow.

 

"Mine?" he questioned.

 

"Hm hm," she clipped . "Something borrowed, something blue," she managed, breathlessly.

He undid the garters, running his hands down her leg to remove the stocking. He looked up, feeling hot breath pass over his lips. The final stocking removed, he placed both hands on calves, sliding up, circling behind thighs to the round seat, dipping at the waist, flaring at the sides between corset and skin, over chest to shoulders, until the garment dropped to the floor, and he pressed her body to his.

She rested against his chest, touching the firm pectorals.

Lifting smoothly, he gazed at the woman in his arms, then placed her on the bunk. He joined her but kept his shoulders lifted so he could see her features. He watched eyes close, and hot, dry lips moisten.

 

With lidded eyes, she returned the stare. It began slowly. A gentle rocking. A friction. Both expressions revealing pleasure, concentration, desire, admiration, determination, anxious quickening of breath, expectation, release.

 

"Sweet Jesus!" he gasped, closing eyes for the torrent descending.

 

"I love you!" she whispered. "I love you, my captain." Her fingernails dug into his flesh.

Still panting, he watched ecstasy take the woman he loved, ecstasy in his arms. She was his and he could bring her to this! With parted and panting lips, a soft smile relished the view. "You're beautiful, Pamela."

 

With a pant and a swallow, she reached to run fingers through the curls hanging over his forehead. "It was never like this." Tears ran down her temples. She pulled him closer, kissed his cheek, caressed his hair, and whispered breathlessly, "It was never like this....Horatio.... I never knew it could be like this."

 

"Why are you crying, my love?" he asked softly.

 

"I don't know! You kiss me as I have never been kissed before! You make love to me as I have never been loved before! You're strong, gentle, loving. The world does not exist when I am in your arms!"

 

Taking in every feature, wiping the wet temples, he experienced an overwhelming satisfaction. He kissed the tip of her nose, then lay beside her next to the wall, absorbing its coolness. Leaning up on an elbow, he surveyed the cabin.

 

"Are you cold?" he asked, feeling her shiver.

 

"A little."

 

Leaning over, he pulled a fallen blanket from the floor and covered her. "Better?"

 

"Thank you."

 

She followed his gaze. The men had tacked up a navy blue material to act as curtains over the stern windows. On the table, was a bottle of wine, two glasses, a candle, and two bundles tied with a knot. The ceiling lantern provided a dim light. Over the bed, were tacked two signal flags, hung similarly as those at dinner. She knitted her brow. "What do those mean?"

 

He twisted to look over his shoulder. "They are our initials, P' and H'!"

Looking above the door, she noted another set of signal flags. "What do those say?" She could tell there were enough there to mean something.

 

He studied them, face reddening.

 

"Horatio, what do they say?"

 

"Ummm, I'm not sure."

 

"Yes, you are. Tell me. What does it say?" She found his side and began to tickle. He writhed, but had no place to go. She leaned on his arms to prevent reprisal. "What does it say?"

 

"No! Stop! I'll tell you! I'll tell you!" He hesitated.

 

"Don't make something up!"

 

"All right! All right!" he pleaded.

"What does it say, Horatio?"

 

"It says, Do your duty!' Stop tickling me!"

 

She smiled ruefully. "HA! So what is good for the goose is good for the gander!"

 

"What is that supposed to mean?"

 

"It means YOU are ticklish!" and she tickled him until he grabbed her hands, pinning them at her shoulders.

 

"Got you!" He laughed breathlessly, but a slow serious attitude descended. He stared, then lowered to the heaving chest. Her breath came quickly, feeling the cool mouth. Holding the wrists tightly, she moaned helplessly. He held tighter and demandingly kissed her, making both mouths hurt from the pressure.

 

He released her wrists. She caressed his curls. Moaning under her touch, they moved as one. At last, the motion subsided. He relaxed in her arms, both panting at the exertions.

 

"You are mine," he said emphatically. "Repeat after me, I belong to Horatio."

 

"I belong to Horatio."

 

"You are no longer your own. You belong to me," he stated.

 

"Yes, sir. ....Repeat after me, ......I belong to Pamela'."

 

He snorted. "I belong to Pamela."

 

"And don't you forget it!"

 

He found her sides and tickled mercilessly.

 

"Oh, no, Horatio! Please, stop," she laughed, "Stop!"

 

"Shhh! You'll have Styles running in here to your rescue! You know, he is in love with you."

 

"Mr. Styles is sweet!"

 

Horatio chuckled. "That is one adjective I would never have thought to hear in conjunction with his name."

 

"Are you jealous?"

 

"No. You belong to me."

 

"Indeed, sir. Indeed I do! Would you like a drink?" she asked raising from the bunk.

 

"Yes, I would." He watched her walk to the table, inhaling as he saw her form. He noted each curve from neck to shoulders to waist to knees. She shuddered, rousing him from pleasant assessing. Grabbing the blanket, he wrapped her in it. "You're shivering, my love." He rubbed to warm. "Sit down, let me do this." He pulled the cork from the bottle and poured a glass for each.

 

"Hm. I think this is for you." He tapped one of the bundles. Horatio took the other and unwrapped it. It was his own night clothes. Taking the nightshirt, he pulled it on.

 

She looked from his face to the bundle, a hint of excitement played over her lips. Untying the outside cloth, it proved to be a woman's dressing gown of brocade in teal and gold. Inside was a night gown, in a similar shade of teal. "Oh, Horatio! It's beautiful!" She held it up to her. It was a full length gown. The sleeves were long. Eyelet, of a slightly darker cast, ringed the sleeves at the wrists and the hem at the bottom. An opening at the chest used the same eyelet with strings woven to tie at the neck The upper part was sewn with vertical stitching to delineate the bodice. The material itself was soft like a flannel though not as thick. She found the bottom, reached arms in, and pulled it on.

 

"No," he sighed, "it is not from me, I'm sorry to say." He reached over to help, pulling her hair out from the neck; he adjusted the front and tied the strings. "This color is lovely on you, my lady. I wish it were from me."

 

"It doesn't matter. I love you," she reassured him. He held the robe as she slipped her arms in the sleeves. "Thank you, Horatio." Smiling, she noticed his worried look. "What are you thinking, my love?" He turned away. She grabbed his arm. "Horatio?"

 

He hung his head. "I have done you a disservice."

 

"What ever are you talking about?" She stood in front of him. He tried to turn away. "Horatio?" She grabbed his arms and put them around her waist. Taking his chin, she gently made him look at her. "Horatio... I love you."

 

"I shall never be able to buy for you,... such things, on my pay. I have let my love for you outstrip my rational thinking. I....I should not have married you. I...I...." he swallowed, lowering his head.

 

"Horatio..... I....I don't need your money." She put her palm on his cheek. "I understand, as my husband, you want to support me, and ...you will, but ... I ....I am well provided. You need not worry about me in that respect." Eyes remained downcast. "Horatio, I married you because I love you, not for your money." At last, the moist brown orbs sought hers. "Horatio... sweetheart... I...I don't care about these things!" She took off the robe and pulled the strings on the gown."

 

"No, Pamela!"

 

"But if these make you unhappy, I don't want them!"

 

"No!" He pulled her close. "No."

 

"I love you, Horatio! I want for nothing but your love!"

 

He sighed, resting his head on hers.

 

"Please don't tell me you regret our marriage."

 

He hugged her tighter, closing his eyes.

 

"Don't you love me? Didn't you say that was all that mattered? That the rest would take care of itself?" She tried to untie the gown.

 

"No. You'll get cold." Embraced silence ensued. "I'll have my own ship some day, Pamela."

 

"I know you will, darling."

 

"If this war continues, I'll take prizes. I'll be able to take care of you properly."

 

"Yes, I know, my love. I know you will." Tears in her eyes, tracks on her face, she pleaded. "Kiss me, darling! Kiss me like you did before!"

 

He leaned, holding the fragile chin. "You're sure you have no regrets marrying a poor leftenant?"

 

"No regrets....no regrets, my captain."

A smile appeared before the full lips pressed hers. She increased the passion of the kiss and would not let it end, until like waking from a dream, she felt his ardor rise. She rested a hand on his left thigh. He carried her to the bed. While he retrieved the blanket, she removed the gown before he could protest.

 

Laying on their sides, the two gazed in pleasure. He ran a finger down the soft jaw line. She dipped her head, catching the finger to rub back and forth over her smooth soft bottom lip. She moistened the finger, caressing it with her tongue and elicited a grin. Taking hold of the strings tying his night shirt, she pulled slowly and steadily, watching it give way to the persistent tug. She moved forward on his finger slowly, then backed away. His brow knit. Pulling the material of his gown open, she rested on his chest and kissed his neck.

 

"What are you doing?" he asked, exhaling.

 

She suctioned the salty skin, pressing with teeth. Fingers raised the sides of his nightshirt.

 

"Pamela...."

 

Lifted to his thigh, she ran a hand up the firm leg.

 

"Pamela..." He breathed and swallowed.

Making the next move, she straddled him. The nightshirt removed easily. "Pamela... what...what are you doing?" He reached to touch. "God, you're beautiful!"

 

She lay over him. He folded his arms around, and in one quick motion, flipped them over. He felt eager hands on his back. They rocked in unison like a ship responding to a swell.

 

Taking a breath and releasing it, he lifted and smirked. "That makes four."

 

She laughed. "You're counting? I love you!"

 

He kissed her cheek. "I know. I know you love me," he stated with satisfaction. He slipped to the side, pulling the blanket over both. She faced him.

 

"What do you see?" he asked.

 

"The man I love."

 

He smiled contentedly, sighed, and closed his eyes. She ran fingers over his forehead, smoothing curls away. Then, with hand gliding down his countenance, she touched his lips and quit the bed.

 

"Where are you going?" he asked sleepily, but grasping the escaping fingers..

 

"Not far. I'll be back soon." She squeezed and kissed his hand, then placed his nightshirt on the bed. Donning the robe, she picked up the teal nightgown. The bolt slid back on the door. He looked up, squinting at the brightness of the candle she held.

 

"Where are you going?"

 

"I will be right back." She peered into the companion and could hear snoring from the men's quarters. Slipping out, she went to her cabin. The room was in disarray from the days activities. She threw the rejected dresses over to the side, along with the teal nightgown. Finding the old gown, she removed the brocade robe and tugged it on. She shivered and grabbed some things she knew would be needed in the morning. The mirror revealed the carnage done to her neck. "Oh!.... my." The shock gave way to satisfaction.

 

When she returned, the regular breathing revealed he was sleeping. Blowing out the lights, she slipped into the bunk like a nestled spoon.

 

Moonlight through the stern windows bathed the darkened room. The ship's bell rang, eight tolls, midnight. She thought about the men running the ship, in the cold night air, making way over the deep ocean. Where was his ship, the Inde...Inde.....? What would Captain Pellew think? Would his friend, Archie, accept her? Might there be a child from the activities tonight? Having his child? What a fascinating idea! She breathed deeply and he put his arm around her snugly. The warmth and closeness brought contented rest.

 

 

Before drifting off to sleep, Horatio mentally placed a wake-up call and his mind neared consciousness. Aware of an unfamiliar warmth, his brow furrowed. Inhaling deeply, he noted the scent of a light perfume. Memory came, and he sighed happily, thinking to return to sleep. But he was captain of a ship in His Majesty's Navy. Signal flags over the entry door reminded him of his *official* duty. He held his forehead, realized he wore his frilled night shirt and did not remember putting it back on. Muscles reported unusual physical activity. *Four,* he thought. A wry smile grew that turned down in a frown. He would have to face his men today. How embarrassing! He did not want to think about it.

 

Chin stubble. Sighing, he recalled his things were spread over three cabins. He raised up on one elbow to view his sleeping bride. A strand of hair lay on the soft cheek. He smoothed it away, seeing the damaged neck. An eyebrow rose, then knit seeing a different nightgown. The gifts were gone. He leaned over the neck and breathed warmly upon it.

The ships bell rang four times, six a.m. *Do your duty!* the signal flags reminded. Rising gently, he left the bunk. She shifted, lay on her back, then turned to the wall. He tucked the blankets snugly. Scooping clothing from the floor, he departed.

 

Entering his other cabin and lighting a candle, he saw all his possessions returned to this room. The charts, the ship's log, and the instruments lay on the table. His clothes from yesterday were neatly folded on the bunk, and his kit lay beside them. They were a thoughtful crew. What a lot of trouble they went to for him and Pamela. And, they were willing for him to have her. Have her, when they had no one.

Footsteps were heard in the companion. Opening the door quickly, he saw Hardy hesitating at the bridal chamber door, a steaming kettle to hand.

 

"Hardy!" he whispered loudly.

 

"Ah, Captain!"

 

"Shhhh!" said Hornblower.

 

Hardy drew near and whispered, "Good morning, sir. I've brought ye a bit of hot water for shaving."

 

"How did you know I wanted it?"

 

"You left orders for it, sir."

 

He tried to think back but did not recall asking. He must have had more wine than he thought.

 

"Ye told Oldroyd ye wanted to rise at four bells so's to shave and take a sighting, sir! The sky is clear, wind out o' the nor'west, she's makin' three knot, sir. Mr. Matthews said to tell ye."

 

Hornblower tried to sort through fuzzy thinking.

 

"Shall I pour this, sir?"

 

"Yes, yes, come in."

 

Hardy poured and offered, "Congratulations, sir!"

 

Hornblower reddened. How many of these felicitations would he have to bear? "Thank you, Hardy. Bring me a cup of coffee, if you please."

 

"Aye, sir. Will do."

 

He splashed his face, lathered up, and began to shave. Dragging the razor over his jaw, the sight startled, and he knicked his chin. "Damn!" He viewed the marks on his neck. "God!" Finishing the shave, he winced at the bruising. "Ahem." He cleared his throat. "Thank God for naval uniforms!" he muttered. Wrapping his stock about his neck, he tied it carefully, adjusted it, and checked the mirror a last time. Hardy was back at his door. "Come."

 

The aroma of the coffee filled his cabin. "Thank you, Hardy. Inform Mr. Matthews I will be on deck presently."

 

"Aye, aye, Captain."

 

"Ahem." Hornblower eyed the subordinate.

 

Sipping the hot coffee, he sat to address the log. Opening to the last entry, the words sighting the marriage leapt from the page. He was a married man. There his signature was, next to hers, with Matthews and Styles, the witnesses.

He inhaled deeply, remembering the conversation about finances. Love blinded him to reality. A portion of prize money for Dolphin would be his, but Pellew would get the lions share. Getting the money would mean he no longer captained Dolphin, and, in addition, was no longer with her

Clinching his jaw, he hunched over the log. The cold thought of separation gripped his heart. He loved her. This was right. He made the right decision. They would have these days together before he would return to the Indy, before she would be left behind in Gibraltar. Picking up the coffee, he drank anxiously, hoping it would dispel the ice on his soul. He entered the previous nights information from Oldroyd, listening to the quill scratch across the paper.

Draining the coffee, he threw on his cloak and made his way topside. The rays of the morning sun warmed his cheeks, but the air was damp and chill.

 

"Mornin' Captain."

 

"Mr. Matthews," he nodded. His eyes swept the unfurled canvas. "The wind has died a bit, I see." The sail were not braced as tightly as he would have liked. He eyed Matthews. "Get some men aloft to reef the tops'ls. Brace her up, man!"

 

"Aye, aye, sir!"

 

Hornblower watched the men make their way to the yards.

 

"They seem to be moving a bit slowly this morning, Mr. Matthews."

 

"Aye, sir."

 

Hornblower expected more than mere agreement.

 

"Our merry making went a bit long last night, sir." He glanced at his captain.

 

"Yes. Well...ahem...thank you, Mr. Matthews, for everything you did yesterday. And, please convey my thanks to men as well."

 

"Aye, aye, Captain."

 

Stepping to the binnacle, Hornblower noted the compass heading. Pulling out his watch, he checked the time, nearly seven. It was necessary to sight at the same time each day to accurately plot their position. He walked to larboard, letting the suns rays hit him squarely in the chest. He closed his eyes remembering another warmth he recently left. He heard the ensign flapping at the stern. Flags. Flags here, flags at dinner last night, flags in their cabin. He snorted remembering the signal flags over the door and shook his head.

Matthews ordered the men to brace up after reefing. Hornblower watched as the sails became taught in the wind. That was better. They were a good crew. They did their best for him, just as they did for Pellew. He sighed at the thought of his captain At some point, he would need to plan his explanations. He looked at his watch. Behind him someone was ringing the ship's bell, six dings. He held the sextant up to his eye.

 

"Our speed, Mr. Matthews?"

 

"She's makin' four knots, sir."

 

"Keep those sails braced up. We don't want Captain Pellew accusing us of dawdling!"

 

"Aye, aye, sir!" grinned Matthews.

 

Hornblower returned to his cabin to write in his log the information recently gathered. Using his reference books he noted the latitude and longitude of Dolphin. He turned to the page containing Gibraltar to compare the distances yet to be traveled before he would turn due east, praying the winds would be with his decisions. As it was, they were having to tack back and forth to maintain the southerly direction. He wondered if he were being overly cautious. Sighing, he put the quill down and thought, running his hand down his face. A knock came.

"Come."

 

It was Hardy. "Will ye be wantin' yer breakfast, sir?"

 

"Yes, and bring some for Mrs. Hornblower as well," he surprised himself at how easily the name came.

 

"Aye, aye, sir," Hardy grinned.

 

Well, he ordered her breakfast, he had better be sure she was up and ready. Opening the cabin door quietly, he peeked in. She was still sleeping. He smiled going over to sit on the edge of the bunk. He watched her breathing regularly and felt himself a fortunate man to have such a lovely wife. He leaned, blowing softly along her hair line on her forehead and above her ear. She moved her head slightly. He moved his nose and lips closer to her skin, nuzzling. She turned and snuggled into the pillow. He lowered his nose and lips to the other side of her head, nuzzled and traveled slowly down to her neck. She smelled wonderful! He brushed his lips lightly over the warm skin to hers.

 

"Mmmm," she murmured, "Horatio," and continued sleeping.

 

His mouth wore a crooked smile. "My you're lazy this morning."

 

"Hm hmm."

 

He was starting to wish he could go back to sleep himself when the knock came. Going to the door, he took the tray. "Thank you, Hardy."

Placing it on the table, he returned to sleeping beauty. "Pamela. Pamela, wake up, breakfast is here." He stroked her hair.

 

She yawned and exhaled, squinting.

 

"Good morning, Mrs. Hornblower. Breakfast time."

 

She reached up, grabbed his neck, and pulled him down. "Horatio."
She kissed his cheek, closed her eyes, and went back to sleep, holding him in her embrace.

He grinned being so captured. "Wake up!" He slipped his arms underneath, lifting and leaning her onto his shoulder.

 

"Mmmm. Love you." She snuggled her head in the hollow of his chest.

 

"It's a good thing you're not in the navy madam, the boson would have his starter to your back."

 

"That's nice," she answered sleepily.

 

"Your breakfast is getting cold." No response. "Am I going to have to tickle you to get you up?"

 

"Hmm mmmm," she murmured in the negative.

 

Taking her chin, he lifted it to see his slumbering wife. "Pamela." He covered her mouth and kissed her, increasing the pitch of the kiss, until she began responding. Her hand caressed his curls his head. With a sigh, he asked. "Awake now?"

 

"Mmmm coffee," she said, licking her lips.

 

He snorted. "Yes. I'll pour you a cup."

 

"Come back to bed, Horatio."

 

 

"No, no, no!" he laughed. He lifted her to her feet.

 

"Oh, Horatio," she whined, "Let me sleep! What time is it?"

 

"Time for you to get up, sleepyhead!" He walked her over to the table and sat her down.

 

She sighed, leaning her elbows, resting her head in her hands.

 

He sat down opposite and cleared his throat. "Ahem."

 

She watched him through lidded eyes, pouring a cup of coffee.

 

"There you are. Drink that."

 

"My but you're handsome in the morning!" she said.

 

"Drink your coffee, my dear."

 

She sighed and continued to happily stare.

He began to eat. Glancing up, she still observed, and he blushed, smiling.

 

She ran her tongue seductively over her lips.

 

"Stop that!" he laughed. "You are shameless! What have I married?"

 

"Come here, and I'll show you," she invited.

 

Eyebrows raised. "I should have left you abed! Are you still asleep?"

 

"Mmmmm," she murmured, "My you're handsome in the morning. Did I already say that?"

 

"Yes. Drink your coffee."

 

She sighed, raising the cup. "Mmmm, this is heavenly!"

 

He passed a plate of food to her. "Eat."

 

"Aye, aye, sir." If he would not let her sleep, she would "play" with him. She lifted a fork of food pointing it to her mouth. She waited till his eyes viewed the performance, licked her lips, opened her mouth, and moved the fork in slowly. "Mmmmmm," she moaned.

 

He stopped in mid bite.

 

She prepared another fork in like manner. "MMMmmm," she moaned louder.

 

He glanced over his mug.

 

She took another fork full and held it before her mouth. He was about to take another bite, but sat watching. She moved the fork , putting it all the way in before closing over it. "MMMMmmmm."

 

He could no longer suppress his laughter and chuckled. He shook his head. "I think your father may have been lax in regards to your discipline, my dear."

 

"Mmmm," her mouth was full and she could not rebut him. With sultry eyes, she asked, ""Why? What would you do?"

 

"Hm rmm," he cleared his throat. "Turning you over my knee comes to mind." He said flippantly.

"You wouldn't dare!"

 

"Then, you best behave yourself. Be glad there is no one here but we two."

 

She gave another sultry look, "Yes, there is no one here but we two."

 

He stood up abruptly, came around, and snatched her up quickly.

 

She sucked in her breath with apprehension. In the closeness, her body against his, he lost the mock anger with which he meant to tease and kissed her ardently. "I'll give you something to moan about." Moving plates and cups quickly, he leaned her back over the breakfast table.

 

"Is this what you wanted?" he asked.

 

They watched each other. She took a long inhaling breath! He let go the air trapped in his lungs. Laying upon her breast, he could hear her heart pounding. She moistened her lips and stroked his head.

 

"Well, I bet you never got a meal like this on Inde....Inde...Oh! You know!!" she commented.

 

He raised up. She was grinning.

"You win! I am at a loss for words!" Taking her hands, he pulled her up from the table. "I hope you are satisfied."

 

"Indeed! What a nice way to start the day!"

 

"You are very different from most women with which I have been acquainted."

 

"As you mentioned a moment ago, it is my father's laxity which has affected me, no doubt!" she commented haughtily.

 

"Indeed!" he said with a raised eyebrow. He thought about asking about her two other husbands, but decided he did not want to know. He was learning she could be quite a handful, challenging him in ways he did not expect. Speaking of which, he had never confronted her about the climb. He narrowed his eyes. "By the way, dear lady, what WERE you doing climbing in the rigging?"

 

She smiled, taking a step backwards. "Why do you ask?"

 

He stepped with her. "I want to know."

 

She continued to back away. He followed.

 

"I ...I... just wanted, too! That's all."

 

The cabin wall stopped the backward motion. He put his hand on the wall, leaning in towards her. She swallowed at the closeness.

 

"I do not want you climbing the rigging."

She looked at his lips, placed a finger on the lower one, and smiled.

"Are you listening to me?"

 

She lifted her head as if to nod, but as she lowered her chin she changed to a shake of her head. "No, sir, I'm not."

 

"Pamela. You are not to climb the rigging! I've said it, and I mean it!"

 

"Why?"

 

"What do you mean, why? All sorts of reasons, and I will only give them to you because you are my wife!"

 

She tilted her head and said, "Aw! You're so sweet, Horatio. And you are
SO handsome when you look like this." Her attempt to change the subject nearly worked.

 

"When I look like....? I... I....?" Her attitude flustered. "It is dangerous! You...you are a...a woman!"

 

"Yes." She fingered his ear lobe.

 

He closed his eyes, turning his head. "Stop that! I am trying to talk to you!"

 

"Aye, sir!"

 

"What will the men think with you dressing in men's clothes!" She fondled his ear lobe again. Reaching up, he took her hand. She leaned towards him on tiptoes taking his lobe in her teeth, breathing warmly into his ear. He closed his eyes and swallowed. "Pamela...Pamela....we've....we've already .... I...." he inhaled. He spoke gently, "Stop....Pam...Pamela..." She nuzzled and kissed down his neck. His eyes were closed, enjoying the sensation. Fingers were undoing his buttons. He looked down at her hand, knitting his brow. She continued across his neck having loosed his neckerchief.

She nibbled along the bruised throat to the other earlobe sending a stream of warm breath. Chills ran over his body. He leaned toward her. "Pamela," he breathed.

 

"Say it again," she whispered in between nibbles.

 

"Say what?"

 

"My name. I love it when you say my name."

 

"Pamela."

 

"Mmmmm,"

 

"D...dear...we...we already..." she pulled his shirt out and was running her hand up his chest. Another wave of chills paraded over his body. He inhaled, "Pamela...why... why..."

 

"I love you," she whispered. Raising his shirt, she tendered kisses to the heated chest. His knees were getting weak, his head was starting to swim, he leaned against the bulkhead, losing himself in sensations. The only sound was the air entering and exiting his lungs.

 

"Pamela...Pamela...." The more he said her name the more energetic she became. He leaned against the wall. She put her lips on his, kissing forcefully.

 

"What was it you wanted to tell me, Horatio?" Moving from lips to cheeks, she encircled his countenance with kisses.

 

"What?"

 

"You ... you were going to tell me something." Her mouth softly suctioned his neck.

 

"What?" The blood left his brain for other regions. How could she be asking him questions now? He embraced her, kissing the soft tresses. "You've got to stop, my love."

 

"You want me to stop?" she asked, moving down into the neck opening of his shirt.

 

"No...no...don't stop." He focused on the bed.

 

In the companion, Hardy stood staring at the door to the cabin. One hand was poised in mid air.

 

Styles spotted him standing there on his way up from the morning check of the well. He motioned him over to the stairway. "What are ye doin?" he asked.

 

"Tryin' t' decide if I should knock."

 

"What d'ye want with captain?"

 

"I came back to clear away the breakfast tray. But, I...," he glanced nervously at Styles.

 

"What?"

 

"Well, it sounded as if somethin' fell on the floor. There was some low talkin'. Then, it sounded like Mr. Hornblower was angry with er bout somethin'. But, now...now, its gone all quiet again."

 

" Aven't ye and Jenkins got yerselves in enough trouble meddlin' in Captain's business?"

 

"But, I'm supposed to get the tray!"

 

"Ye best wait an' let em put it outside."

 

"But..." A loud thump within demanded attention. Styles grabbed Hardy by the collar, pulling him up the companion to the main deck.

 

"Wait!...till ye see it outside, or e calls fer ye. Got it?" Styles let go brusquely. He looked up to the quarter-deck, seeing Matthews watching. He joined him there. Styles stood to larboard, staring eastward.

 

Matthews glanced at his mate and sighed. "They're at it again?"

 

Styles did not look at Matthews, but gave a light nod.

 

Exhaling, Matthews said, "Oh, to be that age again!"

 

"I ain't so far off that age!" muttered Styles.

 

*******

Captain Pellew stood on the quarter-deck of Indefatigable, eyeing the trim of the
sail with Master Bowles beside him. He gave an occasional order to Bowles to
relay to the men standing in the rigging and on deck. The Indy was clipping in the northwesterly breeze and her Captain demanded every bit of forward motion possible from her canvas. The men were tense to obey. Though it was
Mr. Bowles shouting the orders, they could see the Captain at his side.

 

Hornblower. This was due to Hornblower. Mr. Kennedy had been the first officer
to take on so over him, and now it had spread to the Captain.

 

The pirate captain had mouthed off to anyone of the Indy's crew he could get to
listen, mocking Hornblower, saying how stupid he was not to have checked the powder
stores of Dolphin. Word was the bruise on his chin was given by Mr. Kennedy, though no one would substantiate the rumor.

 

Normally when leaving England the Indy would have dipped into the Bay of
Biscay, leisurely seeking any French ships sneaking out of port, but this time the Captain
set a course southwest. He had the crew at their sailing stations round the clock.
They were doing six knots and had been doing that, or better, for the past two days! Cape
de Finisterre was expected on the horizon anytime. The man on the top yard of the main
mast stood with glass to eye. Pellew squinted, waiting for the call. A course adjustment was expected once they rounded the cape.

 

Farley and Cudgeons, two topmen, were close enough to talk in low tones to one another
as they stood in the foot ropes of the main mast topsail yard.

 

"How much longer do ye suppose we got on this watch, mate?" asked Farley.

 

"Last was seven bells. Mebbe another twenty minutes and we can get down from
ere. Me legs is right stiff."

 

"I suppose we'll be avin' another night o' this, eh?"

 

"I spect we'll be at this till e sights that great ruddy rock o' Gibraltar an'spots
that damned pirate ship Mr. Ornblower's on, is what I say! Wait'll I get hold o'
Matthews! Why couldn't e remind Ornblower t' check the powder stores? Or that hulk
Styles, eh? They got Cap'n worried, Mr. Kennedy worried, an' me wi' stiff legs from
standin' ere for hours!"

 

"Aye! The way we came down on that ship that day! Captain P., he expects a lot
out o' is officers. Ye reckon Mr. "Ornblower ll get a rap on the knuckles fer this?"

 

"Alls I know is I don't want to be no where near the Captain's cabin when e gets
back on board! Gettin' orders from Cap'n P. through Mr. Bowles is enough fer me! I got no desire to come under is guns when e lets loose, no sir, I surely don't!" remarked
Cudgeons shaking his head.

 

"Aye, I reckon Mr. Ornblower's done kicked hisself from Bristol to Dover by
now anyway, knowin' im."

 

"Aye, yer right there. E is ard on imself fer sure!"

 

Farley sighed. "Well, I ope this don't go to badly for Ornblower. E'll make a
fine cap'n one day, I says. You mark my words!"

 

"Aye. Ye've no argument from me on that one, mate! Fergittin' the powder, or
no, I'd serve with old Orny!"

 

The two men chuckled with one another, but stopped abruptly to respond to the
new orders Bowles was shouting. Reef in, unreef, brace her up, let her go. This had been
their life these last two days when on station.

 

"Deck there! Land ho!"

 

Pellew walked to larboard, pulling his glass to peer at the horizon. He walked
back over to Bowles.

"Stay on course till land is two points off the larboard bow, then turn west
so'west."

 

"Aye, aye, Captain."

 

And thus she sailed, making further course adjustments once off the cape, which
led to a change in sail to account for the play of the wind. The watch changed, beginning
the first dog watch. Bowles would remain until the next course alteration to head them
down the coast of Portugal to Cape St. Vincent. When reaching that juncture, Captain
Pellew would return to the quarter-deck to oversee the easterly turn into the Straits of
Gibraltar, but that would not happen until late the next morning if the wind held.

 

The bell tolled the last of eight bells in the afternoon on Dolphin. Her crew
changed for the first dog watch. Kramer arrived to relieve the man on duty.
Hornblower observed the change over.

 

Pamela, dressed in her navy blue dress, entered the waist of Dolphin after the
watch change. The men at their stations saw her come up and turned to look at the
captain, stealing glances at the two clandestinely.

Hornblower sighed when he saw her, tipping up on his toes. He felt his face warm and watched his bride, feeling his gaze soften despite himself.

 

She walked to the starboard side letting the afternoon sun beat against her face.
The wind freshened. Hornblower commanded Kramer to call orders to set more sail and brace up. One of the crew excused himself by her as he pulled on the lines to obey the
order. She smiled and moved aft towards the quarter-deck to get out of the way and glanced at her husband with a slight smile. It was then he realized she had something in hand. He gave a small nod. She proceeded to climb the stairs to the quarter-deck.

 

"Good afternoon, Captain Hornblower."

 

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Hornblower."

Raising an eyebrow at the formality and glancing at the helmsman, Kramer saluted.
"Afternoon, ma'am."

 

"Mr. Kramer, Mr. Bailey."

 

Pamela gave Horatio what she was holding in her hands. "I thought you might
want to replace these, seeing as how the signal was received." She handed him the folded
flags from the walls of the cabin.

 

Hornblower cleared his throat. "Thank you, madam." Taking them from her he
handed them to Kramer. "See these are returned to the storage locker, Mr. Kramer."

 

"Aye, aye, Captain."

 

Pamela moved over to starboard to watch the sun lowering in the western sky.
Horatio gave her a quick glance then looked back to the trim of the sail.

 

"Steady as she goes, Bailey."

 

"Aye, Cap'n."

 

Hornblower stepped back even with the helmsman so he could watch her without
turning his head. The play of the sunlight on her hair mystified him. He thought of her
hair loose, falling across his chest, his nose breathing in the sweetness as he caressed her
long tresses. He cleared his throat again to rouse himself from passionate thoughts. He stepped forward in a vain effort to dispel the feelings creeping in. Here he would not be able to see her so easily, and he focused attention on the set of the sail. "Mr. Kramer, reef the tops'ls. There's too much spill."

 

"Aye, sir." He called the order. Men obeyed and Dolphin stiffened in response.

 

Hornblower seemed satisfied with what he saw. "Stay on this tack, Mr. Kramer."

 

"Aye, aye, sir."

 

Hornblower could ignore her no longer and walked over to Pamela. "How are you, my dear?"

 

"Missing you. And you?"

 

"I fear I have used muscles in my body I did not know existed. But I am quite aware of them now."

 

"Indeed, sir? Do I detect regret?"

 

He grasped her hand and pulled her aft forcefully. He glanced at the men and searched her features. Was he going to kiss her?

 

"I have no regrets."

 

"Nor do I," she whispered. The wind bounced a curl repeatedly upon his forehead. She held it gently between two fingers.

 

"Tell me," he commanded. Suddenly the hours apart disappeared. The passion of the night encompassed them with those two words.

 

The liquid brown eyes held a burning ember, causing her to breathe deeply before whispering. "I love you. Pleasure me, Horatio. Come to our bed."

 

The ember kindled, heating the air between them. "It would give me great pleasure to give pleasure to you." Desire quickened his pulse. "I must go below to make log entries and examine the charts."

 

"Mr. Styles put them in the Captain's Cabin."

 

"He did?"

 

"Is that all right?"

 

"Yes. I.... ahem," he cleared his throat. "Come."

 

"Should I not wait until you have accomplished the task?"

 

"I will accomplish nothing until that which concerns us has been completed." He grasped her hand tightly, heading for the stairs. "I will be below checking the charts, Mr. Kramer. The deck is yours."

 

"Aye, aye, sir." Kramer watched the two descend the stairs, then let a grin sweep his features.

 

"That's the first time I heard it called checking charts," mumbled Bradley.

 

"Aye. Must be a captain thing," answered Kramer seriously.