“So ye haven’t got the tickets yet?” Thomas asked.
I shook my head. William was still out with the girls. For his own sake, I hope he comes back soon. We were in the room I had lodged in, on top of the filthy bar I had worked in. I changed into my regular clothes, as Thomas sifted through some papers he’d taken out of his coat.
“Should be easy t’solve, hereon,” he said, picking up a few sheets.
I sat on the bed and took off my terrible, terrible shoes, rubbing my sore feet, “What are you talking about?”
He threw the sheets of paper, they landed on the bed next to me, “Ye’ve a few bonds you haven’t cashed in. Should be plenty t’spend and live on. And t’buy ye tickets,” he took one of my feet in his hands and massaged it gently, “But why tickets?”
“Be-cause it’s the only way to get in?” I said.
He gave me a sad look, “Ye’ve not been thinkin’ too much on your task, ‘ave ye?”
I looked away, unable to reply.
“Georgia told me, Midnight,” he said.
“Told you what?” I replied in a small voice.
“About the babbie, Midnight,” I could feel his chin on my shoulder, his arms around my torso.
I didn’t say anything, but I cried.
Maybe he cried a little bit too, but I couldn’t be sure.
It wasn’t my first miscarriage, and I’d begun to believe that I was cursed. Or something.
“Stop it,” Thomas whispered, “Stop it. It’s not your fault.”
“But… but, what if it is, Thomas?” I said, looking at him, “What if I made a sharp move or, or exerted myself in some way? Why if I killed him?”
He shook his head, and put a hand to my face, “Ye didn’t. It wouldn’t be like you.”
I was blubbering and rubbing my eyes, and I knew Thomas was having a hard time trying to figure out what to do.
“I’m sorry,” I said at last.
“Ye’ve nothin’ t’be sorry for,” he mumbled.
“Yes I do, Thomas,” I said, “I’m sorry for everything I’ve said to you. I’m a horrible wife.”
“Look, stop it.”
“No! I thought you’d died, Thomas! I regret everything! I’m so, so sorry!”
He put a finger to his lips and put a hand to my shoulder, “I don’t begrudge ye anyth’un, Midnight. I’m not angry at ye. I’m not upset wi’ ye. I’m not even slightly disappointed wi’ ye!” I touched the scar on his face, and frowning at myself. I had made that scar.
I sighed, not being able to look at him, “But everyth’un I’ve done, all the arguments and fights and complaints and taunts…”
“You changed my life, Midnight,” he said, lowering his head, so he could see my face, “You changed me. For the better. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you say – I’ll always be grateful for that. And my gratitude means that I’ve no grudges and no anger towards ye,” he smiled, “Really. I mean’t.”
I looked up at him and hugged him, “Then, you’re a much bigger person than I am,” I said, sniffing.
“That’s debateable, love,” he laughed.
I paused, just happy, before saying, “Your brother is an idiot.”
“Half,” he said, again, “and I don’t need tellin’ that.”
“He’s an idiot,” I said again, pulling away and rubbing my eyes, “He’s like a puppy wi’ no sense o’ direction.”
I saw Thomas shift uncomfortably.
“Can talk we not talk about William?” he said.
I paused, wanting to say that he seemed he needed to talk about William, but I didn’t want to kill the moment either.
“Fine,” was all I said, “So… What happened? Why did Mr Hands say you were dead?”
Thomas shrugged, “Oh. My, er, crew mutinied against me.”
“I’m assuming that’s a bad thing.”
He yawned and began sifting through his papers again, “It is.”
“Should I be worried?”
He raised his head and looked back at me, “About what?”
He laughed, almost fitfully, “I was expectin’ it, Midnight. I pit a brig against six man-o’-wars! Half my crew were lost, and my ship too. It only made sense that they mutinied, so I didn’t resist. They marooned me too, by the way. It was fun.”
I scoffed, and putting my hands on his shoulders. He purred, almost, and put his hands to my waist, “You really are insane, Thomas.”
“Aye. Insane about you,” he kissed me, and then got back to his work, “Just you wait. I’ll knock ye up again in no time.”
I shook my head, sitting on the desk, “So what happened then?”
“Well, presumably Hands decided that I’d die. He’s a good man, by the way. Don’t begrudge him. So he wrote t’ye, about me dyin’. I’m guessin’ he lied?”
“A little, yes.”
“While I was livin’ on some good rum, waitin’ for a fishin’ schooner t’pass by so I could steal’t.”
“Thomas, you realise that you always act nonchalant when you’re hiding your feelings?”
He looked up at me, his face set.
“There’s nothing wrong with being scared.”
“It’s…” he shook his head, “It’s not important. How I felt.”
I put a hand to his face, “Thomas…”
“I love you,” he said, “and I missed you. And I thought I’d ne’er see ye again. You or the girls or anybody. I don’t hate Hands for what he did. I was the mad bastard for pullin’ that stunt. But…” he sighed in concession and looked away from me. I rubbed the back of his neck with my hand. I heard him sniff, “for a moment, I thought on all those things, Midnight. All those bad things that I’d done. That I’d ne’er righted. It was a miracle that that schooner passed me by. It was a miracle I made it back home wi’out being swept away by a storm. It’s a miracle that I’m standin’ next t’ye right now,” he looked at me, “Hands was right in writin’ t’you.”
I stroked his hair, “It’s like you said – everything’s going to be all right now.”
He smiled and sighed, “I hope’t so.”
William came in with the girls just as I said, “So what’s your plan, if not the tickets?”
“The Colloseum’s got loads o’ entrances,” out of the sheets, he took out a map. It was a detailed sketch of the Colloseum, “We could easily break in. I’d bet that our little Kenny is being lodged there, until the games. But there’s more than a few places we’d’ve t’search. William,” Thomas turned to look at his half-brother, “is your son any good in a fight?”
William scowled at him, “He’s not a ruffian, like yourself.”
“Right,” Thomas said, rolling his eyes and turning back to the map, “the boy can’t pack a decent punch. Nice. Just like his father, then.”
I saw William glower at Thomas.
“Then Kenny and William’s son–”
“John. Your nephew.”
“Then Kenny and William’s son will be in different holdin’ places,” Thomas said, “My new crew’re better walkers than swimmers, ye reckon we could take ‘em, Midnight?”
“I don’t see why not, if they’re handy with their cutlasses,” I said, regarding the map and then standing up, “It’s been an eventful day, girls? Wash up for dinner, then you’re heading to bed, yes? Don’t be alarmed, we’ll lock the door.”
Thomas picked up his map, “Tonight we break into the Colloseum.”