It’s been a week since the necklace incident, and Zayn hasn’t allowed me to leave his cabin since then.
The only times I can leave are when I have to relieve myself, and it’s usually Louis who escorts me down to the brig to do so. So, not only do I have to be trapped at all times, but I also have to deal with his constant antics - and they get tiresome really quickly. By now, as I sit on the cot, nibbling on my fingernails, I’m more than positive that if Louis calls me Rosebud one more time, I might just slog that mischievous smirk right off his face.
I’m fully aware that the captain is giving me the silent treatment for how I reacted to him giving me the necklace at the port. He hasn’t looked at me since, and not a single word has been uttered between us. It’s almost as if he’s ignoring my existence completely, and I recognize a cold shoulder when I see one. But not once do I recant my reaction, no matter how awful I feel, being cooped up, being denied fresh air, fresh sunlight, a wider area to stretch my legs - I know he stole that necklace, he’s a pirate - that’s what they do, and I’ll never accept a present if it belongs to someone else.
Though I do feel my strength breaking down each day when he leaves the room, locking the door behind him, that resounding lock sounding shortly afterwards, and his heavy footsteps fade gently away, I refuse to show any sign of submission in his presence. When he returns, I keep an emotionless face and also refuse to look at him. I don’t try to speak to him, and I don’t beg for his attention. But as soon as he leaves, these thick walls I’ve built are slowly crumbling, brick by brick - and I absolutely hate it.
I know I did the right thing, I think to myself as the ship rocks violently, then flattens. But when it rocks again, more sharply, and a few papers sitting on his desk flutter to the ground, I realize we’re changing course. Men shout through the wooden walls, and I imagine the pirates rushing to and fro, working to alter the sails and mass to the changed direction. Why are they changing course? Did something bad happen?
I get off the cot and try prying the window shutters open again, to no avail. He had someone nail them shut - another part of my punishment. My hands clench into fists, my teeth gritting, and a scream develops deep within my chest. I want to stomp my feet, to bang my fists against the porthole, to somehow break through. I just want to feel the sunlight, or smell the fresh air - is that too much to ask for? It’s a human necessity.
How can he be so cruel?
“Trust me love, you haven’t seen cruel yet,” he seethes, walking in his cabin with angry, purposeful strides. It’s only then I realise that I’ve been cooped up for so long that I hadn’t even noticed I’d been voicing my thoughts out loud.
“Let me get some fresh air,” I demand. He doesn’t bother answering, his vile hands latching on my forearms. He pulls me forwards harshly, tugging me sharply out of his cabin.
“Today’s your lucky day, Roselina,” he sneers. “Not only do you get some fresh air, but you get front row seats to a one-time show,” he continues, pulling me up the stairs violently.
I squint, the sun’s intensity blinding me momentarily as the captain drags me across the deck. I feel so many eyes on me, and a blush creeps up my neck. Zayn’s hand on my forearm as well as his possessive stance rapidly gets the prying eyes to look elsewhere.
“Liam!” Zayn calls out loudly. “Get the plank out!”
There’s a series of rowdy cheers as a burly man shouts instructions to two other crewmen, who are both hastily lugging a big wooden board.
My heartbeat quickens, and my eyes reflexively search Zayn’s for some type of reassurance. Is he going to throw me overboard? Just like that? But Zayn’s steely gaze never meets mine, too focused on the men setting up the plank.
“Quiet!” he snarls angrily, the vein in his neck bulging. His eyes shift to the gathering of the crewmen in front of us. It’s only then I realise that one of them is shaking at Zayn’s feet, tremors racking his body as he mumbles nonsense to his Captain. “Get that lowly scumbag of a rat to his feet!” He barks.
Louis shifts to do it, but the captain stops him.
“No. I want Roselina to do it.”
My hands are clammy.
He spins me around so quickly that I’m dizzy.
“You are on this ship, am I right?” He gets out, his eyes pouring into mine.
“Who’s the captain?”
“You are, but--”
“Then why are you questioning my decisions?!”
I shut my eyes, his voice resonating through my ears. I can’t help shaking as I bend down to help the pirate stand. He’s dead weight in my arms, too heavy to get up.
“Horan, help the girl.”
My eyes grow big as I turn around to see Niall amongst the crew. Blending in with them. His face is set into an upset scowl as the pirates let him pass through.
“You’re a sick man, Captain,” he grits out as he bends to help me get the man up to his feet.
“Tell me something I don’t know, Horan,” he retorts.
Captain? Since when does Niall bow down to Zayn’s orders?! And when did he want to dress like a pirate? His other clothes suited him better.
I wince as I finally get the withering pirate to his feet, his weight practically crushing me.
“Get him on the plank, love,” Zayn instructs. “And Mr. Barnes, if you keep making this harder for yourself, you can be certain that you won’t have any hands to fight off these sharks.”
Almost immediately, the man holds himself up, regaining control over his mouth at the same time. He jumps out of me and Niall’s grasp, holding himself on Zayn’s jacket instead.
“Get your filthy paws off me!” Zayn snaps, pushing the man away from him before pulling out his gun and pulling the hammer backwards while pointing it in his direction. “A week! That’s how much time you made me waste with that cod brain of yours!” he continues heatedly. “You had to realise a week after we left the port that an important token of our quest was missing!”
Mr Barnes turns to the crewmen, desperate. He’s received by a series of swords and guns. I’m nauseated. The man was one of them. And they’re ready to send him to the sharks, for a little bloodlust?
“I don’t give a damn about anything that comes out of your mouth, you blithering rat! Tomlinson, gag him and bind his hands behind his back!”
I’m horrified as I see Louis do as asked with a sick smirk plastered on his face. He even dares to wink at me when he’s done.
The bulky pirate, Liam, the proceeds to heave Mr. Barnes at the very edge of the plank.
Zayn pulls out his sword out menacingly as Barnes tries to advance towards the deck and away from the hungry ocean.
“Roselina, get up there with him,” he instructs, keeping his eyes on the guilty pirate. The man screams in his gag, fighting uselessly against his bindings. I stare blankly in front of me, too lost and too scared to move. “Roselina, do not make me repeat myself,” he warns dangerously.
“Just do it, Roselina!” Niall gets out.
Shaking like a dry leaf, I lift the hem of my dress and step on the plank.
“Get closer to him,” the Captain demands.
My feet are terribly heavy as I carefully step forwards. I want to throw up the meager food in my stomach as I look down at the ravenous ocean.
“Now Roselina, you’re going to push Barnes in the water.”
My heart stops. I turn my head to look at Zayn, but there’s no trace of sympathy in his golden orbs. Just raw anger.
“If you don’t push him in the water,” the pirate trails on, “I’m making you watch as I cut him into pieces and throw him in like vulgar chum,” he ends calmly.
My heartbeat accelerates drastically as I look down at Mr. Barnes pleading face. “Please-please don’t--Captain, I’ve been a part of the crew for years!”
“Roselina,” Zayn growls behind me, and from the venomous tone in his voice, I know he’s moments away from cutting Mr. Barnes into pieces. And judging by the curling of my stomach, there’s no way I can stomach seeing that. From this situation, we’re both trapped - but from experience, and observation, he’s going to die anyway. If he’s going to die, won’t it be right, to choose the less painful way? Drowning seems like an awfully painful death, long and excruciating, but being cut into pieces and then being tossed overboard? Certainly that has to be more painful.
“I’m so sorry,” I croak, my mouth having gone completely dry. The ship rocks suddenly from a wave, and I nearly tip over, if not grabbing onto the railing. The waves seem to bang against the ship, as if shouting for the pirate’s soul to join its endless thirst.
All the pirates behind us are laughing and whooping, like this is some hilarious circus act, and Mr. Barnes and I are part of the tight rope act, balancing ourselves on the thin rope. Above all the cheering, I hear Louis Tomlinson, and I can picture him smirking behind us, sick amusement glimmering in his dark blue eyes.
I take a shaking step towards Mr. Barnes, who has seem to gone hysterical, pleading for his life. But his voice is tuned out amongst the pirates snickering behind us - and all the while, Zayn has gone eerily silent, even though I feel his gaze burning into my back, watching us with cruel, empty eyes.
I swallow the lump in my throat, ignoring the nausea bubbling in the back of my throat, and reach out to grasp onto the man’s hand. My other hand grips onto the wooden railing, my knuckle pure white from my vice-like grip. We’re both on the edge here, but all it’ll take is a push and then…
Just one push.
I try to get my breathing under control, try to ignore the noises erupting all around me, but I can’t get the look of desperation from him out of my mind, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to forget it once this is over. His elbow is ice cold whenever I grab a weak hold of it, but I tighten my grip, my fingers curling around his rough skin, and I freeze, my body going paralyzed.
“Please,” he utters.
Our eyes connect, the clouds overhead seeming to freeze in time as well. The ship rocks violently again, and my stomach churns along with it, the color completely draining from my face. My knees seem to have turned into mush, and black dots are lining my vision. My lips themselves feel dry and numb.
“On with it!” I vaguely hear Tomlinson’s gleeful shout, followed by a round of laughter, and then all the noises fade completely. The black dots intensify, and I release the wooden railing, teetering blindly towards Mr. Barnes, who now has a look of confusion.
He mouths something, but I don’t hear what he says. The world is turning, more so than usual, and for a moment, it looks like we’ve switched tables - he’s shouting hysterically and reaching for me, and the blackness is growing, covering his silhouette completely until there’s darkness everywhere - and I’m gone.
I'm unconscious merely seconds before I'm imprisoned by the ocean’s icy claws. Ice fills my lungs, my whole body numb as I feel it sinking heavily. I'm tugged to one side and then another, my mind losing itself once more just as a hand grabs my arm under the water.
Brusquely, air is pushed inside my lungs, followed by a series of rapid pulsations near my chest.
“Get that boy off her!”
The ice in my lungs melts and is violently expelled as I cough out the salty sea water.
“Deep breaths, Miss Aldrich,” the voice urges as I fail to inhale and exhale at a steady rhythm.
Shaking, I look up to see a drenched Zayn staring down at me with concern. I find myself mesmerized by a droplet of water rolling down from his forehead to his jawline. My gaze moves a few inches over to notice a panting Niall, held back by Louis.
“Roselina,” the captain states. My mind doesn't respond right away, knowing very well there’s a part of what just happened missing. “Roselina, look at me,” Zayn repeats, grabbing my chin. My eyes meet his ochre ones. “You're going to head back to my cabin with Harry to change while I deal with Barnes and Horan. You will not protest whatsoever,” he instructs, his tone similar to the one a parent would have when scolding a child.
His finger presses on my quivering lower lip.
“No protesting,” he insists firmly, helping me up to my feet. The soaked dress is heavy on my waist. Excessively heavy. I reflexively wrap my arms around myself as I feel multiple unholy gazes on my dripping form.
Harry proceeds to take my hand and lead me through the crowd of pirates to the captain's quarters.
My stomach coils as I'm to be returned to my prison. Harry lugs me behind him, his fingers warm against my icy skin, and my teeth start chattering against the gusts of wind. I stagger a little when my eyes meet Louis’, who is grinning ear to ear at my state of being.
Harry’s arm tightens around me, and just as he turns to say something, the captain shouts behind us, “Harold!” Harry, too, staggers to a stop, turning to look at the captain over his shoulder. I tear my eyes from Louis and follow the cabin boy’s now fearful gaze, seeing Zayn’s eyes trained on Harry’s hand on mine, his lips turned into an angry scowl. As if my hand was on fire, Harry releases me, then mutters for me to stay close.
As we head back into the ship, I hear Louis reeling with laughter. Now that the wind is gone, and we’re inside, my teeth stop chattering, and I can think properly for the moment. Harry opens the door to the captain’s room, and I step inside, furrowing my eyebrows and trying to remember what happened. I remember standing on the plank and looking into the desperate eyes of Mr. Barnes - and then I remember being in the grace of the merciless sea. But after that, everything’s blank.
“What did Niall do?” I ask Harry.
“He touched what wasn't his to touch,” the curly-haired pirate responds, crossing his arms. My eyes linger on the scar decorating his bicep.
“What? When?” I blink as he pulls his sleeve over it, noticing my staring.
“You. When we pulled you out of the water, Horan joined his lips with yours. To say it angered the captain is an understatement.”
“Niall didn't kiss me!” I shake my head, ready to head back on deck to defend him. Harry stops me.
“You can call it whatever you want, but the captain was very explicit when he warned us not to touch you,” he says, holding his hands out in front of me. I grimace, a shudder racking my body.
Harry mistakes the action. “Let’s get you into dry clothes, Miss Aldrich.”
“Don’t call me Miss Aldrich,” I say. “It makes me feel as if I’m a higher position than you, and I’m not. I was an orphan working as a nanny, no more, no less. I’m just Roselina.”
He nods curtly.
“Wait for me right here, I know where I can find some female clothing,” he states, giving me a quick once over before leaving the cabin. He returns seconds later, a dress in his hands. “Tomlinson won’t mind me borrowing this,” he explains, handing it over to me.
“Did this belong to one of his wenches?!” I exclaim, horrified.
“Does it matter? It’s warm. You can’t stay in your clothes, you’ll get ill,” he denies, forcing the dress into my hands.
I take it between my thumb and forefinger, eyeing it with a scowl but saying no more on the matter.
“Where can I change?” I ask. He sighs and turns around to face the other way.
“I promise I won’t look, alright?” he states. “Just hurry and change before the captain returns.”
I stare at the cabin boy for a minute or so before I decide to trust him. I hastily tug the wet fabric off my body, all while reminiscing today’s event. I’m still perturbed by the empty slate.
“Harry, what happened after I got on the plank with Barnes?”
The cabin boy looks down at his feet and starts playing with the rings on his fingers. “You fainted, Miss. So the captain dove in to save you. Horan tried to do the same, but Liam held him back. When the capt’n pulled you back on board, you weren't breathing. Horan managed to reanimate you, but his method didn't please the captain at all. Louis pulled him off you, and that's when you started coughing out sea water.”
Zayn comes in at that exact moment.
“Out, Harold. Liam needs help outside with the sails,” the pirate states gruffly, wringing his clothes on the wooden floor. “We need as much speed as we can get if we want to make up for lost time. Horan claims it'll be faster if we pass through Widower’s Cove, but we all know that's not an option,” he exhales angrily. “Black Heart would not be pleased, and we can't have the Screaming Siren tailing Renegade right now. I don't want to deal with his antics.”
“Very well capt’n,” the younger pirate nods, then without a glance my way, rushes out of the room, more than eager to be out of the captain’s intimidating presence.
For a couple seconds, the room is filled with tense silence, with only the sound of our breathing. Then I look up, prepared to defend Niall, when the captain surges forward, his large, cold hands cupping my cheeks before his lips crash against mine. I’m thrown back against the wall, not violently but urgently, his body pressing against mine. And out of the blue, the captain stops and pulls away, his eyes boring into mine - and there’s something in them I’ve never seen before, and it makes my knees tremble from the mere sight.
“Now that I’ve erased Horan off you, can you tell me why, Roselina?” he enquires calmly.
I blink back at him, not understanding.
“Why do you have to be so fragile?” he continues, eyes hard. “All you needed was to push that bastard but no. You had to fucking faint.”
“Let me finish,” he silences me dryly. “That boy touched you where no one else but I was to ever touch you because you couldn’t manage to stay conscious!” he explodes. I push him away, getting angry.
“Would you rather I’d drowned?! Niall merely helped me breathe!” I exclaim.
“Don’t raise your voice at me!” Zayn retorts lowly, pushing me against the wall once more. “Three more seconds, and I would’ve reanimated you myself,” he spews.
Suddenly furious, I shove against his chest, and he surprisingly releases me. Turning my back on him, I huff, “Sure you would’ve.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
I force myself not to look at him and cross my arms over my chest. Tears prick at my eyes - I’m so angry that I could cry any moment, and I don’t want to give him that satisfaction. I almost drown, and he blames me for fainting? It’s not like I can control what my body does. Everything’s that happened is because of him - he brought me here in the first place.
“Just leave me alone,” my voice comes out feeble and shaky, and I hate it. I grit my teeth and wish I could at least keep a stern tone, but I can’t even do that.
What is he trying to pull, anyhow? That he’s some kind of knight in shining armor - my hero? He’s everything but. I haven’t got a clue why he’s wasting his breath on convincing me that he could’ve done with Niall did. No matter what he says or does, my view on him will never change.
“Roselina,” his voice is, again, surprisingly soft, and his fingers softly graze my arm, but I push them away, then whirl to face him, my cheeks flushed and eyes blazing.
“I said to leave me alone! For days you’ve locked me up in here, and you seem to find is sickly amusing to take away things I ask for. But for once, can’t you pretend to have some sense of compassion and leave me alone?”
He blinks, and his features darken drastically. It looks like he’s about to explode, but instead, he pushes past me and swings the door open. Muttering something about women and emotions, he slams the door behind him, jarring the walls around us. I collapse onto the bed and dissolve into the fresh set of tears. I still feel utterly cold, despite the warm clothes. I want off of this god forsaken ship so badly and away from these wretched pirates, but it seems like no matter what I do, I can’t. Even Niall is seeming to succumb to their might - without him on my side, what else can I do? The thought of my only true friend on board switching sides is terrifying enough to make me sick, and I can only pray it will never happen.