Due to the fact that one can’t see outside when in the brig, it’s nearly impossible to tell what time of day it is. There is no trace of light there; the captain won’t even permit a lone lantern to be hung along the walls. Thus, no matter if it’s day or night, it’s always pitch-black.
After two days, I’ve come to learn that the sounds from above signal what time of day it is.
During the night, it’s silent and almost eerie. You can hear the occasional sound of footsteps trudging along or the murmuring of voices. In the morning though, the sounds come alive in lively interludes. Shouts are heard, things being pulled along across the deck, orders being called to the crew of the ship. It’s the exact opposite of the silence, and all the while, the ship continues its rocking, which varies based on the weather.
Sometimes the ship rocks violently, tipping back and forth. Last time it did, I emptied my lunch and dinner and felt sick for hours because of the constant motion. And other times, it’s gentle and almost soothing, and it’s easier to sleep at night because of it, even if there’s constant darkness and confusion as to what lay ahead.
Zayn and I have seldom spoken to each other since the day I ran out across the deck. I’ve tried my best not to look in his eyes, and I’ve done everything I can not to speak to him. Whenever he asks me a question, I answer, but other than that, we don’t have engaging conversations.
I have never met a man like Zayn. To this very day I cannot believe what he said about girls, expressing his view on them. I know that girls are not necessarily equal to men and that men were to be the head of families and seen as the dominant figure, but nonetheless, I still feel irked from Zayn’s blatant and careless view, although it shouldn’t surprise me. Pirates rarely kept women on their ships because it was seen as bad luck, and pirates tended to use women to satisfy their needs--that and nothing more. Pirates never looked at women other than jewels to be touched and admired; they never considered women to be something more than that.
I’ve also come to look forward to my nights in the brig, not only for the quietness, but because of Niall. Niall proved to be an intriguing individual with a sense of lightness that consoled me. There were no times when he wasn’t able to make me laugh or smile, no matter how tired or irritated I was.
I can already feel that I’m making a friend of Niall, and I’m happy from the thought. Even if I’m stuck on a ship of pirates, at least I have one person I can depend on, right?
“So do you have any siblings?” I enquire, sitting on the small platform that had served me as a bed for the last two days. We had done a lot of talking, getting to know each other as much as possible.
“I do have a brother. He got engaged in the military though I was about ten years-old, so I didn’t really get the chance to talk to him that much,” Niall supplies. He pauses, lost in thought before turning to look at me. “What about you?”
“None that I know of. I’m an orphan remember?”
The ship lurches suddenly, and I am thrown forward, and Niall catches me just in time before I fall head first onto the cold, unrelenting floor.
“Are you okay?”
“Peachy. I’m still not used to being on a ship,” I chuckle, my heart beating erratically in my chest due to the unexpected fall. “Thanks for catching me… I don’t know what Zayn would’ve done if he came back to check on me and my clothes are all wet. He’d probably force me to change in front of him all over again,” I mutter, shivers raking my body at the memory.
The blonde stiffens beside me. “I still can’t believe he made you do that,” he scowls angrily. “You should have slapped him. Or kicked him even. He would’ve deserved it.“
“Well, I did spit on him and nothing good came out of that,” I point out.
“We have to get you out of here,” Niall declares. “Next time the boat stops in a harbour, we’re getting out of this ship.”
“How? I’m pretty certain that if the ship does drop the anchor, the captain will keep me tightly locked up somewhere.”
The blonde looks at me thoughtfully.
“Not if you persuade him.”
“I don’t follow,” I frown. The blue-eyed boy bites his lip nervously.
“From what I’ve gathered, the captain has a soft spot for you. He doesn’t want anybody messing with you. Well, if he sees that locking you up could mean that you’d be harmed, there’s no doubt he’ll take you to shore with him.”
I blink, incredulous.
“What I really mean is that when the time comes for him to lock you up, you could start crying or protesting, saying that one of his men would enter and hurt you or something similar to that. You could lie. I’m pretty sure he’d believe you, an innocent lady, more than any of them bastard pirates.”
I think over Niall’s idea and can’t help but have doubts about it. Zayn doesn’t seem easily manipulated, and I have always been a terrible liar. But his idea does make sense. If I can somehow get off this ship, I have a greater chance of developing an idea to escape--for both me and Niall.
And after they stop at a harbour for supplies, who knows when we’ll ever see land again. It could be weeks or so before they need to stop for more.
The sound of the door from ahead opening with a loud creak causes Niall and I to go completely silent. Pursing his lips, Niall shuffles back into his hiding place, concealing him within the depths of the shadows as footsteps near us in the brig.
I stiffen and look towards the source of the sound and find Zayn’s tall, lumbering figure pause in front of the bars. Then the sound of keys jingling is heard, and the metal door opens with a groan, the metal scraping a bit against the floor.
“Morning, Princess,” The captain greets me dryly without an ounce of warmth.
I don’t reply. Instead, I rise to my feet and walk outside of the cage, rubbing at my arms because of the chilly feeling I get. The brig is always cold, and since I sleep down here every single night, I’ve grown accustomed to the lack of warmth--to a certain extent. As I begin moving again, I’m reminded of how cold it is and want nothing more than to feel the sun on my skin.
We ascend the steps, and I walk through the doorway into the hall. Zayn leads me down the hall, then down multiple other ones, before I ask softly, “Can I go on deck?”
“Why?” He stops in front of his quarters and opens his door, not looking at me.
“To get some fresh air.”
He scoffs. “I can’t care less about you needing fresh air.”
With that, he closes his door behind me roughly and locks it from the outside. I grit my teeth as I hear his heavy footsteps echo down the hall, and I’m left alone in his room. Along with spending countless of hours in the brig, I spend just as many trapped in his room. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt a fresh breeze; I can’t even open his window, since he nailed it shut after what happened when I ran on the deck.
I’m growing dangerously irritated from lack of open space, and I once again try to pry open the window, but the panes are nailed shut to where they won’t even budge.
Zayn is treating me like a prisoner. He barely looks at me, barely speaks to me, and I wonder why he won’t just send me overboard, even though the idea terrifies me because I don’t know how to swim. I don’t see any other reason for me to be alive, since Zayn has no obvious use of me. I am just here, and I can’t figure out why I’m here in the first place, other than the fact Zayn has an interest in my necklace. Necklace which I am starting to miss deeply.
I take a nap on the bed before the door opens again, revealing the captain once more.
“Get up.” He commands briskly, and I jolt from the bed.
“Just follow me.” He gruffs and swiftly turns on his heel. I blink and quickly follow behind him, scrambling over my own feet in confusion. I rub at my eyes, trying to awake fully from my nap, and I stifle a yawn as I realize he’s taking me on deck. We near the staircase leading upwards onto the top floor, and my breath hitches in anticipation and excitement.
He unlatches the door and throws it open, and an instant breeze kisses me along the face. I smile to myself as I rise into the open air. My hair is whipped from my face almost violently, but I don’t care because it feels great. The sun is high in the sky and there isn’t a cloud in the sky; it’s nothing but sunshine and gusts of wind, and all I can make out from this is freedom. I feel free standing here, no matter where I am or how much freedom I literally have.
I stare out into the water and see that light blue stretching on for miles. No matter how hard I look, I cannot see an ounce of green. It’s like we’re sailing on a planet made entirely of water--that and nothing more.
The deck is alive with the crew, mobbing its surface and manipulating the sails and instruments of the ship. There is shouting everywhere, and it’s difficult for me to focus on one thing entirely because of the onslaught of noise.
I sigh in satisfaction, only for the noise to stop. Everyone on deck stop what they’re doing, turning to look at me. I feel like I’m intruding on something private. The captain though, is having none of it.
“Back to work!” he booms, his hand grabbing my arm. “This certainly isn’t the first time you’ve seen a woman, make sure it isn’t your last!” He orders, dragging me backwards and up another set of stairs to a higher deck. “There. You have your fresh air. Happy?”
“Thank me later. Now I have stuff to do and I ask you don’t distract my men again. Just stay here,” he points the deck, “and keep to yourself. Don’t touch anything,” he ends, turning on his heel before heading back to the main deck.
I roll my eyes and turn around, leaning on the wooden end of the ship to glance out at the sea. For a moment, I’m frozen upon realizing how grand it is. I marvel at the idea of something so large that you can’t see the entirety of it. It’s no wonder people used to believe the ocean never ended, and one jeopardized himself by sailing into its mysterious waters.
“Ay, lass, if you want to keep yer head, I suggest ye move.” A voice warns behind me, deadly calm yet slightly amused. I turn to find a pair of blue eyes that marvel the sea’s color. A pistol is aimed right at me, and I freeze. The man laughs and motions for me to step out of the way, not showing any sign of irritation or impatience.
I step out of his gaze and realize he’s aiming the pistol not at me but at a target. It’s a simple target with red painting across it. Just as I step aside, he shoots the pistol, and the smell of gunpowder is heavy in the air, and my ears are ringing from the loudness of the shot.
The man frowns to himself, displeased. “Hm. Thought that would be stronger.”
“I thought if I adjusted the mounting hole of the bridle, it would be stronger. Not the case.” He clucked his tongue, staring down at the pistol with thoughtful eyes. The pistol seems aged, like it’s seen some battles. I didn’t want to think what it has seen - it certainly can’t be good.
I’m unsure of how to respond to the man, but his attention isn’t on me. He turns his back on me and hovers over a desk full of what seems like gunpowder and broken bits and pieces of ammunition and pistols. He grumbles to himself as he starts working at the pistol, and I quietly step behind him, curious as to what he’s working on. Everyone else is working around us, but I’m able to zone out the shouting and focus on this strange man.
And he is strange.
I haven’t seen much of him, but I can tell something is different about him. He handles the pistol like it’s a breathing child; he stares at it like it’s something more than a mere weapon. He stares at it as an artist would stare at a canvas, trying to depict what they can create out of it. This man has a passion for guns, that I can already tell.
I don’t speak as I watch how quickly his hands move, grabbing utensils and pulling apart the pistol like a surgeon would dissect a person to see inside of them and find the problem. His lips move silently, not uttering sounds, but speaking soundless words to himself, as if talking himself through the process. That, or coming up with an alternative to what he said before.
For a moment, I divert my attention and find Zayn ascending the stairs that lead to the very back of the ship, where the steering wheel is. He is silent and walks stiffly, shoulders rolled back in perfect poise, eyes sweeping over anyone with sharp intent. He eyes the workings of his ship as a teacher would eye her classroom; he’s searching for anyone slacking or doing something wrong.
I quickly direct my attention back to the man hunched over the table, not liking the idea of making eye contact with the captain at the moment.
But when I look back at the man, he’s already cocking the pistol again with a wicked gleam in his eyes. Smirking to himself, he states, “Ay, this should do the trick.” He sends a quick wink my way and turns back to the target.
Moments before he shoots, however, his eyes darken, growing serious in mere moments as his fingers linger over the trigger. He pauses, then pulls, and as soon as the shot is heard, he’s smiling as if he won a grand prize.
“Twice as strong,” He exclaims, his dark blue eyes looking back at me, as if realizing I’m still there. “Lass, have you ever shot a pistol?”
I shake my head. “No.”
“Well there’s a starter for everything, I say! I’m Louis Tomlinson.”
I smile when he finally introduces himself, now able to place a name to his face. “I’m Roselina Aldrich.”
“I know in the highlands, land-lovers don’t like women knowing how to raise an arm. But you’re here on our ship, maybe you could take a few practice rounds?”
I take a moment to eye the pistol in his hand, wondering what it would feel like, to hold such power in my grasp. It’s very unladylike to shoot a gun, but he’s right. I’m on a pirate ship, and I know I have conflicts in my future because of where I am. I see nothing wrong in learning how to defend myself.
“Okay,” I agree with a hesitant smile, and Louis smirks, handing me the weapon.
I frown when it’s in the palm of my hand, the object weighing less than I expected.
“Here,” he says, his gruff and dirty hands arranging the weapon in my hand so my index is sitting on the trigger. “Now try aiming that target over there,” he instructs, motioning the blotch of red paint.
Squinting, I extend my arm out, the pistol clenched tightly between my fingers. I stiffen as the pirate gets closer to me, wrapping both arms around my body to help me stabilize the shaking gun. I turn my face to stare at him.
“Ay don’t look at me! Keep your eyes on the target,” he demands.
Shaking my head, I listen to him and focus on the red mark once more and take a deep breath. I can do this. My finger starts pressing on the trigger, my concentration at its highest peak.
“You’re thinking too much. And you’re not positioned properly,” Louis interrupts once more. I don’t get a say as he crouches to the deck and randomly moves my feet so they’re perpendicular. “There,” he huffs, standing back up before taking a couple steps back. “Your shoulders. Turn them so they’re facing the red spot.”
I shift, but he stops me almost immediately.
“Don’t move your feet. Keep them right where I placed them.”
I look at him in disbelief but end up listening to him anyways, exhaling loudly.
“Are you even breathing properly? You’ve been huffing and puffing for the last minute,” he states, walking towards me. My eyes widen as his hands wrap around my waist, feeling me up. “That’s what I thought. You can’t possibly be breathing properly. Let me help you with that.” His tone is suggestive, a low purr against my ear, and I catch it when it’s too late.
“There will be no helping of such, Tomlinson,” the captain’s voice cuts dryly, suddenly beside us. “What do both of you think you’re doing?” he continues, his look hard. His gaze moves to the pistol in my hands, and he swiftly rips it out of my fingers, throwing it in Louis’s hands. “Roselina, I thought I made myself crystal clear when I said I didn’t want you touching anything or mingling with the crew!”
“He came to me!” I protest. “He almost shot me in the head!”
Zayn’s glare shifts from me to Louis.
“I did no such thing!” the pirate protests, clearly offended. “She’s the one who simply walked in front of the canon. I couldn’t practice with her in the way.”
I stiffen when the captain’s dark eyes turn back to me. Now they’re angry.
“That’s enough, you’ve had sufficient time outside.” He growls and reaches for me. I try to move away, but his arm grasps onto my arm and tugs me sharply into him. I don’t bother trying to break from his tight hold - it’s pointless, and it’ll only anger him more.
I hear Louis laughing as I’m dragged away. “It was nice meeting you, lass!”
I don’t reply.
I quietly huff to myself as I’m forcefully dragged across the ship once more. I stumble a few times from the shoves the captain sends my way, and I’m struggling to keep up with his striding, but he has much longer legs than I do, so it’s proving to be rather difficult.
“Will you let go of my arm?” I snap. “I can walk on my own.”
He releases my arm but doesn’t look at me. I sigh and follow behind him. With a frown, I glance all around us and wish I can stay on deck longer. It wasn’t my fault for walking in front of Louis - I didn’t know he was practicing on a target. Had I known, I would’ve stayed as far away from him as I could, especially if I knew he had other kinds of intentions for me…
My cheeks blaze as I recall his hands wrapping around my waist, so carelessly, as if I was nothing but a mere object. But looking around, I see that many of the crew members trail their eyes over me as I pass by, though none have the guts to go against the captain’s words and touch me. These men rarely see women, so now that I’m on board, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they look at me with nothing but hunger and lust in their eyes.
It disgusts me to think that men think women are merely there to pleasure them. Women are humans too, and we should be treated as such. I’ve always wondered how marriage would be, to belong to a man and have to do every single thing he asked. Everything you did would be for his pleasure or to his favor. I’ve questioned this all my life but never spoke it aloud, since it was highly improper. It was a written word that the man was head of the household and that the woman was beneath him. It was even scientifically proven.
But I disagree.
I feel even angrier when I no longer feel the sun on my face or smell the fresh air. Zayn pushes me into his cabin, and I hold back a bitter comment, knowing it will get me nowhere.
“You will remain here for the rest of the day.” He says. “And you’re punishment of sleeping in the brig is over, so you’ll be happy to know you won’t - ”
“ - no,” I cut him off sharply, feeling panicked from the thought of not seeing Niall. That was the highlight of my day. Plus I always brought him leftover food - without me, he’d starve down there.
The captain lingers in front of the door and raises an eyebrow at me. “What?”
I glance away from his suspicious gaze and fiddle with my fingers. “Uh, I like sleeping down there.”
I lock onto his gaze. “Because you’re not there.”
His face darkens instantly from my bold statement, and the next moment, I find myself pressed painfully against the wall with him towering over me.
“What did you just say?”
“C-Can I please continue sleeping in the brig?” I ask, unable to hide the tremble in my voice from fear of his close proximity. “Where else could I possibly sleep?”
“In here. With me, since I know you enjoy my presence so much.” His voice is a low growl. He’s angry, I realize, and it’s too late to fix that. But I can’t allow him to keep me from going to the brig - I have to take care of Niall. He’s depending on me.
“Let me go,” I murmur, pushing against his chest to no avail. He chuckles above me.
“Why should I? You’re my prisoner. I can do with you whatever I wish.”
My heart sinks from his deadly, suggestive words. I look up into his heavy gaze, horror-stricken. Would he…?
“I wouldn’t what? You forget who I am and what kind of man I am, Miss Aldrich.” He murmurs huskily, letting his fingers softly trail down my arm, getting lower and lower. I stiffen under his hold, unable to look away from his dark gaze. “I’m a greedy man, and I take whatever I want, no matter what.”
His words seem more like a threat to me than a declaration, and for a moment, I wonder if he’ll take me, right here, in his cabin, and seize my innocence. I won’t be surprised, since he is a pirate, after all. Pirates don’t treat anyone nicely - especially women. Especially captive women.
My mouth seems to have gone completely dry, and the protests winding in my chest fail to be heard. I’m rendered speechless under his powerful hold, and all I can do is stare, dreadfully waiting for what next is to come.
But our moment is shattered when a loud, booming sound is heard through the walls of the ship, and the captain instantly steps away from me, his jaw clenching and eyebrows furrowing in deep thought. Recognition lights his face - he knows that sound, but to me, it sounds like thunder, and I don’t know what it is.
“What is that?” I ask shakily, hugging myself as I collapse on his bed, suddenly too weak to hold myself up any longer.
“The cannon.” He paused as another boom erupts in the air, and I flinch from the loud noise. Shouts are heard outside as well, joining the noise, and the captain swears under his breath, whirling towards the door and slamming it open.
“Stay here!” He snarls over his shoulder and closes the door, and I listen as his footsteps carry heavily down the hallway, joining the chaos up on deck.