Dawn light is hardly streaking across the sky when I'm making my way through the streets. Running on only a few hours of sleep is never a good idea but I'm determined to get to Seven Seas Inn before the tavern opens.
I reach the door and slip in unnoticed. Sleeping patrons lie all over the place and I'm careful not to step on them. Silently I climb the steps to Ghost's room.
I pull the pins from my hair and sink to my knees to work on the lock. It pops open in no time and I enter. The sheets are rumpled but the bed is empty.
Confused I reach for my dagger but find it gone. Panic settles and I whirl around at a sound behind me. There stands Ghost twirling my dagger around his fingers.
"Looking for something?" I refuse to answer him.
"You know it's illegal to break into someone's rooms?" I smile.
"If you don't break the rules you miss out on all the fun." He throws me something between a smile and a frown. He holds up my dagger and stares at it in the dim light of the lantern.
"What were you going to do with this?" I cross my arms and try to look threatening despite the fact that I'm shorter than him. I take a step toward him; reminded of my purpose.
"Why won't you tell me the Legend of Ryder?" I demand and he rolls his eyes.
"We're still on this matter? I thought we ended this conversation last night." He fake yawns and his teal eyes flicker to me teasingly.
"If you don't tell me I'll stab you in the gut." His smug smile drives me insane especially as he makes it a point to show me my dagger.
"You don't have a weapon, remember?" Angry, I lunge for my weapon but he sidesteps before backing me against the wall. His face comes within mouse length of my own and I glare at his eerily calm appearance.
"You flared out last night," he accuses cockily and I aim my knee for him.
Right as I thrust all my strength into my blow he catches my knee and forces my foot back onto the ground.
"What's your talent?" I flick my hair out of my face and collect my dignity daring to respond.
"Why do you care?" I manage to get out between clenched teeth. He raises an eyebrow and leans closer.
"Because," he says without breaking eye contact as he slides my dagger back into its sheathe on my waist, "I want to help you."
I put a grim expression on my face and lean close enough that my lips touch his ear.
"Generally when someone wants to help another they don't start by shoving them against the wall." His cheeks turn red and I feel a flash of satisfaction. He steps back, giving me plenty of room and I brush myself off. I feel much calmer now that my dagger is back in place.
"You realize that I could turn you into the king for doing that to me." He snorts and busies himself with the wash basin.
"And where would that get you? I know a few soldiers who'd love to turn in the infamous Poison Ivy." I grimace at his words; I didn't realize I was THAT well-known.
"And besides," he continues on, oblivious to my facial expression, "I'm a pirate which means I follow no laws but my own. And my laws say that I did nothing wrong." I frown and roll my eyes. He must make up his laws as he goes.
"So what are your laws then?" He turns to me; eyes questioning. Once he determines I'm serious he begins to pace.
"Rule number one: don't do dumb guy stuff. Although, now that I think about it, I break that one quite often. Rule number two: when fighting an opponent for real no rules apply. That one is a general pirate rule. And finally, rule number three: never treat a woman harshly-"
"Unless she deserves it." He finishes smugly. I glare at him.
"I did not deserve it." He raises his eyebrows and I feel like I just walked into a trap.
"Oh yes? Then why is it you broke into my rooms before the crack of dawn with a dagger?" He has me there.
"Okay maybe I deserved it but still." I'd really like to wipe that smile of satisfaction off his face.
"Much better, now what is it you came here for? It'd better be good otherwise I got up early for nothing." I sigh and decide to try a new tactic. Asking didn't work so I'll try demanding.
"Tell me the legend." I say and he acts like the guard did. He struggles and I don't know why.
"What d'you do to me?" His words are slurred and he holds his head as if in pain. I suddenly realize that I've accidentally used my talent on him.
My eyes widen and I move to help him but don't know how. His eyes are murderous as my talent forces him to do what he doesn't want to. I feel sick inside watching him struggle. I never wanted this. I never meant to do this to him.
"The Legend of Ryder is a legend forbidden to speak." He forces out through clenched teeth as he storms to the other end of the room. His fists come out of nowhere and hit the wooden wall with such a force that it cracks. I flinch; that could be me.
His muscles tense and he comes up to me. I back up in fear but at that moment his eyes lose focus for a second. He just gave in to my talent. It saddens me greatly to see someone with so much strength be lessened to nothing.
"Ryder was just a young girl when she decided to go undercover to the castle to get a job. Her title was a high noble but she never thought of herself as such. She excelled at her servant job but wanted to know more.
The First Advisor took her under his wing and trained her. She never really liked him though because she knew the truth about him. While she trained she collected information to condemn the King. She wanted him dethroned along with half the country. Unfortunately before she could pull the plug she was discovered and betrayed. She ran off one night and supposedly found the love of her life. They ran away and had a daughter but by that point the king had labeled her a traitor.
She knew she had to get her daughter to safety so she left the newborn with her brother and his daughter. He was caught and killed the next day for helping Ryder. His daughter and the baby took refuge at an inn until his daughter was old enough to live on her own. She knew the baby had to be kept away from the law. If the king ever found out where she was hiding he'd have her killed instantly.
Ryder ran for her life until she faked her and her daughter's deaths and took refuge on my ship. We sailed a few years with her before she disappeared on one of the islands we landed on. I never heard from her again but named my ship after her in hopes her daughter would find me one day. I'd like to help her daughter take down the King. But I already told you that." I back against the wall and slide to the ground.
"You've got a wicked talent," he comments as he becomes his own person again.
His words barely register in my mind; I'm too busy thinking of Ryder. It's too much to handle at one time. His story and Carissa's match up. That means
"You look very much like her. That's another reason I saved your life last night. You act like her as well," he adds and his voice is quiet. I'm her daughter. I am Ryder's daughter. I bury my head in my hands. Saf was only trying to protect me. I was so awful to him. I should apologize. Wait. Riley's words flow into my mind.
"To catch me you have to be good. To stay with me you have to be fast. To pass me? You've got to be kidding," I whisper the words Riley said and Ghost eases himself to the ground beside me.
"He's a Cold One. Also called a vampire in other parts of the world." Shock courses through my veins and Ghost flinches. I can't believe it! All this time I've been training with the most dangerous species alive. I'm such an idiot. Why didn't I realize it sooner? It would explain his fast healing.
"Could you tone it down a little please?" I stare at him in confusion and wait for him to explain. I didn't do anything loud.
"I can feel your emotions. You're upset. Your shock hurts me. It pierces my heart and fills my head with a high pitched sound. It's painful." I frown and absentmindedly twirl a piece of my hair around my finger.
"Have you ever tried suppressing it?" He nods and runs his fingers through his hair.
"I try to keep my mind closed to emotions but I can't." I shake my head and move so that he's straight across from me. He eyes me warily.
"No, I mean, suppress it in me. Lower my level of shock." He thinks about that for a moment before a half smile lights up his face. He holds his hand out for mine.
"May I?" I smile and give him my hand. His hand is warm and calloused but strong.
Riley is a Cold One. Renewed shocked attacks me as I remind myself of how easily I was won over by him. Ghost flinches slightly but immediately there's pressure on my heart. Ghost noticeably relaxes and I get over my shock. Smiling he releases my hand.
"There, now we're even. I helped you and you helped me so we can start being equals now okay?" He grins at my words and I know there's going to be some bargaining going on.
"I will help you control your anger induced talent if you help me control my erratically painful talent. Then we can go after the King together. Deal?" I ponder that a moment before giving him my answer.
"Deal. But I am not going after the king quite yet. He's given me no reason to kill him, yet, and his first advisor is teaching me useful things so I'll act as a spy for now." Plans form in my eyes and I'm vaguely aware of Ghost watching me curiously.
The sun peeks through the cracks in the walls hitting my eyes. I blink and look away before realizing that I've been here a long while. I'm late for training!
"I'm late!" I repeat out loud as I rush to my feet pulling Ghost to his as well.
I stop at the door and turn back to him. A half smile rests on his lips and I realize I'm still holding his hand. Awkwardly, I let it go.
"Thank you." He full out grins.
"Anytime, love." I smile; Ghost may be a dangerous person but he will be a good ally. He turns me around and nudges me out the door.
"Now go on or you'll be even later." I smile the whole way to the castle. I can make this work. I will make this work. We will win. And if I have to become an assassin to win then I will.