Ava and The New World Ch. 03byPiratess©
6 Months later
Ava steadied herself against the railing of the solid galleon. She was still adjusting to the motion on the seas. Having travelled on ships to the West Indies before, it was not entirely new to her, but this was an extraordinary voyage.
It still didn't seem real either. She was out on a real ship, an adventure to new lands, but still confined as a 'lady' she was not allowed to do much more than sew, walk and read aboard. Ava did engage with many of the crew members, as she was eager to learn and get involved. At every chance Mendoza would try and curb the encouragement as he still demanded she act and be treated like a lady.
5 months at sea to relatively unchartered territory to the new world with a man who was her husband. A man who terrified yet stirred her. She felt alive when he was near her, but he was still untouchable. The marriage was a charade sure, but her feelings and attraction to him were real.
She began to feel at home on the ship amongst the crew, they were all polite and keen to do anything for her. She captivated the sailors' attention anytime she was around. Greatly appreciative of the gestures she felt guilty when she wished for more. Ava was dying to try her hand at sailing, she had asked to learn the rigging to get up to the crows nest, but the answer she received was,
"It's not suitable for a lady." Or "You might get hurt Miss."
Mendoza had navigated through the straits of Magellan several times before, but every time was unique. He looked up to where Ava was standing, her hair whipping and flowing like ribbons in the wind. He felt she was his greatest weakness, yet did not know how to surrender to it. Since their wedding they hadn't had time alone at all, so much planning for the expedition, the wedding itself, and Ava avoided him at every chance they had to be alone. They even had separate cabins onboard. What he learned of her he adored. He had never loved before, it was such a strong emotion, and he was unsure of his feelings.
He continued his gaze down her fine, fit form. She was wearing a simple short sleeved dress in a royal blue, which showed her womanly curves and set her auburn hair off beautifully. She was much stronger both emotionally and physically than any other woman or man he had ever met. He desired her dreadfully, but his pride would not allow him to even venture there, not until she surrendered to him. He continued with his work, shutting her from his mind. He also knew that the crew were falling over themselves over her, sparking a new found emotion of jealousy.
Ava felt excitement but at the same time a smouldering disappointment. She was increasingly awkward with Mendoza. In the few months she had been married and out and about, she learnt a lot about herself and the power she could hold over a man. But it was Mendoza's respect and honour she wanted to have. Life on the ship was becoming drearier and more boring everyday. She had read all her novels, stitched and patched some of the crews clothing, helped out in the galley and walked the deck more times than she could count. But she wanted to be part of the crew, part of something bigger. She knew she could do it; it was just that she was a woman, and they wouldn't allow it.
She glanced over to where Mendoza was working. His towering strong form had a powerful impact on her. He wore a golden brown belted tunic, with fawn pants, tucked into long black boots. He also wore a long cape, a deep royal blue with gold trim and a long sharp sword. To Ava he looked menacing and commanding, but always mysterious. Resigned, she returned to Mendoza's cabin to find more books to read.
The seas calmed to nearly still over the afternoon, and Mendoza retired to their cabin for some rest, before the night watch. He had a big week ahead, 4 days and nights at the wheel.
He opened the cabin door swiftly and strode in, slamming it behind him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement.
"Forgive me I did not know you were in here," Mendoza said, a little startled. His eyes fell on her fine body; she was only in a thin cotton shift.
Ava scrambled to her feet and shrugged on a dressing gown. She dropped the book she had been reading, part of Mendoza's navigation books.
They both bent down to retrieve the book, Ava's hand on top of Mendoza's. It burned his skin.
"Sorry," Ava hushed, "I was just reading, I had run out of things to read and I..." she stammered, slowly standing up. Ava's cheeks burned, feeling angry that she let her guard slip.
Mendoza stood tall, burning eyes gazing down at her.
"You are an intriguing woman Ava; tell me do you like navigation or out to prove you are better at it than me?"
Ava sidled past him, away from the bed refusing to answer the question.
Mendoza continued, jesting her sarcastically,
"As navigator to the Spanish fleet I take it that I may be more experienced, No?"
Ava glared momentarily before gazing down at her feet.
"Alright, I'll try an easier question, a yes or no answer. Are you comfortable and happy aboard the ship?"
"Yes I am happy." She said tersely, not meeting his gaze.
"Liar." Mendoza said gruffly. He watched her tense profile, poised as if she were ready to run at any moment.
He sighed, "I know it is a long and arduous journey, but we will be there in less than 12 weeks my dear."
"It's not that, I..." she stopped and turned around, away from his unrelenting gaze.
He stepped over to her, inches from her back. She could feel the heat radiating from his body through her thin clothing.
"I'm not asking to be the captain, but for goodness sake," Ava spun to face him, eyes pleading with him, "Please let me do something! I fear if I do not I will go mad."
Mendoza chuckled loudly; suddenly feeling relaxed in her presence.
"So that's what's wrong? Here I was thinking that it was substandard conditions, married to an old and boring man and you couldn't wait to get off the ship for a new affair in a New World. You haven't been near me since the day we met, always finding something to attend to when I'm near."
He smiled at her brooding expression.
It was true, Ava has purposefully demanded her own cabin, own bed, not wanting to let this man have control over her, but for many months her heart ached, and her body betrayed her mind when she thought of Mendoza.
"You are so dangerously beautiful, even when you're scowling Ava." Mendoza whispered.
Ava's eyes snapped up at him, she drew a sharp breath at his remark. It was the first remark about her he had made since their wedding day. His eyes pinned her to the spot, her stomach flipped but she couldn't move.
She suddenly felt light headed and trapped, "I think I need some fresh air" she stated, making toward to cabin door.
Mendoza moved swiftly was suddenly in front of her, blocking the exit. Ava stopped inches from his predatory stance.
"Ava," his voice was dark and smooth, sending shockwaves through her.
Mendoza cupped her face gently, his thumbs tracing her jaw and chin. Ava's conscience reared up to do battle; he saw the change in her eyes, making them golden.
Mendoza conceitedly continued, trying to push her boundaries.
"How many suitors had their hearts broken before me Mistress Moreau? I know you are not immune to passion, it flows through your veins...when will you surrender to me?"
Ava's eyes grew vicious; she jerked her head from his embrace. This was the first time they had been so physically close since their first meeting.
Mendoza reacted by forcefully pulling her to him, his kisses savage and demanding. Ava struggled and pounded at his chest, but his kiss started a deep heat burning inside her. Slowly she gave in, melting and moulding to him.
Mendoza felt her change, and then dropped his hands from her, gracefully stepping aside from the doorway, obnoxiously bowing to her waiting for her to leave.
Ava was again in despair, why did she fall for him over again? What did he want from her?
She faltered at the door, not knowing what to do or say, and Mendoza stiffened. He waited for the icy reprimand.
Instead Ava looked down and around her unsure and timid still taken aback about what had just transpired, before whispering,
"Will you let me at least try to be part of this crew? I will not sit idle when I know I can be of more use. I am more than capable...you know it too."
Mendoza slowly stood up, folding his powerful arms across his broad chest. He eyed her with some amusement and intrigue. Where was the reprimand for his behaviour? And was she serious about working with the crew?
"It's not up to me Ava; you'll have to ask the captain." Mendoza answered truthfully.
"Couldn't you ask him for me?" Ava appealed, eyes brightening at the chance. "I will prove I am worth my weight in gold."
"Yes. I'm sure you are," Mendoza chuckled.
His smile faded, as he realised he was falling into her web of charms. She was a woman! He had vowed that no woman would ever have his heart, for it was too much trouble and woman were only useful for a few things in life. Another warm thought crept into his mind, he had seen passion and fire in her eyes, her temper was formidable, and she was courageous and outspoken. And there was the matter that she married him to save his career; this was a small consolation in return.
"Wait here" he said gruffly, turning to the door, and slamming it behind him.
After what seemed like hours to Ava, Mendoza returned with books and sea charts, about celestial navigation, medicine, rigging and work on the deck.
He gazed at her intently, his brow furrowed
"These should occupy you and bring you up to speed. You start tomorrow, but Ava, this is highly unheard of and..." he stopped mid sentence.
Stunning sunshine broke through on Ava's face. Her eyes and smile were beaming; already her excitement mounting as she devoured the covers of the books Mendoza had given her.
He watched her flick through titles and papers, she looked happier than a child at Christmas, but he knew there was more to this placid goddess underneath that innocent façade. Mendoza became uneasy with the new feelings that occurred in his heart.
"Ill leave you to it," he murmured, Ava shivered as his voice rippled through her.
"Thankyou" she said shyly, turning away to sort the books.
Mendoza left the cabin, his pulse beating wildly, his head reeling. She was so bewitching. It scared him. She was a siren, that of sailors tales. How did she work him so? What had he just agreed to? God lord if anything were to happen to her...?