Honest at LastbyJTQuinton©
The sea had been his home since he was a young boy and stowed away on what would become his first acquired vessel. That acquisition took near on fifteen years. Now he stood at the wheel of his newest ship, purchased straight with real earnings wondering if he was crazy to be sailing back into Port Royal in search of only a chance at his fondest of dreams. Slowly, with the help of a loyal crew he made it into port and put up at the docks for at least a couple of nights. He watched as his crew set things carefully making sure they were the way they had been taught they should be. "Captain?" The boson called from the deck.
"Aye Billy, tis good to be home. You tell the crew we be here least two days." He called back down to the slight man who had earned his place as ship's boson on the last trip. "We will settle out in the morning tonight's on me at the Cutlass."
"Aye, shall let them know. Will you be joining us at the Cutlass?" He asked glancing at the dock and the people gathering on it.
"Nae, not today. They know its my pockets they are dipping into. I have other business that must be seen to." He smiled at his boson.
"Understood Captain." The boson replied heading down the deck towards the dock.
The Captain smiled to himself, he had told everyone that he had business in port this time, but hadn't told a soul what that business was. It was his secret and until things had been handled he didn't want anyone knowing anything about it. He slipped back down into his cabin and carefully changed out of what his crew had nicknamed his 'pirate gear' and into something more befitting. One of the elite of Port Royal. He hated appearing as a rich man but it was the only way to secure the prize this time.
He made his way slowly from the ship and the docks. As he passed off the end of the docks onto the street he picked up his pace and moved steadily toward the higher class side of town. He was met at the gate by a man in a suit of grey and black. "Sir it is good to see you home once again. Is there anything I might get for you?" The man asked with a sad look in his eyes.
"No Jenson. I just need to speak with her for a moment and I will be gone again." He told the older man. "I have no want to stay here and be what she wants me to be. My love has always been the sea. Mother will never understand that."
Jenson reached out and put his hand on the Captain's arm. "Captain French, I mean, William. There is something you should know before you go into that house."
William stopped and turned toward his old friend. "What is that?"
Taking a moment for a breath Jenson spoke, "The Lady, she has a guest."
William tilted his head to the side, "My Lady Mother has a guest in her home?" He asked knowing that he sounded silly even to his own ears.
"Aye a young lady named Annabell. She has been staying with the Lady for most of six moons now." Jenson explained letting his hand drop. He didn't want anyone informing the Lady he had stepped out of line and touched her son.
William shook his head, "Did you just say Annabell?"
Jenson took a deep breath, "Aye Captain French. Tis Annabell staying with your mother."
William stepped back a step and blinked, "That is not a good thing. I need speak with the Lady Mother, but the last thing I need is to deal with that young lady. She is a ball of trouble for me."
"She was always trouble for you." Jenson laughed.
William just smiled and walked down the cobblestone path toward the house he had spent the first few years of his life. "This is going to be so much fun." The sarcasm was thick even to his own ears. Nothing answered him as he slipped down the path his heart beating faster with each step. He forced his feet to keep moving and took a deep breath as he reached the gate to his family home.
"Young William?" The man in the gate house questioned as he stepped out to block the way.
William chuckled. "I have not been young anything in many years, Watson."
The older man relaxed slightly, "You will always be Young William to me. What is it that has brought you home this time?"
"The Lady Mother summoned me." He responded with a sigh.
"You know the lady Annabell stays here now?" Watson said looking at what the young boy he had always been so proud of had become.
"Aye I have been informed of the fact." He stepped closer and lowered his voice slightly. "Do you know if her brother has been seen here of late?"
Watson glanced over his shoulder, "Not in the last few days, young sir." He leaned a touch closer. "You should be safe."
William shook his head with a smile, "If Annabell has been staying with the Lady Mother I am in no way safe, but at least I might make it through this without seeing him. That is if the Gods have a heart." He started to walk away. "I know there isn't much of a chance of that Watson, thanks for being there when I need you." He didn't wait for a response, he just headed up the tree lined walk to face his mother and the woman she wanted to be his bride.
It was only a few moments later that he stepped up to the finely carved wooden doors that lead to his own personal hell. As he reached for the handle the door swung open.
"William." The older woman gasped and threw her arms around him in a hug that defied her advanced years.
"Miss Genna." He hugged her back with a gentleness that showed more of his heart than he knew he should. "How have you been?" He asked stepping back from the woman who had kept him sane as a child and from killing the Lady Mother as he got older.
"I have been well, your Lady Mother treats me well enough. I have always enjoyed working for your family. How are you young man and why have you stayed away so long?" She asked stepping back and motioning him inside.
"I am well Miss Genna, and you know why I stay away. Is Lady Mother in the sitting room?" He asked knowing that he needed to get this meeting over as quickly as he could.
"Yes, miss Annabell is with her. I took tea in just a moment or two before you arrived."
"Thank you. I know the way." He squeezed her arm one more time before turning down the hall toward the pretentious little room his Lady Mother called her sitting room. It angered him slightly to find his hand shaking as he reached for the door handle. He took a deep breath and pushed the door open. "Lady Mother." He forced the words out as he stepped through the door.
"William Anthony French, it is about time you managed to show your face here again." His mother snapped just as quickly.
"I came to your meeting as soon as I got back Lady Mother." He answered knowing that she was always on the edge of crazy.
"I requested you here because we need to talk about your future. It is long past the time you come off your silly boats and come home." She began and he could feel his skin begin to crawl.
"Lady Mother, I understand that you do not approve of my sailing. However that does not give you the right to disrespect me, my ship, or her crew." He managed to keep a strangle hold on his temper, but only just.
The older woman just stared at him for a moment before saying anything. "I am your Lady Mother. If I feel you are being childish I will say whatever I want. It is time you came home and married Annabell. It is time to take your place as heir, and produce the next generation of the Royal family."
William glanced from his mother to the young woman sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the fireplace. "Is that what you want?" He asked her.
She looked from him to the Lady Mother and back, "I want what I have always wanted, for you to be happy and honest in your life. If that means marrying me then I am all for it, if it doesn't then I want you to do what will make you happy no matter what it is."
He relaxed, if she wasn't going to push for a wedding he might have a chance to actually find happiness.
"I want to be honest with the world," he paused and looked at his mother. "But I don't think its going to be possible."
Annabell smiled, "Are you willing to stand up?" She asked knowing she was pushing her luck with the woman giving her a place to stay.
William took a second to think before saying anything. "To her? I might just be willing to, but is it worth it?"
She looked at him carefully, "If you want to try for it I will help you any way I can."
His mother had been listening intently to the conversation, "What are you two talking about?" She demanded.
Annabell looked at William, "Its up to you William. Are you ready?"
William walked around the room for a moment. "Yeah, its time." He laughed as he looked at his Lady Mother. "Lady Mother, there is something you do not know about your son. You are not going to like what I am about to tell you, but that doesn't change the fact the information is true." He hedged.
"What are you babbling about boy?" She asked him looking at him.
He hated the condescending tone she always used with him.
"I am gay Lady Mother."
"You can't be. I will not allow it!" She snarled showing the first bit of temper in a long time.
William sighed and watched out of the corner of his eye as Annabell stood and slipped out of the room. "You can not change it. Its nothing you did or didn't do Lady Mother. It is just what I am."
"No. You will marry Annabell," she turned to look at the young woman to find her gone. "Where did she go?"
He just shrugged, "I don't know." He was about to say more when the door opened and Annabell stepped back in.
"Old lady. I will not marry your son. There is someone that he has loved for years. They are on the way here as we speak." She looked at William, hoping that he wasn't going to be angry.
"You called him?" He asked her blinking at the pure mischief in her eyes.
"I did, and no I didn't tell him why I asked him over here." She answered with a laugh.
Lady Mother jumped to her feet. "I will not have any of those people in my house." She snapped.
"I am already here, so you will have to deal either way." He turned and looked at Annabell again. "What did you tell him and why did you invite him?"
She straightened to her full height, "I told him that I wanted him to come here, and as for why its time you told the man the truth." She replied leaning against the wall by the door. "Miss Genna will show him in when he arrives."
William simply shook his head, this was the one thing he had wanted to avoid while he was home. "Annabell, I know you mean well, and I thank you for it. However why did you have to invite him here today?"
Annabell started to open her mouth in reply, but Lady Mother beat her to it. "Who are you talking about? Who did you invite to my home young lady?" She demanded her voice thick with anger.
William and Annabell looked at each other, this was going to be the only good part of this in his eyes. His Lady Mother was going to go through the roof. "Jack." They said in unison.
William sat down as the fact he was about to have to deal with Jack face to face began to solidify in his mind.
The Lady Mother simply looked from one to the other of the young people standing in the room with her. "You don't mean Jack the young man that takes care of the grounds here at the manor do you?" She asked sounding more offended that it might be a grounds keeper than the fact her only child had just come out as gay.
Suddenly William decided that was enough, the old bat could treat him like trash all she wanted, but he wasn't going to allow her to say anything against Jack. "Listen Mother." He began purposely dropping the Lady she demanded everyone use to address her. "I could really not care less what you think of me. I am your son and you wouldn't be stupid enough to try and disown me after what my grandparents did to the estate. So I would recommend that you back off Jack right now." He was facing his mother so he didn't see the smile in Annabell's eyes or the wide-eyed stare from Jack as he stepped into the room.
"Miss Annabell, you requested I come?" He said making a quick choice to try and defuse the situation.
She turned to him without missing a beat, "yes I did. Its about time the four of us cleared the air. Lady Mother can't handle stress, we all know that so I think its time you, me, and William sat down for a talk. You can't be working here and avoiding him." She said making it should like it was Lady Mother's idea for them to talk so the old woman would look bad if she said anything. And for Lady Mother image was everything. She could see the old woman fuming out of the corner of her eye, but she wasn't about to say anything.
"Okay Miss Annabell," he turned to look at William and she could almost see him shake. "What do you have against me?" He asked William without any preamble.
William felt the color drain from his face, "Well nothing really." He answered. He had to fight to stop there and not tell the young man the only thing he wanted to hold against him was himself in the dark hours of the night.
"That's bull. Every time I am here when you arrive you all but make it impossible for me to stay here. You make me feel like I have done something wrong." Jack snapped, he was angry more at himself for wanting William's respect and approval, but he was still angry.
William dropped onto the chair he had been standing in front of. "I never... I mean its just." He stammered, knowing he sounded like a fool, but he felt worse. William swore under his breath, he could see the pain he was causing with his actions. He glanced at Annabell and caught the smile dancing in her eyes. She wasn't one to get pleasure out of someone else's pain so he knew there was something going on here. Taking a deep breath he tried to start again. "Jack, in all the time you have worked for the Lady Mother have I ever been."
Suddenly his mother's voice cut him off, "Really you claim to be a man in love and can't even manage to talk to the poor child like he matters to you. No wonder you aren't man enough to find a real woman and have a future."
Every eye in the room spun to look at her, no one had ever known her to have that kind of outburst ever. Jack recovered first, "Lady Mother, if I may what are you talking about?" He asked never letting his eyes stray to William. He simply couldn't believe what she had said.
"My dear boy, you have been blind. My son gave up everything from his family for you. He lost his entire inheritance because he wants a life with you." She told him knowing she was pissing her son off but after this morning she didn't care anymore.
Annabell looked from William to Jack and back, this was not going to go well. "Lady Mother, that was uncalled for."
Jack stepped closer to the group, never even letting his eyes fall on William. "I mean no offence Lady Mother, however why would it matter to you if your son was gay?" He kept his voice careful and calm, while inside he was all but shouting in wonder and happiness.
"My son is avoiding his responsibility to his family. He is my only heir. He must produce the next in line." Her voice held more anger than disappointment.
William started to speak but Jack held up his hand for him to stay quiet. "When I have had my say William. You came to my defense now its my turn." He took a couple more steps bringing himself right in front of the Lady Mother, "Woman, I have shown you nothing but respect from the moment I came into your house nearly a decade ago. Yet now you are showing me a great lack of it by attacking your son and his beliefs." He turned to look at William still managing to keep his own thoughts behind his eyes. "That man has shown you the greatest amounts of respect I have seen in a long time. You always disrespect him yet he stands before you for no other reason than you summoned him like a common criminal."
The old woman sputtered but didn't say anything. Her eyes snapped to William.
William straightened, "He's right Lady Mother. I came here on a summons. I knew what you wanted from me yet I came anyway. This is not the first time I told you I would not marry her."
The Lady Mother glared at her son, she would not have another burst of temper, "Son you will marry. There will be an heir to this family line. You will not avoid your duty to your family."
"My duty you say. That is so funny to me. Your duty was to care for your children, to make them a loving home. From the moment father passed you seemed to forget that." He paused at the thought of the few memories he had of his father. "You started worrying at that moment more about your image than your family." He was angry and for the first time didn't worry about weather or not he upset her. "I was seven years old when my mom became Lady Mother a woman who's real name was never spoken and who turned her only child over to a nurse to raise."
At that her head snapped up, "and we saw how good of a job she did with that. You were gone in less than six months."
William realized at that moment that everything he held dear to himself was going to slip away if he didn't do something quickly. Annabell was right, it was time to stand up for what he wanted. He turned to Jack and felt his own eyes fill with tears at the sight of the pain in Jack's. "Annabell was right." He started, his voice cracking with the fear gripping his heart. "We need to talk. There are a few things that I want to say to you," he glanced at his mother, "that I don't want to have to deal with around her."
Jack felt his heart race for a moment, "where would you like to go to talk?" He asked his eyes lighting with mischief.
William didn't take time to think before he answered, "I would enjoy showing you the ship she hates so much." He answered motioning toward his mother.
Jack spared a quick glance for Annabell, "that sounds just fine. One thing though, would you make me a promise first?"
"Anything." William answered without thinking.
"When you get to your ship, you take a moment to get into something that you are actually comfortable in." He smiled. He hated seeing William in a rich man's cloths, when he knew he was a pirate at heart.
William laughed, "absolutely. Come on," he turned to look at Annabell. "You can come too if you want."
She smiled, "Let's go." She headed for the door knowing that both men would follow her. "I know where you docked, I will meet you guys aboard ship. Need to make a stop before I come out. How long you staying in port?" She asked as they walked out of the house and down the front steps.
"Was planning on staying through tomorrow then leave at first light." He told her with a grin, "your cabin is ready and waiting as always."
She split off at the first street with a wave. "I'll be there before you sail."
"Understood." William replied as they turned the other way and headed back toward the docks.
A few steps down the street Jack stopped, "William?"
William stopped and turned to look at the young man. "Is something wrong Jack?" He asked softly.
"No, I just wanted to ask if you might have room onboard for another lost soul?" He asked.
William stared for a second before he found his voice. "You want to sail with me?" The question came out cracked and slightly broken as he was so startled by the question.
"Aye, if you'll have me." He said simply. "But I will have to stop by my own house to gather a few things that I need if you will have me." Jack's smile was radiant.
"You are more than welcome on the Dawn's Light." William told him.
Jack managed to keep a straight face, "then we need to turn here my place is just down the street." He headed off making sure to stay a few steps ahead until he could get the smile off his face. They only took a few minutes at his house packing vital things. "So sis. Keep the place standing. I'm not sure when I will be back." He told his sister as he stood in the doorway with his pack over his shoulder.
She just smiled. "I understand big brother, and I wish you grand adventures and all the fun you can handle." He gave him a push out the door and shut it behind him before he could say anything else and get himself into trouble.