(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Jeremiah was written by P. D. Tovh.)
Jeremiah had finally finished dressing himself after fussing over his outfit for a good hour or so, finding the cleanest gear to go with his favourite jacket. That was a difficult task in and of itself, never mind making sure his ever-rampant red hair actually sat straight for once. He was using the chipped and cracked mirror installed in his quarters aboard his ship, the Excalibur, having been unable to replace it since their last raid. He spent the next hour or so clearing up his quarters and cabin, clearing the desk of old ale bottles and various other trinkets which he had a habit of leaving lying about. He was even clean-shaven and sober this morning, rare for him, but one never met with a fine lady whilst drunk or unpresentable. If his bastard of a father had taught him anything, it was how to impress people. Once the rooms were clean, he made a point of putting on cologne and polishing every available surface. If his boatswain saw him now, he would have called him crazy or lovesick. Luckily, he was neither of those things. Just nervous.
Searching for something to do, he finally picked up the handwritten missive Pearl had sent him about the meeting. It contained little information, save the date, time, and a name. Kelly. He was used to getting such letters, but the brevity set him on edge. He folded up the parchment again and stuck it in the pocket of his coat, before heading out onto the deck of his ship. They were sitting at dock at Nassau, and it was a warm and sunny day today. His crew were hard at work cleaning the deck and checking over riggings, sails, and supplies, and the day held an easygoing and congenial spirit which Jeremiah hoped would hold out. He plunged a hand into the pocket of his vest and extracted his pocketwatch, an elaborate device which appeared to show nothing but the rotation of planets in the sky. He frowned and snapped it shut, wishing the time would pass quicker as he sat on a barrel and swung his legs, just watching the goings on and waiting for Kelly to arrive.
Kelly approached the ship, noting how the crew was cleaning. She stopped one man, asked for Jeremiah, and the man pointed a man sitting on a barrel. Kelly thanked the crew member and went to Jeremiah. She smiled because she could see his unease although he tried to contain it, so she thought of a way to ease him. “Beautiful day, isn’t it? Quite lovely.”
Jeremiah looked up and grinned, sliding off the barrel to land on his feet with a solid thud. “Quite a marvelous day if I don’t say so myself! You must be Kelly. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” He gave her a flourished bow, before standing and heading for the door to his cabin. He held the door open for her. “Can I get you anything? Tea? Scotch? I have a full supply of nearly anything you wish.”
“I’m quite well, thank you though.” Kelly smiled as she followed him into the cabin and took a look around. She could tell it was cleaned recently–as in things were put away although not dusted. It was okay though. She wasn’t here to inspect his housecleaning mannerisms.
Instead, she fixed her gaze on Jeremiah. “You’re welcome to have a drink though.” She found a seat and sat down. “So, Jeremiah, I’m going to be blunt because I always am. As I was reading up on you, I discovered you and your brother hate each other, but no reason was given. So why the hatred? What happened between you two?”
Jeremiah paused for a minute and walked over to the decanter of scotch he kept for these sorts of things. He poured himself a full glass of it, before pulling out a chair at his desk and sitting down, letting out a heavy sigh. “That’s one hell of a way to open, but I was warned.” He took a sip from his glass and sat it down on the desk, before making direct eye contact with Kelly. “Adrian and I never really got along. My father – a lord – was an abusive piece of shit and used to beat my mother. Adrian saw the sport in it, and decided to use me as his target. One day, I caught my father abusing my mother and I tried to step in and stop him. I was twelve years old at the time. I was unable to prevent it. Adrian made me his personal punching bag after that. He and father used to gloat about it together. I tolerated that for two more years, before I decided it was time I found myself a support base. I befriended a young scullery maid of the household, and we supported each other for a while. She was two years younger than me and very anxious. We were nothing but friends. Adrian found out and raped her. He was sixteen, and used it as a rite of passage into manhood. The girl was injured badly and lost a lot of blood, on top of being impregnated. Adrian blamed it on me. Father chased me out of the house, and said if I were ever to return I would be killed. The scullery maid died two weeks later, and I found out via letter from my mother. I was staying with one of my aunts, my mother’s sister and her family. I never set foot in my own home again and that’s the story of why Adrian and I hate each other. Bluntly.” He gave Kelly a look which was clearly restraining pain, downed the rest of his scotch, and poured himself another without comment.
“I’m sorry you had such a difficult upbringing. I won’t pretend to understand.” Kelly shook her head but then leaned forward. “But you’ve seemed to made a name for yourself. I understand you worked for the King originally although now you’re a pirate. How did your find yourself in service of the King?” She raised her brows.
Jeremiah smirked and put the scotch down. “Before I left home, my father thought it a good idea to ship me off to the Navy to help straighten me out. Make a man of me, was the phrase he used. I was in the Navy for close to ten years, and had just been given my ship. The one we’re currently standing on. I carried a letter of Marque, which allowed me to run raids on Spain, Portugal, France, the Dutch, and America. We were in the middle of the War of Spanish Succession at the time. I was framed for the murder of the captain of another fleet ship, and rumours were spread that I had taken his wife as my own. I was summarily kicked out on a dishonorable discharge. However, times were desperate, and the war was nearly over. I was given a new Marque letter, and went on specialist missions for the Crown as a Privateer. They obviously liked my work enough. The war ended, and everyone but me was stripped of their Marque letters. We kept doing specialist missions, then King George came into power and he asked me to check out the rumours about France. So, I went, and now I’m here. The only reason I’m now a pirate is because I technically stole my own ship from the Crown, burned down a merchant ship, and boarded and salvaged another that had been pursuing us.”
Kelly nodded as she heard this, and she leaned back in her chair. “So, which life do you like better? Working for the King’s Navy or working for yourself as a pirate?” A small smile touched the corner of her lips because she had a suspicion what the answer might be.
Jeremiah smirked and picked up the glass again, rolling it between his hands. “Piracy, of course. I don’t have to follow someone else’s commands and do their dirty work.” He gave Kelly a mischievous grin and threw back the rest of his drink. “Although there are the… usual difficulties, most people seem to think I’m still a privateer and treat me as such. Gets me impressive leeway.”
Kelly smiled but then decided to shift the topic. “Tell me about Vivienne.” She watched him when she mentioned the name.
A blush immediately crept onto Jeremiah’s face at the thought of the Belgian woman and he grinned. “Ah, that woman is such a spiteful creature. Constantly spurning me and never letting me find out who she really is. I know she likes me as much as I like her, every time we run into one another she’s always incredibly flustered. I just wish she wasn’t so… mysterious. You know?” He gestured a little helplessly, lost for words.
“Oh come now, it’s her mysteriousness that you’re drawn to—or at least part of it.” Kelly smirked. “So, what happened? I’m not quite sure of the role she played. I know she spurned you, but was it a role she was playing or what?” She furrowed her brows, not sure if she was making any sense.
Jeremiah sighed and studied the roof of his cabin for a few moments, grinning still. “It’s a long story. As far as I’m aware—or, at least as much as I suspect—she’s working with the Black Mast Society, a group of individuals who have been thwarting my attempts to uncover whatever’s going on in Calais. I’m not sure what role she plays with them, but she keeps warning me to stay out of danger, to stop pursuing my cause. Almost as if she’s concerned. She’s turned up on my doorstep and lectured me, tried to scare me off of the trail. But if anything I’m stubborn, and I know a damsel in distress when I see one. I’m not giving up on this no matter what she tells me, or what I find out.” He became pensive at the last and studied his scotch glass for a moment before refilling it.
Kelly tilted her head to a side. “Sounds like I need to interview her someday, but of course I won’t be able to tell you anything I discover.” She grinned at him but then focused on the matter at hand. “So…tell me about the first time you two met.”
Jeremiah laughed a little and sat up. “It was actually just when I’d made landing at Calais. I was looking for a place to get lunch with my boatswain, Bates, and first and second mates, Granger and Delfey, and we stumbled into her bar. Well, her father owned it but she did everything in there so it might as well have been hers. After sitting down at the bar we ordered a few pints and I got talking to her. I… have never been able to hold my alcohol well, and I was drunk off my face. Granger made a pass at her, and I took a swing at him. We got into a fistfight before Bates was able to separate us and Vivienne promptly kicked us out of the bar.” He laughed at the memory. “I doggedly hung about for the next few days trying to find a suitable way to apologise to her.”
“That brings up another question.” Kelly locked eyes with him. “When did you start hitting the liquor? Obviously it’s your way of life, and I understand you’ve had a hard life, but still, the way you drink, something must have driven you to that. What was it?”
Jeremiah paused again and stared at his scotch glass like he hadn’t realised it was there before shaking himself out of it and laughing a little. “Uh, that’s an incredibly good question. It mostly started when I was kicked out of the Navy, although I did used to steal from my father’s liquor cabinet when I was much younger. To spite him mostly.”
“Just because you steal the liquor doesn’t mean you’d drink it.” Kelly pointed out, but she had gotten part of an answer. “So why do you drink? To forget? To not feel anything? Why?” She leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and clasping her hands together as she observed him.
Jeremiah shrugged. “Mostly to forget. It sort of… numbs everything after a while. The same thing happened when I first started nicking it for myself. I wanted something to help me forget and I knew I’d seen my parents do it before, especially my mother. I figured it was a good way to cope. I didn’t know any better. Not that knowledge helped, because clearly I’m still using it as a crutch.” He smirked but it was a rueful sound.
“Do you ever worry that in a drunken rage you could become just like your father?” She watched him closely.
That made Jeremiah bite his lip and he glanced out one of the windows, watching the scene out there. “I…don’t have the sort of rage he had. It’s crossed my mind before, but I’ve never done anything like that. I don’t think I could live with myself if I ever did. As a sailor you tend to get used to living off ale and getting smashed every second night, things blur together. It feels like the world is your proverbial oyster and you can do anything you want. But that’s not necessarily the truth.” He looked to Kelly again. “The last time I got blind drunk, I nearly got lost in Calais and taken captive by half human clockwork monstrosities. Its dangerous in there after sunset. More dangerous than I’d known at the time.”
“But obviously that didn’t teach you much.” Kelly motioned to his drink. “And I’m not judging you. I simply know what the drink can do. My eldest brother used to drink all the time. He was a genius and couldn’t handle it, so he drank. It ended up killing him, so I know what can happen. It’d hate for anything to happen to you.” She offered him a smile. “You have a lot of potential, and if you weren’t dependent on liquor in any way, you would be even sharper.” But she wasn’t here to change his way of life or his habits, so she shifted the topic, softening her voice. “What happened to your mother though?”
Jeremiah offered Kelly a smile, but it was a tired and empathetic one. “I’m so sorry for your loss. I do know its a bad habit but its… hard to kick. As for my mother, she… she died a month or so after I was kicked out of home. My father sent me a letter to expressly tell me that he had beaten her to death, and hoped that I was pleased because apparently it was my fault for being such a fucked up child without balls enough to stand up for myself and for her. He also informed me that I’d been cut out of the will, and that Adrian was going to get the family fortune. Not that it bothered me much, I suspected something like that might happen. Not that Adrian knew what he was doing. He wasted his fortunes on the bohemian pleasures of life, and although he was earning decent money as an accountant for a merchant business, the company went bust. He ended up in Port Royal, doing dirty work for the Governor there. He stole money from them, made his getaway on a pirate ship. Ended up in Nassau at the same time I did and we nearly killed each other. It’s funny how time changes perspective. I’m not the scared little boy I used to be. Not anymore.”
Kelly smiled then rose to her feet to meander around. “Hope you don’t mind. Walking around helps me think.” She looked at different artifacts on tables and shelves before turning back to him. “I’m glad to hear you’re doing rather well for yourself despite everything that happened. However, aside from your father and your brother and the rough life growing up, what was your mother like? Were you close to her?”
Jeremiah smirked and watched Kelly as she explored, wondering if she’d start opening chests and things. He kicked his feet up onto the table and crossed his legs, leaning back in his chair. “My mother was an angel. I was extremely close to her and I loved her dearly. She always tried to look out for me even when things were bad, and I tried to do the same for her as best I could. Being little, there wasn’t much I could do, but I brought her things when she was sick or injured and made her presents and whatnot to try and make her feel a little brighter. She used to call me her little spark, the brightest spark in all of London. I still have a sketch of her, see?” He unlocked one of his desk drawers and extracted a sketch of a woman with curly hair and strong features, an angular jawline, sharp nose. Her eyes were the only thing coloured, and they were piercing green just like Jeremiah’s. He showed this to Kelly with a small smile. “Her name was Annabelle.”
Kelly stared at the sketch. identifying the kind of woman Annabelle must have been. “It’s lovely. Did you draw this?” She lifted her gaze to Jeremiah’s face.
Jeremiah shook his head. “No, unfortunately I’m not much of an artist. Never did have the eye for it. I salvaged it from a pile of things my father was getting rid of. I’ve kept it with me for such a long time that I fear it might be getting worn.” He smiled and sniffed a little, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “Oh, look at me, I’m a sentimental bastard. I do apologise. Normally I don’t make a habit of crying like this.” he put the sketch away and let out a heavy breath, swallowing and sitting back in his chair.
“Hey, it’s all right. It shows that you cared for her.” Kelly smiled at him warmly then resumed looking around the cabin. “What is your favorite memory of her?”
Jeremiah studied the ceiling again as he thought. “That’s a hard one. I’ve blocked out most of my childhood, but of the few memories which do stand out, my seventh birthday is the brightest. My mother went out and decided to spoil me. She bought me a cake and my very first suit, as well as my pocketwatch which I’ve never let go of. Still keeps time to the second, sharp as anything. We spent the day together singing songs and having fun. We even went to the local fair that was on and had ice cream together. That was one of the best days I remember.”
Kelly smiled when she heard this. “Treasure that memory—always.” Then she tilted her head to a side. “And what is the most important lesson she ever imparted to you?”
Jeremiah smiled then and sat up properly. “To never be afraid, and to always have hope that things will work out for the best if you work hard. I’ve never forgotten that. I remind myself of it when things get particularly hairy.”
“That’s good.” Kelly nodded then returned to her seat, sitting once more. “And what do you think she would think of the man you are today?”
A sigh left Jeremiah and he shrugged. “I don’t think she’d be too pleased that I’m an outlaw, but I think she would be proud of me for standing up for what was right and good in the world and trying my best to uphold those values in spite of the opposition.”
“Well, keep her in mind whenever you’re trying to decide the best course of action, and be sure to make her proud.” Then Kelly sat back with a sigh. “So, who is this Nanette Romo I’ve heard about?”
Jeremiah snorted with laughter at the subject change and grinned. “Nanette is the most brilliant chemical scientist I have ever met. She’s a self-made professor who has opted to help me out with my travels, as much a part of the crew as anyone here. Also hell in high heels if I don’t say so myself.” he bit his lip for a moment.
Kelly chuckled. “You like her, don’t you? Or maybe I shouldn’t phrase that as a question since I know for a fact that it’s true.” She smirked at him and waited to see how he’d respond.
Jeremiah laughed at that and shrugged. “I do, but not as anything more than a very close friend. Doesn’t swing my way, but her partner is an ass! Of course she can’t see that and I’ve had to explain to her why I can’t stand the woman.”
“Sounds like you’ve got quite a crew here and your hands full. How do you manage? I suppose that’s where the liquor comes in though?” Kelly raised her brows, motioning to the drink.
Jeremiah shook his head. “My crew is my family, Kelly. They’re closer to me than anyone else in the world still living, and they’re not hard to manage. You just have to know how to talk to them and treat them fairly. Everything else works itself out in the end.”
“Family is like that.” Kelly nodded with a smile. “Always have each other backs even though sometimes you don’t always get along. I’m glad you’ve found a new family though.” Then she leaned forward, locking eyes with him. “So, Jeremiah, what is your greatest fear?”
Jeremiah sat forwards and matched Kelly’s stare. “Horses are terrifying.”
Kelly laughed. “I’m sorry. But hey, that’s totally practical, so I don’t blame you at all.” She smiled at him. “Just not what I was expecting.” Shaking her head, she smiled, sitting back. “Okay, my time here is almost up, but I’ll ask you one more question. What do you hope to accomplish in life? Do you have a dream? A vision?”
Jeremiah grinned wide at that one. “My dream is to see the world at peace and in a state of unity. And if I can help that along, then that’s what I intend on doing. I get the feeling that this business at Calais is certainly putting me on the path towards completing that vision, I only hope it all works out and doesn’t get me killed.” He shrugged. “Problems for another morning.”
“Just don’t get killed. That would be problematic.” Kelly rose to her feet. “Well, Jeremiah, this has been quite an interesting discussion. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and for allowing me to pry into your business. I hope you the best with all your endeavors, and…if you ever get another ship, I suggest you name it after your mother.” Kelly smiled. “I had best be going though. I have other obligations to attend.”
Jeremiah stood and walked Kelly over to the doors. “It was my pleasure, and I think I might take your suggestion. Best of luck with things, and if you’re ever in town, feel free to stop by.”
“Will do. Thanks!” And with one final smile, Kelly departed.
P. D. Tovh’s book ‘Pirates of Time’ is not yet published and does not have a release date set yet. However, follow her on social media for updates!:
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