I posted this awhile back in the General Discussion forums before Miss Fortune was introduced. Now that this forum is up and running, I figured this was a better place to put it, though.
Questions, comments, or whatever is always welcome, so feel free to let me know what you think. =)
The hearty shipwright left the docks with a familiar swing to his step. Crouching behind a stack of crates, peeking over the tops, she watched him go. She'd waited all afternoon for this opportunity. While her bounty hunting often required a certain flair for theatrics and good old fashioned intimidation, this task required other skills and a certain finesse.
She checked left and right for oncoming foot traffic before stepping out from behind her hiding spot. Tipping her overlarge tricorne hat onto her head from its resting place held at her side, she strode towards the merchant's booth on the docks from which the shipwright had just left. A teenage boy close to her own age sat on a stool in the booth, his back to her, doodling with a quill on a scrap of parchment.
She slowed her gait as she approached, the click of her heels barely audible on the wood of the docks, the lap of waves below covering her trail with their rhythmic swish. The boy was oblivious. Perfect.
Slinking into the booth, she stood right behind him and leaned over his shoulder.
He jumped, startled, and his back collided with her front. Twisting his body, jerking his head to the side, his eyes stared straight ahead at the lace of her shirt right above her bosom. His cheeks reddened as he gaped. Raising his eyes to meet hers as she stood above him, unmoving, he gulped.
"Sarah," he said. "You scared me."
She laughed. "Sorry, Dylan. What have you got there?" She leaned over him more, her thick red hair falling onto his shoulder, causing him to blush with renewed vigor and avert his eyes.
He kept his gaze on the scrawling he'd been working on before her surprise arrival. "Um, drawings."
"Is that a ship? You're designing a ship, aren't you?"
"What's that on top there?" She intentionally reached over him, brushing against him, to point at a peculiar contraption attached to the middle of the ship's drawing where sails should be.
Breath coming ragged and quick at her touch, he steadied himself before saying, "I figure all ships go in the water. That's a thing I saw in a picture made a little boat fly. If you got a big enough one, I bet you'd make a whole ship float up in the air."
"Is that so?" She nodded her approval. "That's interesting. I like it. You've got a real knack for the imagination, Dylan."
He looked at her and smiled from her praise, then regretted it a moment later after realizing how close she was to him and turned away to stare at his drawing.
"Where's your father?" she asked, though she knew where he was; she'd waited until he left to come.
"Lunch," Dylan said. "Won't be back for an hour."
"Ah, pity. You heard? I've done good bounty work lately. Saved up a lot." She backed away, taking a seat on the edge of the business counter top besides the booth's doorway.
Sensing her lack of immediate presence, he relaxed. Hesitantly, he swung the seat of his stool around to face her. "I heard. You got a reputation now. They say there ain't nothing too difficult or dangerous for the likes of Miss Fortune." He snickered, a little more sure of himself. "They really call you that now, Sarah? Miss Fortune?"
"Yup, they do. Yup, they do." She fixed the hat upon her head, twisting it side to side. "You can still call me Sarah, though. How long have we known each other, Dylan?"
"Real long time. Since we was young, at least."
"Mhm." She licked her lips. "You know what I've come for then, right?"
He groaned. "Sarah, Dad ain't gonna give you the ship. He likes you, he really does. But he needs to make money, too."
"I've got money. You remember we were just talking about that?"
"You've always had money," Dylan pointed out. "But you never had enough money."
Nonchalantly, she reached into the front of her blouse and pulled out a slip of paper. "I got a bank note right here with all the specifics. Here, read it." She handed it to him.
He gulped as he took the piece of paper that had just left direct contact with her skin. Skimming through it, mouthing the words to himself, he sighed. "Ain't enough and you know that. It's close, though. A few more months and I bet you'll have it and Dad will be happy to sell you the ship, right as rain."
"Yeah, true. Your dad accepts barters though, don't he?" Mischievous intent sparkled in her eyes.
"We both know you ain't got nothing to barter."
"Don't I?" She feigned a yawn, lifting her arms above her head and arching her back. "You sure about that, Dylan?"
He didn't look sure, not at all. He ogled her figure on display, exposed stomach below her pushed out chest contained beneath a blouse tied off in the middle. When he found words, he stammered a few, until he managed, "Um, what are you offering?"
She licked her lips, then crooked them into a smirk. "Sailing a ship is lonely business, you know? Especially as captain, which I'll be. You ever heard stories about men bringing pictures of girls they know on long trips? That's all they got is pictures and memories. I'm just saying, if I'm going to be sailing all the time, bounty hunting, I want some good memories to keep me company when I'm tossing around, all sweaty and lonesome, in the sheets at night."
"And―and―um--I can help you with that?"
"I mean, that's a barter, right? Suits us both, don't it?" She finished her stretch, having kept it going on for far too long, and reached her slender arm out. The sides of her fingers caressed his cheek, finishing at the nose and tweaking it between her finger and thumb.
"Um, right. So--" he trailed off, eying her in a new light.
"So let's do that paperwork for you to sign the deed of the ship over to me and go from there?" She smiled at him, twirling a bit of his hair.
"Yeah. Yeah." He snapped to attention, returning from his daze. "Let's do that."
A hurried rush of flung paperwork and badly piled folders and boxes later, Dylan had her preferred ship's deed set on the booth's counter top, standing at her side, going over the details with her. There was a distinct edge to his voice now. "This is it right here, but you know that. You seen it plenty before, fawning over it. It's a real beauty." He blushed and stuttered before adding, "Like you, Sarah. And anyways, so this is the bill of sale with the price. I put down your money and then the rest in barter, so it evens out. All we gotta do is sign the bottom and it's set to go."
He signed his part hastily, then pushed the paper over to her.
She took her time perusing its contents. She knew what it said, and she knew where to sign. She'd imagined this day in her mind many times before. Everything was going as she wanted and she loved it. Picking up the quill and dipping it in Dylan's proffered inkwell, she thanked him and held it above the bill of sale. Eying him up and down from the corner of her eye, she grinned. He was anxious and strung tight, and in more ways than one reminded her of a ship stuck in the ocean with its sails up during tempest winds, over taut and filled to the brim.
She signed: Miss Sarah Fortune. She dotted her "i" with a cute little heart.
"You're staying at the inn, like you always do, right? And my Dad won't be back for another half hour at most." His hand shook as he lit a candle and melted some wax, taking his father's stamp and dipping it in, marking her copy of the bill of sale with his sign of approval.
"That's right I am." She nodded. "And I bet he won't."
"I can lock up shop for a bit and be back before he knows it."
"You can. You want to come with me? I'm going to the stencillers about getting a name for my ship. What do you think of 'M.F.S. Heavenly?'"
"Huh?" He blinked, clearly not expecting this type of intercourse.
"I said I'm going to get a name for the side of my new ship. You want to come?"
"What about--?" He seemed at odds with himself, unsure if he should voice the specifics of his beliefs on their barter.
"Oh, that. There's plenty of time, Dylan. You get me a picture of yourself and I'll keep it with me always when I go out sailing. I'll think of you and it all the time when I'm away."
"Is that not what you thought we were talking about?" She furrowed her brow and put her hands on her hips, the gesture at odds with the huge grin plastered on her face. "What were you thinking I meant, Dylan?"
"N-nothing. I weren't thinking nothing, Sarah."
"You're a good boy, Dylan. I like you." She rolled up her copy of the bill of sale and her new deed, tucking them into the waistband of her pants. "You better make it a good picture of yourself, you got that? You never know what sort of thoughts might come over me when I'm lonely in the middle of the ocean, tossing and turning in those sheets. I might fancy a cute boy like you to look at and think about."
He stared at her, having no idea what to say.
She said something for him. "So you coming with me to the stencillers?" Before he could react, she snuck in and kissed him on the cheek. "I'd really like it if you did."
She could almost hear his heart pounding against his chest. She liked the timid ones like Dylan; they were adorable in their own way. "How long we gonna be gone?" he asked, then added, "Do you think maybe I could stay with you for the day? I don't think Dad's gonna be too happy with me when he comes back."
"You sure can. There's lots of work to do now that I got a ship of my own." She snatched his arm up and entwined hers into it, pulling him outside. "Why do you think your dad will be upset?"
"Ain't sure." He laughed nervously. "Just a feeling."
"Don't worry. Let's go make some memories, and maybe take a picture together, Dylan. My first ship, it's a great one, and you sold it to me. I'm excited and that's good for celebrating."
They only walked a few yards from the shipwright's booth before he asked, "'M.F.S. Heavenly?' What's the M.F.S. stand for?"
"Miss Fortune's Ship," she said.
With Dylan at her side, him looking suddenly pale and sick with anxiety, she strutted off in search of a man to stencil a name on the side of her new ship.
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