Note: This chapter does not contain any graphic smut that would require an M rating, but it is strongly suggestive and portrays some undressing and sex-related nudity. It may be inappropriate for some of my readers who are still quite young, so please use good judgment when deciding whether to read it or not. Remember that I'm a mother and I don't want to get reviews from twelve-year-olds telling me how "HAWT!11!" this scene was. That will just squick me out and make me never write romance again, so please be responsible in choosing whether to read it or not! :) Thank you!
Inside the cabin, Jack went to the dining table and uncorked the sparkling Italian wine. He poured out into the two glasses Agatha had given them as a memento of their wedding. Elizabeth came up beside him and he handed her a glass.
"To…" he paused. "What shall we drink to, love?"
"To freedom?" Elizabeth suggested. "Though it seems a bit ironic at the moment, considering our discussion a few days ago about mutual shackling."
"Mmm," Jack replied thoughtfully. "Mutual shackling, eh? Not to say shackles don't have their place—and they certainly do have a history between us—but, ah, perhaps not just at the moment." He gave her a mischievous look. "Perhaps later."
"Well, then, how about, 'To freedom, together'?" she asked. "It's going to be a whole new kind of freedom, if you think about it. It shan't be the freedom of piracy anymore—but 'where we will, we'll roam' without fearing the gallows. It won't be the freedom of single life and not having to answer to anyone anymore—but we'll have the freedom of being able to trust and depend on someone else who loves us. It's still freedom, Jack—it's just a different kind than either of us has had before."
Jack thought that over and finally nodded and clinked his glass against hers. "I can go along with that," he concurred. "To freedom, together."
They drank, watching each other over the rims of their glasses. Elizabeth set hers down with a shaking hand and lifted her chin to hide her nervousness.
"So where do you keep the 'no dress'?" she asked boldly. "I'd like to change into it."
He leered at her. "I'd like to help you with that."
She turned her back to him and looked at him over her shoulder. "Want to get my hooks and laces?" she asked.
He started to unfasten the long line of hooks and eyes going all down the back of her dress. "You look beautiful today, Liz," he told her, "All dressed up, poised and dignified. It was the first time I really felt like I was marrying the governor's daughter, instead of my lovely pirate lass."
"I wish my father could have been here today," Elizabeth said wistfully.
Jack stopped unhooking and put his arms around her. He pulled her back to lean against him and pressed his cheek against hers. "He'd never have allowed us to wed, but I am sorry for your sake that he's gone."
Elizabeth turned her head and kissed him softly. "We don't know that he wouldn't. He did see us standing together on the ship at World's End, remember? And he told me he was proud of me."
"Probably proud that you'd been able to withstand my charms for so long," Jack told her, deadpan. "He might not be so proud to see you've finally succumbed to them." He kissed her neck, nibbling a little, to prove his point.
Elizabeth gasped and tried to keep the thread of the conversation going. "Just because he tried to hang you at first meeting, you're prejudiced against him. You oughtn't be, you know. I'm sure many people have that urge when they first meet you."
Jack chuckled. "I'm an acquired taste, is that it, love?" He turned her face toward him over her shoulder and kissed her again, more deeply.
She turned around in his arms to face him without breaking the kiss, and ran her hands up his chest to his shoulders. "You're an addiction, is what you are," she said, panting into his mouth.
"You're one to talk," he returned, kissing her again, pulling her against him so he could reach behind her and unfasten the rest of her hooks. "'M quite sure I can't do without you any longer, sweetheart." He pulled the dress roughly off her shoulders, leaving her in only her corset and shift, and she stepped out of the billowing skirts as they settled to the floor.
Jack's gaze was predatory. He stepped closer and whispered, "Take your hair down, darling. Take your hair down and you'll look like you did, back on that rum-runner's island."
Elizabeth pulled out her hairpins, one by one, and her curls tumbled down around her shoulders. "You liked that, did you?" she asked.
"Aye," he breathed, running his fingers through her hair, loosening the curls. "You've no idea how difficult it was for me not to try harder to seduce you that night. You were so beautiful in the firelight, so free. I think I may have loved you even then."
"You were quite dashing yourself, you know. A little more rum and you might have got your wish," she said lightly. "Why do you think I burned it all? I couldn't risk acting on my attraction for you."
Jack's jaw dropped. "Why, you little minx! And I never knew!"
"I didn't intend that you should. But you I hope you'll agree that things eventually worked out the way they should have done."
"If a bit later than they should have done," he growled. "Naughty little baggage!"
Elizabeth stuck her nose in the air and spoke with a regal tone. "So am I to understand, Captain Sparrow, that if I throw myself at you a third time, it will have a different outcome than the previous two?"
"Very," Jack assured her in a low voice, black eyes glinting.
Elizabeth was struck for a moment by his dark beauty as he stood there in the lantern light. His snowy-white linen shirt contrasted with his sun-browned skin and his black hair and eyes. He wore a blood-red velvet jacket. Charcoal breeches tucked neatly into new black boots completed his resplendence. She was getting used to his short hair and beard, and he was, quite simply, stunning.
"The island is a nice memory," she conceded, coming closer. "But I'm rather partial to our first meeting, actually."
"That a fact?" Jack asked.
He grabbed his dagger from his belt and, with one swift motion, sliced the laces of her corset and threw it aside. He spun her around and pulled her back up against him, loosening his cravat with his other hand. He tugged it off and pulled it loosely across her throat as if it was the chain of his shackles. She gasped.
"Now, Miss Swann, if you'd be so kind," he growled in her ear, just as he had done at their first meeting, surrounded by soldiers.
Elizabeth turned and unbuckled his baldric, tugging a little roughly on the leather.
"Easy on the goods, darling," Jack advised with a roguish smirk.
She tossed the sword belt onto the table, sword and all. The velvet coat came next, followed by the pristine linen shirt. He kicked off his boots.
When nothing was left but his breeches, he kissed her again. He caught her trembling hands in his and pressed them to his lips, one after the other, before bringing them down to the flies of his trousers. "Now, Miss Swann," he whispered. "If you'd be very kind—"
Miss Swann, he discovered, could be very kind indeed.
Afterwards, Jack lay on his side, panting, with his head pillowed on her breast while his heart slowed down. "You're a dreadful wanton, Lizzie, ye know that?"
She smiled and stroked the back of his head. "You're my husband. I'm allowed to be so."
His eyes fell closed and he arched his neck to allow her better access to stroke his head. "Encouraged, in fact. But ye're going to be the death of me all over again, I think."
She angled a half-lidded gaze down at him. "Are you complaining?"
He shook his head and pressed a kiss against the side of her breast. "Uh-uh. Rejoicin' in my good fortune." He sighed contentedly as she resumed stroking his head, and closed his eyes again. "I do love ye so, sweetheart."
"'Sweetheart,'" she repeated. "'Love.' 'Darling.' You have all these endearments for me, but I only ever call you Jack. Just Jack. Doesn't seem fair."
"Mmmm. Just call me your Jack from time to time, an' we'll be square," he said sleepily. "You've no idea what it does to me—especially after all that 'Oh! My! Jack!' from a few minutes ago."
Elizabeth chuckled. "Well, do you blame me? You were a bit surprising! I hadn't known it could feel like that. I just didn't know."
"Now ye do," he said with deep satisfaction. "An' it'll likely get better with practice."
"Not sure I'll survive the experience," she muttered. She felt his body quake briefly in a silent chuckle, and she rolled over to face him. She put her arms around him and kissed his soft, short hair. "I love you," she whispered, "my Jack."
He was smiling as he fell asleep, face nuzzled into her breasts.