Celeste put the puzzle into her knapsack and took Jack's outstretched hand. He led her wordlessly back through the ship until they reached the top deck. Just before they disembarked, however, Celeste stopped.
He turned to her impatiently. "Come on….Time's a wastin'."
"What if they find us?" she asked cautiously.
"Who?" his brows creased in concern before recognition crossed his face. "The men who were after you earlier?"
She shook her head as worry creased her brow and turned her mouth into a hint of a pout that Jack found adorable.
He looked momentarily insulted before his eyes softened. "You are with one of the most notorious and fearsome pirates to ever sail the seas. Do you really think I would let anything happen to you, lass?"
"N-No…I guess not."
"You 'guess not'?" he replied before playfully putting a hand to his chest. "You wound me," he teased.
"Jack, I-I'm sorry…..but…"
Jack put a finger to her lips and looked into her eyes, "Shhhh. Trust me, love. I will not let even one hair on your beautiful head be hurt." Then he gave her a smile and a wink that made her feel like a giddy schoolgirl before squeezing her hand and leading her off the Pearl onto the dock of St. Croix.
The sun had started to set as Jack made his way nimbly and expertly through town before stopping at a local pub. He quickly found his first mate and introduced them.
"Celeste, this is my first mate, Mr. Gibbs."
Celeste held out a hand and Gibbs took it with a smile and gave her a little bow. "Pleased to meet you, ma'am."
Celeste giggled in response. "Please, Mr. Gibbs. I am far too young to be a 'ma'am'…..Or at least I hope so," she laughed again before looking at Jack who was smiling at her. She reluctantly tore her gaze away to look at Gibbs again. "Please call me Celeste."
"As you wish, Celeste. As long as you call me Joshamee." He lifted her hand to his mouth for a quick kiss before noticing the scowl that crossed Jack's face in response.
Interesting, he mused. Could their captain be smitten? Should that be the case, Gibbs was on board!
"Begging your pardon, sir," he apologized.
Jack continued to scowl until he looked at Celeste who was looking at him shyly. Realizing the sparkle in her eyes must be for him made him feel better.
But only a little.
He shook his head slightly to get back to the reason for their interruption. "Right, so it looks as if the men are certainly enjoying themselves," he said as he surveyed the room filled with sailors…..and women. The music was loud, the drinks were plentiful, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Jack scanned the room as he continued to talk to Gibbs. "I need two men to go back to the Pearl. Do we have anyone still sober enough to do so?"
"What they be needed fer?" Gibbs asked.
Jack leaned in and lowered his voice so as not to be overheard by anyone else. "Just to make sure no one gets on me ship. Celeste and I have a little errand to run…so I be needin' to make sure no one boards the Pearl unless they're one of us. Savvy?"
Gibbs looked around the pub and pointed to two of their best sailors: "Ace and Jakkyl. They haven't partaken of much. "
Jack shook his head in agreement. "Good! Get them back to the ship straightaway. We need to go."
Gibbs smiled at Celeste again, "Pleasure to meet you, Miss Celeste. Might we be seein' ye again soon?"
Celeste looked at Jack before answering. "I don't know…..We'll see."
"Of course you'll be seeing her again," Jack corrected before taking her hand in to his own again. "But right now, we must go see a man about a puzzle."
Gibbs eyebrows shot up. "What kind of puzzle?"
Jack gave him a sideways smirk. "I'll be tellin' ye about that later, mate. Get those two guarding the Pearl now….and we'll be back soon!"
With that, he led Celeste out of the pub. Following her directions, they found the bookstore where Mr Weatherby was just getting ready to close up shop for the day.
"Ahoy, Sir," Jack began. "May we steal a moment of yer time?"
Edmund Weatherby's head wasn't facing them as he tried to lock his shop door. "I'm sorry, sir, but we close promptly at….."
He turned to see Jack and Celeste before him.
"Jack SPARROW?" he said in surprise.
Jack smiled as he held up his pointer finger. "There should be a 'Captain' in there somewhere, mate."
"R-right….Right…..Sorry. Captain Jack Sparrow?" he asked again.
Jack smiled brilliantly. "The one and only!"
Weatherby looked at Celeste. "You brought him here?"
Celeste looked a little taken back but Jack squeezed her hand gently as he continued. "And why shouldn't she, sir?"
"I-I-I don't know, but….."
"BUT…..you will be opening the doors again because we need yer help." Jack said confidently as Celeste's eyes grew wide. His tone of voice was pleasant, but also had an air of authority which told her he was not accustomed to being told "No".
Edmund Weatherby seemed to sense that as well. He fumbled nervously with his keys and agreed to open back up. "Of course, of course….I would be happy to assist you."
As he turned around to unlock the door, Celeste shot Jack a look that caused his smile to fade a fraction as she tugged on his collar and leaned up to whisper in his ear. "Be NICE, Jack. You don't need to scare the poor man! Remember we need his help!" she reprimanded and Jack had the decency to look somewhat contrite.
Celeste followed Weatherby into the store as Jack checked the street to make sure they were not being watched. Then he went in, shut the door, and pulled closed the curtains so no one would know they were inside.
"So I assume you are here because of the cylindrical puzzle Miss Mancuso brought to me earlier?" Edmund Weatherby began.
"You assume correctly," Jack answered. "But may I say it is rather uncouth for you to bring it up before knowing exactly why I may be here. Telling a pirate that a sweet lass like Celeste may have a secret like that could get her into danger, Mr. Weatherby."
The man looked rightfully embarrassed at his quick admission as well as a little nervous at what he had divulged.
"Tell me, sir…Who else have ye told she has such a puzzle?" Jack asked.
His eyes grew wide and he took a step back. "No one! No one, I swear!"
Jack took a step towards him and glared at him menacingly. "I don't know that I believe you."
"Captain Sparrow, I swear on my life I have not mentioned it to anyone. I only thought….."
"You only thought WHAT?" Jack fumed before Celeste stepped in between the two men. She put a hand on Jack's chest in hopes of placating him.
"Jack…..It's okay," she said hoping her voice would help soothe the beast she was seeing emerge. "My father told me to trust dear Edmund….and I do. YOU should too."
Jack didn't look convinced and continued to glare for a moment before his gaze softened upon looking at Celeste. "Alright."
Edmund swallowed the lump in his throat. "I told no one, sir…..I swear. However, I will tell you what I told Miss Celeste. It will take me a little time, but I am attempting to locate some family history on the McGalliard's of Ireland. Specifically, Seamus McGalliard and his travels. Only then will I be able to begin attempting to decode this cypher."
"And what have you found out so far?" Jack asked.
Weatherby picked up the bag he'd been carrying out of the store. "I have two books that I have been going through. One has details of some of the voyages taken by ships from Ireland, Scotland, and even Britain around the time Seamus McGalliard would have sailed. However, I don't think that information will be very helpful."
"Why is that?" asked Celeste. "Wouldn't a history of his trips be exactly what we need to know since he had to have hidden the treasure during one of them?"
"Your father would have thought of that," Jack interjected thoughtfully. "Besides, no pirate worth his sea legs would ever hide that amount of treasure in a place everyone knew he had been. "
"My thoughts exactly, Captain Sparrow," Weatherby said with a smile. "Now, this second book goes into great detail of the genealogy of some of Ireland's most notorious and wealthy families. We know that Seamus McGalliard came from a family of Vikings who had plundered through many of Ireland's most prominent monasteries gaining great wealth and power in the process. What we do not know is much about Seamus' mother…..who of course would be your great-great grandmother. However….." he stopped and pulled out the book and opened to a page he had marked.
Jack and Celeste stepped closer and he continued, "I believe she may have been Irish royalty."
"My great-great grandmother was an Irish princess?" Celeste squeaked out in surprise.
"I believe so, but I haven't verified that yet. If that is the case, however, it could explain how Seamus had access to such an incredible amount of treasure. He would have only added onto that wealth when he began his own travels."
Celeste's brows furrowed in concentration. "But it wouldn't make sense for a member of Irish royalty to get involved with a Viking. They were the literal enemies of Ireland…..Plundering the land, killing people, and stealing their wealth."
"Ah…..but love be a funny thing, Celeste," Jack interjected. "And forbidden love? Well, forbidden love is usually the most powerful…the most passionate and magnetic. If your great-great grandmother was indeed a princess and she fell in love with a Viking scallywag, it would have been forbidden indeed."
Celeste couldn't help but smile at him. "Why Jack. Who would have ever known you were such a romantic?"
His smile grew wider. "Forbidden love is one of my specialties, love."
There was a twinkle in his eyes that warmed her to her core as she forced herself to look away.
"S-so….um…. anyway…" she stuttered as she looked back at Edmund. "How is this going to help with the code?"
"May I see it again?" he asked and Celeste quickly retrieved it from her bag and handed it to him. "This is just a hunch, but if I can verify that Seamus' mother was indeed royalty, we need to know a name that equals the number of columns on this puzzle. It could be a person's name….a castle's name…..perhaps a town. One of those may be the key to unlocking the puzzle and finding what is inside."
Jack and Celeste looked at each other with wide eyes. The excitement was palpable.
"How long will that take?" Celeste asked.
"There is no way to know that, but I was going to go through it some more tonight before…" He looked at Jack pointedly. "Well, you know."
"Before we interrupted you," Jack finished. "Well, be on your way then, man!" He said quickly before grabbing Celeste's hand. "We will check in again tomorrow."
Weatherby agreed and put his books bag into his bag preparing to leave once again.
"See that you tell no one of this. Savvy?" Jack said with just a hint of an edge to his voice.
"Of course not," the man agreed.
With that, Jack led Celeste out of the little store and they began to make their way back in the direction of the Black Pearl.
Celeste stopped him at a crossroad. "Well, I need to be getting back home, Jack. What say you we meet back at Edmund's bookstore in the morning to see what he's found out?"
Jack could not believe his ears. She could not possibly think he would allow her to go back to her own home when treasure seekers had threatened her that very day. And after what they had just found out from Edmund Weatherby, the danger she could be in was even worse than he first suspected. Anyone with knowledge of the puzzle she held in her hands was dangerous…but if they knew even a fraction about her possible ancestry with Vikings and Irish royalty, the danger increased exponentially.
"You don't actually believe I will allow you to go to your home unprotected, do you?"
"Allow me?" She turned to him with fire in her eyes. "ALLOW me? I am a grown woman, Captain Sparrow. I have been taking care of myself for a very long time now, thank you very much! You will not be telling me what I can and cannot do."
Jack loved the sight of that Irish/Italian temper, but he wasn't about to back down. "This is not open for discussion. You will be safer on the Black Pearl than anywhere else on this island…..and you WILL be returning with me to it for the night."
"And where exactly am I supposed to sleep on your ship?" she sassed as she crossed her arms in front of her.
Jack gave her his most charming smile, "In my quarters of course." When she continued to scowl, he put his hands up in surrender. "Dear Celeste, I have told you several times already, I mean you no harm. I promise to be a perfect gentleman. You can have me bed and I will sleep on the floor."
Of course, Jack had every intention of changing those plans once they were aboard, but he wasn't going to divulge that just yet. He saw her begin to soften.
He cupped her face in his palms. "You're in danger, love. Your father trusted my father with his life. Can't you trust me with the same?"
That's all it took for her to give in. "You're right," she admitted. "Can we just go by my cottage so I can get some clothes then?"
She knew Jack was anxious to get back to the ship, so she used her female wits to charm him instead. "Please?" she said with a smile and she saw him give in.
He grimaced. "Fine…but let's make it quick, shall we? I don't want to run into any unsavory sorts while we're out in the open like this."
Celeste led him down a side road and quickly noticed two men walking towards them in the opposite direction. They were chatting with each other and had not noticed she and Jack yet…but she recognized them as the other two men who had been after her that afternoon. Thinking quickly, she stepped into a side alley pulling Jack with her. Before he could utter a word and before the men could pass by and possibly recognize her, she grabbed Jack's face in her hands and pulled him down for a kiss. Her intention had been to hide her face so the men would not see her. She had no idea the fire the kiss would ignite in her belly, though.
Jack was momentarily stunned at the sudden turn of events and confused as to what exactly was transpiring. He wasn't about to fight it, though. If Celeste was offering, he'd be a damn fool to deny her. He had been wanting to do this very thing all day.
He pulled her closer and his tongue made it's way down her lips in invitation. She opened her mouth and Jack felt as if his insides were ignited as well. Never had he felt this reaction from a kiss alone! They continued to explore….and taste…..as Jack's hands began making a downward trail. Just as he was about to grab the ass he'd secretly watched all day, she pulled away.
Damn! he thought frustratingly.
"We have to go," she said breathlessly. Jack caught her as she stumbled slightly and grinned at her.
"Not that I'm complaining," he began. "But what was that for?"
"What? The kiss?" she asked innocently as she brushed a piece of hair from her face.
Jack's eyebrows shot up expectantly.
"Oh….um…..Well…the other two men…..From earlier…..They were just coming down the street so we needed to hide."
"Ah. And that's the solution you came up with? Interesting."
A blush crossed her face and he found himself anticipating other ways he could make her blush. He leaned down close to her ear and whispered, "Thank you for letting me be a distraction, darling. We'll have to explore that more later."