How are you liking the story so far? I would love to read your thoughts! I am wondering if I am capturing the essence of Jack correctly…..It's a little tougher than expected to write in pirate. At any rate, I would appreciate knowing what you think of the story so far.

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Celeste unlocked the door to her little cottage and nervously lead Jack inside. She wasn't sure why but she felt nervous leading him into her space. She lit candles to give them some light since the sun had set an hour or so earlier.

She smiled shyly. "It's not much, I guess…..but it is mine."

Jack clasped his hands behind his back as he looked about. "It is beautiful, sweet Celeste. Exactly what I would imagine for you."

"Okay…..ummmmm….well, make yourself comfortable. I'll just be a few minutes."

Celeste moved away towards her bedroom as she left Jack in the main room of her cottage. Not knowing how long she would have to stay on the ship, she packed more trousers & blouses (since that would be expected on a ship) as well as a couple of dresses and undergarments and shoes. She'd only sailed with her father three times in the past and wasn't quite sure what she needed.

Before leaving her bedroom, she also picked up her journal, a favorite scarf that had belonged to her father, and a blanket her mother had knitted for her when she was a baby.

She met Jack back in the main room of her little cabin with her bag slung over her shoulder.

"Ready to go?" she asked expectantly.

Jack reached out a hand to take the bag from her shoulder and put it onto his own.

"Ready when you are. Let's go…..shall we?"

Before following him out, she tugged his shirt sleeve gently to make him stop. Jack turned towards her.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Jack?" she asked. "You don't even know me and this is a big risk. No one has ever located this treasure so who knows what we'll find. Or if we'll even find ANYTHING. Why waste your time on me?"

Jack surprised her by leaning down to kiss her again leaving her speechless.

"Why indeed. Well the answer to such a question is that for all the faults a scallywag like me may have, I am a really good judge of character….and I believe what you are telling me is true. Secondly, I could never turn down even the slightest chance of finding McGalliard's treasure! It will make me a legend!"

He took a step closer so there was no space left between them and tipped her chin up with his forefinger. "And finally, it is entirely possible that I have also come to realize I want the pleasure of your company for as long as I may have it, love."

He grinned and she found it took all the strength she had not to continue standing upright. "Right," she said breathlessly. "Okay….well then, let's get on with it. Shall we?"

Jack took her hand in his and led her out of the cottage.

Making their way quietly back through town, Jack thought he heard a distinctive rumble in Celeste's belly. He stopped in his tracks.

"Forgive me, love. We've been on such a mission today, we haven't even eaten. You must be starving."

Celeste blushed. "No, it's okay Jack. Maybe we can just find something once we get back to your ship."

"Nonsense," he said as he changed direction and started heading back to the pub where he'd found Gibbs and some of the other crewmen earlier. "There will be time for more 'sensible meals' once we begin our journey at sea. We are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime….so tonight we celebrate with something a bit more substantial. You will need to keep up your strength!"

The two made it back to the pub to find everyone just a little bit rowdier and a whole lot drunker than they'd been earlier. Jack was pleasantly surprised to find that Gibbs, however, seemed to be keeping his wits about him. The three of them settled at a table and Jack and Celeste quickly ordered. Once the food arrived, Gibbs could wait no longer to ask the question that had been burning in his mind since Jack had left earlier.

"So are you going to tell me what's going on, Jack?"

"All in good time, mate." Jack answered with a smirk. "Let us finish eating and you can come back to the ship with us. This be something we need to keep quiet as long as possible."

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The three finally made their way back to the Pearl. Most of the crew would be staying in town that night….either passed out or in the company of a female companion…..but few had opted to go back to the ship to sleep. Those who were on board began giving curious glances to the woman their captain was bringing aboard. Jack was somewhat perturbed at their interest in her although it was entirely understandable. With her long flowing mane of red curls, fair skin, and brilliant green eyes, he had been mesmerized by her the entire day.

"As you were, men!" he ordered before mumbling to Gibbs, "You would think they'd never seen a woman before."

Gibbs was once again intrigued by Jack's obvious jealous streak. It was interesting indeed so he decided to test his theory that their captain may be smitten. Jack was preoccupied with getting their attention off of Celeste, so Gibbs helped her onto the ship by taking her hand into his own to kiss it as he smiled at her companionably. "Welcome aboard, m'lady."

"Mr. Gibbs," Jack said rather testily. "Follow us to my quarters. We need to have a little chat."

"As you wish, sir." He said, but not before winking at Celeste causing her to giggle. She knew exactly what he'd just done and found the banter between the two amusing.

The three made their way to Jack's rooms where he secured the door behind him and motioned for them both to sit down. He poured rum for each of them before sitting down behind his desk.

Gibbs saw the familiar twinkle in his captain's eyes. He knew Jack well enough to know that that 'twinkle' meant they were about to embark on a treasure seeking adventure.

"Mr. Gibbs, tell me what you know about McGalliard's Treasure."

Gibbs eyebrows shot up in surprise. Having some Irish in his own blood, he probably knew more than most, but even his knowledge was sketchy.

"Probably only as much as any other man who's sailed the seas, Cap'n. McGalliard's Treasure be the one thing all of us would love to find…..It's a legend in itself. To me knowledge no one has been able to find even the first clues as to where it may be."

Jack's smile grew wider as he steepled his fingers together and rested them under his chin. "Ah…yes. But what if I tell you that may be changin'?"

Once again, Gibbs looked surprised as he sat up straighter and leaned forward expectantly. "What ye be tellin' me, Jack? You know where to find the treasure?" he said in an excited whisper as if he was afraid to speak too loudly lest it be untrue.

Jack leaned forward as well and lowered his voice. "Aye, Mr. Gibbs. It just so happens we have in our company this evening the daughter of Giancarlo Mancuso…and the great-granddaughter of none other than Seamus…..McGalliard."

Gibbs turned to Celeste in wonder. He knew Captain Mancuso as well as he knew Jack's father, but he'd never heard of Mancuso's connection to the legendary McGalliard. "This be true, Miss?"

She shook her head. "Yes, Mr. Gibbs…"

"Joshamee," he corrected her and she smiled.

"Joshamee….It is true. I am the great-granddaughter of Seamus McGalliard."

"And you know where the treasure be?"

"No," Jack answered for her. "But we will have something soon."

Jack and Celeste relayed the day's events to Gibbs who grew more excited with each detail.

At the end, Jack's expression grew serious. "No one can know of this yet, Joshamee." Using his given name was always an indication of just how serious Jack was so Gibbs took notice. "We must not even breathe a word of it to the crew yet. This voyage be too important to let any details leak out," he said. "Once we have a heading and are on open waters, I will consider what to share."

Gibbs agreed.

"Even then, we must be careful what we divulge. If anyone knows we have McGalliard's great-granddaughter on our ship, there will not be a ship for thousands of miles who will not seek us out."

"I hear you, Jack….and I completely agree."

"Right," Jack said as if finishing the conversation and dismissing Gibbs. "So if you will excuse us, then…."

Taking that as his cue to leave, Gibbs bid them both goodnight and left.

Feeling suddenly awkward and realizing Celeste must be tired, Jack decided to give her some space. They had been going non-stop all day and she looked very tired. He stood up and walked around his desk.

"I need to make rounds and check that things are secure for the night. Please make yourself at home and get some rest."

He noticed her looking at his bookshelves where he had a vast collection of books on various subjects. Celeste was impressed with the eclectic range of his interests. "Or feel free to grab a book of your choosing and just relaxing for a bit," his smile was genuine and she returned one of her own.

"Thank you, Jack."

"Do you need anything? Anything at all?"

She stifled a yawn which he found adorable but said nothing. "No, I'm good thank you."

Jack left to make sure everything was set aboard ship for the evening and returned nearly an hour later. Just before opening the door to his cabin, he was alarmed to hear what he thought was muffled sobs.

Could his sweet Celeste be crying?

Wait. He stopped. She is not my Celeste, his conscience seemed to say.

Only to be answered by his heart which seemed to say, Keep telling yourself that, Jackie Boy….but you're in big trouble with this one.

Jack shook his head as if that would quieten the voices before putting an ear closer to his door. He definitely heard crying and immediately felt his heart twist. Opening the door quickly, he made his way inside. He found her laying on his bed curled up on one side with a pillow tugged closely to her chest. Any other time, the sight would have been quite endearing but the fact that she was crying concerned him.

Jack approached the bed and knelt down beside her. Her eyes were puffy and swollen but she was still so beautiful, she took his breath away. All he wanted in that moment was to find out whatever or whomever had made her cry and fix it

"Dear Celeste," Jack said as he reached to push a strand of hair behind her ear. "Why the tears, love?"

It only seemed to make her cry harder. The only thing Jack knew to do was to gather her into his arms, sit back down on the bed with her and let her get it out so she would talk to him.

When her tears finally subsided and only hiccups were left, he gently pushed her up from his shoulder so he could look at her and wiped a stray tear from her face.

"I'm sorry, Jack," she sniffed.

"There is no reason for you to apologize. Please, tell me what is wrong?" he pleaded. "Did something happen while I was gone because if anyone bothered you, I swear on my life, I will….."

"No….No…..It's nothing like that. I was just….." She huffed in frustration and tried to get up from his lap but he held her firm. When she saw the determination in his eyes and realized he had no intentions of letting her up until she talked, she gave in.

"I think I'm just tired. You know, it's been a long day."

Jack looked at her doubtfully. He was too intuitive to buy anything she was saying. She sighed, "Okay, fine. Being on this ship," she began. "It's bringing back a lot of memories…and regrets."

"Like what?"

"I miss not getting to know my father, Jack. I know he was a 'pirate' but the times I did get to see him and spend time with him were always full of good memories for me. He was wonderful to me…..and I wish I would have had more time. Or more opportunities….To see him. Do you know what I mean?"

"Understandable. If it makes you feel any better, I know exactly how you feel."

She reached up a hand to stroke his cheek. "I know you do," she smiled softly.

"When he showed up a few months ago, I thought maybe we would have a chance to spend time together again." Her eyes began to fill again but she held them at bay. "I guess it just wasn't meant to be…..and now he is gone. Sometimes I feel very…"

"Alone," Jack finished for her.

"Yes.," she whispered. "With my mother and father both gone, I sometimes feel very alone. I guess that's why finding this treasure….or at least pursuing it…..is so important to me. Without it, I have no purpose."

Jack understood what she was implying, but at the same time, he also believed Celeste had much more to live for than just the pursuit of this elusive treasure. But that was a conversation for another day.

Feeling the fatigue of the day all the way to his bones, he gave her a tired smile. "Well, that is debatable….but it is much too late to discuss it now. We have a long day tomorrow. What say you we try to get some sleep?"

She yawned in response and he reluctantly let go of his hold on her so he could stand up. As soon as he retrieved some blankets from a bedside cupboard to put on the floor, he heard her soft voice.

"Jack?"

He turned to find her watching him. "You can sleep with me, if you'd like." She blushed as she realized what he must be thinking she meant. "I mean, um…..I mean, not that…..but…what I mean is that I just don't want you to have to sleep on the floor."

Jack really wanted it to be "that" but knew he would have to proceed with care. In the meantime, he was going to be happy with every moment he had with her.

"Are you certain?"

She nodded. Not waiting lest she changed her mind, Jack quickly removed his boots and laid down beside her. It was difficult considering he wanted so badly to hold her again, but he was determined to treat her with care.

That's what made it all the more special when she suddenly moved up beside him and laid her head against his shoulder. He put his arm around her waist….She put her small hand on his chest….and they both fell asleep within seconds.