Jack led Celeste into the captain's dining quarters which hadn't been used in years to Jack's recollection. In fact, it had become somewhat of a storage room of late so he was dumbfounded as they entered the room and he saw that the room had been cleared, cleaned, and the table was set as if ready to entertain royalty.
His mouth rose in a sideways smirk as he looked down at Celeste.
"You did all of this?"
"Ummmm…..Yes….Well, it was me…..and Rosie and Gibbs. Oh….and a couple of other crew man who came aboard to help after they brought supplies aboard."
Jack was in awe. "I don't think we've ever had a more beautiful setting for dinner on me Pearl, darlin'."
Just then Rosie came into the room as well as Gibbs carrying trays of food. Looking at all the food being displayed before them, Jack felt something twist in his chest. This was something he had never experienced before; Someone to make a wonderful dinner and go to great lengths to make it so special.
How could you miss something you'd never truly experienced before? He had no idea…..but he felt as if a puzzle piece had fallen into place. One that he truly never knew was missing.
It wasn't long before the table was full of roasted chicken and duck as well as various vegetables, fresh fruit and a variety of breads.
Jack's mouth began to water. It had been a long time since he'd had a meal so decadent.
Looking at Celeste once again he smiled. "You are amazing."
Celeste blushed under his gaze. Just before Jack leaned down to kiss her once again, Scrum came in to announce, "Captain Sparrow, there is an Edmund Weatherby wanting to board. "
Gibbs answered, "LET HIM ABOARD! After all, he is the guest of honor."
He turned to see Jack scowling at him.
Jack rolled his eyes in response but had to admit they would not be on the verge of a great adventure were it not for Weatherby.
"Yes, yes…..whatever. He may come aboard."
Scrum returned moments later with Edmund right behind him. To Jack's dismay, he had a large bouquet of flowers in his hand which he promptly handed to Celeste. She took them gratefully and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek.
"Thank you so much, Edmund. They're beautiful."
Edmund turned to Rosie. "I'm so sorry, Ms. Rosie. I didn't know you would be joining us or I would have brought you flowers as well."
"Oh, never mind about that, dear. Come….Let's all sit down before food gets cold."
Jack put a hand on the small of Celeste's back and lead her to a seat just opposite his before pulling out the chair for her. Celeste smiled up at him and sat down…..and then noticed that Gibbs had done the same for Rosie.
Pirates and gentlemen, too. She mused.
It wasn't long before everyone had had their fill. Bellies were full and conversation flowed freely amongst the group. Jack took hold of his goblet and stood up suddenly causing all eyes to turn to him. "I want to make a toast."
He turned to Edmund, "To you, Mr. Weatherby….We owe a genuine debt of gratitude for breaking the code that opened the cylinder." Then turning to Celeste, "And to you, beautiful Celeste. I will always be grateful our paths crossed at the tide pools," he paused for a moment and turned reflective, "But I have lived long enough to know fate plays a role in who we meet….and I do not believe it was mere chance that you happened to be there that day. So, our journey is fated and I look forward to taking the adventure with you." He raised her hand to kiss it causing her to blush profusely.
Then, he lifted his glass and everyone else followed suit, "To code breaker's, pirate's daughters, and new adventures!"
"Here, here!" Gibbs seconded as everyone toasted and took a drink of their wine or rum.
It wasn't long before Edmund looked at his pocket watch and realized he needed to get back home. The hour was growing late and he still had a bookstore to run. He was bidding farewells when Rosie spoke up.
"Everything was wonderful, Celeste, but I really should be going too," she said as she pulled Celeste in for a hug. "You know I have to open quite early. I'll be no good to anyone if I don't get some sleep."
"I'll be happy to walk you back, Ms. Rosie," Edmund said but Gibbs quickly cut him off.
"That won't be necessary, son. I will help Ms. Rosie find her way back home."
"You don't need to do that, Joshamee. Edmund has to go my way anyway and….."
"Nonsense. It's a beautiful night for an evening stroll."
Celeste and Jack watched in wonder. Could it be something was stirring between their two closest friends.
"Besides, we'll be at sea before long if that gleam in Jack's eyes tells me anything. I'll be happy to walk you home." He held an arm out to her as she smiled at him shyly.
"Thank you. That would be very kind."
It wasn't long before the three of them had left the captain's dining room. Celeste and Jack both stared after them a bit speechless before Celeste started busying herself with clearing the table.
"What are you doing?" Jack asked.
"Cleaning up after dinner, of course."
Jack took her hand and started to lead her away. "No. I will get some of me men to do that."
"Jack don't be silly. I made the mess…..I don't want them to have to clean it up. They didn't even get to eat any of it."
"I said, they will take care of it." His voice was very matter-of-fact giving Celeste a glimpse of the captain he truly was and she found she didn't want to argue with him. The firm look at her challenging his authority quickly softened. "Gibbs is right, you know. It's a beautiful night, love. Come….Let's go look at the stars, shall we?"
Before leaving, Jack grabbed another bottle of wine and two goblets. Then, he stopped by his quarters where he picked up the same blanket he'd had with him at the tide pools before leading her out to the quarterdeck. The night sky was clear and it seemed as if every star in the universe was visible to them that night. Jack laid out the blanket and motioned for her to sit while he poured them each another glass of wine. Celeste knew she should be pacing herself, or rather cutting herself off completely, but found Jack's charm so intoxicating, it was hard to say no.
He handed her a glass before sitting down beside her. "I meant what I said earlier, you know."
Her brow creased. "What do you mean?"
"I do not believe in chance..…or accidents. I believe things happen for a reason," he looked up at the night sky. "Whatever powers may be in the universe, they have led us together and caused us to meet. Here. Now."
Celeste felt her breath hitch at the intense gaze in his eyes. It was unnerving how he could reduce her defenses with a mere glance. She wanted to lighten the moment. "Who would've ever thought you a romantic, Jack?" Her teasing grin did nothing to deter the seriousness in his expression though and she suddenly felt guilty. She reached out a hand to touch his forearm.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to tease. It's just…..It's just…"
She took a sip of her wine. "I've always believed fate…..if it did indeed exist…..was always working against me. As if it didn't like me somehow."
Jack grew more serious silently imploring her to go on. "I've never been able to count on anyone, Jack. My father was never around and my mother and I were constantly moving from place to place lest someone find out I was Mancuso's daughter. I was constantly making new friends so I stopped caring about cultivating relationships. I never got close to anyone because I knew I'd have to leave. I reasoned there was no point in forging friendships or letting anyone in."
Jack understood her far more than she realized because his childhood had been much the same. The only difference was that it appeared he may have spent more time on the open sea with his father than she had. That would be expected, however. Pirating was no place for a woman; especially a wee one.
She sighed and took another sip. "My mother died not long after my last meeting with my father. I was lost, Jack…..It felt as if I had nothing and didn't know what to do. My dad's words kept echoing in my mind."
"What words were those?"
She turned away from Jack so he scooted up behind her, put a hand around her waist, and pulled her against him. "What did he say?"
"He told me that he loved me…That I'd always been his biggest treasure and he was so sorry for letting me down. He told me all he'd ever wanted to do was find this treasure so that mom and I would never want for anything again. But he said his time was running out, so he wanted to visit us one last time in order to give me the puzzle."
She reached up to wipe tears from her cheek as Jack continued to hold her close. "He told me he knew I could do it; It was my destiny and that I should start looking for you because you could make it happen. Or rather, we could make it happen together."
She felt Jack stiffen behind her. "So he believed in fate too?"
"It appears so. But I had no idea how to even start looking for you. Mother got sick and died not long after that. I lost of them so quickly…..so I came to St Croix where I met Rosie. She helped me through it all….She's been such a great friend."
"I'm glad you found her," Jack said before leaning down to kiss the top of her head.
"Right…..So anyway, I basically felt like I had to make my own path because believing in fate…or destiny…..or whatever you want to call it would do nothing but lead to disappointment."
"And yet somehow you ended up here," Jack said. "Then, I ended up here….and our paths just happened to cross at the tide pool. Now we are embarking on the adventure of our lives." Jack's voice was low and soft as he turned her around and reached to push a stray tendril of hair from her face. He marveled at how soft it felt between his fingers and wished he could take a fistful of it into his hands, tilt her head back, and kiss her senseless.
"Perhaps," she said. "But we don't know what lies ahead, Jack."
"No one ever does, love. So what say you just trust me, aye?" His sideways smirk made her belly flip flop.
She had no idea why but she found she really wanted to do so. For the first time in her life, she wanted to let someone in. It was scaring the hell out of her…..Of all the people on earth, why would her heart choose a pirate? The sheer idea made no sense at all.
But Jack seemed different. She couldn't say exactly why or how, but he just seemed different. Wanting to change the subject she returned his serious expression with one of her own.
"Tell me about the compass, Jack."
He sat up straighter and his eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"You promised." She gave him a pout that he found he couldn't resist. He would have to tell her. If he expected her to trust him…..and he truly hoped she would…..then he was going to have to do the same. He was just very uncertain as to how she might take the explanation.
He stood up and reached for her hand. "Alright. Come….Let's go for a walk."
Celeste allowed him to pull her up. Still holding on to their glasses, Jack began walking with her to the ships bow. Taking her glass, he sat both glasses down before reaching to get his compass. He put it into her small hand.
"Open it," he said before taking a step back.
She did as he said and watched as the dial turned a couple of times before stopping as if pointing towards Jack. She didn't understand.
"Now watch," Jack said as he closed the lid, took it into his own hand and opened it again. This time she watched in wonder as the dial did the same thing but stopped as if pointing to her.
Her brows creased in confusion. "I don't understand. What does it mean?"
Jack reached his thumb up to stroke her cheek gently. "This is an extremely rare compass, darlin'. In fact, I would even venture to say there is not another like it nigh in the world. Most people think it is broken because it does not point North as compasses do."
Celeste's heart began to beat so hard in her chest she feared he may hear it. "What does it point to then? How does it work?"
She looked into Jack's dark brown eyes and was mesmerized by the vulnerability she saw there. It was as if he wanted to tell her but was terrified to do so at the same time.
"You can trust me, Jack." She said softly.
It took a moment for Jack to speak and the words he said shook her to her core. "This compass," he said before putting it into her hand again, "Points to the one thing you want most in this world."
Her eyebrows shot up and her heart raced even faster. "What do you mean? Are you saying …I mean…If I hold it and it points to YOU, and you hold it and it points to ME does that mean that….."
"Shhhh," Jack shushed to calm her. He could practically feel the adrenaline rushing through her veins. "I'm just saying that we are supposed to be on this journey together, love. Of that I am certain. Me compass has never steered me wrong. I just don't know where that will lead or how long it may last."
Please let me know what you think by reviewing. I hope you're enjoying the story!