She felt it every day. It was the weight she carried. It spread along her shoulders, digging into her neck, pressing her spine against itself and bending her back if she wasn't mindful. She never had been so aware of her posture as she was now at nearly twenty. Now that she knew the true weight of her obligation to the Crown.
She took another sip of the thin ale, her eyes sliding the length of the tilted bar. Damn the man, he was smiling at her again. She blinked at him, trying to convince him that she couldn't care less about his attentions or intentions. She turned her back to him, but her spine seemed to wobble beneath the heat of his continued stare. She tried to find something more interesting in the tavern. Pirates to her left and pirates to her right... Suddenly they all blended and became drab parts of the everyday when compared even to the memory of him.
Ann glared into her mug suspiciously. Her stomach fluttered. She sniffed the ale. Ale was ale. Safer than the water, less interesting than rum. She was fairly certain she wasn't getting ill, but she didn't feel herself, either. She closed her eyes. Thought. She only felt this way once, and then so briefly. She straightened on the stool in recognition. She felt this way the day she met James. She had even convinced herself that she felt the same all the way through their rushed wedding. But now she knew better. She felt infatuation only once before. Love? Never.
She tossed back the last swish of ale. If she could continue to ignore him, she might yet keep him safe. It was the tragedy of involvement with her that sentenced a man to swing. The Crown watched her too closely for anything but obedience. Those who were friends before were nothing but tally marks now. It was only luck that kept her from being found out. She tapped the bar and got a refill.
She spun to face him, the heat of his body nearly searing her own he was so close.
"I'll get this one," he offered with a wink, sliding his payment to Tina.
Tina glared at him. "Just like Jack," she muttered. "Buy a lass a drink."
Ann tilted her head. "So?" She watched them both. Sparks seemed to fly between them.
"Expects more than conversation," Tina growled.
Ann chortled. "Don't all men?" She turned to face him and leaned against the bar. Letting herself go lithe and inviting. But she knew he read danger in her eyes. "But what one expects and what one gets are often quite different, aren't they Calico?"
He leaned closer and her heart raced realizing the danger thrilled him as much as it did her. "So surprise me."
She knew then she must betray him. Must bring him down and hand him over to the Crown. The weight of that knowledge was enough to crush her remaining spirit. And yet, she felt light enough beneath the intensity of his gaze to take wing and fly...
Yep. Anyhow, my eyes are tired, so that means bedtime. Hope you enjoyed this snippet. It was fun to try and pound out here. :-)