Authors: Lexie Stewart
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When they reached Little Bounty, Lance tossed up a grappling hook. The rope stretched all the way back to Ripple Thief where his men were waiting for his signal. When he did, they pulled the rope, moving Little Bounty inch by inch until the bolt of lightning that was frozen above her was no longer going to hit her when it unfroze.
“I dare not move her anymore,” said Lance, signalling his men to stop. “Or else they’ll pull her right out of the beam and she’ll fall into this time.
That done, Lance pulled up the oars. He and Josephine just sat there, unable to look at each other.
Until then, they’d had the technicalities of setting everything up to keep them distracted. Now the moment to say goodbye was upon them.
“Don’t go, Josie,” said Lance suddenly.
Josephine felt overcome by emotion. She shook all over, her heart pounded and her vision blurred.
“I have to,” she said. “For Katie.”
Lance nodded. “I knew you’d say that, lass, but I had to try.”
“Come with me?” Josephine asked, eyes bright with hope as well as tears.
“I can’t,” said Lance.
“But you got the Lightning Circle and defeated Bloody.”
“There are more Lightning Circles out there and there’ll be another Captain Bloody. I swore I’d find them all, Josie.” He paused and an ironic smile played across his lips. “Maybe if I left this world to go with you, the future would be different. You might be one of those cyborg things you mentioned.”
“It’s incredibly arrogant of you to think you’re so important to the world,” said Josephine, smiling at the sight of him smiling. “But it’s also probably true. This world needs a hero.” Her smile faded. “So we both have our duty and it tears us apart.”
They climbed aboard Little Bounty. It was all exactly as it had been when Josephine was carried off by Bloody’s pirates. The passengers were all there, holding on for dear life and-
“Katie!” Josephine made towards her niece but Lance held her back.
“She can’t hear you, Josie.”
Josephine’s eyes grew even wider. “That’s me,” she said. Josephine stared at her own body, crouched on the deck next to the unconscious skipper. “I, I,” she stammered. “There are two of me!”
“I wish that I could keep one,” said Lance, turning her towards him.
“But she doesn’t know what I know,” said Josephine. “She’ll just sit there on the floor and let Martin drive everyone right back into Captain Bloody’s beam. I’m different now. I’m not the woman I was before.”
“I guess your world needs a hero too,” said Lance.
They stood facing each other.
“Goodbye, Captain Breakheart,” said Josephine.
“Goodbye, Josephine of the other-world,” said Lance and swept her into his arms for one last kiss.
Josephine had discovered that portals could transport people from one world to another. That was exactly what kissing Lance did for her. Just the touch of his lips upon her own transported Josephine to a place of red-hot desire and melting bliss, back to the most intimate moments of their night of passion.
When they finally parted they breathed hard and their eyes burned with longing.
The pure light of the beam sparkled around them, turning everything to silver and ice.
It was pure agony to step out of his arms. Lance never took his eyes off her as he backed up, swung down from Little Bounty and took his seat in the longboat.
He went further and further away from her with every stroke of the oars until he was out of the beam’s light, then he sat there, gazing back at her, his heart breaking at the loss of the woman he loved.
The beam grew brighter. Josephine forced herself to move. She went to her body and stared at it.
She sat down,
herself, taking the same position. She had pins and needles all over and felt as though she’d put on a bodysuit that was too tight. Now there weren’t two Josephines-- just one, crouched down next to the unconscious skipper.
Josephine wanted to dive into the water and swim back into Lance’s arms but she forced herself to stay where she was. She had to save Katie. She had to at least try.
One sound rose above the storm and gave her strength even as it broke her heart; it was Lance, calling out that he would always love her.
There was an explosion of white. The lightning bolt struck the water like a silver spear, narrowly missing its target. It scorched Little Bounty’s side and nearly capsized her with the wave it caused.
Thunder boomed. Sheets of rain poured down at different angles and great waves rose up and dumped salty, foamy sea water on the little catamaran and her screaming passengers.
It was very hard for Josephine, now that Katie was unfrozen and crying her name, not to go to her but Josephine held strong. She had a job to do.
Josephine looked up. Martin Slackson was at the wheel.
“Martin!” cried Josephine, still feeling somewhat jet-lagged from her travel through time. “You don’t know what you’re doing!”
“Don’t be stupid!” Martin cried back, as he continued to push, flick, and twist every control he could reach.
Josephine gritted her teeth. She pulled herself to her feet and yelled above the storm.
“Move! You’re going to get us all killed!”
“Just shut up and mind your own business! You’re just a silly girl!”
Josephine swung back her arm and slugged Martin in the jaw.
Josephine to you!” she yelled.
Josephine stepped over Martin who sprawled on the floor with a hand to his jaw and his eyes bulging out of his head like Lenny’s.
Josephine grabbed the wheel.
She had only moments before Captain Bloody’s beam froze them. She tried to steer the catamaran away, back towards the shore but the wind fought with her, dragging them deeper into the heart of the storm.
With a cry of determination, Josephine forced the wheel to turn. She felt as though her feet were welded to the floor; nothing was going to budge her from that wheel now.
The storm gave one last attempt to drag them back. A swell rolled towards them, getting bigger and bigger until it rose like a mountain in front of them.
The passengers screamed out that they were going to drown, surely that huge swell would reach its peak and break, tip the boat over and wash them all from the deck.
Instead of trying to veer away from the mountain, Josephine powered on towards it.
The only way to avoid flipping the Little Bounty was to meet the swell head-on.
The swell burst up beneath them, throwing the catamaran’s nose into the air until she was almost vertical. For a few heart-stopping moments it seemed as though Little Bounty would flip backwards.
Her nose tipped down again and she sailed through the air, a bird instead of a boat.
Little Bounty crashed back onto the water, jerking her passengers around terribly but remaining upright.
They were through the worst of it now; the storm was behind them and if Josephine could keep the catamaran on course they’d be okay.
Still clutching the wheel, Josephine looked around to check on Katie and the other passengers.
The grandfather or possibly father of the two naughty children was hugging them tightly, one under each arm while they cried.
The elderly couple were embracing, exchanging words and kisses they thought they’d never be able to share again.
Katie zipped across the deck and flung her arms around her aunt, and nearly bowled her over.
“Oh, Katie,” said Josephine, wrapping one arm around the trembling girl. “It’s so good to see you, sweetheart!”
“We’re alive! We’re alive!” cried Katie.
“Of course we are,” said Josephine, ruffling Katie’s wet hair. “I promised, didn’t I?”
Some fifteen minutes later Josephine brought the catamaran into dock.
The passengers of Little Bounty were shaken but escaped with only superficial injuries.
One by one, they shook Josephine’s hand and thanked her for saving their lives. Josephine’s face reddened at all the attention but she tried to be gracious.
An ambulance was called and Martin Slackson was lead away, spluttering about how Josephine had assaulted him and he’d be pressing charges.
The skipper woke up as he was strapped to a gurney. His first concern was for his passengers; his second concern was for his boat.
When he was told what Josephine had done he said that she and Katie could ride free whenever they pleased, which Katie was thrilled to hear. As she pointed out, she still hadn’t seen a whale.
It wasn’t long before Janet came running up to Little Bounty, her face red and tear-stained.
She smothered her daughter with hugs, kisses and worried questions then stood up to confront her sister.
Josephine sighed. The last thing she needed was a torrent of criticism.
To Josephine’s surprise, Janet threw her arms around her and squeezed tightly.
“I’m so glad you’re alright!” cried Janet.
As soon as she could, Josephine excused herself and hurried to the public toilets behind a fish and chips shop.
Her hands were shaking as she locked herself inside a cubicle. She reached down the front of her t-shirt and pulled out the gold locket.
She squeezed her hand around it, tears stinging her eyes at the thought of how great a distance was between her and the man who gave her the locket.
Josephine bit her lower lip and carefully opened the locket. There it was: a shining fragment of Lightning Glass from the Circle Lenny had dropped.
Josephine smiled to herself. No one noticed when she’d snuck the fragment inside the locket. One day, she thought, stroking its cool, pearly surface with her fingertip, she’d use the fragment to take her back to a time of swashbuckling, heroes, tall ships and treasure.
One day, she’d see her pirate lover again.
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