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Sinners & Saints

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Sebastian Meyer spun his desk chair around in time to see his secretary drop a newspaper onto his desk. She had the paper folded back to the society section where Danny’s face was beaming as she shook hands with Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of England. He felt like someone punched him in the stomach and lowered the receiver to its cradle without warning to the caller.
 
“What in God’s name is she doing?”
 
He looked up in time to appreciate the swinging ass of his secretary before the door closed behind her. Sebastian read every word associated with the story and decided his mother was having a last fling before she surrendered the reigns to him this year. Let her have some fun, he thought, a nostalgic party to remember her glory days when she was the seat of power and reigning queen of the socialites. He could give a shit because nothing could stop him now. The purchase of a sizeable chunk of stock was in the bag after his manufactured bromance with a major investor. Sebastian did his best to undermine his mother’s stronghold and convince the man she was suffering from dementia. He was sure this sale would put him close to majority shareholder, so his take over was within reach. Still, the picture gave him an unsettled feeling because she had not surfaced in almost a year. Why now?
 
The crew had worked all night to put the boat right after the party, with orders from Darius not to report for duty until noon the following day. Jamie took advantage of the quiet morning and trained Danny and himself in the gym before swimming laps to cool off. He hated the weather in London. Hot, sticky, and draining.
 
Adso’s loud purring cut through the fog of Claire’s dream and she felt him head-butting her face. He stretched out beside her and kept his paws on her face until she opened her eyes. Claire rolled to her side and with a finger under his chin pulled his head up to look at her.
 
“Ok my darling, I’m up. Is it food you want?”
 
The door to their deck slid open for some fresh air and was closed immediately to keep humid air from filling the room. Tonight they will weigh anchor, set a course for Paris, and her intimate time with Jamie would be on hold again. She stretched and smiled at their glutenous sexual pursuits over the past week and figured she would survive the three days apart. She couldn’t wait to get to Paris and see Javier and Joseph again. They were invited to the party and would stay on board to Athens and then fly home. It felt like an eternity since they were together.
 
Darius called a meeting of the crew and ran down the teams, shifts, and duties on their three-day trip to Paris. Maia was the last one onto the bridge and noticed Cici did not move away from Darius when she came in. She stood across from them and quietly listened to the meeting, however she remembered not a word. When the crew muttered “aye, captain,” Maia was deep in her memory, adding up the lingering looks and odd behaviors observed in Cici.
 
“Maia? You’re a million miles away.”
 
Maia looked around at the empty bridge and blushed. “I’m closer than you think. I gotta go.”
 
Black Rolls Royce automobiles pulled up to the offices of the Harbor Master all day long so someone in the employ of a party guest could deliver a handwritten message thanking Danny for a lovely evening. When Darius requested permission to make way, he was told a boat was coming to deliver mail. Eighty-five guests sent a thank you note and Danny read every one of them.
 
The anchors were raised just as a thunderstorm ripped open to soak Ethan and Steven, who gripped the slippery hull ladder with one hand while they guided the chain with the other. Darius watched the CCTV monitors closely until they were back on deck. The other crew members were pulling furniture and lounge chairs under the deck ceiling and snapping waterproof covers over everything. When all of them were back inside, Darius and Jamie turned the yacht away from London toward open water.
 
Danny looked out the expansive windows at the squall coming in on the port side and told Claire and Maia to close all the windows. Claire ran to her rooms and called for Adso, usually on her lap at this time of the day, getting more frantic by the second. She ran around her room calling for him and spun around to see him sitting on her bed yawning. She picked him up and carried him out to the table where they were working.
 
Darius looked at the color of Jamie’s face and decided he finally found his friend’s Achilles’ heel.
 
“You look a bit green around the edges, friend. The trash can is empty if you need …”
 
Jamie ran for the head and over the next two hours, purged his system, in one way or another. Darius was waiting to give him a patch for seasickness, but Jamie couldn’t spend more than a couple of minutes on the bridge before dashing back to the head. On one of his brief visits, Darius pressed something sticky behind his ear. Jamie made a run for the bathroom again and Darius chuckled. After four hours of being tossed around on an angry sea, Darius could see the margin of the storm and pushed their speed to get out from under it.
 
When Maia and Steven arrived to take their shift, Jamie almost crawled out of the elevator and got to their rooms to lie down. Claire was reading and jumped off the bed when she saw her green-faced love stagger in. She pulled his clothes off and propped him up on pillows, then went to the galley for soup and water. The chef was preparing food for the next day when she told him how sick Jamie was. He smiled and fixed up a remedy for seasickness and suggested broth to restore him.
 
“He won’t like the taste of the remedy, so tell him to pinch his nose and swallow. Best to have a bucket nearby, just in case.” Claire carried the tray to their room and Jamie did whatever she told him to. Then he laid down and passed out.
 
Jamie reported to the bridge the next morning feeling much better except for sore stomach muscles. He kissed Claire as they exchanged places and the familiar rotation was back in full swing. Claire worked with Danny during the day, getting her to remember the faces that would board in Paris, and Maia did research on the guests. When they dropped anchor in Paris, it felt like they had hardly moved.
 
The night of the party, Claire and Maia flanked Danny again at the entrance to the grand saloon and fed her information about guests who were approaching. When Claire saw Javier and Joseph in the greeting line, she broke away to throw her arms around them. Javier held her at arm’s length and smiled at her gown and hair. He was bursting with pride, as was Joseph. Claire introduced them to Danny and Maia and walked them into the saloon to find Jamie.
 
Jamie’s smile was brilliant as he shook hands with the men. Claire promised to catch up in a bit and went back to Danny greeting guests. It was a stifling evening and even with the air conditioners blowing Danny was perspiring in her jacket, so she took it off to reveal the sleeveless gown underneath. Jamie caught sight of her and beamed with pride at her smooth and shapely arms. Danny looked in his direction and smiled back.
 
At one o’clock in the morning, Claire dropped onto the couch between Javier and Joseph and sighed.
 
Danny smiled her gratitude at the three of them. “I owe you a big thank you for talking with the French-speaking guests. I never saw any of you sit down all night and you were all so charming!”
 
“I left you to fly solo tonight and you knocked it out of the park Danny.”
 
“I wasn’t alone, I had the darling Maia with me much of the night.”
 
Claire put her hand on her heart and lipped ‘thank you’ to Maia. She noticed Ethan and Steven had changed into their day uniforms and were standing by.
 
“It would appear we are moving the boat to our mooring so it’s time to change and be useful.” She kissed Javier and Joseph goodnight and then Danny, telling her to rest well. Danny looked up at Maia and tapped her other cheek for a goodnight kiss and they all went to their rooms.
 
Claire clipped the radio to her shorts and heard the crew members give their location and readiness to the bridge. She pulled a t-shirt over her head and pushed her hair into a ponytail.
 
“Claire, are you close? You’re on the aft deck to catch the stern ropes.”
 
“Yes, had a devil of a time getting that dress off, but I’m almost there.”
 
“Thank you for the visual now move your ass, we’re ready.”
 
Claire rolled her eyes and jogged to the aft deck to catch the enormous ropes used to tie the yacht to the dock. When the anchor chains were quiet again, Steven popped up on the ladder and helped with the remaining ropes before descending again when they dropped anchor at the mooring. Claire was grateful for the hard-working crew who would put the boat in order before morning. She was exhausted.
 
“Good job everybody, captain out.”
 
Maia came to the bridge in her pajamas, eating dry cereal out of the box. Darius was writing in his log and kept looking over at her soft pants riding her hips four inches below her belly button. When she lifted the box above her mouth, he watched her breasts bounce under her pj top.
 
“Done!” Darius picked her up and she threw the empty box into the trash on the way to their rooms.
 
As before, Danny held a brunch the next day for Javier, Joseph, Danny, and the four friends. It was a beautiful afternoon in sunny Paris, and Darius did the unthinkable. He gave the crew the day off, postponing their departure until the next day.
 
In New York, Sebastian took the folded paper from his secretary and his eyes bugged out at the picture of Danny in a sleeveless gown toasting a major stockholder and oil investor.
 
 “What the bloody hell is going on?”
 
“Get Marvin on the phone, interrupt him, tell him it’s an emergency!”
 
“Marvin! Tell me Johnson is ready to sell before I lose my mind! My mother is up to something and I don’t like it.”
 
Sebastian listened for two minutes, heard his financial manager say Johnson had taken his shares off the table, and the phone slammed into the cradle so hard it shattered. “Goddammit!” He unplugged the phone base and threw it against the wall.
 
The next morning, Jamie and Darius prepared to weigh anchor as the crew covered deck furniture and stowed planters in the plant garage. Ethan and Steven raised the anchors and the mighty engines came to life. Javier and Joseph sipped cold champagne on the deck and marveled at the teamwork required to get them underway. Claire, Danny, and Maia joined them to watch the historic sights and beautiful buildings glide by on their way down the Seine.
 
Claire had mixed feelings about anchoring off Greece again because so much had happened there. Thankfully, there was no party to prepare for and they could act like tourists for the three days Darius and Maia would be onshore visiting family. She told herself to relax and enjoy the time with her godfather.
 
The third night at sea, Danny planned a special dinner on the upper deck for Claire and her family, Jamie, Darius, and Maia. They were served by the crew, and the chef prepared a glorious meal for them to enjoy. Many stories were shared after dinner, and Claire watched Danny talk animatedly with the others. Her jawline was still defined and her neck showed no drooping skin, in fact, she was aging quite well but no one would know it because her shoulder-length hair kept her best parts hidden. She decided it was time for Danny to emerge and wished she had thought of this while still in Paris. She would talk to Danny at her first opportunity, which was later that evening when she was reading in the saloon along with Javier and Joseph.
 
“Danny, I would love to treat you to a new hairstyle. What do you say to a girl’s day out in Athens?”
 
“I am quite comfortable with my hair, as awful as it is. I’m not comfortable risking a bad haircut. How about facials and pedicures?”
 
“Okay, that would be fine, I guess. I’m on shift in the wheel room in two hours, so I’m going to lie down for a bit. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
 
Claire needed Jamie’s help for this and found him watching a rerecorded game in their room. She snuggled up to him and whispered she needed a favor. The game flicked off before her sentence was finished.
 
“I am trying to talk Danny into a new hairstyle, something more modern, but she’s afraid of having a bad haircut until it grows out. You could draw her face and put different hairstyles on her, right?”
 
“There is a very high price for such a service Sassenach, but I’d be happy to break it down into installments if you like.” He pulled her down on the mattress and kissed her until she forgot who Danny was.
 
Through the night, while Claire was on shift, Jamie sat in his studio and rendered Danny’s face with three hairstyles he found on the internet. He jogged to their bed to grab four hours of sleep before his last shift of this leg.
 
Darius was getting more uptight by the minute as they cruised toward Athens. He and Maia would visit their family for three days, so Jamie assumed this mood was family-related.
 
“I’ve been wanting to ask you, it’s none of my business, but I’ll ask anyway. When we were at the jewelry store in Jamaica buying the necklace for Maia, you said you had two grand to your name, remember?” Darius shot him a dark look. “What did you do with your earnings then?”
 
“You couldn’t be more right, it’s none of your business.”
 
“I think I know the answer, but I’d like to hear it from you.”
 
“Me and Maia have all we need while on the yacht, so I send the bulk of my pay home, to my family and hers. The economy is poor, very few good jobs, low pay, no assistance. My two brothers live in the same house as my sister, her husband, and their baby. They need every penny.”
 
“I always knew you were a good man, Darius. What are you forty, forty-five years old?”
 
“I’m twenty-seven asshole, and I don’t need a lecture about robbing Maia from the cradle. ”
 
Jamie ducked as wadded paper was launched at his head and the bantering took the edge off of Darius’s mood. The anchors hit the seabed close to Athens, where the fishing was good for both pole and speargun. Darius and Maia said goodbye and got into a boat brought by Darius’s brother and it sped away.
 
Javier and Joseph were gleefully setting up their fishing lines and sipping beer in chilled glasses. They now had a partner in crime. The chef was crazy about fishing and kept the men within arms reach of food and beer while they enjoyed the day.
 
Jamie felt soft arms come around his waist from behind and twisted his body to put Claire under the shower water. He kissed her under the stream and felt a ravenous hunger ignite in his groin. They could take their time today, he realized, and broke his kiss to wash her hair.
 
“It’s time for a whisky, love. Be a good girl and stay here, I have some things to discuss with you.”
 
When Jamie left to fetch the whisky bottle, Claire went out to the deck with her nail kit and put a fresh coat of polish on her fingernails. Jamie set a whisky in front of her and watched the process with mild interest. He stood behind her and pulled the string holding her bikini top on, letting it fall to the deck, then he carried her to a lounge. Claire kept her hands in the air so he wouldn’t smudge the polish, and Jamie smiled wickedly at her.
 
“Let me pamper you, love. Give me your foot.”
 
He found all kinds of creams and scrubs in her caddy and settled on a soothing gel that he applied to her feet, calves, and thighs, covering an inch at a time very slowly. He massaged her inner thighs until she was panting, taking care not to touch her most intimate places. This was about seduction, and that required a soft touch. Pulling her foot into his lap, he sat down on the deck and held up bottles of polish until she picked one. The hours he had watched her manicure her toes paid off when he brought out each tool for cuticles, filing, and smoothing. When the paint rolled onto her toenails, he could see her thighs quivering slightly and smiled with his bowed head.
 
When the first foot was done, he licked from her knee to her core, pulling her bikini bottom to the side and pulling his soft, wet tongue up her fold. The fabric was returned to normal and he grabbed the other foot for the same treatment while she panted and tried to slow her heart rate. It took an excruciatingly long time to paint five toenails and drink two shots of whisky. Claire was growling with need and gave her love a warning look to finish what he started. It took another hour but finish he did and they curled up on the lounge for a happy siesta.
 
By mid-afternoon, Claire found Javier, Joseph, and the chef, drunk, sunburned, and deliriously happy. To her surprise, Danny had joined them and was holding two of their poles with lines in the water. She greeted Claire with a happy smile, so excited to be fishing.
 
“Claire! Look, I am fishing for my supper, isn’t that fantastic? I haven’t caught a single fish yet, but I am determined.”
 
Javier looked at Joseph and asked if he baited the hooks to which Joseph raised his shoulders and giggled.
 
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Give me a pole Danny so I can check your hook.”
 
Soon there was a spinning lure attached to the line and cast far into the water. Claire handed the pole back to Danny with a warning that the fish were large and might pull the pole out of her hands if she wasn’t ready. Danny squealed with delight and watched the water with anticipation. Claire baited the other hook and sat next to Danny, trying to ignore the loud snoring of the three men who were now sleeping in the shade.
 
Claire’s pole jerked violently, and she heard the line running out as the fish dove deep to get away from the hook. She counted five seconds and pushed the lock on the reel, almost losing the pole when it jerked back hard. Danny dropped her pole in her excitement to help Claire, and it jerked on the deck when another fish swallowed her hook and then tried to get away. Fortunately, the pole was pulled along the deck sideways and got caught by rail mountings so they didn’t lose it. Both women were screaming and laughing, trying to reel in the first fish.
 
Jamie’s head jerked up hearing the chaos outside. His book forgotten, he ran to the deck and watched Claire and Danny pull the same pole, losing themselves in laughter. He grabbed the other pole and demonstrated how to reel and pull the fish, but they were hopelessly lost in their fun. He felt the fish release his line and swim to freedom while he reeled in the hook and set the pole aside to help Claire.
 
From behind Claire, he moved her hands, holding them still while the fish ran the line out again, and then pulling up sharply to set the hook deeper. Danny held onto the pole like it was a lifeline while she bent over laughing. When the fish was exhausted, Jamie had them walk the pole and fish along the side deck where he could net the beautiful sunfish that would feed them that night. Claire and Danny jumped around the aft deck, lost in their celebration.
 
Jamie made quick work of gutting the fish and cutting away the parts that were unusable. The chef roared from the side deck to stop as Jamie was about to throw the head far from the boat.
 
“That head will make the best fish head soup!”
 
The chef took command of the fillets and head and left them for the galley, very excited at their catch. Danny showed Claire how to wash with soap and then cut lemon sections to rid the skin of the fishy smell. Danny went to lie down until dinner and the crew was cleaning the main saloon, so Claire went outside to fetch her godfather and Joseph off the deck. They went down to their rooms to tend their sunburned skin and nap.
 
Jamie pulled Claire to their rooms and closed the door before pushing a button that pulled the blackout shades down the massive windows. He pulled Claire to the bed and suggested a movie to which she happily agreed.
 
“This is a classic that I found in the video library upstairs. I think you will really like it.”
 
Claire cuddled up to Jamie when the movie started and was well into the story before it suddenly heated up with erotic scenes between two lovers. She couldn’t pull her eyes away as the characters showed body parts she didn’t expect to see. Jamie watched her face flush as the scenes became more erotic and he chuckled suggesting they watch something else.
 
“No! I mean, don’t you want to see how it ends?”
 
“As you say, love.”
 
Claire lost herself in the beautiful actors and for the first time, watched a woman making love as her breasts bounced with the pounding. The woman’s inner thighs looked so soft as she spread them for the man’s mouth moving toward her core. When the sex got rough, Claire’s panting was giving her arousal away.
 
“Should we find another, sweetheart?”
 
Jamie pulled her in front of him, between his legs, and pressed her back against his chest in a relaxed posture. Claire was hypnotized by the sex scenes and hardly noticed Jamie pulling her feet to the sides to open her legs. When he touched her, it was like a firebomb to kindling and he gave her all the thrills she had just seen.
 
When they collapsed, gasping for breath, Claire was panting out “how” and “why” and certain unintelligible words making Jamie chuckle.
 
“It takes a bit of work the second time in the same day, love.”
 
“Wow, that was… wow.”
 
After another shower, they finally stumbled to the table for dinner and Jamie was still chuckling at her deer in the headlight eyes. She needed help to come back to the here and now, even though he loved her expression and blush.
 
“Sassenach, how do you like the fish you girls caught today?”
 
“Hmm?”
 
“The fish, how do you like it?”
 
Claire looked at her plate like she just realized she was chewing food. “It’s wonderful! I really love it.”
 
She and Danny started talking about the next party and Jamie knew she was back on earth. He missed his starry-eyed wife instantly. They shared a closeness for the rest of the evening and he cuddled her in their bed that night wanting to hold her close all night long, but that was not going to happen.
 
Jamie’s eyes would not close, his breathing would not deepen, and his mind felt like a pinball game in play. He rolled quietly out of bed and made his way to the studio. A painting was clamoring to get out, and he felt the crushing responsibility to get it right.  
 
Sunrise filled the studio with light as the third canvas was sent to the failure-closet, so named that very night because it had not happened to him before. He went to his sketch pad to work out the dimensional issues and used colored pencils to test the color differences. If he couldn’t find the skill to paint it accurately, he wouldn’t do it. It was that important.
 
Jamie knew Claire would be up soon and he wasn’t ready to share this picture yet, so he put his drawings away and put the five-lads on the easel, then he went to snuggle with his wife.
 
Claire hugged Javier for a full minute, and then Joseph. She wiped a tear off her cheek and smiled bravely wishing them a good flight back to Paris. They both turned in their seat and waved as the taxi pulled away.
 
“Darius and Maia return tomorrow and then we weigh anchor for strange places Sassenach. Perhaps the three of us sit on the deck today and fish. What do you say?”
 
Danny jumped to fetch whatever Claire needed that afternoon. She could feel her melancholy, and her maternal instincts took over. At least until the first pole nearly bent in half from a monster fish that latched onto Jamie’s hook. The women abandoned their poles to render aid that was not needed, and Jamie tried to reach his pocket when he felt his phone vibrate. It was hopeless reaching through the women’s glee, so he held his pole out to the side with one hand and clicked to answer the call.
 
“What the hell is going on over there?”
 
“Two excited women helping me boat a fish, but it could be long gone by now because I can’t feel the pole move anymore. What’s up?”
 
Jamie listened to the instructions given, “on my way.”
 
Handing the pole to Claire, he excused himself to tender Darius back to the yacht, and Claire looked confused when the pole was no longer bouncing.
 
It was obvious Darius was hurt and Jamie helped him into the tender without commenting on his bulging eye that was swollen shut, his bloody mouth, or his arm held tightly to his side.
 
“Hospital?”
 
Darius shook his head, “boat.”
 
Darius crept into the saloon hoping to make it upstairs before anyone saw him but the stairs were impossible. He turned around to use the elevator and heard Claire’s voice as he winced from his broken ribs.
 
“Don’t you fucking move, Darius.”
 
She led him to the galley by his good hand and pulled his sunglasses off while he voiced his complaint. Claire grabbed the emergency kit and a frozen steak and led him up to his rooms.
 
He couldn’t lay down because the position drove the broken ribs into his lungs so Claire cleaned the wounds as best she could.
 
“I didn’t know you had such a crush on me, Claire.”
 
“Shut up, you idiot. What happened to you?”
 
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
 
Jamie found Danny cleaning up the fishing gear and looking worried.
 
“He probably told you to leave him alone, and while that works most of the time, it will not work today. Maia knows what to do so get her back here so she can help him. Jamie, please do this.”
 
Jamie was naturally resistant to Danny’s gift, but he heard the edge in her voice and reached for his phone. Twenty minutes later, a wide-eyed Maia was climbing into the tender asking how bad the injuries were. She interrupted his explanation saying she could swim faster than he was going so he pushed the tender to its limit and soon they were flying across the water.
 
Maia could hear Claire arguing with Darius as she approached their rooms and kindly asked Claire to wait downstairs. She glanced at Darius and saw his tears of pain and frustration, so she helped Claire exit the room and locked the door behind her.
 
Claire could hear them talking and ripping packages of emergency supplies. She was terrified and crying, having never seen anyone fresh from a brutal fight. Jamie put his arm around her and led her downstairs where the three of them waited in the saloon to hear more about his injuries.
 
Maia cleaned the wounds, wrapped his ribcage, and slapped his good hand when he tried to loosen the ace bandage constricting his breath. She pushed a pain pill into his mouth and moved her finger along the base of his teeth searching for a loose wiggle. Ten minutes later he could lie down, gingerly. She knelt next to the bed and put her head down, fighting the tears she didn’t want Darius to see. His good hand stroked her hair, and he whispered to her that everything was alright. When she gave in to the sobs, he held her as best he could and reminded her he was the captain with a job to do and she was expected to help him for a little while.
 
“Darius, of course I will. I’ll pull the boat with my bare hands if you ask me to!”
 
She held his hand against her cheek and searched his face, feeling relief when he smiled at her.
 
“It’s alright,” he said, stroking her hair. “My face scared you, but you patched me up with a steady hand, and now you need to cry a bit. It’s okay to cry, and then I wonder if you might tell the others what happened so we can all shake it off and depart in two days.”
 
Maia could see he was asleep and covered him before going downstairs. Her eyes were puffy from crying and nothing would change that, so she walked into the saloon and told them what happened.
 
“Darius sends most of his pay to his family and mine. His sister lives in a small house with her baby and husband, and Darius’s two brothers moved in a year ago because they were homeless. Darius said the house was a horrible mess. The front door had been kicked in, glass was missing from windows, the baby was crawling through filth. His sister is afraid of the brothers who spent all the money Darius has sent. Her husband leaves on Monday to work on Mykonos and he is gone all week. Darius ordered them out of the house and called the husband, telling him to walk off the job and come home to protect his family. Darius said he would cover his pay. They jumped him and beat the shit out of him.” Maia looked up, “sorry for my language. He has a job to do and I will help him. We leave in two days, nothing has changed.”
 
Danny held her hand up to stop Maia and seemed to struggle with the right words.
 
“I know it’s hard for the four of you to accept my gift, and I don’t talk about it much, but I have to tell you something. Darius suffered an impact to his abdomen, a kick I think, and his spleen is bleeding. I can see it bleeding and it might have to come out. If I could get close to him I will know for sure. This could threaten his life, so we shouldn’t wait. Please wake him and ask if I can see him, Maia.”
 
“C’mon.”
 
When Darius didn’t wake up right away, Maia got scared and shouted at him. She squeezed his hand and apologized.
 
“Is the boat on fire, sweets?”
 
“No. Darius, were you kicked in the stomach?”
 
“No.”
 
He closed his eyes again and Maia muttered about Danny being wrong as she walked to the door.
 
“Maia, yes, I was kicked in the stomach, several times. Why?”
 
“Danny needs to see you. Something about your spleen is bleeding. Can I let her in, please?”
 
“Yes.”
 
Danny entered and reached for his hand, looking concerned. He watched her.
 
“I can’t tell if it’s going to stop. We can go to the hospital now or I can check you later.”
 
“Check later if you would, I don’t like hospitals.”
 
“Alright, dear Darius.”   
 
Danny left and Maia sat on the floor and put her head near his on the mattress. She stroked his arm until she was sure he was asleep again.
 
“I love you so much, Darius.”
 
“I love you too, sweet one.”
 
Jamie and Claire finally said goodnight and Danny went to the elevator and her rooms. All through the night, she monitored Darius, sneaking into their room to lay her hand on his foot. On one visit, she put a blanket around Maia and pulled the covers around Darius. Her last visit was at five o’clock in the morning. She kept her hand on his foot because she wanted to be sure.
 
“You did it, young man,” she whispered, “no splenectomy for you, so kindly put your cape back on, and save the day… when you’re ready.”
 
Danny was exhausted and desperately wanted to lie down on her bed. She rode the elevator down to her floor and held the wall as she walked. She was proud of Darius for his decision to heal.
 
Later, Jamie spent some time with Darius and he was particularly sarcastic and funny because Darius begged him to stop making him laugh. Jamie decided that was enough painful levity for one day and left, grabbing Maia in the hall.
 
“Maia, I have spent too much time with Darius and I don’t want to wake him up. He asked me to alert the authorities that his sister should be alone in the house waiting for her husband, but he didn’t give me the address.”
 
Jamie pulled a notepad out of his pocket and had a pen poised to write it down. He started to move down the hall like he was in a hurry and raised his eyebrows at her. She gushed the address out and then went into their rooms. Jamie pushed the pad into his pocket and went downstairs with a face that could murder a man just looking at it.
 
After dinner, Jamie pulled Claire into their rooms and made passionate love to her. She mumbled something about her jello legs as she slipped into her dreams. He waited until she was deep enough not to feel him roll out of bed or hear him dress. He jumped in the tender and paddled halfway to shore to avoid waking anyone. He had a mission to complete before they left in the morning.
 
Danny stood in the dark saloon and watched Jamie paddle the tender. She was conflicted about raising the alarm or letting it happen. She whispered, “forgive me, Jamie,” and went back to bed.
 
Jamie leaned against a large tree and dozed for half the night, waiting for the brothers. He would bet his last dollar they hadn’t left and Jamie knew the husband would not be back until the next day. His head jerked up hearing the drunken laughter of two men approaching. They staggered toward the sister’s house and Jamie cleared his throat to make them turn around.
  
One of them addressed him in what sounded like gutter slang and Jamie smiled like an altar boy and pulled his wallet out. The men approached so Jamie lowered the wallet so they would see the large bills he thumbed through as he talked about paying them off to stay away from the sister. He was not getting through to them so he said “Darius,” and waited. One of them shoved a fist in Jamie’s face.
  
“We take your money and drop you in the deep ocean. No worry, you be dead.”
  
Jamie’s eyes were wide with fright and he backed into the tree with his hands in a defensive position. They were smiling at each other coming toward him when Jamie suddenly stood upright and laughed, stopping them in their tracks.
  
“Oh! I.. I know who you two are, you beat the shit out of my friend, your own brother!” He was still laughing while the men shot glances at each other. “You know, Darius said you guys fight dirty.” More laughter. “What a relief! Because so do I.”
  
Jamie jumped up and grabbed a tree limb, driving his feet into one man’s face. He dropped to the ground and pulled his jacket off showing the second man his sleeveless t-shirt and the bulging muscles in his arms. Before the man could run, he grabbed his long greasy hair, and drove his knee into his back, flipped him around and pummeled his face until the man collapsed on the ground.
  
Jamie grabbed the last of the rope he brought and wound it around the man’s legs. Both of them were tied to different trees with no possibility of escape. Jamie hoped the husband would be the first to find them. He pushed a note under the ropes and put his jacket back on. He had a naked wife waiting for him in a big warm bed. He headed for the tender.
 
 
Danny thrashed in her bed having one hell of a nightmare. She saw men fighting and one of them run away. Suddenly, the man stopped and looked directly at her, “it’s alright Danny, I won, rest now,” came the echo of his disembodied voice. Her eyes flew open and she sat up in her bed gasping for air. She felt the presence of Jamie above her and sighed her relief as she dropped back to her pillows, feeling much better.