Welcome Aboard, M'lady!
Sir Grant Bennigan placed his right hand over the deck of cards on the wooden table. He lifted a quarter of the deck and picked up a single card from the top. “Yours?” he said to his brother and tossed the Ace of Spades over toward him.
Marcus yawned. “Card tricks? Are you that bored?”
The high seas swelled gently, a contrast to the crashing waves from the earlier storms. The Regallion Princess, a three masted barque, had remained in the family despite the controversies that flared upon the passing of their father, Sir Walter Bennigan.
Grant sighed and walked to the cabin window. The Pacific Ocean presented a peaceful glow, the moon glimmering on the horizon. “The boredom will pass soon, I suspect. More storms are coming.”
“How long before we dock?”
Grant rolled a large cherry flavored tobacco leaf and struck a sulfur tipped match across his leather belt. “At least four nights,” he said, before lighting up and filling the cabin with the fresh cherry aroma.
Marcus waved the smoke from his face, “You seek an early grave, my brother,” a bitter tone in his voice.
“It’s my only vice.” Grant scratched his chin, noting the days of growth on his face.
“And the occasional harlot.”
Grant stared at his brother. Oh Marcus, the virginal Marcus, with his sinister attitude always judging. “Every port should have a handful of available ladies. It’s not like we have pickings out here in the middle of the ocean.”
Their current mission would take them into Port Castillo on the Valparaíso Bay, one of the larger bodies of the Pacific. Its massive trade venues always attracted seamen from around the world. It would be a great opportunity for the brothers to entertain the crowds with their magic and wares.
Grant looked back to his brother, but Marcus had performed his usual vanishing act. It was his best trick, unlike levitation and other illusions which had been perfected by the older brother. The captain pulled on his tobacco a few more times and stubbed it out in a bronze bowl before returning to his quarters. The calm seas would give him a good rest.
The next morning, though the skies glared gray and ominous, the slight choppiness of the water only hinted of brewing storms.
The spoon fell onto the floor. The calling for his attention had broken the levitation spell. He cursed and pushed his way toward the outer deck.
A few of the men pulled a body onto the ship from a lifeboat they had apparently lifted from the sea.
“What’s going on? Where’s Marcus?” Grant asked.
“Captain, we called out for Marcus. He’s not answering this morning.”
The woman’s body was limp and pale in the deckhand’s arms, her frail torso and limbs covered in wet clothing. “She’s alive, sir.” Long blonde strands of wet hair plastered her cheeks.
“Take her inside,” Grant said, pointing toward the stern. “And the rest of you, man the ship!” He turned and followed the deckhand into the cabin. When they reached the entryway to the sleeping quarters, the Captain pointed to his own room.
“I know. We do not have a maiden to assist. I’ll take care of her.”
He watched over her for the next several hours while the storm pitched The Regallion Princess to higher crests. The woman’s lips barely parted and her eyelashes, now dry, fluttered against the draft in the room.
He wondered what it would be like to lie next to her, to feel her cheek against his skin as she rested her head upon his bare chest. He wondered how she would respond to his touch, if he could feel her soft skin pressed against his. Would she grow to love him as he did her, forever in his spell.
Marcus entered the room, handed him a rolled, cherry tobacco leaf, and proffered a light. “She’s beautiful.”
“She is.” Grant puffed until the leaf was fully lit.
“Think she’ll make it?” Marcus took a swig from his bottle.
“God, I hope not.” Grant watched the rise and fall of her chest and ached to hold her. Her eyes fluttered and opened slightly and she shivered in her damp clothing. She coughed and tried to sit up. She looked at Grant and Marcus as if attempting to make sense of her whereabouts. Then she screamed an unrelenting scream. Her eyes, wild with fear.
“And here we go,” Marcus said, tipping his bottle again.
The brothers looked at each other, one puffing on his tobacco leaf and the other drinking from his bottle. The woman screamed louder, and continued to scream until the deckhand entered the room and ran to the bedside where she had been crouched, holding onto a bunched up quilt.
“Tis okay, m’lady. Tis okay!”
She put her arms around the deckhand and screamed into his cotton blouse.
A twinge of jealousy struck Grant, overwhelming him with more heartache. If she held onto him the same way, pleading for him never to let go, he would give anything to experience it.
“Please, m’lady. All is well.” The deckhand seemed to calm her.
“Who are they?” The woman cried out, tears staining her cheeks.
The deckhand looked to the center of the room. “That is Sir Grant Bennigan and his brother, Marcus. They will forever haunt The Regallion Princess unless the captain finds a wife, a lady who dies upon this very ship, and greets him in the afterlife. Only then will he settle into a peaceful rest. His brother is merely a companion.”
“A wife? But, he isn’t real. He’s a ghost!”
“Nay. Tis a spirit, m’lady.” The deckhand smiled at the captain and waved.
Grant threw his head back and laughed, but he knew they couldn’t hear him. In time, maybe? He puffed his tobacco and blew a stream of smoke into the air. He wondered if she would ever smell the cherry aroma.
My logline: Two brothers, who are magicians, pick up a hitchhiker on a ghost ship.
Okay, so the hitchhiker was not conscious and the only part of the ghost ship were the brothers. It still meets the word count criteria! Hope you enjoyed.