"Fumbling Towards Ecstacy"
By Leah Kindsey and Kim
(yes it's named after the Sarah song)
The Crew of the Nomad was docked at a tropical port town called Naiad. While walking around town, Bryn came across a merchant who told her of fabulous spring water springs just outside of town. The prospect of a cool, clean bath was absolutely dizzying. Being out in the sea air made her feel disgusting. She loved the sea but face it, sea water after too long made you feel grimy. She could taste the salt on her. She got directions from the merchant and bought a small bag of fruit from him as thanks. She made her way quickly back to the Nomad. The crew was low on money so staying at an Inn didn't seem necessary. She was dizzyingly excited and nearly ran over Doubar as she jumped from the plank onto the deck.
"By Allah Bryn! What's the hurry lass?" Doubar bellowed.
Bryn grinned, "I just found out there are natural springs just outside of town, I'm going for a much needed swim!" Doubar nodded and laughed as Bryn dashed into the cabin and dashed back out with a full sack and off the ship. Dermott flew behind her.
Sinbad came down from the crow's nest. "What's her rush?"
"She found out about some springs just outside of town. You know women, cleanliness and Allah knows what else!" Doubar replied.
Sinbad smirked, "You look as though you could use some of her what else brother!"
Doubar huffed, "Bah, the sea air's all the soap I need little brother!"
Sinbad laughed, "She's got a good idea though. I think I'll track out there for a swim."
Sinbad hurried down the plank and sauntered down the street. Doubar shook his head.
"This should be good!"
Bryn giggled girlishly as the pools came into view. They were a network of big and small blue pools. The colour was gorgeous, like a blue crystal. Bryn kneeled at the shore of one and stuck a hand in, the water was surprisingly warm! "This is perfect!" she exclaimed. Being on a ship full of men, she hardly had a chance to do feminine joys. She looked around to make sure there was no one around, and started to remove her boots. She reached into her bag and pulled out a long bathing wrap and a few pins. Once sure she was alone, she quickly removed her belt and pulled her dress off over her head. She wrapped the bathing wrap around her and pinned it tightly on. The wrap rested from her chest down to just above her knees. Catlike, she slipped into a pool and stretched. "Oh this feels heavenly!" she sighed and sank underwater, slowly coming back up. With another dive, she swan underwater throughout the network. She saw a willow tree growing in the middle of the pool and swam towards it. She parted the curtain of willow branches and slipped in. She was surrounded by willow branches. It was enchanting!
Sinbad found his way out of town after stopping by a local merchant and asking for directions. He too was rather taken by the serenity of the pools. Looking around, he saw no sign of Bryn. "Bryn?" he called out. There was no answer. "Guess she changed her mind. Women." he muttered with a shrug. He set his bag down and pulled a bathing wrap out. Making sure no one was around, he stripped his clothes off and pulled the wrap around his waste and pinned it. It rested from his belly down to just above his knees. "By Allah, this is really spectacular" he mused as he stepped into the water, "Warm too." he added and sank into the water, coming up a minute later. He started swimming lazily about. He caught sight of a nearby willow tree, growing right out of the pool. "Well would you look at that." he chuckled, "Never seen one coming out of the water." Suddenly he heard some splashing coming from within. "A fish?" he wondered. Fresh water fish would be a great dinner for the night and Sinbad knew how to catch a fish bear-handedly, slyly and sneakily.
Bryn moved her arms back and forth and made little splashes. She smiled in spite of herself, enjoying every minute. Suddenly she felt something grab her roughly and firmly and yank her down.
Sinbad's hands gripped tightly and yanked. Suddenly he realized that what his hands held felt less like scales and more like cloth. Realizing this he quickly let go and swam to the surface. As he emerged, he saw a flash of dark hair and skin. Hands burst out of the water, clawing at the air. He quickly grabbed them and yanked upwards. Bryn's face came to the surface, choking. Dermott suddenly flew through the willow canopy and perched on a tree limb.
"*cough* *cough* Sinbad? What are you doing here?" she said, spurting water out.
"Bryn? Allah, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you. Doubar told me you'd come down here and I decided a bath was a good idea. I'm sorry, I didn't know it was you?" Sinbad apologized.
"What did you think I was?" Bryn said.
Sinbad blushed, "A fish. With the willow branches, I couldn't see it was you. I just heard splashing."
Bryn burst out laughing and sank underwater, only to emerge a second later, still laughing. "A fish?" she laughed, "a FISH!?"
Sinbad laughed, "Yeah I guess it is pretty silly."
Bryn nodded. "How did you hear about this place?" he asked, "This is amazing."
"A local merchant told me about it. It is lovely." Bryn replied and swum to the tree trunk, where it was shallower and took hold of the trunk. "Nobody else came?"
"No, Doubar couldn't bear to wash off that fine layer of salty grime and I didn't see Firouz or Rongar about." Sinbad looked up into the tree where Dermott perched, "And obviously Dermott followed you."
"Oh" she said, nodding. She suddenly felt a lot less secure. Ever since Sinbad kissed her on the island full of ants, she had felt very uncertain and tense around him. She wished he hadn't kissed that village girl after he defeated the ants. The sight of him now was enough to put any woman off guard...they way his long hair clung to his neck in intricate tracings...or the way the tiny beads of water rolled off his chest.
"Are you alright Bryn" SInbad's voice suddenly broke the silence. Bryn snapped back to reality.
"Eh? Oh yeah I'm fine...just thinking...you yanked me under water..."
"Bryn I already said I was-"
"Yes you yanked me underwater. Such actions warrant retaliation Captain." Bryn said with a sneaky grin. She suddenly lunged forward at Sinbad. Before he had time to act, she grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him down underwater. Once satisfied at the depth he went under, she quickly released him and swam back to the tree, gripping it's trunk. Sinbad came up sputtering to hear Bryn laughing hysterically.
"Bryn! I can't believe you just did that!" Sinbad said, spitting out water. Bryn's response was even more laughter.
"You had it coming Sinbad. You had it coming!" Bryn splashed playfully at him. Sinbad sent a tidal wave of a splash back at her. By now, the two were in throws of laughter. Dermott just looked at them strangly and cocked his head. They continued this water war until they had exhausted themselves. With a sigh, Sinbad swum over to the trunk, where it was shallow enough to stand.
"It's too bad you weren't a fish. We could've had a good dinner tonight." Sinbad remarked. Bryn shrugged and pointed outwards.
"You're in the wrong spot, they're out there." she said.
Sinbad cocked an eyebrow, "How did you..." Bryn shrugged and Sinbad shook his head, "nevermind, I'm not going to try to understand. I'll be right back." Sinbad swam out of the willow canopy. Bryn sighed and leaned against the tree.
"Fish..." she muttered.
Bryn leaned against the thin trunk of the willow try and sighed. Dermott chirped in the branches above her. She looked up and smiled. "If he catches some, it won't be sea rations tonight." she said to him with smile. Dermott chirped back.
The thought of a fresh caught meal was definately appealing to both of them. Bryn cautiously peeked out between the strands of the willow and watched Sinbad as he swam towards the middle of a larger pool. By Allah, he was magnificant, she thought to herself. Bryn giggled as she watched Sinbad hold perfectly still, then dive forward in a quick motion, only to emerge seconds later, empty-handed and scowling. "That is," she said to Dermott, "IF he catches one." She giggled again, watching another futile attempt of his. Dermott chirped at her and it sounded suspiciously like laughter. They watched as Sinbad tried again and again with no luck. Bryn was amazed by his stubborness. Her sides were hurting from trying to hold back her laughter and finally she couldn't any longer.
Sinbad was jarred out of his concentrated fishing efforts by the most musical sound he had ever heard, Bryn's full fledged laugh. The sound washed over him and immediately brought a smile to own face. He joined her laughing as he swan back to her. "Doubar taught me how to catch them barehanded a long time ago. I guess it was too long ago." he commented.
Bryn nodded as she laughed. "Guess so." She swam out a bit towards where the fish were. "Let me try."
Sinbad nodded, "Ok but if you catch one, Doubar will never let me live this down."
"Well in that case..." Bryn said softly as she fixated her eyes upon the water, keeping her body still.
Sinbad kept back to the willow tree and watched. She didn't move. As Sinbad watched, he became fixated upon her, noticing everything...the way her hair clung to her shoulders in intricate patterns, the way her dark eyelashes blinked every now and then. As he watched, he could've sworn it appeared as though she was melding with the water! He blinked and shook his head, rubbing his eyes. When he looked back, Bryn was holding a flopping fish in her hands, struggling to keep it from slipping. He swam to her and took it in his hands. Soon enough, it stopping squirming. "How did you?" he stammered. Bryn just grinned. "Never mind, I'm not sure I want to know." he laughed and shook his head.
"Should we take it back to the Nomad?" Bryn asked.
Sinbad thought for a moment, then said, "And let Doubar eat it all? Tell you what, I'll build a fire and we'll cook it ourselves. What do you say?" He cocked that charming smile that Bryn always fell for. She nodded and smiled.
"Ok. Why not. Besides, it's so nice here, when else are we going to be back at such a nice place?"
"And even better point." Sinbad added. He handed the fish to Bryn and waded to the shore. There was a fair amount of fallen branches and twigs along the shoreline. Sinbad gathered a few armfuls and set to aligning them, encircling them with small stones. "Alright," he said, cracking his knuckles. He aligned to sticks in a cross and began to rub the horizontal one along the vertical one. "Burn now. Burn!" he demanded.
"How is it going?" Bryn's voice said overhead.
Sinbad looked up and the sticks broke. He gulped. Out of the water and wet, Bryn wore her bathing wrap better than most people wear their skin. The sight caused him to break the feeble sticks 'neath his strong hands. "Well it was going to go." he said, "Don't suppose you'd care to hand?"
Bryn nodded and sat before the pile of wood, concentrating on her magicks. Despite all the strain she poured into them, nothing happened. She gritted her teeth.
"Don't try so hard." Sinbad said from behind her. She looked back at him. "Just relax."
Bryn nodded and relaxed. "Ok I'm relaxed. Now if the wood would kindly light." she said gesturing at the wood. Yellow light sprung from her hand and the wood ignited. Bryn looked rather surprise. "Thank you wood." she said with a shrug.
Sinbad laughed. "Alright now. Let's get Mr. Fishee sliced and gutted."
Later that evening, as the sun was low on the horizon, Sinbad smiled, stretched and leaned against the large rock behind him. It had been a long time since he had spent a day simply enjoying himself, relaxing without having to worry about the safety of his ship and crew. The responsibilities of being captain rarely allowed for that kind of pleasure. He glanced at Bryn, sitting ahead of him and just off to the side, closer to the edge of the springs than his position by the rock. She had her arms wrapped around her legs, her chin resting on her knees and she appeared to be deep in thought. After their fish dinner they had gotten back into the springs, just enjoying each otherís company, occasionally getting into a water fight or playing tag. Dermott had watched them from the safety of the willow tree, every now and then adding his chirps to their laughter. He was even now perched on a limb in the tree behind them, seemingly content just to be there with them.
Sinbad heard Bryn sigh, almost inaudibly. It was not what he would call a happy sound. "What are you thinking?" he asked her softly. He was reluctant to break the silence and serenity of the moment.
She shook herself from her thoughts and answered, "I was just wondering how many days like this I canít remember. Today has really been wonderful, being able to relax and not worry about the ship or the crew." Brynís voice held a note of sadness despite what she had said about the day. Sinbad smiled at the fact that yet again they had both been thinking along the same lines. Bryn continued wistfully, "I want to know how many other wonderful days I have had, what I spent my childhood doing, who my family and friends were and what we did together. Basically I guess what I want is my past back."
Bryn had truly enjoyed the day, enjoyed being with Sinbad, and even enjoyed just sitting peacefully here with him. But she couldnít keep her thoughts from turning to what she didnít know about herself. It was as if a large chunk of her being was missing. She was very happy with her present, had wonderful dreams for her future but was completely lacking the third element of time, her past.
"Iím sure it will come back to you eventually," he said, trying to reassure her. He thought to himself of some things in his own past that he wished he could forget, yet he couldnít envy Bryn her lack of memory. He wouldnít want to trade places.
"Sometimes I think . . ." her voice trailed off.
"That maybe there are things in my life that I donít want to remember." Once again Sinbad was amazed that they were mirroring each otherís thoughts. "What if terrible things had happened to me or worse, what if I had done some terrible things, is it better not to know, or to know and suffer?" Bryn sounded genuinely puzzled and slightly upset.
Sinbad scooted over and sat down again behind her. He reached out and started to comb his fingers through her still damp hair, gently loosening any tangles and continuing even after there were none anymore. He sensed she needed comforting, almost as much as he wanted, no, needed to comfort her; he just wasnít quite sure what to say. "I canít answer that question for you, Bryn, as much as I would like to," he began. "I can tell you that whatever your past was like, itís just that, your past. It really has no bearing on now or whatever is in store for your future. And as far as family and friends, I hope you realize that you are a part of our family, on the Nomad."
She looked over her shoulder at him and gave him a megawatt smile. "Thank you, Sinbad, that really does mean the world to me." Sinbadís heart skipped a beat at the sight of her smile, a smile meant just for him and no one else. He found himself smiling back at her, the two of them grinning at each other like fools.
Bryn suddenly wished that he would kiss her. She thought back to when he had kissed her on the island with the ant problem and she could feel her pulse race. The kiss had been the most amazing thing she could remember, which was saying something considering her many adventures since she had joined the Nomad crew, or rather family she thought. Things had pretty much gone back to normal since that kiss for luck. Although she had been slightly off guard around him, it hadnít changed their friendship any, for which she was glad. Sinbad had the sudden urge to kiss her. In his experience he had found that more often than not he should go with his instincts. His instincts had definitely served him well when he had kissed her on the island with the ant problem. The kiss had just about knocked his boots off and the only thing he could think to say had been "Now I feel lucky," truthful if not the smoothest comment. He was just glad that their easy friendship had not suffered.
Sinbad decided once again to go with his instincts. His hands rested on her shoulders and he leaned forward as he drew her back to him. She turned as their lips met and she wrapped her arms around his shoulders as his encircled her waist. Lightening seemed to strike. Endless moments passed as the kiss continued. When they finally parted, both breathing somewhat heavily, they both murmured "Wow."
Bryn blushed slightly. "I guess it wasnít just a fluke last time, was it?" she asked quietly.
"We do seem to do that well," he admitted. "Should we try it again, just to be sure?" Sinbad didnít give her a chance to answer, he hadnít been expecting an answer anyway. His mouth descended on hers once again, with the same heart pounding result. Currents sizzled between them, fusing them together.
It took several of Dermottís chirps to break through the sensual haze fogging both their minds. They looked glassy-eyed at him, wondering what his calls were about. Then they heard it, or rather them. Voices. Loud, laughing voices. Doubarís and Firouzís voices. Reluctantly they separated. Sinbad stood and helped Bryn to her feet. Surprising them both, she leaned up and kissed him again, quickly. "I hope we can continue this later," she said with a smile, turning to gather her things together.
"You can count on it Bryn," Sinbad replied. "We will most definitely continue this later."
Bryn was struggling to gather her clothes together, as was Sinbad. Bryn tried to conceal the slight blush that painted her cheeks.
Doubar and Firouz came into the clearing. "Aha!" Doubar proclaimed, "There're our two wayward crewmembers!" Firouz's jaw dropped at the sight of Bryn in her bathing wrap. Doubar gave him a sharp jab in the ribs, but it did no good. "We were starting to wonder where you two were."
"We've been here all day," Sinbad said.
"And you missed dinner," Doubar added.
"We caught and cooked our own."
"And didn't bring it back to share? Some brother you are!" Doubar laughed and Sinbad joined him.
"If you boys don't mind, I'm going to change," Bryn said, with her clothes in her arms, "And I'd appreciate some privacy." The men nodded, smiling. She walked over to the woods and disappered in the thicket.
Doubar give Firouz another jab in the ribs, "Cool it lad before your eyes pop out!"
Firouz blinked and came back to his senses, embarassed. "Eh? Oh, sorry." Doubar and Sinbad chuckled. Sinbad grabbed his clothes and walked to the otherside of the bank and into the thicket.
Minutes later, Bryn emerged from her side, dressed and rubbing her hair dry with her bathing wrap. She then wrung it out, folded it and placed it in one of her pouches. Sinbad then emerged, shoving his wrap into a pouch. "Shall we go?" he suggested. His crew nodded and they set off down the path to town, Sinbad in the lead, followed by his crew. Dermott flew ahead.
Bryn felt giddy inside as she followed Sinbad. The sun was setting and it painted the sky a rosy gold. She hoped she could see it on the horizon when they go back to the Nomad. For now, her eyes were locked on Sinbad's back, taking in everything. She was fascinated by the movement of his muscles underneath his shirt and vest. He truly was magnificant!
As they neared town, the ocean came into view. The sun was sinking into it's blue expanse and turning it gold, the sky a hazy shade of pink. "What a gorgeous sunset," Doubar commented, breathtaken.
"Aye," Sinbad agreed. He looked over his shoulder and saw his crew, saw their awestruck gazes. More specifically, he saw Bryn's. Her eyes were wide and the light seemed to catch the slight gold flicks in her brown eyes as well as the highlights in her hair. She looked so peaceful. Sinbad smiled. She caught his gaze and smiled back warmly. "We'll catch the morning tide," he said. They nodded.
"Where to?" Firouz asked.
Sinbad shrugged, "Wherever the wind takes us." He felt charged and ready to take on anything. That look of warmth and wonder in Bryn's eyes...Allah, he wished he could take her in his arms and just become lost in those eyes. Instead he said, "Doubar, do you know of anything going on in town tonight?"
Doubar grinned, "Well, according to a pretty barmaid at the tavern where we had dinner, there's a festival happening tonight. Should be a hell of a party. Rongar and the rest are already down there."
Sinbad and Bryn grinned. "Well, I'd like to go change first, but then I'll meet you guys down there."
"I think I had better change too," Sinbad added.
"I think I'll follow you guys. A merchant from China once sold me these fascinating things he called 'fireworks'. I think I should like to use them tonight, supposibly they are quite festive," Firouz said.
"Well then I'll see you three soon!" Doubar said and waved as he headed into town. Already there were festive latterns glowing and sounds of merrymaking echoing from there.
Bryn hurried to her cabin to try and find something to change into. She didnít really have too many options. Then she remembered the pile of clothes she had inherited when one of Firouzís little experiments had gone awry. He had been trying to concoct a new chemical to make the laundry easier and cleaner. Instead he had only succeed in shrinking it. She had ended up with several new shirts and vests, courtesy of the rest of the crew. Finally she decided. With a little ingenuity and some creative tucking, folding and tying she fashioned a rather flattering skirt from one of Doubarís shirts. It was tan in color and fell just above her knees. Trying on several of the vests, she settled on a red one that had belonged to Firouz. In itís current, shrunken state, it hugged her bodice and showed just a hint of midrift. She giggled, she felt exotic.
"Hmmm," she thought as she left her cabin, "whatever Firouz used to wash the clothes sure has made them feel nice, possibly he should use it as a fabric softener, if he could find a way not to shrink whatís being washed."
Sinbad was waiting for her up on deck as she emerged from below. He smiled warmly at the sight of her, she looked exotic. He bowed to her slightly, took her hand in his and kissed the back of it. As he looked into her eyes, she blushed and smiled back at him. Still holding her hand, he twirled her around, looking appraisingly at her new outfit. He chuckled softly.
"What?" Bryn asked, "Is something wrong?" She looked down at what she was wearing.
"No, not at all, you are beautiful Bryn," he replied. "Itís just that you sure make Doubarís shirt look better than he ever did." They both laughed. Bryn couldnít believe that he had called her beautiful. It thrilled her. Then she couldnít believe that she was thrilled just because a man had complimented her. True, she didnít hear compliments often, but she thought she was more levelheaded than that. Of course, she admitted, look who was doing the complimenting, that was all the reason she needed to be thrilled.
Sinbad reached out and caressed her cheek gently then brushed back a wisp of her hair that was blowing in the slight breeze. He decided that he liked her hair as she was wearing it tonight, loose and free. It felt like silk against his fingers and he longed to run his hands through it. Very slowly, he leaned down to kiss her, giving her plenty of time of pull away if she chose, plenty of time to anticipate the kiss if not. Just as their lips met, the door behind them flew open and Firouz came charging up on deck. Sinbad and Bryn jumped away from each other, each blushing and looking a little guilty, like children caught with their hands in the sweets.
"I finally found them!" Firouz exclaimed. He was holding several bars of what looked like his exploding sticks, only these were wrapped in colorful paper. He seemed completely oblivious to what he had interrupted. "These should really add a bang to the festivities this evening. The merchant who sold them to me said they light up the night sky with brilliant colors and designs."
"How do they work Firouz?" Bryn asked before she could stop herself. For the entire walk to the town square Firouz told them his theory on how the fireworks functioned. Sinbad had grasped Brynís hand on the walk and interlaced their fingers. Neither one of them appeared to have heard a word of Firouzís explanation, and Firouz didnít appear to have noticed that they were distracted.
The townís square was full of people celebrating. Colored lanterns bathed the area with cheery light. There were musicians playing lively tunes, people dancing in almost every available space, laughter was present everywhere and the barmaids were kept very busy as the ale was flowing freely. They finally found Rongar, Doubar and several other members of the crew at a nearby table and joined them.
"Itís about time you three made it here," Doubar said as he saw Sinbad and Firouz approach. "We were about to send a search party." He then caught sight of Bryn and his grin widened, "but the wait was worth it. By Allah, lass, you can make even Firouzís old clothes look good!"
Bryn laughed as she sat down between the two brothers, "Sinbad said the same thing about your shirt Doubar!"
"My shirt?" he looked confused, "Well, Iíll be. . .that is my shirt youíre wearing! And Sinbad was right!" The group of them laughed. Doubar ordered the newcomers ale and flirted with the barmaid as she brought the drinks, she flirted back before moving on the next table.
Rongar stood and motioned to Bryn.
"Dance?" she asked, "I donít know if I know how to dance, Rongar." He motioned to her again, "Okay," she reluctantly agreed, "only if you promise to lead! But donít blame me if I step on your feet!" The two of them joined in the mass of bodies dancing around the square.
Sinbad couldnít keep his off her. Doubar noticed this and jabbed him in the ribs. "Sheís something, isnít she?" he asked his little brother.
"She could be everything," Sinbad replied, so quietly he didnít think Doubar had heard him, but the smiled crossing his big brotherís face told him otherwise.
After dancing with Rongar, Firouz, Doubar, and a couple of the other crew members, Bryn finally needed a break. She sank down on the bench next to Sinbad and took a big drink of his ale. "Thanks, I needed that." Her eyes were sparkling, there was high color in her cheeks and her hair flew around her face in a glorious riot. He thought she was spectacular. "Where did Doubar go?" she asked him.
Sinbad nodded toward the far end of the square, "He went to find that barmaid who served us earlier." Suddenly, from the direction he had indicated, they heard what sounded suspiciously like the beginning of a fight.
"Do you think that Doubar. . ." Bryn began.
"Of course I think that Doubar is involved," Sinbad answered before she had finished the question. "We had better go make sure this stays a fair fight," Sinbad said as he and the rest of the crew left the table.
When they reached Doubar, he was holding his own against three opponents. The crew was content to just watch, until another dozen men joined in the melee. Then things really got interesting. Fists were flying, chairs were thrown, general havoc ensued. The brawl was surprisingly quite friendly, no swordplay, just fisticuffs.
Bryn had just felled a rather large "gentleman" with a solid punch right to his jaw when out of the corner of her eye, she saw Sinbad deck another partygoer. He had just turned to grin at her, when he was distracted by something off to the side. She saw him take a couple of steps in that direction, turned to see what had captured his attention and in that instant, she felt her heart shatter into a thousand jagged, painful pieces. For just a moment, as the other woman was turning a corner, Bryn saw a headful of long, red, wavy hair, just from the back. Bryn immediately knew that Sinbad must have thought the other woman was Maeve.
Sinbad had looked to Bryn to flash her a grin (he also admitted to himself that he was watching her back, but he would never tell her that) when out of the corner of his eye he saw a woman with long, red, wavy hair rounding a corner. For just an instant, just enough time to take a couple of steps in the womanís direction, he thought she was Maeve. Then he stopped. It couldnít have been Maeve he told himself. She was with Dim-Dim, or was she? In the space of time it took for his heart to beat, he made a choice. Mala had told him he needed to follow his heart first, and he did. He turned back to Bryn.
Bryn thought at first that she was seeing things. She had been so sure that Sinbad would follow after the other woman even if he didnít know for sure who she was. But he hadnít. He was jogging back to her, in her direction, she corrected her thoughts, no need to get mushy she thought wryly. She just stood there with a radiant smile on her face, waiting for him.
"Bryn!" Sinbad yelled to her as he sped up, "Watch - " but his shout was too late.
The man she had punched earlier had gotten up, drawn his sword and had brought the hilt crashing down on the back of Brynís head. Bryn actually saw stars and then blackness as intense pain filled her head. But, she was still smiling as the ground rushed up to meet her.
Bryn's mind didn't even have time to fully register what had happened. One second, the saw Sinbad walking towards her, the next she was seeing stars and the floor rushing up to meet her. Then darknessÖ
Sinbad saw Bryn smiling sweetly at him. He'd never seen her face so full of light, so happy. He was so caught up in those eyes, that smile, that he almost didn't notice a burly man rise up behind her and draw his sword. "Bryn!" he exclaimed as he broke into a run, fighting his way past the brawl, "Watch-!" But it was too late and the sword hilt came crashing down on the back of Bryn's head. Sinbad's eyes widened in fear as he saw her crumble to the ground, still smiling at him though. He growled and drew his sword. In a quicksilver move, he brought the blade to the man's throat. The attacker's eyes widened and he gulped. "Just what do you think you were doing??" Sinbad roared.
Meanwhile, Firouz had seen the incident and was beside Bryn, meticulously examining her for a concussion. The area was tender and bruised, but it looked like she would be ok, though there would be a nasty bump in the morning. "Sinbad," he called up.
Sinbad looked down. "Bryn," he gasped and dropped to her side, the sword leaving the man's throat. The man took the oppurtunity to dash out. "How is she?" he asked.
"She'll be a bit black and blue and sore, but otherwise fine. She doesn't appear to have a concussion. However, it would be wise to get her out of this chaos before anything else happened." He then grinned, "We'll let Doubar pick up the tab."
Sinbad laughed a little and sheathed his sword. Gingerly, he scooped Bryn into his arms and made his way out of the tavern, Firouz following close behind. Rongar caught sight of them and followed out. Doubar would have to handle the brawlÖand the tab, himself.
The crew made their way down the streets to a quieter area by the docks. On Firouz's advice, they didn't wake Bryn. "Best to let her rest and recover a little bit first," the physician said. Once settling by the docks, Firouz nodded to Sinbad.
Sinbad knelt down, Bryn still cradled in his arms. His thumb caressed her cheek, a gesture he was fond of. "Bryn," he said softly, nudging her gently, "Bryn."
Bryn stirred in her arms and let out a soft moan. Her eyes clenched tightly as she winced, a hand moving to the back of her head. "Ah," she moaned as she opened her eyes and met Sinbad's concerned gaze. "Sinbad," she whispered and looked around, "Firouz, Rongar. How did IÖwhat happened?"
"You got hit on the head with a sword hilt," Firouz answered.
Bryn rubbed the back of her head, "So I see, or rather, so I feel." She winced, it hurt.
Sinbad didn't care to let Bryn out of his arms. True, he didn't dance with her, but here, holding her, was enough. Rongar gestured towards a more active area of town and Sinbad shook his head, "How 'bout we stay here for a bit."
Firouz agreed, "True, it is rather peaceful." Bryn nodded.
A small group of musicians were making their way down the street. "Why did we agree to come here?" a man carrying a lute grumbled, "There are so many bands here no one can here us!"
Sinbad suddenly had an idea. "Hey you!" he called, waving at the band, "You can play here and we will be able to hear you." He smiled, "And we'll pay too."
"Sinbad?" Bryn said, raising her eyebrow.
He smiled, "Doubar can pick up the tab at the tavern." Bryn had to laugh at that.
The band smiled and nodded, hurrying over. "Yes sir!" the lute player said. It was a small band, a flute-player, a lute-player, and a percussionist with a small drum and chime. They sat on the ground near the flute and began to play, striking up a mystical melody, far different from the rowdy, swing of the tavern.
The crew smiled and basked in it's soft tones. Rongar gave Bryn a small bow and extended a hand to her.
"Another dance?" she laughed, "Well ok, I suppose if I can survive that reel at the bar, I can do this." She took his hand and he pulled her out of Sinbad's arms, helping her balance. Obviously a well-versed Prince, he swept her into a slow, spinning waltz, which Bryn mastered surprisingly quickly. Her feet moved like a cat's, her skirt swaying and swirling as she was spun around.
Sinbad watched her, mesmerized.
"Strange," Firouz commented, "she waltzes like it is second nature. Maybe in her past, she knew this dance."
"To say the least," Sinbad agreed. He stood up.
"Rongar dances as a Prince with her, but I wonder how a sailor would."
He went over to the dancing couple and tapped Rongar on the shoulder. "May I?" he asked politely. Rongar shrugged, smiled and turned Bryn over to the captain. Sinbad swept her into his arms and led her in the intricate steps of the waltz. Bryn was a little surprised that Sinbad knew how to waltz so well, and then thought that this really shouldnít surprise her, he had always done everything well. He held her close, too close to be formally proper, but she didnít protest. She blushed slightly as she came to the realization that they fit together perfectly. As if they were two halves of the same whole. She was completely captivated by the depth of his sea-blue eyes as he looked down at her. She didnít hear the lilting music of the trio anymore, she didnít see Rongar and Firouz watching them dance, she was aware of nothing but Sinbad.
Sinbad looked deep into her eyes and realized that what he had been thinking before, when watching her at sunset, was possible; he could get lost in her eyes. He was holding her too close, he knew, but she didnít pull away. He liked how she felt in his arms, liked the way they fit together, and how she smiled up at him. He would never forget how she looked at this moment, content, happy, beautiful. They spun around and around to the music.
Neither one of them had noticed Doubar join Rongar and Firouz by the musicians. The three crewmates smiled at each other, happy that their captain and friend seemed so content. All too soon the waltz ended. Bryn and Sinbad stopped dancing and noticed the others watching them, with goofy smiles on their faces. "Whatís so funny?" Sinbad asked as he held Brynís hand and led her back over to their friends.
"Nothing," Doubar replied. "We were just wondering if you two even remembered we were here. And by the way, thanks for leaving me with the bill."
"No problem, big brother" Sinbad told him laughing, "we figured you had started the fight anyway."
"I was just defending a ladyís honor" was Doubarís only comment on the matter.
Bryn laughed. "Firouz, didnít you say you had some Ďfireworksí, as you called them?" she asked.
"Yes, I had almost forgotten" the scientist replied. For the next half hour or so the crew and the musicians watched in wonder as Firouz lit off the fireworks and they exploded into brilliant, colorful lights across the sky. Several of the townspeople joined the group down at the docks and watched the display in awe. They had never seen anything like it before. Firouz was in his element, explaining to curious onlookers how the fireworks worked, even though it was obvious his explanations were above everyoneís head.
Bryn sat on the dock between Rongar and Sinbad and absently rubbed the back of her head. Sinbad noticed, "Howís your head?" he asked with some concern.
"Itís settled down to a dull ache. I should be fine in the morning," she replied.
"It is late" Sinbad said as he stood and stretched. "We are leaving on the next tide, so we should all get back to the Nomad and get some sleep." He reached down and helped Bryn to her feet. The rest of the crew joined them on the short walk back to the ship.
Hanging back a bit behind the others as they made their way below deck, Sinbad pulled Bryn into a quick embrace and gave her a heart-stopping kiss. As they reluctantly pulled away from each other, he brushed his hand into her hair and lightly rubbed the spot where she had been hit earlier. He thought how easily she could have been seriously hurt and it worried him. Gently he pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. "Sweet dreams Bryn" he whispered.
"You too, Sinbad. Goodnight, enjoy first watch." she smiled sweetly at him and went below, leaving him alone on deck. In her cabin she quickly undressed and crawled into her bunk. She was humming the melody from the waltz and thinking of sea-blue eyes as she feel asleep.
Hours later, she couldnít say how may, she awoke with a sudden start. Something was wrong, seriously wrong. Bryn stretched her senses but couldnít feel anything definite. Just an overall feeling that something very, very bad was going to happen, and soon. Quickly she threw on her clothes and boots and grabbed her sword. Not wanting to wake the entire ship, she stealthily made her way up on deck. Nothing was amiss. Hakim, not Sinbad, was now on watch, so she figured at least four hours had passed since she had gone to bed. She went over to the port railing and looked out into the harbor, everything was calm, too calm she thought. On the starboard side, that closest to the town, things were the same. Calm, and eerie. Whatever presence she felt didnít necessarily feel evil, just very, very angry. Whatever was going to happen to dispel the dead calm would be happening soon.
Bryn turned quickly to waken the rest of the crew and slammed into something solid. It was Sinbad. He quickly grasped her by the arms to steady her. He had just been about to doze off when he had heard Bryn leaving her cabin. Wondering what could bring her up on deck in the middle of the night (and secretly hoping she was looking for him) he had quickly gotten back into his clothes and followed her up.
The look in her wide eyes was enough to send a feeling of dread to his stomach. "Whatís wrong Bryn?" he asked her quickly "What do you sense?"
And thatís when they heard it.
There was a crash and Sinbad and Bryn looked over to see a group of barrels on the dock knock over, spilling fish guts. Behind those barrels were three men, stumbling about. "That man, I recognize him. He's the one that hit you!" Sinbad said, pointing to one of the men.
Bryn nodded. "What's he doing here?"
"Yaha! There's that bastard and his little wench!" the man yelled, pointing at Bryn and Sinbad.
"What do you want?" Sinbad demanded.
The man smirked and the other two men moved to either side of him. "So she's the wench, brother?" one spit. The man nodded. "Well thenÖ" he said as he raised a hand towards Bryn, palm open, "We'll just have to teach her a lesson!"
Bryn's eyes glowed yellow and the man started to close his hand. Bryn gasped and her hands flew to her throat, as if strangling with an invisible hand that seemed to be choking her. "Bryn!" Sinbad yelled and unsheathed his sword. The man who was choking Bryn waved his other hand at Sinbad in a slapping motion and Sinbad fell back.
"You stay out of this, pretty boy!" the man sneered.
Sinbad stood up, "Leave her alone!" he ran to Bryn and slashed the air in front of her. The man fell back screaming as his arm decapitated.
Bryn collapsed, gasping for air. Sinbad bent down beside her and patted her back. The colour began to return to her face. "Are you ok?" he asked with concern in those bellflower eyes of his. Bryn nodded, still trying to get a rhythm to her breathing. Sinbad stood and pointed his sword at the men, who were gathered around the bloody one. "The next swipe takes off your head if you try that again!" he growled, "what's the meaning of this."
One man stood up, "I am Atis, the one you have wounded is my brother, Polias, and the man you threatened in the bar is my other brother, Tatis."
"Tatis threatened and then attacked a member of my crew," Sinbad replied.
"Yes, he is a brash one. But family is family. You do understand. We must stick up for one another."
"I don't call choking my crewmember with magick sticking up."
"Oh it's that whole last laugh deal, I'm afraid. I do apologize. I'd like to think myself a gentleman at best, but Polias and Tatis insisted upon this." Atis shrugged impartially and Tatis sneered. Polias was occupying himself with moaning about his arm.
"What are you waiting for Atis?" Tatis said impatiently, stomping his foot.
Atis sighed, "Do forgive me sir, as well as thee, my dear lady." Sinbad braced himself forÖanything! Atis made a sharp gesture in the air and Sinbad felt a sharp pain glaze his arm, like a knife. Looking down, he saw a sliver of flesh open and blood begin to show.
"Bryn!" Sinbad cautioned, "Be careful, he-"
Too late, Bryn let out a sharp cry and a part of her dress tore in the shoulder and blood seeped out. Sinbad rushed to help her, only to see blood burst from another wound, this time in her leg and then across her cheek.
"No! Stop this!" he yelled at Atis.
Atis shrugged, "So sorry, but I must defend my brother's army. Do not worry, just a few more and I'll see she bleeds to death quickly."
Sinbad felt hot and cold fear seize his heart at Atis's words. Bryn whimpered a little, trying to bite down the pain. She then cried out again and blood began to soak through her dress at the belly. She crumpled to the deck and clutched her waist. Sinbad took a step towards Atis and stumbled back with a cut on his leg.
All this commotion awakened Rongar, who crept onto deck like a panther, dirk in hand. Once he saw Bryn laying on the deck bleeding and Sinbad sporting numerous cuts, he moved quickly in the shadows to wear he had a good aim at Atis, then threw the dagger at him. The dirk struck home to Atis's heart and he fell off the dock and into the sea.
"Rongar!" Sinbad breathed, "Thank you, my friend!" His attention than turned to Bryn. She did not look good. Her yellow dress had turned a crimson bronze with blood that seeped from many cutsÖher shoulder..her legÖher cheekÖbut most grim was her midriff. "Firouz!" Sinbad yelled frantically, "Get up here, we need help!"
A sleepy-eyed Firouz emerged from the cabin. As soon as he saw Bryn, he snapped awake. He rushed to her and bent down beside her. "Not goodÖnot good," he mumbled as his eyes diagnosed her. "We need to get her into the cabin and carefully or those wounds will open more!"
Sinbad and Rongar lifted Bryn with the utmost care and followed Firouz into the cabin.
"Hey! What about me?" Tatis yelled.
As Rongar and Sinbad gently carried the unconscious Bryn to her cabin Firouz started rattling off a list of items he would need to tend to her. Doubar came barging out of the room he and Sinbad shared. "What in Allahís name is going on?" he roared. He then caught sight of Bryn, her face deathly pale and bleeding from the cut on her cheek, she was also bleeding from wounds to her shoulder, leg and midriff. There was so much blood. "What happened?" he asked.
"The man who hit her at the tavern showed up with his two brothers and attacked us," Sinbad replied, his voice tight with worry. "Rongar killed one of them, I separated another from his arm, but the trouble-maker is still up on the dock."
"Donít worry about him," Doubar assured Sinbad, "Iíll take care of him." Doubar left quickly and went about waking the rest of the crew before making his way up on deck to finish with their guests.
Rongar and Sinbad carefully laid Bryn on her bunk and got out of Firouzís way as he began tending to Brynís wounds. They scrambled to get the things that Firouz had said he needed. Tense moments passed as Firouz hovered over her, his hands flying skillfully over her wounds as he washed and bandaged them.
"Firouz?" Sinbad asked when the physician finally looked away from his patient. Firouz turned to look at Sinbad, his face reflecting the worry and concern he saw on Sinbadís. "How is she? Will she . . .?"
"I donít know Sinbad. The cut on her cheek should heal just fine, most likely with no scarring. Her shoulder and leg will take a little longer, but they will heal as well. I am most concerned with the slash on her abdomen. Itís not as deep as I had first feared, but the gash is long and itís not cohering as rapidly as I would like. She has lost a lot of blood." Suddenly, Firouz had an idea. "Sinbad, Rongar can you find some fine, strong thread and a needle for me? And a bottle of rum too. I have something I would like to try that a physician once told me about."
Sinbad and Rongar hurriedly located the requested items. They then watched in amazement as Firouz soaked the thread and needle in the rum and began to sew up the wound on Brynís belly. As carefully as the finest of seamstresses he sewed the gash closed and stood to admire his handiwork. "That should do it," he announced, "now we just have to wait. The rest is up to Bryn."
"Wait for what?" Sinbad demanded, patience was not one of his strong suits.
"Well, there is really nothing more I can do for her, except make her comfortable. As you can see, the slash to her belly has finally stopped bleeding, and the stitches will keep it closed. My best guess is that once she has some time to . . ." he trailed off as he caught the fierce expression on Sinbadís face.
"Your best guess?" Sinbad asked him, an icy chill to his voice. "You mean you donít know for sure if sheíll be alright?"
"Iím sorry Sinbad, but she has lost so much blood, I canít say for sure. We just have to wait and see. I know thatís not the answer you were looking for, but I really have done all I can for her." Firouz felt utterly helpless. He liked to think of himself as a physician of action, but now there was nothing more he could do to help his crewmate and friend.
The rest of the night and most of the next day had passed without incident. Sinbad had not left Brynís bedside. Doubar, Rongar, Firouz and even Dermott had come to check on Bryn but hadnít stayed more than a few minutes at a time. They seemed to sense that Sinbad wanted to be alone with her, and with his thoughts. Firouz was becoming more and more confident of Brynís recovery as the day wore on, the wound hadnít become feverish and showed no sign of infection. She was sleeping peacefully.
Doubar had kept Sinbad updated on their visitors. Polias had eventually died as a result of losing his arm. Tatis, now that he was without his brothersí backup, had once again become the cowardly weasel from the tavern. He had fled Naiad shortly after Polias died, didnít even stick around for the funeral. Doubar doubted that he would reappear, but had doubled the watch just in case. The mood of the Nomad was subdued. There wasnít a crewmember aboard who wasnít concerned for Bryn.
Alone in the cabin watching Bryn as she slept, Sinbad was deep in thought. He held her hand in one of his and stroked his fingers through her hair, occasionally caressing her cheek. The physical contact with her reassured him. He had kept replaying the attack in his mind. He kept hearing Bryn whimper in pain and cry out as the blood spilled from her stomach, kept seeing her crumple onto the deck. Once again he had been unable to save someone he cared for from being hurt. He had gradually, over the last several hours, been able to come to grips with the guilt he felt.
Now he concentrated on remembering happier times. He saw in his mindís eye the way Brynís face had brightened with her will when they were helping Urok break free from whatever had itís hold on him. The look in her eyes when she told him to come back as himself when the crew had disappeared when they were visited by the strange sky ship. The way she had held and cared for Ajeeb, the warrior monk/baby. The way she had looked right before he kissed her before battling the ants and how she had reacted to that kiss. He recalled how brave she was when she had been captured and thrown in quarantine with Velda; and how she had fought to keep herself from being tattooed. Images and memories of her from the past year flooded his mind, his heart. Foremost in his memories was the day they had just spent at the mineral springs and dancing with her on the dock. How time had seemed to stand still when they kissed. The way Bryn had felt in his arms, like she belonged there.
He realized suddenly that he loved her. It was a simple realization. He was surprised at how easy it had come. The feeling washed over and through him and he felt stronger for it, for finally admitting it to himself. He loved Bryn. Sinbad leaned very close to her and whispered "I love you Bryn" and gently brushed a kiss across her lips.
Sinbad felt Bryn's lips move slightly under his. He opened his eyes to see that hers were still closed. With a slight smile, he settled back into his chair, warmed by his emerging emotions. He wished he could wake Bryn up, take her into his arms, and tell her he loved her...but he knew he couldn't. Firouz him against waking her up; sudden movements could reopen her wounds. He prayed to Allah they would heal soon. His sailor instincts sensed the boat begin to move. They had planned to set sail that morning. Doubar told him he would take care of everything. This was good, the sooner they were out of Naiad, the better.
Bryn stirred in her sleep and moaned slightly. Sinbad flew from his seat to her side. "Easy Bryn, gently now," he said softly. Her eyes fluttered open and she winced a bit.
He nodded, smiling, "Yes, I'm right here Bryn. Careful now, don't move too much. You were injured pretty badly."
She bit her lower lip, "So I see." Sinbad could see movement under Bryn's blanket as she moved a hand across the wound on her leg, her waist, her shoulder, and up to her cheek. "OhÖ" she said as she traced her fingers across the cut.
Sinbad took her hand from her face and cupped it in his own. "Firouz said it should heal without a scar," Sinbad assured her.
Bryn nodded, "Those men?"
"Gone, Tatis fled the town and his brothers are dead."
"Ah," Bryn said and yawned. "What about you? I remember you were injured."
Sinbad smiled, "Don't worry. Firouz took care of them and they weren't deep either."
"What we're all concerned with," Sinbad said rubbing Bryn's hand, "Is how are you?"
Bryn shrugged, "It still hurts a bit."
"I'm sorry," Sinbad said. He meant it truly, those oceanic eyes of his said so. "I never meant for any of this to happen."
"I know," Bryn assured him. She braced her hands on her bed and tried to sit up, with some difficulty. She was still so weak from loosing all that blood that her arms gave out from under her.
"Here," Sinbad said. He scooped her up and helped her sit up slightly. Without hesitation, he slid on the bed slightly behind her and rested her body against his, wrapping his arms around her.
"Thank you," she said with a content sigh.
That gentle gesture brought Brynís mind back to screaming at her. Bryn could feel relief radiating from Sinbad, but there was something else she sensed too. Something she had never felt from him before. It confused her. It felt like. . . love, pure and simple love. Could he possibly love her? His arms around her made her feel warm and safe, like nothing could harm her. Why had he stayed? Why wasnít he up on deck working? These questions and more kept pouring through her head. She was confused, hurting, and tired . . .oh so tired. The part of her that wanted to go back to sleep finally won out and she drifted off again, still wrapped in Sinbadís arms.
Sinbad felt her body relax and her breathing even out, she had fallen asleep again. He was immensely relieved that she had woken up and seemed to be alright. Just those few minutes of consciousness had done more for his peace of mind than he would have thought possible. For now, he was content just to hold her. He rocked her slightly and found himself humming the tune from the waltz on the dock. Had that really just been last night? So much had happened in such a short period of time. But thatís how things seemed to work in his life.
Firouz and Doubar came in after a few moments. They both looked surprised to see Bryn cradled in Sinbadís arms. Doubar recovered first and just smiled at his little brother. Firouz looked like he was going to start yelling.
"Before you scold me," Sinbad whispered to the physician, "Bryn woke up on her own. She was coherent and had her wits about her. She tried to sit up, but couldnít. She just now drifted back to sleep."
"Oh. Itís a good sign that she regained consciousness." Firouz whispered back, a little sheepishly. He had at first glance been concerned that Sinbad had moved Bryn on his own. "Let me take another look at her." He moved quietly so as not to wake his sleeping patient. "The stitches look like they are doing well. She is in a natural sleep and will probably sleep most of the next day or two. Her body needs to regain itís strength and sleep is the best way. I think sheíll be just fine. Sheís going to have quite a scar on her belly, but sheíll be okay."
"Sinbad, we have left Naiad behind. Do you have a destination in mind, or are we just letting the wind take us?" Doubar asked. He was secretly very pleased about the peaceful scene he and Firouz had walked in on. Sinbad and Bryn were well matched to his way of thinking. And it certainly made him happy to see Sinbad looking so happy. There was something different in Sinbadís eyes, he thought to himself, heíd have to remember to ask him about it later.
"For now letís follow the wind, but see that we head in the general direction of Basra. We should be able to scare up some pretty lucrative business this time of year. Thereís no need to push the crew getting there though, Doubar." Sinbad answered and then turned his attention back to Bryn, she had shifted slightly in her sleep.
"Aye, aye, Captain" Doubar replied with a wide smile as he and Firouz left the room.
Sinbad could feel himself relaxing. He had been so tense over the last several hours worrying about Bryn. He hadnít slept and could now feel himself growing tired as he released the worry from his mind and body. He leaned back against the wall and shifted a little to make himself more comfortable. He snuggled Bryn closer to him. Sinbad drifted off to sleep with a content smile on his handsome face.
True to Firouz's words, Bryn stayed asleep the next few days. Firouz freequenly checked in on her to insure her wounds didnít worsen and threaten her with a coma. As for Sinbad, he stayed by her side, keeping a silent and peaceful vigil. However, after two days, Doubar decided that the ship needed its captain.
"Sinbad," Doubar whispered, "We really could use a hand up on deck."
Sinbad cast a lingering look at Bryn, "I'd really rather not leave-"
"Bryn will be fine. Just for a few hours at least," Doubar interrupted.
Sinbad sighed and nodded. He stood and adjusted Bryn's blankets, then followed Doubar out. Before they reached the steps to the deck, Doubar stopped. Sinbad arched an eyebrow. "Little brother," Doubar began, "Is there something you're not telling me?"
"I'm not sure I understand."
"You and Bryn I mean."
Doubar chuckled a bit, "You can't fool me little brother, neither can she. I know you've had your eye on her a long time. And don't think I can't see the glint in her eyes when she looks at you."
"Is it that obvious?"
"The little movements. You hands would brush, you'd caress her cheek, the way she smiled at you, or scowled at you when she was jealous of whatever port girl you had in tow. And then in Naiad, the way you two danced, it was obvious."
Sinbad smiled, "I guess so then. What does the crew say?"
"The crew?" Doubar laughed, "Captain we've been taking bets on how long this would take. Drynll owes me 20 gold coins now."
"Glad to know my life is profitable."
"We're seamen, everything is profitable." Sinbad shook his head with a light chuckle and reached for the doorhandle. "Just be careful. Don't let your heart make you forget she's a tough girl and can handle herself."
"She'd never let me." Sinbad and Doubar strode up to deck, greeted by nods from the crew. Rongar gestured by putting his head on his heads. "Yes, she's still asleep," Sinbad replied.
"Probably for another day," Firouz added, overhearing the conversation, "Point of fact, if we hadn't administered to her wounds so quickly, she would've died or her sleep would be a heavy coma."
"And we are grateful," Sinbad said, slapping Firouz lightly on the back, "Very grateful." Firouz nodded and smiled.
Bryn woke slowly. She gradually became aware of her surroundings, the feel of her bunk beneath her, the gentle rocking of the Nomad, the sounds of the crew working up on deck, the slight pain in her abdomen. She brushed a hand across her belly and felt the knots and ties of thread. She couldnít believe that Firouz had sewn her up, like a ripped sack. The physicianís ingenuity never ceased to amaze her. Something was missing though, something wasnít as she had remembered. She opened her eyes, looked about her cabin and realized that Sinbad wasnít there. He must be up on deck she thought, the captainís duties were never-ending.
Although she missed his arms around her, she was relieved he wasnít there. She needed to think, and lately whenever he was around, she couldnít seem to think at all. He filled her thoughts, her heart. Earlier, when she had awoken the first time since the fight, she had sensed some emotion other than just his relief. The relief had been rolling off him in waves, but this other emotion was vastly different. It had confused her, it had felt like love. The feeling wasnít something that had been released from Sinbad but rather something that was a part of him and had surrounded her too. It had been warm, strong, peaceful and had made her feel treasured. For the rest of her life she would remember that feeling distinctly. She just prayed she was right about what it was. Bryn hated to think that she was letting her own feelings for Sinbad color what she had sensed from him. She loved him. It was simple really, she was totally in love with Sinbad. The thought brought a smile to her face and a gleam to her eyes. Now, what to do about it?
First things first though, she decided as she gingerly sat up, she was hungry.
Up on deck the crew was working efficiently to make some minor adjustments to the sails and to rearrange some of their supplies and cargo. Since their stay in Naiad had not been as long as expected, they had loaded somewhat haphazardly. Sinbad stood up from some rigging he was untangling and stretched. His body had needed the workout he had given it over the last couple of hours. Although he had been more than content to stay by Brynís bedside (in truth there was no place else he had wanted to be) his body had needed the activity. Doubar had been right, as usual when it came to pointing out to him what he needed. Sinbad smiled as he looked over his ship and crew, they all worked well together. "Isnít it about supper time?" he called to Doubar who was talking to Firouz and Rongar at the tiller.
"Iím ready for supper," Doubar replied patting his belly.
"Youíre always ready for supper," Firouz teased. The four of them headed below deck joined by most of the rest of the crew.
"Let me just check on Bryn and then Iíll join you," Sinbad said as he made his way to her cabin. He opened the door slowly and stepped in quietly, not wanting to disturb her sleep. What he saw made both his heart leap and his stomach drop. Bryn was sitting up on the side of her bunk, a funny little smile on her face as she looked at him, but she was holding her stomach as if in pain. "Firouz!!" he shouted as he raced to her. He dropped to his knees by her side and held her hand away from her stomach to take a look at the wound.
"Sinbad -" she started, but he interrupted her.
"Shhh, itís alright, weíll take care of you," he said comfortingly.
"Sinbad, whatís wrong?" Firouz interrupted her this time as he came bounding into her cabin, followed closely by Doubar and Rongar, all three wearing worried looks. Firouz quickly dropped to Brynís other side and began meticulously examining her.
"If you would let me get a word in edgewise, I would tell you." Bryn stated. The tone of her voice stopped Firouz. She sounded fine, strong. "I was holding my stomach because it does ache, itís empty, Iím hungry." As if to punctuate her statement, Brynís stomach growled, very loudly.
She started giggling and was soon laughing, joined by the four men in her cabin. "We were just about to start supper, if you would care to join us" Sinbad said as he stood and held a hand out to her. Bryn took his hand and stood up, and the cabin began spinning. Sinbad quickly wrapped an arm around her to steady her, "Take it easy Bryn."
"Iím okay" she assured him, "I guess I just stood up too fast." The cabin slowly settled down and was still once again. "Okay, the room isnít moving anymore, lead me to supper."
Supper was a happy time, the first happy meal the crew had shared since departing Naiad, they were whole again. After supper Bryn insisted on going up on deck. She was tired of being in her cabin. Firouz agreed that she needed to get up and moving around as long as she didnít overdo it. Sinbad insisted on carrying her up, he was determined to personally see to it that she didnít overdo it. He reluctantly let her walk around on her own but was by her side, holding her hand. Firouz, Doubar and Rongar watched the couple as they strolled, trying to decide between themselves which of the two was more stubborn.
Bryn and Sinbad walked to a semi-private area at the bow of the Nomad. There was just a sliver of the moon out, but the stars more than made up for it. Thousands glittered against the inky darkness of the night sky.
"Sinbad, I want to thank you" Bryn said softly.
"For what?" he queried, just as softly, moving closer to her.
"For saving my life the other day. For saving my life Allah knows how many times over the last year. For making me a part of this family on the Nomad."
"You donít need to thank me for those things Bryn" he whispered as he hugged her gently and kissed her softly on the forehead. Bryn wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him back. They felt right together.
Bryn could sense his love again, surrounding them both, wrapping them in itís warmth. The way he was holding her, the silky way he had said her name, she knew she was right. "How about thank you for loving me?" she looked deeply into his azure eyes as she said this, she saw just a moment of surprise in them. "I love you too Sinbad, with all my heart and soul" she saw that surprise turn to joy.
Sinbad couldnít believe what he was hearing. Was he dreaming? Could Bryn really love him? He looked into her eyes and saw her love shining in them. She was bubbling over with it. "How did you know?" he asked her, but didnít give her a chance to answer, it didnít matter anyway. "I love you Bryn, with all my heart and soul." He kissed her gently, picked her up in big hug and spun her around. He couldnít remember when he had been so happy, so full of life. He saw his happiness reflected in Brynís face. And they both knew inside themÖrage would not be caged, sadness would not be denied, love would not be feared. Sinbad set her back on her feet and kissed her again, this kiss full of passion and promise for the future. One kiss turned into a dozen or more as the two were lost in a world of their own. A world full of love.