Before she could answer, a volley of arrows thunked against the deck. Sailors scurried around seeking shelter and manning defensive posts. Dodging arrows Ella raced to the mast and climbed up, nearly falling to the deck twice in her mad dash. Standing in the crow's nest she called on all her magic, imagining the ship in a protective bubble the arrows bouncing off. The arrows stopped, Ella released her guard slightly only to hear horrified gasps and shouts coming from below. Moving to the edge of the wooden box, she looked down to see long white tentacles grasping the railing. The ship jerked to a halt and she could hear a loud satisfied cackled rent the air.
Pulling a small jeweled dagger from her boot, Ella sliced the palm of her hand. Smearing the blood on the handle she willed it to bond the dagger to her. Tossing the dagger overboard she screamed, “Chop!” It rose out of the water a gleaming sword and sliced clean through each obstacle holding the ship in place. An ear piercing scream filled the air as blood oozed from the thrashing stumps.
A snarl loud as a thunderclap filled Ella's ears followed by a curse. “You've won, little one. But you will not claim your prize for he has far too many to ever pick a bride. Once on homeland, his mind goes blank and will forget his little...”
The wind whirled covering up the last words, but Ella didn't need to hear the insult hurled by her aunt. Clutching the railing, Ella puzzled for a moment over the curse, then shrugged. It didn't really matter she had no intention of marrying Charming. With the threat gone, her dagger returned to it's normal size and fell into her hand. After securing it back in her boot, she clamored down the mast favoring her cut palm. Moments after her feet hit the deck, she was swept up in a bone crushing hug.
“By the Gods never scare me like that again,” Charming muttered into her hair. Stepping back he held her at arm's length, surveying her for wounds and noticed the blood seeping from her hand. “Your hurt.”
Ella shook her head, waving him away. “Just a scratch, I'll be fine.”
Behind Charming the Captain watched her with a critical eye and she knew that they would be having a long talk very soon.
The door to Ella's cabin opened and she turned to see the Captain entering. “Captain Reid, gentlemen knock before entering a ladies room.”
He leered at her shutting and bolting the door behind him. “Never claimed to be a gentlemen and I'll give up my ship when you're a lady.”
Reid knew her far too well. Biting her lip on a smile, she asked, “So what do I owe this pleasure?”
He threw himself into a chair. “Do you love him?”
“Charming? No.” She sat on the edge of her bed.
“But you risked your life for him.” His eyes narrowed. “You've been with him.”
Ella felt her cheeks flush. “I've been with you, doesn't mean we're in love.”
Reid grinned, nodding in agreement. “I told you before you have an adventurous spirit, being tied down to one man won't suit you. Given the curse you're aunt hurled, I think you should consider leaving Princy-po. We'll dump him on the dock and sail for somewhere else.”
“I'll consider it.”
Standing Reid said, “Consider this while you're at it, the boys got a hero complex. He'd been regaling the men with stories, seems he's got himself more than one princess waiting back at home.” Grabbing Ella's hand he pulled her to her feet. Weaving his hand into her hair, Reid claimed her lips. His arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her against him. Breaking away he added, “Now I don't make no commitments, but I'll remind you why they call me The Howler.”
Ella was about to reply when there was a pounding on her door. From the other side Charming yelled, “Ella I'd like to speak with you.”
“I'm going to keelhaul him,” Reid growled tightening his hold on Ella's waist.
“Now Reid I didn't go to all the trouble of saving him, just to have you kill him.” She planted a playful kiss on his nose and wiggled out of his grasp. Straightening her clothes, she unbolted and answered the door.