Adele: The Lady Rose

A hand gently shaking my shoulder pulled me out of sleep.  I groaned and rolled over, trying to get away from whoever it was that was shaking me.

'Come on Adele, time to get up.  Our ship leaves soon and we can't miss it, you need to get out of bed.'  I peeled my eyes open and saw Gerald staring down at me.  'We have to leave in ten minutes.'   He walked out of the room, probably to give me a bit of privacy while I got ready.

I rolled over and realise I wasn't where I had fallen asleep.  After I'd dozed off in the armchair, Gerald must have moved me into the bed.  Sneaky.

Ten minutes later I had joined Gerald downstairs, still looking dishevelled but a little more awake.  Gerald had already paid for our room and hurried me into the stables and onto my horse.  With moments to spare, we galloped out of the inn yard and towards the coast.

We didn't stop until the sea appeared before us and we both breathed a sigh of relief.  Our ship, the Lady Rose, was one of the few English ships left in France and would probably be the last one going between England and France for some time.  Gerald seemed to know the captain, a man named Marcus Gardner, and greeted him with a bear hug.

'Hello Gerald.  It feels like an age since I last saw you,' Captain Gardner said as they embraced.

'I know, it's been too long,' Gerald agreed.  'May I introduce Adele, she is the daughter of my good friend Eric Durand.'  Marcus took my hand and kissed it.  I could feel my cheeks flushing.

'A pleasure M'amselle.'  I bobbed him a curtsy, to which he laughed before inviting me on board.  I felt very uncomfortable as we left the French shore, not only because I was the only woman on board but because I was leaving my whole family behind.  I had been so swept up in the drama and urgency of the Blanche's cause that I had almost forgotten about what my disappearance would do to my mother.

I couldn't tell her where I was going, what I was doing or who I was with and although Guillame had promised to keep an eye on my family when he could, he could only do it from a distance.  My mother needed practical help, not a bodyguard.

'You look thoughtful.' Gerald leant against the side of the ship next to me.  We didn't look at each other, staring out at the open water and seeing France disappearing into the distance.

'I hadn't quite realise what I was doing until I got on this ship,' I confessed.  'It was all so fast I didn't have time to think.'

'Do you want to turn back?'  Gerald's voice was calm and  he showed no bias in his facial expression.

'Surprisingly no.'

'Why surprisingly?'

'My mother needs me to help her with my sisters.  Mathilda, the second eldest after me, is useless.'  I laughed as I thought of her trying to look after my youngest sister, Julienne, who was only five.  'She relies on other people to look after her, not the other way round.'

'But...'  Gerald looked at me expectantly.

'This is exciting.  It's an adventure I never thought someone like me would have.  I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life hiding in a dark house on the edge of Paris, scared that one day the revolutionaries would come and kill us all.  But look at me.'  I stood back from the edge of the ship and spun round, arms held out to the sky and my eyes closed.  'I feel so alive and so free.'

'Adele look-'

'Je suis désolé!'  I opened my eyes just in time to see the man I crashed into, knocking the bucket full of water he was holding out of his hands.  'I'm so sorry!'

'Don't worry, I wasn't looking where I was going either.'  He smiled at me and picked up the now empty bucket.  'I'm more worried that I've got water all down your dress.'  It was true, my dress was now dripping wet and I could already feel goosebumps coming up on my legs.

'It's only water, it'll dry.'  I smiled back, taking in the man's long dusty blonde hair, pulled back into a ponytail, and his piercing blue eyes.  We stood, eyes locked for a few long moments before Gerald put his hand on my shoulder, breaking the stillness.

'Are you OK Adele?'  I nodded, only glancing quickly at Gerald before my eyes were drawn back to the young man, who was now walking back the way he had come.  'You really should look where you're going.'

'Yes, you're right.'  Gerald led me back to the side of the ship and out of the way of the crew.

The young man passed again, his bucket filled with water again, and I couldn't help but watch him as he crossed the deck.  He was so beautiful.  He was well built, his white shirt hanging open to reveal a strong, well muscled chest.

'Nothing can come of it you know.'  Gerald had noticed my staring and I quickly looked back out to sea.

'I don't know what you mean.'

'Only Marcus knows our true purpose and no-one else can know.  This is the life you have now, are you sure this is what you want?  To be constantly lying to everyone around you?'

'I'm sure.'  I replied with a lot more confidence than I felt.  'At least I think I am.'

The End

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