I woke the next morning to the sound of angry shouting on deck. Most deifnitely not a pleasant sound to wake too. I slid drowsily out of bed and pulled on a simple green dress tied with a wide white sash, ran my finger through my hair in an attempt to tame it and slipped out onto the starboard side.
Almost directly in front of me was Darren, looking so angry that I was positive he was going to unsheath his blade and stick the man across from him through with it. The man was large and burly, with a black patch over one eye. His hair was pulled tightly back, and a red bandana was draped around his neck. But what most unnerved me was the tone of his voice and the curl of his lip. I slid closer, and a board creaked beneath my feet. The man turned.
"Here she is now," he growled, licking his lips. I immediatly felt scared. It was the exact same lustful look that the Duke had given me. I began backing towards my door, eyes wide.
Suddenly Darren was between us, his blade at the burly man's throat. "Touch her and I run you through," he said menacingly. "She is a guest on this ship, not some toy to be used at your pleasure." The captain came running from the helm, hearing the raised voices. He took one look at me and understood.
"Henry, go below deck. You will recieve no food for the rest of the day. Mairna is a guest on this ship. No man is permitted to use her in such ways without her permission," growled Captain, his voice equally angry as Darren's. Henry shot the Captain a dirty look and stomped off, Leaving Darren wiht his blade still in the air. he sheathed it as soon as the man's burly figure had disappeared and turned to me. I was leaning against the wall, my breathe coming in shaky gasps. He slid his arms around me and pulled me close, his lips near my ear.
"Shhh," he whispered, "It's alright. I won't let them hurt you. I promise." He drew back and met my tearfilled gaze. "I promise." I nodded and he helped me back to the cabin.
As soon as my tears had dried, he slid me onto his lap. The Captain stood at the doorway watching us, unperturbed by the show of affection. he understood that I trusted Darren.
"Why are there always men like that?" I whispered, laying my head on his shoulder.
Darren's tone was bitter. "They were not raised to treat women with respect." I shivered and he drew me closer to him. "I won't let them hurt you," he promised again. "On my life, I'll protect you." I slid back down beside him, off his lap. The Captain stepped forward and looked me straight in the eye.
"You are beautiful, Marina. Try to be careful. My men were not trained to act like gentlemen. You are lucky to have him." He gestured with a gloved hand to Darren.
"I understand," I said. I had never thought of myself as beautiful... It was almost to much to believe.
"Stay here a while," Darren said. "Lock your door." He squeezed my hand and stood. I wanted him to stay, to tell him what had happened the night before, but he was already at the door. He turned back.
"I promise," he mouthed, and then disappeared, shutting the door behind him.
I pulled the wooden beam across it, barricading myself in. I walked to the portal and looked out, my tears falling like twin diamond from my eyes, their salt the same flavour as the sea.
Would I ever see the mermaid, Amii, again?