Molly tentatively tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear, examining her face in the perfectly shiny back of her silver hand. It was cut short now, and sat neatly around the nape of her neck in choppy layers. Her memory was hazy, but she was pretty sure it had tumbled to her waist in thick, curly locks the last time she'd checked. She wondered for a moment why someone felt it necessary to cut it, but the thoughts vanished quickly as she adjusted to her new look, and smiled slightly at her reflection.
"You alright there, missy?"
Molly looked up with a jolt. She was still sitting at the dinner table, where the Captain had told her to wait until she returned with orders. Three men were huddled around the end of the table, all bulky and muscly and scruffy. Coloured patterns adorned their skin, and one - the one who had spoken to her - even had a strange contraption mounted on the side of his face, where his right eye should have been. Short, wide glasses were scattered around them, and a tall bottle of thick, brown liquid stood proudly at the centre of all the action.
"Don't look at us like that, darlin'," another one said. "We don't bite. You ever play cards before?"
Molly's face lit up, her stomach momentarily filling with excitement and nervousness. "Yes," she said.
"Well, come on, let's see what you've got!" the man with the mechanical eye said, tugging at the chair next to him. "What's your name, missy?"
"Molly Penniwell." The name spewed from her lips as quickly and as easily as it had when Katrina had asked her. The surname. In all her years with Mr. Meriwether, she'd never succeeded in zoning in on a surname to pin to herself. But when Katrina had asked her.... it was as though she'd never forgotten it. "I'm.... I'm a friend of Captain Katrina's. I believe I'm to start schooling the young people on board."
Some kind of explanation seemed necessary, and it felt good, seeing as she'd had very little to explain to the Captain a few hours ago. Something back then had held her from back from telling Katrina about Mr. Meriwether, but it didn't make much sense. Who was left for her to protect? Mr. Meriwether? He was safe in his grave by now, beyond any earthly dangers. Herself? Of course. The urge to conceal herself had been paramount in her mind since the moment she'd woken up. But who else? It wasn't as though Warren could possibly be a threat to as fantastic and as strong a woman as Katrina.
"Call me Cups," the man with the mechanical eye said with a crooked smile. He extended his hand and Molly shook it heartily. It was wrinkled and soft, but warm like his smile. "And this here is Dom and Quentin. We're the kitchen staff on board this fine specimen of voyage." The other two nodded, with tight smiles, obviously not as sociable as the older man.
"Hello there," Molly said with a smile. "I used to cook a little. I.... I like to bake muffins," she felt it necessary to add. "Maybe I could assist you in the kitchen some time."
"Wonderful! It'd be nice to have a female touch around the place every so often."
Dom began to shuffle a deck of cards in his hand with the speed of an airship propeller. "Yes. But no culinary prowess or feminine charm is going to spare you if you can't play your cards right." His voice was deep and sincere.
"Well, the feminine charm might, if you keep eyeing her up like that and losing control of your.... Little friend," Quentin smirked, eyeing the bulge in Dom's trousers. Dom scowled and kissed at him in indignation.
Cups grinned, amused, and turned back towards Molly. "Miss Penniwell, are you familiar with the charming game of blackjack?"
Molly smiled. "No. But I'm a quick learner."
"Then sit your arse down beside me, get your lips around a drop o' rum, and let's see if your walk is as good as your talk."