Bare As Bones
She knows the lines of the ship as well as the curves of her own body, for both were brought to life by the same man and both are irrevocably intertwined in his mind: flesh and splinters, hair and twine, blood and water, clothes and canvas.
Sliding free of the heavily pleated cotton gown, like a caterpillar escaping the confines of its cocoon, she takes to the water for an afternoon swim.
Watching from his perch in the crow's nest, Fenris spies his sun-kissed mermaid. Though the long-glass distorts her body, he has no need of it to appreciate her. His fingertips know every inch of her skin and her image is tattooed into the underside of his eyelids.
He has become incapable of banishing his longing for even the most intangible parts of her, so that now, he can no longer remain at bay.
When she rises from the water clothed only in twilight, the pirate stands waiting for her. His swarthy face is full of unpleasant angles and innumerable scars, and his smile is darkly frightening, like an alligator drawing back its lips to reveal its teeth. But she has no fear of this air-breathing leviathan.
Stepping into her chemise, she says, “Unless your sail is furled, we've nothing to talk about."
His mouth thins into a grim line. "The Nautilis is sea-bound and so am I."
"Then I bid you good night and safe journey."
He growls after her: "You know I won't sleep a wink so long as you're landlocked!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Finding no solace in sleep, Simona opens the window, hoping fresh air and the scent of bayberries will settle her, but she finds herself breathlessly exhilarated instead. Beyond the mouth of the lagoon, the ship is a shadowy skeleton beneath the starry midnight sky and its mast is bare as bones.