Book: Prisms- Isle de Baraja.

Series: Light, Water, Muses.

Rating: PG-13 to R, possibly tilting a bit to NC17 late in the tale.

Category: A sequel of sorts to Broadway and a corner of LWM that I've been wanting to explore for a long time.

Pairings: Dace and her various playmates as well as a generous sampling of groupings we should all know well by now!

General Disclaimer: This site contains stories between mature, consenting adult females. All characters are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. All TV show disclaimers are in earlier parts of this saga.

Spoilers: Outside of Broadway, there is nothing specific, except for the several characters from earlier sections of Light, Water and Muses, and aspects of their characters and backgrounds that were established there.

Summary: A working vacation does wonders for the extended family of friends.

Part 2

++ Michael ++



Jerking awake, I manage to not lash out at the familiar voice and blink sleepily at Lee's curious expression. "What's up?"

"We're almost there. You've been asleep the whole flight."

"Merde (shit)," I groan and sit forward to stretch some of the kinks out of my back and neck. "I don't even remember taking off."

"Since we were on the tarmac for an hour and half, I'm not surprised you dozed off," Lee grins and gingerly straightens up before heading back to her seat.

In twelve days, the woman has nearly returned to her vivacious, energetic self. She's still a bit sore and it does hold her back, but she is well on the way to wholeness. Once I rub the sleepiness from my eyes, I automatically go looking for Jo and the kids. Transportation is on loan from a rich client of mine that owed me a favor. The private jet is spacious and unusually luxurious, even by my standards. Pretty much the entire clan from New York is here with a few notable exceptions. This time, Gabe volunteered to stay behind so that Ben and Ian could have some fun for once. As the later two work even harder than I do, it's a vacation well deserved. Jamie and her pack are clustered around one of the tables with Ian, Jaye and Dorothy playing some card game that's making them laugh and shout noisily.

Lee settles in beside Ben and they pick up an obviously interrupted conversation. She's even charmed that reticent old bugger and he returns my amused smirk. Back in the bedroom towards the rear of the plane is my goal. And here is where my lover, children and mentor are clustered about the small room, all sound asleep.

Henri sprawls all over KC in typical infant abandon where they're both reclined in one of the plush airplane seats and Jo is curled up with Charlie. The nickname has stuck and it tickles her Grampa Charlie to pieces. Charlotte is too snooty for such an adorable little troublemaker anyway. She's definitely going to be the firecracker of the twins, getting into all sorts of trouble.

As though sensing my regard, Charlie's eyes flutter open and she immediately becomes all smiles. It's this endlessly adoring regard that has broken down any barriers in my heart that Jo hadn't already demolished.

"Hello, Cherie," I coo softly to Charlie, lifting her weight to be cuddled to my chest. Despite my attempt at quiet, Jo stirs awake and I sit to press a kiss to her temple. "And hello to you too, darling."

"Hey there," she grins sleepily at us, ruffling Charlie's nap of near-black hair and nuzzling at my chin. "We there yet?"

"Nearly. We should get buckled in."

But I'm delayed for a long moment by a long, slow, hot kiss that leaves me a bit lightheaded, Jo chuckling when I bite at her bottom lip.

Right on cue, the captain's voice comes over the hidden speakers. "This is your captain speaking. We are beginning our final decent into Miami International Airport. Please return to your seats and buckle in until the plane has come to a full stop and the staff has instructed you to do so. The weather is clear and a bit hazy with a ground temperature of a very pleasant seventy degrees. Thank you."

That gets us moving, me depositing Charlie in her carrier, Jo collecting a protesting Henri and waking KC in the process. Blinking, my mentor waves off Jo's apology and stretches a bit. It's hard to believe this vivacious woman is actually sixty-seven years old. But, then again, I have known her for twenty-one years now.

"That's the last time you sleep on my chest, heavy boy," KC chuckles at Henri, who just gurgles happily at his mother. As much as the woman blows off the pain and stiffness and slowing down, it's really happening.

Time always marches on.

++ Lee ++

Jaye catches my cringe when the plane bumps to the runway, the shudder echoing through the vehicle's bones and then my own. One strong, dark hand covers my own, squeezing tenderly as I fight down the pain in my ribs. As always, he's there to support me when I need him.

"You're my best friend," I grin and his white smile is as gorgeous as always.

"Yeah, your best friend with benefits."

The roar of the engines braking easily drowns out our quiet laughter. But I am pondering serious thoughts despite my levity. I've known this wonderful guy for eleven years and been married to him for getting on four now. We're well-matched across the board, personally, professionally and all of that stuff.

But there are some days I still wonder if this was the best path for us. Were we meant to be forever? Both of us have wandering eyes, even if we don't do anything about it. Well…. we do in context. Dace and Sara appear in my mind's eye and my confusion deepens. Especially when Jaye squeezes my fingers and smiles placidly, his eyes trained to the front of the slowing plane. "Relax, you'll see them in a few minutes."

It's like he really does understand my conflict and just accepts it. But could I ever really leave him? Like for good? Have I ever really even contemplated that?

The pain in my side is sharper than it's been in several days. Must be all the flying and the pressures of altitude changes on my body. Thankfully, it's no longer the sharp, splintering pain of the fresh break, but a dull, throbbing ache like a really awful bruise. Even the rainbow of contusions under my skin has faded somewhat.

The cockpit door alerts everyone that we can disembark. The uniformed pilot cracks the door, glorious sunshine flooding into the interior of the plane. He jumps in surprise as Lindsey bolts past him, squealing Dace's name.

"I've got the bags," Jaye prods me, "go say hi."

Reminded of my conflict again, I smile somewhat lamely and do as instructed, arm tucked tight to my side. After months of winter, the sunlight is like a drug, warm and heavy on my pale skin. For a moment I pause at the top of the stairs and soak it in.

"Come on down to earth, songbird," Dace's voice chuckles up at me and I drop my eyes down the half-flight of stairs to where that smile beams out beneath black sunglasses and that mane of sun-bleached blonde hair.

It takes some effort not to race down the steps and throw myself at her, but my rib makes me behave. Well, mostly anyway. I can't resist jumping on her from two steps up, hugging her around the neck as tight as I can and twining my legs around her waist. The fragile bone and all of the damaged flesh around it whines in protest to the jostling, but I ignore it.

Purring softly, Dace hugs me, squeezes me around shoulderblades and hip and nuzzles her face in the curve of my neck and shoulder. In the lovely middling temperature of the Miami afternoon, her breath is hot on my skin, trapped in the fall of my dark hair. Her low chuckle is warm and loving at my death grip on her slender body.

There's something about this woman, her kindness and humor and her sure touch on my body and heart. "Missed you," I whine like an unsure child and earn that familiar zoo-tiger huff of amusement.

"Missed you too. It's good to see you moving around again."

This is one of the appealing things about Dace. She's doesn't mock my weaknesses, my uncertainties, my frailties. If I'm acting childishly, she indulges the reasons for it and kicks me in the ass if I need it. No wonder her pack adores her.

Sniffling around the hint of tears, I lean my head back, not loosening my grip on her body and look at the distorted reflection of my face in the inky lenses. When Dace tilts her head to flash a sliver of blue eye from under the edge of the sunglasses, I smile back tremulously. The welcoming kiss is more of an affectionate nuzzle, almost animal-like, before she slaps my ass. "Down girl. That rib can't be happy with this position."

Somehow she helps me down without jostling my injury and I can just lean on her, arms draped loosely around her tall body, her hands gentle on my back and skull.

++ Dace ++

Something is bothering Lee. Something that obviously involves me, because there's no way she'd have gripped that hard with a barely-healed busted rib unless her emotions were particularly high. I'll have time to pry it out of her once everyone's on the ship and settled in.

"Hey Fen," I greet my old pal as she descends the stairs, followed up by Jo, the babies and KC. Kindly ignore the trembling woman huddled against my chest, they exchange warm greetings with me and I touch each of them as they pass. Ben and Ian clamber down with the rest of Lindsey's pack, followed up by a harried-looking Dorothy Ramsey, who I remember from meeting her briefly a couple times.

I'm confused that my smile falters as Jaye appears at the plane's door. There's something going on here that I will have to look into. But my smile, gone stilted for a moment, is nonetheless returned warmly by Jaye.

Curiouser and curiouser.

"Glad you guys could make it," I greet him as he draws close and I tuck Lee under my left arm to offer my right, which he grips warmly.

"We wouldn't have missed this for the world! Our schedules are going to be hellish once we get back, so I for one am looking forward to the spoiling."

"Well, that is certainly on the menu," I joke back and pull a couple of the handful of bags he's got slung about his person. "Uneventful flight?"


The small talk gets us over to the trio of full-size vans waiting. I borrowed Puppy from Salix and the big man has been silently gathering the piles of luggage from the plane's crew unto a collapsible dolly. Even now, he's trotting over to the last van and carefully and efficiently transferring the bags. He's a hell of a good submissive and I watch him carefully so that I can report back to his mistress on his performance.

Catherine drove the first van, and I the second. The girls and Dorothy have taken up the space with my mate and she's obviously ready to head back to the docks. Abruptly snuffling aggressively into Lee's hair, I swat her into the second van and set the bags down before trotting over to Cath. "Be safe," I hum into a loving kiss and she chuckles warmly.

"I promise. You too, darling. See you soon."


Dawdling back to my own vehicle, I shoot Puppy my best 'irritated Daddy' look and he swallows hard and doubles his efforts, trotting a snappy clip behind the hand cart. In two minutes flat, he's unloaded the second load of bags, folded up the cart, stowed and locked everything down and bounds over to the driver's door. After giving the man a flat look, I give him a short nod and follow suit and our caravan is off.

It's a gorgeous day in Miami, a cool sixty-eight degrees with a near-flawless blue sky. The light here is very different, thick and golden like honey. I noticed it when I came here those months ago to help out the Miami-Dade Police Department and sexy detectives Duquesne and Caine. I'll have to give them a buzz and see if they've got time for lunch or dinner when we get back from the island. There's a great dance music station I found on the trip over and it keeps me humming contentedly to myself as I navigate this place.

"Dace?" Lee's voice suddenly chimes up. "I've been meaning to ask you. Why is the ship called the Major Arcana?"

"Well, hell," I chortle, turning down the radio, "Michael can answer that one as well as I can."

"I'll tag team you," my old pal deadpans, making Jo and Ben snicker. "The modern deck of playing cards is actually based on the tarot deck."

"Really?" Lee is intrigued and I spare a quick glance in the rearview mirror to see that she's craned her neck around as best she can to gaze back at Fen.

"That's why the House of Spades enforcers are called the Swords," I chime in. "Hearts are cups, clubs are wands and diamonds are pentacles. Each has one of the four elements. I'm water."

"We're air," Ben tosses out. "Diamonds are earth and clubs are fire. What? I wanted to add to story time. Bugger off Michael." His placid tone of voice makes me laugh and Fen to affectionately tell him to fuck off.

"But, the playing card deck only covers the minor Arcana," my voice jumps in to stop their potential bickering. "The major Arcana consists of twenty-two cards that don't fit into the four elements and they represent a journey. So, since we're the houses, or elements if you prefer, then this elaborate joint effort of such a magnificent ship represents a group journey. And, right on cue, there she is."

We could have pushed to have the monster docked, but for the sake of expediency, Captain Drewson has anchored the ship at the edges of the marina, away from regular traffic. Good thing to, because every vessel that passes by, large or small, pauses to admire the gorgeous girl.

"Wow," Jaye marvels and both Jo and Lee make affirming sounds.

++ Jo ++

The marina looks like every one of its ilk, boats gleaming white and chrome lying neatly along wooden boardwalks. Beyond the forest of sailboat masts, is the most striking sight. Gleaming like a dark jewel on the azure water floats a vast wooden sailing ship. Even knowing that she would be here, even having seen the photos, the real thing is stunning. The many sails are furled and the four flags at the high points snap in the wind. Her hull gleams black like carved obsidian, all the decorative trim and railings a blood red. Down her side, broken by the canon ports, a royal purple stripe runs from stem to stern. The massive keel and the lowest part of the hull are varnished wood, as are all of the masts and the cross beams holding the sails.

I recognize the California flag, high on the mast closest to the rear of the ship, but not the emerald green one on the foremost mast. Wait, it has to be Washington, since that's where she was built. The American flag flies from the rear, off of a massive beam that juts over the rear of the ship and over the water, a sail furled along its length. High atop the tallest mast, centered in the ship's great bulk, is a long, slender pennant that tapers out like a whip, the symbols of the Four Suits flickering as the cloth dances sinuously in the wind.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Dace says with satisfaction as we pour out of the van to admire from this dramatic distance. "The Major Arcana."

She looks so incongruous among all the modern finery, but in a lady-like and grandly dramatic way, harkening back to a romantic age. Then Charlie's sudden fussing makes me duck back into the van to gather up the baby carriers and hand Henri off to his father.

"Much fun as it is to admire from this distance, your delay at JFK has us running irritatingly late," Dace explains, but smiles warmly at the lot of us. "Not to me, but that grand lady's captain. So, let's chip in to give Puppy a hand and get this show on the road, shall we?"

In short order, our bags are piled in a neat pyramid in the center of a good-sized skiff and we each carefully clamber aboard, obeying Puppy's instructions where to sit to distribute the weight. "Sorry about the motor ruining the old-world feel," the big man apologizes as he activates the outboard motor, "but we're in a hurry!"

With careful expertise, Dace unties the boat and hops in, crouching like a cat in the center front of the craft, barely making it rock. Engine roaring, we're headed into the marina, giving wide berth to the thin crowd of vessels puttering around.

As we draw closer to the Major Arcana, I'm surprised by just how big the ship really is. The great black and red hull is like a wall, not even appearing to move in the gentle waters.

"Holy shit," Lee squeals suddenly, making me jump. "That thing has actual canons in it!"

Sure enough, the dull iron tubes jut from four of the open red shutters far above the water. A platform strung in a framework of rope and cables dangling from a crane arm has swung over the side and lowers towards the water as we pull up to the great hull.

"Permission to come aboard, Captain Drewson!" Dace cups her hands to her mouth and shouts upward. A woman with a head of luxurious mane of brown-blonde hair peers over the railing far above.

"Why the hell should I?" she sasses, her alto voice trilling with laughter. "You're running hours late. I suppose this is your fault, Fenris."

Across the pile of luggage, Michael sighs at the nickname she'll never be rid of. "Yes, Jack, it's entirely my fault, because I can control the weather on the eastern seaboard."

"You're a smart-ass, King of Spades," the captain chuckles, her voice echoing off of the hull and the quietly rippling water. "But I suppose as you've come this far…"

A rope ladder with wooden rails drops from above, rattling down the hull with a sharp, metallic noise I wasn't expecting.

"The hull is actually steel," Dace supplies as she catches the ladder and pulls it taut with her weight. "It was cast and then painted to look like wooden planks for effect. Cool huh?"

To my surprise, Michael has discretely gotten into one of our bags and yanked out the baby backpacks. Ropes coil down as she picks up an excited Charlie, plopping our girl into the carrier and strapping her in tight. "Okay, Jaye, I'm volunteering you to haul my girl here. Loop that rope under your shoulders as a safety line."

"You brought me along to be a beast of burden?"

"Oh shut up."

With the rope snug around Jaye's broad chest, I reluctantly watch him step onto the flimsy-looking ladder and start climbing. It's so far up…

By now, Ian and Puppy have filled the cargo rig and it sails high overhead to the sounds of chanting voices above.

"I can take Henri," Ben volunteers gently and I can't help grinning at him in relief. Right on cue, another rope slaps down into the boat and within moments he's in the loop and I'm settling Henri into the carrier over his shoulders with a kiss. Then Dace swats me up the ladder right on his heels with Ian following me.

++ Sara ++

The moment I stepped on this ship, Captain Drewson shrewdly knew I'm one of the ones that she can order around. It's aggravating and kind of sexy. Catherine has been cracking up since this morning, particularly now that Lindsey and pack have been shanghaied into service. Right now, I'm leaning over the railing, controller in hand, lowering the crane's cable down to the water. At the end of the cable is a big steel I-beam with cables and hooks at either end that Dace and Puppy hook to corresponding hooks at the fore and aft of the yawl. With those two keeping the small boat from smacking into the ship's hull, I keep an eye out for steady progress and sudden gusts of wind. Poor Lee cowers at the bottom of the yawl as it lifts away from the water. I don't envy her the trip to be honest. It must be a little terrifying. When the yawl clears the railing, there are only a couple of feet to spare. The yawl is carefully set in its custom chocks with barely a tremor.

Under Captain Drewson's barked directions, myself and a bunch of the others get the boat strapped safely in her chocks and the three inside can carefully clamber out. Grinning wildly in delight, I yank Lee to my body to be hugged tightly, careful to mind the mending rib. "You're here!" she squeals happily, squeezing my torso until I cough for mercy.

"Hi," I grin idiotically at this utterly unexpected pal and she beams in total delight, her mossy eyes sparkling in the sunlight. "You look great."

"Thank you," Lee giggles coquettishly and steps back a half pace to curtsy.

"What's this?" Bellows a now-familiar alto voice, making Lee jump like an electrified cat. "A stowaway come aboard on my yawl?" Lee yipes like a startled dog as she's abruptly scruffed by tall, imposing Captain Jack Drewson. "Do you know what we do with stowaways aboard my ship?"

My helpless look to Daddy immediately hardens her expression and she fires a subtle shake of the head to Jack, who instantly pauses.

"Well," Jack hedges as though she's thinking and cups Lee's chin in her hand, looking the smaller woman over like a side of expensive beef. "You're a pretty enough morsel to keep the crew entertained. Basker!" My playname barked in that bossy tone has me scrambling over to the captain, eager to serve.

"Yes captain?"

Gently shoving Lee at me, Jack glowers like a cartoon villain, her eyes dancing with good humor. "You've a new task to keep an eye on this one." Protectively, I hold Lee to my chest and she cuddles into me.

"Aye captain."

Nodding decisively, Jack spins on one chunky boot heel and strides across the deck, bellowing orders like a drill sergeant and passenger and crew alike scatter to her bidding.

"Sorry about that. She doesn't know about your rib."

"It's okay," Lee hums and I move us over close to where Dace and Puppy have lashed the small boat's canvas canopy down tight. I get a quick peck and Lee gets a brush of mouth and hand over her crown before my Daddy trots off to help the crew.

In a symphony of controlled chaos, the Major Arcana begins to transform as crewmembers, two to a mast, scramble up the rigging like monkeys to release the furled sails. Ropes and cables tighten and buzz as the vast sheets catch the wind and the great ship begins to move. As the deck lists, Lee makes an alarmed noise and I push our bodies into the small space left where the yawls rest nose to nose. There is a couch of ropes here that would normally lash the ship to dock and I wiggle my body into the great coils and tug at Lee to curl up in my lap.

"I really didn't expect it to move this much," Lee comments a little shakily and I hug her closer.

"Just watch."

++ Dace ++

Exhilarated, I follow the directions of captain and crew to assist in getting the Arcana underway. Sails snap tight in the wind that, by some twist of fate and luck, is blowing from the Gulf of Mexico, angling the ship crooked as she turns her rear end to the push. Like a living thing, the ship responds to the wind, creaking and groaning expressively. The children and most of the adults are completely enthralled where Jack has brusquely herded them around the base of the masts where they're safest.

A very real part of me wants to climb the spiderweb of rigging and feel the living presence of the wind in my hair and clothes, tugging at my skin. A wild grin shared between Lindsey and me is the predatory souls within us communicating.

Not unlike a great, ponderous and graceful beast, the Major Arcana gathers the clout of the wind and the powerful engines I can hear deep in her bowels. Every eye in the harbor is on us, boats slowing as we drift towards the open Atlantic Ocean. Like an open embrace, this wild, violent water greets us, sparkling like diamonds in the sunlight. It's so intriguing it almost zones me out and I jump at my mate's touch.

"You miss it," Catherine murmurs as our bodies move to the rhythm of the ship that carries us from land into the unknown. "The ocean."

"Sometimes," I hedge softly, not even trying to lie to her. "But you're worth it."

"Flatterer," she chuckles throatily and tugs me down to be kissed lingeringly. There are others that hold a part of my body and heart, but none are her and I always return to her side. How I have gotten lucky enough to have bonded to this singularly understanding woman is completely beyond me.

With that sly, coyote grin, Catherine lets me go, sashaying away coyly, blue eyes flashing over her shoulder. "You enjoy the sights, lover. I'm going to check on your pets."

So I'm a good girl and do as I'm told, leaning on the heavy railing to breathe in the glory of the open ocean as we move beyond the confines of the marina and the Atlantic stretches out, unbroken, as far as the eye can see.

I only get a moment of warning from my 'mom's sixth sense' before the wiry weight of one of my daughters collides with my left arm and shoulder. Sandy squeals happily in concert with Lindsey's laughter. Growling affectionately at the quieter of my girl cubs, I grab her and toss her onto my shoulder in our usual strange hug.

"Mama! Water!" she babbles and I'm glad to hear the words. With the girl's ease of communication with Catherine and I, their use of verbal language is lagging. But Katie looks freaked out and I immediately take the few steps to where she clings to Jamie, Rose hanging onto the teen's belt loop.

"Hey baby," I purr and the wide blue eyes stare wordlessly at me. "Don't like the water, huh?"

Still silent, Katie shakes her head and I'm flustered and perversely amused that the fearless twin has finally been cowed by circumstance. All it took was the open ocean.

"Can you take Sandy back, Linds?"

"Of course," the older child of the pack replies and gathers up Sandy when I peel her from my shoulders and hand her off. Only then does Katie allow me to gather her up from Jamie to be cuddled close.

"I used to live near an ocean like this," I hum into the baby-fine gold hair. "It can be scary, but it can be wonderful too." Clinging to me with all four limbs, Katie nods against my neck, still silent, but her body not quite so tense now. How I love these children's adoration of me, their complete trust.

The feeling is completely mutual.

++ Lee ++

I'm unutterably grateful to Sara's being my rock right now. Without a twitch of protest she's accepted my clinging, her larger body tucked around mine. Slim, strong arms cradle me close and her heart beats steadily under my ear, where my head is pressed to her upper chest. But I can't maintain the position any longer, my barely healed rib grumbling in protest to the way my torso is hunched up and I straighten and squirm with a groan.

"You okay?" Sara queries as I uncurve my spine and try to ignore the white-hot flash of pain, nestling into the curve of her neck and shoulder.

"Damn rib," is all I have to say as the burn subsides and my breathing eases. "It gets better every day, but I think I'm a little tense today."

"No surprise there," chimes in an unexpected voice and I turn my head to peer through the trailing tips of Sara's hair at a gently smiling Catherine. Behind her is the demanding captain, who reminds me of several directors I've worked with over the years. Not to mention several wedding planners and fretting mothers at weddings where I once performed for my bread and butter. But the captain is gentle now, her expression concerned.

"You alright, matey?" she asks softly, kneeling and reaching out a strong hand to place it on my head as Catherine squeezes in beside Sara and myself. "The sea doesn't suit you?"

"Stress I think," I answer honestly, comforted by her gentle touch. All of us startle and stare as a cat jumps down from the small boat's prow to alight gracefully on the woman's shoulder, perching there comfortably. Captain Jack chortles in obvious delight at our expressions.

"This is Tarot, our ship's cat. No proper masted ship travels the deep without a cat aboard. She knows you're not feeling well."

Still gazing at Tarot the cat, a beautiful gray tabby with emerald eyes and dignified smoky stripes, I pause for a moment before speaking up. "Your friend there has a hypnotic gaze," I blurt out without thinking and Jack actually laughs in delight.

"That she does. Your stomach?"

"Yes, but it's not my stomach. Well, not entirely. Two weeks of painkillers have left me loopy and kinda stupid. So my stomach's wonky, sure, but my rib is killing me and I'm worried that the ship moving will toss me into something and…"

My rambling trails off and I flush in embarrassment, burying my face once more against Sara's skin.

++ Sara ++

Lee is being ridiculously cute, bringing out protective urges in me that usually only the twins can tap so effectively. So I resettle my arms around her slender frame to comfort her and protect that sore place. Memories of long, long ago makes me sympathize with her pain. My folks broke my ribs and worse when I was a child.

No one misses my heavy sigh.

"Bad memories," I explain before anyone can ask. "Lee? Have you taken any painkillers lately?" Her noncommitical hum doesn't reassure me and I tug at her hair affectionately. "I know they suck, but this might be a bad day to be brave. Captain Drewson? If you'd send over that handsome hubby of hers when you have a spare moment, we'd all be grateful. Tarot would be welcome if she'd like to stay with us."

Heh. I've scored points with the lady in charge with the polite flattery and the hand I raise to Tarot so that the cat can gravely sniff my fingertips before rubbing her whiskers over them. Gracefully, Tarot steps to Jack's forearm then delicately onto Lee's thigh as though testing if she's okay to be there. When there's no objection, she settles on her haunches and eyes us placidly.

"Well the beast seems to like you well enough and that’s good enough in my book. I'll see what I can do for the stowaway." With a last caress over Lee's gorgeous hair, Jack stands and strides confidently across the deck to do as I've asked.

"Nicely handled, Sidle," Catherine chuckles as she settles her smaller body more comfortably into my side. Quiet settles over our trio as we listen to the bustle of the crew and our loved ones carried on the strong wind. Lee and Catherine pet the purring Tarot while I'm perfectly content to lean my head back and close my eyes, soaking in the warmth of the sun.

"Hey guys," Jaye's soft voice startles off my near-doze and I blink at him, crouching over my feet. "Hi Sara," he smiles warmly and the grin on my face is genuine. "It appears I've arrived too late to say hi to Catherine. I'll just leave these with you, as it looks as though the good captain has singled me out to be culled from the herd."

My snort of laughter makes Lee sleepily object and Jaye and I quiet guiltily. Thankfully, she settles down again, heavy against my torso. Jaye drops the prescription bottle into my hand before fondly stroking Lee's hair. "She's been a mess from this. The drugs and pain are bad enough, but she can't sing." There must be questions written on my face, my natural curiosity showing, because he continues in that same soft voice. "Singing is air to her. She was one of those kids that never stopped; she's always humming and making tunes up on the fly. It's the silence, I think, that has left her so depressed and off-kilter."

"Must be like being locked in an empty room," I muse and unconsciously adjust the way my body cradles hers.

"Must be," Jaye agrees gently.