“One year.” Marsey Wilswoodronny sat down on Genique’s bunk and looked up at her. “How did you win that hand? That was an impossible hand! I knew Darretchon had the Captain, and I knew I had the Red Spear, and you – and you -”
“Declined to be cheated out of a year?” Genique’s cabin had very few amenities; she sat down backwards on the sole chair, leaned on the back of it, and looked at him. “I knew you were cheating with Darretchon. You two both have very good poker faces, but your fingers twitch and his earlobes wiggle. And your signals were very nice, but they weren’t quite as subtle as you thought they were. I find patterns,” she added, to soothe his chagrined look a little. “I’m an accountant. That’s what they have me doing, digging out patterns, putting them back together.”
His look got speculative. “That’s going to ruffle some feathers and make some people worried.”
“I think that’s the idea. First Mate Clyd has been pleased with me so far.”
“And the Captain?” Now he looked worried.
“I don’t think he knows what to do with me quite yet,” she admitted. “Which is more than a little concerning, but it works out well enough. What about you?”
“I’ve been here for years. Volunteered, actually, not conscripted. I do good with this sort of work. But now – now you’ve got a year.”
“POor baby.” She patted his back companionably. “I’ll have to fill out a form, won’t I? This is the most beuracratic pirate ship I’ve ever been on.”
“How many pirate ships have you been on?” He eyed her sidelong.”
“…this one,” she admitted. “So. You were trying to cheat me, and-”
“-it backfired. So now you get a year of me. What are you going to do with me?”
“If we were home, I’d have you cleaning my house and cooking my food and, hrrm, doing my laundry, but-”
“BUt we’re on a pirate ship, and those things, someone already takes care of.” He looked more concerned. She couldn’t say she really blamed him for that.
“What were you going to do with me?”
“Well,” he blushed and looked away.
“Mm. That’s what I thought. So?”
“So?” He shifted backwards. “So, what?”
“So what exactly. What are you still wearing clothes?”
“Oh, no, nooo, that’s not fair.”
“Who said anything about fair, handsome boy? Come on, you agreed to a year. Clothes off.”
“but-” He sulked at her.
She reached over and tapped his forehead. For a Trenciscot boy, that was the equivalent of – he flinched and leaned backwards – slapping him on the face. “Clothes. Off. Come on, now, just think about what you were going to do to me.”
“Nope. But I could go out there and tell your friend you backed out of our deal.”
He held up both hands. “All right. You win. I agreed, yeah. Anything, for a year. Is this going to be like the Pit?”
“Oh, I hope not.” She let a small smile cross her lips. “No. Nothing like that. As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to enjoy it. But I’m going to see if I can get a bigger bed, first.”
She looked at Marsey. He looked at her.
“You signed the form,” he shrugged uncomfortably.
“You did, too,” she pointed out.
“You told me to! Remember that part where I agreed to do whatever you said for a year?”
“… Right. So. New clause. If I am doing something you think I’m going to regret, tell me, immediately if possible, soon afterwards otherwise. Can you do that?”
“I can. but.” He looked at the wedding banns, frowned, looked at their new room – bigger bed, at least, and a nicer cabin in a nicer location – and looked back at her. “Do you regret it?”
“Regret what? Not getting caught in the trap you were setting? No. The rest…. well. Look. It appears we can’t have private finances when we’re married, so let me say very clearly – the money you bring in is yours to spend, the money I bring in is mine to spend, and never the twain shall meet. All right?”
“You’re…” He took a moment, staring at her. “You’re bringing money in? In your first year here? What did you do, have blackmail material on the First Mate?”
“No.” She couldn’t help the grim smile that crossed her lips. “I’m an accountant.”
All of that, however, wasn’t answering the actual question. She flopped down on the nicely bigger bed and looked up at the ceiling. Ceilings shipboard were so low. Marsey was not a short man, and his head nearly brushed the ceiling in many places. “No. You’re right. This is a new experience, and as long as it doesn’t delay the amount of time it takes me to get back home, to buy off my contract, no, I don’t really regret it.” She glanced over at him. “You’re a sweet boy… no. I’m sorry, Marsey, that wasn’t fair. You’re a nice person, so far, kind, sweet, and even if you were going to cheat me, you’ve been sticking to your word once it turned out you’d be, well, stuck with it. And you’re gorgeous, that helps.”
He stared at her. SHe wondered if nobody had told him he was gorgeous before.
Not, it seemed he’d gotten stuck before that. “You’re really planning on heading home?”
“I am. I was a kidnapee, you know.”
“Yeah, Basi brought you in. Felt horrible about it for weeks when nobody ransomed you.” He looked around at the things she’d brought over. “You’ve got stuff.”
“Not from spending my salary, though. The silk was from Basi. Some of the other things came from here and there. I’m a really good accountant,” she added, a little proudly. “
“And you’re really good at Flotsam. If we got you playing Flounder, too, you could probably decorate this place nicely.”
She looked at the four crates he’d brought over. “What about you?”
“Mostly stuff I’ve stolen, you know, pirate. Some of it I won in Flotsam and Flounder games.”
“Only sometimes, only when the stakes were high. Come _on_, I wasn’t going to…”
“Oh, you might as well not bother lying. It’s going to be a long year if you do.”
He slipped off the bed, and for a moment, she thought she’d offended him. But he was going through the smallest of his crates, the one with a lock on it. “So. We agreed. My things are mine and your things are yours, right?”
“Right. Separate finances.” it was the only way she was ever going to get out of here, especially if he liked to gamble.
“And one year, right? I’m yours – your bound husband – for a year, no matter what?”
“That’s what we agreed to.”
“Then here’s this, for your home fund.” He handed her a gaudy but clearly expensive necklace, the sort often worn by heiresses. “That ought to get you closer. And um. This is because you beat me at cheating at Floatsam.”
The second piece was much less gaudy – it was actually lovely, understated, and matched the red silk of her favorite camisole perfectly. “Marsey…”
“It’s still mine. Both of them. So they’re mine to give.” He smiled up at her. “You’re my first wife. It seems appropriate.”
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