Friday, 30 July 2010
"Can you imagine?" asked Lacey with building excitement, "an almost three-hundred-year old pirate ship? And it once belonged to Captain Bertrand who brought down the remaining pirates in the Caribbean after Blackbeard. He won the trust of the crown and the heart of a physician's daughter. It's all so romantic," she gushed.
Max startled her by putting his hand over her mouth. "Ever notice you babble when you're nervous? Like some kind of vomiting library book?"
Lacey steamed. She smacked his arm away.
"You realize you don't have to play it smart to get attention?" he continued, obviously showing off for Charlie and John's benefit. "Just shut your mouth and be pretty."
Lacey punched him on the shoulder with all of her strength.
"Ow!" he roared.
"Do not tell me to shut up and look pretty. That's so chauvinistic, Max. So--"
"I didn't," he argued. "I said that's all you need to do. You don't have to advertise the brains, sugar."
"Don't call me sugar. That's a southern rite and you're not Southern."
"That's right. I'm a pirate, huh? So maybe I should call you sweetheart or poppet."
Lacey glared. "I was just trying to explain."
"We don't need explanations. Keep the info verbose. Please."
Realizing everyone was staring and looking intensely entertained, Lacey stalked away and made her way through the tangle of cargo to the rail overlooking the stern. On her way out of the galley, she heard Charlie ask, "So what happened to the sloop of diamonds?"
Her heart skipped a beat in response. It seemed to be bouncing all over inside her chest since she'd arrived in Antigua. She hated herself for losing focus on the reason she was here. And then there was the diamonds. Sooner or later she'd have to tell Max about the diamonds that had been buried with the diary. Wouldn't she?
Darn him if Max didn't make her feel like a stuttering sixteen year old schoolgirl every time he beamed his laser eyes on her. For some bizarre reason she wanted her eyes to well up with tears. She wanted to feel offended and sorry for herself but she couldn't. Max didn't just think she was smart. He thought she was pretty, too.
"Shut up and look pretty," she mumbled trying to feel angry.
He didn't mean it, did he? No, not like that. He may have talked like one of the losers in high school who gave her a bad time, but his words rang empty. It was like they were some sort of self-defense mechanism. He didn't seem to want to respect or be impressed by any woman. Sheesh. What had his mother done to him?
A thump jerked her out of her reverie. When she looked over her shoulder, Max was standing a few feet away with his hands on his hips.
"Come up and take a look at the satellite maps. I want your input."
She glared at him, wanting him to make something right out of the unnecessary reproach in the galley.
"You going deaf?"
She crossed her arms over herself and he reached out and jerked them down. "I don't have time for attitudes. Get a thicker skin. You're not in Georgia anymore."
Lacey dropped her jaw. "You think you're a tougher crowd?" she scoffed. "I survived four years of high school, volunteering as a library assistant and playing in the band."
"You wore glasses, didn't you?" Max asked out of the blue. He leered as if their paths had crossed at some point during that time.
Lacey had a sudden epiphany. "You were the guy who tripped me on my way to the bus," she said slowly. "You were the one who spit paper wads at me while I shelving books."
"I never lived in Newton. And I got kicked out of high school."
"You know what I mean," Lacey said, suddenly and inexplicably angry. "You were that type of guy. You stole my clarinet and put it up on the roof of the boys' locker room. You drew cartoon ladies with big boobs on my locker."
She kicked out at him and tripped, the boat's rise and fall throwing her off balance.
"Let me go," she said when he reached out to steady her.
"Calm down, Goober," he teased. "That's what they called you right? Goober?"
"Shut-up," she snapped, "Julius Bertrand the Eighth!" She stormed for the upper deck, slipping and sliding on the steep ladder. There was nowhere to escape, he came right up behind her. She turned on him when they both reached the top.
"You owe me a little respect," she demanded. His eyes were already on the stack of maps, dismissing her. "I mean it," she insisted. "You have no right to speak to me the way you just did. It's inappropriate and unacceptable, no matter what your issues are."
Max leaned back on a jutting counter top and crossed one foot over the other. He sighed dramatically. "We've got work to do and you have my respect. If you didn't, you wouldn't be standing on my boat." He pressed his lips together stubbornly but something that might have been remorse flashed in his eyes.
"Fine," Lacey muttered, surprised that he had relented.
"I'm sorry," he said, turning around so that his voice was less audible. Then clearing his throat, he added, "And just so you know, you were the girl who made fun of my grades behind my back and only went out with me because my daddy supposedly had bags of money."
"I thought you got kicked out of high school."
"Not until after I made my mark. And it was private school."
Lacey snorted and moved around him to look at the satellite images. You're still trying to make your mark, she thought to herself. She could only hope she'd left a mark on his arm.