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    Family and Fate

    The crew filed in, one by one, grinning and teasing, the old jokes and inside stories, some heading to the mini bar to pour a glass of rum or wine and others to the fire to shake off cold, wet outerwear. Coats were hung to dry, the rum and wine bottles looked at, drinks chosen, the talk turning to what everyone had been up to, when they thought the weather would turn. The room filled, the crew always did enjoy being together and the mystery of the map brought an extra edge to the gathering. The final layer was discovered in the Peabody home, no one but James and Bette had seen the complete map.

    Snow fell all night, heavy and wet, blanketing the castle and the walkways, all but ensuring no one would be coming to the castle or leaving for some time. There was passage from one side of the castle to the other but trips to the dock or into town were impossible. Bette stood at the table, her hands on either side of the map as James added one layer of filament after another, Helena’s final piece making the final destination clear. She studied it for the umpteenth time, making sure her head was in the right place, that she knew what plan she wanted to finalize. In the background she heard a voice, Helena had arrived to her own aplomb, acting like it was a party, one of her own making.

    “Well, well, well… what do we have here? Have we met?” Helena purred, approaching Tina, eyeing her up and down without shame, her voice dripping honey and sweetness, reaching to shake hands as she introduced herself.

    Her hand held Tina’s a little too long, kisses on both cheeks lingering, all but gushing her admiration for the pretty blonde. “My goodness, don’t you look like a vision and smell like a flower garden? Is that lavender or lilac?” she asked, making Tina blush. Stammering to respond, Tina smiled softly, unsure what to say.

    Bette’s eyes narrowed, watching as Tina tucked a stubborn strand of hair behind her ear, the same strand Bette herself had tucked not thirty minutes ago back in their suite. The same strand that tended to fall in Tina’s eyes when they made love or when she leaned for a kiss. The blonde’s smile was friendly, innocent, a lamb to the slaughter. There was a sweetness to Tina that Bette cherished, she was innocent about the ways of the world, sheltered most of her life.

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          • “It was just the type of information that fell castles, toppled dynasties, usurped unsuspecting rulers. The kind of information Alice thrived on. Even the Porter sisters did not know of it’s existence and it was through this door, hidden by trees and unseen from the walls above, that a small party of Bates men, the most brutal and violent Sir William could find, entered Porter castle. Intent on destruction. Intent on taking what he believed belonged to him. Intent on ending the reign of Captain Porter once and for all.”

            Too late. Why oh why do I do this? Just teasing. I am getting a little better. But!!!!
            My word, BK what an amazing and pivotal chapter. The writing is just so beautiful. Let’s see? Heartwarming, heartbreaking and heart palpitations all at the same time. This couple? Tina is the only one who can completely sooth Bette’s wounded heart. The writing is exquisite: “You are not that scared, abandoned little girl, my Sweet. You are so much more than that, you are my world, and you are so greatly loved….”

            I just love that Bette tried and tried as best she could to expel her frustrations and hurt via the sword play with Shane but was unsuccessful. It took Tina to truly calm Bette. As it should be. And in an incredibly sensual way. You do know how to write a smoking hot Bette and Tina. Set off my pacemaker.

            Bette is so wounded by Helena’s story. And Tina gets it. Bette’s mother did not have a loving partner to help her. She was on her own. To flee or die. And taking young Elizabeth would have meant Melvin giving chase. Bette has Tina and Tina gas Bette and they gave four just amazing children. Still, my heart totally breaks for Bette. But leave it to Tina. “ You have something precious too, Honey. You have four children who will never know the sting of being left behind. Who will never question their memories or if their mother loved them. You are building something better. Hold on to that, for that is priceless and no one can take it from you.”

            Pivotal why? Bette is all in. Sitting in a meeting with Gracie laying next to her and holding Ella. And including Tina in the decision making. From the tight bonding of the four children with their mothers and vice versa to them being so embraced by everyone in the castle to the loyalty and camaraderie of the crew who are an absolute extension of the family, to the fierce love between Bette and Tina and all of the aforementioned family from Shane to Alice to Dana to Carmen to James to Kit, there is just so much to absorb. So much to write. I will add more as I process. For now my favorite passage?

            “And this was the essence of Captain Porter that Tina saw, this was at the very core of her Captain, a need that spoke to the blonde the moment Bette asked her to heal her palm from the sword cut all those months ago. The need to be loved, to be understood, to be cherished.” And Tina does!

            No wait. Maybe it’s this:

            “All eyes swung her way. “No. It’s time for you, my closest friends and confidants, my trusted friends…it’s time to decide what you want. You have the option to go your own way. I will give you ships, land, money to start your own crews, seek your own fortune. Whatever you want. Emerge from the shadow of Captain Porter. Anything I have is yours. Think on it. Do not answer me now. Come to me over the next week or two and we can discuss what your heart desires. I trust each of you. I love you all. But we will burn all the maps except the one I carry. Seek your own destiny or join Tina and I in ours.” Everyone of the friends she addresses will fight to the death for their captain. Why do I think they may soon have to? We knew the Bates family was not finished with Bette.

            But then again:

            “Tucked me in with soft, warm blankets, ran her fingers through my hair, kissed me on the mouth, my cheeks, my forehead. Tee. Can you even? Told me when I woke it would be a new day, a bright day where I could ride my pony and play in the haystacks or down by the creek. I loved doing that, it was a new pony. We planned out the picnic lunch we would bring with us. Did she know then, do you think? Was it all a lie? She told me she loved me more than there were stars in the sky. For years afterwards, I counted them, wondering if she left because the stars were fading. What kind of mother leaves her child like that?”

            I love that you write longish chapters but they just fly by. So much foreshadowing. I think Tina learning to defend herself and her family is going to come into play. I could be wrong but why do I think our group will choose not to separate. And the children learning every inch of the castle. Bette is such a good mother. So loving. So protective. Please! I’m already needing and wanting more. Just excellent.

            “For years afterwards, I counted them, wondering if she left because the stars were fading.” It’s worth repeating.

            • Billy – thank you doesn’t seem adequate for your comments but I send a big thank you to you anyway. You never disappoint. You summed up the chapter with these words –
              “Heartwarming, heartbreaking and heart palpitations all at the same time.” and I love the combination of warmth, sorrow and excitement that this mashup brings.
              And somehow I just knew you would flip to the last page and read the cliffhanger first! Can’t resist.
              I am glad to hear the chapter just flew by. I always wonder if readers look at the length and sigh, but I wanted to build the family, show the bond, and make sure the children were secure in their new family nest with their two mamas before disaster struck. For Bette has never had a family to fight for, never had to defend children that she considers her own. Can you even imagine the whopping she will dish out to anyone who threatens them? I almost feel sorry for William…. but then I know that he is worst of the three Bates brothers and most likely will deserve whatever he gets.
              I love how you see Tina as the foundation for Bette, the one who soothes, calms, cares for the brunette and in turn it makes Bette that much more ready to care for Tina in return and the children as well.
              Fading stars and a healer with a knife. The next chapter will be huge. Glad you here to experience it with us. THanks

            • BillY!!!!
              “Set off your pacemaker”!!!! Lawddd! That’s one way to explain what it’s like to read a BK Tibette lovin’ scene.

              Hopefully your pacemaker is one of the newer ones that is controlled with an app and U can turn that bad boy down when it starts pegging the meter

    1. BK! I have been waiting for a new “Black Beauty” & you did not disappoint. I love how the family is just starting to gel together. Bette is all in & it’s just the most natural thing in the world. Bette’s one last mission to find out what happened to her mom & what the map means…so close to having it all. Bette & Tina, their family…but this one last mission & maybe going soft has now put her family in jeopardy. AHHH. you do the love/romance/healing so well, BK…but I can tell there’s gonna be some action coming. I devoured this chapter. Thank you! I cannot wait for more!!!

        • What a brilliant description of this family . . . The Family Castle Lock Up Brigade!!! How did U come up with that?!!! Ohhh how I love the seriousness of the boys in doing their tasks, and immediately caught your clues that Lil Peter was already a deft at peering into the dark shadows, and that this skill would save them all some day.

          WhooWee, I figure Peter could well be playing in that part of the castle where the secret passage has obscured and discover it! We know that he would be quick to tell/show it to his Captain.

          Since we have seen more than a few examples of how Bette has become humble toward Tina and the inner circle to LISTEN AND ACCEPT their observations and counsel.

          For example when Tina examined the wound of the bird (Bette full well knows that Tina’s examination and treatment of wounds (whether in the soul or on the body) has yet to be out-of-line right?

          And telling Bette that it was wounded within close proximity of the castle, and to “Increase the surveillance. Double watches, especially at night. Have Edwards do a sweep of the area around the walls to check for weaknesses or something out of the ordinary”. Bette got busy.

          She commanded Shane to check the ships, so hopefully she’ll discover the enemy’s ship and turn the tale to have their soldiers laying in wait for the Bates Devil Brigade on that ship should they actually capture & kidnap the Porters.

          Was gonna leave my comments here, but haveta mention Tibette’s truly intimate moment. Gosh does Tina keep the “big picture” 4ever in her spirit concerning Bette. Not once has she tried to diminish or use her influence to make Bette “get over” her mother’s abandonment, but instead works on building NEW memories into Bette’s soul. She knew that it was important to remind Bette and with firm grip and movements that Bette belonged to HER. HER. And there would be NO abandonment.

          Bette submitted to Tina’s words (that began to wash away the childhood fears that had been created), her strong GRASP, and to her will. Then Bette submitted to a special loving bath to smooth her fatigued & soar body.

          • Hey DT!!!! Great post!!!!! Very well said. My heart was breaking for Bette and you are so correct, Tina knew exactly what to say and do for her Bette. Tina is soooooo chill. Not sure I write that enough. I love the nightly castle patrols as well. And the snacks in the kitchen. I could go on forever. This story just does me in.

            • Had a sense when I started reading that there would be lovemaking where Tina would be forcefully in control of that moment, and along came page 11 and it was . . . . “on”. TINA wanted sweaty, dog tired, frustrated Bette.

              Tina had been telling Bette that she loved her, but intuitively knew that she had to DEMONSTRATE in no uncertain terms that she was taking possession of Bette and marking her body and soul.

              “You are mine, her lips said, you belong to me and me alone” . . . . With a gasp, Bette groaned, A L L O W I N G herself to be turned, . . . Another lick with a greedy tongue, noisy, rude, claiming Bette’s body as her own

              “Don’t fuckin’ move” she commanded . . . Then guiding Bette down so her ass was now in the air, her head down on the sheets, completely submissive . . . . Bette said, not too proud to beg, trusting her girlfriend with her fragile heart, her exposed body . . . And Tina took her, utterly and completely owned her”.

              And after laying her out, she rolled her over and cleaned her up. . . . . Bette sunk low in the tub, the water up to her chin, her head resting on Tina’s chest, the blonde’s arms around her.

              • These are fantastic comments – the way Tina replaced the memories is something I did not consider when I wrote that part. You just blew me away DT! Damn.
                And then, yes, Tina made it clear who Bette belonged to. No question!

                • Tina had NO prob w/Bette welding her sword in hours of play w/Shane bc at some pointshe knows Bette needs that kind of concentrated exercise to the point of exhaustion.

                  So wise Tina prepared herself for an exhaustive (if need be) evening of propelling Bette’s soul outside of her body to a place of no pain or anguish. To a place where only she was allowed to take Bette.

                  I do believe Bette “4got her name” as Tina had promised!! HeHeHe!!!

                • Another thought.

                  Tina’s aggressive laser focus on loving Bette without restraint may in part, have been fueled from seeing the children THRIVING so quickly with 100% trust in Bette. She doesn’t have to ask Bette to change Ella’s diaper (and mke sure it stays on!!!!), or take her with you Dear. Those things are done without hesitation

                  At the drop of a hat, Tina tears up when Bette is serving in her role as CaptainMom, We both know what a massively erotic TURN-ON that must be for Tina . . .

    2. Great Chapter… Bette continues to bond with the children and with Tina. I don’t think she is changing so much as bringing forth those characteristics which she always had but no real reason to display them. She wants to give you the impression that she loves the children because Tina loves the children. I don’t think that is true… she has just naturally fallen in love with those children just as naturally as she loves Tina. Those children who needed parents; Bette and Tina just happen to be at the right place and the right time and formed a family.

      Personally, I think Bette is just as tough as she always has been. She will defend Tina and those children and her crew should the circumstances call for it. I am glad to see that she and crew are actually planning their next move. I am glad to see that she is warning the others that this plan is not fool proof. There is still a lot of danger for everyone. Ships with fake Captains and reduce crew may even be in more danger if attacked. And if there are no backup ships to come to the rescue, the danger may be insurmountable.

      Tina is the perfect mate for Bette. Never push… even if its what she wants to do….. never push.

      So the Bates brothers have returned to the island. It is now spring… And the Bates now have the advantage of surprise and a secret passageway. Maybe someone in the castle does know about this entry? Maybe Rowan and Peter know… but can they tell Bette in time if they do? I guess we will see soon.

      Thanks for the update…. more please?

      • Thank you Martha. Yes, Bette is as tough as always but inside loosening up a little and able to be more aligned with herself. Maybe someone else knows about the passageway? Maybe not? You will see soon. Thanks for the comment

      • Martha,
        U R so right about “why” Bette loves the children . . . It’s not bc of Tina alone . . .those children are EVERY bit images of Bette herself. Of her strengths, but she doesnt know it!

        Rowan – the “big” bro. Will go first & protect.
        Peter – observation, cautious, searching the dark where the enemy lurks, will weld his sword!
        Gracie – watchful, unpredictable, sweet, loving
        Ella – responsive to skin-to-skin contact and to the voice of her family

    3. This chapter had it all! I loved how it took me through every emotion. Excellent, just excellent.

      Loved how everyone had moments in this chapter to stand out – the theme of the chapter is family and they are a family. They all have their roles, just like the members of the Castle Lock Up Brigade. Just irresistible. Big brother Rowan – put his arm out to stop his siblings from turning a corner. But it was Peter (my favorite) who checked the shadows, alert, silent in his passing.” And Gracie is just a sweetheart, a little Tina. And who can resist baby Ella??

      “Tina put on her coat, in search of Kit, in search of something that would spin this story in a new light. She needed answers, for Bette.” Tina will just do anything to take care of Bette, because only she can –
      “the sting lessened by the love of the woman in bed with her, and wasn’t it true that Tina took away every scrap of pain, tethering her when she felt most afloat.”

      “She left me, Tee. Left. Me…. not just once. Twice.” Tina sighed, gathered herself to absorb the hurt, knowing Bette was ready to lance the wound.” Made me cry.

      I was glued to the last pages. I am certain there is danger and excitement ahead. Tina may need to use that knife.

      I just have to say one last thing – about Bette & Tina’s lovemaking. Wow, BK, there are almost no words. My favorite line of the chapter – “You are mine, her lips said, you belong to me and me alone.” Truth.

      • Westy I love your comment. The Family Castle Lock Up Brigade. I love Peter too, such a quiet little force. Make no mistake, there is danger and excitement ahead (I mean it is a pirate story, no unicorns and rainbows here) but we have our resourceful and determined duo on our side. Also, Thanks for mentioning the lovemaking – as a writer, you never know how it will come across when posted and after writing a bunch of them the need to keep it real and loving can be redundant. So I appreciate knowing that it is resonating. And their lovemaking is the essence of their truth to each other, you nailed it. More to come!

      • Westy,
        Your fav line in this chapter:
        You are mine, her lips said, you belong to me and me alone.”

        Says a bit more to me in that I wonder if Tina was slapping down any notions Bette may have feared that Tina may have been impressed by Helena’s flirtations.

        Tina was leaving NO doubts that SHe wasn’t thinking/responding to ANYBODY except Bette. “YOU are mine (I AM YOURS), you belong to me (I BELONG to YOU) and me alone (and YOU alone). Everybody else can just Eff off!!!

    4. Hi BK,

      I am so looking forward to read this chapter, but it will have to wait for another day. I am so tired and i honestly think you deserve a well written comment and today i don’t feel i can give you that.

      I will be back!

    5. BK,
      Another thought just popped to mind and it has to do with this profound truth:

      “And this was the essence of Captain Porter that Tina saw, this was at the very core of her Captain, a need that spoke to the blonde the moment Bette asked her to heal her palm from the sword cut all those months ago. The need to be loved, to be understood, to be cherished.”

      Seems like Bette’s memories with abandonment of her mother is what has ruled & dictated her destiny thus far, but I think the abandonment of her Father to love, understand & cherish her is the fuel that has kept all her external angst stirred up. At least until Tina came along and has DEMONSTRATED totally that she IS loved, understood and cherished.

      The children have come to remind her of a future surpassing her wildest imaginations.

      • Another great comment – absolutely, Bette’s memories of being abandoned by her mom physically but also by her dad emotionally needed to be reframed and Tina stepped in to do just that. Love finds a way, every time. And it had to be through action, unconditionally given so that Bette could continue to be herself but know she is loved. You really made me revisit this chapter, thank you for that. Imagine what Bette will do when she realized her family is being threatened? (cue the ominous music….)

      • This is another great comment. Bette’s abandonment issues have certainly helped shape who she is. The need to be loved, understood and cherished. Bette has Tina and four wee ones who adore her. She can finally breathe. BK writes a beautiful Bette and Tina. We so need this now. BK, this is a story that will require an epilogue if there ever was one. You must keep us informed. Because I suspect our family will live long and love and prosper.

    6. Mr. Bates is correct, Bette should have killed him when she had a chance. She will now be able to rectify that decision and get that family out of her hair for good. I don’t think Bette has gotten soft at all, she is just settling into her new life without fighting, conquering, and sometimes running on a daily basis. Since Bette had a feeling that something was going to happen they should all be at the ready, so even if the enemy gets in the castle they will be captured after a good round of fighting. They will all probably discount Tina giving her the element of surprise in case she has to defend herself or her family. I can’t wait for the next chapter.

    7. Hey BK,

      One day later then promised but wow, what a fantastic chapter once again!

      Normally I always pick something from the chapter that touches me or what it deserves to pay attention to, but I have read the comments from the other readers and they have already mentioned it and I don’t know how I could do it differently or better to articulate.

      I hope you forgive me for not giving such a lengthy commentary this time, I’ll forgive you for leaving us with a huge cliffhanger!

    8. So excellent!! You are definitely a master storyteller! I love this story, probably the most of all. Can hardly wait to begin the next chapter! What a page-turner! Thanks so much for gifting us readers with your wonderful work!!!! Please continue ad infinitum! Love to you, BK!

      Dr A

    9. Hi BK,
      I’ve had this story on my to read for a while, but I was avoiding it because it’s not finished and my heart can only take so much.
      Curiosity being stronger than will, I succumbed and got hooked on this story, and let me tell you once again, you’re an amazing writer.
      The reason I choose to comment now it’s because there’s clearly a pivotal moment coming and I’m sure I’ll be sparse of words after reading it.
      I absolutely love this Bette, how can a dangerous criminal be so lovable? She’s even more lovable than river Bette! I truly hope not to get my heart broken on the next chapter, but you have a way of warning us (like you did when you told us about how Jonathon would save Bette’s life), you did it again when you told us that the kids would be safe because they knew the castle in the dark… Oh well, I’m ranting.
      Thank you for your gift!
      Stay well

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