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    Home and Back Again

    Jodie was in pure agony. The days had turned colder, but the sun still beat down at her without mercy. Her skin twice blistered, the sores broken and openly weeping, only to burn again the next day. Bette had the cage brought just inside the prison cell at night, the temperatures dropping fast when the sun went down.

    But there was no relief from the cramped space, Jodie could not extend her legs and her neck was bent to allow her to fit. Having her cage moved was brutal, there was nothing to cushion her body from the metal and the guards were less than careful with the transport, jostling and dragging the cage as they went.

    The bars would scrape her skin each and every time she moved, torture at every turn. During the day, she could not escape the sun and her fair sun suffered, then at night the cold swept in and left her chattering and shivering under a thin blanket. Only the bars of the cage offered any barrier and once she moved to expose a different strip of skin there was no comfortable position.

    Sleep was elusive and she was given only enough water and food to sustain her, the hunger ever present, gnawing at her empty stomach with a persistence that kept her up at night, making her nauseous and dizzy. Long ago her legs and back went numb and she no longer moved when the guards poked at her from below, not caring what they saw of her nakedness, her world a haze of pain and misery.

    Tina watched her for a long moment, unseen from the top of the battlement above, noting the ghastly sunburn, the cramped space, the limpness of limbs. Jodie would not last another 48 hours let alone the rest of the week. The healer in her cried in sympathy but she knew this was justice at work and Jodie had earned every minute of it. Still, it needed to end.

    Finding Bette and Shane in the armory looking at swords, Tina waited until the castle armorer left before making her presence known. Bette glanced at her as she lifted a long sword off the wall, testing it’s weight, taking a few practice swings. She smiled fondly at the pretty blonde, she and Tina had not seen much of each other over the past week and Tina was always a welcome sight.

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    Comments

    1. Hey BK,

      Never apologize for a extra long chapter!

      I loved it, the incredible love and deep connection between Bette and her healer Tina, it is such a pleasure to read about it.

      I will read this chapter again and try to post a longer comment. My brain is tired, i am preparing for my night shifts this weekend and i am really tired now but couldn’t help myself to read it when i got the notification. I will be back before my night shifts or after them.

      I wish you a good week, take care my friend!

    2. This is most definitely a pivotal chapter in your story. In so many ways. And a turning point for our dear stubborn impatient Bette and her relationship with Tina. Things could have gone off the rails for our couple but we are all so blessed with Tina’s quiet wisdom and strength and resolve and love. What a superb Tina! Combine this with Bette missing Tina beyond measure and her willingness to listen which ultimately makes Bette stop and think and determine to never leave her again. The writing is so lyrical and exquisite.

      “It starts here, my Sweet Love, my Strength. My Everything. It starts with a connection so deep you can’t shake it even when you look the other way….” Words that were whispers, whispers that became beacons of truth, truth that Bette would ponder over in the days to come, turning them over like puzzle pieces to complete a picture.”

      We have to remember that the Bette Tina met is not Robin Hood with a band of merry men. Captain Bette has a well earned reputation of being tough as nails. Unyielding. Cautious to the extreme. Arrogant. Used to getting her own way. Her crew respects her. Loves her actually. I would not call her ruthless but certainly steadfast because in her world weakness results in death. She may never be able to transition 100 percent into a tranquil life. She will probably always need to pick up a blade and prove her skills. Perhaps even sail. After all. She is “The Black Captain. Bringer of Death, Destroyer of Ships, Rider of the Sea, Cursed Commander and Widow Maker.” Reconciling that individual with the loving, soft, even vulnerable woman Tina sees and intimately knows is going to take time. A rough and tumble pirates life is all Bette knows. Yes, she is weary. But she cannot outwardly show that. She also has responsibilities and puts her entire crew at risk if she displays anything but strength and determination. The contrast between the individual capable of doing what she does to Jodi – which is extreme – and the woman who is so devoted to Tina is vast. Is the final Bette somewhere in the middle? It’s a tricky path.

      Thank goodness for Tina’s quiet strength and determination because their biggest challenge is imminent. In Bette’s mind orphaned children go to the orphanage and she can throw enough money their way to help. We know this is the polar opposite of Tina’s thinking. And an infant born early? This will most certainly test Bette’s mindset and capability to listen and think and hopefully change. I suspect three small children may factor in. “Rowan age four, Peter almost three and little Gracie, not yet two” and a newborn? Still, Bette is back with Helena and closer than ever to solving the mystery. Patience is not her strong suit. But in another very real way she not only has Tina but four new sets of eyes looking to her. How will Bette ultimately respond? A quiet life with Tina is one thing. But Tina promised Lily. So four children as well? We already know that “Bette always kept her promise, they were never apart again as long as they lived” so while I know it won’t be easy, I have faith in Bette.

      Tina is one amazing woman. She is the Healer in more ways than one. You write her so beautifully: “You’re not lost, Bette. Listen to me. You’re not lost, my Sweet Sweet Love. You are found. You have me. And Shane. And your crew. We all want the same things; it is within your grasp. Patience, Honey. Take this time to be patient. And be present. We have all we need right here while we wait for the puzzle of the map to be revealed, you are missing out on the beauty of this castle while your eyes look over at the horizon.” Tina is wise beyond her years: “Embrace the life around you Bette. You are no longer answering to your father. You are mine. You belong to your crew… you are deeply loved, without restraint or end.” Listen to her, Bette. I suspect you belong to four more important little souls after this chapter.

      So many other narrative treasures including the kids responding immediately to Bette. Of course they did. There is a side of Bette that the children sense. It’s more that feeling safe. A side that Shane knows. Perhaps Carmen. Certainly Tina. Like I said, this is a pivotal chapter. Excellent, BK.

    3. I agree with Billy…. this is not Robin Hood. And this is a very strong and compassionate Tina who gives all to those in need. Bette on the other hand is a bit too self absorb and violent. She needs a bet of introspection as to where her life is and where it is heading. She has selected a very violent profession to be in and it is by skill and luck that she has survived until now. Bette needs to determine if she really wants to continue to be “The Black Captain. Bringer of Death, Destroyer of Ships, Rider of the Sea, Cursed Commander and Widow Maker” or if she desires another type of life. And the key is Tina. She has proclaimed she wants a life with Tina indicating she wants to leave this pirate captain persona behind. But does she really? Has the life of the Black Beauty’s Captain been who she truly wanted to be? In reality, I hope not. I hope that she would get tired of the constant threat of battle and life and death situations. I would hope that she would grow weary of trying to show strength by torturing her enemies and fighting abilities with a sword and worrying about appearances of strength and gallantry.. I would think that she would want to give up her position as “king of the hill” and being a target for those who wish to replace her and take from her that which she has accumulated. What drove her to this life was the desire to accumulate wealth to impress her father. She now has the wealth and her father is dead. She now has Tina. What will motivate her future? Surely not the life she has been living.

      Patience not being her strong suit is a vast understatement. She has little patience at all except for maybe with Tina. In the end she does begin to show that she can be compassionate by cleaning Tina up, getting her to bed to rest and assuming some of the managerial task of getting the children cared for and to bed. She goes to Lily when summoned and tries to cool her fever when she finds she is in need of Tina’s assistance. Bette is no stranger to death and knows that it is eminent for Lily. And she steps forward to assist Tina get through the process. Tina is no stranger to death either, but this one is personal. She now has a personal bond with Lily which she did not have with the crew who died on the ship from food poisoning. This is a clear and distinct step toward a new life for Bette.

      In many ways I find Bette to be somewhat immature for her age and life experiences. She only trust Tina and Shane. She’s learning to trust others with some of her secrets and goals. She is definitely in a period of transition in her life but I am not sure she know what her new life is going to look like. She feels confined yet as Tina points out, she is free to come and go as she pleases. She believes she is in a race with the weather, but she was trapped by the weather the moment she set out on the journey to come to Porter castle. It took the better part of a month to get from where they were to the island Porter castle is on. She has been on the island now for eight to ten days before she sets out to find Helena in the port at the end of the island. She states that the winter weather is only a couple of weeks away; not enough time to get to warmer climates even if they left that moment and abandoning their search for Helena. However, Bette and her crew pursues Helena at the nearby port thinking they would be back in less than a week. They have now found her and I wonder if she has more clues as to where to find the hidden castle and Bette and Tina’s potential home?

      Tina is truly a wonderful person. She can see things in Bette that no one else can. She is ideal for the Captain. I am anxious to see if Bette begins to see what she sees.

      Excellent imagery and character building, especially for Tina. Look forward to how this story develops….

      Thanks for the chapter….

    4. What a day yesterday was. Jennifer posted a selfie with Laurel and BK posting another chapter of this great story.

      So many wonderful passages – Carmen and Tina working together to help Lily…Lady Jaffe! BK, you’re brilliant…And Helena’s introduction to the story – so very Helena… The hawk bringing Tina a message from Bette

      The song of steel – just a great line, I love how you describe Bette and her sword, and the swordplay

      And of course so many touching Bette & Tina moments. Their lovemaking and after sex cuddling. How I love these moments –

      “Around and around the room they went Bette leading them in a dance that captured the movements from earlier on the practice yard” – I can just picture them

      “It was hard to leave. It was hard to be left” – I was about done for after reading that

      “Come home to me Baby she whispered” – I was completely done for

      “It was Tina always Just Tina Here in the middle of everything and Bette understood what Tina had been trying to tell her before she left that life was all around that her home was possibly a lot closer than she thought” Yes, this chapter built to a turning point for Bette. Thank you for taking us on this journey with her. This is a superb story.

    5. Never, never apologise for a long chapter in this truly superb story!

      I have been away in an area where I could not access the internet. Imagine then my absolute joy, on returning home at seeing you had posted.

      My talent with words, if indeed I have any, is not sufficient to say how much I enjoy this really different Bette and Tina story. I am happy though to say a resounding ‘Ditto’ to Billy’s comment and thank you again for this lovely Bette and this super Tina plus a great Shane, Carmen and Alice.

      So thanks again for a great homecoming, look forward to the next Chapter – the longer the better – my supremely talented friend.

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