Turk poured them both a glass of the wine they had purchased that day and then raised his glass in a toast, waiting for Leigha to lift hers as well to meet his.
“This is to our friendship,” he began, his voice unusually somber and deep with emotion. “May it last forever and pass through the trials of life unscathed and whole. The future brings uncertainty, and we will be separated soon, but I pray that we will always be friends.”
“We will be, Turk, I promise,” Leigha said softly as she touched her glass to his. “A toast to our friendship, for it will last forever!”
Both drank of their wine until the glasses were empty then placed them side by side on the table.
“There are matters which we have yet to speak of.” Turk’s gravelly voice broke the silence. “Things that I have kept out of my mind and heart but which have to be dealt with now that we have arrived in Constantinople.”
Leigha raised her eyes to watch Turk as he rose from the table and paced about, apparently having trouble broaching the subject he spoke of. She had no idea what it was that he wished to say, but from the tone in his voice and the sadness in his eyes, she knew that it was something that hurt him.
“Leigha, we have been living from day to day these past weeks, taking only what we wanted from each moment and keeping the future well veiled from sight,” he said finally, placing his hands on the edge of the table as he leaned forward to speak to her. “Though that is the way that my life has always been, it is no good for you. We can no longer take each day as it comes. We must make plans as to where I should take you from here. You know that we must part. I promised you this on the day that I freed you, and though I am a pirate, I am a man of my word.”
Leigha blinked her eyes several times to contain the tears that threatened to spill from their emerald depths as she took in his words. She knew that it was time and had already thought out a tentative plan yet had kept from speaking to Turk about it until he would show her that he was ready. Now was the time but curiously, she felt sad and very confused; torn between her need and desire to return to the world and the people that she loved, and the need to keep the freedom and deep friendship that she shared with Turk. She could not have it both ways.
“Well?” Turk spoke gently, aware of the turmoil within her yet wishing to get it over with, “What do you say? Where do we go from here?”
“I feel that it would be best if we remain here in Constantinople, at least for a while,” Leigha began, this time the one to rise from the table, discomforted by her emotions. “I’m sure that Simon has come after me on the Pepperwind. He saw you and your ship as he chased after us that day, and I believe him to be wise enough to have figured out where you have taken me. We must remain here for a while and try to find or be found by him.”
“Your plan sounds logical,” Turk said as he poured himself another glass of wine and then tipped the bottle to Leigha who shook her head no at his offer. “I agree that Simon must have come after us, and if he has, he must already be in the city, for you’ve been with me close to a month now. We have traveled to other places before coming here, but Simon would have sailed straight to this port. Thus, he should have arrived almost two weeks ago.”
“Oh!” Leigha exclaimed, not having thought of this, “then he may be nearby even now!”
“Yes, he should be,” Turk nodded in agreement, his face a dark mask as he tried to conceal the jealousy and pain that rose up within him when he saw the light and love within Leigha for the man shining so brightly. Taking a long drink from his wine and then setting his glass down, he continued, “I will send my men out to make inquiries about the Pepperwind and the tall blond Englishman named Simon.”
“Oh Turk, thank you so much!” Leigha ran to him and held him close in her happiness, unaware that he hesitated before drawing his arms around her as well.
Virginia Lee ~ Dagon’s Blood ~ Kindle edition