– “What? Is that allowed?” I asked.
– “They’re pirates, Colin. And so are you. Stay here.” With that, Teresa left the room. She returned a few minutes later to tell me that I was off the hook. “For now.” she added.
It was time to start preparing dinner. Since the threat of rain seemed to have receded, we decided to fire up the barbecue. Steaks were on the menu tonight, with corn on the cob, baked potatoes and all the fixings.
I made sure to stay in a group at all times. Safety in numbers, and all that. While I did, I noticed much more. Craig and Claire seemed to be looking each other’s way quite a bit. Sometimes, one of them would catch the other looking, and then both of them would blush. It was really cute. Ben and Barb were exchanging lingering looks as well. But in their case, I couldn’t tell if it was game-related, or more private dealings.
Leo also noticed the target of his sister’s attention. “Good for her.” he said.
– “Amen.” I said.
– “Really?” asked Leo. “I always thought that you and Claire might hit it off some day.”
Luckily, I didn’t have anything in my mouth, so there was nothing to choke on. “Me? No. Not likely. It wouldn’t work.”
– “If you say so.” said Leo.
I left it that. I didn’t want to be He Who Doth Protest Too Much.
After dinner, I drew dish duty. Then Teresa called us all together again.
“Tonight, you have only two duty stations, at 2 bells and 4 bells. At 6 bells, you are free to go where you want, and associate with whoever you like. There is also a new clue for you.” She passed papers around again. I glanced at mine.
2 BELLS – HOLD
4 BELLS- CROW’S NEST
CLUE: Lena is not a pirate
Well, it wasn’t an earth-shattering clue, but better than nothing. Why just two more duty stations, rather than three, like last night? A certain possibility struck me, so I snuck back into the den, and retrieved my pistol. I put it in my pocket, but left the Bible under the rug.
I went downstairs, and found Eliza waiting for me. I was going to make a crack about ‘tempting trollops’, but the expression on her face killed that idea.
“What’s up?” I asked her. “Did I do something?”
– “Did you do something? Jesus, Colin! How could you not notice that Claire was interested in Craig? What were you thinking?”
– “Oh. I forgot – she told you.”
Eliza rolled her eyes. “Of course she told me – she tells me everything. Sometimes I wish she wouldn’t. But she does …”
– “Ee, I didn’t know about Craig until this morning. I swear to you: I would never do anything to screw up her chances with him. I like Craig – a lot. And you know I love Claire.”
– “Obviously.” she said.
– “No – not like that. I mean … last night just … happened.”
– “Why last night? Why Claire?” said Eliza.
– “What?” I was a bit confused. “I’m sorry – I don’t understand.”
– “Why her? Why not me?” said Eliza.
My life had just gotten significantly more complicated. “Here – let’s sit down.” I suggested. I desperately needed a few seconds to collect my thoughts. I had known for a long time that Claire was interested in me; but this was the very first time that Eliza had let anything like this slip.
– “I’m sorry.” she said. “I shouldn’t have said that. That was stupid.”
But she had said it. The cat was out of the bag, and sitting right between us. I had to address it. “Ee. Listen to me.” I said. “When I first met you and Claire, you were dating that guy Andrew, remember?”
She nodded. I went on. “I don’t hit on other guy’s girlfriends. By the time you broke up with him, things had changed. We did a few things as a foursome, you, Leo and Claire, and me.”
– “I know.” she said.
– “OK. I’m going to let you in on a closely held secret: how my mind works. I’m not sure if every male thinks this way, but I do. When I first meet a female, I decide right away if I want to have sex with her.”
Eliza couldn’t help it: she giggled.
– “I’m being serious here, Eliza.”
– “You sound like … you sound so arrogant.” she said.
– “It doesn’t mean that I will have sex with her. Just whether or not I want to. Some girls are too plain, or – let’s face it, too ugly. Some girls give off a vibe. You can tell right away: this one’s a bitch, that one’s high maintenance, and so on. I could be completely wrong, of course, but that’s the way it works. Those two categories are a simple ‘no’ in my book.”
“There’s a third type of girl that’s also a ‘no’. If she has a boyfriend, or a husband, she’s off-limits. If she’s really lovely, or has an appealing personality, she goes into a file labelled ‘Do Not Open’. And she stays there.”
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