The sky outside the window was just beginning to lighten when Elizabeth felt
the bed shift with an extra weight. Will, belatedly returning from a night
at the tavern.
Jack Sparrow had blown into town the previous day, with a commission for
Will and a fat purse to put down on it. Will had left with him to discuss
the order right after dinner, and there been no word of either of them
Elizabeth cracked an eye and surveyed Will's rumpled appearance. He was
still in his clothes from the night before, shirt stained and torn. There
was a purple bruise on his cheek, and he reeked of smoke, ale, cheap
perfume, and something that smelled suspiciously like sewage. He grinned at
her roguishly, clearly still quite drunk, and planted a sloppy kiss
somewhere between her mouth and her nose. She harumphed and turned her back
on him. Ignoring her frosty demeanor, Will pressed himself against her, his
amorous intentions obvious.
Elizabeth scooted to the other side of the bed. Will followed her there and
reached around to cup her breast in his hand. Elizabeth turned around, boxed
his ear, and then angrily stomped out of the room.
Will held his hand to his stinging ear and watched in confusion as Elizabeth
stormed out. He collapsed back into the bed and was snoring before her
He awoke to a pounding head and the realization that he was in very deep
trouble with his wife. Using all the water in the basin, he tidied himself
as best he could, changed clothes, and went to face the music.
Elizabeth was in the parlor, mending one of Will's shirts. She was not a
particularly skilled seamstress, and sewing was one of her least favorite
chores. If Will were inclined to be uncharitable, he might have thought she
was deliberately working herself into a snit. The flashing needle stabbed in
and out of the cloth with angry precision and Elizabeth refused to meet
Will's eyes. This was going to be worse than he'd feared.
She ignored him.
"Elizabeth, I'm sorry I was out so late last night. We were drinking and
time ran away from us."
An aggrieved sniff.
"I didn't mean to worry you. . ." In the face of her icy reserve, Will
faltered. He stood there, feeling foolish, grasping for words that would not
come into his thick head. Then, with unerring timing, his stomach revolted
against the eight tankards of ale, the half a bottle of rum, and the fish
stew he'd consumed the previous night, and he retched all over the Persian
rug Elizabeth's Great Aunt Arabella had given them as a wedding gift.
Finding no sympathy at home, Will spent the afternoon at the forge, doing
preliminary work on Jack's sword. When he returned, Estrella informed him
archly that her mistress had retired early with a sick head. Will ate a
lonely, cold dinner (the servants appeared to be in solidarity with
Elizabeth) and then went up to bed himself, only to discover that the door
to their bedchamber was locked and the key was missing. The message was
clear. Sighing, he went to make his bed in the guest room.
The next morning, he went out early and bought Elizabeth a big bunch of
lilies, which he asked Estrella to present to her with her morning
chocolate. Elizabeth stayed closeted in the bedroom until Will left for the
forge, and when he walked beneath the window, a shower of fragrant petals
and stems rained on his head.
A week later, Elizabeth was still not speaking to Will. When Jack arrived at
the forge to check the progress of his new sword, he took one look at Will's
pinched face and nodded astutely. "Woman trouble?"
"Yes. Elizabeth's terribly angry at me for staying out all night with you.
We've never quarreled before and I don't know what to do to make it up to
"Hmm. She's not breedin' is she?"
Will shrugged. "Not that I know of. Not that she's telling me much lately."
"Have you tried flowers?"
"She threw them out her window."
Jack rocked back on his heels and mulled the problem over. "What about a
"What? Give her a weapon when she's in this state?"
"She might take it as an unconditional surrender and spare your life. . ."
He cut short his jest at Will's dark look. "Only one thing to do, mate. Have
it out with her, let her do her worst, then beg for mercy."
When Will returned from the forge, he knocked and pleaded at the bedroom
door, but Elizabeth refused to let him in. She still wasn't ready to forgive
him for his thoughtless behavior. How dare he spend the whole night out
drinking and brawling and getting into God knows what kind of trouble with
Jack Sparrow, and leave her home to toss and turn!
The noise in the hallway quieted. Will must have given up and gone to bed.
Elizabeth stared at the door longingly, torn between the desire to make
things right with Will and her continued frustration. She turned her back to
the door deliberately and picked up the novel her father had given her for
Hearing the snick of the latch, she turned to see Will standing in the door,
a thin file in his hand and a reckless look on his face. "You've driven me
to force the lock on my own bedchamber. Are you satisfied?"
Fraught with anger, guilt and a little fear, Elizabeth reacted
instinctually, throwing the book in her hand. It smacked into Will's
forehead, leaving a red mark. His expression turned murderous.
Suddenly fearing that she'd pushed him too far, Elizabeth took a small step
Will stalked towards her and grabbed her hands.
She struggled vainly to escape his grip. "Will! You-"
His voice was low and dangerous. "No. You've had your chance to talk and you
refused to take it. Now you will listen to me." He took a deep breath
and his expression softened, although he kept a tight grip on her wrists. "I
am sorry. I shouldn't have stayed out so late. My behavior was churlish and
rude. But you've treated me as no wife should treat her husband."
Elizabeth's eyes filled with tears. "Oh Will, I didn't mean to be cruel. I
was just so worried! I thought. . ." She trailed off, reluctant to admit the
fear that had kept her awake through that long night.
Will stroked the hair back from her face. "Yes?" he said, gently but
"I thought you'd run off with Jack." The dumbfounded look on his face almost
made her laugh. "To be a pirate," she explained.
He took her in his arms and rocked her gently. "Sweet Bess, I'm not near the
pirate you think me. I have all the treasure I want, right here. Nothing
could lure me away from you."
Elizabeth sagged against his shoulder, a torrent of tears finally freed.
Will held her tenderly until the heaving sobs were replaced with the
occasional snivel, then tipped her chin up and kissed her passionately,
reminding her of how much she'd missed his touch. She returned his kiss with
equal ardor and heedless of the bed only a few feet away, they tumbled onto
the rug, scrabbling at each other's clothes and murmuring frantic apologies
and words of love.
Afterwards, Elizabeth snuggled up to him and rested her head upon his
shoulder. "Are you truly happy here?"
Something in her tone made Will look askance at her. "Ye-es. Aren't you?"
Elizabeth hesitated. "You have the forge. I have mending, and Father's
dinner parties and precious little else." She held his hand in hers, tracing
the scar that cut across his palm, her voice deceptively light. "So you
never think of running away to be a pirate?"
Will's eyes twinkled with dawning comprehension. He wrapped his fingers
around hers, stilling the nervous motion. "Only when I'm faced with one of
your father's dinner parties. But if I ever succumb to the temptation, I
swear I'll take you with me." His tone was teasing, but Elizabeth heard
something there that lightened her heart. She grinned at him and kissed him
hard, content for now.