“You mean to take me to Willow? What have you in mind, to kidnap me finally after all these years?”
Anton took up the oars. “It has been nearly two years since we sailed. I fear you have forgotten her.”
I knew he felt most alive when we were heeled into the wind. He said nothing as we climbed aboard, the rigging creaking in the wind as the ship swayed. We’d awoken the ghosts that resided here, though perhaps they were not ghosts, rather the memories Anton recounted for me as we stood upon the deck. “Do you remember the day we first sailed into Shanghai port? You stood at the rail like one enchanted.”
“Aye.” I looked to the night sky blanketing us. “I remember, too, how you taught me to navigate by the stars.”
“You were an able student, Lenora. It is no surprise, you were born to sail. If I can give you anything that might ease your mind, it is but this, to stand upon the deck again and feel the roll of waves under your feet. You and I, we are made for the taste of salt, for the wind.”
I took his words to heart and I put my arms about him and kissed him for having reminded me what I had forgotten.
“There is more,” he said as we broke the kiss. He took me by the hand and led me to our quarter. It had
changed not an iota since I last stepped aboard and the memories became very real indeed. There was the bed upon which Anton and I had slept and loved. I thought for a moment he meant to lead me to
it, to remind of how often we found each other in this place, how often the fire between us had been sparked and fanned into a conflagration. And, oh, how I remembered. The fine hard muscles of his shoulders under my fingers and the ship rocking us, the way he would cry out my name. We had grown distant in this since Robert took ill. The hurt of his death had drained me of my passion, and so
night after night I had lain with Anton by my side, feeling so far away from the love he gave that I might as well have lain upon the moon.
“We have spent many a happy night here, you and I,” he said, still clutching my hand in his.
“We will again.” I closed my eyes and told myself to be fearless, to love my man full and whole, he deserved no less. I kissed him soundly and we stood lost in one another for a moment.
He stroked my face then went to the chest that stood next to the desk. Out of it, he pulled a paper, scrolled and fastened with a ribbon. He removed the ribbon and unrolled the document and motioned for me to join him. “Here is the other part of my reason for wanting to sail to New England and soon.”
I knew what it was, though I had not seen it since before we had sailed the first time to Shanghai. “The blueprint for Sweet Lenora.” I ran my fingers along the lines I had taken such care to draw so long ago.