Cyrus seemed to be thinking along the same lines. “How old is she?”
“Nineteen,” said Finn without missing a beat, pushing himself up to his feet and brushing sand off his chest. “Completely of age. I asked last night, don’t worry.”
“Nineteen? So Fiear was … babysitting her,” Leta put in innocently as Corra roared with laughter. “Wow, that’s so generous of you, captain.”
Fiearius glanced shortly at her, not particularly interested in their commentary on his little misstep. There was a much bigger issue he had yet to wrap his head around. Ignoring Leta, he caught Finn’s eye. “People were after me ‘cause of her? Why?”
“Ah … well,” began Finn, smirking uncertainly, “Think you might’ve accidentally kidnapped her, mate.”
As Fiearius stared at him, dumbfounded, Cyrus snorted and muttered, “Well that’s new.”
“Very new,” Leta agreed, “not everyday Fiear agrees to do something as nice as adopt a child — “
“In Fiear’s defense,” interrupted Finn loudly, raising his voice as if he were a lawyer on trial, “she is, in fact, as I said, nineteen. And more importantly, he was doing her a favor. Pretty sure she wanted to get away herself. He was helping.”
He gave Fiearius’ shoulder a brotherly shake. But then he glanced warily in Richelle’s direction and mumbled, “Really, though … probably should drop her back off somewhere … “
“Yeah, like at a daycare,” Leta snapped. Cyrus snorted.
Well, this was starting to get away from him now, wasn’t it? Fiearius ran his hand through his hair and sighed slowly. Before he even asked, he was nearly certain he knew the answer. But he had to ask it nonetheless. “And where did I find her exactly?”
“Out on the peninsula,” said Finn and, just to confirm Fiearius’ worst fears, “At Jodar Donovan’s estate. She’s his daughter.”
Of course, the one night he decided to take up kidnapping had to be the night he also decided to pay a drunken visit to the most powerful man in Paraven. And ‘steal’ his daughter. His nineteen year old daughter. Fiearius felt his stomach turn over with anger and disgust and absolute frustration. Just his fucking luck.
But there was still time to fix this. He could just give her back and run for it. Everything would be fine. If only–
Abruptly, he spun around and pointed up at the girl still standing firmly rooted at the top of the ramp. “You! Get off my ship!”
Richelle just planted herself more firmly and shouted back, “No! I’m not going back there!”
“Yes you are, get off my ship! Now!”
“You promised!” she cried. “You promised you’d take me away from here!”
“That was before I found out taking you away from here is likely to get me killed.” He took a firm step towards the ramp. “Get down here.”
Even from where he stood, he could see the tears starting to well in her eyes and her voice start to crack as she stepped further back into the ship and despaired, “You don’t know what it’s like. Being his daughter, it’s–I have to leave. I can’t go back there. I can’t.”
Fiearius closed his eyes, grimacing with anger, and, admittedly, pity. He certainly knew what it was like to feel hopeless and desperate. But then again, he also knew what it was like to be hunted by angry, powerful men who wanted you dead. And that second one was quite a bit worse.
“I don’t need another trouble-making runaway,” he snapped, any hint of sympathy falling from his voice. “Get. Off. My. Ship. Now.”
Even from this distance, her eyes were visibly shining with tears. She certainly looked every bit her (too young) age when she gave one last shriek of “No!” suddenly turned and fled into the depths ship.
A blank, awed silence followed her disappearance, at least until Fiearius let out a raw growl of frustration and pressed the heel of his palms into his eye sockets. This was just not his fucking day, was it?
And just to make things worse, Leta piped in, “Nice. Wonderful. We’ve now kidnapped a young innocent girl. Well, maybe that’ll make you think better about trying to pick up girls eleven years younger than — “
At last, Fiearius felt his anger boil over, and he spun around. “What’s the matter, doctor?” he taunted. “You jealous?”
Leta’s mouth fell open. “What, jealous?” she sputtered. “Of what, exactly?”
Fiearius cocked his eyebrow and couldn’t resisting muttering, “Oh I think you know of what.”
Everyone else was suddenly exchanging glances and looking away. Oblivious to their discomfort, Leta gasped at him, completely affronted, “You’re a pig, you know that? You really are.”
“Aw don’t be so hard on yourself,” he chided, tilting his head and frowning at her in false pity. “Can’t help what ya like.”
He knew he’d done it now: Corra looked shocked, Leta was agape, looking ready to slap him in the face. Her voice shook. “You — are a such a piece of sh — “
But he never found out what he was, exactly, as another powerful voice roared from the other end of the docks.
“There they are!”
Everyone went rigid. Fiearius spun around just in time to see them — a dozen Paravian officers sweeping in, yelling orders, guns raised, shouting, “Under the statutes of Paravian ground laws, you, the crew of the visiting ship Dionysian, are placed under arrest. Hands where we can see them please.”