The sun was hitting its highest peak, and Olivia, standing in front of a bemused Xavier and a fuming Anna, was glaring at the three people standing on deck. From the looks of things on the deck, it appeared they have had no accomplishing feat except for the rails and one mast being completely scraped off. Had they been working, they would have at least put a base coat of paint on the wood so that it would dry before the rains came in. That way, the wood would not rot while it was passing the stormy season of the year.
Even as they spoke, the storm clouds were coming in due east according to the barotropic metric scans. If they weren’t lucky, the squall would reach Refrazzya. If there was a sudden drop in the temperature, she feared they might see a hurricane forming for the first time.
“Look, I am running thin on patience because of all the adjustments this ship actually needs, and you three knuckleheads are adding to my troubles allowing the dog”—she lifted a finger to point at her Great Dane with an exhausted expression on her face—“out of your sight because you were doing God knows what. From the looks of your shirt, Summerfeld, and Charlotte’s puffy red eyes galore, I can venture a pretty good guess.” She looked at the cause of the snot and wet black shirt before snapping her attention to everyone again. “Needless to say, this thing ran terrified through my ship and not only destroyed three capable machines working on the south hull of the small vessel but also managed to wreck the caboose where Anna and Sarah were preparing everyone’s meals.”
Charlotte gave a flabbergasted expression before Xavier interceded. “It was like some terrible domino effect downstairs. Had I not been working down there, I would have missed such an exciting event.”
Anna, on the other hand, was not exuberant and had flicked her spatula to the huge Great Dane by Olivia’s hand. Her bouncy blond with pink highlighted hair all but raged, “Do you realize how many meals I slave to make for everyone? I’m even lucky that Sarah and Xavier decided to help me out these days, and this thing comes out of nowhere to get someone up on deck. Only when we come on deck, what do we find?” She again flicked her spatula into each one of their faces that, unfortunately for them, was still fluffy white cream from a dessert.
“You,” she spoke and, with great force, flicked her spatula in Damien’s face, “reading a bloody book as if you’ve had no care in the world!”
Damien, not fazed by the white cream flying onto his face, replied calmly, hoping it would also placate her, “Anna, I was merely supervis—”
She ignored him and flicked her spatula in Aden’s face, which also was showered with specks of white fluff. The green-eyed twenty-year-old had to restrain himself from moving an inch because of how furious Anna was. He’d seen her royally angry before, and he wasn’t going to enthrall it further.
“You—no, on second thought, I’m saving you for last after all.” She smiled sweetly before she pointed her spatula to where the girl left in the line was, and like the previous two, white fluff decorated her face. “You balling your eyes out onto Aden’s shirt and causing more of a bloody ruckus than needed. How old are you, Charlotte?” Charlotte didn’t know if she should answer it or not, which didn’t seem to faze Anna because it was supposed to be a rhetorical question. “That’s what I thought.” She glared and then turned her spatula back to Aden with a frown.
“In all the years I have known you, I have been happily able to prepare all your crew’s meals in peace. Now with all these issues with this and that going on, my world is turned into chaos.” She paused before flicking her spatula back to Charlotte. “Quit looking like a dejected cat. It’s unappealing.”
“I am so sorry!” Charlotte spoke up, more frightened than anything else.
Anna then turned her spatula back to Aden who stood at attention. “I’m thinking someone freakin’ died up here on deck, and what do I find? No, don’t answer because I’ll tell you what I found: I find you embracing Charlotte as if this is your freakin’ romance story.” Finally, she snapped her spatula to Cesium who was hanging its head dejectedly near Olivia’s hand. “The next time that blasted thing attempts to call for help and wrecks my kitchen for whatever goddamned reason, I better find someone or thing bleeding profusely! Am I clear?”
All three of them standing in the line replied with a “yes, ma’am,” ranging from discouraged to relief to affirmation.
Anna didn’t need to say anymore because she briskly turned on her heel and stormed her way back to her caboose. For some time, the six, including Cesium, remained silent until they could hear Anna slam the door from below the stairs.
“I would find other means of getting food, you guys,” Xavier chirped in. “I wouldn’t put it past her to try and poison you in vengeance for her caboose.”
Olivia just shook her head before putting in her own two cents. “While that was a bit much, I can understand her sentiments perfectly,” Olivia responded with a sigh and patted the Great Dane’s ears. “A bit harsh but it is the truth.”
Xavier walked over to the trio, and when he reached Damien’s side, he wiped the blond’s cheek with his index finger. “Mmm, meringue. Anna sure knows how to cook.”
Everyone began to sweat at Xavier’s lousy way of breaking the tension on that deck. Aden merely took off his shirt to wipe his face with the inside part of his shirt. He normally wouldn’t allow someone to yell at him, but he and Damien learned early on not to get on Anna’s bad side. She tended to hit things where she got angry, which luckily, it was just the meringue like Xavier said.
“In the meantime,” Olivia replied, looking at the deck and sighing, “I’ll call Leo and Jakob to finish painting the lacquer on the wood so it will not rot. As for you three, Andy has ordered you to head to these coordinates while we’re finishing the remodeling.” She took out a folded parchment with Andy’s sealed wax on the paper and handed it to Aden. “By the time you are done and sail back, we’ll be done with the remodeling and want to be hunkering down for the squall that will be coming.”
“Where are we going?” Charlotte exclaimed suddenly with Damien interjecting shortly after.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
The only one not affected by the order was Aden who took the letter and popped the seal. He looked at the contents and saw the signature Andy had signed at the bottom of the page.
“Why are we being ordered to go?” Aden remarked with some suspicion. It couldn’t have been because of the recent disturbance Cesium created, which meant that Andy was planning to do something without them being there.
“Because you three are distracting,” Olivia replied.
And Xavier said with a raised index finger to wipe Damien’s cheek again, “He wanted Charlotte to experience sailing while the weather was decent!”
Charlotte looked at Olivia with a pained expression, and the inventor just sighed again. “You look prettier with a smile, Charlotte. Learn from your mistakes and stop being a pain for everyone.”
She then pulled out the little gadget the auburn-brunette had handed her a few days ago. “I investigated this as you requested, but I don’t know what is inside. In fact, I cannot even open it. You’ll need a specific key, but since you do not have the piece to open it up, you should just leave it be. Consider it a decorum paperweight for the time being.”
Olivia then turned to Aden. “Now that I’ve said my piece, get packed and off my ship, the lot of you.” She was about to walk off the deck to downstairs but felt a tug on her lab coat. Olivia glanced down to see a depressed Great Dane looking like it was about to cry. “Take Cesium with you. It’ll be worrisome if something happens again.”
Damien saluted as Olivia disappeared, and Xavier swiped his cheek again. “Would you quit that?” the blond exclaimed while Charlotte stood staring off in the distance where her best friend was leaving. She was expecting a complete rebuttal from Olivia but not one from Anna. Needless to say, it hit home in a couple of places, though that probably saved the auburn from any further punishment from Olivia.
“Damsel.” The girl in question looked at the raven-haired male with an indignant expression. She was going to rebuke him but stopped as he stripped off his shirt. The scars that decorated his weathered skin silenced her immediately. He slung the sweaty shirt over his shoulder. “Get your stuff together for a three- to four-day trip.” He began to walk toward the cabins, and Charlotte finally found her voice.
“Where exactly are we going?” Charlotte could feel the guttural in her throat from all the crying she had done earlier, and luckily, no one teased her about it.
“Spiro. A small coastal island due southwest of here,” Aden replied dully.
Damien, slapping Xavier’s hand away from his face, followed up with some more facts about the island. “We have to prepare for possible whirlpools and slightly cooler weather. It should not get below seventy degrees though.”
“Oh, goody,” Charlotte said, not bothering to hide her sarcasm. She could handle the cold. It was the ocean that frightened her. She already hated the ocean without its whirlpools, so what would happen if she fell into one?
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