The ship was bigger than the sand-boat, but more primitive than the steam boats Cain had crossed the lake around Central City in. Jenkins led them past the cannons. "What's the name of the ship?" DG asked from between the two men.
Jenkins glanced over his shoulder. "You and What Navy?."
Cain snorted. "Cocky much?"
Jenkins shrugged as he led them past the stairs. "She used to be called the Lady Washington, then the Interceptor. The Captain decided she needed a new name for her new life."
"You've known the Captain for long?" DG asked as they ducked under ropes and took the path down the center of the ship.
"Bout five years now. She's crazy like Jack, but you're in good hands." He looked at the men hanging in the hammocks strung from the beams. "Mostly good hands. In here first."
"Crazy like who?" Cain asked as they stepped over the threshold into a bedroom.
Jenkins waved the question away. "Forget it. You wouldn't know who he was anyway." DG pressed herself next to a guitar hung on the wall. "My job as quartermaster is to represent the crew, settle disputes, and act as the bank." He gestured to the bag Cain held and moved to the table nailed to the curved wall. "They'll be trouble enough with your wife. No sense asking for theft too." He rooted around the contents of a few drawers before pulling out a small piece of cardstock on a string and a pen. "Put your name on this for your bag and I can put it in the safe trunk with the rest."
"Safe trunk?" DG echoed. Jenkins pointed to the metal monstrosity, made of the same thick steel like a portable safe only shaped like a trunk with a curved lid, which rested at the foot of his bunk. "What stops someone from running off with the whole thing?"
"The lock can only be opened if the quartermaster turns the key." Jenkins chuckled, "Say what you will 'bout magic, but I've noticed there aren't many bank robberies. Now to keep you out of trouble, lass."
"I'm not messing with anything. I don't want us to sink."
"Good idea, but I'm more worried about the crew messing with you."
Cain looked up with a scowl and saw DG frown. "But the Captain said they'd leave me alone now."
"And most of them will, but any one of them would take an opportunity if they saw it."
"Anyone you're already suspicious of?" Cain passed the labeled bag to Jenkins.
"Hodges has been a thorn since he boarded and he holds a grudge. He can't get the best of Betsy; he's tried. He might decide you're a better target for his frustrations." He smiled kindly at DG's panicked expression. "Stay close to your man, me, the Captain, or Sprite in a pinch. And hopefully we'll complete this voyage before I have to play midwife again."
DG nodded with a hard swallow. Cain's scowl deepened. He didn't want that scarred pirate lunging out of the shadows at her with one thing in mind.
Jenkins added their money bag to the pile of labeled bags. "Alright, this way." He hung the key around his neck after relocking the trunk safe. He tossed his cloth cap onto the bunk, revealing his bald top as they left. They headed to the front of the ship. Hammering echoed up from the floor below. He led them down a second set of stairs, below the water line, and threw open the first door. "It used to be a storeroom for provisions, so pay no mind to the barrels and crates. We'll eat them down and they'll be out of your way." They entered a room smaller than Jenkins'. The crates and barrels were stacked all the way to the ceiling and filled half the space. Half of the remaining space was taken up by a built-in bed large enough for two people.
The dark-skinned young man who had met them earlier finished nailing the last of the shutters walling off the bed. He tested how the pair swung before turning to Cain and DG with a shy smile. "I hope it pleases."
DG's smile was strained. Cain pressed his lips together. Was her claustrophobia striking again? "It's fine, thank you," he answered as graciously as he could manage. It wasn't the kid's fault after all.
"This is Inge Spencer, the ship's carpenter," Jenkins said. "Spencer, this is Wyatt Cain, who's taking over cooking, and his wife Thea, who's helpin' the Captain navigate on her special quest."
Spencer nodded. "I'm next door." He brightened when he saw their folded clothing. "If it's not forward to offer, I have scrap lumber. I could build you a trunk for your belongings. T'would be no trouble to make it, especially after the welcome you and your wife received."
DG kept her eyes fixed on Spencer and widened her false smile. "Only if it's no trouble," she answered.
"Gives me something to do between leaks." Spencer nodded to both of them before leaving with his tools.
Cain took the folded clothes from her and placed them next to the bed with his own. "Leaks?"
"He means in the hull," Jenkins explained. "I'll wake ya when it's time to start breakfast." He closed their door behind him, leaving them alone in the tiny room with a lantern hung from a beam across the ceiling.
DG threw up a sound barrier before whirling to face Cain. "Wife!"
His eyes widened at her alarmed tone and her frightened expression. What had upset her? His eyes narrowed. "What was I supposed to say to make them leave you alone?"
"Get your hands off my pregnant lover? You'd rather I insult you and the baby?" He frowned as she started to pace across the tiny space.
"I told you I didn't want a noble sacrifice from you!" DG's fists jerked up to her head and down again.
Cain leaned against the bed with a sigh. "Where did you see us going, DG? Where did you think it would end? I told you I couldn't lose you."
She slumped against a stack of crates. "You don't want me to be your wife; you're just doing it because of the baby."
His lips twitched madly. He was tired of getting shoved in with everyone who had hurt her. "Damn your stubbornness!" She gaped at him. "Don't get me wrong, you saved the world because you were too damn stubborn to give up. But when you get a stupid idea fixed in your head, you won't listen to anyone. And I know you aren't gonna believe me either."
"That's not true!" She crossed her arms.
He glared at her. "I love you."
Her face blanched like he had just slapped her. "Don't play around with that. You don't love me."
"I have loved you since Central City." He stepped in front of her. "I tried to concentrate on getting Zero, but as soon as I heard you were in trouble, all that mattered was saving you."
Her mouth open and shut a few times before she shouted. "You don't love me. Nobody loves me! My own parents threw me away!" She gasped and covered her mouth. Her blue eyes filled with tears.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. "I know, my darling girl, I know."
She clutched his shirt as the tears leaked. "I shouldn't have said that. They saved me."
Cain snorted. "Stop trying to talk away your instincts. They saved your life, but they didn't try to neutralize the witch. They didn't take steps to delay the coup, hell, they left you in the dark and expected you to save the day. And they've done nothing but manipulate you since you learned the truth." He shook his head above hers. "You have lots of reasons not to trust your parents, DG. I just don't know why you think I'm going to throw you away too."
DG pushed but Cain wouldn't let her go. "All I've done my entire life is ruin yours! Even before I knew you I ruined your life!"
"Present circumstances could be a heck of a lot worse." He stroked her hair. "I don't think my life is ruined."
"Butů but I let the witch out." He winced at the despair in her voice.
"And you think the O.Z. should drop you into the Deadly Desert for it. If you hadn't let her out, and you still ended up being the only one with enough magic to stop her, would you have fought her?"
She twisted her head to look at him. "Of course, it was the right thing to do. No one deserves to suffer like the O.Z. was suffering."
"And I would have joined the Resistance against a tyrant who took the throne by force no matter what." Cain looked down, not hiding his love for her. "Please stop blaming everything on a child who was tricked while trying to help someone." His hand moved under her damp hair and massaged her neck. "I know it's hard to forgive yourself for what you feel was in your power to change. But until you do, you'll have no peace."
Her mental struggled tightened her muscles. He continued to knead her neck and shoulders. "You're fighting dirty," she said as her head slumped against his chest.
He chuckled. "Just getting past your stubbornness. I hope some is sinking in."
"I have no right to you."
"What do you mean?"
DG cringed. "It doesn't matter."
Cain held her at arm's length. She didn't meet his eyes. "I think it does. What did you mean?"
"You're too good to me. I don't deserve you."
"And why would you think you have no right to me?" She stared at the floor. "You promised you would be honest with me."
She flinched and her voice sounded thick with unshed tears. "I have no right to you because you're not ready to move on from Adora."
Cain tilted her chin up but she jerked it free and continued to look at the floor. He crouched until he was in her face again. "What in the gutters of Central City gave you that idea?"
She blinked to keep from crying. "You never took off your wedding ring and then you only took it off for my cover story since I'm the only one who needs a secret identity and I was trying to find one to match it so you wouldn't have to lose that too. Andů." Cain interrupted her by kissing her. Her hands flailed, but he didn't break the kiss and pulled her onto his lap as he sat on the floor.
The kiss ended when they both needed to breathe. Cain hugged her tighter. He had to explain what she had gotten confused. "Part of me will always love Adora. But I thought she was dead when I woke up in the suit. I spent annuals mourning her and Jeb, and killing off my heart." He stroked her cheek as he gazed into her eyes. "You made it beat again, DG, and it belongs to you." She started to speak but he laid his finger across her lips. "It was past time for my ring to come off. Now I have a question for you. What do you want?"
"For us?" Cain nodded and DG swallowed. "Everything's moving too fast. I didn't even get a chance to wrap my head around there being an 'us' before it became 'us plus one.'"
"But you want us together?" he persisted.
Her face flushed. "With all your rescuing and day saving and guns blazing, how could I resist?"
He smirked at her. "I thought you had." His thumb grazed her bottom lip.
"I didn't want to hurt you. Andů and I'd rather have you as my friend than not have you at all."
"And what about now?" He kissed the sensitive spot on her neck, making her gasp. Thank goodness, the stupid collar she had to wear didn't cover it.
"I like now." He grinned against her skin before taking her earlobe between his teeth. "Now is good, but it's not marriage." She pulled back and looked at him worriedly. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that."
"Fair enough, I can wait. It's too late to change our story, so try not to give anything away." He waited until she nodded. "But I won't stop making love to you."
"Good." DG's grin mingled with relief. "I don't want that to stop."
He hummed. "Is the bed going to bother your claustrophobia?"
She studied it over his shoulder. "No lid. I should be okay. Are you ready to go to bed?"
"Not to sleep," his voice grew huskier. "I recall promising to show you the fuss 'bout sex all night long as soon as we found a bed."
Her eyes gleamed as her chin tilted up. "I think I remember something about that."
Cain smirked before kissing her sensitive neck again. DG shuddered as her arms wrapped around his neck. Her lips pressed against his temple and his hair. He scraped his teeth against her collarbone before kissing the swell of her breast the bodice pushed up past the neckline of the white shirt. She gasped. He grinned against her skin again and hardened, thinking of the sounds he would drive out of her tonight.
He lifted her to her feet. DG clutched his arms as they stood. He bent her back and caught the lace of her bodice in his teeth. Her breathing hitched as he pulled the knot loose. He glanced up at her desire-darkened, blue eyes and her expression of surprised longing. All he wanted to see on her face was ecstasy, but she needed encouragement to get there.
He ran his hands down her back and cupped her backside, drawing her closer. DG panted as she pulled with her arms. He rubbed her body through her clothing. Her lips grazed his neck above his own collar and sent shudders through his body. After so long in the iron suit, her intimate touches intoxicated him. "I like this on you," he rumbled as his hands found her waistband of the breeches. "But I'm gonna like it better off." He undid the buttons of the fly and slid the short pants down her legs.
Her hands grabbed his shoulders for balance as he knelt in front of her, helping her out of her shoes and the breeches. He tossed them towards the rest of their clothing. He glanced at her face. Curiosity had replaced the surprise.
Cain wondered about those Other Side boys she had known. Had they tried this with her before? Since she was so shocked by her own orgasms, he figured not. He kissed her stomach and swirled his tongue into her belly button. DG gasped and her knees buckled.
He caught her around the waist before she slid to the floor. "Better get the rest of your clothes off before you lay down." He braced her against his body and pulled the bodice laces free.
DG shook her head to clear it. "Do I undress you now?"
"You can lead tomorrow night." He pulled the bodice straps down her arms and tossed it aside. The white shirt billowed free, not that he left it on long enough to admire the length on her legs. Her perfect body that had pressed up against him in the darkness of the van unveiled for his eyes to feast on. "You are so beautiful."
She tried to fold together with a reddening face. "You don't have to tell me that."
"When have I lied to you?" He kissed her before she could analyze the statement. His lips teased her neck in a way guaranteed to stop her thinking as his arms squeezed her closer. Her gasps changed into moans when his fingers trailed across her skin. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he only needed one to lift her off her feet. His free hand opened the shutters of the bed. He set her on the mattress inside. "Get comfortable."
The black shirt hit the wall before tumbling into the clothes pile. He toed off his boots, but left his pants on as he crawled in. DG propped up on her elbows. Her confused look was back. "Why are your pants on?"
He settled between her legs and pushed them further open. "Don't you trust me?"
"I trust you." She gasped when Cain kissed the inside of her left knee.
He ran his lips up her thigh and smirked at her surprised mewl. "But you don't know what I'm doing." He stroked her thigh, moving higher, and she moaned. "Just enjoy it, my darling girl." His kissed her trembling thigh closer to his target.
"Wyatt." She fell off her elbows. He hooked her leg over his shoulder while he hovered over her center. "Don't stop now, please."
He grinned at her begging. As if he would ever stop. His tongue delved into her center. DG arched with an audible inhale. Her cries grew louder the more his lips, tongue, and fingers moved. Her hand found his head and pressed him even closer. His teeth grazed her clit, and she screamed his name as she orgasmed. He kissed his way up her body, so he could see her eyes glazed over with contented pleasure.
Cain cradled her, brushing her hair from her face as she recovered. "I think you liked that," he said.
DG breathed heavily. "Wow. I mean, wow."
"I guess rendering you unable to make sentences is a job well done."
"I can't possibly make you feel that good." Her blue eyes welled with tears.
"None of that now. None of that." He kissed her before stroking her cheek. "I don't care how worthless you think you are. You care about me above yourself, and that is the most precious gift to give someone else." He made sure she was focused on him. "This isn't a scorecard to keep track of; it's a way to express love." He touched his forehead to hers. "And you do make me feel that good, but I guess you'll need phase two to believe that."
Cain moved away from her with a smirk and peeled off his pants.