Hazel paced nervously in front of the run down brothel on the dark, and mostly empty street. She would not be able to stand still until her husband came out with the item that they had bought. The price that had been paid was too high for her not to be fretting about it now. If this business deal didn’t go well it would be back where they had been nearly a year and a half ago. She wasn’t sure that she could handle going through this all over again. She may have been a woman of the sea but his had weighed heavy on her nerves. The thought of it transitioning into the next stage had her almost collapsing with relief.
Anon had been in there far too long and this foreign port made her nervous. Hazel Proutt was a stranger to all land. Her only home being a ship that was, at that moment entirely too far away from her. The few people that passed her looked at her with suspicion dripping from the corners of their eyes. The small port was inhabited enough to have a few bars but diminutive enough that people noticed an outsider in their midst. Her green high wasted trousers and tucked in linen shirt were signs that she was not of this community. Even if women here weren’t of the highest class most of them still wore dresses and petticoats. Hazel was dressed like a man and her hair was tied up in a brilliant orange scarf. Her lids were painted with charcoal and three black dots the size of a sailor’s coin marked her permanently down the left side of her neck.
No person in this town or otherwise would mistake Hazel for a common lubber woman. She was quite obviously a pirate. Women traveling late at night with attentive gentlemen on their arms would turn their gazes away in disgust and make unseemly comments about the dark haired dark eyed beauty that paced the brothel steps. Hazel had never paid them any mind. The life she led wasn’t for the faint of heart and she wouldn’t be slighted by women who didn’t even dress themselves in the mornings. So she let them pass and she let them stare and she even winked at their men on occasion who tended to turn red with embarrassment because they had been staring. Thus was the life of a woman pirate and the outside world.
Hazel sat on the old steps that had been painted a light blue. She thought it odd that someone would paint the porch of an establishment but then she thought perhaps brothels had different reasons for painting there steps and let it slip from her mind. She looked up to the moon which hung low in a crescent shape not giving much light to the evening darkness at all. She closed one eye and held her thumb up to the small fracture of moon and covered it. She remembered once how she had asked Anon to hunt to moon down for her and he asked her why she would want something so easily covered by her own hands. She chuckled at the memory and leaned back against the wooden steps.
Just as her patience was about to run out a woman in a revealing black slip came onto the porch and bid her to come inside. Hazel turned and looked at the messy haired woman who looked too young to be working at such a place. She had mousy brown hair that was wavy and unkempt rolling down her shoulders. The two lanterns on the porch caught her sharp blue eyes that were so clear and pure that Hazel was sure she could almost see through them. Her skin was a deeper color than Hazel’s and her features were softer and more inviting. Which Hazel guessed worked well for a woman in her business.
“Where is my husband?” Hazel asked as the woman motioned for her to come in.
“He’s inside Madam.” She said with a voice that was sweeter than any voice that Hazel had ever heard. It was like mellow sweet taste of honeycomb drifting over you.
“Why am I needed inside?” She asked unsurely
“I would rather not say.” The woman stated which put Hazel in a sour mood because she was not used to people not answering her questions directly. She didn’t argue with the girl and stood up following her inside.
The inside of the building looked much like a regular lodging house would. Though the furnishings and décor screamed of money and decadence. The colors were overly stimulating and the patterns on all the sofas were bold. The rooms Hazel saw looked much like an old woman who had spent all her money to look fancy and youthful. It was a little sickening. The walls had golden wallpaper on them that was peeling slightly at the corners. The fragrance that permeated the establishment was giving Hazel a headache.
Her husband stood at the bottom of a set of stairs and he smiled at the look of pure disgust on her face. Her frown deepened when he looked at her. She was unsure as to why he needed her present for this transaction. She was rather uncomfortable to begin with and now the feeling was tenfold. He would certainly get an earful later. The woman who had brought her in walked up the stairs and past a rather rotund man who was standing at the bottom next to Anon. His shirt was grease stained and one of his suspenders was unfastened leaving his pants to sag down to one side. His Beard was untrimmed and a tad ridiculous in its wild state but he smiled at Hazel in a friendly way.
“Good evening Madam Proutt.” He welcomed her with his full toothed smile and his large nose that was marked by the redness of too much drink. She nodded but said nothing in return. Her husband was the talker out of the two and she had no need to get involved more than he needed her to be.
“Dear” Anon said to her and she turned to him with a raised eyebrow. He hardly ever called her Dear. Dear was reserved for when he was going to tell her something that she didn’t want to hear. His left side of his mouth picked up in a half smile. He had a dark beard that covered his face that was starting to show some grey. His eyes were a dark and cold blue and his features were hard and pointed. He was the most handsome thing she had ever seen; even after nine years of marriage.
“What is it?” She asked him and completely ignoring the other man.
“There has been a slight change of plans.” He said to her.
Hazel’s stomach immediately dropped as she feared the worst. They would have to start all over and maybe this time they wouldn’t find someone willing to sell. Then she would feel her inadequacies boil and rise to the surface marking her as a woman who really wasn’t fulfilling all a woman could do. She stared into his eyes and tried wordlessly to convey her despair. Perhaps if he saw how much she needed this to work out he could fix it. Perhaps he could talk to the man and tell him that she needed this to go exactly as planned.
“Hazel, its fine.” He put his hand on her shoulder and his words soothed her slightly.
“What is it?” She asked again trying to keep the panic from her voice.
“Well…” He petered off looking up the stairs “We got a little more than we bargained for.”
“How do you mean?” She asked tiring already of the roundabout way that he had of speaking. She needed him to be direct with her at this moment and he was drowning her slowly instead.
“I mean when we came here over a year ago we paid for a single child.” He said looking up the stairs “This is Mr. Lithe, the man I dealt with, he and the woman you met earlier were here when we came last.”
The woman that had come to get her was the mother of the child. Hazel recalled her features and thought of the face of the child that she had created. It was rather doubtful that she would be able to see the face of the father. She hoped his features had more bite to them than the woman’s did. A face as pretty as hers would not fare well upon a boy child or upon a girl who was intended to run an entire crew. One could never know. Sometimes the spawn of people looked hardly like them at all.
“What is more than we bargained for?” She asked her husband and ignoring the man she had been introduced to yet again.
“The mother has born two children.” He explained to her slowly like he was afraid she would rage against him.
“We only paid for one.” She stated.
“Yes so you did, but she has given birth to two.” The man Called Mr. Lithe said.
“I’m rather confused on how that seems to be our problem.” She argued with him.
“Hazel...” Her husband warned. This is why Anon did the business part of this. He was far better with people than she was.
“We cannot take on two children Anon. We simply cannot.” She stated.
“Children have no place in a house such as this. Whichever child you leave here will be cast out onto the street or put out of its misery before it has the proper wits about it to recall any part of its own life.” The man said gruffly. Hazel’s inside twisted but she was above letting pushy men play with her emotions. Especially when it came to children who were not her responsibility.
“You have held them here for seven months prior.” She said
“I used the funds you gave me to house them and now they have no place here.” The man was adamant and she was sure he would make good on his word to discard one of the children.
“If your conscience allows you to do so then so be it.” Hazel was also as adamant that this did not concern her or Anon.
“You can’t be serious.” The man barked
“I’m not a fan of the ridiculous sir, I assure you I am not joking.” She said to him directly and glared.
The Man looked to Anon who was looking from the man to Hazel with a concerned expression. He opened his mouth to speak but shut it again when Hazel gave him a look like death. She saw him struggle within himself. Her husband had a tendency to lean toward his emotions and she was not surprised that he had intended to take both children. Subconsciously he knew that, and that is why he had called her inside. She was here to make the hard decision. He had needed her to be the villain. Though the look on his face suggested that he hated the thought of leaving one of the babes behind.
“My wife seems stubborn about the matter.” He sighed to the man who looked back at him with slight horror. Whether it was because Anon was letting Hazel make the decision or because he didn’t like the thought of what he would have to do to the other child Hazel did not know.
“So you will only take one.” The man said defeated.
“So it would seem.” Anon said shaking his head sadly. “She is right we have no room for two.”
“This is out…”The man started.
“I would kindly have you get the mother to bring them down so that my wife may choose between the two.” Anon interrupted him.
Hazel started at that. Making the decision to only take one of the children was one thing but to pick one of the two was something different. She wasn’t sure how she would go about making that kind of decision. She thought of all the traits and qualities that she wanted in an heir. How was one to tell from the face of a baby if they had the potential for such things? Would their personality come out of their eyes? Would she be able to tell at a glance which she preferred?
“Can we not ask the mother to only bring one child down?” She asked her husband as the man yelled at the woman to bring the babies. He sounded very angry and Hazel was sure his anger would be taken out on the other occupants of the establishment when they had gone.
“Certainly not. We paid for the child and we should get whichever we prefer. I am not good at such things but I know you will make the right choice. You always do.” He assured her. She nodded at him. She had after all, been so against taking two. It would only be fair for her to have to choose and so she would. She turned to the top of the stairs with dread.
Moments later the soft voiced woman emerged with two babies on either hip. She was carrying them in an expert way only a mother could and Hazel felt a slight jealousy creep into her soul. However, the closer the mother got the more fear overcame Hazel. She looked back and forth between the two children each now older than six months who were staring over her. As the woman landed on the last stair above her and a severe unease had rocked Hazel’s entire person.
They were the most perfect creatures that she had ever seen. Each of their eyes were the color of their mothers and they had the same skin. One of them smiled at her and Hazel thought she may forget to breath. She had never pictured a pair of babies to more perfect before. In her dreams of the perfect child that could be granted to her she never thought of faces as precious as this. She looked to them to find flaws but she only found more things that she came instantly to adore. The one who had not smiled looked at her cautiously before looking to her mother that held her.
“Quietest damn babies you ever come across.” The Man said with a grunt.
“This is the girl I have named her Georgette.” The mother’s sweet voice sang to her as she bounced one of the babies up and down. “And this is the boy, Elias. You can change them if you wish to but they needed names while they were here.” The woman’s tears were falling silently down her cheeks and a look of deep heartbreak cast her face in pain.
“I think Elias and Georgette shall do just fine.” Hazel said quietly.
“Fine names indeed.” Anon said smiling at Hazel and she wondered if she would ever get the better of her husband.