Chapter 7-Hiding and Realizing
Chapter 7: Hiding and Realizing
“What can I do for you gentlemen?” Krystal wondered politely to the policemen on her deck.
“We must search your ship,” the leader of the crowd of lawmen replied.
“May I ask why?”
“We are looking for a fugitive. He may be aboard.”
“I assure there is no fugitive on this ship, Sirs. I check my ship thoroughly for stowaways before setting sail.”
“He is known for being unseen. He may have slipped on without your knowing.”
“Alright, then,” Krystal shrugged. “If you must. But I assure you that you will find nothing on this ship but cargo going to Spain.”
The leader turned to his group of men and directed them where to search. Krystal was about to walk to her cabin but was stopped by a hand on her shoulder.
“No, Capitaine,” the policeman said sternly. “You stay here. I would not want you trying to hide anything.”
“Why should I try to hide anything if I have nothing to hide?” she wondered, crossing her arms in front of her.
“Clever, but I am sure you have something to hide.”
Krystal shrugged at him and stomped her foot three times making the man frown at her in suspicion.
“Why did you do that?”
“I had an itch on my foot,” she replied simply but the policeman thought otherwise and turned to one of his men.
“You!” he shouted at him. “Check below deck! Right beneath le capitaine’s position!”
The man nodded and ran down a hatch and the policeman turned back to Krystal with a smug grin. She merely glared at him in what could only be described as annoyance. She did not like delays.
“Be quiet, mates,” Matthew whispered, leading Erik and Beatrice through the bowels of the ship. When Krystal had stomped her foot, that had been their signal to run and hide. But where? The police were searching the ship thoroughly, and there weren’t many barrels or crates that the police wouldn’t find. Matthew ran from one room to another, only to leave it again saying they would find them there. Erik followed right behind him, gripping Beatrice’s hand tightly as she stumbled behind him.
“Matthew, are you going to hide us or not?!” Erik hissed in an impatient whisper.
“Hang on, mates,” he replied calmly. “We’ll have to go down to the belly. Stay close.”
“Erik,” Beatrice whispered. “I am afraid!”
He stopped and pulled her under his cloak wrapping his arm around her shoulders.
“I am here with you, mon ami,” he whispered as he began following Matthew again. The young man ran down a set of stairs and the couple followed.
“Wait here, you two,” Matthew whispered as he went back up the stairs, leaving Erik and Beatrice at the bottom of the ship. Beatrice pulled closer to Erik and he suddenly felt her shuddering.
“I am so afraid,” she confessed in a breathy whisper. “I have never been so afraid, but once, and I never wanted to feel that way again.”
“It is almost done, mon ami,” Erik whispered, holding her closer. “We will be in Spain and no one will be after us. You will be happy, I promise you.”
“As long as you are safe, Erik,” she replied as her hands slipped up to his collar and gripped it. “That is all I need to make me happy.”
Erik sighed as he held her, afraid that moving any more would break the sweet feeling of her being near him. This woman was becoming more than a friend to him. She was turning into his comfort and steady rock in the turbulent sea of his life. She wanted him safe, and in turn, he wanted her happy. They would survive together, as friends, or married unofficially. They would make it, but first, they had to get to Spain and out of France.
“Sing for me?”
Erik looked at her in shock but couldn’t help the smirk that crossed his lips.
“We should be as quiet as possible right now, mon ami,” he whispered. “But perhaps after all of this.”
Beatrice nodded and buried her face into his chest as she pulled her arms around his chest. They heard some footsteps above them and held their breath, hoping they wouldn’t find the hidden stairway. The steps neared the area Matthew had gone through to go above deck again, and Erik gripped Beatrice’s wrist quickly, then dragged her toward the stern. He ducked behind a crate and shoved Beatrice to the floor in a sitting position then threw his cloak over her.
“Keep this over you, and do not move or speak,” he whispered and she nodded. He peeked over the crate just enough so that he could see the rest of the area without being seen himself. The only color on him was his mask, but if a policeman came in, he would not be spotted so easily.
Beatrice gasped when she heard footsteps directly above them, and Erik glanced at the ceiling then toward the wall. There was another set of stairs, but who knew if they were hidden? Thinking quickly, Erik grabbed a tall crate that was across from him and pushed it toward the stairs. It stopped right next to it and he shuffled back toward Beatrice.
“Stay quiet,” he reiterated and grabbed her arm then dragged her toward the crate. They heard a creek and Beatrice stared at him in horror. He pinned her between the crate and his body then peeked one eye around the crate to see a bit of candle light above the stairs and heard footsteps marching down the stairs. He wrapped an arm around Beatrice, as he saw a policeman stop at the bottom and look around. Erik slowly and quietly guided Beatrice to the side of the crate away from the policeman as he walked deeper into the room. The couple ducked beneath the stairs quietly and Erik pulled his cloak around both of them.
Beatrice looked at him and gestured to her face, making him frown at her in confusion. She made the same gesture and he shook his head saying he didn’t know what she wanted. She reached up and yanked his mask off and held it close to her. He realized that she was making it easier for them to hide, because he would be spotted easily by his mask glowing in the candle light.
“Oh, Sir there’s nothing down here,” they heard Matthew say as he came down the stairs they hid beneath. “Just cargo, as you can see.”
The policeman said nothing as he walked deeper into the room, and Erik pulled his cloak all the way over himself and Beatrice.
“Why is this crate pushed all the way to the stair?” the policeman asked of the crate Erik had moved.
“I don’t know, Sir,” Matthew said honestly. “Maybe the Captain moved it. Honestly, my captain can confuse me at times. She likes things a certain way.”
“You talk too much, boy,” the policeman noticed, and Erik and Beatrice noticed his voice was fading a bit. They heard his footsteps going back up the stairs, and Matthew began chatting again. He was obviously nervous. They heard the creek they had heard before, and they both sighed in relief.
“That was too close,” Erik breathed.
“Erik,” Beatrice whispered. “Your mask.”
Erik looked down at her as she held it toward him. He took it and placed it on his face again, but said nothing.
“I am sorry I did it. I just thought that if the light from the candle hit your mask---”
“We would be found out,” Erik finished with a smirk. “It is alright, mon ami. I thought of that too.”
Beatrice sighed in relief and leaned her head on his chest as they sat and waited for Krystal or Matthew to come get them.
“Well, Capitaine Robyn, it seems you were telling the truth,” the policeman said as his men regrouped on the deck.
“I’m glad you were proved wrong, for my ships sake, and my reputation,” Krystal replied, meaning it as an insult.
“So am I, Capitaine. We will leave your ship now. Adieu.”
The group of policemen walked off the ship and onto the dock. Krystal snarled in agitation and turned to Matthew.
“Go tell the happy couple that it’s safe now,” she hissed quietly, not knowing if the policemen were still in earshot. Matthew nodded and ran down a hatch to do as he was told. Krystal walked to her cabin and slammed the door closed behind her. She walked toward her desk and sat at the chair on the other side with a heavy sigh.
She wasn’t upset at the couple she now had on her ship. She was upset because now she was behind schedule, by at least an hour. It had taken the stupid police that long to search the ship, and thankfully her fare hadn’t gotten caught. Taking on passengers (especially a fugitive) was harder than she thought it would be.
Krystal had thought that taking on passengers would be no different than taking on cargo. And if she took on a fugitive, she thought it would be similar to taking on stolen merchandise she often smuggled to other countries. In all reality, it wasn’t any different. She could get in real trouble for either crime, but people were harder to hide than cargo.
She stood up and walked back to the door and flung it open to call for Matthew. He came back up from the hatch and hurriedly ran toward her.
“Where did you take the LaRouches?” she demanded.
“They’re in their cabin, ma’am,” Matthew replied.
“Get the husband. I have to talk to him.”
Matthew nodded and ran to do what he was told as Krystal walked back into her cabin, but left the door open. Several minutes later, Matthew knocked on the open door to get her attention as she stood in front of her desk with her back facing the door. She turned around and Matthew nodded as he gestured to Erik standing with him.
“You wanted to see me, Capitaine?” Erik said, standing as tall as he could and stone faced.
“Yes, Erik,” Krystal replied walking to the other side of her desk and sitting in her chair. “That will be all, Matthew. Wake the rest of the crew and tell them to get ready to set sail and keep away from the guest cabin.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Matthew nodded and ran off to his duty. Krystal turned back to Erik.
“Close the door, if you please, Mr. LaRouche?” she smiled, raising a hand to the door. Erik nodded and did as she asked then turned back to the captain but said nothing. “You can thank me later for giving the order to keep away from your cabin.”
He still said nothing as he stood at attention. Krystal sighed and sat back in her chair, propping her feet up on the desk and cradling the back of her head in her hands.
“Tell me, Erik, are you and that wife of yours newly weds, or old mates?”
“Newly weds,” Erik replied.
“Spending your honeymoon in Spain, are you?”
“I thought you knew everything about us already.”
“Well, around your marriage is a bit fuzzy. See, I know about the opera house, and the ballet teacher that hid you there, and your beloved Christine Daaé, the opera singer---”
“A brilliant talent,” Erik corrected and Krystal smirked in amusement.
“Right,” she nodded, sitting up and standing. “I know all of that, but where it gets confusing is after that. You see if you lived under the opera house all your life, and you were so distraught over the fact that no one could love you because of your face, how is it that you end up married?”
“How is it that you know so much about me, Capitaine Robyn?”
Krystal scoffed and stood to walk to a small box on a shelf to her right.
“I have my sources,” she shrugged as she opened the box and pulled out two glass bottles. “You never answered my question.”
“Did you really answer mine?”
Krystal scoffed again and walked a bit toward him.
“No,” she shrugged. “Not really. But do you care?”
“Of course I care! You cannot know everything about me without a reason or source!”
Krystal smirked and shoved a bottle in his hand.
“Have a drink, Mr. LaRouche,” she smiled, walking back to her desk and sitting in her seat. “If that is in fact your name. Beatrice was a bit hesitant about the last name when I asked her about it. But maybe it was just me.”
Erik looked down at the floor a moment, then at the bottle.
“What is this?”
“Rum,” Krystal grinned, opening her bottle and taking a swig. “Go ahead. Have some.”
Erik opened the bottle and cautiously brought it to his lips. He took a small sip and suddenly began coughing. Krystal couldn’t help the laugh that erupted from her throat and Erik glared at her as much as he could while coughing.
“And yet, so good, right?” Krystal laughed. “You don’t have to be afraid to tell me the truth about yourself, you know?”
Erik looked at her in surprise as he recovered from his coughing fit.
“I won’t turn you in…anywhere. As far as I know you two actually are honeymooners going to Spain to celebrate. But mark me: if you cross me, there will be no place that you can hide that I will not find you.”
“I understand,” he said in a raw voice.
“I know you do,” Krystal smirked. “You and I are not so different, eh?”
“The difference being that I am not willing to repeat my mistakes. I will never do what I have done to anyone else.”
“You mean that pretty thing you’re dragging around with you?”
Erik glared at Krystal angrily as she sat back in her seat.
“You can’t tell me that if you fall in love with her, you won’t make her want you.”
“Perhaps you misunderstood me,” he said, walking toward her and leaning on the table with his hands after putting the bottle down. “I will not do what I have done to anyone else, meaning that I will not kill for no reason, or force someone to stay with me.”
“And yet, isn’t that what you’re doing to that girl?”
Erik looked at her in shock and she scoffed.
“You made her come with you, didn’t you?”
“I asked if she would come! I did not drag her into the carriage kicking and screaming in protest!”
“Oh, the subtle ways people can be forced,” Krystal smiled. “She felt obligated to go with you.”
“She has come with me because she is my friend. She even chose the country we should run to!”
“And I suppose she said she only wanted your happiness, eh?”
Erik stared at her in disbelief.
“It makes you happy for her to go where you go, right?”
“I rest my case,” Krystal shrugged, taking another swig of rum. Erik stared into space in disbelief. He had never thought that you could do that to someone without physically forcing them to do something. He thought that Beatrice had decided on her own to go, but then he realized that it had to be partially because of his persuasion and (he had to face it) begging. He made a decision then, he had to get her off this ship. She didn’t want to go. She was only going for him. And if he had forced her, he wouldn’t have her there. She had to want to be there.
“Well, mate,” Krystal groaned as she stood up. “We set sail at dawn, which is not too far away. You both have time to change your minds about sailing this ship, but you had better make up your minds fast.”
She walked toward the door and past Erik.
“Why is it that you want us to stay on your ship, but now you want us to disembark?” Erik wondered when she reached the door. She stopped but didn’t turn and instead placed her hands on the doors, preparing to push them open when she was finished talking.
“I’m not trying to persuade you to stay or leave,” she admitted. “I simply want you to think about what you’re doing. I want you to consider everything that you’ve been through, and everything that you’ve done. Before you make the decision to leave France, your home, you should make sure it’s what you want.”
“Did you do that when you decided to engage in this occupation?” Erik wondered, as unmoving as she was.
“I wish I could say I did,” Krystal scoffed. “This way of life was thrown upon me, and I fell in love with it. This is what I want now, but I’m not sure if it’s what I wanted back then.”
Erik nodded, but still, neither moved.
“Go to your ‘wife,’ Erik,” she said, opening the doors. “She probably misses you, and I’m sure you have something to say to her.”
“Yes,” Erik sighed, finally turning and walking toward the door as Krystal moved out of the way. “I do.”