We reached Egypt in the middle of July, Greece a week and a half later, and Spain two weeks after that. We saw everything that Erik had wanted to and even rode camels across the desert to see the pyramids. The time ashore in each country was pleasant, the weather cooperated, and everyone had a great time. Erik took his sketchbook with him wherever we went, and the drawings he created were breathtaking.
Erik made me see a doctor in Greece and again when we docked in Spain. Both said that everything looked fine and that they could see no problems. Things were going well until we left the northwest coast of Spain to cross the Celtic Sea on our way to Ireland. George said that this leg of our journey was less than five hundred nautical miles, and, if the wind and currents went our way, it would only take about two days to complete.
The morning after we left Spain, I noticed a few small spots of blood in my panties. My chest tightened, and I immediately sought out Sheryl in the galley and told her.
“What do you think?”
She frowned. “Just a few drops, you said?”
“I don’t know, Sarah. Did you tell Erik?”
“Not yet. I wanted to know what you thought first.”
“Well, you probably want to see a doctor when we reach Ireland, but in my non-medical opinion, unless there’s more, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, I smiled at her. “Thanks, Sheryl. I just hope Erik agrees with you.”
Erik was on deck, at the bow, leaning on the railing when I came up. He had on trousers and a light green shirt, but he was barefoot, as he tended to be when the Rebecca was underway. He looked so peaceful that I hated upsetting him with something that might be nothing. I knew that I couldn’t keep this from him, though, and I went to him and took up position at the railing. He looked down at me, a small smile on his face. It vanished when I returned it with a frown.
“Sarah? What’s wrong?”
I didn’t want to just blurt out that something might be wrong, and I thought of how to broach the subject. I took his hand and toyed with his wedding band.
“If I tell you something, will you promise not to overreact?” I asked, looking at him.
His eyebrows came together, and he pressed his lips together into a tight line. “No. What’s wrong?” he repeated slowly.
I returned my gaze to his hand. “I…There was some blood this morning.”
He sucked in a breath through his teeth, and his hand closed on mine, stilling my fingers. “What are you saying?”
I looked up at him and saw panic in his eyes. “Erik, Sheryl says she doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about,” I said quickly.
I nodded slowly, and he pulled his hand from mine and fisted it in his hair. “No,” he breathed as his eyes darted around fearfully. “Please, no.”
“Erik,” I said, tugging his hand down, “stop. It was only a few tiny spots of blood. We’re less than a day from Ireland, and I’ll see a doctor when we get there, I promise. It was only a little bit. I’ll be fine, and so will the baby.”
“But…” Erik took a deep breath and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was calmer, but the fear remained. “You don’t know that for sure, do you?”
“No,” I admitted, “but I’m pretty sure.”
He nodded, and then his eyes narrowed. “We go to a doctor as soon as we get there, understood?”
I hugged him tightly. “Yes, Erik.”
He put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me back. “I can’t lose you, Sarah. Please, promise me that you’ll stay below decks and rest until we reach Ireland.”
“All right,” I agreed and kissed him. I went down the stairs and curled up on one of the couches with a book.
“Well?” Sheryl said. “How’d he take it?”
I shrugged one shoulder. “Better than I thought he would. He wants me to rest until we reach Cork, though.”
“Not a bad idea, Sarah, just to be safe.”
“I know,” I sighed. “I just hope the baby’s okay.”
Sheryl sat down beside me and put her arm around me. “Everything will be fine. I have faith.” She gave my shoulder a squeeze and went back to her work.
I lost myself in my book. When I finished it, I looked up, and what I saw made me smile. Sheryl was standing behind Erik, looking over his shoulder, her eyes wide with amazement. He was sitting on one of the stools, his back to the bar. His right ankle rested on his left knee, and he had a sketchbook on his lap. His pencil was flying across the page, and his brow was furrowed in concentration. He was even biting his bottom lip. He glanced up at me and then back to the page before sitting up straight and frowning at me.
“Keep reading, Sarah. I’m not done.”
“Done with what?”
He waved his sketchbook at me with a look that said I was dense.
“Can I see it?”
An exasperated huff came from him and Sheryl giggled. He turned to look at her, and she quickly pressed her lips together, but she still smiled. “When I’m done,” he said to me without taking his eyes off her. “Now, please keep reading.”
He turned back to me. “Why not?”
“Because I finished the book.”
He sighed. “Can’t you pretend for a little while?”
I held in a chuckle and returned my eyes to my book. “Can’t you finish it from memory?”
“Of course I could,” Erik said distractedly, “but it’s not the same as having the subject in front of me.”
“The subject?” I looked at him again and narrowed my eyes. “That’s not very flattering.”
He smiled. “Yes, the subject. In your case, the beautiful, ethereal, awe-inspiring subject.” Then he gestured toward me with his pencil. “Read.”
“Bossy, aren’t you?”
His smile grew, and he looked up at me. “Please, read?”
“That’s better,” I said with my own smile, and I turned to the first page of the book and started reading again. I had gotten through the first three chapters when Erik sat down beside me, holding out the sketchbook.
“What do you think?”
Looking at the picture he had drawn, my first thought was that he was insane, and I told him so.
“What are you talking about?”
“Erik, that’s not me. You always draw or paint me to be much more beautiful than I really am.”
He frowned and glanced at Sheryl who was back to working in the galley before looking back at me. “Is that what you think? Sarah, I draw what I see, and this…” He tapped the book. “…is what I see.”
I shook my head. “No, this may be what you see, but it’s not reality.”
“Sarah…” Sheryl started to say, but Erik held up his hand, and she stopped.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you think this is real?”
“Because it’s just not,” I said more forcefully than I had intended. “I’m not that pretty. You just see me that way because you love me.”
Erik frowned. “That’s just foolishness, Sarah. You are beautiful, and it’s not just me who thinks so.”
“He’s right, Sarah,” Sheryl said softly. “I don’t know how he did it, but he drew you perfectly. What’s on that paper is exactly the same as what I am looking at right now.”
I looked up at her, and the sincerity on her face silenced my curt response. I looked back at the picture Erik had drawn. It showed me, not on a yacht’s couch, but in the middle of a field of flowers, a tall mountain topped with snow behind me. My head was bowed toward the book in my hands, but you could still see my face. I must have been reading a sad part of the story because I was frowning slightly, and a single tear was on my cheek. The girl on the paper was not the one I saw in the mirror every day, though. My nose was not that straight, and my eyes did not sparkle like that. My hair wasn’t that glossy, and my mouth was definitely not that full. I looked back up at Erik and Sheryl, and I must have looked confused because they both nodded, and Erik tucked my hair behind my ear.
“You still don’t believe us, do you?”
I shook my head silently, and he took the book from me and stood up. He held out his hand to me, and when I took it, he pulled me to my feet.
“Let’s get some more opinions then, shall we?” he said as he led me above decks. Sheryl followed us.
“Erik, you don’t have to do this.”
“Yes, I do. Sit.” He pointed to the couch.
“Bossy,” I mumbled, and he grinned as I sat.
“George, can you come here for a minute, please?” he called out, his eyes staying on me.
“Sure. Brice, take the helm, will you?”
As George walked to us, I hissed, “No fair prejudicing him toward your point of view, Erik.”
Erik’s eyes twinkled. “No fear of that, sweetheart.”
“What can I do for you?” George said, stopping next to Erik.
“I just wanted your opinion on something,” my husband said, holding out the sketchbook. “What do you think?”
George took the book with a look of puzzlement, but when he looked at the drawing, his eyes widened. His gaze alternated between me and the book, and then he took a deep breath. “How do you do that, Erik? It looks just like her. That’s amazing.”
Erik gave me a triumphant smile and took the book back. “Thank you, George. Can you ask Brice to come here, please? Don’t tell him why.”
“Sure thing.” George walked away, glancing over his shoulder at Erik with admiration. He spoke to his first mate who came over to us.
“What’s up?” he asked.
The process was repeated three more times with Brice, Jared, and Xavier, and all three men had the same reaction as George. They all agreed that Erik had captured my likeness perfectly. They all left shaking their heads in awe at his ability.
“So?” Erik asked, raising his eyebrows at me.
“Let me see it again,” I said, holding out my hand for the book. He handed it to me and leaned against the opposite railing and watched me as I studied the picture. I tried to see what the others saw, but I couldn’t, no matter how long I looked at it. “I still don’t see it, but you’ve convinced me that the rest of you do.”
“Well, that’s something,” Erik said. He sat down next to me and pulled me into his lap. “Do you remember when I told you that if something is said enough, one tends to believe it?”
“Yes, when you were talking about your father’s insults.”
“That was a negative example,” he said. “I intend to give you a positive example by telling you every day how beautiful you are, and maybe someday you’ll believe me.”
I curled into his embrace. “Maybe.”