I feel like sharing today, so here’s a treat from deep inside of my soon to be released third novel – The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge.
Maddox Carbonale is a very complex and multi-layered man. He is protective of himself on every level but his best friend and quartermaster, Alphonse Green knows him better than anyone alive:
“Land, Captain!” a young sailor called out with a knock on Maddox’s cabin door.
Since the dawn had barely shown its face, Maddox saw no reason yet to rise. He lay back in his bunk and lifted the open book of sonnets from his bare chest. It was tacky, and the pages peeled away from him as he raised it and recalled where he’d left off some hours before.
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel’s end,
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say,
‘Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider lov’d not speed being made from thee.
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on,
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind,
My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.
He recited the poem again with his eyes closed. He remembered falling asleep after having read it repeatedly, until it was embedded into his brain. There were many others which had held his attention, but once Shakespeare’s fiftieth sonnet found him, he stopped turning the pages.
“My grief lies onward, and my joy behind.” He slammed the book closed and dropped it to the floor next to his bunk. One leg dangled towards the floor with one pointed toe’s very tip resting against the cool, rough wood. His mind filled with images of pale blond hair and sun-kissed golden cheeks. He lay back between dreams and reality and succumbed to the memory of her asleep, and then awake and trapped in his arms.
The room was scented with dampness and cold candlewax, but his memories were flooded with a mixture of cucumber, lavender, and Ivory’s own sweet fragrance. His heart raced, and the air he breathed was heavy. He stretched as it escaped him, until his lungs completely deflated, and his chest fell flat. All at once, he sat up. His hands rushed through his curls and down over his aching neck. He arched his back and then fell forward and rested his forearms on his knees. It was then he noticed the tapping at his door and shouted, “Come in!” He was still far too weighed down in spirit to rise.
“Good morning, Maddox. We should reach Kingston by noon,” Green said as he folded his hands behind his back.
“Very well, then. Was there anything else?”
“Nothing of note. All crew members are accounted for and looking forward to land.”
“Aye, something to look forward to indeed.”
Green walked to the bunk, lifted the book of sonnets from the floor, and turned it over. “Sonnets?” he asked with a raised brow.
“Yes, sonnets…and your point is?”
“If you do not mind my speaking openly…”
“When has my minding anything ever stopped you?” Maddox rubbed at his eyes and pushed himself up by the knees. “By the way, do you ever sleep?”
“When we reach Kingston, I could inquire as to Madame Ivory’s well-being, and perhaps I could arrange to contact her. To be honest, I intend to make the journey to Port Royal and make inquiries on my own behalf.”
“Well, good for you. At least one of us has intentions beyond sleeping for days.”
“You have intentions as well. You simply choose not to follow them.”
“Maybe it’s exhaustion or insanity…” Maddox’s voice lowered to a nearly inaudible level but Green leaned in and heard every word. “But, you’re right, you know? I’ll join you in your intentions, if for no other reason than to close this book and return this blasted thing.” Maddox lifted Ivory’s pearl handled razor from the desk and tossed it to Green.
“We will be forced to travel in disguise.”
“Disguise? What disguise? I’m dead, remember?”
“How long do you think it will be before one of these fools exposes the fact that you are very much alive? We will have thirty days, at the most, to relocate.”
“Relocate? Why bother? Money speaks far louder than rum.”
“Money procures rum. Rum is everywhere. Money will not stop them from their drunken ramblings anyway, if that is to what you are referring.”
“Alright, alright… you win. Dammit, Alphonse, the older you get the less pleasant you are to chat with.” Maddox lit his pipe and sulked into his favorite chair. “Choose the most loyal and offer them passage to Port Royal…with a bonus.”
“I always do my best to speak only the truth, which is something you require constantly. How frustrated do you imagine that I am?”
“Is that a smile I detect there?”
“I cannot deny my pleasure in finding you more in agreement this morning. It is a rare treat. However, I must ask you if we are, in fact, solely returning this meager weapon? Or are you hoping to acquire a more substantial reward to compensate for our trouble?”
“It had crossed my mind.”
“The only diamonds I’m interested in are the jewels of closure and no regrets. However, finding Ivory raises the level of danger whilst she still has them in her possession.”
Green’s eyebrow arched with suspicion at Maddox as he turned back to him from the door. “Do not even think it. I long for the arms of my love about my neck, not the noose.”
“One and the same, if you ask me.”
Green chuckled. “Why don’t you read some more of Master Shakespeare? I will secure those loyal men, and we will turn about once we’ve collected our belongings. Will you be bringing Lasher and Zara?”
“Bring a black cat and a woman aboard ship? It’s difficult to find loyal men without superstitions as well. I think under those conditions, we would be sailing her alone.”
“I only thought to ask.”
Maddox tapped out his pipe and poured a goblet of water. “I’ll see you on deck shortly.”
Green was gone and Maddox sulked on for an hour. “Leave my cat?” he whined aloud.