For those following the weekly updates on Captain Juan, this will be added in within the next few weeks - it will make sense when you read it in context.. really..... If you haven't already - please subscribe to a message in a bottle and join us in a ripping yarn about The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan - a story being co-written before your eyes by Paul , Jodi and myself.
The fire crackled echoing into the dense foliage of forest. Light flickering on the mans face, shadows cast across his eyes and if there were tears, they were hidden. In his hand he held a small lock of dark curled hair. Brushing it across is cheek, he sighed deeply, allowing for a moment to be transported to the time he had held it first. Her dark eyes flashing, that sensuous mouth, her body arched towards his.
He looked a the small sleeping form beside him and out of habit his eyes darted in all directions checking the environment, listening for threats, waiting for any sign of pursuit but knowing that there would be none.
Carefully entombing the dark curls in its velveteen pouch, he secreted it away under his shirt. A large flicker from the fire caught the metallic glint of the delicate ring secured by a leather thong around his neck. The small figure shifted and wriggled, moaning quietly. The man placed a huge hand gently on the boys chest; the touch immediately calming the sleeping form. From another small pouch he drew out a lock of golden hair tied roughly with thin ribbon. He curled it round his little finger and caressed it with his thumb absentmindedly.
Belicia had served a purpose, he mused. Had they more time together; well who knows what might have developed. Her temper and jealousy towards the boy had been her undoing.
“Papa?” a sleepy voice called.
Frowning with irritation the man stated evenly, “Matthias, you need to rest.”
The boy propped up with his elbow and stared at the beribboned tress.
“Why did you take a lock of her hair?”
The man neatly folded the golden tresses into his hand and looked out into the darkness; the answer too complicated to begin to communicate with the small boy.
“She wasn’t my real mother. I’m glad she..”
Dante looked at him sharply. “We promised never to speak of this.”
Matthias perfect lips drew into a pout. “My real mother…”
“And that is another matter we must never speak of. You are in grave danger should anyone ever find out.”
Large brown eyes framed in long lashes looked up at him. “You know who she is?”
Picking up a stick and poking the fire, Dante replied evenly, “I do and that is a matter we must keep between us.”
A rare smile crossed Dantes face. “That name will do as best as any other. Until we find your real father that is. Now get some rest. We need to cross these mountains before the first winter snows start.”
Matthias snuggled under his blanket and looked up at Dante with his wide brown eyes. “Do you think he is looking for me?”
Dante looked at the young face seriously. “Any man who knew he had a son such as you would move heaven and earth to find you. It is in Gods hands now Matthias. We must trust the signs we are given. In the mean time, I am taking you somewhere safe and we will continue with your education. It will not do for your father to find you a witless dolt with no appreciation of the classics. Now Signor, sleep.”
“Papa.” The persistent boy ventured.
Dante shot him a icy glare in warning.
“Do all gentlemen keep locks of hair from their past loves?”
Dante shook his head in disbelief. The boys youth belied his wisdom and grasp on courtly behaviour. Although in this case it was wildly inaccurate, Dante felt it unwise to reveal exactly whose hair he held and the circumstances it had been procured.
“Sometimes – now sleep.”
Dante hand felt for the pouch holding the dark curls. Breathing deeply and looking into the inky darkness he could hear her screams, her beautiful face etched in terror and pain.
“Maria” he whispered. So powerful, so strong and the only to escape him. His hand angrily griped the pouch suddenly recalling the other one who had slipped through his fingers due to others incompetence.
He petted the pouch and glared into the fire. “I’ll find both of you and this time there will be none to save you. I’ll be taking more than just a locks of hair next time.”