vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Presentiment (26a/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 6,229
RATING: NC17 for this chapter
SUMMARY: Sometimes it's best to just get the hell out of Dodge. Set right after 'The Bitch Is Back'.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for the whole series, especially season 3.
WARNINGS: Cursing and sex between consenting adults.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars. This story is written as a tribute only. Beta'd by zaftig_darling and flyersgrl. All remaining errors are my responsibility.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks for your patience. Sorry about the delay in updating.



AUTHOR'S NOTE (cont'd): I know all the sailing jargon can be confusing, so I'm including a few images to help with understanding. Veronica is a noob at sailing, so some of the terms are supposed to be going right over her head (so it's okay if you're a little confused). All the images can be embiggened by opening them in a new window. If there needs to be more images, let me know in the comments. I'm trying really hard to describe them from the point of view of someone who has zero experience. Also, it's quite possible that I screwed up some of the boating things; let me know if you think I did. Or cut me some slack, and assume that Veronica is way confused.
FUN WORDS TO LEARN (CHEMISTRY 101 WITH PROFESSOR GALORE): Saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, is primarily thought of as a component of gunpowder or a food preservative. There's also an old wives' tale that ingestion of saltpeter can cause impotence (which is apparently not true). The More You Know...

For the PG13 version of this chapter, click here.

1~Precipitation 2~Precarious 3~Paranoia 4~Prevarication 5~Probation 6~Predicament 7~Paradox 8~Please 9~Perilous 10~Palpitation 11~Precipice 12~Perspiration 13~Peregrination 14~Pursuit 15~Plexus 16~Pier 17~Perception 18~Phantasm 19~Phantasm 20~Pyromania 21~Prognosis 22~Paternity 23~Premeditation 24~Paralysis 25~Panacea

Click here to read a summary of the whole story from the beginning. And for just the last time on 'Precipitation': (Highlight to read ~OR~ click here to skip directly to the new chapter)

Keith finally shows up, and they drive to Norfolk, Virginia to buy a sailboat. While Logan and Keith shop for a boat, Veronica is sent out to buy provisions and supplies. She also prepares and sends the Castle to Gory's father. They end up buying a boat called 'Panacea.'

On the first day, they stay close to shore and Veronica learns about steering, turning, and adjusting the sails. Although she's doing fine for a beginner, she struggles with the new tasks. Every mistake is magnified in her perspective.

At the end, they anchor close to the Barrier Islands in Virginia, and the serenity of the location helps Veronica begin to embrace the next step of their adventure.



Chapter Twenty-Six: Presentiment

We don't officially set off for Bermuda just yet. For two hours the next day, we practice man overboard drills, rescuing flotation devices with a boat hook until Logan concedes that he'll feel safe going on the foredeck with one of us at the helm.

"It's not so much you," he tells me, pretending to whisper. Logan nods his head at Dad. "One sharp turn of the wheel, and it's 'bye-bye, Echolls.' This whole forgiveness thing is just an act. So you've got to be prepared to overpower him and gallantly come to my rescue."

"I prefer to torture you slowly, thank you very much," Dad retorts. "I think you might be scrubbing the head for the rest of the voyage." He pretends to glower at Logan.

I cock my head, marveling at the current state of their relationship. "Arrr, make 'im walk the plank, Dad."

"Humph," Logan responds. "I'm cursed with a plague of scurvy wastrels for a crew." Two days on the water and he's got a glow on his pale skin, a hint of the tan he'd usually be sporting this time of year. The fuzz of his hair is rapidly turning blond, and his beard and mustache are filling in. Dad stops shaving as well: the two of them are constantly joking about being 'seamen' and calling each other 'matey' for the duration. I am referred to as 'the comely wench,' which sends them into hysterics.

Of course, I have to use the 'head' to go to the bathroom, but Dad and Logan seem to delight in unzipping and aiming over the side of the boat—that truly male act of marking one's territory. I hate the tiny bathroom with its 'seacock' and arcane instructions that warn of dire consequences if the lever isn't worked properly.

On Panacea, male bonding and a lackadaisical attitude toward hygiene seem to be the order of the day. I suck it up and try to participate in their antics.

The man overboard drills totally unnerved me. Logan can be a tough teacher. He refused to help at all when it was my turn to take the helm, and I struggled to get the boat close enough to grab our drowning life preserver.

When I managed to get the boat eight feet away and the flotation device was just beyond Dad's reach with the boat hook, Logan shook his head and said, "Do it again." The third time I tried, with Dad finally snagging the life preserver, he said, "Okay." Damning with faint praise, as they say.

But I'm still completely confounded by wind direction, and everything about sailing depends on your ability to exploit the wind. I try to push away despairing images of capsizing the boat while at the helm and killing Dad and Logan.

They're still joking around. I zone out, staring at the waves, and then suddenly they stop talking and look at me.

"What?"

Logan repeats, "I said, we're going to practice steering with the windvane."

Now I'm utterly confused. A weathervane tells the wind direction. What the hell? We're going to use a weathervane to steer?

Logan moves to an arrangement of steel tubing extending off the rear of the boat, with ropes leading to the steering wheel and something that looks like a paddle extending down into the water, and another extending high up into the air. Logan says, "Once the sails are trimmed properly, you can use this device to steer, like an auxiliary rudder that responds to the wind. As long as the wind stays steady, the windvane can do all the work of steering."

Motioning to the steering wheel, he says, "It would be too exhausting to be steering constantly. The windvane really isn't an autopilot, but it functions almost like one. All the long distance sailboats have one nowadays, and it was a big factor in which boats I picked for us to look at."

"You mean, I didn't really need to learn how to steer yesterday?"

"The sails have to be set exactly right, or we'll lose speed. You need to understand how steering and sail trim work or you won't be able to use the windvane." He's patient. But for how long? If I don't get this soon, will he get frustrated with me?

"You can sail a boat without steering," Dad chimes in. "You use the sails. Like a windsurfer, twisting the sail to manipulate the board in one direction or another."

I'd never thought about the lack of steering on a windsurfer. The one time I'd tried it, I'd barely managed to stand up, scraping my shins and getting a ridiculous sunburn while I was at it. It was not pleasant, and I didn't try it again.

But I'd had one good run where I managed to hold the sail correctly and zipped twenty feet before crashing into the water. That moment was awesome. Maybe if I'd had a little better luck and a teacher as patient as Logan I'd have learned to love it.

It makes me wonder: why didn't I ever get him to teach me to surf? Did I think it wasn't a worthy pursuit? Or was it that I was worried I wouldn't be good at it? Either way, I'm not too proud of my behavior. I'd defended him to my dad, but I hadn't followed up by actually trying some of Logan's favorite things. I should have shown more interest in things Logan likes ... maybe we'd have—

Futile musings. Focus, so at least I don't screw this up.

We practice all the points of sail with the windvane, and I'm prepared to admit that it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's certainly more competent at determining wind direction than I am. Dad and Logan high-five each other, and I coax a smile.
 "Got some hardtack for us, wench?" Logan asks. "Feelin' a bit parched as well."

Dad snorts. "Honey, how about some sandwiches?"

"Anything for you, Dad," I reply pointedly. "The pirate's gonna have to fend for himself." But I head down to the galley: this is a task I can handle, and it's a relief to feel competent.

I bring up the sandwiches, saying, "I hope you're not assuming because I'm the only girl that I'll be doing all the cooking."

Dad and Logan glance at each other.

"What?"

"Actually ..." Dad starts, before chickening out.

Logan clears his throat. "Your dad's going to be in charge of the engine and making sure we have enough fuel to get there. He's basically going to be checking all the systems, coolant, pumps, tanks, those kinds of things, every single day. I'm going to be in charge of the sails and the rigging, as well as navigating. It's using our skills where they're best employed."

"So that leaves—"

"You're going to be the galley wench," Dad mumbles, trying not to laugh.

"It's actually really important," Logan says. "You've got to conserve water and food, making sure we've got enough to last for the whole voyage. You and I will discuss the boat's estimated arrival, based on our progress, and then you can apportion the meals accordingly. You have to keep track of inventory and use up the foods that spoil faster first. We're depending on you so we don't end up living on crackers after a week. And a good hot meal is incredibly important if we hit bad weather, so you better get used to that crazy stove."

"Oh, you bastards." The stove is on gimbals, so that when the boat tips, the stove stays flat, along with everything you're cooking. But you're tilted like the boat. It's like a funhouse, without the distorted mirrors and the cute boy holding your hand. I'm really not looking forward to this.

Logan raises his eyebrows. "Would you rather be in charge of the sails and the rigging? Or the diesel engine?"

I roll my eyes. "No. You're right. But you better stop calling me the galley wench, or you'll find some saltpeter in your oatmeal."

Dad laughs, smothering it with a cough.

Wolfing down a second sandwich, Logan suggests, with his mouth full, that Dad and I might want to take some Dramamine.

"Um, excuse me?" I query. "What exactly are we going to be doing?"

"You guyzer gwan segur—"

"Swallow. Then speak. Pfft. It's hard to take Blackbeard seriously when he doesn't even know how to eat."

He swallows and takes a swig of water. "I'm going to try to really heel the boat and you guys are going to secure everything down below. I'll make some fast tacks, really try to stir it up to replicate storm conditions."

Dad and I exchange glances. It's going to be bruising work, constantly bracing ourselves against the tilt of the boat, and without the ability to keep our eyes on the horizon, we'll definitely be prone to nausea.

Logan says, "It's got to be done. What if we hit some heavy weather and everything goes flying down to the low side?"

"It could overbalance the boat," Dad says, nodding. "And then we'd broach."

I've gathered that broaching is bad. It's nothing like "broaching a topic," but rather something to do with the boat sinking, or turning upside down—basically my nightmare scenario. I don't ask for an explanation, because I truly don't want to have that image in my brain. Man overboard was scary enough.

Securing everything below deck is hard, but not brutal. Logan gives us a heads-up before slamming the boat into a new heading, and we brace ourselves and watch our possessions on shelves and in the cupboards. Then he falls off so the boat flattens, and then we use bungee cords or redistribute items until everything down below is going to stay put.

We keep busy and mostly I don't feel all that nauseated. Dad seems unaffected by the pitch and roll; he kids around and we work together as a team until we agree that everything is secure.

"All the grog is secured, Cap'n Chumbucket," Dad announces as we emerge into the cockpit.

"Ah, the cockswain and the strumpet reporting for deck duty," Logan answers. He and Dad giggle like lunatics.

I roll my eyes. "And I'm going to blow chow if you two buccaneers don't give it a rest."

Dad takes the helm as Logan sketches something for us to look at. Logan explains, "This is called heaving-to. You do it if the wind is too strong to make headway, so you can go below, be safe and get a little rest."

He draws a couple diagrams, showing the boat oriented a particular way to the wind, with several penciled lines coming off the boat. Logan explains, "You back the jib sail, that means having it on the wrong side to slow the boat, and then you rig a parachute off the bow."

"An actual parachute?" I ask. It's hard to believe there's a sailing term that's an everyday word.

"Yep, it's a surplus Air Force parachute. It's like a floating anchor that keeps the boat pointing 45° off the wind—you have to get the angle right by adjusting this bridle." On the sketch, he points at the rope leading to the parachute, which is attached at the bow and and also about one third of the way back on the boat. "Then you have to adjust the length of the line to keep the boat in phase with the waves."

All the jargon takes a second to sink in. "What do you mean, 'in phase?'"

"When we're in a trough, the parachute has to be in a trough. When we're on a crest...." He draws a little picture of the boat perched on a crest and the tethered parachute two crests in front of it, and Dad and I finally get it. "Wave theory—just like in Mr. Wu's class. You sync up the cycles, which means you have to experiment to get the boat exactly on the same trough and crest cycle as the waves. Otherwise, we'd be lurching around, buffeted by the waves and the wind."

He pauses. "Here's the thing: if we have to heave-to, it's going to be blowing hard. You're going to be on the foredeck with the boat riding big swells and the wind threatening to knock you off your feet. You've got to be clipped onto the lifelines and watch what you're doing at all times. Having three people's really going to help; two can handle the chute while the other one steers."

I look up at the placid sky, filled with fluffy white clouds drifting languorously. It's not even as windy as it was yesterday. "It's not really ideal conditions to practice this, is it?"

"I've never done it. I want to try it a few times, even if we don't have a lot of wind. Just reading about it in a book isn't good enough." Heading onto a broad reach, a relatively smooth point of sail, Logan engages the windvane, and the three of us, clipped onto the lifelines that extend from bow to stern, make our way to the foredeck.

We experiment with ropes and cleats until we think we have a workable solution, then Logan takes the helm. He tacks without changing jib sheets to force the jib sail to go against the wind, and Dad and I deploy the parachute. Logan lashes the steering with two bungee cords and we adjust the bridle holding the chute until we're in phase with the waves.

Logan comes up to examine our efforts, and pronounces, "It's pretty cool, right? See how the boat stays steady rigged like this? If we had to, we could heave-to and get some rest, even if it's blowing hard."

I don't say anything, but I'd almost slipped three times, and I'd had trouble attaching my end of the bridle. Imagining doing this with sea spray and wind battering us is too impossible to even consider.

We pull in the chute and do it twice more, switching roles so that each of us learns every part of the procedure. Steering is the hardest job for me. I'm not getting any better at determining wind direction, and it's crucial to get the right angle for this to work. Tentatively, I turn into the wind to invert the jib sail, but we don't have enough power and are turned back downwind. I try again and make it through the dead zone directly into the wind, but once the parachute is deployed Logan has to point with his thumb to get me to change to the proper heading, and I flush, realizing that I can't even do this simple task.

When Dad and Logan come back to the cockpit, Logan sits next to me. "You're doing a lot better. A couple of days at sea, and you'll be a pro. Don't be so hard on yourself."

"Right." I don't want to admit that I'm getting completely confused by the jargon and the complicated geometry.

"Sensing the wind is instinctive. You can't learn it in a book. You have to engage all your senses and let your brain process all that information."

"I always thought I was pretty good at engaging my senses."

"Yeah, you are, that's why you're going to figure this out."

"Right." I'm worn out and wishing we could just dock somewhere, but it's only two o'clock and it turns out Logan isn't done yet.

"We've got to practice launching the lifeboat and abandoning ship."

"Man the lifeboats?" I snark, trying to banish the slight quiver in my voice.

Dad nods. "We need to make a checklist and post it in the galley. A go-bag, food, water, first aid kit."

Logan says, "There are flares, a knife, fishing line, a tarp, water and food already packed with the raft. But yeah, we could make a go-bag with some extras. Our money, for one."

I snort. We're completely screwed if we have to ditch and get rescued—we might as well let our dwindling funds go down with the ship. "That money'll come in handy when we engage a criminal attorney for our trial, or at least to buy cigarettes in the slammer. And don't forget duct tape," I add, half-joking, but Logan just nods.

"Cookies," Dad says sagely. "We'll definitely want cookies." He winks at me, and I struggle to smile back.

This is insane. This is completely insane. The rubber life raft is tiny. There's no way we'd survive in that in a storm. Like our PFDs, it's self-inflating and would require a professional to repack it into its hard case, so we practice unlashing and throwing an empty water tank overboard instead and talk through the procedures. Logan and Dad are bantering like pirates again as we practice launching the 'lifeboat,' but I barely hear it.

By the time we motor into a different marina to anchor for the night, I'm completely exhausted. All of these drills for worst-case scenarios are dredging up fears that I've mostly been able to ignore the last few days. Now my terrors have an awful specificity—I can picture with precise detail Logan's face framed in the porthole as the boat sinks. I'm grasping onto the side of the life raft as I watch Dad being swept under surging waves. I imagine Logan being knocked off the boat with the boom because I make a stupid mistake steering. Then Dad and I circle around and around trying to find his lifeless body in impenetrable surf. And then the wind really kicks up, and Dad and I have to abandon the search and somehow sail this monstrosity without Logan's help. Panacea, my ass.

After dinner, I lie down on the foredeck while Dad and Logan go below to listen to the weather radio. I wanted to watch the sunset and attempt to recapture the peace I'd felt the night before, but my eyes flutter closed. The sun has slipped below the horizon when I wake with a jerk. Making my way back toward the cockpit, I hear snippets of conversation from the salon porthole.

"... she's still too tense. ... hard today."

"It can't be helped. We had to—" Logan says.

Dad's exhale is audible up on deck. "Ssh. I know. ... confidence more than anything ... still worried about her breakdown. You know. After ..."

They're talking about me. I crouch down on the deck, with my ear next to the porthole, and keep listening.

Logan says quietly, "What do you want me to do?"

"I don't know. I'm just worried about her. It's only been two weeks since she— since she got upset. It's not like her to be this tentative. I think she's still blaming herself."

"I don't want to baby her—she'd hate that. And you know it's better if she can help with the sailing."

"No, you're right." Dad sighs again. "There's rain in the forecast—why don't you guys take the V-berth and I'll take the foldout in the salon tonight?"

"Right. We should get a good night's sleep and head out as early as we can. Let's see ... sunrise is at 5:45. I'll go see what she's up to."

I scuttle back to the foredeck and sit down, leaning against the mast. Fighting back tears, I try to compose myself before he can find me. When did I get so fucking weak?

*****

The mattress in the V-berth is surprisingly comfortable. Nestled into the pointed bow of the boat, the V-shaped room is almost completely taken up by the bed. Here and there, unfinished woodwork mars the luxury effect that this boat would have if it was completely upgraded—but then again, that's why we could afford it. There are cubbies to store things along the sides, several big drawers underneath the bed, and portholes for ventilation.

People live aboard boats like this for years, going from one exotic destination to the next, some of them dreaming and saving for years before they can finally get "away from it all." It's a sparse existence, with not much room for memorabilia, and all available space is utilized with maximum efficiency. And with the need to conserve electricity, fuel and water while underway, life is reduced to the essentials.

Logan shucks off his T-shirt and shorts and crawls into bed with me. I note a large bruise on his upper thigh. We haven't officially departed yet, and he's already injured.

He snuggles next to me, his breath hot against my neck. "Long day, huh?" Lips brush my skin, a little tentative because he's not sure just how much of a loon I am, but it's clear what he'd like to do. We haven't made love since we fought over this trip two weeks ago—the two of us as far apart on that double bed in Chapel Hill as we could be.

He whispers, "I was hoping you might be willing to shiver me timbers, darlin'. Might be hard to find alone time once we're underway ... and with the boat heeling ... 'course we got all these ropes we can put to good use. You can tie me to the mast and have your evil way with me."

He's expecting a laugh, or perhaps a snarky rejoinder. "Guess I'll have to keel-haul you to get you to behave." Weak. Not up to my usual banter standard.

"Hey." He props himself up on an elbow and looks at me. "What's up?"

If I look into his eyes, I might cry. ... worried about her breakdown ... "Nothing, I'm just tired. This bed is pretty nice, though." I pretend to stretch, and, because I don't want him to know how bothered I was by their conversation, I stroke his torso.

Yeah. I'm all right with this. I want to make love to him again. Of course I do. "Kiss me, you jackass." I lean into him, offering my mouth for a kiss.

But my heart isn't in it, and Logan notices immediately, pulling away and looking at me intently. "What's wrong?"

"How'd you get that bruise?"

"What bruise?" I touch his thigh gingerly, and he shrugs. "You always get bruises on board. You're pulling on a line and hit a wave, and the winch handle smacks you. You don't even notice at the time. It's no big deal—doesn't hurt at all."

The silence lengthens. He stays focused on me, and I look away. "Veronica. What's wrong?"

"I heard you guys talking." I remember Dad's just on the other side of the wall—I mean bulkhead—and I lower my voice. "I'm sorry I'm not good at this."

He snorts. "If you were taking a class in sailing, you'd be the star. Do you realize how much we've made you learn in two days? You're doing great!"

"No, I'm not, I can't even figure out the wind direction. And I'm—" I'm afraid I'm going to make a mistake and kill you. And we shouldn't even be in this situation. "I just feel like ... like something really bad's going to happen, just because I was so stupid back in Neptune. And I keep screwing up, over and over again."

It finally penetrates. He whispers intensely, "This is not your fault, Veronica. Blame Gory and Mercer. Blame Beaver and my father. Blame Jake Kane and The Castle. What the hell—blame me and your dad! We all made mistakes the last few years."

"Yeah, but you're not falling apart. I think you guys are enjoying this."

He's silent, and then Logan says, "Yeah, we are. It's all about hope and having a future. We couldn't stay hunkered down in that basement apartment forever, waiting for the FBI to track us down. And it feels good to do something." He caresses my face. "I know it was frightening today—"

"No, it wasn't," I lie.

"Yeah, it was. But you gotta know that there's no one in the world I'd rather have onboard than you. You're smart, and you're fucking courageous. You took on Mercer with a motherfucking unicorn, you told me."

Suddenly I'm consumed with anger. Doesn't he get it? That Veronica's dead. She died in Chicago.

He eyes me with a puzzled look, and for a second I think I said it aloud. "You didn't give up on the roof. You didn't give up when my asshole father was in your car, ready to kill you! I know you can do this, and I know you'll have my back when I need you."

I evade his gaze. I've never told anyone how scared I was when those things happened. Everyone just assumes that I was brave and unflinching; they don't know that I collapsed like a little baby when Beaver tased me, that I begged Aaron to let me out and pleaded for my daddy to save me.

And as far as Logan? I didn't always have his back, and I don't know why he thinks I will now. I mean, of course I will. But how does he know this?

Tired of waiting for me to respond, he sighs and flops over onto his back. "I'll never be able to repay you for agreeing to do this. I know you didn't want to. I know you're scared and worried. But I couldn't stay in the apartment any longer. I would have run, just taken off when you and your dad weren't around, and disappeared to some beach in South America."

My heart stops beating. I hadn't even considered that he might have been thinking about running. And I probably wouldn't ever have seen him again. Suddenly, I'm very glad that Jane Kuhne walked into J. Crew and made me change my mind. "Oh, god, Logan, I'm so sorry, I'm such a jerk."

He huffs a laugh. "You're not a jerk." Logan rolls over and maneuvers me against him so that we're spooning. Smoothing my hair to the side, he lavishes kisses on the back of my neck. "You're showing a side of you that I've never seen before. You've been such a total badass the last few years. You know, it's okay to not be perfect. Sheesh, let me be the best at something, will ya?"

His lips and breath tickle my neck as he talks. And he knows me too well: it's true that on some level, I'm jealous of his competency. Basically, I'm a conflicted mess of regret, terror and envy. Just perfect.

But he feels good pressed against me. If I don't quite feel proficient, at least I feel a little calmer. And I remember the last time we made love, when the two of us decided to seize the day, like Lilly had told us. He's here with me, he loves me and puts up with me. Come hell or high water—scratch that. Not high water. Rewind. Yes, I can let him be the best at something.

In a patently false voice, I proclaim, "Aye, aye, captain. You know, it occurs to me that I'm not going to want to come near you after a week without showers." I wriggle a little, my ass rubbing against him.

A sharp intake of breath, and then his hand snakes around my belly. "Hah. My pirate magnetism will overwhelm you, wench."

"Is that your peg leg, or are you just glad to see me?"

"Maybe I should hold it against you, so you can decide for yourself?"

"Let the pillaging commence," I whisper.

And then his hand begins to caress me, teasing me and dipping lower. "Feels good?" he breathes into my ear.

"Don't stop."

He seems content to stroke me, as patient with me as he'd been all day, but demanding too, insistent that I perform up to expectations. Logan buries his nose in my hair and mumbles that I smell like the ocean.

It's been a day of testosterone and worry, and it's a relief to feel like a woman again. I don't care about being strong when he's holding me like this. Turning my head, I see that he's looking at me as if this crummy T-shirt and K-mart panties were top-of-the-line Victoria's Secret—there's something about his eyes when he knows he's going to get lucky. He makes me feel like there's no other women, just me, just Veronica in all her imperfect glory.

The T-shirt is up and off before I know it, his hands as sure on me as they are on the boat. New calluses that I've never felt before stroke my breast; a tan line across his strong bicep demarcates today's sun exposure. He kisses my cheek and throat, and I realize his stubble is long enough now that it doesn't scrape my skin, and it smells like sunscreen. He's new, and we're new.

I struggle out of my panties, suddenly desperate to show him that I want him, need him.

Need can be good, I've decided.

He touches me between my legs, and I feel a shudder pass through him when he feels my moistness. After all this time, he still seems to be in awe that I actually want him, that I burn for him.

I'm drowsy with lust and wanting, and then he heaves up off me. "What's the matter?"

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," he mutters under his breath. Logan leans over the bed and roots through the underbed storage. In frustration, he closes one drawer a little too loudly.

"Shh. What's the matter?"

He gives me a meaningful glance. "I can't find where I put the, you know ...." Under his breath, with a quick look toward the bulkhead, he mouths, "Condoms. I think I might have put them with my extra clothes in the aft cabin." The look of anguish he gives me would be comical if I weren't in the exact same state of distress.

The cabin in the rear of the boat is stuffed full of everything we'll need when we get there, as well as some of our extra supplies, with bags of spare sails on top of everything. We hadn't had time to pack carefully, and that whole area is a wedged-tight jumble of plastic storage containers. Organizing it was a task we'd hoped to have time for once we're underway, but will more likely have to wait until we arrive.

"Calm down. Think."

He doesn't realize he's stroking himself in his anxiety, and it's making me crawl out of my skin. "Maybe in my shaving kit," he mumbles.

"Hurry," I say. With one languid finger, I spread my legs and begin caressing myself, keeping my eyes locked on his.

"Fuck." He tears his eyes away and finds his shaving gear, unused for several weeks, and with a sigh of relief he produces one lonely condom.

"Make it count," I breathe. "No pirate jokes, okay?"

"Fuck, I can barely talk," he says hoarsely as he smooths it onto his erection. "I don't want to fight with you ever again. I can't bear it."

"There's no problem, just do what I say at all times."

"Yes, ma'am."

I crook one finger at him, and he falls on top of me. I'm trying to laugh noiselessly and catch my breath, and then he kisses me and all the remaining oxygen leaves the room.

Suddenly he stops kissing me and puts his mouth right on my ear. "Want to fuck you so bad. But I'm going to go slow. Would you like a bullet to bite on?"

"What did I say about the pirate jokes?"

"Yes, ma'am. No more jokes." He heaves up so he can watch all of me as he enters, slowly, with his hands splayed and controlling my hips.

Logan pushes, just a little: he's still not quite in yet, and his self-control is destroying me. I'm clutching the sheets, my pelvis straining to absorb him into my core. I reach for his cock, and he pulls my hand away and kisses it. "I'm making it count," he whispers. So then I try to touch myself, and he shakes his head and puts my hand on my breast. "Play with yourself," he commands, and gives me just another inch before withdrawing again.

Exquisite torture: I'm flicking at my nipple, trying to drive him so crazy that he'll stop this game, but it's affecting me even more. He's panting—it's not easy for him to hold still—and I'm getting so revved up I'm going to start moaning, and really, who gives a fuck if Dad hears.

"Please fuck me," I whisper, arching desperately. He strokes twice, and stops again. It's not enough. It's way too little, and he knows it, with his sly smile. I pinch myself and cup my breasts, hoping it'll send him over the edge, but I've realize I've just egged him on.

Suddenly, he grabs the base of the condom and pulls out completely, and it's everything I can do not to scream. Logan's rooting around again under the bed and he emerges with a rope.

"Oh really," I say. But my quiver and the ache between my legs belie that.

"Yep. Hands please."

I sit up and whisper into his ear, "You promise you're going to fuck me if I do this? You're not just going to torture me?"

"No promises. But if you don't let me tie you up, I assure you I'm not going to fuck you."

I snort. "You're not that strong. You can't resist my feminine wiles."

"Wanna test me?"

So I hold out my hands, and he puts up a finger that I should wait. I watch as he loops the rope around his fingers, drawing the ends through, and then does it again. He adjusts the loop, frowning in concentration, until it resembles a doubled hangman's noose.

Fitting the loop around my wrists, he pushes me down on the bed and ties the loose end to a wooden fitting on the wall. He whispers in my ear, "This is a standard rescue knot called the Purcell Prusik Loop. There will be a quiz tomorrow."

I pull on the knot. It doesn't tighten, but it doesn't loosen either. "I hate you."

"You love me," he laughs. "Sure you don't want that bullet?"

I stick my tongue out, and he leans to me and sucks it into his mouth.

"Now where were you?" he says thoughtfully. "Oh yeah." He pulls my legs apart and positions himself in between. A few quick strokes with his hand, and he's just as erect again, but it's merely a tease.

Logan reaches for my breasts and begins to torture me. A pinch, then he's flicking with his fingers like I did, and then he's sucking on me. And all the while I feel his hardness thrusting against my thigh, and I know he's ready and wants me.

How is he doing this? I hiss, "Please!" I'm going to start crying in a minute, or at least humping him like a dog in heat. I settle for wrapping my legs around him, and to my satisfaction he groans, his body tensing in anticipation. I'm arching uncontrollably and thrusting against him—I've never been so frustrated.

"Love you like this," he whispers. He pulls my legs over his shoulders. "I can't hold out any longer. Ssh. Try to be quiet." And then he kisses me and enters me in one smooth stroke. I'm mewling into his mouth, completely incoherent.

My legs are trapped and my hands are tied, and somehow I'm releasing, allowing, giving my body in a way I never have before. It's a blur of red-blackness on the inside of my eyelids; it's my body contorting and accepting; it's my consciousness lapping up oxygen deprivation and helpless trembling, all in the service of one great vibration that goes on and on and on.

*****

Afterward, I use the head and, to my surprise, Dad's not sleeping in the salon. I climb the companionway and find him sitting in the cockpit, sipping a drink. Scotch, I decide, as I sit next to him and lean onto his shoulder. "Everything okay?" I ask.

"Yep. How about you?" Dad puts him arm around me.

"Yeah, I'm okay. A little nervous about leaving." I skip right over our bunk antics, but I'm sure that's why Dad's up on deck.

I really love my dad, by the way.

Dad sips his drink and swirls it a little, savoring the unusual treat. "You know, before you were born, some of the other guys on the force had boats. I wanted to get one, but your mom said no. She hated being on the water."

"I didn't know that."

"You remember that model sailboat in my office? It was always a dream of mine, that maybe when I retired, Lianne would change her mind and we could do some sailing. Then the Lilly Kane case happened, Alicia ..." Dad shrugs. "I hadn't thought about it for a long time, and when Logan brought it up, all of a sudden it seemed like fate was saying 'go for it.'"

"I always thought that boat was cool."

"It's going to be okay, you know? Don't sweat the sailing, you're going to figure it out."

"Okay. I know." We sit in silence watching the stars, his arm cuddling me close.

A/N: you can learn how to tie the Purcell Prusik knot here (it's also called a zip snare). Don't say Vanessa Galore never taught you anything useful.

Continue reading...Prevailing Winds

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