IT HAD TO BE YOU

Chapter TWO

To Ellie's dismally, the ship known as The Warrior was no where to be found. Ellie had walked up and down the docks for hours, growing desperate as the minutes tickled away and the sun went down on the horizon. Since going back to Maidstone was not an option, not when Ellie had escaped that place already! Ellie had to do something, and do it soon.

As night fell, though there was a bit of twilight clinging to the air, Ellie moved deeper into the warehouse area, almost losing hope of ever finding the ship Bea had described to her many times.

Darkness spread around Ellie as she searched for a place to hide, suddenly, Ellie was aware of a disturbance near the corner, she tried to see what was going on but it was impossible when the only light available was that of a crescent moon. Never one to resist curiosity, Ellie ventured forth. A torrent of crude words brought color to her face; no one used language like that at Maidstone, absolutely no one, that was for sure.

There were three figures engaged in a struggle. It appeared that two men were holding a third on the ground and were beating him. Ellie's heart began to pound like a rabbit's. It would be very unwise to involve herself when she was trying to hide. But the victim was groaning with pain… and all at once Ellie saw a flash of metal, a knife.

For a moment, Ellie stood frozen, clutching the strap of her bag, but she knew she couldn't let this happen. Catching sight of a long wooden stick – that probably had been used to hit the unsuspecting victim first – Ellie went and sized it. Holding it like a bat – as Bea had told her when she taught her to play Rounders – Ellie positioned herself behind one of the assailants and swung the stick with all her might, knocking the assailant unconscious.

Finding that he was now fighting only one attacker, the victim rolled to his side and came to his feet. He shifted his weight to one leg and lashed out with his booted foot, striking a blow to his assailant's stomach. The man gave a muffed gasp of surprise and staggered back. The man-formerly-known-as-the-victim didn't waste time, drawing out a pistol from where it was tucked at the waist of his trousers, aimed somewhere over the shoulder of the remaining assailant, and shot.

As the echoes of the pistol's reports died away, Ellie opened her eyes – which she had closed at the sight of the pistol.

"Go away now," The man Ellie had rescued said in a deep voice that stirred something on the back of Ellie's memory though she couldn't place what it was.

The assailant fled the scene so fast that he seemed to melt into the ever present darkness. The man Ellie had hit still laid unconscious.

"My God, I didn't kill him did I?" Ellie asked in a gasp.

The former victim crouched down over the fallen man and turned him over. "What if you did?" He said in that deep voice of his that made funny things to Ellie's insides. "Better him that me."

"I-I,"

"Don't sweat, he's still breathing."

Good, Ellie thought or she would have really had to protest that the man she had saved was going through the unconscious' man pockets; apparently he found what he was looking for because he clutched something on his hand and muttered a curse in a low voice.

"Well, then… I'll be leaving now." Ellie said, wanting to disappear quickly but as she passed by the man she had helped he grabbed her vest and halted her escape. "Unhand me, please." Ellie said, her voice trembling.

"Help me up," he said roughly, already using her as cane.

Seeing him close, Ellie noticed that his face was covered with blood – not all his, but still – and that he was breathing with difficulty, perhaps a cracked rib was bothering him.

"Perhaps I should call for assistance?"

"Not here, lad," The man said. "You're more likely to get guttered that helped."

Ellie was offended by his harshness but decided not take it personally as he was probably in a lot of pain. "Sir, your face," Ellie said alarmed, digging into her pocket until she found a handkerchief and pressed it to an open gash on his forehead. The man winced, but took over the task of keeping the cloth pressed to his face.

"Perhaps you should stay here, Ill try to find someone to help you."

"No," The man said quickly, "I'm alright. Just help me to get to my ship, lad. I'll reward you for your troubles."

"It's not that, though thank you, but I'm not familiar with this place."

"I am." He said resolutely.

Ellie shrugged, she had already gone through the trouble of helping him, she might as well finish the job. And, who knew, maybe Mystery Man could help her find The Warrior… or at least some other ship to take her to the Caribbean.

Blushing, and very grateful he couldn't see her, Ellie slid her arm around his lean waist, she had never held a man that close and this particular man was big, raw boned and superbly fit – as proven by the very muscular arm he braced around Ellie's slim shoulders. And he was so tall!

"Are you alright sir?"

That produced a humorless laugh. "Who the hell are you, lad? Wandering around here at this hour?"

"I'm E-" Ellie remembered not to say her name until she was safe and stopped. "Leo, my name is Leo, and I'm looking for a ship. I need to get to the Caribbean soon. This seemed like a good place to look for a ship."

"What business do you have in the Caribbean?"

Ellie thought for a second, better not lie more than what she needed to. "My sister is there."

He coughed and spat a mouthful of saliva and blood. "Why did you help me?"

After a moment of thought, she answered. "I've always believed on fair fighting. Two against one is hardly fair. I didn't have a choice,"

"You could have walked away." The man said with sarcasm. "It's done all the time."

"I don't do it." Ellie said, starting to get angry. "Are we there yet?"

"Almost." He said distractedly, Ellie hoped 'almost' was accurate as she was beginning to tire, and she needed to be on a position where she could ask for directions towards The Warrior.

"Captain?" A voice called from the deck of a ship.

"Smith, get everything ready, we are leaving right now."

"Right now? Weren't we waiting for the morning tide?"

"Not anymore. That was Tucker's men I just ran into. Tucker isn't happy that we stole his cargo on the last port,"

Smith came forward, carrying a lamp and shone it over the Captain's face. "Jesus!" He swore. "Jennings" Go for Bess right now! The Captain needs attention!"

"Ellie sighed with relief when Smith relived her from the Mystery Man's –now-known-as-The-Captain's weight. But suddenly she found herself standing alone in the dock, not sure where to go.

The Captain stopped for a moment and said something to Smith, who looked surprised but nodded anyway.

"Lad!" Smith yelled, as the Mystery Man stumbled towards his cabin "Come over, we'll be sailing in fifteen minutes."

Hesitant, Ellie climbed into the ship's deck, "But…"

"Captain says you can stay and work for your keep, we recently lost a crew member so you'll fit."

"But I don't know where you're going, and I need to go-"

"To the Caribbean, Captain said that too. You're lucky, with a few stops in between; we are headed for St. Lucia's Island. Is that good enough for you?"

It was perfect! "Yes sir! Just tell me what to do."

"For now go to the kitchen, is down there," He pointed. "Bess will find you a place to sleep and give you your chores. Wait for her in there, lad."

"Thank you, sir."

"Smith will do, I'm the second in command. You'll meet the others later, lad."

"Leo, my name is Leo."

Smith nodded, already going away to tend to the ship's captain and calling over his shoulder "Welcome to The Warrior, kid."

Ellie stood frozen.

If this was in deed The Warrior, then the man Ellie had helped could be no other than Gabriel Ravenscroft… and so far he believed her a boy.