“Katherine J. Beauregard,” she answered with a dip of uncertainty in her voice. Babe, though seemingly pleasant, still intimidated her with his size and exuberance.
“Babe,” Caleb said darkly. Both the arms master and Katherine looked at him. “I don’t think the captain would fancy you getting so friendly.”
“I ain’t gettin’ friendly,” Babe protested, “Just being nice is all. No law against that.” He gave Katherine a confederate smile, “Is there, Miss Beauregard?”
Wanting to needle her jailer for his earlier rudeness, Katherine smiled winningly at Babe and said, “None at all, Mr. Holt. I am glad to see that one of my kidnappers has some manners.” Her irony was not lost on Caleb, but he held his tongue and motioned for Katherine to follow him again.
“I hope we have a chance to get better acquainted, Miss Beauregard,” Babe called after her. Caleb shot a warning glance over his shoulder at the arms master, to which Babe replied with a loud guffaw.
Caleb led his charge down another hallway to a door set at the foot of a steel staircase. When he pushed the control, the door slid open to reveal a makeshift office. He waved her inside before entering himself and closing the door.
The room had obviously once been a storage closet as metal shelves, piled with tinned food, boxes of old engine parts, army issue blankets, and cans of paint, still lined two of the walls. An old metal desk had been crammed into the far corner. Stacks of paper and notebooks teetered on its battered surface and Katherine could see that the desk’s shelves were bulging with a myriad of junk. Seated before the desk, on a rolling chair, was a man in his early forties. A grizzled beard roughened his cheeks as did one or two knotted scars.
He rose from the chair and offered it to Katherine. “I prefer to stand, thank you,” she said quietly. The captain shrugged and sat himself down again.
“Well, slugger,” he began in the raspy voice she remembered from the car, “I guess you’re wondering what the mother you’re doing on this ship.”
“The thought had crossed my mind,” she answered, her face expressionless. He chuckled and took a sip from the mug resting on the desk. He eyed her over the rim, his brown-eyed gaze keen and speculative.
The captain took another drink and then set his mug down with a muted clunk. “First, think I should make some introductions. I’m Captain Patrick Otama. Behind you there is my first mate, Caleb Sachs.”
Katherine glanced over her shoulder at Caleb and then back at Captain Otama, “We’ve met.”
He laughed outright at that. “Yeah, you surely did! Gave him a nice souvenir too. And you certainly left your mark on my leg, here,” he slapped his left thigh.
“To be fair,” she replied, “You were kidnapping me at the time.”
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