Good evening my colleagues! I hope you’re having a lovely one. Without further ado, I’d like to present to you the continuation of Miss O’ Hare’s exciting account of her sudden arrival in Constantinople. We last left our heroes descending through the storm and into what they hoped was a city, rather than certain doom. Let’s see how they did….
“Kristoff! Now!” I held tightly to the wheel as he pulled the lever with all his might. Our descent leveled off with a speed that made our stomachs flip-flop inside of us, and I got a glimpse of the lights of the city, now at our eye level, before we struck the ground with a mighty thud and were knocked off our feet.
We lay there for a long moment, breathing deeply and trying to calm our nerves, before either of us spoke. Kristoff broke the silence with a quiet, “Ow.” I sighed deeply and pushed myself to a seated position.
“I concur. Unfortunately, we’re not done here.” I pushed myself to my feet on shaky and slightly nauseated legs (I hate sudden landings. Hate them!) and staggered toward the door with determination. Kristoff groaned and pushed himself up onto his elbows. “What? Do we need to crash again? Because once was enough for me, thanks.” He pulled himself to his feet with the help of a trusty guardrail and trailed after me.
“Well, if you’d like to avoid any more crashes tonight, we need to go outside and anchor the ship.” I hurried down the steep flight of steps into the hold and opened the door to the driving wind and rain. I grimaced at the awful weather but snatched up the sledgehammer I needed to anchor the stakes and headed out into the storm.
Kristoff stuck his head out the door behind me. “Are you mad?” he shouted as I removed the first of the anchor stakes from the outside of the airship and prepared to drive it into the ground. “It’s freezing out there! You’ll catch your death!” I rolled my eyes and commenced pounding the first stake into the muddy grass beneath my feet.
“Would you prefer I catch my death from an unrestrained airship being blown all over the goddamn land?” I shouted back between the ringing strikes of the sledgehammer. “Make yourself useful and uncoil the bloody rope so we can tie this down properly!” I pointed at the mooring rope wrapped up next to the slot that had held the anchor stake that was now firmly lodged in the ground beneath my feet. My bare feet. I hadn’t actually noticed until that moment that I was barefoot. Excitement does such strange things to the mind…
Kristoff staggered out into the wind with the rope as I had asked, and held the sledgehammer while I tied the wet knots with the surety of a sailor. “Three more!” I shouted to him as we darted through the pouring rain and howling wind to the next mooring point. We struggled a bit with that one, but by the third we had learned to work together quickly, and with the fourth it was as if we’d been mooring airships in the pouring rain for years. It certainly felt like I’d been out in that rain for years, I grumbled inwardly as we hurried back into the hold with numb feet and soaked clothes. I returned the sledgehammer to its tool hook and hurried upstairs to the galley and the iron stove that lived there with a fire always banked in its belly. Kristoff followed, dripping water onto the floor, and collapsed into a chair as I threw coal on the banked embers and stoked the fire.
“Does this happen often? Crashing, I mean?” He stared out the window at the rain-blurred city lights. I wrung some water out of my skirt and warmed my hands in front of the stove with a shiver.
“Not usually. Normally I have a bit of warning about storms and can land before they become an issue. This one was moving fast and I didn’t predict it.” I turned from the stove and grabbed the kettle. I could at least start some water for tea before I went and changed out of my wet things. Kristoff looked up as I moved and made a sound the likes of which I’d never heard before. It was like a mouse being startled by a large piece of cheese that it didn’t think it deserved. “What…” I trailed off as I looked at him, kettle suspended in my hand just above the top of the stove.
He was staring at me, his gaze traveling from my shoulders to my feet in disbelief. A blush heated his cheeks. His mouth worked ineffectually for a moment or two, and then he blurted, “Your nightgown! You did all of that in your nightgown!” The blush on his cheeks was furious now as he turned away and shielded his eyes. “And now you’re only wearing your nightgown and it’s all wet!”
Confused, I set the kettle on the stove and looked down at myself. I was, in fact, in my nightgown… Which was made out of sensible black cotton, had cap sleeves and fell to my calves. It was, admittedly, very wet. And cold. And plastered to me. But still… My eyes snapped back up to him. “You just now noticed?” I suppressed a laugh. “I didn’t exactly have time to change, unlike some people…” I indicated his soaked trousers and dress shirt.
“I was distracted earlier, what with the storm and the crash-landing! I didn’t have time to notice!” He still was looking carefully away from me, lest his eyes wander again. “And I’ll have you know I didn’t have time to get dressed, either. I have to sleep in this. You didn’t exactly give me time to pack, you know.”
I pursed my lips. He had, in fact, been wearing the same suit in various combinations since I picked him up. I had simply assumed he was very attached to that suit. I had a favorite wrench, after all, so who was I to judge what other people liked?
“Well,” I decided out loud. “Assuming that is Constantinople we’ve landed near, first thing on the agenda for tomorrow is buying you some other clothes.” My voice dropped to almost a purr. “But first thing on the agenda for tonight…”
Kristoff swallowed, staring determinedly at the wall.
And since I’m as much of a tease as Miss O’ Hare I’ll leave you with that until next time! Which will be soon, I promise. I hope you all stay cozy and warm and out of any horrible rainstorms in the meantime. Brrr! Better go start a pot of tea myself…