I'll let you see what I mean...
(EDIT: The second half of this scene was redone by the lovely Tulio/Elise, and is much, much better than the original. The "grasping at straws" thing no longer really applies. :) Oh well.)
Ryenne had never been much of a gambler, but now was as good a time as any to start. Wasn't it?
Rhys sounded defeated, but stubborn. “Then I am afraid -”
She had never been more unwilling to interrupt him. Nonetheless, she did.
“Have you ever played Piquet, Lady Seamaid?” His fingernails dug into her arm. She shook him off, grinding the heel of her boot into his toes for good measure.
A queer little smile played about the sea maid's lips. “Are you challenging me to a wager, Ryenne Caelar?”
Ryenne tried to match that bone-chilling leer with a grin of her own. “That I am, Lady.”
“And the stakes?”
“Everything you know about the Queen's Stone...” she took a deep breath, steadying her nerves. “Or my legs.” Rhys opened his mouth to protest, but another stomp on his foot silenced him – save for a hiss of pain. “What do you say?”
The sea maid swam lazily toward the ship, her golden hair fanning out across the water behind her. “I say lower a rope, so that I may come aboard and play a friendly game of cards with you.”
Ryenne nodded to the crewman closest to her, who bent to gather up a moorline. His expression said he would clearly rather be doing anything but. She agreed wholeheartedly with him, but this was too important for fear. There would be no backing down now.
She was just about to start directing the few crewmen who had remained at the railing to start the careful process of hauling the sea maid aboard when Rhys seized her arm again. When she attempted another try at the stomp-on-his-foot approach, he danced out of the way, but did not loose his white-knuckled grip.
“What are you doing, you little idiot?” His voice came out a hiss through clenched teeth, his eyes flashing.
“Helping you find this Queen's Stone...thing.” When his fingernails began to dig into her flesh again, she gasped. “Ow, Rhys, that bloody hurts!”
He released her, scrubbing a nervous hand through his dark hair. “Don't do this Ryenne. There are other ways to get the information we need.” She had never seen him so flustered. It made it harder to contain the fear she had been trying to swallow.
“This is the simplest way.”
“No, it isn't.” He snatched the playing cards, brandishing them at her accusingly. “Besides, you'll never win. You're terrible at cards.”
She snatched them back. “I'm not planning on taking any chances.” The Queen of Hearts smiled rakishly up at her. With a quick glance to make sure the sea maid was not yet within sight, Ryenne peeled the card from the deck and tucked it neatly into her boot.
Rhys's eyebrows shot up toward his hairline. His voice, when he found it, was strangled with the attempt not to strangle her.
Or so she guessed. She'd heard that tone before.
“You're going to cheat? You're striking a bargain with an eldritch creature and you plan to cheat?” His hand scrubbed nervously through his hair again, his eyes still flashing, full of fear. “I knew you weren't bright, but this -”
She tried to act stung, tried to ignore the tightness growing in her chest. “Come off it. I've seen you cheat more than once.”
“But I only bargain with mere money.” He glanced nervously at the men still trying to haul the sea maid aboard, keeping watch as she shoved two more cards into her boot. “This is not the time for failed attempts at double-dealing...”
“I know what I'm doing.”
“You obviously don't.” He stooped, swiftly removed one of the cards from her boot, and shook it at her. “This is a nine of spades. What in hell’s name are you going to do with a nine of spades? Do you even know how to play Piquet, Ryenne?”
She snatched it back from him. “Could you try and trust me, just this once?”
“Fine. But I'm not the one who's going to end up with two wooden legs when this is over.”
She lifted her chin, trying not to let him see the effect his words were having on her. “Is that your idea of wishing me luck? Because if so, I don’t need it. And I don’t need you acting like a fussy old nursemaid. I’m a grown woman, Captain Maralan.” The anger she put into her voice wasn’t enough to completely cover her rising panic. Why couldn’t the man understand that she was trying to help him?
“A fussy nursema-“ He snapped his mouth shut, the color high in his cheeks. Then he raised his hands in defeat and turned away. “Very well, Ryenne. You do what you wish. Just don't expect me to stand around and watch.”
She watched the door to his cabin slam shut behind him. Men were just so stubborn.
I only stopped adding filler between those last few lines because I had no idea what to say anymore. (And then the lovely Elise added her say.) She already stomped on his foot. We covered the fact that they were both scared, that his eyes were flashing and whatnot... Grr. Writing is frustrating. (Except when you have a wonderful partner!)
Don't worry. I won't give up. Optimism and whatnot.
You know what, though?
Still not King.