Chloe Helton | Historical Fiction

The Red Pearl: Chapter 31

 Chapter 31

That night, I dipped my pen into the inkwell one final time before closing the book. Jasper might ask me what I was writing, and if I did, this time I could tell him. As never before, we await a new start. We attempt what no men in two thousand years have done. We have conquered history’s greatest empire, and now we face a greater conquest: a government of our own creation. Power that rests in the hands of common men, not God-ordained nor the victors of great battles; simply men who seek reward for honest work, who want to protect their wives and children, who fought tyrants in order to create a government unique in its kind: a kingdom that answers to its subjects.

Jasper, who was cocooned in blankets, groaned. “Are you almost done with that consarned candle?”

I pressed the quill onto the paper one last time, scratching out the last few words, and nodded. “Done now.” Leaving the book open for the ink to dry, I leaned forward to blow out the candle, but was stopped by a sudden thought.

I rifled through my trunk, past the linens and the dirty aprons, and fished around the bottom until my fingers discovered their purchase: a small bead, once dropped to the bottom of this great ocean of fabric, abandoned forever. I had found it again.

Jasper grumbled, “What are you doing?”

“May you rise for a moment? I need your help.”

He buried his face into the pillow and mumbled unintelligible curses. “Can it not wait ‘til morn?”

“No,” I replied firmly. “It will take only a moment.”

“Yes, but once I get up I’ll be up, and then I won’t sleep for hours.”

I grinned. “How will you ever survive?”

He blindly swatted in my direction, which I easily dodged. The next second, I was on the bed next to him, and he reluctantly detached his face from the pillow and sat up. “Aye, then. What do you want?”

I held up the little pearl. “I need help putting this back on.”

He stared at it. “I thought you never took that off.”

“Several months ago I did. Now, I want it back on.” I handed it to him, and he turned the necklace in his hands a moment before finding the clasp.

As he reached around my neck, drawing his face closer to mine, he asked, “You promise it won’t come off again?”

I was tempted to crack a joke, but I didn’t have one. This moment was sincere. “Never again,” I said, remembering my pistol, which would lay safely in my trunk while I slept.

The necklace clasped, we laid down to bed, and he brought me into his arms. It wasn’t the same as before, and never would be, but he was still warm and he still snored as loud as an elephant and I realized there were certain things that would never change. Once he was fully asleep - clearly he had been wrong about staying up for hours - I gently unwrapped his arms from my waist, but I did not roll to the other side of the bed, as I had been doing these last few months. I stayed pressed against him, and while nightmares danced in the periphery of my eyes, I focused on the warmth of Jasper beside me, and eventually I drifted off, too.