12 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Arms interlaced, she danced out onto the pool deck in front of Joshua.
Winking a smile of approval he whirls her back around to him, grazing a hand over her hotpants-covered-bum once she had settled back alongside him.
Pulling her sunnies over her eyes, she followed the white drapes that hang tied from the pools upper deck, giving it a Mykonian feel. The smell of hotly roasted meats garnishing the air.
Lemara distinguishes a few bronzed faces amongst the crowd's all-white garb in the sunset's light. Here and there, knots of alcohol spritzed cruisers chit-chat with each other. Swaying at the bars, are the already juiced up revellers, awaiting another round of umbrella decked cocktails, their current glasses not yet empty. Their bodies hypnotised by the sweet Caribbean nectar flooding their ears, coating their souls. Or was it the rum, intravenously pushing into their veins?
Joshua points to the upper deck, where he leads Lemara up the stairs, waving to everyone like they all knew each other.
The crowd on the upper deck is sparse. Its twelve steps too many from the live band, bars, pool and buffet for any dedicated reveller to ascend.
A dusty crackle pollutes the air, and Captain Cantieri's voice sweeps the public address system as they take a seat overlooking the deck below.
All passengers have arrived safely onboard. He announced. And we are ready to depart.
Once more signalling their departure from port, the ship's horn sounded.
Lemara sat, cocooned into Joshua, her legs tucked under her.
A waiter was quick in his attendance and seamlessly had Lemara lured into the Vodka themed drinks created at the upper deck's bar. Lemara tells the waiter to surprise her and Joshua reminds her she hasn't eaten.
Joshua doesn't drink Vodka, he likens the taste to alkaline water and instead opts for a lowly beer. Plus vodka has an undesirable effect on him.
The waiter requests their room number and lets Lemara know there's something for everyone at the buffet. They hand over the key card to the waiter, who utters.
Ah! You're in the suites!
But it was the way he said it, caused Lemara and Joshua to eye each other.
He now offers to trek down the said twelve steps and back. Lemara declines, but he insists. So she lets him.
Are there any allergies?
It's your lucky day. We don't have any, though we do love seafood. She replied.
He puts his pad away, pleased, and walks to the bar. Lemara looks at Joshua, and Joshua looks at her again.
Baby, did we just bypass the queues at the red ropes with that key card?
I think we just did Em.
Turning back to watch the waiter as he walks over to a waiting bartender. While speaking with the bartender, he motions in their direction, then wanders down the steps.
On another note, teasing her fingertips over the side of Joshua's clean-cut-low-fade. Do I get a key to our suite?
He looks at her a little mystified.
Did you lose the one I gave you?
And now she is looking at him puzzled. She wants to tell him that he didn't give her a key, except Joshua's reply said differently. And if Joshua says, he's given her a key, then he did.
Em, in the ride to the beach today, I put the card in your beach bag. I told you that. I can only take it you weren't listening?
Feeling guilty, she pouts. Joshua recognises the facial expression and merely chooses to ignore it. He instead motions past her head to the sky. Full of pinks and oranges, it looked to have drunk its share of a tropical rum punch.
It was homey on the upper deck. On the deck below, the scene was very different, unreserved. In the shallow pool, cruisers had taken to splashing each other to Arrow's 'Hot Hot Hot'. A few even undressing. Had the song played any longer, might there have been a few naked bodies? She wondered.
The bar's waiter turned up with Joshua's beer and a coupe-glass filled with a scarlet-red cocktail. The likes her eyes had never before seen. Its topped with a silvery-white foam and sat in the middle are a few rose petals, rearranged to look like the flower itself. Joshua is impressed, and Lemara is fixated, so fixated she didn't look up.
What's this? Eyes lit up as she takes the glass to her lips and sips.
We call it 'The Queen's.' It's Vodka, pomegranate juice, goji liqueur...
Ooo, this is nice. Passing it to Joshua for a sip and looking up at the waiter.
Good evening Lemara! His eyes ever engaging.
Oh, hey, Edwin. I thought I recognised the voice. How are you? How was your day?
I'm great. What about you? His usual excitable self.
By the way, this is my other half, Joshua. Quickly introducing Joshua.
Edwin's eyes danced with hers to Joshua and back. Joshua outstretched his arms greeting Edwin, as Edwin took additional seconds out of an already shortened 'New York minute' to process 'other half'. If he thought anything, she'd never know.
They all chatted for a bit, him telling them the reason for the tour bus' delay, them asking if its a regular occurrence, him telling them he's seen passengers distraught, running up the pier, chasing after a ship that had sailed away. One passenger even high-diving into the water seemingly prepared to chase the ship the entire journey to the next port.
Even Joshua was laughing at that.
That's not the sort of thing you get to see in an airport now, is it Captain Hart?
Turning to Joshua as she spoke, and then back to Edwin, who was trying to connect the dots. Somehow Lemara felt she could disclose Joshua's occupation to Edwin without the barrage of questions, and so she did.
Joshua is an airline Captain. Her right arm draped over his left shoulder, a broad smile coated on her face.
Ahh, hey, that's cool! Have you met our ship's captain? He's a really cool guy.
I think Lemara has already arranged for us to do that.
Ladened with a seafood grilled platter, the waiter returned and Edwin excused himself.
The sky is presently a majestic black. Excited chatter, shrieks and laughter bellowed up in between the music from the deck below. Dancing feet jostled for space on the already jammed deck.
Like a firestarter, a trumpet sound struck the air. Gloria Estefan, Miami Sound Machine's 'Conga' percussion followed and the already pumped revellers roared into approval. Seamlessly synchronising themselves into one hell of a conga line around the pool, in the pool, between the tables and back on itself. Even the waiters were roped in.
The food Lemara was shoving in her mouth became less of a must-have. Like a child who couldn't wait for their candy to be unwrapped, she shimmies in her seat but those no longer satisfied her dance rush. Like the lyrics, she couldn't anymore restrain herself.
Come on shake ya body, baby do that conga. Bursting into song with Gloria.
Sexily tossing her head back. Her food went down; her legs went into their upright positions and pointing at Joshua, she more or less commanded.
Okay, hun, one of us has got to stay with this food.
He smiles, brushing her outer thigh as she bounded off and down the stairs.
Spotted by the twenty-one-year-old Jada and her mother from dinner, they created a Lemara-sized break in the conga line for her and around the pool they went.
Thanks guys! she yelled back over her shoulder to them.
No probs! They shouted over the music.
As their section of the conga line came out from under the deck, she looks up to find Joshua and when she does, gives him an ecstatic wave. However, sitting in conversation with Joshua was the Denhams.
Ohh Gawd, she thought as her memory glitches back to them asking for her at Harry's suite. They'd already left disbelieving Harry. She felt she'd have to come clean to Joshua. Hun, did I ever tell you that I too have a twin? And why stop there she thought? Did I tell you she's also onboard this ship?
Her pontificating slapped into hell, when the guy in front of her, turned, hooked his hand towel around her neck, smacking her lips with a mojito-logged-kiss.
You are one stunning woman! He leered before Lemara had time to react.
She halts, clearly caught off guard by this man's brazenness.
The front section of the conga line uncouples, and as Swiss trains do, keeps to the beat. Behind her, the almost stagnant carriages had to be British grinding to a minus ten miles per hour. Sending those about to climb out of the pool toppling like dominoes back into it. The scene was hilarious but had her attention not been averted by this unsuspected suppliant; she too would be cackling.
Realising he's probably had one too many of the said mojitos, she was willing to let it slide until he tried to do so again. Only this time, she was prepared, and her right palm went up. Catching him smack in the kisser. And this time, it was him who was caught off guard.
From nowhere, well somewhere, an arm grasped the towel off Lemara's neck, and the other moved her to the side.
That's enough of that. He directed.
That voice, touch, tincture of a fragrance surrounding her breathed relief, except the unpredictable situation in front of her suffocated it.
It all happened so quickly; she didn't have the time to breathe or for anything else to register.
Are you alright, darlin?
Both Jada and her mom were in concert, encircling her, having witnessed it unfold in front of them.
Thanks a ton for that. Gratitude filling Jada's mom's voice as she turned to Lemara's rescuer.
It was then Lemara turned to register whose touch caressed hers, who's voice commanded order and who's scent teased her. Jaw clenched, their eyes met.
Are you alright? His voice hotly demanded.
Her heart skipped far too many beats for her to have still been standing.
Yes, I am. You know you didn't have to do that!
Eyes still on him. Heart rate now caught up and at a speed that could power Usain Bolt's top sprint.
Not while I'm here... He had started to say.
Ca-aptain Haart! A female's voice enthused from behind Lemara.
Lemara's heart did beats, the kind that would no doubt propel Bolt on to his next olympic record.
An all-white dressed congregation had gathered, hemming them in for what could potentially be Lemara's baptism. Yet in amongst that white, she clocked Mrs Chatterbox, the newlyweds from dinner, two of the college boys from the night club and the young woman from the lift who had called out to Joshua and following her eyes, Joshua himself, whose eyes were on Lemara.
Hi-i! Her breathing strained.
Are you, okay? Reaching for her hand.
Joshua's eyes traced her hand to the arm that was now holding his woman's, unearthing their face. She felt her air rush her lungs, not the most incredible feeling ever.
Joshua is staring at Lemara, and so is Harry as if waiting for a cue.
Is this how four years come crashing down? Realising the crowd had seen her with Harry. In particular, Mrs Chatterbox had first seen her with Harry, then with Joshua who declared she was in fact his woman.
Hail Mother of Mary, you know I don't call on you often. But today if my relationship leaves this dance any more tainted than I've already made it, you won't get to see me at confessions with Eleanor ever again. And as much as I hate it, I know you live it. She pray threatened.
Thank you, Mr Langdon. She said to Harry before lowering her eyes to her arm.
He looks from Lemara back to Joshua. Somehow making the connection, he gradually releases her hand to Joshua's waiting one.
Sat sobering on the pool's edge, was the guy kissed by Lemara's hand.
The crowd, once again sloshed on their alternative entertainment, only this time it was Psy's 'Gangnam Style' they whooped their tipsy moves to.
Its Joshua. Joshua shouted over the music, shoulders straight, eyes direct, extending his arm to Harry.
Harry. Was all he shouted back when their hands clasped.
Succumbing to the painful electric charge in her chest, Lemara closed her eyes.
An ever so slight flicker from Joshua before the dance of both men began.
Thank you once again. His voice very matter-of-fact before escorting Lemara away.
No one said anything, and there was no question then as to whom took that dance.
The mood sombre as they returned to the upper deck. Neither spoke. Joshua stared ahead, Lemara kept her eyes lowered.
You had that look on your face again.
When he finally spoke, his expression was searching, his words narrowly bordering an accusation.
What look is that?
The one in the photo he took of you.