13 - What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
A bit of a shock registered on Lemara's face, and Joshua saw it.
Alright, everyone. Came the voice of the band's lead singer. We have three more songs to play you out tonight. We promise you're goin to love them. After this, follow the Master DJ to the ship's night club and continue dancing the night away.
Nooo. The crowd protested.
Joshua was checking his watch, though it's anyone's guess if it was for the time, seeing that his next question was.
Em, does this sort of thing happen when you and Julia go clubbing?
No. Her response quick, in an attempt to alleviate any concerns.
Joshua pursed his lips, his eyes pressing Lemara's to elaborate.
Well, we look out for each other. She swiftly continued.
Joshua was satiric.
Lemara, I appreciate you've only known my sister for five minutes, but I've known her all my life. I also understand you looking out for Julia, but 'Julia looking out for' are four words that frankly don't go together.
You underestimate your sister.
I do, do I? What else have I underestimated? The same unraised voice.
Shiit. Had he heard what Harry said? And just how open was that question? Lemara contemplated.
I'm not sure what you mean. Hands under her chin, eyes slanting.
No? His response undaunted.
His tone was indeed up for the questioning, his eyes deadlocked on hers—a deadlock thankfully broken by Edwin handing out white linen napkins.
These are for the remainder of the evening. Gesturing to the deck below.
Goaded on by The Blues Brothers' 'Everybody Needs Somebody', the linen napkins cavorted in the air as if in some bird mating ritual. Further, with each napkin the same size, the same shade of white and doing the same solicitous dance, it was anyone's guess what was attempting to attract what.
He handed Lemara a napkin and then Joshua. Resting his tray, offered his hand to Lemara but looking at Joshua, asked.
May I have this dance?
Lemara cups her mouth, eyes opened wide at Joshua. Joshua stills, possibly weighing up the odds, then nods.
Edwin spins her out behind the chair. Bridging hands, he rocks her back one step, then forward one, while Joshua looks on. Shimmying their shoulders into and away from each other, see-sawing each other back and forth; swaying each other from one side to the next. He twirls her once more under his right arm and hands her around to Joshua, bowing out.
Joshua gets up, joins her behind the chair, hugging her from behind.
Dance with me. He says.
And as the Blues Brothers sang 'To hold, kiss, miss, squeeze and please' he squeezes and absorbs her in his arms, kissing her right cheek. Fingers clicking, she closed her eyes, allowing the music to arrest her soul over the good old Sunday morning, Pentecostal church services she had forgotten how to attend. And they sway out the remainder of the song.
The band slowed the tempo. The keyboard's melody of 'Don't Stop Believin' riffed, the crowd lapped it up with long whoops. For a second time, the crowd waved their napkins into service, only this time, the napkins seemed to have found their somebody and waved in harmony.
Joshua held his position, leaving Lemara to send both her arms and a squeal into the air, waving each of their napkins. Both bursting into song or rather Lemara erupting into song with the rest of the ship.
'Just a small-town girl
Living in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere'
(Ohh the lungs on that girl.)
Cheek to cheek, rocking each other side to side, they sang out into the Caribbean night. Just for that moment, the cruise had in part paid for itself.
And save the best for last the band did when the 'dunkdodunk dunkdodunk' kicked in under the fiddle of Dexy's Midnight Runners' 'Come on Eileen'.
Lemara had never understood how that song played towards the end of any event. It always got a crowd pumped only to be dumped like a Class A drug does.
And like the Class A, it was, the napkins stayed up, and the partygoers roll called for the last dance campaign. Tonight, however, the song being at the end of the party may be a blessing. As the tempo sped up, there's no telling if everyone on board the ship would have made it to the next port still onboard the ship. Such was the high.
For the first time that evening, even the guests on the upper deck had dashed back to their home countries, picked up their dancing shoes and returned.
So pumped was the atmosphere, when the crowd called for an encore, the band rubber-stamped it because they too were buzzing off the partygoers. Like Joshua and Lemara, most had partnered up, hugging side by side as they jigged around, singing to their heart's content. Platinum smiles recorded on their faces—pure contentment.
Okaay, folks, you've been great, but that's it from us tonight. Don't forget the party continues at the nightclub on deck ten.
The MC doing his best to get rid of the lot of them.
Eleven had just taken over from ten and clocked in for its hour's shift.
Much the same as wildebeest in migration, throngs of rum-infused revellers waved through the nearest exits, bottlenecking their paths to the club. Another set marooned themselves at the pool deck's waterholes, quenching their thirsts on more abv spiked drinks for the night ahead.
Lemara and Joshua's escape route on the upper deck was clear, even stopping at the sushi bar along the way for a bite.
Arriving at the club, the DJ and Maroon 5, had everyone zealously claiming and wildly exaggerating they had 'Moves Like Jagger.' Obviously, someone had forgotten to tell them the only person to have moves like Jagger is Mick Jagger himself.
Packed wall to wall, the atmosphere was narcotic, and Lemara got drunk on it. Straight onto the dance floor, she was, waist oscillating to the beat, arms air pumping the rhythm.
Joshua was not about to make the same mistake twice in one night, and onto the floor, he followed. Bridging arms, they rocked each other back and forth, though this was now too genteel for her. She freed one arm and was practically prancing along with the rest of the mob more akin to the likes of Glastonbury. Were these the same primmed and proper that boarded the cruise the other day? Or did they pick this set up, just for the night?
With all the energy pumping into the dancefloor, the Captain should switch the ship's engines off. Let this crowd power it to the next port. They had undoubtedly drunk enough. And with the money saved on fuel, sail the cruise an extra day.
Joshua, single-handedly, was dealing with a very spirited Lemara. The Lemara you met on a dancefloor isn't the Lemara you meet in everyday life and an abundant amount of energy. He had once said the first time he saw Lemara go unbridled on the dance floor; he questioned his choice of a woman. She still laughs at that.
So, before she became further induced on the next track, he hands signals to her for drinks. Hand around her waist, they weave their way to one end of an already packed bar.
Hun, it might be quicker for us to walk back to the pool bars, clean the pool, get a drink and come back. Lemara joked.
She remembers their room card. Quickly gets Joshua to hold it up just when a white disco light danced on them. A bartender notices, looks at Joshua then Lemara and immediately nods.
Head inclined towards Joshua, a slightly raised eyebrow she grins.
So this card does have clout!
I don't think that was the card, Em! Rubbing her bum.
Drinks in hand, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland were declaring to the club, they were bringing SexyBack, and they sashayed their way back on the dance floor.
Just like the night before, the club was bumping and grinding, similar to a good night out in London. And none of that prodigious dressing forcing you to dance like a stiff. But don't get it wrong, this crowd was dressed for a classy night out, even if they didn't quite behave that way.
Had anyone told Lemara the nightlife onboard cruise ships was this debauch, she may well have signed up earlier. That or this cruise was marketed somewhere to be a carnival cruise.
Holding her from behind, one hand around her waist, drink in the other, Joshua juxtaposes her rhythms, as she sexily switched it left to right, right to the left on him.
They could barely move, yet somehow Joshua's admirer from the lift and now the pool had found her way over to him, tapping him on the shoulders.
Wanna dance? She yelled.
Lemara looked back.
Sorry, I am her date. (Resting his head against Lemara's) as he shouted over the music to her.
Lemara's chest swoll, and she leaned back onto him full of smiles. His admirer, dejected, weaved her way back through the crowd.
The DJ followed up Timberlake and Timbaland with Timbaland and Keri Hilson's 'The Way I Are'. And well, the dancefloor went into an overdose.
Like honey off a honey dipper, the DJ kept it sweet, steady, dripping and they remained in each others company throughout the night.
It's going to be one of those nights.
Unsure what happened with the DJ later on but he was peeling back the virtual duvet cover with Next's 'Too Close'. Sifting out the 'old skool' goers from the non-old-skool goers, thinning out the dance crowd. Yet behind her, Captain Hart remained nuzzled up to her, transferring his motions to her rhythms. Hands expertly guiding her hips to move with his as she got down with it. Her hands clasped his and worked their way up her body. She could feel him breathing on her neck as he susurrated the lyrics.
I love when you shake it like that, ah, ah, ah
Slowly but surely she felt his thrust powering up. He spun her around to face him. Eyes in his, his forehead on hers, her arms around his neck, she breathes.
I see that you like it like that, oh, oh, oh. Dropping her eyes to his lower half and back up again.
He paused—eyes hooded.
Baby, we have a suite, one deck down.
Yes, we do. Trying to collect her breathing.
Taking her arm, they ducked out the club.
Ms Heisen. That unmistakeable European accented voice called out as they cleared the club's door.
Recognising it, Lemara whirled around to find Captain Cantieri, and you guess whom, Harry. Her eyes dart between the two of them.
I was expecting to see you today, Lemara.
Apologies... Clearing her throat as she apologised.
Eyes glazed, skin glistening, still trying to catch her breath from the dance floor coupling, she holds on to Joshua for support. That, and the unexpected sight of Harry.
Things got a little...
Ahh, don't worry! It happens on a Cruise! We can all go now if you're free, ah! Captain Cantieri interjected.
She pensively glances back at Joshua for a response. Surprisingly, Joshua agrees.
And who do we have here? Speaking to Lemara but looking at Joshua.
Sorry, this is my partner, Joshua. In one quick breath.
She saw Harry steal a gaze at her but it was that backwards glance from Captain Cantieri.
Joshua extended his hand and his full name making Captain Cantieri's eyes to dance back on the name.
Aha, are you the Captain who checked in this morning?
That seven-letter word Captain has its blessings and the sooner Lemara works out where they are, the better because Joshua was now in receipt of a double-handed handshake. Her bacon saved, at least until breakfast later. Whatever Captain Cantieri's thoughts were when he glanced back at her, had been forgotten. Such was the greeting between the two. The only thing Captain Cantieri had not done was stop short of making Captain Hart second in command of this ship.
Once the overly Captain to Captain meeting had drawn to a close, Harry and Joshua nodded to each other. It was anyone's guess what either was thinking.
Harry and Captain Cantieri lead the way, while they held up the rear.
Lemara looked at Joshua, once more mystified.
Are you sure? She asked.
You don't say no to the Captain. Winking.
Josh, I don't think that applies here! Gushing.
Lemara need not have looked. She instantaneously knew it was Joshua's newest admirer and cheerleader. She must have watched them leave and ran out the door behind them.
Leaving so soon? Holding onto Joshua's free arm and clearly inebriated.
Sorry, yes, we are.
The two in front had stopped and turned back at the drunken amorous encounter unfolding.
Awww. She continued. See you later. Licking her lips at Joshua's.
I'll know where to find you later. Lemara teased.
Still holding onto Joshua's arm, lips pursed into a half-smile, burying her face in Joshua's shoulder. Joshua squeezed her hand, highly amused.
See you, honey! Blowing Joshua a kiss.
See you later too, baby girl.
Waving at Lemara when she looked up again.
See you later, too hun. Lemara cheered as they each continued on their journey.
Seems she wants the two of us, Em. Is this the type of cruise you booked to come on alone? Looking at her sideways.
That was definitely not in the small print. Laughing through her response.
They had threaded the tracks and twiddled with the controls of Captain Captieri's deck when the conversation between the captains turned decidedly captain-y. Leaving Lemara and Harry to escape onto the bridge's wings.
What does Joshua do?
He's a pilot.
Not just a pilot but a Captain, eh?
He's a bit young, isn't he?
Lemara shrugs, thinking if she had a pound for each time she heard that, she'd buy herself a pair of Malone Soulier's Maureen's in every colour.
How do you know he's young? She quipped.
He looks it.
True. Grinning at Harry.
And how long have you two been together?
She hadn't meant for it to happen, yet a sigh left her body immediately after. She leans onto the railing, staring out into the cheerless night. The sea lapping at the ship's hull seems to eavesdrop on their conversation. Harry looks over at her in deep concentration.
You started this cruise on your own, and it was clear that you were not expecting him when he turned up today. Is everything okay?
You're full of questions tonight! Perking up.
I want to know all about you, Ms Heisen.
Why do I want to know all about you? Or why do I want to know whats kept this guy from putting a ring on it?
Harry. Her voice commandeering.
Ms Heisen. Feigning a salute.
They both go quiet.
Lemaruh, do you know I'm mentally chaining my hands in my pockets so as not to hold you?
As I said, Mr Langdon, that drug will soon wear off.
No Lemaruh, I've taken an overdose.
The corner of her mouth curved, he saw it and his eyes joined hers peering into the inky night.
I like it when you smile, its beautiful. Looking back at her.
She rewarded Harry with a reflection of that belonging to a Colgate model.
So tell me, why are you two not yet hitched.
Josh does not see himself getting married again.
So he's been married before?
And what about you?
I've never been married.
He lets out a light chuckle, knowing she knew what he meant.
I don't know what it is about you Lemaruh, but you've unlocked something in me.
Sorry about that. Pursing her lips.
There's absolutely nothing for you to be sorry about. Stuffing his hands further into his pockets, taking a deep breath. Anyway, I think we should go in before we raise any suspicions.
Though Harry returned to the bridge, Lemara stayed out a little longer. The scent of him lingering.
She finally returns, causing both Captains and officers to turn to her attention.
You okay hun? Joshua asked.
Yep! She chirped in far contrast to her mood.
The air conditioner's cold air descended over her; she realised just how tropical the air outside was.
For a souvenir of their visit to the bridge, an officer suggests photos with Captain Cantieri. Joshua leans back on a desk and reaches for Lemara's hand, hugging her to his left side. Camera-ready, Joshua hands his phone over to the officer. Captain Cantieri docks on their right, leaning on the desk with his left hand. Harry declines, stands to the side while the photos are taken. As phones are passed back and forth to the impromptu cameraman, Captain Cantieri invites Harry into the photo session.
He takes a pose on Lemara's left, his hands returning to his pockets. Their arms unexpectedly brush against each other and Lemara caught another two breaths in one. And the fragrance of both men standing either side of her.
Shortly after, they left, leaving Harry on the bridge.
Why don't we take the long way back to the suite? Joshua was suggesting.
Hm. Coming out of her thoughts. Why?
We don't often get to do this.
Joshua squeezes her hand he's holding, gently swinging it as they strolled along the ship's promenade. Checking the time on her phone, Lemara responds.
Well, hun! Had you said you wanted to go walking at three in the morning, I'd have accompanied you to protect you. Chuckling at her joke.
Joshua gave her hand another quick squeeze of approval.
They've always held hands. Joshua being touchy-feely one he is, though it took Lemara a little longer to become comfortable with it. Joshua loved holding hands. It's one of his ways of reassuring her and being intimate without, being intimate.
Walking past the indoor cinema's outside door, four teenage boys had gathered, vigorously presenting their cases as to why they thought Gómez, Swift and Grande were their hottest thing since Pokemon. Their voices becoming ever so slightly raised for Joshua's and Lemara's benefit.
Em, did I ever tell you who my teenage crush was?
Halle Berry. She replied on the mark.
So I did tell you.
Yes, you did. You liked her pint-sized figure and that pixie haircut of hers. Then I went out with Julia and got the said haircut. And what did you tell me? Ahh! In bed later that night, you told me you preferred me with longer hair.
But I do. (Side glancing at her waist brushing braids). I've got nowhere to cast anchor with that pixie haircut.
Captain Hart, may I remind you, you fly planes not sail ships.
True, but that night I was sailing a beautiful yacht, and I didn't want her to drift.
They both laughed, stopping a little further on for a long deep passionate kiss. Not the rip your clothes off kind but one that says, I love you.
Em! (Looking into her eyes, brushing some wayward braids behind her shoulders.) I do love you, you know that right?
She felt her chest push the air up through her nose and her nostrils flared. In a small attempt to keep the water at the bottom of the well, she pursed her lips.
What am I going to do with you, Joshua Hart?
Joshua took a deep breath, kissed her on the forehead.
Move back in?
Lemara pauses, then moves to lean against the railing. Joshua follows, standing behind her, his face glued onto the right side of hers. He wraps his hands around her waist, reciting in tune the lyrics to Timbaland's 'The Way I Are' with Lemara adding back up between each line.
I ain't got no Visa
I ain't got no Red American Express
We can't go nowhere exotic
Exotic? Where's that?
They both laugh at their silliness. Their bodies memorising their earlier dance moves to the song. The mood was so right.
Em. His sultry West Indian coming through.
I've wanted to make love to you now for the last (checking his watch) twenty hours. Come on, let's go.
Okay, but can we stop by the candy shop and the Cafe Grill first. She requested.
Baby, isn't that where we're going? Leading the way.
Joshua Hart, I'm serious, I'm starving. She chuckled.