The key card slots in, and the hotel's room door clicks open. The expanse of an unfamiliar room parades itself before me. I haul my luggage to the side and splash myself unto the five-hundred count threads of the sushi-rice-white linens swathing the bedding under me. And no, I have not broken lockdown. I am at home drinking coffee but perusing memory lane in the direction of the logo on my coffee cup. *This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them may mean I earn a commission. I don't know what, if any, souvenirs anyone else collects on their vacations. But can you honestly look your non-social media follower family and friends in the eye and say you've been on holiday without producing a trinket of a key ring or shot glass of your travels. Could you look your refrigerator door eye on after a vacation, knowing you'd omitted to return with a souvenir fridge magnet? I know I couldn't, given the surprising fifteen minutes I'd been travelling, I'd collected sufficient holiday keepsakes to warrant its own car booth sale soon. A haul of destination fridge magnets so ample they'd reface an American sized fridge freezer. There's the set of Matryoshka dolls that once played on the window sill but, with the room repainted, lay buried in the bottom of a darkened box. And let us not forget the one-of-its-kind harem pants I giddily parted with my bahts for on a harem packed street market in Thailand. Oh, and that one time, my feet burnt holes, pacing the tiles of a bazaar in Istanbul while I contemplated how to ship a mesmerizing Turkish mosaic chandelier back to London without burning holes in my pocket too. There's also my name, framed in Chinese characters; the Vietnamese solo bottle wine holder, a complete six-piece Thai dinner table set and a hoard of shot glasses. The Cambodian shot glass with its gold base is my favourite, by the way. Still, what is a vacation without the hustle at a souvenir stall, a rummage through local arts or crafts market? Away from all that, I was subconsciously building up a collection from the chic white-sandalwood scented boutiques of hotels I stayed at. A collection of hotel mugs. This porcelain mug from Raffles Singapore is where it all started and the mug, currently drinking from. Love at first sight, they call it, and I wanted it, so I got it. Ever so often, while drinking coffee in this elegantly designed white, gold and black cup, I find myself walking by the matching white, gold, black, and red attired hotel's Sikh doorman and into one of their colonial suites. You'd be forgiven for savouring an oolong as you sit out on the suite's verandah because this is, after all, the womb that gave birth to the Singapore Sling. Savour one of those while waiting out a sultry Singapore thunderstorm. It's my favourite, my favourite because I'd taken this holiday on realising life as I knew it was about to change. If I were to sit sufficiently quiet, I'm almost sure I'll recall the white sandalwood scented boutique at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. A magazine's double-page sprawl of this and another hotel held its own on my memory and jostled for the top spot in my travels. But call it my lucky day when I walked in ahead of another guest, and these hands clasped the last of this locally made Vietnamese mug. It's become the favourite for a Saturday morning affogato. Its lacquered finish a polished reminder of the room's glossy hardwood floors and Vietnamese silk furnishings. Take a seat at the alfresco brasserie La Terrasse and, as if on a carousel, watch newlyweds arrive in front of the hotel, take their photos and start their married lives. It always appears that I am looking at the hotel's gilded facade or its elevators' outer side when looking at this cup. That'd be because the mugs were indeed patterned with the same art deco heritage design greeting you as you enter Claridges. Like his and her bathrobes, wardrobes and double sinks, this stylish mug is available as a set of two (one silver and one gold). For the sophisticated and glamorous couple in you. In keeping with the glamour and the glitz, it was a stay at Badrutts Palace, a trip to St Moritz. As both hands embrace this mug warmed by the hot coffee it holds, it's as if hugging the memories. The pilot I crossed paths with about to start flying with the airline of his dreams in Hong Kong. The german gent on a weekend break who had us in stitches one morning at breakfast. Where breakfasts are honoured each morning in Le Relais with a mountainside helping of the Engadins gliding down to the silver-specked lake of St Moritz. This white mug with its gold logo is a little homage to those muted tone rooms and their gold accents. I close my eyes and make-believe I'm sitting on my room's balcony. Just as The Dorchester has been warming the hearts of its guests for some time now, so have I been warming my coffee and reliving memories with this mug for some time. This classic white mug with its silver-leaved illustrations is sentimental. Sentimental to the night before turning one of those big 'something 0'. Sentimental to that night, walking in off wintry streets, visiting London's top attractions to this iconic residence. Its inside walls licked with sophistication and charm, blissfully removed from the chaos that can be London. These mugs have now become the soundtrack to beautiful memories created on holidays (seemingly too long ago). Forget about complimentary wifi; the next hotel 'must have' is a branded mug. Here's to collecting more souvenirs and holiday memories. What travel treasures do you bring back from your holiday? Do you have a cherished travel memento? What travel keepsake evokes your best memories?
17 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Her chest so tight, she could barely breathe. Crouched down behind the door, arms wrapped around her knees, she cried miserably into them. The guilt, all-consuming, tugged at her. There was no other way out of this; she had to come clean with Joshua. Lose that unpredictable noose from around her neck. The thought of that, just as suffocating. But what was she going to say? What could she say? The distinct clonking of a meal trolley wheeling down the corridor became louder, as was the phone ringing in the suite. Lemara squeezed her eyes and rolled her head back onto the door for support. The ringing stopped and started again. The second time she pushed herself off the floor. Wiping her nose with the back of her hand, she made her way to the phone on the side table. Indistinct chatter in a melee of voices, and someone howling a laugh burst out the handset as it left the receiver. Ha-low! Doing her best to sound unlike the crying mess she was. Em, are you coming down? Joshua questioned. Uhmm. (Her throat not entirely cleared to answer the question.) Lemara? Yes. And there was a pause from both of them. Lemara listening to the commotion in his background. Joshua, simply listening. Another minute and I'll be down. She continued. I'm in reception. I'll see you in a bit. Resting the handset back on the receiver, she crossed her right hand across her front, left hand cupping her mouth and stared back at it. The calm in his voice decks away from the emotional turbulence she felt. If he was thinking, what she thought he was thinking, why was he so calm. But then that was Joshua; Joshua getting angry is uncharted territory. His ability to remain calm in any given situation (while a great trait for him as a pilot), was at times she found frustrating in their relationship. Still, Lemara was grateful he'd always refrained from unkind words during an argument. And on that note, she exhaled and went in search of her beach bag from the day before. In the bottom corner of her bag was the key card, Joshua had dropped in it. She dipped her head back and exhaled as if smoking an invisible cigarette. A quick splash of water and a towel dab to her face, and she was out the door heading to the lifts, very much hoping not to encounter anyone she knew, especially Harry. But the greek goddess Elpis must have been on her side, at least until she stepped out of the lifts and into reception. That or Elpis enjoyed being in a confined space. Or rather Pandora was once again up to her usual tricks and trapped Elpis again, this time in the lift. Seeing that as Lemara stepped out of them, her eyes sailed undeviatingly into Harry's, chuckling at something someone had said. His eyes flickered, then stayed with her. Lemara's heart stopped, but her stomach danced, his eyes expressing a bit more than she'd liked him to, causing her to slow her pace. That gaze of his had once more caught her off guard. How does he do that? Quickly, she reset her composure, not least because her eyes had sailed over Joshua's shoulder to Harry but also to prepare herself for the mini assembly they stood in. Captain Cantieri stood on Harry's right, animatedly telling everyone he had been married three times, divorced three times and, that the last marriage never made it to their first anniversary. It turns out he needed something a little bigger than an espresso cup to bale out the floods gushing through the cracks in that ship. He was a commanding presence whenever she saw him. But when does he actually sail the ship? Lemara wondered. Since he more often appeared to be socialising with his guests than anything else. And she had a quiet chuckle to herself. But, it was Ms Hweet Hwoo, who appeared to have moored herself to her man and had just stroked her left arm over his right shoulder, that sucked the air from Lemara. Yesterday, Lemara was happy to play along with those flirtatious tickets she had towards Joshua, but those tickets had now expired. She took on an extra shot of air, fanned a smile out across her face, neck and back spirit level straight, and with one foot in front of the other, strutted over to the little gathering. Ahh, Ciao Bellissima! Came the enigmatic Captain Cantieri on spotting Lemara strutting towards his married-three-times assembly, assembled with another two guys Lemara had not yet met. One slightly more salt than pepper on top stood between Captain Cantieri and Joshua. The other, whose head paraded a straw hat, had erected himself between Hweet Hwoo and Harry. Synchronised, the latter three's necks turned to look back towards her. Good morning to you too, Captain Cantieri. How are you today? Mirroring the Captain's enthusiasm as she slotted into the space, he'd opened up next to him for her. Heeey! She rhapsodised in Joshua's direction, the kind he would have had earlier in the morning had their night not gone decidedly south. Since no one needed to know, Lemara smiled at him. A smile so infectious it went viral in the little congregation where all but Hweet Hwoo had caught on. But she was forgiven for having a slower connection than the rest. For the others, finger-wiggle-waves and a smile too, as she glanced around the amorous human fort they'd formed. Well, ah, since you walked in, I've had my fix ah. Captain Cantieri replied. Have you now? A single raised eyebrow and a broad grin across her face as she accepted Captain Cantieri's unexpected kiss to her left cheek and then her right. And who is this pretty young thing who's joined us? That question left the lips of the salt and peppered haired gent. All the time giving Lemara a double-once-over, down, up and down again, his eyes went. The second time around, glazing her over as if with an exotic passion fruit mirror glaze. All six pairs of eyes (some lustier than others) now on Lemara. Natalie, Geoff, David, this is my girlfriend, Lemara. Joshua declared to the other two men, Lemara had not previously met. Ms Hweet Hwoo finally had a name, Natalie. Well, at least for the time being, she was still his girlfriend. She extended her right arm, first to Geoff, whose eyes had completed glazing her over. Then to Natalie, who she gave the sweetest of smiles. How was last night? Natalie's and Lemara's hands were still clasped in a handshake when the former slapped the question. For a picosecond, it nearly knocked Lemara off her pedestal. Her eyes near danced over to Joshua, but she caught herself in quick time and steered clear of Joshua and last . It was great! Thanks for asking! (Remaining rhapsodic as a Sunday morning gospel choir.) What about you, did you enjoy the rest of the night? Yeah, pretty much left the club after you guys did. Ohh! Lemara smirked. Wondering if by some means they'd become her Cinderella clock. Yeah, managed to get up early this morning for a run, stopped for a coffee after. Natalie continued. Captain Hart was there; did he tell you? Ohhh! That second 'Ohhh' breaking the overlapping conversation between Harry and Captain Cantieri who's eyes were now on them. Unsure where Natalie wanted to take that conversation, but Lemara kept her in check; continuing with a smile, she tapped Natalie's arm, releasing her's from her clutches. I'm afraid 'our' Captain Hart may have been a little preoccupied this morning after he came back from his basketball game and coffee with you. Aware the sentence would have varying connotations depending on whose ears it fell on but she needed to put ice on whatever flame Natalie thought she could blaze. Lemara at least knew Joshua way better than that. Finally, it was the straw hat-wearing David's turn. Standing closest to her, she had watched him, watch her work the circle and felt as if his eyes had long greeted her before they'd shaken hands. But now came a tricky bit. She had so far gone on to personally acknowledged everyone; every one that is except Harry. And so she nodded in his direction. Harry. An so slight dip of her head as she said hi to him. Lemaruh. Was his equal response to her. Yuh gawh be kiddin! David's surprise had surprised everyone else. Oh! His statement and his lilting Bajan accent unexpected. You de young lady with dose legs wearing de tunic in the Captain's pictures last night? His compliment going so well in that Bajan rhythm all of its own, she felt herself inwardly somersaulting, and then he mentioned the blasted tunic. If one more person mentioned that damn thing... Ahh! Yes! Composing herself. She hadn't dared look at Joshua, but she saw Natalie look from her to Joshua and back out of the corner of her eyes. Now, what the hell was that? So are you enjoying the cruise? Feeling the need to redirect the conversation away from the tunic. Yes, definitely. De captain here knows what he's doin. Well, I might not be any good at keeping a marriage, but I can sail a ship for sure ah. Chimed in Captain Cantieri. Amusing the group a little. Would you marry again? The question wasn't a pop at Joshua, far from, nevertheless the instant it left her lips, she realised it could be taken that way. Ahh! Si! Ofcoursa! Forget three times lucky it's the fourth time lucky ah! Natalie, gents, I'm sorry to break up this little get-together, but I promised Lemara I'd take her horseriding, and I like to keep my promises. Are we ready? Firmly looking at Joshua. Yes. I was waiting for you. Okay... I'm ready A flurry of waves and goodbyes, and see-you-laters when Lemara turned on Joshua's signal to leave, his hand sliding down her back.
16 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on the Cruise
A single sentence, yet Lemara found herself re-reading the message, ensuring she hadn't missed anything. Looking up from the text to Joshua, she wanted to step back then, such was his stance. But she remembered he was supporting her because her knees buckled, almost falling. Josh... Handing his phone back to him, she dipped her head into the caress of her free hand, massaging the jumble of the one-lined text Julia had thrown in the mix. A ghostlike cape shrowding her. Hun, I don't know where your sister thinks we might know him from, but I'm telling you that I did not know him before this cruise. My sister rarely forgets people! Baby, I know that! Worst yet, men! I know that. Lemara voiced quite pointedly. Tell you what, let's just call your sister because I genuinely don't have an answer to her question. Joshua dialled the witness on speakerphone to the proceedings, and Lemara dipped her head back into her palm. This time in quiet prayer, knowing if Julia were to ever tag them with Harry, everything else she had said prior would lose its sway, convicting her. Hey Josh! Have you finally agreed for me to drive your car? Bubbly as ever. Julia, I'm gonna pretend I did not hear that question. So you're calling because...? She paused as if waiting for the question to be delivered by mail to Mexico. Wait, how are you up anyway? What time is it over there? Bolting to life, like indeed she remembered they were in Mexico. Hey hun, how are you? Lemara managed to chime in. Hey Em! Em, haha, you sound like you've been up all night with my brother rhyming with hugging. Amidst a night that could not be any further removed from that statement, air expelled up through Lemara's throat and out her nose. How were Joshua and Julia, even twins? They were, at times, Harts apart. Lemara chanced a look at Joshua, but his eyes were firmly on the phone now beeping, with Julia requesting to go on to video call. With neither of them willing to take on Julia head-on, neither budged. Julia, (Lemara interjected) where do you know Harry from? I don't know. He just looks familiar, like someone we'd met somewhere. Even his name sounds vaguely familiar. Lemara's chest undulated under the towel she still had clutched tightly against it. She chanced another look at Joshua, who was listening intently. Where? That's what I don't recall; I was hoping you would be able to help me. No, hun, I don't remember him from anywhere. Julia... Joshua had switched on his captain's voice. Measured, calm and collected. The one where he tells his passengers to fasten their seat belts for turbulence up ahead. The aircraft on the other hand is already taunting the meal you ingested earlier to resurface. Why do you think you know him? Joshua continued. Hang on, what's with you two? The phone beeped again, with Julia requesting a video chat for a second time, but neither her brother nor Lemara budged. Come on, guys. What's he done? What's up? Nothing. Lemara replied. Just wanting to know where we would have met. The way he is looking at you, though, Em? Lemara flashed another look at Joshua, and this time Joshua's eyes connected head-on with hers. Ooh, goosebumps of all the wrong kind waved down her body. Anyway, hun, we're gonna go. Quickly dismissing Julia's statement. Okay, hun, but can I just say something? You don't sound too good. Are you okay? Yes, I'm fine. Lemara sorely admitted, knowing this wasn't a case she could ever have a girly chat with Julia about. Okay, hun, call me if you need me. Thanks, Julia. Lemara felt the ghostly veil lift. Her stomach felt less tight, offering a slight relief. She still had a chance of coming out of this situation less tainted. Though Joshua's mood seemed neither to be better or worse. Yet he picked up her bathrobe and draped it over her before walking out of the ensuite. She picked up her phone. Captain Cantieri had posted five photos of the four of them on his social media account. The first three photos of Lemara, Joshua and Captain Cantieri himself, his barrel chest protruding and in the last two pictures, Harry. He'd tagged Harry and Joshua, which is how Julia came across them. Lemara clicked on the link Julia had shared to their group chat, taking her back to Captain Cantieri's account. In the first two photos, Joshua was looking across at Lemara. Beautiful images of a night going so well and then the very last picture. Harry's eyes, the way he looked at her - remembering that look, she almost choked. Further down, Lemara's eyes rested on one of the comments below the images. Captain Cantieri, who is the guy on your left? He is sexy as hell! To which another follower responded. He's an airline captain. He's tagged in the pics. And the woman on his left is his girlfriend. And another commented. Damn, she's lucky Further down the comments... She's got a beautiful smile And another Love her smile and those poster ready legs! And from another Her tunic where is it from, I lurve it Another follower responded Doesn't it look similar to the one Mariah Carey wore in her music video? She smacked the phone down on the dresser and breathed out, remembering it was the tunic that ultimately unearthed her current demise. Lemara Lemara looked up. Joshua had just walked back to the doorway of the ensuite, now fully dressed. We should get going. Okay. Feeling deflated. And Joshua was off again. Letting out a sigh as she picked out the rest of her wardrobe to accompany her riding breeches. She tried channelling some excitement for the horse riding she was about to do but that would have taken a race around Hockenheim in a Ferrari 812 Superfast to do it. The door to their suite's entrance was open, where Joshua stood holding the door waiting for her to come out. Closing the door behind her, he reached for the backpack she carried. Almost as if they were two strangers, they wandered down the corridor to the lifts not speaking and neither looked at the other. No other guests were waiting, and except for the lifts' dinging, the silence between them was deafening. At least one of those hands swaying at her side should have been intertwined with one of his, but he'd only reached for the backpack. The said backpack now dangled from his left hand. Lemara grappled with coming to terms with what Joshua must be thinking. And just what was going through that head of his? A reserved Joshua she could handle, but not holding hands with the captain of hand-holding was wretched. Did you manage to locate your key card? Turning to Lemara as he spoke. Lemara caught his eye as he looked from the lights above the elevator to her and back. Ahh! He looked back at her precisely as the elevator dinged, it's doors parted and laughter bellowed out. Joshua looked back at the lift to usher her in, but her feet had somehow become anchored. Like the needle on a compass, Lemara's eyes aligned with a pair at the back of the lift, but those eyes were firmly on Joshua. Hweet Hwoo! Ca-aptain Haart! What a pleasant surprise. As if Joshua was some sort of happy pill, she bounded off the walls she leaned on at the back of the lift and in front of the other two passengers in the lift. Joshua smiled. The first time Lemara had seen him smile all morning, and that was woefully upsetting. Nice to see you too! Joshua replied, courteous as ever. Last night, she and Joshua were a fortress not to be reckoned with, and she could handle 'Ms stretch her boyfriend's name out like an elastic band.' Today, however, the fortress had been weakened, with the cracks she'd created in the relationship. And in the close-up confines of the elevator, those cracks were sure to become visible. None of which she was willing for others to see, certainly not Ms Hweet Hwoo. Can I have your key card, please? Joshua was now just inside the elevator, his right hand on the lift's door hindering its closure. Although Lemara was the one stalling, as there was no way she wanted to go down in that lift. Em, what's the matter? Please. Lemara was almost begging. Joshua reluctantly removed the card from his pocket, handing it to her. She took the card and dashed back to the suite. Slamming the door shut, crouching down behind it. Clenching her teeth and cupping her mouth, it all came out. Everything she had held back, the guilt, the frustration, the emotional disconnect, the tears. She sobbed, tears streaming down her face, knowing she had pushed one button too many of Joshua's.
15 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
*This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them may mean I earn a commission. An injection of air ignited her lungs; her body switched itself awake. Lemara felt as though the sun had just gone down, the bedroom wide awake and washed in the morning's sunshine, dictated differently. Closing her eyes once more, she rolled over, burying her head in between four pillows, tenting herself further under the duvet. It was quiet, serene, and she lay there, breathing peacefully until her memory rehashed the room. Elbowing back the duvet, she listened; the ghostly silence, loud. Her eyes played dance party with the room, except none of the moves registered. Her heartbeat, however, was taking on an unpleasant thumping pace. Warily, she sat up in the bed, elbows resting on her thighs, hands cupping her face, eyes surveying the room. The position of the bed seemed inverse, or was it the angle of the ship. Her brain hadn't fully engaged, and it suspended between her memory of Harry but unsure where. She only knew it wasn't her room, and that's not quite how the bed was yesterday morning. In front of her, an object on the desk gave her the full dose of her wake up shot. And her chest tightened. She outwardly spluttered through the uncomfortable feeling her sight painted for her memory. Sitting in its high court position on the desk was Joshua's piloting sunglasses, judging her entire demeanour. At the realisation, she folded herself onto the duvet in shame. This was her suite, the one she should be happily sharing with her man for the remainder of the cruise, awaking next to him in cuddles, kisses, laughter and the scent of their entanglement buried in the sheet's threads. Instead, the space on the bed next to her was untouched. Gingerly Lemara crawled out of bed, picking up her wrap along the way to the bathroom, then to the living room, calling Joshua's name ever so quietly as she reached the middle of the room. Only the emptiness of the chair she'd left him in hours earlier greeted her. Josh! She called back towards the kitchen. Met with a chastising silence, Lemara moved out onto the deck. No one could complain the sun didn't work in this part of the world. Only eight in the morning, and the temperature was searing at eighty-two degree Fahrenheit. She adjusted her wrap. It's light, so bright it darkened her vision and birds squawking overhead seemed more to curse at her than anything else. None of the bliss her man turning up unexpectedly should have brought with it. Adjusting her wrap once more, she inhales the air. At least that seemed to have been kissed, if only by the Caribbean Sea's raw, salty notes. The ship had already docked but not with their side facing the port. In the distance, she could see land and remembering Cozumel was an island just off Mexico's coast, she surmised that must be it. Her eyes fell to the water below, her mind to the bridge's wings last night and everything else that followed. The raw ache pinched, shooting her through the heart! Bon Jovi's lyrics had registered their true meaning; only she was the one to have brought it on herself. Layering the top of the railings with her arms, she rested her chin and peered over the balcony. Then it dawned. Had he even slept there? She just as quickly dismissed it. That wasn't Joshua. Though the same could not be said for herself over the last few days. And could she blame him if her cavalier behaviour pushed an unsuspecting button? Memory lane took her back to three years ago in a hotel in Singapore with Julia. Her first trip to Singapore and Joshua's friend's wedding. And because Joshua couldn't make it, Julia came in his place. Unknown to Lemara at the time, Julia had covertly questioned her on cheating one of those mornings. That was the morning after she'd briefly sat out on the verandah of their hotel's courtyard suite with the guy who had helped her, help a tipsy Julia back to their suite. None the less, she'd passed. One thing she'd often recalled from that trip was what Julia had said to her. My brother is a pilot and, compared to the rest, a bit of a bore. Trust me, I know. But better that, than one that gives you a warren of headaches. So do not mistreat him, and he'll treat you better than he treats himself. And he treats himself well! Those words now tore at her, and her lungs fought with her chest frame for air. Thinking she heard their main door, she moved to the sliding doors to look, but it was just her thoughts. This was her doing. How was she to fix it? How was she to explain her rocking of the boat over the last couple of days? Her words were continually fighting with each other to leave her lips in any coherent fashion. And when indeed the battle stilled, her lips turned crypt, burying it all in. Bare countertops stared back at her from their fitted positions when she walked into the kitchen. No freshly delivered coffee greeted her, and no coffee machine. A slight oversight, she was sure. Picking up the phone to dial the butler, the suite's front door clicked open. Joshua strolled in, his skin glistening with sweat where his clothes weren't stuck to his body, a towel in one hand, a coffee in the other. Her spirits were delighted. Hey! She greeted him as pleasingly as she could from the doorway of the kitchen. He looked up from the towel he'd dried his face in, and when their eyes met, her chest caved. Her stomach slumped back to the pits it must indeed belong in. He blinked as if not expecting to see her standing there. Hi. He retorted. Did you go to the gym? Making small talk as he walked by her. I was shooting some hoops on the ball court. Ohh, I didn't know there was a court on here. He paused just in front of her as she spoke, about to respond, but he quickly shifted his thinking and kept walking. His natural masculine scent registering a tremor on her Richter scale. The one cup of coffee he finished and neatly shot the empty cup in the bin. No coffee for me? Her voice slightly weaker. I thought you'd still be sleeping. Ohh! Lemara spurted. In the four years they'd been together, a single cup of coffee had never come home. Should I order us some breakfast? She called to him in the bathroom. You can, but I'm not hungry. Lemara's eyes fell to the floor, and the sound of the shower going cancelled out anything else she wanted to say. Whatever else you do today, Lemara, it will be in your interest to bring Joshua's nose and the horizon level. This situation was causing Joshua's nose to pitch down, and that was proving to be disorientating. Aviation speak, but she is indeed dealing with a pilot. Not when he was in the throws of his command course to become captain was he this disengaging. Still, she dialled for the butler and continental breakfast for two. ------------------ A Danish pastry had successfully glazed her lips. Their butler Gerard, also full of morning cheer, busied himself laying out the breakfast in the kitchen. Ahh, Ms Hiisen, you will be pleased to know that your driss will be ready and back with you this afternoon. The danish, on its second trip to her lips, was held in suspension. Not because she hadn't noticed her butler was South African but because she immediately remembered the blue dress. The one Harry had teasingly buttoned her into before heatedly stripping her out of, now sitting in laundry services. That dress, the source of the tension between herself and her man. She glanced sideways at Gerard. Dress? She asked, double-checking she had heard him correctly. Yis. The white driss. Ahh! The tunic? Yis. You will never know it had any marks on it. Thank you, Gerard. (And you will never know the vexation that followed when no one picked up our call this morning.) She mooned. Gerard... (Lemara paused, contemplating how best to string the next sentence in order to retrieve the blue dress Harry sent to the laundry back.) Yis Madam! While Gerard poured her a cup of coffee, Lemara stood and stared at the back of his head, agonising over her next sentence. As if sensing she was about to invite an uninvited name to the suite, a subtle, musky veil of Joshua's fragrance joined them in the kitchen, hinting his shower was over. Actually, Gerard, it's okay! Are you sure, Madam? Yes, I am sure. If you change your mind... No, it's okay! Cutting him off. He handed her the cup of coffee, checked again there wasn't anything else and left. For a second time that morning, the suite was quiet. Josh! Carefully choosing her note. Lemara. Her name becoming both a question and an answer. What are we doing today? That would be horseback riding, Lemara. Are we? Putting the coffee down, almost cantering towards the bedroom door. Ohh, but I have nothing to wear. She caught a picture of Joshua's face and his shirtless torso as he peered out the bedroom door. A picture of 'and why don't you know that' painted across it, shooting her dead in her strut. She halted. He disappeared back into the room, returning shortly with a pair of coffee-coloured breeches and her phone, kissing her on the head as he gave them to her. Luckily, no one was watching because that kiss was the kiss of Judas. Read your messages. The three words very pronounced. And he disappeared once again back into the bedroom. Oh Gawd! She'd just spent the last minute compounding an already terrible situation, dipping Joshua's nose further below its horizon. For someone who's boyfriend is a pilot, she had picked up nothing on reading an attitude indicator. Throwing the breeches over her left shoulder, she crept back into the kitchen, sipping the cup of coffee Gerard had poured. Picking up where she'd left off yesterday, she hastily finished Joshua's unread messages to her. Also, have you seen there's horseback riding in Cozumel? Do you want to do that? I think we should; you've always wanted to. Gonna get you a pair of breeches. Actually, have Julia get you a pair. That way they'll be no stone-cold faces between us. Missing you as always xxx Baby, are you getting my messages??? Grand Cayman is all yours. Let me know what you've decided, if anything. By the way, did you take your red dress with you? I can't seem to find it. Let me know. Missing you as always xxx Hun, I hope you're ok and by some means getting these messages. Ok, this silence is uncomfortable. Almost driving me mad. I'm going to call you. The next day. Em, I've called 5 times. Says number not in range. Hoping that's all it is. Wheels up shortly. Next time I text you, it'll be from Mexico next. Seeing you soon! Baby, we've just landed. Wish I could come straight to you but don't suppose a few more hours will hurt waiting for your ship to dock tomorrow morning. Missing you you as always xxx Ohh Gawd! Guilt seeped through her stomach's lining. Could anyone possibly be upset with Joshua and his current disposition right now? Certainly not her. Lemara closed her eyes, massaging the spot between her eyebrows as if she had a headache. She had cast aside her man to play 'happy couple' with another. And all that time he was thinking about her. She really didn't know how to face Joshua after that. There was no defence she could build for her case that'll prove adequate. Even that unread message from Eleanor maybe a notch up on the happy scale compared to how she felt. Turns out, Eleanor wanted to take her to lunch on the weekend to congratulate her on completing her Masters. Now that was unexpected, like birdsong on a winter's evening. Was Eleanor finally warming to her? Or was it the Masters she now had to her name? Either way, it wasn't going to be possible, and so she quickly texted her back to confirm. Although Lemara was sure, Eleanor was aware of this (Joshua would have told her). Still, a quick text replying and acknowledging her kindly offer would be the nice thing to do. Dressed in a grey, knee-length shorts, his polo shirt adorning one hand instead of the chest that didn't greet her this morning, Joshua strode into the living room, his phone and tablet in the other. His fragrance hanging about him so deliciously. Leaning onto the door frame, Lemara's forefinger and middle finger marked her lips as she took a deep breath, inhaling him all in. She watched him as he took a seat facing her at the far end of the room and went onto his phone. Neither said anything. He had since been staring at his screen intently when he asked. Em, I'm going to ask again. Did you know Harry before you came on the cruise? What on earth was he looking at on his phone? The question nabbed her, causing her to tilt her head ever so slightly as if uncertain she had heard what she had heard. Joshua, I promise you, I'd never before met him. Their eyes once more locked like antlers. Josh, we did not know each other before this cruise. (Feeling the need to cement what truth there was of the situation.) We briefly crossed paths as I was leaving the hotel in Fort Lauderdale, but that was it. Locked hard, but she couldn't nudge, neither could she withdraw; that move belonged to Joshua. And when he did, he went back to looking at his phone's screen. She had well and truly, rocked this boat. What time do we need to be at the horse riding place? Lemara asked, wanting to create some pleasant atmospheric conditions in the suite. You've got an hour and a half. Looking at his watch. I'll go get showered and ready. Typical, her phone chose to go off just as she stepped into the shower. She was almost sure she heard an echo in the living room, too; whoever it was would have to wait. The steaming hot shower considerably more enticing than whatever message had come through. Braids piled high on her head, she stood with her back to the door - water cascading off her, her forehead resting on the cool slate. Her mobile went off once again, causing her to come out of her daze, and she turned around. Still, through the steam, she thought she saw Joshua standing in the doorway. But when he hadn't moved, she switched off the shower, crinkling the corners of her eyes to adjust her focus. It was Joshua alright, feet crossed at his ankles, his phone in one hand, the other supporting him off the door frame and still shirtless. Face sombre, Lemara thought, Oh Gawd what now! Sensing whatever it was couldn't be right, she delayed taking his phone he was handing her by reaching for a towel, dabbing her face dry. With one reserved hand, she took the phone, the other she used to clasp the towel to her chest, letting it drape against her dripping wet body to the floor. On the screen, just in, a message to their trio group chats from Julia. Em, the guy on your left in the photo, where do we know him from?
14 - What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Were you ever going to mention it? Joshua challenged. Lemara stood, hands crossed to her front, giving herself the only hug she'd be getting this side of the morning. Her lips pursed, knowing she had been backed into a corner with that question. Lemara, when did our communication stop having open, revolving doors? Just when? His jaw ticked. Not something she'd seen often of him. Matter of fact the only time she'd seen it before was with Julia crashing his car. Not just crashed it but recklessly did so. Oh, and when she'd given away a painting she'd gifted him to one of her admirers. A portrait she did of herself. Her head back and eyes closed—her skin a dark coffee against a black background. Gold threads crisscrossing her pixie haircut with gold eye shadow and dripping liquid lips to match. Joshua loved that painting, and it hung pride of place in the living room. She had last minute decided she would replace it with another, but he'd noticed the second he walked through the door and was well, his version of livid. So in fact, his sister has been the only known person to make his jaw tick, now Lemara had joined the ranks. Not good. That flumping hot dog. That flumping hotdog, Lemara had insisted on, had created a real bone of contention. After one bite, she'd shared the rest of it with her dazzling white top and with the floor. Gutted, she almost cried, half for the hot dog she lost, the other half for her tunic that by then, had resembled a butcher's apron. Save for her quick thinking man, who had them dash back to the suite, calling the butler to come to their rescue. Except their butler had chosen that opportune moment to practice his downward dog pose, leaving Joshua chivalrously offering to run it to laundry services. Regrettably for Lemara, the route to laundry services wasn't one she ever had mapped out in her head. Therefore when her astute boyfriend asked her to retrace her steps with an earlier white shirt, the sound of cowpat hitting the fan could not be mistaken. Em, when you left here this afternoon with that white shirt, wasn't it to laundry services you went? Stuck, as if someone had poured glue just where she chose to stand in the bathroom. A bathrobe now tied so tightly around her waist, she was easily a magician's assistant, no illusion required. The perpetrating white tunic stared back at her from between the double sinks, like an innocent bystander to the spectacle. There was no way out of this; the tunic, or was it the hotdog or the damned absent butler had backed her into a corner. No. Lemara finally denied. Joshua was still, calm, holding his position at the entrance to the bathroom and walk-in closets. Em, whose shirt, was it? His speech calculated, his words articulated. She buried her face in the palms of her hands; her speech muffled when she finally spoke. Whose shirt? Eyes slightly arched, voice starched. Harry's. Her face and response coming out of the grave at the same time. Harry as in, the Harry who took that photo? Harry, as in Harry at the pool? As in the Harry on the bridge? That Harry? He'd swung a samurai's sword with each mention of Harry's name. Cutting her every time he did. That last 'Harry' so deep, she bled. Lemara. How did this man's shirt come to be in your room? She buried her face back into her palms, sheltering from the quiet storm brewing—each question drawing life from her. Le-mara Heisen. Captain Hart replaced Joshua Hart. Removing the implicating parts of the triangle's third leg, she gave him the entire novella she'd downgraded from a novel. His eyes lasered hers, his left forefinger straight as a bow, staccato his columella as if in the early part of Mendelssohn's violin concerto. The production now in recess, Joshua recapped the performance. So you get caught in an outburst, sluiced in their juice, and Harry turns Magic Mike in the middle of the club, giving you his shirt? She nods. Her face successfully refraining from sparking a smirk at Joshua's rendition. Em, today, you remembered to tell me some woman made a snarky remark towards you but not that you got caught up in a whole brawl and this guy denudes himself, giving you his shirt. She now had to smother a chuckle at Joshua's exaggeration. Only, he caught her reaction and stood poker-straight. Lemara, is there any reason you're finding this amusing? Met with the silence, of his rhetorical question, he continued. Let us for argument sake, accept that's what happened, why didn't you say that instead of disappearing with the shirt. I thought I'd take the shirt back and that be that. Baby, do you think the concern here is the shirt going back? What is concerning Lemara, is the cloak and dagger way, in which it has all now unfolded. No longer able to uphold the frame that she effortlessly carried around for the last twenty-something years, she leans back onto the sink for support. Sunrise was due in less than a few hours, but this situation was sure to bring on a polar night. So he gave you his shirt and then what? And then what? She repeated. Don't do that Lemara. Joshua paused, his patience wearing thin. What happened after he gave you his shirt? Did you stay at the club? Did he escort you back to your room? Because that's what I'd do if I was single and had stripped in a club for a woman I found sexy and whose bed was only a few minutes away. Joshua no one stripped. Lemara can we concentrate on the crucial parts here. So to be clear, Joshua continues probing, did you take the shirt to Harry this afternoon? Lemara nods, and she feels her mouth begin to twist into that nervous pout. Lemara when you came back from delivering the shirt today you were unhinged. Is there anything else you are not telling me? Lemara pauses, at the uninvited double barrels, her stomach performed to the question, while Joshua stood waiting patiently for an answer. No. She finally answers, looking him directly in the eyes. Anything else will kill us Josh, and this is not the way we are going to go. She bit on her lower lip almost close to tears at the turmoil she brought on herself. How did you know where to take his shirt? He gave me his room number. Is he in a suite on the other side of the ship? Left eye arched, she holds his gaze. Oh Gawd, how does he know? Yes, he is. Quietly answering. So that is the reason the Denhams thought they saw you this afternoon going into that suite. Joshua walks away, at the same time, the suite's phone rings. Lemara could hear him on the phone asking for someone to collect an item for cleaning. Still glued to her spot, she rolls her head back, the cowpat had ultimately hit the fan. Why had she not called her man or checked her mobile since arriving on the cruise? Ahh yes, Harry. How did she end up in this mess? Yes, that too involved Harry. Uhh. The tears were there ready to roll. Except she could hear Joshua opening the door to the suite and someone apologising on behalf of their butler. Em, the butler is coming in. Joshua called to her. It's O-kay! I've not... moved... from where you... Her thoughts trailing off because of whom stood behind Joshua looking at her. Oh Gawd, what must he think? Nearly twenty-four hours ago he saw me in Harry's suite on the opposite side of the ship and in his shirt. And the entire time Joshua had his eyes on her. Good morning madam. James greeted. Good morning. Lemara managed to voice. Now in the inspection of Exhibit A, James was quick to rule the stain would be cleared. But cleared or not, that tunic had incriminated her. What was that? What was what? She asked. That look. Joshua, what is it with you and that look? Do you know him? Yes, he's Harry's butler. And you know that because? His thunder clapping. He served us breakfast! In a lightning flash. And immediately she saw the storm she had fed. Well, don't just stop there keep talking. Exasperated, she turns away from him but instead now faced his reflection full on in the mirror. Josh! I am listening. Can we do this later, please? It's four in the morning an we are both tired and exhausted. No Lemara, this is not one for brushing under the carpet. Their reflections mirroring each other. Lemara two months ago you moved out, and you moved into the apartment. (His speech slow) You said you needed the space to decide where or what you wanted from this relationship. I wasn't head over heels, but I thought at least, I know where you are, and weren't far from me—and then you came away on this holiday. You needed it for more thinking space. And I thought you know what, let her have it. Then I realised that as much as the decision is yours whether or not we stay together it involved the two of us and we should make it together. Joshua pauses. Instead, I come on holiday to my woman who's so preoccupied with another man; she hasn't even had time to read my messages. And this morning, it wasn't me you were expecting, was it? They stared at each other via the mirror, but it was Lemara who cracked, bowing her head over the sink, her guilt no longer dammed. Lemara knows this situation should be one of those where she limits her words. She often felt Joshua would have done just as well as a lawyer as he did piloting planes. He turned to walk away and then turned back. Did you know him before you came on this cruise? No, I didn't. Her response was quick. Okay, Josh, I know how this looks... Okay Lemara, how does it look? You tell me. How does this look? When you hadn't responded to my texts, I thought maybe you had no reception, but then I noticed the messages kept going through. If nothing else I knew your phone was alive somewhere. So then I thought, perhaps, just perhaps you wanted to disconnect. Instead, it turns out my woman appears to be connecting with a man she only just met. Even Lemara had to admit to herself, Julia's last-minute replica painting of herself looked much better than the picture Joshua just painted of her. And not only did you ignore my texts Lemara, but you've seemed a little preoccupied throughout the day. Which leads me back to this morning when I arrived. It seemed a bit off, the way you greeted me, but it's making sense now. Would you like me to return to London, Lemara? His question and his tone wrangled a knot about her chest and tore at it. Her eyes stinging met his in the mirror. Josh, no. This wasn't how this night was supposed to climax. He met her eyes once more in the mirror and walked away. There was hurt in those eyes of his, and it severed her to the core. The meteorologist's weather report coming through on the pending storm sounded far more soothing than the storm she'd just encountered. Showered, she tumbled onto the bed and for what felt like half an hour watched the television lights flicker through to the darkened bedroom. Finally getting up, lifting her heavy chest with her to the doorway of the bedroom. Josh. She paused, waiting for him to respond but when he didn't, continued. Are you coming to bed? In a minute. He acknowledged, finally looking away from the tv screen to her. If their eyes were antlers, they'd be in a sore locked position now, their emotions battling back and forth with them. Something told her that minute would be longer than a New York minute, certainly longer than a Greenwich minute and most certainly, more extended than a Caribbean minute. Crushed by a storm she created, she slumped onto the far side of the bed, taking comfort in the one thousand count threads of the Egyptian cotton that covered it. Surrendering to sleep's invitation.
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. Ca-aptain Haart! 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? Mmmm 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? Four years. 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? 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? Uhuh. 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 Nope. I ain't got no Red American Express Ah, ahh. 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. Hmmm. 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.
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. Joshua isn't a lover of Vodka, he likens the taste to alkaline water and instead opts for a lowly beer. Lemara tells the waiter to surprise her and Joshua reminds her she hasn't eaten. 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. Oh Gawd! 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.
Part 11 - What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on The Cruise
Shit. Shiit. Shiiit. Her stomach regurgitated a bitter fluid to the back of her throat and left it there. Her body's temperature ran a dizzying hot and cold like someone on drugged up hot flushes. There was nothing for that now, Joshua's eagle-eyes had seen the white shirt. Her only saving grace was, he was more interested in getting her phone than the answer to his question. Weak from the knowledge Joshua had seen the shirt, she forced herself to go near it. It smelled of her and maybe even the scent of her and Harry. A quick thorough inspection exposed no monograms that tagged it back to Harry. Because not even Lemara could explain those initials on a white shirt this size. The label wasn't one that Joshua wore; neither was the collar size his. Had this happened in her room, she may have gotten away with blaming it on poor housekeeping. Do you know that shirt was there when I checked in and though I've raised it with housekeeping, they've yet to remove it? But it wasn't. This suite was first checked into by Joshua, knowing him, his sharp eyes would have done a once over and missed nothing. She couldn't dance around the situation that way. Lemara considered feigning ignorance, but then Harry's shirt would likely be taken to valet services never to be seen again. And she did not want that. Further, she didn't want an investigation carried out with the butler only to confirm the shirt came direct from room 7007 to theirs. Think. Think. Think. She told herself, despite that her brain came up with nothing. Before docking in Costa Maya that morning, that little bubble she discharged herself into, was okay, a bubble. Now it was showing itself for what it could be, 'the sin that did Jezebel in.' She'd come away on this cruise to decide on her four-year relationship with Joshua. Despite him not seeing himself married again, niggling at her, nothing about their relationship deserved this. Think. Think Lemara. She could hear herself saying, except it hurt to do so. Massaging her temple between her fingers to subdue the pain and lure an answer. Hiding the shirt was not smart, at least her brain recognised that, beyond that, nothing else. Joshua remained on the phone, and for now, he continued to be distracted. No hun, it's not your shirt. She heard herself saying. However, the questionnaire that was Joshua would follow up with a five-tier inquisition. She was not prepared for that. Lemara paced back and forth from the shirt, her mouth in a nervous twitch, seemingly hoping it would offer an answer. Her palms had become hot and clammy from the thinking they weren't doing. As a matter of fact, her entire body had become icky. Her chest hurt from the guilt settling in and she felt trapped. I'm going to tell him the truth. She heard herself say, biting down on her lower lip, almost drawing blood. Joshua... Her voice quavered. Last night... Her stomach churned. They'd broached the subject of infidelity before; all open and casual conversations. Identifying they had slightly different boundary lines when it came down to it. Except there was no blurring this line, she'd definitely crossed over. Joshua was still on the phone when Lemara went into the shower. She stood there, allowing the warm water to cascade off her like an uninterrupted waterfall. It was sometime later when she emerged, still without any different an outcome for the white shirt, other than the one she had previously gone in with. From the conversation Joshua was having, she detected he was on the phone to Eleanor. Shit! She had managed to ignore reading Eleanor's message until now, thinking she'd ask Joshua about it. There was no way Lemara was going to show her face in the lounge then. As if by some godsend, the conversation switched to Julia, and she got her revelation. She weighed up the situation, which one would be more damning. Julia's or hers? She towelled herself dry, wrapped herself in a bathrobe and marched back to her wardrobe. She pulled her silver-edged sequin white tunic, matching shorts and a pair of silver sandals. Piling her braids high on her head, she dressed quickly. Stripped the white shirt still on the hanger from the rail and walked into the lounge. Except she found she couldn't go through with the current plan. She couldn't take Harry's shirt to laundry services. Instead, she went back to her makeup bag, fished out the key card Harry had given her to his suite and marched into the lounge. Joshua looked up as she came out of the bedroom, his eyes trailed from the deep V in the tunic to the end of it, stopping where the shorts did just below her bum. Whatever situation Julia had managed to create was sufficient for Eleanor to call Joshua about it. And Joshua was the mediator, good son and a twin brother who did his best to mediate. Pointing to the shirt in her hand, Lemara mouthed she was taking the shirt away, sufficiently audible for Joshua to hear. He moved the phone from his ear, an inquisitive look on his face. It's not your shirt. Okay. Why don't we let the butler take it away? No, it's okay. I'll do it. She replied, breezing out the door before Joshua had a chance to counter. Lemara hurried down the corridor to the lifts, crossed over on the opposite side and turned back on herself down the aisle to Harry's, letting herself in. She leaned back onto the door. It was quiet in the suite, but it smelled of him. Harry? She waited for a moment and when only her echo came back, made her way to the bedroom and the bed that had brought her much pleasure that morning. Her chest ached from her heart's gurgling rhythm, because that same bed may well usurp a four-year relationship from underneath her. She laid the shirt on the bed, quickly picked up a pen and note pad from the bedside table and started her note. His whisper into her ear nearly left her at sea. I'm here. I'll hear the message in person. Hugging her around her waist from behind. So engrossed was Lemara getting the job over and done with, she hadn't heard Harry come in. His unexpected presence startled her, rendering her knees like jelly. Just as well he was holding her close. I scare you now? No, Harry, you don't. Turning around to face him. Lemaruh, I almost had to fish you out of the Atlantic. Mr Langdon, you do make me laugh. Softening her chuckles in his chest. I am glad to see you, although, I have to admit I wasn't expecting you back here so soon. Don't tell me he's let you out of his sight again. Harry, I'm not tied to him. That I know, but if it were me. I'd tie you to me in every way I could. Squeezing Lemara and resting his chin on her head. You'd soon enough want to tie yourself to a tree, Mr Langdon. Hmm, so tell me, what did you and your lover get up to today? Harry's chin was still resting on her head. She remained still. Was Harry asking her about her day or otherwise? She moved her head back to catch his eyes and they were warm and smiling. And not one's she was prepared to deal with. Being this close to him, in his arms, smelling him, really wasn't what she needed. Her emotions whirled between pangs of guilt and flashes of... She untangled herself, sat on the bed and sighed. It was that good, was it? Joshua had messaged me about today... She paused, recalling the reason she missed the messages. In any case, I'd not seen them. Long and short, we went ahead with what he'd planned. And you? I didn’t go with my lover, just me. The one I invited stood me up. (A fleck of amusement in his voice.) But, I too went ahead with my plans. Lemara was chuckling again when the doorbell rang, and Harry turned to get the door. Harry, if it is your butler, I cannot be here. He took her hand, leading her to the door. Looking through the peephole, he whispered. It's a couple—one in a wheelchair. Remembering the Denhams from earlier, she peered through the peephole herself and just as she was about to tell him don't open the door, he did. Oh hi! The high pitched voice of Mrs Denham boomed through the suite. Hi, can I help? Oh, we were looking for Joshua and Lemara, we just saw her come in. Behind the door, Lemara's fingers steepled over her nose and mouth at the sound of her name. Joshua and .... No, you have the wrong suite. I'm sure it was her we saw. Mrs Denham retorted. After some deliberation, they accepted they were possibly wrong, apologised for the trouble and left. Harry closes the door and turns to Lemara. Oh, Gawd Harry. Her voice thick with emotion. They saw me come in. Do you know them? We came back on board the ship earlier. She spun on her heels, one hand on her hips the other going up to shield the imaginary sunlight from her face. Okay, Harry, I need to go. Don't leave just yet; they may still be in the aisle. Lemara's palms revisited the tension on her face. Plus you've still not told me why you are here. She recounted the events of the day, everything from her move to a suite next door, to their butler, to his shirt she just brought back that Joshua had seen. And that the shirt was the reason she was in his room. So does he think you went to laundry services? Yes, he does. You can stay here with me then. A slow smile emanating his face. No, Harry, I can't. Lemara turns to walk away. However, Harry keeps holding her hands and kisses them as he walks her to the table he worked from earlier that morning. There's a folded complimentary slip on the table, and he hands it to her. It opens to a list of seven hotel chains, contact names, numbers and email addresses written down. What's this? Lemara asks sedated. A list of people you can call about that dream job you told me about this morning. Lemara raises her eyes from the unfolded slip of paper to Harry and back to it. Further engaging with the list and adding her own geotags to it. Harry, these are all in the US. Not entirely, Singapore is not in the US. Winking at her. She wants to smile, but the pressure of her situation subdued it. Lemara refolds the paper, places it in his palms and leaves. Retracing her steps to her suite. She gets to her door and realises she hasn't got a key for her own suite—the irony. She knocks and Joshua now dressed in a pair of white shorts, and a white linen shirt contrasted with the mahogany double monks and belt from Christmas 2017 opens the door. You know we could just as easily have given the shirt to the butler? Yes, but it is all sorted now. Walking in the door and past Joshua, who remained standing in the doorway. Hun, you've got that mood on. Leaning on the opened door as he said it. Baby, you know what? Can we get some food? I'm kinda hungry.
2017 was a good year for me. Joshua and I had been together for just over two years and still felt like the honeymoon period. For two people who were not in any way looking for a relationship when we met, I'd have to say it's going really well. He was pragmatic, did nothing by halves and flown me off my very grounded feet. In every sense of the word. I also felt very sure of him. He must also have felt sure of me as he asked me to move in with him at the start of the year. Although he did make it clear he couldn't see himself getting married again. I reminded him, I was a rubbish cooked and hated cleaning. His response was simple. 'If I wanted a housekeeper, I'd get one.' Another reason for 2017 being a great year was, I'd just landed a dream job with a private jet company and was genuinely looking forward to the start of that. Joshua's twin sister, Julia and I were getting on remarkably well. She said I was the twin sister; she didn't have. Not so much of a high was the relationship between Joshua's mother, Eleanor and myself, there always seemed to be this unsavoury edge in her dealings with me. Nevertheless, Joshua and I topped off 2017 buying a rental flat near Heathrow, refurbished it and had taken on our first tenants. Two pilots, who were starting with a low-cost airline out of the airport. ----------------------- 'Hun, what's going on in there?' Knocking on the door. 'Rearranging a few things.' 'Would you like some help? And why is the door locked?' Trying the door handle. 'Almost done.' 'Okay but you've been in and out of this room all morning.' Had we not opened all our Christmas presents in the wee hours, I would have guessed it was a surprise gift, but we had. I turn to Julia, who's sitting very comfortably on our living room couch in the porcelain-white, comfy cashmere lounge set to the luxe grey one I'm wearing. There's a matching longline cardigan that goes with it. Mine was currently hung over the back of the chair. Her mani-pedi is a cherry-red, while I got mine decked in a Thulian pink. A Christmas treat to ourselves, except she's gone one step further and topped hers off with a Santa Claus hat. A sated grin on her face. 'You slept in this room this morning; I know you know whats going on?' 'Your guess is as good as mine hun.' Joshua and Julia have their differences; but the bond between those two, never to be underestimated. As closely knit as the two parts of a kinky twist. She innocently taps the space on the couch next to her, for me to come and sit. I do so because truth be known I'm tired from only two hours sleep. And no, it's not what your thinking. We stayed up, all three of us after our friends left, watching Netflix, playing games, opening presents, chatting and laughing. Only crowning our pillows after realising the BBC Breakfast team was gracing the tv screen in the kitchen. I pick up a flute and the bottle Julia is drinking from, out of the ice bucket. I study the 'Non-Alcoholic' label, and I recall she hadn't drunk much, if anything all night. I turn to her, with one slightly raised eyebrow, the no-alcohol caption aimed in her direction. 'Hun, are you pregnant?' She pauses for a bit, undoubtedly caught off guard by the question. 'Oh Gawd No. Do you want to send Eleanor to hell and an early grave?' 'We both sputter into a laugh.' 'Can you imagine her face when I tell her that? You know how orthodox she is about that stuff.' I pour myself a glass of her choice of non-alcoholic sparkle, and we cheer Eleanor just as Joshua opens the door of the spare room. I want to leap to my feet and catch him as he opens the door, but Julia must have sensed it, as she quickly shouts to Joshua. Just then Joshua swaggered out the room. The sleeves of his white shirt rolled three-quarters of the way up and tucked neatly into one of his most worn jeans. The pair of mahogany double-monks and matching belt (one of my Christmas gifts to him last night) now on the catwalk. We had just slept next to each other, yet it was as if I was seeing him for the first time. My lips take on a mind of their own, pucker and suck in, at the hot stuff standing before me. He looked damn fine. Not only was he dressed, but wheeling our matching pair of Samsonite carryons. His overnight bag perched on one, a deep blue blazer draped on the other. My eyes are now like dessert saucers as he tells me to get my shoe on. It must have been the bubbles or the quick cadence my pulse had taken on; I no longer had control over the air that went in or out my lungs. I lurch forward spluttering, doing my best to keep the juice in the glass and save the carpet from a cold bath. 'Oh gosh Josh, you've killed her!' Julia chuckles to Joshua as she gives me a solid thump on my upper back. But if Julia's thump was to save me from asphyxiation, I was now closer to dying from the pain of it. I soon crawled back into the world of the living sufficiently conscious to ask. 'Where are we going?' 'Your Shoe.' Was all he said. I glance up at the clock on the wall and it's coming up to nine in the morning. Baby, it's Christmas Day, where are we going? 'Em, at this pace, Captain Tan may have to come and get us, instead of us going to meet him. Get a pair of heels on please.' 'Seriously? And can I wear this?' Pulling the drawstrings of my joggers. 'Em, even if I draped you in crocus bag, you'd still shine a light on all around you.' He had a flourish when it came to words, something else I admired about him. Somehow I was glued to the couch, leaving Julia to get up, leave the room and later return with a pair of dark grey heels belonging to me. My eyes skip from the heels Julia is pointing in my direction, to her and then to Joshua. No one said anything, not even the heels. Defeated, I put them on and pick up my matching cardigan. Joshua had surprised me with last-minute trips before, but I'd always done the packing. Finding out we were travelling a few minutes before leaving and bags already packed, was the eighth wonder in my world. Julia was also shoving her feet into a pair of trainers. It was clear the joke, surprise, holy grail whatever it was, was on me, so I said nothing more. We file out the door shortly after like the uneven containers of a cargo train—a carryon, Joshua, the other carryon, me, and Julia, who locked the door. Joshua didn't have his flight bag, which meant he wasn't flying the plane back either. He placed the cases in the car's trunk while Julia plopped herself in the back seat, and I sat in the front. Joshua jumped in behind the wheel and keyed the ignition into a song and choreography. The engine beats the same time as the horns of Mayer Hawthorne's 'Time for Love' bleats through the speakers and Julia and I add back up vocals to his 'Loving you in the day' Still takes my breath away.' Joshua looks over at me knowingly and I give him a slow, sexy smile. Quietly gushing to know he has been playing the song, as its currently my jam on repeat. As in, I put in on and play it nonstop for hours and hours. You get the picture. We are racing over to Heathrow; I know this because its a route I've done many times bringing Joshua's car back. His authority behind the vehicle's wheel as poetic as his command of his plane's yoke, as confident as his handle on my body. But then after two years together, there weren't many things that he didn't have a command on. In truth, I didn't know of any. Just his presence alone was commanding. We come up behind a less fast-moving car in the outer lane, Joshua flashes the driver ahead, and they move over to the middle lane in their own time. 'Josh, does Eleanor know she'll not be seeing you today?' 'Yes, she does!' 'What did she say?' 'What could she say?' His response was quick. 'She wasn't upset her favourite son and child was off with a woman other than herself on Christmas Day?' Joshua scoffed at the word 'favourite.' I look over at him, his eyes on the road as he geared down for a bit of traffic up ahead because now, I too am a little surprised. We catch up with the slow-moving traffic, Joshua looks over at me and then to Julia. Turns back to the motorway and visibly inhales, tucking the front of his shirt to sit straight like an iron board cover over his torso. Its a running joke that where Eleanor is concerned, Joshua often chooses his mother. 'Despite what you two think, Julia, our mother, doesn't always get her way, it only appears that way. Its called negotiating.' 'So, Josh, what did you give up?' Julia jokes. Julia and I laugh. Honestly, those two, chalk and cheese one moment and then macaroni and cheese the next. And there are no prizes for guessing which one remained the constant. The traffic clears, and we are again racing to the airport, ignoring his twin sisters jest. He opens his left palm and sweeps it over for me to place mine in. It is one of his ways of quietly reassuring me. I put my right hand in his and he squeezes it. I look over at him, holding him with my eyes before looking back to the road. Being Christmas Day, the motorway is less of an unofficial parking lot and more of, well, a motorway, so that Joshua was now gearing down for the turnoff for Heathrow. Except he does not drive to his airlines' terminal but heads to another. I'm no longer interested in where we are going only that I'm going with him, and that wherever it is, it is warm. Plus there wasn't a coat between the two of us. He pulls up in front of Terminal 2. Jumps out, swiftly comes around to my side of the car and opens the doors for Julia and myself. Hands the keys to Julia and is getting the luggage cases out. Julia hugs me, wishes me a 'Merry Christmas' and a safe flight and does the same to Joshua. And for some reason, only known to myself, I start bawling my eyes out. Julia catches the river streaming down my face and blurts out. 'Em, whats with the emotions are YOU pregnant?' Joshua was lifting the second case out, it slips in his hands. He stops what he is doing, his focus now on me. I see he has a look of concern on his face, so I shake my head. 'I hate goodbyes!' I blubber. 'Aww Em, I'm going to miss you too!' 'Thank you' was all I could muster as I tried to smile through the tears. 'Well let's face it, I couldn't leave the packing of your wardrobe to him now, could I? Orange top, green shorts, ooph...' I could see Julia visualising it, a look of mock displeasure across her face as she quickly shakes the thought out of her head, but she had me smiling again. As Julia got in behind the wheel, Joshua knocked on the front passenger window. She rolled the glass down. 'Julia', he said, 'you are not a Formula One driver, and neither is this an F1 car, DO NOT DRIVE IT THAT WAY. 'Okay!' Giving Joshua the two-fingered Polish salute before accelerating. I chuckled knowing full well; she only did it to wind him up. (Joshua was sensitive when it came to his wheels and this one was brand new.) Except for the wonderfully decorated fir tree in the open square; the Christmas decorations hanging inside; a handful of passengers standing outside having a cigarette and wishing each other Merry Christmas, you'd be forgiven for forgetting it was Christmas Day. Or that you were at Heathrow. He locked the luggage cases by their handles so that they rode back to back and in unison. His left hand in the small of my back steering me towards the airline's first-class check-in desk. He takes my handbag out of his overnight luggage bag and passes it to me. It is the last purse I used, and I am hoping, everything I need is in it. I am still looking through my purse when I hear the Passenger Service Agent declare we have an hour to take-off. Whisked off to the lounge, but we only have time for a coffee and I take a sip of Joshua's bubbly before boarding on the upper deck. Courteously we are ushered to our seats, except it wasn't just seats that greeted us and I wasn't ready for what I saw. The attendant says this and that, Joshua is paying attention as he usually does, but my ears have taken on a noise-cancelling all of their own. My arms are crossed on my midriff, while Joshua is casually stroking his left hand down my spine. It feels good, sensual, but had my eyes not averted my concentration; his handy work would have taken its full effect. She leaves, and Joshua ushers me in, and I plop onto the chair. The one that swivels in-front of the tv; next to the side table away from the concealed bed and partition that goes down to make it a double bed. For a room on a plane, I could swing an amur tiger. 'Okay, hun!' I said, giving him the side-eye, still in shock after another once over of the suite. He picks up the glasses of champagne, and we toast us. 'Someone owed me a favour.' 'A favour.' I repeated after him. 'Did you save their life?' 'Something like that.' 'Is there anyone else that owes you a similar favour?' He smiles, takes my glass, puts it down alongside his, takes both my hands and pulls me back onto my heels. I pucker up to him, my arms go up around his neck, he secures me around my back with his authoritative arms, and we kiss, long and lingering. 'Merry Christmas!' He says when we finally let each other up. A little later, we are airborne and eating breakfast, or was it lunch? Well, whatever it was, we had just eaten deserved a blue ribbon. But now having eaten, the lack of sleep was knocking on my body's door. I suppose Joshua felt the same, as he picked up the two sets of airlines' PJs and led us down the aisle to the changing room. I argue we could have changed where we were, but he quarantines my words with his lips. It was some fifteen minutes later when we emerged from there. I try having a quick look around to see who would have noticed we were there for some time. There only appeared to be another two individuals on our deck. Joshua detected what I was up to, and in his mellowed out calm voice looked over at me. 'You're still not allowed to scream!' I smile broadly in surprise, and because I can't smile and walk at the same time, stopped walking. He, however, had not, and as he was holding my hand, I almost stumble forward in the slightly-big-for-me bed slippers I was now wearing. He glanced over at me as I immediately caught back up with him, that knowing look on his face. We got back to find the remnants of our meals taken away; soft lights and the bed, made. Whoever designed this must be a member of that particular club or innate understanding of what the club members desired. Joshua closed the door behind him, lifted me onto his hips, and I lock my legs either side of him. Quickly putting my right palm up to prevent my head from connecting with the plane's ceiling. We kissed. Each one becoming more desperate not like two people who'd just spent ten minutes out of fifteen in a changing room doing so. But I liked it. I liked it so much I was gusting for air. I responded with mouthsful of hotly tongued kisses, and he spun me up against the door, causing it to shudder. 'Joshua!' I gasped. 'Hmmm!' He groaned. His mouth had come down between my two mounds and his palms hot and firm moulded them. I feel the full effects of his landing gear come up to play against my aching parts, and I let out a little whimper. We were both still fully clothed, but I felt naked. It must have been the altitude or maybe the air sparked, coupled with the excitement of knowing other passengers were just a few feet away, and I felt reckless. He licks possessively on the gun powdered tip he's holding between his right forefinger and thumb. Rippling his tongue across my chest and over to the other, he bites down and sure enough, I spark, sending me up to thirty-two thousand feet. He could hear the bang coming as my whimper went to a whisper to... 'Not yet' He rasped. But he'd already set me off in the changing room. He quickly found my mouth, slipped his tongue inside it, but it was too late. I bit down on his tongue, saving the other passengers from a figurative bang and keeping the sensual one all to us. I sink my fingers into his flesh, burying my head in his chest, quivering. I catch up with my heart rate and can speak. 'Oh my Gawd, Joshua, the things you do to me.' 'Em, only the things you deserve.' I smile up at him, happy but disbelieving at how lucky; I'd become over the last two years. 'And another thing.' Walking me still on his hips over to the bed. 'Yes!' Beaming at him. 'That was your introduction to the Mile High Club.' I stare up at him as he abandons me on the bed, knees either side of his thighs as he pulls my pyjama bottoms off and starts ripping his pyjama shirt off. 'What makes you think, I'm not already a member?' His arms and shirt stop mid-air. I feel his aura grapple for composure. He finishes removing his shirt and looks down at me. 'Em, are you a member of the Mile High Club?' 'Joshua, is this where I ask you if you are prepared for the answer to the question you've just raised?' 'No, this is where you hopefully tell me you are not.' 'Why?' 'Because I was hoping this was something we both experience together for the first time.' 'Are you saying you are NOT a member of the Mile High Club?' I asked, intrigued. 'No, Lemara, I am not.' 'Josh-u-a. Everest. Hart. you've surprised me.' 'So come on, are you?' His torso tense. I pull my legs up to roll onto the bed and escape the question. I get onto all fours to scramble away. But he's quick and catches my ankles as I do so and I fall flat on my face in giggles. 'Joshua!' I shrieked, as loudly as was sensible, remembering there were passengers just outside. 'Josh! I kick out, but he is much stronger than I am, and I get nowhere. Instead, he crosses my ankles, bends my feet back to my bum, holding them there and lays down facing me on the bed. 'Who was your lover?' I sense a tinge of envy. It brought out a side of Joshua; I'd never before witnessed. I wanted to see how far I could push those self-restrained buttons of his. In my failure to answer he pulls my intimates off my bottom and halfway down my thighs, trapping my ankles in the footholes of them. I was laughing so much my stomach hurt. 'Joshua. Let me up please.' 'Not until you answer.' He looks at the time. 'And there's some ten hours remaining before we land in Singapore. So we have all day' 'Joshua, are you prepared for the answer?' A mocked-up serious look on my face. He paused, knowing that he uses the said line when I ask him an overly deep question. The right side of my underwear rips and he relaxes his hold and sets me free. I move over to the other side of the bed, discarding my torn underwear along the way. I get under the duvet and prop my head onto the pillow, releasing the scrunchy of its duties, of keeping my now dishevelled hair imprisoned in a bun. He props himself up against the headrest, puts on the tv and is quiet. I sense his emotions may be slightly bruised. Yet he sweeps his right hand over my forehead and tenderly brushes my hair out. Massaging my scalp with his fingertips as he does so. I feel myself falling off from the calming sensation. 'No.' I finally respond in a low voice before I fall off to sleep. 'What's a No?' Looking over at me. 'No, I am not a member of the Mile High Club.' His finger hair brushing pauses ever so briefly and then resumes. I must have fallen asleep, but I don't know for how long. I roused sometime later to feel the cool bareness of Joshua's body sans pyjamas against mine. The scent of that fragrance he'd made all his own, intensified in the darkness of the suite. My arousal sparked. His tongue stroke the inside of my mouth. Like his thrust levers, he raises my knees, stirring them forward on either side of his body, settling himself. I gasp as I become the holster of his full gunmetal pressing up against me. I go all warm, moist as his yoke eased forward into the aching he'd created earlier, and his distinguishable honeyed voice gusted through. 'Welcome to the Mile High Club Em!'
What Happens on A Cruise, Stays on The Cruise - Part 10
Welcome to your suite LHR! Joshua's seductive Captain's voice on. Spinning Lemara around, sealing the door shut as he caged her to it. His bedroom eyes on, as he tilted her face to meet his and sealed his lips down on hers. Her beach bag fell to the floor as her arms went up around his neck. His hands went up under her kimono around her hips and inside the straps of her bikini bottoms. Her chest pained under the two quick breaths she took in one. One for the fire Joshua was fanning the other for the tension he was causing. You're going to rip that. She muttered through their heated embrace. Em, I've wanted to do that all day. He boasted. His hands greedily splayed around her hips, fingers clenched on those lower cheeks that had been tempting him all day. The tension gave way on her left hip. The air on her behind suddenly cooler after her bikini bottom fell to the floor. Yet her front was significantly warmer from the heat of Joshua's impaling parts penetrating through his shorts and directly onto her. Lemara untangled their tongues and pulled back. I'll get you another—Joshua mouth before reconnecting his tongue with hers. But will it be a Julia Hart Collectable - was her immediate thought? The sound of a sharp knock on the door reverberated through her back. Her breath stopped short, and Joshua held still. He held onto her with his right arm, his left forefinger going up vertically against her pursed lips—playfulness in his eyes, neither saying anything. Housekeeping? A male voice choired. Joshua glanced through the peephole and quietly teased. Your butler and entourage is here with your wardrobe. Lemara's breath held at the word butler, but then the door lock rustled. Joshua stifled a loud enough yes for the staff outside the door to hear while he maintained their positions just inside it. His lips brushing the nape of her neck, causing her to tickle. His body in support of her falling over in amusement. The rustle on the door stopped. Joshua stepped back and stooped to her knees. Lift your leg. His voice lowered, rubbing on the outside of Lemara's right thigh and looking up at her. Joshua? Her eyes in mild astonishment. He skillfully tapped the back of her right knee, causing her leg to bend. He slid the bikini bottom off her leg and held it up on his fingers like some trophy, smiling a slow sexy smile. She clasped a hand over her mouth and smiled sheepishly. Em, what did you think I was doing? As he got up, teased a smack on her hip. He shoved the bikini bottom in his pocket and moved to open the door, as his eyes rode over her sheer kimono. Oo, stand behind me. Joshua instructed as he opened the door. What? Why? Lemara quizzed back. Joshua opened the door for the butler, his assistant and two bell boy trolleys. Stand behind me. Joshua looked back at her and repeated. The butler greeted Joshua and introduced himself to Lemara. A breath of relief when it was a Gerard that filed through the door and not James. They showed themselves to the bedroom, and wardrobes and Joshua closed the door. You are naked. Glancing down to where her bikini bottoms once served as window blinds. Lemara looked down at herself, stunned to see the sheerness of the material sans bikini bottoms did not require any flights of fancy. Nothing I'm willing to share with your butler and his help. His tone pointed, his face unquestioning. Joshua's phone rang out, swiftly followed by Lemara's, and subsequently by an incoming message on both their phones. Julia. Your sister! They both recited in unison. Lemara grabbed hold of her beach bag and the phone. Joshua preferred she ignored it, but knowing Julia, she'd only continue to call. Joshua, she will simply keep calling. Switch it off. Joshua was stern. Lemara found her phone and answered the call on the third call back. Joshua buried his face on the far side of Lemara's. Hey hun, how are you? Hey, why did you take so long to answer what were you guys up to? A beep came through, and Julia was now requesting for her to switch the call over to Whatsapp video. You mean you guys are wearing clothes? Joshua looked up to see the slightly longer-haired version of himself, buzzing away on the screen. Her pixie haircut pronouncing her facial features and freshly coiffed, as if she just stepped out of the hair salon. He shook his head and strode off to the bedroom. Where's he gone? I need to speak to him. Whatever my sister has to say, I don't want to know. I heard that. You were meant to. I need to borrow your car. Joshua heard the comment and broke his stride. That's a NO—his tone firm. Josh-u-a! She yelled down the phone. Causing Lemara to squint and place the phone at arm's length to reduce the volume that punched through to her eardrums. In doing so, the camera was now capturing their suite, and Julia gushed. Wow, you guys, is that your suite? You have enough space for one more person. Oh, my Gawd Em, can I join you guys? You'll have to ask your brother. Lemara joked. Ugh, you know what he's going to say. Lemara turned the camera around on herself and smiled at Julia. Em, was that a baby grand I just saw? Lemara shook her head, lips pursed, face lit up. So have you guys shagged on it yet? Julia jested. Lemara burst out laughing. She liked Julia for that; she'd go from A direct to Z, the other twenty-four letters in between irrelevant. She was nothing like Joshua, who articulated his words. Transparent while Joshua was, unreadable. You'd never guess they were cut from the same cloth, much more twins. She went through relationships like cups of coffee. As soon as the temperature dropped, it was time for a new one. Yet, most of her exes remained in contact, which gave her a Wikipedia of admirers of the who's who. Not surprising then that Joshua was his mother's favourite, while Julia couldn't do any wrong in her father's eyes. Except their father had passed away in their late teens and Julia became the unsettled version of her twin brother. They were both intelligent, but Julia was arguably the smarter of the two with two degrees under her belt. Not least because she achieved one whilst undertaking a Masters. However, none of those was in practice. You would never guess her smarts just by looking, but it would be clear within a minute of talking to her. She trained four years to be a doctor but after one year of being on a hospital ward - gave it up. It interfered with her social life she had said. And Julia had a social life. Joshua, on the other, dedicated to a cause and followed things through, fought tooth and nail for what he wanted. Julia crashed out at the first sign of a chipped nail. Her mother Eleanor, always disliked that about her. But Lemara loved her great sense of style, they had the same sense of humour and she was so unbuttoned. Nothing like her twin. But Julia was also a lucky woman because she just happened to be to meet all the right people at the all the right times. Her triggers with her mother regularly left her spurting words that Joshua would be quick to remind her she cannot take back. In some way that had brought Julia and Lemara close as they both sensed they fell on the wrong side of Eleanor. Julia for giving up on her career in medicine and Lemara for well, not having a sufficiently important career, as Joshua's ex-wife did. But Lemara soon found herself the pendulum that swung nicely between her man and his twin sister. Hun, where is your car. Julia asked whispering. Is Josh there? No, he went to the bedroom. Had an accident. It really wasn't my fault this time. Shit hun what happened? I was driving down the motorway, when this lunatic moved into the fast lane at the pace of a Mekong Delta chug. Can you believe it? I honked and when he didn't clear the way I ended up slamming my brakes. But it was raining so the car spun out of control. Ooh, I take it you're okay? I am, thankfully. When did it happen? About five o'clock this morning. Where on earth were you going at that time of the morning? Lemara was now whispering. I fell out with Bradley, so I left. What happened there, or should I not ask? He farted in bed. Lemara heard her laugh hit the back of the suite and come back to her as she walked over to sit in the lounge. I mean, can you believe it? How do you do that next to a goddess like me? So it goes without saying, we exchanged a few words and I left. Did you not give him the spiel hun? And where's your other car? Took it to the body shop yesterday. Still whispering. Hey, he's coming back. Their whisper lifted. Joshua strolled out of the bedroom behind the butler and his assistant, who was leaving and came to a standstill behind Lemara. Whatever you and my sister are planning, it's a no. Em, can you do me a favour please hun, can you shag his brains out and ask him then? He's caught on to that tactic hun. Looking down the screen at his sister. He was curt with his response. There are only two winners in that plan of yours, and you're looking at them. Sorry... Lemara quickly mouthed to her. He took the phone off Lemara, looked his sister in the eye. Go sort your mess out and leave Lemara out of it. And whatever you do, DO. NOT. DRIVE. MY. CAR. On that note, Joshua ended the video call. She is impossible. What has she done to her car now? He was now walking back to the bedroom. Had a little accident. She's had another accident and wants to drive my car. This is her third accident in as many years, one of which involved mine. If I flew planes like she drove cars, l'd be out of a job. Turning back to Lemara. And you'd be out of a man. Lemara remained seated in quiet contemplation. His chest heaved slightly out of despair under his t-shirt, as he walked away to the bedroom, undressing himself shirt first. He sometimes despaired at his sister's laxness. Shortly after that, Lemara heard the shower go. She remained quiet; this wasn't one of those situations she wanted to tinker between. She knew how Joshua felt about his vehicles. Even though his newest ride was one he got a real deal on, as a result of one of Julia's admirers. She now gave her attention to the layout of their suite. As you walked into Harry's, the baby grand and dinner table were off to the left, with the bedroom on the right, it was the other way around in their suite. Good afternoon ladies and gents, this is Captain Cantieri speaking. We will be departing Costa Maya slightly later than planned. One of our organised tours is running a little late returning to the ship. I expect we would be leaving port around seven. For those of you onboard, our 'White Night Event' will get on the way as planned. His Italian accent sounded much tighter over the intercom than when they spoke last night in person. Through the undrawn curtain glass walls, Lemara looked out at the port of Costa Maya and wondered if Harry was back onboard. Em, did you pack enough pairs of shoes? Lemara was on her way to the verandah when Joshua's voice full of amusement, penetrated her thoughts. She smiled broadly and changed her direction to the bedroom. Joshua stood over her footwear, both hands holding a towel draping down his front and looked over at her as she walked into their walk-in closet. Five pairs of sandals; a pair of trainers; four pairs of heels and a pair of espadrilles. She rattled off as she passed him and slapped his wet untowelled bum on her way to the shower. Oh and the loafers that I flew in. As Lemara was setting the temperature on the left shower of their double shower room, a white shirt hanging on her side of the closet smacked her attention. It was Harry's shirt, the one she had been wearing earlier that morning, the one she walked back to her room in. Thinking she couldn't simply go and move it, she had to get Joshua away from where he was before it caught his attention. But he was now shouting something to her that was inaudible against the rainshower she just switched on. What did you say? She peeped out from the bathroom. Five pairs of heels. He was saying. I brought four. Lemara came out of the bathroom, lined up next to Joshua as in some military exercise, her face a little perplexed. I count four. Lemara retorted. Five. Turning around to a blue shoebox on his side of the wardrobe. Ohhh my Gawwddd! Her eyes like serving platters as she recognised the box. How did you know? Flinging her arms around his neck and mopping the remainder of his body with hers that he had not yet dried. The white shirt belonging to Harry, forgotten. Its an early birthday present. Julia said you loved them and were going to treat yourself for your birthday. So I thought I'd surprise you. I love you! She said through an armada of kisses. Unleashing Joshua to prize her box open. She opened the box to discover the pair of Malone Souliers' in wine and gold she had oozed over for a week. A smile permanently setting across her face. Literally, now head over those heels—and their effortless silhouette of seductive curves elevated by the double gold straps across the top. Like a Reverend removing a newborn from the clasp if its gloating parents, Lemara removed the heels from the box, one by one. And like a blessing of baptism, graced her feet with them, becoming slightly exalted as she did so. Actually, I think I love your sister more. She joked. Is that so? Let's see if she can take you up to thirty-two thousand feet. She just did. Laughing into the shoe box, she was now holding and kicking up her right leg behind her into a sexy pose. Do you like it? She asked in a frolicsome tone. I'm happy if you are. I'm more than happy. She gushed. These are like an orgasm in a box. Joshua raised his eyelids ever so briefly in a flash of excitement. Make sure to wear them to bed tonight! Captain Cantieri and his lusty Italian pierced through the ship's loudspeaker once more. Good afternoon from the bridge, we are updating you on our delayed departure! It seems we will be delayed by a further hour here in Costa Maya. We are doing what we can to get our guests back on board. Until then, please continue to enjoy your cruise, and we will keep you informed accordingly. Does that mean we will be late getting into Cozumel? Or will we skip the port all together since we already have to depart there earlier than planned? Lemara was now gracefully removing the heels. Good question but isn't Cozumel near here? If the ship is not delayed for an extended period, it may be a case of us having to sail a little faster. Captain Hart went into work mode. Having dealt with his share of delayed flight departures for any number of reasons. Everything from lack of deicing fluid, to no cutlery loaded for first-class, to a flight attendant, suddenly developing a fear of flying. By the way, Lemara voiced as she walked back to the shower. Yes Guess who got invited to the bridge? Me. Lemara beamed from the door to the shower. Did you now? Slightly raising his eyebrow. Yep Have you been? Not yet, suppose we can go later... Joshua raised his finger (the same one he raised over her lips earlier) leaned his head slightly to the side. I think your phone is going hun! Can you get it for me, please? As he headed off to pick up her phone, he pointed into her wardrobe and asked. Is that one of my shirts?
What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on the Cruise - Part 9
Caressing her back and buttocks, Joshua plants a kiss long and hard on Lemara's lips. She snaps a photo of them together on the beach, kissing him back. He kisses her back. She kisses him back, and that continued for a Caribbean minute. Any longer and a room may have needed to be built around them. Lacing his fingers through hers as he walked off to kit himself out for his surf and for Lemara to make herself comfortable on the sand. Moments later, Joshua was on the water, and as he appeared to be enjoying himself, Lemara waved at him. It was more a rhetorical wave. She now made her way to the shaded privacy of their cabana and into the womb of one of the hammocks. Her bare legs splaying either side of it, her lipstick red painted toes pinned to the ground controlling the sway of the hammock. A short while later, Lemara looked up from her phone just in time to see Joshua and his board skim across the water. His neon green kite amplified against the sky like a giant leaf whose swirls refuse to come to rest out on the water, and Joshua clearly enjoying the ride. There were another two kitesurfers on the water, but other than they, the water remained uninvaded by humans. She smiled and turned her attention back to her phone, where she had posted the photo just taken of herself and Joshua on her private Instagram account. She captioned it. Where the sun does shine. Her good friend, Maisie, was the first to respond. We are so jealous you guys; it is pissing it down with rain here in London. Maisie commented. While it was Joshua who had introduced Lemara to Maisie, it was Maisie who had introduced Joshua to his now ex-wife. Maisie and Joshua started at the airline around the same time. Joshua was one of the pilots on Maisie's first flight as a flight attendant. She recalled how thorough and patient Joshua had been though he was himself being put through the ropes at the airline. Because as Joshua says 'Happy crew, Happy passengers, Dream flight!' They had been friends ever since. Maisie herself is married to a pilot. But if Joshua was the youngest Captain at the airline, Maisie was the living black book of who was dating whom at the airline. Twenty-five thousand employees but she near enough knew who was dating whom, who had dated whom and who didn't know their dating was unexclusive with whom. Rain? What is that? Xxx Lemara joked to Maisie's comment. Lemara joked on another three comments before she clicked off the app, turning her attention to the myriad of WhatsApp messages and emails that remained unanswered. She first looked at an email from her boss' boss, grateful at least that it wasn't marked urgent. Better yet, it was good news. Once again the company had been shortlisted in two categories for the upcoming travel awards: The World's Leading Private Jet App and The World's Leading Private Jet Website. He followed on to write he would like press materials created regarding the news that would be communicated to the media and the company's clients. The rest of the email, inessential to Lemara's past, future or present, but he did finish by writing. Let me know when you're available. Hope you are enjoying your cruise. So does this mean he wanted this done now or on her return? Lemara closed the phone screen, crossed her wrists above her head and looked out to where Joshua was now gliding across the water. Remembering they only made it to the nominations last year in the same categories and the upcoming award ceremony only a few months away - she marked it as urgent although the big boss had not. The newest starter in her department but the big boss highlighted he preferred her materials on situations such as these. Lemara, you have a way with words. He had said. That or it was his psychologically reversed way of sending the work her way because 'these situations' were more prevalent than you'd believe. But in the two years, she had worked at the company she had moved from Content Creator to Content and Digital Specialist. A title and a role she was sure was created especially for her given the myriad cross-section of skills she regularly had to employ—everything from website editing to communications, PR, branding, marketing. 'You have an artistic eye' - is another thing he liked to tell her. But there was no chance of her or anyone else ever heading up that team unless the boss's brother in law left, as he currently held the position. But Lemara loved being the Digital and Content Specialist, not least because that role allowed her to work remotely. Especially when being able to work remotely meant, that when Joshua requested a last-minute long weekend on her for Lisbon or New York or Dubai, she could pick up her Samsonite or her Steamline Luggage or her Tumi and roll with it. Lemara stared in the direction of Joshua, but her eyes only engaged with the blue sky that formed his backdrop. And out of that blue came Harry and she was hit with a quick, heady spasm. Oo Unconsciously, her body had recited their earlier activities and tremored out of the intense aftershock of that earthquake. Unconsciously her senses recalled their bodies scent from this morning and Lemara sat up in the hammock, inhaled deeply. Harry Langdon was now becoming like a sea, powerfully breaking down a cliff wall that stood for four years. She would need her own defence mechanisms because he was now attacking walls around her mind and soul even in his absence. She rested the phone on her lap, pressed her fingers up against her lips, but couldn't help but wonder how his day was going. The photo Joshua brought into question earlier now became the focus of her attention. She left the suspension of the hammock, picked up her camera and helped herself to a drink, nibbles. It was at the restaurant in Key West the photograph was taken. The shot most likely taken under the premise he was inspecting the camera; clearly, he wasn't merely checking the camera. Looking closer at the image, she'd have to admit even to herself that it looked intimate. Harry Langdon. A disarming smile across her face. Lemara quickly caught her breath and turned her attention back to her emails. She responded to another three and decided the remainder could wait. Switching over to her WhatsApp, she noticed Joshua had left her a plethora of messages, voice recordings and missed calls-the total, thirty-six. Two messages from Joshua's mom. Should she look at those now or wait and find out if Joshua knows what they are about? Lemara decided on the latter thinking that whatever it was, it would be better hearing it from him. In the PWG chat group (Pilots' Wives and Girlfriends) there were another one hundred and forty-seven messages. She debated what should be looked at first and decided the messages from her man should really take priority. She began reading through the texts. Em, I know you said you wanted some time to yourself but I'm going to join you in Costa Maya. Switching my next flight for one to Cancun. Call me back when you get this message. I'm missing you as always. Lemara's chest buckled. Flight lands at..., let's go to Hayhu beach..., It's idyllic, and I see they have kitesurfing... The messages on PWGG were once again lighting up, causing Lemara to switch over to see what was happening. She saw Joshua's name, and of course, her eyes widened wondering what additional feather was being put in his cap that she wasn't aware of. Her fingers scrolled down to where his name was first mentioned and began to read. Jaz: Vicky, have you ever flown with Captain Hart? Vicky: Yes. I like flying with him. Jaz: Do you know him well? Vicky: Yes, why? Jaz: I think he likes me. Vicky: What makes you say that? Jaz: Well, we just get on really well and yesterday after we landed... Vicky: Jaz, Captain Hart gets on well with everyone. Vicky interjected. Maisie: You guys realise you are in the group chat right and that in this group chat is Captain Hart's other half? S I L E N C E Half an hour later. Jaz: Wait, how is she on here? Maisie: I think the more important question is, how are you? (This is where Lemara initially joined the conversation.) Jaz: I'm a flight attendant Maisie: Honey, that may well be the case, but this group chat is for pilot's wives and girlfriends. Last I knew you were neither. The chat went silent again, but Lemara's brain reverted to 'but yesterday after we landed.' Yesterday after we landed, what? Yesterday after we landed... we all went to the bar for a drink, and Joshua paid for her first drink (and the rest of the crew). Yesterday after we landed... She discovered she left her favourite lipstick on the aircraft, and Captain Hart held the crew bus while she went back to retrieve it. Yesterday after we landed... She hadn't realised how nervous she was and soiled her pants, and Captain Hart paid for a new pair. Because that is the sort of thing, Joshua does. But what exactly was Jaz going to say? And who was this Jaz, Joshua had never mentioned her? Joshua would often give Lemara a lighthearted debrief after his flights to include the crew onboard. Lemara pursed her lips at the unfinished sentence. She was disturbed that such an inconsequential statement now plagued her. Joshua was now lugging his kitesurfing equipment out of the water, shortly assisted by a staff member from the kitesurfing club. The fingers of her left hand were once again pressed up against her lips. Her eyes were unarmed but locked on Joshua and all five feet ten inches of him. Shoulders toned, biceps lean as he strode over to their deck and into the shower. I think I'm going to need a massage tonight Em! Forgotten how gruelling kitesurfing is. Taking the drink, Lemara had brought him and quenching himself with it. Well, you are in luck, there's a spa onboard the ship. Oh! I was hoping to get one of yours. Peering at her over the towel, sensing a slight frigidity unmatched by their surroundings. Oh yeah! Okay, hang on. Is this because I stayed out on the water longer than I said? Amusement in his voice. She looked up at him but said nothing. Instead, she moved to walk away. But Joshua was quick and trapped her in between himself and the towel undoing the messy braid bun she had done up to get as much sunlight as possible on her body. He dipped his head to kiss her on the lips, she quickly switched her head away to the right, and Joshua's lips followed. She ducked her face to her left, and he followed, and that continued until it fused into them laughing at each other. And in his very warm caramel come to bed voice. Sorry about earlier. Brushing back Lemara's braids off her shoulder. That softened the moment, and Joshua sensed it and went in again for a kiss. Lemara allowed it but then picked up another fresh towel and covered his face, making a screen between them. Joshua accepted defeat and allowed Lemara to walk away. A glint in his eye. By the way, we are having your things moved. She looked back at him, and with the flick of her eyes, sharply declared that she had not agreed to move back in with him. And why is that? He asked. Because... What I was actually referring to Lemara, is moving your belongings in your room to our suite. Joshua interjected. There is no reason for us to be on the same ship and be in separate rooms is there? But let's discuss the other matter over the next few days. No. Dismissing him tersely and continuing to walk away. No, there's no reason to be in separate rooms? No, you're not moving into the suite? No, we are not discussing you moving back in with me? Which is it? She felt vast knots of emotion clogging and wrecking turmoil within her. An onslaught of guilt beginning to raise its ugly head, trapping her between pain and torture. She said nothing. Le-mara. Lemara halted in her tracks but kept her back to Joshua. She could hear Joshua's steps approaching and raised her eyes skywards to lose the moisture that had collected. Honey, I just know you are not upset because I went kitesurfing and left you here. So what is it? Wrapping Lemara from behind, pressing his left cheek against her right. Nothing. Lemara shrugged. Joshua held her for a while longer as if to allow her to continue. Still, Lemara said nothing more; he walked around to face her. Eyes firmly on hers, his gaze narrowed as he studied her. Lemara, would you prefer that I wasn't here? On that question, Lemara's breath became trapped in her lungs, and her eyes flicked. Although she had indeed chosen to take this holiday on her own, her emotions were surely unchecked to lead Joshua to raise such a question because the answer was, no. This, all because she had gone off and danced a dance that's now given her a guilty rhythm. Then worked herself up over a half posted story on WhatsApp. Hypocritical, to say the least. No. Lemara finally replied, her gaze held his firm. So will you tell me what's going on? Because something is off, this is not you. They both remained in silence, staring at each other. Joshua leaned back on a table, poker faced, as usual, but his eyes were warm. Lemara, with her arms crossed and lips pursed. He outstretched his palms for her to place hers in but nothing. It was an act of affection, Joshua would employ to let her know that whatever it was would be okay. Stop her from filling up before she exploded in all the wrong ways. But Lemara had already entered them into a stalemate that neither of them knew they were in. Let's get back to the ship before it gets any later. He said, finally giving in. Lemara had worked herself into such a stupor; she couldn't bring herself to speak. She simply gathered their belongings and made their way to the taxi. The taxi pulled up at the cruise port, and they got out just in time to hop on a pier trolley about to depart for the ship. Unlike the outbound journey, the trolley was operating at maximum capacity with cruise passengers attempting to get back onto their respective cruises before departure. And their chatter, like a game of volleyball, everyone vying for the ball to bat back events of their day. What they did, what they saw, where they went. The trolley stopped in front of their ship, and passengers for their cruise hopped off. Boarding the ship, just in front of Lemara and Joshua was a middle-aged couple who had begun to make their way up the slant. The wheelchair being pushed became stuck, just as they got onto the ramp pausing the boarding process. Mrs looked back at Joshua and Lemara and joked. I think the wheelchair wants to stay in Costa Maya. This was a pleasant way of apologising for the hold-up Lemara guessed. Joshua acknowledged and was now assisting Mrs with the wheelchair so that Joshua was now standing alongside her. Oh, you have such strong arms. Mrs gushed. I remember when my David had arms like yours. She continued. Martha, I'm still here. I know dear. Martha responded. Looking back at Lemara, she continued. Oh, you two make such a beautiful couple. Lemara moulded a generous smile across her face at Martha while Joshua was quick to thank her for her compliments. By the way, this is my husband David, and I'm Martha, and we are the Denhams. Joshua followed that up by introducing Lemara and himself. They had cleared the ship's security and were now waiting at the lift when Martha announced they were celebrating their 25th anniversary. Are you on your honeymoon? Martha asked. The smile on Lemara's face was now one she had previously baked. One she found she had been using quite recently to any such conversations relating to marriage that involved herself and Joshua. No just a holiday. Lemara has just completed her masters, and we decided to take a break and celebrate. Congratulations dear! Both Martha and David chimed in. Thank you, thank you. Lemara replied. A congregation had gathered by the time the first lift arrived the area was clogged and the chatter immense. The four boarded with Lemara positioning herself in the right-hand corner of the lift while Joshua stood mid-right with Mrs Denham. The elevator continued to fill up until it was bulging at the seams. One of the last to squeeze their way in was Mrs Chatterbox from dinner and one of her daughters, who had managed to squeeze past the wheelchair and were now standing near Joshua. While Lemara's spirits swayed, the rest of the passengers appeared to be in a chipper mood. Mr Denham pressed the button for deck nine, and Joshua confirmed they too wanted deck nine. Everyone else was now declaring their floor numbers to be punched in. Under the weight of its passengers, the lift began its crawl to the next deck. And what do you do Joshua? Asked Mrs Denham. I transport people from one place to another. Ordinarily, Lemara would grin like a Cheshire Cat at that humble response of Joshua's because she knew he did it to save her the flotilla of questions that generally accompanied the alternative answer. But not today, today she hung her head, heavy with pangs of conscience. But out of nowhere, Mrs Chatterbox gave herself an invitation to the conversation and piped in. You mean like a bus driver? Her tone, divisive. Yes, like a bus driver. Lemara leaned back into the corner of the lift, crossed her ankles, clutched her beach bag and had half prepared herself for the next question 'How can you afford a cruise?' The lift had stopped at the next deck at this point. A handful of guests got out, and another three who had walked up from the previous deck now boarded as Joshua politely responded. More poolside gossip for Mrs Chatterbox, Lemara thought. At the opposite corner of the lift, Lemara spotted the eyes of two ladies (who appeared to be around her age). One of whose eyes lit up when she first saw Joshua prompting her to nudge her friend and their mouths both fell open when he spoke. Neither of them able to peel their eyes off him. That swung the pendulum of Lemara's mood, causing her to smile. Lemara was, however, unprepared for what followed next. Mrs Chatterbox's daughter now invited herself to the conversation with the following. But at the reception this morning, the receptionist referred to you as Captain. I am that too. Joshua replied ever so calmly. So you are you a cruise ship Captain? With Mrs Chatterbox pronouncing the words 'cruise ship captain' as if they'd suddenly developed a scathing disease. By this time Lemara was inwardly somersaulting with laughter, she felt she was getting her own back after her vagrant remark to her last night. The lift had come to another stop on the next deck. Another four passengers went off, and one passenger came on. Space freed up, and the lift was encouraged by this, judging by the ease it moved off to the next floor. Joshua was now telling Mrs Chatterbox that he was in fact, an airline pilot. Once again you would not have thought it possible but her eyebrows aligned with her hairline. And the passengers in the lift were now gushing. A lady at the front of the lift, diagonally opposite Lemara was now flirtatiously smiling and asking Joshua if he was single. To which he replied. No, I am here with my other half. Pointing and winking at Lemara. And now everyone had turned to look at Lemara, her position of incognisance now outed. Lemara has heard Joshua referred to her as such many times over but today it felt warmly special. As Mrs Chatterbox recognised Lemara, the lift stopped at deck eight, and her daughter hauled her unwillingly off the lift. But the plethora of questions the other answer previously served to avoid was now rendered pointless. That sentence, I'm a pilot, flipped the switch, and all other conversations stopped, Lemara and man were now the subjects of discussion. Aren't you a bit young to be a Captain and older lady shot in Joshua's direction? Not if you've done the flying hours amongst other things. Joshua commented. Does that mean you get free flights? A random passenger yelled out at Lemara. Only when the Captain agrees to it. Lemara smiled. I bet that happens often. He replied. You are so lucky. Gasped one of the twenty-something-year-olds. By this time the lift had thankfully arrived at deck nine. Joshua still assisting Mrs Denham with the wheelchair exited with Mrs Denham and Lemara following swiftly behind. As the doors slid shut behind her, an intoxication of musk and french vanilla jarred Lemara's thinking. As Lemara scanned the area, it came to her; it became apparent why. She was down these corridors earlier in the day. She shut it out just in time to hear Mr Denham mention he was in fact a US Airforce Veteran. The conversation with the Denhams was now wrapping up, and they said their goodbyes. Joshua splayed his right palm across the small of Lemara's back as he turned, their steps becoming synchronised as he steered her to their suite.
Its time for you to meet Josanne Mark and her custom jewellery, that's if you haven't already met her. When I was introduced to this creative and her beguiling pieces, I was incredulous having discovered she is from the island of Trinidad. I mention Trinidad, and already I know your mind has partied off to some rhythmic soca tune. You are holding onto a sunset coloured rum-infused drink, causing your eyebrows to raise with an expression no words can recreate, and your memory replays videos to those beach dives off the island that stays with you. Trinidad is indeed all of those and has undoubtedly contributed to the inspiring backdrop for this Trinidadian jewellery designer - Josanne Mark. As Josanne says and I quote. 'Anything and everything can be of inspiration to me; all objects and textures, manmade or existing in nature.' Her Jewellery Love Story If you have thus far, managed to disengage from the above and have tapped over to her website, I can almost hear you. Your Oohs! and Your Ohs! Because her designs have inspired a wave of arousal, placing your breathing on pause. Her 'ooh pieces' have showcased themselves on numerous occasions between the pages of everything from Caribbean Belle to Vogue. So now, I feel as though I am punching above my weight being allowed to collaborate on this post. There's no waiting at the railway crossing for a heritage or generations of jewellers to be uncovered. And that's just it; you could race through the history of her Atelier as quickly as a Formula One car because she is pretty young. The sparks of her creativity and unabashed designs have been beautifully colliding into masterpieces since 2005. But it was 2015 when she cemented her international presence, launching her website josannemark.com. Young, vibrant and creative, just like her pieces, will immediately see you add them to the jewellery section of your wedding journal or at best commit to writing your Christmas list as early May. But gone are the days you waited on special occasions to bejewel yourself because Josanne creates her pieces to be worn every day, yesterday—the only accessories needed in or out of this pandemic. How She Pays Homage The very landscape laid out around her island home guides her creations. She embraces this beautifully in statement pieces such as the Aged Bronze Driftwood Cuff, (from the Toco Collection) reminiscent of the glossy moss that makes its home in the washed-up wood drifting along the coast. It is sure to be the only arm candy you will need on your next Zoom wine and cheese party. Your only deliberation being whether to purchase the aged bronze or bright sterling silver cuff. The scape for inspiration is limitless living on an island in the Caribbean. Driftwood on the beach is just a starter; she has also claimed inspiration from the seafloor. Here is her amplification of those graceful sea fans that sway in the shallows into a pair of dazzling silver earrings dipped in gold. These Angular Sea Fan Ear Pendants are designed to bring a smack of glam to your ears. It is noble yet striking! Behind God Back Collection I must tell you; I smiled when I read that. A very West Indian term that when translated, refers to a remote location. And being remote, it remains on the path less travelled, full of undiscovered creations, awe, intrigue. Or as Josanne refers to it 'untamed beauty.' There are other translations also, but we prefer these. I am piqued too, to learn that our islands shared such a term. These minimalist yet eye-catching gems are beautiful everyday wear, wearing with anything. The styling of this pair of 'Forest Huggie Hoop Earrings' from her Behind God Back collection is easily done. Style on their own to showcase their sophisticated look or stack alongside a pair of studs or drop earrings for a bit of edge. Pin your hair back and flirt with your earlobes in that zoom meeting. Your colleagues will be showering you with compliments by the time the session ends. Hug your earlobes with one of two finishes: the shimmering sterling silver finish or the 18k gold vermeil. Oh and that's pronounced ver may, meaning it had a healthy coating in a bath of gold. Forever With You Collection Unless you had Josanne masterfully design and bring to life, a pair of cufflinks for keepsake. Or the ring you desire to encircle the finger of your bride to be (because Josanne also does that), the Forever With You Collection is one of her more humble but may well be one of the more meaningful and personal of her creations you'll wear. Added to a sterling silver necklace or bracelet is a metal disc, personalised to the wearer. Have the disc stamped with their birthstone, engraved with their initials, etched with their fingerprint. Because what is there more personal than a fingerprint? A gift that sure stirs the emotions of the receiver as much as the eyes of the admirers. Ready to Purchase Josanne's current collection is meticulously handcrafted and made to order in her workshop in Trinidad and Tobago-where else? Her creations forged from ethically sourced materials - recycled silver, freshwater pearls, aged bronze metals. There's a pint-sized delay before you can be married to your chosen piece. A small price you'd willingly agree to and pay for jewellery that is being custom made. Although Josanne tells me she will shortly be adding 'a ready to wear collection' to her site. I call that instant gratification. For The Love of Her Alluring Jewellery Here is hoping you are enamoured with one of her unique pieces, maybe even two and have now gone off to her website for an early Christmas treat to yourself, a friend, a family member. Oh, what the heck another for yourself. Share the love! Shop here Disclaimer: I do not earn any commissions from the sale of any items from the links affiliated to this post.