What Happens on a Cruise, Stays on the Cruise - Part 4
Moving his lips around to meet hers, he covered her mouth with a kiss.
His tongue gliding threw her parted lips. Slowly he ran his fingertips just inside the waistline of the lace. Her body weakened from his scent, from his hold, from his tone, from his touch.
Her chest heaved. Her knees buckled. Her breathing intensified. Now she wrestled with him to release her arms still in his grip so she could hold his body and they play a fair match - but Harry held her firm. He finally releases her arms. She was now up against the wall where Harry hoisted her by the hips. She looked down at him, her eyes glistening. His eyes, dark and intense.
She tilted her head towards him, cupped his face in her palms and played for those lips that had roused her all day. Harry was quick and rebutted, resting his forehead against hers, nostrils exchanging the contents of each other lungs, but their lips stayed apart.
Harry! She whispered panting.
Lemaruh, let's go to dinner before I do to you now what I have been doing to you in my dreams. (Uttering under his breath) Anything else from either of us will end up causing thunderstorms in our centre courts.
He brought her back down to her feet, buried his face in the nape of her neck, held her close, inhaled long and deep and whispered.
You are like fire on steroids!
As Harry relaxed his hold, she rested her face in his bare chest. Neither of them able to move. Lemara sensed it was taking every ounce of restraint from him to remain in the position he was. As she relaxed her rigorously tense body and allowed herself to acknowledge that rain had indeed poured within her centre court, the guilt trip started, and the entire mood of her body changed.
Harry sensed it and stepped back, eyes firmly on hers that were now turned towards the floor.
I'm all ears!
Lemara looked at him and back towards the floor but said nothing.
Lemaruh. Look at me. What is it?
She glanced at him, tried to hide the torment she was sure was now visible on her face; by turning her body away. Lemara could feel her stomach churn, and she dashed for the bathroom shutting the door behind her. She stood over the sink, face buried in the palm of her hands, heart racing back and forth between London and the man now knocking on the bathroom door.
Does my Egoiste smell that bad?
Harry could hear Lemara suppress a laugh from behind the door.
Let's get some dinner. Harry called out from behind the door.
And realising how hungry she was, opened the door and came out.
I think that's a good idea! She responded.
Can I suggest we sit at our respective tables; otherwise, I won't be responsible for what I might do to you.
A squirt of hand sanitiser at the entrance of the main dining room and the waiter directed them to their respective tables. The dining hall was split over two floors. Lemara's table was almost in the centre of the dining hall on the ground floor. A table of ten guests. Harry was at a table on the balcony, overlooking the gigantic hall. The hall was awash with light from the orange and yellow panels in the ceiling. The atmosphere, charged with excited chatter. The cutlery tap-dancing on plates competed with the clinking of wine and champagne glasses greeting each other. It was contagious.
I'll walk you to your table. (Was more a statement than a gesture from Harry).
Ahh, you don't have to do that! She responded quickly.
Did I not tell you that as long as I am around...
'Harry,' She cut him off jokingly - 'the table is just there!'
Lemaruh, there is a method to my madness. I get to see the faces of any suitors sat at your table.
His lips were curling into a dark smile as he caught her eyes, his right palm on her lower back in a way that denoted ownership. She chuckled in amusement.
Then should I be visiting your table - see what femme fatales...
Lemaruh, (cutting her off) as crazy as the next statement may sound, I only have eyes for you. I cannot however say the same thing for you!
Haha! True. I don't have eyes for me.
Harry looked across at her, Lemara did her best to suppress her giggle, but that only resulted in her cracking a huge smile.
By this time they were at her table. Nine guests were already seated, and indeed there was an empty chair waiting for her. She said good evening to the party, and their conversations stopped. A middle-aged gentleman seated directly across from her piped up.
Are you the lady missing from dinner last night?
Missing? Gosh was this entire ship aware of her absence yesterday?
Before she could answer a lady at an adjacent table tapped Lemara on the arm to declare her love for her dress.
I couldn't wear that sort of thing anymore, she said. However, my husband would have loved it.
Holding on to Lemara's wrist and tapping her husband on his arm who was genuinely more interested in the salmon on his plate, all while she said this.
Thank you! Was all Lemara could think to say with a smile on her face.
I'm Jennie by the way, and this is my husband Rawb, and this here is my brawther...
And as the Texan drawl took over Lemara's brain, the names went over her head. That was until she got around to her son Justin who Lemara noticed sat almost riveted for the entire introductory session with a gaze that revealed his interest.
I'm Lemara nice to meet you all!
Conscious that she may be delaying her table, Lemara smiled and waved in an attempt to close the conversation. But Jennie had different ideas.
Lemara! That's beautiful! Where is your name from?
Nothing special, my dad wanted to call me Lara, my mom preferred the name, Emma. I suppose this was the compromise.
And is this, your husband?
Jennifer, let them sit and have dinner.
Jennie's husband, who had been quiet until now, suddenly piped up. A glance on his plate now void of food confirmed why.
Take your seat, my dear; my wife can go on a bit.
Rawb, I am only trying to be friendly. They're that couple we saw in Mallory Square today.
The entire saga took less than a minute, but it felt like a full-on theatre production, and all that time, Harry stood waiting, chair pulled out for Lemara to sit.
See you after dinner.
Was all Harry said, but it seemed a bit colder than usual and colder than the salmon ceviche Rob had just eaten. None of the warmth or affection or jest that Lemara had become accustomed.
The waiter was now laying the dinner napkin across Lemara's lap. She looked up to say thank you, and to her absolute surprise, it was Edwin.
Ahh hi, Edwin!
Even the guests two decks below must have heard her.
Did you have a good day in Key West today? He asked.
I sure did and you?
Yes myself and the two other crew went to the beach, spent the afternoon there.
He took her dinner choices and turned to leave, and there it was - that sparkle in his eyes. She watched him walk away.
Suddenly she remembered Harry and looked up to the balcony where he sat in time to see him cast a look in her direction. She waved at him.
Why aren't you and your husband sitting together? Asked the lady on her right.
He is not my husband.
And as the statement dropped, Lemara realised the Pandora box she may be opening.
We saw you in Mallory Square today.
Occupying the dinner table was a Mrs 'Chatterbox', whose eyebrows remained perpetually raised throughout the entire dinner. It was as if something or someone at the table had put her in an indefinite state of shock. But listening to her speak, it was becoming a game trying to work out what was real and what was a tale too tall. With her were her husband Mr Quiet who appeared to be suffering from trapped wind or was he waiting for the Mrs to shut up or dinner to finish so he could escape and their two daughters. Mrs Chatterbox was quick to point out Lemara was the one missing at the dinner table last night. Pretty sure everyone else figured that out. Never the less having discovered Lemara was on her first cruise, Mrs Chatterbox dropped another headline, herself and her family had done twenty-six cruises.
The couple immediately to her right was celebrating their honeymoon (Mr and Mrs H for honeymooners) and Mr H buried his head into the glass of wine he held as Mrs Chatterbox recounted her chorus of travels. Mrs H stroked the side of her husband's face with one hand but an eagle-eyed Lemara spotted her doing a little more with the other hand.
On Lemara's left, a single mom and her two daughters, one in her teens the other celebrating her 21st birthday. As the table became disenchanted with Mrs Chatterbox and her tales, it freed up conversations between others, and Lemara soon discovered the family of three were also from London. Mrs Chatterbox realising she no longer held the floor turned to her suffering husband and was almost purring.
Disconcerting, to say the least.
Whatever would happen with dinner that night, Lemara was grateful it was already paid for.
She pondered at the person, whose role it was to coordinate what guests got lumbered with whom at the dinner table. Suddenly she wanted to be anywhere, but at that table, she glanced up to the balcony where Harry sat. Harry was engaged in holding court.
Mrs Chatterbox, no longer content with the imaginary attention from her husband, turned her attention back to Lemara.
Lemara, how old are you?
I am twenty-three.
No one would think it possible but Mrs Chatterbox's eyebrows were now forming parts of her hairline.
Twenty-three? She retorted. How can you afford a cruise?
Like a bucket of water thrown on a fire pit, the conversations at the dinner table died.
The last of Lemara's West Indian breath left her. She smiled and held onto the cutlery she was using to cut into her rack of lamb. Then with utmost grace, looked Mrs Chatterbox in the face and asked...
Now, which answer would you like? The truth or the one best suited for poolside gossip?
For the second time that evening (the first was to say hello to Lemara), she heard Mr Quiet speak. Looking at Lemara, he said.
Please ignore my wife.
Turning to his wife, he asked.
What kind of question is that?
Lemara tried her damndest to enjoy the rest of the meal, but the truth was that woman sat across the table had just insulted her. Her thoughts returned to Harry, and the fact that she would have much preferred to have been enjoying his downpour. She glanced up at the balcony, and this time caught his eye, he curled his lips into a smile, and everything felt better.
Two hours later, after a four-course dinner of beef carpaccio, spinach and bacon salad, rack of lamb and creme brulee, Lemara was now walking hand in hand with Harry to the nightclub.
Walking down the stairs, Lemara could hear one of her favourite songs playing, that quickened her step so that she was now ahead of him. As she got to the bottom of the stairs, she turned and stopped in front of him, still holding his hand.
Lemaruh, I have many talents, but dancing is not one of them.
I wouldn't know!
With a devilish grin, she cast a glance in the direction of his centre court and said...
But something tells me I will soon find out exactly where your talents can be found!