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What Happens on the Cruise… (Sync & Andi)

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
Day Three of my Caribbean Cruise. Woke up this morning and had to remind myself – again – where the actual fuck I am. I’m in cabin 12614, deck 12 of the Allure of the Ocean. Ocean View room with a balcony looking out. Got the two beds converted to a Royal King. It’s only me here for the next three weeks, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to slum it by sleeping in a measly twin bed. Thanks to the boss I’m here instead of working, but he’s kicked in for this vacation, so I’m stuck here. Walked around the ship a bit yesterday, once I’d gotten my head about it. I’ll give it this much – these Oasis-class cruise ships are fucking huge. Plenty to do, including nothing. You bastard, Jason – how the fuck am I supposed to manage for three weeks in a cruise ship when you’ve locked up my logins?

Yeah…that’s the sort of shit I’d write in my Diary if I actually kept one.


Brett McAlister wasn’t normally grumpy and annoyed, but he had reason to be – or so he’d tell anyone who’d bothered to listen…which, admittedly, wasn’t a large number of people. This day – Friday; he’d boarded the cruise liner in Miami on the Wednesday – was technically the last day of his first week off work. He wasn’t happy about it, but his boss, Jason Grant, had told him two weeks ago that he, Brett, was going to be taking time off work even if he had to be forced. At the time, Brett hadn’t given much thought to it and replied with what largely amounted to lip-service, but the next week Brett discovered that his holidays were approved by HR, and the IT team were preparing to close his access for the six weeks that had been approved.

Brett worked for a small-ish, but very successful, architectural firm called “KDR Designs” – Jason was the business owner, and the firm had about thirty staff all up. After high school, Brett had gone on to university to study architecture and designs, and graduated top of his class. He’d done his internship, gotten good reviews and references, and his work soon had him in high demand in the industry. He was not quite a perfectionist and was quite happy putting in extra hours to make sure his clients got exactly what they were after, or the best alternative if their wants were not attainable. He also happily worked ten-hour, sometimes twelve-hour days, and was not averse to working six-day weeks, and sometimes on Sundays as well.

He didn’t mind his self-imposed workload. He had no family of his own. He was single, as good a bachelor if there ever was one, and well-off financially for his work and single life. He had a spacious apartment in Fort Lauderdale, worked in Miramar, proudly drove his silver Porsche 918 Spyder to and from work. He dated occasionally, but nothing came of it – he was often guilty of putting work first, and the girls he dated didn’t like it; he understood that, but he wasn’t going to change who he was. The only family he had were his ageing parents, his older brother, and his younger sister – but he only really saw them at important family events, such as birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

He was an attractive man, too. At forty-three years of age, he stood a respectable 5-feet-eleven tall, was slim to the point of being wiry, had expressive brown eyes over a strong nose, had medium-brown hair that was starting to grey a little, and wore thin glasses for reading. His thin frame was largely due to diet than exercise – he often ate light and sparsely, although his nutritional intake was good, and he wasn’t much of an alcohol drinker. His exercise consisted mainly of walks around the neighbourhood. He tended to dress well enough – given he spent most of his time working, he didn’t have a lot in the way of casual clothes, and most of his wardrobe was smart casual or semi-professional. He had his mobile phone with him, but it was largely useless given work email wasn’t coming through to him. He had his laptop, but it was largely for web browsing and not actual work. A few books and subscription magazines accompanied him for this trip as well; odds were pretty good they’d get read during the cruise.

The cruise had been Jason’s idea. After the bombshell that Brett was going to be taking six weeks off work come hell or high water, Jason had suggested the cruise to really get away from it all. Jason was worried that Brett was going to burn out, and it wasn’t going to be pretty if it happened. Jason had wanted to head off that possibility, so had told Brett to book a long cruise, and Jason would kick in a quarter of the cost. That had pretty much decided it. After a few days of surfing, Brett had decided on the Caribbean cruise. Expensive, but long enough that even Brett knew would make for a good break. He made the booking, paid for it all with Jason’s contribution, worked out luggage and stuff…eventually travelled with a couple of suitcases and a shoulder-bag. Brett knew the liner was large, but nothing had prepared him for actually boarding it: it was like a fucking small city – well, not really, but it felt like it. He found his cabin, unpacked, settled, got the room set up how he wanted it…but the fact that this ship was his home for the next three weeks still didn’t fully hit him until the ship set sail. He spent the first day moping in his cabin, only venturing out for dinner. At least meals on the ship, plus activities and facilities, were covered in his ticket; entertainment and shops were out of his own pocket. He could live with that…as if he now had a choice.

Thursday he was a bit more adventurous – he left his room, walked around the ship, explored a little. He had no-one with him, so didn’t have to work to anyone’s timetable but his own. Families were everywhere, some older, some younger; couples on a “romantic getaway” could be seen as well, and elderly couples probably on their bucket list. It didn’t matter much to Brett; so long as he got to be left in peace, others could do what they liked for the next three weeks.

That brought him to today – Friday. Mid-morning. Breakfast was done. Maybe he’d check out the rear of the ship, see what activities were on offer there. If nothing, he could go up, see the sun desk, have a drink by the pool…at least the annoyance had largely faded, to be replaced more by a “now what?” feeling. He sighed softly, got up from the breakfast table at the Park Café on Deck Eight (he was sure as hell in no hurry), thanked the service staff for their attention, and headed out to the Central Park walk. He headed towards the rear elevators…the Pool Bar was on Deck Fourteen. This was a good a time as any to check it out.
 

AndNich123

Pulsar
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Day Three. Is it just day 3? Feels more like 10. The first day or so was fine. It was more than fine. It was everything I hoped it would be. Partying, drinking, drinking, dancing, meeting new people. It was everything that I wanted. Well, it was everything I thought I wanted. Now I find myself trying to sneak away from them just so I can hear myself think. I literally contemplated trying to sleep by the pool because they're so loud when they come into the room, and the volume doesn't go down at all once they enter either. Consideration for others is clearly impeded when alcohol is involved. Of course, I should have known it would be like this. Staterooms are beyond crowded and tiny. I'm not complaining mind you. It's just that it's hard not to rub people the wrong way when you literally have no room. With two of us in the bed and two of us on the pull-out sofa, we're cramped in here. Truth be told, it's all the room we need really. Our parents did the best they could booking us this cruise to celebrate the end of an era, yes the end of high school. I can't help but sigh as I write that. It was an incredible time in my life, a very life-forming time, and now it's over. People have been telling me that one day I'll look back on my time in high school and wish I could back. I am already there.

Closing the cover to her pink diary, Sam tucked the book back underneath her pillow. She knew her rowdy roommates would soon be piling in from their excursions last night about the ship. It was the perfect time to take a shower and head out. That way they could sleep, and she could explore a bit more besides the places she had already seen. Truth be told, she had no idea how enormous the ship actually was until she was onboard. Deck 11 didn't register the sheer gravity of the size
when her parents had gotten together with the others to book this trip for them. The ship was its own world afloat, and she intended to see every bit of it. showering wasn't easy by any means. Large showers onboard were meant simply for the more luxurious suites. She envied the thought of those staying in those rooms having more room to enjoy a hot shower. 'College graduation,' she thought. 'When I graduate college, I will book a luxury suite and see how they cruise.' The thought drew a giggle before she plunged her head beneath the water to wash away the soap and the peaceful night she had just enjoyed.

Dressing, she was leaving just as her roommates returned. They were completely trashed, but she expected nothing less. The times they had gone out on the weekends before they enjoyed drinking far too much. Oh, she was one to have a drink as well, but Sam knew her limits. They urged to come back inside, to talk to them, to sing to them, to tell them a story to help them go to sleep. She simply shook her head no and bid them goodnight. 'Tell them a story,' she thought, shaking her head. 'Indeed they are drunk. They'll laugh about this when I tell them at dinner....if I see them at dinner. They won't remember it.' That was something she never understood about going past your limits with drinking. Why drink to the point where you don't remember the fun you had? Isn't the point of having fun to remember it? Perhaps her mind was far too analyitical in that regard.

She sighed as she stepped up towards the deck where the pool lay. People were starting to filter in for the day. Towels were laid upon chairs, saving them for a guest that was never too far away. Her eyes scanned the rows of chairs, looking for one close to the water, close to the railing perhaps, but certainly one far away from any loud people. She knew people were here to enjoy themselves, but she was included in that group as well. As so why shouldn't she have her peace and quiet? She found a chair that was inviting enough. Sitting her bag on the decking, she withdrew her large, plush towel and proceed to place it exactly how she wanted to. Satisfied with her work, she took her seat. Taking in a deep breath, she reveled in the warmth from the sun. The people were nothing more than a soft, white noise in the background. 'Perfect,' she thought as her eyes slowly closed. The sounds of the boat, the people, both disappeared into a blur as the moment became relaxing. She nestled further into the towel, keeping her eyes closed. This was the trip she wanted. This was her reward for all the hard work she had put in to get to this moment. "Perfect," she whispered as she opened her eyes slowly, staring upward to a cloudless sky. "They have no idea what they're missing. This..is..the life." Her hand lazily fumbled with the bag until she felt the hardcover of the book she had placed inside. Withdrawing, her fingers traced the bookmark as she opened it to the page she had left the characters and their world, in which she was about to become emerged in. A smile spread across her lips as she sank into a world unknown.
 
OP
Sync

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
The elevator stopped on Deck Twelve first, allowing Brett to get out and head to his room. He had magazines and books there that could make for passable company and/or entertainment while he was stuck on this ship. He had to remind himself that he had agreed to the cruise, even though actually taking a holiday hadn’t been his idea. Sure, the ship would stop off at a few ports over the next three weeks to let passengers off and on, pick up fresh supplies, top up fuel, and stuff like that, but for the most part, he – other than maybe getting off and wandering the streets of other towns when they docked – wasn’t getting off the boat until it returned to Miami. Besides…he had to concede that the chance of him actually appreciating the cruise by its end was not zero.

He grabbed a couple of architectural magazines, tucked his sunglasses into the V of his shirt, stuffed his sunscreen into one of the pockets of his shorts, threw a large and soft towel over his shoulder, then stepped out of his room, narrowly avoiding being mowed down by a couple of kids who were running along the corridor. A choice comment or two flashed into his mind, but he decided against letting them leave his lips. Instead, he shook his head, sighed with a hint of annoyance, and headed back towards the rear elevators. A few minutes later, and he was on the Pool Deck, near what the signs marked as the Sports Pool. He’d got it wrong, too – Deck Fifteen was the Pool Deck, not Fourteen. Oh, well. And he was not at all surprised to discover that the deck was filling quickly. At least others appreciated the value of relaxing and being left alone.

His eyes scanned the deck, trying to find a place he could sit and read. Grab a deck chair first…then grab a drink. Maybe the two events didn’t need to be tightly packed together, either. He made his way through the loosely-spaced tables and chairs until he found a chair in the sun that wasn’t occupied. There was a small table next to it, and a young girl on the other side of the table, reading a book, minding her own business, and apparently content to keep it that way. She was pretty enough, he supposed, but he wasn’t here to get laid; he was on the boat because his options were limited, and when your boss chips in a quarter of the price tag, you take it.

His shadow fell over the girl briefly as he manoeuvred to the empty deckchair and placed his magazines on the table; then he flicked his towel over the chair and smoothed the towel down, put his tube of sunscreen on the table, then all-but rolled heavily into the chair. He heard himself groan softly as the chair took his weight, leaving himself with nothing to do but lie down. He flicked a glance over to the girl, made a half-arsed attempt to nod a greeting at her – if she was even looking – then he pulled one of his magazines off the table and opened the front cover. If he was going to be here not working, he’d spend the time keeping up on the latest news instead.
 

AndNich123

Pulsar
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Shadows cast, and no one bats an eye. This shadow cast, and for some unexplained reason, she looked up. A man. He wasn't the average man she had encountered on this ship. Most were one of two types. Type one was with his family. He was the dad, doing dad things, with a dad's wife. He dressed like a dad, talked like a dad, and even treated his interactions with her like a dad. Yes, there no escaping the dad side of their personality for them. Type two was the wild party boys. The word boys was not used loosely to describe these creatures. This particular species seemed to be nocturnal, opting to spend their nights hopping from one party scene to the next, until they ultimately ended up in the nest of sorts from the female species. Yes, the party boys were not the ones that she chose to spend her time around. This man was clearly different. Magazines and they didn't appear to have a half-naked woman on the cover or the newest stars from a kid's tv show. Different indeed. A tube of sunscreen. Okay, so there was some dad-like behavior from him. Then again, perhaps he is just conscious of taking care of his body. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, he did appear to be in good shape. Even as she watched him roll into his chair, groaning as he went, she couldn't help but notice his body. A smile played on her lips as she stifled a laugh. Had the unfortunate circumstances arisen that the chair broke, she would not have been able to control her laughter. He nodded, and she returned the nod. Her eyes didn't rest on his long. She didn't want him to think her gaze was lingering. The fact was, it was, but still, that was not something she wanted to blatantly obvious to him. Her eyes fell on the magazines. Architectural. Again, different. Different indeed. Perhaps he was some well-known architect, who made millions, designing homes for the rich and famous. Perhaps he designed malls and skyscrapers that reached high towards the sky. He probably wore a business suit to work and carried a briefcase. Chances are he drives a sportscar. Red. Convertible. He looks like a man that would enjoy the top-down driving through the city, loving the lingering stares from scantily clad women. He probably went to nightclubs with a beautiful woman on his arm, a different one every weekend perhaps. His shoes were probably so shiny you could see your reflection in them. They were the sort that made a soft clicking sound as he walked down hallways of important business or as he made his way to his office. Button-up shirts, cufflinks, even a tuxedo were all part of his wardrobe. A big house, a swimming pool was a given. She glanced over to him once more, this mental picture of what his life must be like painted and defined in her mind.

"May I ask you a question, if you don't mind," she asked, breaking the silence that had only been punctuated by the sounds of the ship. "I don't mean to bother you, but do you by any chance having a swimming pool at your home?" She blushed deeply, immediately embarrassed by her own question. "I'm sorry. REally. It's just that, your magazines," she gestured. "You're an architect? That's so fascinating. I imagine your home, among other things, and I can't help but wonder if you have a swimming pool. I know it's silly. You know what? Nevermind. I'm sorry I bothered you. Forgive me. You probably want rest as much as I do. Forgive me please." She shook her head slightly, her face still burning red, before looking up to the sky and closing her eyes, wishing she could just disappear and feeling terrible for having disturbed him.
 
OP
Sync

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
Brett didn’t even know that his table “companion” had even noticed his presence until she spoke…and it took him a few seconds to realise that she was addressing him. Kind-of. It took him a few seconds longer to lift his head from his magazine, mainly because it provided some sort of solitude; if not solitude, then a sort-of barrier between himself and idiots who couldn’t appreciate the fact that he wanted to be…ah, who was he kidding. Only five minutes ago he’d been thinking that others on the deck appeared to understand the value of being left alone, and this girl with her book had looked to be one of those…clearly not.

His first instinct was to snap off some dark reply, but he held that back with a slow intake of breath, which he let out equally slowly…by the time he’d finished releasing the breath, she’d finished speaking. That was a small mercy, at least. He lowered his magazine to his lap and swivelled his head to look at her. She was looking up, her eyes closed, and her cheeks…were they flushed? No, it had been her that had been addressing him, and while he’d rather she hadn’t, he wasn’t about to be rude to her; not when the chances were at least reasonable that they’d run into each other again during the cruise.

He sighed softly. “No…no pool,” he replied curtly. “My home is an apartment – large and well-furnished, but no pool. The building has one, but not me.” He sucked in a quick breath through his nose and snorted it out. “And thank you for recognising that I just want to be left alone.” That last came out with a bit more heat and intensity than he might have intended, and he snapped his magazine up with every intention of leaving the conversation, such as it was, right there.

Except some part of him wouldn’t leave it at that. For several seconds he sat in silence, looking at the page without reading it. That hadn’t been terribly nice, and he knew it. As the anger and frustration rapidly faded from him, he lowered the magazine gradually and sighed again, this time slowly and heavily.

“Sorry…that was unfair of me,” he offered apologetically, his voice quieter and a little deeper. “I didn’t need to slam you for an innocent query. I’m…annoyed, yes, but not with you, or with anything you’ve said or done. So…my apologies for snapping at you.” He didn’t realise until he’d finished speaking that his head had kind-of mirrored hers: eyes closed, looking up to the sky, cheeks slightly flushed. He opened his eyes, at least, enough so that he could see her movements without appearing to be looking at her…peripheral vision was handy at times.
 

AndNich123

Pulsar
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
It was clear he wasn't too happy with her interrupting what he had planned on being a quiet retreat. Personally, she couldn't blame him. As he spoke, she realized it was rather rude of her to intrude as it was. Still, the words had left her mouth. It was too late to take them back. She wanted to let him know she wouldn't bother him anymore, but that literally seemed to be an oxymoron, pointless. So she listened to his words, almost able to feel his tone burning into her shoulder. Though her eyes were still closed, she could envision the look that had to be on his face, blazing angrily. 'Very well,' she thought. 'I get it.' The sound of the magazine rustling as his reaction was about to become clear replayed in her mind. She imagined him nearly snarling at her, a look of disgust on his face. 'Fine,' she thought. Maybe he rolled his eyes as well. Now his nose was probably buried in his magazine once again, as he tried to seclude himself from the rest of the world. 'I get it,' she thought. The sun seemed to warm her face even more so. Perhaps it was her own anger burning a bit. Even if it was, no matter. She wouldn't express it. He was entitled to his own reaction. 'We all are,' she thought. 'I get it.' No pool. Still, he had made a point of mentioning it was a large apartment that was well-furnished. 'Show off. Maybe that's what's wrong. He's some kind of uptight, rich ass. Yeah. That's the word to describe him. Ass. He's an ass. An arrogant ass. A smart ass. A mean ass. A rude ass. Just an ass all around.' The thoughts brought a slight smile to her lips. 'Yeah. He's an ass, and what do you with an ass? You wipe them.' She swallowed the laugh down. Laughing might antagonize him. She certainly didn't want to do that. After all, it was clear he only wanted to be left alone.

Just as she had resolved to that, he spoke again, surprising her. She listened to him quietly, motionless. It was as if she were afraid moving would make him stop, and he seemed comfortable enough to speak without the angry undertones blaring through. The more he talked, the more she could understand him. She waited until he was finished. All those angry thoughts she had just a moment ago, now made her feel small. She had judged him, and it wasn't fair of her to do so. She took a deep breath and sighed. Keeping her eyes closed and her face pointed upwards she said, "I'm sorry." The words were out before she had a second thought. "You want to be left alone, and I just barged in on your alone time. I'm sorry. For the record, I do understand how that is. Roommates that do not understand life is not a constant party." She realized she was about to go off on some tangent about her own woes with this trip to a man that wanted to be left alone. Take a few seconds, she reeled back in her thoughts before they exploded from her mouth like a runaway train. "Just..I'm sorry. I won't bother you anymore. Alone time is precious. Maybe I can buy your lunch or something later to make it up to you."
 
OP
Sync

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
For a moment he thought he’d gotten away with it. He’d had his say, stuffed it up, made his apology…and she was silent. With any luck she’d accept the apology wordlessly and leave him be. Then they’d be able to bump into each other without any tension, there’d be no need to try and avoid her – which would be tricky, even on a boat this size – they’d be able to be at the same table at the pool if it transpired that way…

But, again, luck deserted him. She spoke…and was apologising to him? What the hell for? Couldn’t she just shut up and leave him in peace? Was that asking too much? Thanks a-fucking lot, God. But there was more – she found herself in a similar predicament to him, if she was being truthful – she wanted peace, but wasn’t getting it. Her roommates were partying types, he heard from her mouth. That probably meant that she was wanting to relax and sleep when her friends were out partying, and that her friends were likely sleeping right now and wasting the day. To each their own, he knew. And if she understood that alone time was precious, why the hell was she intent on ruining his? Still…

“No,” he blurted out, perhaps a little too hastily, as his head turned so he could actually look at her properly for the first time since he’d flopped onto the lounge. She was pretty, he realised – young, firm, and pretty. Young enough that she could almost be the daughter he’d never had. “I mean…you don’t need to buy me anything. Have lunch with you, or a coffee, or something, sure, but you’re not paying for me.” He was probably better-off than her, anyway, and he didn’t particularly want to feel indebted to her in any way – but both of those thoughts remained in his head. “If anything…” He paused, then sighed softly, his shoulders sagging slightly at the same time, as if in defeat.

“Hi,” he began after a few seconds of silence. “My name’s Brett, and by way of apology for my earlier rudeness, can I get you a drink from the bar?” For the moment, at least, he felt he was being kind-of genuine.
 

AndNich123

Pulsar
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
No. The word came fast and harsh. Whether he intended for it to be that way or not, it certainly came across that way. His refusal to allow her to pay actually made her feel as though he perceived himself as being better than her, at first. Then she began to wonder if it was simply because she was younger than he was. Either way, the vibe was coming across clear as glass that he wasn't interested in spending any time around her, nor did he care to chat. She realized she was becoming too annoying party friends she was bunking with.

Just when she coming to terms with those thoughts and the silence, he continued. Brett. He wasn't a complete jerk who placed himself on a pedestal above her. He was reaching back. She smiled before giggling softly. "You don't have to do that. I know I've annoyed you enough, and believe me I know how important quiet time is." She didn't want to be harsh with him. His reaction had left an impression on her that let her know how that felt. "She took a deep breath. Sam. I'm here as a graduation gift. See the world. Spread your wings. Spend time with friends before going away for college. I just didn't realize how much flying my friends would do once they were out of the nest. Guess I'm just an adult at heart," she teased. The sounds on deck were slowly starting to come alive. More and more people were starting to filter from their staterooms to enjoy the beauty of the day and the ship. She could almost sense him starting to relax. Good. Everyone on board deserved to be able to do that, to enjoy the ship at their own leisure. Still, she couldn't help it. Words just kept coming to mind, and before she knew, her mouth spewed them. "A drink huh? I'm underage, but this is international waters. I could have one. What do you suggest?"
 
OP
Sync

Sync

Corporate Drone
Supporter
Joined
Dec 29, 2011
Location
Australia
“Well…” he started, then stopped, thought the better of what he might have said, changed tack. “Okay, so…you’re underage.” She hadn’t needed to tell him that, really, but it was said. “I’m going to guess you’re not a heavy alcohol drinker, so I might suggest something light while you’re getting used to it. And…I wasn’t going to suggest anything alcoholic at this time of day, anyway.” He smiled faintly. “I’m not big on alcohol myself, just so’s you know.” He closed is magazine and set it on the table between them, then pushed himself out of the lounge. “You…stay there. I’ll get us a drink each and be back soon.”

Brett was half-way to the bar when it occurred to him that he had no idea what she even liked in a drink, soft or otherwise. He could be about to make a huge mistake – was quite likely to do so, in fact. Social graces had never been his strong suit. The bar was relatively empty when he got there, but he guessed it wouldn’t be long before people started arriving for drinks and snacks like he was now. He picked up a drinks menu and scanned it…and his eyes lit up when he spied something he hadn’t seen for ages. A kid’s drink, sure, but still…

“Can I help you, sir?” A young woman asked him. A quick glance at her uniform and nametag told Brett he was speaking with Alisa, who was a well-presented, slim, dark-skinned girl of maybe twenty years, her shoulder-length black hair tied back neatly in a pony-tail.

“Yes, Alisa,” Brett replied graciously. “Two lemonade spiders, please. One lime, one raspberry. Charge to room twelve-six-fourteen.”

“Yes, sir,” Alisa replied politely as she rang up the order. “Will you be waiting for them or did you want them brought to you?”

“I’ll wait, thanks.”

“Of course, sir. I’ll be a couple of minutes.” Brett had little else to do, really, but watch the girl as she made the drinks up – two tall milkshake glasses, one with raspberry syrup, one with lime syrup, a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream in each, fill with plain lemonade…and watch the carbonated liquid slowly turn the ice-cream into a thick froth. A straw and spoon was put in each glass, and the glasses were placed on the counter in front of him.

“There you go, sir,” the girl informed in, as if it wasn’t obvious enough already.

“Thank you, Alisa.”

“My pleasure,” the girl told him, waiting just long enough to be polite before turning to attend to her next customer. Brett took the glasses carefully and slowly made his way back to the table…and hoping like hell that Sam – she’d told him that was her name, right? – liked old-fashioned spiders like he did.

“Right, here we are,” he declared, placing the raspberry drink on the table next to her, then setting the lime drink near his chair before he sank back into it. “And now I’m hoping like hell you actually like it, given I didn’t think to even ask before I got up.” He sighed as he let the chair take his weight once more. “So…graduated with what ideas in mind?” It was pretty obvious she’d graduated from high school, but what were her plans …?
 

AndNich123

Pulsar
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
She wanted to tell him no, that she was sorry for bothering him in the first place, and that he should go back to relaxing, but before she could, he was out of his lounge and heading towards the bar. She smiled faintly watching him as he was clearly ordering. This man, this kind man, was ordering a drink for her despite the fact that she had clearly interrupted his day, his alone time. Sam knew better than anyone how important that was, and here she was, taking it away from him, being as rude as her own roommates were. Certainly, after this, she would have to leave him be to get the peace and quiet he deserved.

The breeze picked up, cooling her skin slightly and drawing a sigh from her. It felt wonderful. Every so often, she wagered a glance in his direction to see how things were going. Her eyes lit up as she realized what he had ordered. She had not had one in such a long time. When her entire family got together, something that had not happened in a long time, this was a treat they gave the younger ones. She remembered slurping them, tasting whatever fruity flavor she ended up with. Just seeing it brought back memories of backyard barbeques. The smell of the grill, all the chatter, sitting at a picnic table, all of her cousins around, running through the grass that was on the verge of needing to be cut, jumping into the pool, and being totally exhausted by the end of the day. They were all happy memories, and this stranger had unknowingly brought them back to her.

"Oh I do," she told him, picking up the glass, not wasting any time. The memories grew stronger the second the taste hit her tongue. "Oh my gosh. You have no idea how good this is. I haven't had one of these in ages," she told him between gulps. Not wanting a brain freeze, she set the glass down on the table between them at his question. "Well," she began, "my family wanted me to go into the family business, but that's not what I want. My parents own this small hardware store. They do well. We do well, but it's not what I want. On the weekends I help out, and I can cook the books for them, but it's not what I want. I like numbers. Doing the math for them is fun, it's relaxing. I have applied to a pretty good college, and I was accepted. My parents aren't happy about it all though." She sighed, knowing that could not have made any sense, and it had to sound strange. "The school is out of state, and they're not happy that I'm going to school so far away. You see, that's part of the attraction of this school though. I want to get away from family, be on my own, make my own way. I love my family, but it's time. So I will be taking classes to help me with software development. There are jobs to be had in that field, and I'm going to get mine. My small town I live in is out in left field when it comes to this sort of stuff. We're lucky to have internet there. I want more. So I'm going for it. They'll understand someday. I hope," she finished, picking up the glass and having another taste. "So what about you? What's your story," she asked, pulling the glass away and giving him a faint smile before diving back into the cool goodness he had given her.
 
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At least the drink was appreciated…and with memories, too, apparently. Hearing her express her enjoyment of his selected beverage for her brought a small smile to Brett’s lips, although he kept it hidden from her – or at least he thought he did. Then he thought he might relax into a bit of silence as she gave him the short, executive summary of her schooling…except she didn’t. She gave him the short version of her life story. What the fuck for? Okay, sure, he’d asked the question to be polite, really, but was there any need for her to take him up on it, especially when she knew he just wanted to be left alone? He kept his expression neutral as he slowly sucked on his drink while she talked.

Then she asked about him. Oh, god. He took another sip from his drink, then sighed softly as he set his glass on the table.

“My story…?” he repeated slowly. He pursed his lips for a second, trying to work out how little he could tell without seeming to be rude. “Pretty straight, really. Finished high school with a good head for numbers and design, and straight into university. I knew what I wanted from the outset. Studied hard, worked hard, graduated with a raft of honours and distinctions, top of my class. Got snapped up pretty quickly by a small architect firm, worked there for a few years before moving to where I am now. Been working there for…what, fifteen years or so, now…? Something like that. Been good, overall.” He paused to take another sip from his drink.

“This cruise, though…? Not my idea. Well, the cruise itself is my idea, but the vacation is not. So many things I could be doing – accounts to design for, buildings to draw up, specs to review – but my boss wants me here, on holiday. He’s worried I’m going to burn out.” He snorted softly. “Not fucking likely. I get the rest I need.” Brett stopped again, then wondered just why he’d told her that. She didn’t need to know that he was on holiday virtually against his will, although it might help her understand his grumpiness. He sighed again.

“Chase your dream, is my advice,” he offered finally. “No point doing something if it’s not fulfilling you. You sound you know what you want. Go for it, I say.”
 

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Chase your dream, is my advice. No point doing something if it’s not fulfilling you.”

That was probably the best advice she had ever been given. She sat there, the straw still between her lips, literally zoned out replaying those words over and over in her mind. He seemed to have it so together. Here she was, on the precipice of her life starting, her future laid out, and she scared to death on the inside to take a step forward. There was no guarantee the ground wouldn't collapse under her feet and she would fall flat on her face. There were no guarantees of anything really. That scared her, but this man had already walked on that same uncertain, shaky ground. She had to admit she envied him for that. People always thought the grass was greener on the other side. Perhaps he felt that way about her. Maybe he envied the fact she still had her life, full of choices and the thrill of being 'picked up' by an employer before her. It sounded so silly once she thought about it. Why would he envy that. He was were he wanted to be. Well, not literally. Clearly he didn't want to be on this cruise. At least now she understood why he seemed extra cranky. Of course her constant bothering someone who only wanted peace and quiet could have a lot more to do with that than being on this cruise.

She shook her head slightly, shaking herself from the depths of her thoughts. "Thanks for the drink," she told him, holding it up as if she were saying cheers. Before placing it on the table next to her, she took one more sip. Settling into the creaking lounge, she was left with her thoughts that she knew were going to eat her alive. This cruise was suppose to be about relaxing and celebrating. Right now she felt less like doing either one. She wished her room was empty so that she could rush to it and try to begin planning her new life. There was so much to get set up. She was going to a new college. There was so much to prepare for with just that. Her mind raced as her eyes darted about. Somehow resting here in this lounge, looking up at the clouds was not the relaxing retreat she wanted or needed.
 
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Yeah, she was thanking him for the drink, but there was something else. Instinct, perhaps, told him that. He had no idea what it was, but there was something else in the way she’d offered her thanks…she was holding back. Or holding on. Or something like that. In truth, he didn’t really care. Well…maybe he did, just a little. She was young enough to be his daughter, for fuck’s sake. She’d just finished high school, seemed like she had a level head on her shoulders, and…what? Did she really know what she wanted from life? He knew that to be a lie for most people. Brett knew he’d been lucky that way, but most people weren’t that lucky. He picked up his magazine, opened it, stared at it for a few seconds without seeing it.

Then he took a slow breath and spoke to her again without lowering the magazine.

“If you’re open for pearls of wisdom – such as they are – then here’s another one for you,” he offered quietly. “Don’t rush into the next stage. You’ve just finished twelve, thirteen years of school. Take a break and regroup. Live a little before you dive into tying yourself down for the rest of your life. Experience a bit of the real world before you go to university.” Was he talking to her, or addressing a deep, dark regret of his own? He didn’t know. He forged on.

“You can start by making good on that lunch date you offered, even though I’m paying.”
 

AndNich123

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She laughed, not scoffing really, but more of an amused laugh. He was still insisting on paying for dinner. She began to think about what he had said, his pearls of wisdom. So much time and effort had been poured into her academic career, and while it wasn't over by any means, she was in the midst of a break from it. Sure she could forge onward, blazing her path in this world, accomplishing all her goals until she was finally met with precious time to reflect and enjoy her life. Then again, she could do as he mentioned. She did have the rest of her life to make her mark on this world, to finish out her academic studies, and claim the life she wanted. There was no real rush, no urgency. The only clock she was racing was the one she had set, and all clocks came with this incredible invention, this wonderful, little button.

"Snooze," she said, a smile spreading across her face. "I can hit the snooze button." She turned her gaze towards him. "You're absolutely right. I can hit the snooze button and not rush into the next phase of my life. University will be there. Life will be there, but what good is all that if I don't take some time to enjoy it? Roses are beautiful, but you have to smell them once in a while in order to properly appreciate them." She wanted so much to see a hint of a smile on his face, something that let her know she wasn't completely bothering him, but just as she wished for such a sign, a thought crept into her mind. "But what about you? You don't have to rush back to work, back to the daily grind, back to a life that sent you here for a vacation that it thought you needed. Perhaps you need to stop and smell the roses too. A man with such pearls of wisdom certainly should know that and be able to recognize when it's time to do so." She hoped she wasn't being too forward, too cheeky, with him. "So lunch does sound good, and I know, you're paying, but if you're paying, then I get to pick the place. I like the smells from that place that serves spaghetti. I can't remember exactly what deck it's on, but the smell filters to my room. So are you up for some Italian later? Is that an acceptable choice?"
 
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The laugh was…interesting. And almost engaging. She was kind-of understanding what he meant, a thought supported by her words. She understood that she could take a break and not rush head-long and blind into the rest of her life. And he’d be damned if she didn’t turn around and stab him with his own words. She wasn’t being malicious with it, he knew that from the tone of her voice, but it still stung a little. She’d hurt him…and he couldn’t be mad at her for it. Well, he could be, he supposed, could snap at her for her observation, but that wouldn’t be fair. Instead he took a mouthful from his glass, enjoyed the flavours of soft drink and ice cream sliding down his throat.

“Italian for lunch sounds just fine,” he agreed quietly, once the ice ream had finished chilling his throat. “It’s probably not all they have on the menu, of course, but I can do Italian with you. I prefer to do a heavier lunch and a lighter dinner anyway. I also tend to put a little gym-time after lunch to help it settle, burn a bit of it off.” He snorted softly. “Might be tricky getting that in here, though. Gym’s not that big, I think. Haven’t checked it out properly to be sure, though, so It’s entirely possible I could be wrong about that.”

He sat back in his lunge chair and fell silent for a moment, his head facing upwards so he could look at the clouds. He might have been lost in thought to an observer, but there wasn’t a lot of thought bouncing around his head…which was a minor miracle in itself. After a few seconds of quiet, he sighed loudly.

“I’m trying to decide whether to be annoyed with you or not,” he offered candidly. “You’re quite right, I don’t take my own advice to slow down occasionally. And that’s put me where I am right now. But…that’s how I like to live – always on the go.” He took a deep breath, let it out slowly and deliberately. “Well…that’s what I believed, anyway. And here I am.” He stopped, snorted, turned his head to regard his table companion.

“Anyway…Italian for lunch. Shall I meet you somewhere near your cabin and then just follow your nose, or did you want to work it out ahead of time?”
 

AndNich123

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Jan 22, 2014
Something he said struck a nerve with her. It made her feel as though they were kindred spirits in a sense. Always on the go. She could relate to those words. Literally from the time she rolled out of bed, she was on the go. It was school, study groups, projects for school, after school activities, family affairs, volunteering, working out. There was never a dull moment or a spare second. Her calendar was on her computer desk at home. Every square for a day filled to capacity. It was the best way to keep her family informed of where she would be at what time. Now it just like a daunting rock hanging over her head, ready to crush her at any moment. She scoffed thinking, 'it already is crushing me.'

She eyed him as she spoke of how he should be annoyed with her. It was refreshing that he wasn't. Honestly, she felt as though she had been annoying him, and if she had, she understood. Her roommates had annoyed her from the first night they were aboard. That was never her intention here. When he asked about meeting her at her cabin, her first reaction was to say no. She didn't want to risk him running into them, but in all honesty, she would be there getting ready for lunch. After baking in this sun, she would want to freshen up. Hopefully, they wouldn't awaken with her stirring about. Hopefully. She shared her cabin number with him, telling him, "That would be fine to meet me there. Shall we say noon?" That would give her plenty of time to be prepared.

"By the way, they do have a gym here, but I've found in the early morning hours when the strangers are coming in from the clubs and partying, you can jog around the decks here. There's nothing like it really. The sun coming up over the ocean, illuminating everything it touches, the cool breeze in your face, the smell of the ocean, and hearing the ship slowly coming to life. It's peaceful at first, but you can hear everything waking up. I usually end that with a trip to this great place on one of the upper decks. Some juice, some fruit, a light breakfast, and then it's back to the cabin to freshen up. Wakes you up. Invigorates you." Feeling as though she was rambling on and on, and certain she was, she blushed. "I'll shut up now. I promise. In fact, maybe I'll take in a stroll along the decks. See what the ship is like this time of day." She stood up and picked up the remainder of her drink. "Thanks for this by the way, and for listening to me. I'm sorry for taking your peace and quiet. I know how important that is. I'll see you at noon then," she said, raising her glass as if she were toasting him before walking away, finally taking in a deep breath.
 
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