Note to readers: CruiseMates' Singles Editor and New York Times best-selling author Patricia Hagan has written a romance novel called OCEAN OF DREAMS. As a new feature on CruiseMates, we will be publishing installments for our readers every Tuesday and Thursday. For previous chapters, use the links on the top of the column on the right.
Jenny knew, beyond doubt, that she would never forget the song that was playing in that crystallized moment when she moved into Kirk's arms; sexy and sensuous Julio Iglesias was singing "When I Fall in Love." And then the world around them dissipated as they entered an abysmal sphere all their own, lost in the music, the night, and each other.
Julio finished his song, then Barbra Streisand began to sing of memories. But she was only into her second verse when Kirk glanced over the top of Jenny's head to meet the glaring eyes of the man he had whisked her away from. "If looks could kill," he murmured against her ear, "I'd be dead. Who is he? It seems he's always turning up."
"Just someone who sits at the same table as me in the dining room." She saw no reason to confide that Steve Gentry obviously wanted to be much more.
"Well, he seemed rather possessive after the folklore show, and that's why I felt it was best I leave then. Single male passengers don't like it when officers take up time with single ladies. Actually, it's against the rules for me to ask you to dance when you're sitting with him."
"That doesn't seem fair."
"I guess it's how you look at it. He pays to have a good time, then finds himself all alone while you're dancing with me. To him, that isn't fair."
Jenny said she didn't care, because right then all that mattered was Kirk moving her dreamily around the dance floor.
"Would you like to meet me on deck in a few minutes?" he suddenly asked. "Just get your purse, say you're going to your cabin, then meet me by the pool bar. Wait a bit after I leave, though."
"I...I guess I could," she said hesitantly, not wanting to seem too eager.
"I want to be with you, Jenny, but I can't walk out with you. Your friend over there might run straight to the captain and complain, and I'd be in for a lecture."
She nodded that she understood, and when the song ended, he led her back to her table, then left.
Steve could not contain his rage. "White Wolf," he said between clenched teeth. "All he cares about is having a different woman in his bed every cruise. Disgusting. The cruise line should outlaw it."
He kept on grumbling, pointing out officers as they flirted with women and made a snide remark when a couple left together. Finally, Jenny could stand it no longer. "I'm tired. I'll see you tomorrow."
"But...but I thought about it and decided we should stay a while longer and dance. You said you liked to stay out late, and---"
"Sorry. I really am tired tonight, Steve."
He jumped to his feet, signaling frantically to the waiter to bring the check as he said to Jenny, "Wait, and I'll walk you to your cabin."
She kept on going, hurrying so he would not be able to catch up with her. She took an elevator five decks up to the pool deck. As soon as she stepped outside, Kirk was waiting to draw her quickly into his arms. No one else was around, and he kissed her for long, feverish moments, then whispered, "I missed you, Jenny. It's seemed like forever since I held you."
"Then hold me," she brazenly urged. "Hold me all night long..."
He took her hand and hurriedly led the way to his quarters.
Once inside, with the door closed and locked against the world, she twined her arms around his neck, standing on tiptoe to press her lips to his. She felt him shudder, returning her kiss as though he wished to steal her very soul. Then with a single easy movement, he swung her up off her feet, mouth never leaving hers as he carried her once more to the bedroom.
Afterwards, he held her tightly against him. "I don't ever want to let you go."
She gave a nervous laugh. "You don't even know me, Kirk."
"I know I'd like to."
"Is that possible on a cruise when everything is such a fantasy?"
"I'm thinking about after. After a month in dry dock in Germany, I go on vacation for two months. We could see each other then. You come to Norway, and I'll visit you in the states."
"Sounds wonderful to me," she said, snuggling even closer.
He was suddenly quiet, thoughtful, and she asked him what was wrong.
With a sigh, he told her that it was only natural to wonder if she were involved in a relationship back home. "Do I have any competition?" he asked.
She told him no, then, as briefly as possible, about her broken engagement.
"So I have to compete with the ghost of the past?" he asked soberly.
Jenny turned so he could see her teasing smile. "Only if you think I envision you as Bryan when we are making love."
For an instant he could only stare at her in amazement that she could say such a thing, then realized she was joking. With a big grin, he reached for her. "Well, my dear, I'll just have to constantly remind you who you are making love to, won't I?"
And the smoldering ashes of their spent passion ignited once more if ecstasy, and they left the world again, lost in each other.
To be continued...
To read the other chapters, use the links on the top of the column on the right.