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.
Kirk had hated to leave Jenny that morning, but, after all, he wasn't on vacation. He was working, which was always difficult when he was involved in an onboard relationship. And this cruise was more demanding than those in the Caribbean, because a lot of VIPs were sailing.
He had known it would be a busy time, which was why he had told Marla not to come on this cruise after she e-mailed him she was planning to. And he was very glad he had thought to tell the radio operator not to ring his cabin last night, because this morning when he'd gone to the bridge he learned she had called him several times. She didn't care that shore-to-ship calls via satellite were expensive. Her parents were rich, and she was spoiled rotten and used to getting her own way. She was also the one girl in his life that he was worried about. Not that he was getting any serious notions about her. It was just the opposite. She was getting serious about him, even though he had told her from the beginning he was not interested in that sort of relationship. Most women appreciated his honesty, but, to Marla, it was just a challenge.
For over a year, she had cruised at least twice during his four-month tours of duty. He had visited her on his last vacation, and she had gone to Norway to see him. They had great sex and lots of fun -- and that's all he wanted from her...all, really, he wanted from any of the women he met on the ship.
Until Jenny Denton.
And now his resolves were melting, his intentions forgotten, and he was starting to have the feeling he thought he would never experience again--falling in love.
Wanting to see her, he called her cabin, was delighted to find her there, and invited her to meet him at Officers' Mess for lunch. "You can see another side to shipboard life."
Jenny said she would love to. She was interested in learning everything she could about the ship, but most of all, she was anxious to be with Kirk.
He introduced her to several other officers. As they were leaving, she met one who had his wife onboard, and thought how terrible it must be to have a husband at sea. Four months away, two months home. A couple would have to try hard to make a marriage like that work. Casting a sideways glance at Kirk, she told her heart to remember he was, after all, a sailor.
Her heart, however, did not seem to be listening.
Kirk took her on a tour of the bridge and showed her some other points of interest. Time slipped away, and he reluctantly said he had to get back to work. "I still have some things to do, and then I have to get ready for the captain's big party tonight. All the key officers will be introduced, and we have to wear dress uniforms, of course."
"I'll bring my camera," she said. "It might make a nice picture for the brochure."
They had reached the promenade deck, which was crowded with passengers. Kirk lowered his voice. "After the party, I've got duty till twelve. It would be real nice to find you waiting in my cabin. But if you'd rather I meet you somewhere, I can do that.. It's just that officers are required to wear full dress uniforms in public after eight o'clock, and I'd have to take time to change, and---"
"No need!" She was quick to interrupt. "I'll be there."
"Great." He slipped something into her hand.
She saw it was a key.
He winked, smiled, and left her.
She stared after him for a moment, then went to the windows of the enclosed deck to gaze out at the gray sea. She needed to go back to her cabin and make notes, start giving some thought as to how she was going to put the brochure presentation together in rough draft for the Valhalla executives in Oslo. But that could wait. For the time being, she wanted only to savor the day, remember each and every smile, wink, secret glance, and touch of hand. Kirk was meaning more and more to her with each passing hour, and she wondered more and where it was all going to lead...
She did not see Steve Gentry, nor was she aware that he had been watching her and Kirk.
He was frowning, his hands opening and closing in angry fists. From the first moment he met Jenny, he knew she was the woman he'd been searching for. It was fate that she was also from Atlanta, and he was convinced she was just perfect for him in every way.
He'd be damned if he was going lose her to a white wolf.
To be continued...
To read the other chapters, use the links on the top of the column on the right.