The S/S Misty Seas sailed on into the fjords of Norway, and Kirk was with Jenny every possible moment he was not on duty. Sharing her delight in the wonders of his country was like taking a wonderstruck child to her first circus. Through her eyes he saw the beauty he had always taken for granted.
In Andalsnes, a small charming village on the Romsdals fjord, high mountains with jagged peaks surrounded them. Jenny, struck by the awesome landscape, told Kirk that she had read there were eighty-seven snowcapped peaks. Kirk teased that there were once eighty-eight, but tourists chipped away souvenir pieces from one of them until there was nothing left.
She laughed with him, loving his sense of humor. Never could she remember having so much fun with anyone. They had, she was sure, the best of everything--passion and good times together--all a woman could ask for in a man.
So she had her thrills and ecstasy...but also her doubts and fears. She had given more of herself to Kirk in a short period of time than she had ever given to any past relationship. And sometimes, when she lay curled in his arms after a torrid session of lovemaking, and they whispered to each other how much they cared, a cold chill would move up and down her spine at the tormented thought of what might happen if she found out he was not as he represented himself.
Slow down, she commanded her heart; but her heart merely laughed, No way! No way!
And all too soon, the number of days remaining in the cruise wound down to single digits.
Kirk was excited about the last two ports of call--two days in Oslo, Norway's largest city and capital; and then the famous Briksdal glacier, unequaled in continental Europe.
The morning they were to arrive in Oslo, Kirk had the bridge call his cabin at 5 a.m. for wake-up. Jenny heard the excitement in his voice as he spoke in Norwegian on the phone, groggily wondered why he was so enthusiastic, then remembered they were coming into Oslo.
He bounced out of bed, exulting that they were going to have one of the best days yet. "And I'm taking you up on the bridge with me, because the view is really something. The Oslofjord is sixty miles long. Meet me here in an hour."
While Kirk showered, Jenny left and hurried to her cabin to likewise bathe and change. When she was ready, she groaned to realize she needed another roll of film and hurried to the gift shop. As luck would have it, the English girl was the only clerk in sight.
"Say, aren't you the one who was in here the other night with Mr. Gentry?" Paula Streeter greeted. "You were talking about the officers."
Jenny was quick to correct, "You were the one talking about officers. Not me."
Paula's cheeks paled. "Hey, listen, luv. I want to apologize. I'm afraid I have a big mouth. I shouldn't have said those things. I had no right, and---"
"No problem." Jenny cut her off, not wanting to discuss it further. But she could not resist saying, "I never pay attention to gossip."
"But it wasn't gossip. It's true. Every bit of it. But I had no right to repeat it."
Jenny mutely nodded, wishing she would just shut up and complete the sale so she could get out of there.
"Are you seeing Officer Moen?"
Jenny's eyes narrowed, and she gave her a 'what's-it-to-you?' kind of stare.
"Please," Paula reached out and grabbed her arm, really nervous by then. "Don't say anything to him, okay? I mean, I don't really care if the other officers get mad. They know I know how they fool around, but Officer Moen could have me out of here with the snap of his fingers, him being who is and all, which I'm sure you're aware of..." her voice trailed.
Jenny stared at her, puzzled. "What do you mean--'him being who he is and all?'"
Paula returned her stare. "You mean you don't know he's the nephew of one of Valhalla's biggest stockholders? One of the CEOs? Why, he's only working on this ship to get a feel for it so's he can sit on the board one day and know what it is he's trying to run."
Jenny continued to look at her, aghast. Kirk? Heir to Valhalla? If that were true, then why hadn't he told her? Why did he want her to think he was just a working guy like the other officers? Unless...
The needle of suspicion began to prickle.
Unless she was just another girl, another cruise, and he saw no reason to confide anything important...because it was all a part of the game!
"Are you sure?" she demanded of Paula, who was watching her in fearful bewilderment of her reaction.
"Yes, yes, of course. I wouldn't make up something like that. I thought you knew. Oh, please don't say I said anything. Officer Moen must have his own reasons for not telling you. But that gent you were with--Mr. Gentry, is it?" She rushed on without waiting for confirmation. "Actually, he didn't tell me which officer you were involved with, only that he's mad about you himself and wanted me to help you realize how they are. The other officers, that is. I had no idea you were seeing Office Moen. Not until Mr. Gentry asked me that night he brought you in here if that was who I was talking about, and then I got worried, and, oh, please..." She begged, clutching Jenny's hand tighter, "don't say anything to Officer Moen, please."
Carefully, Jenny unwrapped Paula's fingers from around her wrist. "Don't worry," she tightly assured. "He'll never know I heard it from you."
Jenny hurried out, determined that she would not jump to conclusions. Kirk had to have a good reason not to have confided the truth about himself, and, in time, she would find out that reason.
Until then, she would just play the game, too.
To be continued...
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