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.
After delicious smoked salmon and all the other dinner courses, Jenny still could not resist dessert, especially on such a festive occasion. Miguel and the other waiters and busboys paraded around the dining room with flaming baked Alaskas balanced on their heads, all to the beat of a steel drum band.
Steve not only generously provided two bottles of Kristal for all of them, he insisted on stopping the rolling after-dinner drink cart to buy a round of brandy for their coffee. Afterwards, Carla and Russ headed for the casino, and Jenny accepted Steve's invitation to go with him to a show. After all, Kirk hadn't made a date, and she didn't want to just go back to the cabin and go to bed when so much was going on all over the ship.
When the show was over, Steve wanted to go dancing in one of the ballrooms. "We can slow dance. Everywhere else is fast and loud."
"Don't you like to fast dance?" she asked.
"Not really. Oh, some of the older songs are okay, but I hate Rap."
"The Disco plays all kinds of music, and it's open until three a.m."
His brows lifted in surprise. "Could you really stay up that late? I'd fall asleep on my feet."
She assured him she could and often did. "I'm a night person. I come alive when it gets dark."
"Really?" he murmured, unimpressed. "I like a quieter sort of life. But come on, let's go slow-dancing."
"I'd rather go to the Disco," she insisted. She had glanced in the other lounges the night before and knew mostly older passengers frequented them. And that was fine. She heartily approved of entertainment planned for all age groups and intended to mention that feature in her brochure, but she was young and wanted to go where the action was.
Steve looked annoyed but said, "Sure," then led the way to the stairs that would take them two decks below to the Disco.
It was crowded, noisy, and wonderful, Jenny decided the instant they walked in. A whirling glass ball dazzled the room with millions of tiny lights and the floor was covered in mirrors.
Steve strained to speak over the din. "I don't think we can even find a place to sit down, and I'm not about to perch on a bar stool."
"Over there!" Jenny pointed to a booth in a corner and took off with Steve right behind her.
She was dying to dance, but Steve just sat there looking miserable. Then a man in the next booth, whose wife was as unenthusiastic as Steve, asked Jenny to dance. She said sure and followed him onto the dance floor. He was good, and so was she, and they danced well together. One song ended. Another began. There was a break, and her partner's wife said she was glad her husband had found someone to party with, because she was tired and glad to sit on the sidelines. But after a few more dances, she said she was ready to leave.
When they were gone, Steve said, "How about if we get out of here, too? We can take a walk on deck and then turn in so we can be ready for the North Cape tomorrow. I'd like for you to go with me."
"Well, I may have other plans," she hedged, wondering if Kirk would keep their date.
Steve continued to almost shout in her ear above the music, wanting to establish their time together for the remainder of the cruise. She was not really paying any attention, unable to keep from watching the officers standing around the bar, wondering where Kirk was...and hoping he would appear.
"I'm going to the restroom," Steve shouted. "I'll be back in a minute, and then we're getting out of here. I've had it. Tell the waiter to bring the check."
She was about to tell him to wait, that she was ready right then, but he was already making his way to the door. It was nearly two o'clock, probably too late to expect Kirk to show up, anyway.
And then he was there.
Tall, powerfully built, golden hair gleaming in the swirling lights, fjord-blue eyes transmitting secret messages of desire...Jenny later would dreamily recall it was like seeing a fearful, mystical Viking. But instead of being terrified, she secretly welcomed ravishment at the hands of this mighty warrior.
He held out his hand, and his impassioned voice was like a mesmeric caress when he asked, "Would you like to dance?"
To be continued...
To read the other chapters, use the links on the top of the column on the right.