Deep Blue Ch. 02

byWine_Maker©

"I can imagine," I said dryly. I looked at Lisa and she shrugged. Oh well, they would've found out about Gretchen before too much longer anyway. "We can all go, then."

"How do we find them?" Lisa asked. "Split up and search? Have them paged?"

My eyes twinkled as I shook my head. "You're acting like we were already at sea. And even then, I think this will still work." I pulled out my cell phone.

Lisa smacked her forehead. "Duh! Dumb blonde alert! Now that you've reminded me, I remember reading that the whole ship has wireless internet access for computers and its own cell tower."

"Don't take it too hard," I commiserated with her as I dialed. "This is the first ship with it this way. Even a few years ago, this was unheard of. Admittedly, we could probably still hit the Miami cell towers in dock," I said a bit smugly.

"Stinker," she said. She punched my arm lightly as Hawk answered. "Hawk," she said with her usual brevity.

"It's Ted. We're here. Where are you?" I asked.

"Ted!" The genuine warmth in her voice made me feel better immediately. "Grab Lisa and come down to the dining room. Third deck."

"We'll be there in a few minutes and we're bringing our neighbors with us," I said.

"Your neighbors?" she asked incredulously. "You brought your neighbors on a cruise?"

I said with a laugh. "I meant the couple in the suite next to us. I'll explain when we get there."

"Okay..." Hawk said slowly. "Knowing you, it'll be good, but I bet I have you beaten with who I ran into today. Actually, the two odd people I ran into."

"It's a bet," I said. "See you in fifteen minutes."

"You want us to order you something?" she asked.

"No, we're good. Bye now," I said and hung up. "She's down in the dining room on the third floor. Let's roll."

-----

It had only been a week since we'd seen Hawk and Gretchen, but it felt like a reunion when we came into the main floor of the dining room. We exchanged hugs and a lot of happy grins. Gretchen introduced me to her new friend Trish, who was young and very, very attractive. I saw Lisa giving her a measuring look and I smiled at my wife. This cruise was looking to have its upside despite Price showing up. I couldn't help but wonder what the week might have in store for all of us.

Lisa introduced everyone to Keven and Sandy. I saw at once that Keven and Hawk had made one of those snap connections, and they settled in like long-lost friends. Gretchen, Lisa, Sandy and Trish settled into a four-way girl-fest, so I just grinned and joined the men. I know that Hawk wasn't a man, but even pregnant, she so often acted like a man that it was kind of the same.

Keven looked around and waved over the waiter, and we ordered some drinks. "Do we need to wait for your husband, Hawk, or can we just get into telling you what happened upstairs?"

Hawk looked simultaneously chagrinned and amused. "I see that someone," she shot me a smirk, "failed to fully disclose the facts of life to you about me. I'm married to Gretchen."

Keven was momentarily surprised but caught on quick. "Oh, that's cool. No," he grinned at me, "Ted didn't mention that to us. I'll clue Sandy in if Gretchen or Lisa doesn't. We're from LA, so it's no big deal for either of us. I'm an artist, and a big part of the artist community there is gay. No worries."

"That's good," Hawk said with a grin. "There are a number of people around here that don't share that opinion." She looked at me. "I ran into one just before you called me. I'll tell you about it after you give me your news."

Before I could start telling Hawk about Price, she held up her hand. "Before you start, I'm going to get Ted back for springing me on you." She grinned at me, and I blushed, suspecting I knew what she was going to tell him. "Ted is the missing link."

"I suspected that since I met him," Keven said slyly. "It was the sloping forehead that clued me in."

I laughed. "Not that kind of missing link. I'm the father of her children."

That surprised him. "The donor, eh? That's cool."

"Not in the way you're thinking," Hawk said with a wicked grin. "He knocked me up the old fashioned way. And Ted, I've discussed this with Gretchen and we both agree; you're not the father of my children. You're the father of our children. They're our children, Ted. All of us."

I felt a warm glow inside and I'm sure that my smile reflected it.

That raised both of Keven's eyebrows. "Okay, now I'm confused." He looked at Hawk quizzically. "I thought you were a lesbian."

"Mostly," Hawk laughed with a nod, "but as much as it ruins my precious self-image, I think I'm a little bi to be honest." She raised an eyebrow. "Too much information?"

Keven shook his head and smiled. "Well, I have to admit that I don't usually know so much about my newly met friend's sexual history quite so quickly. Do you always tell people you meet that?"

Hawk laughed. "No, but I've got a good sense of people and I like you. Besides," she said with that same wicked smile at me, "I owe Ted for all the embarrassment of being pregnant. You wouldn't believe what some people think about that."

"Like I said, I live in LA and know a great many people in the gay community there. I think I can imagine that certain members of that community didn't look kindly on you." At Hawk's nod, Keven looked over at the chattering girls. "I just have to ask, though; what do your respective spouses think about that?"

"Lisa was there," I said with a smile. "But, I'd appreciate it if you kept that under your hat. Her political enemies would love some dirt to throw on her before the election in a few months."

Keven made a lip-locking gesture and threw away the metaphorical key. "My lips are sealed."

"It was before I met Gretchen," Hawk said piously.

"By what?" I asked with my own grin. "Less than twenty-four hours?"

"Yeah," she admitted. "About that. It was a hell of a thing. I never expected to find someone that loved me as much as I loved her, much less to find it as fast as it happened. We got married just a week after we met and I'm still bowled over by Gretchen."

"Wow," Keven said. "That was fast."

"It was more by accident than intent, but we're happy." She leaned forward and waved a finger at Keven. "Never sign a marriage license as a joke and let a minister file it. That was one prank that backfired on Gretchen, and how! An Elvis, no less."

"It sounds like one hell of a story," Keven admitted, "and I can't wait to hear the details. I think Ted should fill you in on what went on upstairs first, though."

Hawk nodded and transferred her attention to me. "Okay then, spill."

"We were ambushed by Ken Price upstairs," I said without preamble. "He came right into the café and started trouble. He knew we were here."

I saw that Hawk didn't even have to think about who Price was. She'd questioned him a year ago in a police interrogation room about the murder of Lisa's friend, and the memory looked to have stuck. Or, I admitted, she might just have that cop memory thing going. She had often surprised me in her stories by recalling the names and even addresses of the most inconsequential witnesses to cases going back years.

"That sleaze? Here?" she asked with a growl. "He's got a lot of nerve showing his face around my friends, especially after all that legal crap and after hitting Lisa." The rage on her face was controlled, but I could see it peeking through.

"I don't know what he's up to," I said, "but I don't want him hurting Lisa again."

"I'll toss his sorry ass overboard if I see him," she said coldly. "You're right, Ted, this is much more important than the people I've met. An asshole writer and the televangelist from hell take a back seat to him. I'll start making some inquiries to find out where he is and I'll have a chat with the weasel before the sun sets."

"Asshole writer? Televangelist? Who have you met?" I asked curiously.

"We met The Right Reverend Billy Swaggwell and some schmuck by the name of Skip Niccio that is using Trish."

"Swaggwell!" I said sitting up straighter. "I've seen some of his preaching. He's a major bible-thumper and detests the gay and lesbian community. Hopefully you won't run into him again."

"Right," Hawk said with a sigh. "It doesn't work that way, you know. He'll find me. Count on it."

We spent the next several minutes exchanging all the details of our various encounters and sipping our drinks. Keven was the only one of the three of us that seemed cheered by the looming chaos.

"I was afraid the cruise was going to be boring," he admitted. "Now I know where to come for all the excitement."

Hawk was smirking and looking over my shoulder and suddenly sat bolt upright. "I don't fucking believe it! What is this, old home week?"

I looked over my shoulder and saw a man and woman walking into the dining room. I didn't recognize them but, obviously, Hawk did. The woman was petite, maybe four inches over five feet and was quite obviously Eurasian. She was in her mid-forties, and her long black hair made a nice frame around the enticing blue eyes that made her look so exotic. Right now, those blue eyes were widening in shock as she looked at us.

The man was taller than the woman by half a foot and built pretty well. I could see the obvious signs of age shifting weight from chest to gut, but I only hoped I was still in as good a shape as he was in ten years. He had dark eyes and Marine Corps short, sandy brown hair.

"Jo Beller? Earl?" Hawk yelled, struggling to her feet. "What the hell are you doing here?" The name rang a bell for me, and I suspected Hawk's cop memory was working its magic once again. I did the only thing I could, and helped Hawk to her feet as I turned to meet Jo and Earl.

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