Road Warrior: Barcelona Ch. 02byJakeRivers©
Ana looked troubled which made me feel bad. "Ana, I'm ... sorry what I did. I didn't give you a chance to say no. If you want to move to another cabin I'll understand."
"Oh, Charlie, my dear, dear, Charlie. You must know I love you. It's not what happened. God, I've wanted that since the first time I saw you by the pool." She smiled ... maybe it was a smirk, and continued, "Although, it was a surprise. You, sir, are quite talented. I might just have to keep you around as my slave. Charlie, I think maybe you are better than an alarm clock!"
Looking serious again, she added, "No, there is something else I haven't told you about. It's ... something important to me that I haven't told you about – and now I don't know how. It scares me, Charlie."
I knew we had moved fast and I had to give her time. I put my arm around her and held her close. "Querida, I do love you. Don't hurry on account of me."
Later we were walking around one of the upper decks before we turned in. Suddenly, Ana stopped and grabbed my arm. "Oh, my God, Charlie. I don't have any birth control pills! I haven't used them since Aitor died ... I haven't had any reason."
"Ana, tomorrow we dock in Alicante. You can go ashore to a pharmacy, okay?"
Looking dubious, she nodded and answered, "Yes, okay."
We got back to out room and got ready for bed. "Ana, you can stay in your room if you want to but I would really like for you to sleep with me. No, not just for the sex – which was great, by the way – but I like you close to me. Okay, querida?"
She was agreeable to that. We didn't make love that night. I think we were both worn out, emotionally as much as physically. But it felt so good to hold her close in the lonely hours of the night.
In the quiet hour before dawn I could feel the slight vibrations of the boat. I remembered we were to dock in Alicante at seven a.m. I lay there for a long time thinking about Candy. It was frustrating because it was all so remote. I was pissed off at the way she had so cold bloodedly just left me a note.
Damn, she had big balls! I laughed quietly as I tried to figure out if that was an oxymoron. Guess not. Then I wondered if it were more precise to say she had brass balls instead of big balls. Hell, maybe she had big, brass balls. I snorted as I wound up that train of thought: well, if she married Llewellyn, she would be the only one with balls. I almost laughed aloud as I tried to figure out if she could self-impregnate herself.
In a more serious vein, what I had trouble dealing with was trying to understand why, if I was so mad at her for her betrayal, I wasn't bothered more by it. Had we drifted so far apart without me having a clue about it? Another strange thing about it was that I wasn't mad at her so much as a person, but for what she had done.
As far as Llewellyn, he was just a cipher as far as I was concerned. I'd met him once or twice and had no real recollection of what he was like, other than bland. The bottom line was that if Candy wanted to leave there was nothing I could do to stop her ... and I sure wasn't going to beg. She was in London and I was on a cruise ship off the coast of Spain. What the hell?
Ana moved next to me and I put my arm around her, pulling her up on my chest, and she fell back asleep. What did I want? If I were honest with myself – and I always tried to be – the soft warmth of Ana in my arms at that moment was giving me more satisfaction and a feeling like ... I guess like coming home. I felt like there had been something missing and I had just found it. Kind of like a sailor after a long cruise, coming to his home port and family.
I knew for sure then, right at that moment, that I wanted and needed Ana in my life. I had to ask myself some hard questions, like, was this a rebound thing? It had moved awfully fast. Was I trying to get back at Candy? I thought about these and more questions, falling half asleep, with no real answers but with a feeling of peace seeping into me. I hung my hat on that and fell into a deep sleep until Ana's getting out of bed woke me up.
I had to get ready to meet with Terry, so I asked Ana, "Do you want me to go into town with you?"
She laughed, "No, I think I can pick up a prescription okay. Besides, I need to pick up some presents for ..." she paused for a minute, looking a bit flustered, "... for some of my family in Miami.
I didn't think anything about what she said and went in to take my shower, preoccupied with my breakfast meeting. I still didn't have a real clear idea of what they wanted me to do but I had to at least make an attempt.
We met at the Seaview Café two decks up. Terry was there, waiting for me with a carafe of coffee, which suddenly made him my best friend. We had a great view of Alicante as we were closing in to the dock. We were sitting outside and it was already warm with a slight ocean breeze.
I told Terry I just wanted something light and a girl brought me a continental breakfast. There was a stack of folders on the table – much thicker than I had anticipated.
I picked up the first couple and looked at them. The first one was from a sister ship, the Sea Shadow. Each folder had a précis at the front.
The 28-year-old woman said that she was raped on an RCL ship last year by a cruise ship employee. She said she was further victimized when she was told by cruise ship staff to collect evidence of the crime herself.
"The feeling was like nobody was helping me," the woman said. "Everything was slow motion and they were trying to figure out how to protect themselves."
The next one was an assault of a cruise ship employee on the Sea Bright by a passenger.
While she was a cleaning a women's restroom, a drunken male passenger came into a restroom of the ship and asked her to pose for a photo with him. Two ship employees held the restroom door open, and another man clicked a camera. The woman went along with the clowning - until the drunk grabbed her breasts. She was infuriated.
Terry said, "What's not in these files is that there are a few out and out sexual predators that go from cruise ship to cruise ship. Most of them will use various kinds of threats to keep the women from making a complaint. These range from threats of violence to the woman or a member of her family to taking pictures and using them for blackmail. Too often it's a simple situation of taking advantage of a woman who is inebriated."
I sighed and took the stack back to the cabin to read. Ana had already gone ashore so I went out on the balcony with some coffee and went through the stack, making notes and looking for patterns. From what Benavidez had said, I wasn't to concern myself about the laws, or the police actions, but more on hiring and training practices.
Ana came back about eleven holding a package of birth control pills in one hand and a diaphragm in the other and a big smile on her face.
"I can't start the pills until my next period starts, which should be about the time we get to Miami. We have to use this in the interim." She held up the diaphragm and waved it around. "You will still love me when we get to Miami, won't you?" she teased.
I had been sitting on the sofa in the living area and took her hand and pulled her down on my lap. I kissed her with a quickening hunger and then held her tight. I whispered in her ear, "Querida, I will always love you."
The next couple of days were uneventful. I wandered around the ship, getting familiar with it and just observing people. Terry would introduce me to one employee or another in different departments. Each of them had been briefed on my task and asked to not tell anyone else. It was interesting getting their various perspectives.
They all agreed that from the passenger perspective it was almost always a problem with booze. I met with Terry and Joseph Basso and we kicked around some ideas. The problem seemed the worst in the bar by the pool area. We talked it over with the bartenders and waiters and asked security to put a video camera in place and keep an eye on things.
Neither of us wanted to get off at Gibraltar so we spent a languid day by the pool, nearly deserted with so many passengers ashore. After a couple of hot hours in the sun we escaped to our cabin and came together with a slow gentle touching, sharing our bodies, enjoying our love. The more I touched her, the more I saw her firm body, the more I wanted her. Not just wanting her for my pleasure but for a pleasure we could share together.
We didn't talk much of our love. Instinctively realizing how sudden it was and we didn't want to jinx it. Physically we shared our love fully. Emotionally we moved with a tender slowness, not pushing it ... just letting it come.
We were still getting to know each other, our little quirks and habits: the endearing things, the annoying things. She used my razor to shave her legs – I said something and felt repentant at her look of hurt. I admired a leggy blond in a next to nothing bikini and she gave me a dirty look and stomped off to our suite.
She had a lovely way of walking around our room wearing just a bra and panties that kept me in a perpetual state of sexual excitement. I always opened doors, pulled back chairs, all the little signs of respect that flowed from love. Unlike Candy who had expected these things as her due, Ana always let me know she appreciated it with a touch, a soft look, or a bawdy flip of her hips when I put my hand on her ass walking down the hallway.
I was caring less and less about what I was on the ship for. It was pretty clear to me that they mostly needed to tighten up on their hiring practices. The different cruise lines just fired someone when there was a problem but never passed that information on to the police or to other cruise lines. There was what seemed to me to be a blanket of secrecy about the whole thing. Well, I'd make my report, including a suggestion for installing a training program and policies and procedures addressing internal sexual harassment issues.
The customer part, again, I felt that better crew training and some common sense approaches would handle most of the problems. I also did some research and pulled it together in a report I provided. Given the number of incidents and passengers the assault rate was less then half what it was in the resort hotels in Cancun by staff and a fraction of incidents by guests. I made a mental note not to take Ana to Cancun.
The fourth day of the cruise we would be in Lisbon from nine in the morning until eight at night. I took Ana to visit some of the things I loved about the city and we had a great day. We had a small espresso – what they called uma bica with sweet rolls in the Barrio Alto and visited the beautiful church, São Roque with its magnificent baroque interior.
It was a beautiful city, one of my favorites. Ana had never been there so she was like a child at Christmas: no matter how many presents opened, the next one was ever more exciting. We had an early dinner in Alfama, a small place hidden in the twists and turns of the old district. The place was one of those unique to Lisbon, a Beer and Shellfish Tavern. We ordered a huge plate of giant prawns and a side dish of their exquisite ameijoas, those clams that seemed to taste better here than anywhere else in the world.
Tired, sated, and a bit tipsy from the pitcher of beer we made it back to the ship and watched as the ship left Lisbon heading for Funchal, on the incredibly beautiful island of Madeira. The island was basically a mountain sticking out of the sea. It was just less than three hundred square miles spread around the large mountainous interior.
At over six thousand feet, the mountains were surprisingly tall. Covered with clouds the mountains towered over Funchal, which flowed down to the sea in a jumble of red tile roofs, crooked streets and an amazing festival of greenery.
I loved the place and there were a lot of places I wanted to take Ana but we really didn't have time. We walked around town for a while, sitting occasionally in the park, watching people. We went on a fascinating tour of one of the Madeira houses, finishing with tastes of their different styles. My favorite, a Malmsey, uses a grape that makes one of the richer, sweeter Madeiras. They had it paired with some Roquefort cheese ... exquisite!
They had glass cases with screens over them with vintages dating back to the 1770s. I asked Ana her age causing her to look at me in surprise.
"Ana, I just want to buy you a bottle for your birth year." What is it with women and their ages? I shelled out seventy dollars for a 1979 Rainwater Madeira and got a sweet kiss in return. I felt it was a fair trade.
Back down by the dock area, there were a lot of seafood restaurants so I let her pick one out at random and we had some delicious local fish, along with a bottle of the Portuguese Vinho Verde, the crisp white wine matching perfectly with the food. It is called a green wine not because of its color ... it can be either white or red ... but because it is bottled when it's young. It typically has just a hint of effervescence to it.
We went on to Tenerife but it was quite hot and we chose to stay aboard. Then we had five days of open sea before we would get to St. Johns. Both of us enjoyed the open sea more than making a lot of stops. Life aboard ship settled into a pleasant, if somewhat humdrum, pace. We felt lazy and just enjoyed the trip. Sometimes we would stay up late and dance in the lounge; other nights we would hit the sack early and enjoy each other, having dinner sent in.
On the nights we retired early, we usually got up early as well. We were in the habit of going up to deck twelve where I would run around the jogging track, sometimes around the deck, while Ana would walk easy, going wherever she saw something interesting. We liked to do this before breakfast to get the juices flowing and wake up. The air was so clear and clean it almost seemed intoxicating. We were about half way between Madeira and St. Johns.
On this morning I'd gotten tired of running around the jogging track and headed to the other end of the ship around where the golf driving range was. I'd just gotten back to the pool area and I saw Ana running towards me, with a scared, urgent look on her face.
"I was walking in from the fitness center to see if they were open when I heard a scream."
I ran to the front of the gym area – it opened at seven and it was about a quarter to – the door was locked and I put my ear to the glass door. I heard a definite scream and told Ana to go the purser's office and have them send security up.
I thought about kicking the door in and thought what glass shards would do to my leg. I grabbled a nearby table and threw it at the door, shattering the glass. I reached in and unlocked the door, listening for noise. I heard a muffled shout in the area they used for massages – I remembered this from my tour – and I found my old friend Aldo, the one that was bothering Ana at the reception in Barcelona, in the final stages of ripping the clothes off a tiny Philippine girl; she couldn't have weighed more than ninety pounds. She was maybe nineteen at the oldest.
I wasn't that big a guy, maybe five-ten and slim from the years of running. But I had two things going for me; I was highly pissed and I was motivated. I slammed both hands, open, on Aldo's ears and that immediately took the fight out of him. Just to make sure, I kicked him as hard as I could in the groin area ... forgetting my running shoes were on and sprained my big toe. I stumbled over to a stack of towels and wrapped one around the girl just as security showed up, Joseph right behind them.
I explained what had happened and apologized for the door. They asked a few questions and took Aldo away. Ana came in just as they led him out the door. Ana looked at him with such a venomous stare it sent chills down my spine. This, I said to myself, is not a woman to get mad at you. I was sure she was going to spit in his face and moved closer, protectively.
Ana took her sweat jacket and sweat pants off and gave them to the girl. They were big on her, but by rolling up the legs and sleeves she was much more decorous as they took her down to security to take her statement. Joseph told me later he would come to my cabin and I could fill out whatever forms. I asked him about the door, but he just laughed.
I looked at Ana and I had to say she looked much better with just a sports bra and Lycra shorts on. We went down to take a shower then had breakfast with a stop on the way to get my toe taped and get some pain pills.
We got off for shopping and lunch at St. Johns then we were off for Miami, two more days of open ocean then the cruise would be over.
I put together my position papers, had Terry review them, and presented them to Joseph and the captain. I don't think either was surprised by anything and I had the feeling they knew exactly what to do but hadn't been able to make their directors understand to the point that they would take action.
A bonus was the director that had taken the owner's suite sat in on the talk and seemed suitably impressed. He shook my hand, apologized for taking my room, and offered me a cruise at a later date as compensation. I wasn't going to complain and just nodded as if it were my due and shook his hand. I only saw the woman he was with once and I certainly couldn't fault his taste.
With my responsibilities over, Ana and I relaxed for the last day and a half of the cruise. She seemed worried about something, but I wasn't sure what. I asked if she was okay but she gave me a wan smile and nodded yes.
That afternoon we went to the room to rest. Well, that had been my intention, anyway. Ana put some light jazz music on, opened the drapes and did a slow, sensuous strip for me.
She looked lovely with the bright sunlight splashing across her through the open curtains of the door to the balcony. There was no way for a person to see inside the window but she seemed excited by the openness. She spun around dancing with her eyes closed, the bright sun highlighting her clothes as they flew to the corners of the room.
She delicately took off her final items, her bra and panties and threw them at me with a laugh and flopped on the bed. She looked wanton, lying there with her legs splayed slightly and her arms reaching for me. The sunlight caught the curly tips of her pubic hair creating a slight halo effect that was very erotic.
I sank down on the bed beside her; my face buried in her hair, smelling the essence of her, the things that made her so desirable. I could hear her breathing, the faint rush of cool air from the ceiling vent, and at some level the throb of the engines deep below in the bowels of the ship a constant.
She rose and sat on my thighs, facing me, slowly rubbing her hands from my abdomen up to my chest – a smile on her face. She raised herself to her hands and knees and, with a frown of concentration on her face, gently drew her brick red bush back and forth over my erection. The slight scratching, back and forth, the tight curls barely touching ... made my skin so sensitive I felt like I would explode just from the brush of her hair.
Lowering her pelvis a fraction more I felt her wetness coating my penis. She was moaning and I was ready but I wanted to prolong it – to enjoy our bodies together as one.
I rolled over, pinning her beneath me. Her pupils seemed like pinpoints of black agate, caught as they were in the full sun. They had a playful look but as I stared into them they turned serious and grew wider as she waited for what was to come.
She whispered, trembling, the faintest drop of a tear in the corner of each eye, "Just you and me, Charlie, just you and me." She took my head in her hands and, pulling me close, kissed me deeply, a kiss of promise and fulfillment.