Deep Blue Ch. 05byWine_Maker©
Chapter Five: Outrages Abound
The shocked tableau held for a few critical seconds until Trish abruptly turned beet red and scrambled for one of the small bedrooms with a loud squeak. Oddly, it wasn't her nudity that struck me most deeply. It was her ankles, made even shapelier by those high heels she was tottering away on. She had the kind of legs I only dreamed of having. The slam of the door behind the escaping woman jarred the rest of us out of our paralysis.
Hawk and Gretchen grinned from the couch and didn't look one bit disturbed at us barging in. Keven and Sandy, on the other hand, were obviously embarrassed. They laughed about it, though, and started scrambling into their clothes in a big hurry.
Ted was grinning like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, so I poked him in the ribs. I glanced and saw that the Bellers looked more amused than shocked. Interesting. Combined with the conversation Jo and Gretchen had shared earlier, I felt sure that Jo and Earl would be joining our fun eventually.
"The Orgy Suite," I chimed in following Jo's comment, "where you check in and everyone else gets to check you out. And the room assignments can get a little hazy, too."
Jo laughed and threw her arm around the grinning Earl. "Shall we leave and let everyone get dressed in peace?"
Earl pretended to consider while he ogled the women slipping into their clothes. "Naw, it looks like everybody's decent now."
Gretchen chuckled. "Hardly that, Earl. We're just dressed."
Hawk smacked her wife on her shapely ass. "You're as bad as Lisa about waving your assets around, Smart-ass."
The sexual tension drained out of the room as Keven and Sandy finished dressing. I gestured to our guests to have a seat at the table while they excused themselves to go wash up. Jo leaned over and whispered to me. "Are they always so quick on the draw? I thought you just met Keven and Sandy."
I nodded my head and smiled at Earl, letting him know this wasn't a private conversation. Ted went into our room following Keven and Sandy.
"We did just meet them," I said with a level voice. "I'm not sure what happened, but obviously they hit it off. Maybe what happens on the cruise should stay on the cruise."
Earl laughed a belly laugh and Jo smiled. "This is going to be a very interesting cruise, I think," Jo said. "What did Hawk mean about waving your assets around?"
I blushed but didn't let myself get too embarrassed. As an exhibitionist, I knew damn well that Hawk had me pegged. "I think if you hang around us long enough, you just might find out," I said with a grin. "I won't ruin the surprise."
Jo nodded, a thoughtful look on her exotic face.
Hawk came out of the master bedroom and settled at the table with the rest of us. "Gretchen's trying to talk Trish out of the bathroom, so she may be a while. I swear if there was a chandelier, Trish would be hanging from it."
"Or from the ceiling like a cat?" Jo suggested with a smile.
"Or that," Hawk agreed with a grin. "Well, she wants to be an escort like Gretchen, so she's going to have to get used to not being embarrassed so easily."
"Easily?" Jo said with a gasp. "Good Lord, perfect strangers walked in on her having sex! That sounds like a lot to me!"
Ted and Keven coming out of our room interrupted Hawk's reply. Ted walked up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. "Keven and I are going to give you girls' some space and see if we can pin down where Price is staying. Then we'll find something to keep us busy while you all talk."
Earl grunted and stood with a nod. "That sounds like a damn good idea, boys. I think I'll just mosey on out with you and let the little lady talk without making me blush." He grinned as Jo swatted him, and he walked out the door laughing with the other men.
Sandy walked into the living room as we burst into laughter. She smiled and sat down. "What did I miss?"
"We were just laughing at the men being men," Jo said. "They're off to beat their chests and track Price down. I think they're going to overwhelm him with testosterone."
"I hope they do," I said. "Price just pisses me off. We have a motion in the courts to stop his harassment, but it won't be heard until next week. Our lawyer says we have a very good chance that everything will be dismissed and Price will be barred from suing us anymore. I can hardly wait. It's gotten quite obvious that he's only doing it to mess with us."
Sandy nodded and looked around the table at all of us. "By the way, I'm sorry we got carried away. I didn't realize that you all were going to walk in on us. Frankly, I'm still a little unsure how we got started."
I laughed and patted her hand. "It's okay to get carried away sometimes. I'm not offended. Ted and I are fine with you having sex in front of us." My eyes gleamed with a shiver of lust. "In fact, I look forward to returning the favor, if that's okay with you." I widened my gaze to include Jo. "And I'd be a poor hostess if I didn't invite you to the party, Jo. You and Earl both are invited, unless that's going too far for you. If so, I understand."
Jo shrugged. "I'm not offended, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't arousing. Watching is just fine, but I don't know about involving anyone else, though. I need to think about it and talk to Earl."
Hawk shook her head. "We're still working on that, too. Either one of you might get jealous if you saw the other having a good time with someone else. Though I'll go out on a limb and bet that Earl won't have any gas if you want to play with the girls," she added dryly.
Jo smiled. "I'm sure you're right. That's why I was dickering a bit with Gretchen earlier; I think both of us would be interested in something with her." She blushed, but didn't seem to be terribly embarrassed about what she'd just admitted.
Hawk gave Jo a sharp look. "You were talking to Gretchen about hiring her as an escort?"
"Well, we talked about it some, but I told Gretchen that I liked her too much already to feel comfortable exchanging money for her time."
Hawk's face relaxed into a smile. "I think friendship and respect will be a much more cherished currency, Jo, and much harder for Gretchen to resist. I also don't think Gretchen is the only one interested in you and Earl! So talk to Earl, because you both are more than welcome."
Jo gave Hawk a long, measuring look. "Well, I'll talk to Earl, and if you don't mind a pair of old fuddy duddies watching, at least, I think you can count us in. We may be interested in more, but we'll have to play it by ear."
I turned to Sandy and smiled conspiratorially. "So, fill us in on what we missed."
With a sly grin, Sandy asked, "So, you want a blow by blow description of our antics?"
We all groaned, and Hawk muttered something about "another damned pun," but waved off my questioning glance.
As Sandy described the action, I felt my stomach flutter. It sounded like we'd missed a real show. Part of me was already looking forward to what would likely happen tonight. The vision of Ted laying me on the table and taking me in front of everyone instantly made my center hot and gooey. There was something about the idea of doing this on a cruise among strangers that was liberating. It made something that I wouldn't have considered doing outside of my deepest fantasies a real possibility. Not that I'd held back from sex in public before, but I'd never contemplated anything like what we were talking about doing here. This could turn into an orgy. An honest to god orgy. And that took my breath away. I had difficulty even believing I'd brought the subject up.
When Sandy was done, I pressed her. "So, you two enjoyed sharing Trish. What about others?"
Sandy shook her head. "We've never shared before, but I think we liked it. Keven said that so long as we were together, and we both agreed, then we could do more." Her eyes looked at me in a way that made my chest feel tight. "Like Jo said, we'll play it by ear, but I think we're all going to have a fun cruise."
A glance around the table almost made me laugh. We were all almost licking our chops in anticipation. Sandy was dead right, I'd bet.
"Well, we have to put that off until after dinner, I'm afraid," Sandy said. "We have another bit of fun to attend to, first."
I blinked in surprise. "Why? What's up?"
Sandy filled us in on the confrontation with Skip Niccio and his threats to poison pen them this very evening. She was right; it did sound like a lot of fun.
Hawk picked up the phone, made a call to the central desk, and grinned shortly, hanging up with a polite "thank you." She waved something she'd jotted down on a notepad at us. "The ASS Newsgroup annual awards ceremony will kick off in the main conference room in less than half an hour."
I blinked. "Okay, now I'm confused. The ASS newsgroup? You mean they're like AP or UPI? I thought this was some kind of internet porn thing for socially inept boys. What the hell does ASS stands for?
"Alt Sex Stories," she smirked back. "The woman said it was some internet thing, so I think you're right, Lisa. Personally, I think they just had to make up something with the word 'ass' in it. Men!" she said with a roll of her eyes. General laughter greeted her comment. "We need a plan to infiltrate this gathering."
"Why?" Sandy asked with a shrug. "Let's just go see what's going on, and if Skip starts something, we'll deal with it. It's not as if this is something dangerous, or even all that serious. It's just some grown-up, adolescent-minded jerk talking shit. We can take that. "
Hawk considered that and nodded. "Good point. I'm making this more complicated than it needs to be. Let me tell Gretchen where we're going, and we can hit it."
The noise overwhelmed me when we walked into the convention room. I'd expected something like a couple dozen "grown-up, adolescent-minded" guys, but the room was packed. There must have been several hundred people here. I stopped just inside the door and gawked at the crowd.
Also, the people mostly looked so normal that if I hadn't known who was meeting here I wouldn't have given them a second glance anywhere else. Every age and, surprisingly, both genders greeted my astounded gaze. In fact, there were more than a few women present. A solid minority.
The room was broken down into a long series of tables near the far wall and dozens of smaller, round tables in the rest of the room. The long tables held several dozen men and women, as well as a podium with a microphone.
Hawk spotted Skip and pointed him out to me. He looked as bad as advertised. He was in a small group of men near the head table and he seemed to be sneering something at them.
"He's never seen you or Jo," Hawk said to me. "Why don't you both go scope him out? We'll find a table and hold your seats. God knows I want to know who's around me when the lights go out in this place." She shuddered slightly.
I laughed softly. "Come on, I hardly see any over-developed right arms in here. I'm thinking Skip may be the exception rather than the rule. Keep an open mind."
"You're telling me to keep an open mind," Hawk said with a gasp. "You've got to be kidding me!" Then she scowled at my smirk.
"Come on, Jo," I said as I stepped into the swirling crowd, heading toward the podium. She fell in beside me, and I slid to the left to come up on Skip from his rear. Despite the no smoking rules inside the ship, he had a lit cigarette dangling from his lips and it bobbed and spewed ashes as he struck a pose before his admirers. At least, it looked like he thought they were his admirers. To me, they just looked shocked. I wondered if he even noticed when some of his ash fell into his martini.
"Frankly," Skip droned on, "I'm amazed that anyone reads the drivel he writes at all. I wouldn't be surprised if he used throwaway internet accounts to vote for his own stories. His characters are two-dimensional, his plot lines are lame and hackneyed, and he repeats himself. If he wrote anything fresher than what he does now, he would be using cuneiform." His listeners seemed stunned at his vitriol, with several shaking their heads in disgust, but Skip took it as incomprehension. "Oh, come along, gentlemen! Look it up on your own time! I can't believe anyone with any taste whatsoever has ever read The Cuba Tales."
One of the men was clenching his fists and glaring at Skip. He was tall, slender and not too bad looking. Brown hair trimmed short framed a nice face: a face now filled with rage.
Skip seemed oblivious as the man forced himself to turn around and stalk away. A few others followed, but the rest of the listeners looked like they were watching a train wreck, or a rerun of the Anna Nicole Smith show. It was so bad you just couldn't take your eyes off it, even though it horrified you. Skip, however was oblivious, and he just continued to drip venom on whoever Southland38 was.
Jo winked at me and followed the man that had left. She'd no doubt get the dirt on what this all meant.
Apparently tired of ripping into someone else, Skip started talking about himself and his own work, using the most ridiculous levels of hyperbole I'd ever heard. While he started comparing the nuance of his work to that of Hemingway, I was trying to figure out how such a skinny guy could puff his chest out so much. As a well-dressed gentleman began telling everyone to take their seats, Skip whispered conspiratorially to the group. "Listen up for some good news in my speech."
As Skip sauntered to the head table and the crowd broke up, I heard more than a few people mutter less than appreciative thoughts about Skip. It rapidly became apparent that the man that walked off was none other than Southland38 himself! I snorted quietly to myself; Skip sure seemed to have a way with people.
When about half the people had resumed their seats, I spotted Hawk and Sandy sitting with a man that looked to be in his late thirties and an attractive dark-haired woman. The woman was chatting with Sandy and the man was jotting something down on a notepad as Hawk spoke to him.
"...and you don't mind if I get some background material from you? I'd rather write an entertaining story that wasn't completely off the mark," the man was saying. "And it sounds like being a cop and a lesbian might make for an interesting story. Or perhaps a whole series of stories."
"I don't mind giving you some background information on the lesbian or cop communities." The man beamed, and Hawk held up her hand. "However, before you write a single word that even vaguely resembles my life, even if you change the names, I want to read some of your stuff. And, even if I do agree after that, I want to have a chance to approve what you write first."
The man nodded and looked at me curiously as I took a seat. "Of course. I'd never write anything about someone, even with the names changed, without giving them the chance to clear it or change it, even, before I published it."
"Good, then I think we can talk," Hawk said, turning to me. "Lisa, this is Wine Maker and his wife. He somehow thinks a pregnant lesbian ex-cop is story worthy." She snickered softly to herself. 'I think he's crazy,' was left unsaid, but was quite obvious.
I gave her a warning look and smiled at Wine Maker.
He held out his hand to me. "A pleasure."
His wife introduced herself, and I shook her hand as Wine Maker continued. "My wife edits my work. And I promise that if you're part of Hawk's story, you'll get a chance to approve anything involving you. Think of it like Doctor Watson chronicling the exploits of Sherlock Holmes. I'll protect any detail that you wouldn't want known publicly, but I promise I'll still figure out how to tell the story in an interesting way."
"As long as my name is changed, and the city and state where I live and work are changed, Hawk can speak for me. I'm Lisa. If you don't mind my asking, why the fake name? I noticed that others seem to do the same."
Wine Maker laughed. "Writing erotica seems to make people worry. I'm not ashamed of what I write, but this being the internet; at least a little bit of caution is a good thing. Now maybe you can satisfy my curiosity; what brings a bunch of people who have never written, or apparently even read, internet erotica to the awards banquet?"
I gestured toward the head table. "We know someone that knows Skip Niccio, and Skip was threatening to trash her reputation in public, so we decided to come listen to him. Is he going to win an award?"
Wine Maker shrugged. "It wouldn't be the first one he's won. He writes some good stuff, and he knows how to keep the fans begging for more. He uses two tricks that I can see: he never answers questions about his stories and he quite effectively verbally eviscerates anyone who is critical. Belittling his fans like that seems to make him even more popular. I'm not sure why. His major story is going to be four books long, and will probably wind up longer than the Lord of the Rings, from what I hear. He's finished posting all but the last book, and he has his fans wildly speculating about which of the girls the 'hero' ends up married to at the end and which one of the girls will end up dead."
Hawk seemed dubious. "I've met him. I can't believe he writes that well. The man is slime, and slime is the one thing a cop does know something about."
Wine Maker shrugged. "Writing is often a solitary pursuit. Not many of his fans know much about him at all. I didn't even know what he looked like until tonight."
The speaker was finally getting the crowd into their seats when Jo wandered back up and took her seat. I introduced her to Wine Maker and his wife and let them chat while I focused my attention on the awards ceremony.
"To everyone that made it here to the Alt dot Sex dot Stories First Annual Awards cruise, I say 'Welcome!' I'm Night Stranger. I'll just leave it up to you to guess which one."
Everyone laughed, but I didn't see what was so funny. I hated inside jokes.
"We hope to be able to make this trip an annual event," Night Stranger continued. "Now rather than blather on and waste your good cruise time, let me cut to the chase. There were a lot of good stories this last year and I realize we've tortured you all terribly by withholding the names of the winners of last year's Golden Clitorides but the time is here to pass out some well deserved accolades."
He held up an envelope. "Each one of us at the head table has an award to present this year and it is my pleasure to start off the parade with the Best Erotic Story of the Year." With a neat twist of his finger, he opened the envelope and pulled out a card. "The winner is... Outside Paris, Book 3: Kena, by Skip Niccio!"
With a smile that told the world that he wasn't in the least surprised, Skip strutted to the podium and smirked at the crowd. He pulled something from the inner pocket of his jacket and set it on the podium before clearing his throat.
"I've never had the opportunity to directly accept an award before, and I must say that it's a more moving experience than I'd anticipated," he said with a knowing grin. "I knew my story would be popular but you've all exceeded my expectations. Thank you."
From the murmuring, the crowd thought that was somewhat a backhanded a complement. I restrained the laughter that wanted to bubble up to a chuckle. Maybe I was wrong about him being mostly an ass; he just might be a complete ass instead.
"I'd like to take a moment to pass along some good news to you, my adoring fans!" Skip continued. "After several months of intense negotiation between my agent and a certain unnamed publishing house, I am now in a position to sign a three book publishing deal for a new series. The package is worth six figures!"
That brought the crowd to its feet and I rose reluctantly along with the rest, clapping politely. Skip held onto the podium and I thought he was going to bow or blow kisses for a second. He let the crowd cheer for a moment and then gestured for quiet. I resumed my seat and listened while trying to figure out how a frog like him had ever gotten a publisher to agree to anything. Didn't they actually speak to the authors?