Road Warrior: Barcelona Ch. 02byJakeRivers©
THE CRUISE – BARCELONA TO MIAMI
It seemed that I lay lay down on the bed, fell asleep and woke up instantly. Looking at the clock I could see that I'd slept right at eight hours ... and I rarely slept more than six.
I was on my balcony watching the harbor when I saw a cruise ship docking, close to eight-thirty. I couldn't quite see the name but I could tell from the style that it was a Royal Cruise Lines ship. I had to assume it was the Sea Bright.
I called down to Ana, and after exchanging pleasantries, I asked her, "Could you meet me in the lobby at ten, checked out and with your luggage?"
"Sure, Charlie. Can you really get me aboard early ... and get me a tour? I've always wondered what it was like to see all the parts that passengers don't get to see.
I took a shower and packed everything up, and went down to check out.
I walked up to the desk to check out and caught the eye of the assistant manager. I'd gotten to know him over the many stays I'd had at the hotel.
He snapped his fingers for someone to go to my room and pick up the luggage. "Señor Charlie! It was so good to see you again. You have already been checked out ... the bill was taken care of."
I knew when not to argue so I just shook his hand and thanked him for a wonderful stay. Instead of giving him a tip I made a mental note to send something to his wife. I overdid the tip to the bellhop for taking our luggage out to a taxi.
When we got to the ship the passengers were just beginning to trickle off. I saw a ship's officer standing there so I approached him and introduced myself.
"I'm Charlie Castillo. Señor Benavidez said I would be met by someone."
"Yes, of course, Señor. I'll have someone come down immediately."
A tall, thin – almost cadaverous man of about thirty came out of the ship in a few short minutes.
He introduced himself, formally, "Signor Castillo? My name is Giuseppe Basso, but please call me Joseph." He nodded towards Ana, "And is this lovely signorina your friend I was told to expect?"
"Yes, Joseph. This is Ana, and I am Charlie."
"I am the crew purser, which means I directly have all responsibility for all the crew on this ship. Signor Benavidez briefed me by telephone this morning and the ship's captain has received a fax. I am a busy man on such a cruise but I will make whatever time available to you that you may need. However, to make things simple for you, I am providing Terence Dickens to take care of you."
He snapped his fingers and three men showed up. Actually it was two boys, late teens at the oldest, and a wizened old man at least sixty. He was barely five foot tall, if that. My first impression was that he barely escaped being a gnome.
"I'll leave you in his capable hands," Joseph finished as he walked away.
The old man grabbed my hand and shook it with a much greater force than I would have expected. "Aye, mate, I'll take care of you. Is this the lass?" He had a heavy cockney accent that I think was lost on Ana, as she smiled uncertainly.
"Yes, this is Ana, I'm Charlie."
"Ma'am, you are booked for an inside cabin on deck seven, right?"
She nodded her agreement to that.
"Okay, here's the deal. My job is to take care of you for the fifteen days of the cruise. Normally I'm a Floor Supervisor, meaning that I take care of a deck. On this ship that is almost always deck ten. Everyone that has anything to do with the rooms for that deck would be responsible to me. I was supposed to go on vacation now but for a bonus I agreed to this trip."
"Charlie, I have a suggestion. You were supposed to go into the Royal Suite. One of the Directors from Miami has shown up with a bird, if you know what I mean, all very hush hush. He wanted that suite so I'm going to put you in a Royal Family Suite. It's only half the size, but ..." He looked at Ana, "Well, Ma'am, the Family suite has two bedrooms, each with its own bath and egress to the deck.
"If the two of you could share that cabin it would make it much easier for me. Y'see, Charlie, I was asked to look after the lady also." He bowed to Ana, "And may I say what a lovely lady she is! And, please, call me Terry."
And Ana accused me of kissing the blarney stone!
He looked back at me, "Charlie, I know this suite is only half the size of the other one, but it is quite nice. Could you help an old man out and share it?" He had a hopeful look on his face. I could see he was a scoundrel at heart, but apparently, he was my scoundrel.
I looked over at Ana, and with a smile, she nodded her head. Terry saw the movement and waved to the two young men who loaded up our luggage on carts and disappeared.
Terry took us up to the suite and settled us in. It really was even nicer than he had said. Since it wasn't costing me anything, I thought it was especially great!
Before he left, he said, "I've only got the two rooms, yours and the director's." With a leer, he continued, "And I don't think we will see much of him before we leave, if you get my drift."
He called the young woman that would clean our room. "This is Alma. She is from Cebu in the Philippines. Like me, she has only the two rooms. She will come in a number of times during the day to keep everything neat, but she will knock first.
He seemed like he was leering again, "And if you don't want to be disturbed, just put the sign out. And I'll see you for the dinner at the Capitan's table at eight. I'll come get you at ten 'til."
Both Ana and Alma were blushing. I couldn't figure out what that was about ... '"Women," I sighed to myself.
Alma insisted in unpacking the suitcases, assuming I wanted the larger bedroom with the king size bed. Ana and I went out on the deck and enjoyed watching the activity on the dock. It looked like all the passengers had debarked but the new ones weren't to come aboard until around 1:00 p.m. Yet the dock was busy with all the activity of restocking supplies and various government agents flitting around.
I looked at Ana – she seemed fascinated by all the activity. "Ana, are you okay with this? I mean staying in this suite?"
"Oh, yes, Charlie. I have my own bedroom." She looked slyly at me, "And I noticed it has a lock! I feel quite safe, Charlie."
My face burned pink at that. I stammered a little, "Ana, I didn't mean, I ..."
She gave me a big smile, and added, "Charlie, the other room was on the inside, a tiny place with no light. It was all I could afford. It's okay; I know you are a gentleman."
Well, I wasn't so sure about that ... in fact I was slightly offended but I couldn't quite figure out why. She was looking out at Barcelona, enjoying the view. I thought about the night before, when I thought I'd never see her again. I took her hand but avoided looking at her.
"Ana, last night you said you had to go to the reception. I ... I thought that I'd never see you again. This may not be what you want to hear but I was heartbroken. You are in my heart now, Ana. If you leave there will be a big empty place." I was still looking straight ahead, afraid to look at her.
Sounding heartbroken herself, she said, "Oh, Charlie. They said it was important to go and meet new friends. Charlie, I ... I was going to come up to your room afterwards."
She took my hand and pulled it so I would look at her. "Charlie, I was going to give myself to you last night. I didn't know you would be here on this ship and I, too, was afraid to not see you again. I was going to give you the phone numbers for to contact me in Miami. I can do that now."
Suddenly I knew it was okay between us. Candy had made her decision and sure, my pride was hurt but the rent in my heart was mended and filled so quickly by my feelings for Ana that I never really had time to grieve for a love lost. Something relaxed in me and I knew that everything was okay, with myself and with Ana ... and even with Candy.
"No, that's okay. We have the whole cruise and, well, we will see each other in Miami. Won't we?" I asked with a slight tremor in my voice.
She squeezed my hand, then came and sat on my lap. "Sure, Charlie, we will see Miami together. And I ... I'll introduce you to Aitor's parents and my brother and sister. Well, my family." She looked a bit funny when she said the last part, like she had forgotten something; she seemed a little worried. "My mom and dad are still in Santiago. He is a lawyer looking into the Pinochet abuses."
I started to ask her about what she was concerned about but she took my head in her hands and gave me a deep kiss, one of commitment. We had forgotten Alma and I barely heard the phone ringing when I heard the sliding door opening. I tried to slide Ana off my lap, but she threw her arms around my neck and laughed at my embarrassment.
"Señor ... Charlie, it is Mr. Terry." I could see she was uncomfortable calling me by my given name but I had insisted.
I took the phone, curious to see what he wanted so soon.
"Charlie, I can do a tour for you at two o'clock. I've been told to show you the ship and to take you anywhere on it at any time. You can bring Ana along if you want." I could hear the leer as he said that. Dirty old man! Knowing that a cruise ship behind the scenes is not at all what the passengers see, I put on a pair of shorts and, remembering what Terry was like, suggested to Ana that she wear slacks.
Terry obviously knew the ship well. He took us first to the bridge and introduced us to the captain, who was going over some papers. He was Norwegian and gave off an aura of competence, and seemed a man that wouldn't suffer fools gladly.
"Mr. Castillo, welcome to our ship. I know why you are here and I will fully support you in any way that I can. In fact, I am the one that insisted the company do something about what I see becoming more and more a serious problem. One would think that the problems with harassing young women would be by other passengers but it is mostly a crew problem. I think we need to improve our hiring process and I would like to talk to you about that at dinner."
He turned to Ana, and asked, "And who is this delightful lady?"
"This is my good friend, my very good friend," I added with a smile, "Ana Gálvez,"
"Please do bring her along to dinner. As a woman she may have insights to the problems we have been having. If she desires, I will make sure she also has unlimited access to the ship." He looked thoughtful, and added, "I frequently find that women are sometimes more perceptive than men are."
We chatted for a minute and then continued on the tour of the ship. We saw all the areas accessible to passengers, and then went down into the guts of the ship. I was amazed by the size of the laundry operation. But with just the sheets for twenty-five-hundred passengers and half that in crew, I could see it had to be a major operation. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes view.
Candy and I had gone to Waikiki Beach to stay at the Ala Moana for our honeymoon. While we were there, the Peruvian Naval Training ship was in town on a visit to Shanghai and other Pacific places, including Hawaii. I had a cousin from Peru that was an officer of the ship and he gave us a tour. Everything was utilitarian and painted a uniform gray.
This ship was like that: what the passengers saw was ornate; what the crew lived with was spartan. Still, it was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the engine room. It looked like an operating room. It was very functional but clean and well organized. It was deep in the bowels of the ship and I had to wonder what it would be like to be closed up there in a storm.
After crawling all over the ship, we were tired and went back to our cabin to rest before dinner. We each went to our respective rooms to take a shower. I luxuriated in the hot water, and sleepily, lay on my king size bed covering myself with the light cotton sheet to ward off the air conditioning. I never slept with anything on – even a pair of boxers was a distraction to getting some rest.
I quickly fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. After some indeterminate time ... a minute, an hour; I had no idea ... I felt a slight movement of the bed. I felt a warmth cuddling up to me but I was so far under it never raised the level of my consciousness.
I woke several hours later – it was six and we still had two hours before dinner with the captain. I rolled on my back and felt a weight pushing against my right side. I looked over and saw that it was Ana. Shocked and considerate at the same time, I tried not to move, not to disturb her. I gradually sat up against the pillow and looked at her.
She had on a pink baby doll nightgown that was up to just under her breasts. She wasn't wearing the bottoms. The gown was so sheer that it didn't really leave anything to the imagination. I guess she had been too warm to wear anything more. Whatever. I wasn't about to wake her and ask any questions. I'd seen her breasts before but I'd never had a chance to study them. They were slightly flattened from laying on her back and the dark pink areolas and nipples were puckered from the slight down draft of the air conditioner.
Her stomach was taut; she had mentioned that she worked out regularly, especially swimming a lot. Her bush was trimmed for wearing bikinis and was the dark patina of old red brick. The outer labia were more prominent that I would have expected and I couldn't help but stare at them. I'd immediately become erect and I knew the smart move would be to wake her up or else to get up and get dressed. I did neither of these.
Her legs were splayed with her right leg bent at the knee and her foot resting against her left calf. As stealthily as I could I slid down the bed, my eyes locked on target. I gently lifted her foot and she straightened out her legs but left them splayed open. I leaned over and sniffed. There was a faint scent of apple in her pubic hair. I had noticed several times that her hair smelled the same way. I assumed she shampooed her bush along with her hair with the same shampoo. On her legs was a delicate scent of lilac – I guess from some body lotion.
I bent a little lower and lightly touched my tongue to her slit, not moving it, just enjoying the smell and texture of her body. She looked dry so I let a small amount of saliva drip on her slit and gently, so gently moved my tongue slowly up and down, opening the folds of the labia majora to get at the labia minora and the opening to her vulva.
She moaned and moved slightly, as in a dream. I continued my stealthy assault, gradually moving my tongue deeper and deeper. She was twisting like one does when one is asleep but a fly or something lands on the body.
At this stage I gave in to my desire and put one, then two fingers in her and gently moved them back and forth on her Gräfenberg spot, behind her pubic bone. I'd moved my tongue up to her clitoris and I started slowly and softly massaging it with my tongue, then increasing the pressure as her body reacted. She woke just as she started a massive orgasm.
"Charlie, what ... oh, God! Charlie, what are you doing?"
My answer was not to answer. I moved up and slid into her with one long smooth thrust and kissed her deeply to keep her from asking any more questions. She immediately started shaking again and she pulled me tight then put her legs around me, pulling me in as much as she could.
I knew I wasn't going to last long – this was just too erotic for me. As I released my sperm deep inside of her the stray thought of birth control came to me. I rolled over with Ana half on top of me and she started crying. I felt bad as I felt her shaking.
I rubbed my hand along her back and whispered in her ear, "I'm sorry, Ana. I woke up to find you next to me, half undressed and I ... I just gave in to my lust. Please forgive me."
"Oh, Charlie. It isn't that. It's ... you are the first since Aitor and I woke up feeling ... oh, please, Charlie, tell me you love me!"
"I do, Ana, I do. I love you."
We lay like that for a while then she slid down and took me in her mouth. Quicker than I would have thought possible I was erect again and she slip up and sat on top, moving slowly at first then gradually increasing the speed. He eyes were closed and I reached up and lifted the top over her head so I could see her breasts. I held them as she moved up and down, now asking for, demanding release. She came again with a sheer passion, a carnal passion I'd never seen from Candy, and then she collapsed on me.
We lay like that for a long time but when I saw it was seven-fifteen I eased her up and led her in to my oversized shower. I turned the water to lukewarm and we gradually woke up. We were waiting when Terry knocked a few minutes before eight.
As we went down the elevator four levels to the Chops Grill I took Ana's hand in mine and held it tight. She stared at me in the mirror then turned and kissed me on the cheek ... smiling as the wiped the lipstick off. I looked at the image in the mirror – how could I have believed that she was handsome instead of beautiful?
She had on a basic black sheath dress with a high collar. She wore a thin gold necklace close around her neck. For the first time I saw her with her hair up and she had a long elegant neck that reminded me of Helen Hunt with her hair up off her neck. She was quite lovely, all in all.
I'd expected dinner with the Captain would be a command performance, with a lot of hangers on. It wasn't like that at all. A table had been set aside and it was just the four of us, the captain, Jens Nordgaard, Terry and Ana and myself.
Jens bowed to Ana and shook my hand formally. "Let's just chat while we eat, then we can talk over coffee."
This was a steakhouse and it was outstanding. My filet was high quality beef prepared to perfection. I was to find out later that it had nothing to do with the Captain being there; it was just a great place to eat.
I really don't know what I expected from the captain. He was well versed in current events, sports, the arts, and, of course, with anything related to the sea. He told us several anecdotes illustrating how the cruise business had grown and changed.
I had trouble keeping my eyes off Ana so that finally she had to kick me gently under the table. I smiled at her and paid more attention to what Jens was saying.
"This problem with the crew bothering women has been around for some time, particularly on the Mediterranean cruises. Years ago it was mostly men molesting or taking advantage of young girls, especially when they had too much to drink.
"Now it's more vicious, more violent. We are seeing various kinds of drugs, including more and more of the date rape stuff. There are threats and pictures taken. There have been several cases of straight rape. The laws of the sea are quite complex and we have crews from a large number of countries. It's a real mess.
"We are starting to get some bad publicity ... deserved I'm ashamed to say. I think the problem is in the hiring process. What I'd personally like you to take a look at is whether you think we could set up some kind of screening process the cruise lines could share with each other. The problem is we have to comply with the labor laws in each country we hire people.
"I don't expect you to solve the problem. What I'd like from you, with your experience, is to help us to frame the problem so we understand it better."
We chatted about the issues some more, then the captain excused himself. Terry and I made an appointment to meet for breakfast when he would give me some case histories to study. I took Ana to the Concierge Club on the same deck as our suite. Everyone that was booked into a suite was automatically a member.
There was a woman playing light jazz and Ana and I danced to a few slow numbers. We sat down and enjoyed the peace and quiet after the hustle and noise of the public areas. I had a nice single malt with a splash of water and Ana had a martini.