The island supply boat was an open structure with the wheelhouse well forward. Behind it was a large area for deck-top cargo around the two hold covered tops and seating for ten around the curve of the stern.
Ten people including Straun Duncan took their seats and as the deckhand was about to cast off a woman cried, "Wait."
The woman arrived, panting, threw her two bags down into the middle of stern to land on other bags and she climbed down, showing long, tanned legs jutting from her tight denim cutoffs.
She stood looking for a seat and noting all were taken, looked exasperated and swept her golden fringe back into regular place.
Duncan went to the bow and sat on the deck against the front of the wheelhouse.
The twin diesel engines throbbed at a quicker rate and the black painted 'Ebony Queen' glided out from the wharf and as it passed between the breakwaters, skipper Marion Street steadily increased speed until the vessel was a cruising speed heading for the Isle of Deane basking in the calm of early summer eighteen miles off the Australian coast.
Duncan heard a soft cough. Opening his eyes he saw the knees below the denim and looked at her crotch for possible wetness but saw none. With the shorts being denim, no peach-like split, more crudely known as a camel toe, was visible.
Such a pity.
"Hi," she offered.
"Why did you give up your seat for me?"
"Two reasons. I thought it might improve my chances of getting sex."
"Fat chance and god you are foul. I ought to kick you in the nuts."
She looked startled.
"What do you mean?"
"If you try kicking me you'll be over that safety rail and into the water before you have time to scream."
"Then try kicking me and find out if I'm talking bullshit."
"God you a horrible, an asshole," she practically spat and began walking away but stopped.
"You said there were two reasons. What was the other one?"
"I was aware you'd be tired after flying with two plane changes to get here. I need you fresh to be working with me in the kitchen tomorrow as we have a busy weekend ahead of us."
"Omigod, you are my chef, Mr Duncan. "If you are a chef, little wonder you're aggressive."
"Oh god, I just meant to think that."
"Go back to your seat and rest. May I say great legs and a great ass?"
She left without commenting. He guessed that meant not he couldn't say that.
Straun knew some senior kitchen hands would have launched into threats, regarding what he'd just said as an employment issue. Yeah, yeah well half the adult female population didn't know what they wanted and the other half wanted everything. That's why females were unstable.
He dozed off thinking about that babe. Narene Phillips, twenty-eight, was from a town in South Australia near the border with Victoria. He'd advertised for an assistant chef and chose her because she'd been the only one to have applied in handwriting. The writing was neat, and that told him something: that she was a neat person. Her enclosed photo was clear and she had a body that was biologically interesting. He'd noted one of the other twelve applicants had bothered to send a photo but another reason for her selection she was the only person to have a formal food preparation qualification. In fact she was a diploma graduate from Sydney's prestigious Cuisine Cooking Academy where he'd tutored for a couple of years.
A blast of 'Ebony's Queen's' hooter as she approached the wharf on the Isle of Deane, that most Australians called Deane Island, pulled the Scottish-born red-headed Chef Duncan out of his dream. It had Narene Phillips holding his erection and saying in awe, "Struth Duncan, you're a very big boy."
Ah sometimes dreams had it all!
Straun pulled on his backpack containing four bottles of Scotch and an assortment of new kitchen knives and grinned at the line of people walking up the dusty road to the Castaway Luxury Retreat. The mini-bus had not come down to the wharf because it had engine problems again.
He waved to 'Skipper' Thomas, the wharf superintendent (required by State Government regulations at prime tourist destinations) and mounted his 125cc scooter and grinned when spotting his new hand striding out in front of the straggling line of complaining arrivals. He stopped beside her and said, "Place one of your soft bags on my knees, the one with all your underwear in. You will then walk easier."
"Go to hell."
"The hill becomes much steeper."
Narene put the bag in front of him and scowling said, "It's the heaviest bag and does have my underwear in it."
"Your underwear will be safe with me. I promise."
Narene arrived first at reception, hot and sweater, and gave her name.
"Oh our new super cook, welcome."
Narene smiled in delight and then frowned; something didn't ring true.
"You are doubling up with Chef Duncan. Accommodation is very tight at present."
"What, oh no. This is worse than going to jail."
The woman with the 'Mary' nameplate tag smiled and said, "Chef Duncan just popped in and told me to say that to you. He likes his little jokes. Here's your key to a single unit next to his. There's an inside bolt on your door."
"Thank god and thanks Mary. I'm trapped on this isle and Chef Duncan is out to make my life hell."
"Chef Duncan wouldn't do that to you. He's the nicest guy on the isle."
Narene sighed. God what were the others like?
She unlocked her cabin door and looked into the tiny room in shock. A CD was playing, the coffee-maker was on, there was a bowl of fresh fruit on the tiny table where a glass of iced water had been poured and there was a note beside it.
Oh one of the maids had been in. She read the message: 'Welcome and have a wonderful stay. Straun.'
"Omigod, he's schizophrenic."
She went to bolt the door and remembered she should shower. But where were they?
Narene knocked on the door. She heard footsteps and Straun opened the door and stood there nude, holding a glass of whisky.
"Oh hi, I was expecting you. Come in."
Stupidly she went in, passing him and taking care not to bump his flaccid dick.
As he shut the door she realized her mistake of coming into the room and closed her eyes tightly, waiting to hear the bolt slam shut.
"You might think it improper for me to close the door when a lady is visiting but it's the air-con you know. Keep your door closed to keep out the heat after say 9:30 and thru to 7:30 unless the night is heading to be a hot one."
"You have hot nights here?"
"If I get lucky," he grinned. "Listen, I admire you for not flipping when you caught me nude. I'll pull on some shorts."
"Um no, it's okay. I'm used to guy's dicks."
Oh god. Why did she have to keep on being so recklessly spontaneous?
"Are you immoral?"
Narene felt her face temperature soar by the rush of heated blood to his face.
What should she say? Um what her mother would say.
"My daughter leads a middle of the road life."
Straun looked surprised and asked did she really have a daughter and she said no. Now he looked confused.
Narene decided to be truthful.
"You caught me on the hop when you asked was I immoral. I thought I should say what my mother would probably say. But in saying what she might say I forgot to drop off the 'my daughter' bit.
"At that's perfectly logical to me. May I touch one of your breasts?"
The touch was soft.
"Ah you didn't pull away. Yes that does put you in the middle of the road, halfway between a nervous virgin and a robust whore."
Narene felt faint and grabbed his glass and took a gulp and choked. It was straight whisky. But the choking appeared to have fixed her shock of being called a half-way whore.
"I bet you thought I was drinking whisky AND water?"
"Yes. Sorry about that. I suddenly felt a little faint."
"Oh that will because I touched your tit. Look why don't you remove your clothes and I'll pour you a cold white wine."
"Oh you don't like wine?"
"No, I mean yes. I mean I need a shower."
"Oh don't bother. I'm used to womanly odors but just be warned if yours are strong I might get an erection. It will be beyond my control. But please yourself. Keep your clothes on or go for a shower. I was just interested to see your body."
"You want to see my body?"
"Yes, as your mother would say, 'My daughter has a body to die for'. I wish to check to see if she was lying."
Narene stripped off completely. She often lost control when sexually aroused and the damn fool had aroused her.
He studied her without comment and went to the frig and poured a white wine.
"Good health. Sit where I can't touch you, I won't mind. I have my nightcap of two fingers of whisky around 3:00 in the afternoon because I have to be in the kitchen by 4:00 and work in the heat until late. I drink lots of water while cooking and when I sit down, with everything finished, I then drink white chilled wine with immense pleasure. I do it that way because it suits me."
"I can understand your logic," Narene said, seated on his bed.
"I suggest you don't cross your legs like that. It will be cooler to sit with them apart."
She opened herself to him and fought the temptation to slam them shut.
"Right I suggest you end your nervousness by finishing your wine and get dressed. You'll find our showers we share with other staff by turning right when you leave here and walk until you see the sign Staff Bathrooms. They are unisex but it's rare to see anyone having sex in there. If you do have sex in there bolt the door shut."
"You want me to go now?"
"Yes. The whole purpose of this was to get you used to being with me intimately. We'll be working together in the heat and often under extreme pressure. If you think you would cope better wearing only an apron I want you to feel free to do that. Some of the girls use bad language and say filthy things when talking about sex. You are my right-hand man, er woman. I believe it would be useful to me talking to you boldly."
"I can see what you are trying to do. I bet none of that's in any commercial kitchen textbook."
"Perhaps not yet. I'm halfway through my first draft of my textbook. Now you don't think I usually drink nude do you?"
"Well actually I do in warmer weather but only when alone unless I have a lady friend who's into that sort of thing. That's not your sort of thing."
"Um isn't it?" Narene said, unsure where she now was with mixed nude drinking.
She dressed, flick-kissed the surprised Straun who by then had pulled his shorts on and she went off to grab fresh clothes and to shower.
She heard Straun leave for the kitchen at two minutes to 4:00 and followed two minutes later.
"Oh hi," he said, turning on the bottled gas fed ovens. "You don't start till the morning."
She asked, "How many people are here for dinner tonight and how many are booked for tomorrow?"
"Ten guests and twelve staff. Tomorrow night it's 70 guests and twelve staff."
"Then it's better that you and I work on our rhythm this evening."
"Oh you're an advocate of the rhythm method? I like that," he leered.
She giggled and decided she really liked Straun but it had been a bumpy journey getting there since meeting him.
After being introduced to everyone, Narene was impressed by how organized the kitchen was. Straun had three other assistants preparing food and placing plates in the warmers and then working on gravy and sauces and getting the preparation and cooking utensils to the person washing up and operating the two dishwashers.
Straun said to her he'd cook and she could utilize her expertise in arranging the meals on plates and controlling the pace at which the two waitresses were working.
"We are running two dining rooms concurrently," he said. "If anything comes out less that up to standard it's put aside and later goes to the staff dining room. We cook and serve ourselves when the public restaurant food service ends," he said.
That all made sense and as the pace picked up as more orders came in, Straun thrilled her when he eyed two of the meals she had ready to go out and he simply said, "Perfect."
That told her Straun was impressed. She couldn't have asked for more.
When work in the sweatshop ended, the chefs and assistants sat around eating what they'd ordered and helped to cook and present.
"That went pretty well tonight," Straun said. "Good practice for when the heat comes on tomorrow evening.
There was no discussion by people who accepted he was stating the obvious.
When Straun and Narene reached her room, actually it was more like a small cabin, she was disappointed when he patted her on the shoulder and said, "Once again I say well done. Good night."
He then went to the door of his room and was inside and shutting the door before the disappointed Narene had only moved one step forward. She couldn't believe it and thought defensively, perhaps he was gay. If not, why was he keeping her on edge? In her experience a guy was never too tired to have the first round of sex.
Margaret her mom called.
"It's not too late to call is it?
"No I've just got in. Anyway had I said yes it wouldn't make any difference at what time you call?"
"Don't be cheeky. Were you out walking or chasing men?"
"I've been working, to learn the systems before tomorrow night that will be a big one for a wedding party."
"But you were not due to start until tomorrow."
"Like you mum, things change."
"Don't be cheeky."
Narene smiled and asked after her father.
"He's tired because he's been up and down the rows most of the day spraying grapes."
"But he wasn't due to start until tomorrow."
"This morning was windless. You know very well... oh I say, was that a sly dig?"
"Yes mother. Aren't I cheeky? You were correct. Straun was born in Scotland, near Aberdeen."
"Aye then that makes him truly a Scot."
"And like you he has red hair."
"A true Scot but my red hair color has all but gone as your father keeps telling me."
Narene laughed and said to reply his hair has all but gone and her mom laughed and they chatted on and Margaret said Narene's sister Rosa was pregnant.
"Ah when's the wedding."
"The guilty party has fled. He'd probably left Australia or is way up north-west and disappeared into obscurity at a mining camp."
They chatted on.
Narene slept nude with the door unlocked, thinking Straun might visit, but she was out of luck.
Guests were not permitted to use the pool until 7:30 so she swam fifteen lengths from 6:00 and then felt ready for... well anything, even a run if Shaun invited her.
She read until 9:00 and then went to breakfast in the staff dining room.
Shawn was there eating bacon and eggs and she sat opposite him and he said, "Ah a late riser?"
He yelled 'Cathy' and the on-duty waitress came running.
"Take Narene's order."
"Oh hi Narene. I saw you swimming just after 6:00. You have the style of a trained swimmer."
Narene thought Straun might bawl her out for lying to him but he was grinning.
"Coffee and one scrambled egg beside two lightly done pieces of toast, whole meal bread if available. Thanks Cathy. How's Nick?"
"You know I have a son?"
"Yes and he's seven and is staying here with you because it's school holidays."
"I'd like you to meet him. He'd really like you."
Narene smiled and nodded and Cathy looked pleased.
"I don't swim," Straun offered.
Narene eyed him and said, "Oh another thing we don't have in common." She meant he didn't appear to like sex.
That tease mystified Straun who ate quietly while appearing to attempt to work out what other differences existed between them.
Finally he said, "You know your start time?"
"Didn't you read the roster?"
"No because you didn't show me where the roster is posted."
He sighed. "You are in charge of the kitchen from 11:00 till 2.30 and then work your second shift from 4:00 to 10:00, a total working time of 9½ hours of which 1½ will be paid at overtime rates."
"That's fine. I'll ask where the roster is. Remember I don't official begin work until today."
"Yeah well find the boss's wife and sign on this morning. I've already logged your working hours for last night."
"Oh Straun, how sweet of you. I thought I was sacrificing myself."
Her obvious delight with him appeared to embarrass Straun and he looked around and snapped, "No fucking paper. The supply boat was due over half an hour ago."
Cathy came in with Narene's coffee and handed Straun the newspaper.
"Struth Straun," she said, "It's only a newspaper."
"Oh yeah, well take a look at this."
Ignoring the front page news he turned to the 'Local Tourism' section and under a heading, 'New On Dean Island' was a big photo of Narene, resting from picking ripe table grapes, dressed in a blue bikini, and drinking water from a bottle, the action pushing her breasts forward.
"God Narene, you'd easily win the Miss Holiday Coast Beauty Contest."
"Great photo," Straun leered. "I emailed your mom to send a decent photo of you to the Echo because I only possessed a formal one of you."
Narene snatched the newspaper to see the picture and shrieked, "Oh no, I'll kill my stupid mother over this."
Others in the dining room came over to see what the fuss was about while Cathy and Straun rocked in laughter.
After breakfast Shawn took Narene on an inspection tour of the facilities and then introduced her to the Mrs Curtis, who was co-owner of the resort with her husband Colin.
"Ah our Beauty Queen," Mrs Curtis smiled. "Call me Tess and I trust you will represent our resort in the beauty contest."
"Are you kidding Tess? Sleek 18-year old babes win beauty contests. I'm old, twenty-nine."
"Yes well you try being forty-nine. We want you in it for the publicity for the isle and yes, to win it if you can to maximize publicity for our resort. It's a straight hair, face, tit, legs and bum contest... judged in the morning, the parade in the afternoon, oh and a formal cocktail party on the night before, Friday. We'll dress you up for that because we know that's where the judges focus on formality and style, speech and deportment and social graces. Talk softly, keep those breasts up and pushed out and you'll have the mail judges drooling or my name is not Teresa Curtis."
"Well I don't know..."
"Darling there will be two male judges and two females plus the chief judge who this year is female. Be aware those females at the cocktail party will see those pretty young things begin to squawk as they drink too much and their shoulders will slump and their bums will push out. I was selected as a judge for three years and was chief judge two years ago. Believe me, I know how it works."
"When do you need my decision?"
"Oh there's plenty of time. Entries close in three days."
"I'll let you know."
Tess smiled, "Oh you'll only be setting a new record for the oldest competitor by a year. Hope Mason's daughter was twenty-seven she entered for the third time about ten years ago."
Narene groaned and Tess patted her on the shoulder and said, "There now. Find you courage."
That afternoon Narene met Nick, a bright kid with freckles, and he wanted her to come down to the sandy cove reserved for staff with him and his mother. She went and she and Cathy had a great time chatting and watching Nick on his yellow inflatable mattress on the water, taking turns to call him back closer to the shore when he got out too far laying on his belly and hand-paddling.
Narene thought why not when Cathy said it would be great for staff morale to have one of their own in the beauty contest.
"But I'll look like I'm the youngest contestants' mother."
Cathy giggled, "Some mother. You know even before I had Nick I never had a body like yours. You are a Greek goddess."