Bride Spoiled at SeabyRogueAlan©
"You cannot be serious!" Lynette Olsen rolled her eyes & stared down her nose at the Nigerian waiter who had just handed her a tray. The haughty American newlywed easily managed that feat despite the man's being at least 18 inches taller. She pushed the oval plate aside, "I am not holding my plate. Follow me." She swept into the buffet, pointedly ignoring the man's grimace. He waved another waiter over to take his place, a Filipino woman who frowned but took the tray to follow the American bitch.
Just three days into the 14 day cruise, the 24 year old newlywed had reached nearly legendary status, & not as a polite or generous cruiser. While many of the Americans-- most according to the more cynical staff-- were self-absorbed to the point of being unknowingly rude, the petite blonde seemed to go out of her way to cause trouble. The security had been 'too pushy' and 'too rough.' The room wasn't sufficiently clean. The food was too hot or too cold. There was too much ice in her drink. The coffee was old.
Cruise staff did everything short of running to hide when she swept out of an elevator onto their floor. Even so, they managed to paste a smile into place, hurrying in the fruitless effort to comply with whatever the little bitch demanded. And it wasn't just the staff to whom she'd become notorious.
She butted into lines, pretended to ignore others in the shops, demanding attention from the clerks. She brushed aside towels on the pool deck, taking choice lounges. & she arrived late to the shows, & left early. The first day she'd laughed at the man standing before her in the line to board the boat. He wore a worn T shirt & frayed cut-offs, & carried an old duffle bag instead of any real luggage. When it became obvious the man had heard her & taken offense, she had laughed to Mary, who'd been standing beside her, that at least he couldn't be called 'white trash.' A black man at least 20 years older than the young cruisers, Mary had at least had the grace not to laugh at her friends bigoted comment.
In fact, in general the rest of her group weren't frankly evil, though no one stepped in when she was delighting in torturing the staff, either. Her parents had obviously spoiled the little bitch rotten, & those around her-- including her husband-- knew better then to rock the boat, so to speak.
Seeing the cruiser she'd offended while boarding the boat staring at the scene she'd just made, Lynnette sniffed & turned, pointedly ignoring the man's condescending frown as she followed the hapless waitress, pointing impatiently at what she wanted to eat.
Having seen the latest display of selfish arrogance, Marlin Day shook his head & turned his attention back to the remainder of his meal. Considering all that he'd already eaten at breakfast and lunch, he knew he would have to spend a fair amount of the afternoon at the gym if he wanted to be able to have dinner. For a moment he smiled, imagining Cheri would have loved the wealth of everything on his vacation.
That quickly reality crashed in on him again. Cheri was the reason he was on the damn cruise, something they could have never afforded. But as amazing as the service and availability of nearly everything was, he bitterly considered he would have never traded his marriage for it. He got up, his appetite gone.
In contrast to the little bitch thoughtlessly pushing through the other cruisers in the buffet line, Marlin Day had already developed a quiet appreciation among the ship's staff. He was quiet and patient and polite. He tipped well, adding to the 15% already attached by the cruise line. Deng, a Vietnamese waiter stepped forward as the big black man got up from his table.
"Don't like the food?" he asked, more than ready to resolve any issue the passenger might have. Marlin looked at him in obvious surprise, then managed a troubled smile.
"No, it's all great," he assured the worried waiter, eyeing the man's nametag as he did so, "Thank you, Deng, but I guess I'm not as hungry as I thought I was." He had slipped a five dollar bill under his plate, and in an easy handshake transferred another to Deng's automatic response when the passenger held up his hand. "Thanks for looking out for me, though. At least I know there's no shortage of food on board." He wandered off, as Deng collected the tableware, sharing the additional tip with the second waiter working that area of the dining room. He wondered just what ghosts were haunting the quiet passenger.
Safely away from the crowded dining room Marlin climbed above the pool deck and settled uneasily into a lounge chair, tilting his long worn UAW baseball cap down to cover his eyes. Letting the breeze ruffle his T-shirt, he realized why the uppity bitch he'd just seen in the buffet line had so easily angered him... She'd made him feel like a pretender the day they'd boarded the boat, & had almost openly sneered at him when passing him as he'd left the dining room after dinner the first night, wearing his gray Under Armor collared shirt & black Dockers. He'd taken to avoiding her whenever possible, even staying off of the veranda of his cabin after he'd found out she was in the state room above his. The last thing he wanted was to have her say or do something to drive home how out of place he was on the cruise, alone. She was a too vivid reminder of the person his wife actually turned out to be, rather than what he'd thought.
It'd barely been 8 months since his life had been turned upside down. He'd come home to find Cheri lugging suitcases into the garage, loading the already burdened Acura SUV she had leased.
"I'm leaving you," she'd said without any sign she cared if he was hurt by her decision. He'd stood watching her, barely able to comprehend what she'd said... He hadn't known they had any problem. Thinking back, he remembered sagging into the nearest kitchen chair, wracking his brain for what had happened to bring it about. He could come up with... nothing.
True, he was no high profile lawyer or doctor, but he had always provided for them. If Cheri wanted something, she got it, including the imported high end SUV. His rise from the hourly wage line employee to a salaried manager with Chevy had been earned through hard work, but even so, it had hurt his chances to rise farther faster when word had gotten out that his wife was driving a non-American product... then the new Z3 by BMW. The pointed comments & veiled threats hadn't bothered Marlin; the smile he'd seen the day she'd come home in the little silver convertible had enough he would've gone back to the line if that's what it would've taken. The point was, he did not live to work... he job was merely the means to see more of Cheri's smile.
"What did I do?" he'd asked when she came back in the last time, obviously checking for any last item she'd left behind. He hadn't yet checked the house to see just how inequitably she'd 'divided their assets.' Though he'd come to believe she'd actually paused just praying he would ask that, she had provided an Oscar worthy performance. She had paused for a moment in practiced consideration, lifting her head, rolling her eyes, before staring down at him imperiously.
"It's not what you did," she'd sniffed, "It's what you don't do." Marlin could remember thinking she was implying he had been... lacking in his abilities in the bedroom. "You don't DO anything," Cheri had sneered, "We don't go away except to the lake with your friends." He had always thought it was their friends. "We don't have adventures. We aren't what you promised me." He still couldn't understand her point. "I won't stay locked away like this... I've got a chance to live, & I'm taking it."
"Cheri," he'd stood up, reaching out for her, "I can give you what you want... All you have to do is ask... Tell me what to do." She'd laughed at that. & then she'd been gone. If she'd told him he wasn't 'doing the job' in bed, maybe he would've just tucked his tail & run. Or if she'd told him there was someone else he had tried to convince himself he would've written her off as spoiled goods. Instead, he'd sat in the kitchen, in the over decorated house that no longer felt like his own, emptying beer after beer. Stripped of his usual inhibitions-- he didn't usually drink more than a single beer-- Marlin had listened to what Cheri had told him replaying in her head. & he'd found himself becoming angry that she'd lied.
Like most line employees turned management, Marlin's successes were borne out of self-control & organization. As the former fled on the tide of a twelve pack bender, the latter had proven to be Marlin's salvation, or so his friends put it.
Marlin had stumbled into the den, digging out the lease paperwork, including the codes for the overpriced European knock off of On*Star that was incorporated into her SUV. He called, rambling that he was unable to find his wife, unnecessary subterfuge given his appropriate codes, & scrawled an address on the blotter before passing out.
The next morning, he'd ignored the headache driving to what he'd assumed would be a hotel or a girlfriend's house. Instead, he'd found a bit of the truth. She had traded up to the assistant VP, a notorious womanizer whose wife had finally gotten fed up & had left him in the year before.
Cheri had taken most of the things of value in their house, but she'd left the digital camera she'd just had to have for Christmas the year before. Marlin didn't remember picking it up. He didn't remember sneaking around the house, since he was already more than certain of what was going on. Somehow, though, the jarring image of the wife he loved giggling & prancing naked about the fancy granite island in the designer kitchen, pursued by her equally bare lover, his boss' boss. Without thinking he'd studiously captured it in HD on the SDHC card as the older, overweight executive 'caught' his lithe, laughing wife, spun her bare ass to the cold smooth surface of the matching kitchen table, & proceeded to fuck her for 2 or 3 minutes as she loudly urged him on, emphatically announcing before she began to shake theatrically that she was cumming. He used the video setting, capturing her calmly standing up to pour herself a bowel of cereal that she ate, still naked in the kitchen, after her lover had retreated into the house, presumably to prepare for a day at work. Though the camera was Cher's & he'd never been particularly interested in photography, the images turned out well, with none of the blur his tears had imparted to his initial viewing.
He hadn't meant to use the pictures, the vestiges of his love enough that he would have let Cheri ruin him & pursue her happiness. But the total dedication he'd shown his wife was mirrored in his treatment of the people under him. There was shock & support & barely suppressed outrage at what Cheri had done to him. Even before his assistant, a man who had been injured working the line but who wanted to work rather than accept a disability pension, had learned of the photos on the disc, left in the drawer of his desk, he had spoken to the lawyers at the Union, & suddenly Marlin had been represented by the high powered lawyers he thought Cheri wanted him to have been.
Arguing various EEOC & ethics violations & Alienation of Affection, the court case had actually been a formality, after the in-house company agreement had been pounded out in smoky backrooms. Marlin found himself with his boss' old job, the man who had been cuckolding him having been forced into retirement, making room for his boss to move up. His legal costs... his living expenses from throughout his marriage & for the next 7 years... as well as recompense for the monies lost in the division of the estate had all been provided by GM separate from the monies paid to the Union lawyers who had crafted the deal.
Unwilling to risk adverse publicity on the heels of coming hat in hand to Uncle Sam, the executives had demanded only two things: the standard non-disclosure, of course, & that Marlin take a leave of absence-- without any reduction in salary or benefits-- for a year. Ignoring the advice of his counsel & friends, he had been ready to refuse at the thought of being away from the only thing he could still call familiar.
Ben, his aide, had finally gotten through to him, pointing out that Marlin's saying 'no' in order to keep his job would only lead to the executives finding a way to quietly get rid of him; he'd unwittingly lose what he was fighting to maintain. So he had agreed. As a final 'incentive' the administration had tapped a little known agreement with Princess Cruise Lines. He had been provided the already scheduled 2 week New Zealand cruise cabin his ex-wife & her lover had been preparing to take on the company dole.
Because of how much he'd loved Cheri, & how much of himself he'd devoted to their marriage, it hadn't seemed like karma or kismet or divine justice to him, as friends had insisted. The counselor his lawyer had insisted he see-- also on the company's dime-- had assured him he was 'entirely normal' & his responses & feelings were to be expected. She told him he'd been hurt by his wife's callous rejection-- she'd used the word 'damaged,' he remembered. She had said if he could just 'turn off' his love it wouldn't have been real love, & he wouldn't have been so devastated.
She'd surprised him, agreeing that getting away would be good for him, warning him not to dwell on how frequently she would creep into his thoughts, & insisting he try to seek out some 'company' just as a casual encounter, upon which he could start to 'rebuild.' As he'd left her small office the last meeting before he left for the cruise, she'd warned him his anger was real & valid, & that he shouldn't be surprised when it surfaced. He'd nodded as if he'd understood, but wondered if she was a quack after all... he only felt numb.
Marlin threw on his exercise gear-- the short & T shirt he'd worn the day before-- and headed to the sparse but adequate gym. He had protected at least an hour three times a week to stay in shape through most of the marriage, beginning the day after Cheri had complained he was 'starting to get fat.' Of course, she'd proceeded to complain that he was spending too much time 'preening' or 'being selfish,' but in that one small area of personal freedom Marlin had persisted, until the motivation for his beginning to exercise had long been forgotten.
He had pushed himself harder in the days after Cheri left, whether to punish himself or prove she had been stupid to choose another man over him he never considered. When the head shrinker had asked if he was taking care of himself he'd conceded he was doing more than before, refusing to bite at her proferred, 'is it too much?' rejoinder. He hadn't held back when she'd asked if he felt inadequate, reminding her pointedly that he'd seen what Cheri had left him for, & assuring the unflappable woman he had nothing to feel inferior about. Afterwards, he felt it'd been a small blessing that he hadn't offered to prove it; at times all women seemed pushy & calculating.
Marlin lost himself for 30 minutes doing the ship's version of the stairmaster. At 6'2" & 210 pounds, he had learned in the first trip to the gymnasium that the treadmill belts sometimes slipped as he tried to run, & the track was so short he felt dizzy trying to get his miles in. He would've kept at it for another 15 or 20 minutes, but acceded to the myriad signs asking that he not use the cardio machines longer than a half hour. Instead, he ran through the machines and worked the dumb bells for another 20 minutes before making another attempt on the treadmills. The unit he chose did not threaten to pitch him headfirst through the window. He pounded through almost 4 miles before his half hour had elapsed, & then spent a few minutes in the sauna before collecting a diet soda on his trip back to the room.
Showered & shaved, he donned a collared, short sleeved shirt & one of the 4 pair of Dockers that he'd brought, glad for the 'smart casual' designation & for the 'dine anytime' option. While it meant enjoying any of 3 or 4 restaurants, he had returned faithfully to the first he had attended. The food was the same in each, & keeping to a schedule meant the same wait staff cared for him in the majority. He frowned when he left his stateroom; the door hadn't latched. He pushed it open, letting it close again, without the latch engaging. He tugged the door closed, making a mental note to tell Ricardo, the attendant about the problem. It didn't really concern him-- there was little of value in the room not already locked in the safe.
As the nights before, a bottle of wine had been set aside-- he assumed pre-ordered by the asshole who'd been banging his wife-- and Marlin enjoyed 2 glasses during his dinner, alone, seated with a view out of one of the big windows showing the expanse of ocean. He asked after the waiters, smiled at Boom, the little Thai bartender who doted on him, & having learned they could accept such gifts, insisted that they enjoy the rest of the bottle when they were done with their shifts. When Antonio, the head waiter, asked if he had not liked his meal, eyeing the plentiful remains when Marlin indicated he was done, the reluctant vacationer explained there was simply too much food, & that he didn't want to go home too big to fit into his clothes.
The way Boom giggled at his lame joke, & considering the attention she had paid to him during his meals, Marlin wondered fleetingly if she might fit the role of a 'causal encounter' that had been encouraged. He surprised himself at even thinking it, leaving abruptly to escape the sudden discomfort. Behind him, the wait staff huddled, aware that the big, friendly American was troubled by something. Given that most problems boil down to sex or money, & considering that he was casually giving away ½ bottles of pricey wine each night, having dined alone, they agreed it had to be the former. None of them were about to ask, though.
While Marlin Day spent a quiet hour in the library awaiting the evening's show, Lynette & her bridesmaids were partying in the top deck bar. The drinking had started during dinner, with 'bottomless' Limoncello shooters, white & red wines, & champagne with dessert. Lynette was not a belligerent drunk, but neither was she soothed, & after her party finally left, 2 teams of wait staff, who'd been working together to minimize the disruption for other diners & to defray the blonde's expected ire, sighed in collective relief, sharing imagined ways of getting back at the impossible to please bitch.
Andrew, Lynette's husband, had suggested they return to their stateroom before the show, hoping to enjoy some 'private time' with his new bride. Lynette had dismissed the idea, insisting she wanted to have 'fun on her honeymoon,' & dragging the other women up to dance. Andrew was, unfortunately, already used to such frustration. Rather than endure his gorgeous bride's taunts about his lack of dancing skill, he & the other groomsmen headed for the casino. One of the few benefits of being Mr. Lynette Olsen was the nearly bottomless budget he could tap, & the men were soon enjoying a game of Texas Hold'Em.
None of the wedding party made it to the show. A benefit of cruising is the variety of almost constant entertainment. While the men moved to blackjack, craps, & back to Texas Hold'Em, most winning more than they were losing, the women continued to down the day's cocktail & whatever other drinks the single men in the club hoping to get lucky were buying. & Lynette insisted the bar staff continue to honor the 'bottomless' Limoncello shooter deal she'd had Andrew buy her at dinner. By 11PM, she was barely conscious. Complaining she needed to go to her room to change into more comfortable clothes, she staggered away from the others, who laughingly bet whether or not she'd be back, or would even make it to breakfast the next morning. But they were having too much fun to consider going along with her. & none could imagine the pretentious, demanding blonde would get into any trouble.