I woke up and stretched my arms over my head. Then I twisted a bit to get the kinks out of my back. More than that I couldn't seem to find the room to do. I did sit up just a bit to look around. All in all, a much more satisfactory cabin than the one I was sitting in only a few hours ago. This was a suite, and the other did not come with a black haired head on the pillow on my left nor a light brown one on my right. Sighing, I settled back and thought back to yesterday...
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," I scolded my friend Robert as we unpacked in the lower deck cabin we were assigned to by the purser's staff.
"Nina, come on... you said you would. Just try to have a good time", Robert replied.
I sighed, "Okay, I'll give it a whirl. But you know, as far as I can tell everyone on this cruise came two by two. Since I'm supposed to be your girlfriend I can hardly go looking for other companionship, can I?"
I can tell that needs explaining. Robert is my friend, a wonderful, good-looking guy who happens to be both gay and employed with one of our more stuffy banking corporations. Hardly a place for him to be out. So when he was invited on this cruise by the senior executives and told to bring the girl he had told them about, he needed to find one. Since I was off work and not doing anything, I became his girl. Well, it was a free cruise, there would be free food and drink and my social calendar wasn't crammed. I went.
The first night of the cruise was scheduled for a get-acquainted party followed by a formal dance in the ballroom later. The bank's officials had decided to hold their dinner separately, but also formal. Since my bank balance was as bare as my social life I had opted for a simple green, floor length dress with a high waist that did accentuate my long legs. Since I am 5'9" I decided to wear strappy sandals with only a one inch heel. With my hair fixed and a light application of makeup I was ready.
Three hours later I decided I had been overoptimistic. I had not been ready for an evening of good food accompanied by long boring conversations and speeches punctuated by bad jokes. The only saving grace came from the fact that all the elderly executives and their spouses were too worn out from all their self congratulations to go to the ballroom. I was just waking up from a nap, it seemed, as they all rose and left. NOW I was ready.
Any law against a girl having a wrong opinion? Only a few minutes into our time in the ballroom, Robert excused himself. Apparently he had already made a connection with someone on the ship's crew. He told me that with any luck he would not be spending the night at our cabin. Since he is my friend I wished him good luck. Since he was also responsible for leaving me on the high seas all dressed up and alone, I hoped that sometime during the night he would fall overboard. I moodily drank my second cocktail of the evening and looked around. Surely my luck would HAVE to change sometime.
And then it did. A woman came through the door to the ballroom. She stood there for a moment, letting her eyes adjust, then walked to the bar. As she ordered a drink she looked around the ballroom, allowing me to look her over. She was older than my 38 years, probably late forties or early fifties. She had a runners stride and bounce and was dressed to the nines indeed. She had on a long, dark red skirt and matching jacket over a white blouse. From the slit in the side of the skirt I could see dark stockings over some fine looking legs and a pair of black heels. She had very light brown hair over her shoulders. I waited to see if someone else was coming in with her. After all, it was not a singles cruise.
Someone else did. This time it was a woman about my own age. She was much more slender than the older woman. I had already swallowed hard at the first woman's entrance and now I found myself doing it again. Black hair framing a face that was not beautiful, but so striking. Her hair matched her backless black gown held up by a choker collar. Her lipstick was lighter than the deeper red shade the older women wore. As she walked to the bar I looked for someone trailing behind her. She seemed to be alone also.
When the bartender served the younger women she seem to make some off hand remark, almost to the empty air. She turned as the older woman made some reply. The two of the exchanged a few words and a smile. Darn my luck, I thought. Finally someone else alone comes in and she immediately meets the only other woman by herself, other than me. I could not hear the words they were exchanging but their body language seemed to indicate that they were just meeting for the first time. I turned more toward them and strained my ears trying to pick up their conversation.
Then they both turned to look around the room. Of course the older one looked right at me as I was trying to eavesdrop. I flushed, completely embarrassed and turned my head. "Oh great Nina", I thought, "Busted big time". Trying to maintain any semblance at all of self assurance I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard a soft voice. "Excuse me, is anyone sitting here?"
My head snapped around. The older woman was standing with her hand on the chair next to mine. The younger woman in black was right behind her moving to the chair on the left. The older one had a very pleasant smile on her face. I was drawn to its warmth, as well as the green eyes above it.
"Please sit down", I managed to stammer. They both seated themselves immediately. I watched them both, noting to myself that the younger woman's eyes had watched the slit of the older woman's skirt where it was giving a glimpse of her stocking legs a bit above the knees. I had followed her gaze and enjoyed the view myself. I also caught a flash of something familiar in the way the younger woman had quickly appraised both of us.
"I'm Jane", the younger woman offered with a smile.
Although I was sure it was a sad joke that she had heard way too often, I asked anyway, "And Tarzan?"
"No Tarzan", she laughed.
I laughed with her, as did the older woman.
"I'm Samantha, call me Sam", offered the older woman. "My Tarzan, who thinks he's 20 instead of 50 sometimes, wrecked his patrol car last week and is in traction. He insisted I come on this cruise. He said we had paid for it and I deserved it and should just have twice as much fun to make up for him." I enjoyed her soft accent. While Jane was British, Sam was apparently from one of the southern US states. "How about you?" asked Sam further, touching my arm with her fingertips. "Name and Tarzan status, please!"
"I'm Nina", I said. That was the easy part. I mentally shrugged. Well, nothing ventured, "No Tarzan". I paused and took a deep breath. "You see I'm gay". I waited for the reaction.
"I see", said Sam, who smiled and never moved her hand.
"Okay", smiled Jane. "Well I'd like to propose a toast. To the three oddballs out."
I was surprised but very pleased with their relaxed acceptance of my statement. Jane, although I might have been imagining it, seemed to have a bit of a twinkle in her eyes. Sam was simply smiling calmly and squeezed my arm briefly before picking up her drink. I smiled shyly at both of them and then we all laughed and said together "To the three oddballs!"
Over the next hour we had several more drinks and proceeded to become friends. I explained about Robert. We talked all about our jobs and places we had been and would like to go. Sam showed pictures and told stories of her husband and grown children. Jane told about breaking up with her last boyfriend and I, hesitantly at first, mentioned the failure of my last relationship. I was really moved by their sympathy to it. I had already noticed that Jane seemed to be looking with more and more interest at me; and at Sam too. While I had pretty much decided that Sam was the obvious straight woman in our trio, I thought she was very attractive and thought it was nice how open and understanding she was.
During our get acquainted session the ships orchestra had been playing dance music, mostly older songs of course, but nice background for our chat. Couples had been dancing by our table on the edge of the floor. The band had taken one break and had just begun another set when we lapsed into comfortable silence for a moment. The slow song the band had just begun was an old favorite that I began to hum, moving my head a bit to the music. I think that was what gave Jane her idea.
"Nina", she said, with a devilish hint in her eyes "Dance with me."
I was stunned. Not that the idea didn't appeal to me. Jane appealed to me. I looked at Jane, then at Sam and gestured around the room full of people.
"Jane, are you kidding me? Look at this crowd. They'll probably tar and feather us. Tell her Samantha!"
My request for help from Sam got a surprise answer. "Oh, go ahead Nina. They've all been looking at us sideways for the last two hours already. Have some fun. It won't change their opinion, and frankly I'm not worried about it anyway."
.... There is more of this story ...