(While this is a follow up story to my story "Cruise Ship Cruise", its not really necessary to have read that one first.)
The deep sound of the ship's whistle drowned out the band playing on the dockside. As the sound died away Samantha laughed out loud. How appropriate for the band to be playing the theme song from that old TV show. She found herself quickening her pace just a little. Perhaps her children were right. Maybe she could find love again, "exciting and new."
She checked with the purser's crew and got her cabin assignment. She decided not to go down to it right away. She was assured her luggage would be delivered. Therefore, she thought she would stroll around the ship and then go to the railing for the departure.
The ship seemed the same to her as it had five years ago. The crew bustled about their duties but were still warm and friendly. She made her way to the side as the whistle sounded loudly again, signaling their departure. She tossed the streamer ribbons she had been given at check-in.
The ship pulled away from the dock and started down the channel. Sam smiled and turned to head down to her cabin to unpack. She took two steps, still looking back, and bumped into another woman.
"Oh my gosh, excuse me!" Sam blurted out.
"Oh no," exclaimed the other woman. "I wasn't watching where I was going."
"Neither was I," replied Sam. She laughed. "No harm. I'm Sam."
"Marilyn," the other woman said.
"Okay, then. Nice to have met you." Sam smiled and headed into the ship, this time looking where she was going.
Marilyn's eyes rested for just a moment on the woman she had accidentally collided with. It was nice to see another woman in her own middle-age bracket, especially one that seemed to be alone. She sighed. The next time her company announced a sales contest she was going to insist the winner get a choice of prizes. Somehow the whole idea had seemed really fantastic back in the middle of a Wisconsin winter; an all-expenses paid week in the sun, but now all of a sudden she wished she was home. If it hadn't been for her older daughter...
"Oh for goodness sake, Mom," Lisa had scolded her. "Take the vacation, you've earned it. Go have fun. I know you, if you stay around here, you'll end up working at home. Go lay in the sun, drink tropical drinks and get a tan."
Marilyn wasn't to discover just how sneaky her daughters were until she unpacked her bags later. She had carefully packed her laptop and some unfinished projects. They had just as carefully replaced everything work related with suntan lotion and swimsuits.
She found her way down to her cabin. It had been a strenuous day, flying all the way from her Midwestern home to the California port. She decided to take a short nap and then sort out her things when she felt more awake. She kicked off her shoes and stretched out on the bed. In no more than 5 minutes she was asleep.
"That's what happens when you don't set the clock," Marilyn scolded herself. She had woken to find she had about 30 minutes to make it to the first supper onboard and meet her tablemates. She had barely had time to dress casually, fix her makeup and get moving. She enjoyed making an entrance as much as anyone else did but it would probably lose any impact if she showed up late to every meal.
She had memorized where her table was and made her way through the dining room. She saw a waiter approaching it and hurried to the one open seat. Sitting hastily she glanced at the menu laying there. She paid no attention to the others at the table until she heard a laughing Southern voice call out "Not looking again?"
Samantha had reached the table early and was looking over the guys there when suddenly the woman she had bumped into at the railing this morning came rushing up. Sam looked at her and smiled as she dove into her menu. Sitting a bit to the side Sam was able to study her. A very attractive woman, she seemed to be maybe just a hair younger than Sam herself, probably in her late forties. She had light brown hair and eyes. Sam thought to herself, rather ruefully, that the other woman was quite gifted in the bust department. She saw all the males at the table had discovered that fact also.
Still and all, though, the woman had a face that was lovely without being model gorgeous. She was obviously alone too as she had taken the one vacant chair at the table. On an impulse, Sam spoke to her.
For a moment Marilyn thought the other woman was mocking her. Then common sense, and the warm look in the other woman's eyes, dispelled that notion. Marilyn thought she really liked those eyes. They were deep and dark, but with a merry dancing light in them that invited her to share the joke. She felt a smile steal across her face. She started to reply but was cut off as a middle-aged man sitting on her right suddenly boomed, "Well, let's all introduce ourselves, shall we?"
Marilyn groaned to herself. Oh, great. In another ten minutes they'd be playing charades or something like that. Why did there always have to be some self-important person who took charge, whether there was any need for him to do that or not? They had nearly a week to get to know each other. She switched her mind into neutral, picking up the names of the guy and his wife, but not much more. She did bring her attention back on line when the brunette, Sam she thought she had said before, across the table spoke.
"Hi. I'm Samantha, called Sam by everyone, except my children I guess. Since we're capsulizing our lives, I'm 54 years old. I have 3 grown sons and four grandchildren, two boys and two girls. I'm a widow." She paused for an instant. "I lost my husband Donnie to a heart attack 3 years ago. My children chipped in and brought me this cruise. I'm supposed to be checking any and all of you single guys out, according to them anyway."
The next person spoke while Marilyn considered what Samantha had said. "Checking the single guys out." That sounded like perhaps she was recovered somewhat from her loss. Looking at her, Marilyn thought it probably had not been easy. For a moment she had seen the shadow in Sam's eyes.
There was silence and she realized that the heads had turned towards her. "What do I say?" she thought to herself. "Do I say I'm 48 years old, that I have two grown daughters and a grandson? Do I say that after 23 years of marriage, my ex-husband and I realized we were complete strangers and that we thought we each deserved a chance at happiness again? Do I say that was 5 years ago and I feel more free and contented than I have in a decade? Oh, and do I tell them that I'm gay?"
The thoughts poured through her mind. She opened her mouth and said them all. All of them except the very last. That thought dangled on the tip of her tongue but she swallowed it back. She watched the reactions of the people at the table. Most were the mechanical nods and smiles that she had probably been giving herself. She did notice a genuine smile from Samantha. She looked the other woman full in the face for just a moment and saw understanding and sympathy in the other woman's eyes.
Marilyn listened, without hearing, the introductions of the other people at the table. Instead her mind filled a whirl of random thoughts that settled on two things. The first was the laughing face of the woman across the table. The second was a recollection of the night that had changed her life four years ago.
That night she had been, again, in a smokey nightclub. She didn't know what she was looking for or how she would recognize it if she ever found it. She had danced with a couple of guys, mechanically, refusing offers of follow-up drinks and talk. She had withdrawn into one corner and let her mind focus on the band.
It was an unusual band. The backup singers and instrumentalists appeared to be five young people, some of whom struck her as too young to be in a place that served alcohol. The lead singer, on the other hand, was an attractive older blonde woman with a wonderful voice. Somehow she seemed to make the rather banal songs come alive. Marilyn caught herself smiling and keeping time to the music.
During one pause, a waitress had delivered her a drink.
"I didn't order this," she had protested.
"Compliments of the lady," the waitress had nodded towards the stage and the woman up there confirmed the statement with a nod and a lovely smile.
Intrigued, Marilyn remained at the club until closing. After the last set, the band members, under the direction of a fussy middle-aged man put their equipment up. He then sheparded them out a side door. She didn't see the blonde woman, who had slipped out right after the last number. She stood up.
"Not going are you?"
Marilyn looked to see the woman standing by the table. "Oh, I didn't see you."
The blonde woman laughed. "I didn't mean to sneak up on you. I'm Connie."
The two women bonded instantly. Marilyn discovered that Connie was a widow who had turned the musical talents of her family into a traveling band. For once they were in one place for more than a single night. Usually they simply loaded their converted school bus up after the show and went on to their next booking. Marilyn talked and Connie talked. When the club manager told them they were closing up both women sighed.
"I hate to see the evening end." Connie remarked. She got a gleam in her eyes. "I know," she said, ushering Marilyn towards the door. "For once, we have enough hotel rooms that I don't have to share." She removed a bottle of wine from the cooler near the door. At Marilyn's look she laughed. "I'm not stealing this. The club owner offered it but I figured I wouldn't be taking it as I don't drink alone or in front of my kids."
By the time they had worked their way through most of their life stories they had also finished the bottle of wine. Both quite tipsy, Marilyn made no demure when Connie insisted she spend the night. Giggling like two teenagers conducting a sleepover, they had each undressed and put on one of Connie's extra-large t-shirts she kept for sleeping.
As they snuggled down into the bed, without even really thinking Marilyn had leaned over, said "Goodnight" and kissed Connie. That simple kiss seemed to last forever as Connie kissed her back. Then the kiss turned open-mouth. The hands that had been by their sides were now touching each other; running up and down arms, over backs, and then gingerly brushing each other's stomachs and breasts.
The kiss continued to deepen. Connie pulled frantically at Marilyn's shirt, and she responded by lifting the other woman's over her head. The kiss that had been broken for that needed instant resumed and the two women fell back to the bed, locked in each others arms. Connie kissed over Marilyn's face and down her neck and took a full heavy breast in her mouth.
The sensation of another woman's mouth on her breast was incredible. Marilyn had swept her hands down Connie's back and over the firm ass. She ran her fingers over the cheeks and tentatively let one finger trace its way down the cleft. Her nail scratched lightly over Connie's rosebud and the other woman let out a cry, muffled by Marilyn's breast.
Connie wiggled one hand between them cupped Marilyn's mound. She pressed the heel of her hand against the top of the slit. Parting Marilyn's lips, she slipped her middle finger into the other woman's wet sex.
Marilyn gasped at the feel of Connie's finger in her. With one heave she rolled both of them onto their sides, facing each other and pulled Connie's mouth back to her. The blonde woman responded by adding her index finger inside Marilyn. Marilyn's knee pushed Connie's legs apart and her fingers drove through the curls to finger the wet pussy there. Marilyn matched Connie's every movement, using her thumb to massage the singer's clit.
Each woman wordlessly urged the other on. Free hands found nipples and stroked them to quivering hardness. Squishing sounds filled the hotel room as they each fingered the other. Connie broke the kiss to bury her head against Marilyn's shoulder. The brunette felt the other woman tense and her muscles squeezed Marilyn's fingers. Even as Connie's first spasm shook the both of them, Marilyn felt her own body quiver and she screamed her release into the pillow.
When they had calmed down, still in each other's arms, Marilyn had looked at the other woman.
"I never did that before," she admitted.
"Neither have I," responded the blonde singer. "But it won't be the last time."
Marilyn shook herself. The introductions were apparently over and the food was being served. She looked around the table. Samantha was regarding her with a half-smile that indicated she knew the other woman had been daydreaming. She winked and Marilyn thought to herself, "If you only knew."
After supper things got worse. A band started and couples began dancing. Samantha had a steady stream of men asking her to dance and she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself out on the floor. Marilyn accepted a couple of offers but insisted on coming right back to the table after the music ended. What she really wanted to do was talk to Samantha. Although it seemed like there was no question the other woman was straight, Marilyn still thought it would be nice to get to know her.
Finally having had enough, she gathered her things when everyone was away from the table and left.
Samantha had just come back from her latest whirl on the floor when she saw Marilyn disappearing through the double doors. That was a shame she thought. Of all the people at the table, the few words she had managed to exchange with her showed a sharp wit that should have made her even more attractive to the guys at the table, or in the whole room for that matter. But she had noticed the Northern woman was not enjoying herself. Determined to find out why, Sam smiled around the table and went after her.
Marilyn reached the deck and took a deep breath. Well, at least she could get oxygen here. She heard the doors bang again behind her but didn't look around.
"Marilyn?" Sam's soft voice came from behind her. "Why did you leave?"
"I'm sorry Samantha, I just didn't feel like it tonight."
"Well I understand that. None of those guys is capable of dancing on the floor. They all apparently require their partner's feet be under theirs." Samantha made a face and Marilyn couldn't help but laugh. Something about the outgoing southern woman charmed her. "And I suppose they've all accomplished a lot. If accomplishing things means making money that is. I always thought there was more to life than that."
While Sam talked she took Marilyn by the elbow and steered her around the deck. They fell into a slow walk and strolled around the deck together. They learned more about each other and began to gossip about their tablemates. By the time they had finished a tour around the ship they were fast friends. Marilyn agreed at once to Sam's suggestion they spend some time at the pool tomorrow and maybe get in some exercise at the gym. When they parted Marilyn watched Sam, enjoying the still athletic movements of her body, until the other woman was out of sight.
For her part, Sam thought she had made a splendid friend and was already looking forward to tomorrow. There was something else there though, Sam considered. She couldn't put her finger on it but there was something almost mysterious about Marilyn. And that was appealing. Sam loved a good mystery.
The following days were delightful, but at the same time almost agonizing to Marilyn. She and Sam spent most of their waking hours together. The very first thing they had done was to rearange their seating so they would be together at meals. They swam and worked out together. They discovered a mutual like of tennis and played each day. Marilyn loved Sam's still long and shapely legs. When they went ashore together at the two ports of call, Sam was always bouncing ahead in her shorts and sandals, topped by whatever bright t-shirt she had chosen for the day.
They talked all the time. Much of Sam's running commentary was on all the different guys they met; their good points, their bad points and even in Sam's judgment what they might be like it bed. Marilyn went along with the discussion. She longed to tell Sam that the one person on ship that she wanted to be in bed with was her. She just couldn't bring herself to do it. What if it ruined their friendship?
One thing had happened that made her wonder if just possibly Sam might have some interest in her. The two of them had been stretched out together in a couple of lounge chairs by the pool. Sam had been peering over the top of her sunglasses, checking out the guys in the pool. Marilyn had been watching her in amusement, enjoying her company and her soft southern voice. They had each reached down at the same time for the drinks they had between their chairs. As they both felt around without looking their fingers had touched. Marilyn felt a thrill at the touch, a thrill even more intensified because it seemed Sam was in no hurry to pull her hand away. For a few extra moments Marilyn savored the feel of Sam's fingers on hers.
It was little enough, even added to the feeling that she thought she had seen Samantha several times doing her "check 'em out" when there didn't seem to be anyone but females around. Once when she turned around, Marilyn was absolutely sure, maybe, that Sam had been looking at her legs. But overall, the friendly companionship the two of them had was enough to keep her close, and hoping.
The next to the last night almost killed her hopes. They had gone for a run ashore late in the afternoon. When they stopped to get a bite they had run into two of their male acquaintances at the restaurant. Marilyn was not any kind of man-hater and actually enjoyed the evening the four of them spent at a local festival and street dance.
Pleasantly buzzing from the drinks she had consumed, Marilyn bade a good night to the other three and had gone down to her cabin. It occurred to her that a nightcap with Sam would be a splendid idea. She had previously found out that Sam preferred Scotch. She stopped in the bar and bought a drink for each of them.
When she came around the deck corner to go to Sam's cabin, she had stopped suddenly and shrunk back around the corner. Sam was at her cabin door, kissing one of the men they had been with that evening. Sam fumbled behind her, opened the door and with a smile pulled the man inside. The door lock clicked after them.
Marilyn walked slowly back to her cabin. She was crazy, wasn't she? Samantha was straight and they were never going to be anything but friends.
The next morning when Sam joined her for breakfast the conversation was very subdued.
"How was the rest of your night?" Marilyn managed to ask at one point.
"Not what I expected," Sam answered her, rather cryptically. Marilyn shot a glance at her friend, who seemed to have a look that was both troubled and uncertain.
The last night was the fancy dress dance. Sam pulled her formal gown from its protective bag and hung it up. She had already slipped into her lingerie. She still hadn't seen any guy who gave her the tingles, but dressed in case she did. She wore a black lace strapless bra and matching panties. She had originally decided to go with stockings but suddenly changed her mind and dug through her luggage. She wiggled into her black garter belt and carefully put on a pair of silk stockings. Smoothing them over her legs, she took her dress and donned it. A full, flowing skirt was complimented by a form fitting top that left one shoulder bare. Carrying her heels, she walked down one flight of stairs and knocked on Marilyn's cabin.
Marilyn had been shifting from one foot to the other, examining herself in the mirror. Her dress was a deep coral color. Patterned after a Chinese cheongsam, it was sleeveless, tight in all the right places and with a slit up the left side almost to the top of her thigh. She was wearing sheer pantyhose and had already donned her matching heels. She knew the knock was from Sam and took a deep breath.
When Marilyn opened the door Sam took a sharp deep breath. "Wow," she said approvingly.
"Wow yourself," Marilyn responded, drinking in the figure of her friend. "Hey, what's with the heels in your hand?"
Sam laughed. "Not to admit age or anything, but its going to be a long night and after a while the darn things hurt my feet." She dropped them on the floor and stepped into each. Offering her arm to her friend, she winked and said "If we aren't the two best looking woman around I don't know who is. Let's go make some jaws drop."
They strolled down the hallway and ascended up to the ballroom. Sam thought to herself that she hadn't met a single guy that matched up to her expectations. "You are a pretty hard act to follow Donnie," she thought. Still, the whole cruise had been made worthwhile by her becoming friends with Marilyn. They had exchanged phone numbers, addresses, emails and even directions to each others homes.
Tonight the music was wonderful, the drinks cold and the food delicious. Sam was whirled around the dance floor continuously. She declined to repeat partners, returning to the table they sat at between each number.
Although she should have been having the most splendid time, Sam found the evening somehow flat. The dampener was that after only a couple of dances Marilyn had fixed herself in her chair. Her friend was refusing conversation. refusing dances, generally refusing to socialize at all.
"What is wrong?" Sam fretted to herself. "She's beautiful". Noting the shapely leg peeking through the slit of her dress, Sam added 'sexy and alluring' to the description.
Smiling at her current partner as the music ended, Sam thanked him and headed back to spend some time with Marilyn. As she approached the table where Marilyn was sitting by herself, Sam was horrified to realize her friend was crying.
"Marilyn!" Sam rushed to kneel next to her friend and took her hands "What in the world is it?"
"Oh for goodness sake, Samantha, can't you tell?" At Sam's negative headshake, Marilyn tightened her grip on Sam's hands. "Its YOU." Sam looked stunned.
"Me? What have I done?"
"Its not what you did Sam. Its what I did." She looked into Sam's confused eyes. "Sam... Samantha, I'm gay. I've been attracted to you since the first night. The more time we've spent together the stronger the attraction has been. I certainly don't blame you for that, or for your interest in the guys here. To tell you that I'm jealous when I see you on the dance floor would really be silly. But it hurts when you fall in love with someone that can't return it." Marilyn brushed her eyes. "I'm so sorry Sam. I didn't want to put you on the spot like that." She fumbled for her pocketbook and all but ran from the room.
Samantha sat in her chair and watched Marilyn leave the room. Her mind was in a whirl. Had she been missing, or just ignoring the signs that her friend had been passing. Good lord, had she been picking up on Marilyn's attraction to her and using it?
No, she hadn't, she decided. She just never had expected lightning to strike like this twice. Now that she realized that it had, it was time to acknowledge it and see where it led. Because she knew that she was attracted to Marilyn, just as surely as she had been attracted to those two women five years before.
Samantha made her excuses to the rest of the dinner table, pleading a slight headache. She gathered up her purse and left the ballroom. Rather than go to her cabin though, she instinctively made her way aft. As she exited onto the promenade she saw Marilyn at the railing, looking out at the ocean. She walked up beside her. Looking out at the ship's wake she said, "Its beautiful, isn't it?"
Marilyn tightened her grip on the railing. Did Sam realize just how powerful the feelings that came over her whenever the other woman was close? She had told her, but did Sam understand? Forcing herself to remain calm she answered, "Yes it is. The moonlight dancing over the waves. It's lovely."
"That's not what I was talking about." Marilyn turned as Samantha continued, looking directly at her now. "The moonlight is lovely because its shining on you."