Jack Barnes was standing by the rail of the 72,000 ton cruise ship along with many of the two thousand plus passengers watching it pull away from the pier and head down the channel to the open sea. Jack wondered if taking this seven day Caribbean cruise was going to be all that it had been touted to him to be. Some of his friends at work had recommended a cruise as a great vacation to take during the summer months. At that time of the year they said there was an abundance of single female school teachers aboard. They said this was a great vacation for a bachelor to take to meet some single women.
"I will see if these stories are true and I hope they are," thought Jack.
Keith Reed was suppose to be Jack's roommate but two days ago Keith tripped over his sister's dog and suffered a sever fracture of his leg. Keith was still in the hospital so he had to cancel out on this cruise. Because he had purchased trip insurance, canceling out on the cruise did not cause him to lose any money. The end result however was that Jack would not have a roommate on this cruise which could avoid some complications he met a woman. How ironic was it Jack thought that the insurance Keith had purchased was called 'trip insurance.'
A voice over the loudspeaker system asked all passengers to go to their assigned life boat stations for the required ship evacuation drill. The drill was conducted rather efficiently but Jack could only wonder how the passengers and crew would act if in fact it was required that the ship be actually evacuated. As soon as this drill was over, the cruise ship cast off all lines and soon was underway pulling away from the pier.
Once clear of the port and into the open water most of the passengers had left the ship's railing. Dinner would be in an hour and a half which gave Jack time to wash up and go up to the Sky Lounge for a pre-meal cocktail.
In the lounge Jack observed a number of guests who also had the same idea as him of a before dinner cocktail. This group in the lounge was lively and seemed intent on having a good time which could make for a fun cruise. Most of the people there appeared to be couples but there were some attractive women who were sitting at tables without men. Maybe they were waiting for someone but for now they appeared to be single and on the hunt.
There were two somewhat attractive ladies sitting in the lounge that would periodically glance at Jack which to him showed they had an interest in him. He noticed their gazes but thought he would look around the ship before he would try to put a move on any woman. The cruise was just starting so there was no need to be in a hurry to find a woman. Jack was hoping that on this cruise he would find someone that interested him and hoped that she would be agreeable to a cruise romance.
It was assigned seating for the first night's dinner but after that it was any time dinning. Jack found himself sitting at a table for eight. There were three elderly couples and Jack sitting at this table which left one seat open. While they were nice and pleasant people, Jack didn't really want to spend time with people that were at least thirty years older than him. Jack was thirty-nine years old and he was attracted to women that were around his age. He didn't however have anything against women that were only a few years older than him but thirty years was asking too much. He had already noticed a number of good looking women on board but how to meet them without giving the impression of him being a skirt chaser was going to be a little bit of a challenge.
One of Jack's friends had told him that there were four or five single women to a single man on these cruises. If that was true or false Jack didn't know. His friend further stated that if Jack would just bide his time, with his good looks, he would be hit on more times than he could count. Jack was further told that women now-a-days on a cruise were not the shy and retiring types they once were because of the sexual revolution and the pill. Based on that advice Jack thought he would take a wait and see attitude.
Dinner was good with the quality of the food excellent. After dinner Jack went to the main theater along with what appeared to be approximately one half of the passengers to receive a briefing from the cruise director.
The director was funny and the passengers enjoyed his jokes. He explained what would be happening during the week, the ports of call and where to get information on the many shore excursions that were available. He also gave out some advice on do's and don'ts and what the passengers could expect in the ports that were going to be visited. The director also nicely indicated what was expected of the passengers as to the do's and don'ts.
After the orientation Jack wandered up two decks to the casino to see what action was there. While it wasn't Las Vegas, there was a good sized casino area with a number of slot machines, card tables and a craps table. There was a version of blackjack that Jack had never seen before so he watched the action at that table for a while. What was unique about this blackjack game was that both of the dealer's cards were turned face up so the players knew what the dealer's cards were. In return for doing this, payoff rules were modified in that the dealer won on ties and the payoff on black jack was reduced to matching what was the bet. After watching the action for about twenty minutes, Jack concluded that the odds of the dealer winning this form of blackjack actually increased over the standard version of blackjack even though the dealer's cards were all face up.
He thought he would make his monetary gambling donation tonight by playing the video poker slot machines. He walked around and looked at the payoffs for the video poker slot machines. The payoffs on the video poker machines varied but he found a bank of three video poker machines that had a 9-6 payoff ratio which were the highest of the video poker machines that he saw. Those were the slot machines he wanted to play. All three of these machines however were occupied by three older ladies. Since Jack was in no hurry he thought he would wait till one of these machines became available. Eventually one of the ladies left and before anyone else could sit at the machine, Jack claimed the seat.
Jack was playing the machine and while he had hit on some small payoffs, the slot machine was winning. He had about one half of the quarters he started with when he heard the lady at the machine on his left say to her friend, "I have never had such a long losing streak. This machine must be rigged. That's it for me, I am done for the night." She rose and left the machine.
Jack was thinking if he should keep the pair of queens that was showing on his video poker slot machine or do a two card draw and try for a straight flush when he heard, "Excuse me, is anyone playing this machine?"
Without looking up he replied, "No, it's all yours. The lady who just left was not saying nice things about the manufacturer or the generosity of that machine."
Failing to hit on the straight flush, Jack pushed back a little from the machine and looked at the lady who now was occupying the seat next to him. First glance indicated a woman who appeared to be a few years younger than Jack.
When Jack looks at a woman he is initially struck by a certain feature; face, breast size, eyes, ass, figure, legs or hair. His first look at this woman was no exception to this but the thing that struck him in looking at this lady was not any of those things. It was her posture as she sat which was perfect and did show the nice curve of her buttocks. Jack also noticed her other features which were all pluses; shoulder length dark hair, ample breasts, a slim frame, nice legs and an attractive face.
"I hope you have better luck than the lady who just left. She was not a happy camper."
"I hope so too. I do have a limit and once I hit that it will be time to go. How are you doing?"
"Probably in another ten minutes I will have completed making my donation and then it will be time for me to hit the road."
It was around her tenth pull of the handle when a few bells and whistles started going off on the machine to his left. It wasn't the big jackpot but it was a thousand quarters. Jack laughed and congratulated her. She thanked Jack and was smiling ear to ear. Jack already had noticed she had a very attractive face and for some reason had an impression that she seemed to be a nice person. He also noticed looking at her hands that she wasn't wearing a wedding ring and he thought she was someone he would like to know better.
She continued to play the machine and it seemed like it was only ten pulls later that she had the same payoff again. Now she was really smiling and clapping her hands.
"I hope some of your luck rubs off on me. I am down to my last six quarters."
She reached over and rubbed Jack's shoulder. On his next pull he hit a payoff of four hundred quarters.
"That's amazing. You touch me and I hit a small jackpot. I do know when it's time to quit and now is the time. If you aren't going to be playing much longer I would like to thank you for giving me some good luck and buy you a drink."
"I think it's time to quit as well. In the long run you can't beat the machines and when you are ahead it's time to quit. Yes I would like to have a drink. This has been a fun and profitable time."
Jack gathered up his quarters and then helped her by giving her some additional containers so that she could gather up all her quarters which took time. When she rose to go to the cashier Jack observed that she was a tall woman, probably about five foot nine inches. He also noted besides a nice figure and her undulating hips, that the shoes she was wearing were flats. With high heels on she would be Jack's height.
After cashing in the quarters for some paper money at the cashier's window they walked over to the lounge that was next to the casino and sat at an unoccupied table. The lounge wasn't crowded and a waitress immediately appeared and took their drink orders.
"Excuse me but we haven't been properly introduced. My name is Jack Barnes. I am from Carbondale, Illinois. This is my first cruise and friends at work recommended it for a vacation. I am by myself so it's nice to meet someone and be able to relax, have a drink and say a few words."
"Well, it's nice to meet you Jack. My name is Abigail Harrington and I am from St. Louis. My friends call me Abby so please do as well. I am single, having been divorced for about a year now. I am on this cruise with my friend, Mary, whom I suspect is on a dance floor kicking up her heels in one of the lounges. What do you do?"
"If I told you I was a mortician that would probably send chills up and down you spine. Well I'm not, but sometimes I say that when people ask me that question which stops any further questions about my employment. Actually I am a college professor and have been one for fourteen years now. I teach mathematics and enjoy my job for a number of reasons. The hours, working with young minds, the college atmosphere, salary, and summers off are all good things that come with the position. What do you do?"
"Nothing as so glamorous as you, I am a surgical nurse. I enjoy being in the operating room and sometimes I wished I had gone to medical school. Since I didn't go to med school it's the next best thing. You said you were alone on the cruise but are you single, married, divorced?"
"Just single, came close a few times but it never worked out. You said you were divorced?"
"I was married for twelve years, my husband was a doctor. One day he just told me he didn't love me anymore. He had found somebody that he said he did love and wanted a divorce. It was a shock that really hit me but what could I do? I hired a good lawyer and received a nice settlement. I wrote the marriage off as a mistake and was lucky that we didn't have children. I guess I was feeling sorry for myself and had been for a long time when my friend Mary suggested we take this cruise. She is a dear friend who wanted to get me out of my funk and wouldn't take no for an answer, so here I am."
"I don't know your ex and sometimes I guess the grass does look greener on the other side of the fence but having just met you, I think he made a big mistake."
"Thanks, that's very nice of you to say that."
Jack could see Abby's eyes get watery so he said, "What are your plans for being in port tomorrow?"
"Mary and I passed on the shore excursions there. We are just going to do some shopping." With a smile on her face she continued, "You know that's what all of us women like to do. Do you have any plans?"
"I plan to do some golfing and brought my golf clubs with me. I'll grab a cab and ask him to take me to the nearest golf course. While I don't have a tee time, I am a single and usually I can get on the course fairly quickly. That has been my experience and while it's taking a chance, I think I will be able to play. I'm not that much into shopping."
After a little more small talk Abby stood and put out her hand to shake Jack's hand. "It's been nice meeting you and good luck with your golf game. Maybe we will see each other some more on this cruise."
Jack shook her hand and held it for a little longer than normal and said, "Thanks, I really enjoyed meeting you and talking with you. I hope we will see more of each other. Good luck on shopping and remember to negotiate starting with offering half of what they are asking."
Jack watched her walk away and thought she had a very nice figure and a delightful sway to her hips when she walked.
On the way to his cabin Jack thought about his remark of "Seeing more of you." Was it a Freudian slip of the tongue? Maybe, but Abby was an attractive and desirable woman.
Golf the next day was fine. There was no problem in getting to play and Jack played with three other fellows who said they had about the same golf handicap as Jack. They invited Jack for a drink afterwards and he enjoyed their company.
Back at the ship after washing up, Jack was up in the Sky Lounge prior to dinner having a cocktail when Abby and another lady walked in. Abby saw Jack and came over to his table.
"Jack, I'd like you to meet my friend, Mary. Mary this is Jack."
He stood and shook hands with Mary saying, "So this is Ginger Rogers, the lady who was on the dance floor all night and the talk of the ship."
He didn't know if she was but he took a guess that she was up late dancing.
"Who told you I was there dancing?"
"The word has spread all over the ship."
Jack could see the puzzled look on Mary's face trying to figure out Jack's remark. It dawned on her that Jack was pulling her leg. She laughed and said, "You almost got me with that. I am going to need to weigh what you say more carefully from now on."
Jack ordered the ladies a drink and enjoyed their company with the bantering they did. When it was time for dinner they all went together and with the any-time-dinning were able to be seated at the same table. It was an enjoyable meal made more so by pleasant conversation.
After dinner they went to the main theater and caught the show. It was actually very good with two singers, eight dancers and a comedian. When the show was over, Mary suggested that they adjourn to one of the lounges. Jack agreed and suggested that they go to one of the non-disco lounges as he was long past that kind of dance and he disliked loudness of the music.
Mary called him an old 'fuddy duddy' and said she had met someone last night that she had promised to meet tonight at a disco lounge. She excused herself and wished Abby and Jack a good night.
At the Lido lounge there was a DJ who in Jack's opinion was playing danceable music from the sixties. They ordered a drink and when Jack heard a slow song start he asked Abby if she wanted to dance. She smiled and nodded her head. There were a few couples on the dance floor, some older and some younger than Jack and Abby. Abby fit just right into his arms. She wasn't pressing against Jack but she wasn't that far away from him either. He caught the scent of her perfume which was stimulating. Every now and then the tips of her breast would touch his chest. He could put his cheek against the side of her forehead.
"Thank you," he said.
Abby back away and looked at him to say, "For what?"
"For not wearing the flats you were wearing yesterday and wearing high heels tonight. It's nice to dance cheek to cheek and hold a beautiful tall lady in my arms. It's not too often that I get the opportunity to do so."
"So you noticed the shoes?"
"Yes, I did. A lady in high heels with nice legs is a very appealing picture. And if I could be so bold as to say Abby, you do have very nice legs."
With limited light in the lounge it was difficult to see but Jack thought that Abby blushed. She moved back to where the side of her forehead was against Jack's cheek and her breasts against his chest.
"You know it's not that often that I can wear high heels and not be taller that the man I am with. I refuse to stoop and I don't want some man's face pressing into my breasts, at least not on the dance floor. It doesn't look or feel right. Now this is the way dancing should be done."
Jack agreed with her and enjoyed holding her in his arms.
Around mid-night they both agreed that the time had flown by. Jack walked Abby to her cabin. At the door he thanked her for a wonderful evening and asked her if they could do it again tomorrow. Abby looked at him and said she hoped they could. She moved to him and gave him a little kiss on his lips and then entered her cabin and closed the door.
Jack was on cloud nine on the walk back to his cabin. He knew that he didn't want to push Abby too quickly into a relationship. How she would react to him was too early to tell but all the signs were favorable. He knew from experience that a woman will let a man know when she wants a relationship to progress further.
Next day at a new port of call, Jack continued on his plan of playing golf and it worked out again. He had a nice round of golf at a nice golf course.
Jack was a little late in getting to the lounge for his pre-dinner cocktail. In the lounge he saw Mary and Abby sitting at a table. When they saw Jack they waved to him. They both looked good and he thought the time they spent on makeup and dress was time well spent. Jack complimented them both on their looks and how they made it so pleasant for him on coming back from a hard day on the golf course. They both commented unfavorably on his hard day at the golf course and giggled at his reaction.
Dinner again was very enjoyable because of the two fine ladies that were with Jack. The quality of the meal was good although the portions were a little small in Jack's opinion.
After dinner the split again occurred with Mary going to the disco and Abby and Jack going back to the Lido lounge. He really enjoyed holding and dancing with Abby and it seemed that she did as well.
Sitting at a table Abby said, "I am glad Mary insisted that I come on this cruise. It's nice to feel alive and not be moping around because of my divorce. This is good, life is good"
When they left the lounge Abby suggested they go for a walk around the deck. There were other couples there that had the same idea. They would see a few of these couples kissing. Abby stopped and put both of her hands on the railing and said, "Look at the moon and stars. Aren't they beautiful?"
Jack was standing behind Abby and put both of his hands around her but also on the railing. His shaft was starting to get aroused and was lightly pressing against her bottom. He whispered in her ear. "That's not the only thing that is beautiful tonight."
Abby turned around, put her hand behind Jack's neck and brought her lips to Jack's parted lips. It was a very tender yet passion-filled kiss.
"Oh, Jack. You say the nicest things," and she hugged Jack.
Holding hands they walked to Abby's cabin. At the door, Abby thanked Jack for another great evening and said that she would enjoy seeing Jack tomorrow at the Captain's dinner. That was the only night men were asked to wear a jacket and tie. Abby gave Jack another kiss which was a little longer than the night before and said good night. Jack thought that things were improving but at a slower rate than he was hoping for. He was hoping that the next night would be his night with Abby but he would let her set the pace. If nothing further happened it still was a great cruise because of just meeting her.
The next day the ship was at sea all day. Since they weren't in port there was no golf. Jack was wearing his golf shorts and a golf shirt. He thought he would wander around the ship to see what goes on during the day on this ship. His first stop was at one of the two swimming pools. The pool was crowded and all the deck chairs were full. Jack went up to the second level, asked the waiter for a beer and looked down into the pool area to check out the action. All of the ladies were in two piece bathing suits. A one piece bathing suit was rare. There were no string bikinis but some of the suits the ladies wore were close to it. There were a number of well-endowed women and Jack enjoyed watching their breasts jiggle when they walked.
He noticed that laying on deck chairs were Mary and next to her was Abby soaking up some rays. The white bikini Abby was wearing was very flattering. Mary noticed Jack and waved up to him. Jack then noticed a fellow on a deck chair next to Mary take notice of where she was waving. The fellow seemed to be only a few years out of college. If this was the fellow that Mary was meeting at the disco, it just didn't seem like she was heading for a long term relationship. Maybe all she wanted was a ship board romance. Well, they both were over twenty-one so Jack would keep his opinion to himself.
Mary nudged Abby who turned and looked up at Jack. Abby waved for him to come down as a deck chair next to her had become vacant. Jack waved it off, pointed at the sun and pretended to wipe his brow. He mouthed, "Too hot. See you at dinner." He waved and walked off to find a cool spot inside the ship.
There was a bingo game, trivia pursuit and a version of the newlywed game conducted by the cruise staff that occupied his time.
In the very late afternoon Jack had showered and put on his black suit along with a white shirt and tie. He was sitting having a cocktail in the lounge when in walked Mary and Abby. Mary looked good in a red dress that was three inches above her knees and had a square cut low neckline. The tops of her breasts were visible as she walked up to the table.
If Mary looked good, Abby looked fabulous. Her dark hair was combed down straight to her shoulders. Kind of a dark hair surfer girl look thought Jack. She was wearing a black sheath dress that was knee length but had a slit on one side that went up to her mid-thigh. The dress was held up by two thin black spaghetti straps that went over her shoulders. The straps holding up the dress were challenged. Jack hadn't noticed Abby breasts before and now he thought they were a size 36D. The dress was cut low enough in front to see just the tops of her breasts. The back of the dress was cut low almost down to her waist. If Abby was wearing a bra, Jack thought it was a marvel of engineering. He noticed that she was wearing shoes that had three inch heels.
Jack rose as the ladies approached the table. He said to Mary, "You look very beautiful tonight. I would appreciate it though if you would introduce me to the Playboy model that is with you."
Abby had a big grin on hearing that remark and said, "You like this outfit? It was something old that was hanging in my closet."
"And if pigs could fly we all would be rich," responded Jack.
All three of them laughed at the remark.
Jack ordered drinks for the ladies. He told them they had outdone themselves on their appearance. Abby crossed her legs and the slit on the dress parted to almost her mid-thigh revealing the shine of the gun metal nylon hose she was wearing.
"What a beautiful woman," thought Jack.
The Captain's dinner was nothing more than walking into the main dining hall where the Captain greeted you, shook your hand and wished you a good cruise. One of the ship's photographers was there and took a picture that you could purchase later. When the Captain saw Abby he took more time than he normally would and engaged Jack and Abby in conversation. He invited them both to sit at his dinner table the next day. When the Captain turned to greet the people that were behind them, Jack asked the photographer to take a picture of just him and Abby.
As they were walking to their table Abby asked why he had that separate photo taken. All Jack would say was that he wanted a photo to show his mother that he does date women.
When Abby gave Jack a funny look, he said, "No, I was only kidding you. The truth is you are a very beautiful woman and I will have something that shows this cruise and meeting you was not a dream. All of the people in this room are very jealous of me right now and I don't blame them."
Jack had asked for a two person table which was fine with Mary as she had wanted a two person table as well. Mary sat with the fellow who was with her at the pool that afternoon. She referred to him as the 'Hulk.'
Wine was ordered for the table and Jack proposed a toast. "To the most beautiful lady on the ship tonight. Gentlemen, eat your hearts out as she is with me tonight."
Abby was smiling and giggling from the comments and compliments she was getting from Jack. Every now and then there was a slight blush on her that he noticed.
She said, "Enough about me. I do note that you clean up well and I noticed some of the looks I was getting from the women passengers because you were with me. I could see the daggers in their eyes. They can eat their hearts out as well."
She continued, "I do have a little confession to make to you. I don't know if you know, but some of the single women who are 'cruise-veterans' will on the evening of the same day they come on board the ship go and look at the photos that are taken of all of the passengers when they first board this ship. All the photos are posted by the photographer's booth. The women look to see who the single men are since there isn't a female in the individual pictures and they make a beeline for those men. The reason I know this is that I tagged along with Mary and she explained this to me. I will say that it wasn't an accident that I sat next to you that night in the casino. Your picture interested me in you and when we talked I became more interested. Don't sell yourself short as I enjoy your company very much. Besides meeting you at the casino, it turned out to be very profitable for me."