Authors: S. Cruz
S. L. C
Copyright © 2015 S. L. Cruz
All rights reserved.
ISBN 13: 9781514283479
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015909377
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
ver since we were little, my best friend and I had dreamed of how our lives were going to be when we grew up. We made a list of goals, like a wish list. First was getting our college degrees, which we were both finishing up this year. I’d been working days in a large office and going to school at night for the past year. I liked most of my coworkers, except for one obnoxious man who hit on me every day. I tried to avoid him if I could; hiding in my cubicle until he’d left the room. I’d gone out a few times with some of the girls from work for drinks, but I didn’t feel close to any of them. I didn’t fit in their social circle and frankly didn’t care this job was temporary until I finished my degree.
Shelly and I wanted to travel, find love, get married, have kids, buy a house—well, you get the idea. We wanted it all and were anxious to get started. Shelly was doing her student teaching at a local elementary school. I didn’t want to deal with snotty-nosed little kids and their parents, so I decided on a degree in business management. That way I could dress in nice clothes, have my own office, and give orders, not take them. After three years of struggling to pay for my college tuition, I took this job so I could pay my rent and afford the next item on our list: a cruise.
Shelly and I had always done everything together. We worked out at a local gym, shopped, and learned how to cook together. We’d been planning a Caribbean cruise for the past year. Our cruise was
booked, and we would leave November 10 for seven days of sun and fun. We were hoping to meet some cute guys, since this cruise was advertised for singles.
We shopped for new clothes and some fancy dresses for me since Shelly had an extensive closet full of nice clothing. The dresses she helped me pick out were stunning, daring, and like nothing I’d ever worn before. She twisted my arm to spend the money, saying it would be worth it in the end. I wasn’t so sure, but those dresses did look really good on me. The only fancy dress I’d ever had was my prom gown. My father actually let me go to the junior prom after I paid for my own dress. It was simple but pretty. My mother bought me new underwear and heels that my father didn’t know about and I went with Shelly’s boyfriend’s brother. Awkward!
We were excited as we counted down the days until we would leave. This cruise was to celebrate our twenty-third birthdays and our college graduation. My best friend and I were complete opposites, but she was closer to me than my own sister. She was a petite blonde with blue eyes, pale and cute. I was tall with dark-brown hair and eyes, thanks to my mother’s Native American heritage. Shelly was curvy and a little spitfire. I was slender and quiet. She grew up rich, while my family struggled to pay bills. We shopped in the petite section of the stores for her and the tall section for me. At least I didn’t have to worry about her wearing any of my clothing like my kid sister always did.
I have one sister Taylor; she’d always been my father’s favorite. Her light-brown hair and hazel eyes were just like his. I used to babysit when I was a teenager so I could buy my own clothing. My bratty sister would sneak into my room, take my things, and wear them. She wasn’t careful with my clothes, often ruining them and tossing them back in my closet like nothing had happened. If I said anything to her, she’d run to my father, and I’d get punished. My father used to tell me I was selfish; then he’d banish me to my room, or I wouldn’t be allowed to attend a school function. Taylor always gloated, rubbing in the fact that she was his favorite (Daddy’s princess). She was a spoiled
brat! I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and away from her and my father. My mother always tried to stick up for me, but my dad just took his anger out on both of us. I never felt loved by him.
My mother and I were close; everyone said we looked alike. She knew that my sister manipulated my father, but he refused to believe it. So after I graduated from high school, I moved out and into a college dorm with Shelly. We lived in the dorms for three years until I got my job; then I moved into my own apartment in a building close to campus. Shelly’s dad rented her an apartment in the same building so we could be close to each other, but we each had our own space.
I kept in touch with my mom. I knew she missed me, but I had to get out of that house. I bought her a cell phone and taught her how to text, something my father would never do for her.
My mother was a bookkeeper and part-time waitress for a local restaurant. My father worked in a factory, which ironically was owned by Shelly’s dad. He never liked the idea that I was friends with his boss’s daughter, but he didn’t say anything for fear he would lose his job. I spent a lot of time at Shelly’s. I think my father was just glad I was out of the house.
Finally, November 10th arrived. Shelly and I flew to Florida and took a taxi from the airport to the port that our ship was sailing out of. When I saw the size of our ship, I immediately got butterflies; it didn’t look that big in the brochures. The taxi driver pulled our luggage out of the trunk of his car, and we walked toward the ship, which got even bigger as we approached.
“Oh my God, Shelly, it’s so big,” I said, standing there and looking up at this floating city.
“Bailey, this is our dream; you need to get a grip,” she said, chuckling at the look of horror on my face.
“But look at the line of people waiting to board the ship; is there a weight limit?” I said, gulping down bile that had risen in my throat. A bunch of butterflies flew around in my stomach as I looked at the long line all the way up to the top of the steps. I was terrified.
“Listen, it’s completely safe. My dad researched this cruise line’s safety record; it’s stellar,” she said, putting her arm around me. “Smile, Bailey; it’s going to be fine. We’re going to have a great time; you’ll see.”
My hands were shaking as I tried to calm my nerves. At the top of the stairs, I noticed some guys standing there talking and laughing loudly. One of them turned around and looked right at me. Our eyes connected, and my breath caught in my chest. I couldn’t tear my eyes away; he was handsome with light-brown hair and a perfect smile. His eyes were twinkling in the sunlight as he smiled at me. My body immediately reacted to him, I felt like I was on fire. The funny thing was that at that moment, all my anxiety disappeared, and the butterflies disappeared. He raised his hand in the air, and I immediately responded by raising mine. We had a moment!
The wind was blowing so hard that my hair was swirling all around me, and my dress was flying up. I put my hand on my thigh to keep my dress down to avoid exposing myself.
Our connection was broken when the dark-haired man next to him slapped his shoulder. He turned to talk to him, they stepped onto the ship, and just like that, he was gone. My heart was thumping so hard as I stood there frozen in place with this silly smile on my face and my hand up. I’d never had that reaction to a guy before.
He was somewhere on that ship, and I was determined to find him. As the line started to move, Shelly grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the ramp. We were greeted by the ship’s crew as we stepped onto the deck, and they directed us toward our cabins. While we walked I was checking out people, secretly looking for my mystery guy. I didn’t say anything to Shelly; this was my secret for now. I knew she’d tease me if I told her and probably embarrass me if I found him.
We had decided on separate rooms next door to each other in case we got lucky, which I had no doubt in my mind that Shelly would. She had been allowed to date and was much more experienced with
men than I was. My father wouldn’t let me date in high school, so I concentrated on getting good grades and scholarships to college. That was my way out. In college I worked hard to stay in the top 10 percent of my class, so there was no time for boys. This was sort of like my very own coming-out party.
Our rooms were small but nice. I inspected my room, noticing an animal shape made out of a wash cloth on my pillow with two mints beside it. I carefully put it by my bedside lamp; it was too cute to destroy. I wanted to have time to unpack, but Shelly had other ideas. I no sooner put my suitcase down than she bounded into my room raring to go. So I humored her and followed her on deck to inspect the ship and secretly look for him.
I wondered where he was and what he was doing. Maybe he came with a girlfriend and that moment we shared was over. I realized I wasn’t listening to Shelly as she talked and flirted her way around the deck. Some of the ship’s crew was walking around greeting everyone, they made us feel welcome. This very bubbly girl, the ship’s entertainment coordinator was talking with everyone and describing some of the fun things we could do on the cruise. This felt like it was going to be an adventure I’d never forget. I got goose bumps as we stood there with a crowd of passengers listening to her. Some of the hot men standing around us were checking us out. I wasn’t comfortable with the salacious looks coming our way. Shelly of course was soaking it up, truly comfortable in her own skin.
“Come on Shelly let’s walk around some more,” I said restless to keep moving. Sea gulls were flying around as the waves hit the side of the ship, the sea air was refreshing, swirling around us like a beckoning siren calling us out to sea. This cruise was about to start and my heart jumped with excitement and anticipation of the next seven days of our first big adventure.
People were still lining the steps and saying good-bye to loved ones. I looked down at the dock, we were so high up on this big ship it was a little frightening as I watched the ship’s personnel loading
crates of supplies, wasn’t anyone worried about all the weight that was on this ship?
“Bailey are you worrying again?” Shelly asked as a chill ran down my spine. She reads me so well.
“A little, it’s a really big ship and all these people,” I gestured around the deck.
“We’re perfectly safe. Look at the staff, do they look worried?”
“Ummm…no,” I said looking around.
“So knock it off, let your fears go and let’s have some fun,” she said shaking my shoulders. Sometimes she’s the voice of reason, so I blew out my pent up nervousness and tried to relax.
“Shelly can we go and unpack first? I need to put my stateroom in order and hang up those expensive dresses you twisted my arm to buy; besides people are still coming onboard so we’ve got time,” I said rather disappointed that I hadn’t seen him anywhere.
“Ok she pouted,” I had to laugh at her disappointed face as she followed me below deck to our rooms. I took the time to put everything away and hang up my dresses. I put my toiletries in the bathroom and sat on my bed for a couple minutes of quiet to calm my nerves. Maybe if I’d been allowed to do more when I was younger, I wouldn’t be so worried, but looking out on the horizon with nothing but open seas was terrifying.
I didn’t want to spoil our first adventure for Shelly so I put on my big girl panties and smiled thru my fears. Besides I was on a quest to find this very handsome guy, it was exciting to think about maybe meeting someone that appeared to be interested in me. It wasn’t my imagination; we did have a very intense moment. The ships whistle blew signaling that we would be leaving port soon and we wanted to watch as the ship made its way to open seas. Frantic knocking on my door woke me from my thoughts. “Bailey let’s go,” she yelled.
“I’m coming,” I answered as I tucked my key in my shoe and followed my best friend top side.
“This is so exciting,” she gushed as we started walking around the deck again. She took my hand in hers, “I’m so glad we got to do this together. We’re going to have fun you’ll see.”
“I’m certainly hoping so,” I said swallowing back my fear as those blue eyes of my best friend sparkled in the sunlight. Her excitement was infectious and soon I started to relax and embraced her. “I’m sorry I’m such a scaredy-cat.
“You’re not, you’re just a little more cautious than I am and I love you for it. I tend to leap before I look sometimes,” she chuckled.
, I thought to myself as we strolled on this enormous ship. “Dad says you’re a good influence on me.”