A few drinks later, I suddenly felt a little giddy and sick, and wondered how much I’d actually had to drink; I never usually drank this much. On top of only a sandwich to eat and way too many hours awake, the alcohol had hit me hard.
“Can we go back to the cabins now?” I asked. My stomach gurgled, and I fervently hoped that Seth hadn’t heard it.
He stood up, pulling me with him; I caught my foot under the table and tripped, but Seth caught me before I fell. The room still seemed to be tilted a bit, and then I remembered that I was on a ship, so that must be normal.
As we headed out, I glanced at the bar to see if Jock was still on duty, but a different guy was behind the bar. Oh well, I’d check in with him tomorrow—just to thank him for the drink.
As we walked back to our little area below the water line, the ship’s tilting felt much worse, like the whole thing was lurching from side to side. Surely that wasn’t normal?
Oh, bollocks, I thought, I’m drunker than I thought.
With that in mind, I concentrated hard on walking as straight as possible, which proved to be an incredibly difficult thing to do given how much my head was spinning.
Ooh, gosh, I thought, squinting down the corridor, I’ve drunk too much. Hope Seth doesn’t mind I’m a bit squiffy…
The hallway seemed to run on forever, and I had a momentary mental panic that I was never going to find my way around. If the ship would just stop moving… I tipped slightly and knocked against the wall, and for a moment thought I was going to topple over. And then I felt Seth’s firm hand beneath my elbow, steadying me. Look at that, I thought fuzzily. Found myself a man who’s funny, strong, chivalrous, sexy…
When we reached the photographer’s area, Seth opened his cabin door and ushered me in. “Just come in for a drink of water and take a load off,” he said. “We don’t want Caitlin thinking you’re a lush.”
I hesitated for a moment before stepping into his cabin. Should I go in? I needed time to think.
Okay, time’s up. Yes…yes, I should. I mean, it was probably just as well I try to sober up a bit before going in to sleep; Caitlin had been lovely earlier in the day, but I didn’t really want to embarrass myself by turning up absolutely plastered on my first night.
I tried to focus on Seth’s cabin. It was pretty much the same as ours, but the top bunk was folded up against the wall.
“Uneven numbers,” he explained, seeing the focus of my attention. “I don’t have to share.” He flipped a switch above the desk and the room sparkled in a wash of fairy lights and added, “Leftover from the previous occupant.”
“Great,” I said, easing myself onto the edge of the bed. Sitting down was definitely a good idea. The fairy lights made everything look soft and romantic, and given that my face tended to go a bit shiny when I’d been drinking, this was a definite plus for me. I looked up at Seth and a silly smile spread across my face. He was so lovely, and he lived right next door. How perfect was that? And it was only the first day.
Seth didn’t seem to notice I wasn’t speaking much, probably because he was putting on music. As a Latin rhythm filled the cabin, he pulled me to my feet and grabbed me around the waist. “I spent a summer in Cuba and learned to salsa,” he said, swivelling his hips like a pro. “Let me teach you.”
I relaxed into his hold, feeling lovely and warm and happy. His arms wrapped around me, like he was protecting me, and then slid a little lower.
“Swing your butt. That’s right.”
As I did as he instructed, I felt sexy and free. I’d needed this. It was exactly the Caribbean fantasy I had envisioned; I should have done it years ago.
Seth and I twirled around the cramped space like experts—or at least it felt like it. We were a swirl of tousled brown hair, sparkling lights, and white cotton polo shirts.
“Time for a turn!” he announced, and lifted my arm to push me awkwardly in a circle. Then, just like a tacky teen movie, he pulled me from the turn into his arms. I was breathing heavily; Seth wiped his forehead with the back of his hand.
I was still laughing when he grabbed my face with both hands and kissed me square on the mouth.
“I’ve been wanting to do that all night,” he confessed. “You’re amazing, you know. I liked you from the moment I saw you.” His face was inches from mine.
“Really?” My battered self-esteem perked up.
“Totally. You’re awesome.” He stroked my arm and then ran his hand up until his fingers were tangled in my hair. My head was spinning, and as Seth leant in to kiss me again, I felt like I was melting in his arms. After years of kissing Dan, I finally discovered what a sexy kiss actually felt like. His lips were warm and soft, and the way he was tracing the outline of my lips with his tongue and nibbling on my bottom lip was very, very erotic. My lady bits fired up with the sweet burn of lust, and my heart was pumping furiously.
On reflection, Dan had kissed like a sucker fish. No wonder I hadn’t felt like sex very often; I’d had to put up with his poor excuse for foreplay first.
The music had become slow and sultry, and I knew what was coming next. Seth pulled off his polo and tossed it aside, revealing a perfectly tanned and athletic torso. Oh, Lordy. My mouth was suddenly dry and I nervously licked my lips, having an eleventh hour panic about whether I still remembered how to do this whole sex thing with someone who wasn’t Dan. Ooh, was that guilt I was feeling? I shoved the feeling away; I’d left Dan. I needed to remember that. I’d nothing to feel guilty about.
Jock’s warning flitted through my mind, but I ignored it, shoving it into a corner of my brain. After all, I wasn’t made of stone.
And on the bright side, I’d had a wax before coming aboard. Just in case.
“Oh Ellie,” Seth murmured, nuzzling my neck, “you’re so beautiful.” He kissed me again and tugged at my shirt.
Wow. Guys like him didn’t fall for girls like me. I’d got so used to seeing myself as a frumpy housewife that it really hadn’t occurred to me that someone like Seth could want me. But there was definitely no doubt about it.
About the Author
Cathryn Chapman nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one country long enough to finally write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.
Contact the Author
Author of SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING Website: www.cathrynchapman.net