Lion on the Prowl
Lion on the Prowl
Staff on the yacht = doing for those who could do for themselves, but are too lazy. That's how some of the staff sees it, but it is a job.
Singing in night clubs and at private parties, anything that won't put her in the lime-light like her sister, she is happy making a decent living. that is all she wants.
But it isn't what everyone else wants. She has a voice that would take her far.
Jena has a three-week lull in her job. Cancellations never happen, and she can't see sitting around for that long. Westley, a friend, tells her about the next cruise he'll be working, and talks her into applying.
There, Jena finds too much stress trying to keep from being 'discovered'.
Why do others want to make money with her voice? She saw, up close and personal, what happens when one is set on the road to fame and fortune, and it's not for her!
CARRYING HER guitar case and purse onto the large yacht, her eyes were wide as she took in the richness of her surroundings. She had seen several such vessels from the beach, tied up at the
piers, but this was the first time she’d gotten this close to one.
She followed the man carrying her large suitcase and overnight bag, walking down two flights of stairs. Her cabin was among the rooms set aside for the hired staff. Jenà stopped just
outside the door the man had opened for her, looking in.
The room was small. On her left were bunks attached to the wall. Opposite them, a dressing table with mirror. On either side were drawers, built into the wall. A closet was at the head of the bed, a small door, the bath, at the far end of the room.
“The woman you will be sharing this room with is not here yet. The head cook will appreciate your being early.” The man spoke slowly, precisely. “When you have your things put away, you may report to the galley. You will find uniforms in the pantry.”
Strange place for uniforms, she thought, thanking the man for showing her to her cabin. There was no answer, except the snap as he quietly closed the door between them.
Westley had told her to pack lightly, as she’d be seeing very little sunlight and no fun on the three-week trip. Hoping he was wrong, she had brought something for any occasion that
might arise. Hanging her dresses and blouses in the small closet, she chose the drawers on the left of the mirror and finished unpacking. It was a tight squeeze, but she stowed the two pieces
of luggage in the bottom of the closet, putting her two extra pair of shoes on top of the larger case. Her guitar in its case would have to remain out, leaning in a corner.
Before she went back up the stairs, she ran a brush through her dark brown hair, pulling it back with a scarf. It hung past her waist, not the length to be in the kitchen with. She had been
seriously thinking of cutting it, as it had been blamed for the headaches she had quite often.
“What beautiful hair!” The exclamation came from the doorway, where stood a woman of about thirty. Her hair was nearly as dark as Jenà’s, though it was above her shoulders, which
looked a lot easier to care for. “What I wouldn’t give for hair that long and perfect.”
“Jenà Wisdom.” She walked to the woman, a hand outstretched. “You must be my roommate.”
“Jenni Powers. I was told I would find you here.” They briefly shook hands. “Your first trip?” Something about her said she was green.
“Yeah, and am I nervous as a calf facing the branding iron,” Jenà told her. “I’ve never done anything like this before. A friend of mine helped me find this job. He’s supposed to be
“Just hang in there, Jenà. You’ll run onto him sometime today. I wouldn’t mind showing you around. I’ve been at it nearly ten years, but rarely with the same people.” She set her
overnight bag, the only thing she carried, on the bottom bunk. “I hope you aren’t afraid of heights, too.”
“I don’t mind the top.” Jenà put her brush in the top drawer. “I should go up and find where I’m supposed to report in.”
“Hey, wait for me. I won’t be but a few minutes. I’ll go with you. It’s my fifth time aboard this baby, so I know where everything is.” Jenni quickly got busy emptying the few things she had brought, mostly her under garments.
Jenà stood by the door watching. “Wes told me to pack light, but I wasn’t sure. I was afraid I’d get stuck without something in the middle of the ocean, if you know what I mean.” She felt she had to say something about the near full closet.
“I remember how it was. I believe it was my tenth trip before I actually left it all home.” She set her overnight case on top of the one already in the closet. “A guitar! Do you play?” She watched Jená’s smiling nod. “Good. That will break the monotony of the trip. I suppose that
means you sing, too?”
“Yes.” She answered enthusiastically. “I enjoy singing. I only took this job because I had several weeks of nothing to do.”
“Oh.” Jenni didn’t understand what she meant, but wasn’t nosy enough to ask. “I guess we’d better get up there. I’m sure it’s the same chef, and if it is, we’ll have work from time on to
time off. He don’t allow for slouching.”
As they walked up the two flights of stairs, they continued their conversation. “It’ll make time go faster.”
“I guess you’re right.” Jenni wasn’t too enthused, her tone sounded the emotion. “Personally I’d trade places, you know, let these old stuffed shirts wait on me. But,” she spoke on a sigh, “I’d probably get tired of that after the first week.”
Jenà stopped, looking at her roommate. “Old? But Wes said that Mr. Ayers was young, and that I should watch out for him because he thinks he’s God’s gift to women. A real playboy.”
Jenni laughed. “So true. I was speaking in general, though. Most the people I’ve worked for are older. Mr. Ethan Ayers is thirty, thirty-one. And he puts the make on every woman,
except hired help.” They were walking into the dining area as Jenni continued talking. “So, you don’t have to worry, Jenà. Though you’re pretty enough to need warning, and young enough.” She moved closer to the other’s ear and whispered, “He likes them young, you see.”
“That’s good to know. I mean about being safe because I’m working for him.” She stopped beside the woman, waiting to see what was next.
“Well, it’s about time I got some help.” A large man dressed in white came from around the hanging pots and pans in the middle of the room. “I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to do it all myself.” He set the vegetables he carried on the counter beside him, wiping his hands on his once-spotless apron. “Hello again, Jenni. And who is this yung’un?”
“Jenà Wisdom.” She offered her hand to him. “I was told to report here for duty.”
His laughter filled the room, echoing out in the dining area. “I’m going to like you, Jená.” He hugged her, ignoring the well manicured hand she had offered. “Edward Fincher,
better known as Flapjack. Let me show you where to find the uniforms and schedule.”
“I can do that much for her, Flap. I have to do for myself as well.” Jenni walked ahead of him, pulling Jenà with her. “You just make sure His Majesty’s cuisine doesn’t boil over or burn.”
“Schedule?” Jenà questioned when they were alone in the pantry. “I thought we worked when it was mealtime.” Her smile showed embarrassment at her ignorance.
“No. There’s too much to do. It’s a constant run for these people.” Jenni was going through the black dresses that were hanging at the far end of the well-stocked pantry. “You’ve got those that like their meals at seven, twelve and five, nothing in between. Then there are others that like snacks between meals. And there seems to be a constant thirst needing to be quenched, either with liquor, juice or coffee. And when you aren’t doing for their stomachs...”
“You made it!” Westley had come into the room where they were, interrupting Jenni’s continuous chatter. He was beside Jenà in a few quick steps, holding her above the ground, twirling her around.
“Wes! You’re making me dizzy. Put me down.” When she was safely on her feet again, she changed her tone. “Do you know Jenni from before?” She asked, as they both had been doing this type of work for years.
“Sure.” He quickly said. “We’ve been on the same ship a lot of times. How ya been doin’ kid?” He still held Jenà, nodding at the other woman, then turned back to the one in his arms. “You’re still looking as great as the last time.” Lowering his head, he claimed a quick kiss before looking through the clothes for himself.
Jenni handed several uniform dresses to Jenà before speaking. “No, I don’t think this trip is going to be so boring after all.” With three dresses hung over her arm, she disappeared,
leaving the couple alone in the room.
“I don’t understand.” Jenà was puzzled by the woman’s quick change in moods. “One minute she’s talking up a storm, the next she’s storming out with hardly a word!” Still standing in the spot he’d set her in, she looked toward the door as if Jenni might reappear.
Westley clicked his tongue several times. “Well, you see... Jenni and I were a thing a couple of years back. I guess she still holds a grudge.” Having gotten the things he needed, he walked up behind her. “She’s past. You’re present, mon cher.”
His lips on her neck were irritating, rather than the sensation he was trying to bring her, and Jená was about to struggle away from him when a shadow came over the room.
The large man who ran the kitchen stood in the doorway, clearing his throat quite loudly. “Westley, you remember the rules about the help fraternizing? We still don’t put up with it. You will report to the kitchen in ten minutes. I’ve a lot of potatoes to be peeled.” He didn’t wait for
He had moved away from her at the first sound made by the chef. “Well...” He didn’t seem to know what to say.
“Jenni was going to show me the schedule, but she must have forgotten when you came in.” Jenà had turned to face him, asking for his help now.
Her hand in his, she was taken to a corner desk. “The schedule is here.” He put his finger on the paper pinned to the wall at eye level. “It’s made up for the entire cruise, so you don’t get confused. We’re both on the evening shift.” His finger continued running down the list, pausing beside Jenni’s name for a few seconds. She was on morning shift.
His arm came around her as he turned her, about to kiss her again. With the desk behind her, the only thing she knew to do was move her head away to discourage him.
“I don’t know what the consequences are, Wes, but we’ve been warned once already. Please. Though I don’t need this job, I wouldn’t want anything going against my good record. I may find I like this kind of work and quit the other.”
“Quit singing?” Westley sounded shocked. “Jenà, you couldn’t do that.” He dropped his arms from her, stepping back, checking for seriousness. “One day you’ll be discovered.”
“One day.” Taking the clothes, Jenà almost ran from the pantry, not stopping until she reached her room. Jenni was gone, so she closed the door and began stripping, hanging up the
clothes she had worn for the drive to Savannah. The black dress was simple, plain was more the word. Its white collar and sleeve bands added something to the plainness. It wouldn’t have been
what she would have chosen, had she been the one in charge. But she wasn’t, so she wouldn’t complain. At least the young millionaire didn’t have his help dressing in something frilly that didn’t cover everything! A giggle came from her as she opened the door to return to the kitchen.
The full staff was on duty that first afternoon, getting the guests comfortable, seeing to their needs. Whims, was what Jenà called them. Next to her own needs, those of the guests were overwhelming.
Mr. Ethan Ayers seemed to be everywhere at once. Everywhere she was, he was, though she knew it had to be coincidental. He had to make sure his guests were being treated well.
She was assigned the dining room late in the afternoon. Her job was to get ready for the meal that would be served in an hour. In the walk-in cooler, she was told, she would find the
fresh flower centerpieces for each table. The lace tablecloths she was given were beautiful, so delicate, she was afraid she might tear them. She learned how to fold the cloth napkins just so, a bit of fun for her. The silverware, and that was just what it was, was to be placed just so. There
was so much of it for each person, she giggled as she worked. When Flapjack came in to warn her of the time, she had just stepped back to admire her work.
“Very nice.” He said in a tone that puffed her pride. “Very nice, indeed.” The large cook turned to her after surveying the tables, taking her hands. “I believe we found the addition to our staff we’ve been looking for.”
“Thanks, Flapjack. I enjoyed it. I didn’t realize a job could be so much fun.” She could hear the diners coming into the room. “What do I do now?” she whispered to the man who had taken her arm.
He walked her into the kitchen before answering. “You’re by far the prettiest woman we have on staff. I want you in the dining room to fill and refill the drinks. Do you think you could handle that job as well as you did the tables?”
She blushed at his compliment. “I... I... guess so.” She stuttered, blushing all the more, looking down at the fresh apron he wore.
“Good. Everything will be just fine, then.” He explained the proper etiquette to be used, stressing the importance of being seen and not heard. She could nod if she needed to answer, but she was to keep her mouth shut, preferably with a smile.
By the end of the meal, the smile was nearly frozen there. It was a real test not to answer questions, but she made the hour without a peep. A quick glance toward the kitchen door several
times, let her know Flapjack was keeping an eye on her. He winked each time their eyes met, telling her he was pleased with how she was doing her assignment. It was the way Mr. Ayers had
been looking at her, the two times she had locked eyes with him, that bothered her most.
Helping clean up, it was nearly midnight before she and Jenni crawled into their bunks. Jenà’s loud sigh was echoed below her. The noise of the silence was almost too much for her
“How was the day for you?” She asked Jenni. The silence continued so long, she wondered if her question would go unanswered.
The first words came on a heavy sigh. “Not bad. As normal as ever. How about you?” Jenni’s voice told the woman above her how tired she was.
“It was great. You sound exhausted. What time do you have to get up?” Her eyes closed, as she felt a slight movement that must have been the ship moving with the current. So far, she hadn’t really detected much of that, which must have been because of how busy she had been kept.
“Four.” The woman whispered back. “I hope it won’t bother you. I know you work late tomorrow night. They really should have put the same shifts together in the same rooms.”
“Yeah. It probably would have worked out better that way. Well, goodnight, Jenni.” Jenà rolled over, letting the excitement of the day die down. She hoped she wouldn’t find it hard to go to sleep so early, as she was used to singing until twelve or so, then going out for a meal and drinks with friends until two or three in the morning. Being on the late shift was going to be
just right for her.
“Good night.” Jenni replied in a whispered sigh, turning over in the small bed.
AN ALARM clock went off in the dark room, waking her, after finally finding sleep somewhere near three. The woman below stirred, as they both got their bearings as to where they were and why, then the buzzing was shut off. The sigh that came from below was weary.
Silently Jená wished her good luck, turning over toward the wall, slipping back into sleep, knowing she would be going on at two, as her roommate got off. She knew they would get used to the hours after a few days.
At eleven that night, Jenà let out a heavy sigh. She had just finished wiping the last counter and was ready for bed, feeling the lack of several hours of sleep she could have gotten if
Westley hadn’t awaken her at eight that morning. Covering a yawn, she placed the rag under the hot water, rinsing it before putting it over the rack to dry.
Arms came around her as his lips caressed her neck. “Did you have a good day?” He whispered in her ear.
“If I had been allowed to sleep longer, the day would have been just great.” Pushing at his arms, she walked away from him. “If you don’t mind, Westley, let me wake on my own from now on.” Jená rarely used his full first name, signaling that she was not happy with him.
Walking beside her as they left, just an inch between them, he smiled at her. “Your wish is my command. I apologize again, Jenà. I thought with your roommate gone...” He let his words drift before speaking again. “We could have taken advantage of the room...”
“Well, as I explained to you earlier, Romeo, this girl isn’t interested in any of your games.” Going down the stairs, her voice got softer, not wanting to wake either the guests on the second floor, nor the staff on the third.
“I’ll make you fall in love with me, Jenà. You’ll see.” He had promised her this twice that day. “I respect your feelings of wanting to wait for love. There aren’t too many girls who feel that way anymore.”
She stopped outside her room, turning, whispering quite loudly. “Remembering this morning, most girls would find it hard to resist such a come-on.”
“Please don’t be mad about this morning. I apologized twice. I promised I’d be good from now on.” He pinned her against the wall with a hand on either side of her shoulders, looking into her blue eyes.
“I can see you’re going to keep that promise, too.” Sarcasm came out with her words. “I’m very tired, Westley. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go to bed. Alone.” The last word was a bit more than a whisper.
He leaned a little closer, whispering so quietly she had to read his lips almost cross-eyed. “Just a goodnight kiss?”
“No!” She turned her head as he got closer, her eyes settling on, none other than, Ethan Ayers’ grinning face.
He chuckled, getting Westley’s attention. “Can’t resist a pretty woman, Mr. Marx? Either you’ve lost your touch, which would be a shame so early in life, or you have just met a
very strong will.”
Westley took a step back as his arms dropped to his side. “Mr. Ayers.” He
acknowledged his employer, then turned back to Jenà with a wink as he spoke. “I’ll say goodnight, then.”
Quickly she ducked into her room, feeling the heat in her cheeks. In total darkness she made her way through the small room to the bathroom for a quick shower before she tried to get the sleep she needed. Closing the door before flipping on the light, she leaned against it, catching her breath before starting the water. She prayed that her employer wouldn’t feel she
was at fault at what he had witnessed. Hopefully he had heard most of their conversation, though they were whispering.
Standing before the small mirror, she took her hair out of the ponytail holder. The thought returned to her. Cut it, half of her said. No, don’t, the other half argued back.
Hoping the brightness wouldn’t bother Jenni, she opened the door, letting the bit of light from the smaller room be the only thing to help her locate the small sewing basket in her second drawer, and the pair of scissors in it. She was going to do it. It would grow back if she didn’t like it.
In the bathroom again, she closed the door. Putting her hair back in the elastic band, moving it down a little past her shoulders, she held it with one hand while positioning the other
hand holding the scissors. Closing her eyes, she used her sense of feel, cutting it two inches above the holder. With a deep sigh, she brought the ponytail in front of her. It was done. It couldn’t be put back.
Laying the hair across the vanity, she shook her head, feeling as if she had lost a hundred pounds from her neck. Carefully she trimmed what was left until it looked even to her.
Washing what remained of her hair was a new experience. Towel drying it felt good. As she used the blow dryer, she shaped it with the brush. It had a natural under curl, barely reaching
her shoulders when she was finished.
After climbing into her bed, she found sleep very quickly. As she was drifting off to the other side, the thought of her hair laying in the bathroom entered her mind. She knew she should put it in a drawer, but she couldn’t get her body to move. She would take care of it when she woke up.
IT WAS a squeal that brought her from the deep sleep. The room was dimly lit, what light she could see was coming from the small room in the back. Sitting up, she found the ceiling rubbing the top of her head.
“What is it, Jenni?” The sleepy voice went through the room.
“You cut your hair!” was the answer, as the woman came in from the bath holding the two feet plus of ponytail in both hands. Her eyes were wide as she stared from the woman to the hair. “You cut your hair!” she repeated, still unbelieving.
“Yes,” she slowly answered to the crime. “I did, didn’t I?” She lay back, hoping to get more sleep. “You can have it, if you want. I’m just going to toss it out. It’s almost your color. Make a wig.” Her voice was soft, speaking of the need for more rest.
"Jená, how could you?” As if it was breakable, she laid it on the dressing table with great care. “I just can’t believe you did that.” Her words were drowned out when she went into the smaller room, shutting the door.
When she opened her eyes again, she pushed the small button on her watch for the light. It was after eleven. If given the opportunity, she could really enjoy a dark room all the time for sleeping. The undisturbed sleep, after Jenni’s outburst, had done her a world of good.
After dressing, she took her guitar out to the staff lobby. There had been two whole days gone by that her fingers hadn’t touched the strings, nor had her voice been properly stretched as it
should have been.
With no one around, she felt she had the needed space to warm up and sing to her heart’s content. Strumming the familiar cords, she began humming a tune. As she opened up, her voice rang out, and some of the staff began coming out to see who had the cassette player up so loud. Westley was in the crowd, she noticed. He had heard her sing in different places, having met her at The Orange Paradise, where she had been engaged about ten weeks before.
After she ended her fourth song, the gathering crowd again applauded, calling for yet another encore. She was very aware that Westley had moved behind her. When her fingers began picking at the strings again, she felt his fingers in her shortened hair. She shook her head, letting him know she wanted him out of it, as her voice picked up once again.
As she put the guitar away, having had all the exercise she wanted for a while, she stood. Several complimented her, others said she should go to the studio with her voice. She smiled and started walking to her room.
“Delilah get hold of you during the night?” His words came from close behind her. When she didn’t answer, he moved between her and the door she was about to open. “What happened? I mean, it looks great and all, but...”
“I got tired of it. I decided if I didn’t like it, it would grow back. So far, I like it.” She put her case against his side, trying to move him out of her way. “If you’ll forgive me, I’d like to get changed before I go to work.” She was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt.
“Too bad the uniforms can’t be more...” His eyes went hungrily over her body. “The boss might change his mind if he got a look at you now.” With the guitar case pushing against him, he decided to step aside.
“Speaking of bosses... I hope he told you off last night.” She turned in her open doorway, blocking it so he couldn’t enter behind her, hoping to hear that he had heard the worst.
“Who? Mr. Ayers?” He laughed as he spoke. “That bit about rules, dear sweet thing, is old Flap’s rules, nothing more. The boss sees nothing wrong with grabbing what you can, when
you can. He isn’t the ‘do as I say, not as I do, kind of guy.”
Her expelled breath was in disgust. “Well, I see a lot wrong with that philosophy.” Jenà slammed her door as hard as she could. The nerve of some men. Was it really like that? Her
thoughts were so loud in her mind, she wondered if she had actually said the words. Was her employer a ruthless playboy?
Thinking back on the night before, she remembered how Mr. Ayers had laughed at Westley’s unsuccessful attempts. Thank goodness she was hired help, she found herself thinking
again. She had the feeling her boss would enjoy a challenge like her. Would he see her as that? Would he change his rules and go after her? She wasn’t conceited, but she knew she looked
good, and had had her fill of men who thought she should be falling all over them.
“Of course not.” She finally spoke aloud. “He has his hands full of rich women upstairs.” Why would her thoughts turn to Mr. Ayers in such a way? Was she looking at him as a challenge for herself? She had her hands full keeping Westley at a distance. Ethan Ayers didn’t need to be added to the problems she already had. Besides, Ethan Ayers was way out of her league, if she was in one to begin with.
Actually, she wasn’t looking for anything, she reminded herself. Sitting on the bottom bunk, she surveyed her life as it was. She was almost twenty-four. Maybe it was time she started looking for a man to settle down with. If she wanted to raise any kind of a family, and enjoy them, she had better start looking seriously. As soon as she got back home she would, she
All through the evening she scurried here and there, doing for others, wishing for fresh air. She thought about asking to trade with one of the staff assigned to the deck, but didn’t have the courage. The closer time got to her off-duty hours, the more she thought about sneaking outside before retiring to her room for the night. She knew the only staff allowed out in the fresh sea air were those who were serving the guests who lounged on deck. Even off-duty, it was off-limits to the workers.
Getting the last of her work done, she found Westley behind her. “All finished?” She answered him with a nod. “I’ll be finished in about ten, fifteen minutes. Care to wait for me?”
“No, I do not.” Jenà’s words were anything but nice. “I’m sorry, Westley.” She turned as she apologized. “I shouldn’t take it out on you. I’m tired and I want to get out in the air.
What would happen if I was found out on the deck?”
“I’ve never been caught, so I couldn’t tell you.” He walked her to the dining room door. She stored away the information, with a slight smile, that he had said he hadn’t been caught, not that he hadn’t gone out there. “I’ll meet you out there and if we get caught, I’ll take the blame, tell the boss I forced you out there, all right?”
“No. I couldn’t let you do that. Maybe I should just go to bed. Goodnight, Westley.” She was stopped before she took her first step toward the stairs.
“Meet me outside. I need some air, too. What can I do to you out there?” His smile remained with her all the way down to her room.
Quietly she changed into a pair of jeans and knit pullover, slipping out of her work shoes for tennis shoes. Closing the door quietly, she headed up the stairs again. Westley would be
about finished, she was sure, or most probably already waiting for her.
The front of the ship’s deck was empty when she arrived, all lights had been turned off, telling her all the guests were down in their suites. Taking a deep breath of salty air, she leaned against the four foot rail, watching the movement of the water against the ship below her. She had never seen the sky so bright with stars. The moon, just coming up, was a small sliver. It was a night for romance, she thought. She could imagine herself out on a night like this, being part of the cruise as the hostess, with the man she loved. How could she go back downstairs? How could anyone be so cruel as to make his servants stay below, inside?
As she was thus with her thoughts, his hands came to her arms, turning her around. She didn’t have time to say anything, or even catch a glimpse of him, before her lips were covered. Her sharp intake of air told of the pleasure his kiss was bringing to her, and unconsciously she arched her body toward him. Never had Westley kissed her like that. Never had he felt so
It’s the night, she told herself. Feeling his hands run down her back to her buttocks, her instincts kicked in. The arms that were around his neck pulled back, her hands going to his strong chest, though there was hardly any room between their bodies. She began to fight him.
He was stronger, more experienced than she, knowing how to bring out feelings she’d never experienced, and she began to enjoy. No she began to crave what she was feeling. He kept
her pinned against him, demanding that she relax, to part her lips even more and let him take control of her emotions. Slowly her fight did leave, her hands remaining on the powerful chest muscles, as she let him take control. Her senses weakened, those that were there to warn her of the dangers she was allowing in. The other senses she knew nothing about were sharpening.
She knew her heartbeat must have been beating as if she were running the New York marathon, and her hands felt his quicken also. The knowledge that she excited him weakened her more. So weak were her knees that he was holding on to her to keep her from falling to the deck. The kiss continued, as he explored within her mouth, tangling with her tongue. He held her so close to him, she felt a part of him.
When he ended the kiss, she knew she couldn’t have, she laid her head on his chest, listening to the galloping heartbeat inside him. With that kind of kiss, she knew he would completely weaken her defenses that were keeping her innocent. She moved her hands from his chest, running them around his middle, clasping them behind his back. He was still very much holding her up.
“I didn’t expect that.” His voice was deep, the words spoken slowly, huskily. It wasn’t Westley’s voice. The familiar baritone was the one she had heard the night before, after she had turned Westley down.
Her hands were back on his chest, pushing with all the strength she could find, her eyes trying to focus on his face. The gasp from her now, seemed to bring added strength. The trembling she had felt with the weakness he had produced in her, didn’t compare to how she was shaking now.
“My. Ayers!” Jená couldn’t think straight. “I’m sorry. I thought you were Westley.”
His voice held a slight chuckle, one he was trying to hold back. “I don’t know how to take that, Miss Wisdom.” His eyes were sparkling with the laughter that hadn’t yet come out vocally. “I didn’t think he had that kind of touch with you.”
“He doesn’t.” She shook her head, then realized what she had implied. “I mean... I...” Frustration was holding her prisoner now, and she couldn’t put the words out to him as she would like. “I should be downstairs.”
His smile grew by the second. “Yes, you really should. You do know you aren’t supposed to be out here?”
“Yes, sir. I know. I just got so... I don’t know.” She needed him to release her so she could concentrate on what she was saying. “I needed some fresh air, and I thought it was late
enough that no one would know.” She sighed, starting to struggle against his hold, which he wouldn’t relax a bit. His hands were still where they shouldn’t be, holding her hips pressed hard against his.
“You were planning to meet Westley out here?” At his question, she ducked her head, nodding her answer. “I see.” His voice was thoughtful. “And you thought he would try doing just what I did?”
Again she nodded. “With the night sky... I thought I had let it get to me,” her cheeks flamed, though it was too dark for him to see, “not him.” She finished the last two words so quiet, she wasn’t sure he had heard them.
“So, I got to you?” He spoke as though he was amused, surprised, but she knew he was not. Then he changed the subject. “Do you feel better having gotten some fresh air?” As if he had finally read her thoughts, he moved his hands up her back, keeping her within a few inches of him.
“Yes.” She whispered. “Well, I was beginning to feel better.” Her voice grew louder than the whisper. “Now I’m just confused as to how I feel.” She should learn how to put a hold on her tongue, she told herself.
“Confused? Did I do that, too?” His question was mocked innocence, for he knew damn well what he had done to her. She, in fact, had the same effect on him, a new experience for him. No woman had such power over his senses before. “Should we try to undo that?”
So inexperienced, she looked up into his eyes. “Undo?” His arms were pulling her closer, his head was bending down to hers. Her struggles did nothing to stop his advance.
In less than a second, the fight she had felt was gone. She let her body be held as he had before. He commanded, she obeyed. There was a strange feeling, as if she were being lifted, but so engrossed was she in the way they were nearly one, that she ignored the feeling. Though the sensation changed to being carried off, her thoughts were on what his lips were doing to her, she couldn’t have thought of much more.
The movement stopped and her mind was alerted to his having opened a door behind her. She wasn’t standing on her feet, he had carried her to his suite on the second floor. She couldn’t
remember, not really, how she had gotten there. This time, it was she who ended the long kiss.
“Put me down this minute, Mr. Ayers,” she demanded in indignation. “I’m not one of your women. I’m not in your league. I’m part of the hired help.” The words tumbled off her tongue, she couldn’t have stopped them if she’d been trying.
He still held her, looking down at her with genuine amusement at her words. His brown eyes held more than just distraction, which frightened her. “Where on earth have you heard all
She was blushing, so much she could see the red from her cheeks reflecting on his white shirt. “The staff talks, Mr. Ayers.” She quietly supplied. “First I was warned to beware of you,
because you devour women like me. Then I was told you stuck to rich women, putting the make on every one you come in contact with, but never the hired help.”
“Hm-m-m.” He kissed her just below her ear, whispering as he did. “You mean like this? And maybe this?”
“Please, Mr. Ayers.” She couldn’t keep her voice from sounding weaker as he continued assaulting her very sensitive skin. “Please put me down. Let me go to my room where I belong.”
Using his foot, he closed the door to the hall, walking into the spacious room. If her eyes had been open, she would have seen that it was a sitting room. She’d have also known he was
walking through another doorway, going into his bedroom, where he closed that door, too.
The sound of the second door broke the trance he had put her in. “No, Mr. Ayers.” She shook her head quite hard, trying to clear her mind as she let him know she meant it.
“It’s Ethan, Jenà. And, yes.” He tried to kiss her lips again, but she moved her head to the side. “I feel the want in you, as much as in myself. I know you feel it.” At his bed, he set her down. The mattress beneath her moved. Seeing the expression on her face, he grinned. “Have you never made love in a waterbed?” He sat beside her, as she tried to get up.
“No!” Her squeal wasn’t meant to come out so squeaky and loud. “And I’m not going to, Mr. Ayers.”
“After leading me on the way you did?” He watched as her blue eyes widened, her mouth trying to form words, her cheeks flaming with the renewed blush.
“Leading you on?” She was finally able to squeak out. “I wasn’t leading you anywhere, Mr. Ayers. It was you who took control.” Her attempts to get away from him were getting her nowhere.
Jená.” He whispered her name as his arm came around her. He laid her back and joined her, despite her harder struggle to get up.
“I really didn’t mean to give you the impressions you got.” Her voice had fear surrounding each word. “Honestly, I didn’t.”
He sat up, keeping his dark brown eyes on her, his hand resting on her stomach ever so lightly. “Just how much experience do you have teasing men, Jenà?” He spoke quietly, though there was an anger beneath his composure, feelings he was allowing her to see only a glimpse of.
With difficulty, then with his helping hand, she sat, then stood. “I’m sorry, Mr. Ayers. I can’t claim any experience with men, in that way.” She turned from him, hiding the tears that
had come to her eyes. How she wished she could run from him, but where could she go? This was his ship, and they were out in the middle of nowhere.
When his large, warm hands touched her arms, she stiffened as she wiped at her wet cheeks. “I’m sorry, Jenà.” His whispered words were sincere. “I had no idea.” He turned her to him, bringing comfort with his arms this time. “The way you kissed me... There’s usually a lot of experience coming from that kind of...”
She could hear his heart beating, slower now, as she again rested her face against his chest. “I’ve never been kissed in that way. I’m sorry I responded to you in such a way.”
His chuckle deepened her blush, he could feel the heat through his shirt. “Let’s not say that. I certainly am not sorry.” His moving hands on her back were creating feelings in her that only deepened her confusion. “You’ve done something to me, Jenà. I can’t put my finger on it, but I like how it feels.” His voice deepened as he spoke.
Leaning back from him, she looked into his eyes. They were a softer brown, gentle, no sign of the hunger she had seen before. The smallest smile touched the lips she watched, longed
for. “I made you step out of your circle of friends?” She tried to help him put a name to how he felt, not knowing what it could be.
He closed the eyes she wanted to see. “I think you had better run along to your room, Jenà.” He spoke to her as if she were a child. “With you standing here, I’m so tempted to relieve you of your innocence.” His voice had picked up some of the earlier, husky sound. His eyes remained closed.
“Mr. Ayers?” She remained in his arms, as neither seemed to want to move. When he finally looked at her, she wanted to melt against him. “How can I say thank you for understanding?” She laid her head on his chest again, listening to the beat that had picked up in rhythm again. “I’m so confused,” she confessed to him. “Part of me wants to stay with you, but I’m not sure how I would feel...”
He brought her chin up, looking into the blue eyes that all but begged him to ask her to stay. “You are a she-devil, sent to torture me.” He bent his head to claim her lips once more,
and again found her more than willing to return pleasure for pleasure. “Before we return home,” his eyes made the promise with his words, making her stiffen again, “I will have you, sweet
innocent child. But not tonight. It isn’t for tonight.” With a sharp slap on her backside, he sent her off toward her room.
She found she couldn’t answer him, wanting to tell him he would be disappointed, that she wouldn’t allow that, but the words wouldn’t come out. All the way to her room, she vowed to stay away from him the remainder of the cruise. She prayed for a way to accomplish that impossible task.
<<<< jc >>>>