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Ship Daze

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Summary

Ella Day soon finds out that being the new Spa Girl aboard a luxury cruise liner brings a lot of winks and smiles her way. She is shocked to find her college crush, Jesse Henderson already working in the Spa as a Fitness Instructor. It seems fate is smiling on them, albeit briefly, as they realize the chemistry between them is still there. That is until new Spa Manager, Marnie, who also happens to be Jesse’s ex-girlfriend arrives onboard. Ella is heartbroken when Jesse and Marnie reunite but a very handsome Italian Officer aptly named Romeo, and a very funny Entertainer, Danny, do their best to help her through her heart ache. Tensions rise and tempers flare as the cruise begins its Transitional Cruise, leaving behind the Mediterranean to relocate to the Caribbean. Five days at sea has everyone losing their minds and hearts. Will Jesse come clean and tell Ella the truth?

Genre:
Romance / Humor
Author:
SarahPaton
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
4
Rating:
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

Ship Daze

Chapter 1

First Contract

Week 1

This is it. This is going to be the best day of my life. American Authors vibrating through my headphones are confirming it. I can’t wipe the smile off my face as I scan the conveyor belt for my bright orange suitcase. Orange had been an unusual choice for me but this was a new chapter of my life, a new beginning, a new me and the bright bold color had called to me. No more subtly blending in, this was it. The new me was going after what she wanted, boldly, brightly, orangely. Whatever that meant, it made sense in my head.

There it is shining like a beacon of hope, steadily rumbling toward me. I say a silent thank you to the Saint of Baggage Control that it’s still firmly closed with no stray knickers hanging out for all to see. I heave it off the conveyor belt and glance around the arrivals hall for the exit, then I stride confidently toward the Nothing to Declare sign, feeling the slight panic that I might have mistakenly packed 40 wild goats, 2 packets of seeds and a packet of bacon in my suitcase. There’s nothing like being English for feeling guilty about things that don’t exist. The dormant butterflies in my tummy begin to dance along with the music in my ears, not long now. As I file through the exit I turn my music down and can’t help feeling I might have landed in America, not Spain. The group of people closest to me are very loudly debating how the coffee here might compare to Starbucks, then lo and behold the Holy Grail is spotted across the hall and they dash over to get their fix. Who knew Starbucks had come as far as the cultural streets of Barcelona, or more accurately the airport terminal?

I glance around for the taxi rank and notice a line of Cruise Representatives checking people off their lists and directing passengers out of the airport terminal to waiting shuttle buses that I can see out of the large glass windows. There are more Representatives in smart navy uniforms waiting with big smiles plastered across their faces next to the buses. I know I can take the easy option and hitch a ride with the passengers but, seriously that would be like turning up to the party in my Grandparents car. Not the first impression I want to make. I’m here for an adventure and its starts right now. I pull my shoulders back and strut purposely toward the taxi rank, one zebra print ballet slipper in front of the other.

A weather beaten taxi driver tosses away his half-finished cigarette and eyes my case suspiciously as I come to a halt in front of him. He silently opens the back door and gestures for me to enter, then he throws my case in the boot, it lands with a thud. Hopefully the non-existent goats are OK. I climb cautiously into the back of the car.

“O’la, uh la ship, gracias.” I smile politely at him. He turns around in his seat I get a waft of cigarette smoke, he looks questioningly at me and raises one hand in a ‘I don’t understand’ gesture. Ok, so he doesn’t understand my unique mix of English, French and Spanish, and this guy calls himself a taxi driver! He must have had hundreds of English tourists in here trying out their holiday vocabulary.

“La bote, la cruise, la ship, la porte.” Note to self stop saying La it’s French not Spanish. He shrugs his weary shoulders this time. Seriously? This guy must be winding me up.

“Water, agua.” This time I accompany my words with a hand wobble imitating, badly I admit, an actual wave action. I swear I see a small smirk at the corner of his lined face. His bushy grey eyebrows raise a little, giving me hope. Then he shrugs again. OK, I’m a complete novice at this, my last option is to get out my contract details and point to the picture of the huge cruise ship on the front page. Now he smiles.

“Ahh gracias Señorita.” He deigns to speak. As if the hundred other people pouring out of the airport terminal and onto the line of buses with Cruise Daze written on the side isn’t a big clue as to my words and actions. Very funny Mr Taxi Driver, very funny. Well two can play that game. I can live up to my dizzy blonde stereotype and not tip you. I give the back of Mr Taxi Driver’s head a sarcastic smile then switch my Ipod back on relieved that his chit chat is non-existent as it leaves me free to gaze in awe as we speed through the ancient streets of Barcelona. The ‘Smile’ playlist I recently created keeps me grinning like a maniac and it’s almost impossible to stop myself singing along to Smash Mouths ‘All-Star’. It’s not long before we’re approaching the Cruise Ship Terminal, my grin is threatening to take over my face as I watch the giant white ships getting closer. There are three lined up in a row. I can’t imagine how petrifying it would be to parallel park a huge million pound vessel, especially with an audience. It makes the fear of parking my Mum’s prized Mini pale in comparison. Mr Taxi Driver turns to me, gesturing to which ship I need. No need to check my notes I point to the one called, ‘The Duchess’. He speeds us over the draw bridge, security wave us past and we pull up alongside The Duchess. He pops the boot of the car and lifts my orange suitcase out placing it down neatly beside me and stands expectantly, waiting. I fumble with my Euros, nervous under his watchful eye. I hurriedly find the correct amount, then added a couple more. Argh, even this new me can’t help feeling guilty and conforming to pressure.

“Gracias Señorita,” he calls after me as I walk quickly away. I give a very unladylike, or should that be un-Duchess like, ‘Humph’ back at him.

I wheel my case over to a sign for Crew Members, behind it is a long thin gangway leading to this beautiful white Duchess basking in the warm sun. Half dragging, half rolling my case along the gangway it announces my arrival with a massive thunk every time it goes over a join in the metal bridge. The dark haired young man watching me from the ship end scans down his clipboard then grins back at me. He doesn’t move from behind his tall narrow desk, doesn’t offer any help, just continues to smile, showing his perfectly white teeth in his handsome tanned face.

“You must be Ella, welcome onboard. I’m Pietro.” He has thick European accent.

“That’s impressive. Am I the only new person today?” I ask surprised.

“No, there’s usually around 20. But you’re the only new Spaaaa Girl.” The way he emphasizes the words ‘Spa’ makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

“Oh right. How do you know I work in the Spa?” I’m confused. He eyes me mischievously up and down. Clearly something about my black skinny jeans, charcoal grey tank top, black knitted cardigan and zebra print flats is screaming out Spa Girl. Or maybe it’s the smooth blonde hair and perfectly applied make-up, not after a 2 hour flight it’s not I tell myself.

“Because all the most beautiful girls do.” He winks, he actually winks at me. Then he turns and picks up the phone on the wall and speaks into it in a language I don’t understand. Obviously, being a pale English girl I blush all the way to my roots. My face is now clashing terribly with my orange suitcase. I could be used to help steer the ship away from dangerous waters at this rate. He replaces the phone and smiles back at me.

“Sophia’s on her way to fetch you. You can wait over there,” He gestures to a bench a short distance away with two rugged guys sat on it surrounded by huge khaki bags, “or stay here and wait with me.” He grins. Neither is very appealing.

“Uh, thanks.” I mumble, still blushing. I shuffle away to hover uncomfortably near the bench. He just keeps on grinning and looking over at me every few minutes, enjoying the effect his words are having on me. Well, this is weird. Hurry up Sophia and please be nice. I look around me taking in the minute detail of the loading area I’m in, determined not to make eye contact with Pietro again. He does not need any encouragement. We are definitely not in guest quarters here. The open square area stretches the full width of the ship. It’s decorated with various heavy industry type equipment at the sides, corridors that go off at different angles. Crew members are hurrying up and down the corridors like a family of ants busy at work, some are smartly dressed in uniforms, but most are in grubby blue overalls. Every now and then they call loudly to each other in various languages. Their voices ricocheting off the metal walls. The noise reminds me of being in the local indoor swimming pool on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Just then a girl appears through a door in the wall that I hadn’t even noticed. She looks in her mid-twenties, and she had the most elaborate up do. Her hair is pulled back into a high pony tail, twists and curls of shiny copper brown hair are secured in place with a smattering of small glittering diamonte barrettes. Her make up is a little over the top for 10 am in the morning, but the dark eyeliner sweeping along her top and bottom lashes frames her bright blue eyes perfectly. She’s wearing a deep burgundy shade on her lips which gives her a very ‘don’t mess with me’ look. She starts talking to Pietro in a language I can’t recognize, Spanish maybe. I wish I spoke another language, I feel so ignorant. They chuckle together then she looks over at me. I flush red again, paranoid much. Her gaze quickly flickers up and down me. I wonder if I’m found wanting. Then she walks over to me. Actually it can’t be described as a walk, she sashays over to me, knowing full well Pietro is watching her she let her hips sway gently with each step. How she can sashay in that tight navy pencil skirt I’ll never know. The affect is mesmerizing and he, nor I, can’t take our eyes off her.

“Hi,” she says in accented English. She holds out a hand to me. Her burgundy nails are immaculate and the same shade as her lips. “I’m Sophia, your new roommate.”

“Hi, I’m Ella.” We both pause for a moment taking each other in, holding eye contact. I’m determined not to be intimidated by her. I wonder briefly if we’ll be friends.

“Ok,” Sophia breaks the silence, “Is this your case? Where are the others?” She glances around for anymore orange cases.

“Oh, it’s just that one.” I tell her. She looked at me and raises a perfectly shaped eyebrow.

“Really?” She pauses briefly, “First contract?”

“Yep.”

She places her hand on her hip and taps her finger to her lip, apparently thinking.

“In six months time when you leave this ship I guarantee you’ll be going home with more baggage than this.” She informs me confidently.

“Do you mean emotional or physical?” I give her a worried smile.

“Both, definitely. Come on let’s go.” She turns on her skinny heels and sashays her hips back towards the hidden doorway as I scuttle after her dragging my case behind me.

“Bye girls,” Pietro calls after us.

“Ciao.” Sophia answers without turning around. The heavy metal door clangs shut behind me, narrowly missing my heel, and the butterflies that had danced so happily in my tummy earlier now turn to moths of terror as I realize I’m trapped for six whole months. What have I done?

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