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Chapter 5

She spied a row of shops along a hallway leading out to the deck and decided to browse around. A wide range of merchandise displayed at the shops lured her— from clothes, shoes, and accessories, to electronic gadgets, phones, and sex toys, the place catered to guests’ every whim and fancy.

A tall woman walked past her towards the deck. She thought it would be a good idea to check out what was out there and get a bit of sunshine. She strode to the double-doors that automatically opened and let her through.

She stepped out to a breezy summer scene— an olympic-sized swimming pool sat as centerpiece to an arrangement of beach beds and tables for dining al fresco. A long bar stood on the opposite side, ran by two bartenders who entertained themselves twirling and hurling bottles of whiskey like jugglers.

She ordered a mojito and sat on one of the tables near the rails. The salty breeze and the warm sunshine of spring refreshed her senses. She couldn’t remember the last time she spent a moment out in the sun, except in her youth. Don’t squander your youth… she recalled Valerie’s words.

A server came with her drink. “Ma’am, the lady over at the bar asked if she could join you.” He said, pointing to the woman she saw at the hallway. She waved at her.

“By all means, please tell her to come over.” She waved back.

“Hi, I thought it would be nice to chat with someone while I sip my margarita. I’m Jo.” The woman said. She had shiny black hair that fell straight down to the waist, contrasted by an all-white ensemble of harem pants and thin cotton top that barely covered her naked breasts. She exuded confidence and power, but her smile conveyed sincerity and compassion.

“I totally agree, Jo, I’m Iris. Happy to meet another guest who likes her cocktail early in the morning.” She got up and air-kissed her on both cheeks.

Jo took the seat opposite Iris and took a sip of her drink. “I seldom acquaint myself with female guests, they often feel there’s competition, you know. But I got a different vibe from you. I thought maybe we could hit it off. ”

“Maybe because you look like a supermodel who could rock a place the moment you walk in.” She laughed. “Oh, and that vibe could be saying I’m a greenhorn. It’s my first time on the cruise, and still groping around, if you must know.”

Jo smiled at her. “You’re cool, don’t worry. Women should be supporting each other, not compete— that’s why I hate beauty pageants. I think we’re all beautiful creatures, whatever color, shape, or size. Sorry, I talk too much…” She lit a cigarette and offered her one.

“Thanks, I don’t smoke.”

“You mind if I do?”

“Not at all, go ahead.”

Jo took a drag and blew out a thin line of white smoke towards the sea. “You said it’s your first time on the cruise. How did you discover it? The Pleasure Cruise is quite exclusive and secretive.”

“Um… a friend gifted me the ticket.”

“So your friend must know you like thrills and kinks.”

“Not really… she actually thought I needed a break and—and get…”

“Get laid?”

Iris blushed. “Y—yeah, something like that. She knew my sex life had been nil since my divorce …”

“Whoa, you don’t need to tell me anything about your personal life, Iris. We don’t divulge personal information around here. I suggest you keep that to yourself.” Jo ordered another round of margarita. “I’m curious though— so what are your thoughts on casual sex with strangers? We do that a lot here, you know? Are you ready for that?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Jo, I’m not a prude. I already got my first charm not long ago, by the way.” She giggled. “I— I just didn’t give much attention to men, or dating, or sex for years now. But honestly, I’ve been content without it.” She raised her glass for a drink but found it empty, and called for another.

“Sure, but that doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying sex altogether. Women go through phases— from young girls, to blossoming teens, to full-grown women— then there’s motherhood and after that, what’s next? Life in nursing homes?

“Most women think their only role in life is to get fucked by one man who thinks he owns her, make babies, get fucked more, make more babies, and raise them till she’s all spent and grey. Not me… YOLO.”

“You sound like that’s all familiar to you …”

“Because it is. I know a lot of women in situations like that, and I don’t want to be included in the statistics. Just a bit of info about me— my work involved helping women find meaningful lives, and discover their humanity. Because some crooked ideals destroyed it a long time ago, we hardly knew how it happened.

“Religion made that happen— the ugliest thing that ever happened in the history of humans. They teach the concept of good and evil in a different light— they see the human body as shameful, sex as dirty, women as the lesser gender, and homosexuals all go to hell.”

“I totally agree, although, I never thought about it that way until you said it.” Iris was shaken to her core. Although she didn’t subscribe to any religion, she realized that most of her beliefs and behavior stemmed from social standards rooted in religion. She shuddered.

“Forgive me for ranting, but I’m happy to hear that, Iris. Just a piece of advice while you’re here… let go, and give in to your desires. Your future self will thank you for it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, thanks. Although I really have no idea what to do or how to meet other guests… to date.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll meet someone sooner or later. You’re in a safe environment aboard the cruise. We can enjoy freedom without judgement, but it must be done with consent. No one can force himself on you if you don’t want it, and the same goes the other way. Don’t force yourself on anyone too.” She grinned.

“I get it. But what kind of pleasure do guests usually go for? I mean sexually … I hope it’s not too wild that people could get hurt.”

“There’s different strokes for different folks, honestly. There are those who like orgies, or speak dirty during sex… and there are those who are into BDSM— bondage, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism.”

“Isn’t BDSM dark? I don’t know much about it, but it scares me.”

“BDSM is a lifestyle. It’s just play, actually. Nobody gets seriously hurt like getting maimed or something like that. The feeling of inflicting pain or receiving it actually heightens sexual pleasure. You have to try it, find a good dominant to lead you.” Jo said.

“Are you into that lifestyle?”

“Yes, I am.”

“What do you like about it?”

“I like the pleasure it gives me, of course. Depending on my mood, I can switch from a dominant to a submissive. I also enjoy rope bondage, called Shibari, it’s wildly exhilarating.”

“I’m not sure I have the courage to try it, but we’ll see…” Iris laughed.

“Okay, I really loved chatting with you, but I almost forgot I have an appointment with the salon. Thanks for the company, Iris, I’ll see you around.” She got off her seat, blew her a kiss, and sped off.

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