Jay and Ann made their way through the wharf-side bustle to the gang plank. A line of couples made their way past the white uniformed purser, checking documents.
Ann looked around and then at the rings on her finger. “It’s so romantic. Isn’t it?”
Jay hugged her as they waited their turn. “Just like in the movies. Only movies move.”
Ann laughed. “You prefer an airport?”
He looked over his glasses at her and said an emphatic, “No.”
“They’ve been predicting teleporting since Star Trek first broadcast. Can you imagine? Text something into the smart phone and, voila! We’re in our cabin. No muss. No fuss…”
Jay resisted crying out “Help me! Help me!” It might dampen their celebratory mood.
“You want to wait ‘til that happens? We don’t have to go…”
“Oh, yes we do, Buster. This is our honeymoon, silly. All part of the atmosphere. We’re going to have so much fun!”
“Yes we will. The Captain will let you run the turn signal or blow the horn…”
“Just don’t make me walk the plank…”
It was their turn. The officer glanced at their documents, and returned them.
Ann danced. “We’re in, baby!”
They scaled the ramp to the main deck and threaded through the crowd to a spot by the railing.
“Everyone gets to the deck and stops. As if no one else is coming.”
“We should catch the next boat. It’ll be better.”
“You never know.”
They looked over the harbor view. Ann held her hat against the breeze. Jay took her picture. He didn’t have to tell her to smile.
“You are so beautiful!”
A gull hung in the air, looking at them as if expecting a tip.
“Can you break a fiver?” The gull swooped away. They laughed.
Ann looked at their paperwork. “Let’s find our cabin.”
“Hope it’s not in the bilge.”
Ann laughed. “Can you imagine…?”
A crew member led them to their cabin. He explained the dinner schedule, and suggested the most popular evening entertainment. They opened the door to see their luggage awaiting them.
Jay tipped him and they entered. Ann shut the door and leaned against it. Jay moved to kiss her.
She whispered, “Did you see?”
“You never knew him… But I could swear Stu was going into the next cabin.”
Jay chuckled. “Your Stu?” She nodded briskly. “Like a bad penny… Was he alone?”
“Well, no matter. We have each other… As long as you’re not…”
Ann scoffed, “Are you kidding? Not at all. He’s history. I love you. You’re my hero!”
“When we enter international waters, your restraining order won’t apply.”
“I hope it won’t come to keel-hauling him. Better make friends with the Captain.”
“I heard his name is Bligh.”
“Or Ahab. I’m terrible with names.”
“Did Stu have his fishing pole in hand?”
“Or his Moby?” She fell into his arms, kissing and laughing. “We are so blessed to have each other.”
“I love you. Let’s skip dinner…”
Ann roused herself next to Jay, on the bed dozing. She kissed him awake.
“I think we’re moving.”
“I hope so. I was afraid it was vertigo.”
“Better get going or we’ll miss dinner.”
Jay sprung to action. “Right. We’re on a schedule now. Hope you’re hungry.” He threw on a shirt and sport jacket.
Ann primped in the mirror. “You have our table number?”
“Everything is on this print-out. You look great! Ready?”
“Let’s hit it.”
They stepped into the corridor and headed to the dining room. The concierge led them to their table. “You’ll be joining another couple. Enjoy.”
Ann froze. “You’ve gotta be kidding…”
Jay glanced at their dinner partners. “I’m not laughing…”
The woman at the table smiled like a Cheshire cat. “So, you decided to join us. Stu’s been drinking for an hour. You’ll never catch up, Jay bird.”
Ann whispered, “Maybe it’s a mistake?”
Jay sang, “I think that maybe I’m dreaming,” under his breath. He stepped forward. “Ann, I don’t believe you’ve met Kirs, my ex-wife.”
Kirsten extended her hand, expecting Ann to kiss it, “That would be Kirsten…”
“What I said, Kirs. And who is this?”
Kirsten beamed, “That’s Stu. We’re honeymooning!” Jay and Stu shook hands.
Jay nudged Ann back to reality.
“Yes! Stu’s my ex-husband.”
“Oh! The Stu you mentioned?”
“Yes. He’s a cop, with the police department. So I always called him Stu P.D. for short.”
Stu laughed. “That’s true. I just realized what the ‘P.D.’ meant. Join us.” He signaled a waiter.
Jay and Ann looked at each other with open mouths and laughed. With a flourish, he offered her a chair. “Milady…”
“Such a gentleman! Thank you…”
Stu ordered drinks for the table. “Put it on my tab.”
Ann leaned into Jay, “Aren’t drinks included with the cruise?” He nodded.
Jay said, “It’s so interesting you two should be together. How did you meet?”
Stu said, “Being with the police, I don’t have much time for a social life. But I’m always around the court house. I figured the divorce court would be a great place to meet single women, so…”
Jay said, “Pay dirt.”
Stu nodded, grinning triumphantly. “In spades, man…”
“Imagine…” Ann fanned herself with the menu. “And so you got hitched?”
Stu said, “My horse to her wagon…”
Kirsten hit the table. “Their loss is our gain. Right Stu?” They slapped a high five.
Jay and Ann said in chorus, “Caveat emptor…” and laughed.
Stu looked at Ann. “I never saw you there, Ann. I worried you would be alone.”
Kirsten moved her arm under the table and Stu pulled away in pain. “Ow!”
“She’s not alone, idiot. She’s with the loser. Remember?”
With tears welling, he slowly nodded.
Ann spoke up, “So, you heard about our getting married?”
Kirsten piped up. “Of course! We laughed ‘til we cried.” She burst into raucous laughter which became a coughing fit. People at other tables stared.
The waiter brought their drinks. Kirsten slurped hers.
Stu patted her back. “She thinks you two are made for each other.”
She croaked. “Like hell…”
“Kirs, you disagree?”
Kirsten shot back, “Always flipping things on their head, Jay? I said, ‘like hell was made for the devil.’ What’d you think I meant? You’ll never change…” She turned to Stu. “See? He always…”
“Just making sure…”
Kirsten refocused. She touched Ann’s sleeve. “I love your beautiful dress, Ann. Look at the detail on it, Stu. Lucky, what you can find at thrift stores.”
Ann smiled. “You didn’t lie, Jay. It’s breathtaking.” He kissed her.
“I propose a toast.” Jay raised his glass to the others. “I hope everyone gets the love they deserve.”
Stu cheered. Kirsten downed her drink and burped.
Ann clinked Jay’s glass. “Signed, sealed and delivered…”
“Let’s eat! Didn’t they say there’d be food?” Kirsten hit Stu’s shoulder. He waved at the waiter. “Stop flirting with him. I want to eat.”
“I’m sorry, guys. But I forgot something in our cabin.” Jay took Ann’s hand. “Come with me.” He stood. “Go ahead, eat without us.”
Stu frowned. “Are you sure?”
Jay said, “Very…”
Kirsten called out, “We have to buddy up. They have shuffle board, Jay. You were always shuffling around.” She laughed and nudged Stu.
Jay and Ann moved away from the table. Jay called back, “I’m sure we’ll see you on ‘A’ deck.”
“Of course! But which one?”
The couple walked into the night.
Jay said, “Don’t skip ‘til we’re out of sight.”
“Thanks for rescuing me. But what’ll we do? I’m starving.”
“We’ll explore. Get creative. Pay someone off. This is a floating city.”
“We can’t sit with them again.”
“That we won’t. And I’ll find food, even if I have to steal it.”
Arm in arm, they walked into the breeze, toward the bow.
“You’re not planning a ‘King of the world’ stunt, are you?”
“Nope. Been done. No future in it.” They kissed. “I don’t want to jinx things, but I’m going to check the lifeboat assignments. Worst case, don’t want to be stuck in a lifeboat with them.”
Ann laughed, “Sink or swim, I’m with you.”
“I think there’s a café down one level.”
She grabbed his hand and they ran, laughing, to the elevator.