Monday, April 17, 2017
December 13, later (Part 1)
There is only one thing better than taking a sea cruise under a sunny blue sky, and that’s taking a sea cruise under the stars. Being on the looking-glass expanse of water reflecting the night sky is astounding.
There was a dining room inside the cabin on the bottom deck, but the crew set up a circular table in the open air. They served one of the most incredible meals I’d ever had. Course after course of delectable fruits, soups, vegetables, and meats were placed before me, each dish better than the last. Dessert was a kind of pastry filled with a chocolate sauce. It had a spice element that left my tongue tingling with both a hint of heat and sumptuous enjoyment.
The festive Zelts had retired, making way for a Plasian man who played a stringed instrument that wove enchanting melodies over our meal. I learned that the musicians and staff had their berths below decks. Our quarters were also there, but passengers had the outer rooms. “For windows?” I asked.
Cifa shook his head. “We use window vids rather than the real thing for safety reasons. But there is a special accommodation that requires being near the hull. I’ll show you when we retire for the night. I want it to be a surprise.”
Since I like the surprises I’ve gotten from him so far, I didn’t press for details.
We’d partied pretty much the whole day…some of us more sedately than others. Cifa, Erom, and Ila had kept their heads as the new ship went through her paces. Joelle and I had our fun, but we also stayed sober to care for Anrel. I was touched to see Joelle take her responsibilities as a grandma seriously, though I hadn’t asked her to do so.
I got the idea that Seot and Larten had kept themselves from getting plowed as well. They and Cifa were as devoted to Anrel and me as ever, making sure we had everything we needed or wanted. Even with that, I couldn’t complain that they smothered me. When I separated to have a conversation with someone, they didn’t hover, letting me have space to get to know their clans-in-law…or however they refer to it.
We’d had a glorious time, but I think everyone was more than ready to retire when it grew late. I certainly was glad to take Anrel on her off-to-bed tour for one last round of adoration from everyone. Then I descended to below decks to where our stateroom awaited.
Cifa led our little entourage down a corridor that was as impressive as any place I’d ever seen. At first I thought the walls were all vids, the panels depicting aquariums of several small types of sea creatures from many different worlds. A few were even Earther species.
Anrel leaned in the Imdiko’s arms to yell excitedly at the fish-things. Cifa paused to let her have a good look at one panel showing colorful amoeba-like blobs. She banged her hand against it, and the blobs scattered.
“Are those actual aquariums?” I asked.
“Absolutely. It isn’t feasible from a cost standpoint for the larger ships to have entire corridors of tanks, but we were able to make it happen on this one. I always wanted to do this, and Erom finally relented on the funding for it. He even complimented me on pushing for it after he saw it.”
We continued on, and I looked at the walls with more appreciation than before. Cifa had outdone himself with this decorative idea.
We entered our stateroom. I hadn’t expected a whole lot, due to it being a ship. I knew space would be at a premium. What a pleasant surprise to see how wrong I’d been.
We came into a nice living-type space, what the Kalquorians term a common room. There was an enclosed and vented firepit in the middle of the room, surrounded by two semicircle loungers. A low table with billowy seating cushions took up one corner. A full bar took up another.
One wall was taken up by a vid entertainment system. Across from it, the massive window vid showed us the black expanse of the nighttime sea. I looked forward to seeing it during the day.
I wasted no time looking at the rest. There were two sleeping rooms, and one had been outfitted for Anrel’s use with a crib and toys. The bin I’d packed for her was empty in a closet, where her clothes had been neatly hung by the room’s attendant, Imdiko Matoso. He had joined us to make sure we had all we required.
“You’re up,” Cifa told Seot, offering the yawning baby to him. “Let’s see if you’ve been paying attention.”
I watched with at first amusement and then approval as the Dramok got Anrel ready for bed. I have to say, he handled it pretty well. He was almost a pro, in fact. What kept me grinning was Larten anxiously watching over his shoulder, studying everything that went on. I think a certain Nobek is nervous about proving himself to Cifa and me when it’s his turn.
A gentle cleanup, a soft nightie, a last bottle, and two billion kisses later, Anrel was down for the count. We crept out and had a look at our sleeping room. The silver and black color scheme was elegant and somehow sexy. Everything in there seemed in order, with a massive sleeping mat, a dressing table for me, a cooler of refreshments should we need them, and a small table we could sit at if we wished. Larten switched on a small vid, and a monitor sprang to life, showing Anrel sleeping. Perfect. With everything accounted for, Matoso was excused for the night.
As soon as he was gone, three pairs of purple eyes riveted on me. My stomach churned a little to see the men looking at me so intently. I had been promised the extended foreplay that had been our sex life would lead to the real thing tonight. I was suddenly, ridiculously nervous.
“What about this surprise you were going to show me?” I asked Cifa.
He grinned. “I think you’re going to love this,” he said. He walked over to one black wall that was undecorated except for a silver panel full of buttons. He pushed one.
The wall suddenly receded, pushing back to give the room more space. Then the floor, or at least a thick portion of it, rose up. It went up to ceiling height and stopped. There was still a floor to step out on, but it was about three feet lower until it rose…or actually, the whole of the extra space rose until the floor was level with the one we stood on. Cifa stepped into the space and pushed another button on the panel.
“Watch the window vid,” he said.
I turned to see an outside view of our ship. It zoomed in to show a large, black platform about five feet above the water’s surface.
“That’s the floor piece that rose from this spot,” Cifa told me. “Now for the magic.” He pushed a third button.
The platform opened up on three sides, becoming wider than the sleeping room. I could hear dull thunking noises coming from over Cifa’s head. “That sound is the pieces locking into place.”
A hum filled the air. As it did, I watched railings emerge from the platform, surrounding it from the open ocean. A panel opened on the floor and a sleeping mat also rose in the middle of the platform. It was an outdoor bedroom, for heaven’s sake.
“Oops!” Cifa laughed. I turned my attention to see him wobbling on the floor shifting beneath his feet. He jumped out of the alcove as a louder droning sound filled the room. Two of the walls and the floor collaborated to produce stairs leading up. The ceiling opened and I could hear the surf outside loud and clear.
Cifa held his hand out to me. “Shall we go up?” he asked.
Believe it or not, I hesitated as a moment of disquiet filled me. “I won’t be able to hear Anrel out there,” I said, reluctance quelling curious excitement.
“There is a monitor system out there,” Cifa reassured me. “We’ll be able to see and listen in. Our girl won’t be neglected for a second.”
I still felt unwilling to climb those stairs. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why I wanted to drag my feet. I’d been wanting this moment since I’d first set eyes on Clan Seot. And the idea of sex under the stars while on the sea? What more romantic setting could a gal want?
I suffered from performance anxiety, I guess. We’d put off sex for so long that I’d gone timid. Nympho Shalia had become the blushing neophyte. Silly me.
I shook it off and took Cifa’s hand. “Amaze me.”
His grin did its best to stretch from ear to ear. He led me up the gray stairs, lifting me towards the satiny black sky with its glitter sparkles of stars.