Which is why, at three o'clock in the afternoon on a Monday, instead of sipping lukewarm coffee and sorting through the mountain of paperwork decorating my desk, I'm hundreds of miles away from home, standing on a concrete dock, luggage in hand, and gaping at what has to be the biggest boat I've ever seen in my life.
Seriously, not kidding here. This thing takes up like… the whole freaking dock and it's a solid fourteen stories high. At least fourteen stories, I correct. God only knows how many decks are under the water. And okay, no lie, that thought is more than disconcerting. It's not like I'm claustrophobic or anything (fine, maybe a little), but there's something just… not right about that, and in a brief moment of panic, I realize I have no idea where my room is.
Alice's annoyingly right voice rings in my ear, That's what you get for letting jerk-face asshole have your credit card!
I quickly shake that thought off, though, because I really, really don't want to be thinking about him. I've done way too much of that. Besides, he's with her now, and I'm, well, I'm with me.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.
As I continue to stare (read: gape) at what's going to be my home away from home for the next several days, I notice that there are all of these other boats hanging off of it, too, which, if I were a rational person, really should disturb me more than all the sub-waterline decks. Cause see, I know what they're for. Those are the what-if boats – you know, in case we pull a Titanic and have to abandon ship because some guy decides to play chicken with an iceberg. Okay, or more likely a sandbar in our case since we're in the Caribbean instead of the freezing north Atlantic.
Anyway. You get the picture.
But instead of worrying over my ship suddenly turning belly up in the middle of the night, because I apparently watch way too much SyFy (best channel ever), really, all I can think about is how my boat kind of resembles a massive alien mothership. Up and down the sides, it's got all of these tiny portholes – like hundreds of them – and next to three funky, ball-shaped things that I guess are for navigation, there's this bad ass looking boomerang shaped bridge made out of glass at the very top. I decide that all of those little orange and white boats aren't lifeboats, but instead are alien baby ships. And in that way, they're sort of cute.
Somewhere to my right, someone suddenly asks, "Your name, Miss?"
Okay, no lie, next to Sean Connery's, it's probably the sexiest voice I've ever heard in my entire life. The "r" sounds like a bedroom purr and the "Miss" is more like "Meez".
And being that I haven't had male… companionship… in almost a year, and even longer since it's been good, I am essentially Pavlov's dog and instantly jerk away from the mothership and her babies, fully expecting to find some variety of male super model.
Hopefully one in a tiny speedo that leaves absolutely nothing to my imagination.
Super model? At somewhere north of six-two, with meticulously styled and gelled coal-black hair, bright, baby blue eyes, a golden tan to die for, and cheekbones cut straight from granite… almost. This guy is definitely pretty. Too pretty. Like way out of my league but I'd still like to think about hitting that pretty.
But speedo? Alas, no.
Instead, my almost-super model with the sexy-ass accent is in a uniform. Well, honestly, uniform is maybe a touch generous. The white button-up shirt is fine, and since we are talking about boats and shit, so is the cap with its little black bill and gold anchor. But the white shorty-shorts and big white tennis shoes… um, no. Really, no man should ever wear those, not even Mr. Pretty.
"Hello, Miss…?" he says again, smiling beatifically with every bit of his too-pretty, exotic face. My heart gives a flip, and I almost forget about those godawful shorts. "Your name?"
"Swan," I mutter, as I try to read the gold lettering on his nametag. The only thing I can make out is the white, blue, and red embroidered flag beneath it. "Bella. I mean, Isabella Swan."
"Excellent! I'm Alec and I'm the Entertainment Director!" he replies way too enthusiastically, pointing at himself like I don't know that in using the pronoun, I, he means himself. He skims down a long clipboard. "I see you're in… Ah! You're in the Suite 407, Riviera Deck! Vonderful room!"
I kind of want to giggle at the vonderful room. But I don't because that might be rude. Plus, I don't recall anything about a suite. In fact, even though it's been over a year since this cruise was booked, I distinctly remember something more along the lines of an inside cabin or maybe one with a porthole. Suite sounds way expensive. Again, I purposefully tune out Alice's singsong reminders of just how stupid I was.
Before I really have a chance to ask about the room mix up, Alec's perfectly shaped brow furrows. "But… where is Mr… Jacob," – he says it like, Yakov – "Black?"
"Jerk-face asshole couldn't make it," I blurt before I can think, turning beet red the second the words leave my mouth.
Damn that Alice!
Alec glances up from his clipboard, studying me like I'm some kind of alien, never mind he's the one living on the mothership. Those ice-blue eyes are way too energetic, and okay, maybe just a bit unsettling.
"You do the cruise alone?" he asks, rolling that "r" in "cruise" for all its worth and drawing out that last word way too long. Something about his tone makes me want to run far, far away, and I don't even know why, other than I'm suddenly seeing this image of some dude in knight's armor throwing down a gauntlet and another one picking it up with a knowing smirk.
"Right." I grimace and shift self-consciously, banging my knee on the side of my suitcase. "Thanks for the reminder."
He nods, his pitch-black coif amazingly not moving an inch, and grins even wider. "But it's good, yes? We have the singles events!"
All the blood in my face falls straight to my ankles, and the sweat that instantly dots my forehead has absolutely nothing to do with the sweltering heat of southern Florida.
Kill me now.
When my jaw drops in silent protest, Alec winks (prettily) and then, with an excited little clap that tells me that Yakov would have a better chance of hitting that than me, he halfway yells, "No worries! You will have marvelous time on ship! We find you the boyfriend!"