Back to Normal: Chapter 19
Our town cars dropped us at the entrance of what looked like a huge dock in Long Beach. There were several big cruise ships in the water and to our left was the Queen Mary, now permanently docked and converted to a hotel and tourist attraction. We followed the signs to Bloodline, which was the name of our cruise line. Our actual ship was called the Mina (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I presume—I know, I know, Eric’s former love created that character—it’s all pretty weird if you think about it) and it was enormous and stunning. Once we were on board and checked into our rooms, we all met on deck and watched the activity below. Within a few short hours, all the passengers were on board and we were headed out to sea.
We all walked the deck and enjoyed the sea air for awhile, and then Jason, Quinn, Amelia and Tray decided they wanted to go dancing. Bill and Pam were interested in checking out the casino. Eric and I followed Bill and Pam to the casino and I made plans to meet my human companions the next day. Just like the casinos on land, this one had no windows or clocks. I guess the idea was that the gamblers would just keep gambling if they didn’t know what time of day it was. I sensed that we were in the center of the ship and it made me feel a little claustrophobic. We all gambled a little and were having a great time. I found a video poker machine that I liked and was actually up a whole five dollars when I decided to call it a night. I said goodnight to Bill and Pam who were both playing black jack and had some impressive looking stacks of chips in front of them. Eric cashed in his chips at the roulette table and he and I went upstairs to watch the moon and the stars.
We found a secluded little piece of real estate on the deck and curled up together on one of the deck chairs. Eric was behind me, spooning me to his cool hard body. I rested my head on his arm while his hand stroked my hair. “Are you happy, Mrs. Northman?”
“Extremely. And you, Mr. Stackhouse?”
“Yes ma’am.” And I felt a chuckle vibrate through his chest. “You have given my long life meaning again.” The amusement had gone out of his voice and he reached his arm around me and held me tightly, nuzzling his nose into my hair.
“Why don’t you take your wife downstairs and make love to her like there’s no tomorrow.”
And that’s just what he did.
Tucked away in our cozy cabin bed, we talked about how happy we were and what a great idea this trip had been. Our friends seemed to be having fun so far and we certainly were. I started to get sleepy and told Eric he should go back down to the casino or find the others in the night club. He still had hours until he had to sleep. He decided he’d gamble a little more but would wait until I fell asleep before he left the cabin. That didn’t take long at all.
The next day, all the humans in our little group met for a huge breakfast (well, brunch really since it was mid-morning before we were up) and then headed out to the deck. The weather was perfect—sunny and clear, and the ocean was so beautiful. We found a group of empty lounge chairs by one of the gorgeous swimming pools and spread out to enjoy the sun. We spent a lazy afternoon swimming and soaking up the rays and just enjoying each other’s company, tropical fruit drinks in hand. I couldn’t have imagined a better vacation.
As the day got late, the guys wandered off to explore (Jason already had a little harem of cute girls following him around, by the way.) and Amelia and I found the salon and I treated us to manicures and pedicures. When the sun was setting, Amelia went to find Tray and I went to my cabin to wake Eric. He was pretty happy to see me of course, and he enjoyed the taste of my sun soaked skin while we made love and then we showered together.
We all met in the main dining room for dinner. It was really beautiful and we were all dressed up, so I took a bunch of pictures. Eric looked handsome in a suit and tie, and I wore a new dress from Tara’s. After dinner, we headed to the night club and danced for hours. The slow songs were all for Eric, but for the fast ones, we all sort of danced together and had a great time. Pam and Bill left to gamble some more. Amelia gave me a wink and said she and Tray would be star gazing on deck. Jason and Quinn disappeared, each with a very pretty girl. I predicted some serious moonlight smooching, and was pleased that everybody seemed to be having a good time.
Eric and I danced a little while longer, just the two of us. I was exhausted but happy when we headed back to our cabin. I put on a very pretty long gown and robe set that I had bought especially for our honeymoon, but then I was so sleepy, we ended up just cuddling. Eric held me until I was almost asleep, and then I heard him say he would be in the casino and that he loved me as he kissed my nose and then I was out.
I woke to a loud boom and then felt intense pain through the bond. I shot out of bed and threw on my robe as I ran out into the hall. I smelled smoke and so I found the stairs and raced up to the deck where it looked like all hell had broken loose.