On a cruise, romance blooms

I slipped onto deck and saw two women from our tour
group kissing. They had found a niche formed by some
superstructure and a lifeboat, where they thought they
would be hidden, where they thought they could see
anyone who approached. I slid to a shadowed area and
watched them kiss.

They were roommates, but more, always together. Any time
one was there, the other was close. Of course there had
been friendly speculation that they were gay, but they
were circumspect and the speculation was just to pass
time on the tour. If they had been older no one would
have thought about it at all.

Or maybe they would. The couple made a lovely contrast.
One was an administrator from my school, fair, with
blown-dry, gray-blond hair. No, not fair, but pale.
Creamy, English pale. And funny. She had an unlimited
supply of jokes, could spout Simpson’s lines, and once,
when we had over-sampled the local beer in Shanghai, she
had managed to count to five in one belch.

I would laugh at her jokes and try to one-up her, but I
also liked to look at her. Her friend was dark, with
dark brown eyes and dark curly hair. She was quieter and
more serious. Perhaps she had a darker soul? She
listened more than she participated. Both were athletic
and trim, one trait they shared.

Now they were kissing and everything was different. I
watched them brush their lips on each other’s, their
mouths open only slightly. The pale lover put both her
hands on the brunette’s cheeks, caressed her cheeks with
the backs of fingers, moved her mouth over cheeks, eyes,
back down to mouth. She combed fingers through that
curly hair.

I was creeping, slowly, quietly, to see better, but they
had become lost in each other, so had grown oblivious to
the possibility of discovery. There were murmurs and I
heard one say, “Yes, please.” I couldn’t hear their
breathing but I heard rustlings as they moved. I was
that close.

I hadn’t been aroused in, how long? Days? Weeks? That
dry spell was over. The dark lover moved her hand in a
lazy s-shape all the way down the other’s front, ending
between her legs. I heard her unsnap and unzip slacks,
and she must have pushed her fingers deep inside
panties. She ignored a soft protest: “No, not here.” Her
companion didn’t mean it, not really. She leaned back
against a rail and pushed her hips out. I caressed my
penis, the full length of it.

I was surprised at first that they were taking this
chance, but the moon was full and the terraces marched
up the incredibly steep slopes of the gorge, almost from
the water all the way to the stars. Everything white —
railings, life preservers, deck chairs, walls — had a
faint iridescence, as though illuminated in black light,
and there was enough light in their hideaway to show
their faces. It was enough to illuminate the pale
lover’s teeth, to make them unnaturally white. It was
enough to show her cupping both her hands over the
other’s breasts, even as she tilted her head back.

When I left the bar I had been captured by that
otherworldly light, so different from the light on our
little group in that vinyl-clad room watching karaoke
sets on the TV. If I had not been quiet, because the
spirit of the night demanded it, they would have seen
me. They must have been captured the same way: the night
had called them out. There were only the three of us in
the world, our little world.

They moved their mouths over each other’s and then moved
their breasts against each other’s in circular motions,
but the darker woman kept her fingers buried. She moved
her hand in and out, smoothly, over and over. My penis
swelled enough to push against my slacks. I rubbed the
head; it throbbed. The blonde made a sound in her throat
and the other bent to nip the tip of her breast.

They were suddenly aware of me and jerked apart, trying
almost comically to appear nonchalant, the way Lucy
would if Ricky had caught her giving Fred Mertz a blow
job. One was fooling with the snap of her slacks,
though, and both looked stricken. My fair lady seemed
about to cry. I could see the liquid in her eyes in the

“I…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

It always helps to sound a little hesitant in these
situations, to let people know you aren’t being
predatory. Though of course I had been. I backed away,
turned, and went inside, to my cabin and my wife. They
hadn’t said anything, or moved after they’d pulled
apart. They could have been statues.

I lay in bed that night, listening to my wife coughing
occasionally in the dark, but mostly playing the kiss
over and over while moving my hand quietly, tickling the
shaft of my penis, using my thumb to rub my fluid in a
circular motion around the underside of the head. I saw
the movement of the brunette’s hand, heard, “Yes,
please.” Were they worried about my catching them? I
rubbed my slippery penis. I was very still and worked
hard to control my breathing and not shake the bed. I
saw a face, so wan under the moon, and then I stopped.
Her look had been woebegone. Lost. Her eyes had been
swimming in tears.

After a bit I entered a fantasy in which her eyes were
half closed and swollen with desire. I did something to
her to bring her to ecstasy. She whimpered, “Yes,
please.” Then I came.

They weren’t at breakfast the next morning.

I thought to go to their cabin, to look in on them, but
decided it would just compound their embarrassment, and
anyway I didn’t know what I’d say. That I was sorry I’d
seen them kiss and caress each other? They were, both of
them, successful in their careers, and they must be
tough-minded. They would live it down. But I couldn’t
keep my mind on anything else. I wanted to see them and
didn’t want to. I asked casually if anyone had seen them
that morning.

Around midmorning she sought me out in the bar, my pale
administrator. She certainly was not creamy now, but
washed out, almost pasty. She was trying to look
nonchalant again, and again not doing a very good job of
it. Her eyes were bloodshot. I think she hadn’t slept.
She always wore a little bright red lipstick, but not
this morning.

I was schmoozing with some other tour members. She stood
beside and slightly behind me, sipping a diet coke,
pretending to listen to people’s stories, waiting for a
time when attention was elsewhere. From time to time I
turned to her to smile and nod in a friendly fashion,
really wanting to talk with her, but she wouldn’t look
me in the face. Then she seemed to screw up her courage
and bent to whisper to me, asking if I would come
outside with her.

We went out the back exit together, not talking or
looking much at each other, and climbed to the open
observation area over the bar, away from everyone. The
sun was brilliant, so that we had to shield our eyes.
The wind blew with the passage of the ship along the

She didn’t know how to begin. After a false start, she
said, “Look, I can guess what you think you saw last
night, and maybe what you thought was happening.”

Then she stopped. She didn’t know what to say or even
what to admit. She had to think I would out her, ruin
her career, and destroy her social life. Frankly, I
don’t think I could have accomplished all that, and
maybe she should have realized it. But how would I take
it if someone had discovered my dark side?

I waited for her to go on but she was frozen, even her
mouth. The wind blew her hair into her face and when she
pushed it back I could see she was again almost crying.
She was facing the sun and the light made her look odd,
ghostly, like she might disappear at any moment. I
decided that I would have to step in.

“I didn’t see anything last night. I was in the bar all
evening. I saw nothing anyone will ever know. Please
now. Don’t go expecting the worst.”

“But what, I mean, what, well what must you have thought
of us?”

She wasn’t hearing me. Her chin was quivering. I’d never
seen that in an adult. She had been cheerful and
confident and outgoing. Now she was terrified, trying
not to cry, swallowing hard, and she looked so
vulnerable that I fell in love with her right then.

I liked her and would have liked to fuck her, but I
didn’t want to love her. Nonetheless, it happened. I
could almost stand outside of myself and watch the
transformation, and amidst everything else that was
happening at the same moment I made out a mocking
comment from some odd corner of my mind: In love with a
lesbian? Why not just shoot yourself?

“What I thought?”

It was time to take a chance. Carpe diem.

“What I thought was that you were beautiful. The two of
you were, but especially you. I didn’t think anything
bad of you.”

The ship’s horn sounded. It was a deep blast, almost
overwhelming when you stood too close. It vibrated
through bodies and drowned out everything. But it gave
me time to think. Then:

“Maybe for a moment, just for a moment, I felt some…
jealousy, or regret. Because I could imagine how your
mouths felt. I could imagine sharing your breath. And I
knew you weren’t for me.”

Oh hell! End this nonsense.

“I wouldn’t ever expose you. Please believe me. I’ll go
tell your roomie. You don’t have to worry.”

Then she did start crying. She had been holding
everything in all night and had believed whatever the
absolute worst was. Her face crumpled. She was standing
there helplessly, not even trying to hide it, while I
looked around to see if anyone would stumble onto this

I took one of her hands and whispered, “It’s okay. It’s
okay. Really. Here.”

I pulled her close, pulled her to me. She put her face
between my left shoulder and my chest. Ah damn, damn it,
no! Don’t do this to me! I was completely aroused again,
and I hated myself. I put my left arm around her waist.
I stroked her hair a very light stroke with my right
hand. I kissed her hair. She smelled wonderful. This
would be my one time to feel her body against mine.
“There, there,” I said.

At lunch they sat at our table. They looked tired and
drawn and said they’d been a little sick. Everyone
understood. Who hadn’t been? As time passed, though,
they entered the conversations, grew jollier, sampled
the dishes off the lazy Susan, told tales. My wife ate a
little and returned to our cabin and the jokes and
comments continued.

To his darling: If I love you, what business is it of
yours? The line I was thinking is an old one, from
Goethe. The couple was sitting directly across from me,
acting as though nothing had transpired, and I was
trying to do the same. More, in fact. I had to hide what
I knew of them, which wouldn’t be difficult. The hard
part was hiding my feelings from them. So, I was helping
them play a role for the audience at the table at the
same time that I was playing a role for the two of them.
It was hard work.

We were joking about administrators and about using The
Force only for good. When the couple got up to leave, my
ghostly darling stopped behind me, put her hands on my
shoulders, and announced that henceforth as a department
chair I should be called “Grand Pooh-Bah.”

I said “Make that Grand Pooh Bear,” but my attention was
focused on her hands and I found it hard to be witty.

Her hands were soft and warm, the way you’d expect.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about them except
that they were perfect. I didn’t want to feel like a
moonstruck teenager, but there she was standing almost
against me, resting those hands as lightly as ectoplasm
on my shoulders while she joked with someone, and I was
filled with that fantasy about being the one guy who is
man enough to turn her straight. She bent and kissed the
top of my head theatrically. I patted one of her hands.

Then she put her mouth next to my ear and said, “Can you
come up to our cabin when you finish here?”

No, I don’t remember the rest of the meal. Would you?

I’m adult enough to know what fantasies are and aren’t.
They aren’t to be taken for the genuine article, for
guidance on how to act when she confesses her love and
slips off her robe, revealing a perfect body. Because
that isn’t going to happen. My fantasies wouldn’t stay
banished, though. They were worlds better than what was
going to happen. Most likely she wanted to apologize for
crying up on deck earlier. In the worst case they would
formally thank me for keeping their secret, reinforcing
what I already knew, that I was forever an outsider to

But she was alone, and serious, and wanted to talk.

It was as awkward as it could be. “I… wanted to thank
you for being so kind to me today.”

I had a retort about rescuing damsels, yadda, yadda, but
it wouldn’t come out, so I said something about being
happy to be able to help. It grew quiet awfully fast.
The cabins had lovely, dark paneling, and she moved her
hand back and forth over some wainscoting, going with
the grain. A boat went past the window traveling
upstream, and still nothing was said.

Finally, in hardly more than a whisper:

“Did you mean what you said this morning? I mean about
us? About me?”

Cyrano de Bergerac could craft the magic answer that
would clarify everything and win her, but that wasn’t
me. So after another moment I just said:

“Yes. Everything.” Then, “I’m not usually so bold.”

Again, silence. We couldn’t have been more than three
feet apart in that tiny stateroom. This wasn’t right. I
shouldn’t have said anything. I shouldn’t have come. I
should make my excuses and leave, so I could be
miserable alone. I almost did, when she spoke:

“No one ever said anything like that to me before. It
won’t leave my mind. It was the most beautiful thing
anyone ever told me.”

Then she stepped forward and kissed me very lightly on
the lips.

My hand went to her cheek and I stepped backward,
bumping the desk behind me. Something was squeezing my
chest. I didn’t know what to think. It was hard to talk,
without any air. Finally I managed:

“I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry. I know it can’t
be. I shouldn’t have said anything like that when you
were so upset.” The thought came unbidden: so lovely.

She was suddenly relaxed and happy. She put her right
hand up on my left cheek.

“Don’t be so certain it can’t be, you silly head. A lot
of us have been with men before, and some of us like

“Silly head”? What was she leading up to? Her “us” was
my “them,” and that was what made this impossible.

She paused, then became serious: “And I like you so

She came to me again and we started kissing. I had a
hand where her waist flared out to her hip, and one in
her hair. She kept caressing my cheeks while we kissed.
Her tongue flicked between my lips and I captured it and
sucked on it. I still didn’t believe it.

Things are complicated when you’re an adult. There was
something I had to know. “What about your roommate? Will
she barge in on us, or do we have a limited time, or

She giggled. I wouldn’t have expected that. It just
burbled up out of her. Her eyes were half closed, but
she smiled and said: “She doesn’t mind. She and I, we’re
not like that. We’re not lovers or anything. We’re just
friends who like to get together sometimes to travel and
play. And the fact is, she thinks you’re cute.”

We kissed some more, and I stroked her neck with my
finger tips. I was still shy about touching her body,
but growing bolder. “So,” she finished, “we have all
afternoon if we want it.”

“Maybe we could all play grown up games together?”

She used a Mae West voice: “Not today, big boy. I’m all
you get.”

There are only so many ways to sex your partner, only so
many things that you can do, and you enjoy doing them
over and over. It isn’t any different if you love
someone. It is in one respect, sure. The experience has
a different quality if you’ve fallen. Still, there isn’t
anything you can do in love that you can’t do just for
passion. So shall I tell you what we did? Do you want to
hear it again?

How often have you unbuttoned a blouse and pulled it
open, or had yours opened? She wore a white blouse, a
white bra, white on white on her white skin. I undid her
pants so I could take the blouse off completely. She
reached behind her back to unfasten the bra, and I
pulled it off. She looked at me the whole time she did
it. Do women know how erotic the unfastening is?

The first look at our partner’s body is exquisite,
always different than we expected. She was like other
women, her own version. She held her hands to her thighs
and presented her chest to me, and it was obvious she
didn’t need the bra. Her small breasts wouldn’t sag;
they went with her body. The flesh of her breasts was
more creamy even than her face, and had beauty marks. It
added to her ghostly aspect, but her nipples were long
and pink. I suddenly thought of that limerick about the
man who made love to a beautiful ghost. But she was
solid, a body of flesh to fuck and love.

I did what lovers do, what you have done. I licked and
sucked on her nipples, first one side and then the
other, while she kissed my head and ran her hands down
my back. When I looked up, she had gone red and blotchy
from the tops of those breasts, up her neck, all the way
to her chin. No ghostliness there! Her eyes were
swollen and half closed, exactly as in my fantasy.

My penis ached from being confined to my jeans. I didn’t
want to take it out too soon, in case it might ruin
things. When had she last seen a penis? You say you
never worry about that? I hadn’t with any other lover,

I pulled her slacks down and helped her get them off.
She wasn’t shy. It was as though she was used to someone
undressing her.

Her panties were pale blue, setting off her belly and
hips. I knelt and kissed her belly, which was smooth and
firm, and rolled her panties down. Her sparse pubic hair
was like corn silk, but on her it looked almost dark. I
would get down there soon enough. She had an
appendicitis scar, fainter even than her skin.

She kept stroking my hair. Was she like this with all
her lovers? Was I? Every lover is aroused by different
things. I gave her a hickey just below her navel,
leaving a red mark on her belly, and she gasped and then
held my head tightly to her while I did it. I stayed
there for a moment, feeling her belly move in and out as
she breathed.

“Oh, you’re bad man.”

She used a breathy, Marilyn Monroe voice. She was still
holding my head to her. I pulled back to see her face.

“I’m usually more evil than this. Am I being too soft on
you?” I would be softer if she wanted.

“How evil are you?” Still in the Marilyn voice.

Then she shifted the topic and offered me much more than
I expected. “Do you want to do bad things to me?”

During the last sentence there had been a catch in her
voice, and a little extra breathlessness. She couldn’t
know what I liked; no one here did. I looked up at her
and her expression was anxious and excited. Have you
seen that look? I stood.

“I want to do every bad thing to you. Everything you’d

After I said that she looked in my eyes for a long
moment, then wrapped her arms around my neck and put her
head to my chest. She held me very tightly.

In her own voice she said, “I’d like you to do things to
me. But I’m a little afraid. I’m really not very
experienced — oh don’t be so surprised. And I’m just
finding out things about you.”

She held her head against my chest the whole time she

I moved my hands lightly all the way up her back from
her flanks and felt her get goose bumps. I loosened her
arms and held her back from me a few inches. I looked in
her eyes; just below was her mouth, slightly open,
inviting me. What would I like? What would we like? If
I didn’t talk right away I was going to start kissing
her again. I pulled her arms behind her and held them at
the small of her back. She leaned against me, head back,
looking back in my eyes. Why wasn’t I naked too? I took
a deep breath.

“Everything about you surprises me.” This made her

“Let’s just take this one step at a time, and find out
all we can about each other. There’s plenty of time to
try whatever we want. Right now I’d like to explore your
sweet body. So … can I handle the merchandise?”

“Well, only because you’re one of our favorite

But she wanted to undress me first. She started with my
shirt and followed the same basic order I had. Once my
shirt was off she moved her hands over my chest,
starting with my nipples. Her palms were on my nipples
and her fingers were on the skin around them, caressing.
She licked up my breastbone, then took my nipples in her
lips and sucked at the same time that she fondled my
upper-chest muscles, my ribs, my stomach. Her hands
explored constantly. I held her face to my nipples; she
was sucking almost too hard, but I didn’t want to make
her stop. I thought my prick would explode.

Once she had my jeans off she wouldn’t stop looking at
my underwear, and then she wouldn’t stop looking at my
penis. It curved up out of my graying hair. It bobbed a
bit. It was dark, such a delicious contrast to her skin.
It almost always is, no? And we love that. I went up to
her and moved it back and forth across her stomach. It
was hotter than her skin. She stared down at it.

I said, “Close your eyes.”

Why do women get so excited by this? Why do I like it so
when they do it? I started touching her as lightly as I
could, running my fingers here and there, up her back,
over her breasts, across her ass, along her throat.
Light strokes always seem best. Her breathing grew
shallower and she became flushed again.

“Spread your legs.”

She did, swaying dangerously in the process. She kept
her eyes closed. As lightly as before, I ran my fingers
up the insides of her thighs, on both sides, then on up
through her pussy lips and over her belly, ending at the
hickey. The first feel of her pussy, when slippery fluid
coats just the opening of her lips, is exquisite. She
made her first tiny groaning sound.

I wanted to play with her ass — I always do — so I had
her kneel down with her head and shoulders on one of the
beds. Her eyes were still closed. She started to say
something and I shushed her.

Her anus was like anyone else’s, brown and puckered. I
tongued it and she groaned again. She was curling and
uncurling her toes. I tickled her ass, moved my fingers
around and around her anus, then tickled her on that
spot right between anus and vagina that is so sensitive
to brush strokes. Have you ever done that? I pushed two
fingers all the way into her vagina, but I stayed well
away from her clitoris. I wanted to give her sweet
torment for awhile. My fingers went right in.

I got up and rummaged through their toiletries to find
some petroleum jelly. I lubed my right thumb, put it to
her anus, and pushed in softly. Her eyes flew open.

“Wait, no, wait, just a minute.” She had been caught by

“Do you want me to stop this?”

She paused, but only for an instant. Then, “No. I’m
sorry. I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t mean to make you

She was so willing for anything I wanted to do, one of
those people who are stirred by having things done to
them. I lubricated my thumb again and pushed it all the
way into her rear. Her sphincter was tight around my
thumb. It might have been virgin. I played with her
pussy with the other hand, until her breathing deepened
again, then I began fucking her ass with my thumb. It
brought me currents of sexual pleasure. I hand-fucked
her front and back, moving my hands slowly.

During this she was lying with her cheek on her hands,
her eyes closed again, and I could study her face while
I fucked her; she was marvelously expressive. She would
close her lips tightly, and a vein would stand out on
her forehead. Her eyes were not just closed, but
squeezed shut, as though she was concentrating, and she
kept tilting her head back. Then, she would open her
lips in an ‘O’ and pant. Among her pants were little
whimpers and groans, not loud at all, but loud enough
for me. I played with her and watched her and listened
to her for awhile.

I wasn’t sure what to do next. I stood and pulled her
up. I picked her up like you would carry a sleepy child,
kissing her mouth and letting her feel how strong I am.
She curled her body into my arms, her head on my
shoulder, one arm around my neck and a hand barely
resting on my chest, ready for whatever I wanted her do.
I could smell her hair when I wasn’t kissing her.

I told her, “You are even more beautiful right here.”

I couldn’t hold her very long, at least not easily. It
felt a little silly, though I did enjoy it, so I thought
of what to do next. After a few minutes I laid her on
the bed, spread her legs, knelt between them, and began
licking and sucking her sex.

Don’t ask why I took so long to get to this. Maybe I was
shy, thinking perhaps that I couldn’t satisfy her, she
who had been eaten by women. Maybe I’m an idiot.

I shouldn’t have worried. She was a lover of the mouth,
urging “yes, yes,” in a hoarse whisper even before I had
begun, cooing, tangling her fingers through my hair and

Though I know not all women like cunnilingus, I confess
I’ve never sexed one who didn’t. I once knew a woman who
disapproved of it because it wasn’t Biblical, but thank
God she was never a lover of mine. I’ve had partners who
asked me to do it, or who lit up in joy when I started,
as though it were a rare gift. Can it be that most men
won’t pleasure their loves this way?

She lit up. She responded no matter what I did. She
pushed herself toward me with her hips and tried to pull
my head to her. I sucked her pussy lips into my mouth
and nibbled on each of them. I got some of her corn silk
in my mouth. Her clitoris was a tiny, pink nub that I
licked very softly, using just the tip of my tongue, as
lightly as I could, tasting her. She tried to get more
sensation but I just kept touching her lightly, making
her crazy.

I moved down and tasted inside her. Of course she wasn’t
sweet, like people say; yes her vagina was like a soft
fruit of some kind, but tangy and musky. I pulled back
and breathed on her sex, then went back to her clitoris,
tonguing just at her scant hood. How high could I get
her without her coming? She grunted at every lick.

Once she was very high I moved away from her, helped her
kneel up on the bed, and put my erection to her mouth.
What would she do?

She opened her mouth and licked the underside of the
head and made a little face.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s a little bit fishy tasting.”

I laughed. “Well, I didn’t know this was going to
happen, so I didn’t wash before coming here. I’ll wash
it now. It won’t take a second.”

“I like fish.”

I laughed again. “Well, then lick it, and use your
perfect mouth to pleasure me.”

But she really didn’t know how to do that. She had been
truthful that she wasn’t very experienced, at least with
men, so I had to help her. It was almost enough just to
feel her mouth and to know she liked doing it. I nearly
came right then, and pulled out and squeezed behind the
head of my penis to stop myself just in time.

She didn’t know what I was doing and thought she was
disappointing me. Dear God, no. I kissed her and told
her she was wonderful. We knelt in front of each other
for a moment and kissed each other’s faces and I
strummed my fingers up and down over her breast and she
fondled my prick.

Then I laid her on her back again and licked and sucked
her more strongly. I ran my whole tongue in long, smooth
strokes over her sex. When she began to come she was
moving her hips up and down, and twisting to the side. I
crawled up between her legs. I found her opening, and I
pushed all the way in while she came. I always savor
that first stroke, when her flower isn’t yet fully
opened and my penis is pushing her walls outward. I
fucked her until, in just a minute or two, I came, and I
heard myself making crying sounds and I collapsed on her
completely. She continued to come the whole time.

We were snuggling and drowsing. Even though we were
leaking madly she wouldn’t let us put our underwear back
on, so we were damp and sticky. Touching her afterwards
was affectionate and quiet, except when I found a tickle
spot. She was fascinated with my spent penis. She kept
stroking it and commenting on how soft it was. I asked
her not to go on so much about that.

“I want to see you tonight.”

“Oh, my big, strong man, I want that too. But I’m not
sure that we can. There are other people to think of.”

I didn’t know if we had any future, but for the moment I
was content to be called her anything. She liked me,
liked being with me afterwards. I turned to her.

“I didn’t mean for sex. At least not necessarily. I’m at
an age when it might even be difficult.” I had almost
said ‘hard.’ It was twitching, though. She should quit
stroking it.

“I just want to see you in that moonlight again. And
your roommate is welcome. I think I’d like to see her
there, too.”

“Oh? You want to watch us kiss, so you can get turned on

“No, I thought she and I could kiss, to get you turned
on again.”

“Well what about your wife?”

I used a Bogart voice: “Sweetheart, I’m all you get.”

We snuggled some more.

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