In case you haven’t heard, The Swan is my latest standalone and my contribution to the Carnivale Chronicles, and available for your reading pleasure now.
The Carnivale Chronicles is a multi-author collaboration bringing a different view to the Carnival experience. Keep reading for a sneak peek of this story and then head over to Amazon to purchase. 🙂
This is a short story … so short that it moves fast. No slow burn, no filler. This couple gets right to the point.
Nova Bradford and Mikhail Luther have a long history. They’ve known each other since they were students at Blythe T. Young Magnet High School. Mikhail was the handsome high school jock with the pretty homecoming queen on his arm and Nova, well Nova was the ugly duckling no one cared about. After years of working on her self-confidence thanks to a friend and therapy, she finally decides albeit reluctantly, to embark on a school reunion cruise to a tropical paradise where she will come face to face with her former classmates that taunted her every day. What she doesn’t expect to find is Mikhail, alone and not the same young man from school. What follows seems unlikely, but it’s also the thing they both need …
The past plagued his thoughts as he took an aisle seat on his morning flight to Miami. He was cutting it close by not coming in a day earlier, something the packet of information from the travel agent recommended they all do. But, given he was dreading the trip altogether, he almost hoped some sort of travel hiccup would keep him from arriving to the ship and coming face-to-face with his past.
Two hours later, he was in a cab on his way to the cruise port. After paying the porter to take care of his one piece of luggage, he proceeded through the terminal to check in and go through security. It didn’t take long and within minutes, he was stepping onto the fourth-floor deck of the ship.
The music, the lights and the decadence that went into the décor, set the stage for a great time. It inspired him to want to paint, but his sketchbook was in his luggage, put there in an effort to make the journey less cumbersome. This was now something he was regretting.
He made his way over to the first bar he caught a glimpse of and sat down.
The bartender, named Motley based on his name tag, asked him what he wanted.
“An old fashioned,” he said before handing over his sea pass card, which was his ID and credit card all wrapped in one.
As Motley prepared his drink, he looked around the bar and just then, a beautiful dark brown skinned woman slid onto the stool beside him. Though she was facing away from him, he was certain she was beautiful just by the way she carried herself. Her posture, the glow of her chocolate brown skin already had him intrigued and his finger itched to capture her under the right lighting.
He noticed she put her phone into a small purse, hanging to her side and then she finally turned straight forward doing as he had been doing, checking out everyone at the bar.
As Motley returned and placed his drink and card down on the bar, she finally noticed him and looked his way. Her eyes widened, beautiful as they were, before she took on an impassive look that would have scared off any other guy, but not Mikhail. Women either loved the way he looked or they loved his personality. If he had the opportunity to talk to her, he might actually enjoy this cruise and forget about the possibility of sinking, unless it was deep inside of her.
Motley greeted her and she ordered a Coconut Mojito.
They both watched as he went through the process of adding the rum, some sort of syrup and mint leaves before adding a sparkling beverage to it. A few shakes and he poured it into a short glass before dropping in a wedge of lime.
Motley placed it down in front of her with the pride of a true mixologist and waited as she took a sip and smiled before placing the glass back onto the bar. Seeing an opening, Mikhail decided to try and charm her.
“Must be good,” Mikhail said to her, spying the red lip print left on the glass. He imagined the print somewhere on him but decided to not feed that thought. For now, he was desperate to get her to look directly at him and when she did, he felt like he’d be punched in the gut.
She smiled, her teeth straight and pearly white, her cheeks dimpled, and her dark brown eyes sparkling. Simply breathtaking.
“It is,” she responded before looking away.
“It’s a nice ship,” he hurried to say. He was looking for anything to say to get her to give him a full view of her pretty face.
He wasn’t even sure what it was about her but he was drawn to her, as they say, like a moth to a flame. It was as if he knew her from somewhere; her eyes, her smile, her posture. Something said he knew her, but he couldn’t, for the life of him, figure out from where. For now, he just knew he wanted to talk to her. He might get to spend time with her, quite possibly even have a good time with her on this ship.
“Yeah, it is,” she said and gave him a smile as if she knew that he was trying to hold her here. “It’s the first time I’ve been on this ship, actually it’s the first time I’ve been on a cruise.”
“Oh yeah, well me too. I’ve traveled out of the country before, even traveled to the Bahamas, but never by ship. It was a classmate who talked me into coming and then he couldn’t come, so that left me alone.” She laughed and it was sultry and sweet.
“Same thing happened to me. My best friend talked me into coming and then she got called to do a conference she’s been wanting to do her whole life, so she had to go. I couldn’t blame her, but here I am alone.”
We’re both alone, he thought.
They stared at each other for a long beat, each of their eyes making it clear they were on the same page.
“So,” he began.
“Looks like we are in the same boat,” They both smiled, pleased with the pun and with the possibilities.
“Yeah. Maybe after we get unpacked, you might want to meet up for drinks.”
She smiled. Her dimples were deep and groovy.
“I’d like that.”
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