I joined my friends at a small bistro and they all laughed when I arrived.
My friend Jacque introduced me to the couple seated with him.
Pierre is an artist and musician and dancer. A slight roughly bearded young man in a corduroy jacket and long scarf.
Next to him was a lovely young dark haired girl with a special glow in her face and unforgiving black eyes.
“Renee, Pierre…. meet my friend Ike.”
I settled in to the small round table and a round of drinks were ordered. Jacque helped me because my elementary school French was lacking.
The carafe of white wine never seemed to empty and the glass was always full.
We laughed and shared stories in our broken understanding of what each of us was saying, but with the continuing glasses toasted to each other and our ideas, the dusk turned into late hours.
“Let us stop and rest now.” Jacque broke the laughter and we all agreed.
He led us to a quaint bread and breakfast and offered each of us rooms.
“Come back down in a few minutes for a nightcap.”
We all went into small comfortable rooms and changed into nightclothes.
I was settling onto a long wicker couch with a glass of cognac with Jacque and Pierre talking over by the fireplace when Renee entered the room.
She looked at the couple at the fireplace then walked over to the couch and sat.
I offered her a glass, which she accepted with a smile and a slight nod of her head, her dark hair draping her face against the strobe of the flame.
We did not speak, but watched the two men across the room laugh and slap each other with old tales.
I looked back at the little girl who had wrapped herself in an afghan and a quilt that were resting on the back of the couch.
I offered my arm and she slid close accepting my hug.
We sat silently, her head resting on my shoulder.
I refilled her glass and my own. She adjusted the cover and snuggled closer.
The fire had dimmed when my eyes opened and found the two men had left the room. I could feel something warm against my cheek. Reaching up I found a bare foot. Pushing my hand further, I felt a slim smooth ankle and leg.
As my head cleared in the smoky room my body moved up the length of the couch.
Renee lay next to me, eyes closed, wrapped in the quilt like a baby hugging a teddy bear.
I touched her cheek and she responded by pulling the antique fabric over me and pulling me close to her undraped body. My face moved to her neck and I could hear her breath. Then a warm and sweet kiss on the neck.
Ike reaches for his head tangling in the sheet and tried to sit up.
“OW! What the….”
“You need to be more careful where you sleep.” a quiet voice whispers.
Ike wipes his eyes and leans against his elbows in the cramp dark space. As the area starts to focus he feels the sway of the ocean beneath him.
“How long have you been up?”
“A while. It’s been fun watching you sleep.”
Ike peered at the black portholes with just the faint sent of light around the rim.
“You shouldn’t have dreams like that.”
“What time is it?”
“Does it matter?”
Ike struggled to free his legs and slowly stepped on the deck, carefully watching the hull above.
“Here.” Ginger held out a cup of steaming dark liquid.
Ike held it in two hands and took a sip. “Hot!”
“You are having a rough morning,” she giggled.
“What are you doing?”
“Going over these maps and this sweater.”
Just then light filled the space as Ginger turned up the oil lamp. Wrapped in the gray sweater she turned to Ike and said, “ I think we have to go back to that island.”
Ike staggered to the desk where Ginger had neatly arranged maps, pens, paper, rulers, compass, with sketches and drawings.
“What is all of this stuff?”
Then the Dusty Rose shifted in the ocean’s swell and Ike stumbled, spilling coffee.
“Hey buster, you almost got that on me,” Ginger spun holding tight the sweater as she slip her chair away from the bumpkin.
“Who’s steering this rig?
The room fell silent as the two stared at one another.
Ike grabbed his slicker stumbling toward the hole to the upper deck.
“I better check where we are,” he muttered as he climbed the teak stairway.
“You go on. I’ll tell you what I found later,” Ginger mumbled expressing her disappointment in Ike’s disinterest.
Disconnecting the lines from the wheel, Ike took hold of the Dusty Rose. Placing his half filled cup on the deck then looking up at the looming blackness sparkled with points of lights, Ike started to get his barrens. He viewed the horizon that was started to lighten with orange and yellow, then check the star placement using his watch as a compass. Pulling the wheel to the starboard, he rechecked his calculations. Feeling the bow turn into the waves and the ship smooth in it path, he grabbed his cup and consumed the cooling liquid with one gulp.
“Do you have any more of this coffee?” Ike beckoned below deck.
As if knowing beforehand what was requested or anticipating what would come next, Ginger rose from the bowels of the ship with two fresh cups of morning waking liquid.
“So where are we?” she asked placing the new cup next to Ike.
Ike continued to pull on the sheet, looking up at the sky and the luff of the sail, turning the wheel slightly, and looking off to the brightening horizon.
Ginger snuggled into her sweater, looked up at the sky then forward over the bow while sipping her hot black liquid.
“You have no idea do you?”
Ike picked up the cup and enjoyed the steam and aroma, squinting forward across the bow, swinging the wheel further starboard.
“We have about 3 hours before we get to our destination.”
“3 hours huh?” Ginger replied in disbelief.
The sun rose as the couple sat quietly watching the waves pick up intensity.
Suddenly Ginger broke the silence and started down below deck.
“I’m hungry, do you want anything?”
“Maybe another cup, but I’m fine.” Ike replied watching her disappear into the darkness as the sun lightened the deck and the sails. Though the sun was rising the temperature was dropping.
Ginger returned with another cup and a plate of fruit and cheese. Ike immediately reached for the cheese.
“I thought you were fine?” she asked resting next to him.
“Mummmm. Yes, I was but this looks too good. Thanks.”
Ginger pulled the sweater around her and cupped the white vessel close to her.
“I thought the sun would warm us up.”
“We are pretty far north. You can tell about the waves picking up.”
Ike reached his arm around Ginger pulled her close.
The sound of waves crashing on the rocky shore grew as a crescendo directing the crew to their next destination.