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Monday, November 4, 2013

Bring on the cruise ship drama!

Last July I went on a Baltic cruise and while I was on board the ship, I could so easily see the potential for a fun romance. Cruise ships are pure luxury and indulgence, not only with their opulent style, but with the anything goes attitude of the passengers on their voyage. People tend to drink to excess, eat everything in sight, and play to their heart’s content. After all, that is what a vacation is all about.
So, adding the ports of call, the extravagant dinners and of course taboo romance, was a natural thing to do once I returned home.

I love drama in literature. Although making one of the men married was risky to some readers, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility for passengers on their own on a ship. When Trae and Jon see each other while jogging the deck on one of the first mornings the ship sets sail, they realize they know each other. Trae and Jon graduated high school together twenty years ago…and shared a secret kiss one night behind the school. While Jon is openly gay and single, Trae is miserable and deep in the closet, married to a woman who does not love him, let alone like him.

And so the romance begins between two men who loved each other as teens, and now have the opportunity to right the wrong and be together. Join Jon and Trae on their journey at finding love and happiness, in The Reunion!

Jon Ross didn’t think the vacation he had booked with a good friend was going to be anything more than time off, relaxing, and exploring Europe. But when he realizes a boy he had a crush on from high school is on the same luxury cruise ship as he is, Jon gets an unexpected surprise.
Trae Ambrose figured he’d join a couple of his friends to have a pleasant holiday. Life at home was not good at the moment, and getting away to give himself time to think was too tempting to pass up.
What he didn’t expect was seeing the boy he had kissed behind the high school twenty years ago. And after twenty years, Trae had no idea the teenager he had feelings for, yet could not act on those impulses at the time, would become such a strikingly beautiful man.
As the two meet up onboard, Jon’s recollection of the crush he had on Trae and the pain after Trae did not return his affection, makes this thirty-five year old feel as if he is back in high school once more. And to add to the complication of their mutual attraction? Trae is married.
As liquor flows, and the memories of their first kiss begins to haunt the two men, their fate seems sealed. And while cruising the high seas, a reunion occurs. The consequences of their actions will change their lives forever.

Sample Chapter of The Reunion

Jon woke. It was pitch black in the room and beside him Ruben was snoring so loudly he sounded like a percussion solo in a boy band.
Jon stood, slowly, feeling the ship’s movement, and parted the dark drapes to be able to see his watch. It was six am. He had gone to bed so early, of course he had woken early. Instead of trying to get back to sleep, and with Ruben’s nozzle symphony it would be impossible, he turned on a light in the bathroom, sliding the door closed to not wake the man. After quick wash, Jon located his running shorts, a tank top, his socks and sneakers. Using the walk-in closet to get dressed, Jon crept out, located his room card key and left the cabin, closing the door gently. He walked up to the top deck, the ‘running’ deck, and stuffed the card key into his tight spandex shorts for safe keeping. Outside the ship it was cold and the wind on the fore of the ship was brutal in its power.
He began jogging to warm up and withstood the blast which hit him only at the bow, to be protected by the wind by the stacks on the aft side. The deck was small, so Jon attempted to keep count of the laps, using an enormous chess set, which was stuck in a corner by a few lounge chairs, as his ‘marker’.
As he looped the first round, he was stunned to see someone else running at that early hour. A large athletically built man was jogging, wearing baggy shorts and a neon green sports top. Since there were so many nationalities on the ship, Jon tried to guess from behind if this man was German, Dutch, Australian…what?
 As he drew close, about to lap him, he asked, “You play rugby?”
The man appeared slightly surprised to hear someone close, since the wind was making it difficult, not to mention, he had an earplug in his ear, and was holding the source of his music.
The moment Jon could see his face he felt a strange pang of recognition.
“No. I don’t play rugby.” The man laughed and they jogged side by side.
Jon heard the American accent, smiled, and continued running ahead of him, wondering why the man looked familiar. He could feel the man pacing with him now, behind him. Jon slowed down so they could run together, though the jogging was slightly slower than he wanted to, the company was nice.
“I thought you might be and Aussie or English,” Jon said, laughing.
A strange look came to the man’s eyes and he said, “Jonathan?”
A jolt of adrenalin nailed Jon hard. He stopped short and studied this man’s face. “Trae?”
“Holy fuck!” Trae took the earpiece out of his ear. “Is it really you? Jonathan Rosenberg?”
“I haven’t been called that in years!” Jon slapped Trae’s shoulder in affection. “Motherfucker! Class of ’95! The Northeast Hurricanes!”
“Red, white and black!” Trae pumped his fist. “Best of Broward County!”
They stood with their backs to a massive ship’s stack and avoided the whipping wind. “Twenty fucking years? Could it be?” Jon studied Trae’s features, his gorgeous green eyes and classically sculpted cheekbones and jaw line. Then his inspection moved to his broad shoulders and tight legs. Then…a gold band on his left ring finger. The pang of pain in Jon was unexpected.
“Jonathan. God. Look at you. Christ, I feel as if I am looking at your yearbook picture. You haven’t changed a bit.”
Suddenly the memories of the crush, the longing for this man all through senior high hit Jon. “I suppose we all change a little.” He touched Trae’s hand. “When did you get married? Was it to Britney Fletcher?”
“That slut?” Trae made a face of disgust. “Let’s keep running. I have to get some exercise.”
Jon nodded and they jogged side by side. Jon was still in shock but tried to digest the surprise.
“No. I married a woman named Nadine. My sweet wife, Nadine.” Trae held his smart phone, which obviously had his music on it, as he ran. “You? Anyone snag you yet?”
“No.” Jon glanced at Trae’s light eyes. “I’m gay. You knew that in high school.”
Trae’s smile faded and they jogged a half lap in silence.
“So, what do you do?” Jon asked, trying to get beyond what felt like awkwardness.
“I practice law.”
“Are you still in Florida?”
Trae nodded. “Yeah, moved to Miami. That’s where I met Nadine.” Trae glanced at him. “What about you?”
“I’m in LA. West Hollywood. I do acting jobs…ya know. Here and there.”
Trae nodded. “You were awesome. I remember you in the drama club doing every production. And you’re good looking enough.”
Jon felt his skin tingle, and it wasn’t from the blowing wind. He wanted to ask Trae if he remembered the time they had kissed. The time they hid behind the school late, after dark, and kissed.
“Are you here with your wife and…family?” Jon asked, trying not to express his jealousy.
“No. I don’t have kids, and no…the wife didn’t come.”
“Huh?” They rounded a bend, passing the chess set but Jon had completely lost count of their laps. “Your wife isn’t with you? You’re alone?”
“No. I’m with good friends. Another couple. They’re close friends with me and my wife.”
If Jon had to hear Trae refer to his wife once more, he was going to be sick. He had been in love with this man as a teen and when Trae had rejected him, telling him he could never live his life as a gay man, Jon had locked himself in his room for months, drowning in rejection and agony. It literally took Jon years to get over it.
“Who are you here with? Are you involved with a guy?”
Jon withstood the blast of wind as they came around the fore of the ship, then answered, “No. Just a friend. Ruben. He’s gay but we’ve never been romantically involved. I’m not in a relationship at the moment.”
Trae nodded, as if taking it in.
“Are you in your own cabin?” Jon asked.
“No. I share one with George and Liz.”
Jon bit his tongue about a three-way sexual joke. He remembered Trae coming from an ultra conservative religious family, and some other facts about siblings with criminal pasts. Things he would never tell a soul.
“I’m glad I went running,” Trae said, “I would never have run into you. This ship is so damn big, I don’t see anyone but old people and George and Liz.”
“I hear ya.” Jon nodded, trying to recall how many laps he’d run and unable to.
“Have you planned any tours?” Trae asked, as if eager to keep up a conversation.
“Yes. One in each port, except Oslo, I think.”
Trae nodded. “Me too.”
“The food is spectacular. But, I know I’ll be bored with the entertainment.”
Trae laughed and they brushed arms as the jogged through a tight spot between lounge chairs on a curve. “Really? Not into Scrabble or Bridge?”
“Well, not at the moment.” Jon laughed.
“I found an awesome bar on the ship. Have you been to the Crow’s Nest yet?”
“No. Where is it? I feel like I need to keep exploring.”
“It’s up on top. Level twelve. On the fore side.”
“Ahh, foreskin on the penis-dam. Got it.”
Trae laughed so hard he stopped running to cough and double over.
Jon stopped and waited for him, knowing he had used a parody for the name of the ship, all of which ended in ‘dam’.
Once Trae contained his hilarity he continued to jog, still giggling with laughter. “Christ, where’ve you been all my life, Jonathan?”
“Jon.” Jon grinned wickedly. “Jon Ross. Say it like this. Bond. James Bond.”
Trae reached out and touched Jon’s hair, just a quick caress and then pretended he never did it.
The fire it lit in Jon was beyond his expectations.
“Jon Ross. Why did you change it?”
“Hollywood. I guess my agent just thought Jonathan Rosenberg was too…”
“Maybe. Or too long.” Jon shrugged.
“Well, if you get bored and need to find someone to talk to…” Trae slowed down and seemed winded, as if he’d had enough running. “You’ll usually find me there.”
“What floor is your cabin on?” Jon stopped too. He had no idea how far they had run, but between the jetlag and the time difference, it didn’t matter. He had at least done something.
“Ten. You?”
“Seven. I see you got the posh cabins. Spoiled?”
“Sharing with a married couple?” Trae tilted his head and dabbed at the sweat running down his temple. “Yeah. Right.”
“Hot shot attorney, first class all the way, while the out of work actor is in the dregs.”
“Dregs? You have a porthole?”
“Do I have a porthole?” Jon put his hands on his hips and gave Trae a look of shocked exaggeration.
“Let me rephrase that.” Trae started laughing loudly again.
“We have a window. But it doesn’t open. I assume you have a nice balcony.”
“Yes. Come up and see it. I’ll give you the tour. And it’ll only cost you two drinks up at the Nest.”
“Deal.” Jon held out his hand.
Trae took it.
The electricity was consuming Jon. Against his better judgment, he pulled Trae into an embrace and held him, closing his eyes, recalling every moment he lusted after this high school jock.
They backed up and met gazes.
“I’ll see ya around the boat.” Jon released Trae’s hand
“Ship. I think they call it a ship, not a boat.” Trae gave him a wicked smirk.
“Ship.” Jon glanced at Trae’s crotch, then back at his glorious green eyes. “See ya.”
“See ya.”
After trotting down an outdoor metal staircase to the lido deck, Jon walked to the nearest door and opened it, jogging down the four floors to his room level. He was so stunned he didn’t know what to think, but that gold band around Trae’s finger was like a warning flare. Keep off. My sweet wife
Jon sneered in disgust and used his shirt to wipe the dripping sweat from his face.

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