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It’s 6:58pm and all seven of us crew are gathered on the large L-shaped sectional in the main salon.

Everyone’s chatting excitedly, trading travel stories and joking casually.

No one I’ve worked with before, I lament. It would have been nice to see at least one familiar face, but then again, it’s an opportunity to build a fresh rapport with a new team.

A moment later, Kathryn breezes swiftly through the door. Still in her civilian outfit, she makes herself comfortable in the only armchair as the crew hushes.

“Good evening, everyone. I’m happy to see that you’ve all made it to France without incident. My name is Captain Kathryn. I’ll be your captain for the next couple of months, and I really look forward to working with each and every one of you.”

No smile. Hmm.

She continues “I’d like to go over two ground rules that I’ve found contribute to successful charters as well as to an overall harmonious experience for us all – and therefore they’re rules that I would like all crew to adhere to.”

“Firstly, you will refer to me as either ‘Captain’ or ‘Captain Kathryn’. Referring to my first name, like you would with each other, is not appropriate and I expect you all to respect this.”

When there are no comments, she goes on.

“Secondly, I expect complete professionalism from my crew at all times. You’re all experienced — by now you know exactly what this means.”

She pauses and looks around the room, but not at me on her far right. God, how I wish I could gaze into those large chestnut eyes again, if only for a second.

“Guests are paying an exorbitant amount of money to charter this vessel, and you’re here to make sure that they have the best possible experience, whether your job falls on the service or maintenance side. As you’re well aware, a large portion of our salaries is made up of tips that we receive at the end of each charter. Not refilling an empty drink, vacuuming crumbs or letting spots accumulate on the windows can mean the difference between a ten thousand and twenty thousand tip.”

Kathryn wasn’t wrong; While we all received a base salary depending on our respective positions, this was supplemented by the tip that was given to us at the end of each individual charter, split eight ways among the crew. Considering that we generally completed fifteen-twenty charters in our three-month stints, the money added up quickly and was the main reason we were all here.

She kept speaking. “The other side of professionalism that I’m referring to is behind kocaeli escort bayan the scenes. I’m well aware of what goes on.”

Man, this woman gets straight to the point.

“To speak plainly, I fully expect no hanky-panky whenever we’re on charter. When there are guests on this boat, everyone will remain in their own cabins and in their own beds. What you do when the boat is in between charters is your own business — but keep in mind that this isn’t a floating frat or sorority house, and I strongly suggest that if you can’t go three months without a physical connection, this probably isn’t the job for you.”

I was a bit taken aback by Kathryn. Not by her rules; These were all considered basic requests by most captains I had worked with, albeit not put so bluntly. The part that was throwing me off was witnessing this icy side of her. The warm, charming captain I had met just a few hours earlier had been replaced by a stern, almost autocratic woman and I suddenly found her intimidating as I shifted in my seat.

I was also now just noticing something else that was catching me off guard: I was completely turned on by it. The tingly sensations that were firing throughout my body were impossible to ignore.

Jesus, Lucca. You’ve met hundreds of impossibly attractive women. Get your shit together.

I attempt to calm myself as I brush the arousal off. I wasn’t one to get flustered by a pretty face, so what in the actual hell was going on?

“With that being said, does anyone have any questions for me? Comments? Concerns?” Kathryn leans back in her armchair and waits.

Bobby, the Bosun, asks casually, “So, cool if we call you Captain Katie?” with a slight smirk across his face. We all turn to look at him, then at her.


Her face is otherwise expressionless as she replies evenly, “Not if you’re someone that would like to remain on this boat,” which solicits chuckles from the crew. He sinks down a bit into the couch and we once again sit in silence.

“Excellent. Then I think that about does it,” Kathryn says as she stands up. “Lucca and Bobby, make sure that your respective teams are on deck tomorrow by 8am. The boat needs to be prepped for its first charter the following day.” She turns to leave as we nod in unison.

“Oh,” she continues, turning back. “And I’ll be taking everyone out to dinner tomorrow night to celebrate the start of our season. Between now and then, and for the majority of our charters, you can find me in the Bridge if anyone needs anything.” izmit escort bayan This time, she makes eye contact with me as she turns around to leave again, and I feel my heart skip a beat before she strides away.

Is she inviting me up there? Was she non-verbally asking me to come see her?

I stop myself. Stop reading into things that aren’t there, I scold. God, why am I so obsessed with this woman…?

I’m pulled out of my thoughts as the crew begins to depart.

“Interior crew, please hang back — I’d like to have a chat,” I announce.

I watch Quinn and Willa, the Second and Third Stew, turn around and come sit back down.

“Hi guys, I’m Lucca,” I introduce myself. “I just wanted us to learn a little bit more about each other since we’ll all be working so closely and relying on one another. I’ll start — I’m from California and started as a Third Stew six years ago. I worked my way up through the ranks, and you can do that too if you so choose. Or not — lots of girls find their niche in either the Third or Second Stew role,” I shrug as I go on.

“I’d like to keep a clear line of communication open at all times, so if there are any questions or issues that arise — whether job-related or personal, please come to me first and not to the captain. It’ll be my job to go to her with unresolved issues as a last-case scenario. Otherwise, I’m confident that we will all be able to work well together and have a great charter season,” I say as they both nod.

“Right. Quinn, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself,” as I turn to look at the tanned strawberry-blonde.

She leans forward enthusiastically. “Sure! I’m Quinn, I’m twenty-eight, and I’m from Melbourne,” as was evident from her thick Australian accent. “My favorite things are traveling, sunbathing, and shopping, which I can’t wait to do here in Southern France! Oh, and I recently graduated from Third to Second Stew after my last charter and am so so excited to be more guest-facing!” she adds with a large grin.

Jesus is this girl bubbly. Personally, I’d always found this type of girl to be exhausting to work with. I had a feeling that it was going to be a long three months.

“That’s excellent,” I say with more conviction that I was actually feeling. “I think your personality will do very well in service and I’ll make sure you get that facetime.”

I now turn to look at Willa. “Tell us about you, Willa.”

“Well,” she starts meekly. “I’m twenty-five, I’m from Florida and this will gebze escort be my second charter as a Third Stew.” She reaches up to adjust the ponytail that’s holding her mousy brown hair before continuing. “I actually really enjoy doing laundry and doing the behind-the-scenes stuff. I haven’t really been out of the United States before since my last charter was just off of Key West, so I’m looking forward to seeing France a little bit,” she admits nervously.

I smile as I try to sound reassuring. “Well, I’m happy to hear your attitude towards laundry because there will be lots of it. And I think you’ll find that once you experience a charter on the other side of the world, you’ll become an addicted yachtie like the rest of us.”

She just nods.

“Ok, so that’s all I have for you guys. You heard Captain — on deck at 8am. You both can start refreshing guest cabins and I’ll be starting with inventory. Until then — have a good rest of your night, ladies.” I say as I start to get up.

I head to my cabin and plop down on my bed as my jet lag begins to become more noticeable. I put in my headphones and stare up at the ceiling.

An image of Kathryn’s face manifests against the white paint. Mere minutes after seeing her, the only thing I can think about is seeing her again.

I try to come up with an excuse to go visit her. Is there something I could need? A question I could ask without sounding incompetent?

Then, it dawns on me: I don’t even know if this woman is into women.

My eyes are wide now, unblinking. Wow.

What is it about gay women that assume every woman they’re attracted to is into women? I question silently.

I replay our interactions in my mind: The handshakes that lingered. The intense eye gazing. That flirty comment. Too many smiles thrown at me to count, which I have yet to see displayed for anyone else. Did I imagine all of this? Am I seeing things that aren’t actually there?

I start second guessing myself now.

You have got to get a grip, I demand. Nothing has happened. Nothing will happen, so it doesn’t even matter if she’s the biggest homo on the planet — this is a professional environment. You heard her speech.

My stomach does an excited flop as I briefly imagine her being the biggest homo on the planet.

And what about a girlfriend? I question myself. This isn’t Hollywood, where every character that the protagonist is into always just *happens* to be single. Even if she were gay — statistically, what are the chances that she’s not in love with someone on land … Someone that loves her?

I instantly feel crushed in a way that I’d never felt by someone I had just met. I close my eyes.

The next sound I hear is the alarm clock on my phone jolting me up out of sleep.

Chapter 3 to follow …

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