Empress of the World – Part 1
“Christ on a Unicycle!”
My eyes swung between my sister and my mom. The glare with which my mom shot Jackie made me glad it was my sister in her crosshairs.
“Jackie, really. If you can’t say anything nice…” Mom’s voice trailed off. It wasn’t like we hadn’t heard the familiar words before.
Jackie glared, “What’s wrong with that? Dad used to say it all the time.”
I turned away from them, knowing things were about to get ugly. As Mom responded, the vast ship riding at anchor on the other side of the thick plate-glass window captivated me. The Empress of the World was the largest ship I’d ever seen.
Unfortunately, I could hear Mom, “Maybe that’s why he and I never got married.”
Still focusing on the ship, I waited for the explosion. Jackie’s dad had passed away a couple of years ago and my sister’s wounds were still raw, even after all this time.
“Or maybe you didn’t get married to mine or Orion’s dads because you were still looking for your meal ticket.”
My head whipped around fast enough to get whiplash. Max hadn’t returned from parking the car in long-term parking yet. But Jackie had gone too far, struck too close to home. Of all the men Mom had been with, Max was in a class all his own. Before Jackie’s dad had died, he’d been an assistant manager at a grocery store. My dad had been a sheriff’s deputy, before he’d had one DUI too many, and found out what it was like on the other side of the bars. I haven’t seen him in a couple of years.
I scarcely understood what Max did. But I knew he made a ton of money doing it. He was always schmoozing politicians and high-ranking government employees in Austin. Of course, that was how he met Mom, who had been working at a Brazilian steakhouse a few blocks from the state capitol building. Though she’s past thirty, even I could see she was still hot. Apparently Max thought so too. He came back after he’d been wining and dining some state senator and got Mom’s phone number. The rest, as they say, is history. A year later, Mom’s wearing an enormous diamond ring and they’re going to get married before the end of the summer.
Of course, that’s why were waiting in the cruise terminal in Los Angeles. After Mom said yes, when Max popped the question, he talked her into a destination wedding in New Zealand. Mom has always been deathly afraid of flying, so she talked him into a cruise that would take them to New Zealand. In all the hubbub of them planning their cruise and wedding, somehow or another, they made the decision that me and Jackie would come along.
The cruise was not direct between Los Angeles and New Zealand. No, it would meander across the Pacific like a drunken sailor, taking us to a few different cities in Hawaii, before visiting ports like Tahiti and islands like Guam before taking us to New Zealand, where Max had already arranged for the wedding.
But that wasn’t even the cruise’s halfway point. I guess the rest of the trip would officially be Max’s and Mom’s honeymoon, as the ship would visit a dozen different ports across Australia before turning north, eventually reaching Taiwan over seventy days after leaving Los Angeles.
To me, a twelve-year-old boy, it was the adventure of a lifetime. But to my sixteen-year-old sister, it was hell on earth. She’d just received her driver’s license a few months before and had been looking forward to pool parties with her friends. Instead, we were scheduled to return just a few days before school starts up in the fall.
And that’s why Jackie was playing with fire with Mom, who shook her head and said, “Don’t be such a bitch, Jackie. When you’re older, you’ll understand.”
My sister’s head snapped back. Mom seldom called her names. But then again, Jackie was doing her best to be as cruel as possible right then. Her mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. Max chose that moment to return and whatever Jackie was trying to say died.
We had already dropped off our luggage as we headed through the terminal. Apart from the clothes on our backs, the only thing we carried were backpacks and carry-ons. Of course, I loaded mine down with my laptop, hand-held console and my swimming suit.
Before we could board the Empress of the World, we had to go through the registration process. Max leaned against the counter and handed over our passports. After a bit, the lady checking us in said, “Mr. Moreland, we were able give you a complimentary upgrade to a mini-suite with a balcony.”
Mom, who had been doing her best to ignore Jackie, leaned forward, “Just for one cabin? We were supposed to have adjoining balcony cabins.”
The clerk glanced down at her screen. “Hmm, let me check into that.”
Minutes passed by before she looked up, “I’m sorry, Ms. Dalton. The original reservation had adjoining cabins, but we emailed Mr. Moreland a couple of weeks ago when one of the cabins taken out of service.”
She pursed her lips as she looked at her screen. “The email said we would try to accommodate adjoining cabins. But regrettably that isn’t possible. It appears that’s why we upgraded your cabins to suites, ma’am.”
Mom looked back at me and Jackie, “Max, I’m not sure about this. The kids were supposed to be next door.”
Max smiled at my mom before turning to the clerk, “Is there anything you can do to accommodate us? My fiancé would prefer her children next door.”
The clerk shrugged her shoulders, “I’m sorry, Mr. Moreland. The ship is nearly at capacity and cabin assignments are fixed. Once the Empress of the World is underway, you’re welcome to go to guest services and see if there are any last-minute cancelations that would accommodate your needs.”
I felt a thrill inside me at the prospect of being away from Mom and Max. Also, just a little fear. Still, Jackie would be there, and I’d long since resigned myself to having to share the cabin with her. With an air of indifference, Jackie said, “We’ll be fine, Mom. We’re not little kids anymore. We can take care of ourselves.”
Mom wore her worried face even as Max nodded, “Maybe Jackie’s right, Hon. She’s less than two years from eighteen. Perhaps now is a good time to see how she handles a bit of independence. After all, we’ll just be a couple of decks above them.”
Mom still looked doubtful. Then the clerk weighed in, “Mr. Moreland, if your party will accept the cabin assignments, I’m authorized to provide a thousand-dollar credit to each room. I know this doesn’t fix your inconvenience, but I hope it allows your party to start off your vacation by enjoying some of our amenities on us.”
I could see Mom thinking about how many spa treatments a thousand dollars would get her as she slowly nodded, “Maybe you’re right, Max.”
She turned on me and Jackie, “I’m trusting you two to behave. I need you to show me my trust isn’t misplaced. Alright?”
As I nodded, I snuck a sideways glance at my sister. The sullen look was gone, at least for now. She slowly bobbed her head in agreement. “Fine. But I still miss my friends.”
With Mom’s objections silenced, each of us received our boarding pass in the form of a wristwatch a few minutes later. The clerk told us we needed to keep it with us at all times. Jackie and I would need them to access the Zone, which was part of the ship just for teens. Fortunately, as far as the Empress was concerned, twelve-year-olds are teens. I let out an audible sigh of relief when I found that out. It’s not that I wanted to hang out with Jackie. Mom was right, she really was being a bitch. But I was too big for the younger kids’ section. At an inch over five foot, most people thought I was already thirteen.
After that, we headed toward the boarding area and a few minutes later, we winded our way up an enclosed gangway onto the ship. To get past the screening station, we each had to let some very tough-looking men scan our wristwatches before they would let us pass. From there, we followed some other guests into the ship’s interior.
A couple of elevator rides later, we ended up on deck 14, where they were serving up a buffet. Max grabbed a table for us while me, Jackie, and Mom spread out to fill up our plates. When I came back, I’d piled my plate with hot dogs, a hamburger, and a few slices of pizza. Mom, always the responsible eater, had loaded her plate with some gross looking salad and other green things. Jackie came back with some disgusting looking fish bits. I think she found the buffet’s sushi bar.
We’d picked a table facing the ocean, and it was really cool looking at ships sailing into and out of Los Angeles’ harbor while feeding my face pizza. Even Jackie seemed in better spirits by the time we had finished.
After sharing some kind of chocolate dessert with Max, Mom excused herself, leaving us with her fiancé. He was about ten years older than Mom, but he looked a bit younger, with short brown hair and a clean-shaven face. I knew he worked out a lot. He’d taken me to his gym to work out several times over the past year. More than that, I knew by the way he treated her he was head-over-heels in love with our mom.
He waited until Mom disappeared before leaning in, “Okay, Jackie, I know you want to be here like you want a visit to the dentist. But I really want your mom to enjoy this cruise and I need your guys help to make that happen.”
Jackie’s sullen expression returned. She didn’t much care for Max. I’m not sure if it’s because she thought Mom was a gold-digger or what. But despite Max’s best efforts, Jackie had remained cold toward him.
Undeterred, Max said, “So, here’s the deal. You guys work with me and I’ll pay for internet package for your room for the entire trip. Two devices each.” He looked at Jackie when he added, “That way you can stay in touch with your friends over the summer. Maybe they won’t seem so far away if you can Facetime them.”
Jackie’s eyes softened a bit, “That wouldn’t be too bad. So, what do you want from me and Orion?”
Max leaned back, “Get lost.”
I can only imagine what my eyes must have looked like right then. Jackie’s were wide in shock. Before either of us could muster a reply, he added, “Not literally, guys. You may not believe it yet, but there’s a lot to do on this ship, and because it’s summer, there should be quite a few other passengers who’re your ages. Have fun. Make friends. Enjoy the ship’s amenities. And let me have your mom’s time.”
I could feel my head nodding. I was already stoked for the cruise and knew I was going to have fun. Jackie was Max’s only obstacle. Her eyes narrowed as she stared back at him. “I dunno Max. All the cool stuff costs extra. I’m afraid a thousand-dollar room credit won’t go very far, not on a two-month cruise. Not if you want us to do our own thing all the time.”
Max smirked, shaking his head slightly. “Your skills are wasted as a teenager, Jackie. Once you graduate from college, come see me about a job.”
I worried Jackie had sunk the deal. And it was a freaking awesome deal as far as I was concerned. But Max sighed, “Fine. I’ll call guest services this evening and put a hundred dollars a day room credit on your cabin.”
Jackie wore an exultant expression as a shit-eating grin spread across her face. Max held up his hand and said, “Use it however you’d like. Spa treatments, specialty dining, shore excursions, shopping. Whatever. But,” he paused again, “I’m splitting that money between the two of you. Deal?”
Still smiling, Jackie nodded and extending her hand across the table, “You’ve got yourself a deal, Max.”
Once Max and Jackie shook on it, he extended his hand to me, “You’re part of this too, Orion. Deal?”
My grin spread from ear to ear as I shook on it, “Deal.”
Once we’d all shaken hands, Max smiled triumphantly as Mom returned. She took one look at us and said, “Uh-oh. I’m gone for five minutes and the three of you look all buddy-buddy. What’s up?”
Max stood and helped Mom back into her seat, “Nothing, Clarice. Jackie and Orion were telling me how they wanted to do their own thing at meal times and I was just agreeing with them.”
Mom gave Max a severe look, “I don’t know about that. Even though the wedding is still a few weeks away, Max, I want us to behave like a family. Do things together.”
Before Max could say anything, Jackie jumped in, “Come on, Mom. It’s bad enough I’m missing out on my summer with my friends, don’t make me and Orion sit next to you two at dinner, making googly eyes at each other. That’ cruel and unusual punishment.”
Max said, “Do we really give each other googly eyes?”
Both me and Jackie nodded.
He laughed, “Well, we don’t want to gross you two out.” He turned to Mom, “I think we’ll all enjoy the cruise more if we give these two rapscallions their way on this.”
Still looking doubtful, Mom said, “I don’t know, Max. Maybe Jackie’s old enough to do her own thing, but Orion’s only twelve.”
My jaw fell open when Mom turned her attention onto me.
I squeaked, “I’m almost thirteen!”
My voice was still high-pitched. A lot of my friends, when they got excited or nervous, their voices would break. Some of them already sounded more adult and less like kids. Not me. Although I hated choir, my voice, when I sang, was still pure and soprano-like.
Max came to my rescue, “Orion’s mature for his age. How about we see how he handles a bit of freedom?”
I could see the skepticism written across Mom’s face.
Then Jackie said, “Why don’t you and Max start treating this like the honeymoon this cruise is supposed to be. I promise, I’ll keep an eye on Orion, make sure he’s eating his veggies at dinner, and you two do your thing.”
For the first time since Mom started dating Max, I watched Jackie and Mom’s fiancé work together toward a common goal. Even so, Mom was formidable. When everything was settled, Jackie and I would join Mom and Max two nights a week for dinner in the ship’s formal dining room, but not on the formal nights. The other five dinners were ours, as were all our breakfasts and lunches. And apart from the wedding in New Zealand, Jackie and I could do our own shore excursions-provided she and I were together. Anything else required Mom’s approval.
By the time we left the Buffet Court, all of us wore smiles. Even Mom. I knew she didn’t like the idea of Jackie and I not spending as much time with her as she had envisioned, but I think she was genuinely pleased about Jackie and Max working together, even if it was to overcome her objections.
From there, we checked into our emergency mustering station, after which Jackie and I headed to deck nine to find our cabin, while Mom and Max headed to deck twelve.
Our bags had yet to arrive when we reached our cabin. They’d told us it could take most of embarkation day to get thousands of suitcases and luggage distributed among a thousand cabins, and they weren’t kidding.
Jackie went into our cabin first. “What the fuck!”
I came in behind her, curious about what she’d found to complain about now. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out. There was a single large bed against one wall.
I mumbled, “I thought we’d have our own beds.”
Jackie tossed her carry-on onto the bed, “No kidding. At least you don’t still wet the bed anymore.”
I set my backpack on the bed with care. Maybe Jackie didn’t care about her stuff, but the idea of having something happen to my laptop sent chills down my spine. I had just about every game I wanted to play downloaded on it. I glared at my sister, “Fuck you. It’s been years since I’ve had an accident.”
She sat on the bed and flipped me the bird, “At least the bed’s comfy. I call dibs on this side.”
I didn’t care which side I slept on. Still, I shared her distaste for our sleeping arrangement. The last couple of years Jackie had become hard to live with, and part of me dreaded spending more than two months in a cabin with her. I really hoped she would play ball with Max and not give Mom any reason to keep a close eye on us. Maybe then, sharing a cabin with her wouldn’t be too bad.
After a few minutes, she grabbed her swimming suit from her backpack, “I want to check out the swimming pool. You want to come with?”
I’d packed my swimsuit in my backpack just for that. As she headed toward the bathroom, I said, “Sure.”
While she changed, I turned on the TV and used the remote control to navigate through the options. There half a dozen channels reserved just for the ship; things like shore excursions, shopping opportunities, and the ship’s amenities.
When the bathroom door opened, I involuntarily sucked in my breath at the sight of Jackie. My sister wore a two-piece purple and pink bikini. Even though she was my sister and I knew that thinking about her in any way that could be considered sexy was wrong, I was twelve years old and on the cusp of puberty. I couldn’t help thinking it; my sister was super-hot in that bikini.
Her raven-black hair brushed her shoulder straps. The padding on her cups made her naturally small tits look at least one size larger than she was. Her skin was already lightly tanned. Even though she’d bitched and moaned about coming on the cruise, that hadn’t stopped Jackie from working on her tan the last few weeks before school let out.
“Hey, eyes up here, perv,” Jackie said.
My face burned as I grabbed my swimming suit and tore my eyes off her body. “I wasn’t looking,” I muttered.
The bathroom was toward the front of the cabin. It was big enough to be comfortable for one person-barely. Our mini-suite cabin had a full-length bathtub/shower, unlike the cabin we’d reserved, which was equipped with a walk-in shower. I didn’t care about that kind of thing, but knew Jackie would enjoy the bathtub.
I pulled off my T-shirt and then shucked my pants and underwear. Before sliding my swimsuit on, I paused and looked at myself in the mirror. I was tall for my age. Just an inch shorter than Jackie’s five foot, two inches. That’s why people thought I was thirteen. But staring at myself in the mirror, my height was the only part of me that was teen-agerish. Most of the guys in my gym class had hit puberty by the end of the seventh grade. Most of them had at least a few strands of hair over their dicks. Some of them had lots of it. My friend, Darrin, even had a few wisps of hair on his chin.
As I stared at myself, I wished I looked like the other boys in my gym class. Even though I was less than three months from thirteen, my balls, my dick and my pubic area were as smooth as they’d been when I was a little kid. Worse still, as far as I was concerned, I was a grower rather than a shower. After getting an eyeful of Jackie’s body, my dick pointed at the ceiling, all four and a quarter inches. But when it deflated, it would shrink down to two inches.
I sighed in misery, hoping my body would get the chance to play catch-up over the summer. After I pulled on my swimsuit, my erection finally went down so that when I joined Jackie, things were back to normal.
The pool was on the same deck as the buffet court. And when we got there, it was half full of people, enjoying the warm June weather and listening to hip hop music from a DJ.
Jackie tossed her towel onto an open lounge chair. Without a backwards glance, she said, “Later.”
I watched her as she went over to the side of the pool. The way the material on her bottoms gripped her ass was enough to make lie face-down on the lounge chair. I think I would die if someone saw me sporting a boner. Especially if they knew I was perving my older sister.
A few minutes later, once things returned to normal, I headed into the water, too.
I was in a splashing fight with a couple of younger kids when something hit me from behind. When I spun around, I faced a boy who looked a couple of years older. He held a Nerf football, “Oh, shit, dude, sorry about that. Nathan threw the ball too hard and when I jumped up, I bumped into you.”
The words that had been on my lips died. He really appeared apologetic. I tried to ignore the pain as I shrugged, “No big deal.”
I moved away from the kids and added, “You guys got room for me?”
He nodded, “Sure. I’m Gavin and you’ve already felt Nathan’s handiwork.”
Nathan waved. He looked a bit older than me, but was about the same height. Gavin’s wet blond hair brushed against his shoulders as he spiraled the ball to me. “You got a name?”
I moved away, and cocked my arm to throw the Nerf ball, “Orion. You guys from California?”
When Gavin caught the ball, he said, “Yep. You don’t sound like you’re from around here. Texas?”
I’d never noticed my accent. But I’ve been told before that it’s pretty strong. “Yeah. From Austin.”
As we tossed the ball between the three of us, Gavin said, “My grandmother’s had this cruise on her bucket list for years. So, my mom and me get a free cruise. What about you?”
I explained that Max and my mom were getting married in New Zealand. Both teens thought it was pretty cool. Nathan left first and took his ball with him, leaving me and Gavin sitting on the side of the pool.
About that time, I spied Jackie. She was sitting in one of the hot tubs that ringed the pool. She was hanging out with a couple of older boys. Well, probably men. They looked old enough to be in college. Gavin must have seen my gaze. He nudged me in my ribs, “Who’s hotter? The dude with the tat on his arm or the girl with black hair?”
My eyes slid back to Gavin, uncertain how to take the question. I’d barely given the guys to whom Jackie was talking to a cursory look. But I couldn’t tell him I was ogling my older sister. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I took the chicken’s way out. “Um, he’s got a lot of muscles. I bet he works out a lot.”
Gavin had already surprised me with his question. But he left me speechless when he replied, “Yeah, he’s freaking hot. I wonder how big his dick is.”
My jaw must have been hanging open when Gavin laughed, “Come on, Orion, there’s nothing wrong checking out other guys.”
Then he got up and knelt next to me. In a voice only I could hear, he said, “You know, I didn’t bump into you on accident.”
He stood and said, “See you around, Orion.”
I watched him as he threaded his way through the maze of lounge chairs. I hadn’t noticed until then his speedos. But as retreated, my eyes stayed focused on how the stretchy fabric molded itself to his ass. Just before he disappeared into the elevators, I glanced down and saw my own reaction. I slid back into the pool.
Copyright 2021 – Caliboy1991
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