1. Copyright: These are all my characters. Copyright © 2005 All Rights Reserved. Send comments to JLNickymaster@aol.com

2. Violence: Nope, not in this section unless you include the almost drowning episode.

3. Sexual content: Ummm, no and yes and no...omg hawttttt!

4. Special thanks: to my younger sister for kind of prodding me onward. I got writers block a few times cause I didn't have any Oreo's.

5. Language: No



Deepest Ocean Green Part 5

Maiden Voyage Itinerary for Queen Victoria Cruise Ship - From Orlando's nearby port of entry Cape Canaveral we will sail to Miami, Key West Island, and across the Atlantic to Cozumel. After a quick visit to the Bahamas, we will circle back to Fort Lauderdale then make our way to return home to Cape Canaveral.

Dean sipped her third cup of coffee for the hour. Her jaw was clenched tight as she suppressed another yawn and steered the massive ship through the coastal waters. She checked and double-checked her calculated headings as the flotilla moved along. Sipping her new best friend, Mr. Coffee, she thought about Chris and couldn't help, but smile. She closed her eyes replaying the kiss they had shared. After she took a sip, inhaling a bit of coffee into her windpipe, Dean began choking. She covered her mouth to avoid spraying the hot beverage across the window that she'd been fantasizing in front of. Managing a wheezing intake of air, she moved to the console, coughing. Being a career Navy officer, trained both to save lives and work in numerous types of diving scenarios; if the coffee didn't kill her, the irony would. Drowning on a cup of coffee after 20 years of service, it was too incredible for her to believe, much less, to try explaining it to someone else.

The door clicked shut behind her as Chris entered the war room. She watched as Dean leaned back and poured water into her mouth like a dehydrated athlete at a marathon. Her attentions were drawn to the sound as Dean inhaled wetly and then watched, as she started another bout of coughing. Chris rushed over and pounded on her back. Dean, who was trying to swallow the mouthful of water, spit it outward in surprise. The clipboard resting on the ledge at the window took the worst of it. The rest bounced off the window and landed on Dean's boots. Dean rolled her eyes at the petite woman and started laughing at the whole lunacy of the moment. Mark chuckled along and with great sarcasm and a spinning wrist, he handed her a towel from the coffee bar. Dean grabbed it and began to clean the area as Chris shook her head at the taller woman.

"You OK, skipper?" Chris asked in a soft voice. She frowned when; both Mark and Dean started chuckling again.

"I'm fine, hon...Top!" Dean corrected hurriedly as she glanced over at Mark, then apologetically at Chris. Chris stood stunned for a moment.

She just called me honey! Chris thought to herself, experiencing a warm feeling flowing inside. Her eyes sparkled with pleasure as she quickly grabbed a towel and wiped down the rest of the ledge.

Dean watched her first officer and speculated at the slight grin on her beaming face. Dean grinned along with her.

The captain excused herself from day duty as the workday ended. Her attention to detail was slipping as she had tried to caffeine, her way awake. Reaching a point where she was moderately comfortable with the situation, she checked out and headed to her berth. The ship would stay on course for quite some time before she would be needed. Right now, she only craved her bed and some much needed rest.

Cutting across the top-level lido deck area, she was suddenly aware of some high-pitched, childish squeals of exuberant and playful laughter, which brought a smile to her face. She glanced over at the pool's surface to check outthe situation and saw the family trio thatshe had befriended on the walkway, playing together in the shallow end.

She slowed her stride and then turned to head over near the mini bar nearby. She promised herself, she would just take a few minutes to enjoy the show as she settled upon a barstool. The bartender on duty handed her the cold bottled water that she requested and then shied away to try and look busy. Dean watched as Georgia and Brooke proceeded to toss little Brandy back and forth. Her small arms wereencased in cartoon covered arm floaters; she screamed as she flew! It was a sight to see. Dean smiled and chuckled as Georgia, who was quite a bit shorter than her partner, kept getting the brunt of the water splashed in her face. She eventually cupped her hands together and started splashing back at Brooke when Brandy held onto Brooke's arms. Brooke took a full measure of water in her face before she flipped Brandy onto her back and they went shark hunting. The sounds of the theme from Jaws had Georgia looking for a quick retreat. Her excited scream escaped as Brandy and Brooke popped up around her with gusto. The watershed drenched the small blonde as she claimed the gang warfare rights of 'no fair.

About this time, Brandy noticed, that the captain was sitting nearby.

"Captain! Captain! Come play wif us?" Her girlish laughter tugged at Dean's heart. Brooke and Georgia turned to look at the reclining officer and waved. Before they could stop her, Brandy had pulled herself up out of the pool and was running over to Dean.

Dean raised her eyebrows with some alarm as Brooke and Georgia had just missed grabbing the little tadpole. Dean stood and briskly walked around the few recliners at the poolside and met Brandy halfway. Brandy clung to Dean's leg like a leech.

"Come play Captain! C...c...come play!" Brandy held tight to the pant leg long enough to sit down on Dean's shoe and wrap her limbs around the whole leg. Dean laughed out loud.

"I'm watching you three play. What in the world have I got attached to my leg?" Dean played along, as she walked with a limp, back over to the little girl's parents.

"Did ya'll loose something?" Dean inquired laughingly.

"Sorry about that Captain." Brooke motioned to the now drenched pant leg. Dean shrugged smiling.

"Brandy, come get back in the pool, sweetheart." Brandy grinned her biggest grin straight up at Dean, then released her grip and turned to jump back into the pool. The chlorine water sparkled as it splashed upward. Dean stepped back slightly and grinned down at the three of them.

"We can't thank you enough, Captain. This first class service is wonderful. The pool downstairs is packed." Georgia's slightly southern accent came through as she pulled the dog paddling Brandy to her side. The three of them looked refreshed. Dean wondered if she might swim some laps later, when the pool area was deserted. She made a mental note to get some exercise in the cool, inviting waters before the evening ended. Looking down at her totally drenched pant leg, she rolled her eyes at the sight. Dean gave in to the urge to pull the soggy pant leg away from her calf. She refrained from any "wet" comments in front of Brandy.

"Glad your enjoying it. Don't forget to take Brandy over to the kid's center. She will enjoy it immensely, so I'm told and it will give you some time to visit our more adult arenas. Brooke nodded in agreement, winking up at Dean. Brandy clapped her hands together as Dean leaned down to tousle her wet head.

"I've heard they make all sorts of great Indian headdresses and let you camp out under the stars in a real live tent." Brandy's eyes got really large with excitement. She looked over at her mom, and then turned to Georgia,biting her lip coyly.Georgia rolled her eyes.

"Why am I the decision maker here? Go climb on your mom, munchkin. I'm sure, that she can drop you by the center to see what's happening there. We'll check into it." Brandy squealed and lunged into her mom's outstretched hands. Dean stood taking a closer look at the green bikini Georgia wore. It suddenly registered in her thick skull, she was actually looking more at the curves of the woman who wore it. Glancing over at Brooke quickly, she caught the amused eyes of the taller woman. Brooke pursed her lips slightly and then grinned. Dean felt a slight blush rising and grinned back sheepishly.

"Sorry bout that!" She apologized to Brooke and then felt twice as bad, when Georgia cleared her throat. Dean closed her eyes, rubbing her forehead with chagrin. She was pinned by the sight of Georgia's raised eyebrow. Dean felt like her feet were sinking and reached out of the quicksand, with the only ammo she had. She turned, aiming her full blue gaze at Georgia and gave her a lop-sided grin.

"Nice swimsuit!" She maintained her gaze above the obviously, very desirable, curved form of the petite woman; she let her magnetic eyes convey her apology and her appreciation. Georgia stood in the pool water, next to her partner and felt a slight shiver dance across her skin as those penetrating eyes looked into her own. She forced herself to break the gaze and then look over at her lover's darker stare. The shivering feeling deepened, as she fell once again into the obviously, loving gaze. Georgia, feeling slightly off balance with all the attention, blushed red with her body's traitorous reaction. Brooke watched her lover of ten years and recognized the confusion she was experiencing. She grinned up at the tall, good-looking, captain in her ice cream colored uniform and felt a slight moment of jealously until she realized the situation. She broke out in a fit of hilarity as she reached out and swept her woman up, cradling her in her arms. Her laughter only deepened as she watched her wife turn crimson with embarrassment.

"You are to cute for words!" She whispered into Georgia's ear.

Brooke took pity on the woman in her arms and in a strong authoritative voice, she commanded the Captain of the vessel. "Stop You! Oh tall, dark and uniformed! Desist looking at my girl. She can't take it!" Brooke joked with Dean, as Georgia curled up against her lover's side in the pool. Dean bowed her head contritely in remorse and tried to hide her smile from the grinning, Brooke.

"I'll remember that!" Dean answered, clearing her throat of the embarrassment, she'd felt at her blunder. Changing the subject quickly, she tried to get the two women to relax.

"Make sure that you visit the islands. Don't forget thatwe have the highest recommended staff for babysitting patrol either. Brandy would have a ball at the kid's center. The have a lot of programs made just for her age group." Dean commented as she stepped back from the pool edge. Brooke nodded as Georgia un-tucked her head from her lover's neckline. Brandy had climbed around to her mother's back and was hanging on as she kicked her feet in the water.

"Will do, Captain. Hope to see you around. Thanks again for the upgrade!" Brooke responded enthusiastically. Dean nodded as she turned to the munchkin.

"Don't forget to show me what you get from Santa, little one. And make sure you ask me to visit my control room before your vacation is over. I want to show you a really big telescope we keep up there to show off to special people. Okay?" Dean watched Brandy's eyes light up with all the excitement a 5 year old can manage.

"OK, Captain!" She answered with a squeal. Dean laughed and turned to head to her berth. She smiled all the way to her bed.

Hours later, glancing at her watch, Chris noted the time and mentally checked off the completed schedule of events listed for today. The Christmas Eve spectacular on deck two, held mainly for the kids, had wrapped up two hours ago. The Santa and elf volunteers were plentiful and she hadn't received any complaints. By now, four days into the cruise, the parents were beginning to realize that the boat had many adult offerings too. The use of the babysitting service had sky rocketed. Chris had previously encountered this from other voyages and had already implemented a full time nursery center. With a maximum capacity of 40 kids at one time, she had yet to hear of any complaints there, either. The people aboard seemed to be overly gratuitous and very forgiving during the holiday cruises. The ship's personnel seemed to be in high spirits at the moment.

Enjoying the star filled sky, Chris walked around the top deck eyeing the cabinets and placement of stowed equipment containers. She'd rarely had vandalism occur in the first class level, however it wasn't completely unheard of. Deck two and three, had already reported some life vests and a designer set of oars, that had been stolen out of the storage bins. They had most likely become souvenirs, stolen for the cruise line logo, which was stitched into the surface. She frowned at the loss of the survival gear. Her purser glared ominously, each time a theft was reported to him in the financial meeting. He would probably have a stroke, when the final tally was made, reporting the many towels and bathroom dispensers that had been taken after the people disembarked.

Chris made her way past the etched glass, brass handled, double-entry doorwayof the high roller's casino and blinked at the clouds of smoke escaping by seeping through the crack at the bottom of the doors. She grimaced at the sight and steered a wide path around it as she continued further down the walkway. The undertones of the music playingwithin caused a low vibration. She heard it fading as she moved along.

Heading toward the nearby cabinet of vests, she stopped, near a flagpole and boat container. Her view was blocked, but she froze as she heard the voices coming closer.

"Don't worry, honey. She is having a blast. Right now, she is probably snuggling down into her sleeping bag and falling fast asleep from exhaustion." A woman calmly stated.

"I'm not worried about her. I just..." another woman's voice pleaded and then a brief chuckle. "OK, so maybe, I worry too much!"

Chris heard them moving down the ramp past her. She turned and watched as Brooke and Georgia walking arm in arm, paused to hug each other. The hug became a sweet kiss as Brooke leaned down to Georgia. What it became from there was something so much deeper. The two women melted together. Chris watched them through the moonlight, as they deepened their connection. Her eyes followed the soft hands that began to touch bare skin. She heard the tantalizing sounds of softly spoken, sweet nothings as the two lovers shared each other. Chris, standing in the shadows, felt embarrassed to be witnessing the moment as an interloper. But, she couldn't ignore the feeling of arousal that fluttered wildly in her stomach. As she watched, she was mesmerized and unable to look away. A soft moan floated in the air and Chris shivered in reaction. She briefly closed her eyes, breathing deeply in response. When she opened them, Brooke and Georgia were moving down the walkway. Brooke had her arm wrapped around Georgia firmly.

Chris stood in the shadows for quite a few moments; trying to control the warmth of the heat, she felt in her face. She brushed her arm over her breasts and tingled with the feeling as she realized that her nipples were hard. She felt her heart beating fast and took deep breaths to calm down.

Moving from the concealed corner, she leaned against the railing of the ship and let the colder ocean air cleanse her thoroughly. Eventually, she moved back down the walkand headed toward the swimming pool to make her way to her cabin.

Dean woke up around nine at night. Her body curiously lethargic and feeling weighted, she decided that the earlier idea of swimming some laps had been a good one. She found her one-piece swimsuit. After donning that, some shorts and a t-shirt that said, 'If the boat is a rock'n...' she grabbed a towel and headed for the pool.

Dean was surprised at finding the empty pool until she remembered that the Christmas Eve festivities were occurring down below. She grinned like a child as she stripped off her t-shirt and shorts. The underwater floodlights in the pool, made the water crystal clear as she entered it. She watched as her feet and legs were slowly submerged until she could put it off no longer. Gritting her teeth, she pushed away from the wall.The growl she made, was one of acceptance for the colder water. Albeit, while she was somewhat chilled by the ocean air, the pool water was heated and her body acclimated quickly. She made her way down to one end and looked down the length of the pool at the other, which was 25 meters away. Snapping her water goggles down over her eyes, she pushed her six-foot frame off the wall and began the first of many laps.

Thirty minutes later, Chris rounded the corner of the walkway and moved out into the pool area. The lone swimmer, doing laps, caught her attention for the moment as she surveyed the almost empty area. Moving closer to the pool, she straightened some chairs at a table. Something looked familiar about the swimmer, a niggling recognition that stayed just out of reach, as the swimmer flipped at one end of the pool and swam underwater, back toward the other end. Within seconds, she was back on the surface and cleanly cutting through the water.

Chris found herself watching the professional swimming performance with envy. Broad shoulders and strong arms pulled the body through the water smoothly, while powerful legs kicked strongly from behind. The swimmer slowed and finally stopped, near the end of the pool, where Chris stood.

Dean rose up in the 5 feet of water, she didn't hear the gasp of surprise that Chrisreleased, when she realized, just who it was.

Still breathing deeply, Dean took off the goggles and wiped a hand over her dripping face.

Chris took that opportunity to glance downward and immediately noticed the pointed nipples, which stood out conspicuously against the tight fabric of the wet swimsuit.

Dean looked up, found Chris standing there and grinned crookedly.

"Hey there, lady!" Dean said, while trying to catch her breath.

Chris' eyes rose instantly. She tried to avoid looking at the defining cut of the swimsuit as it pushed Dean's breasts upward, showing ample cleavage. Chris replied with a wavering smile as she tried to calm her wandering thoughts. Her body went on immediate alert, when Dean simply lifted herself out of the pool in one quick movement.

"Hi, yourself!" Chris said, as she watched the practically naked woman walk toward her. The long, muscular legs flexed as the glow from the pool lights reflected on the droplets of water that ran down her skin. Chris tore her eyes away from the fit body and looked over at the pool. She felt a flush of heat envelop her.

At the last minute, Dean stopped before a chair, which held her towel and clothing. Chris hadn't noticed it there. Dean wrapped the towel around her waist and donned the T-shirt over her wet skin. She didn't want the cool night airmaking her shiver.

"Are you OK?" Dean asked, stepping closer to Chris as she tried to make eye contact with her. Chris looked up at the taller woman, while trying to relax as much as possible and not let Dean notice, that she was being ogled.

"I was just admiring your swimming. Your very good at it." Chris commented as she fidgeted by pushing the nearby chair under the table to cover her obvious nervousness. Dean smiled again and nodded.

"Thank you. It had a lot to do with the Navy, but I am comfortable in the water." Chris nodded and looked down at her watch.

"I'm officially off shift. Tomorrow is Key West and I was going to take in some island time during my off hours. Would you care to join me?" Chris asked, holding her breath until she heard the response.

"Actually, its four hours until we dock and then I'm free, give or take a few hours of official protocol, checking some engineering logs. I would love to go with you. Shall we meet around 10:00 am?" Dean gestured for Chris to move ahead of her with a bow and a leading arm to guide the way as they both began to walk toward the cabins.

"That would be perfect. We can get breakfast and then head over on one of the island boats." Dean nodded and agreed. She reached over and ran a hand down Chris' uniform covered arm. The touch stopped her in her tracks.

"I like the way you look too, First Officer Parker. Very much so." Dean's voice was lowerin timber as she ran her thumb over the elbow of Chris' shirt and then let go. Chris trembled slightly as she waited for Dean to make the next move. Dean just motioned her forward toward the cabin hallway. The pair stopped outside Chris' door and Dean hesitated for a moment. She wanted to wrap Chris up in her arms and kiss her.

Chris made that decision for them as she unlocked her door and tugged on the towel wrapped around Dean, pulling her into the room. She shut the door behind the smiling Dean and leaned back against it. Biting her lip, she studied the taller woman with a curiosity and longing in her eyes.

"Please, kiss me again Dean." Chris asked as she watched Dean's blue eyes turn darker. The sensations of excitement rose in her as Dean moved closer and gently touched her face.

"Thank you. For allowing me the sweetest pleasure." Dean leaned down and pressed her warm lips to Chris' forehead. Then she moved her lips to caress the corner of Chris' eye. The soft touch continued as Dean brushed lips across her cheekbone until Chris turned and tilted her chin upward to seal their lips together.

They both parted their lips as the kiss deepened. Dean felt teeth capture her lip and a bite, followed by a soft wet tongue to lave the pain away. She moaned as she reached out to taste Chris. Their tongues wrapped around each other, as they tasted each other thoroughly. Without thought, Chris reached up and ran her palm over the hard nipple poking through the wet material Dean wore. Dean trembled in response.

A sense of wonder passed through Chris, when she felt Dean's reaction to her touch. She suddenly felt a power over the other woman and was amazed at the feeling. Dean broke off the kiss and pulled away from Chris drawing air into her lungs. She could barely contain her need as she realized, that the only thing stopping her from being naked was a swimsuit and some damp skin. Her blood boiled with the heat of her thoughts.

"We need to stop this, Chris. Before we can't stop it." Dean glanced over at the heavily lidded, green eyes watching her. They stood staring at each other, while trying to let their excited bodies calm down a bit. Finally, Chris dropped her gaze and reached back behind her, feeling aroundfor the doorknob. She opened the door slowly and held it, partially open for Dean to leave.

Dean crossed to the door and gently pressed it closed once more as she pressed her body into Chris'. She leaned down and gently kissed her way down the side of the blonde's neck. She tasted her way down to a collarbone and let her hands roam upward to cup the pert breasts that were hiding under the blazer Chris was wearing.

Chris trembled at the kisses. She felt the flames of pleasure building inside her and relished the electrifying sensations Dean provided. She had never felt this way before. Her skin was on fire. A gasp escaped her throat as fingers roamed over her,touching the soft skin beneath a now opened button of her blouse. She arched into the larger woman's body.

Dean growled as she felt Chris slide her fingers into the short hair at the nape of her neck. She shivered in response as fingernails playfully scratched the back of her neck. Her mind slipped deeper under the spell of blissful pleasure. Chris' blouse was almost completely opened, when someone knocked on the outer door.

Both women froze and stopped breathing. They stared at each other silently as the knock came twice more. Chris shook her head slowly, left and then right, silently informing Dean that she was not going to answer. Dean drew a deep breath and held her tightly as they trembled together and listened to the retreating footsteps.

Dean slowly released her and stepped back from the door breaking the connection between their bodies. Chris felt so weak. She grasped the door handle to stay upright. They recovered in the silence as the minutes went by.

"I can't seem to stay away from you." Dean ran her fingers roughly through her hair, straightening the mussed appearance it had.She worried that she was moving to fast with everything. She wanted to romance her soon to be lover, but the idea of Chris feeling threatened, or intimidated by Dean caused her stomach to clench in disgust. She knew that Chris was attracted to her and that they were both highly aroused, but she didn't want to cause future problems for them by rushing.

Chris bit her lip, nodding in agreement. The seductive remark had her blushing as it hit home and she wanted nothing more than to continue to kiss those soft lips. Though she did feel slightly apprehensive about the final outcome of their encounter. Chris had always picked someone that she knew would be safe. Having a history of going on only a few dates in the past, the encounters amounted to nothing more than getting to first base. She and her dates had kissed, but nothing more. She felt her naivety shining through in her innocence. Although she trusted Dean to be the experienced one and guide them both, she knew that together, they caused a spark to become a roaring flame. Too many vivid images of the two of them in various states of making love flashed before Chris' mind andshe shivered with renewed desire. Forget how safe Dean might be. She drew in a deep breath just thinking about it. Chris struggled with her growing desires toward the tall captain.

Her thoughts circled around to focus on how she could please Dean. Could I satisfy her? What am I supposed to do to make that happen? Does the ship's library carry any books of instruction? Chris dropped her eyes to the floor to hide the foolish humor her inner thoughts had taken.

"What are you thinking about, sweetheart? You're blushing!"

Chris looked up to meet those dazzling blue eyes and felt her insides melt once again. Dean met the sparkling green gaze and knew, that her heart was taken. She almost walked back over and took Chris in her arms; she stopped herself from taking up where they had left off.

"Are you OK? I don't want to rush anything. I think I should leave." Dean reached out and ran her fingers down Chris' cheek, giving her a tender caress. Chris leaned into the touch and nodded her agreement.

They parted with the promise to meet for breakfast and go ashore for a few hours the next day.


While searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, Ponce De Leon chronicled the rock filled islands of Key West in 1513. Originally, the Calusa Indian tribe inhabited the Cayo, (Key) Hueso, (weyso for West). But, successive years of plundering pirates managed to define it as 'Island of Bones', a place where shipwrecks occurred. The tiny 3 x 5 mile wide island, being the last on a chain of the Floridian Key's, now completes the southern route of U.S. Interstate, 1. This Interstate extends southwest of Miami, FL to bridge across to the islands from Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, and the Lower Keys into the last of the bustling tourist arena,Key West. A tropical paradise full of delicious island flavor, it had become a must stop vacation spot for the island seeking tourist.

The ship arrived around four a.m. and anchored in the natural harbor made by the far west outcropping of Wisteria Island and the northwest, Fleming Key peninsula. By six, the first tour boat was taking off loaded with tourists heading for Mallory Square, the famous Key West Sunset Celebration pier.

Just one of many attractions to explore, Mallory Square begins it's daily sunrise routine by providing exhibitions ofarts and crafts, street performers, food carts, psychics and more to the thousands of tourists visiting from around the world. Then each night before sunset, masses of people, both locals and tourists alike, flock to the water's edge to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

The ship was scheduled to stay anchored for 15 hours before resuming it's course. The tourist hot spot could be covered many times over in that window of opportunity. The majority of the tourists planned for two main attractions, beach time, or scuba diving.

In any direction Key West is a beach. Superb dining was offered at well-established restaurants such as Turtle Krauls, Key West Beach House, and Half Shell Raw Bar and Grill. Beach entertainment included sporting activities like jet skiing, wave runner rentals, parasailing, or surfing, along with the ever present, less expensive sport of swimming, or playing in the soft sands.

Off shore was the true element of the island chain, where complete ecological wonders resided as part of the many coral reefs of Florida. In Key West, the ability to scuba dive was considered as normal as owning a cell phone in California. The five miles of coral reef, made of tall heads of brain coral, star coral, and pillar coral along with many other structural coral mounds intertwined with vast plateaus. The plateaus are covered with hard and soft corals and sponges, a snorkeling and diving delight. A mile further out from the main reef line is an outer reef area. The water life here is second to none in the U.S. Parrotfish, angelfish, butterfly fish and other bright tropical fish are very common in the front reef, as well as stingrays, eels, nurse sharks and turtles in the outer, deeper waters. Deep-water gorgonians and grouper, resident Jewfish and large green moray eels, have homes in some of the shipwrecks sunk off the reef; along with plenty of yellowtail, grunts, wrasse and barracuda, living in the ocean depths.

The two women walked along the downward path toward the beach. Dean blindly followed her companion, who led the way, as she watched a lone surfer riding the crest of an incoming curl in the distance. The sand felt wet and cool on their bare feet as they walked the beach.

"I love this side of the island. It seems, so wild and restless." Chris pointed to the crashing waves, hitting the coral reefs off the coast. She pointed in a few different directions out in the distant waters and indicated the reef names and locations; Nine Foot Snake, Western Sambo, Pelican Shoal. Her hand came up to shade her eyes from the glare of the sun dancing on the water's surface. The sunglasses she wore, helped only slightly. Both of them squinted as they watched the pelicans floating in place over a nearby dock filled with fishermen.

Dean thrust her hands into her khaki shorts and wiggled her toes in the sand. The wind ruffled through her short dark hair, tickling her scalp with its freshness. She felt a growing relief from the pressures of her day-to-day existence

Although, she usually thought of the Captain's position as a well-earned privilege, she knew the job was demanding as any other career could be. For a few moments, while they stood looking out at the ocean's tide, she felt humbled by the seemingly endless, roiling tide of blues and greens. She was awed by the powerful surge of continuous waves that rushed up and down the sandy beach. Her little piece of heaven was largely amplified as Chris shyly linked their arms together. They grinned at each other and continued down the beach.

After sharing a fantastic brunch from one of the Mallory Square restaurants, they walked around the piers, site seeing for a while. The southern beach that they now explored, was just past the public hotel area and was much less populated, than the lounge filled, sand castle building, tanning, tourism mess that they had passed by earlier. The cool winds of the last month of the year were a steady reminder that they were encountering the winter, here in the tropical center. Yet the sun still shone down and sought out the oiled up skin of the nearest tan seeking, exposed body.

"Let's rest under those palm trees over there." Dean pointed to a small group of trees nearby. Chris nodded and they made their way across the bright sand to reach the shaded base of some native palms. Dean sat down with her back to the base of the tree and spread her legs, patting the sand in front of her. She waggled her eyebrow's up at Chris and waited for Chris to sit down. Chris blushed slightly and then smiled. She sat down, keeping her back, adjacent to Dean's front and scooted in between her legs. She was immediately wrapped instrong arms and leaned back into the warmth of Dean's body, sighing contentedly. Dean exhaled happily too.

Dean held a sense of perfection as their bodies formed together effortlessly. Soft blonde hair pillowed Chris' head, resting in the curve of Dean's neck. She had comfortably rested her arms along the length of the strong thighs surrounding her. The muscles flexed against her as she softly trailed her fingertips over bare skin at the edge of the shorts. Dean inhaled Chris' natural body fragrance of floral scented shampoo and soap as she sat enjoying the full contact they shared. They both watched the ocean moving before them, while their bond to each other strengthened as the waves crashed onto the beach.

They began to talk about their lives. The events of the past and memories of happy moments, that they'd experienced. Dean began to speak of her family, her childhood and her love of the ocean. She told Chris of her ultimate desire to be able to sail the seas at her leisure. She spoke of a boat, she had bought just recently and how she was going to explore the world from its bow. The whole story had Chris envisioning the tall Captain steering her vessel off into the sunset. Dean's story ended and silence reigned for a while until Chris began to speak of her varied experiences in her career. She slowly began to talk about her past and her family, as Dean listened carefully. The arms holding her tightened with emotion as she stumbled through, explaining her teen years. Her voice, at times, loweredto a mere whisper, full of pain as she spoke about the life altering events she had endured. Dean held her close, ignoring the tears that were falling down her own cheeks. She murmured words of encouragement to Chris, trying to help her continue. Chris explained how after the breakdown, she had eventually run away to go live with her Aunt Janice in Fort Lauderdale.

The helpful Aunt had convinced Chris to see a professional therapist. Over the next three years, the female therapist had helped Chris rebuild her strengths and find her center to handle the flashes of insecurities, that she still had. She told Dean about her beginning years on the cruise line and her growing happiness as a part of Tanner Industries.

Eventually, they both fell silent and reveled in the closeness of just being together.

Dean wanted to stay that way forever. What would happen when Chris accepted the Captain position? How could we be together? Dean frowned at her inner thoughts and closed her eyes, drawing in a deep breath of fresh air and Chris' scent. We will just have to work something out.

Chris leaned into the strong body behind her and practically purred her satisfaction. The only thing holding her back from looking at her future was the overwhelming fear of losing the connection with the woman that she was quickly falling in love with. She needed to sit down and think about her future...but what future would she have, if Dean were not in it. She wanted her cake and ice cream suited sailor too.

The time arrived, when they realized that returning to the ship was necessary.

Standing to stretch and give each other a comforting hug before they returned. Dean paused, resting brow to brow with Chris. She looked into those gorgeous, green eyes, aware of the trust that was being given. She wondered how anyone could be compelled to break such a gift. Chris looked up into twin pools of blue and found strength, emanating from their depths. She felt herself drowning, reaching into them for safety and saw understanding, looking back. Dean radiated her love outward, forcing Chris to hold her breath from the intensity of its heat.

"Thank you for sharing all of that with me, Chris." Dean pressed a gentle kiss to Chris' forehead. Chris closed her eyes and swallowed a lump of gratitude at Dean's acceptance of her. The distant chimes of a church rang out in celebration of the holiday season. Dean squeezed her tightly for a moment, reassuring her and then stepped back.

They began the trek back to the ship and boarded the tour boat along with many others. The evening sky was beginning to fall into sunset. The tour boat returned them to the ship's boarding area and they made their way back to their respective cabins.

Dean paused at Chris' door.

"I enjoyed spending time with you. Thank you, Chris."

Chris flushed with pleasure and smiled back.

"I also wanted to say Merry Christmas!" Dean shyly retrieved a small, square, Christmas wrapped, package from her pocket. She held it out to the surprised First Officer, gesturing for Chris to take it.

Chris flushed with pleasure and grinned.

"You didn't have to do that." Chris opened the wrapping and found a small sailboat symbol on the cover. She glanced up at Dean and looked for a hint. Dean smiled, as she quirked a challenging eyebrow.

"Open it!" She urged.

Chris lifted the top cover from the box and stood bemused, as she stared at what looked like a stainless steel pocket watch, resting in the velvet lining of the box. She removed it from the container and examined the delicate design. A raised sailboat insignia and a small button to release the fob lid, were the main features of the highly polished stainless steel item. As she pressed the button to release the lid, she gasped in pleasure. A detailed, intricate, faceplate of a compass was displayed beneath the spring action lid. A small engraving caught her eye. She felt tears gather as she read the sweet words etched into the steel.

"Captain Chris Parker. May the destination of your life's voyage always be easily found. With love, Dean."

Chris reached over and rested her hand against the warmth thatDean provided. She drew in a breath and looked up into the sparkling eyes looking down at her.

"You do have a way with words, Captain Tanner. Thank you." She stated, profoundly grateful Dean had understood the importance of her promotional circumstances. Now she felt an excitement toward her promotion, knowing thatDean was behind her in the decision of accepting David's offer of training. Chris reverently ran a thumb over the closed lid of the compass. No matter what else happened with the offer, she knew Dean was behind her 100 percent. She felt a burden lift from her, allowing her the freedom to give Dean a radiant smile. Dean blinked at the stunning beauty.

"I have something for you too!" Chris hesitated; as she bent down to get inside one of the bags, which she'd collected from Mallory Square before returning to the ship.

She pulled out a bulky square box, gift wrapped for the holidays, with Santa wrapping. A small card was attached, dangling off the wrapping by a string.

Dean had both eyebrows raised into her hairline in surprise. She was handed a slightly heavy box and told to open it. Chris giggled at Dean's expression.

Unwrapping the paper, she discovered a plain brown box. As she opened it...she found a shining, bronze, ship bell about eight inches in height. The image of a ships wheel was cast into the side. It was mounted to a wooden brace and was engraved with a phrase.

"Set your course by the stars."

The card had a short message from Chris.

To reach the port of heaven... we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, may your voyage include a sunset. Love, Chris. Dean rang the bell softly in awe. It was a sweet gift and she loved it. She leaned down and kissed Chris softly.

"Thank you, sweetheart."

Chris smiled, her eyes twinkling with great pleasure.

Chris bent down and picked up a stray piece of paper that had fallen. She shoved it into the box and bag and turned to release the latch to her door. She hesitated for a moment, looking at Dean.

"Would you like to come inside for a while?" Dean smiled and moved slightly closer to Chris.

"What have you got on your mind?" Her seductive tones made Chris blush. She looked down at her feet and then, backed up, shyly.

"I have a lot on my mind and it's all about you." Dean stared at the green-eyed siren that she stood near. She drew in a deep breath of desire.

"I think I will have to decline for the evening." Dean's voice was full of regret. "I have a new shift in less than six hours and..." she paused to look into Chris' eyes, "...I don't want to have anything interrupt us, when we do finally make love."

Dean watched as green eyes dilated and Chris' breathing became shallow at her whispered words. She reached up and ran a finger down the soft cheek. Chris shivered and moved into her room. Dean stepped back and grinned at her, with that lopsided smile.

"I'll see you soon!" Chris nodded at the parting words.

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