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Heather surveyed the tiny cabin. It had taken her less than ten minutes to unpack and organize everything just the way she wanted. OCD. Obsessive-Compulsive, though she knew that her older daughter Megan would add the word Disorder, she refused. Not for something that for Heather was a harmless coping mechanism. Of course, with Megan’s degree in psychology, it was one of the many things upon which she and her eldest disagreed.

Neatness had always been one tool that she used to hold her world together. As a single mother, in her career, and certainly those blessed years as a homemaker. Disorder was not an appropriate description for such an asset. Especially now. Without the stability that Geoffrey had brought to her life.

She smiled as she re-examined the room. It was perfect, precisely as she would expect from him. Low key. Functional. Modest. He might have been a millionaire Daddy Dom, but the man knew the true value of things: love and money.

She had not known his net worth until over a month into their relationship. She was already committed then, right down to those three magic words. She knew he always appreciated that. Hell, leave it to her to find the only charity shop millionaire. It was the title of one of her most famous stories, loosely based upon their courtship.

Heather stared at the unopened envelope on the bedside table. She knew she needed to read it. But since Stuart had brought it along with the ticket, Geoffrey’s final birthday present for her, she could not face it. She just could not…

A knock on the door tore her from her reverie, she rose and took the two steps necessary to reach it. She opened the door to the young porter, practically hidden behind a bouquet. She frowned; that was not like Geoffrey. He knew that she preferred her plants living. “I think you have the wrong cabin…”

The man double-checked the sign next to the door, “No, the Captain was quite specific. Cabin 1221.” He held out the flowers with one hand and a business card in the other.

Heather shook her head even as the man pressed the flowers into her hands. She turned and placed them on the tiny table in the corner of the cabin that served as a desk as well as eating any meals she chose to take alone, which would likely be most of them. She rummaged through her bag, finding some change with which to tip him.

“Thank you,” she smiled as she took the business card and pressed the money into his hand, glad that she had canlı bahis remembered to stop at her bank yesterday to get a supply of small bills for just such things.

She closed the door before looking down at the card. Captain Jan Iverson. She frowned, then chuckled. “Captain Jan.”

It had been years since she had thought of the man. Unlikely that there was any connection. Her Jan had captained cargo ships.

Her Jan? No, that had been the problem. The man had never been hers. It was not merely that they had never been anything more than ‘friends with benefits.’ She had had a number of those over the years between her divorce and meeting Geoffrey. No, the problem with him had been how closed off he was. Shut down from any emotional connection.

Sure, the man was still the most technically proficient of her plethora of lovers. As a Dom, he was noteworthy as well. But none of that mattered without some connection, something more emotionally.

She had always known that, but it was not until Geoffrey that she had truly appreciated just how important it was. No, for all Jan’s skills with ropes, floggers, and his tongue, she would not trade a lifetime of that for one more single night in the arms of a man who truly valued, appreciated, and loved her.

She shook her head, why would she even think of the man now? Obviously, the name triggered some memory. But in the almost year that Geoffrey had been gone, she had never once thought of any of her other lovers — never been tempted to email any.

Hell, she could not even remember the last time she had masturbated. For a woman who prided herself on her hypersexuality that said something. But sex was not making love. Geoffrey had taught her that too.

She felt the tears slipping down her cheeks once more. How many had she cried over the past year? Yet, they never seemed in short supply.

What was she doing here? This was a bad idea. Geoffrey might have thought it an appropriate present, but this was the trip they had planned to take together. Together. The honeymoon they never had. Because the responsibilities of caring for Maisie back then were too much. Not that he had ever minded.

“Stop it. Just stop. This never gets you anywhere.”

Heather looked around the cabin seeking any distraction. Something to clean was always preferable. But in such a small space, the maids had left her nothing to do.

It was too late in the day to make any headway bahis siteleri with her writing. That had always been an early morning thing when her mind was fresh and fueled by caffeine. And honestly, she had barely written anything in the past year and published nothing. The words had simply dried up, as had her sex drive, her zest for life, her will to go on at all. But the goddess had not seen clear to take her from this life, so she went through the motions.

Walking. That would do. Perhaps the ship would not offer the natural beauty of the Gower, but the fresh sea air always cleared her mind. It would get her out of the cabin too. Away from walls that felt too close and memories of all the plans they had made for this trip. Together.


Jan adjusted his tie in the mirror once more. Tie? He hated the damned thing. But for two years, he had been forced to wear them. Why had he not just quit when they transferred him from the job he loved to this ‘gigolo’ for old women? His excuses about the money to finish work on the island no longer rang true, even to his own ears.

He had bought the place almost two decades before when he was promoted to Chief Mate. The small plot of land in the Aland Islands was to be his home when he was not at sea. The place he came to rest and recover. But it was to be more than that. It was to be a place where she waited—waited for him. His return. The perfect sub just waiting for her Master’s return.

Over the decades, he had found only one woman who had come close. One woman that he could ever imagine waiting there for him. And she had made it clear almost from the beginning; she was a package deal. Her child would come first. It was a deal-breaker. For both of them.

It had been stupid. A crazy idea. They should have never bothered meeting at all after that. What was the point? Torturing himself with the one thing he could never have. That was what it had been. And he was still doing it. That was what tonight was. The latest in a long line of futile exercises in what-ifs. But when it came to her, he never seemed to be able to stop.

Maybe this time would be different. Perhaps he could lay old demons to rest. Listen to her chat for a couple of hours about how blissfully happy she was.

He could still remember the words of that final email. He had read and reread it often enough. Explaining how she had met someone, someone who could give her all she needed, who was not frightened bahis şirketleri away by one autistic teen girl, someone comfortable sharing of himself emotionally, someone willing to commit to her, to them.

He could not be angry with her for grabbing that when it came long. If anyone deserved that kind of happiness, it was Heather. The woman was the most open, giving lover he had ever known. If he were mad at anyone, it was himself. Angry that he had never dared to take that chance. To throw caution to the wind and give it a go.

What had hurt the most, though, was the sincerity he felt in her final parting. She had wished him the best. Specifically, she had implored him to open himself up more to his partners. To truly seek out someone that could make him happy. Except he knew, knew that he had just lost the only woman that ever could.

What had he been thinking? Maybe it would be best if he simply messaged his Chief Mate, had his friend fill-in this night. It was not as if that were unheard of. He usually did so at least once each trip. It allowed the man to practice for the day when it would be his responsibility to charm mature divorcees and widows, and gave Jan a break from that drudgery.

But not tonight. Never the first night. That was the Captian’s responsibility. It set the tone for the rest of the voyage.

No, he had painted himself into a corner this time. There was nothing to be done except get this over with. Face the woman that he discovered only too late he loved. Smile as he listened to stories of her happiness, and find out why the hell ‘the perfect man’ was not by her side for this holiday.

More than likely, it was her child. Though he supposed the girl would be almost grown by now. Might her disability mean she could not be left on her own? Sending this woman on a trip alone, giving her a break from what he knew from their time together could be a heavy burden. Yes, the man was perfect. Certainly a better one than he. Boots he could never have filled.

He pulled his long blonde hair back, screwing it in a ponytail, and examining his reflection once more. He supposed he did not look too bad for a man of almost fifty-five. A lifetime at sea had been kinder to him than many of his brethren. But that was the reason the company had transferred him to this floating bordello. To entice and thrill older women with eye candy and charm.

Time for the show to begin. Tonight’s performance needed to be the best of his life. He had not only her to fool, but himself as well. Because there was no way in hell, he was no going to imagine one more night in her arms. He had done nothing else for over a decade. And now she was on his ship.

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