Tropical beach at sunset

Spring Break

by Cole Parker

The trip to the airport was strained. Mom was tense, and it was my fault. I’ll admit it. I hadn’t been easy to live with lately, and being shipped out to spend two weeks with my dad may have been a survival strategy for my mom. But I was sulky enough not to think much about her feelings. I don’t know about all 13-year-old boys, but this one tended to care mostly about his own world, not that of adults, even those closest to him.

“You pack everything you’ll need? Even a jacket and tie for the formal dining room?”

See? That’s the sort of crap that bothered me. I wasn’t seven! Of course I packed the stuff my dad listed for me to bring. It bothered her, too, that I wouldn’t let her help, but I was 13, and I could certainly pack a suitcase by myself! Jeez!

The fact was, I was growing up. I was no longer a little kid. Little kids liked to have fun, but liked their moms or dads to be there when they needed them. They liked that support, liked having someone who knew all about them, their worries and feelings, someone they could tell anything to.

I was a boy, I was 13, and I certainly couldn’t tell my mother everything I was feeling. Come on! What kid my age does that? The truth of the matter was, I was still getting used to all the new feelings I was having. Like when I was nine, I had no desire to run around outside at night naked. Now, I kept getting that urge. Why? I had no idea; I just knew even thinking about it turned me on like nothing else did.

Of course I couldn’t do it. We lived in an apartment building in New York City, just like everyone else in the world seemed to do. Go outside naked? Where? Out the front door of the apartment building? There were always people around, and our building had 24-hour doormen.

In Central Park? It wasn’t safe there, and I wasn’t crazy. Sometimes I did have the urge to bare myself while there, but I wasn’t that crazy.

I had other urges all the time now, too. When I went to the municipal swimming pool, I liked to linger in the locker room as long as I could, surreptitiously watching the other boys change. The showers weren’t that interesting because everyone always wore a swimming suit in there, but in the locker room itself? Yeah, I got some peeks. I often had to be holding my towel strategically, because even with my suit on, it was obvious I was enjoying what I was seeing.

I hadn’t felt like this at all a couple of years earlier. Now I did, and it was something I was learning how to cope with. Not that I objected. I loved the feelings I had now. They made me feel more alive than I ever had before—and grown up, and sexy, and full of lust. But I didn’t know what to do about those feelings other than jack off a lot, and that only partially soothed the beast that was now part of my makeup.

I liked that beast, but keeping him under control sometimes put me in a foul mood, and I was embarrassed to admit that I tended to take out my frustrations on my mom. She didn’t understand. How could she? She’d never been a 13-year-old boy.

“You sure you don’t want me to park and come inside with you—walk you to the gate?”

“No, Mom.” I rolled my eyes and breathed out a disgusted gush of air. “The TSA won’t let you, anyway. Maybe if I were six. Not now. I can do fine by myself. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”

With that, I hugged her and left her in the car outside the terminal. I walked through the automatic doors and made my way to the airline counter and had my large suitcase checked through. Then just me and my carry-on were directed to the TSA checkpoint. I had my ticket and my school ID ready, and put my carry-on and shoes in the plastic tray on the roller conveyor to go through the X-ray check after inching forward in another line for too long.

I had to go through the body-scan machine. I wondered if they could see the parts of me that no one ever did. The thought came that maybe I could get them to strip-search me. Perhaps if I casually mentioned something about bombs and acted a little edgy, shifting my eyes hither and yon, would they do that? I felt a little jolt of excitement, thinking about being taken into a room and stripped for everyone to scrutinize my body and there’d be nothing I could do about it, but sanity prevailed. I realized I might well miss my plane if I did that, and too, looking at the huge TSA guys wearing their vests and sidearms, and thinking a guy like that would be the one who’d be stripping me didn’t appeal at all, and the little jolt went away quickly. I kept my mouth closed and made it through the screening unmolested.

The plane took off and landed as it was supposed to. I’d flown a few times before, and it was just another flight, nothing to write home about. I had a window seat and spent time right after takeoff looking at the area around where I lived. There were still pockets of snow to be seen where the sun didn’t reach, even though it was now March. The streets and sidewalks were clear, but in the stretches of woods, in the shady areas of river valleys and such places, I could still see patches of snow that had fought the sun to a standstill.

I was delighted to be leaving New York behind for two weeks. It had seemed spring would never come this year, that winter just wasn’t going to give up the ghost this year.

I opened the box lunch I’d bought in the terminal. The woman in the seat next to mine was doing the same thing. “Are you flying alone?” she asked when she saw me looking at her.

“Yes, going down to see my dad.”

“Ah,” she said, opening the wrapping on the sandwich she’d taken from the box. “It would be rude of me to ask for details.”

I chuckled. “That’s a polite way to do just that, isn’t it? I’ll have to remember that!”

She reddened. “You’re pretty smart, to see through me so easily. For that, you’ve earned yourself my brownie.” She handed a brownie in a clear plastic wrapper to me from her box, saying as she did, “And to forestall your next question, no, I wouldn’t have eaten it anyway. We women of a certain age have to be very careful or we’ll be called hippopotami of a certain age.”

I laughed. “I thought it was only octopi and platypusi that were pluralized that way.”

“Platypusi?” she asked, laughing.

“Well, it made you laugh. OK, platypi. That any better?”

“It certainly is. And hippopotami is a correct plural, too. So is hippopotamuses. And platypuses, come to think of it.”

“Are you an English teacher?” I asked, opening my own sandwich. Ham and cheese. There were little packets of mustard and mayonnaise in the box, and I managed to spread them on the bread without making too much of a mess.

“Nope. I’m an editor. Not really a good job to have these days. Most places that hired editors in the past are now letting computers do the job. They’re much cheaper and provide readers some really good laughs in the bargain.” She smiled, then said she was going to Miami for a job interview.

I took another quick glance at her. “You have a really good sense of humor,” I said. “I wish my mom did. Since the divorce, she hardly ever laughs.”

“I’m sorry,” said the lady. “That’s what I thought of when you said you were flying to see your dad. Lots of kids end up doing that these days. It’s sad.”

“But exciting, too,” I replied. “If he still lived with us, I wouldn’t be flying to Miami for spring break.”

“That does sound exciting, and Miami is certainly better than New York City this time of year. Is he taking some vacation so he can spend the time with you?”

I was shaking my head. “No, they’ve only been divorced a couple of years, and he hasn’t been down where he is now working for this company long enough to have earned much vacation. He’ll still be working while I’m there, but we’ll eat together and he will have some time to be with me.”

She frowned, probably thinking of me as a kid without much parental guidance, then asked, “Are you looking forward to seeing him?”

“Oh, yeah.” I grinned, thinking about it. “Probably that more than anything. I haven’t seen him in almost a year. He wasn’t there for last Christmas. That hurt. I spoke on the phone with him, but that wasn’t nearly the same. I’ve really missed him. You learn to deal with it, though. What choice does a kid have?”

She nodded and got a faraway look in her eyes. After that, we both got busy eating. While I ate and looked out the window, I wondered why I could talk so easily with a stranger, an adult, and have a pleasant conversation, yet with my mom, whom I loved, of course, I was so surly lately. Didn’t make much sense to me. Sometimes I didn’t like myself too much.

There was a cute boy about my age in the aisle seat in my row, across the aisle. I could see a little of him by leaning forward, and I did spend some time thinking about the two of us being on an island after the plane crashed, we being the only survivors, and that was pleasant, but then we were landing and I’d have to stand up soon, so I forced my thoughts elsewhere.

The fact was, I wanted to be naked with another boy. That was a more exciting prospect than just being naked. I didn’t see how that would even happen, but the wish was there.

Maybe I was gay. I knew I could be. Girls didn’t do much for me. I could look out our apartment window and see into a girl’s bedroom not too far away. She was maybe a year or so older than me but not too smart because she hadn’t figured out how to pull down her shade or close her curtains. She liked to undress standing where I could see her. She made sure she left her light on when she did it, too. The first couple of times she did it I watched, but I hadn’t lately. If it had been a boy, I’d have watched—big time.

How did gay boys get together? One of them had to take a huge chance, didn’t he? I wasn’t big on taking chances. I guessed that might mean my chances of hooking up were pretty slim. Even though my body was telling me to stop wasting my best years and get on with it, I didn’t see how I could approach anyone with the kind of suggestion that was easy in daydreams and impossible in real life. But the beast was getting more and more restless.

You remember being 13, don’t you? Yeah, like that.

Scene break: cruise ship

“Hey, Mikey!”

Dad grabbed me and swung me, carry-on bag and all, up and around in a giant circle. I was going to yell at him; how undignified did I look, being swung around like a little kid? But I was too happy seeing him to pull anything like that. I hugged and hugged him, and my eyes might have gotten a little moist if I hadn’t been such a sophisticated teenager.

When he put me down, however, I had to say something. “Can we dispense with the Mikey, please, Dad? Can it be Michael from now on?”

He frowned down at me, but couldn’t keep that look on his face for more than a second. He smiled; he just might have been as happy to see me as I was him. “Your mother told me you were all grown up now and insisted on being treated that way.” He grinned at me. I grinned back. “Sure,” he said. “Michael from now on, but if I screw up, cut me some slack. When you call someone something for 13 years, it’s hard to change. And, while you’ve been getting older, I’ve stayed exactly the same age I’ve always been. So, you can continue to call me Dad.”

I wasn’t sure I could talk after that; my voice probably would have broken as my eyes were threatening to do. He saw that. “Let’s move to the carousel and collect your bag. How many do you have?” he asked, turning away to save me from being embarrassed.

I had a moment to compose myself. Eventually—it always seems to take forever for the bags to begin emerging—we were able to get my bag and went outside.

When I’d driven to the airport with Mom in NYC where I lived and where Dad used to live with us, it had been 42° outside. That temperature and colder were what I was accustomed to. When we stepped through the Miami airport door, I couldn’t believe it. I’d worn a heavy jacket to the airport and when flying here slipped it into the overhead compartment before takeoff. Then rather than carry it, I put it back on as I’d gotten off the plane. I was still wearing it. I felt like saying, ‘Whoa, we’re not in Kansas any longer, Toto’, when the hot, humid air of Miami hit me. I got it off fast and draped it over my suitcase.

Dad got us into a taxi, and he told the driver a dock number. It didn’t take long before Dad was rolling my bag toward the largest ship I’d ever seen. “This is it, Mikey…uh, Michael. The Eldorado Prince. Which is where I live. No rent to pay this way.” He laughed, and we walked through a tall, wide-open door that was at dock level. The ship itself rose miles and miles above us; even the size of the doorway we entered dwarfed us, making me feel very tiny indeed.

Well, I’m not very big. No growth spurt of any sort for me yet. Well, maybe a little down below. I’m kind of proud of that. But structurally, I’m still begging for the time I’ll reach five-feet tall. I’m kind of skinny, too, and still looking ahead to when the scale will reach triple digits. But I don’t think any of those goals are that far off. Maybe this summer. Some of my friends have already begun. But I’m still sort of in the runt stage. At least none of the guys I hang with have started calling me Shorty. And they’d better not!

Dad took me to the cabin I’d be staying in. I had mixed feelings about that. I’d been kind of hoping I’d stay in his cabin with him, but when I saw his, I understood. He didn’t have room for a roommate. He told me the space on the ship was generous for paying customers and tight for crew. Even being the chief engineer, his quarters were sparse. He said that of the crew, only the captain had better accommodations.

There were several decks of cabins, and I learned that the lower the decks were on the ship, the cheaper the fares. My cabin was about in the middle. Dad said he’d been able to get it free for the two-week cruise because the middle of March wasn’t a popular cruise time even if kids did have spring break then.

Dad showed me around the ship, even to areas that the public never saw. He told me we’d eat dinner that evening together and to wear my jacket and tie. Then he said he needed to get back to work, and we’d talk together at dinner. Then he kissed me on the cheek, hugged me again, winked at me and left.

I unpacked my bag and then decided to walk around the ship by myself, maybe to get an idea of what I’d like to do for the next couple of weeks.

Scene break: cruise ship

Oh my god! He was beautiful!

I’ve been boy-watching for years, trying to get up the courage to actually do something with one of them. The risks have always caused me to stop before going too far. Getting caught would fuck up my whole world. So all I’ve done is watch, and I’ve had to merely imagine doing the things I want to do with one. That’s had to be enough, but the urges have grown stronger recently, more urgent, harder to resist. I didn’t think just imagining would be enough much longer.

And this boy! Wow! He came aboard in Miami with Thomas, the chief engineer. I hadn’t realized the man had a son. But if that was what the boy was, well, that made the risk even higher. I couldn’t stop the thoughts, the visions I had, however. They were overpowering.

The first thing I did was check to see what cabin the boy was in. I had access to the ship’s manifest; very few crew members did, but my position on the ship and the time I’d been sailing with this crew and captain gave me many privileges.

I had to be careful. When new people come on board, they spend a lot of time just looking around in all directions. I couldn’t be where his eyes would fall on me constantly, but that wasn’t the problem for me it would have been for many others. I knew the ship, every bit of it, intimately. And I’d watched boys before from vantage points I’d discovered and even manufactured. I had one in the changing room by the pool where I spent a lot of time. That was one of my best places. But I knew others all over the ship.

I watched him explore the ship the day he boarded. I watched him in the dining room with his father. My god, the figure he cut in a dark-blue, crested blazer with a brilliant, white dress shirt, red tie and light-colored, khaki trousers, dark socks and tasseled loafers. He had thick, sandy-brown hair that was well-brushed and combed and that came down over his forehead almost to his eyes. I had to hold my hand to my crotch so my excitement didn’t show. The boy was absolutely gorgeous.

After dinner, his dad took him to a show. A rather raunchy comedian was headlining. Some of his jokes seemed way too dirty for a boy his age, but he laughed at them all and even blushed at a couple, which was so cute as to be unbelievable. Could it be he wasn’t as innocent as he appeared?

His dad took him to the ice cream parlor on the promenade deck after the show, and they both had sundaes. Then his dad hugged him and left; I knew the man was on duty that evening, and he was probably going to catch a few winks early. So no chaperone tonight.

The boy had been left alone. I moved a little closer. The way he was dressed, I had a hard time keeping my hands off him. I wanted him so bad. But it had to be done in private. It had to be where any noise he made wouldn’t be heard. I’d have to wait.

This was a two-week cruise. Well, 12 days. That left a day at each end for travel for anyone who was taking a two-week vacation. 12 days. I’d certainly have a chance in all that time. I’d decided. Just looking at him tonight had decided me. This time, I wasn’t going to merely watch and dream. This time, with this cutie, I’d have my way. My fantasies were about to come true. The hell with the risk.

I kept close tabs on him the next few days. He was none the wiser. Of course, I had a way to see him with no chance of being caught. I could view the screens in the security office that displayed what the ship’s cameras caught. There were unobtrusive cameras in most of the public spaces and in most of the tucked-away, remote, more private areas. These places were there on purpose; the ship’s builders and architects knew how randy being on a cruise made young lovers feel and provided places where fantasies could be realized. I’d seen things that would make a sailor blush. Well, I was a sailor, but I didn’t blush. Actually, I usually didn’t even watch when I saw a couple of young lovers getting a quick feel, a quick anything, really. I’d seen it all, but it didn’t interest me. What did was when a young boy would avail himself of the opportunity the semi-privacy afforded to get himself off, all the while looking around, afraid to be caught. I could dream about some of those boys, too, but most weren’t all that attractive, and I didn’t like the furtive look they had, and there wasn’t anything at all romantic about their fumblings.

I still watched them, of course. They were boys!

In my head, what I wanted to do would be romantic. Of course, it didn’t have to go like that, and maybe it was even probable that it wouldn’t. But when you’re in your head, dreaming, you dream things as you want them to be, not how they really would be.

Then, on his third day aboard, I watched as he seemed to have more purpose in his strolls around the decks. He seemed to be focused on something, and watching him, I realized pretty quickly what it was. He spent time looking at those nooks and crannies that were more private than most of the ship’s areas were. And he came back to the best ones several times.

My excitement grew. He was looking for a private place. And he hadn’t met anyone on board to hang with. Was he going to try to do something in one of those places? I knew what he was feeling. The night air and ambience at sea made young men horny as all get-out; I’d been aboard long enough and seen enough to know that. He was looking for a place.

He’d do whatever was in his head at night. When there were fewer people around. And with no one to see or hear me, I could finally make my dreams come true.

Scene break: cruise ship

My travel alarm went off at 2 AM. I was instantly awake, awash with excitement. I was going to do it. I was!

I got out of bed and put on a tee shirt, a pair of shorts without any underwear, and sandals. I opened my door into an empty corridor. I could hear the hum of the ship’s engines, but nothing else.

There were probably still people in the casinos and in many of the numerous bars around the ship, but in the cabin areas, I’d probably only meet people stumbling back to their rooms, and most of them would probably be foggy from alcohol. No one would remember me, and even if they did, I was just a kid on an early morning stroll, maybe out for a last, free ice cream cone.

I knew just where I was going from having scoped out the ship during the past two days. The deck with the swimming pool was amidships and open to the sky above, but was mostly covered fore and aft. In the aft was a broad area of open deck that was bordered by the rails at the very back of the ship. The place where the spas were located was between the open aft space and the pool, and they were covered by the deck above them. There were a number of hot tubs, or spas, and they were separated with walls that left them open in front but private from the sides. There were also places in that area along the starboard and port sides of the ship—cabins I guess you’d call them—but that weren’t staterooms. They had things to attract kids, like video games and Ping Pong tables. There was a library, too, and changing rooms for people using the pool.

Toward the bow of the ship there was more open deck. A miniature golf course was there, but there was also a lot of room for people to stand at the railings and simply watch where the ship was sailing.

I headed for the pool deck. I rode the elevator up and got off. The pool was in front of me, completely deserted. I didn’t see anyone at all on that deck as I made my way aft. I checked out the spas, thinking there might be some late night/early morning canoodling going on in one or more of them. But the spas were bubbling away unoccupied, a light steamy vapor rising from each.

I stepped into one of the recesses and looked down into the spa there. The area was lit by a dim bulb in the ceiling, and there was a switch to turn it off. I could imagine why.

My heart was pounding now. I was alone, the night was soft and warm, and my heart was going crazy in my chest. I was going to do this!

I’d been thinking about this ever since I’d boarded the ship. Especially at night when I stood at the railings, the night air around me feeling like velvet, a tapestry of stars above, feeling sexier than I’d ever felt before.

I slipped out of my tee shirt, kicked off my sandals, and then stepped back out from the scant privacy provided by the spa recess and checked again that no one was around. The deck was empty.

I returned to where I’d left my clothes, switched off the light and, taking a deep breath, dropped my shorts.

I immediately felt the air embrace my genitals. I was naked in a public area on a ship full of people. I was also as hard as I’d ever been, it pointing up at my navel. Bravely, I walked out from under the cover. Only the stars were above me now.

There was a soft breeze, either from nature or the movement of the ship. Did I dare walk all the way to the aft railing? It was probably 20, 25 yards away. Away from where my clothes lay.

I took a deep breath and moved slowly toward the aft railing, my heart never slowing down. I reached the railing and looked over it, far, far down to the sea and the phosphorescent wake trailing behind us. The moon was just a silver sliver in the sky, but stars abounded like I’d never seen before, millions of them filling the blackness above.

I reached down and grasped my erection, feeling my racing heartbeat in it. Turning around to look forward, wanting to make sure I was still alone and unobserved, I started stroking myself loosely, just to feel myself doing it, not to work towards a climax.

I was one with the night. Lonely, yes, but happily alone with myself, with my thoughts, with my excitement, in an environment that seemed to enhance my mood.

I walked along the railing, enjoying the soft night air against my skin—all of my skin. I spread my arms out to the sides and spread my legs a bit and stood still, feeling the night kiss my body. It was glorious.

I stood still at the railing for a time, glorying in the sensuousness of the night, and then came to realize that my heart wasn’t dancing in my chest any longer. I was still hard, but my excitement level had subtly waned. I thought about that. Was I deadened to the situation so quickly? Naked, in the night, with the possibility of being seen at any moment still existing?

And that thought caused my heart to leap again, and I knew what it was that had become missing. It was the fear, the joy, the excitement, the anticipation of perhaps getting caught. Of having to explain myself. Of being seen. Of being a laughingstock. Embarrassment, humiliation.

Yes, being out in the night, nude and vulnerable, was great, but so was the thrill of maybe being seen. I didn’t really want to be caught. I knew that. But I wanted to enjoy the thrill of knowing I might be.

I walked back to where I’d left my clothes, then past them down the corridor that led to the pool. My enthusiasm was back, and my body tingling, my erection straining at the very skin encasing it.

I stopped just a step back from entering the pool area, still hidden in the corridor. There was dim lighting where I was, so I could probably be seen, my silhouette at least, had anyone been there and looking in my direction. The pool area with all the loungers lined up in triple rows around it was still deserted.

I walked out onto the deck and stood next to the pool, doing a slow 360° circle and looking up to be sure I was still by myself. I could see and hear nothing human at all. Someone could come onto the deck at any time, and I’d have nowhere to go. I stepped over to one of the loungers and lay flat on my back on it. My erection poked straight up in the air. I grasped it, even took two lazy strokes, but wasn’t going to risk more than that. Being caught nude would be one thing. Being caught jerking off or shooting. . . No, my heart couldn’t stand that.

I got up and walked back to where my clothes were. I thought about taking even more risks, like going to the bow of the ship, making my way to the railing there, but the bridge looked down over that area of the ship, and the crew on duty would be able to see me. No, I couldn’t go there.

I didn’t want to go back to my cabin yet, however. What I was feeling, what I’d already felt, was amazing, and I wasn’t ready for it to end. I was still holding my erection, and I’d finally become pretty randy. I knew how to remedy that.

I jumped down into the spa that was where I’d left my clothes. It was warm and bubbling. I doubted anyone looking at me in it could see beneath the roiling water, especially with the light turned off. I lay back against the side, luxuriating for a moment in the warm water, then took hold of myself and began the slow stroking that would build to a climactic end.

It was fantastic, a feeling perhaps heightened by the knowledge anyone could walk up to the spa at any moment and see me; they’d certainly know from the look on my face what I was doing even if they couldn’t see how my hand was moving below the water.

When it was over, I rested for a time, then climbed out. I was still half-hard. I usually stayed that way for a long time after finishing. When I was out, I realized I had a problem, though. The water in the spa had been warm, warmer than the night air. The air was still warm, but not nearly as warm as the spa, and so now it felt chilly, really chilly, against my skin. And I had no towel.

I didn’t want to use my tee shirt or my shorts to dry myself. Then they’d be all wet, and I’d probably feel worse in the light breeze wearing damp clothing than how I felt naked. I thought of going in the men’s room in the changing area and using paper towels and even started moving down the corridor back toward the pool to do that when a fit of violent shivering stopped me. The corridor itself was sort of a wind tunnel and very uncomfortable. So I stepped back out of the corridor and quickly got in the spa again to warm up and think up a plan. Which I did.

I got back out and, taking my clothes with me, headed for the starboard side of the ship. That’s where the video game room was—and also the library. I thought the library door might still be open so the books could be available for passengers during the day and insomniacs at night. And inside, with the door closed, I knew it would be much warmer than out on the deck. I could stay there till I dried off.

I made sure there was no one on the starboard deck, then made my way to the library. Yes! The door was unlocked and I went inside, closing the door as I did. It was much warmer without the breeze, and I found myself warming up quickly.

There was a dim light glowing in the library, but it was enough to see what books they had on their shelves. I decided to pass the time while I dried seeing if they had anything I might want to read.

I was walking around, waiting while I dried off before dressing again, looking at the books on the shelves, when the library door opened.

Scene break: cruise ship

I’d programmed the ship’s security system to signal me in my cabin whenever his cabin door opened and closed. The cabins didn’t have cameras in them, unfortunately. Damn, I’d sure have liked to see him in there, liked to watch what he was doing, a kid his age alone in his cabin, but it was not to be. I had to simply use my imagination about that. But, the ship was rigged so the doors could be unlocked from the ship’s security office in case a passenger lost his key or also could be locked remotely so a passenger who needed to be isolated from the others because of his behavior could be secured in his cabin till we reached a place where he could be passed on to the local constabulary for processing.

It hadn’t been hard for me to get into the programming that allowed access to the door-latching equipment and rig it to let me know when his door was being used. Like in the morning when he got up and left the cabin, I knew it was time for me to find him. Then I could watch him and let my imagination run amok.

I knew when he got up, when he went to bed, and if he returned to the cabin during the day. Since I knew the schedule of when the cabins on that deck were cleaned by the cabin attendants, I only had to ignore that opening and closing; all other times, he was the one using the door.

I was startled awake when the signal sounded at 2 AM. This was it. I’d been expecting tonight to be the night and had slept lightly because of that.

2 AM. I knew there would be no one around. The entire ship was asleep except for a minimal number of crew who were working the bars or the casino or manning the bridge.

My excitement rose as I donned my dark clothing. How long had I been waiting for this moment? It seemed like forever, and that wait was about over. He was a kid. 13, I’d learned from the passenger manifest. He was just that age I most cherished. At 13, most boys were feeling things they’d never felt before. Hormones were flowing, and they were glowing! I knew what he was planning for tonight, for 2 AM!

I knew what I was planning, too.

I was going to take advantage of his nature. If an opportunity ever smacked me in the face, this was certainly that.

Yeah, there was risk involved. A huge risk, actually. If I were caught and he complained, which he well might, I’d probably never be allowed on a ship again, and cruise ships were life, were who I was.

But as much as he probably felt the need to do what he’d planned for this night, so did I. Maybe more. I’d felt temptation for a long time and never acted on it. Tonight, I would. Come hell or high water. Tonight, he would be mine!

Dressed, I slipped out of my cabin. Where would I find him? I thought about it, excitement shooting through me. He’d want someplace private. Or maybe not. Maybe he’d want someplace where there was a risk of being seen! Wow! That would be exciting!

But, if I could read his mind, imagining myself in his shoes, what seemed most likely was that he’d at least start where he could be naked in private. Just being outside naked would be thrilling enough. Maybe if he liked it, he’d get more adventurous. But tonight, I figured he’d want to be safe.

I knew this ship like the back of my hand. Better, even, as I spent no time at all studying my hand and lots roaming the ship. If I were him, I knew where I’d go: the pool deck. It would be deserted this time of night and the spas were there as well as the aft deck and railings. They would be perfect for him. And he’d spent time scouting out that area during the day. If he heard anyone coming, all he’d have to do is jump into one of the spas. It would be a perfect excuse for being naked, if they could even tell he was.

I made my way up to the pool deck, which for me was only one deck up. I realized, since I was out of my cabin in less than five minutes from when he left his, I might beat him to the deck, or meet him on the way. So I decided to be clever. I knew where the closest elevator to his room was and where it exited on the pool deck, so I got there quickly using the stairs and hid where I could see the elevator door and he couldn’t see me.

I was watching for less than a minute when the elevator gave a soft bing and the door slid open. He stepped out!

I’d been right. I could see that by how excited his eyes were, by his breathing being quicker than normal. The way his shorts were extended in front.

He left the elevator and moved aft. I knew where he was going. If I followed him, there would be nowhere that I could hide and still see him. Of course, I wanted to do much more than watch him. But I wanted to watch, too, first, to allow my own excitement to build. The place to see him from where he wouldn’t see me was on the deck above him.

That wasn’t a space for passengers, but I had my access card to all sections of the ship. I climbed the stairs quickly, then made my way aft, working through the equipment that filled the space. At the very back, I could look down onto the deck below. As I watched, I saw him walk naked to the railing and look down at our wake. I’d been right. This was exactly what I’d expected him to do.

Then I almost gasped as he turned sideways to walk along the railing; I could see his erection! It was beautiful. He was beautiful. I watched, and my need for him grew and grew. I had to have him. I would have him.

He eventually made his way back toward the spas. That meant he was lost to me as I was now standing on a deck directly above him. I had to get back down—and quickly.

I made my way back to the stairway and climbed down and was about to push open the door when I realized I wasn’t sure where he was, but if he’d come all the way out to the pool, he might see the door open, even though it was set back from the elevators in the same corridor and across the deck from the pool. I opened the door just a sliver and peeked out.

I had to look a bit, but then caught sight of him lying on one of the loungers. It was a sight to behold, a skiff with a mast reaching for the sky. I watched him take hold of it and move his hand up and down, and I had to restrain myself from rushing out and, and…

No, that would come later. For now, I was going to enjoy watching him enjoying his pleasure.

He got up and walked back down toward the spas. Did I dare follow? Would the spa be the place to make my presence known, to take him? I’d much rather have that happen in a less-accessible area. But the spas might be the best chance I’d have.

I heard a splash, and realized he must have jumped into one of the spas. That gave me a chance. Rather than go down the corridor that led directly past them, I took the more circuitous route, along the ship’s starboard side, past the kids’ game room, and came out on the aft deck to the side of where he was, well out of his sight. There was a storage room for games equipment there, locked, but I slid my card and entered it. It had two doors, one onto the corridor leading to the pool and one to the aft deck. I opened both doors just a crack so I could see any movement going past either door.

It was longer than I expected before I saw him again, but here he came, across the aft deck, heading toward the kids’ game room. He passed within ten feet of me, and I got to see him in all his glory. He was no longer fully hard, which made it easy to imagine what he’d been doing all that time in the spa. Seeing him so close, seeing how slim he was, seeing how large his equipment looked for his body even when only partially aroused, made me harder than he was.

I was done waiting. I was ready, and ready or not, here I was going to come.

I stepped out when he was well past me, just as he was turning down the passage along the side of the ship and out of my sight. That meant he couldn’t see me, either, and I sped to the corner and peeked around it. I saw him enter the library. The library! It was perfect! I could close the door, and no one would be around to hear anything!

I snuck to the door and listened. No noise at all. What was he doing? Hadn’t he just done that in the spa? Was he doing it again?

The hell with guessing. I was more than ready for this. Knowing how this might ruin my future but ignoring it in a fit of lust, I simply didn’t give a damn about that right then. It took but a moment for me to drop all my clothing on the deck so I’d be as naked as he was, then turn the door handle, open the door, step in, and shut the door firmly behind me.

Scene break: cruise ship

My first reaction when I heard the door open was to cover myself with my hands. My heart leapt to my throat. I was scared and naked and alone and—

Then I saw who’d come into the library. It was a kid! He was just my size, perhaps even a bit shorter. He was as naked as I was, but he wasn’t covering himself up. His arms were at his sides, and he had a huge grin on his face.

I pried my eyes away from his midsection and studied his face. Yep, big smile. And he was cute! Soft brown hair, button nose, eyes that were alive and shining, deep tan all over except where there wasn’t one, making his erection stand out even more boldly.

Maybe the thing that sold me on him at my first glance was that he was naked of everything except for the glasses he was wearing. They were oversized for his face and had dark frames, an incongruity that accented his cuteness while at the same time adding a certain naïveté and vulnerability to his appearance. The entire picture set my heart racing.

“Hi,” he said. His voice was breathy, like an early adolescent’s so frequently was. Kind of like mine.

“Hi?” I answered, very tentatively.

“I’m Nicholas,” he said. He took another step into the room, one step closer to me.

“You’re also naked,” I said.

He giggled. “We both are. I’ve been watching you ever since you came on the ship. You’re beautiful. I’ve wanted to get together with you like this ever since I saw you. I know how you feel, how you felt tonight—why you’re out here naked. I know because I feel the same way many nights. I do just what you’re doing, wander around naked, staying out of sight. I’ve always wanted someone to join me. But none of the boys I’ve seen seemed right. You—” He stopped, but his eyes kept shining. He took another step farther into the room, closer to me.

“Who are you? And I don’t mean your name?” I was confused. I also had a hard time not looking at his erection, though he didn’t seem to mind that at all; his eyes were similarly focused. He certainly wasn’t covering himself up. Was he like I was, sort of wanting someone to see him this way, but sort of not, too? Was that what he meant by saying I seemed right?

I dropped my hands to my sides, no longer covering what was now standing as tall as his was. It felt so good to do that.

“I’m the captain’s son. And you’re the son of the chief engineer. I live on the ship year-round. During the school year, I get tutored. Here on the ship.”

I took that in, then asked, “And you run around naked and try to seduce the passengers?”

He laughed. It was a lovely laugh. It went with his looks. The boy was a knockout. And even with his size, I could see he had more self-confidence than I did. I was to learn that his apparent naïveté and vulnerability were a sham. The boy was neither.

“I never have before. I’ve wanted to. I’m so horny all the time, and now I’ve met someone else who’s just like me.”

“You think I’m horny? All the time?” I frowned at him, which was difficult because he was smiling again and nodding his head vigorously.

“I watched you tonight. You did just what I like to do, and you did it just like I did the first time I did it. Isn’t it the best feeling in the world? The only thing that would make it better is sharing the feeling with someone. I’ve waited a long, long time for that to happen. I don’t really know you, but I’ve been watching you. Maybe you’re not interested in being with someone who’s like you, someone who shares what you’re feeling, but I think maybe you are. Maybe you’ll tell my father and I’ll be in deep trouble, but maybe you won’t.” He took a deep breath, then finished with, “I had to risk it. You’re so perfect. I had to try. I couldn’t wait any longer.”

He took another step closer. He was now within an arm’s reach of me. We were both totally erect, and the tension in the room was building.

I stared at him for a moment, an electric moment, and saw how excited he was, saw how hopeful he was, and he stared back, his eyes showing his excitement and eagerness. I couldn’t help myself. I reached out and took hold of his erection. He let out the deepest, most heartfelt sigh I’d ever heard, and then he reached for me, too.

Scene break: cruise ship

The rest of the time we had during my spring break, I wasn’t alone. Not ever. We were with each other continually, day and night. Dad had to have known what was happening, but other than smiling at me when he saw us, he never said a word. I asked Nick if his dad knew about him, and Nick told me his dad knew he was gay, but not about his nightly naked excursions, not about the strength of the feelings he was experiencing.

I told Nick I didn’t know if I was gay. He grinned at me. I might not have been sure of my sexuality at that age, but I knew exactly what I was feeling for Nick.

We talked about what we liked doing, being naked in the night, prowling the ship that way. Nick said he hadn’t done that every night before I’d come aboard, just when the mood was on him and his horniness couldn’t be tamed.

We weren’t shy about being together. Dad saw me holding Nick’s hand a couple times, and when I had the courage to look at him looking at me, when I met his eyes, he nodded, winked, then walked on. So he had to know what was going on, and he seemed more than OK with it. The captain grinned when he saw me with Nick. Nick had the same problem I’d had. His dad called him Kiki, probably some derivative of Nick, and Nick was tired of it. He told his dad from now on, he was Nick and I was Michael. His dad asked him why it had taken him so long to balk at the name. Adults! Who can ever figure them out?

We walked naked in the night several times, though I was no longer even half as eager to maybe be seen by anyone else. Together was much more fun than alone, and I had no need for the thrill of being caught. The thrill we now felt when out and about naked came from just the feelings we had being in the velvety night, its ambience wrapping itself around us, and our growing passion for and emotional attachment to each other, each feeling what we knew the other was feeling. It was so good to be sitting on a deck chair in the black surroundings of the very early mornings, letting the breezes kiss us all over, letting our hands touch each other with abandon, just being us and part of the vastness of the universe.

The limitless stars looking down at us no longer looked cold and unfeeling. Now, they seemed to smile at us, their twinkling having all the appearance of approving winks.

I gave up my cabin and moved into Nick’s, which, being on a higher deck, was larger and had a double bed. We fit together perfectly. We were within a month of each other in age. Getting to know each other was the best, the best time I could remember ever having.

I saw areas of the ship paying passengers never saw. The crew all seemed to adore Nick, and I was taken under their wings as well. I heard stories from them about Nick’s escapades that had him blushing and the rest of us roaring with laughter. We had adventures ourselves for which I’m sure the captain would have marooned us if he’d ever known. What a time we had, growing closer and closer each day and night!

We had the run of the ship. We didn’t have to eat when the passengers did; Nick would take us into the kitchen, and the cooks there—mostly Jamaicans, as cheerful a group as I’d ever met—loved cooking special things for Nick, who seemed to be everyone’s favorite kid. We had broiled lobster tails with lemon butter, filet mignons sizzling right off the grill, barbecued ribs, thick hamburgers with a spicy Caribbean sauce that exploded in your mouth and made you wish you had room for a second helping, and anything else we could want, and this doesn’t even start to mention the desserts. The desserts!

Nick took me into the casino when it was closed and gave me free tokens for the slot machines. We also played roulette. Both were fun, and both took all my tokens before we’d hardly begun. We swam naked in the pool when it was closed for the night, allowing our wet bodies to slide across each other, retreating to the shallow end when the mood got too intense and we could not hold back any longer.

It should be obvious from this that we didn’t operate on the same schedule as other passengers. We became night owls, sleeping late into the days, up late into the nights and early mornings. I asked Nick if this was his normal routine in the ship, and he said no, his regular hours were more regular, then laughed at the double use of that word. Nick could laugh about most anything, and I often couldn’t help but join in.

I asked him how he spent his days when I wasn’t part of them, and he said he mostly just mingled with the crew, helping them with their jobs, which might have explained why he was so popular with them. That and the fact he was always so upbeat. He knew everyone’s jobs and how to do them, and would move from one crew member to another, giving them all a hand while at the same time learning how to perform every job on the ship.

When the ship docked at some of the islands, we went ashore together and became tourists. Nick had visited all these isles for years, and he knew just where to go on each. He knew many of the shopkeepers, and they all welcomed him with open arms. He knew where to buy snacks, and I ate things I’d never tried before; with Nick advising me, everything we bought was delicious.

We visited amazing beaches that were off the tourists’ beaten path and were often totally deserted. I loved watching the tropical sun set, coming closer and closer to the horizon, often turning the sky various shades of red and orange, the tint and intensity ever-changing as the sun neared the edge of the water. We’d sit above the wave line on incredibly romantic and deserted beaches, naked on the warm sand, hand in hand, not even speaking as the majesty of the setting overwhelmed us. Nick told me he’d seen it all before, but it had never looked so beautiful to him as it did now, never moved him as much as it did with me sitting next to him, with us sharing the glory of it all.

The ship finally arrived back in Miami, and I was heartbroken. But we’d already made plans for when school got out, which was only a little over two months away. I’d already had Dad talk to Mom about it and it was set: I’d spend the summer on the ship. With Nick. It was going to be glorious.

Waiting would about kill me!

The End

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