Julie, exiting the stateroom first, said, “Oh look, there’s an envelope taped to the door.” Pulling it loose and opening it she gasped as she handed it to Henry. “What on earth is this? Do you know about it?”
Henry was equally startled as he read:
THE E & T BULLETIN
THE EB & T BULLETIN WILL FOLLOW, WITH ENVY, THE ACTIVITIES OF MRS. JULIE SCHAFER AND MS MABLE SYNTHRON AT THE EXPLORER OF THE SEAS BANKING CONFERENCE. WE’RE SURE THAT THEY WILL REPRESENT US WELL
“What the hell is this? That was that phony notice we put into the Bulletin to fool your husband! Somebody is playing games with us!”
“Yeah, and that somebody has to be on the ship! They…they know our stateroom number…and…and they have to know that there is no Mabel Synthron!”
“Right. It has to be someone from the bank who knows that the notice was phony! I wonder if that someone from the bank is going to be at the conference or, more likely, they had a friend who’ll be at the conference put that here as a joke. Either way, the conference starts tomorrow and we have to register to prove that we actually attended. I’ll bet that someone will kid us about it when we’re there.”
“That will be embarrassing! It’s bad enough that I’m a married woman here with you, but I certainly don’t want it to be common knowledge! I’m worried enough about Mark accepting this, but if it becomes public knowledge, we’re finished!”
“Come on, Julie, it has to be a joke. These things go on all the time at these conferences. Look around tomorrow and you’ll see a bunch of older men with their carefully groomed secretaries, assistants or whatever! No one is going to rock the boat – literally in this case – and talk publicly about who is with whom!”
“So I’m the equivalent of a carefully prepared secretary? That’s how our colleagues will see me?”
“Don’t be silly! You’re a top notch administrative assistant who is destined for promotion to the top. You’re practically running the division now and when I move up to Devon’s position – maybe next year – you’ll replace me. Anyway, when you meet people tomorrow, you will be seen as a colleague, not a pleasant piece to be enjoyed at a conference!”
Julie was somewhat reassured by Henry’s statement about her future, but, in the back of her mind, was the memory of Mark warning her in one of their arguments that she was being “groomed” by Henry! The very word that Henry had just used! That word really jarred her. She didn’t look forward to how the “joke” would play out tomorrow. Regardless, Mark’s first effort to work on her head had done its job!
They had an informal dinner and, finally went back to the room around 7:00 to see if their suitcases had been delivered yet. Julie exclaimed, “Oh look, mine is here! I’ll be glad to get unpacked before we go out again.”
Henry was a bit upset, saying “What happened to mine? They got them at the same time. I’m going to talk to the room steward.” Julie was just opening her case when he returned. “He’s going to check and see what happe…what’s wrong?”
Julie had cried out, “Oh no” and, slumping down on the bed, started to cry. “These…these are not what I packed! I had the whole case filled with beautiful clothes, but they’re all gone!” She quickly dumped everything out on the bed. She shuffled through the pile, pulling things out, cursing as she did so. “Damn it, these are my old clothes – and look at this, packages of underwear form Walmart! Jesus, a bathing suit with a skirt! Pajamas! There’s nothing here that I want to wear or be seen in on a cruise. Oh gods, my beautiful cocktail dresses. Mark did this, but how? I packed everything, closed the suitcase and locked it last night! He had no time to repack it! What am I going to do?”
“Don’t give up! You saw that Fashion Boutique store on deck five! We can go down and buy you some things. Man, though, your husband really played a mean trick on you.”
“Yeah, but, you know, when I think of it, I don’t blame him. He and I shopped and shopped to buy all my beautiful clothes and he hates to shop. All those things were bought for me to wear on our fifth anniversary honeymoon cruise and l’m sure that he didn’t want me to wear them without him – certainly not with another man!” Suddenly she looked up with a shocked expression on her face. “Oh, my god! That’s what happened with my rings!”
“Your rings? I saw you weren’t wearing them but I assumed that you decided not to.”
“No. I always put my rings on a ring holder on my dressing table when I’m washing in the bathroom. I dropped them down the lavatory once and was lucky to get them back. This morning I found the ring holder on the floor and crawled around on my knees for a half hour searching for my rings, figuring that they had fallen off and rolled away. Damn it, I’ll bet that Mark took them. But how? He wasn’t home this morning and I had them then! I don’t know how he did it but he managed to change everything in my suitcase so he undoubtedly did this too.
“He gaziantep escortları had no time to do that but he did it and he took my rings when he wasn’t there! It’s impossible. But I know that he didn’t want me have those clothes and he didn’t want me to wear my rings without him! You know, as I think of it, I’m glad he took my rings. In almost five years they have been on my finger and I really miss them. Even this morning when I was dressed to leave home I got down on the floor in that last desperate effort to find them. But now I’m glad that they won’t be on my finger when I’m on this cruise with you. I love him with all my heart but I hurt him very badly and I don’t think that I’ll ever forgive myself for that!”
At just moment, the steward knocked on the door. “Mr. Johnstone, I went down and searched for your suitcase and it just doesn’t seem to be anywhere! I talked to housekeeping and they are starting a search. They’ll call you as soon as they know anything.”
After he left, Henry blew up. “If those sons of bitches don’t turn up my suitcase, there’s going to be trouble! Unless that magician husband of yours managed to hide or steal it!”
“Don’t be silly, Henry! Your suitcase was in the limo when you picked me up, I saw it taken out by the driver and given to the baggage handler who took both of them to the luggage carts. If mine got here, as useless as it is, yours certainly got on the ship. You can’t blame Mark for this!”
“Well it damn sure had better turn up. You at least have something to wear even if you don’t like it – I don’t have a damn thing! Well, you don’t like those nice pajamas your husband gave you and I don’t even have pajamas to wear so I guess we’ll both have to sleep naked tonight! I guess that that is the silver lining in that dark cloud! Now, let’s go back down and have a drink to relax.”
“Well, I’ll tell you one thing! After all the activity today and the real disappointment of not having my beautiful clothes to wear, I just won’t have the energy for much real activity tonight. However, it is our first night so I will sleep naked and, if you want, and I’ll do the same thing I did in the office.’
“I guess I’ll have to accept that for tonight, but I can’t wait to get into that juicy cunt of yours. I want to get my cock into where my finger has been!”
“You can get into it tomorrow. You know, I have very little experience so I want to take it slow. You may not believe this, but Mark is the only man who has ever seen me completely naked. I even have a female doctor! I sucked a couple of cocks in high school, but he was the only one to come in my mouth before you! He’s the only man whose cock has been in my pussy. So, you can’t be first but you’ll be second!”
“All right! I’ll get that second tonight and get the big one tomorrow! Come on, my cocks ready to burst right now!”
“For heaven’s sake! It’s early! Let me get this suitcase unpacked and the clothes, disappointing as they are, put away. Then we’ll go get that drink you mentioned. We’ll come back, I’ll get a shower and we’ll see.”
Mark had boarded the ship about 45 minutes after Julie and Henry and immediately went to his cabin to avoid any chance of encountering them. It had a round mirror where a window or port hole should be, but he wasn’t really bothered by the feeling of being closed in and it was perfect for monitoring his prey. He quickly used the theatrical adhesive to firmly attach his moustache. It was just a normal moustache – no handlebars, no drooping ends, just a plain rectangle of hair beneath his nose covering his upper lip. However, it is amazing how that little bit of hair, properly groomed, changed his face. With the glasses and the hair on his head combed into a center part, he didn’t look like himself.
Then, with his shirt off he applied a liquid to his shoulders and arms and carefully applied a number of colorful tattoos. Both Julie and Mark hated tattoos and any man who had them couldn’t possibly be Mark as far as Julie was concerned. He couldn’t have a better disguise!
Putting a Mets, not a Phillies, cap on, he went up to the Windjammer for lunch. As with Julie, he had been awed by the ship from the terminal, but he was even more impressed being on board. From the glass elevators he looked out over the vast Centrum – the atrium in the center of the ship – on the way up to the Windjammer. Later he walked through the four-story Royal Promenade on deck 5, looking at bars, shops, a café and assorted other passenger traps. It was going to take time to sort it all out, but his real interest was finding Julie.
He accomplished that at the mandatory assembly drill. He went to his assigned area which turned out to be a bar. After checking in there he listened to a recorded message, saw an employee put on a life jacket and was told to come to that assembly station, i.e. the bar, if he heard a series of blasts on the ship’s horn. Theoretically, passengers would be lead from there to the lifeboats in an emergency. An older man commented to Mark that just a few years ago at the lifeboat drill passengers actually put on their life jackets and went directly to their lifeboat station, not to a bar. Maybe a mob scene in a bar was simpler, but it didn’t fill Mark with confidence!
In any case, while there he triggered the tracking device and it indicated that Julie was assigned to the same area but he didn’t see her in the crowd. Finally, as the mob dispersed, he got a look at her for the first time. She looked very pretty and well dressed. He smiled to himself as he wondered how happy she would be when she opened her suitcase. As she walked away, he looked at the man with her and, for the first time, saw Henry Johnstone. He had heard more than he wanted to about Mr. Johnstone and he was not impressed by what he saw.
He was not a big or tall man, being about 5′ 6″ or 5′ 7″ and probably 150 lbs. He was reasonably good looking and was impeccably dressed as you would expect with a high-powered banker. But it was his obviously expensive clothes and his self-important bearing that set him off from the crowd around him. He seemed, to Mark, to have a supercilious and condescending look on his face as he was surrounded by all of these common people – but Mark admitted to himself, hat he was hardly an unprejudiced observer!
One thing that Mark noticed was that there was nothing of the intimacy and closeness he had expected between him and Julie. There was an occasional touching or friendly gesture, but no more than any two friends might do. The relationship still seemed to be of a cool, composed Johnstone responding to Julie while she was – well, fawning over him is a bit too much, but something like that. Certainly this was nothing of a loving relationship of equals. What struck Mark was seeing his extremely intelligent and highly competent wife accepting, seemingly embracing, a secondary position and playing up to Johnstone like a student to a teacher. She still seemed to be in that mentor- protégé role, with Johnstone in the dominant position and she the supplicant. If that were the case, it would explain some of her behavior.
Mark could see no reason to follow them around and went out onto an open deck to watch the ship depart. He leaned on the railing, looking down on the dock workers as they began to free the ship from the dock. He stood there, one deck above the balcony where Julie and Henry also watched. He saw the ant-sized workers scurry around and mused about the changes in cruise ship departures.
His only previous experience in such events was in movies, usually musicals, in which hordes of friends and relatives filled staterooms drinking champagne served by obsequious waiters. Eventually the ship’s horn would blow, a steward would go down the corridors calling out, “All ashore who’s going ashore!” With handshakes and kisses, the friends and relatives leave and join the crowd cheering on the dock. A band would be playing and streamers would fly down from the upper decks. A major event to be covered by the press and enjoyed by the throng waving as the ship left port.
Now no one got on board unless they were a passenger and had cleared security. The dock was just an immense platform of concrete, empty except for those workers pulling in hawsers and freeing the ship to silently depart. No cheers, just the blast of the ship’s horn. The change was depressing in a way, but, on the other hand, only the rich leaned on the rails in those earlier days – the poor were in steerage – and cruise ships were rare. Now, anyone with a passport can afford a cruise, particularly if they can accept an inside cabin like Mark’s.
In any case, when Mark returned to his cabin, the laptop was sitting on the bed and surveillance was begun. He turned on the audio bug just in time, unfortunately, to hear Julie say, with a giggle, “Now stop that! There will be plenty of time for that later tonight! Now, we chose the early seating in the main dining room and we have to locate it. Let’s see, it’s on three levels and we are in the De Gama section on deck four. It’s almost time and I’m hungry. Maybe our suitcases will be here when we get back.” She giggled again, adding, “You’ll like same of the stuff I have in mine!” Mark did not like hearing that and he definitely wanted to be listening when she discovered the “stuff” that was actually in her suitcase!
He ate at the buffet and returned to his room and eagerly awaited their return, particularly since he saw her suitcase outside their door. He listened with a smile on his face as he heard Henry speculating about his suitcase, but, surprisingly, that smile faded as he heard the cry of dismay from Julie as she opened hers. He found himself feeling sorry for her disappointment, particularly when she clearly understood and accepted his motives. The same thing was true when she made the connection with her rings. She wasn’t even angry, just sad. Her profession of love for him sounded completely sincere with no possible ulterior motive.
It certainly was nothing that Henry would want to hear. On the other hand, Mark did enjoy hearing her loving statement just as he relished Henry’s outburst about his suitcase. He thought, with pleasure, of how Henry would react tomorrow when no suitcase could be found! However, that pleasure was short lived and faded away completely when he heard Julie’s answer to Henry’s suggestion about sleeping naked!
He listened with dismay as Julie begged off screwing tonight but promised it for tomorrow and offering nudity and cock-sucking that night, including swallowing. In the one conversation she had expressed her unstinting love for Mark and, shortly afterwards, promised her body to Henry! Nothing further was said of interest until Julie announced, “Ok, I’m ready. Why don’t we go down to that Aquarium Bar near the dining room? Deck 4? I like looking at the fish.
Mark waited a few minutes and followed them. The Aquarium Bar was between the entrances to the De Gama dining room and the casino and, as would be expected the first night of the cruise, it was crowded. Fortunately they had managed to find a comfortable two-seater couch and were talking with another couple across from them. The entrance into the casino was thirty or forty feet away from where they were seated and that was where the traffic was headed. There were two large pillars marking that entrance and Mark stood half-sheltered by one of them. He waited for gaps in the crowd passing through and over about five minutes he was able to make several telephoto close-ups of Julie and Henry, glasses in hand, enjoying a relaxing drink. He quickly made his way back to the elevators and hurried back to his cabin.
Downloading about ten snapshots, he selected the best one and, using the laptop’s software, prepared a print with text added. He printed it out and, as before, put in in an envelope and taped it to the door of 1640. About an hour later, Julie and Henry approached the door and she cried out, “Oh no, not another one of those!” Taking it into their room, she ripped it open and read:
THE EB & T BULLETIN
AS PROMISED, THE EB & T BULLETIN IS FOLLOWING THE ACTIVITIES OF MRS. JULIE SCHAFER AND MS MABLE SYNTHRON AT THE EXPLORER OF THE SEAS BANKING CONFERENCE. HERE THEY ARE, ENJOYING A NIGHTCAP BEFORE RETIRING TO THEIR STATEROOM! YOU UNDOUBTEDLY WILL BE ASTOUNDED ABOUT HOW CLOSELY MS SYNTHRON RESEMBLES HENRY M. JOHNSTONE OF THE ASSET MANAGEMENT DIVISION!
Oh my god, Henry, somebody was right at the bar with us. And it was taken right in front of us, but I didn’t see anyone taking a picture! And they know your name! This is scary!”
“It still has to be a joke, but it’s not funny! It has to be someone from our damn bank and when I find out who, there is going to be retribution!’ He stopped, hesitated and added with a rueful smile, “Unless it’s Jim Devon and he decided to come on this cruise and he’s teasing me. Then it would be funny.”
“You’re certainly flexible, but I understand. I just hope that it is nothing but a joke and I can’t think of anything else it can be. Anyway, the registration is at 10:00 tomorrow morning and I have to decide about what I can wear out of the clothes Mark packed for me. I’m not going to be happy!”
“Speaking of which, I need my blasted suitcase so I can get some clean clothes to wear. I’m going to raise hell tomorrow morning unless it’s at our door. Now, let’s turn to something more pleasant! We both need showers, but we certainly can’t take them together! One person is almost too much to squeeze into that little thing, much less two! I’ll go first and wait great anticipation!
Julie woke first, before 7:00 AM, as she usually did to get ready for her commute into the city. She had gotten cold during the night and put on a pajama top, but a naked Henry lay beside her. Her memory of last night’s activities immediately flashed through her mind. Henry was lying on his back only partly covered by a sheet, giving Julie her first look at a naked man in her life – other than Mark, of course. “My god, I actually slept with him last night! I spent the night in bed with someone other than Mark! How the hell did I get myself into this situation? I can’t see how he will ever forgive me – or me forgive myself!”
Actually, for a 54 year man in a sedentary job, he wasn’t too bad – but not too good either. He had no real muscle tone, had a paunch and “love handles.” Last night his cock had been hard and ready and, as she had known from the office, it was about the size of Mark’s. Actually, there had been no real pleasure last night. She had sucked it mostly as a duty and with virtually no enjoyment or sense of sexual excitement. Still she actually had felt no repulsion as it went off in her mouth and she had swallowed the ejaculate without consciously deciding to do so. She really had been more excited in the office kneeling at his feet. She had sucked Mark many times, going back to her freshman year in college, and it was always was a sexual act with meaning to her, but last night there was none of that.