"Sure, if it's legal and everything. I don't want to get into trouble or nuthin'."
"You won't." Grenville did plan to write up a few notes, use the trip as a tax write-off. "Once you get everything put away, feel free to go anywhere you wish."
"Okay." Jamie wrung his hands together. "Uh, Grenville? There's sure a lot of people here. You think I could have...?"
"No. You can have a tranquilizer at twilight, another one when you go to bed. That's all."
And, Grenville thought, we're supposed to drop one of those before this is over.
Jamie was too excited to go into a sulk. "Okay. Man, it feels so good to be on a ship again."
That's right, Grenville thought. Jamie'd been some sort of sea tramp before they'd—met.
He often forgot Jamie had had any life before.
Well, at least he wasn't cowering around in that disgusting way.
Grenville decided to explore the ship. One this size was new and amazing to him, too. It would be his first sea voyage in this century, he thought.
The idea excited him, and he was able to forget all about Jamie.
"I know these drills are a pain, but if you have to get off the boat in a hurry it really helps."
"Indeed." Grenville felt ridiculous in his life vest. The fact that the other first-class passengers were standing around, chatting, looking uncomfortable in life vests, helped a little.
"Yeah, I had to get off a little cargo ship once—engines caught fire—if the captain hadn't drilled us, we would have been in trouble. It sank fast."
"How interesting," Grenville said, hoping Jamie would shut up. An unpleasant side effect of Jamie's withdrawal was a tendency to chatter.
"Yeah, that time we had to get off a ferry—that was a mess. If you didn't drown the fuckin' crocodiles got you...."
Grenville's attention was caught by a most lovely young lady, who was standing with two elderly people, obviously her parents.
What an intelligent-looking woman, he thought. "I think they lost about fifty people on that one—it was way overcrowded. I grabbed two kids, but their parents didn't make it..."
Grenville walked over to the young woman. "Pardon me ..." he began.
"Geez, do we have to dress up for dinner every night?" Jamie pulled uncomfortably at his tie.
"If you want to eat in this restaurant you do."
Grenville had been thinking how pleasant it was to have Jamie looking like a gentleman for a change, instead of the young thug he was too apt to appear as.
If Leslie happened by, he wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with him. In fact, dressed in his dark gray suit, Jamie might even be called handsome—Louisa often said he would be, had he a different demeanor.
"So, there's different restaurants?"
"And you don't need ties in all of them?"
"I understand some are quite casual."
"And we can eat in any of them?"
"For what I'm paying, we can eat in every one of them."
"Well, if you don't mind, this'll be the last time here for me. I know you like this stuff, but I can't eat while I'm bein' choked."
Grenville inwardly rejoiced, but said quite calmly, "I don't mind at all."
Jamie was behaving very well, so far—he'd needed his tranquilizer at dusk, but Grenville had expected that—and understood it, as well.
"I'm going to a poker game this evening," Jamie said conversationally.
"In the casino?"
"They got a casino?"
"Where have you been all day?"
"Engine room. Crew quarters. Nice guys. You better tell Richard, though, it's all union. No getting around it."
"I'll let him know."
"So. You got anything for me to do tomorrow? Does it matter what time I get back to the cabin?"
"No. In fact, Jamie, except for your research project, just treat this as a vacation for you, too. Set your own hours."
"Yeah? Great. Thanks. Uh, would you mind leaving a pill out for me? I mean, in case you're asleep when I get in?"
"Sounds like a good idea. Jamie, don't forget, you're a first-class passenger, too—take advantage of it. You can go anywhere on the ship, any deck."
Grenville couldn't see Jamie taking ballroom-dancing lessons, attending the lectures, visiting the quite adequate library—all activities he was planning with Leslie.
The last thing he needed was Jamie trailing after him.
"Okay," Jamie said. "I will."
The second night Jamie discovered he could have his drinks in the bars charged to their cabin. He'd lost most of his money in the poker game—he hadn't played in years and hadn't been all that good then—not like Kellen was.
Anyway, the crew was a little uncomfortable with him, he could tell, especially after learning he was traveling first class.
He didn't blame them.
But this first-class stuff was all right, he decided, if they picked up your bar tab. Until then he hadn't much liked it—the first-class passengers were either old or stuffy or both. He didn't hate rich people anymore, after knowing the Hawkeses, but he didn't want to hang out with them, either.
Funny, he rarely thought of Grenville as rich. Probably because he was so damn tight. And Hawkes Hall, big as it was, was one of the most primitive places Jamie had ever lived.
There was loud music coming from somewhere—it was a bar patterned on a disco. Jamie was glad to see people closer to his own age going in and out.
He walked in, squeezing by the lively dance floor, to the bar.
Immediately he spotted two girls standing at the bar, ignoring two college-age guys who were eyeing them.
Jamie hated playing games. He moved to the bar, next to the girls.
"Can I buy you young ladies a drink?"
They were about college age, too, one chubby-cheeked and apricot-colored like a chipmunk, the other had cat-green eyes under a tangle of dark curls.
"A banana daiquiri," said the cat-eyed one, with a smile.
"And how about you?" Jamie asked the other.
"Oh, I'll sip hers." She smiled, too, bright-eyed and cheery. "We like to share."
They were both cute, rather than beautiful, but very, very cute.
"Really?" Jamie said. "That's in
He noted, with satisfaction, the college boys' ire. When Jamie gave his cabin number, signed the tab, the girls looked at him again.
"That's first class, isn't it? Are you rich?"
"Naw." Jamie sipped his scotch. He never got scotch at home. In fact, he never got alcohol.
"My boss is. I'm travelin' with him. We're researching cruise ships."
The girls seemed unusually pleased with that answer, instead of disappointed like Jamie half expected.
"That is so honest. Usually these ships are full of bullshit artists. I'm Diane."
The dark-haired one shook his hand.
"I'm Michelle." The other kissed Jamie's cheek.
Jamie watched, from the corner of his eye, the college boys move on to another group of girls. He gloated.
"We hate bullshitters," Diane said. "We're very honest," said Michelle.
Jamie could tell, from the way they almost finished each other's sentences, that they'd been friends for a long time.
"So, you girls been on cruises before? What do you do for fun?"
Grenville woke; he'd had champagne at dinner, Leslie wanted a few small glasses, champagne always gave him fitful sleep, he hardly remembered why anymore.
He looked at the bedside clock. Four in the morning. Jamie still hadn't returned, his tranquilizer lay unused on the night-stand.
For a minute, Grenville debated whether or not to worry, then decided not.
With all his vaunted seamanship, it was unlikely he had fallen overboard. If he didn't miss his medication he was probably sane enough.
Grenville was glad that instead of feeling cooped up with Jamie, he actually saw less of him than at Hawkes Hall.
And Leslie—a real lady, her ex-husband must have been a cad, she bore the strain of the recent divorce so gracefully— Grenville drifted back into sleep.
The bunks in third class weren't roomy at all, not much room for two, a real crowd for three, but Jamie and the girls slept as peacefully as pups in a litter.