Under pressure of time and circumstance Eloise McCabe had come through for Charlotte. She booked all the hotel and travel arrangements in mere minutes. Finally, a nice calm Caribbean vacation was in the plans, just what she needed. Once the tickets were printed Charlotte smiled and plopped down some major coinage. Eloise thanked her and enthusiastically waved her off all for the few well paid minutes of computer time that Charlotte couldn't risk. She hadn't used her own name, but one she had on a spare driver's license. Kenyon always taught his vampires to hold more than one set of ID whenever traveling; for that she now was thankful. The phony name wasn't one Kenyon helped her find -- but one of her human pals had dug it up for her use. She got in her car and headed down to the Florida docks where she was to pick up her ride the next night.
The slip information was printed out on the itinerary but she couldn't find the location. As dawn approached she found an old salty dog hanging out sipping from a brown paper sack. His face was deeply lined and crumpled by time and booze.
"Hi, do you know where the Orchid Princess is docked?" She figured it didn't hurt to ask.
"Bottom of the ocean." The man smelled like salt, burnt driftwood and a quart of bad liquor. His tones rang true.
Dawn was mere minutes away and she was completely exhausted. Eloise had booked a hotel room for her nearby. She knew she had to sleep.
"No, seriously." Charlotte wanted to make sure, "The Orchid Princess that goes to Barbados?"
"Yes, 'seriously,' there was a bad storm last week. Not much known about those boys but they weren't local. Nobody knows why. Damn idiots." The man nodded and walked away leaving Charlotte standing stupidly at the dock clueless what had happened.
Sighing she went to the hotel Eloise had placed her in and found her room still available. Later she would try to figure out how to get over to the island to enjoy her tropical vacation. It wasn't looking too good. Only her luck she would be booked into the one boat on the bottom of the ocean. Night was gone and she was, too. She slept deeply without any dreams.
When morning came she tried to call the travel agency; nobody answered. After another series of calls, she reached someone at the harbor master's and found out that the Orchid Princess was definitely missing in action. Now she would have to spend more even money to get to the hotel in Barbados she had a reservation at for later that week. Checking with the main desk of her newest hotel she kept the room for two weeks to be on the safe side. Ready cash always made an impression. The hotel front desk clerk quickly booked another boat ride for her to Barbados.
Soon she was on the island. After she got off the boat she took a leisurely cab ride to the hotel and she was finally on vacation. Visually the hotel was less than impressive, but the various personnel she met were sweet and good natured. She sucked it up and decided to relax and just have a good time. Grabbing a novel she went out to the beach right at sunset and set up to watch the boys go by on the sand. There were rum bars and dance clubs lining the beach and their lighting cast off a tremendous glow. She broke out her book prop and read anyways. Soon she was totally bored because the book she had picked up was inaccurate and she had no clue how to tell the author. Tossing the book aside she looked up and looked down the shore. All she saw were older couples. Not a single person under age fifty. Most were well into their seventies and not exactly what she thought would be walking half dressed on the beach. She heard a smattering of German and heavily accented voices of a variety of European countries. It briefly made her homesick for the good old days of being a vampire in Europe. That became a bit ugly once folks began staking and beheading anyone they thought was 'evil' or 'vampire'. They rarely got it right and it was just such a waste of blood and fear.
Watching a bit more, after she figured there wasn't much more available to sip from, she followed a squabbling couple down the beach. The man was quite a bit older than the woman. He was partially deaf, so their quarrelling was hard to ignore; they were arguing about the dinner they had just eaten. She was hungry and soon pulled them off the pathway.
Frustrated, Charlotte walked to the ill-lit waterfront angry and ready to tear off someone's head. How could she have been so stupid? Fun-filled days on a tropical resort seemed to be a good idea when she plunked down a chunk of money with Eloise. Granted she didn't have anyone to go with her but she was more than happy to see some new sights and maybe sip some of the local beverages while enjoying the eye candy on the beach. No life long games of politics or back stabbing around town to deal with, just some sun and some fun. Right.
Barbados was stunning, she had to admit. But there was something odd happening. Her earlier liquid snack on the quarrelling couple was less satisfying. They seemed to be perfect but then it was like the light from the moon was too bright and people too relaxed. There was no tension. To her disgust they had absolutely no feelings of fear when she fanged in and started to suck at the veins in their necks. Hell, they enjoyed the sensation and giggled. It was like part of their experiences on the island was enhanced by her draining them. Nowhere in the literature did she see vampires were part of the island tours. Yet it appeared to be the unwritten rule. Looking around the docks she figured that maybe a sailor could satisfy her growing hunger.
Charlotte found the docks a bit busier. There were a few more ships and boats arriving and departing than there had been when she had arrived. She leaned against the side of a shop that was currently closed. The smells of curry scented the air as well as rum. The sugar in the liquor permeated the very air she was breathing. Her eyes were well adjusted to the shadows and she could see more boats were departing and the rhythm of the docks was slowing down and soon she would have only a few choices.
She heard someone yell and the sailors she had been eyeing as having some dining possibilities were outright laughing. For a second her eyes flashed in anger at the half dozen bronze men standing around on a rather large white boat. They weren't snickering at her but rather something between her and them. A small craft had tried to tie up to the dock but was being told to leave by the harbor master. The young man sulked but let them wave him off to find another place to shore up. Too bad, the youngster was just the right sort for her to have played with and had a great time. The lean man met her eyes briefly and elegantly sketched a quick bow in her direction. She was surprised he had even noticed her. Definitely there had been more to him than met the eyes. Oh well, she had to settle for what was on the docks.
The harbor master disappeared back to his little office, but not before being tossed a bottle from the deck of the large white yacht. One of the men called down, "Pierre, mon ami, we don't need anything more this evening. Thank you for your help. We will see you tomorrow evening." With that the men on the boat went back to smoking and joking. These men were well under the age of fifty, so she slowly pushed away from the building and headed down the walkway to the slip.
The sailors she had been heading towards abruptly went back to their work as a small, dark haired, mean looking man came out on deck yelling, "Damn you assholes! Get back to work now. My Paulette is going to be here for the moonlit sailing lessons any second. We need to be ready to head out to sea." The joking dropped off as well as the chatter. The captain walked up to one of the boys moving slower and slapped his cigarette out of his mouth.
"You! I will have none of that. I told you to keep those foul things off my ship. Terrance, dock Pablo two hours wages. Next time it will be four hours. I am not pleased with you at all!" He snarled and stomped off the deck. Just like that she decided a little piracy was in order. This crew was ripe for some mutiny and there was a woman walking towards her dressed in a ridiculous outfit. It must be 'My Paulette'.
Charlotte walked back up the dock and hailed the fluffy-haired lady. Her hair was some vague color along the blonde chemically induced shades that only hours under heat lamps with foil and bleach could attain. The look was bravely brittle for the blonde. Charlotte's own blonde locks were courtesy of good genetics and being turned young enough she didn't need touch ups. One of the strong points to being a vampire was all the money she saved on hair care. Aging was not an issue. The relentless hunger pushing at her spine was.
"Hi, you must be Paulette!" She used her chipper girl style of speech. Putting her hand to her chest she tapped the silver chain hanging between her breasts and the crystal there was carefully spun. Paulette's eyes met hers briefly then focused on the swaying moon lit gem. Charlotte began to slowly murmur some words.
"Yes, I am Paulette." Even as she tried to resist the pull from Charlotte her tone was very haughty and condescending, "And you are?"
"Charlie. Damn, you didn't know? I was supposed to come with you. Jenny at the concierge desk said she told you after dinner." Charlotte got closer and began to make vampiric friends with Paulette. Paulette was fuming and easily controlled. Soon Paulette had linked arms with her friend 'Charlie' and walked her to the waiting ship. It was all Charlotte could do to not critique her new friend's wardrobe choice. The white heavily starched and pressed sailor outfit with blue piping probably looked extremely cute on a teenager was utterly ridiculous on a forty-something botoxed leather skinned angry woman.
She glanced down to see the nasty little captain was back on the deck waiting for them. The ropes were being whipped about by the crew and it was making her ache to play immediately but she had to let Paulette set the mood. She was so looking forward to mutiny. The yacht and its crew had such lovely possibilities. She liked fear. This was the first set of folks she had seen that looked tasty since she landed on this godforsaken island. Even as she watched the captain awkwardly stumble towards them she could still hear the sounds of island music dancing along the waterfront.
Charlotte turned to look back over her shoulder at the brightly lit bar she had bypassed in her haste to get to the docks and wondered how late they served. Drunks might not have much fear but they would satisfy her immediate hunger. This boat trip could become a tad complicated if she didn't handle everything just right. She slowly turned her head back to see Paulette get a quick kiss on the cheek from the man. Her arm was still entwined with Paulette's and she got a whiff of a nervous sweaty man with an under cutting odor of fear.
"My captain. Allow me to present Charlie. She's a dear friend I thought you would enjoy." She found it funny that she was being presented as a gift to the malodorous man standing on the boat and he was looking so smug when she in fact was the one that would be taking. A slight smile chased across her lips.
The large yacht was still overshadowing the smaller boats around the wharf and she could hear the men making some smartass comments softly under their breaths. Part of her wanted to just tear into the golden men right way and not even get away from the shore. It was something about how they were sweating and working so casually while this pathetic creature coming towards her was looking at her like she was his. Okay, maybe it was going to be worth the wait.
"Charmed to meet you, Charlie," the man was faking a slight French accent. It was like he thought she would be impressed he was from France or something. Who in the hell liked Paris? It was filled with snippy little smelly men and women with over inflated egos and not much else. Besides they always tasted like rotting cheese and moldy bread. The things a girl had to do for a good time.