Ocean Music – LIL_1337
“Damn, it’s cold.” Hudson muttered to himself as he made his way down the deck at a fast walk. Moisture hung in the air and the wind at his back pushed him along at a steady pace. It was four am and instead of sleeping like a normal person he was on his way to the kitchen to start prep for breakfast. The café opened at seven thirty and there was a hell of a lot of food to be cooked before then.
Inside, out of the wind it was much warmer and he shed his coat before putting on his chef’s hat and apron. Working as a prep cook on the cruise ship Seven Seas Splendor was his first job since graduating from the Seattle Culinary Institute and he was determined to do it well. The chance to work with people who had been trained in various places all over the world allowed Hudson to expand his knowledge especially since everyone was willing to let him watch and answer questions.
“What’s cooking good looking?”
Hudson started, looking up from the biscuits he was cutting out into the most beautiful pair of dark blue eyes. Marley Stevens, the tenor for The Waves, ship’s singing group, grinned and reached past Hudson to snag a piece of bacon which he stuffed into his mouth and chewed blissfully.
“The café opens at seven thirty.” Hudson’s reprimand lacked any strength since he couldn’t hide his amused smile. Marley grinned, unrepentant, as he snatched one of the muffins hot from where they sat cooling next to the oven. “How was the show last night?”
“Great!” Marley took a big bite of his baked good and chewed slowly savoring the taste. “The audience was really into it especially during the sing a long. The theater was packed and you couldn’t hear us over the song of the crowd.”
“I’m glad it went well.” Hudson smiled, slipping the biscuits into the oven and pressing the button for the timer. “You’re up early this morning.”
“I want to spend some time on deck before all the passengers get up.”
“Hiding from your loyal fans?” Hudson kept his voice light and teasing though he couldn’t deny the hint of jealousy that raised its little green head. Marley had a way of charming both men and women that made them want to be his friend or more. It was one of the things that Hudson found attractive. Especially since he was shy and reserved, tending to duck his head and avoid eye contact if at all possible. Fortunately his duties allowed him to keep his passenger contact to almost nil.
Marley ran a hand through his short auburn hair, posing dramatically. “I’m a star. It comes with the business.” Letting his hand fall back to his side he smiled more honestly. “I love entertaining people, but when it is quiet like this it’s just me and the ocean sharing a moment, you know?”
“Yes, I do.” Hudson looked up from eggs he was cracking into a bowl in preparation to for scrambling. “That is one of the reasons I wanted to work the early shift.” He paused, picking up the whisk that lay beside the bowl. “It’s peaceful and quiet.”
“Totally Zen.” Marley plucked another muffin from the basket and tugged his hat back down on his head. “See ya later.” Pastry in hand he made his way out of kitchen, turning to wave before sliding the door behind him.
Hudson watched him go, absently whisking the eggs at the same time. He liked Marley, but then everyone did. There was something in his boyish charm that was universally appealing. The fact that he was handsome didn’t hurt either. With a sigh Hudson turned his attention back to the food he was preparing. He had no clue where Marley’s interests lay as he seemed equally flirtatious with both genders though he made no effort to pursue either as least as far as Hudson could see.
Oh, well, he thought, dismissing the question of Marley’s sexual preference. Hudson had accepted this job to get some experience and make some money not to find a boyfriend. There would be plenty of time later for that when he was established in his career and ready to settle down.
Breakfast was over and the prep for lunch finished when Hudson gathered his coat and yelled his goodbyes. His intention was to head back to his stateroom for a nap, but when he passed the theater the sound of singing caught his attention. Slipping under the woven mesh barricade blocking the doorway he stood in the shadows. On stage Marley, Vincent, and Alejandro were crooning to an imaginary audience while the celebrity guest, someone whose fame had faded before Hudson was born was wandering up the aisle pretending to select guests to join them on stage.
Hudson watched for a moment, savoring the view before turning to leave. The last thing he wanted to do was to interfere. He’d taken a single step when he felt a hand on his arm. “Come and join us, young man. It’s not often that we have someone to help us out during rehearsal.”
“I don’t want to intrude.” Hudson smiled, nervously avoiding eye contact.
“That’s nonsense. We welcome an audience.” The gentleman half turned and called out to the singers who were now standing and watching. “Don’t you think this gentleman should join us on stage? He seems to need a little encouragement.”
From where he was standing Hudson could see Marley’s grin though it was Vincent who spoke. “Of course he should. Marley needs to practice his dance moves.” Vincent waved for them to come while Alejandro jumped from the stage and stalked down the aisle like a large cat on the prowl for its favorite toy. It was more than a little disconcerting given that Vincent was easily one of most beautiful men that Hudson had ever seen. His dark eyes smoldered in a way that made everyone around him go weak in the knees. He was also one of the nicest people on the ship and given half a chance would share pictures of his wife and children with undisguised pride.
“I…I… can’t dance.” Marley stuttered trying to keep his cool in the face of an overwhelming rush of lust and embarrassment.
“That’s even better then.” Vincent smiled and grabbed Hudson’s hand tugging him towards the stage. “Most of our audience can’t either. It will be good practice.” He leaned in dropping his voice to a stage whisper that could be heard clearly by everyone in the theater. “He has two left feet you know.”
“I do not!” Marley’s outraged squawk had an underlying tone of good humor and the smile on his face never wavered. He danced an improved freestyle piece to make his point as Hudson made his way up the carpeted stairs to the stage.
“What shall we practice?” Vincent shared a look with Alejandro who then smirked at Marley. “The mambo, perhaps?”
“No.” Alejandro shook his head and pursed his lips in thought. “We did the Latin set Tuesday. Tonight’s show is fifties so it needs to be the jitterbug.”
“Uh…” Hudson looked back and forth between Vincent and Alejandro before Marley came to his rescue.
“That is a cruel thing to do to a beginner.” He stepped close to Hudson invading his personal space in a way that filled it comfortably. With an amused grin Marley captured one of Hudson’s hands then rested his other hand firmly on his lower back. “We’re going to do a basic box step. Step forward, right, back then left. Just relax and follow me. I promise not to lead you astray.” He winked and Hudson could feel heat infusing his face. “Step forward with your left foot. Ready?”
“I think so.” Hudson smiled gamely. “I’ll try not to step on your foot.”
“I’m not worried, so there is no reason for you to be.” Marley stepped back using his hand on Hudson’s back to bring him along. “We’ll practice a couple of times without music first.”
True to his word Marley did just that, gently guiding Hudson through the steps. When his movements grew more confident Marley nodded to the band and they began to play something slow and soft. “Look at me not your feet.” Shyly Hudson raised his eyes to meet Marley’s. “Trust me.” The words were soft meant for Hudson’s ears only.
Hudson tried to replied but ended up nodding when the words caught in his throat. He felt himself drowning in Marley’s eyes. Relaxing into the embrace Hudson felt the hand at his waist draw him closer even as the movement of the steps took on more of a sway. It was easy to let the world shrink to the two of them and the music.
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pic credit: dancers shown in the text are Robert Tristan Szelei and Gergely Darabos
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