As he entered the emigration tent on Long Wharf on the waterfront in Saint John, Canada, Freddie was in time to observe what must be the tail end of a particularly loud argument between Maria and Ralph Tinsley, two of the diners that he regularly served at the late seating in the main dining room of the Quincy Queen. There was a broad circle of empty space around the two. Other departing passengers were giving them a wide berth and turning their faces away from the battle as if nothing was happening.

She, elegantly thin, well-preserved late forties, and European in look, was standing stiffly, arms folded over her chest and looking into the distance along the long expanse of empty tent space off to the side of the long line of passengers moving toward the tour buses. In that corner of the tented area a young man was singing Sinatra songs with the use of a boom box and microphone. The husband, older than she was by a good ten years, and twice her bulk, with a bullet-shaped bald head and military bearing in spite of the shorts and T-shirt he was wearing, towered over the woman, fists clinched. The fireworks had stopped before Freddie entered the tent, but it was clear to the cruise line dining room waiter that this had been a rolling altercation-he'd heard some of it at dinner the previous night, as the ship cruised along from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Saint John, Canada. It was equally clear that the woman was beyond exasperation.

Freddie-that wasn't his real name, but it was an approximation he had settled on because the passengers wouldn't have been able to pronounce the name he'd been given at birth in Goa, India-had become very attentive to this couple. There obviously was a bubbling sexual tension between them that was something Freddie honed in on. He slowed down and turned off to the side, searching through his shoulder bag like he was looking for something, so that he'd have an opportunity to watch this little drama further. Several of those passing by him gave him a smile-more than one, like that French gay couple, gave him lingering looks of appreciation and interest. Freddie was striking, being a near identical twin of a young Denzel Washington, even down to the dark skin, thanks to his Goan ancestry. Freddie smiled back to each and every one, everyone being a future possibility, while keeping his eye on Maria and Ralph.

Freddie wondered how many of these passengers showing interest in him in his shorts and T-shirt recognized him as one of the dining room waiters rather than another paying passenger. To a great extent, his staff uniform was a barrier that helped him settle on possibilities. If someone-woman or man, it didn't matter much which to Freddie-looked beyond his dining room uniform and still showed and signaled interest in him, it gave him some assurance and a play to start. Both Maria and Ralph, when they were jabbing and hissing at each other, had given him such looks during the last two dinner settings. Alphonse, the section head waiter, who did much of the identification and acquiring for him, for a cut of the profit, had already inclined his head toward the couple more than once during dinner service.

Tour tickets in hand, Ralph, with a motion for Maria to follow him, marched toward where tour guides were sorting out people to go on the various buses on separate tours. As soon as the man turned and stepped off, though, Maria, still clutching her sides with arms crossed across her chest and eyes downcast, started meandering, almost in circles, into the empty interior of the tent at the side of the line.

With wide gestures and intimidating on-the-edge speech, no doubt fed by the angry exchange just now with his wife, Ralph was engaging two of the tour guides. By the time he'd finished concentrating on them and looked around to realize that Maria wasn't behind him, she had drifted to the far corner of the tent, behind the strolling minstrel crooner.

Ralph's demeanor took on a panicked aspect, and he looked all up and down the line of passengers moving toward the bus and the footpath up into the city as if he was bereft to be left alone. He didn't look as far away as the far corner of the tent, though, where Maria was moving through an opening in the canvas and toward the footpath.

Freddie realized this was an opportunity and one that came before he had anticipated it would. He would pick them off separately, which was better than tackling them together. But which one?

Ralph was moving up and down the line of passengers, obviously looking for his wife. Freddie could almost hear him growl and look back at the ship, take two steps in that direction, and then change his mind and move back in line toward the buses.

With a smile and an apology, Freddie cut through the line to the other side and, walking through the immense empty quadrant of the tent where the crooner was swaying and moving, passed through the opening at the far corner. Maria was well ahead of him, moving toward the path that followed around the ends of disused and deteriorating piers and then wound around the base of the Hilton Hotel and led up into the center of the old section of Saint John.

He followed her, through the crowds from the Quincy Queen and two larger cruise ships, up the hill and into town. She was shopping the windows of the commercial street, the stores not yet open, but, although she looked in the windows, she didn't appear to be seeing anything. Freddie walked faster, but still unobtrusively, smiling at those he passed and getting appreciative "doesn't he look just like . . ." smiles in return as he narrowed the distance between him and Maria.

She was standing in front of a jewelry store window, what claimed to be a Native American store, with a window full of sliver and turquoise and other polished stones jewelry. She was just standing there, teary eyed, tense still from frustration, and looking at the display of jewelry.

"I like that large slide there, the turquoise with the white veining in it," he said in a low, mellow voice. His voice sounded like Denzel Washington's too. "I think it would look great on you. Oh, and that tie tack is great too. I know just what I'd wear it with." Actually, he knew just where he'd hock it and get over $100 for it.

"Eh, what?"

"That pendant right here," Freddie said, leaning into her close and pointing.

"Yes, it's pretty," Maria said in an offhand manner, but as soon as the words were out she was brought up short, no doubt recognizing the timbre of his voice, but not necessarily knowing why or where from. She turned her face to the young man standing beside her and couldn't help returning his engaging smile.

"Aren't you?"

"Yes, ma'am, Freddie from the ship's dining room. Sorry, I probably shouldn't have-"

"No, no, Freddie. I'm happy to see a familiar face."

"It's a bit early for shopping in Saint John, ma'am. The old Victorian houses are a couple of streets higher, on Germain Street, if you'd like to see them first. Or there's a coffee shop or two-"

"You've been here before, haven't you . . . Freddie?"

"Yes, ma'am. This is my third circuit on this run this season."

"I'd like a cup of coffee. If you could show me a good coffee shop nearby, I'd be happy to treat you to-"

"Oh, I'm sure you don't want to . . . didn't Mr. Tinsley come off the ship with you?"

"I have no idea where Colonel Tinsley is at the moment and don't really care." The "colonel" was pronounced with venom in her voice. But she regained control. "And I would really like a cup of coffee and have no idea where to get one."

"Just down that street over there, you'll find a good coffee shop. Not a chain, so it won't be as crowded. Here, I'll show you."

Once in the coffee shop and sitting in a booth off to the corner and having coffee to sip, Freddie started in. "You seemed a bit sad back there at the jewelry store."

"Did I? I guess this cruise isn't doing what I had hoped. I had hoped it would clarify, but it's just brought into focus something I didn't want to see. Here, separated from West Point and all that entails, I thought I'd see so much more clearly. Unfortunately, I think I have."

Her forearms were on the table in front of her, her fists clinched. Freddie reached over and gently unclinched them. She didn't resist. "You are too tense," he said, "Sometimes it helps to let some of it out. You are supposed to be on vacation, I believe."

It wasn't long before she was telling him of the sexual tension between her husband and herself because of his affairs-all short term-but all terribly frustrating and embarrassing for her. What Freddie focused on, though, was what she didn't say but what he knew more because of what he'd been able to overhear while standing station in the dining room-when he, as a waiter, was just part of the wallpaper and unnoticed in the muttering, short jabs, the two had made to each other. What Freddie knew, which Maria wasn't owning up to, was that the colonel's affairs had been with men.

"I'm sorry," she said after she'd wound down, "I didn't mean to unload like that. I'm so embarrassed."

"Don't worry about it, beautiful lady. My lips are sealed." Only as Freddie pulled a hand away to make a zipping gesture across his smiling, alluring face did Maria realize that they had been holding hands across the table and that all of the tension had flowed out of her. She didn't take her other hand out of his.

"You are a beautiful woman," Freddie whispered. "You deserve far better than that."

She looked down sheepishly, and when he lowered his other hand to take hers, she gripped it like it was a lifesaver.

"Now, if you'd like to see the Victorian houses on Germain Street," I'll be happy to show them to you.

"Could we go back to that jewelry store first? I think I'd like to buy the silver and turquoise slide you pointed out. I think it was lovely and I can't get it out of my mind."

Freddie knew by now, though, that he was what she couldn't get out of her mind. And of course she insisted on buying him the tie tack he'd pointed out as well.

He fucked her in a windowless niche notched into the side of one of the Victorian houses in an alleyway. They kissed passionately as he pressed her back into the brick of the niche. He unzipped her pants and pulled them and her panties down her thighs and entered her strongly with a long, thick cock as she hooked her legs on his hips and they continued in a deep kiss as he stroked up inside her.

They returned to the ship separately, but not without arranging an assignation for that night. Maria said she'd stay in town until just before sailing. That she couldn't bear to see her husband again any sooner than she had to.

"He'll go to the show and then to the casino after that," Maria said. "I'll have a headache. Our cabin number is 1548."

* * * *

Freddie saw him almost immediately upon reboarding the Quincy Queen. Ralph Tinsley was walking all over the public areas of the ship, looking here and there. Freddie knew he was looking for his wife, Maria. Freddie also knew that Maria wasn't planning to come back to the ship for at least three hours.

Picking a conspicuous place in one of the bars by the Centrum, the central atrium and public center of the ship, and turning himself so that those walking past him could get a good look at him, Freddie waited for Ralph to wear himself out. While he waited, Freddie got the come-on look from several other passengers in passing. He noted each one in his mind for possible opportunities later. For now, though, he had his sights set for Ralph. He didn't go unnoticed. Ralph passed by more frequently and slowed down more each time he passed. Eventually he more or less collapsed in a seat at the same cocktail table Freddie sat by. He looked exhausted.

"Can I get you something to drink, Mister Tinsley?" Freddie asked in a soft voice, turning his smiling face and fluttering eyelashes toward the colonel, who he couldn't call colonel yet because he'd only heard the title voiced by Maria.

"A vodka tonic would be nice," Tinsley answered in a gruff voice.

Freddie hopped up and hurried over to the bar. When he returned, Tinsley was still watching him with surprised eyes. "It was a joke. I didn't expect you to actually get me one. But I'll be happy to drink it now that you're here. Say, don't I know you from somewhere?"

"I'm Freddie, your dining room assistant waiter. You look worried about something. Can I help you?"

"I can't find the bitch."

"The bitch?"

"Mrs. Tinsley. She's gotten away from me. We had a spat and she'd mad enough to talk about something."

"Talk about something? You're worried about what's behind the talk or you're just worried about her talking about it?"

The colonel looked up at Freddie sharply. His look of surprise was replaced by one of speculation.

"You're a very handsome man, Mr. Tinsley. I can only imagine what your wife might want to talk about that you'd rather she didn't."

"I doubt you can even begin to-"

"Oh, I think I can," Freddie said, moving a hand to Tinsley's knee. "The staff here is-I am-completely at your service. You asked for a drink and I got it. You can ask for whatever you want."

"But you're not in uniform. You're not on duty."

"Exactly. So, I can devote my time completely to your needs. Perhaps we can check your cabin."

"I don't think Maria's in the cabin. She's obviously hiding from me. The cabin would be the last place she'd go."

"Which would be very convenient, don't you think? For $100 I'll be happy to check out your cabin with you."

Colonel Tinsley nearly choked on his drink in sending it down the hatch as fast as he could.

Ralph sat on the end of the bed in his cabin, leveraging his strokes up with the heels of his feet and holding Freddie's waist in his hands as, hands clasped around the colonel's neck and leveraging off his own heels at the side of Tinsley's hips, Freddie sat in the other man's lap facing him and fucked himself on Ralph's thick cock.

Before they were finished, Freddie had let go of his hand grasp, arched back toward the floor, and Tinsley had stood, crouched, with Freddie's legs hooked on his hips, while the colonel slammed his cock hard into Freddie's channel.

After a brief cooling off period, the colonel lay on his back on the bed and Freddie rode his cock, with his palms digging into the man's muscular chest. When they were both spent, and while the colonel's cock went flaccid inside Freddie's channel, Freddie lowered his chest to Tinsley's and they kissed.

"That's nice," Tinsley murmured. "Usually it's just stroke off, pulling away, and walk off. There are West Pointers who want it but they don't want to stay around to face up to what they are."

"But they give you satisfaction that your wife doesn't?" Freddie asked in a low voice.

"There was a time when I got plenty of satisfaction out of Maria. Don't get me wrong about that. I'm bi, not completely gay. But it became humdrum with her. Not that the cadets are any more inventive. But they are hard-bodied and I get an extra thrill off doing them. Something new and different. But that's wearing off a bit. That's what Maria and I've been arguing about. I've been looking for something more special, more daring. She thinks what I'm doing is too dangerous-that I'll be found out and she'll lose out if it becomes public."

Hard-bodied cadets, Freddie thought. As far as he was concerned, Maria was still pretty hard-bodied herself. He didn't say that, of course. What he whispered was, "It should be safe here on the ship."

"I don't know what we could find here. You can't just-"

"Shush," Freddie whispered, placing his hand over Ralph's mouth and reaching down to grip the man's cock and balls with the other. At the same time he moved his channel around on Ralph's cock and could feel it coming back to life. "For $500 I could arrange something for you. Maybe tomorrow. And I can get you a list of clubs you-and your wife-might like in New York."

Ralph didn't say anything at the moment-he was too busy breathing heavily and concentrating on what Freddie was doing with the hand wrapped around his cock and balls and with Freddie's channel on Ralph's cock. But afterward, Freddie laid back on the bed and smiled as he watched Ralph, looking pretty fit, if big, for his age, open the wall safe in the cabinet over the TV set and count out $600.

* * * *

Freddie was the model of decorum at dinner that night, being the perfect server. Both Ralph and Maria were quiet, each with his and her own little secret smile, each giving Freddie a furtive look when they didn't think a spouse was looking. Freddie figured that Ralph hadn't said anything about the deal that had been struck with Freddie for something special. Freddie hadn't told Ralph what something special might be.

Maria stayed on, nursing her coffee, when Ralph said he was off to see the variety show and then to do some gambling in the casino later. There had been no sign of the two fighting. They must both be in some sort of truce, Freddie thought, no doubt forged by having had secret sex with the same man without knowing the other one had.

"Can you come to my cabin now?" Maria purred as they watched Ralph sailing off toward the entrance to the dining room.

"I have the dinner service to clean up," Freddie whispered back, his eyes on those of Alphonse, the section chief waiter, who was watching him closely. "I'll be there at 9:30." He knew that all he need do was get through the service, that Alphonse would see to the cleanup of the table.

"I will be waiting for you at the door."

"No, I can obtain a pass card. I want you waiting for me naked on the bed."

Maria gave a little gasp and rose and left, trembling.

When Freddie entered the room, he flipped off the overhead lights, leaving only the spot lights over the curtains at the balcony on. Maria was lying on the bed, naked, her chest rising and falling in nervous anticipation. Her eyes went large as Freddie undressed at the foot of the bed, slowly taking off the pieces of his uniform, folding them, and laying then on the chair by the dresser. Her eyes went even larger when he flipped out four condom packets and a bottle of lubricant on the bed beside her.

When he was done preparing, he gently grasped her ankles and pulled her down the bed until her buttocks rested on the foot of the bed. Kneeling between and spreading her thighs, Freddie went down on his knees and went immediately between her folds with his mouth, searching for and finding her clit with his tongue and teeth.

Maria moaned and writhed, her claws clutching Freddie's wavy black hair, and cried out and ground her pelvis into Freddie's face through her first orgasm. He stood up between her legs, and Maria reached out for him with her arms.

"Please, now. You. Inside me."

Freddie laughed, but she gasped in surprise as he reached down and turned her over to where she was bent over the bed on her chest. He lubricated both of his hands, palmed her V through her legs with one hand, and entered her with two lubricated fingers and slowly stroked her.

"Oh fuck, yes," she murmured and then it was, "Oh god, oh shit!" as his mouth went to her asshole.

After a few minutes lubricated fingers went there as well. Maria was getting the idea now, and she began to squirm and beg-it being unclear what she was begging for-and then to groan and cry out as, sheathed, Freddie worked his cock into her ass channel and began to slowly pump her there while the fingers of his other hand stroked her in the other channel. After a few minutes, when he was comfortably saddled and she had stopped struggling, Freddie pulled his fingers out of her muff, grabbed both of her legs, and spread them wider. His cock sank into her ass deeper, and she cried out again, clutched at the bedspread with her fists, and made little huffing noises.

Light from the corridor filled the room as Ralph pushed the door open. He entered growling, "What the fuck, Maria, was so important that you sent a note to the casino that I had to come back to . . . what the fuck!"

"This is the special you ordered," Freddie said. "Grab a condom. Lube me up good before you start fucking me."

Ralph got the message. Freddie fucked Maria in the ass while Ralph saddled up behind him, grabbed his hips and worked his cock inside Freddie's ass.

Freddie was pleased to see that both Maria and Ralph seemed to be just as happy as could be with this arrangement.

Before there was any danger of either Tinsley or him firing off, Freddie maneuvered his way out from between the husband and wife, helped the husband's cock find the wife's vagina, and moved off to the side, embracing and kissing both, encouraging them to come for each other, which both did.

Because he thought Maria needed a bit more encouragement than her husband did, after Tinsley had come, Freddie pushed him gently aside and he said on the side of the bed, leaning over to suck on Maria's nipples, as Freddie turned her on her back and fucked her while crouching over her and making love to her eyes with his.

Maria was still purring when Tinsley saw Freddie to the cabin door, being anxious to be rid of him because he was hard again and Maria was lying on the bed, legs wide open, eyes broadcasting invitation-even for her husband.

"I left the addresses of the clubs in New York City on the dresser," Freddie whispered at the door.

"We'd like . . . again. But $500 is a little steep."

"That's OK. $300 was for the list. I'll come back each night of the rest of the cruise that you want me-if I'm not otherwise busy."

"Otherwise busy?" Ralph asked. But Freddie was already gone. Alphonse had set up an appointment with the gay French couple for midnight. And Freddie had a couple of more of the passengers in mind who he thought could use his special therapy during this cruise.



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