Valencia Stevens had booked a cruise of the eastern Caribbean. Cruising had never been her thing but she loved traveling. She wanted to kick back and relax and a cruise seemed just the ticket. At forty one she was exhausted. Her work as a forensic and magazine photographer had taken her far and wide and won her acclaim and an impressive bank account but she was tired. The week before she picked up a brochure while waiting to see her doctor and it featured a cruise of the US Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. John and on to Turks and Caicos for four days. After her doctor prescribed rest, she booked the cruise. She only had her younger sister, Veronica to tell because their dad had never been around and their mother passed away five years earlier at age sixty-five. Veronica and her family were her only family members that mattered.
“Valencia, you're going on a cruise alone? No one does that.”
Standing with her hands on her abundant hips, Valencia stared at her younger sister Veronica. Veronica had been married for seventeen years and had three kids at age thirty nine. She was convinced she was the mother of the world and knew best for everyone. After all, she had done things in order. She graduated college in May and married in June. Two, four and six years later she had children and stopped teaching school until they were all in school. She now taught kindergarten because at fifteen, thirteen and eleven her kids didn't need her as much. Neither did Carlton, her husband. He was so wrapped up in working as a coach and high school principal, he used home for eating, sleeping and occasional sex with his wife. Valencia's eyes roamed over her sister who was chunky with a beautiful face and long added hair. She was dressed at all times. Today she wore a white dress with pink flowers and white strappy sandals.
Valencia on the other hand wore her natural shoulder length hair in coils and though she and her sister shared the same complexion there was an exotic cast to Valencia's eyes and lips. Her hips, breasts and thighs were abundant but the rest of her was pretty lean and strong from regular workouts. She was dressed in camouflage pants and a black t-shirt with Angela Davis' face on the front.
“I'm going to do it Roni. I need rest and feel a cruise would be perfect. I can sleep late, eat bad food and catch up on reading. I work for me. Besides I've traveled the world.”
“I know but no one cruises alone. Cruises are for gatherings.” Valencia snorted.
“How would you know Veronica? You guys travel to sporting events.” Veronica threw back her hair before answering.
“Some of us have responsibilities Valencia.”
“Right. I don't so I'm going to take my irresponsible ass on a cruise. I'll see you when I get back.” She blew a kiss at her sister and walked from the house and down the driveway. Veronica watched her with a sense of unease. On the other hand, Valencia felt relaxed and ready. Neither had any idea what the future held.
Armand Hendricks felt restless. He lived high in the mountains of St. Maarten. The property had been left to him by his father who was born on the Dutch side of the island. His father was Dutch and African. His mother was a young girl born on the French side of the island of African and French ancestry. At his birth, she placed Armand on his father’s doorstep and disappeared into the night. Armand was raised by his father and a succession of wives and mistresses. Armand had been educated abroad but returned to the island permanently ten years earlier at age twenty six. He ran his father's rum and sugar business which imported worldwide. He was also a composer who wrote music for movies and television shows. For years it brought him pleasure but not as much these days.
At six feet four inches and well-muscled from running in the mountains he was an amazing sight with teak colored skin and hazel eyes with lengthy, strong locks. Women adored him but he was also tired of how easy that all was. He needed more, he craved more and though he wasn't sure how, he was going to get more. He felt something in his spirit and he knew it was going to change his life.