Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chapter Seven Port of Call: Barbados


UPDATE: 

Poll closes Saturday, Feb 7, 11:59 PM Eastern



The Love Boat Bachelor arrives in Barbados today! Have you ever been? 


Don't forget, tomorrow we open voting for your favorite heroine, AND after you read Chapter Eight, you can send us your guesses for which author wrote which chapter for a chance to win books and an Amazon gift card!


For those just joining us, here are links to the previous chapters:

The Love Boat Bachelor

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Chapter Six




Chapter Seven
Port of Call: Barbados

Brent stood and shook the hand of the young couple who’d met on the cruise and had hoped he’d marry them right away.
Wasn’t going to happen. Thank goodness they needed a license, and they couldn’t get one on ship, and there were other considerations he’d made them think about.
He’d been able to talk some sense into them about getting married so quickly.
“Thank you, Chaplain.” The woman smiled. “We’re old enough to know better, and I’m glad we came to someone who would tell us the truth and not rush us into something we might regret.”
The man wrapped the woman in his arms. “If we’re meant to be together, we’ll figure out the logistics as we get to know each other better. Who knows, maybe this time next year, we’ll take this cruise and come to you and tell you we’re ready.” He led the woman toward the door. “Come on, Bambi Dear. Let’s go find some trouble to get into.”
Brent pasted on the smile that faded as soon as the door closed behind them. Not likely they’d still be together, and unless God surprised him, he wouldn’t be returning to the cruise ship once they docked back in Charleston.
But what would he be doing? His prayers were still unanswered as far as his future was concerned. God was silent, apparently letting Brent figure this one out alone.
The ding of the intercom preceded an announcement that passengers were able to disembark to enjoy the sights of Bridgetown, Barbados.
Not him. He planned to spend some quiet time alone in his cabin today. Truth was, he didn’t want to figure out his next steps in life without God clearly defining that trail. He stopped at the door, hand on the knob. “Lord, I need your guidance here.”
He stepped out of the chaplain’s office and into the hallway. His foot slipped on something, and he lost his balance. Flat on his back on the decidedly not-plush-enough carpet, he got his first real gaze at the white ceiling.
Then a pair of dark, almond shaped eyes came into focus. Dark curls framed her pretty, glowing face. “I’m so sorry. I spilled my bag, and …” She giggled and covered her mouth. “And …” Another spontaneous burst of glee followed another and another.
Brent managed to sit up.
The woman leaned against the wall, one hand covering the friendly smile he’d been able to glimpse momentarily. The other held firmly to a box painted with two bright blue stripes on each side of a golden one. A strange symbol was centered in the gold stripe.
“I’m horrible,” she said between gasps. “Are you …?” Giggles erupted again.
Passengers maneuvered around them, one even stopping to hand Brent the errant bag. He thanked the man and held the woman’s belongings.
“Are you okay?” She stepped toward him.
He pushed to his feet. “Are you done laughing?”
She pressed her lips together.
He couldn’t hold back his amusement any longer. He smiled and held out her bag. “I’m fine.”
“I’m sorry. I have this terrible habit of laughing in the face of disaster.” She slipped the bag on her shoulder and the box under her arm.
“In that case, I’ll seek out your lifeboat if the ship hits an iceberg.” He’d do anything to keep that delightful smile on her lips. The way it raised her round cheeks and lit her dark eyes …
Brent shook his head. Enough. The Love Boat had gotten into his brain. He’d met many attractive young ladies on this cruise. This stranger was no exception.
Now, he’d been headed for somewhere, but he couldn’t remember where that had been.
“I’m going ashore. You?”
“I hadn’t planned on it.”
“This is my destination. Took a sabbatical from teaching.”
“Have you been here before?”
Her smile widened. “Every chance I get. My mother was born in Bridgetown. I have family. Let me make this”—she moved her hands in a circle—”debacle up to you. I can’t have your first and last impression of me be that I’m a klutz. Let me show you around.”
He’d already forgotten the fall. The sparkle in her brown eyes had lured him to other thoughts, nice ones. A day onshore might bring him the peace he needed to discover God’s direction for him. He’d even given thought to remaining on staff as chaplain.
The thought had left him numb.
Clearly, not God’s direction for him, but where was he to go? What was he to do?
“Chaplain?” She tilted her head, and the curls fell over her eyes.
“I’m sorry. Thinking. I’d love to see the city. What about your luggage?”
“I’ve arranged for my cousin to deliver it to his home. He’s most likely outside waiting to take me into town. I wanted to walk around a bit.” She patted the box under the arm. “I’m happy to have someone join me. I’m Lacy Dickinson, by the way.”
“Brent Teague.” He shook her outstretched hand and followed her to the ship’s elevator, through security, and out into the cruise terminal. They walked side by side, chatting as the sunlight bathed them in its warmth.
Brent tucked his ID back into his pocket.
Lacy jogged ahead a couple of steps then turned to walk backward. “So, Brent, what’s a nice guy like you doing working as a chaplain on a Love Boat cruise?”
A honking horn stopped his reply.
“Lacy. Girl. Yo, Lacy.”
Lacy reached for Brent’s hand and pulled him forward until they stood beside the white car with the Taxi sign on top.
A beast of a man exited the car.
“Tiny.” Lacy hugged him.
The man stepped back, his gaze pinning Brent to the spot.
Brent wasn’t a small man, but Tiny could take him down easily if he perceived Brent as a threat.
Brent stood a little straighter.
“I see you are picking up men on your love cruise.” Tiny tilted his head just a bit.
Lacy hit the man’s shoulder. “Tiny, I’d like you to meet Brent Teague. He’s the chaplain on the ship, and you’d best mind your manners, or I’ll tell Auntie Bess. Brent, Tiny is my little cousin.”
A smile spread across the large guy’s face. He held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Chaplain. Where you want to go in our fair city?”
Brent nodded to his traveling companion. “I’m with her. Your cousin invited me along for a walking tour. How could I refuse?”
Tiny pointed to the box in Lacy’s hand. “Auntie Maribel will be happy.”
“Yes, she is.” Lacy’s touch lingered on her cousin’s arm. “I thank you so much for what you did.”
“Nothing much.” The dark man smiled. “Nothing too good for Auntie.” Tiny opened the back door of the cab. “I already put your luggage in the back. I drop you off at the Wharf before I take your bag to the house.”
“Thank you.” Lacy slid across the seat.
Brent sat and Tiny closed the door. They traveled away from the port onto Princess Alice Highway until they came to the shopping district.
Lacy stared out the window, but her hand caressed the strange colored box in her lap.
Tiny stopped at a crossroads.
“We’ll get out here.” Lacy leaned forward. “That way you won’t have to drive around to get us to the Wharf.”
“You be careful,” Tiny warned. “You not home before sundown, I’ll be looking for you. I know how you be. You get caught up in the sights, and you forget where you belong.”
“Nice to meet you, Tiny.” Brent followed Lacy from the car and onto the streets. Cars rushed by, people called out. The area was clearly a hub of tourism and commerce.
Warmth lingered on Brent’s skin, and he couldn’t be sure if it was from the tropical sunshine or the fact that he was with a beautiful woman who didn’t seem to know the effect she had on men as she almost skipped.
Lacy turned to him, walking backward again. “Isn’t Bridgetown beautiful?”
Brent couldn’t look away from the rosy cheeks under the soft chocolate skin. He nodded. “Are you taking time off to visit with your mother?”
They had reached The Wharf. Lacy stopped and leaned against the green steel railing. She held out the box. “Mama is with us now. She died six months ago.” She caressed the lid. “Tiny made the box and painted it with the Barbados flag. This is Mama’s first trip home since she left here before I was born.”
What could he say? He hadn’t known, and he’d crashed into this situation like a 747 diving into the ocean.
“I’m sorry. I should have told you, but I had prayed for someone to be with, someone that I could show the sights to firsthand. Mama probably wouldn’t recognize the place today, and showing it to you would be like sharing it with her.”
Brent’s heart lightened. If he was the one God had chosen to use to help this grieving daughter say good-bye to her mother, he would step into the role. “I’m honored to walk with you and your mother—Ms. Maribel, right?”
Lacy remained silent for a moment. She hadn’t cried, but still she wiped at her eyes as if she had. “That’s right.” She linked her arm in his, and they continued forward.
****
The Jewish Synagogue, with its soft hued walls and box-like construction, stood in stark contrast to St. Michael’s Cathedral with its castle construction and tower, but Lacy confirmed that both were on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of which the Barbadians were proud to be a part. “The original buildings for both were built in the 1600s. The Jewish settlers fled persecution by the Dutch in Brazil, and they’re the ones who brought their knowledge of the cultivation and production of sugar. Such a rich history, wouldn’t you agree?”
Lacy could lead an educational tour of the city, and tourists would get their money’s worth. The first part of the tour had included the Parliament and National Heroes Square, which she indicated had once been called Trafalgar Square.
In Queen’s Park, he’d marveled over one of the islands’ two Balboa Trees, listed as one of the seven wonders of Barbados. The cathedral and the synagogue rounded out the tour.
Now, they were heading back toward the Careenage where Lacy promised a wonderful meal of crab cakes complete with coconut ice cream at the Waterfront CafĂ©. “Bridgetown was first called Indian Bridge because of a crudely built bridge that spanned what we now call the Careenage River.”
“You are up on Barbados history.” The day had sped by in Lacy’s wonderful company, and Brent hated to see it nearing an end. He had to return to the ship in an hour and a half.
Lacy pulled out her phone and sent a text. In a short while, she received a reply. “Tiny will meet us back at The Wharf in an hour. That will give you plenty of time to get aboard.”
Through this woman’s eyes, he’d fallen in love with Bridgetown, and he wished he could stay to explore more of the small island and its parishes. “I’ll have to come back.”
She stared ahead as they walked at a brisk pace but didn’t say anything.
“What exactly are you on sabbatical from?” he asked.
“I’m a professor at Tulane. Cultural studies. Each year when I visited here, I would research the history of the island. I plan to write about my discoveries, something Mama encouraged me to do when she was alive.”
“You said she never returned.”
Lacy pushed back the dark curls. “She was ashamed. I told her, ‘Mama, your people love you. They miss you. They want to see you,’ but she would never return. Her stories brought the Barbadian culture alive for me. My first visit was a missionary trip when I was twelve years old.”
Brent leaned back. “You came without your mother at that age?”
“She encouraged me to be independent. We had family here, and believe me, they looked after me while I stayed. I returned every other year throughout my teens, and I visit whenever possible now.”
“Taking half cruises?”
She smiled. “No, Mr. Silly Man. I usually fly. But I decided that Mama would have returned by cruise. She always said she wanted to go on one, but she never took the time.”
They reached the restaurant and sat at a table outside where the marina was busy. Charter boats were arriving and unloading with their catch.
Lacy ordered the crab cakes and sweet tea, and the waiter delivered them quickly.
Brent bit into one. His mouth burst with flavor. “These are good,” he spoke as soon as he swallowed.
Lacy took a small bite. “So, Chaplain, tell me how it is that you come to be on a Love Boat cruise in the Caribbean.” The Barbadian accent flowed perfectly from her oh-so American lips.
“Lost love.” The words that spilled from him surprised even him. He closed his eyes and shook his head. “Well, actually, unrequited love, which stirred in me from an early age. The woman? She didn’t feel the same, so here I am trying to get my life back together because a fantasy didn’t hold true.”
“Better you find out now that it would never work. Mama, she loved so well that when my papa broke her heart, she never really recovered.”
“Is your father here on the island? Is that why your mother left?”
Lacy finished the bite of crab cake she’d taken. “Hmm,” she said, taking a drink. “Father was an American here on vacation. Whirlwind romance, resulting in a quick marriage. He had to leave, and she had to wait for the proper paperwork. By the time she made it to the States, Papa had entered into another whirlwind affair. Mama wanted me to be raised in America, and she persevered to become an American citizen. She worked hard at any job she could get. She was highly educated, and that made it easy for her. She got a teaching degree, and she insisted that I work hard for my grades.”
“She sounds like a wonderful woman.”
Lacy smiled and looked out at the waters. “I miss her terribly.”
Brent leaned back. “Tell me. If you could see her again, what is the one thing you’d want to hear her say or see her do?”
Lacy leaned back in her chair. “Mama might have trained me to be independent, but she never lost the romantic side of her. When we’d be out and about, and she’d encounter a good-looking man with a great personality, she’d reach over”—Lacy leaned close, her hand resting on his forearm—“and she’d grab me just like this to pull me close. ‘Lacy, dear,’ she’d say, ‘That one looks like a very good man. Yes, he does.’ And we’d giggle together like two teenage girls.”
“I wonder if she was as fascinated by your lovely smile as I’ve been. Maybe she did it just to see it.”
“Oh, Chaplain, you do go on. Southern boys always know how to treat a girl.”
“How do you know I’m from the South?”
“Really?” She widened her eyes. “You don’t know you have an accent?”
“I guess you have me there.”
“I study dialects, and if I had to guess, I’d say you’re from South Carolina.”
“Spartanburg. Very good.”
“And your lady love, she’s from there as well?”
“Yes. She’d moved away for a few years, and when she returned, I made the mistake of thinking she’d fall in love with me. Looking back, I realize how foolish I was. I mean, she didn’t even remember that we’d gone to high school together.”
Lacy covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh no. You did have it bad.”
If the heat traveling up his neck and into his face were any indication, his cheeks had to be so red it would show through his dark skin. “I did, but you know, I think this cruise and time away is beginning to get me to realize that Mara was never really the woman for me.”
“Well, whoever this Mara is, she missed out.”
Brent smiled. “Thank you for saying so. She didn’t do too badly.”
The waiter returned.
“How about some of the most delicious coconut ice cream you will ever eat?” Lacy asked.
Brent looked at his watch. “Sure, but I’ll take your word for it. I’ve never indulged in coconut ice cream.”
The waiter cleared their plates and returned once to refill their drinks before bringing the ice cream and their ticket. Maybe he couldn’t tell if it was the best, but Brent ate with abandon. Finishing, he patted his gut. “I think I’ll have cravings for this stuff.”
“Well, you know where to get it.” Lacy wiped her mouth with a napkin. “And if you return, you’ll have to look me up.”
Lacy started to open her purse, but he waved her off. “I had a wonderful time today with you and your Mama. The least I can do is pay for the meal.”
He paid, and they walked from the riverside marina to The Wharf where Tiny waited on a side street that would allow him to pull into two-way traffic onto Princess Alice Highway.
“Thank you, Brent. I had a lovely day. I do hope you’ll come back again.”
Brent stared into her lovely dark eyes. “I’ll have to do that before you return home.”
Lacy reached into her purse and pulled out a card. “In case you do.” She slipped it into his hand, holding it there with a light squeeze.
“We’d better hurry,” Tiny said.
Brent didn’t want to leave. “Is it okay if I—”
Lacy stood on her tiptoes and leaned into him. She kissed his cheek and wiped the spot with her thumb. “Have a good journey, Chaplain Teague. You didn’t say, but I get the feeling you are looking for the Lord’s direction. I will pray that you find it.”
“Thank you, Lacy.” He started away.
“Brent …”
He spun back toward her.
“Mama would say that you are a very good man.”
Brent sat inside the car and stared straight ahead. He caught Tiny’s gaze as the man pulled the taxi onto the street, but Tiny remained silent.
At the cruise terminal, Tiny stopped the car. Brent got out and opened his wallet to pay. “No need.” Tiny waved him off. “You brought a smile to our Lacy’s face. Been a long time since we seen that smile. Thank you, Chaplain.”
Tiny pulled away with a wave out the window.
If Brent didn’t have an obligation to fulfill, he imagined that meeting the rest of Lacy’s family would have been a pleasure. He trudged through the terminal and the customs checkpoint.
He’d just have to return soon for another tour and some of that delicious coconut ice cream with a girl who probably didn’t understand how beautiful she was—inside and out.



Come back tomorrow morning for Chapter Eight, 
and tomorrow afternoon to cast your vote for your favorite heroine - 
the woman you think most deserves Brent's affections.


Shore Excursions:

Write Integrity:
            Chapter Seven Port of Call: Barbados

Marji Laine’s blog:
            E-mail to Roselle: From Barbados

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:

Betty Thomason Owens:

Monday:

Write Integrity:

Marji Laine’s blog:
            E-mail to Roselle: From Bonaire

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:

Saturday:


Friday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Five
            Chapter Five Port of Call: Aruba

Marji Laine’s blog:

Joan Deneve:
            Interview on Quid Pro Quills

Julie Arduini:
            Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 2

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:


Thursday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Four

Marji Laine’s blog:

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:

Wednesday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Three

Marji Laine’s blog:

Julie Arduini:
            Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 1

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:


Tuesday: 

Write Integrity:
            Chapter Two Port of Call: Cozumel

Betty Thomason Owens:  

Marji Laine’s blog:

Elizabeth Noyes:

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:
            Port of Call: Cozumel with Nora Laing          


Monday:

Write Integrity:
            The Love Boat Bachelor Chapter One

Marji Laine blog:

Fay Lamb:

Marji Laine:

Marji Laine:
Interview on Carole Towriss blog: 8 Reasons Romance is a Joke

Julie Arduini:
            Cruising Experiences
  




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