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R. Eric

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About R. Eric

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    Charleston, South Carolina
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    I write...A lot.

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  1. And my comment was also informative. I considered them. Don't sell the idea short. Hydrofoils are expensive. That would not be a problem for the Consortium who would see the cost as an investment and would use one if they'd known. You "suggested" something that became a whole third of Cinderfella Two. The Creids? Now, another tingle about this story. I got sleepy, so I didn't reply earlier. I will go back to bed after this reply. The Mustang is the only place it can be safely driven. He couldn't drive in Boston.
  2. Yes, they are. There are a few. I thought of them. However, how many do you normally see? The Charleston Harbor has none. In a marina how many do you see among the boats and ships. They are specialty vessels crafted to do just that. Go fast on water. They are what? One among a hundred? There are hovercraft too. They are used commercially in several countries. The Duchess is a cutting edge ship. I even wrote about the one in Australia that goes nearly 70 miles an hour. You have to think of water displacement. Hydrofoils don't displace that much water and hovercraft displaces no water to travel at higYh speeds. They exist, but are not common and not used by the pirates. I took you there and you saw what I told you was there. One more time. I have the rudder. Me. The story goes where I say it does. You have given me something to consider later, but Makarovia really doesn't do much on the water. This was the only one so far. But you know you haven't see the last of the Duchess. The Consortium might use one later, or even the pirate. That will be in the next book. Luv ya!
  3. Big Friends Part One Makarovia truly was doing some things no other country would do. Peter's and my wedding was just one example as the marriage was accepted. Now, we had another situation where a woman was to give birth to a king's child. That was not usual. Kings often had children outside of their marriage. In the past a king sometimes came by after the child was born and what he did spoke volumes. If he even picked up the baby, he was acknowledging that he was the father. I knew of one where a king wanted a son, but his queen kept failing to do so. His mistress did give him a son. That king not only picked the baby up, but said to everyone there, the baby was his son. The child Helga and Olek created would be welcome, too. With modern medicine the birth was not as dangerous like in the past. Helga's previous abortion would cause no problem if it was properly done. There was only a little concern about her being sick but morning sickness was just common with ladies. Very few didn't get sick in the first trimester. Dinner was going to happen in the Mess area again. The mystery of what Henri was serving went away gradually. It was Asian. You could tell that from the wonderful odors. It was also clear if you didn't like seafood or were allergic you would starve to death here. The thing about allergies, you really weren't born with them. Mom or Dad pass on the sensitivities, but the first time you experience anything, you're not allergic. That's a fact. Your body identifies something as abnormal flora or fauna (animal or plant) and causes the adverse reaction. You can love something for years and suddenly react. What Mom and Dad gives you, your body says, “Oh, I heard about that. We need to get rid of it.” That was a very simple explanation of a complex thing. It's still true. People that say they don't like it, in my opinion, are just mentally ill. My opinion! You can agree or disagree, that's your opinion. You have a prefect right to be wrong. Henri served Spring Rolls! Those smaller, tender eggrolls that had a little, light crunch when you ate one. They were time consuming things to make. He had help with Gretchen and Nita. I didn't have to ask if Boris helped. If it's noon, you don't have to go outside to know the sun is up. No. I don't want any long explanations or scenarios on how it could be noon and sun was not up. It will be. The Spring Rolls were...perfect. Steam rose up when you bit into one and while you fanned your mouth to take in more, the delicious taste just surrounded you. I suspected Boris and Henri were Southerners at heart. They knew the real, tasty experience was in the sauce or gravy. Shrimp were in the rolls and they were delicious. They were even better with the individual ramekins of sweet brown sauce or sweet red sauce. The yellow sauce will bring tears to your eyes. It did with me. It was phenomenal, but the tears were due to the sweet, hot and spicy mustard. Henri had made an Asian meal before and once again that little man came out, bowed and rang a gong. That made them Southern Asians? The main course was a lemon and ginger shrimp and scallops. With our agents and their appetites I just hoped there some left in the Mediterranean. The noise level increased and everyone was having a nice time. Then I noticed Rolph looking...a little unhappy. “What's wrong?” I asked him. “You don't seem to be very happy.” He looked startled and shook his head. “No, I'm happy...” I waited and I frowned. “There must be something in Makarovian upbringing that causes all of these pregnant pauses. Say it!” Rolph pointed at Yuri. “I'm sorry, but I heard you talk with King Olek. You said you were moving us as a team to the West.” Remember, the U.S., Canada, England, many countries were “West.”ou Yuri nodded. “That's right. I did.” He looked at me. “The chemistry of this group is exceptional. Don't you agree?” I nodded. “I do.” Rolph shook his head. “I'm gone from my family for weeks at a time,” He said sadly. “It's what I do but you're talking about being gone from the end of August until the end of November. I don't want to be gone that long.” Yuri nodded, “You don't think you can.” “No,” Rolph almost wailed. “Would you leave Boris for three or four months?” Yuri's face had a little humor, but you needed to know him to see it. I did. “That is a problem.” I looked at Yuri. “Yuri.” I said in a quiet mutter. He was like a cat toying with a mouse before killing it. That meant Yuri was secure enough to tease Rolph. He was trying. “The problem is, Eric,” Yuri said to me. “Hearing a conversation like that; you don't get the whole story.” I didn't raise my head, but I looked up at Yuri. “Yuri.” I said gruffly again. “And he didn't hear the whole the entire conversation,” Yuri said to me. “I thought this was a great team.” He looked at Rolph. “I was going to talk to you first, but...” He shrugged. I chuckled. Yuri was enjoying this. “Just tell him, Yuri. You're enjoying the torture too much.” Yuri looked at Rolph. “How would Andreea feel about staying in Boston a while?” Rolph's eyes widened. “Boston!?” Yuri waved at Peter and me. “They have another year at Northeastern.” He shrugged. “The comradery is a benefit. The way all of you get along so well; I suggested we keep you all together. King Olek agreed we should.” “Andreea can come, too?” Rolph asked. Yuri nodded. “Alina and Darla, too.” Rolph's mouth dropped open. “I understand Darla will be in school,” Yuri said. “She finished her Doshkilʹne,” Rolph said. “Alina starts in the Fall.” Yuri nodded again. “How's their English?” He went on quickly. “Our agents are provided housing paid by Makarovia. The same will be done for you.” He shrugged. “Darla can go to an English speaking school or we can provide a connection to Makarovia and attend school that way. You decide.” He looked at his plate and then looked up quickly. “Oh, you need to hold off on the divorce and remarriage a while.” Rolph's mouth was still open. “How does the saying go?” Peter asked me. “Something about things flying in an open mouth.” “Close your mouth, you'll catch flies,” I replied. “Uhm,'' Peter looked at Rolph and jutted his head in my direction. “What he said.” Yuri smiled. “You've got four weeks to decide. Talk with Andreea. Four more weeks we leave for Boston.” You might think we spend too much. We, as in Makarovia. I was Makarovian now so I was part of the “we.” We sort of have to. If Makarovia had remained a nearly forgotten country we would have less security. There was just Yuri that escorted Peter to class and only four guards. Now that Makarovia had a valuable resource we just had to have more security. More guards meant the housing need increased. Carla Bowers, Ms. Nonoise, who rented me an apartment two years ago, was now renting some apartments to our guards in Boston. Makarovia was paying the bill for that. I knew Ms. Bowers didn't rent to people with children. In case you didn't know; children make noise! Even having gotten to know Rolph only a little while I couldn't imagine any child of his wouldn't make noise. The picture of them he showed us showed two very happy children. Expressions were a body language and they spoke of no trauma at all. That still photograph spoke of an effervescence brought on by the love of their parents. As wacky as Rolph's and Andreea's love was; they loved each other and their children. So what if Rolph and Andreea made marriage a game. It worked for them. If I guessed, Olek and our life manager Don Wilson were negotiating a deal. The United States Government wanted something we had. They were helping us get the uranium and defending our borders. They would help getting an apartment or condo. Okay, you just saw my say guards. There are agents and guards. Some guards became agents. I had to learn the difference and there is a big difference. A guard does what he's called. He stands guard. He protects property and fends off attacks from criminals. They were in Boston doing that now. Agents did the same thing, but did it for Peter, me, Olek, Helga, and Mom. The guards did include some female guards. The female agents were assigned to Mom and Helga. Someone had to be able to escort Mom into the Lady's Room. I never doubted Helga could kick ass. Mom probably could, too. Just as I insisted our agent dressed more casually to blend in except when the situation called for the agents needed to be seen. The agents assigned to Mom looked more like Ladies in Waiting, but could kick ass. And again I will tell you; gay. Remember? I have no problem with female guards or agents. Yes, I prefer the company of men even platonically. I loved Mom, Helga, Grandma and some women in Makarovia and Boston, but given a choice; I'll pick males. You never see a boat or ship speed. I take that back. There are boats that can move quickly over water. The fast, long and sleek ones were cigarette boats. First called that during Prohibition and used to get away from pursuit. Australia has one that could travel almost seventy miles an hour. That’s miles per hour, not kilometers. The problems with that were they guzzled fuel to do that. The other problem is the water on the ocean, seas or even lakes didn't always cooperate. Rough water happened. I've seen the boats race and flip over because of it. The water wasn't a smooth road. These boats were made with sleek bottoms. When the boats jumped because of the water, the air going by picked up the boat and it flipped. We parted ways with the Italian Navy Cruiser and entered the waters of Greece. Yuri had his laptop computer was ready. The wires needed were ready and Yuri clipped clamps from the computer to the exposed cables. “And the Pensiero Positivo is born,” Yuri said proudly. Peter smiled. “I got a part of that.” “Positive thinking,” Yuri translated smiling at his cleverness. “This will work?” Earl asked. Yuri gave a shrug. “It should. We'll see when we get to Athens without being stopped or followed.” We had another game night. This time the female crew members joined us. With all people playing we got one of the decks I had hidden to coax the guys out. They had the same backing so none know what anybody had in their hand. Like Spades; you had a partner and made bids. Peter and I weren't allowed to be partners. Boris and Yuri weren't either. They claimed we could read our husbands' minds and gave us an unfair advantage. I was partnered with Yuri and Peter with Boris. The female crew members insisted they be partners. In a bad decision; we let them. They beat all of us badly. Maybe women made better pirates. The Corinth Canal never closed. Modern ships were now bigger than the Canal was wide. I said that before, didn't I? The canal was becoming a tourist attraction now. However, the four mile distance was a lot shorter. I had been amazed, and yes a little nervous at what I considered a tight squeeze in the daytime. I would have been even worse at night. The canal had lights and so did the Duchess; or rather, the Positive Thinking. Maybe we should we say The Positive Thinker? Oh, who cares? The name is just temporary. I also have to say, what Yuri did was nothing short of brilliant. The Automatic Identification System sent the satellites the signal; about a different ship. It still had a registry number, the length and tonnage was just a little different so if we were seen, which we would be, no one suspected enough to investigate more intensely. Pano and Barry were going to be at Big. It wasn't a Monday. Open daily except Monday. Yes, I know you remember that. I'm just reminding everyone. Yuri removed his filament from the AIS. We didn't want to deceive anyone in Greece. We wanted them to keep liking and even loving us. We certainly did love them. I said it many times. “I love Greece!” We got to Pireas as the sun began to rise. I have to guess about that because we were asleep. We got a berth almost where we had been in the last time. It offered us an easier access to land and allowed us to load and unload if necessary. The only things unloaded were us and garbage. Yes, there was garbage. Any sewage got processed and discarded safely and properly. Byproducts had to be discarded too, but not that often. Every tube of toothpaste had to be thrown away from the container the tube came in to the tube itself when empty. Many things that took a few minutes more were recycled. This was a very green yacht. (You know I'm not talking about the color.) Appreciation for the Count and Countess von Bar just grew each day. The future step-uncle in-law Alexi and future step-aunt in-law Maria were environmentally conscience. That made big points with me and brought my respect of them higher. I had to meet them. I knew they'd come to the wedding for Mom and Mario, but who knew when that would be? It was inevitable as Peter and my wedding had been. Was there going to be a Proposal? I didn't think so. He was marrying a citizen of Makarovia but wasn't working for Makarovia, but I know he did. Not really for Makarovia, but for Queen Alla. Offering help in a situation with Peter and I had helped her son. That was to make points with Mom. Not Peter or me and not for Makarovia. He does get a title if he wants. Dad! You know I do this. I made his sister an aunt because she was Mario's sister. He was the connection in all this. We had promised our agents we weren't leaving the Duchess until we went to Big. They had time to do what they wanted to in Athens. Of course, Henri went to see what was left at the open fish market. Boris had gone with him. Henri was talking about going to be late arriving. He hoped enough vendors had enough left when they got there. “When does Henri sleep!?” Peter balked after hearing about the early hour he was going. I shrugged, “He seems well rested when we see him. He must get what he needs.” Again we got up late morning, cleaned up and went to retrieve our coffees. It wasn't surprising to see Boris instead of Henri. It wasn't surprising to see Yuri with Boris. It wasn't surprising to see Boris and Yuri kissing. Comparing how Yuri kissed in front of Peter and me, mostly in front of me. After I found out he and Boris were married; there had been a real turn around for the duty and protocol bound man. Yuri was relaxed and not worried now. They had witnessed Peter and me kiss often. Boris smiled still holding on to Yuri. “Henri's checking on things we got at the market in storage.” He pointed at the galley around him. “He told me what he planned and premade if you got up. It'll be ready in forty-five minutes.” Peter grinned. “Why so long? Henri does it very quickly.” Boris nodded, “This isn't my kitchen.” He said on the border of being testy. “I have to look for things. I don't just know where they are.” I rolled my eyes and turned to Peter. “Remember what grandpa said. That isn't keeping a key group close. Boris will be cooking again for us.” Boris chuckled. “After all this time I know what he's doing.” He let Yuri go. “And I know what you want first.” He turned to begin making the coffees. “Henri never showed us how, or I would do it.” I said. Boris shook his head. “Well, you would be tinkering in his about domain. It's what he's paid to do.” Peter nodded. “He said that.” Yuri grinned. “Job security,” He looked us. “So, what's so special about this Big Bar?” “Pano and Barry,” Peter said simply. “Don't forget Edger,” I reminded. “No one could forget Edger,” Peter assured with a laugh. I added. “Pano is Greek born man that lived quite a few years in Canada and speaks English like a native. Barry is his partner who is Canadian born Greek…” Explaining would time consuming. “You'll see.” We were concerned about the security again and asked Mikell a few days before if arrangements for what we had last time could done again. He made arrangements. The paparazzi had seen the ship we left on. Now that is was back, did that mean we were back? We didn't show ourselves during the day, but people did get on and off, but not us. That didn't mean anything really. Yuri and Boris had gone out on the deck and could be seen. If the paparazzi were smart, which I've never heard them being accused of being smart, they knew we did things to fool them. Such as our vanishing at the restaurant or our coming to Big's. This was Mikell's job and he was trusted. Lunch or whatever was again following the theme. This time it was barbeque shrimp on French bread. It was an open face sandwich with quite a few shrimp and the juices soaking into the bread. Next to Henri and Boris I just heated things up to eat. I did know about styles of cooking. When Henri came to check on us; and he should know we were always in love with what he cooked, I asked him. “Out with it.” I pointed at the plate. “This is not French.” Henri didn't look offended, but a little surprised. “I am French. I made it. What makes you say it isn't French?” “It a bit spicy, which I love,” I pointed at him. “The barbeque had heat and not from the stove or oven. French food isn't spicy at all. There is lots of flavor, but mostly wine, cheese and breads.” Henri nodded. “You're right, but it is French…sort of.” He smiled as I fixed a glare on him. “It was created by a French chef in New Orleans. It's not Cajun...exactly...” “Henri,” Peter growled lowly at him. “Just tell us.” I looked at Peter. “He doesn't need to.” I chuckled. “There is no rule about keeping recipes the same all the time.” Henri nodded. “And they shouldn't be. I hate chefs that insist on the same thing every time.” He waved to outside. “Cultures are blending like people.” I nodded. “There are fusion recipes being created all the time.” Peter nodded. “So, this is...?” “A fusion of Americana and Cajun by way of France.” Henri said simply and shrugged. The threat of the Consortium still overshadowed everything. Again, the Consortium wasn't stupid or foolish. Hopefully the pirate trying to prove valuable to the Consortium wasn't either. Even if she had managed to track us to Athens. Her people could strike, but that would be chaotic. Our agents would fight and she could lose. If we just hid; they win. The military of Greece would hopefully respond. Our allied forces hopefully help us if they weren't already. They were actively trying to find them. As a result, they could be laying low and not drawing attention to themselves in any way. “We can just skip this tonight.” Peter suggested. I looked at Peter. “Do you think we should?” “They'd see they can force us to do...whatever.” “They already did that causing us to change our plans for the honeymoon.” I said. Peter nodded, “But we did go on one.” “We did promise to come back.” I gave a shrug and nod. “I don't want to endanger Pano, Barry or Edger.” “No,” Peter agreed. “We'll make every effort to keep everyone safe. I just think we can't back down.” “Show no weakness,” I smiled and looked at Peter. “Be careful. Someone will put you in a position of leadership.” Peter chuckled. “If we do it together, I'm not as unsure with you with me.” “We'll be together,” I said. “I love you, husband,” Peter said. “I know,” I grinned. “I love you, husband.” Peter kissed me. “I know you do.”
  4. R. Eric


    No. Wrong. Error. It will not be secret. It would be to give child status. Helga refused because it was too late. The wedding will be done so legally they have the foundation. No one will be able to challenge it. No one in Makarovia would...No! I'm not telling you or I write the story here. I have the rudder. We go where I say. I will say, it's everybody's reactions that are the story. They will face the music. They will tell the truth! P.S I put this in knowing you'd be awake. I could barely wait for your comment.
  5. Morals “I've gotten a commonality with our friends.” I smiled with a nod. Peter smiled. “Okay, what is it?” “They all do something they love.” I pointed out. “Boris and Henri love to cook.” I waved at the direction Luke went. “He loves the sea. Pano loves Edger, Barry, and Big. None are stressed about work. There could be problems personally, but they aren't stressed.” There were a lot of people who dreaded going to work daily. They just had jobs. They had to do it to keep a roof over their head and most of the time, they often included a family that needed that roof and food to eat. Those were the good people who take responsibility for others. Others weren't good people. Add the ones that fail...you know all this. I don't need to lecture you on Sociology. My point was, all of these new friends were less stressed. Grandpa again said: love what you do and do what you love. That pirate would not attack with the Italian Navy with us. She could still track us with the AIS (Automatic Identification System). We couldn't know what technology or savvy she had access to. I didn't ever read or see coverage about clever pirates. Captains were smart, yes, but I wondered if the pirate's crew could even read. Those that could rose in the ranks becoming captains and first mates themselves. This Beauty and Beast pirate was very smart. I wondered how she became what she was. What killed her conscience? Did she ever have one? The hard lives of these pirates showed on their faces. She hid hers. Peter and I felt better with the destroyer with us. We sent Pano and Barry a tentative arrival date the next night at ten in the evening insisting Edger was there, too. With the Italian Navy Destroyer there, Yuri had more time. The destroyer could escort us until we entered the Territorial Water s of Greece. If anybody was brazen enough to try anything, the Durand could legally open fire. They might cross a little into the waters of Greece. Where we had planned to go was a route less than fifty miles apart. Ortanto, Italy or Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy were both on the heel of the Italian boot. Corfu was practically a skip and jump away. But, we weren't going to Corfu. With the Durand we could travel south traveling on the outer edge of the territorial waters of Greece. The Durand could defend us a lot longer doing that. There was a problem when we got to where veer eastward when we got to the island of Kefaloina to get in the Gulf of Corinth. It was hoped the government of Greece made sure their territorial waters were safe. That meant nothing. The pirate was already breaking the law with how pirates made money. If they thought they could get away with it they would strike while we were berthed in Athens. It was the response time that was important. The Consortium would not do that, but a pirate might. So, yes, Yuri's Filament Program was needed. “Greece probably thinks we're on the same side,” Peter said. “That's why they are so cooperative.” Okay, I don't know everything but could look it up. I didn't think about it. “We are, aren't we? We're not allies, but we want the same thing. Don't we?” “Remember the missile sent for us?” Peter grinned. “It destroyed a lot in that village in Turkey.” I was slow at that time. Remembering almost physically hit me. “Oh, yeah, they have had a conflict since..." I said to him, "when was it?” Peter nodded, “Off and on since the nineteenth century.” “Sure,” I marveled. “The Anyone Who Attacks My Enemy Is My Friend thing.” Peter gave a shrugging nod. “Well, it's really the enemy of my enemy...” "Don't quibble," I muttered. The word quibble wasn't in Makarovian or Ukrainian language. I really said, Ne Yarto quibble. Peter's face showed confusion again. “I don't know quibble.” “Quibble is a small disagreement or argument.” I instructed, “The closest word is kalamutyty.” His mind slowly got it. “Technically, no one attacked Turkey. It was an accident and sent by extremists and aimed at us.” “Now it’s your turn to quibble.” Peter rolled his eyes. “Greece might have felt sorry for innocents killed, but they weren't unhappy about it.” I nodded. “They used resources to help us.” “Which will benefit them both. Greece will be thrilled we tell the world we love their country.” He shrugged. “Italy will be thrilled to get praise for what they've done.” He grinned and said suddenly. “We should call Olek.” I grinned. “We've got time. Why not?” We had our phones for the past two weeks and never even looked at them. Emergencies happen. We had gotten used to the big monitor screen but used a phone with protective capabilities. It wasn't bad. “Do you remember the number?” I asked. “We haven't been gone that long," Peter said lightly. “And who uses numbers anymore?” I got serious covering his phone’s screen with my hand. “Do you remember the number?” I asked again in a firmer voice. Peter looked at me surprised. “Do you?” He challenged. “Olek's private line, your number, the house in Boston and Makarovia's palace,” I said. “Grandma's cell number and the number she had in Asheville. The international numbers when we call from overseas..." His face wasn't puzzled exactly, so I explained. “This pirate and the Consortium will take you or me without worrying about us. If they do, you can call from any phone for help.” Peter smiled. “I remember Olek's and Mom's.” He shrugged. “You're right. I need to remember the palace's number and Don's number.” “Yes,” I said. “The pictures you have on your phone are great when you're in a hurry. That and passwords when the computer asks if it should remember them for me I always say no. The repetition is needed so I don't forget.” He typed in the number to prove to me he could. I did see one second or two where he had to run through the number to get it right. “How'd you find time to call me??” Olek's happy voice came. “From what I've seen on television you two are very busy!” “We're on television?” Peter asked. “Sure you are!” Olek confirmed, "And making an impact you go! Corfu loved having you there and so did Athens!” We weren't on a video link, so my smile was only seen by Peter. “That's wonderful, we love Greece. How are things in Makarovia?” “Great!” Olek said. “Things have calmed down a lot since the wedding.” “And how is Helga?” Peter asked. His tone lowered a little. “She's fine, but...” After a long pause, Peter asked. “What, Olek?” “She is always saying she doesn't want to go down in history as the woman who bears a child with a king," Olek grumbled. “She's won’t," I said quickly. “Many women have given birth to a king's child outside of marriage. Spain, the Netherlands, Monaco...” “Did any of them become Queen later?” Olek pointedly asked in frustration. He had me there. “No,” I said. “They were usually mistresses of the king.” “That's what she said!” Olek stated loud. “I am going to marry her. I am. I offered to have it legally done last week!” Peter looked at me and then asked. “Isn't that too late?” “She said that, too!!” Olek said back. “She's sick most of the time. She won't eat...even with the saltines and room temperature ginger ale she says she sick.” “It's pretty early in the pregnancy...” Peter began hesitantly to a touchy subject. I looked at Peter. "I believe women have a right to control their bodies..." I said. “No!” Olek said quickly. “She won't have an abortion.” “It would solve things,” Peter said. “She wouldn't be the pregnant mistress anymore and she's sick...” “No,” Olek said again but there was a sad tone in his voice. “Not because I say not to. I mean she will not. She had one before.” “But not with her husband?” I said. “This is a secure line,” Olek sighed. “She was sixteen. She loved a boy her mother refused to even consider. She thought if she got pregnant her mother would consent to her marrying him. Or at least make it so she had to see him. Her mother didn't consent but insisted she have the abortion. She won't go through that again.” “That,” I began as I thought, “is wrong in so many ways.” “The pregnancy?” Olek asked. “No!” I said quickly, but then I sort of nodded. “Well, yes, but not directly.” I knew that wouldn't answer any question. I wouldn't let it go if I got that answer. “She was pregnant but she was sixteen! How many sixteen-year-olds make good plans? She did it to force her mother to let her marry the guy.” "Blackmail," Peter said simply. “Yes, but not to blackmail the guy!” I said, “For her mother.” Peter did the head back move as he thought. “I've never heard her speak about any family except about the Jewish members.” “Yes,” Olek said. “She has only shared a little with me.” I sighed. “We Ivanovs speak openly about many very personal things. She knows that. I guessing she hasn't shared because of that.” “Perhaps,” Olek said. “I will say this. Her mother is alive in Germany. Her father died years ago and before that pregnancy. If you recall, the Jewish portion of her family was on her father's side. She takes more after him than her mother.” “Okay,” I said. “Let's not go into it over the phone.” “We'll be coming home in a couple of days," Peter explained. “We promised some of our new friends in Greece we would before heading home." “You mean the really, really big bar owner?” Olek asked. I knew Pano had been interviewed locally by news crews. “How do you know that?” Olek's chuckle said of course. “The BBC International news show The Royal Effect.” “They showed him?” Peter asked in disbelief. "They did," Olek confirmed. “They showed the aftereffects on Montenegro and the protests in Podgorica.”' Peter looked a little uncertain. “There should be. What they're doing isn't right.” “Don't forget,” Olek said, “I'm on your side.” We asked about Mom and Mario and my grandmother. “Katrina Sams exhausts me,” Olek said. “She does not slow down!” I smiled hearing that. “I don't think she remembers how.” We reminded Olek to be ready. We were coming back. There was always something to do. We just needed to find what that would be. We wanted a refill on our coffees, so we went to the galley. Now Henri and Boris were having another conversation. No raised voices yet. Henri's eyes brightened. “Mes amis!” He greeted us. “Dinner tonight will not be like yesterday...” Peter folded his arms over his chest and growled. “And why not?” Henri, for a moment, was sucked in. I did the light jab in Peter's gut. “Henri, you can't be fooled by Peter anymore.” The grin on Peter's face after that made Henri shake a scolding finger at Peter as he laughed. “Monsieur, vous êtes très mauvais. Very bad.“ Peter still grinned and shrugged. “I am.” He admitted. “We don't want to interrupt two great culinary minds at work, but can we get our coffees?” “Absolument!” Henri said and turned to do that. “Can you tell me why and how you're on contract for the Duchess?” I asked. Henri chuckled. “The Countess funded me.” He said simply. “She helped me finance Maison d'Henri à Paris.” I nodded. “Henri's House in Paris.” Henri smiled. “That's right.” He gave me a look. “If we're together more, I bet you could learn to speak French quickly.” "That's a good incentive," I said. “We'll have to see.” “You're not on the Duchess all the time are you?” Peter asked. Henri shook his head. “I have an apartment in Paris when I go see the restaurant there. I have one in my restaurant in Cannes.” He looked around with pride. “When I'm not in those places, I do live here.” He said. “I make all my discoveries here. This is my kitchen. I know where everything is.” He said content. “The Countess lets me stay here free and cook as much as I want.” Yes. That made sense. Peter was a thinker. He would just take things in and mull them over in his mind before he said anything. I loved that I could see that and just let him do it. We relaxed in some lounges on the deck as evening approached. “You know,” Peter began out of nowhere. I grinned as I was waiting for him to reach a point he would comment. “Helga has always seemed to be this...” he sifted things in his mind for the right word, “This classy person.” He cocked his head as he put words to his thoughts. “I'm not referring to her social status. There are many people in the world that have almost nothing, but have that quality." I listened. I was his sounding board. “She's so smart!” Peter said. “She's...open?” He said as a kind of question. “She's willing to learn things and accepting what she finds out.” He glanced at me. “I can't see her as poor. Am I making sense?” I nodded. “Perfect sense.” Peter frowned, “Am I right?” I shrugged. “I don't know.” I saw his frown get larger. “No one can answer that but Helga. You made some observations and are telling me what your perceptions are.” “And what do you think?” “I never considered her financial status before,” I said. “When you and I became more intimate, I took you to meet my grandmother. The dinner at the White House was something to help Makarovia and I met your family. How many times has Grandma been to see us? How many times has Mom and Olek visited with us or we visited with them?” Peter nodded smiling. “There are quite a few times.” “And Helga has been unofficially part of the family since when?” I shook my head. “No visits by her mother to Makarovia. Olek hasn't mentioned any visits by them to see her mother.” I reluctantly nodded. “He didn't say what her health situation is. Helga's in her late thirties, so her mother should be least be in her sixties.” Peter nodded. “She could have dementia.” I nodded. “She could a lot of things.” I waved my hands out with the usual futility. “Until we're told, it will be guest work. Just speculation.” “Olek is not letting her go.” “And we need to tell her, that neither will we.” I took a breath. “The world's opinion of her is giving her trouble.” “She's worried everyone will see her as immoral?” Peter asked. “Look at what we did Saturday before last!” I chuckled and looked away. “It isn't fair, but women face scrutiny in history books. It was common and even expected that kings and princes would have many lovers. A queen or princess could not. Women's fashion in the past could hide things. A princess is sent to a convent somewhere for a year to have a child.” I chuckled. “Makarovia is leading the way. They supported you and me in our getting married. We'll show the world we love and respect Helga and Olek. I know they will be married.” I held a finger up. “However, I think they need to make it legal as soon as they can.” “Why?” Peter asked, but knew to what I'd say. “They can still do the Proposal and wedding later,” I said. “God in heaven forbid anything happens to Olek. You know I love that man, but if they aren't covered legally; a child will be born, but if they are legally wed. She will give birth to the next king or queen.” Peter nodded and slumped. “Yes, I knew that was what you meant.” “I hope she does it openly and honestly,” I said. “She won't face the world's judgment alone."
  6. Last Stop Henri deserved more credit than we could give him. He really touched and you saw it in his face. We did appreciate all of the crew, Captain Agius, Earl, Gretchen, and Anita. Gretchen was good and did a hell of a job. Gretchen called her Nita. Nita was shyer than Gretchen. It was an interesting pattern I saw. All of the crew excelled at being invisible. The Captain rarely left the bridge except for meals with the crew in the Mess (the crew dining area?). The Count and Countess von Barr had a preference for that quality. The Duchess was built for that need the need for that many in the crew. When the Duchess had more passengers there were more support crew members. The more the Duchess worked, things needed maintenance and more crew was added for that purpose. What I began to say was Henri was the one we dealt with every day and on a personal level. I was again reminded of what Grandpa said. You needed to get to know and befriend a few people or groups; those in charge of your paychecks, your medical care and those that feed you. He did more than provide meals. He was funny and smart as well as a great chef. He was a genuinely nice person. Henri nodded and wiped his face with the rag in his hand. “Thank you.” Boris cleared his throat. “I think I know what's coming next." Everyone looked at Boris. "As a reward, you will offer something well-intended. I will agree, but; he's like me.” Peter grinned and nodded. “We've seen him work. He never looks for a thing. He knows where everything is.” “Fine,” I agreed. “He can direct and know where things will be, but we will help clean up. We know there is a lot to clean.” “Just the dishes are a lot!” Peter said. “We can help clear them.” We did. There was a problem though. As big as the ship was, the galley was too small for everyone. Captain Agius went back to the bridge to prepare for returning to Athens. Peter and I helped as well. I say, thank God for dishwashers. Henri's The Duchess had a nice one. Henri was the sort of chef that kept up with what he'd used. The pots, pans, and utensils were clean. I remembered another distant thunderstorm from Boris when someone used a scouring pad on his perfect pots and pans. He said he never "scrubbed." Absolutely nothing abrasive was used. I could only imagine Henri's reaction. Boris' knives were also a passion, so don't let me get started with that. Nothing was burned with Henri. Ever. I saw Boris throw a pan away when something did. He claimed it was ruined as what was burnt on could and would never be cleaned. He had different cleaners for grease as opposed to baked-on cleaning. I didn't see the big deal, but Boris did. His and Henri's cooking was second to none. They drew people with it. So, I say that made a difference with what they made. I got an idea. First, I told the idea to Peter who nodded instantly agreed. “Henri,” I began. “You don't cook just on the Duchess, do you?” Henri shook his head. “No, I'm by contract here. I have restaurants. Paris is my main one and I have a smaller one Cannes.” Of course, he did. “Is that all?” I somewhat joked. Henri wasn't bothered. “How many do I need?” I shrugged. “There are celebrity chefs that can't seem to get enough.” Henri nodded a shrug. “If I do, that restaurant has my name on it.” He sighed. “That means every chef I hire there must do it my way to say it's mine. I spend several weeks at them.” He grimaced. “All that business work takes me away from cooking!” He shook his head. “I won't do that.” Then he said helplessly, “I can't!” Peter nodded. “You have time now to do that, right?” Henri could see what we might be leading toward. “I do,” he grinned. “We mean what we said," Peter assured. “You can come anytime for as long as you want in Boston or Makarovia...” "Oh, just say it, Peter," I grumbled. "There is so much to love about you. You’ve got a great personality and a wonderful sense of humor. We love you! We would love to have you there and we will love to have you cook again to enjoy.” Peter nodded. “Makarovia would be a challenge as access to what you're used to, but Boston should be no problem.” I shoved Peter lightly. “There you go again with what we don't have.” Peter shoved me lightly back. “He can't say he's unprepared if do.” My eyes rolled at that. “Things are improving. In the future, if you decide to; you could open a restaurant in Makarovia. I can promise a near virgin clientele..." “And Boris and Yuri will go on a vacation again,” Peter added, “and we know Boris won't object to you being there...” "Not a bit," I said. Henri chuckled. “And when will that be?” “Who cares?” Peter asked. “If you have time; come!” I looked at Peter. "Of course, if Boris knows Henri's coming he won't go anywhere," I said reluctantly. Peter was getting good at making poker faces. He really looked like he realized the error in what he said. “True. If he had gone somewhere, I know he'd come back.” Henri was laughing. “Oui, oui. Je le promets!” He swore. “I promise.” He did have a certain place to put things for quick access when desired. It was early morning when we heard and felt the Duchess begin to move. There was no lurch to a speed. I knew there were ways they compensated for it, but I really didn't want a headache. Physics? That would bring on a migraine! I've seen the equation. “kg”m2” kilogram mass times two, rotational acceleration. Radians/sec2. Feeling any pain yet? I am and I know I remembered the formula wrong. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. I’m good. Loretta. She was a girl in school that seemed to have her life totally emerged by math. She had tried to explain what she understood easily. If anything, she was the exact opposite of me. She, for example, found emotions difficult to understand. Her chosen degree was Biomathmatical Engineering! I knew what it was, but had it a career. There had to be. When samples are taken of blood, biofluids or tissue the computer gives numerical properties that are displayed by a computer that lets those in science to read and understand what it means. She wanted to be the one to get the computer to do that. I just wished her the best and let it go feeling the pain begin. We would stay close to the northern coast of Sicily and continue near the southern coast of the Italian boot and head east. There would be a lot of traffic there even at night. The Beauty/Beast pirate would have to seriously consider the situation as we traveled this way. Yuri had this...thing. He called it a filament. He could shut the whole integrated system down, but that, he said caused more problems because; there is a ship you can plainly see, but don’t show on the computer? Someone's trying to hide something. A ship you can see on the computer and see is having difficulty. With luck, we will simply be one of a few and ignored. The filament worked like a light bulb filament that burns between two electrical sources. With what he was using, it lit between a sent computer source and the authorities’ computer. Giving unclear information is darned clever. With time he could have a computer output that did what he could do. Give whatever ship configuration he chose. Having the Titanic would cause different problems and could not fit in the Corinth Canal. Yuri preferred faulty information was sent. The crew of the Duchess would be welcomed by us. Don't doubt that. Luke would stay, but we knew he had to return to the sea. He was the first “old salt” I'd ever met. That wasn't completely accurate. He spent half his life on the water, but he wasn't "old." Mature? Yes, but not old. The ladies would visit and so would Earl. We gave Henri an excuse to come and stay. We hoped. We didn't want to piss off Step-Aunt Maria by stealing her chef. But he wasn't her chef, was he? He said he was under contract for the Duchess. He mentioned his restaurants, but nothing about her estate. He said he cooked for them...here. Was he an accessory when they got the yacht or something? You know by now I had to ask. I did later. Peter and I didn't sleep in. We didn't get out of bed (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Eventually, the desire for coffee won out. Peter and I showered and as we were dressing Peter contemplated. “Is there a term for not really being hungry, but want to eat something?” Chuckling, I nodded. “Sure. Lazy and getting fat." But I thought of one. "My friend next door, his mother had one. Peckish. When she wanted to eat but wasn't really hungry. She felt peckish.” Peter nodded. “That doesn't sound Southern.” I grinned, nodding. “Oh, you want one of those.” It only took a few seconds. I shrugged. “You quote one or make one up. I'd get the nibbles and hankerin' for something.” Peter's mind worked over the words. "Nibble is small bites," he began working it out. "And hankerin' is a desire?” He asked hopefully. "Yes," I answered. "Hankerin' is a bit more specific. A flavor remembered and you want again.” Peter nodded understanding. “I get it!” I kissed him. “I never doubted you. I'll make a Southerner out of you yet!” We had passed through the narrow passage between Sicily and the boot toe of Italy and headed for the heel. Walking into the galley I was surprised to not see Henri, but Boris. Alone! It just seemed so odd to me. “Boris!” Peter blurted. Boris grinned. "Yes." He looked at us. "I insisted Henri take the morning off." His head lowered and gave us a challenging look. "I fed you for a while. You don't doubt I can now, do you?" “No...” I said. “That...” he said in frustration, “lovely woman...” he said so that wasn't the word he wanted to use, “only let me cook twice. She refused to even let me help!” I nodded smiling. “She knew you were to relax.” Boris held his arms out exasperated. “I was relaxing. I'm damned relaxed now! Don't tell me I shouldn't do this!” I chuckled. “Of course, we won't.” Peter nodded. "Just remember where you got everything." Boris nodded. “Absolutely!” We got our coffees and were promised lunch in an hour. The Consortium was a constant threat. Other religious groups were just as much a threat out there, too. Why!? You don't agree with us? We didn't agree with them! And? We portrayed a happy result in being wrong or immoral!? That's too bad. Life doesn't always go the way we want. Get over it. The Consortium didn't give a damn about any of that. All they wanted was the money. I know, I often relate to movies and shows, but I'd seen it before. Many of the early 007 movies! Spectre? But even with that comparison, there were huge differences. Money. Spectre committed crime after crime to get money to finance them taking control. The Consortium committed crimes to get money. That's it. They should stick to one name. The Greedy. I know. I did it again. It's not like I heard voices causing me to stand on a streetcorner, put a sandwich board on saying "The End Is Near" while ringing a bell. We got our coffees and went to see others that had gotten up. The Duchess' crew had duties to perform. I really have to stop how I think about things like the crew having to do things...like they were doing their jobs! It was why they were hired and I hoped paid well to do it. It was interesting to see even with the advanced surveillance capabilities of the Duchess, people still tried to look out as if their eyes could work better. The brain was needed to interoperate what was seen. Mikell was on the deck looking out away from Italy with a pair of binoculars. No fishing boat or even a rowboat was getting past him. "What are you doing?" Peter asked as he looked at me. He wasn't concerned about it too much. I chuckled putting an arm around his waist. "You can't tell?" Peter shook his head. "Not really." He pointed at my face. "There is a little worry, but also satisfaction." Stopping us, I looked directly at Peter. "Wow. You're getting right word, "concerned about this situation, but liking what I see." I saw the confusion on his face. "I'm concerned we could get in trouble. There are innocent people here." I waved at Mikell. "He and our other agents signed up for this." I waved toward the upper levels. "Luke didn't. Neither has Earl, Gretchen or Nita. I am concerned about their safety." Peter smiled. "You left out Henri." I shook my head with a chuckle. "I'd never forget about Henri. I can't." I tapped lightly on Peter's chest. "In fact," I stated, "I believe he's the most important person on the Duchess right now. He does a whole lot more than cook." Peter's left eyebrow rose a little. "Oh? Why is that?" "He's not commissioned, but he's the morale officer," I said. "With his wonderful meals and a great sense of humor he eases the minds of those he serves." Peter agreed with a nod. "Yes, he does." "I don't want any of them hurt," I said seriously. "Not because of us, be it because of money or morality. Religion, greed or stupidity is no excuse. That's the concerned part. The satisfaction is about how people on the Duchess have rallied around each other and congealed as a team. Our agents are working together are feeling comfortable with each other and even with the crew of the Duchess." Peter smiled. "It will make leaving much harder." "It will," I smiled. "We've made some good friends. The hurt I've begun to feel, I welcome." I shrugged. "Those feelings prove they are. I said the first day this was dangerous." We had been trained to be on time for meals on the Duchess. We were on time. Boris was happy to be cooking. We had the croissants with the butter and jellies. Boris served us...hash? He made is Makarovian has many times, but this was...I could see something I never did in his hash. You can mash it up and cut it up, but shrimp is shrimp. "I know you've had seafood every day," Boris smiled. "This a breakfast hash only because I'm giving it to you for the day's first meal. It has shrimp and crab." He said happily. "I hope you like it." I can make a few things pretty well. Somehow Henri and Boris added...something that spoke of them. Boris was a good chef and so was Henri, but they could make the same dish and have each one say Boris versus Henri. Two different artists with two different interpretations of the same thing. It was delicious! "This is," I said, "sooo good." "Now he's in trouble," Peter said sadly. "We'll be asking for this again." The galley door opened and Boris didn't come out but said. "I heard that." I found Yuri in the library working on a desktop. Alec was watching him as Yuri explained what he was doing. "...see where we are," Yuri said. "They won't see who we are." Alec nodded. "I see, but won't they come to investigate the faulty information?" Yuri gave a slow nod grudgingly. "If they are an authority, maybe. Other ships have deadlines and perishable cargos. Passengers who need to be somewhere. They might report the faulty information, but shouldn't stop to find out why." Alec nodded. "This is fascinating. I took BASIC in school." "That's a great language to program with and only the beginning," Yuri instructed. "There is also C and C++..." he shuddered when he remembered something unpleasant. "FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal..." Yuri saw us and smiled. "Good to see you survived!" Peter nodded. "We slept like..." "A pig in the mud," I said in English with that hillbilly accent. It is different than a Southern accent. There were sharper vowels. It was still Southern, but different. "We were happy as a possum eating a sweet potato?" Peter chuckled, but Yuri and Alec looked baffled. Peter put his arm around my shoulder pulling me close. He's teaching to be a Southerner." "Guys!!" We heard Mercea shout and run around looking for us. He stopped seeing us. "You have got to see this!" Without giving us anything about what we had to see, he dashed back to see it again himself. We sensed the urgency and raced after Mercea. I also knew the Duchess was no longer moving forward much. My imagination thought of many possibilities and most were not good. Mercea went up, but not to the bridge. Luke was talking to someone who apparently was on another ship. The new ship was bigger and being raised on the coast and seen many. I knew it was a Navy Destroyer. The green, white and red colors told everyone they were the Italian Navy. "Boris is still writing his program," Peter pointed out. "There shouldn't be an investigation yet." Luke was having a friendly conversation. In Maltese? He was speaking Maltese to someone on an Italian Navy Destroyer. "...huwa apprezzat. Se nkunu tajjeb sakemm ninsabu fl-ibħra Griegi." He was nodding at what he heard. "Sewwa!" I had to learn more languages. I was jealous! Luke clicked his phone off and turned. "That was Stefeno. He's the First Officer on the Durand de la Penne." He pointed at the naval vessel. He shrugged. "I didn't know if they could, but," he chuckled, "he could it seems. They are escorting us until we get to the territorial waters of Greece near Corfu." We were still in Italy, so I asked. "In exchange for what?" Luke chuckled. "Nothing really. I mentioned he could win favor with the kingdom of Makarovia." He pointed a finger of caution. "I said favor, not uranium. I was in school with Stef. He was a grade behind me. His mother is Maltese, but his father was Italian." I nodded. "I don't know anyone that's from one place." I grinned. "I'm a prime example." "We'll be off again," Luke said. "I hope they can keep up." He laughed and went into the bridge.
  7. R. Eric

    Catching Our Breath

    Sebastian wouldn't even been enough to put in soup.
  8. R. Eric

    Catching Our Breath

    I jusr woke up. I have to say; "You poor man!" (That wasn't a joke.)
  9. Catching Our Breath The purpose for neoprene is insulation. They can look very sharp now. I wore one that was dark blue but had yellow lightning bolts on it. The water was not cold, but keeping heart and lungs protected was why I put one on. Still, I was a nicely dressed diver. I never dive without wearing one even in warm waters. It did also add some buoyancy. I did have to be peeled out the wet-suit to save Gretchen or whomever to clean up the water on the floor. It was a wet-suit and wet. I did it in the shower stall. Peter even joined me. We got the romantic moment back. The scenario Yuri proposed was possible. The Beauty and Beastt pirate was, from what I saw, in her mid-thirties. Did she want to be a part of this Consortium? It would mean she would get a portion of the billions. They could give her access to some needed resources and help with a future. She could be defeated and killed. She was also operating outside her usual behavior. Her normal operation was to hit and kill. I guess this was a way to step up for her. It meant more money that was certain, if the Consortium agreed. She had failed her attempt to track and her attempt to rectify the problem. I didn't know how the Consortium dealt with failure. Nelson Carter was the only one I knew about. Penelope Baldwin was the only associate I ever personally met. Peter and I were walking toward the galley. As we arrived there Mikell was standing in the dining area that was being transformed. A larger table was there made with attachments. There would be enough room for everyone. Mikell just stared at the door to the galley running his fingers over his chin. He didn't have a beard, but if he had one, he'd be stroking it in contemplation. “What's going on?” Peter asked Mikell. Mikell nodded at the door. “You'll find out when Yuri comes back.” I have to say, the Duchess was pretty well insulated against noise. When Yuri came out and the door was open there was a raised voices heard. One was clearly Boris and the other was Henri. What they were saying I couldn't make out. It had to be English...or did Boris speak French? He had attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Maybe he did. The words weren't the somewhat fluidly, melodic sound of French. But whoever was not happy with something the other did or said. I could tell that voice was Henri's. His French accent was stronger now. Boris spoke back, but like always...he was a slow boil or distant thunder. I know I've said it before, but I've never heard him yell or shout. Yuri looked up and saw us. His smile was instant. “I would seriously think about going in there.” He waved at the galley door. “You might get hurt.” “Don't they get along?” Peter asked concerned. “Henri wants something done,” Yuri explained. “Boris does it. His way.” He chuckled. “Boris wants something and Henri doesn't do it right.” He looked back at the door. “Those two are having the time of their lives! Boris hasn't been happier.” He bounced. “I just met Henri that one day, but he seems happy, too.” He pushed the door open a little and the loud conversation could be heard again. He let it shut again. There were delicious odors coming out now. “We sort of worked through lunch.” I began as I rubbed my midsection. “I'm fine waiting until dinner. I know I gained a few pounds on this trip.” “That isn’t good for diving?” Peter asked. “No,” I frowned. “Muscle makes you sink, fat makes you float. Usually.” I smiled. “My torso floats. My legs sink.” Peter rolled his eyes. “And I haven't?” He looked at Yuri. “Can we get our coffees?” Yuri nodded. “No problem. I'll get them.” He went through the door again. It made a little sense that they restricted the noise. My mother and grandma made a lot of noise in the kitchen at times. Pans occasionally clang, plates and glass cups were dropped and most kitchens had a hard surface. It sounds ten times worse than it is most of the time. Grandma had a big one. She just wanted the china cabinet away from the wall a little more. There was...it sounded as if someone crashed into the house. Grandpa and Mom were still alive. We all converged from different rooms to find a disgusted Katrina and the kitchen dining area was littered with glass, broken china and wood pieces. “At least it wasn't the good china.” Grandma waved in the direction of the dining room. Grandma had more than enough china. What had been in this cabinet was her good everyday china you served lunch on for guests. The fine china and crystal were for Grandpa and I used the inexpensive Corelle plates and bowls. They were unbreakable. Grandpa smiled and said with a nod. “Just checking to if there are survivors.” We all helped grandma clean up. It only took a few minutes for Boris to come out with a tray with two plates of sandwiches made from some croissants. “Dinner will be at nine, but this will tie you over until then.” He put the tray on the table. “You're still on vacation,” I reminded him. Peter added. “You know? To relax?” Boris looked confused. “I am relaxed.” Yuri came behind Boris, but had the desired coffees. He nodded. “He is.” “Okay,” Peter nodded. “Aren't you and Henri getting along?” Boris now looked even more confused. “Of course, we are.” He looked at Yuri and Mikell. “Did someone say we weren't?” “Somebody was arguing.” Peter pointed to the galley door. “We heard you.” Boris chuckled. “Oh, that.” “Yes,” I nodded, “that.” Boris waved the concern off and smiled. “Henri is a very special man.” He said with affection, but it was admiration. “I have never encountered someone with as passionate he has...” Yuri handed us our coffees and froze. “Really?” He scoffed. Boris grinned at his husband, “for food.” He completed what he was going to say. “Oh.” Yuri nodded relaxed again. Boris stared off as he thought how to explain. “What you heard was that passion. I am telling you he is a genius!” He looked at us excited. “He was a child prodigy! He started cooking very young.” Peter nodded. “Beginning with...” he looked at me, “what did he say? Five years old and a can of Spaghetti-Os, right?” Boris nodded. “Yes! He...” Boris shook his head thinking, “knows ingredients and spices almost intimately.” “Yes, he does.” Peter chuckled. I was nodding. “He sees them in his head and knows exactly when to add things for the perfect flavor combination.” “And when he says to be at the table at a specific time,” Peter continued. “Don't be even a second late,” I nodded. “He'll pout.” Peter grinned. “Yes, we know.” Boris' enthusiasm didn't falter. “Isn't that remarkable!?” He held his hands out for us to see the grand scope of what he found out. “And he's right!” “So,” I said pleased that they got along. “No one was yelling at the other?” “No!” Boris said. “His passion gets involved and the volume grows.” He shrugged. He looked back at the door. “I need to get back.” He grabbed Yuri and gave him a damned fine kiss and dashed back in the galley. Yuri smiled as the love of his life went back to the galley. Turning back to us, he looked at Mikell. “What do you guys do when there's nothing to do?” Mikell smiled. “I'll show you.” He waved for Yuri to follow him. Yuri was trying by extending friendship to Mikell. I had no doubt that what those two in the galley were up to. Dinner that night was going to blow us away. Whatever it was. The Shrimp Salad Croissants were not the usual dish served to us. It was...not hot. We’ve had fire quite a while now. Use it! These were not by heat or spices. The croissants were fresh, but the salad was cool. Who cared? It was delicious! During our search for the tracker, the agents had gotten Boris’ and Yuri’s belongings from the house. I was concerned for a few seconds when I found out Boris and Yuri were in a stateroom near Peter and me. The one they stayed in when we got to Venice. It was just a few seconds and I remembered. The agents were working. Boris and Yuri, though I tried to make them stop, worked but were still on vacation. We once again we were lounging on the deck enjoying the late day's warm weather. Luke came down again, He had before when I was looking for the tracker and then we were showering. He was military trained and was standing with his hands behind his back. “We are alone out here,” Luke began. “We've can head out tonight to go back to Athens. We will be at the Corinth Canal the day after tomorrow in the morning.” Peter looked up at Luke. “And?” Peter was like me and knew there was something else. “I'd like to remain here.” Luke said. “You're the Captain.” I said. Luke chuckled. “I am. I just didn't want you to wonder what we are waiting on now that everybody is here and there's no reason to remain.” “There,” I pointed out, “you are wrong.” His eyebrows rose. “I am?” “Very wrong, my friend,” I chuckled. “The quicker we leave, the sooner it ends.” Peter nodded quickly when he understood what I was saying. “He's right. We're in no hurry for it to end.” He said happily and then got serious. “There is a reason you think we should stay here?” Luke nodded. “That pirate is out there. She and her people can't sneak up as readily here as she can at sea. She can come over land, but we're watching for that or by sea.” I understood. “You can't be snuck up from behind with your backs to the wall. We can skedaddle before they figure it out.” Peter sat back a little in wonder. “It must something about Southerners.” I looked at him. “What?” “Running with scissors, feeling lower than a tick on a fat dog's belly, I can guess skedaddle is a way of moving quickly or something.” Peter said. “You and Ted come up with most interesting analogies.” “Sure,” I said smiling. “There are thousands of them. Some we just make up or change for situations. It's more fun than a gift box full of kittens!” I laughed and seemed to want to confide in them. “I changed that one. I just used with kittens because the language and didn't want misunderstandings.” Luke was laughing, too. “What was it before?” “A sack full of kittens,” I said and saw Luke's and Peter's smile lower a little. “See?” I pointed at their faces. “You're trying to figure out the sack part. The sack was often used to get rid of unwanted pets by drowning them by putting them in a sack with a rock or brick. I like cats! I love kittens!! A box full would be a lot more than just fun!” Luke chuckled nodding. “Yes, they would.” He liked them, too. “I told you,” I said to Peter. “I've neglected you're education. We're speaking in English, so why not?” Peter shook his head. “I've not heard but you and Ted use it!” “We're an exclusive club.” I simply said. We all got to the dining area on time, except for Cosmo. It was his job to watch for now. They drew lots. Luke had his phone and the ship would send him updates on what was new around the Duchess in or on the water. Cosmo was to watch the island. Yuri was thought it was conceivable that the Beauty/Beast pirate could figure out where we were going and had people hiding there who could approach the Duchess at night. That was assuming she knew Boris and Yuri were here and the reason we'd come to the island. Names weren’t really used, but why would the Duchess be here? Yes, lots of assuming done, but you had to know the connections with all of it. Don't worry, Cosmo had a plate taken him so he wouldn't miss too much. It just had to be done. There was still a honeymoon and vacation happening, the agents were agents and the crew worked...the dress code was casual. What was served was not casual. Henri and Gretchen served, Gretchen had to simply because someone had to do it. Henri could do it alone, but this was quicker. We had courses. Not math or some school kind of courses, but I did learn some new things. The first serving was a plate each with a few small crisp sandwich-like things. Canapes. I knew what it was. I did not know what it was made of until I ate one. Scallops and crab meat made in a not so bland seasoning. It made a delightful impact. Peter leaned toward me and muttered. “I don't think we dressed properly enough for this.” I smiled at him. “No need to gussy up fer supper.” After hearing that Peter's head went back to think about what I said. I could see him repeat what I said silently to see if he was gathering the meaning. I pulled him to me kissing him quickly. This was fun. The canapes were wonderful, of course. Henri served us a small bowl of soup or broth of amber-brown in color. My thought was the men here would die from a lack of real food! I'll try to explain as I go. This took time to make! It was very pretty on the plates for presentation, but...he had cooked some things and as most things a liquid was rendered as it cooked. Many people made a gravy from it. It was from the sea, but he rendered it down and concentrated it down squeezing all that flavor together. One bowl had the flavor of ten or more bowls in this soup or broth, but was one small bowl. What it lacked in substance did not take away the intense, savory flavor. I expected to easily eat it, but when the complex flavor hit. It was so intense you naturally slowed down to taste and enjoy it. It was more than delicious. I thought again of the Ambrosia in Greek myths. There just so many adjectives I can use. How do you describe flavor? There was a shaft of light that came down as angels sang one note that let you know you've been touched by God! (I heard that! I'm exaggerating!? The only ways to prove that is try it yourself. Until then, what I described is true.) That was just the first items. There were several wine glasses at each place setting. It added to the meal and cleansed the palate. My mind was blown with the serving of ice cream. That's right. Ice cream. Not vanilla, chocolate or some other sweet cream. There was nothing sweet about it. Again, it was so delicious words can't adequately describe it. It was savory, cool and made with...get this. Oysters!! I knew oysters having eaten them my whole life. On the half shell, smoked, roasted and many times fried. I knew there were savory ice creams as in sweet corn, green pea, sweet potato and a South of the Border queso! I even thought of trying some. Yet, something in me wasn't ready to challenge my perceptions on the ice cream I loved; as if that would be ruined. I was a coward. Henri and Boris had worked hard to make all this. I would never hurt Henri and I kn ow this was his creation. I tried a little. Boom! That what happened in my mind. What I expected from what I previously knew was thrown completely overboard. Oysters have a taste and that taste was in that cold cream. But it wasn’t cream. There was a lemon taste that blended it. There is a liquid from Oysters. Oyster Liquor. That was the “cream.” Sorry about this, but oysters usually went down the throat and felt sort of like swallowing snot. You know, the goober in there and have nowhere to spit? I said I was sorry! Was that too Southern or crass for some of you? It wasn’t just Southern. It was crude. My point was I never had an oyster “crunch” before. It was damned good. Course after course came and each with a different wine. It was all very French. Supper, or dinner for some people who object to calling it Supper. Why did anyone object? It was a fine word or they would call Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Dinner! This dinner lasted until after midnight! I was told that was a quick meal compared to some. I won't tell you about every course. He did combine the usual fish or poultry entree. He served Lobster Ravioli. (He kept with the theme of the past couple of weeks.) My concern about the lack of food was foolish. I knew and heard that you get full eating slower. We in the West look for the quick fix often at buffets. Henri was working. His usual lighthearted comments were there, but he concentrated on what he was doing. No one asked him to do this. It was probably because Boris could help now. If needed. A light lemon sorbet came next, then a salad. Finally, some cheese and a sinfully rich chocolate mousse. Peter's appetite satisfied he sat back. “I think some special recognition is due.” He said looking at the Captain. “With your permission, Captain.” Luke smiled and waved Peter to continue. Peter got up and headed to the galley door. I knew what he wanted to do and went with him. “Henri,” Peter said to the air. Henri heard, remember? “Could you come here, please?” The galley door opened and Henri looked questioningly. “Do you need something?” I smiled at him. “Definately. We need you.” Peter nodded, “This meal has been one of the best I have ever had.” Henri began smiling now. “I agree,” I said. “But I have to say; without you, this would have been a much duller trip. You, my friend, are not dull. We owe you so much for welcoming us onboard and quickly became a good friend.” “This has been a wonderful time and not over,” Peter said. “A lot of the credit goes to the others of the crew of the Duchess as well. I say to you,” he looked at the other crewmembers. “You will always be welcomed in our home. In Makarovia and in Boston. You will be our guests and, stay with us whenever and as long as you like. You are all dear friends.” “But you, Henri,” I said, “made it memorable and truly enjoyable.” Peter nodded. “We bow to you.” Peter and I bowed to Henri who was getting some redness in his eyes. Our agents, Boris and Yuri began applauding vigourously. Henri no longer just had red eyes, he was crying. He appreciated what we said. “Merci.” He smiled. “Mes chers amis. Merci.” He brought us in for a hug. The traditional hug or greeting given in Europe and very much so in France. Both cheeks kissed on each and a hug that was truly felt.
  10. I made a change on one. I'm tired from writing since this morning before sun up. I need a break. I'll try again in a few hours.
  11. I looked! I know I'm practically blind now, but I still couldn't "see" it. Yuri's and the others said the exact thing! The same words. I'm really beginning to hate this chapter.
  12. No, my computer is always on. It hadn't gone to sleep either.
  13. Don't apologize. I love feedback. I'm a little envious of you. To be somewhere you have to speak more than one language. I accidentally gave my computer a glass of tea. He didn't like it. That was just before Christmas. He was out of town and works another job. He's getting to it. I am just trying to jinx it now. I am not through.
  14. I must be dense. I don't see it. Yuri was using English to explain stating again to be sure he's understood. His first language was Russian. He speaks Makarovian, but this time spoke English. I have friends that do it now. Say a sentence, then say it again slower as if that helps. I know he spoke of seeing the evidence twice to help explain his reasoning. Am I still missing it?
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