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    R. Eric
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North Meets South, Worlds Collide - 37. Chapter 37

Now things were really getting lively. The guys were happy for us and enjoying some of our wedding cake.

Sasha walked over, it was after midnight. “Will you need anything else?” You could tell he was finished for the evening.

Tony shook his head. “You’ve been great.” Then as Sasha nodded and turned to leave. “Sasha, wait.”

Sasha turned around at that.

“I don’t know if there are rules about being friends with passengers. Do you have an early day tomorrow?” Tony asked.

Sasha shook his head. “I start work in twelve hours, so no. And there are some rules about being with guests. Why?”

Tony smiled. “Well, if you want to, sit and join us as a friend. Mitch and I both like you. Have another drink or two. If you want, as a friend.”

Sasha smiled at that reaching up and pulling his bowtie loose. “It would be honor to be counted as a friend.” And he went to the table with the alcohol and poured a drink. “I’d be happy to join you.”

“Wow, this is fresh!” Eric said eating a second piece of cake. “My sister offered me some of hers and let’s just say, it lost some of its pizazz in the freezer.”

Tony chuckled. “Did she have it sealed and frozen?”

Scott smiled. “Interesting color choice.” He motioned to the rainbow colors.

“It was obviously on purpose.” I said.

Eric chuckled. “I’d have to say no about the sealing and freezing. Freeze, yes. Sealed, no.”

Then Seth looked at the cake closer. But not the cake, but the topper. “Look! He’s wearing a badge! How’d he get one so small?”

“Icing.” Tony said absently.

I looked a little closer and smiled at Tony. “I see that wasn’t the only thing added. The last time I saw them, the one that was you, Tony, wasn’t smiling quite so big as he is now.”

Tony chuckled. “Well, little Tony is very happy expressing his affection.”

Glenn gave a knowing smile. “I bet the real little Tony is often very happy expressing affection. And looking forward to more in a few hours!”

“He’s not that little.” I said to which Tony blushed.

Sasha was drinking with us and seemed very comfortable with our whole party. And let’s just say, his command of English was sort of fading the more he drank.

“Sasha.” I said to the smiling Russian. “We’re not excluding you and I hope our conversation isn’t bothering you. All this suggestive talk.”

Sasha looked surprised. “Why would it? I hear worse.” The accent was getting thicker.

“All this about male sex and things like that.” I said.

He shrugged. “Sex is sex. Love is love. I am…” he thought a moment. “…what is word? Bisexual.”

I grinned realizing a part of him was like us. “You are?”

He nodded. “I have many….friends I have sex with in past…men and womens.” He said as his English broke more. “Is why I like work here on this ship. I have some when in military, there the conversations were same and sometimes much, much worse.”

Tony looked with a smile touching Sasha’s shoulder as if the Russian might need help sitting up soon. “Are you okay?”

Sasha nodded. “I am…getting…” he said a word in Russian. “…what is word….drunk.”

Seth chuckled. “Can you do that? I mean here. Now? I mean you're not dead drunk, but feeling…pleasant?”

“Very pleasant.” Sasha nodded. “I am here…tonight. My time. I’m yours tonight. Tony hire me….then invite me. I’m good!”

“I knew you were in the military.” I said. “You have that look.” Then I looked at him. “Is there anyone special in your life now?”

Sasha shook his head. “Not for year. I had girlfriends, a special girlfriend once. We have five year old son. I had boyfriend three times, but no one now. I have not much time off when working.”

Glenn came over to Sasha. “Well, I know a nice man like yourself won’t be alone long.” He said hugging Sasha, which Sasha returned. Then Scott did the same.

We all ended up either hugging Sasha.

“Just don’t drink too much.” I warned. “Sleep when drunk is not good sleep.” Tony looked at me surprised. “What? I’ve been that drunk before. Only once. It’s been a while, but I remember.”

Tony nodded with a grin and looked at Sasha. “And you’ll be back at our table tomorrow, right?”

“Absolutely.” Sasha nodded, but it was more Russian sounding than before. “You guys have become my favorite passengers.” We all looked at him not sure if this was because it was his job and he was just saying that. Sasha may be getting drunk, but he saw the looks. “I swear. You are. You must all swear to come back. I send message if I change ships. You have to see me. Yes?” Then he looked at everyone. “I mean everyone!”

Eric nodded. “We will, Comrade.”

Sasha shook his head chuckling. “Cold war is over. Just Sasha is best now. The USSR…done. I’m just Russian now.” As he was well over six feet, when he hugged us again, but it was two at a time! “I love you all.”

“We love you, too.” I chuckled and the whispered to Tony. “He gets a big, big tip.”

Tony laughed nodding. “Yea, I knew he was a nice guy.”


The next day was at sea. Then again, Tony and I were in no hurry to go anywhere. When we got back to our suite. Tony was kissing me as we entered to room. I felt something brush my head and was a little startled. Turning on the light. As always, we had another towel sculpted animal. This time, he was a monkey hanging from a hanger. How did they do that? Keep them in place!

“He’s really cute!” I thought something. “You know? I’ve never seen our steward.”

Tony nodded. “That’s what she’s paid to be. Unseen.”

“She?” I questioned. “You mean a real she?”

“As you said about Rev. Pat, I haven’t looked at the plumbing, but yes, a real she.” Tony chuckled.

“Whatever the gender, our steward was good. The place is always spotless.” Then I thought a second. “I wonder how she felt working among all these gay men?”

Tony shrugged. “Probably she felt lucky to be working.” He kissed me. “Now, there’s something we haven’t done here.” He walked toward our balcony and then went outside. I heard the Jacuzzi come on.

I grinned. “Are we doing it with or without clothes?”

Tony grinned. “We don’t need clothes. We’re at sea. Unless there is someone with high powered binoculars or telescope equipped with night vision. We’ll be safe.” Then he tilted his head. “Have you never considered a nude beach?”

I shook my head. “Never. Not that I’m…well, yes, I guess I am ashamed of being naked. Not with you obviously.”

“Obviously.” Tony nodded smiling.

Then I realized what he’d said. “Wait a minute! You’ve been to a nude beach, haven’t you?”

He actually blushed. “Well, yea…” he scratched his ear like he did when he was a little embarrassed. “That was a while back in my slutty days.” Then he looked at me. “But it really is sort of liberating. I mean, you feel more self-conscious in a suit when no one else is.”

I chuckled as I watched him squirm, then walked closer to him. “I guess I’m a prude, but I just can’t. Not yet.” I kissed him passionately. “I like to see you naked. I like you naked with me, but if we did it in public and I would probably get an erection…”

He nodded chuckling. “Guys do that.” He shrugged. “Erections in public become not something shocking or surprising.”

“Maybe one day.” I grinned pulling him toward the balcony. “But I’m good here.” I pushed his jacket off. “You look hot in that.”

He smiled. “Hot as in appearance or like I need to cool off?”

I shrugged. “Either, neither….both. Use both or pick one.”

Every now and then, he still gets this insecure thing going. “I’ll be forty soon.”

I nodded. “I hope you do.” Then I saw the doubt on his face. “Tony, is that a problem for you?”

He shrugged. “Well, my youth is passing by. I suppose I’m hearing the tick of the clock.”

“Ticking of the clock is going to happen whether we’re aware of it or not. Many guys….in fact most guys look better after forty!” I said honestly. “And I mean well into their fifties and sixties! Scott and Glenn are still attractive. Your Papa is in his seventies, he’s still a very handsome man.” I stopped. “Do you worry I won’t find you attractive anymore?”

Here it was, the insecurity. He shrugged again. “It is possible.”

“No it is not!!” I shouted firmly, shocking Tony. I guess you didn’t have to Italian to shout. “I love you! Not your money and not your looks!” Then I bowed a little because it was partly a lie, I was attracted by his looks. “Okay, I fell for your looks, but you are more than that. Believe me when I say I have been sexually aroused by many men well over forty and fifty. You will never be unattractive! Not only to me, but also with everyone you meet. And you’re charming! No one can resist you.”

“Yes, they can.” Tony smiled sadly.

I wondered who had rejected him to affect him so. We had a lifetime for me to find out.

Tony then smiled putting his arms around me. “You think Papa is attractive?”

I nodded. “He is.” I grinned. “It’s sort of a glimpse of our future.” Then I glared at Tony. “And you can’t say I’ll look good too because you’ve seen my father!”

Tony smiled as I turned him around walked him backwards pushing his jacket off. “Why can’t I? He’s a nice looking man.”

“It’s another rule!” I smiled seeing his eyes roll again.

“If I didn’t know better, you and Eric twins! Rules. You’re like…the same person!” Tony declared. “I swear!”

“Well, rule or not, people feel the need to reciprocate when hearing that kind of compliment. I’d rather you didn’t.”

“Okay, well…I think on both sides of your family we’re safe. Your uncles are nice looking men on your mother’s side and you’re father’s side. Good genes. You’re cousins are nice looking. It’s going to be fine.” Then he got a glint in his eyes. “Tell me honestly, those guys up on deck we see…almost everything at the pool. You said you thought all of them were nice looking.”

I began unbuttoning his shirt. “Pretty much they all are. There were a few that I knew if they didn’t have money they probably worked harder on other assets to find a partner, which they did, but every guy has their strong points which help. And the human male is attractive! We’re the same species, or course we’ll think they’re attractive, despite what people say about a male attracted to another male. This male is very attracted to you.”

“And that guy Larry?” Tony asked.

“Well, he was ugly because he was so nasty inside. That bled out by his attitude.” I said back. “Besides, he was so close to blonde…poor man.”

Tony nodded with a chuckle. “Oh, I see.” He grinned. “I know you like Sasha.”

I stopped. “What?”

Tony gave a shrugging nod. “He’s a nice, good looking man. I know you’re tastes now. If there was no me and he made a pass at you, you’d give in. You know you would.” He shrugged. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of, it just is. He’s attractive.”

I nodded. “He is. He has a great chest and ass, but I like yours better.” I said pulling Tony into a hard kiss. “Enough about others. I’m with you, Numbnuts. If the clock you hear tells you time is running out, let’s not waste any more time talking nonsense.” His shirt off, my hands made their well-traveled way up his chest pulling the warm body closer as his arms came around me pulling my clothes loose and then off as we kissed with full desire and love. The natural smell he gave off, accented by his cologne again worked its magic. Let’s just say the sky was beginning to get lighter with the morning when we fell into a very blissful, contented sleep. We’d leave the invisible Steward a nice tip knowing what she’d find when she came later that day.


Another day at sea, I had another tanning session and I looked at my reflection favorably. The stuff was doing its job. I had a tan at last!

The man that had been doing this wonderful job smiled at me. “Just one more and you’ll be perfect.” The man smiled. “At least for a few weeks, but you can come back and have another.” He said simply.

“And you’re still here.” I grinned.

Tony smiled coming up behind me. “I told you. You’re browner than I am!” He held his arm next to mine and I was indeed browner.

“Yours is from the sun.” I said sourly.

“Who cares!?” Tony chuckled. “you're tan! Complete with tan lines! It looks natural. That’s what you wanted!”

The man who had done it smiled. “I told him he didn’t have to have tan lines, but he insisted.”

I jerked my head at Tony. “Only he gets to see any tan line.”


We spent the afternoon in the shopping arcade and just strolling the ship. There was a lot to do onboard. Then spent the afternoon by the pool. Then I spotted John. Without Ian. I walked over to him.

“Are you okay?” I asked John.

He looked up momentarily confused, but then smiled once he recognized me. “Sure.” He said a little sadly. “I guess you know Ian and I broke up.” Then he chuckled equally sad. “If we were ever together.”

That hurt. It really did. I sat in the vacant chair next to him. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”

John shrugged. “Better to know than move thousands of miles and find out then.”

I nodded. “True. What are the two of you doing?” I held my hand up. “Not that it’s any of my business, but you’re sharing a cabin.”

He nodded. “We’re only sharing the space. I get up and find something to do. He gets up and does what he wants. We’re good. No argument or yelling, it just wasn’t happening.”

“So, no hope?”

John shook his head. “For us being a couple? No. There’s always going to be someone else.” He shrugged. “That was what this whole trip was to find out if we had more than just a physical attraction.”

I nodded. “Well, good luck.” I said standing.

John smiled taking my hand before I left stopping me. “Thanks for caring.”

“I think everyone needs love. I know there’s someone out there for you. And Ian.”


Tony and I returned to our usual table that evening. The guys all smiled at us as we sat.

Eric chuckled. “I know you two had a good night.”

Tony put a look of not understanding of the statement. “What do you mean?”

Seth chuckled. “It’s good thing you’re this investment guy. If you were an actor you’d be poor, you can’t fake looks well.”

“Well, gentlemen…” Sasha came over with a big smile. “We’re together again.”

“Hey, Sasha!” I greeted our new friend. “Did you sleep okay? Any hangover?”

Sasha looked shocked. He was good at faking looks. “I’m Russian! We don’t have hangovers.” Then he smiled even bigger. “It was a great party. Thank you for including me.”

“And we’ll stay in touch.” Tony said. “I promise. We’ll give you our email and numbers, you give us what you have. If you’re ever in Charleston or even in the United States, let us know. You’ll be welcome any time.”

“Thank you.” Sasha said and then pointed at me. “Escargot again?”

“What else?” I shrugged. “I’ve tried other appetizers, but I always include the escargot.” I smiled at Tony. “I’ve probably gained ten pounds on this trip! I’ll have to diet when we get back.”

Scott held his fingers up in the form of a cross, like you’ve seen people warding off vampires when they didn’t have a cross handy. “Back, back you vile, evil demon called reality! We’re still on vacation!”

“We are.” I laughed. “But what Tony told Sasha goes for you guys as well. We’ll keep in touch. Agreed?”

“Absolutely!” They all agreed.

“There’s a show in the Main Stage Theater.” Glenn said. “A comedy show. Shall we all go?” And the comedian was hilarious! Very off colored jokes about gay life. Not just suggestive, sometimes he just came out and said it bluntly. We all loved it, because it was all true!


We were in the Bahamas the next day. It was nice, but even the best beach is still just a beach. We toured Half Moon Bay and looked again for things to bring home or send to family. Our next stop was Key West. The trip had some changes due to weather problems. Key West wouldn’t mind an unscheduled stop. Weather was important if you wanted to have a nice trip. But Tony had told me once. Vacations and guests were great, but like fish you kept more than a few days, it starts to stink after a while. That was a little gem from his Mama. A very wise woman.

Our last night, we, Sasha and all our new friends shared our information and swore to each other we’d stay connected.

As the evening was coming to an end that last dinner. The lights again dimmed, then brightened a little as the waiters, including Sasha began to sing their song.

“…and now, the end is near, I face the final curtain.” Sasha turned to us, but I don’t think that was what he had to do, he wanted to. “My friends, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, I’ve traveled each and every highway. And more, much more that this we did it our way.” It was short, but you could see in Sasha’s eyes he meant it. No offense Frank Sinatra, I know it’s your song, but tonight, it was ours. Pictures were taken with everyone. Hugs given and good byes said. It was all….well…we’re gay! Of course there were tears!! Even Sasha was crying! Was it just because this was his job? I don’t think so, but if it was, he was good at it!!! I know he made good money on this trip.


That night as we lay in bed that last night, I kissed Tony. “This has been the best trip I’ve ever had.”

Tony nodded. “For me, too.” He held his finger up to stop me. “But this won’t be our last. Each one we’ll make better and better. I promise.” He said kissing me again.

Copyright © 2017 R. Eric; All Rights Reserved.
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You're = you are. If it doesn't make sense when you split the contraction back apart, it's "your" as in yours, mine, and ours.


“If I didn’t know better, you and Eric twins!" You just couldn't resist, could you? ;-)


And none of the Yentas thought to matchmake John (or Ian) and Sasha?


Thank you for including the badge! It just seemed to fit!

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On 01/23/2017 08:34 PM, droughtquake said:

You're = you are. If it doesn't make sense when you split the contraction back apart, it's "your" as in yours, mine, and ours.


“If I didn’t know better, you and Eric twins!" You just couldn't resist, could you? ;-)


And none of the Yentas thought to matchmake John (or Ian) and Sasha?


Thank you for including the badge! It just seemed to fit!

I knew you'd be the only one to get the Mitch and Eric being the same. It was a test, which you, of course passed! And don't count Sasha out. But John and Ian are too far away. I'm not done with Sasha.

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this has been the most wonderful story to read. I hope one day I can find that kind of love. Well written R. Eric, well written

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I haven't checked in for several chapters, but I wanted to tell you how much I continue to enjoy this story! I think I'd enjoy getting to know Mitch and Tony, and I love the "opposites attract" nature of their relationship. I also appreciate your between the lines messages about tolerance and really listening to what the other person has to say. Thank you. Jeff

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On 01/24/2017 05:41 AM, JeffreyL said:

I haven't checked in for several chapters, but I wanted to tell you how much I continue to enjoy this story! I think I'd enjoy getting to know Mitch and Tony, and I love the "opposites attract" nature of their relationship. I also appreciate your between the lines messages about tolerance and really listening to what the other person has to say. Thank you. Jeff

Things aren't always rosey. The next few chapters will test these two. Be ready for some real drama.

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