The Marquis' Book of Pleasure
The Marquis' Book of Pleasure
The thirty-foot boat rocked on an unseen, unwieldy sea, water splashing over the sides, the craft groaning as though any moment it would break apart. The moon, shrouded for hours by a clamoring sky, tried peeking from its hiding place behind the clouds, but it was repeatedly blackened by the night, sinking the tiny ship into a darkness penetrated only by the light of one bobbing lantern.
"What the hell are we going to do now!" Laney Priestly's scared voice screamed as the bobbing boat jostled in the waves, knocking her from her feet while she grabbed for a rope at the side of the boat.
"Dammit, Laney, if you're going to complain, get below deck," Erik scolded his wife with his reply.
"Don't swear at me," she got up sparring.
"And don't act like such a girl!" Eyes fired, expression determined, it was enough to make Laney shrivel and retreat below where Sandra and Elise were already hibernating. Closing the cabin door, she closed out the sounds of the howling wind and the three men still arguing with the sea, the wind and the cold storm.
"Are we going to survive?" Elise asked, as she huddled under a blanket in the corner, looking like a wet mouse, her two eyes, shiny and startled, her mouth capturing the tiny stream of water dripping from her bangs. Her long bedraggled braid looked like a black sinewy tail plastered to her white skin.
"Hell, I don't know!" Laney sighed as she slumped next to Sandra on the couch, and grabbed the old wool blanket to share.
"It's an adventure," the blond-haired woman reminded her ruefully as she tugged the blanket back.
"And we let them talk us into this over Jamaica. Never again," Laney shook the water from her short dark hair, and grabbing for another blanket tried toweling it dry.
"You suppose we'll find the island?" Elise asked.
"In this storm? It would be a miracle. There are dozens of uncharted islands in this chain. Right now, I'd take any of them just to feel my feet on dry land again."
The boat rocked, taking another nasty dip toward the water and the three women held their breaths. Best friends since college, hours, even days commiserating together in dorm rooms and apartments, with husbands and lovers coming and going from their lives; they thought they had found some consistency now. Laney and Elise were married in ceremonies just months ago, and Sandra was almost at the altar. But would all that end with this fiasco in tropical seas? Was this torrid night sent to shake apart their earned tranquility? Would, at the ripe age of twenty-nine, the lives of three friends be ripped asunder by the hazards of this dangerous night?
What happened to the bucolic peace this camping trip promised? Two weeks in paradise, Erik and Jason had assured them. Matthew had taken the trip before. He knew these seas like the back of his hand... at least until the storm began. Jason was an expert sailor, and Erik had the survival instincts of a wolf. But with prowess and pride defeated by the elements of nature, the three men seemed as vulnerable as the women they brought into this messy peril.
A fire crackled on the sand as the six huddled together, staring at their wounded boat tied to old pylons embedded deep. Their blankets were wet, their hair soaked, their clothes drenched.
"Six months getting ready for this trip, who would have thought we'd end up marooned on some unknown beach?" The hulking Jason remained the most upbeat of the tattered travelers. His normally unkempt curly hair was more disheveled than usual and his green eyes lit with a jovial jester dancing mischievously inside them. "Hey, you have to have a sense of humor."
"When it's this cold?" Laney pouted.
"It's not cold, Laney," Erik sputtered. "Not in the tropics. You're just wet."
"Hey, I'm up for a little search and find mission here," Matthew's sharp eyes brightened as the flame from the fire see