Chapter III from the book DESTINATION DESIRABLE
Jules was busy conversing with Nia, and Walt asked Lulu if she would like to join Paula and him for a drink at the Piano bar.
A chilled version of the song “Killing me softly” was playing.
Danny was already sitting at a table, so the three sat next to him.
“How about Dirty Martini?” Walt asked.
“Well, I stick with champagne,” Danny replied. Cheering his glass accompanied a smirky smile on his lips. His eyes were already on the piano player.
“Okay!” Walt replied and walked over to the bartenders.
“You and our captain know each other, right.?” Paula asked, curious. They all had recognised that Lulu seemed mental somewhere else since they had met the captain at the table. Although they all knew Lulu’s co-star from the movie “Celebrity”, they did not associate the captain with the celebrity as he had been known as Julian with his official name. Lulu was not sure if she should explain the situation or not. She had come to this cruise to leave her past love affairs behind and focus on her career remake. Now an even deeper past which she had tried to bury a long time ago surfaced. If she would now explain that Jules had been her film partner, they all would get involved in the hype of their than love romance. But, as Jules also had not given any explanation or had attempted to link their connection, she decided to do the same.
“Why do you think that we know each other? I don’t think so.” She looked at Paula. “But well, he is a damn attractive guy, isn’t he?”
“Well, yes, I wonder how old he is,” Paula replied with a guessing look.
“He is, indeed! And straight,” Danny added.
“Ah, you already checked this out?” Paula wondered
“That was not necessary, the way he had his eyes on Lulu.” Danny had a dreamy look in his eyes. He admired Lulu and adored her looks.
“Ah, just like you have your eyes on this piano player, don’t you?” Paula teased.
“Well, I hope he doesn’t disappoint me with a straight note, either.” Danny sipped on his Champagne.
“I think your chances are good.” Paula tweaked an eye. Walt was still at the bar and lost in a chat with a young woman.
Nia and captain Jules joined the piano bar while still discussing the ship and Nia’s environmental project. Jules suggested meeting some excellent contacts and friends at their next Singapore stop. If she was interested, he could arrange a dinner. They both stood not far away from Walt, who was still busy with his flirt, while Paula and Danny exchanged their dreams about what they wished to experience on the trip or the nearby future. Paula told Danny about the time with Walt in the middle east and that Walt wanted to settle down while she did not really were in for settling, not yet.
“I see some couples like our neighbours where the husband is all day out and the woman is busy all day running after their kids, everything she is talking about is oh my husband, and I have to do this for him, he wants it like this, what will my husband say, will he like this. Or she talks about what she has to do for her son, her daughter or again for her husband.” Paula tried to explain her feelings. “All she talks about and does is like her husband and kids like she has no own life like she somehow does not exist.”
Danny listened and nodded. He knew this feeling just too good. After his first star height when he had won a casting show, he had experienced the same feeling. Suddenly everything he did was just about to maintain the image the management wanted to sell. And after a year, he had felt so burned out. He could not see himself anymore. The person he saw on stage or when he looked in the mirror, he hardly had recognised himself anymore. Everything he had to do or say was about matching the image the management had created. Even the music he had to sing was not what he wanted anymore. He had felt trapped in a situation where the management would not allow him to grow anymore.
“Do you think I am too egoistic?” Paula asked, “But I hear this from all those mothers, and I somehow don’t want to give up my own life. I love the work with such environmental groups or humanitarian work. Yet, I feel like I would need to give this all up, not having time for myself anymore and submitting myself completely, running after other people’s interests. Is this what life should be?”
Danny laughed, and Paula had to laugh out loud, too.
“I understand very well what you mean. I had a perfect friend, one of my besties, to be honest. But, once she married and had her first kid, there was no time for anything else anymore. We almost lost contact. We might meet once around Christmas time, and that’s it, and then it is all about the kids, and it feels like there is no connection anymore.” Danny agreed.
“Well, this is what women get told that if they want to follow their interest, they are egoistic,” Danny added thoughtfully.
“That’s so true!” Lulu agreed, “But then when you take care of your kids only, people will tell you, what don’t you have something on your own to do like you have no own life.”
“Either way you do it, it is not right.” Danny laughed. “But you almost vanished from the big screen after you had your children, didn’t you?” He asked Lulu.
“Yeah, that’s right, while they were young and up till my husband’s first official affair, which later became his second wife,” Lulu explained cynically.
“Oh, dear, the way you say this sounds kind of bitter.” Danny wondered.
“Yeah, this was a nasty issue at the time.” Lulu looked up.
“I don’t want to be too indiscreet, but what did happen at the time? I remember an interview where you said the kids would stay with their Dad.” Paula asked.
“Yeah, that’s right. This whole story inspires the script I am preparing for at the moment.” Lulu sighed. “This woman blackmailed me. She claimed that I had stolen jewellery from her, pieces that my Ex-husband had gifted her. She had manipulated a scene and had made it look like I had it taken, and my great than-Husband believed her. They were threatening me that if I insisted on the custody, they would press charges against me and end my film career.” Lulu told.
“They did what?” Paula and Danny were shocked.
“And your Ex-husband believed her?” Danny was shaking his head.
“Yeah, as they say, love makes blind.” Lulu nodded. “But he finally reaped his dark misery with his gold treasure.”
“He got divorced in a bitter rose-war, didn’t he?” Paula asked.
“That’s right, and this went through the press. She claimed that he had beaten her and sued him for an enormous amount. In the second instance, he was finally acquitted and set her upkeep to a minimum. In the end, a video had shown up. She was triumphing, reporting to a friend how she won the claims with her lies and dirty games, her final confession.
“Wow, I had heard about some of the games.” Walt, coming over with Jules, commented and joined the “ladies” at the table. Jules looked at Lulu, offering her a glass of champagne. “Real life or a scene from your new script?” Jules asked with a sweet smile.
“Both, actually. But the real rose war is over now.” Lulu stated and took the champagne glass that Jules offered her.
“Than let’s cheer to new shores.” Danny shouted and they cheered their glasses.
“Well, I will do my best to make your life here on board as pleasant as possible.” Jules promised.
“So far, this is achieved by 100%.“ Danny complemented. “The ship and the service here on board is really excellent.”
“And the ocean views are priceless” Walt added.
“Indeed, they are. Have you finished your little flirt?” Paula was teasing Walt but somehow it did not really bother her at all.
“Sure, I did, and have you finished your elephant research, yet?” Walt replied a little snappy.
“Mmmh, I guess I haven’t really started, yet. So why are you jealous on an elephant?” Paula questioned jokingly.
I met quite some nice human beings here on board so far, as you can see.” Walt looked Paula in the eyes.
Somehow it seemed neither of them got jealous about what the other person was doing, but did they also prefer spending time apart rather than together?
Originally, they had planned the trip to figure out how to plan their future together in London or possibly on a new project. Now it seemed that they preferred spending time on different undertakings, best apart from each other. As the evening got tense between the two, Walt and Danny decided to check out the nightclub onboard. At the same time, Paula had gone back to the cabin on her own, leaving Lulu alone with Jules. It was another awkward moment as they hadn’t left at best terms when they split up and haven’t talked since. The two looked at each other. So many unspoken words were in the air, and neither of them was sure where to start right now — leaving it all behind or initiating talking about old times.
The lightness of their conversation in the group had vanished. Jules looked at Lulu. He was still astonished at how beautiful she looked, so natural. Lulu still had this incredible smile and some sassiness when talking. She flashed the same features on him years later, which he had fallen in love with when he had first met her. He wasn’t sure about Lulu, how she took the whole situation that they would spend the next week together on such limited space.
Lulu was looking at her drink which was almost finished. Somehow, she neither knew how to keep the conversation going. Maybe the best thing was to go back to her cabin rather than start a discussion of old times. Although she would have loved nothing more than to hug Jules and throwing her arms around his neck. She never forgot how good that always had been supposed to feel his body close to her. He had been a fantastic lover at the time and sure still was. Jules did not want to let this moment slip unspoken and then asked.
“Well, you want a little walk outside along the deck, enjoying some of the fantastic ocean views from the railing?” He smiled at Lulu. “I know some of the best spots here on board. “
“Oh, really, you do!” Lulu asked, and she loved the idea of a breath of fresh air, especially with Jules right next to her.
The two walked up the staircase outside through the lounge door, walking along the deck towards the railing where they stopped. Jules was looking at Lulu.
“I was so surprised to see you here on board.” Jules started.
“It’s a situation I had never expected. Sorry that I was so cool at the dinner like I do not know you.”
“I was surprised, too. It sounds like it was no pleasant surprise for you?” Lulu questioned.
“When this came across like this, I am sorry.” Jules took a deep breath. “It is rather the opposite, I guess.” He confessed. “The moment I saw you, it took me all back to the time we once had; somehow, a feeling came up again. It is such a long time ago.”
“It is.” Lulu was quiet.
“You never replied to my calls after that night in Cannes. I even tried to call you later when I already had been here in Thailand.”
“Oh Jules, I know, but I was hurt after I had seen you with this B-tress and singer. She came up to me, smearing her affair with you in my face, and I did not want to hear any of such excuses. You had success with that hit, and she was promoting in all media that she was with you, just as she did at the award night. It was all over the newspaper, the new dream couple, while I thought I was your girlfriend and that we had something special.
“So that’s when you went off with this Italian guy, the next morning?” Jules looked at Lulu “You really believed this and did not even give me a chance to explain?”
“Well, at the time this looked so real that I thought whatever you would tell me would be just lies which I did not want to hear. “Everyone was teasing me with this story that I was not sexy enough for you, that he needed a real woman not such a kid as me “the girl next door” some kind like this.”
Jules looked headshaking at the water than sighing.
“Well, so I thought the best thing to prove was to get away with a hot Italian guy. Was this so wrong?” Lulu looked in the air.
“And you could not think of that this whole thing was a made-up story for the press by this woman?”
“To be honest at the time? No!” Lulu confirmed. “I thought this was it. And by the time the truth came out, you were already gone, and years had passed.”
Jules turned around, putting his hands on Lulu’s arms. He bit on his lips then swallowed. Then, with ironic laughter, Jules pulled Lulu closer and wrapped his arms around. Lulu’s head was resting on Jules’s chest, and he pulled her even tighter.
“How could I lose you because of such an intrigue?” There was no difference between what he felt right now for Lulu and how he had felt about her when he met her the first time. There was a connection to Lulu he had never felt with anyone else than her. Lulu felt the same about him. He looked at her, then stroking a hair out of her face. He kissed her head, and the two looked at the vast dark sea. Waves splashing against the boat. For a while, the two were standing at the railing while he had his lips close on Lulu’s ear so that she could hear his breath. A feeling so intense as if they would try to fill in all the lost years in one moment. Lulu leaned her head on Jules’s chest, and she felt like coming home. Jules also wished that moment would never end. They both felt so much comfort in each other, and he wondered how such a misunderstanding could get two people to drift so far apart. He had spent his last thirty years with a woman but had never felt such a moment of comfort as he felt right now. He, too, had two grown kids, and their family life had slowly fallen apart after the kids had left the family home and he and his wife were living separated. His wife Jiê preferred living in the city centre rather than at the seaside, and they had hardly seen each other in the last years. Jiê was either travelling in Europe visiting their children or in her Bangkok apartment with friends.
Like they had never been separated when Lulu turned around, Jules pulled her closer and kissed her. So intense, Lulu almost forgot where she was losing herself in his kisses until they reached Jules’ cabin and early sunrise.
Lulu opened her eyes. Jules’s arms wrapped around her. She felt his body close on her like they were one. The early morning sunlight met her eyes, and Jules’s soft kiss touched her hair.
“Do you enjoy the morning view as I do?” The two were looking outside the bullseye from Jules’s master cabin. A smooth blue ocean with a rising sun in the East along the horizon.
“Insane, this is so wonderful.” Lulu was still breathless. Wrapped in silk sheets and Jules’s arms, she felt like in paradise. Jules rolled over and kissed her good morning. Whenever she was with Jules, she felt this intriguing feeling of harmony like nowhere else.
“Today, we will arrive in Singapur. I think you will go on land and take the day tour, don’t you?” Jules smiled at Lulu while already dressed in his Uniform. His shift started at seven a. m., and he had to be on time. They had a strict protocol for the management, especial at the bridge.
“Yeah, I think we leave at eleven o’clock.” Lulu was stretching herself, still covered in silk sheets.
“I would have loved to show you the city. I have some special places there. But, unfortunately, today, I am in charge, and we have meetings with the crew. But the evening, I am off.” Jules explained while he wished nothing more, just taking time off and spending the rest of the day with Lulu.
“How about tonight? We could have dinner. I know some beautiful spots in Singapore, where we could stay overnight, simple but lovely. We have two days here before we move on to Kuala Lumpur.”
“Wow, I book a cruise on a luxury boat, and then you ask me to a “beautiful simple spot” on land.” Lulu laughed.
Jules walked over and sat beside Lulu while stroking through her hair and kissing her.
“You will have more than enough time here on board to explore venues. So think about it and let me know. But this will be the most time off that I have here on this trip, and then I have a week off in Bali. So most of the daytime, I will be pretty busy.”
“I was just joking.” Lulu looked at Jules with a sweet smile. “Of course, I prefer spending the time with you only enjoying the simple things of life on the most basic spot on Earth rather than hanging here on board with a drink lamenting about old times with guests. Despite the group I am here with, they are gorgeous people.” Lulu looked at the blue ocean.
“So, you’re with me? I’ll pick you up here at seven, the time when you guys return from your trip.” Jules smiled.
“Can’t wait.” Lulu kissed Jules before he left the cabin. Time was short and precious.
Paula got up early, prepared an instant coffee, and sat in front of her laptop. She read an article about a Singapore-based charity, ShinyCoats, known for innovative production processes and helping fairtrade. Paula had previously contacted one of the organisation’s founders to contact her as she hoped to meet him during their two-day stay here in Singapore.
Walt came out of the shower with his steeled body, only a towel wrapped around his waist. Walking towards Paula, he kissed her good morning, stroking her hair. She looked up with a snappy face.
“And what are you up to today? I will meet this guy here later in the afternoon. I just got a reply. Do you want to join the meeting?”
“Well, I had a different idea in my mind? How about some romantic time along Sentosa Island, we could stay there overnight?”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? I want to meet this ShinyCoats guy from the charity. We won’t have time to get to that island then. We can do this romance thing when we are in Bali, don’t we? There we can have endless times.”
Paula pointed at some photographs with Elephant rides in Bali that popped up as an ad on her laptop screen. Walt also had thought maybe spending the morning a bit longer in bed and kissed Paula gently at her neck.
“Oh, I am not in the mood, Walt. Just let me go through this here. I can book this Elephant ride in the Resort for us if you like.” She pulled her head away and started replying to the ShinyCoats guy.
“Wow, is this how this trip is going to be? You hanging in front of your laptop looking for charity projects? I thought we would take this time for us to get clear about settling down.”
Walt was disappointed he had imagined a different reaction from Paula. He put some training stuff on and went to the cruise gym. He would try turning his anger into positive energy in the gym for the next two hours.
Danny woke up in his King size bed, stretching his body within the silk sheets and felt full of comfort. Still stunned by the cabin’s interior, everything looked so perfect. After taking a shower, he stood in front of the mirror, having some self-talk. “Today is the day.” So he was telling the face in the mirror. While others had booked sightseeing tours and beach parties for their stop in Singapore, he had scheduled a doctor’s appointment. He would use the two days for a bit of surgery that would help him to transform his life and leave the past behind. He got dressed and went to the deck for his breakfast. There was a small outside café that also served breakfast to guests. Paula and Nia were also sitting outside. Paula absorbed her research for ShinyCoats, while Nia wrote a blog post for her lifestyle blog. Reporting about last night’s events, the dinner, the piano bar, and of course, she served her other social media channels with stunning views from her breakfast table.
“Good morning, ladies!” Danny greeted the two girls. “This is what you girls do? Digging your head into your laptop screen, you should enjoy this one-shot sea view, ladies!” Danny swung his arms in the air, throwing his head back to strike a Diva-like pose near the railing. “Oh, this is my sky, my cool, my skin, my shining.” Danny enjoyed his pose for a view more seconds before he joined the girl’s table.
“So, how are you girls going to spend your Singapore time? Have you booked any exciting trips?” Danny asked.
“Well, I am going to meet the guy from this ShinyCoats project, and then we will see. I am sure we have a lot to discuss. “Paula finished her first cup of coffee.
“Oh, well, this guy probably has some insider tips on what to do in Singapore,” Danny replied.
“Yeah, I think so, too. We will see. Walt is not so excited. He wanted to go to one of those phoneys, tourist islands, exactly not my idea of a local Singapore night.”
“Well, I am invited to a party at Sentosa Island tonight, and I am going there. I can’t wait.” Nia was excited she had a special invitation for a party at a luxury resort. “I actually can bring a friend if someone is interested?” Nia asked with a shiny spark in her eye, and her lips pointed.
“We definitely won’t meet tonight but thank you, Nia. These phonies are so not my cup of tea. I wonder that you are going there.”
“Well, I would love to join.” Danny interrupted, “but I already have a rendezvous tonight.”
“Oh, you have a rendezvous?” Paula questioned, “Who is the lucky one?”
“Well, that’s a secret.” Danny did not want to share the real reason, but he would need to stay overnight for his surgery.
The girls finished their breakfast. Danny stayed a little longer and then decided to visit the boutiques on the first level where he had seen such stunning dress the day before when they had checked in.
The boutique displayed designer, haute couture dresses. Danny couldn’t get enough of it. He loved such glitter, silky fabrics, and he went straight to the black Strapless gown with side split and sweep train, a dress designed by Scarlett Perla with a feather-trimmed décolté. Exactly the kind of dress he had dreamed of, and he already knew on which occasion this dress would have his premiere. The salesgirl came over with a smile on her face complementing the dress and its exclusive materials.
“The figure-flattering silhouette of the gown highlights the natural curves.” The salesgirl put on her sales talent.
“Oh, I love how it flares into this elegant sweep train with this knew-high side split.” Danny was ecstatic.
“Would this be the size of your girlfriend?” The sales assistant asked.
“My girlfriend?” Danny asked, surprised, then he flashed a smile. “Oh, my girlfriend, yes, it is a present for her, and yes, this fits her size a perfect 10!”
Of course, the salesgirl could not imagine that this dress was not for another woman but for his new transformation, his new life that he was planning carefully and what this trip was for. He wanted to leave his old life behind and start fresh as Chloe. Therefore, he planned his surgery to transform his body and get some breast implants. When they would arrive in Bali, he would get some cosmetical corrections and then return as Chloe to Bangkok with a new life. As he had quite an androgen physical shape, his face also had some feminine features. Therefore, it did not need much makeup to look like a woman. Almost a year ago, he had started a Youtube channel with cosmetic tips and had built up quite an audience. No one had questioned if he was a woman, and he also had snatched a contract with a cosmetic company as ambassador. So now, he wanted to complete his female image by getting his body into the right shape with DD for his chest size. He planned to disappear on this travel and return as Chloe the Fashion/Beauty Influencer.
Danny purchased the evening gown and had the sales girl wrap it as a gift for his future self. Then, he returned to the cabin and placed the box in the cupboard. While Danny would have loved to try on the dress and shoot some photographs for his Instagram channel, time was short. He had to rush to pack a bag for his stay in the clinic.
Singapore – Exploring the city
At eleven o’clock, people left the cruise ship for their land trip. Paula and Walt went with a separate coach to the ShinyCoats organisation. Paula was highly excited, explaining to the taxi driver the reasons for their trip. Walt pretty pissed off, biting his tongue. He could not understand why they were now spending all day talking about a charity project.