RMS Titanic, Southampton Dock, Wednesday 10th April 1912
As the tugs began the delicate manoeuvre of easing the stately liner out of her berth, the dockside erupted in a cacophony of sound, the music of the brass band drowned by the cries of the crowd calling ‘Good luck, Titanic’. Passengers and many of the crew were lining the boat deck. Others leant out over the covered promenade decks, still more crowding the poop and aft decks, waving and throwing streamers.
Jennifer Spencer edged her way through the first class passengers on A Deck, entering each of the cabins in turn. As one of only eighteen stewardesses on board, she had volunteered to make these final checks, grateful to have something to occupy her. She was probably, she reflected sadly, the only person on board who didn’t have a friendly face waving her off from the dockside. More than two weeks had passed since she had written to her sister, and there had been not a single word from Maud. Quelle surprise!
Swallowing hard on the lump which rose in her throat as she wondered when she would see her infuriating, flighty, thoughtless, irresponsible sister again, Jennifer gave a cursory knock on the door of Stateroom A20 and entered without waiting for a reply. Casting a critical eye over the opulent sitting room, she was moving the bowl of flowers a fraction more into the centre of the table when the door leading to the bedroom opened.
He was tall, the cabin’s occupant, and quite extraordinarily handsome. Mid-thirties she guessed, with cropped glossy black hair. Melting brown eyes, and one of those mouths that looked as if it were always on the verge of a smile. He had obviously been in the process of changing, for his shirt was open, his collar missing, giving her a glimpse of tanned torso.
Which she should not be staring at, even if he did have an edge of glamour that made him look like he’d just stepped out of a moving picture. Mortified, Jennifer stammered into speech. ‘Pardon me, I assumed you’d be up on deck.’
The passenger raised a brow and gave a half-smile. She was not surprised to notice that his teeth were even and perfectly white, but she was annoyed to discover that his smile did strange things to her breathing. ‘What on earth are you doing here?’ he asked. He was standing beside her now. He really was very tall. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’d be on board?’
American, she noted abstractedly. Nice voice. Soft but deep. Jennifer shook her head, confused. ‘I think you’ve mistaken…’
He smelled of expensive soap. Before she could back away, he caught her. ‘What are you doing?’ she stammered. her voice sounding more breathy than panicky.
‘Don’t be coy with me. When you promised me another kiss if our paths ever crossed again I didn’t think for a moment that they would. But here you are. So kiss me,’ he said, locking his lips on hers.
She was too stunned to move. For a few timeless seconds Jennifer relished the taste of his lips, the shocking proximity of him. She had forgotten how delightful a kiss could be. She had forgotten what it was like, that connection, the thrilling jolt of desire, mirrored in the sharp intake of his breath. She had forgotten how easy it was to get carried away.
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