OMG, did I really just think that? Just a year ago these feelings and images…this sexual confidence… would never have even crossed my mind.  Yet, at this instant, my body reacts with a Pavlovian response, pulsing and throbbing, to all of the lustful stares being beamed in my direction.

Not too long ago, this whole center of attention stuff would have made me squeamish. After all, they were staring at me as if it were Thanksgiving, and I was the juicy, golden brown bird spread out on the table about to be served. But now, with everything I’d experienced over the past year, I handle it all in stride.  A coy wave here, a flirty smile there, and a seductive wink or two for the most respectful admirers.

For example, the uber courteous, handsome, young porter helping me up the walkway got a wink and a smile.  He holds my hand tightly, protectively, just a tad longer than necessary. I glance through my luxurious lashes, and look him up and down. He turns away trying to make an extra effort not to stare at my size 38DD tatas overflowing from the top of my sexy sundress.

I think to myself cynically, “Yeah, your sweet, exotic man-child charm doesn’t fool me dude.”

I finally learned, after 35 years, that even the nicest, sweetest guy can in fact be a big, closeted freak.

But who am I to talk? Just a year ago, I TOO was the nice, sweet, good girl. Look at me now, a stone-cold, unapologetic cyberfreak queen, having the time of my life, and making crazy money from it as well.  

He continues to struggle to keep his eyes above my breast line.  I smile reassuringly. He looks back comfortably and discretely caresses my hand. Ah, the power of subtext.

But enough of all this psycho-sexual Masters and Johnson’s analysis. Enough work, pondering, and contemplation. This is a time for play and celebration. So many events have transpired to lead up to this amazing day. This next grand adventure.

I feel great and look even better than five years ago. I now own more fly clothes than ever in my life– not just Gap or Old Navy like most of my adult life but, rather, top notch boutique brands. My red bottom Louboutin heels are on point, my long gel nails are glistening in the sun, and my fresh Remy hair extensions are down to my ass – top quality only, baby.

After months of living a double life, it is thrilling to now openly flaunt my new found sensuality and haute couture style without reserve. None of these people on this ship know me or my secrets. I can be whoever I want to be. I can do what I want without anyone in my business. I sigh with the relief of not having to keep secrets, like at home or deal with fake-ass, backstabbing people, like those at work.

We enter the ship and make our way straight past the lines of eager passengers checking in. I watch others signing up for port activities, assisted by a hierarchy of grinning, over-accommodating cruise staff.

A sun-burned, young brunette walks over and asked “Good afternoon ma’am would you like to sign up for sunset yoga lessons?” She flashes a look that says “Please help me get this commission…please.”   I knew the feeling, grin and bear it, the requirements of great service.

I smile back and reply, “Sure, sign me up. Suite #0003.”

The woman looks at her tablet and responds, “Ms. Roxy Redman. The Emerald Suite. Very, very nice. Thank you Ms. Redman. Looking forward to seeing you there!”

I nod but giggle to myself because I wonder if Aaron and I will even leave our rooms or the ship at all.  Maybe, we will stay wrapped up in each other for the bulk of the journey.  

The older, heavier porter, Jacques, interrupts my drifting thoughts by telling me to watch my step on the thick carpet.  After all, I am wearing stilettos.  He takes my arm and helps guide me as we round the corner.  Even though he is my same height, his grip is strong and protective.  

“Merci,” I answered in his native language of French as noted by the red, white, and blue flag on his name tag.

We arrive at a private door with a golden handle. Jacques punches a code in the keypad. It opens to a small sitting room. There is a floor-to-ceiling mirror, a plush couch, and more roses, beautifully illuminated by gigantic windows.

We walk to an elevator door on the far side of the room and Jacques pushes the call button.  The bell rings and we board. I have always enjoyed the feeling of a rising elevator, especially when exploring a new destination.  

When the elevator opens, we step into another narrow corridor that has just one door with a sign reading “Emerald Royale Suite”.  

The porter swipes a key to unlock it. He smiles and speaks courteously “Welcome to your new home, Ms. Redman.”

He dramatically flings the door open, revealing two beautifully styled, spacious stories. The entire décor is done in smooth cream ivory, tile, silver, and wood accented with radiant gold trim. It includes a first floor with two bedrooms, a kitchen, formal dining room, and living rooms connected with a spiral staircase and a private elevator which leads up to the master bedroom.

My mind wanders again, this time to visions of lovemaking sessions on those stairs or in that elevator.  Oh yes, this queenly palace will be my home for my week at sea.  I saunter around the perimeter, taking my time to soak in the spacious living room.  It is adorned with huge windows that are lined with billowing curtains, offering me, the lucky resident, and my guests, a most delicious view of the ocean on the starboard side.  This also means that anyone outside could have a full view whenever I choose to walk around nude, which is my favorite way to be nowadays.

In the center of the room is a white baby grand piano with the top up.  From habit and piano lessons from childhood, I walk over and gently play an arpeggio from middle C to high C. The sound reverberates lightly in the air filling the room with a sense of beauty, lightness and cheer. Just as delightful is the presentation of chocolates, caramel candies, red wine, luscious cheeses, and classic books spread out around the room.

“Where would you like your things Ma’am?” the fine porter asks.

I peer at his name tag, “Thank you, Isaiah… the living room is fine. Theresa, can you please organize my gowns and personal effects in the bathroom and bedroom? Don’t mind the small bag, I’ll unpack that myself.”

Delegation and clear communication are two other new habits that have formed over the past year while I have been building and growing this venture. I found that stating the names of strangers upon meeting them helped me remember names and faces better. After juggling all of my own online and offline aliases, working with our freelance team, plus conducting  more than a hundred live interviews, I learned how to keep my data better organized in my mind, in my ledgers, and in my cyberworlds.

It is amazing to think that just a year ago, I lived in my own head so often that I barely recognized the faces of my own co-workers or even the day of the week for that matter. Instead, I obsessed over other trite details, small, odd things like macromolecules, measuring proteins, DNA, or polysaccharides. I laugh thinking of those absent-minded, lab rat days.

I walk into the gorgeous dining area. It reminds me of a friend’s San Francisco loft, narrow, sleek, wood paneling, and state of-the-art everything.

I grab a bottle of orange juice from a beverage cooler, mix in a splash of champagne, and raise a glass. My first celebratory mimosa.  There is so much to celebrate.

I whisper a silent toast, “Here’s to you Roxy Redmond aka Ms. Kinky Perfect.”

Stay tuned for the Prologue Part 3…


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