February 14th, 1991
Hamilton Princess Hotel, Bermuda
Met Ava and Tessa first thing and caught the ferry to the Southampton Princess Hotel, were, I imagine due to the overcast day, we were the only three people on the beach.
Tessa kept whining about the weather as Ava and I busied ourselves building sandcastles, when, out of nowhere a ridiculously tall guy appeared, asking if we were enjoying the day.
“Very much so, monsieur,” Ava cooed, gazing up at him. “Of course, the day would be complete if, say, a dashing man were to perhaps find us some lovely chilled bubbles to enjoy.”
“At your service, miss,” he smiled widely, holding out his hand. “The name’s Linky.”
“Ava,” she breathed, seductively, before turning her attention back to our poor excuse for a sandcastle.
“Who the hell is that?” Tessa asked from her horizontal position on the sun lounger.
“I have absolutely no idea,” Ava shrugged.
Linky returned with two bottles of Tattinger, an ice bucket, flutes and a handful of snacks.
“Why only three flutes Monsieur Linky?” Ava asked, cocking her head.
“My love for the bottle cost me two marriages and damn, those dee vor sis are expensive,” he chortled, in an accent I couldn’t quite place.
“Understood,” Ava stated, plunging her hand in between her ample bosom, from which she pulled a stack of notes. She blew on a one-hundred-dollar bill, before holding it out to Linky. “A small token of my appreciation.”
“No need,” he smiled, waving his hands dismissively. “The pleasure is all mine.”
For the next hour or so, Linky and Ava had Tess and I in stitches with their back and forth banter, chuckling as though they’d known each other forever. Then, all of a sudden, Linky stood up and said he had to go. He kissed Ava’s hand. “I hope to see you again,” he said, before making his way up the hill, towards the hotel.
On the ferry back, Ava said she suspected Linky might be one of the hotel owners and asked if Tessa and I would like to join her in her room for dinner. I was seriously in the mood for a quiet night in my room but didn’t have the heart to say so.
“I’d like you both to dress for the occasion.”
“What’s the occasion?” Tessa asked.
“Dahling, please,” Ava sighed, looking disappointed. “I didn’t get a furry heart for Easter, you know!”
I tried not to laugh as Tessa, clearly oblivious, continued. “I don’t have anything special to wear.”
Ava gave me a questioning look.
“This is it,” I said, motioning to my shorts and casual top.
“Then you must both come to my room.”
Hanging in the wardrobe in Ava’s room, were at least half a dozen dresses.
“Take whatever you desire my sweet girls, and I won’t say no to a very generously poured g and t.”
Tessa took the bait as I thumbed my way through the beautiful dresses (none of which I suspected would fit Ava!) settling on a green silk, flowy number.
“Your turn,” I said, moving aside for Tessa, who promptly found a red silk sheath.
“You’ll find an assortment of accessories in the drawer,” Ava smiled.
Dinner was planned for eight and Tessa and I arranged to meet beforehand to pick up some goodies. I was waiting for her in the lobby, swathed in the green dress, when the new crew arrived. I quickly scanned the weary faces and smiled when I spotted Graham.
“Well, well, well,” he said in greeting. “What’s the occasion?”
“One of the pursers.”
“Lucky guy,” he whistled.
“Actually, it’s a woman,”
He shook his head. “You’re a real mysterious one.”
Just then, Tessa appeared, and, as I suspected, she looked stunning in the red dress.
“I’ll be right back,” she mouthed.
Graham looked at me in bewilderment.
“It’s a long story,” I offered, continuing with our small talk, before Tessa returned with her friend Elliott, from the newly arrived crew.
“You two ought to join us later in Ava’s room. Come by around, say, ten ish,”
she said, glancing at me for approval. “Trust me dahling,” she laughed. “Ava will love it.”
On our way to the gift shop, our heels clip clopping on the tile floor, Tessa grinned. “Graham’s not too shabby. What’s the deal?”
“It started as a trip fling that, incidentally, began right here, in this hotel.”
“Ava will devour them,” she laughed. “They don’t stand a chance!”
In the gift shop, we bought chocolates, then spent an exorbinent amount on two bottles of Champagne from the hotel bar. However, when we handed Ava the gifts it was worth every penny to experience her reaction (after her “butler for the evening,” opened the door to us; yet another member of staff poached from the hotel!)
“My dahlings, my beautiful, sweet girls,” Ava gushed, in between her high demands for, “More Champagne Ramos dahling, ahhhh, thank you. Can I keep you?”
Ava insisted that the man who delivered the room service dinner join us for, “a lively glass of bubbles.” He said he couldn’t, but Ava somehow managed to convince him he absolutely could!
Classical music was playing on the radio, and Ava threw the balcony doors open with such gusto, I thought she and her long pink chiffon dress might go hurtling outside!
“I hope you don’t mind Ava,” Tessa began sheepishly, “but we invited some friends for drinks later.”
Ava lowered her heavily mascaraed eyelashes suspiciously. “Here? Who are they?” she demanded. Tessa cleverly slipped the words, “Nice looking men,” into her sentence and all was well in Ava’s world again.
Right at ten pm on the dot, there was a knock on the door, which amused me no end because I knew Graham would be right on time. When I met him for the first time two years ago, his timing had amused me no end.
We were expecting only Graham and Elliott, but they showed up with their Cabin Service Director, Alan, a man I suspect to be as “mature,” as Ava. The three of them were dressed smartly in shirts and ties and they brought chocolates for each of us, as well as flowers for Ava, who was in her element and wasted no time flirting outrageously with each of them.
“How clever you are, amazing Alan,” Ava grinned, her fingers firmly pressing his shoulder as he found a radio station playing tinny sounding sixties music. “Now we’re really strolling down memory lane. Come along you sweet young things, dance with me!”
It’s now 0540, and Graham just walked me back to my room. Last I heard, he was going out with another crew member so I asked if he was still seeing her. Looking at me with his come-hither look, which I have to say is not entirely unappealing, he shook his head and uttered, “It ended very badly,” but I still didn’t invite him in.