Below Deck Ch. 01

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***Please note: This story is a slow-build so if that’s your jam, read on.

If, however, you’re looking for a story that “gets to it” extremely quickly — this is not it.

Thanks for reading. Any and all feedback is appreciated***

Chapter One

My eyes instinctively squint as I step out into the sun. I continue to walk a few steps away from the airport entrance and pull off to the right, fumbling for the sunglasses in my handbag. So glad to be off that plane, I thought to myself. For eight hours, I had been squished next to a complete stranger, crawled over said stranger to get to the bathroom, and drank a warm beverage out of a plastic cup with airplane ice that we’ve all heard horror stories about.

With my sunglasses on, I suddenly chide myself for complaining. Look where I AM. I’m in the South of France for the next three months. I’ve been all over the world for months at a time, in places most people only dream about. What are you complaining about?

I now feel my plane frustrations melt away with the promise of a new charter brightening my mood: I’m a Chief Steward on a superyacht. Granted, it’s not where I thought I would end up at thirty-three, given that my parents had painstakingly saved every spare penny since my birth and sent me to an expensive liberal arts college on the West Coast. But after a couple years post-graduation in copywriting, I just needed something more than the 9-5 office grind. Four years in and I was burnt out. It was all just so dry.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon that changed my life: I happened upon a TV show on yachties – or the crew that works on superyachts — and I felt in my gut that yachting was the life was for me. I mean – you’re getting paid to travel around the world and spend time in exotic locations on someone else’s dime. Sure, you actually have to work while you’re there. But days off still exist and while everyone else is hunkered down in 47° weather, I get to go snorkelling in the ocean and drink margaritas on the beach, in three-month stints.

So, I did what any rational girl of twenty-four would do — I quit my job, flew to Florida and took some stewardess courses at the yacht training academy while simultaneously earning my certifications. It wasn’t long after that I was hired for my first Third Stew job, and I’ve never looked back.

A surge of butterflies in my stomach yank me out of my reminiscence as I continue walking down the sidewalk — the butterflies that manifest out of nowhere, without fail, every three months as I joined yet another new boat.

That’s the one downside of being a yachtie, I tell myself in an attempt to calm my nerves. After a charter season, which lasts around three months on average, the crew scatters and goes on to whichever boat they’re needed next, most never to be seen again. That’s just the nature of this business.

On the flipside, spending so much time together in close quarters means that a mere four weeks on a yacht feels like four months in the real world; Crew members become like family very quickly. And, as one might expect, hookups between crew are rife on boats.

So … a very dysfunctional family; I chuckle out loud to no one. I feel a bit more at ease kızılay escort as I reflect on how many friendships I’ve made with each new boat.

Being gay, it’s been rare that I’ve come across another lesbian crew member on the boats that I’ve worked on, which is okay by me — I’m not really the hookup type of girl, anyway. I attribute this reticence to my heritage; My parents immigrated to the United States from Germany after university, and I certainly inherited the stereotypical ‘German reserve’. I also inherited my very German name — Lucca — which has the unfortunate coincidence of being generally known as a boy’s name here in the U.S.

On the other hand, they did give me my crisp blue eyes as well as natural blonde hair — a shade that most women often have to professionally source in order to sport.

Reflecting briefly on my hair reminds me of how suffocating it now feels in this 92° heat. I stop again, balancing my handbag on top of my suitcase and remove the hairband from my wrist, securing my hair into a high ponytail. The breeze, although warm, feels cooling on the back of my neck that was covered moments before.

I continue walking once again until I finally reach the taxi line. It’s not long before the sensation of air conditioning is circulating around me in the cab, and I sit back and breathe a sigh of relief as I close my eyes.

The next time I open them, large figures begin appearing in the corner of my eye from the left-hand window. I turn my head and, sure enough, there’s a line of superyachts dotting the shoreline. I had been hoping for a longer rest in the cab, but as the driver pulls up to the dock, I have no choice but to thank him and get out.

Met once again with a blanket of heat, I’m suddenly thankful that I opted for a sundress even though it was only two hours before that I was cursing my choice in attire as I sat freezing on the plane. Not that it matters, I tell myself. In ten minutes, you’ll be back in the Steward uniform for almost every waking second for the next three months.

I approach the boat and the name looms, its red letters gleaming against its brilliant white background. The Olympia. My home for the foreseeable future.

I approach the passerelle — the gangway of sorts that allows entrance onto the yacht from the dock — remove my shoes, as is customary, and head onboard.

“Hello!” I beckon as I enter the main salon. Given that the crew is flying in from all over the world, it’s typical for everyone to arrive at various times throughout arrival day so I never know which who I might come across first.

No answer.

I leave my luggage and go searching for some signs of life. I venture down into the crew mess, where at all hours of the day it’s common to see someone from the deck team eating, given the fact that they’re almost always young guys with huge muscles and equally huge appetites.

No one.

I continue down the hallway and pop my head into each crew cabin as I pass. All of the beds are still perfectly made, not yet sullied with anyone’s belongings haphazardly strewn about.

I take this opportunity to claim the largest cabin as my own. As the Chief Stew – which kolej escort is head of the interior – this is to be expected and having spent a couple years working my way up to this position, I don’t give a second thought to it. Having left my luggage upstairs, I mark my newfound territory by placing my cellphone on the pillow of the twin bed in cabin number four.

Satisfied, I retrace my steps and ascend the staircase to the Bridge — or Wheelhouse — where I know that at least the captain must certainly be.

I knock. I hear a faint “Come in!” from somewhere on the other side of the door, so I open it. I glance around but to my surprise, the room is empty.

I step just inside the doorway and say seemingly to no one, “Hello, Sir. I’m the new Chief Stew: I’ve just arrived. My name is Lucca…”

I stand there awkwardly for a moment before a tall brunette with hair pinned into a tight bun pops out of the Bridge’s bathroom from the far right. Her black blouse tank top hugs her slender frame as it drapes over a pair of tight white jeans, which throws me off.

“Oh, sorry. I was just looking for the captain,” I say apologetically.

“I am the captain,” she replies confidently as she strides over to me.

I just stand there in awe as she flashes me a warm smile. I notice a dimple on her right cheek that suddenly appears, but there’s not a matching one on the left.

I find myself transfixed by it. It’s just so … adorable. My eyes continue gazing into the indent on her olive-skinned cheek and, after far too long a moment, I snap back into reality.

“Oh … I … Oh … you … you’re not in uniform. I would have recognized you, otherwise. I’m so sorry,” I stammer, embarrassed by my implied sexism at the assumption that a woman couldn’t be a captain.

Her captivating smile is back. “I try to stay out of it for as long as possible. It’s going to become our second skin soon enough, eh?” She jests. I now hear what sounds to be a Canadian accent.

“This is true,” I respond unimaginatively, already feeling completely bewitched by her in the mere eight seconds she’s been standing before me.

We remain in place for another few moments. She’s looking back at me intensely, and I can’t tell whether she’s waiting for me to say something more or whether she truly just wants to study me.

Whatever the reason – there’s only one thought clouding my brain at this moment: My god, is this woman beautiful. Her mesmerizing brown eyes are only enhanced by the thick yet perfectly manicured brows above them. I find myself longing for time to slow so that I might stare into them longer.

Snap out of it, Lucca. You’re lost in this woman’s eyes and you don’t even know her name. OH. And she’s your c-a-p-t-a-i-n. Snap out snap out snap out; I chant to myself as I force a mental image of snapping fingers.

As if reading my mind, she flashes the smile I’ve already come to yearn for and offers “I’m Captain Kathryn,” while simultaneously outstretching her hand.

“I’m Lucca. Lucca Gierke. So nice to meet you,” I respond as I take her hand in mine.

So soft. So warm … and not in that sweaty way. Why is this woman so perfect?

“I’m maltepe escort excited to meet you as well, Lucca. Come. Let’s have a sit at the table for a few minutes and get to know one another,” Kathryn gestures to the high table on our right.

I walk around the table and grab a seat as she lowers herself directly across from me.

Kathryn speaks again. “So … let’s see what we’ve got here.” She picks up the top piece of paper that’s lying on a small stack and looks it over.

“It says here you’ve been in the yacht world for six years now?” Her eyes raise from the CV in front of her to meet mine.

“Yes — six years total, the last two of which I’ve been a Chief Stew,” I reply confidently.

She lowers them again. “I see. And it says that you speak fluent German? I’m not noticing an accent.”

“Well, my parents are German, but I was born in the States,” I explain.

“That’s too bad,” she responds, as a smile creeps across her face. “An accent would be cute on you.”

I feel my cheeks instantly redden. It’s not what you think you heard. She’s just being friendly.

Out of nowhere, I hear myself reply with “But you have one. Are you from Canada?”

“You have a good ear. Nova Scotia. Nothing but boats out that way — I’ve been on them all my life,” she trails off.

“It suits you.”

“The accent or the boat?” she quips with a half-smile.

“Both,” I boldly answer, returning a cheeky smile.

Kathryn lets out a genuine laugh before once again glancing down at the CV. She doesn’t say anything for another few seconds before setting it back down and a new look of professionalism washes over her face.

“Well, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how closely the Chief Stew and the Captain work together. You’ll be my eyes and ears on the interior. Service is a huge aspect of any superyacht and charter guests will expect nothing less than seven-star service from you and your Stews.”

She continued, “As you know by now, your role is mainly guest-facing. You’ll be ensuring that they have everything they require at all times in addition to overseeing both the Second Stew and the Third Stew — and that they’re completing their duties to the highest standard.”

Kathryn hadn’t told me anything I didn’t already know. She was referring to the two other Stews on the boat – The Third Stew, regarded as the lowest position, whose job consisted of the most menial tasks such as cleaning cabins and doing laundry — and the Second Stew, my righthand go-between, who aided me in service but also aided Third Stew with cleaning. I, as the Chief Stew, managed both of them as well as was ultimately responsible for the successes and failures on the interior.

“That all sounds good, and nothing I haven’t heard before,” I nod seriously.

“Excellent. I think we’ll have a good season. I can feel it,” Kathryn states matter of factly and moves around the table. I follow her lead as she offers her tanned hand to me once again.

I take it, and we linger for a moment. This time, she doesn’t smile but I notice her eyes involuntarily move down to my lips before moving back up to meet mine again, and it makes my catch my breath.

Without warning, she lets go and walks towards the helm. With her back turned, she adds over her shoulder “Let everyone know to meet in the main salon at 7pm for a crew meeting,” and, before I can respond, she picks up the control radio and I hear “Desert Mist, Desert Mist, this is The Olympia. Come in on channel 16…”

Chapter 2 coming …

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