Key West Harbor, Key West, Florida, October 5, 2013—Saturday Afternoon
The black Lincoln stretch limousine pulled up beside the Riva tender at the dock in Key West Harbor. Ivorie James waited patiently on the wharf for her boss, Andrew Blessingame, to exit the car. Her heart was beating hard in her chest, and the anxiety he always elicited in her was palpable. She hoped it didn’t show in her demeanor.
As his second administrative assistant, and only having worked for him for a year, she was very nervous about this trip. She had arrived at the Golden Dolphin yesterday to set up their mobile office in the twin cabin adjoining her quarters. She had diligently attended to every detail and hoped she had anticipated his every need. She had hooked up the fax, scanner, copy machine, and printers, as well as two computers with wireless Internet access. Since much of the direct contact she had had with him during the past year had not been very pleasant, she had been surprised to be the one picked to accompany Mr. Blessingame on this three-week cruise. She was not his senior assistant and didn’t see why she should have the dubious honor. Ms. Martha Winthrop, the very efficient and austere senior assistant, had said she was needed at corporate headquarters and could not be spared to take the trip.
The Golden Dolphin was at anchor in deep water out in the harbor. The ninety-two meter super yacht had a pristine white superstructure with a dark-blue hull. The gleaming three-hundred-footer with its helicopter resting on the upper aft deck and two tenders occupying the tender garages at the water line was a stunning sight. After signing the confidentiality agreement, which had given her pause for thought, she had been given a tour of the five decks, which besides suites and cabins also contained various public dining and entertainment rooms, a spa, gym, hot tub, pool, and other luxurious amenities.
The chief steward and purser, Casey Campbell, had shown Ivorie through the large Master Suite that Mr. Blessingame would occupy, as well as the two adjoining twin cabins one deck down that would be her quarters and office. Casey had told her that the ship could accommodate thirty-six passengers and a crew of twenty-one and had shown her through some of the fifteen large, luxuriously appointed guest suites that were still unoccupied. As the first passenger to board, although she felt she was really more of an employee than a guest, she had dined with the crew in their dining and recreation room. It had been fun, and she’d enjoyed the playful interaction between the crew members. They were always ready with a smile or a joke. She thought it was kind of them to include her since she was at loose ends.
Now Ivorie would have to ride out to the Golden Dolphin with Mr. Blessingame on the ten-meter Riva. Next to the enormous yacht, the tender looked very small. There was no way to avoid being close to Mr. Blessingame, and Mr. Blessingame made her very nervous. She hoped she didn’t stutter and stumble all over herself. Although she had graduated near the top of her class four years ago with a business degree from Columbia University, the tough economic environment and the rigors of this job had tested her self-confidence. She was somewhat unsure of her office skills and a bit timid. She had really just wanted to get her foot in the door at Blessingame Holdings with an eye to something more challenging in the future. She had been a business major after all. Little did she know how challenging working for Drew Blessingame would be. Ivorie did her best to camouflage her insecurities with tailored business suits and sensible pumps. She wore her long, wavy blonde hair tamed into a competent bun at the nape of her neck. She walked toward the limousine with trepidation in her steps just as the chauffeur opened the door to the rear passenger compartment.
Andrew Blessingame, Drew to his few friends, got out and turned to the chauffeur. “Martino, please load my luggage onto the tender.” He turned to Ivorie and said, “Good afternoon, Ms. James. I assume our office is in order on board and everything is ready for our departure.” Of course, he would just naturally assume that everything was as he expected it to be. Men like Andrew Blessingame didn’t ask.
“Yes, sir.” Ivorie had a little hitch in her voice. She certainly hoped all was in readiness. Mr. Blessingame was not known for his patience with incompetent staff, and she had felt the rough side of his tongue on more than one occasion. This was the first time she had seen him out of a three-piece suit except once when he was in his office with his sleeves rolled up his muscular forearms. Oh, geez, scratch that thought.
He looked relaxed and gorgeous in Dockers with a polo shirt stretched across his broad chest, the wind blowing his wavy, light-brown hair across his forehead. He also looked sexy as sin, but she had better not think about that either. She had a hard enough time keeping her composure in his presence without remembering some of the fantasies she had entertained about him over the last year. Well, they’re my fantasies after all…my private thoughts not to be shared. She couldn’t see the expression in his eyes through the lenses of the dark sunglasses he wore, but his face was not creased in a smile. Well, she hadn’t seen many smiles on his face up to this point. Why should she hope for one now? Ah, hope springs eternal…. But this promises to be a very, very long three weeks.