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Emily Marshall was in the bathroom. No, not the bathroom, the head. On a boat the tiny bathroom was called the head.
And as long as you're correcting yourself, Emily thought as she leaned closer to the mirror to reapply her lipstick, this floating castle with sails can't really be called a boat.
Boats were unassuming, functional little things you sat in and used oars to row. Or they were things with sails attached that gave you calluses on your hands, sunburn on your face and a healthy lungful of fresh ocean air. Sometimes they took you from point A to point B, but mostly from point A to nowhere, and back again.
Despite the fact that there was, indeed, no destination for this evening's sail, there was nothing unassuming about the sailing vessel Emily was standing on. True, the Home Free wasn't large enough to be called a ship, but somehow the word boat didn't fit, either.
Yacht, thought Emily as she adjusted the straps of her new black party dress. Alexander Delmore's boat really had to be called a yacht. She looked at herself critically in the mirror. She'd picked up this dress in a fancy department store's bargain basement. Even marked down the way it had been, it had put her out nearly half of one of her weekly paychecks. Spending that much money was a big deal to her. It meant she'd have to watch her grocery money for the next few weeks, and really try to keep her expenses down. But to real estate tycoon Alexander Delmore, the amount she'd spent on the dress would have been laughably small. When Alex took her out to dinner, he spent that much on one bottle of wine.
Of course, he made significantly more money wheeling and dealing in real estate than she made as a high school English teacher. That was just one of the simple facts of life. And it was typical of Emily to have fallen in love with a job in a city school system that couldn't afford to pay a decent salary. Sure, she could have applied for a job in a more affluent district. Or she could have stuck to her original college major and gone into business or gotten a job working with computers. It was her own fault that she never seemed to have enough money.
Emily made a face at herself in the mirror. But even with her tongue sticking out, she still looked sophisticated, thanks to the elegant lines of the dress.
Earlier this evening, Alex had asked her out again, for next Tuesday night. He wanted to take her to a party at a local country club. If she spent the other half of her paycheck on yet another expensive dress, she'd be eating pasta or tomato soup until the end of the month.
Emily didn't like eating pasta day in and day out. She liked lobster. And veal. And expensive cuts of filet mignon. She liked asparagus, regardless of the season. She liked watermelon in the winter, and imported chocolate.
She liked houses like Alex's, houses that overlooked the clear blue water of the Gulf of Mexico. She liked houses like Alex's, with six bedrooms and four and a half baths. She liked fluffy new towels that weren't fraying around the edges. She liked cleaning ladies and dinners out. She liked big floating weekend parties on Alex's yacht-parties like this one that started early in the afternoon on Saturday and didn't end until late Sunday night. She liked big-screen stereo TVs and state-of-the-art compact disc players.
She liked the thought of having enough money that she'd never have to worry about the phone bill or the electric payment. She liked the idea of vacations and cruises and trips to Europe.
She also liked Alexander Delmore.
But she didn't love him. It was clear that he was interested in her. He had as much as told her that he was looking to settle down, to start a family. He was one of Florida's most eligible bachelors, and Emily was flattered that he found her attractive.
But she didn't love him.
Her neighbor, Carly Wilson, said so what if you don't love him? Love was overrated. A good strong case of like could outlast the most passionate love affair, particularly if it was combined with an enormous bank account. How often does real love come along, anyway? Carly had asked. According to Emily's neighbor, the answer was usually never.
Emily stared at herself in the mirror, searching the familiar blue of her own eyes. She was amazed that she could be wearing this gorgeous, expensive dress that made her look like a million dollars, and be standing here, in the bathroom-head-of millionaire Alexander Delmore's luxurious yacht, thinking about.. James Keegan.
After seven years, you'd think she'd be over the man. And she was over him, Emily told herself firmly. Her affair with black-hearted Jim Keegan was dead and buried, deep in the past. Jeez, it had been over almost before it even began.
So what the heck was she doing thinking about him?