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Sink Or Swim - The Calm Before The Storm

Sophia de la Cerda

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~ RMS Titanic, April 14, 1912 ~


The fine porcelain teacup was warm in Sophia's hands, but she shivered as she looked out of the window closest to her table in the Café Parisien. The petite blonde was not fond of water in general, but the chunks of ice floating on the churning waves reminded her of how cold it was outside. She had spent most of her time during the past four days indoors socializing with friends old and new. She had thought she was going to be terrified because of her fear of water, but the Titanic was more like a luxury hotel than a boat and it was easy to forget she was surrounded by the ocean.


This was supposed to her honeymoon, but she had seen little of her new husband since they had boarded the ship. She suspected that he had wanted to go to New York after their wedding because there were businesses he wished to invest in. Sophia had hoped to honeymoon in Paris, but her husband had assured her that she could experience a little bit of Paris on the Titanic.


And it was true. Many of the dining rooms and lounges were decorated in a Parisian style. This little café was her favorite and she had come here every afternoon for tea and a plate of escargot. In truth, the petite blonde was lonely. Even when she conversed with friends, she felt alone. Sophia had expected more from her marriage, even though it had been an arranged affair. Yet besides for their wedding night, Esteban had barely said two words to her and she had no idea how he spent his time.


The escargot arrived, and after thanking the waiter, she plucked one juicy morsel out of its shell with a tiny fork, dipped it in melted butter, and popped it in her mouth. Looking around her, she noticed a handsome gentleman enter the café. She had spoken to him a time or two since arriving on the ship, and she waved, hoping that wouldn't be too busy to join her.


{OOC: Open to everyone. Come play your characters aboard the Titanic.}

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dressed in his tuxedo and bow tie, hair greased back, and pipe cradled in one hand, he paused a the entrance - looking for anyone of a number from his clique. Instead the new entrant to society waived to him; the blond bombshell recently married into the periphery of his own circle. His friend the Baron, who had been notably absent from most of the shipboard fetes. What was the story with that, George wondered, before with a smile he sauntered to her table.


"Good evening my dear, you look utterly ravishing..." The Earl had eyes dark as night, eyes that now roved over her porcelain pale cleavage admiring the shocking display of wealth about her neck. Toledo always had had good taste, what a dreadful shame that he was straight as a dye.


Touching the back of chair next to Sophia he asked "... may I?"

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As the dashing Lord Chichester approached her, Sophia feared that her casual invitation had been too forward … or perhaps she hoped that it was. In truth, she was starved for male companionship, which had been plentiful before her betrothal. Gentlemen had surrounded her constantly, trying to win her favor, which had been no surprise considering her father's vast fortune. Now she wondered if her wealth was what Esteban had married her for. He certainly didn't seem to care much for her.


The young Baroness blushed as his dark eyes roamed over her. She was wearing a lavender pleated Delphos gown that had been designed for her by Mariano Fortuny as part of her trousseau. It was adorned with an elaborately embroidered band that sat just below her breasts, pushing them up a bit. A single row of beads ran along each side seam, which was characteristic of the style the Venetian designer was known for.


A beautiful but heavy layered diamond and pearl necklace encircled her neck, the large diamond at the end resting against her ample cleavage. Diamonds also dripped from her ears and sparkled in her flaxen curls, which had been arranged in a fashionable style. “Why thank you, my lord,” she replied with a shy but flirty smile.


“Please do.” A five-carat diamond wedding ring glittered on the ring finger of her left hand, weighing it down a bit as she motioned for him to sit down. A waiter immediately appeared to take his order. “You should try the escargot,” Sophia suggested. “It is delicious.”


Her gaze flickered back to the window. “It looks quite dreadful out there. I doubt there will be many people strolling outside today.”

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With a measure of reluctance George dragged his atention away from her, and with deft flick of coat-tails settled himself to a seat. Inwardly he scolded Toledo for being such a damn fool. "I must admit there is far more appeal to indoors this eve..." his gaze returned to her, plainly enough he referenced herself in his statement of fact. Though perhaps the newly wed was unaware of the bait she presented to potential predators. Breasts like those, fairly quivering neath the satin.


That diamond ring was positively obscene. How Toledo had managed to come by it was a mystery to George, the smalltime Baron had really gone all-out. Likely enough there was a money lender out there who now had him by the balls. Why did he not come to me? George was filthy rich.


"I have never been so fond of the wrestle of escargot upon my tongue, doing battle with one's food... hmm.. well I should prefer to exert oral efforts elsewhere." George admitted with a raise of eyebrow, and then made brief gesture to the menu as an attentive waiter took his order. He was a creature of habit in so many ways, and chose the peppered steak upon cauli puree. His ordering was done within the blink of an eye, before he returned to the more absorbing distraction; that of the abandoned pretty.


"I was considering either baccarat or the ballroom after." George's voice was a pleasant low tone, while his eyes fascinated upon her.

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Sophia admired his fine figure as he sat down beside her. He was handsome, elegant, and exceedingly sophisticated. She felt privileged that he had agreed to join her and his compliment infused her body with exquisite sensations, sensations she had not felt since had realized that Esteban didn't desire her as she had hoped he would.


But Lord Chichester seemed to drink in the sight of her with those dark mesmerizing eyes, and she could not help herself from responding in kind. “My thoughts exactly.” Her voice was lilting, her smile mischievous, and her eyes were sparkling playfully. There was no harm in a little teasing. She might be married, but she certainly wasn't dead, and he was so very charming.


Sophia laughed at his description of fighting with his food, yet when he spoke of exerting his oral efforts elsewhere, a hot little thrill meandered down her spine. In the racy novel she was currently reading, the hero had done some intriguing things to his lover with his tongue. Did people really do that sort of thing? She had only had sex once … on her wedding night … and it was over nearly before it began. How she longed to experience the kind of pleasure she had read about in books!


“I adore escargot.” Her eyes still locked on his, she plucked a tasty morsel out of its shell and drew it between her lips, closing her eyes and savoring the taste with obvious pleasure. “I don't have to fight with it at all. Once I slide it into my mouth, it slips so delightfully down my throat.” Still innocent in many ways, Sophia was unaware of the double entrendre in her words.


“Bring my entree when you bring his,” she instructed the waiter. She had ordered coq au vin as her main course. Sophia took a delicate sip of wine as he spoke of his plans for the rest of the evening. “I think I should like to dance tonight,” she confessed, smiling coquettishly over the rim of her glass. “I have never played baccarat. Is it difficult to learn?”

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They made a handsome pair, Sofia's gleaming blond locks cut a great contrast to George's dark. Many eyes in the room stole envious peeks their way, and rightly so, for this pair lived life at it's very highest.


George smirked at the return of flattery, the sentiments expressed being mutual. A certain celebration of that fact seemed appropriate. "Martini's are in order, yes?" And with a snap of fingers in the air a waiter came running.


She gave a little laugh, and restated her adoration of escargot - but by the way her cheeks had pinked the Earl knew she was thinking about his insinuation. "And I dare say the Escargot adore you...” George's eyes sparkled.


A man of the world, carefree at that, George savored a broad range of pleasures. Perhaps he'd yet add his friends wife into the mix, the scandalous wickedness of it held it's own appeal, quite aside from the thrill of her encouragement. He watched her painted lips as the buttered morsel slid between, all accompanied with a most hedonistic joy that seemed to shimmer her entire being.


George licked his own lips. "Come now Baroness, you make me envious." his eyes flared of her description. The Earl shifted slightly in his chair.


“Then I shall take you dancing, the night would not be complete without a rumba.” He declared, "besides I would rather see you giddy and breathless, than practicing your poker face. The display of emotion upon your features is utterly exquisite."

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Tea Time. Yet again.


Having spent the moring writing her letters than a leisurely stroll about the deck that had been followed by a change of dress for Luncheon she was once again dressed in a new gown that was making is first 'viewing' that afternoon.


It had caught her eye the moment she had seen it modeled and she was quick to order. A sure guarantee that no one else would have it.


It was a Tunic-layered gray gown; bodice neckline of off-white embroidered lace and then gold lace, both front and back bodice decorated with layers of gold, silver and pearl beads and gold sequins also drape just below the bustline, a band of net with strands of beads with beaded flowers flow from a center panel to the bodice back, this center panel extends down the center of the gown both in front and back.


Set-in short sleeves are of iridescent gray/pink chiffon (which also is in pleats over the shoulders of the gown) with the ends of sleeves decorated with the same bead work as the bodice.


An overskirt of iridescent gray/pink chiffon is slightly gathered at the waist and extends down almost to the bottom of the skirt to "fold-up" to show watered/moire gray silk on either side of center decorated panel and is held in place by 3 large buttons made of strands of silver beads coiled to form small "hay-stacks"; the underskirt of gray watered/moire silk extends to the floor in the front and in the back the folded edged of the overskirt forms a train.


Her shoes were grey leather with a heel of two and a half inches which added some needed height. Her hair black hair was swept up into a Grecian Style with its center part and waved and a beaded bandeau completed the look.


A double strand of creamy pinkish white pearls about her neck with a matching set at ears and on her right wrist.


She paused at the entrance to exchange greetings with several couples she knew with a promise to meet again later that night. Her blue eyes scanned the occupants and widened just a fraction as she caught sight of Lady Toledo with Chichester - interesting pairing - and as was common the World over she noted what the Baroness wore with interest. She was as usual well dressed yet the display of jewelry was a bit showy for an Afternoon Tea.


Davina was show at once to the table that was reserved for her and after a whispered few words the other set of plate was not removed.


Just who was she waiting for?

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Sophia was unaware of the glances thrown their way; she was completely entranced by her unexpected companion and the delectable way he made her feel. “A martini would be divine,” she replied. “And a delight to be shared in such fascinating company.”


She shrugged nonchalantly when he professed that the escargot must adore her. Her ice-blue eyes met his, steadily holding his gaze. “I suppose they do if they liked being sucked into my mouth.” Her innuendo was not entirely innocent this time. She remembered what the characters had done in that racy romantic novel. Sophia could hardly believe the boldness of her own words.


I shouldn't be saying such things to him … and I certainly shouldn't contemplate doing them. But she was. And why not? Esteban neglected her. She had hardly seen him since they had boarded the ship and wasn't even certain if he returned to their stateroom in the evenings. He was gone when she retired and gone when she awakened.


And he didn't make her feel wanted the way Lord Chichester did. Sophia knew she was playing a dangerous game but danger excited her and the dashing Earl tantalized her in a way that she could not explain. Wherever this evening led, she knew she would not regret it.


When she opened her eyes after swallowing the escargot, she noticed the way he licked his lips and shifted in his chair. Do I affect him the way he affects me? “Envious?” She pried another morsel from its shell with her fork and set it on her plate, Picking it up with her fingers, she leaned toward him, holding it up to his lips. “Then perhaps you should try one, my lord. You might discover a new passion.”


Her body hummed with pleasure when he promised to take her dancing. So he does wish to spend the rest of the evening with me. “And a tango,” she agreed. Oh how she longed to be held close in his arms as they twirled around the floor together. He had already rendered her breathless and they hadn't even had their main course. “And your words are absolutely enchanting.”


Her eyes strayed toward the door and she noticed Mistress Wellsley enter the café and sit down at a table for two. Sophia scrutinized the other lady's clothing and found it flawless. They were both considered fashionable dressers, but were not competitive with each other. They each had a style all their own.


“Look, there's Mistress Wellsley,” she said, just as the martinis arrived. “I wonder who she is planning to meet tonight.” The young Baroness hoped Lord Chichester didn't ask her to join them. She wanted the enticing Earl all to herself tonight.

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It was the glints to eyes, the tilt of head, the pressed lips and a dozen other signals sent this way and that; shouted of flirtation. "Two Martini's -with olives." George instructed the waiter, his attention swinging back to Sophia, "I cannot bear it when they garnish with citrus."


Baroness..." George's voice was deep and approving as she scolded her forwardness. "You surprise me with this revelation, that you are such a gourmand.. with such a marvelous way with words, I would not hesitate to encourage you on into gluttony. Something a little larger... perhaps?" he was quickly becoming aroused. George's eyes were dilated with a vision of his hands tangled in her hair as he encouraged her upon his shaft. Praise be hallelujah to the smutty books the pretty lady had read.


Her dainty hand was extended to him, George's eye met hers as she made the offering - though he'd already said he was not partial to snails there was no way he was going to refuse now. Mouth opened, his tongue darting out to receive it... done slowly with deliberation, and a nasal sound of pleasure of the act. Yet before she could take her hand away he had clasp of her wrist, with a swallow he then licked off her fingertips... "


It was a scandalous scene. Across the way the a reporter from the Tribune was taking notes, while his table-mate was furiously trying to open a packet of kodak film.


"Mmm... I would have to say it is an acquired taste." there was a knowing smirk on his lips. And then the martinis were arriving, the steamy moment between then broken. With an sudden display of proper-ness, the Earl was all angular and aloof as he took both glasses from the tray then extended one to Sophia. "To a night of devouring delights." he raised a toast.


It was only Sophia's motion towards the other, that had George spot Davina's arrival. Ah. There was a history there. The Bachelor had once thought to propose to her, but she had loftier ideas. "Pfft, perhaps a Maharajah?" George laughed a bark-like laugh. A perceptive woman might read bitterness in his tone.

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“A martini isn't a martini without an olive … a delectable little treasure that just begs to be savored.” Sophia was becoming bolder by the moment. There was something about him that called to her, that drew her to him like a moth to a flame. His nearness was intoxicating and the way he gazed at her was like a visual caress.


“There are many things you don't know about me,” she informed him with a mysterious but playful smile. “Escargot is just one of my cravings. I do sometimes fancy something larger. Do you have anything particular in mind?” She knew exactly what he was talking about and she could feel a tingling in her most private of places. Oh, to feel him thrusting deep inside her, to watch the myriad emotions play across his face as he was consumed by passion, to hear his groans of ecstasy.


Or at least that was what happened in her novels. Her only sexual ecounter had not lived up to her expectations and she had received nothing from it but pain. Sophia imagined that Lord Chichester was a fantastic and creative lover and would be considerate of her own needs as well as his own. She did wish to know what it was like to experience the most euphoric and intimate of pleasures.


Those soulful dark eyes locked on hers as his tongue darted out to take the tasty morsel from her fingers. Even if she had wanted to, she couldn't have looked away, but she did gasp softly when he grasped her wrist and slowly licked the melted butter from her fingertips, his tongue warm and wet and oh so enticing. Her young body trembled in utter bliss and a white hot thrill shimmered deliciously down her spine.


A soft moan escaped her lips and she returned his knowing smirk with a saucy grin when he finally released her hand. “And does one small taste make you long for more?”


Sophia tried to imitate his sophisticated nonchalance when the martinis arrived, but her ice-blue eyes still smouldered with desire. The young Baroness was not as adept at concealing her emotions as he was.


She did not miss the bitterness in his voice when he surmised that Mistress Wellsley might be waiting for a Maharajah. Had he once fancied her but she had not returned his affections? She threw a brief glance over to the well-dressed lady. If you rejected him, you're a fool, she thought.


“I suppose we shall find out soon enough.” Dismissing the other woman from her mind, Sophia took the glass Lord Chichester offered her, her fingers softly brushing over his as if by accident. When he made a toast, she raised the glass and took a sip, then ran her tongue sensuously around the rim. “And to pleasures as yet undiscovered,” she added.

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Fully aware that she had drawn interest - not only from Sophia and George but the Journalists' that were also present - Davina's composure never wavered. She had changed quite a bit and was now very secure in her own skin.


Yet the idea of George trying to hook up with Toledo's Wife caused her mouth to curl up just a tiny bit at the corners as she looked towards them. By the way of things he just might have a Win and as the Baron had not been seen all that much it figured that she might welcome the idea of a Lover.


Her blue eyes slid over George's figure and features scrutinizing the man she had thought she had known so well. If he were to turn his own gaze their eyes might meet but she was not over-caring of it that much. Not anymore. Her own Love Life had progressed with amazing speed and while some were no longer affectionate they remained amenable.


She smiled as *Col Archibald Gracie IV came to her table and pressed a kiss to her outstretched hand. She had found him pleasant enough company - he was known as a tireless raconteur of stories mainly about the American Civil War of which the American *Isidor Strauss also seemed to share.


The Colonel also made it his business to chaperone many of the 'unaccompanied' Married Ladies in First Class of which four in particular seemed to find his Company enthralling!


A waiter returned with her tea and set about pouring which left her to continue to observe while she waited for her guest.


The familiar touch of a hand to her shoulder that lingered slightly made her smile as she looked up to greet him. He was tall with wide shoulders that filled out the dark grey double breasted jacket he wore to perfection and his long legs in matching trousers fitted snugly to his frame. A plain white shirt with cuffs attached worn beneath and his collar was folded. His cravat was a 'once-over', shoes of calf that buttoned. At his wrists he wore gold cuff links and a pearl and diamond cravat pin.


Hair as black as hers, hazel colored eyes that sparked with intelligence and amusement, an aquiline nose more 'Roman' in look, and a mouth made for kissing. He was an impressive man to look at no doubts about that.


"Sam." She quietly said his name as he took the seat opposite her. "Your meeting was longer than you thought? I hope *Mr.Thayer and *Mr. Wick agree to this scheme of yours."


She watched as he drank his whisky half way down sitting almost too comfortably in the rather hard leather chair. He filled up the space with his presence and she knew without having to look that he was being sized up by the other women.


He did not have a fondness for this English habit of Tea which was why she had his drink waiting. His being an American had taken her some time to get used to - he was direct and often blunt to the point, intelligent and not taking excuses - and she simply Adored Him.


That he was as poised and wealthy as any man in First Class was evident.



*(ooc - actual passenger's names)

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The delightful charm of Sophia, the verbal to and froing of flirtation, the warm and salubrious sensations in his loins growing. Her company was uplifting, he was laughing, smiling.


But then Davina arrived, worse, that god-awful Colonel she'd taken up with. George knew the man, though they had never met. He had made inquires of Col. Gracie him as soon as he'd seen how Davina acted around him. Comparing him, weighing, measuring. It was like she' specifically chosen someone better than him in every way, to rub his face in his loss of her. Gracie the war hero, Gracie the 4th, Gracie the fucking gazillionaire, Gracie who trumped George at every turn. But it was the way Davina's face lit up around him that really cut him. She'd never smiled like that to see George. It was like a slap in the face, yet another kick in the balls, he hated her more than ever at that moment.


He'd been such a fool over Davina, surely she knew how he'd loved her, no he'd not said it, but surely it was obvious. Three times he'd proposed. Three times he'd been rejected.


"I am afraid I've lost my appetite." Chichester's mood had abruptly turned, anger shifted his jaw, and with a single swift motion he downed his drink. It was remarkable really, what a hold Davina still had over his emotions. He'd fight back, and nailing the blonde bombshell before him seemed a good way to do it.


"Lets get out of here." he stood and looked at Sophia with stern possessiveness, pulling her manfully to her feet, "Unless you want to me to have you up against the wall, which I'm not averse to, but the glare of the photographers flash might get in your eyes."


He paused, there was every chance Sophia would tell him to go to hell. The man seized a kiss, deep and passionate, his hand firm upon the small of her back and pulling her close as he proceeded to steal away her very breath.

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Lord Chichester's entire countenance seemed to darken when Colonel Gracie joined Mistress Wellsley. Sophia had spoken to him only once and she had not liked the way he had looked at her. He had not exactly leered at her, but his gaze had made her uneasy. In fact, she had avoided most of the Americans on the ship, even the women. They were loud and brash, and treated her as if she was some kind of novelty because she was a German noble. Apparently, they had never seen one before. Never mind that she had spent the last few years in England and spoke English with only a trace of an accent. She was still considered strange to them, and she thought they were equally odd.


She did envy their freedom. If she had been born an American, she would have been able to become an opera singer without causing a scandal. As it was, she was only able to sing at private events instead of on stage in an opera house, which was what she longed to do. Maybe if Esteban left her a widow, she would move to the United States and give up her title to achieve her dream.


Anger flashed in her charming companion's dark eyes and he tossed back his drink in one elegant swig. He does fancy Mistress Wellsley, or at least he did, she thought. He can't stand to see her with the Colonel. And she has ruined any chance I might have had with him tonight. There will be no rumbas or tangos, no kisses, no naughty romp between the sheets. He will leave me now, and will probably not speak to me again.


Yet he suggested that they leave together and when he stood, those mesmerizing eyes smoldered with possessiveness, and her breath caught in her throat. He still wanted her, and more urgently than before. She gasped as he pulled her forcefully to her feet, claiming that he would take her right in the café if she didn't go with him immediately. A splash of color blossomed across Sophia's porcelain cheeks. No gentleman … not even her husband … had spoken so plainly of his desire for her, and his words both frightened and excited her.


Before she could say anything at all, he pulled her roughly against him and captured her mouth with his. Sophia had never been kissed so passionately before and her lips instinctively parted so that his tongue could dance delightfully with hers. She could feel the hard angles of his body pressed up against her curves and she felt as if she was on fire, as if she was being consumed by pure ecstasy. His lips tasted heavenly and his scent was divine. Her eyes closed and she surrendered to the pleasure of his kiss.


It truly did take her breath away.


“So your appetite has returned,” she purred, opening her ice blue eyes. Picking up her martini, she drank it down and scooped out the olive with her fingers, sucking it slowly between her ruby lips. “Take me away from here, my lord, and make me yours.”

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She could not help herself. Their 'display' was too well played out for all to see. The way he had taken hold of the Baroness and then openly kissed another man's Wife caused to her stare.


"Why bother." Came the cooly detached voice across from her. "There is nothing that remains between the two of you - or so I was told - and what he does behind a Husband's back is none of your business Davina. But here ..." His hand reached across to her offering her his glass.


"You're pale enough already so drink up. I want your attention on ME sweetheart not Lover-Boy who should have better manners. And Thank God that Gracie fellow moved on! Can't stand that pretentious ass - pompous Brit. Its fortunate that I've meet more of your fellow Countrymen or I'd have thought them all like that one."


She'd handed him his glass and he signaled for a refill.


He was right. Absolutely Right. Her gaze turned away from the pair yet the feeling of nausea remained. How could he? He had known that she was there so did he purposely engineer that little display? Yet why was she so bothered?


They had parted badly having never been 'Lovers' in the true sense of that word yet she had imagined for years what being his Wife would be like. In the end Reality had been a sad awaking to her Dream.


"Yes. There is nothing at all anymore." She told him softly. "I was just ... surprised I guess at the boldness of them. She's so newly married while he ...."


Her eyes had drifted back to watch and she quickly turned back her cheeks flushed a pale pink as she meet his own gaze at being caught.


"Gracie is not a man I'd cultivate rest assured! He's got a finger in many pies as you know and he is half American. And he's Scottish not British Sam." She smiled across at him.


She'd be a complete fool to ever compare the two men. And besides she didn't really care anymore right?


She took another sip of her tea, made a face as it had gone cold, and asked him to get her a drink she really preferred. A crystal flute filled with bubbly Champagne appeared swiftly.


"I think a toast is called for." She said as she half raised her glass. "To your success at this Merger that will make you even Richer once its done! Well Done darling!"


They both drank of their respective beverages and her breath caught as he reached for her hand and brought it to his lips then turned it over to press his mouth to its palm his tongue reaching out to tickle. It was a mere few inches of space as she leaned across and gave him her lips instead. The opened at his touch her hand curling into the nape of his neck.


It did not last long but would leave little doubt in those watching of the nature of this relationship.


She felt no shame at this display. They resumed talking and were soon joined by several that stopped by to extend dinner invitations, a party later that night. They were a good looking couple and popular aboard the Ship. She was an Aristocrat and He, for an American was quite The Ticket.

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