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Lalannah smiled as she looked at the goofy handwriting on the note slid under her door during the night.
Wanna to the scavenger hunt with me? R
If she hurried, there was still time to catch Ruby in Portia before she headed to breakfast. The scavenger hunt packs had been dropped off the previous evening by the room steward, instructions as well as a map of the ship and a pen. Lalannah hadn’t felt like participating, but with Ruby by her side, it sounded kind of fun.
She changed into fresh clothes, going for a simple athleisure outfit that she knew would look good in photos. Adidas crop, the kind she’d spent so much of her life ogling women in, first Mel C, then Dana Fairbanks. Unlike either of them, she added a pair of workout leggings to complete her look. All of it would help fulfil her brand deal with Adidas, and it was practical.
Lalannah dashed down to deck 1 with her scavenger hunt packet in hand. She’d glanced at the instructions, if only to know where she’d be able to get photos during the day.
She bumped into Ruby as she came out of the spa.
“You’re here.” Ruby threw her a genuine smile, one that Lalannah returned happily.
“Yes! Do we have time for breakfast? I didn’t get a chance to grab anything yet.”
“Yeah, plenty of time. The packet said to meet at Ellen at nine.”
It had been a week since they met, and already they spent most mornings together. In fact, a morning Lalannah didn’t get to see Ruby was usually the start of a less than stellar day. Luckily, Ruby was a creature of habit and easy to find in the spa most mornings. If not, she usually ate breakfast in the main dining area around seven. Lalannah had adopted her schedule without noticing. If they were at sea it was usually a chance to get some work done, for both of them, and they’d retreat to one of the quieter areas like the library where Lalannah could attend to her social media and Ruby could write her latest book.
Their breakfast passed in an easy chattering. Ruby explaining her latest book, Lalannah talking about some of the trips she’d been on, and everything flowed very naturally. Lalannah loved Kara, but their conversations never flowed as easily as the ones with Ruby. Usually her focus was on work, or their ease with poking fun at one another, they rarely steered into more serious topics.
“Do you have anything you need to get done today? I have no idea how long this will take is all.” Ruby speared her last rasher of bacon and shoved it in her mouth as she waited for a response.
“No, but I thought I’d try to grab some video and photos of our hunt if that’s okay?”
“Sure. Sounds like fun.”
“Yeah, speaking of, we should really get going. It’s almost time.” Ruby nodded and swallowed a last sip of tea before grabbing her own scavenger packet. Lalannah had snapped a couple of photos and uploaded them while they’d been having breakfast, showing off the fancy scavenger hunt information.
Ellen was packed with women, many of them in pairs or small groups, huddled as close to the little stage as possible. In the evenings, it was used for performances, sometimes professionals, sometimes karaoke.
Lalannah pushed through the crowd until she and Ruby were as close to the stage as possible. The crowd also forced them closer to one another. Ruby’s breath tickled Lalannah’s neck, her hand or arm pressed against the bare skin of Lalannah’s waist. Heat rose in Lalannah’s cheeks, spreading throughout her body until a slight toastiness filled her from top to toe.
Finally, someone stepped onto the stage. The cruise director, Lalannah had met her a few times over the two weeks at sea.
“Welcome everyone, I hope you’re all excited to get started with our scavenger hunt today. If not, you’re in the wrong room. As I speak, there are some scavenger hunt booklets circulating around the room. Take one and pass them along. This isn’t going to work quite like a regular scavenger hunt. We’ll be giving you all the clues right now and you can go through and do them in any order. This is probably the longest scavenger hunt in the world, so pace yourself. It will take you across all of our decks, and it will test you in many different ways. Some of the clues will point you to somewhere and you’ll just need to get a signature from someone in that location. Those clues are blue. Some will involve finding a word hidden in a specific location, those are red. There are a few physical tests laid out around the ship, those are marked in purple. There are also a few dares, those are green. Everything in your booklet must be completed before you come back to me. I have prizes for the first three groups.” There was a murmur among the crowd as the booklets started to filter through. When the stack reached Lalannah she was surprised by the weight to it. Flipping to the back she realized there must have been hundreds of things in there. They would need to be smart about getting through it all if they wanted to win.
Ellen took up a lot of decks 7 and 8; deck 9 was just the sports area. If they could start there and work their way down, they might be in with a chance. Skipping the elevators would also be key. And going down was always easier than going up.
“I’ve got a plan,” she whispered to Ruby. “We head to deck 9 as soon as she says go.”
Ruby nodded and the pair began pushing their way back through the crowd and closer to the exit. Lalannah scanned the booklet checking for anything that might point to deck 9. She found four clues that might have indicated deck 9 and a fifth she wasn’t sure about.
“Okay ladies, get scavenging.” Lalannah dashed out the room, beating most of the other women and making a beeline for the stairs.
Deck 9 was mostly deserted. One woman, a staff member, was guarding a series of activities on the deck. More than Lalannah had expected.
“Okay,” Ruby said from behind her. “This was a great idea.” Lalannah nodded and pulled out her phone to snap a quick photo of the deck.
“You got up here quick!” the staff member said.
“Yeah, first stop. I’m guessing one of the tasks is that basketball thing, the clue said something about five?”
“Yes, five shots in a row.”
Lalannah looked to Ruby who shrugged.
“Well, it’s been a while but I used to be pretty good at basketball. Hold this?” She passed off her booklet, phone and information pack and picked up the basketball. Even that was branded with Pride 365 on the side.
She was surprised when she made the first shot, even more when the second dropped through the basket.
“Shit, you weren’t kidding.”
After the third one went in, she started to get nervous. Number four bounced off the edge then tumbled back in. She might as well have been shooting for the championship as she lined up for number five. When it bounced out, she let out a breath she hadn’t noticed she was holding. She attempted it again, and missed the first shot. On her third try, she made all five.
“Well done, I think that was the hardest one up here, everything else should be easy.” The woman took their booklets and stamped a little basket onto clue 54. Ruby disappeared around the side of the basketball rack and came back with a word written in her booklet next to clue 10. Imagine.
Lalannah took in the next activity which looked to be a simple ball passing with two lines marked on the ground.
“Come on Ruby, tell me you can at least catch and throw.”
“Well enough.” The woman shrugged and picked up the ball tossing it in a relatively straight line to Lalannah who caught it easily. They got a bit of a rally going.
“How many do we have to do?” Lalannah asked the woman watching on.
Lalannah smiled, they were already at 50. 100 should be easy.
“There’s a green clue here too.” Ruby commented after they had finished the passes.
The staff member smiled. “You probably should have come here last. It’s kind of a bad dare to get so early in the game.” Lalannah waited for her to continue. “They want you to go braless for the rest of it. That’s the dare. Pin your bra to the net.” She laughed as Lalannah looked down to her own chest, covered only by a bra before glancing to Ruby who was far more endowed but at least had a shirt covering her chest. Ruby sighed.
“Fine. I’ll take one for the team.” She deftly unhooked the bra and pulled it out the side of her tank top before passing it to Lalannah. “Will you do me the honor?” Lalannah laughed and pinned the bra to the mesh fence. The fact that it was a lacy black bra was a little unexpected, and Lalannah tried hard not to think about what it would like on Ruby. Especially if it was the only thing she wore. She blushed and focused her attention back on the booklet looking for any clues on deck 8. Deck 8 sent them back to Ellen after looping around the running track and finding a hidden word on the stairs. In Ellen they found out their ‘dare’ involved taking a shot of their choice, and a rather obscure clue that led them to a word hidden under one of the chairs.
Every so often they came across another pair or group heading in another direction with booklets clenched tight to their chests. A couple stopped to say hi to Lalannah, recognizing her from YouTube.
“I’m glad you came,” Ruby told her as they settled down for lunch with a little over half their list completed.
“Me too,” Lalannah admitted as she shoveled a stack of fries into her mouth barely stopping to take a gulp of soda.
“Even if we don’t win, this is way more fun than writing.”
“Wow, words I never expected to hear you say,” a woman said, her voice coming from somewhere over Lalannah’s shoulder.
“Hi Gabi.” Lalannah filed the name away, glancing over her shoulder to find herself face to face with a woman who looked like she could inspire many a work of art.
“I see you’re making friends.”
“Yes. Can’t hang out alone all year.”
“No. I suppose not.” Lalannah wasn’t sure if she imagined the glare thrown in her direction as the woman named Gabi sauntered off, but she didn’t imagine the glare Ruby focused on the woman’s retreating back.
“My ex,” Ruby explained.
“Oh right.” Lalannah went back to perusing the clues looking for any they still needed on deck 2. “Wait, you said your ex?”
“Yeah. She’s on this cruise too. We booked it together.”
Lalannah waited for Ruby to explain further but no answer came. She had so many questions. But top of the list, “Are you two sharing a room?”
Ruby sighed. “Yeah. It’s not my first choice, but they didn’t have any empty rooms, so yeah, we’re sharing.”
“Well, that sounds like zero fun. You should move in with me.” The words were out before Lalannah had thought about what she was saying. She’d only known this woman for a week. Maybe ten days. What was she saying?
“Oh, that’s a lovely offer, but it’s not fair on you.”
“No really. It’s fine. In fact, I insist.” Ruby was silent for a full minute before she finally gave a tiny nod in agreement of the idea.
“Okay, let’s finish this scavenger hunt, then get you settled.”
Ruby nodded and the pair abandoned what was left of their lunches.
They made it through the last two decks in record time but their final dash to the finish line was for naught, six other teams had beaten them back.
“Shouldn’t have stopped for lunch,” Ruby joked.
“It’s okay. I really have had a great day. Let’s go get you moved in, roomie.” Lalannah took in the huge smile on Ruby’s face and worried—not for the first time that afternoon—that she’d made a huge mistake. Something about Ruby set her a little off base and she hated to admit that she was attracted to her. Having Ruby around all the time could be very bad news for her.
You can read January 17 here.
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