Authors: A. M. Madden
LOVE on The Horizon
A Breaking the Rules Novel
Published by A.M. Madden
Copyright ©2016 A.M. Madden
First Edition, ebook-published 2016
Cover: Sommer Stein, Perfect Pair Creative Covers
Editing: Lisa Hollett, Silently Correctly Your Grammar
Formatting: Brenda Wright, Formatting Done Wright
All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The use of locations and products throughout this book is done so for storytelling purposes and should in no way been seen as advertisement. Trademark names are used in an editorial fashion, with no intention of infringement of the respective owner’s trademark.
To my three kings, you rule my world.
The idea for this book came to me as a way to honor my parents as they celebrate their 50
Anniversary. The facts found in
Love on The Horizon
based on their story. They met on a cruise ship, they fell in love, and they married a few months later.
Although, trust me when I say that is where the similarities
, and NO other details, situations, and or activities have anything to do with my parent’s love story—at all!
I just wanted to add that I do believe in love at first sight, and I am proof that love can indeed happen quickly and can indeed last forever.
Mom, Dad, I love you. Thank you for teaching me that true love knows no bounds.
Graduates, this is our time. This is what they’ve been preparing us for since birth. The world is ours for the taking. The sky is the limit. Through us, great things can happen. Through us, history will be made. As we embark on this magical journey otherwise known as our future, my advice to you all is to work hard, play harder, love the hardest, and make your
Those words were spoken by our valedictorian, Amy Haskle.
Amy Haskle fucking lied.
Reality, along with Amy Haskle, could kiss my ass.
The optimism I felt while listening to her speech evaporated along with my savings account. My so-called “magical journey otherwise known as my future” turned out to be a waitressing job at Hooters
Everyone says a college education is imperative for a bright future…pfft, what bullshit.
Almost two hundred grand in tuition fees as well as room and board costs was obviously money well spent. My parents helped as much as they could, but it was still necessary for me to take out a loan. I was the last of five children, and I had to appreciate that they still remained diligent in saving for my college.
Working at Hooters was not a great return on their investment. I needed a change, a drastic one. I hated that job. The only reasons I subjected myself to such torment was:
a) It was the first job to hire me.
b) My size thirty-four D hooters could get me fantastic tips. I wasn’t a dummy.
It wasn’t Hooters that I despised…they’re a fine wing and beer establishment. It was the hordes and hordes of dumbasses that felt a night at Hooters
automatically guaranteed a night with one of the waitresses. Most of them were pathetic disgustos that grew a set of balls when dining there. Those same asswipes wouldn’t dare speak to a pretty girl out in the real world. Put him inside Hooters with some spare change, and suddenly he acted like a Hugh Hefner wannabe.
So, it really wasn’t a huge surprise on the night I got fired why I got fired. As I carried a tray loaded up with beer, chicken wings, and an order of nachos, I remembered wondering if dumping them on the assholes pawing at me would be considered leaving my mark? I swear I only thought about it. I have no idea how my arm gave out just as I got closer to their table. In slow motion, I watched as the food and drink left my tray and met their laps. They didn’t appreciate the giggles that escaped and proceeded to call me a skank.
As I leaned onto their messy table while asking them to go fuck themselves, a firm tap on my shoulder was my one-way ticket out of my magical journey.
That night I ended up at my kitchen table drowning in chocolate-chip cookie love.
“Darling, there has to be something in your field you can do,” my mom said as she enabled my chocolate addiction.
“Absolutely, Mom, I’m sure one of the office buildings housing most of the firms I’ve applied to needs a new cleaning lady.”
“That’s not funny, darling.”
I thought it was fucking hilarious and very close to being true.
Determined to go into a diabetic coma, I got into bed that night for a threesome with my two favorite men—Ben and Jerry. As Jon Bon Jovi stared down at me from my wall, I drowned my sorrows in Chunky Monkey. Like good sex, B&J could provide euphoric endorphins. Some could argue that the chunks of chocolate, the swirls of peanut butter actually made it better than sex—or at least better than anyone that I had sex with. At least B&J understood me, would be gone in the morning, and came in a variety of flavors at a reasonable price.
With each spoonful, I couldn’t help but compare them to the hot dude on my TV. Maybe the bachelor should consider presenting bowls of Chunky Monkey instead of those stupid roses.
Unfortunately, just like bad sex, once I reached orgasm with the last spoonful, I felt used and instantly regretted my threesome. I stared into the empty container, cursing it, deciding it was so not worth the extra miles I’d have to run because of the extra calories.
Feeling frustrated and bloated, I opened my laptop and scoured every employment site I could find. One hour later, I pushed my laptop aside as defeat consumed me. I was exhausted at the age of twenty-two. While racking my brain for ideas that could help my financial situation, an ad popped up on TV for a cruise line. I thought, now there’s a place I’d like to work.
I don’t know if the unemployment gods had pity on me that night, but the clouds parted and a ray of sunshine filtered through, hitting me in the face. A debate ensued between my head and my heart. The pay would be crap, but I’d be living a permanent vacation. The idea was insane, but I could use some excitement. My parents would not be happy, but they had four other kids to keep them occupied and probably wouldn’t even miss me. Sure, I’d miss my friends, but they’d all still be in Jersey when I got back.
If serving people was my fate, then why the hell not on the Caribbean Sea?
I instantly began scouring the same job sites for cruise line openings. There were many, ranging from wait staff to administrative positions. At first, I concentrated on the entry-level jobs. The more I searched, the more I convinced myself to go for the gold.
I was an educated woman.
I could qualify for those jobs, or at least lie about it.
By dawn, I’d impressively fudged my resume and applied to six jobs in total.
The only thing left to do was sit and wait.
I spent a week preparing for my possible new career. Yes, I was putting all of my eggs into my impulsive-crazy-ass-career-choice-basket, but I didn’t care. One way or another, I’d get a job on a cruise ship. To do that, I needed to get to Florida—the cruise ship capital of the world.
Except for telling my family, I didn’t have loose ends to tie up. That in itself was a load of fun—comparable to a root canal. With each passing day, they tried to dissuade me. Unfortunately, their nagging only heightened my excitement over living a fairly carefree existence for six months—one that was far, far away from them.
Eight days after I spent the night applying to every job I could find, I finally had an AOL-induced orgasm. Sitting in my email inbox was a letter from the personnel director of Sunset Cruise Lines requesting an interview for their new ship,
. The position available was for Entertainment Staff Coordinator…pfft, I could do that.
If you possess excellent communication skills, great customer service skills, are a people person, and crave an exciting career on the high seas, then
apply to be part of our fun, quirky, entertainment staff
Shit, that’s me in a nutshell. I may have fudged the four years of entertainment experience, but I’d worry about that later.
In a matter of hours, I spoke to the personnel director, arranged an interview the next day, booked a flight, and Tasmanian-deviled my way through my room, packing as if I’d be away for a year.
As I packed, my mom watched from the doorway in horror. My plane was leaving for Fort Lauderdale that afternoon. I decided if I didn’t get the cruise line job, I’d hang in Florida until I found another job. I needed adventure in my life. Jersey wasn’t supplying enough of it, and either way, I needed a change.
I tended to become a tad obsessive once I focused on something. Most would call it optimistic, but I called it determined.
I zipped up my suitcase and made one last mental checklist.
“Have you lost your mind?” My practical, levelheaded mother wagged her finger at me in her—
Rebecca, stop this nonsense right now
—attempt to stop me.
“Nope, Mom. I finally got smart.”
“Flying down to Florida to interview for a job that will have you sailing around on a giant boat for six months? That’s smart?”
“It’s brilliant. Besides, I may not get the job.”
I wasn’t about to share that I would pretty much take any job they offered, cleaning cabins included.
“Ah, I almost forgot my passport.”
“Passport!” Her voice became shrill with panic. “I thought this was just an interview?”
“They may want me to start immediately. I should be prepared,” I lied.
“You haven’t said good-bye to your dad or siblings yet.”
“I’ll call them.”
“There are all sorts of diseases going around these days. You need shots.”
“The cruise line will supply a full physical and any immunizations needed.” Okay, I might have made that up, but it sounded good.
I rolled my suitcase closer to where she occupied the doorway, and more panic swelled as she attempted to stop me one last time. Her hands gripped my upper arms while her face turned a new shade of red, a lovely hue that I’d never witnessed on her complexion before. “Rebecca Anne Stanton, this is a stupid idea!”
“Mom, I’m pretty sure this is the smartest thing I’ve done since graduating. I love you. I’ll be fine. Just wish me luck.”
With that, I kissed her cheek and left my room without looking back.
Sunset Cruise Lines’ corporate offices left me speechless. Soft leather couches and warm wood tables provided a living room kind of atmosphere and nothing like the stuffy workplaces I was used to seeing. As I sat in the reception area I eyed the space, deciding if I didn’t get the job I could just become a squatter instead.
A few minutes later, I was escorted to a glass conference room. Located in the heart of Port Everglades, the view from where I sat was breathtaking. One wall was floor to ceiling windows and the other was all glass that looked out toward the offices. With more leather, woods, and warm tones decorating the open spaces, no wonder all the employees walked around with perpetual smiles. Even if they hated their mundane jobs, the environment alone would be enough to make the Grinch roam the halls while humming “Jingle Bells.”
At first, I had little to no hope of getting the job. Yes, I was armed with two glowing references from past employers, excluding my manager from Hooters, of course. And yes, I had experience in this sort of field if you counted the years I spent counseling kids at summer camp. A cruise ship was just a camp for adults, right? But, was it enough? My glowing personality and pretty face may only get me so far. I wanted this job so badly.
Based on the fact they kept adding more people for me to speak to, I surmised that my interviews must have been going well. After many questions, the human resources manager passed me on to the training and development manager. She was a bit more detailed regarding the job’s responsibilities, and a bit more circumspect with her line of questioning. I then met with the Entertainment Crew Administrator and Executive Assistant to the Cruise Director, Ricky Burrows. His fun, boisterous personality had me smiling throughout and completely at ease for the first time all day. He admitted his role in the process was merely to screen prospects for his boss.
“So, guess what?” I went to open my mouth, but I guessed the question was rhetorical when he immediately added, “You get my stamp of approval! Ready to meet our cruise director?” With cartoon-esque wide eyes, raised brows, and gaping mouth, he clapped his hands and bounced up and down like he just introduced the Backstreet Boys.
A small giggle escaped me and he laughed with me. “I’m ready. Nervous, but ready.”