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The line was unending and the heat unbearable, after waiting for nearly twenty whole minutes Miss Parker left the line and moved off to the side. Impatiently her eyes scanned the crowd around this attraction. What could be so fantastic about a ride out on a dingy to a pirate ship! She quickly walked past the dock, then followed the path along the shore and toward the maintenance buildings.

A group of women were heading into the larger of the buildings, she began to quickly pace herself to trail at the end of their group until she could slide through the entrance with them and into a well lit hallway. One of the group slowed enough that Parker found herself walking along side of the voluptuous girl with long dark blond hair.

The young woman looked Parker over, "You're new? Ever been out with us before?"

Parker easily played along, "Yep I'm new, first time out. Anything I should know about?"

The blonde carefully looked her over, "Naa, you'll do fine as long as you don't get sea sick. Where's your bag, it's a two day cruise? Most of the girls carry a change of nightclothes and personal items, everything else is pretty much included in your costume."

"I travel light, everything is right here." Parker smirked as she patted her shoulder bag.

**Damn stinking, damp, cold ship. What in hell was I thinking doing this. And this dumb ass outfit, no wonder those poor women died of consumption. Hell it was probably chest cold or pneumonia, the way everything is hanging out, guess it was one way to keep those poor sea monkeys in line. I feel like the ho of the seas.** Parker stormed around the bowels of the ship dressed in the sea wench custom she was assigned. She stopped in front of the mirror once more to assure herself that the ruffles around the low bodice covered as much possible when wearing the twenty-first century version of the 18th century push up bra. She couldn't suppress the smile at just how much was pushed up and nearly out, of course her navel was actually now between her breasts. "It's a good thing I came without Broots! Poor man wouldn't have lasted five minutes."

"Believe me your boyfriend would approve! I bought a couple of those to take home! My Sammy .."

"Ah..well when do we start the show?" Parker hoping not to hear about the blonde's sex life.

"As soon as we start up the coast, we only go as far as the cove and anchor off there for a day then back again. The tourists love it. Pirates were such a romantic bunch."

"Yea, that's what I heard. Guess it was the plundering, murdering and rape that was hard to swallow." Parker smiled sweetly and walked to the doorway of the small compartment, longing to get up on deck and into the warmth of the sun.

Finally the group of ten women were moving carefully up the wooden steps into the open air to greet the tourists as they climbed aboard the Barnacle. Most of the emerging group appeared to be middle aged women, a few couples and small groups of families. The women quickly headed to the main body of the boat where several of the pirates were performing their duties in getting the ship off to sail . Parker watched as two of the pirates were making their way up the masts. She turned as the crowd seemed focused on the one man heading toward the crows-nest, his powerful arms pulling him as his feet deftly found the footholds. He was a magnificent male specimen. The sound of appreciation echoed from those women around her, as they enthusiastically approved of the man's mobility. Of course the tights that were nearly painted on him, the narrow hips accented by the broad leather belt holding up said coverings, certainly didn't throw any cold water on this crowd. *Dear God, how could he move in that outfit.* Parker smirked at his bravado as he stood legs apart balancing on the small beams of wood, waving down at the crowd that cheered him on. Her smirk froze on her face as she strained to look closer at the smiling face. She grabbed the binoculars from the woman beside her, ignoring the woman's comments as she focused on the well endowed man above her.

"Shit!" Parker fought to control the binoculars a bit longer as the owner's hands attempted to pull them from her. She slowly scanned down over the man taking complete inventory and not caring that her mouth was hanging open. *What the hell! Doesn't he know?* Her mouth curved into a small smile. *Guess someone needs to explain it to him if he doesn't.*

As she went about her duties, as least that she could. Her mind continued playing that picture of Jarod. An open colorful vest that did nothing to cover his bronzed and beautifully sculptured damp chest gleaming in the sun. His hair longer than she had seen it, was tied back away from his tanned face. She reminded herself to breath as her mind's eye continued painting that picture. The dark tights that concealed absolutely nothing, not the long muscled thighs, the sculptured calves, the beautifully tight ass, and .. A smart sting brought her back as her finger caught the edge of one of the knives she was putting away in the ship's galley. She spun around in time to catch the crew leaving for their posts for the night. Sucking on the injured digit she watched, scrutinizing the group until one in particular caught her attention, she put away the last of the dinner supplies and quietly followed him.

She waited in the hallway until things had quieted down, then quickly moved to that closed door and turned the handle. The small compartment was only dimly lit. She could see him sitting on the bed looking through a magazine. He turned at the sound of the door closing.

"Can I help you?" His eyes widened, springing to his feet he looked closer. "What's the matter sea monkey, loose your tongue?" She started to smile but stopped as she noticed where his eyes focused. "Come on Jarod, you've seen bigger women dressed in this outfit."

"Parker." His throat seemed to close around the name.

"You seemed surprised to see me." She paused and walked around him, enjoying the close up view of him. "I have to say, I am a bit surprised to see this much of you on display. I always thought you were a bit shy and conservative."

He grimaced, "Well I've always known you were neither of those and yet.. I find myself a bit surprised by ALL that you have on display." He gripped her wrist, "Where's your gun, I know where it isn't." He smirked as he whispered the last line.

"What makes you think I'm not working here?"

Jarod snorted, "Yes, that's a laugh, you waiting on people, serving them meals and cleaning up after them. That alone is worth the price of a ticket. Add that outfit to it and..." He words drifted off as he once again looked down at her, from his height he could see just how much of her was nearly offered, and for some reason he didn't like it.

She saw him frown as he took in her appearance. "Come on Jarod, there is nothing on display. Maybe just presented a little differently." Parker made a point of checking out his appearance by attempting to look around his shoulder at his now tightly clenched derriere. "And my you've put on quite a display. Had those women lining up to buy out the film after the first hour out. You've become quite an exhibitionist since the days in the sim lab. Wonder what Sydney would say?"

"You're jealous. I never thought I'd see the day when Miss Parker would be jealous over the attention the lab rat got from people." His face took on a serious look even though the tone was quiet. "So what now, we can't jump ship unnoticed. You certainly don't want to draw attention," he paused and looked down at her again, "well not that kind of attention."

Parker's face was beginning to feel warm, she was unsure as to the source of the heat. Anger was the easiest emotion to give into right now, a good offense is the best defense... or was it the other way around? She mentally shook the thought out of her head and rounded on him. "Tell me Jarod is it hard to climb up there with your sword hanging like that?"

He looked surprised trying to fathom exactly what she was asking. He let go of her wrist and fingered the leather belt that crossed his shoulder sheathing his pirate's sword, he pulled it over his head and threw it onto the narrow cot. "What is that suppose to mean? Can you just once say what you want to say instead of hiding it in barbs and innuendo?"

Just then a strong knock sounded at the door. They exchanged a look, Parker positioned herself on the other side of the door as Jarod opened it. "Hey buddy, just stopped for my jacket the night air is getting chilly. You're on tomorrow night aren't you?" The younger man walked over to the far cot and opened the drawer under the mattress to pull out a leather jacket. Turning he noticed Parker standing in the corner. "Hey there, you must be the new wench, I'm Dustin, Jarod's roommate."

"Dustin, this is an old friend... Rusty Bliss." Jarod couldn't contain the big smile as he introduced them. He watched as Parker tried to hide her surprise, then with a southern accent and a smile just as fake, she told him she was pleased to have met him and to just call her *Rusty*.

After Jarod closed the door behind his roommate the two stood looking at each other. Finally Parker cleared her throat and began quietly, "Jarod tell me you don't honestly understand why all those women were gawking at you, snapping your picture and literally foaming at the mouth."

"I think you are over exaggerating."

"Fine, then come with me. There is some kind of night show up on deck isn't there. If I'm wrong then, fine. For the rest of this cruise you get to make the rules. If I am right.." She smiled a slow and mischievous grin.

He tilted his head waiting for her conditions, when none came he clarified the rules, "If I'm wrong then the same applies, within reason."

"Jarod, are you insinuating I'm not reasonable?"

He grinned, "I'm not insinuating anything, *Rusty*, Let's settle this like adults."

They stood watching the crowd sitting around a makeshift campfire, singing what they considered pirate songs. "If I hear one line of someone rowing a boat a shore, I'm going to get my gun." Parker grumbled just loud enough for Jarod to hear as they made their way through the burn barrels. There was enough light to easily watch the appreciative looks, nods and winks as the two walked along the deck. Now the flash from the cameras made it hard to ignore when their subject came within their camera's range. Parker stood back, to watch as Jarod suddenly seemed to notice all the attention he was getting. And he was getting more than before, due to the lateness of the hour or the darkness, or more than likely the smuggled rum that Parker noticed making it's rounds. Quite a few of the women were getting close enough to rub up against her sea monkey and one took the advantage of patting him on the butt. At that point she bit her lower lip deciding that her point was indeed made. The tall striking woman in full ice queen mode, strode up to the pirate linking her arm through his moved with him away from the ensemble group and off to the side rail.

She remained looking out to sea waiting for him to comment. When none came, she moved closer to him without looking up asked, "Are you okay?"

"Parker your point is made. Although, I still don't..."

"Okay, sea monkey, come on."

"You're not going to make me walk the plank now are you?" She continued guiding him toward the lower deck, her hand firmly but gently on his arm. After closing the door to his cabin, she looked at him. She could see in his eyes he had no idea how attractive he was to these women. "Over here Jarod." She pulled him over to the full length mirror. "What do you see?"

He shrugged, "I'm dressed like a pirate. Just like most of the other guys aboard."

Parker leaned up against him, her arms around his waist, "Jarod, not like most of the other guys. Look at yourself. The broad shoulders, the well defined abs." She swallowed hard as she let her hands drift down over his ribs. "In spite of your sugar addiction you have taken care of our body, and it shows." Parker started at his shoulders and firmly but gently slid her hands the length of his arms feeling each tendon, muscle and bone then encircled him once again from behind. Her eyes met his in the mirror. He really was naive as to what women saw when they looked at him. "Jarod, do you have any idea how attractive women find this?" She turned him sideways to pat his tight thinly covered derriere, allowing her hand to linger over the well formed muscle.

"Is that what you see Parker?" His voice quiet, tentative as though he honestly didn't know, and wasn't sure he wanted the answer.

"I'm not blind. In this outfit even a blind woman could sense the male power lurking in tights." Seeing his cheeks reddening she continued, "And I haven't begun to describe the rest of you that the tights do highlight. My God Jarod, do you realize how little you leave to the imagination in that outfit?" Parker tried hard to keep the delight she felt from showing. Her hand on his tight stomach smoothed across it's plain and down his thigh before he stopped her with a firm grip on her wrist. She drew a deep unsteady breath, "Why did you take this job, is it part of a pretend?"

"No, I read a want ad, and thought it would be a working vacation. I thought it sounded like fun." He spun around putting her in front of the mirror, and stood behind her carefully watching her expression. Jarod maintained his grip on her wrist holding it against her stomach as he spoke to her mirrored image, "Why are you here?"

"I knew you would be. I followed you from your last pretend."


She hesitated, "I wanted to see what it was you enjoyed about pretending, about being out here. Where you would gravitate to next and why." Their eyes caught and held as they continued in their to study of each other, waiting for something. Parker dropped her watchful vigilance first.

"Well, today has been quite an experience. Don't think I've ever seen you in anything so ..." He stopped talking as he took in her reflection from top to bottom. "It's a good thing these guys aren't pirates. You wouldn't stand a chance without your Smith and Wesson. I'm not sure that would stop some of these guys when you're dressed like that."

"You must be kidding! It's mostly smoke and mirrors Jarod," referring to the area his wide eyes kept focusing on. "Come on, unlike your display, this is nearly all special effects." She smiled slyly, then reading the look in his eyes her smile faded.

"Is this smoke and mirrors?" He gently touched her hair, as it was pulled back from her face but left curling around her shoulders. "Or this?" His finger tips caressed her face moving from her eyelids to her checks, outlining her lips then her jaw and down to her collarbone, his hand smoothed over her shoulders and the length of her arms. The atmosphere in the small cabin seemed to have become charged as he continued his exploration pulling her back against him as he encircled her belted waist, then his hands skimming over her slim hips. "Parker, I think I know what part of you is smoke and mirrors, although I haven't a clue as to why any woman would do that." He looked meaningfully at her breasts. "Not when they are perfect with out all this -- help."

She could feel herself melting, just like the wicked witch, and this sea monkey never spilled a drop of water. Even Oz's witch wouldn't have stood a chance against this man. Needing to change the course a bit she offered, "You mean more isn't better Jarod, not even if it's just the appearance of more?"

He studied her then leaned down to whisper, "Who would need more than this total package."

The combination of his warm breath, sweet words and firm hold around her waist was all it took, she tried one more time half heartedly to convince him and maybe herself to change the course of events. "Even the devil can disguise himself as an angel of light Jarod."

"It won't work this time Parker. Not now, not when I see you so clearly that you can't hide behind words and threats. Not this time." He gently turned her to face him, before pulling her into his arms and using his lips this time to discover all that his hands had before. "You know I think your words and threats ARE your smoke and mirrors."

"Don't be so sure of yourself there sea monkey." Then as she moved into his embrace and began more actively participating , "Jarod, those tights have to painful..."

"Shit, how did you ever get that on, I still don't see the purpose in wearing something like that Parker."

"And you called me Rusty!"

He mumbled against her lips, "What's a sea monkey?"

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