“Excuse me, Miss,” Jacob said in a fake, formal cadence. “Would you mind giving me a tour of this fine cruising vessel?” He came up behind Maryam, placed his hands on her hips and rested his chin on her shoulder. He’d spent half the morning trying to locate her and found her in the laundry room where she was folding linen tablecloths from the previous evening’s dinner.
“Didn’t you have a tour yesterday, Sir, when the family came aboard?” She continued folding but added a flirtatious lilt to her answer.
“Yes, but that was with the family. I want a private tour.”
“Shall I go find you one of the stewardesses?” Maryam teased.
Jacob released her hips and stepped away from her. His tone lowered to that of a rejected puppy dog. “If that’s who you want me to spend my day with.”
“I’m kidding.” She reached for his wrist and dragged him back toward her, the tablecloth abandoned in a heap on the laundry pile. “Get over here. What parts of the yacht haven’t you seen?”
“It’s not really parts of the ship I want to see; it’s more I want to know things.” With his free hand, Jacob ran his fingers up her arm all the way to her head and tapped on her skull near her forehead. “For instance, why is one of your crew members using a hose to spray off the deck when it looks perfectly clean to me?”
“Because of the salt in the air and in the sea spray. We have to hose off the salt at least once a day and give it a full cleaning every three or four days.”
“That sounds really time consuming.” He somehow managed to lower his cadence to make a simple sentence seem seductive.
“It is.” Maryam released the grip on his wrist and ran her hand up his arm similar to how he’d done to her and tapped his skull. “What else do you want to know?”
“When do you take a break? It seems like you work all day, every day. I want to take you on a date or something.”
“We’re stuck on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” Maryam said. “Exactly where do you think you’re going to take me?”
“There’s a little movie theater on the lower deck. Can’t we pop some popcorn and watch a movie together?” Jacob asked.
“Taking a break would be easier if there were no guests onboard,” she said. “We have shorter hours then. Just maintenance and upkeep, cleaning and prepping. Once guests are onboard it’s all about making sure the guests have the best time possible. There’s somebody awake 24-7 prepping the boat for the next day. It’s a very intensive time. Our work hours go up.”
“You’re too overworked. I need to add some fun into your day.”
“My work actually is a lot of fun.” Maryam lifted a shoulder. “It’s what we’re here for. To make the best possible experience that we can for the guests.”
“Well, I’m a guest.” Jacob leaned his shoulder against the wall. “Can’t you put me to work as a deck hand or something? I can help you get your work done faster, then we can take a break and watch a movie.”
“You’re not a guest, Jacob. You’re the owner. My mother and father would throw me overboard if I let you work as a deck hand.”
“I would jump in after you and rescue you.”
“Do you even know how to swim?” She raised an eyebrow.
“No, not really.” He chuckled.
Just as Jacob was leaning closer to Maryam, her mother came around the corner and gasped. “Get your hands off my daughter!”
“I wasn’t touching her.” Jacob raised his hands in the air like he was at gunpoint and stepped away from Maryam. “We were just discussing her work schedule and I wondered if I might be able to take her on a date, you know, to the movie theater, with several chaperones, and, and… popcorn.” He gulped.
“Owners and guests aren’t supposed to be down here. What is it with you Cohen boys?” Valerie Arnold asked with narrowed eyes. “You think just because you’re the son of a billionaire that you have the right to take liberties with my daughter?”
“Ma’am I would never hurt your daughter, or any other woman,” Jacob said, backing away further until he ran into the table where the piles of laundry sat. “My father has taught me that.”
“Apparently he didn’t teach your oldest brother the same lessons,” Valerie grumbled under her breath. “Never mind. Just get back up where you belong and let my daughter finish her work.”
Jacob glanced once more at Maryam then shimmied past her mother. He chuckled as he bounded back up the stairs to the decks where owners and guests were supposed to remember their place. Jacob wondered what Valerie meant about his brother. He was afraid to ask.