The Alpena Yacht Club sat at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River on the shores of Lake Huron. The marina boasted dozens of boat slips and was a popular summer destination for tourists.
Manny pulled to the side of the road on Harbor Drive, letting Aloise lead the way through the parking lot to her parents’ boat slip. They parked beside the largest, most elegant sailing yacht in the marina. Aloise wasn’t lying that her parents were wealthy. He climbed down from his Jeep and clicked the key fob to lock his truck just as she closed her car door and came around the front. Manny boldly took her hand and they made their way down the dock.
The sailboat was well-lit and inviting but Manny had butterflies in his stomach at the prospect of meeting her parents. If his own father had such a negative response meeting Aloise, Manny wondered how her parents would react to meeting him.
Aloise led Manny up the boarding ladder, and along the deck to a set of teakwood doors that opened to the lower deck. “Have you been on a sailing yacht before?”
“My grandparents on my mom’s side have a yacht, but it’s not a sailboat,” Manny said. “This is so… slim.”
“Is that your way of saying it’s small?” Aloise laughed and poked him in the side.
“I get it, your yacht’s bigger than my yacht, whatever. Grab that handrail and come down. Let’s see if we can find mis parientes.”
The steps down to the salon were not as steep as he was expecting, and the galley was spacious with a larger refrigerator than he had in his kitchen back home. He leaned against the stainless-steel monstrosity and folded his arms. “Your refrigerator is bigger than mine. Does that count for anything?”
“What counts more than size is that there are no dead animals living in mi refri,” she said with a satisfied grin.
“I don’t have any dead animals living in my refrigerator either.” He couldn’t help poking fun at her.
“You knew what I meant, mister hunter-for-life.” Aloise stepped closer and placed her hand on Manny’s chest, nearly close enough that he could kiss her. Tempting but not the way he wanted her father to find them the first time they met. “Come on, I’ll show you my state room.”
She opened another elegantly carved door and displayed a queen-sized bed tucked into a space just large enough… for a queen-sized bed. There were plenty of stowage cabinets, a deck prism to let light in, and a television mounted in one corner.
“Roomy,” Manny said, biting his lips and fighting not to make any more comments about the size of her living conditions. He leaned closer and whispered, “When we get married, we’re living at my house.”
“Deal,” she said. She turned off the light in her state room and closed the door. “Over here is el baño I share with mi hermana. Yes, it may be small, but we have vacuflush toilets, a full shower, high end fixtures and Corian countertops.”
“I’m not in the market for a yacht, my dear,” Manny said. He stepped entirely within the shower and raised his eyebrows. “I don’t think we’d both fit in here together.”
“Oh my gosh, stop. You are going to get me in so much trouble if mis parientes hear you talking that way.” She pulled him by the arm and dragged him back out of the shower. She walked further toward the front of the boat. “Down there are crew cabins and the engine room.” She tapped on a door that looked like any other door but apparently led to a lower deck.
Ascending a short set of stairs brought them into another spacious salon where a twenty-two-year-old version of Aloise sat with a television remote in one hand and her smart phone in the other. She glanced up and didn’t react to her younger sister leading a man up the stairs. She looked bored.
“Alondra, Manny. Manny, Alondra.” Aloise continued through the salon pulling him with her to the master state room which boasted a king-sized bed, more head room than most of the boat, multiple deck prisms, and another full bathroom. Aloise turned around and called back to her sister. “¿Dónde están mamá y papá?”
“Ya se fueron a un hotel en el centro,” Alondra called back.
Aloise kept ahold of Manny’s hand and led him back to the salon. “Por qué?”
“Why do you think?” Alondra said, still staring at her phone. “They’ve been stuck on a boat with two adult daughters for three weeks. You’d get a hotel room too.”
Manny squeezed her hand and wiggled his eyebrows at Aloise. They wouldn’t need a hotel room. They could just lock the door to his wing of the house. Not that his parents ever ventured down to his rooms anyway. Should they choose, they’d have plenty of privacy.
“¿Quién es el guapo?” Alondra asked Aloise but her gaze rested on Manny. He knew just enough Spanish to understand Alondra thought he was hot. He raised his eyebrows and couldn’t hide a grin.
“This is my future husband,” Aloise said, wrapping one arm around his back and placing her hand on his chest. “Emanuel Cohen.”
Alondra dropped the remote and sat forward, glaring across the table at him. “Uh, no. Papa would never allow you to marry a Cohen.”
“How do you know about the Cohen family?” Aloise asked, her face alight. “Have you ever met any of them?” She scooted into the bench seat across the table from her sister and pulled Manny with her.
Alondra extended her hand to Manny. “Hola, soy Alondra.” He met her halfway and shook her hand. Alondra turned to her sister with a smirk. “Now, I have met a Cohen.”
“But how do you know of them? Papa’s business partner was Liam Cohen, right?”
“Sounds like you know almost as much as I do.” Alondra cocked her head to the side. “Don’t you remember stories of how the younger Cohen hermanos stole the wealth from the oldest brothers after their father and our grandfather died?”
“Our grandfather knew the Cohen’s also?” Aloise asked.
“Yeah, Papa’s sisters married the Cohen brothers and they all got really mad when their parientes dragged them across the world on yachts. Apparently, they wanted to stay in the Middle-East.”
“Wait, which Cohen brothers married your father’s sisters?” Manny scratched his head. “My mother was an only child.”
“Yeah, I think the two youngest hermanos married outside la familia.”
“Phew, we’re not related.” Manny held up their adjoined hands and kissed the back of Aloise’s hand.
“Good thing too because I’m going to marry you.” Aloise turned to her sister with a smug grin. “He proposed earlier this evening.”
“True story,” Manny said.
“We’ve been at dock less than a day,” Alondra said. “Exactly when did you meet?”
Aloise glanced at her phone. “About two hours ago.”
“A little less than that, actually.” Manny held up his wristwatch.
“And you’re already engaged?” Alondra raised her eyebrows.
“Yes, and I’ve seen him without his clothes on too.” Aloise lifted her chin.
Manny coughed to cover up laughter. “Oh please, I only had my pants off for a minute.”
“A minute was all I needed,” Aloise purred, obviously trying to get a rise out of her sister.
“If it only took you a minute, you’re not doing it right.” Alondra turned accusing eyes on Manny. “Maybe you need some educación.”
“I’ve known how to change my clothes when I spill something on them since I was in about preschool,” Manny teased right back. “Believe me, if I wanted to do anything other than change into clean pants, I’m sure I could last longer than a minute.”
“Apuesto a que podrías,” Alondra said with a deep, husky voice, pursing her lips.
“Okay, I am officially jealous now and you are not stealing my fiancé,” Aloise said, pushing Manny out of the booth seat. “Come on, let’s get away from mi hermana before she personally tries to remove your clothing for you.”
“Nice to meet you, Alondra,” Manny said, allowing Aloise to take his hand and lead him away from the salon.
“Come back anytime, Emanuel Cohen,” Alondra called. She had the television turned back on before Aloise and Manny got down the stairs.
They headed back to Aloise’s state room where she opened the door and crawled onto her queen-sized bed, patting the bed beside her.
“You do move fast, woman.” Manny climbed in beside her and lay down, tucking his hands behind his head and relishing the scent of her pillow. “Engaged and sleeping together within two hours’ from meeting?”
“No me acuesto contigo until we’re married,” Aloise said, laying down next to him but propping herself on one elbow.
“Too bad the county clerk’s office isn’t open tonight,” Manny said. He pulled out his cell phone and noted the time. Ten o’clock. “We have about eleven hours to wait.”
“We’d better dormirnos bien tonight because by tomorrow at this time we won’t want to sleep.”
“I don’t want to sleep now.” Manny’s voice had lowered to a husky and seductive purr. He held her gaze and could tell she was considering leaning down to kiss him.
Removing both hands from behind his head, Manny reached out and gently cradled her face in his hands, drawing her close to him. He met her halfway and they pressed their lips to each other’s. Best first kiss ever. She lay half on top of him and he wrapped his arms around her.
“Ahem,” Alondra said from the doorway. Manny and Aloise pulled apart sheepishly. “It’s time for tu amorcito to go home now.”
“Fine.” Aloise slumped into Manny’s arms and he held her for a few more seconds before kissing the top of her head and pushing her gently from on top of him.
“I’ll text you when I get home,” Manny said. “And I’ll come see you first thing in the morning. Maybe your parents will be back by then.”
“I doubt it,” Alondra said, folding her arms across her chest. “They’ll probably be in their cuarto at the hotel for two or three days.”
“Well good,” Aloise said, squeezing Manny’s hand. “We can spend all day together mañana.”
“Sounds good to me.” He planted one more quick kiss on her lips and scooted to the edge of the bed, using one of the many handrails to lift himself to stand beside Alondra then reached down to help Aloise out of her bunk. “Walk me to my car?”
“Definitivamente.” Aloise led him back the way they’d come in and up the dock to the parking lot.
Manny gently pushed Aloise against his Jeep, lacing his fingers into her hair at the nape of her neck and kissed her for several minutes. When he finally broke away, he whispered, “If I’d known kissing you would feel this amazing, I would have kissed you hours ago.”
“I’ll see you por la mañana, Romeo,” Aloise said.
“Bright and early, Juliet.” Manny kissed her one more time then opened the door to his Jeep and climbed inside. He watched her walk safely back to her yacht, then reversed out of his parking spot and sped from the lot, knowing the faster he got home the faster he could send her a text and continue their flirty conversation late into the night.