Have you ever been aboard a cruise ship as it sails through the waters of the Caribbean?  Have you ever wondered what a life at sea would entail? Would it be all work and no play, or, does the possibility of adventure, as you glide across the deep blue Atlantic, draw your interest?  I hope it does, as I'd like to introduce you to myself, and the story I have written, entitled, "Port of Call".  


Port of Call is a story of two women from two very different backgrounds in life, who are searching for what we all need.  Each of us has desperately search to find that place we can call home.  It's not a home of brick and mortar, but a place where we can be who we truly are and still feel in our soul that we belong.  The adventure begins amidst a backdrop of the beautiful Caribbean, where both women journey not only to new shores but also, to a better understanding of themselves and each other.  However, this may be more knowledge then either is ready to comprehend or accept.  Paradise has many dangers within its pristine waters and white sandy beaches.  The true test will be in whether they can accept this new discovery, or have they already blinded themselves to the beauty that lies around and within.




          Alyssa Martin had lived her entire 28 years in the small town of Rock Island, Maine.  Although she felt she was attractive, she never seemed to be interested in dating any of the young men of the town.  Her brothers told her that she was looking for Mr. Perfect and would end up never finding anyone.  Her mother's response was always that she didn't have to settle for less either.  So, each day Alyssa arrived at the Rock Island Library at dawn and didn't leave until dusk.  Putting in long hours as part of her duties and, there just never seemed to be a reason to rush home. When people questioned her about her lack luster life, she just joked that she was one of the 'children of the night', and her pale skin certainly attest its lack of sunlight.  Each day blended into the next as she went about her accounting duties, recording overdue book fines and any purchase of new materials.  Alyssa was beginning to feel like one of the old worn out books that she watched being re-shelved each day.   So, when the recruitment fair came to the local community college, Alyssa was one of the first in line.  There, as big as life, was a poster of the deck of a ship with a group of enthusiastic people in their starched white uniforms.  Their tanned smiling faces encouraging her to join them in their fun.  Alyssa walked directly toward the table next to the sign, two weeks later she found herself aboard a sleek cruise liner headed for the adventure and the high seas.


Kelsey Jordan loved to sit out on the deck and look up at the stars as the evening breezes washed over her body.  It was the nearest she had ever come to feeling at peace in her entire life.  With the billions of stars above her and the gentle caress of the wind, she felt she wasn't alone. Kelsey was ten when her parents had died in a tragic accident, but she had been alone long before that event.  Her mother and father were wanders.  They loved to travel from one exotic place to the next and Kelsey had just been a momentary diversion for the couple.  When the child had reached school age, they had sent her to live with an Aunt.  Her Aunt had done all she could for Kelsey, but it never took away the deep feelings of abandonment that the woman had felt her entire life.  Kelsey had many relationships in her lifetime, but none had ever made her feel at peace with her own life.  So at 33, she had given up searching for someone to complete her world and left the foolish ideas of romance to the young.  Kelsey signed up for repeated tours aboard the cruise ship and spent her time enjoying her job and all the travel it afforded.  She enjoyed waking up each morning in a new port, no roots to set down, and possibility of an adventure just around every corner.  


          It didn't take long for both women to meet and take an instant disliking to the other.  When Kelsey realized that they were going to be thrown together, she tried to make the best of her 'babysitting detail', and teach Alyssa the ins and outs of life on a cruise ship.  But, Alyssa wasn't making it easy for Kelsey, as the young woman quickly teamed up with the worst group of employees on the ship.  From the first day at sea, Alyssa found Kelsey to be an unsettling individual, one who never smiled and always seemed to be watching her from across the room.  The look on her face always made Alyssa feel she was doing something wrong.    Alyssa had taken the job to travel and be free, not to be oppressed by another individual like her father.


Karen Edwards, on the other hand, was enthralled with the idea that there was 'fresh meat' aboard for the tour.  Especially that Kelsey had taken a decided interested in the newbie's welfare, maybe a little too much of an interested for a training relationship.  Karen had been on many tours with Kelsey and had never forgiven the woman for snubbing her advances.  She quickly befriended the young, wide-eyed blonde and pulled her over to join her ring of friends.  If she couldn't get Kelsey to give her the time of day one way, she knew this would certainly get the beauty's attention via another way.   It was a win-win situation for Karen.  She could show Kelsey that she wasn't better than everyone like she acted and have a little fun in the process.


As the cruise continues both Alyssa and Kelsey will find that paradise isn't always as wonderful as it seems.  Alyssa will learn quickly that not everyone is what they seem, in some cases this could be a very valuable lesson, in others, it could mean disaster for both women.   As hard as Kelsey tries to stay uninvolved, she keeps finding herself coming to the young blonde's defense.  Alyssa finally learns a valuable lesson about trust and friendship, and finds that Kelsey is the only one sincerely offering both.  Together they decide to fight against Karen and her friends, but soon find that this new relationship may just be adding fuel to an already growing fire.  As they overcome one hurdle a new one always seems destined to take its place. Kelsey's relationship with her Aunt is put to a test when she is faced with the one thing she has never been able to do, to forgive the second person in her life that had abandoned her, and learn to trust again.  To make matters worse, Alyssa's family decides to surprise her and books a cruise.  Soon they are asking questions that neither woman is ready to answer.


Finally freeing themselves from Karen and her meddling ways, Kelsey and Alyssa focus their attention on their families and admit their relationship.  Alyssa once again finds an ally in her mother and soon she is able to show her family just how much Kelsey means to her.  Although Alyssa's father is not ready to accept his daughter's decisions, the rest of her family reassures her that the future holds many possibilities for reunion between herself and her father.  Kelsey's struggle is rougher as she finds it difficult to forgiven the woman, who along with her Aunt Kate, had taken Kelsey under their wing and showed her love and a sense of family for the first time in her life.   But Jean had ended up deserting Kelsey when she broke off her relationship with Aunt Kate.  Jean had walked out of Kelsey's young life without even saying good-bye.  Now, Kate has accepted Jean back into her life and is hoping that her niece will be able to do the same.  Kelsey has a lot of fear and anger to overcome before she is willing to accept Jean back.  Alyssa is the one force that has shown Kelsey what unconditional love really means, and the raven-haired woman finally learns that to be unconditionally loved, you must be willing to love in return with the same intensity.  Soon, with Alyssa help they smooth over the rough stones and open Kelsey's heart to accepting and forgiving.  In doing so, Kelsey finds herself free and at peace for the first time in her life; she has found her way home.  In many different ways it would be a new beginning for all of them.   But for Kelsey and Alyssa, they knew that their beginning and end lie within each other's heart.  


Kathleen Stoley