20. The First Time (part 2)

          The captain was a rainbow trout, red in the cheeks with glazed eyes and a gaping jaw. "What?" he chuckled nervously, completely mortified, just now noticing all of his men circled around them. "I must have misheard you, Princess. For a second, I thought I’d heard you ask me to remove my ─ hey!" She was upon him like a thief, tugging at the hem of his shirt and struggling to yank it over his head. "What ─ what are you doing? Hey, Hataru!" Though objection rang through his voice, he wasn't sure if he should resist her or give into her wish. Ultimately he ended up in a twisted tangle of cloth and appendages.

          "Stop fighting me and just take it off, Levi!" barked the princess, and abruptly he obeyed, bending his back and straightening  his arms in order to allow the princess to peel the fabric from his sweat-soaked skin. He gawked at her, like a man who had just experienced an electric flow of lightning course through his very being and survived. "There," she sighed. "Now you're safe, too."

          Peeking up at him through her lengthy eyelashes, nothing could hide her cherry tomato cheeks, burning at the sight of rivulets of perspiration trailing down his unclothed torso.  "I'll ─ I'll," stammering, she had to stop herself in order to continue, "I will put this away in my cabin for safe keeping. Good night." With that, the princess sailed off like a yacht on a cool lake, leaving the befuddled captain in her wake.

          He was a statue ─ his stance unchanging, his eyes unblinking. Nothing could move him from he stood, scrutinizing the doorway through which the young woman had disappeared. It could have been seconds since he had become a frozen vegetable; it could have been years. Time was incomprehensible to him. He couldn’t detect the light of the rising sun creeping over the horizon. He couldn’t feel the pressure of his crew men's stares. Nothing seemed to make a difference to him at all. The captain’s mind was a tabula rasa, a clean slate; his mind was completely blank.

The End

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