James wasn’t entirely sure what one should do on a cruise. Most people around him on the deck were sunbathing their already sunburned selves. He knew others were probably in the casinos, wasting their money.

He looked around, and saw artificially augmented beauty, world-weariness and general despair (the losers at the casino below them, then). So he lowered himself carefully into a lounge chair and read.

“Hawking? Hardly relaxing reading, is it,” a female voice said from above him. James searched for the source of the voice. Instinctively: the quick fingers and soft arms- confirm she’s in the computer industry. No make-up- not marketing- but really pretty.
She sat next to him, holding a glass of something sticky and orange.
“You’re a programmer,” James ventured.
“Close enough. More a hacker at heart. Not going to ask how you know. So why’re you here? You don’t look like the cruise type.” She spoke rapidly
“No air of despair, you mean, but not sunburned? Um. It’s a long story.”
She grinned. “I like long stories.”


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