The story really began when I agreed to accompany my boyfriend, a Denver physician, on a four-week cruise through the Caribbean and around South America. I really don't know what I was thinking, except that he was very sexy and persuasive. We began planning the trip on our one-month anniversary and he assured me I would love the adventure. Right away "I was already feeling more captive than captivated."
I didn't get a chance to find out if I would love cruising because from the first day, the adventure turned scary. I overheard conversations apparently by pure coincidence that made me think there was going to be a crime committed. Then there was one when a crew member met a horrific death. The problem was that the cruise line and the security chief called it an accident and failed to investigate what might have been a murder.
The trip started going downhill from there when my romance crumbled and the intimacy of the ship environment took its toll. By the time I met Michaelangelo Clayton while sitting at a bar trying to enjoy a martini, I was quite frazzled and confused and trying to stay away from my now ex-boyfriend. Mick turned out to be my salvation in more than one way, but that is a long story with hills and valleys to navigate, not to mention rough seas both literally and metaphorically. The next thing I knew, Mick and I were in a relationship of sorts. But he had his own set of problems and unbeknownst to me, a hidden agenda for being onboard, the unveiling of which would be one of the shocking events of my life.
Soon, I was forming another friendship with Suzanne Moretti who was the hotel director and the captain's wife. At first we seemed to have much in common. I'm not one to have a lot of close female friends--or any for that matter. Our relationship took a dip when I lost track of her on shore in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, then was chased through the dreadful streets and accosted by local thugs. That was the first time Don Freeburg and Charlie Scott came to my rescue.
I met Don and Charlie at our dinner table and they gradually became my buddies. Now, you can probably see that the lives of a group of strangers became intertwined. That is true, but not all of us had pure motives for our actions. The story gets more complicated with Mick's liaisons and another murder, not to mention the mother of all coincidences that changed me forever. I'll save those tidbits for next time.