When Monique Witherspoon embarks on a lengthy cruise she becomes involved in more adventure than she ever thought possible.
Through mishaps aboard ship and in port, Monique discovers that good friends are invaluable and can sometimes become much, much more.
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When Monique Witherspoon embarks on a lengthy cruise aboard the luxurious liner Sylph of the Seas she becomes involved in more adventure than she could have imagined.
Soon she becomes friends with an eclectic group of fellow travelers. She meets handsome London Metropolitan Police Specialist Philip Shaw through his matchmaking grandmother, who just happens to be Monique’s favorite author; and through suave and sophisticated Gian-Carlo Luchetti, Monique becomes an unwitting pawn in a scheme to steal a 16th century nautical astrolabe from a famous museum.
During a shore visit to Cannes with Philip’s grandmother and two other women friends, Monique is kidnapped by the murderous mastermind of the scheme who is certain she has learned of his intentions through a mysterious note delivered to her cabin door. Monique devises a plan to stay alive while she endeavors to remain optimistic for rescue before something dreadful happens.
Philip and the Italian Carabinieri arrive, but not before Gian-Carlo is wounded and Monique fears he is dead. Gian-Carlo survives, but as her feelings fluctuate Monique begins to question what she really wants from love—and life.
A refreshing breeze cooled sun-hot skin, sent a stray lock of long, dark hair flying. Head bent against the glare, she felt through her bag and closed her fingers on new Armani sunglasses purchased for the trip. She drew them out, admired them afresh, then slipped them on. Their dark lenses relieved a squint brought on by brilliant gold-tipped wavelets dancing in and out of the harbor.
She leaned on the deck railing of the sleek ocean liner, Sylph of the Seas, and took in the sights, sounds and odors of the busy pier. Harried porters, whose deftness avoided near mishaps, pushed wheeled carts piled high with luggage through the huge parking lot crammed with cars and busses of every size, color and description. Steady streams of workers who resembled ants when viewed from the lofty height of Sylph’s top deck loaded or unloaded several ships. Monique had thought the ship enormous when viewed from the taxi window, but here on the deck its immensity sank deeper yet into her consciousness; she wondered if she would ever find her way around the great vessel.
She drew strands of hair away from her face to take a generous drink from a tall frosted glass. The bartender, whose skin reminded her of delectable, smooth, chocolate, convinced her she would like the Bahama Mama; the fruity, tangy concoction left a tingle on her taste buds, while several more sips provided a pleasant little buzz.
She glanced around at others who
waited on deck for the ship to depart. One person piqued her interest.
A lean, olive-skinned man lounged against the railing while he enjoyed a cigarette. For a brief moment their eyes met, then a blast from the ship’s whistle signaled their imminent departure and her attention turned to the throng below.
Soon, though, an almost irresistible urge drew Monique’s eyes back to the man who stood just a few feet away. Something about him tickled her memory; she’d seen him somewhere before. Maybe he stood next to her in line during the check-in process. Monique watched him take a last drag on his cigarette, stub out the butt in a conveniently placed ash tray, and then focus his attention on the sea.
Most of the big ship’s passengers waved to less fortunate folks left behind during Sylph’s slow departure from port. Nobody waited for Monique’s wave, but she waved anyway. She waved goodbye to her old life as she recognized it.
Nobody who knew her would ever believe she, Monique Witherspoon, an ordinary woman with an ordinary life, would participate in such an adventure. She still could barely take in the incredible amount of money that was now hers.
The vessel offered much to see and do and she wanted to start exploring. However, she was reluctant to leave her vantage point at the rail and did not go inside until the ship left the harbor behind.
Out of the corner of one eye, he glimpsed the woman’s appraisal of him. After a short while her attention turned elsewhere.
Hmmm, I wonder. Is she alone or with a companion?
He watched to see if someone would join her at the rail. Nobody did.
A second blast from the ship’s horn turned heads. The sound turned his attention back to the docks. He watched those going ashore exchange hugs and last goodbyes with friends and relatives and begin to trickle off the boat.