"Susan Cramer was desperately in need of a vacation, but not at the expense of another dead man."
A leisurely vacation turns deadly when an old man falls dead at Susan's feet on the cruise ship Aloha.
Was she some sort of death magnet?
Maybe so. Maybe not.
One thing was for sure. Through the lies, secrets, and surprises to be discovered on board and off, Susan will learn at least one important thing, and this thing called "love" will be something she wished had never followed her out to the high seas.
The old man wore a black suit, a starched white shirt and a black bow tie, the standard fare for men of his age. They were both on a cruise ship, and though she didn't know him, they’d been speaking. At least, she'd been speaking. The man was drunk and couldn't stand; he'd kept asking her to repeat herself.
She'd been speaking about her divorce and subsequent trip when his blue-gray eyes had clouded over and he'd collapsed in a heap in front of her.
She'd reached for him, of course. But his body had slipped through her fingers like a fish in shallow water. He'd tried to breathe, taking in two shallow gasps. But he was lying there now, his blistered face to the sky, his eyes staring, his left leg bent behind him in some sort of twisted leap. He was dead, Susan was sure of that.
“Help!” she screamed, watching the dance floor for someone, anyone...
And then, as if time had sped up, she was there, an old woman in a gold dress, her bronzed skin twinkling against the burnished fabric. She leaned over the man.
“What happened?” the old woman's voice quivered. It reminded Susan of a child’s.
As the salty air caressed Susan's cheeks, she looked out at the great blue ocean. In that moment she thought of Henry.
“I…we were just talking.”
The woman in gold, her gray hair perfectly coiffed, reached for the man’s wrist. And in that moment Susan saw Henry James as John Middleton, lying dead by the old coal burning stove at the Hotel Camaro.
The woman was sobbing, leaning over the man, trying to shake him awake.
“What did you do?” she wailed. Her eyes were a blotchy black and mascara was running down her naked neck.
Susan looked away.
The champagne glass near the deck’s railing had spilled. The place where it lodged was a red and sticky, wet.
"I can’t wake him!”
The waves must have crashed against the large cruise ship, but Susan hardly noticed; she barely saw those who had suddenly gathered around her including the face of Charles, one of the officers on board ship. He pronounced the man dead.
“But, how can he be…dead?” the old woman gasped, holding her chest, breathing in the sea air in shuddering gasps.
Susan stood next to the railing. She looked out at the sea and wasn't sure when the old man was taken away with his sobbing wife. How had Susan gotten to the railing anyway? Why was the man dead? Had he simply had a heart-attack? Or had someone actually murdered him?