It's not wise to wander the cruise ship Forever alone at night. You might not live to see daylight.
Detective Jack Harney agrees to do an old Army buddy a favor. Curt Noble had some personal business to attend to, he didn’t say what. What he did say was he needed someone to temporarily take over his duties as head of security on the struggling cruise ship Forever. Jack hesitates, but he owes Curt his life so agrees. He’s told the worst mischief he can expect to encounter will be the occasional shoplifter, or drunk. Instead, one week into the cruise, a beautiful red head and a member of the crew are ruthlessly murdered. Are the two murders connected? It’s up to Jack to find out. He must find the killer before the ship returns to Tampa’s port, or worse, before another dead body is found. This won't be easy. The ship is old, it's security systems outdated, and clues are few, or so it seems at first
It’s not just a sense of obligation that motivates Jack to agree to Curt's request; Jack moved thousands of miles, started over, and still can't get Amy O'Brian out of his heart or mind. When she shows up on the ship, as part of a large wedding party, Jack must fight to stay focused. To make matters worse, Amy isn't his only distraction; a sexy and mysterious woman has made it her mission to seduce Jack.
As the body count rises, and time slips away, Jack has to ask himself, “Did someone commit the perfect crime?”
The woman wore a long grey overcoat, and next to nothing underneath it. She was relieved when the elevator she entered was empty and thankful for the costume ball that was going on; it meant the employee cafeteria would be empty. She’d heard that most of the staff would be working the party, and that they’d be allowed to eat there, so the cafeteria was closed. She was still nervous. She’d been told in no uncertain terms to not enter the cafeteria once it closed, but she’d gotten sidetracked and hadn’t gotten down there earlier. Now, she’d need to sneak.
When she arrived at the second floor, it was very quiet and empty. Just as she’d expected. She couldn’t help wondering what the big deal was? She’d go in, get the cake, and be gone. She realized the problem once she’d pushed through the cafeteria doors; it was very dark. They probably were worried she’d trip or something. The kitchen lights were on, she used them to guide her across the room. If someone was in there, she’d just take her overcoat off; one look at her nearly naked body would get her out of any trouble she might be in. However, she hoped the room was empty and luckily it was. She looked around, her cake would likely be in the pantry, since it wasn’t a real cake. Then again, she had done gigs where the cake had actually been kept in the refrigerators alongside real cakes. Go figure.
Just as she was about to open the pantry, she heard someone at the back door. She had just a second to decide what to do; hide in the pantry or stay and prepare to explain why she was there. Being a stripper paid the bills, but it wasn’t something she was proud of. When she danced in front of drunk men, she felt detached. They didn’t know her, and she didn’t know them. But, standing there in the kitchen, she didn’t really relish the thought of having to either talk her way out of trouble or flash her way out. She’d also had one or two unpleasant experiences, it was never a really good idea for a stripper to find herself alone with a man she didn’t know.
She quickly opened the pantry door and stepped inside. Oh, look there’s my cake. By the sound of the wind, rain and even the occasional thunder outside, she could tell the back door had finally been opened. She opened the pantry door an inch and peeked out. A tall, thick man was there, he was making a sandwich. She’d just wait him out. The lights in the kitchen flickered on and off, then on again. Suddenly, another man came into the kitchen. Jeez, I’m never gonna get out of here. The tone of his voice concerned her, he seemed annoyed, maybe even angry.
“What are you doing in here?” she heard him ask.
At least I’m not the only person in the kitchen that’s not supposed to be here.
The other man didn’t answer, he just picked up a rolling pin and hit the guy on the side of the head, hard. The man fell to the floor with a thud. His head lay just outside where she was hidden, she could see through the crack in the door blood on the side of his head, and his eyes wide open and vacant. She swallowed hard, and willed herself not to freak out. She’d need all her composure so she didn’t give herself away. She watched, shocked, as the big man picked up the dead guy like he was a sack of potatoes, and walk outside.
She wasn’t thinking straight. Should she wait, see if he was coming back? Should she run like hell and hope he didn’t see? She did what any good stripper would do. She went to the other side of her cake, bent down, and with all her strength pushed that cake out of the pantry, through the kitchen, and out of the cafeteria. She pulled the hood up on her overcoat and kept it there until she arrived at her destination.
MaryAnn Kempher's writing is infused with mystery and romance. She spent her teen years spent living in Reno NV where her first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder is set. The setting for her second book, Forever Doomed, was inspired by her love of the ocean. Her writing influences include favorite authors Agatha Christie, Jane Austen and Janet Evanovich. Her guilty pleasures include any and all sweets, including a good cup of Mocha. She is married with two children.