Authors: Kathryn Fox
Tags: #Crime, #General, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction
First published in Great Britain in 2012 by
Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Kathryn Fox 2012
The right of Kathryn Fox to be identified as the Author of the Work
has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance
to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
ISBN 978 1 848 94603 3
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
For all the victims on cruise ships and their families still searching for answers.
Ben peeled back the double bed sheet. ‘Wake up, Mum! It’s morning. Let’s go swimming!’
Anya Crichton forced her eyelids to separate and saw her six year old standing over her, in rash vest and board shorts. From the sickly sweet smell, the globs smeared across his cheeks were sunscreen.
‘Come on, MUM!’
Part of her was impressed that he had thought of the sun protection, but the rest wished he could have slept longer – the bedside clock read 6.15 a.m. First hint of sunlight and he was wide awake, ready for the new day’s adventures.
She hauled herself up against the headboard and felt the vibration in the cabin. Despite a fitful night, she had escaped seasickness. For now. The last few days felt like a blur. Working in New York on an assault case involving the Jersey Bombers football team had been challenging but exhausting. The gift of a holiday on board the
with her son had been extravagant on the part of the Bombers’ owner. Only thing was, he had included her former husband in the ‘family’ holiday.
Ben had begged for the three of them to be together and, for his sake, Anya and her ex-husband had reluctantly agreed to put aside their differences. Besides, it made sense for Martin, who had custody, to bring Ben from Australia to visit New York and see the Bombers play live. From there, the flights to Hawaii had been uneventful. Unfortunately at check-in, the two promised cabins had been unavailable, and they’d been allocated the same suite. At both their insistence, Martin was given a separate cabin on a lower deck.
Now Anya had Ben to herself for the first time in weeks.
‘What about breakfast? Aren’t you hungry? I bet they do fantastic pancakes.’
Hands on hips, Ben tilted his head. ‘You never exercise or go in the water on a full stomach. We can eat
.’ He moved his arms so his palms faced upward, emphasising the point. The gesture belonged to his grandfather.
Anya pressed the heel of her hand on her forehead. ‘What was I thinking?’ One lunge and Ben was squealing in her arms.
‘How silly do you think I am?’ she teased, exposing his belly with the threat of more tickles.
The scent of sunscreen filled the air. Suddenly the holiday felt real.
‘You missed a tiny bit,’ she joked, rubbing her hands all over Ben’s face. He thought the action hilarious.
A knock on the door broke the moment.
‘Dad!’ He was off.
‘I’ll answer it. It could be anyone.’ Anya scrambled to her feet.
Before she could stop him, Martin had entered and hauled their son into his arms.
Anyone would have thought the pair had been separated a lot longer than one night.
‘Morning Annie.’ He glanced at her oversized Tweety Bird T-shirt. ‘Nice PJs. Didn’t we give you that when Benny Boy was born?’
‘It’s still comfy.’ It was all she could think to say. Truth was she wouldn’t ever part with it because it reminded her of happier family times. Something in Martin’s expression changed. He looked tired and drawn.
‘What happened? Party too hard after dinner?’ She regretted the tone as soon as the words came out.
He put Ben down. ‘I don’t have a hangover, if that’s what you’re suggesting. I was headed up for a jog, but if you’d like a lie-in? I can take—’
‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to . . .’ She grabbed her swimsuit and overdress from the bottom drawer and headed for the bathroom. ‘I’ll just be a minute.’
By the time she reappeared, the curtains were drawn back, the balcony door was open and a brisk sea breeze drifted through the cabin. They had been sailing since leaving Honolulu the previous night and she had barely registered the movement. No nausea, no dizziness, no vomiting, unlike her earlier experiences with boats. Maybe the trip would be a new beginning; for her stomach at least, she thought.
‘This is luxurious,’ Martin announced, coming in from the balcony.
Anya felt guilty. ‘What’s yours like?’
‘There’s a picture of a porthole. From the sounds of it, I’m just above the crew’s karaoke bar. Most of the rooms on the corridor are filled with guys in matching bowling shirts who aren’t exactly considerate of anyone wanting sleep.’
That explained Martin’s appearance.
Anya felt even guiltier. ‘Maybe we should take turns here with Ben.’
He gave her a look that meant swapping cabins wasn’t an option.
‘If you were disturbed,’ she said, ‘chances are others were too. It might be worth saying something to the purser.’
‘Hey look, Dad, this is where I sleep.’ Ben had climbed the ladder and plonked himself on the bed that lowered from the ceiling, above the double-seater lounge. ‘It goes away in the daytime.’
‘Like a secret bed!’ Martin pulled the sheet over Ben’s face. ‘I think I will complain. Two weeks of what happened last night will do me in. We could stop by the main deck on the way up to the pool.’
Complete with room keys, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, they headed to the birdcage lifts. At that time in the morning, Guest Services was quiet. Martin was greeted by a smiling purser with a Jamaican accent. Ben sat on a lounge chair nearby with his favourite book –
The A-Z of Animals
‘Last night,’ Martin began, ‘the noise on the corridor was louder than the crew singing karaoke below.’
‘Sir, the crew are entitled to their downtime and, unfortunately, there is little I can do about that. Some passengers who sleep lightly find earplugs helpful. They may be purchased in the shop on deck four.’
The response took both Anya and Martin by surprise.
‘Look,’ Martin attempted. ‘I’m into fun as much as the next guy, but last night deck one was out of control. A group of men were drinking outside the cabins and mucking around with fire-extinguishers.’ His voice lowered, ‘Some were naked and when I asked if they could keep it down, they became aggressive. To be honest, as a group, they’re fairly intimidating. I get cutting loose, but not with families all around. There was even a nude couple in the corridor at one stage having sex.’ He jabbed his finger into the desk. ‘It’s completely unacceptable. I don’t want my son or anyone else’s kids to have to see or hear that.’
Anya was surprised how annoyed Martin was. There was a time when he would have been the loud one in the corridor. He had been known to pull pranks at university, but they were harmless. Nothing like what he just described.
‘Well, sir, we take safety on board very seriously and interfering with fire equipment is a breach of our regulations.’
Anya glanced at Martin. ‘But nudity and intercourse in public areas isn’t?’
The purser gave her a sympathetic look. ‘Ma’am, it was our first night at sea. We find that people let off steam and have fun on vacation. It’s why they sail with us. They usually settle down after a couple of nights.’