Cruise to Murder (Z & C Mysteries, #2)

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CRUISE TO MURDER

(Book 2,  Z&C Mysteries)

 

By Zoey & Claire Kane

 

Copyright Breezy Reads 2012

Cruise to Murder Raves:

 

5 STARS. The story is quite fascinating with more ambitious content than the first novella and it affords lots of surprises. I was perfectly, wonderfully entertained! Take my advice and read this series. You will not regret, I promise!

Stephanie, From Books Paradise

 

This short mystery is packed with trouble, mystery and intrigue.

Kari, From the TBR Pile

 

Cruise to Murder is, just as The Riddles of Hillgate, a fast, fun and entertaining read.

Kim, Kim's Bookish Place

 

I really enjoyed Cruise to Murder... You won't be disappointed with this one.

Jill, Seaside Book Nook

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

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CHAPTER ONE

 

The cruise ship was larger than Zoey and Claire Kane had imagined.
The Sunburst
, with its sleek lines, hundreds of glistening windows, and colored flags lining the bow, promised luxurious adventures ahead.

“Mother, watch out for rolling your luggage onto people’s ankles,” Claire warned.

“Uh huh,” Zo said, but her focus was taken away by the scenery. She romanticized the sea, down to its pungent, fishy smell—it was all part of the mystical marine allure. The latest romance novel she read was about a bare-chested captain, who could swing from sail to sail, holding onto a rope with one arm and a damsel in distress in the other.
Perhaps I could experience something similar on this voyage
, she mused.

“Oh! Ow!” protested a fellow sailor, scowling.

“Oops! Sorry, sir… So sorry!” Zo snapped out of it, pulling in her leopard suitcases tighter alongside her own feet.

“What did I tell you about ankles, Mom?” Claire was carefully wheeling her three black suitcases
.

They were headed up a wide ramp, which led to an entrance aboard ship. It was packed with very wealthy, mostly older, vacationers. Claire didn’t think to ask her
mother why neither of them opted for luggage delivery to their suite. She and Zo didn’t feel as if they were part of such a pampered class. It was just happenstance that the two came upon such riches and so recently. Still, they expected to have a lot of fun taking advantage of their
nouveau
wealth. It was time for a much needed holiday, especially after having just solved the riddles of Hillgate Manor.

As a mother-daughter team, the two complement each other as they enjoy outwitting life’s obstacles. Zo thinks of Claire as the careful, more business-minded one. And Claire thinks of her mother as the free spirit
ed, gutsy one. The two may seem and look to be opposites in many ways, but like any yummy pastry, sugar goes good with some salt. The twenty-five-year-old is the salt to the fifty-something-year-old sugar. It always surprises others to find out Claire is so young, because she is so savvy beyond her years. Likewise, people are always surprised to find out Zo is in her fifties, because of her youthful zest.

Zo was wearing a sheer blouse with a dropped neckline over a tank top. Her
strawberry-blonde hair was braided down her back, leading to her white capris and golden-laced sandals. Claire was wearing a simple summer dress and her brunette, shoulder-length hair was up in a sleek French twist.

“I fear we didn’t dress well enough for the occasion,” Zo finally said, taking
in all the hundred-dollar sunglasses, thousand-dollar handbags, Rolexes, pearl necklaces—and, of course—diamonds… big ones!


I’m just amazed we can out-dress them if we desire,” Claire said. “But that doesn’t matter anyway. We are just now boarding. We have our nice clothes for later, not to be wasted on moments like this.”

“I suppose you’re right, but I do wish I had brought my lovely ruby ring for tonight,” Zo thought, then spotted a group of older women all wearing red hats, complemented with purple fringe, feathers, scarves, or lace. “It’s The Red Hat Society!”

“Oh, I think I’ve heard of them,” Claire said. “Seniors who wear red hats and enjoy leisure activities. See? There are more over there.”

“Yes, yes. Oh, and there must be th
e Pink Hat Society.” Zo pointed. Younger women with pink hats were interwoven with the party of red hats. “Do you think I could fit in with them, dear?”

“Who?! The
Pink
Hats? Don’t even try.” Claire was serious. “I would like this cruise to be mostly about us. We have not had fun and relaxation in a long time. Let’s just stick together.”

“I know.” Zo would have put her arm around her daughter,
in a side-squeeze, if they weren’t continuing to walk up the never-ending ramp. “How do you think Lucas and Bob will do without us?”

“I think they will be fine.”

“Remember to keep your options open since Jack left. Lucas may not be The One.”

“Bob either, Mother. I think it’s too soon for them to think we are exclusive anyway. What has it been, a couple of months of dating here and there?”

“Yes, but they certainly are good boys, aren’t they?”

“Yes, good
boys
.” Claire laughed.

After finally entering the center, The Grand Foyer of the ship, they made their way to an elevator of mostly windows, decorated with twinkling lights. They exited on the top deck, where the most elite staterooms resided.

Zo gasped. “That hallway looks to be about two-hundred yards to the left and two-hundred yards to the right,” she exaggerated.


Oh, no worries.” Claire quickly saw that their stateroom was not too far off. “It’s just right up there.”

“Oh
, good.”

Zo had the key card and she unlocked their door. Inside didn’t disappoint. It was comparable to a five star hotel suite in Vegas. A chandelier was right in the center of a very elegant sitting room.
Champagne and cider in an ice bucket greeted them next to fresh-cut orchids in a vase on a glass coffee table. Two bedrooms off opposite sides from it had king size beds, large flat screen TVs and walk in showers.

“This definitely is a celebrity cruise line. I’ve never seen such rooms aboard other ships,” Claire noted.

“Wow!” Zo exclaimed. “I still have a poverty appreciation for this kind of grandeur.”

They opened a sliding glass door and stepped out to their balcony. They stood there, leaning their forearms against the railing in awe for a moment, looking out across the dark, rippling sea.

“There’s the life boat,” Claire mentioned, nodding in the direction of it, just left of the balcony.


That makes me feel better,” her mother said with a chuckle.

After hanging up several expensive evening dresses and setting out dozens of high heels, they heard an announcement over an intercom in their rooms. “This is your captain
, Vladimir. Welcome and thank you for choosing
The Ocean Elite Cruise Line
for your vacation experience.” He had a strong accent. “In one hour, 5 p.m., we ask all to gather for a mandatory lifejacket try-on with accompanying tour of exits and life boats. We will sail away in two-and-a-half hours—6:30 p.m. I invite you to the traditional sailing away ceremony out on The Galaxy Deck.
The Sunburst
will be sailing to our first stop, Kinikiwiki Island, arriving at this beautiful destination by morning
. Bon Voyage!”

They felt thrills of excitement course through them upon hearing the announcement of the island getaway. They met back in the sitting room upon the captain’s last words, all dressed for the evening.

Claire’s large gold locket from
The Riddles of Hillgate
adorned her black satin dress. Her hair was still up, but tightened into a neater twist with a bit of bangs falling across her perfect forehead.

“Oh, you look wonderful,” said Zo as she
centered her daughter’s locket clasp more perfectly to the back of her neck.


We
look wonderful.” Claire beamed. “Wow, your garnet red dress is to die for!”

“Yes, I thought it would make a statement. I bought it in the city last weekend. What kind of a statement does it make
, dear? Nothing rude, I hope.”

“You and it go well together. Don’t worry,”
assured her daughter with a critical eye. “Why don’t we walk around a bit before the night wears on?”

“Count me in,” Zo chimed.

They both rushed to grab their evening handbags. Zo felt the doorknob to make sure it was locked on the way out.

Suddenly the door to the suite left of them opened up and out stepped a very thin, happy woman wearing a cocktail hat, a geranium-red dress to match, and a deep purple boa. “Oooh, your dress is to die for!” she exclaimed in compliment to Zo.

“That’s what my daughter said.” She chuckled, happy for receiving the remark twice.

“Well, it is.” She gleamed, her fluffy white hair poked out from under the hat. Her blue eyes were sinc
erely kind and her cheekbones were round like apples. “Hi, my name is Kathryn.”

Zo shook hands first. “My name is Zoey Kane and this is my daughter, Claire Kane. You can call me Zo.”

“How do you do?” Claire acknowledged.

“Oh, splendid. I’m here with a bunch of lady friends, but you know it is so neat to see a mother and daughter close like you two. You aren’t in business together
, are you?”

“Well, not really,” Zo answered. “We did have a very successful hotel
.” She didn’t fear bragging. “But now we are looking into other options. Claire was an editor to
Eye Witness Magazine
,” she added to top it off with a cherry.


Eye Witness Magazine
? Oh yes, I have heard of it, although I haven’t read an issue myself.” Her smile continued. “Oh, well, speaking of publishing,” she quieted her voice and stepped a little closer to the two, “I hear that Felix Belmont, publisher of
American Citizen
, has a room right on the other side of you two!”

“Really?!” Zo and Claire said in unison.

“Yes!” Kathryn nodded vigorously. “Maybe you will run into each other during the week. Exchange info.”

“Oh, that would be excellent.” Claire thanked her for that bit of information.

“Well, see you ladies around. I have got a meeting to attend.” She waved. “And I’m late!”

“Bye!” Zo said, admiring her charm.

“Did you hear that? Felix Belmont is next door to us. This vacation seems to only get better and better and we’ve hardly arrived aboard ship, Mother.”

CHAPTER TWO

 

“Now take your life jacket and slip it over the head like so.” A crew member demonstrated effortlessly.

Large crowds gathered in separately appointed areas, learning how to save themselves in case of emergency. The Starlight Room, a very large theater, was Zo and Claire’s appointed meet-up place.

Claire slipped her life jacket on within a couple seconds. Somehow, Zo got hers caught on her pretty hair ornaments. Her arms were stuck upwards waiting for their release. She looked like a crab to her daughter. Claire was trying to be sympathetic, while at the same time unsuccessfully resisting laughter.

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