What’s better than waking up next to your spouse on your honeymoon? For me, nothing. The fact Bud and I have a sumptuous stateroom on the luxury cruise ship Stellar Sol makes it even better. Oh yes, cruising the Hawaiian Islands has been a thoroughly enjoyable break from redecorating our new home.
My husband’s just dashed to the gym to work off last night’s five-course dinner. I’ve decided those particular delicacies can linger on my hips until we get back home; I expect clambering up ladders with pots of paint will shift the pounds. Or ounces, at least. Meanwhile, I’ll allow myself to lay here for fifteen minutes and let the headache pills work their magic—maybe one less cocktail tonight?
It’s a challenge to not overindulge: restaurants and bars at almost every turn; service levels meaning I have to lift no more than a finger to get anything delivered to my lounge-chair, table, or room, and the weather? Blissfully warm. I can sit and read while I catch some sun, the ocean breezes keeping me cool-ish.
I’ve enjoyed browsing the ship’s library, but have to admit my love of people-watching often makes me peer beyond the pages of my book. That’s what comes of being a psychologist, I suppose—I always want to know why people do what they do.
It means I build life-stories for folks I stand beside in elevators, or spy across the deck. I can’t help myself. Bud’s indulgently patient about my staring, then telling him about the back-story and current lifestyles I’ve deduced for my targets.
A good example would be our conversation last night about one of the two couples who sit close-by at dinner. We’ve been on the ship for well over a week, and the foursome met at the table the first formal night. Polite conversations have graduated to what appears to be a happy camaraderie. One couple’s young—only in their thirties, which is well below the average age of the guests on the ship, but they are the more experienced cruisers, as evidenced by how relaxed they are in this opulent setting. The other two are in their late sixties, and it’s obvious that they, like us, are enjoying such a vessel for the first time.
I face the older couple, so I’ve grown more familiar with their ways. As our shared mealtimes have passed I’ve built a mental story for them, largely based on the woman’s engagement ring. It’s not an imposing piece, though its small, dark sapphire surrounded by tiny diamonds speaks volumes. It tells me the couple got engaged in the early 1980s, when Lady Diana Spencer’s choice set a trend that encircled the globe.
They have money now, though they’re still getting used to it—their clothing shows me that much, as do their new, expensive watches and jewelry, and the gold card they use almost apologetically when ordering wine at their table. They’re delighted by the dazzling surroundings, but not quite at ease within them; they’ve lived simply until quite recently. Their body language speaks of them being a complete unit, alone in the world, which leads me to suspect parental deaths have filled their coffers, and they probably don’t have children or pets—they haven’t shown off photos on their phones at their table like many others have.
The ring’s inexpensive stones suggest it didn’t require a substantial budget, and the accompanying narrow wedding band probably means they didn’t have much money when they married. Given the likely age of the ring they didn’t wed until they were in their thirties, and I feel a fair assessment is that neither one of them was ever what might be called good-looking, so a late first, and only marriage.
I have no doubt they could now afford to “trade up” as jewelry salesmen like to say, but she treasures that ring for what it represents. Even now, after wearing it for more than thirty years, she touches it gently on occasion, almost as though she’s making sure it’s still there. She often strokes it, then absently reaches for her husband’s hand. Without a word, their eyes meet briefly, a shadow of a private smile passes from one to the other, then they refocus on the conversation.
When I told Bud my theories, he confirmed the history I’d worked out for them—her husband is a gym-mate of my husband, it seems. We shared a grim chuckle as we agreed it made a pleasant change that I haven’t had to use my skills to solve a murder on this trip.
As for today? I won’t let a little hangover spoil our penultimate day at sea, so I’m going to haul myself out of bed and pop to the library before joining Bud, later on. He’s going for a session with the chap who teaches card games; watching people play cards can be very dull, so I’ll pick up a thriller to stop myself nodding off—because who knows what I might miss if I did that.
Cruise photos courtesy of Cathy Ace
The sixth Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse With The Diamond Hand, is published on October 13th 2015. In it you can find out how Cait’s day progresses.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, October 19 for your chance to win a signed copy of The Corpse With The Diamond Hand. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
About the author
Cathy Ace’s criminal psychologist, foodie sleuth, Cait Morgan, has stumbled upon Corpses with a Silver Tongue, a Golden Nose, an Emerald Thumb, Platinum Hair, Sapphire Eyes and, now, a Diamond Hand during her globetrotting. A bestselling author, Cathy won the 2015 Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery for Cait Morgan Mystery #4, The Corpse with the Platinum Hair. Like Cait Morgan, Cathy was born and raised in Wales, but now lives in Beautiful British Columbia.