A Paranormal Women's Fiction Novel: Cruise Ship COZY MYSTERY
If I thought the first half of my life was a bumpy ride, I’d better buckle up because I’m about to go over the hill and off the rails.
*A laugh out loud Paranormal Women’s Fiction Novel by New York Times Bestseller Addison Moore* A cruise ship cozy mystery!
My name is Trixie Troublefield, and I see ghosts. It’s sort of a new thing, and it’s more than a problem.
I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is my travel blog Suddenly Single—What a Trip! has taken off like gangbusters, and I’ve inadvertently become the queen for an entire tribe of newly divorced women.
And even better than that? Handsome Ransom Baxter, the head of vessel security, is throwing out more than a few signs that he’s interested in me.
The bad news? My ex has booked a cabin on the very same ship, and not only is he determined to win me back, he’s determined to make me jealous with some leggy blonde.
It’s going to be eighteen long nights to paradise and back before I can evict my ex out of my life once again, but a killer has different plans.
Is it bad that I’m rooting for the killer?
Midlife on the high seas is proving to be murder.
From the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Addison Moore— Cosmopolitan Magazine calls Addison's books, “…easy, frothy fun!”
Emerald Queen of the Seas, Royal Lineage Cruise Lines
18 night Hawaiian cruise (back on the 19th day)
Day one Los Angeles departure 4:00
5 nights at sea
Night 6 and 7 Honolulu (Oahu)
Night 8 and 9 Lahaina (Maui) (Tender)
Night 10 Hilo (Big Island)
Night 11 Kona (Big Island) (Tender)
Night 12 and 13 Nawiliwili Harbor (Kauai)
Night 14, 15, 16, 17 time at sea!
Day 18 Los Angeles
What could be worse than your cheating ex trying to win you back? Your cheating ex trying to win you back while simultaneously threatening revenge.
“These women are hot,” Stanton muses mostly to himself even though he’s said the very same thing at least ten times in the last ten minutes as a crop of brand new passengers stream right by us.
Honestly, only Stanton Parker Troublefield could be such a dichotomy. I should have known the man was trouble from the get-go. The word is built into his surname, for Pete’s sake.
But no, I had to be blinded by love—that four-letter word that came to bite me in the butt just last month at the very same time I caught my husband of twenty-five years biting someone else on the butt who happened to not be me.
It was the day we were set to take off on the cruise that our children, Abbey and Parker, purchased for us as a surprise for our anniversary. But after catching Stanton in the buff with a bevy of naked beauties, I went on the cruise without him. Seeing that my husband had grown an appetite for women who were not me—and come to find out, that wasn’t his first carnal buffet that I wasn’t invited to—I made the decision to cut him out of the cruise, and more importantly, out of my life.
The cruise was great—sans the corpse that made an appearance in my suitcase. But that’s all over with now and I’ve actually managed to score a position here on the ship, teaching art classes to the lucky travelers headed to paradise.
Last month I was merely a passenger, but this month I’m both a passenger and the on board art instructor. The captain, a looker by the name of Weston (Wes) Crawford, put in a good word for me and secured me to the ship, and if rumors and my intuition would be correct, he wouldn’t mind securing me for himself as well. Normally, I’d jump at the chance to date a dark-haired, amber-eyed looker who is as kind as he is gorgeous, but well, there’s a six-foot-two detail that stands in the way and his name happens to be Ransom Courtland Baxter.
That’s right, the Emerald Queen of the Seas is my brand new home. They tried to give me a thimble of a cabin down below sea level, but I pitched for an upgrade for a cabin with a view and a balcony.
But thankfully, my newfound decision to keep cruising until I drop dead won’t impact my children’s wellbeing since they’re both adults and in college. Abbey is twenty-one and attends Dexter University in our home state of Maine, and Parker is twenty-four. He just graduated from Dexter last spring, and he’s currently finishing up his first year at grad school at Hollingsworth University in England where he’s studying digital social media.
Stanton, being a plastic surgeon, balked at our son’s digital ambitions, citing that we’re paying a mint to have Parker play on the internet. Unlike the fact that women of all ages and stages of life are paying Stanton a mint to play with them—some in coital ways—in his office. But I don’t want to think about his philandering past.
Right now I want to focus on the present, where I’m currently standing at the top of the gangway on one of the biggest and most beautiful ships to sail the ocean blue, the Emerald Queen of the Seas, where we’re preparing to leave the port of Los Angeles for an eighteen-night cruise to the tropics—Hawaii to be exact.
The atrium expands behind us with its marble floors and towering ceiling. A glossy black piano sits far to our left where a woman sits tickling the ivories, providing elegant entertainment. The next two decks above us are exposed with glass balconies rimmed with brass as far as the eye can see, as well as fluorescent lights that hug the curves just below the balconies, creating their own rendition of soothing waves.
“What the hell are we doing here, Trixie?” Stanton bumps his shoulder to mine as he foists an empty glass in my face. “I’m running on fumes here. My mai tai ran out ten minutes ago.”
My name is Trixie Troublefield, and I can see the dead—and perhaps the soon-to-be dead as well. The ghost I saw last month would qualify for that first category, and my ex would qualify for the second. I stand at an average height of five-foot-five and have medium-length blonde hair with bangs, an ode to the eighties that I refuse to give up, and I might have more gray than blonde in my tresses these days. I’ve traded my mom jeans for gauzy A-line dresses, and my calorie-counting ways for consuming them in mass quantities, preferably in the form of carbs.
“I’m greeting the passengers,” I grit the words through my teeth as I fan my hand around at the atrium. “You don’t have to stay put. I, however, am obligated. I’m an employee here, and the bylaws state that the cruise director and her minions need to be front and center to greet the incoming passengers.”
Okay, so there aren’t any such bylaws that I know of, but as soon as Ransom got wind of the fact my ex had booked a ticket to make me miserable for the next eighteen nights, I was given explicit instructions to stand right next to the captain until Ransom himself could break free from the meeting he’s currently in.
Ransom is head of vessel security here on the ship. He’s actually one of two detectives who works alongside an army of security officers. At a full booking, the ship has a passenger capacity of approximately six thousand seven hundred, so you can imagine how many nefarious characters can trickle in with that many people—and the most nefarious of them all happens to be glued to my side at the moment.
Weston turns my way as soon as there’s a lull of happy-go-lucky passengers ready and willing to get their tropical cruise on. Wes looks so handsome in his full captain’s regalia, which consists of a crisp white suit, a white cap to match, plus all the brass and navy bells and whistles that decorate his lapels.
“Trixie, if this guy’s bothering you, I’ll gladly call security.” Wes takes a moment to glare over at the nuisance who dares hang on my shoulder.
“Captain Crawford.” I clear my throat a moment. “I’d like for you to meet my soon-to-be ex-husband, Stanton Troublefield. Unfortunately, for all involved, he’ll be traveling with us on this leg to paradise, and if I haven’t killed him by the time we arrive, he’ll be traveling back with us as well.”
Weston inches back and examines Stanton with whole new eyes.
Stanton isn’t much to look at. He’s tall, barrel-chested, with a scant wreath of gray hair—some define that as bald—and hard, dark eyes.
“Doctor Stanton Troublefield.” Stanton is quick to shake Weston’s hand. “I work in plastic surgery out in Brambleberry Bay, back in Maine. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods and need a nip and tuck, I’d be happy to service you.”
“I don’t see why not,” I mutter. “You service everyone else.”
Stanton frowns my way. “Don’t listen to the little woman.” He wraps an arm around my shoulders. “This is our anniversary cruise. We hit a bit of a rough patch, but after twenty-five years, that’s to be expected. I’m sure we’ll have all the kinks worked out before we come back to port. In fact, don’t be surprised if we ask you to help renew our wedding vows.”
“Oh my word”—I flip his arm off of me and nearly send him flying backward—“this is not a reconciliation cruise. Let’s get one thing straight, buddy. We are not together in any capacity. The fact we’ve both procured top-notch divorce attorneys assures me of as much. And besides that, you are my past, Stanton. Cruising is my future.” I nod to Wes. “Rest assured, you will not be participating in any matrimonial farce on my behalf.”
“Good to know,” he says as he glares at Stanton with a hardened expression.
Before I can reroute our attention to the passengers at hand, Ransom pops up like the cool glass of water he is, and suddenly I am very, very thirsty.
“What’s going on?” he growls. Ransom is decked out in a dark inky suit. His thick dark hair is slicked back, his blue eyes are giving Stanton a lethal look he deserves, and something about Ransom’s lean, mean persona has me tingling from head to toe.
Just about every female head is turned in our direction, and about six different women gasp as they look this way—not surprising since both Ransom and Wes warrant a gasp or two from the female population.
“Nothing’s going on,” I’m quick to assure him. “Stanton was just leaving,” I say as I nod to my ex. “Why don’t you do us all a favor and take the gangway back to the terminal? I’m sure you can find a few interesting ways to occupy yourself in Los Angeles for eighteen steamy nights.” I link arms with Ransom and the captain in an odd show of solidarity for reasons unknown to me. “And believe me, I’m equally capable of finding interesting ways to occupy myself.”
Wes chuckles. “I’ll make sure of that.” He gives a slight bow. “If you’ll excuse me, I have guests to greet.” He steps back into line just as a gaggle of impossibly tall and thin, beautiful women stride in. Each one is dressed to impress with the tightest, skimpiest dresses known to man, and they’ve paired them with sky-high heels that give them all an Amazonian appeal.
A man steps out of their midst and extends a hand toward the captain.
“Cyrus Ledger of the Cyrus Modeling Agency,” he says.
I take him in with his dark brown suit and his fedora with light brown curls peeking from underneath. He’s beefy—heavyset might be a more appropriate descriptor. He has a bulbous nose, and despite the potato sitting on his face, he’s handsome with sharp features and light eyes. “Captain, good to meet you. I hope your ship is ready to have some real fun. I’ve brought over fifty of my best girls to have a good time with you.”
“Wonderful,” Tinsley Thornton, the chestnut-haired cruise director standing next to Wes, grumbles.
“Wonderful, indeed,” I grumble to myself as the gorgeous women flock not only to Wes, but to Ransom and Stanton as well. Wes and Ransom, I understand, but Stanton? Well, bless their hearts, those poor girls must be nearsighted.
Tinsley nods at the man. “I’m the cruise director, Tinsley Thornton. I believe you scheduled a private party with the captain in the Oyster Lounge at six.”
“That I did.” Cyrus laughs at the thought. “But by no means will this event be private. Let’s do our best to spread the word—one and all are welcome.” He waves his hand in the vicinity. “All who have ears, let them hear. Party in the Oyster Lounge at six! My girls and I will be more than glad to have you. The more the merrier. After all, oysters are an aphrodisiac, are they not?”
I make a face at the thought. Something tells me that extended invite had more to do with upping the dating pool for Cyrus and his hot honeys than it did a gesture of goodwill.
A leggy blonde with hair down to her waist gloms onto Stanton as if he were a genuine prize.
Stanton straightens, chest out, as a dirty gleam appears in his eyes that I haven’t seen since our honeymoon. “Dr. Stanton Troublefield, plastic surgeon to the stars, at your service.”
“The stars?” I balk at the thought.
There aren’t too many stars back in Brambleberry Bay, but then, telling the truth has never been Stanton’s specialty.
“Did you say plastic surgeon?” The blonde’s hot pink lips part with amazement. “Angel Howell. I think you and I are going to get along famously.” She giggles as she starts to yank him deeper into the ship.
Stanton pauses to look my way. “Hear that, Trix? Angel Howell. Here you think you’re hot stuff with two studs on your arms, and I’m about to make an angel howl in your honor.”
“That’s one way to win me back,” I mutter as they take off.
No sooner do I turn my attention back to the bevy of Botox and boob jobs than I spot a tall redhead in a gold glittering gown stride in and I gasp. It’s not the fact she’s a gorgeous redhead or even the fact she’s chosen to wear an evening gown as she boards the ship that’s left me breathless. It’s the fact she’s just walked right through the bodies of about a dozen passengers as she makes her way over.
She glances my way and gives a cheeky wink before disappearing altogether.
Not only is my smarmy ex on board—along with a couple of dozen runway models who make me look like a troll who lives under a bridge in comparison—but I think I’ve just met my second poltergeist in a one-month span.
I wonder if this cruise can wrap up without a single murder taking place.
Something tells me there’s not a ghost of a chance.
*I hope you enjoyed the chapter preview of Mai Tai Murder Cruise! Don't forget to pick up a copy at Amazon and have it delivered straight to your e-reader! Happy reading!