Book Three in the Grammy B. Cozy Mystery Series is now available at all major retailers!
A Cruise Ship Corpse' is now available at all major book retailers! This cozy mystery adventure finds Helen and Rita heading off on a senior's cruise with Bree, Helen's granddaughter. Everything is smooth sailing up until Helen and Rita stumble across a dead body. When the FBI gets involved, Rita makes it her personal mission to solve the crime before they discover Rita's identity.
You can read the first chapter of 'A Cruise Ship Corpse' below or you can order the book at the retailer of your choice here.
Chapter One of 'A Cruise Ship Corpse':
“Hurry up, Bree,” I called over my shoulder. “We’ll miss the bus if you keep lollygagging.”
“You’d think that the young ones would be rushing ahead, not the other way around, huh, Helen?” Rita said with a conspiratorial wink.
I nodded and looked behind me at Bree, who was moving at a snail’s pace, puffing, with hanks of her long, chestnut hair hanging in her face. For 27, she should be in better shape than that, I thought.
Bree had inherited my slim build that was deceiving in how muscular we actually were. People were often shocked, when lifting us, at just how heavy we truly were. I blamed the Ukrainian in us. At 5’7” myself, I was solid in a good way and, coupled with my half-black, half-grey hair at 79, people always mistook me for younger than I was.
“You’re not trying to maneuver a trolley full of bags,” Bree puffed, her face red as she strained behind the luggage trolley. “Grams, I don’t mind pushing Rita’s and your bags but why did you volunteer me to carry that group of tourist’s bags as well?”
I looked ahead of me at the rapidly retreating backs of a group of five grey-haired tourists – two of which were using walkers.
“Because they’re easily in their eighties,” I said, “and we couldn’t very well expect them to push their own luggage, could we, Bree? Look at them, they’re barely stable.”
“Looks like they’re doing just fine to me,” muttered Bree as she glared at their disappearing backs. I had to admit; I didn’t realize that they would move quite that fast when unencumbered by their luggage.
“Rita and I are fine to carry our own luggage so you can deal with their bags,” I offered.
Bree cursed as three suitcases fell off the trolley and onto the ground.
“They’re going to get on the bus long before us,” Bree grumbled.
“It’s not a race, Bree,” I said.
“Quit your bellyaching,” Rita called back to us. “Less talk and more pushing. Everyone is getting in line for the bus ahead of us. If we don’t hurry, we won’t get a seat and we’ll have to wait for the next one and miss the cruise departure.”
“You were saying?” Bree asked me sardonically.
We watched as Rita picked up the pace and scurried ahead of us to a pair of doors to the left of us, her steel-grey hair bobbing along in rhythm with her gait. Everything about Rita was long, including her strides. She had a long face and a tall, thin frame. At 81, she was extremely fast due to her long legs taking two strides for everybody’s one.
“Stop! You’re going the wrong way!” Bree yelled before Rita could get any further.
“No need to yell,” Rita snipped.
“I wouldn’t have but you’ve wandered off three times already and I can’t keep stopping to run after you. Between you and this pile of suitcases, we’ll never make it to the bus on time.”
“It’s not my fault that the airport has so many kiosks set up,” Rita retorted. “If they didn’t want you to buy things, why did they set so many up? It’s obviously a sign to get my souvenir shopping done before we get on the cruise.”
“Or maybe it’s for people that have two hours to kill, not people that are on a time line,” Bree grumbled.
It seems that dragging all that luggage around is making Bree cranky, I thought.
“Here,” I offered again, “I’ll carry some of the bags.”
“No, Grams, I’m fine. I just wish that you’d stop volunteering my services. If some of the tourists are having that many issues with their luggage, they can ask someone that actually works at the airport for assistance. Aren’t there porters that do this kind of thing?”
“Oh, good! A porter!” someone said behind us. “Honey, drop your bags over here and this woman will carry our luggage. We don’t want to miss the bus.”
“I’m not a porter,” Bree snapped at a woman in her sixties. “I’m just a gullible granddaughter with a grandmother that has a penchant for offering my services to anyone that might possibly need it.”
“Oh good! Then that means that we can leave our bags with you,” the woman said with joy. “We really want to make that bus before it fills up and our luggage is slowing us down.”
They dropped their bags in front of Bree and hurried off in the direction of the bus queue, calling over their shoulder, “It’s the cruise to Alaska. Byeeeee.”
“I’m not a porter and I’m not carrying your luggage too!” Bree yelled after them but they simply waved their hands at her and repeated, “The cruise to Alaska!”
“I’m not carrying any more suitcases,” growled Bree.
“You can’t just leave them here!” I exclaimed.
“Watch me,” she snapped, her blue eyes narrow slits. “You’ve used up your Good Samaritan points today.”
She began to push the trolley again, leaving the couple’s suitcases behind on the airport floor.
“It’s a federal offence to leave suitcases unattended in the airport,” I pointed out.
“Good thing I didn’t leave them then,” she said over her shoulder.
I stared at the suitcases, warring with my need to help others and the fact that there was no way that I could carry all of those suitcases on my own. I would have to abandon the two suitcases that I’d extracted from Bree’s cart before she left. Besides, Bree was right. There was no way that she could carry this couple’s luggage as well. I pushed their bags to the side, promising myself that I’d tell an airport employee about them and hopefully they would get them onto the cruise ship.
I started to walk away but Rita lingered, writing something on a piece of paper before placing it carefully on top of one of the suitcases.
“You don’t happen to have any tape, do you, Helen?” she asked.
“No, I cleaned out my purse before leaving for the airport. Why? What did you write?”
“Not a bomb,” Rita whispered to me, staring at Bree’s retreating back.
“Good idea,” I said. “We don’t want to cause any unnecessary panic and undue suspicion in this day and age. Perhaps you should write that the owners are going on a cruise to Alaska as well.”
Rita picked up the paper and added my words to the note.
“Why did we invite Bree on this cruise anyway?” she asked as we began to walk towards the exit doors that Bree had disappeared through.
“There was a special group rate and, with everything that we’ve been through, I thought it would be nice to get away.”
Rita nodded. She knew I was referring to Angela MacEwan’s murder. We had taken it upon ourselves to solve the fashion designer’s murder and, when we discovered who the murderer was, that same person had vowed to exact revenge upon us. Although they were going to be in jail for a long time, a vacation was exactly what we needed to get away from all that stress and worry.
“Besides,” I added with a devious smile, “who else would have carried our luggage?”
When we finally reached the line for the bus to take us to the cruise ship, the queue trailed back almost to the airport doors in a human obstacle course of luggage and bodies. At the front of the queue, I could see the group of five geriatrics whose luggage we had managed to carry. It looked like they would get a spot right at the front of the bus, allowing them to disembark first for the cruise ship. However, it didn’t appear that they had held a spot for us in the line.
Bree was busy unloading the mountain of suitcases from the trolley while Rita waved at the masses of people leaving the airport.
“What are you doing?” I asked Rita.
“This is what you’re supposed to do when you board a cruise ship,” she replied.
“But we’re not on the ship yet.”
“I know, but I want to get my wave down before we get on the boat. Do you think the Queen perfected her wave in a day?”
“You don’t have to wave,” I said.
Rita looked shocked.
“Of course, you have to!” she exclaimed. “What if the ship sinks and this is our last farewell? Just imagine if the Titanic hadn’t waved goodbye!”
I heard a squeak behind me and turned to see a woman staring at Rita, her eyes wide with terror.
“The ship is going to sink?” she asked.
“Of course not. All ships allow their passengers to wave goodbye on the deck, not just the doomed ones,” I said in a reassuring tone.
This only made the woman begin to breath harder.
“I’m not saying that this ship will sink,” I added, “just that all ships, whether they sink or not, like to make a habit of waving bon voyage.”
“Because you never know if it’s the last voyage,” Rita said with a disturbing amount of cheer. “Especially since we’re doing an Alaskan cruise.”
“What do you mean?” the woman whispered.
“All those icebergs and what not. Speaking of which, do you think they have enough lifeboats on this ship? If they don’t, I’ll take that as a sign right away that we’re going to sink. But at least I’ll have lived a good, long life,” Rita said, referring to her age of 81.
The woman began to visibly shake and I interjected, desperate to make her feel better.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “There aren’t any icebergs, just glacier calves.”
“Glacier calves?” she asked.
“Yes,” I nodded. “Glaciers that break apart. When they break apart, they create massive waves, which roll up and shake the boat.”
“From what I’ve heard, they can get quite strong. I wonder if they could topple the ship,” mused Rita.
The woman’s face dropped three shades in colour and she turned to her husband, “Harold, I want to go home. Now!”
Her husband, who was busy on the phone, waved his hand at her, “Just a minute and we’ll be on the bus.”
“No, no, I don’t want to be on the ship,” she babbled. “They have calves and maybe not enough lifeboats. They want us to say our last goodbyes on the deck.”
He looked at her in confusion, “I’m sure there aren’t any cows on the ship.”
“Harold, cancel everything, we’re going home now.”
He sighed in annoyance, “We can’t cancel the trip. We’d lose our money at this point.”
Rita and I turned back around, giving the couple privacy to argue.
“Maybe we should stop talking to strangers,” I whispered to Rita.
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