I looked to see my parents getting up and walking toward the door, so I pulled away from my “dance” partner. “Thanks.”
“Hold on. You got me out here. Now you have to finish.”
Speechless, I stood there getting bumped by the passengers while I thought of an excuse. Nothing. Nada. I couldn’t get away. So, I moved closer, Harwinton took me into his arms and led me around the floor.
We should be talking, I thought, feeling so awkward that I now wished I were being interrogated by Stella Sokol instead of where I was. Speaking of interrogation, I really could turn this opportunity in my favor, so I said, “I don’t suppose you’d like to share any info with me that you think might be pertinent to my case?”
He started to speak, but I waved my hand in the air and interrupted with, “I mean only what is related to the medical-insurance fraud. I’m not interested in the murder. Well-” My face started to heat up and I knew my pale complexion probably looked as if I’d spent the day in the sun. I looked at the water tank and saw Gilbert swim by.
I think he shook his head at me.
“What I meant to say was, of course I am interested in the murder. I mean Jackie was my roommate, even if for a very short time. She was human and no one should have his or her life taken away like that. Or in any way for that matter.”
“The music stopped,” he said.
I looked around the room. Oops. We were the only ones left out there. Not only had the music stopped, the band was on a break. “Why didn’t you stop me?” Now I was pissed.
He looked down at me. “I tried. Several times. You kept going on and on. And I think you know that I can’t share anything with you.”
Put in my place by a Fed. Yikes!
I yanked free of his hold. “Okay, Harwinton. Don’t think I’ll be sharing anything I find with you.”
He didn’t have to say anything. The look said it all: You couldn’t legally get away with withholding information from the FBI. Damn.
“Thanks for the dance,” I said and turned to go toward the bar. I really needed a nice cold Coors about now.
I swung around. “What? Tim? Is he some suspect or have anything to do with my case?”
He moved closer, nodded to Edie to get us each the usual drink and said, “Tim Harwinton.”
If I thought my face was red before, now it was crimson.
Damn, I thought as I made my way through the crowd, mostly to get away from Tim. He looked like a plain old Harwinton. Black suit. Short, neat hair. And when outside, I knew he always wore sunglasses. There was something about the guy that did, in fact, remind me of my Jagger.
How on earth had I started thinking of him like that? I know he didn’t think of me as his Sherlock. Before I knew it, I found myself facing the table of giggly females who sounded as if they were still talking about Jagger. I shook my head and started to turn.
A set of hands covered my eyes!
My first reflex was to elbow whomever, but before I could, I heard a voice.
“Gold, I about clobbered you one.”
He let out a little squeak. “Oh, my. Oh, my. Why would you?”
I motioned for him to follow me. On the way out of the lounge I noticed Tim watching me. Great. The guy really did have a knack for making me feel like a bug under a microscope.
Outside the lounge, I took Goldie’s arm and walked him toward the elevator. “Where’s Miles?”
“Oh dear. I hope he’s all right.” I stabbed at the elevator button.
“He’ll sleep it off. That Doc Peter gave him something for it.”
I looked at my friend and realized he wasn’t in drag. Made me smile to myself. I’d always looked past Goldie’s appearance, often flamboyant as it were, and often after envying his wonderful taste. Now I hadn’t even noticed he was doing “male” today.
Gold had on beige leather slacks, a light celery silken top and light brown leather loafers. He looked adorable, and I wondered how many women had hit on him at the Sadie Hawkins dance. I know I would have if he wasn’t my roommate back home. The only one he told me about was Topaz. Actually they would make a wonderful couple.
“How was the charge for the medical service, Gold?” Before he could answer, the elevator arrived and we stepped inside with no particular direction in mind. “Where to?”
He shrugged. “How about up?”
We both turned toward the glass and watched the passengers get smaller and smaller below us. I scanned the crowds for another glimpse of Remy, but no such luck.
The door opened on the top deck. I looked at Goldie, “Sure. Why not?”
“Okay. We can stroll in the…oh…my…God.”
Goldie shrieked and grabbed me by the arm. The elevator door closed with a thud.
The empty deck lay surrounded by a fog. A circular fog like a donut. As the ship moved forward, rather slowly now, I realized, the donut moved along with it.
We looked at each other. “The Bermuda Triangle,” we both whispered.
Then we walked toward the bow, looking around as much as we could. I grabbed onto the railing, “Maybe it’s just a low-pressure system. Don’t they cause all the bad weather?” I looked up toward the gigantic things on top of the ship-not moving. I didn’t know squat about radar, but I could have sworn I’d seen them moving before.
“We’re winging it, Gold.”
He glared at me and swallowed so loudly I could hear. I patted him on the arm. “I’m sure the captain has everything in order. This probably happens all the time. Fog. Smog. As my mother would say.” I forced a laugh and said a silent prayer that my folks hadn’t noticed the odd scene outside.
“Your lying is getting better, Suga.”
I smiled. “Want to go inside?”
He looked around. “No. If we are going under, I want to be the first to know.”
I slapped his arm this time. “Stop that! We are not going under in this day and age.” I turned my head and mouthed another prayer to Saint Theresa. “Come on. Let’s sit.”
We walked to the deck chairs and got comfortable. Goldie had pulled them closer to each other so we could hold hands as we spoke. I’m not sure who it made feel better, him or me. Other than us, the place was empty. Eeks. “So, about the cost of the medical care, Gold.”
“I was meaning to tell you. Outrageous. If Miles didn’t feel like crap, he would have argued with that Amazon of a woman that kept putting the moves on me at the lounge.”
“Topaz. Her name is Topaz.” I laughed. “Did anyone at the infirmary seem suspicious to you, Gold?”
He looked out into the fog and touched his finger to his lips. Goldie had on coral-colored nail polish. On him it looked good, whether in drag or not. “Let me think about that one. I was so worried about Miles that I…I wasn’t myself.”
I could imagine. I ran my hand along his arm. “Don’t stress about it.”
“I’m all right now. Let’s see. The Amazon lady seemed very confident. No suspicious behavior from her. Actually she was rather rude.”
“You’re on target with that one. How about the nurse? Who was on duty?”
“Some hunk of a guy.”
I watched Goldie perk up a bit and chuckled. “Rico. Italian. Straight.”
“Bi,” Goldie said and this time patted my arm.
I sprung forward. “Are you kidding me?”
“Suga,” he said, patting harder. “Goldie knows these things.”
“Ha! I’ll be damned.” At least he’d lightened the mood. I flopped back down. Miles was safely asleep and mending so this outside air must have been good for Goldie-despite the fog donut. I was certain if we were in any danger, there would have been some kind of announcement.
Still, I could only pretend I wasn’t uneasy. I touched my nausea bracelet as if it were some kind of lifesaver. When I looked out though, I realized the sea was calm. Unusually calm.
“Attention all passengers,” came over the loudspeaker at that moment.
We sat upright.
“Due to inclement weather, all passengers are to remain indoors. I repeat. Indoors. No one is allowed on the outside decks.”
“We better head in-”
A figure moved across the deck near the railing.
“Gold,” I whispered and pointed. “Look.”
The guy sent something sailing into the water. From where we were, it looked like…a picture frame.
When the searchlights flipped on, I noticed the salmon tee shirt. “Shit! It’s him. Remy!” I said in as hushed a voice as I could.
We both jumped up and started toward him. Two crewmembers came off the elevator and began to say that we had to go inside.
Goldie yelled, “In a minute!” as we hustled down the deck, with them in tow.
“Stop!” I shouted. Remy knocked several deck chairs over as he ran. Like two high jumpers, Goldie and I made it over the chairs with Olympian skills.
I heard a noise and shout, and then turned to see the two crewmembers behind us were flattened by the trick. The others leaped over as we had.
Other than their cursing, an eerie silence filled the air.
Even the hum of the engines couldn’t be heard.
When I got close to Remy, he pushed out his arm and knocked me toward the railing. Before I could see his face or say a word, I found myself leaning over the safety barrier, with my feet inches off the deck-and holding on for my life!
Then Goldie screamed.
Then one of the crewmembers grabbed onto my legs while Goldie yanked me back.
I melted into a puddle of fear while the fog clouded around us.
When I was able to comprehend that I’d nearly gone overboard at the hands of a killer, I looked up.
Tim Harwinton stood above me with a crewmember. Damn. He’d saved my life. Now I’d owe him something.
I pulled myself up to stand. He’d stuck out his hand, but I brushed it away. “You following me, Harwinton?”
Goldie was shaking so hard that I had to hold him in my arms.
I think Harwinton grinned, but the fog made it difficult to see. The donut had shrunk somewhat, and now encompassed the outer section of the deck.
“I have to continue my rounds. Please, all leave the deck,” the crewmember said, and turned and walked in the other direction.
Tim nodded at him and then looked at me.
I didn’t think there were any other passengers crazy enough to be out here besides us. I looked at Tim. “Did you see him?”
“Remy,” I said through clenched teeth. “Remy Girard.”
Tim looked at me. “You saw Remy again?”
I ignored the tone and said, “Yeah. So did my friend, Goldie. How the hell else do you think I ended up halfway over the railing? Going for a midnight swim?” I introduced him to Goldie, making sure to point out that he was a senior investigator and repeating that he’d seen Remy too. When Goldie stuck out his hand to shake Tim’s, the coral nail polish sparkled in the spotlights.
Talk about a lack of credibility. I could see it in the Fed’s face. But he was polite enough, and when Goldie gave his version of the story, it matched mine. Obviously the fog had hidden Remy enough that we truly couldn’t identify him positively. We told Tim where Remy had headed though.
“I’ll check it out,” Tim said and started to move past us. “Get inside, Sherlock Holmes, before you almost fall overboard again.” He said to me.
My eyes widened. I had to bite my lip so as not to shout a curse into his foggy direction. How could he call me that?
The spotlight blinked out. Goldie and I hugged each other and walked toward the elevator in the dimness.
“It’s a good thing I was following you,” came from the grayish mist of Tim’s direction.
Back in Goldie’s cabin, we made sure Miles was still sleeping comfortably, while Goldie poured himself a stiff Scotch and handed me a bottle of Coors. “You are too interested in him. That Fed guy. There’s a sexual tension that is thicker than that damn fog.”
I wanted to shout, but looked to see Miles snoring softly. “You’re nuts. Tim Harwinton is a bore. A Fed and a jerk. Besides, he thinks I’m nuts and shouldn’t be working a case since I’m female. Macho male chauvinist.”
Goldie swigged his drink. “I didn’t get that. Didn’t get that he was chauvinistic, Suga. I can always tell. Serious about his job. Yes. Chauvinistic. No.”
I sucked in a breath and blew it out very slowly.
Goldie was a genius with reading people. I knew he was probably right, but wasn’t about to admit that. I liked thinking ill of Tim.
He deserved it.
“Stop letting cocaine Jagger mess up your head, Suga.”
I flopped back onto the couch. “Oh, no. Not that ‘Jagger is like cocaine lecture,’ Gold. I can’t take that right now.”
He jumped up and wrapped me in his arms. It wasn’t the same as a motherly hug-more a combination of parents. How I loved good old Gold.
“I won’t say another word. I won’t remind you of my warning that he’ll make you feel good and then hurt you.” He took out a pretend key from his pocket, locked his lips and threw the key toward the door.
“You’ve been hanging around Uncle Walt too much,” I said, since my uncle always did that when my sisters and I were kids, and even now as we were adults.
I shut my eyes and told myself my dear friend was way off base this time.
I was not interested in Tim. No way. No how.
Goldie was just plain wrong, wrong, wrong.