Dying For a Cruise

Dying For a Cruise by Joyce Cato

Book: Dying For a Cruise by Joyce Cato Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joyce Cato
but was wearing a silver and gold lamé evening dress and radiated beauty and health. In a different way, the scarlet-garbed and dark-headed Jasmine Olney looked equally eye-catching, but was aided by a stunning diamond necklace, which she wore with undeniable panache.
    The men, including Lucas, were all dressed in tuxedos.
    It was a pity, Francis thought, that none of them were talking.
    Only the gentle ‘clink’ of Francis’s soup plates being distributed, broke the silence.
    Dorothy Leigh was the first brave soul to attempt to do anything about it.
    ‘I had a wonderful swim this afternoon,’ she said, to nobody in particular, and lifted her spoon for a tentative sip of soup. She wasn’t quite sure what she thought about cold soups – she could only ever think of soup and imagine steaming broth – but this was delicious. It had a lovely flavour – not cloying, but not wishy-washy either. It was clear and deliciously tangy. ‘Mmm, this is lovely,’ she said, prompting Lucas to half-heartedly reach for his own spoon.
    Only Gabriel ate with a hearty appetite, and if he occasionally winced when swallowing, it didn’t seem to annoy him too much. In fact, he was looking almost unbearably smug. Not that he was openly grinning. Nor had he yet said a word. But everyone, especially David Leigh (who seemed to have particularly sensitive antennae as far as Olney was concerned) sensed a very strong feeling of gloating emanating from the man. It seemed to waft from him in a particularly noxious but invisible cloud. It was almost unbearable for him to sit still for it, when all he wanted to do was launch himself across the table and smash his fist into that oily face. Smash and smash and smash….
    Francis turned, glanced once at Lucas, and almost paused at the expression on his employer’s face. He recovered at once though and carried on, walking back to the galley in soft-footed silence, but a long, almost telepathic look had already passed between them.
    Dorothy noticed it especially.
    She’d remarked to her husband on their earlier trip on the Stillwater Swan that Francis and Lucas made a very odd pair. Lucas was just so cockney, and Francis was so proper. They should have been oil and water, but weren’t. They seemed to conspire against the world in some odd sort of way. It was almost spooky.
    Now she took another sip of soup, and tried again to break the deadlock.
    ‘I must say, I really do like this,’ she said stiltedly. ‘You wouldn’t have thought our cook would have had such a subtle hand, would you? Not to look at her, I mean,’ she laughed. ‘When I went for my swim this afternoon, I saw her sitting out on the deck, and I could have sworn she was asleep.’
    ‘Probably stuffed herself on all the leftovers from lunch,’ Jasmine said cattily, and totally inaccurately.
    Jenny always prepared a plate of food for herself at the same time as she prepared the plates for the guests.
    Jenny was no mug.
    In the galley, Francis returned, his face thoughtful. Something was up, that was for sure. He’d never seen Lucas look so upset and uneasy before.
    Just then, Captain Lester came through from the bridge. The Swan was moored not a mile from Chimney, and he accepted the plate of soup the cook gave him with a somewhat distracted air. He looked at Francis.
    ‘Any idea why Lucas wants me and Brian to join them—’ He nodded in the salon’s direction ‘—after dinner, for drinks?’
    Francis frowned. First of all, he had no idea what Lucas intended, which was a normally totally unheard of development. Lucas always told him everything. But everything . And secondly, Lucas never asked the captain or O’Keefe to mingle with the guests at dinner time. During the day, yes. But never during the more formal evening meal. It broke the atmosphere of elegance and olde-worlde dining that Lucas strove to create, and which he himself enjoyed so much.
    ‘It must be something unusual,’ Tobias Lester added – a shade

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